Images you won’t see in the evening news

Sometimes in our everyday lives
we tend to forget what’s going on
elsewhere in the world and that the brave
men and women of the service are
just like you and I. They have family
and friends back home who love them
very much and are praying
for their safe return.

Many thanks to Robert F. for sending us these pictures.

[This article reprinted from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Media’s dark cloud a danger

Falsely bleak reports reduce our chances of success in Iraq
By JIM MARSHALL
On Sept. 14, I flew from Baghdad to Kuwait with Sgt. Trevor A. Blumberg from Dearborn, Mich. He was in a body bag. He’d been ambushed and killed that afternoon. Sitting in the cargo bay of a C 130E, I found myself wondering whether the news media were somehow complicit in his death.

News media reports about our progress in Iraq have been bleak since shortly after the president’s premature declaration of victory. These reports contrast sharply with reports of hope and progress presented to Congress by Department of Defense representatives — a real disconnect, Vietnam déja vu. So I went to Iraq with six other members of Congress to see for myself.

The Iraq war has predictably evolved into a guerrilla conflict similar to Vietnam. Our currently stated objectives are to establish reasonable security and foster the creation of a secular, representative government with a stable market economy that provides broad opportunity throughout Iraqi society. Attaining these objectives in Iraq would inevitably transform the Arab world and immeasurably increase our future national security.

These are goals worthy of a fight, of sacrifice, of more lives lost now to save thousands, perhaps tens or hundreds of thousands in the future. In Mosul last Monday, a colonel in the 101st Airborne put it to me quite simply: “Sir, this is worth doing.” No one I spoke with said anything different. And I spoke with all ranks.

But there will be more Blumbergs killed in action, many more. So it is worth doing only if we have a reasonable chance of success. And we do, but I’m afraid the news media are hurting our chances. They are dwelling upon the mistakes, the ambushes, the soldiers killed, the wounded, the Blumbergs. Fair enough. But it is not balancing this bad news with “the rest of the story,” the progress made daily, the good news. The falsely bleak picture weakens our national resolve, discourages Iraqi cooperation and emboldens our enemy.

During the conventional part of this conflict, embedded journalists reported the good, the bad and the ugly. Where are the embeds now that we are in the difficult part of the war, now that fair and balanced reporting is critically important to our chances of success? At the height of the conventional conflict, Fox News alone had 27 journalists embedded with U.S. troops (out of a total of 774 from all Western media). Today there are only 27 embedded journalists from all media combined.

Throughout Iraq, American soldiers with their typical “can do” attitude and ingenuity are engaging in thousands upon thousands of small reconstruction projects, working with Iraqi contractors and citizens. Through decentralized decision-making by unit commanders, the 101st Airborne Division alone has spent nearly $23 million in just the past few months. This sum goes a very long way in Iraq. Hundreds upon hundreds of schools are being renovated, repainted, replumbed and reroofed. Imagine the effect that has on children and their parents.

Zogby International recently released the results of an August poll showing hope and progress. My own unscientific surveys told me the same thing. With virtually no exceptions, hundreds of Iraqis enthusiastically waved back at me as I sat in the open door of a helicopter traveling between Babylon and Baghdad. And I received a similar reception as I worked my way alone, shaking hands through a large crowd of refinery workers just to see their reaction.

We may need a few credible Baghdad Bobs to undo the harm done by our media. I’m afraid it is killing our troops.

-- U.S. Rep. Jim Marshall (D-Ga.) of Macon, a Vietnam combat veteran, is a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

THE PUBLIC VIEW

Jumping to conclusions: Did President Bush lie?

Fred Kaplan wrote a piece in Slate Magazine titled, “Was Bush Lying About WMD?” He seems reasonable enough at the outset, given that he doesn’t infer President Bush is a greedy, insensitive, rich, frat-boy, bent on WW III, who has no right to the Oval Office. (At least, not in this article.) But he does jump to some extreme conclusions that are just as baseless.

For the record, I do not think President Bush lied about WMD or anything else for that matter. To believe that, one would have to also believe that President Bush was clever enough to fool Tony Blair, the US Congress, and many others who had access to their own sources of intelligence. One would have to believe that all the President’s advisors, (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, The JCS, etc) were part of the plot also.

But, back to Kaplan’s piece:

The intro: We may never know if Saddam Hussein really had weapons of mass destruction during the final months or years before his ouster . . .

The premise: the Bush administration claimed he [Saddam Hussein] did [have WMD] with a degree of certainty far exceeding that of U.S. intelligence reports.

Accusations:

1) . . .Pentagon officials who made these claims so fiercely probably weren’t lying. Clearly, they had formed their conclusions first, then went scrounging for the evidence.
2) Clearly, they [the Pentagon officials] stretched the evidence they found right up to, and in some cases beyond, the logical limits.
3) They [Rumsfeld, et al] probably also believed that the analysts in the CIA and DIA, who were uncertain or skeptical about the matter, just didn’t, or didn’t want to, look hard enough.

The remainder of Kaplan’s article is a discussion between the parallels of the ‘cold war missile gap’ debate of the 1950’s and Iraq’s WMD.

Kaplan’s account of the missile gap debate may be correct or not. I’m not enough of an historian to say. But for the sake of this argument, let’s assume everything he says about it is true. Mr. Kaplan’s accusation is: “Clearly, Pentagon officials formed their conclusion first“, and, “Clearly, they stretched the evidence . . .” . He has no evidence that is so, whatsoever. His only logic (if you wish to call it that) is the similarity of the current WMD debate to the missile gap debate of 40 years ago. That would be like Marsha Clark claiming OJ guilty of murder because his case was so similar to the Sam Shephard or Lizy Borden cases.

Why did Kaplan stop there? I can see parallels between the current situation and the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898, which lead to the Spanish-American War. There is evidence now that the explosion onboard the ship was an accident and not an act of sabotage. Did President McKinley and Sec. of the Navy, Roosevelt mislead America and the Congress in order to steal the rightful possessions of Spain? Did big sugar lust after Cuba’s sugar cane production? Could be! But we can’t draw that conclusion.

Mr. Kaplan references another article in Slate Magazine he authored last October, titled, The Rumsfeld Intelligence Agency. In it, he says Rumsfeld, et al, maliciously made a connection between Iraq and Al-Qaeda terrorists as a case for war. His reference for that article was yet another piece written in the New York Times. Now, in his latest article, he says the same covert ‘intelligence agency’ was actually looking for evidence of WMD because WMD are an easier sell. Mr. Kaplan should make it clear. Did Rumsfeld mislead us about WMD or a terrorist connection? Was Mr. Kaplan wrong then, or is he wrong now?

As I said at the beginning of this article, I don’t know if President Bush lied or not, but I don’t think so. I do feel strongly, however, that if you call or infer someone a liar (especially the President) you better have some very strong evidence. In Mr. Kaplan’s case, it isn’t there, strong or otherwise. He states his own conclusion and goes back forty years to draw parallels to the missile gap debate of the 1950’s. Using words like “clearly” is no substitute for fact.

The Bush Administration made its case at the United Nations when Sec. Powell laid out the Administration’s evidence. Dr. Condoleezza Rice followed with her own analysis. Were Secretary Powell and Dr. Rice lying too, or did ‘Dumya’ fool them, as he supposedly fooled Senators Kerry, Byrd, and Clinton? That’s pretty impressive for someone who can’t even speak proper English, can’t think for himself, and has the lowest IQ of all modern presidents.

If one wants to prove the Bush Administration lied, one needs to start with the statements of evidence as presented. Have you seen anyone dissect that evidence to prove how it was falsified or fabricated? Did anyone track down any of the Iraqis who were recorded discussing WMD and show them to be misquoted? Has anyone gone to the sites shown in the satellite imagery to see if they were associated with WMD?

Bush detractors will not focus on the Administration’s evidence because it is credible, although not final. US intelligence did connect the dots. It made the case that there were programs of WMD ongoing or easily resurrected, even if we cannot find the end products now. Further, the anti-war left fails to make any counter argument that Saddam Hussein did not have WMD nor a terrorist connection. Their entire argument is WMD cannot be found; ergo . . . they never existed. Saddam knew that WMD were the reason for allied military action. It makes no sense whatsoever that he would leave a smoking gun for us stumble across. It does makes sense that he would either ship them to a safe haven or destroy them to cover his crimes and lies.

From the evidence presented and the arguments produced so far, Fred Kaplan and the liberal left at Slate Magazine are ‘clearly‘ jumping to unsubstantiated conclusions.

THE PUBLIC VIEW

 

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