More Twisted Journalism- WaPo Misses the Facts in Their Report On Iraq

MNF-Iraq responds HERE.
(This post was updated after reading this morning’s Washington Post article.)
The Washington Post has their version of Iraq:

“I Don’t Think This Place Is Worth Another Soldier’s Life”

BAGHDAD, Oct. 26 Their line of tan Humvees and Bradley Fighting Vehicles creeps through another Baghdad afternoon. At this pace, an excruciating slowness, they strain to see everything, hoping the next manhole cover, the next rusted barrel, does not hide another bomb. A few bullets pass overhead, but they don’t worry much about those.

“I hate this road,” someone says over the radio.

They stop, look around. The streets of Sadiyah are deserted again. To the right, power lines slump down into the dirt. To the left, what was a soccer field is now a pasture of trash, combusting and smoking in the sun. Packs of skinny wild dogs trot past walls painted with slogans of sectarian hate.

A bomb crater blocks one lane, so they cross to the other side, where houses are blackened by fire, shops crumbled into bricks. The remains of a car bomb serve as hideous public art. Sgt. Victor Alarcon’s Humvee rolls into a vast pool of knee-high brown sewage water — the soldiers call it Lake Havasu, after the Arizona spring-break party spot — that seeps in the doors of the vehicle and wets his boots…

Lake Havasu sounds strangely like Little Venice described by Scott (Thomas) Beauchamp at The New Republic:

An area in Baghdad called “Little Venice” where “The sector we soldiers patrol is known unaffectionately as “Little Venice” because of the dark brown rivers of sewage that backwash from broken pipes. The biggest fear in these parts isn’t sniper fire or IEDs, but a flat tire that forces you to wade through the reeking fluids.”

This is interesting, since this is Scott Beauchamp’s unit in Iraq.
Maybe “Little Venice” has changed its name to “Lake Havasu”?

The WaPo paints a bleak and hopeless picture of the current situation in Iraq.
But, sadly they don’t have any facts to back them up.
The WaPo missed the reality of the current situation:

** Sectarian deaths down 70% in Baghdad
** Car bombings down by 65% over last year
** Attacks on civilians down 59%
** Attacks on Iraqi forces down 62%
** Attacks against journalists down 70%

The Washington Post seemed to miss these facts in their report on “Lake Havasu” in Baghdad.

* * * * *

Here is more news from Iraq:
Either Iraq is the Titanic sinking or a country finally finding itself…

Iraq’s National Symphony Orchestra performs before an audience in the hall of Hunting Social club in Baghdad October 25, 2007. (REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen)

The following is a Haider Ajina translation of the news from Voices of Iraq on October 24, 2007:

Sectarian violence declines 70%

Iraqi Commander of operation in Baghdad announced that sectarian violence has declined 70% in Baghdad over the last 8 months and Iraqi forces will take over 50% of Baghdad’s security by years end.

Brigadier Abood Qanbar announced in a joint pres conference with General Raymond Odierno. ‘The number of sectarian violence incidences has declined 70%, car bombs declined 65% since the start of operation rule of law (the surge) in Mid February’. Qanbar added, ‘Violent incidences against civilians have declined 59%, against Iraqi forces have declined 62%, against journalist have declined 70%, in the months after implementing operation Rule of Law, by the Iraqi defense ministry, with cooperation from the interior ministry and support from the Multi National Forces (MNF), as of the end of September.’

Qanbar presented data showing the decline in violence as well as the decline in physical damage done by car bombs. Damage due to car bombs has declined 81% and decline in civilian wounded was 80%. Iraqi forces have conducted operations in Al-Fadhil district in Baghdad from September 17 until October 12. This resulted in the deaths of 48 terrorists and the return of 58 families to their homes’.

U.S. General Odierno of MNF-Iraq said’ “Iraqi forces are ready to take over security responsibility for ½ of Baghdad by the end of the year. MNF have developed 34 security centers all over Baghdad, which will be gradually turned over to the Iraqis. MNF will continue to train Iraqi security forces so they may eventually take over security. Odierno credited the decline in bombings and violence in Baghdad to agreements and accords reached all over Baghdad.


Iraqi conductor Mohammed Ameen Azaat of Iraq’s National Symphony Orchestra takes a bow after finishing a piece as they perform before an audience in the hall of Hunting Social club in Baghdad October 25, 2007. (REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen)

The Multi-National Force Iraq website is also reporting on the progress.
DefenseLink website reported:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24, 2007 – A movement toward peace that began in mostly Sunni areas of Iraq now is moving into Shiite areas as well, a senior commander said in Baghdad today. (Video)

“Bound together by the desire for peace and prosperity, the Iraqi people are overcoming differences to provide a better future for their children,” said Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Multinational Corps Iraq commander.

In a news briefing, Odierno and Iraqi army Lt. Gen. Abud Qanbar said they are upbeat about the security situation in the Iraqi capital. Both said the shift of Iraqis to supporting the coalition and government is continuing. The shift began in the Sunni“dominated Anbar province, but now is spreading to Baghdad, Odierno said.

“All sectors of Baghdad have witnessed a decrease in terrorist activities compared to the beginning of Operation Fardh al Qanoon,” Qanbar, the commander of the Baghdad Operations Command, said. “This has brought life to normal in many parts of Baghdad.”

Overall violence in Baghdad is down 80 percent over
the same period in 2006, Qanbar said. Overall terrorist attacks are down 59 percent, and assassinations are down 72 percent. The Iraqi general said the holy month of Ramadan, which ended Oct. 12, was much different this year.

Odierno agreed. “Iraqis celebrated Eid al Fitr (the feast ending Ramadan) last week in their parks, restaurants and streets,” he said. “During last year’s Eid, this was not the case. The security improvements made this possible. Attack levels continue their downward trend that began in June and are now at their lowest level since January 2006.”

The general said that improvised-explosive-device attacks, extremists preferred method of terror, are down more than 60 percent in the past four months, and bombs that do go off are less lethal.

Iraqi citizens tell Odierno they see and feel a difference. “Whenever I travel around Baghdad, Iraqis tell me how much safer they feel in their neighborhoods” he said.

Haider Ajina comments:

Good news from Iraq is beginning to trickle through the mass media. Operation rule of law or the surge is having solid measurable positive results. The surge is not only defeating terror and sectarianism it is also instilling unity, ownership, self-confidence and the rule of law in Iraqi society. Hope (which was never lost amongst Iraqis) is the strongest I am seeing, reading and hearing since our liberation of Iraq in 2003. Iraq’s different sects, religions and races are returning to the harmony in which they lived before the Baathist and Takfiri disturbances. Iraqi security is becoming stronger, more confidant and most of all receiving the support of the average citizen. They are doing this while respecting the rule of law and serving their citizens, thanks to our training and relentless hard work of our men and women in Iraq.

Regards,
Haider Ajina

Jules Crittenden has more on the WaPo’s Iraqi drama piece.

More… Jeff Emanuel reports on the importance of independent journalism from Iraq today.

UPDATE: Jeff Emanuel, who just returned from Iraq, offers his own observations on the current situation here and here.

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