The Tal Afar story collapses
What the Rest of the World Watched on Inauguration Day Commondreams archive of a National Catholic Reporter story from January 29, 2005:
Dublin, on U.S. Inauguration Day, didn't seem to notice. Oh, they played a few clips that night of the American president saying, "The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands."
But that was not their lead story.
The picture on the front page of The Irish Times was a large four-color picture of a small Iraqi girl. Her little body was a coil of steel. She sat knees up, cowering, screaming madly into the dark night. Her white clothes and spread hands and small tight face were blood-spattered. The blood was the blood of her father and mother, shot through the car window in Tal Afar by American soldiers while she sat beside her parents in the car, her four brothers and sisters in the back seat.
A series of pictures of the incident played on the inside page, as well. A 12-year-old brother, wounded in the fray, falls face down out of the car when the car door opens, the pictures show. In another, a soldier decked out in battle gear, holds a large automatic weapon on the four children, all potential enemies, all possible suicide bombers, apparently, as they cling traumatized to one another in the back seat and the child on the ground goes on screaming in her parent's blood.
No promise of "freedom" rings in the cutline on this picture. No joy of liberty underlies the terror on these faces here.
I found myself closing my eyes over and over again as I stared at the story, maybe to crush the tears forming there, maybe in the hope that the whole scene would simply disappear.
But no, like the photo of a naked little girl bathed in napalm and running down a road in Vietnam served to crystallize the situation there for the rest of the world, I knew that this picture of a screaming, angry, helpless, orphaned child could do the same.
The American news media, having missed the story to begin with, took over a year to investigate.
An Al Qaeda haven 60 Minutes, March 12, 2006:
This is a story about an entire city that was taken over by al Qaeda. It's called Tal Afar and about 200,000 people who live there became prisoners in their own homes when terrorists took control and turned it into their town.
They used Tal Afar as a base to train insurgents and launch attacks around Iraq. Last fall, as correspondent Lara Logan found out when she traveled there, U.S. and Iraqi forces were determined to recapture Tal Afar, and the Bush administration has pointed to that operation as a model for how to fight and win the rest of the war.
Ah, but there can be only good news from Iraq. Two weeks later, Bush resolutely promises that things will change
President Discusses Democracy in Iraq with Freedom House White House release March 29, 2006:
Last week in Cleveland, I told the American people about the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, which was once a key base of operations for al Qaeda and is now a free city that gives us reason to hope for a free Iraq. I explained how the story of Tal Afar gives me confidence in our strategy, because in that city we see the outlines of the Iraq we've been fighting for, a free and secure people who are getting back on their feet, who are participating in government and civic life, and are becoming allies in the fight against the terrorists.
And change they did... for the worse. Within the year, the exact opposite has turned out to be true for the town's citizens.
Bomber attacks 'model' Iraqi city BBC October 7, 2006:
Four soldiers and 10 civilians died in the blast in the northern city which US President George W Bush held up as a model in a speech in March.
The renewed violence comes as it appears the US may be considering a major change in policy on Iraq.
Reports of a change came after a visit to Iraq by a senior Republican senator.
In another development, US officials said that about 4,000 Iraqi policemen had been killed performing their duties over the past two years, with another 8,000 injured.
A year after Bush's brags of a city that "gives me confidence in our strategy", it gets even worse.
Iraq Raises Death Toll in Tal Afar Bomb Guardian April 1, 2007:
BAGHDAD (AP) - The Iraqi Interior Ministry on Saturday raised the death toll in last week's suicide truck bombing against a Shiite market in Tal Afar to 152, which would make it the deadliest single strike since the war started four years ago.
A spokesman for the Shiite-dominated ministry, Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, said the number nearly doubled from previous estimates after more bodies were pulled from the rubble in the northwestern city.
The new details emerged as more violence struck Baghdad and areas to the north and the south, with at least nine people killed in car bombings. The number of Iraqis killed in the past seven days surged to nearly 550 despite a U.S.-Iraqi security sweep now in its seventh week.
And who does these dastardly deeds despite strong words and strong American presence in the town? Al Queda? Iranians? Whoever else is involved, many are accusing the town itself.
Police accused in sectarian revenge killings CNN March 28, 2007:
Shiite policemen are being blamed for a wave of shooting deaths Wednesday in Tal Afar that authorities are characterizing as revenge for two truck bombs that left dozens dead a day earlier.
An Iraqi army officer in Tal Afar said 70 people were killed, 40 kidnapped and 30 others were wounded. An official at Tal Afar's hospital confirmed all victims taken to the hospital were shot in the head -- all males, between 20 and 50 years old.
There is evidence the gunmen were members of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army, a Turkmen Front Party official in Tal Afar said.
Mosul police spokesman Gen. Said Ahmed said the attackers stormed homes in the northern Iraqi city's Wahda neighborhood about 11 p.m. Tuesday. Attacks continued until early Wednesday afternoon.
The conservative news media lets Dick Cheney repeat The Big Lie
Cheney: Iraq, al-Qaeda linked pre-war USA Toady, April 4, 2007
WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Dick Cheney repeated his assertions of al-Qaeda links to Saddam Hussein's Iraq on Thursday as the Defense Department released a report citing more evidence that the prewar government did not cooperate with the terrorist group.
Cheney contended that al-Qaeda was operating in Iraq before the March 2003 invasion led by U.S. forces and that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was leading the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda. Others in al-Qaeda planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"He took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq, organized the al-Qaeda operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June," Cheney told radio host Rush Limbaugh during an interview. "As I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq."
However, a declassified Pentagon report released Thursday said that interrogations of the deposed Iraqi leader and two of his former aides as well as seized Iraqi documents confirmed that the terrorist organization and the Saddam government were not working together before the invasion.
The Sept. 11 Commission's 2004 report also found no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network during that period.
The headline gave no indication that Cheney was spouting the exact opposite of every other piece of information we know. Contrary evidence is given in the first paragraph, but the story unfolds as Cheney wanted until the fourth paragraph. Even the Pentagon chafed at this bald-faced lie.
Pentagon: No Saddam-Al Qaeda Link CBS News Interactive (that is, not the mainstream media) April 6, 2007:
(CBS) WASHINGTON Saddam Hussein's government did not cooperate with Al Qaeda prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the U.S. Defense Department said in a report based on interrogations of the deposed leader and two of his former aides.
Meanwhile, Vice President Dick Cheney repeated his assertions of Al Qaeda links to Saddam's Iraq, contending that the terrorist group was operating in Iraq before the March 2003 invasion led by U.S. forces and that terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was leading the Iraqi branch of Al Qaeda. Others in Al Qaeda planned the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
"He took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq, organized the Al Qaeda operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene and then, of course, led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June," Cheney told radio host Rush Limbaugh during an interview Thursday. "As I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq."
However, a declassified Pentagon report released Thursday said that interrogations of Saddam and two of his former aides as well as seized Iraqi documents confirmed that the terrorist organization and the Saddam government were not working together before the invasion.
The Sept. 11 Commission's 2004 report also found no evidence of a collaborative relationship between Saddam and Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network during that period.
Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, had requested that the Pentagon declassify the report prepared by acting Defense Department Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble. In a statement Thursday, Levin said the declassified document showed why a Defense Department investigation had concluded that some Pentagon prewar intelligence work was inappropriate.
Let's look at how the BBC covered the story. Boldface in the original.
Cheney asserts Iraq-al Qaeda link BBC April 6, 2007:
US Vice-President Dick Cheney has repeated his assertion that the al-Qaeda network had links with Iraq before the US-led invasion of 2003.
Mr Cheney told a US radio show: "They were present before we invaded Iraq."
Hours earlier, a declassified Pentagon report said information obtained from Iraq's former leader Saddam Hussein had confirmed they had no strong ties.
Its publication followed pressure from Democrats who suggest intelligence was twisted in the run-up to the war.
The belief that Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda were working together was an important element in the Bush administration's case for invading Iraq.
Critics have since suggested the administration "cherry-picked" from available intelligence to bolster that case.
Notice the difference in coverage. USA Today simply has Cheney's assertions and says the Defense Department passively "released a report citing more evidence". Meanwhile, the BBC's headline is more specific, about the US-led invasion and saying explicitly there were "no strong ties".
Bush isolated from reality
Republicans still deny the obvious about Reagan, that he was showing signs of senility as early as 1983. George W. Bush may not be Ronald Reagan senile or even Dan Quayle stupid, but he doesn't seem to live in the real world.
Transcript: Bush Interview 60 Minutes, January 14, 2007:
PELLEY: Do you think you owe the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job?
BUSH: That we didn't do a better job or they didn't do a better job?
PELLEY: Well, that the United States did not do a better job in providing security after the invasion.
BUSH: Not at all. I am proud of the efforts we did. We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude, and I believe most Iraqis express that. I mean, the people understand that we've endured great sacrifice to help them. That's the problem here in America. They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's
PELLEY: Americans wonder whether . . .
BUSH: Yeah, they wonder whether or not the Iraqis are willing to do hard work necessary to get this democratic experience to survive. That's what they want.
Two months later, the exact opposite was proven. Bush may think that "the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude" but he is completely out of touch with reality if he thinks "most Iraqis express" gratitude by rioting in the streets.
Shiites Call for U.S. to Leave Iraq Guardian April 9, 2007:
BAGHDAD (AP) - Tens of thousands of Shiites - a sea of women in black abayas and men waving Iraqi flags - rallied Monday to demand that U.S. forces leave their country. Some ripped apart American flags and tromped across a Stars and Stripes rug.
Fearing suicide attacks, car bombings or other mayhem in the capital, Iraq's generals ordered all vehicles off the streets for 24 hours starting at 5 a.m. Monday, normally a work day. The capital was eerily quiet, shops were shuttered and locked and reports of sectarian violence fell to near zero.
Police and morgue officials reported finding just seven bodies dumped in the capital, only the second time the number of sectarian assassination and torture victims had dipped that low in the course of the Baghdad security operation. A total of 24 people were killed or found dead in the country Monday, according to police and morgue reports.
Don Imus exposes the playground mentality of the far right
I don't even want to wade through the crap to provide cites. You all know the story. If not, look it up. Wikipedia entry on Don Imus. I just want to address some of the whiners on the right who claim that his firing from CBS Radio and MSNBC is an assault on the First Amendment and somehow a Free Speech issue. I laugh. Where were you guys when the Dixie Chicks were getting bounced off radio stations for being patriotic and Texan enough to be ashamed of Bush? Where were you when Bill Maher lost his job for stating an opinion about the 9/11 hijackers? The same sleazy conservatives who approved of gay prostitute Jeff Gannon getting face time with George W. Bush at White House Press conferences and dismissed the pathetic case against Mark Foley are the same sleazy conservatives arguing the exact opposite standard for Imus.
The radical right is getting louder as their numbers (and members) shrivel. It would be fun to watch if it weren't so pathetic and annoying.
The moral relativism from the right is exposed, as we see different rules for hate radio than for adults. Here's a good essay by Digby on Don Imus
I must say, The Exact Opposite essays are easy to write. Just watch the news, read DailyKos and follow the links. Since I was away for a couple of weeks, the examples in the news recently have grown and grown.
Are conservatives capable of shame?