Janet's Conner

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Iraq: VETERAN BAGHDAD REPORTER EXPLODES U.S. ASSESSMENTS

New York---Journalists in Iraq are often criticized for being too positive or too neglected about the conflict there---or for sticking to their home offices as violence escalates. Yet there is much evidence that often they are still able to obtain, and express a more accurate assessment of conditions in the country than top military officers or visiting politicians.

Editor&Publisher
By: E&P Staff
August 15, 2006

Tom Lasseter of the McClatchy (formerly Knight Ridder) bureau in Baghdad has long been the forefront of both daring and on-the-mark reporting from the war zone. In his latest dispatch, he observes, "as security conditions continue to deteriorate in Iraq, many Iraqi politicians are challenging the optimistic forecasts of governments in Baghdad and Washington, with some worrying that the rosy views are preventing the creation of effective strategies against the escalating violence.

Their worst fear, one that some American soldiers share, is that top officials don't t really understand what's happening. Those concerns seem to be supported by statistics that show Iraq's violence had increased steadily during the past three years."

Lasseter then quotes an unnamed intelligence officer, who has written the reporter (apparently without the military's permission). "As an intelligence officer...I have had the chance to move around Baghdad on mounted and dismounted patrols and see the city and violence from the ground. I think that the greatest problem that we deal (besides the insurgents and militia) with is that our leadership has no real comprehension of the ground truth. I wish that I could offer a solution, but I can't. When I have briefed General Officers, I have given them my perspective and assessment of the situation. Many have been surprised at what I have to say, but I suspect that in the end nothing will or has changed."

The reporter reveals that McClatchey is withholding the officer's name to protect him from possible retaliation by his superiors or political appointees in the Penatgon "for communicating with the news media without authorization."

But he does quote by name Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of parliament who says, "The American policy has failed both in terms of policy and security, but the big problem is that they will not confess or admit that. They are telling the American public that the situation in Iraq will be improved, they want to encourage positive public opinion (in the U.S.), but the Iraqi citizens are seeing something different. They know the real situation."

Othman told Lasseter that top American officials spend most of their time in the heavily guarded Green Zone and at large military bases and don't know what's happening beyond.

Another man, a Shiite parliament member named Jalaladin al Saghir, offered: "All the American policies have failed because the American analysis of the situation is wrong; it is not related to reality. The slaughtered Iraqi man on the street conveys the best explanation" for what's happening there.

Yet American military and civilian leaders continue to offer generally upbeat assessments. Lasseter notes some recent comments, then adds dryly, "In the week that followed, at least 110 Iraqis died in a series of bombings and shootings, and at least eight U.S. soldiers and Marines were killed. The Iraqi death toll was probably much higher, since many Iraqis are killed by death squads and their bodies are undiscovered, buried or dumped in rivers."

Then Lasseter adds, frankly, "Nationwide statistics during the past three weeks suggest that American efforts to secure Iraq aren't succeeding. While various military operations have at times improved security in parts of the country, the bloodshed has mounted with each U.S.-declared step of progress, according to figures that the Brookings Institute research center compiled from news and government reports."

Today, the American military said that two car bombs ignited a gas line in the explsoion that killed at least 63 Iraqis on Sunday---retreating from its earlier assertions that the explosion was the result of an accidental gas leak.

Also Tuesday came news that more Iraqi civilians were killed in July---about 3,400---than in any month of the war, according to Iraqi Health Ministry and morgue statistics, despite a security plan begun by the new government in June.


***Lies! Lies! Lies! That is all that this Republican administration is capable of giving us. Why should we vote them back in? For more lies?

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