Tuesday, March 20, 2007

NYT: We sold you the war, but now we're bored with it

The war began in the early morning of March 20, 2003, in Baghdad, but it was still March 19 in Washington.

That's from Alissa J. Rubin's "Hussein's Former Vice President Is Hanged" and appears to exist only to explain to readers of Sunday's paper why they ran the announcement that Tuesday would mark the anniversary. Since it is the "New York" Times and not the "Baghdad" Times, the announcement never should have appeared to begin with but having run it, they need to honor it. No surprise, they don't. The same paper that promised to examine their false reporting in the leadup to the illegal war, in that infamous mini-culpa, doesn't keep promises. Which is why the fourth anniversary (Monday though the Times said -- on Sunday -- it was Tuesday) really offered nothing of note. While other outlets were, in one form or another, emphasizing Iraq, many looking back, the Times played out Monday and today as though it was just another day with their usual limited (in number) pieces from Iraq. There was no flooding of zone.

After covering (and covering) the execution (with statements from those who carried out), Rubin begins to write about the other violence. She offers this:

Thirty bodies were found in Baghdad, more than in recent days, raising the possibility that there is a renewal of the sectarian killings that people hoped were diminishing.

While 30 was the number by yesterday evening, it needs to be noted that 30 is not a lot more than 23. It is a lot more than 12. If anyone's confused, refer to Saturday's "When 23 is 12 in the NYT." When you run an undercount day after day, it can appear the number has dropped significantly.

Kim Gamel (AP) reported yesterday afternoon that 25 corpses were discovered in Ramadi. Adding those to others noted yesterday, you have 58 corpses reported. And that's really it for the Times today because Reuters articles are written by Reuters. So having announced on Sunday that Tuesday was the anniversary, they show up Monday with little coverage (we're talking number, not quality) and, on Tuesday, the paper's announced anniversary, they run the statement in Rubin's article and that's more or less it. Again, no flooding of the zone. A fourth anniversary is no big deal to the paper which, when you consider how hard they worked to sell the illegal war, is really surprising.

Cindy notes Medea Benjamin's "After Four Years of War, Congress Should Cut the Funds" (Common Dreams):

This weekend, in hundreds of cities throughout the country, Americans commemorated the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq by participating in marches, rallies and vigils. And it wasn’t long ago, in November 2006, that Americans expressed their anti-war sentiment at the ballot box. So what have our elected officials done to comply with the cry of the American people to end this war?
President Bush so totally disregarded the voters' mandate that instead of withdrawing troops, he called for sending more. Most Republicans in Congress are backing the President's troop surge, despite the public's opposition. But perhaps even more disturbing is the lack of leadership on the part of the Democrats, who seem more interested in party unity and criticizing the president than truly putting a quick end to this war.
The convoluted, inside-the-beltway approach of the Democrats is evident in the supplement defense funding bill that will be voted on this week. A simple, straightforward approach to this new request for $95 billion more for war would have been to posit, as Congresswoman Barbara Lee proposed but her party rejected, that funds can only be used for a full withdrawal under a set timetable, no later than December 2007. This would have used the only real power that the Constitution grants Congress to stop war: the "power of the purse." It's a power it has used in the case of Cambodia (1970), Vietnam (1973), Somalia (1993) and Bosnia (1998).
This approach would have also been in line with the public sentiment that consistently shows that a majority of Americans want a swift timetable for the troops to come home. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released March 6 showed 60% of Americans want a timetable for withdrawal by the end of the year. This sentiment is even more pronounced among Democratic voters. And let's not forget that back in February 2006, a Zogby poll found that 72% of the troops themselves thought they should be out of Iraq by the end of 2006.
Instead, the Democrats submitted a bill so convoluted that even they start stammering when they try to explain it.. It mandates that the President only send troops that have been properly trained, equipped and given adequate rest periods between deployments, but then allows him, on national security grounds, to waive all those requirements. In a fit of twisted logic, it sets a series of benchmarks for the Iraqi government, and says that if they don’t meet the benchmarks we will punish them by leaving early; if they do meet the benchmarks we'll reward them by staying longer. Given that the majority of Iraqis want our troops out of their country, it’s a perverse kind of reward! Whether or not the benchmarks are met, the war would drag on into 2008, instead of a year-end cut-off preferred by most Americans. And even then, U.S. military could stay on by the tens of thousands to fight terrorism, train Iraqis and provide security to American diplomats and citizens.

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