Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wonder which is true?

From the AP ... Shells hit Baghdad's Green Zone after 3-month lulldated April 18, 2009. (via

Suspected militants shelled Baghdad's protected Green Zone on Saturday in the first such bombardment in more than three months.

The back-to-back strikes reverberated across the Tigris River to a popular promenade, sending families packing up from fish restaurants and abruptly halting a party at a club.

From Dahr Jamail ... Iraq in Fragments, dated April 18, 2009, via Znet.

Having recently returned from Iraq, I experienced living in Baghdad where people were dying violent deaths on a daily basis. Nearly every day of the month I spent there saw a car bomb attack somewhere in the capital city. Nearly every day the so-called Green Zone was mortared. Every day there were kidnappings. On good days there were four hours of electricity on the national grid, in a country now into its seventh year of being occupied by the U.S. military, and where there are now over 200,000 private contractors.

Read the two stories, and you get two radically different views of like in Iraq. One describes a city that is still a very violent place to live. The other paints images of a popular promenade and families in fish markets.

Given their histories, I tend to disbelieve pretty much anything the AP prints unless corroborated by independent sources. Their story reeks of the official US government viewpoint. Lets look at the 'sources' for the AP story.

"The US military said"... wow, all the people and equipment rose up and spoke with one voice. Just stopping and reading that phrase should scream BS at any reader. Presumably, this instead is some unnamed source within the US military. Not the whole institution. The phrasing seems designed to make it appear more official than it really is, and seems designed to mislead the reader.

"A police official says" ... well, at least its not the whole police force. But, more reliance on anonymous 'official' sources.

"where authorities fear" ... wow, couldn't get more specific than that?

"said the city's police chief, Col. Mahmoud al-Issawi." Well, at least someone went on the record. The only attributed source in this whole piece, and its a police official.

"said police and hospital officials." More anonymous sources. Interesting since they are describing what should be a crime and one where you should be able to get the police to go on the record. Wonder why no one is willing to go on record.

"Iraqi security forces said" ... More anonymous sources.

And that's it. One police official on the record. Lots of unattributed anonymous sources. The one thing that is abundantly clear is that the AP reporter only speaks with government officials. The people of Baghdad, like those families in the fish market, are just props to his storytelling. The reporter doesn't bother to go interview any of them, and then pass along to the readers what they think.

Meanwhile, Dahr Jamail is an independent reporter who is telling us his personal experiences after just returned from a trip to Iraq.

All of the recent talk of withdrawal from Iraq is empty rhetoric indeed to most Iraqis, who see the giant "enduring" U.S. military bases spread across their country, or the U.S. "embassy," the size of the Vatican City, in Baghdad. The gulf between the rhetoric of withdrawal and the reality on the ground spans the distance between Iraq and the United States, while the reality is pressed in the face of the Iraqi people each day the occupation continues.

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