Tuesday, March 16, 2010

An attack on a US military base isn't deemed 'news'

Over the weekend, two deaths of US service members were reported in Iraq. In one of them, Reuters has stated the service member died while the US military base was under attack (two other service members were injured). Somehow that never translated into a front page story and that's to the shame of the press. There's no excuse for that crap. Today the Seattle Times reports that Army Spc Erin "McLyman's body arrived Monday at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware" and quotes neighbor Michael Shelley stating, "She had a great personality -- always friendly, full of energy." Erin McLyman is one of the fallen. Is she one of the two who died this weekend? No one knows. There are no details being released currently. Scott Fontaine (Tacoma News Tribune) notes, "The Pentagon has yet to release more details about McLyman. Such a release, which often trails the initial notification from Dover by up to a day, includes age, unit, service history and more details about the fatal incident." But repeating, when there is an attack on a US military base in Iraq, it should be on the front page of a newspaper, it should lead the evening news. Instead, Reuters included in a Factbox and few others even bothered to touch it. Why is that?

Is it the same reason that violence isn't being reported by most outlets these days? Is it all a part of the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk? The press would love to deny that but the fact remains 1 service member died and two more were wounded in a weekend attack on a US military base in Iraq and ABC World News Tonight didn't lead with it and the New York Times didn't front page it.

Meanwhile Charles Grodin (New York Daily News) observes, "The fraud and theft involved in our reconstruction of Iraq is mind-boggling and is turning me into someone who now suspects the worst too often instead of looking for the best in people." Sunday, James Glanz (New York Times) reported that 50 investigations had been opened in the last six months and that they "were uncovered during the first phase of a new, systematic inquiry into financial activities, which investigators said began in earnest last summer. A related investigation of rebuilding funds for Afghanistan began in February." Iran's Press TV adds, "The Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said some of the cases involved Americans, who mailed tens of thousands of dollars to themselves from Iraq or grabbed cash when leaving the country."

Meanwhile 2011 looms around the corner. The Iraqi air force is not ready (as has been noted since 2007). The Congress continues to complain about the administration not sharing a withdrawal plan with them. (Michele Flournoy always offers such lovely excuses.) And people are beginning to grasp that if the US government wanted troops out of Iraq, they'd be out by now. Just last week, the Afghanistan War was debated on the House floor and the bill being voted on would have pulled all US troops out of Afghanistan by . . . the end of this year. And yet our 'antiwar' (or at least 'antidumbwar') Barry O's done damn little. Well that's not fair. He's done an amazing job of embracing and continuing the policies of George W. Bush. Michael Schwartz asks "Will the U.S. Military Leave Iraq in 2011?" (Huffington Post):

Like so many others who have been following the recent developments in Iraq, I do not have a settled opinion on what will happen to the US military presence there between now and the end of 2011, when the Status of Forces Agreement calls for the withdrawal of all troops (not just "combat" troops). For me, the (so far) definitive statement on this question by Obama was his 2006 election campaign statement at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, where he firmly asserted the need to maintain a (approximately 50,000 strong) US "strike force" in or near Iraq to guarantee US interests in the Middle East, to allow Washington to move quickly against jihadists in the region, and to make clear to "our enemies" that the US will not be "driven from the region." (I am attaching that document, which I still think is the most explicit expression of his thinking on this issue.) In that statement he said that this force could be stationed in Iraq, perhaps in Kurdistan, or in a nearby country (despite the absence of nearby candidates).
Since taking office he has neither reiterated nor repudiated this policy, but his actions have made it very clear that he is unwilling to sacrifice the 50k strike force, even while he has also said he would abide by the SOFA and remove all troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. In the meantime, Gates and various generals have released hedging statements or trial balloons (see the recent Tom Dispatch article by Engelhardt) saying that the 2011 deadline might be impractical and that various types of forces might stay longer, either to provide air power, to continue training the Iraq military, or to protect Iraq from invasion. Any or all of these could translate into the maintenance of the 50k strike force as well as the five (previously labeled as) "enduring bases."

By contrast there's no liar like the editorial board for the Palm Beach Post:

This week marks the seventh anniversary of the invasion. So even if U.S. troops leave on schedule, the war will have lasted almost nine years. May 1, by the way, will be the seventh anniversary of Mr. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" stunt flight to the USS Abraham Lincoln. We note these anniversaries to make clear how little standing former Vice President Dick Cheney's camp has to criticize the Obama administration, even if the Iraq deadlines slip or the withdrawal agreement is renegotiated to leave 35,000 troops in Iraq more or less permanently. Some analysts call such a development inevitable.
The first time that a soldier fires a weapon in Iraq after August, Bush propagandists may claim that the AAB units are combat forces in disguise. Therefore, President Obama lied. In fact, the real deceit was the Bush-Cheney campaign for the invasion.

First off, anyone has STANDING to criticize in a democracy. That includes the despicable Dick Cheney. Second off, how nice of the Post to waive through the continued illegal war ("more or less permanently"). Third, there is no such thing as non-combat troops. I don't follow Dick Cheney (I haven't paid attention to a word he's said since he left the White House) so I'm unaware of whether or not he's made this argument but many others have (Michael R. Gordon was actually the first to make it -- and he made it to then-candidate Barack's face). The US military is a military, trained in combat. Troops are combat troops, that's reality. Fourth: "In fact, the real deceit was the Bush-Cheney campaign for the invasion."

Does the Palm Beach Post really want to go there?


Actually, continuing an illegal war you are supposedly against and ran for office proclaiming to end is the real deceit.

And in terms of apportioning blame to Bush-Cheney?

No newspaper in Palm Beach should finger point. As most of us damn well remember, more damaging to Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign than anything else was the vote in Palm Beach and that vote was confusing why? Oh, that's right, the butterfly ballot. Having FAILED to educate voters on that ballot ahead of time, the Palm Beach Post better accept that as surely as the Supreme Court, they are responsible for putting George W. Bush in the White House. Translation, you have no high horse to mount in this debate.

The Democratic Policy Committee offers daily videos and we'll note this one by Senator Amy Klobuchar on exports and the economy.

We'll also note that, in 2009, Klobuchar was the hardest working senator in the Senate since she was Minnesota's only senator for much of the year. (Al Franken and Norm Coleman were in a recount battle following the 2008 elections for most of the 2009 before Franken was declared the winner.)

The following community sites (and Antiwar.com) updated last night:

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends