Home
In this issue
December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 10, 2006 / 12 Nissan, 5766

Your Own Lying Eyes: Why aren’t reporters embedded with new Iraqi forces?

By Michael Ledeen

Ledeen
Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | On March 26, an Iraqi special-forces unit attacked a building on the outskirts of northeast Baghdad, where they had tracked a group of terrorists. They had good reason to do so, because three members of the unit had been kidnapped by the terrorists, and were savagely tortured and killed. Their fingers and toes were cut off, their joints were penetrated with an electric drill, and they were eviscerated while still alive. It later turned out that the terrorists were members of Moqtadah al-Sadr's militia.

The attack was a rousing success. Sixteen terrorists were killed, and another 16 or so were captured. A hostage was freed, and a considerable weapons cache — along with the inevitable materials to manufacture IEDs — was uncovered. The special-forces team had only one casualty.

This first-hand account comes from an utterly reliable high-ranking Pentagon official who was visiting Baghdad, and invited by the Iraqis to watch their forces in action. He notes that not only did the Iraqis perform admirably, but they then carefully wrote down an extensive description of the action and took photographs of the scene. Why? "To protect themselves against terrorist claims of wanton U.S. and Iraqi armed-forces behavior," he wryly remarks.

It wasn't good enough. In less than an hour, 20 bodies were laid out in a mosque nearly two miles away, and American and Iraqi journalists were invited to see the "scene" of the "massacre." A classic disinformation campaign was under way, which, at least for a while, was a more potent blow in the war than the special-forces' operation. Initial press reports (and even comments from the usually careful and restrained Iraqi blogger Zayed) spoke of an American raid against a mosque, not an Iraqi assault against a terrorist haven, and the usual claims of random killings of civilians went out on wires and airways.

That disinformation dominated news coverage for more than a full day. Finally a U.S. Special Forces Lt. Colonel, Sean Swindell — a few of whose troops were integrated with the Iraqi special-forces brigade — provided the real story. But by then, the story had run away from him, and so, for example, the Washington Post reporters Jonathan Finer and Naseer Nouri rather uncharitably wrote:

Their version of events differed sharply from that of Shiite officials and Baghdad residents near the site of the raid, who for a second day voiced anger over the operation, saying U.S. and Iraqi troops targeted a Shiite mosque and gunned down innocent worshipers in the half-light of evening prayers.

"There was no resistance at all from the mosque. There were no weapons during prayers," said Muhammad Ridha, 39, who works at the complex in Baghdad's Shaab neighborhood. "The purpose of the raid was to kill Shiites."

Once the lie about the "attack on a mosque" had been planted, it was seemingly impossible to convince those who had credited the original deception that they had been gulled by the terrorists. Yes, the Iraqi special operators had photographed something or other, but why should journalists believe those photographs, when they had seen twenty dead bodies just minutes after the event? And this conviction was reinforced by the locals; the Baghdad city council had by then demanded an immediate American withdrawal.

It's always hard to convince someone that his own eyes are lying to him, and yet by now some of the journalists should have figured it out, and they should recognize that American officials in the field are required to fully document their statements before they talk to the press. But that is easier said than done, because it's not realistic to expect a reporter to wait until American officials find it possible to speak, when the terrorists are flooding the international media with a story that certainly looks plausible.

The fault here is primarily with the Pentagon, which has behaved quite well on the military battlefield, but abominably in political combat, which is equally important. If the practice of taking along journalists in the first weeks of the war was so successful, why not do the same on operations like this one? It would have been invaluable to have had a top reporter see the real scene, and then the fabricated one a couple of miles away. Such a report would have been devastating to the terrorists, and would have done more to educate the American public than any subsequent briefing.

Moreover, in cases like this one — and there are lots of them — the Pentagon should fight with the same intensity as their soldiers on the ground, instead of patiently issuing bloodless statements and quietly briefing journalists who have already filed their stories. We have trained the Iraqis to document their actions. We know that lies are only moments away. Yet the Pentagon, over and over again, is simply unable to provide a timely account of events that would make the terrorists play catch-up. Secretary Rumsfeld constantly remarks on his department's inability to communicate effectively with the public, but this is a tribute to a failure of leadership that ends on his own desk. If the people he's chosen to wage this war can't do it effectively, then let him find those who can, or turn his desk over to someone who has better ideas.

But the media have their own burden to bear in these matters. It is just outrageous to give the same standing to Mohammed Ridha as to Lt. Colonel Swindell, and to refer to Swindell's account as simply "the American version" of events. By now, the press corps has the same eyewitness account as I do, and they know as well as I do that the source is excellent. They should tell the true story and alert their readers that, in this war, information is manipulated by our enemies and initial reports are often misleading.

Alas, as things currently stand, the only reporters who stay with a story long enough to get it right are the top bloggers, and the only citizens who have enough patience and attentiveness to wait before drawing conclusions are the readers of the blogs.

Which is why I read the dead tree media less and less, and spend more and more time in front of the damn monitor.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," Comment by clicking here.

Michael Ledeen Archives

© 2005, Michael Ledeen

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles