Wednesday, November 16, 2011

At least one outlet tells the truth about yesterday's hearing

Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) reports, "Some United States forces will remain as military trainers on 10 bases in Iraq even after an end-of-year deadline for all American troops to be out of the country, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate committee on Tuesday." In doing so, she and the paper tell the truth to the American people at a time when most outlets lie either outright or by omission.

Yesterday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing received a lot of attention from the press and most of the coverage was beyond worthless and will be easily forgotten. Which is too bad because it was a historic hearing. Elisabeth Bumiller covers it for news and as news, and good for her and the paper. But the bulk of yesterday's coverage doesn't even work as a first draft of bad gossip.

When a leader leads a country to believe one thing while, in reality, another thing is happening, it is news. The New York Times was not the only paper to carry water for the Bush administration in the lead up to the Iraq War, though, lucky for other outlets, it has shouldered the bulk of the blame. Maybe they did learn. (Bumiller was not a part of the pre-Iraq WMD claims coverage. I'm referring to the paper learning, not her.) If you don't get how badly the bulk of the reporting is, let's look at the first two paragraphs of Charley Keyes' report for CNN:

Deep disagreements surfaced on Capitol Hill Tuesday over whether the United States has moved too quickly to withdraw troops from Iraq.
The Obama administration will withdraw all U.S. military personnel by the end of the year, after negotiations with Iraq broke down last month over leaving behind a small force for training and security. Some 30,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq now, and only a small number of U.S. military will remain behind, attached to the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

"The Obama administration will withdraw all U.S. military personnel by the end of they year"? Was Keyes at the hearing? There's the part Bumiller reports on noted above, yesterday's snapshot included Senator Joe Lieberman's exchange with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey and the issue arose over and over. Where does Keyes get the idea that Barack is withdrawing "all U.S. military personnel"?

Oh, right. The narrative. The media narrative. And the inability to report the truth because, heaven forbid, he be the only one who do. Better to run with the pack, barking at the moon apparently. And Charley Keyes was the first example I ran across this morning -- he is far from the only one. Again, good for Bumiller and the Times who actually attempt to inform Americans this morning.

Still on the New York Times, Andrew E. Kramer reports on the village of Sokur whose "residents
[. . .] formed an alliance with the Americans who had moved into the airport" and, due to the proximity of the military, a number of residents worked for the US military. They've been out of work for months and are unable to find new jobs or to get a visa to the US. The US military spokesperson, Jeffrey Buchanan, is quoted insisting, "The opportunity to help Iraq with Iraq's problems is not to move everybody who worked for us to the United States. We gave them a means of employment for as long as we could." What a prince. (That was sarcasm.) Today Al Mada carries a column Tariq wrote for the Los Angeles Times entitled "U.S. pullout leaves Iraqi interpreters out on a limb" -- excerpt:

My fellow interpreters and I were promised by the U.S. government that special visas would be made available for us to move to the United States if our lives were put in danger by our work for the military. Congress backed up that promise by passing a law setting aside 5,000 such "special immigrant visas" per year for Iraqis.

But the process is broken. The program is going so slowly, it is barely a program at all. In August, according to American news reports, a mere 10 visas were issued, and that is typical. We all have been told that our applications are on "administrative hold" while the U.S. runs security clearances on us (even though we already have gone through exhaustive security checks to get clearance to be on the bases). We are despairing at this point, and we worry that the U.S. government is closing the door on us. The looming pullout leaves us in extreme jeopardy as the Americans not only continue to delay issuing us visas but also expel us from the only safe places for us in Iraq.

We'll go into yesterday's hearing more in today's snapshot. We'll make the thrust of this entry applause for Elisbeth Bumiller and the New York Times. They didn't just do their job (though this day, that's reason enough considering how poorly so many outlets are doing), they did it well. Good for them.

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