Friday, November 23, 2007

WHERE DOES AMIT PALEY GET HIS INFORMATION?

10 U.S.-Backed Fighters Killed in Iraq

By Amit R. Paley Washington Post Foreign Service Friday, November 23, 2007; A27

BAGHDAD, Nov. 22 -- Al-Qaeda in Iraq gunmen disguised as official security forces killed at least 10 U.S.-backed Sunni fighters on Thursday, the latest attack on the American effort to form neighborhood-based armed patrols, Iraqi officials said.

The fighting began in the early morning in Hawr Rajab when about 15 members of the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq attacked an Iraqi army checkpoint, the U.S. military said. The military said the insurgents used small-arms fire throughout the morning against the Iraqi soldiers and the U.S.-backed Sunni fighters, known in military jargon as "concerned local citizens."

The insurgents had dressed up in police uniforms and commandeered vehicles before the attack, which killed at least 10 of the U.S.-backed fighters and wounded five Iraqi soldiers, according to an Interior Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to reporters.

The U.S. military said it called in helicopter gunships to attack a van transporting insurgents involved in the clashes, killing two members of al-Qaeda in Iraq and wounding two others. An Air Force F-16 fighter jet later destroyed the van by dropping a 500-pound bomb on it, the military said.

--read entire story--

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If I read this correctly, Amit R. Paley of the Washington Post Foreign Service twice identified the attackers as "al-Qaeda in Iraq"--in the space of four paragraphs. Bottled up in the Green Zone, how does Amit have such precise information?

Do these "al-Qaeda in Iraq" gunmen carry ID Cards? Did they phone in responsibility? Or did Amit take it from the U.S. Military briefing and pass it along to the Washington Post, who dutifully passed it along to you and me--shining with the luster of truth?

Was this a ho-hum moment in the WaPo newsroom or did someone dig for facts?

Al-Qaeda in Iraq has become as ubiquitous a term as Homeland Security, neither of them requiring or getting confirmation from anyone with credentials--each of them welcomed into the common lexicon without question. There's certainly no street-cred in this article.

The U.S. military said it called in helicopter gunships (plural, multiple) to attack a van and they were apparently unable to kill it, because they needed an additional F-16 and a 500 pound bomb before it was over--must have been a hell of a van. Multiple gunships and a bomb--final toll, 2 killed, 2 wounded--no wonder this war has cost hundreds of billions, no one can shoot straight.

"U.S.-backed Sunni fighters, known in military jargon as "concerned local citizens." We are so whipped in this war that we've now turned it over to 'concerned local citizens' and, instead of the stinging rebuke it is to our military power, we call it 'military jargon.'

America is so confused, frightened and disoriented that it, along with Amit Paley and the Washington Post, accept this flim-flam as being OK. Can you imagine Eisenhower withdrawing behind walled-in fortresses and turning over the battle for France and Germany to 'concerned local citizens?'

Elsewhere, my Washington Post features articles showing photos of smiling Iraqis returning to the safer streets of Baghdad. Each day the war just gets better, the surge works wonderfully and we're on the edge of glorious victory a la David Petraeus.

Has everyone packed up and suddenly gone home? Iraqis back from Syria and insurgents to wherever the hell they came from? Why is Iraq suddenly so sunny and Afghanistan worse and worse?

Does anyone actually know anything but what we are spoon-fed? All through the muddy slog across Europe during WWII our troops were accompanied by the Ernie Pyles and Bill Mauldins of American journalism.

Not to come down too harshly on Amit Paley . . .

. . . but where the hell is he getting this confused report?


* For more in-depth articles by Jim on Iraq War, check out Opinion-Columns.com