Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sloppy and insulting, the Times 'covers' Iraq

On A6 of this morning's New York Times, Alissa J. Rubin and Rod Nordland's "New Envoy Faces an Iraq Of 2 Minds About U.S." begins. That the Times kisses State Dept ass is never news. And that alone would have prompted a groan while reading. But . .

Saving truths saving facts
Working under the sun in Iraq
Looking forward to happier times
On Baghdad Bureau

I'm going back someday
Come what may
To Baghdad Bureau
Where the folks are fine
And the facts is mine
On Baghdad Bureau
Where the stringers work hard
I get a body guard
I can almost see
That familiar sunrise
Those sleepy lies
How happy I'd be

Gonna see my sources again
Gonna be with State Dept friends
Maybe I'll lie better again
On Baghdad Bureau

(A reworking of "Blue Bayou" for the Times. Linda Ronstadt sang the Roy Orbison and Joe Melson written song into classic status and it can be found most recently on her The Very Best of Linda Ronstadt which Kat reviewed here.)

The reporters write, "There are more than 120,000 soldiers here; 24 died last month, the most since last September, according to, a Web site that tracks military casualties."

How many?

How many twice over.

First "more than 120,000"? "Soldiers"? The low estimate is 139,000. And its service members and if we use "soldiers" to describe anyone other than "soldiers," we will hear about it from other members of the military.

But how many?

24 died last month, the paper tells us this morning, according to ICCC. What?

Yesterday morning's "May deadliest month of the year for US service members in Iraq" notes the death toll for May was then at 25. Yesterday morning. From that:

Bradley W. Iorio's death was announced yesterday and took the toll to 25. The Defense Department issued the following statement: "The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Pvt. Bradley W. Iorio, 19, of Galloway, N.J., died May 29 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, of injuries suffered from a non-combat related incident May 27 in Tallil, Iraq. He was assigned to the Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas. The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation. For more information the media may contact the Fort Bliss public affairs office at (915) 568-4505."

The paper's more than fine with referring to the entire US military as "soldiers" so possibly they really don't care too much about the figures. But if the total was 25 yesterday morning, there is NO excuse for the paper to say it's 24 this morning. Unless they're trying to be further insulting by refusing to count Bradley W. Iorio's death on the 'grounds' that he died in Germany. He died from wounds received in Iraq two days prior and was a medical evacuation out of Iraq and into Germany. 25 is the number and either the paper just doesn't give a damn or we're seeing some damn sloppy work.

Did someone say "damn sloppy"?

The Pig-Pen Ambassador

That's Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Pig-Pen Ambassador" from April 5th. And what Rubin and Nordland focus on is the sloppy Chris Hill. We were just mentioning Hill in yesterday's snapshot:

Over the weekend, Alsumaria noted that Jalal Talabani, the president of Iraq, met the US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill for the first time Friday. For the first time. Remember Hill's Senate hearing? Refer to 3/26 and 3/29 snapshots. Chris Hill, as soon as he was confirmed, was getting on the next flight to Iraq and getting down to work! Now the next flight ended up being the next one he wanted to catch, and that ended up three days after he was confirmed. April 21st he was confirmed. May 30th, over thirty days later, he finally meets face-to-face with the president of Iraq.

Don't expect any reality like that from the Times which exists to lay down the State Dept line.

The reporters write, "One of Mr. Hill's first public statements was an announcement of the death of two embassy staff members who were killed by a bomb on May 25." Here's the statement, find the problem:

It is with deepest regret that we announce the tragic loss on May 25, 2009 of our Embassy Baghdad colleague Terrence Barnich, who was an employee of the U.S. Department of State. Mr. Barnich was the Deputy Director of the Iraq Transition Assistance Office (ITAO). Another employee from the Department of Defense detailed to the Embassy staff also died and will be identified pending notification of next of kin. They were killed when their car drove over an Improvised Explosive Device. They were returning from an inspection of a waste water treatment plant under construction in Fallujah, the largest and most complex U.S. government-funded project in Anbar Province. A Department of Defense military employee was also killed in the explosion.
We extend our deepest condolences to the victims' families and friends, and our profound appreciation for the ultimate sacrifice they made in service to their country and for the people of Iraq. This is a tragic loss and one we all mourn.
We and all who are working for a brighter future for Iraq condemn this terrible attack in the strongest possible terms. We remain committed as ever to helping Iraqis achieve the peace, stability and prosperity that will make such acts of terror a thing of the past.

Terry Barnich was a State Dept employee, an "embassy staff member". A DoD employee? Not "an embassy staff member". Is it that hard to follow? For the paper it is. And it's little moments like that throughout that have you scratching your head. For example, "Sunnis have not yet been integrated politcally into Iraq's power structure, nor have secular political forces. Both harbor profound doubts about the government's intentions and its willingness to share power with them." Hmm. How interesting. If this is a perspective piece, perspective includes that al-Maliki has refused to integrate the former Ba-ath Party members into the process. That's a big point. (And they are Sunni.) That's a huge point. It was a benchmark in 2007 from the White House, one al-Maliki signed off on. And all this time later, he hasn't done it and all this time later he offers his luantic, nuts conspiracy theories about the Ba-ath Party.

All the people shocked that Nouri still hasn't brought Sahwa into the process? Not only did he make it clear he wasn't going to way back when, but there was also the Ba'ath Party issue that should have been seen as an indicator of what Nouri would do or, more accurately, what he wouldn't do. He was asked to integrate the Sahwa. He was mandated to do the same with the Ba'ath Party and he said he would, signed off on it and then refused to do so.

That, the paragraph above, would be "perspective." The paper offers no perspective in Rubin and Nordland's article, no context, and yet that's the only reason for its existence or appearance in print today.

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alissa j. rubin

oh boy it never ends