Fat Steve's Blatherings

Thursday, December 30, 2004

At last the Strib bashing: Part two, the page three war stories

      On page three, today's Strib has a story from the New York Times on the war in Iraq, plus another written by a staffer.  As noted below, these stories were considered less important than the fact that the drunken driving Democratic Attorney General of Wisconsin will personally prosecute a murderer.

      You might think it unfair to bash the Strib for a Times story, but I disagree.  Editing is the most powerful and important form of biasing news coverage.  The decision to run this story says a good bit about the Star-Tribune's biases.

      The second, and shorter story, is mostly OK.  Sen. Mark Dayton, D. - MN is touring the Middle East.  He says the "insurgency" seems "more sophisticated," the troops are doing a good job, and the Iraqi elections must go forward.  Not much content, but the Strib does do its best to slant things to make it appear the war is going badly.

      The main war story takes up most of the page (including a picture of a soldier at a Purple Heart award ceremony).  The key points:

      1) A group of fifty "insurgents" attacked U.S. soldiers outside Mosul.  They wounded 15 U.S. soldiers, at the cost of at least twenty five dead attackers.

      2) In "the Ghaziliyah district of western Baghdad . . .a rough Sunni neighborhood loyal to Saddam Hussein that has seen clashes between gunmen and police," the people the Times insists on calling "insurgents" and "gunmen" are described as having carried out "an ambush on Tuesday night." Allegedly, they "tricked" the Iraqi police.  The police raided a house that was reported to contain suspicious characters, which suddenly exploded.  Seven Iraqi policemen and twenty five neighborhood residents were killed; two police and twenty three residents were wounded.

      3) U.S. forces are attacking the area south of Baghdad known as the "triangle of death."  The story says:
U.S. commanders had hailed the November offensive to retake Fallujah as a major tactical victory, but violence elsewhere in Iraq has escalated since the fall of the main insurgent bastion 40 miles west of Baghdad. The vast majority of the estimated 6,000 guerrillas based there apparently slipped out to northern Iraq and the area south of Baghdad, which includes Mahmoudiya.

"We believe that many insurgents that left Fallujah settled throughout areas in Baghdad and specifically in southern sector of Baghdad and north of Babylon," [Brig. Gen. Jeffery] Hammond [the assistant commander of the First Cavalry Division] said.

      4) The Iraqi govt. arrested "a key insurgent commander" in Mosul last week:
Abu Marwan, a 33-year-old commander in the Mosul terrorist group Abu Talha, which is affiliated with Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was seized on Dec. 23 based on tips from Iraqi citizens, the officials said.

'Key operative'

The Iraqi government described Marwan as a "key AlZarqawi operative" who was "responsible for conducting and commanding terrorist operations in Mosul, purchasing weapons for Talha's terrorist group, and coordinating the training of terrorist cells within the Abu Talha terrorist group."

      My comments: Of the points made, the third point strikes me as by far the most important.  If the military did let "the vast majority" of six thousand terrorists escape Fallujah, someone needs to be relieved of command.

      The terrorist capture is also important.  That he was captured as a result of tips from Iraqi citizens, if true, is very encouraging.  It also makes me wonder if the capture has anything to do with the attack on our troops outside Mosul.  By the way, note the unusual use of the word "terrorist" to describe a terrorist.

      The story about the Bagdhad bomb is quite interesting, perhaps more so than the terrorist capture.  Was this a deliberate tactic, with the sole aim of killing Iraqi cops?  Was it a fall back when a car bomb factory exploded (see the considerably rewritten version of the story currently [11:14 PM CST] featured online).  Perhaps it was a "go-to-Hell" plan when a car bomb factory was discovered do to terrorist incompetence?  There is evidence for all these interpretations in the stories.  And were any of the terrorists killed in the blast?  The first story doesn't say anything on that subject, the rewritten version mention finding one body.

      Although this is supposed to be "news" story, there's enough editorializing to warrant calling it "analysis."  As a subject for analysis it's really important, in my arrogant opinion.  I would think that murdering twenty five civilians in a neighborhood that generally supports your cause is a bad idea, even from the evil perspective of the terrorists.  So why did they do it?  Were the nearby houses known to belong to govt. supporters?  Perhaps the "insurgents" are getting desperate, so panicked at the thought of the election taking place that they'll kill anyone?  I think these are interesting questions, but the Strib and the Times don't seem to care.

      As for the attack on U.S. troops, there ain't much to it.  The "insurgents" attacked, and they failed.  That's the usual result in Iraq.  It's also what the Times led with.

      As journalism goes, I judge this pretty poor.  It makes good propaganda, though.  But the Times and the Star-Tribune both claim to be objective.  I disagree, but as always YOU MAKE THE CALL!

      And don't forget:



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