Thursday, May 31, 2007


Senator Lieberman and the Troops

McClatchy Newspapers published a story yesterday, an utterly predictable hit piece

describing a small portion of Senator Joseph Lieberman’s surprise visit to troops in Iraq. More on McClatchy, after a review of the story, written by Leila Fadel.

Fadel sat down with a young soldier, SPC David Williams of the 82nd Airborne Division, as part of “the first of the five ‘surge’ brigades to arrive in Iraq.”  SPC Williams was invited to share lunch with Sen. Lieberman, and he apparently gathered questions from other soldiers the night before, which he transcribed onto two file cards. Those identified as submitting questions were all young men (20-22 years old, Specialist (E4) and below enlisted.

Clearly, SPC Williams shared the contents of his note cards, which Fadel described as a “laundry list,” but she specifically mentions just three questions, and a statement.

As reported by Fadel:

At the top of his note card was the question he got from nearly every one of his fellow soldiers: “When are we going to get out of here?”

Not an unusual question for soldiers assigned to a combat zone, all the more for soldiers assigned as part of the “surge” of US forces into Iraq.

If these soldiers meant this question as oblique criticism of US military strategy in Iraq, rather than a matter of grave personal interest to soldiers in harm’s way, is unclear from Fadel’s written text.

The two other questions quoted:

When would they have upgraded Humvees that could withstand the armor-penetrating weapons that U.S. officials claim are from Iran? When could they have body armor that was better in hot weather?

One can imagine most MSM reporters would pick up on questions like these three, they’re certainly of greater interest than anything else that might have appeared on SPC Williams’ list, such as “why do you caucus with the Democrats when they hate you,” or “why can’t the rest of Congress support our troops without insisting we withdraw?” Okay, so the soldiers may not have wanted to ask those questions, but I’d be curious what Fadel omitted from her report, given she picked the three questions most of interest to agenda-driven reporting.

Last but not at all least, Fadel reports on a statement found on the bottom of one of his cards:

It isn't clear whether Williams mentioned the last line on his note card, the one that had a star next to it. “We don't feel like we're making any progress,” it said.

Fadel doesn’t explain how SPC Williams was selected, who organized the soldiers from whom he gathered questions, or if he was among others at the lunch. As I review the story, there’s likewise little in the account of the lunch itself, or and no information about whether the questions the soldier had prepared were actually asked. Fadel herself took special note of the question on SPC Williams’ list marked with a “star,” but neither SPC Williams nor Fadel ever explained its significance, or confirmed what Williams intended by marking the question.

Three other soldiers are specifically mentioned in the report, and each one is credited with a negative assessment of the war and our progress, or complaints about armor:

“We're waiting to get blown up.”

“We're not making any progress.”

“It just seems like we drive around and wait to get shot at.”

“It's just more troops, more targets.”

“It's like everything else in this war…[referring to Baghdad]…It hasn't changed.”

Soldiers do bitching better than almost anyone else, and younger, junior troops have oftentimes the most limited perspective on war, given their proximity to danger and distance from decision. All given.

But it is hard for me to imagine a more cherry-picked selection of quotes, even from junior soldiers, without one positive word or hint of motivation for their mission.

I know what I think of press pieces like this. If you don’t, or somehow think this should stand as journalism, rather than propaganda, ask yourself this.

If this was written by our enemies, intended to wear down public support for the war, or portray our efforts as deeply unsupported by our own military, how would it be written any differently than it was?

I did a little research on McClatchy Newspapers, to see if they showed any (other) obvious signs of taking a partisan or political slant on the war.

McClatchy, a chain of small, regional newspapers of which I have taken little or no notice previously, may not be well known outside their markets, but a cursory review of their homepage, their Iraq news coverage, and their “blog” Inside Iraq should allow any objective reader to get fair measure of their political persuasion.

McClatchy and their “Iraqi and US journalists,” not unlike their more mainstream media (MSM) brethren, can’t seem to find any good news from Iraq, and resolutely identify all possible negative consequences from any news that could otherwise be perceived as positive.

Humorously, McClatchie has a Good News link on their website, but it currently contains only two stories, both about “good news” for big government progressives, and naturally, no such entries for Iraq.

McClatchy also allows a couple of stringers in Iraq daily compile an unedited (and unverified) “Roundup of Violence” in Iraq (for example, The Roundup of Violence in Iraq, Thursday May 31, 2007).

McClatchy editors at least have the honesty to post a disclaimer, although they can’t resist editorializing even here (emphasis mine):

The daily Iraq violence report is compiled by McClatchy Newspapers in Baghdad from police, military and medical reports. This is not a comprehensive list of all violence in Iraq, much of which goes unreported. It’s posted without editing as transmitted to McClatchy’s Washington Bureau.

One can imagine that Al Qaeda and Iranian backed militias have the Washington Bureau (or at least the McClatchy stringers) on speeddial.

For a sense of how articles like the McClatchy piece play in the left side of the blogosphere, Nico of Think Progress presents a real eye-opener. No, not in his reaction to Sen. Lieberman’s visit with the troops, but with the hateful and deranged readers at “Think Progress” who respond in comments. Within two hours, comments are full of BDS and anti-Semitism.

Here’s a small but representative sample:

3. Well the troops should know that they’re getting killed and maimed for Joe Lieberman whose name ironically tells the story…Lie-berman.
But none of this will change anything until the troops and the folks back home are pushed to the breaking point. In a fascist regime, when the propaganda is perfected they is no changing course. Only death and destruction for the commoners, and more wealth and privilege for the Ruling Class, the Z I O N I S T S.

Comment by Shirley — May 30, 2007 @ 10:43 pm

8. The troops are being maimed and killed for people like Joe Lieberman, to ensure their wealth and privilige.
There is a name for people like Joe Lieberman.

Comment by Shirley — May 30, 2007 @ 10:45 pm

9. What a f*ckin’ joke. This guy shoud be run out of town already.

Comment by Denise — May 30, 2007 @ 10:46 pm

12. Oh come on, Joe’s doing a good thing here. He’s over there to see how his pet war is going. That a boy Joey, you f__cking pathetic moron.

Comment by Later... — May 30, 2007 @ 10:49 pm

14. I cannot summon the words to express my contempt for this putrid waste of human life.

Comment by VerbalKint — May 30, 2007 @ 10:56 pm

18. Gee, no one seems to mention that lieberman is a jew and the real reason we are there is because US troops are protecting Israel. Don’t you remember, back before the Iraq war Israel said that Iraq is their biggest threat. Now they are saying the same thing about Iran. Let’s stop being puppets of Israel.

Comment by Wes Denton — May 30, 2007 @ 11:14 pm

24. Shoulda just fragged the jerk. Seems like then he’d get the idea…

Comment by Dr. Crow — May 30, 2007 @ 11:21 pm

25. Somebody should have painted Joe’s helmet RED, because he is a warmongering whore for the Bush Regime.

Comment by Jay Randal — May 30, 2007 @ 11:24 pm

26. Like I said, frag the fool. Only way this thing’s gonna end is to frag more idiots who think its a cool idea. Worked in Nam, b’lieve me!

Comment by Dr. Crow — May 30, 2007 @ 11:25 pm

30. Dr Crow, right on.
Joe Lieberman (I-Israel) is only interested in promoting the AIPAC agenda.
Damn Connecticut (did I spell that right?) anyhoo.

Comment by RUCerious — May 30, 2007 @ 11:38 pm

32. israel was a bad idea when it was created and gets more expensive to maintain everyday.

Comment by wes — May 30, 2007 @ 11:40 pm

41. Wayne ~ I have no doubt that fragging has already started and we’re not hearing about it.

Comment by RUCerious — May 30, 2007 @ 11:49 pm

55. lieberman is biased.
he has personal interest in keeping US troops in the area.
he is jewish and wants to protect israel from all the countries that surround it.
i have no problem with jews, but we have no reason for protecting israel.

Comment by Rafael — May 31, 2007 @ 12:14 am

57. Joe Lieb has his nose so far up chimpy’s ass, he has to be Pinocchio.

Comment by Uncle Ho — May 31, 2007 @ 12:18 am

70. In response to their questions about leaving Iraq, Lieberman said it would be a “victory for al-Qaida and a victory for Iran.”

Answer the f*cking question, Yahweh boy.

Comment by Juan C — May 31, 2007 @ 12:42 am

(Courtesy of Memeorandum)

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