In his speech at the Naval Academy Wednesday outlining U.S. strategy in Iraq, President Bush
paid tribute to Marine Corporal Jeffrey Starr, killed in a fire fight in Ar Ramadi April 30th.
He was 22, on his third tour in Iraq.
A letter to his girlfriend was found on Starr's laptop computer:
"If you're reading this, then I've died in Iraq," Cpl. Starr wrote. "I don't regret going.
Everybody dies but a few get to do it for something as important as freedom.
"It may seem confusing why we're in Iraq; it's not to me. I'm here helping these people so
they can live the way we live, not to have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. Others
have died for my freedom; now this is my mark."
In a mammoth article in October taking note of the 2,000th U.S. death in Iraq, the New York
Times mentioned Cpl. Starr and his letter, but didn't quote the passages above.
All the Times quoted from his letter was: "'I kind of predicted this,' Corporal Starr wrote of
his own death. 'A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances.'"
The Times' omissions and distortions which are more the rule than the exception in news
coverage of Iraq explain why so many Americans think we're losing a war we're plainly
"Soldiers clearly feel that important elements are being left out of the media's overall
verdict," wrote the Christian Science Monitor's Mark Sappenfield, after interviewing members of
the 3rd battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, the Ohio reserve unit which, on Aug. 3rd had suffered
the single greatest loss of life in a roadside bombing in the entire war.
"Like many soldiers and Marines returning from Iraq, (Cpl. Stan) Mayer looks at the bleak
portrayal of the war at home with perplexity if not annoyance," Sappenfield wrote. "It is a
perception gap that has put the military and media at odds, as the troops complain that the
media care only about death tolls."
The vast majority of Iraq vets share the attitudes of Cpls Starr and Mayer. Rep. Tim Murphy, a
Republican from suburban Pittsburgh, was treated in military hospitals after an automobile
accident in Iraq last weekend.
"Every soldier I talked to said: 'Don't pull out. Do not make it so that those who have been
wounded and those who have died have done so in vain,'" Rep. Murphy said.
"I regret that stories of success upon success are not reaching my family, friends and
coworkers," wrote reserve Army Col. Jimmie Jaye Wells, a Texan serving in Iraq.
The relentless media emphasis on the negative also is illustrated by the differing treatment
accorded pronouncements on Iraq by Rep. Jack Murtha, a heretofore relatively obscure Democratic
congressman from Pennsylvania, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., who had been his party's
candidate for vice president in 2000, and a presidential candidate four years later.
When Rep. Murtha called for immediate withdrawal from Iraq, he led the network newscasts. But
when Sen. Lieberman who had just returned from his fourth trip to Iraq declared Tuesday
that "visible and practical" progress has been made, neither ABC or CBS mentioned it on their
evening newscasts, and neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post published a word of
what he had to say.
Some in the media go beyond omission and distortion to outright fabrication, as Reuters news
service did the day after the president's speech.
"Iraqi militants attacked a U.S. base and a local government building with mortar rounds and
rockets in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, on Thursday, before holding ground on several streets,
residents said," Reuters reported. "They've taken control of all the main streets and other
sections of Ramadi."
But Marine Captain Jeffrey Pool, who is stationed in Ramadi, said: "as of 2:00 p.m. there were
no signs of significant insurgent activity anywhere in the city. At 9:30 a.m. an RPG was fired
at a joint U.S.-Iraqi observation post which in no damages or casualties. That is all. No
Capt. Pool said the false report of an al Qaida offensive in Ramadi "is clearly a sign of how
desperate insurgents have become." It's also a sign of how desperate Reuters is becoming, as
progress in Iraq becomes more difficult to ignore.