Sunday, August 17, 2003

War News for August 17, 2003 Bring ‘em on: Two US soldiers shot, wounded in Baghdad. Bring ‘em on: US troops attacked in Baquba. One US soldier wounded, one vehicle destroyed. Bring ‘em on: US troops under mortar fire in Ramadi. US-appointed police chief ambushed in Mosul; four Iraqi police killed, four wounded. Baghdad water supply sabotaged. US halts patrols in Sadr City. Just another day in Iraq. Jobs and Growth programs at DynCorp, MPRI, Vinnell. Local story: Wounded US soldier undergoes first round of surgery. Local story: New York Air National Guard unit may begin second tour of duty in Iraq. Rant of the Day Two hundred and sixty-eight American soldiers have died in Iraq since the war began. One hundred and thirty have died since Bush announced the end of major combat operations. No reliable estimates of US wounded exist, and no firm numbers of Iraqi casualties have been published. Every day American troop convoys are attacked, bases mortared, pipelines sabotaged, civilians are accidentally shot, soldiers are killed or maimed. The Provisional Authority is a shambles. Bremer and his top honchos sit in splendid isolation in Saddam Hussein’s air-conditioned former palaces and issue glowing press released to gullible American reporters living in the well-guarded al-Rasheed Hotel. Meanwhile, on the streets of Baghdad electricity, water, and medical services are maintained by Iraqi improvisation rather than through American design. Robbery and kidnapping are rampant. Anger grows in direct proportion to mismanagement. But you won’t read about any of these things in the American press, because the US media has stopped covering the Iraq War. It's getting harder and harder to find any mention of Iraq and Afghanistan in the US media these days. Some of the casualties aren’t even mentioned until some local paper or TV station runs a little piece about the hometown hero who got his ass shot off a couple of weeks ago. The White House issues inflated numbers and meaningless statistics “proving” progress and the press passes it along without question. Guardsmen are getting notified that they're going to be activated for at least a year, and to be prepared for two years. The active forces just started a one-year individual rotation policy, which is the worst possible way to fight a war and try to maintain some kind of unit cohesion. None of this is getting any kind of attention. But that's been Bush administration's pattern on everything: make a mess, sweep it out of sight and move on to the next piece of mischief. And the media enables them every step of the way. Whether it's the failure of the Bush economic policy, the outright lies used to justify an aggressive war, inept leadership, corruption and cronyism, or the religious right's stealth attack on the Federal judiciary, the press ignores the consequences of this administration's actions. We have witnessed the death of the American Fourth Estate. Once the envy of the Free World and a vital component of American democracy, the American press expired after a long illness brought about by chronic addiction to sex scandals, sensational exhaution and poisonous Republican blast-faxes. The press was replaced with a steno pool. Bush recently eulogized the American press by blaming the media for the economic mess he created saying, “Remember on our TV screens — I’m not suggesting which network did this — but it said, ‘March to War,’ every day from last summer until the spring — ‘March to War, March to War.’ That’s not a very conducive environment for people to take risk when they hear ‘March to War’ all the time.” The steno pool took notes, corrected Bush’s syntax before print, and eagerly awaited his next appearance. Don't be surprised when Iraq explodes like a land mine. You'll get full coverage on all the major networks, complete with color commentary, state-of-the-art graphics, and archive footage just as soon as the shit hits the fan. And when Bush tells you it's a wake-up call they'll report that, too. Just like it's news or something.


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