Wednesday, May 16, 2007

NYT: Bono's front page news while US soldiers get left on A10

Let's recap. On Saturday, outside Mahmudiya, there was an attack on a "stationary observation post" that left 4 US soldiers and 1 Iraqi translator dead. 3 more US soldiers are missing and presumed captured, presumed by the US military, by an organization that may or may not have ties to al Qaeda. Today, the New York Times continues their shameful pattern of not seeing this story as anything worthy of the front page.

What is front page news, according to the Times? James B. Comey testifying to Congress. No disagreement there. Afghanistan poppy fields? Hmm. Jerry Falwell's death. Ivy Leagues schools in a crunch? This nonsense and we're not even done. Stephen Labaton's badly written story about cronyism? And look, there's the boy NYT can't shut the hell up about: Bono. Was it just yesterday that, in the news section, we had to read about how he still couldn't find what he's looking for? And see the photo that verified that though his career prospects had shrunk, his waist line was ever expanding? Now Bono's on the front page because (gasp!) smoke from a fireplace may have drifted over from Billy Squier's place to his. That's not a joke. That article does exist, on the front page, with a photo of Bono, it's by Allen Salkin and it's entitled "Among the Rich and Famous, A New Dispute over Air Rights."

Apparently 4 US troops being killed, 3 missing and presumed captured just aren't news but Bono's neighbor complaints are. Is the Times trying to steal Murdoch's interest away from the Wall St. Journal?

Here's Kirk Semple playing stupid in "Military Gives Details of Iraq Ambush of 7 G.I.s" (A10):

According to a military spokesman in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, the soldiers were stopped in two vehicles out of view of other members of their unit at the time of the attack. They had been assigned to watch for insurgents planting bombs on the roads.
The two Humvees were incinerated in the attack. An eighth man, an Iraqi Army soldier who was working as an interpreter for the Americans, was killed in the attack.

Here's what being said within the rank and file about the attack (though the Times doesn't want to get in on it, they really don't like speaking to the rank and file): the attack never should have happened but did because the group was left in the stationary position, with no support, for too long. The military knows full well that they need to get in and out quickly. Instead, the group was left unsupported, like a sitting duck just begging to be attacked. It never should have happened and it goes to who was issuing orders. Maybe at some point our brave press will address that?

Back to print. Martha notes Sudarsan Raghavan **AND ANN SCOTT TYSON**'s "Missing, Slain GIs Identified As Search Continues in Iraq" (Washington Post):

The three soldiers confirmed dead are Sgt. 1st Class James David Connell Jr., 40, of Lake City, Tenn., Pfc. Daniel W. Courneya, 19, of Nashville, Mich., and Pfc. Christopher E. Murphy, 21, of Lynchburg, Va. The Pentagon said they died in the village of Al Taqa "of wounds suffered when their patrol was attacked by enemy forces using automatic fire and explosives."
Four soldiers were listed as "duty status whereabouts unknown," a term often used before a soldier is formally listed as missing. Of those four, however, one is known to be dead but was badly burned in the ambush that left the soldiers' Humvees ablaze, so the military must conduct forensic tests to determine his identity. The four are Sgt. Anthony J. Schober, 23, of Reno, Nev., Spec. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, of Lawrence, Mass., Pfc. Joseph J. Anzack Jr., 20, of Torrance, Calif., and Pvt. Byron W. Fouty, 19, of Waterford, Mich. All the soldiers were assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, N.Y.

[** Correction, Ann Scott Tyson and Sudarsan Raghavan wrote the above article. My apologies. 5-17-07.]

Jonah highlights Joe Mahoney and Rich Schapiro's "I never should have joined, G.I. said:
Army widow gets painful note
" (New York Daily News):

Two days after learning that her soldier husband had been killed in an ambush, the widow received a letter from him that reduced her to tears.
Pfc. Daniel Courneya, 19, who died in an attack outside Baghdad in which three other G.I.s were killed and three kidnapped, wrote to his wife, Jennifer, that meeting her sooner could have changed his life.
"He told me in a letter I just got yesterday if he had met me before he went in the service, he would have never gone," the sweet-faced 19-year-old told the Daily News yesterday. "He really didn't want to be there."
"He said he wanted to come home," she added. "He said he hated it there."
Jennifer Courneya spoke to The News outside of a military supply store near Fort Drum, where she went to perform the sad task of returning five combat uniforms her beloved husband had recently requested.

The Times doesn't have the time to talk to families but they don't have time to talk to anyone.
Or, as was said on the phone today, they don't have time to talk to anyone who doesn't have multiple decorations. Is it surprising to learn that they've carried their same worship of officials onto a battle field and seem to see themselves as too above the ones on the ground to talk to them?

To repeat, because I've heard it over and today and yesterday and I promised if it didn't make it into some reports today, we'd note it here: the attack happened not by chance. Saturday's attack happened because US soldiers and an Iraqi translator were left as sitting ducks, without any support. It went against everything that was known for operating off base. At some point maybe the press can start addressing how that happened?

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