Tuesday, May 09, 2006

What? Media Bias! Where??

I am not a big believer in the theory that media bias accounts for all the ills that have befallen the Bush administration, but sometimes you have to admit there is more than just smoke. There are some glowing embers.

Today the Media Research Center released the results of a study the had conducted. In April the big three networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, had done over 180 stories about rising gas prices. In that same period they had done 4 on positive economic news, such as the sub 5% unemployment rate, and near 5% annual GDP growth. This ties in with some other items that have come to light recently.

Last month retired General Barry McCaffrey made a visit to Iraq. Upon his return he submitted a memo outlining his findings to the Senate Foreign Relations He has concluded as he did in his 2005 visit that the war in Iraq is winnable, and he has also concluded the insurgency has been broken, in contrast to last years report:

The foreign jihadist fighters have been defeated as a strategic and operational threat to the creation of an Iraqi government. Aggressive small unit combat action by Coalition Forces combined with good intelligence - backed up by new Iraqi Security Forces is making an impact. The foreign fighters remain a serious tactical menace. However, they are a minor threat to the heavily armed and wary U.S. forces. They cannot successfully stop the Iraqi police and army recruitment.

In addition while he believes the political situation is delicate, he thinks the Iraqis are likely to succeed in creating a viable state:

The creation of an Iraqi government of national unity is a central requirement. We must help create a legitimate government for which the Iraqi security forces will fight and die. If we do not see the successful development of a pluralistic administration in the first 120 days of the emerging Jawad al-Maliki leadership - there will be significant chance of the country breaking apart in warring factions among the Sunnis and Shia - with a separatist Kurdish north embroiled in their own potential struggle with the Turks. ... There is total lack of trust among the families, the tribes, and the sectarian factions created by the 35 years of despotism and isolation of the criminal Saddam regime. This is a traumatized society with a malignant political culture. ...

However, in my view, the Iraqis are likely to successfully create a governing entity. The intelligence picture strongly portrays a population that wants a federal Iraq, wants a national Army, rejects the AIF as a political future for the nation, and is optimistic that their life can be better in the coming years. Unlike the Balkans—the Iraqis want this to work. The bombing of the Samarra Mosque brought the country to the edge of all-out war. However, the Iraqi Army did not crack, the moderates held, Sistani called for restraint, the Sunnis got a chill of fear seeing what could happen to them as a minority population, and the Coalition Forces suddenly were seen correctly as a vital force that could keep the population safe in the absence of Iraqi power. In addition, the Shia were reminded that Iran is a Persian power with goals that conflict with the Shia Arabs of southern and central Iraq.


Other than one paragraph on Foxnews.com and a mention on Fox and Friends I didnÂ’t see this mentioned anywhere in traditional media. It is all over the blogs and on Military.com and in the Washington Times however so it isnÂ’t like this is a secret report.

The other episode I would like to point out in this context is the capture of the AQIZ (ZarqawhiÂ’s Al Qaeda in Iraq) documents by Centcom and their release on 3 May 2006. A 4 page document states:

Page 1 of 4
A glance at the reality of Baghdad in light of the latest events (sectarian turmoil)

1. It has been proven that the Shiites have a power and influence in Baghdad that cannot be taken lightly, particularly when the power of the Ministries of Interior and Defense is given to them, compared with the power of the mujahidin in Baghdad. During a military confrontation, they will be in a better position because they represent the power of the state along with the power of the popular militias. Most of the mujahidin power lies in surprise attacks (hit and run) or setting up explosive charges and booby traps. This is a different matter than a battle with organized forces that possess machinery and suitable communications networks. Thus, what is fixed in the minds of the Shiite and Sunni population is that the Shiites are stronger in Baghdad and closer to controlling it while the mujahidin (who represent the backbone of the Sunni people) are not considered more than a daily annoyance to the Shiite government. The only power the mujahidin have is what they have already demonstrated in hunting down drifted patrols and taking sniper shots at those patrol members who stray far from their patrols, or planting booby traps among the citizens and hiding among them in the hope that the explosions will injure an American or members of the government. In other words, these activities could be understood as hitting the scared and the hiding ones, which is an image that requires a concerted effort to change, as well as AllahÂ’s wisdom.

2. The strength of the brothers in Baghdad is built mainly on booby trapped cars, and most of the mujahidin groups in Baghdad are generally groups of assassin without any organized military capabilities.

3. There is a clear absence of organization among the groups of the brothers in Baghdad, whether at the leadership level in Baghdad, the brigade leaders, or their groups therein. Coordination among them is very difficult, which appears clearly when the group undertake a join operations

4. The policy followed by the brothers in Baghdad is a media oriented policy without a clear comprehensive plan to capture an area or an enemy center. Other word, the significance of the strategy of their work is to show in the media that the American and the government do not control the situation and there is resistance against them. This policy dragged us to the type of operations that are attracted to the media, and we go to the streets from time to time for more possible noisy operations which follow the same direction.

This direction has large positive effects; however, being preoccupied with it alone delays more important operations such as taking control of some areas, preserving it and assuming power in Baghdad (for example, taking control of a university, a hospital, or a Sunni religious site).

Page 2 of 4
At the same time, the Americans and the Government were able to absorb our painful blows, sustain them, compensate their losses with new replacements, and follow strategic plans which allowed them in the past few years to take control of Baghdad as well as other areas one after the other. That is why every year is worse than the previous year as far as the MujahidinÂ’s control and influence over Baghdad.

5. The role that the Islamic party and the Islamic Scholars Committee play in numbing the Sunni people through the media is a dangerous role. It has been proven from the course of the events that the American investment in the Party and the Committee were not in vain. In spite of the gravity of the events, they were able to calm down the Sunni people, justify the enemy deeds, and give the enemy the opportunity to do more work without any recourse and supervision. This situation stemmed from two matters:

First, their media power is presented by their special radio and TV stations as the sole Sunni information source, coupled with our weak media which is confined mainly to the Internet, without a flyer or newspaper to present these events.

Second, in the course of their control of the majority of the speakers at mosques who convert right into wrong and wrong into right, and present Islam in a sinful manner and sins in a Muslim manner. At the same time we did not have any positive impact or benefits from our operations.

6. The mujahidin do not have any stored weapons and ammunition in their possession in Baghdad, particularly rockets, such as C5K Katyosha or bomber or mortars which we realized their importance and shortage in Baghdad. That was due to lack of check and balance, and proper follow-ups.

7. The National Guard status is frequently raised and whether they belong to the Sunnis or Shiites. Too much talk is around whether we belong to them or not, or should we strike and kill their men or not?

It is believed that this matter serves the Americans very well. I believe that the Committee and the Party are pushing this issue because they want to have an influence, similar to the MujahidinÂ’s. When and if a Sunni units from the National Guard are formed, and begin to compete with the mujahidin and squeeze them, we will have a problem; we either let them go beyond the limits or fight them and risk inciting the Sunnis against us through the PartyÂ’s and the CommitteeÂ’s channels.

Page 3 of 4
I believe that we should not allow this situation to exist at all, and we should bury it before it surfaces and reject any suggestion to that effect.

8. (Salah), the military commander of Baghdad (he used to be the commander of the Rassafah County and still is) is a courageous young man with a good determination but he has little and simple experience in the military field and does not have a clear vision about the current stage and how to deal with it Most of his work at al-Rassafah County is to take cars to the Jubur Arab Tribes, convert them into booby traps and take them back inside Baghdad for explosion. And the more booby trap cars he makes, the more success he has. This alone is not a work plan and we do not benefit from it in the medium range let alone the long range.

9. (Salah): The current commander of Northern al-Karkh (Abu-Huda) is very concerned because of his deteriorating security situation caused by being pursued by the Americans, since they have his picture and voice print. Therefore, his movement is very restricted and he is unable to do anything here. We should remove him from Baghdad to a location where he can work easier; otherwise he is closer to become totally ineffective. I know nothing about his past military experience or organizational skills.

10. (Salah): Northern al-Karkh groups are estimated at 40 mujahid, so is the Southern Karkh. They could double that number if necessary. Al-Rassafah groups in general is estimated at 30 mujahidin as I was informed by the commander of al-Rassafah. These are very small numbers compared to the tens of thousands of the enemy troops. How can we increase these numbers?
Page 4 of 4
Blank


(source: Centcom)

The Associated Press did write about the document capture, but, as Powerline noted, left out the part about the media strategy.

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