Fat Steve's Blatherings

Friday, November 12, 2004

Nope, No Media Bias Here, Uh-Uh

      I am ashamed of myself.  For months, I've been thinking that the so-called "Main Stream Media" are biased and inaccurate.  But now, I realize my mistake.  They're right, and we bloggers are wrong.

      Decisive evidence comes with this New York Times article about the battle going on in Fallujah (hat tip: the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, my local thoughtful, unbiased, paper, which ran the article in today's dead tree edition, using the title Black flag is deadly omen in city's labyrinthine streets).  It's so important, so vital, so clearly unbiased, that I'm going to stretch fair use provisions and print the whole thing here, just as the Times ran it.

Black Flags Are Deadly Signals as Cornered Rebels Fight Back

Published: November 12, 2004

FALLUJA, Iraq, Nov. 11 - The stars began to glimmer through a wan yellow-gray sunset over Falluja on Thursday evening. The floury dust in the air and a skyline of broken minarets and smashed buildings combined for the only genuine postcard image this country has to offer for now

Sitting on a third-story roof,            Ashley Gilbertson photo
Staff Sgt. Eric Brown, his lip              for times
bleeding, peered through the            Marines fought on
scope of his rifle into the haze.         Thursday in an
Moments before, a lone bullet         industrial zone in
had whizzed past his face and           southern Falluja.
smashed a window behind him.
"God, I hate this place, the way the sun sets," Sergeant Brown said.

Sgt. Sam Williams said, "I wish I could see down the street."

But these marines did see a black flag pop up all at once above a water tower about 100 yards away, then a second flag somewhere in the gloaming above a
rooftop. And the shots began, in a wave this time, as men bobbed and weaved through alleyways and sprinted across the street. "He's in the road, he's in the road, shoot him!" Sergeant Brown shouted. "Black shirt!" someone else yelled. "Due south!"

The flags are the insurgents' answer to two-way radios, their way of massing the troops and - in a tactic that goes back at least as far as Napoleon - concentrating fire on an enemy. Set against radio waves, the flags have one distinct advantage: they are terrifying.

The insurgents are coordinating their attacks at a time when they have nowhere left to run. American forces have pushed south of Highway 10, the boulevard that runs east to west and approximately bisects Falluja. American intelligence officers believe that many of the insurgents have retreated as far as the Shuhada, a relatively modern residential area that is the southernmost neighborhood in Falluja.

But beyond Shuhada is only the open desert, patrolled by the United States Army. So the insurgents are turning and fighting. And at night, they are setting up deadly ambushes in the moonless pitch blackness of Falluja's labyrinthine streets.

Going straight up the gut in      Ashley Gilbertson photo
the center of the American       for times
advance on Thursday was         Marines look for insurgent
Bravo Company, First                  black flags in falluja.
Battalion, Eighth Regiment of the First Marine Expeditionary Force. Those marines, including Sergeants Brown and Williams, started their day by getting mortared in a building they had captured at Highway 10 and Thurthar Street.

The building's windows were blown out. Parts of the ceiling had collapsed. The mortars drew closer and closer and then stopped, as if the insurgents were temporarily short of ammo. "I thought, 'This is it,' " said Senior Corpsman Kevin Markley.

At about 2 p.m., the company walked 100 yards east along the highway, then turned south into the Sinai neighborhood, with its car garages and fix-it shops as well as concealed weapons caches and bomb-making factories.

Immediately, shooting broke out, pinning down the marines for an hour.  Finally they
moved south to a mosque with   Ashley Gilbertson photo
the stub of a blasted minaret.      for times
An armored vehicle drove up     The battle in Falluja, now
from the rear and dropped its     in its fifth day, is seen by
hatch. Out walked a group of        military planners as a
blinking, disoriented Iraqi             way to smash the largest
national guardsmen. They had    safe haven for the
been brought in only to search    insurgency in Iraq.

Meantime, the marines went to the rooftop, saw the flags and got into a firefight. It was silenced when they  
called in a 500-pound bomb from above onto a house where some of the insurgents had concentrated. The strike was so close that the marines had to leave the roof or risk being killed by shrapnel.

The Iraqi guardsmen left the mosque and trooped back into the vehicle, which drove off. Soon the marines were headed south again, through a narrow alley between deserted houses.

"Enemy personnel approaching your position in white vehicle with RPG's," someone said over a radio, referring to rocket-propelled grenades. A few seconds later, the same voice said: "More enemy personnel approaching your position from the south."

The alley exploded with gunfire and RPG rounds. Somehow the company commander, Capt. Read Omohundro, got two tanks Ashley Gilbertson photo
in place to fire down the alley.       for times
They let loose with a volley            In Falluja, marines took
and a building crumbled.               control of a mosque
                                                            where fighting had been
Captain Omohundro turned to a lieutenant and said, "Are they dead?" "They must be, sir," came the reply.

But the insurgents had gotten off an RPG round and disabled one tank; the other tank mysteriously stopped working as well.

The company had moved 500 yards south. They regrouped in the pitch blackness and pushed on at about 11:30 p.m. without the tanks, trying to keep up with the rest of the front, but after moving 25 feet they were attacked again in what appeared to be a well-organized ambush.

Two more tanks came in, but one had a problem with its global-positioning system unit. There was an hour's delay. The 50 or so men of the First Platoon, which had taken casualties, started bickering. Then they moved forward, behind the tanks.

At 1:30 a.m., now roughly 700 yards south of Highway 10, they stopped and entered a house, intending to find a place to sleep. There was a huge boom inside. "Oh no! Oh no!" someone shouted. "My leg!" someone else screamed. "My leg!"

They looked further around the house and found tunnels underneath. They retreated and a tank fired rounds into the house, which caught fire.

They looked for another place to sleep.

      Obviously, we wrong to think the Times was slanting its stories.  So what if we've pushed the insurgents out of most of Fallujah?  They're still fighting!  So what if we have radios?  They have flags that can signal to everyone in sight, during the daytime at least!  It doesn't matter that the Marines can see them, or that they won't work in the dark.  Sure, we have tanks, artillery, armored fighting vehicles, chain guns, rockets, rifles, and mortars, but they have the last three!  Why, they're killing one of our people for a mere thirty or so of their own!  U.S. defeat is immenent!

      I know now that the whole war is going to pot, and we'll lose any day.  It's also clear that we waste money on stupd things like tanks and radio, instead of using cost efficient flags and people.  I don't know how I didn't see this before.  Thank you, wise New York Times, for enlightening me.  I'll never think your stories are biased again.



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