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Hellish Conditions In Iraq Undercut Bush Spin and Lies

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President Bush blaming the press for exaggerating conditions in Iraq is like the Devil accusing Dante of defamation for writing "The Inferno."

The Bushidos all along have blamed the press for "exaggerating" the hell the U.S. has made of Iraq. Recall ex-Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's words, "The steady stream of (media) errors all seem to be of a nature to inflame the situation and to give heart to the terrorists and to discourage those who hope for success in Iraq."

Got that? As the firebrand with the torch runs out of the burning house he blames an approaching TV camera crew for "inflaming" matters.

Just as Dante no doubt wrote his epic to bolster the forces of Evil, why, Rumsfeld discovered, al Qaeda had "media committees" scurrying about Iraq to mislead the press. As if the Pentagon hadn't admitted it was spending millions in Iraq to influence (read "bribe") local journalists!

With three thousand Iraqi civilians butchered over the past three weeks, we might recall GWB's ridiculous words at his March 21st press conference last year: "For every act of violence, there is encouraging progress in Iraq that's hard to capture on the evening news," implying the press underplayed positive news. What progress? Where?

Well, maybe it's hard to cover Iraq given the Pentagon's penchant for shooting up journalists. As the Boston Globe reported November 18, 2005, U.S. military forces had killed as many as 13 journalists in Iraq, second only to the insurgent forces, and detained others without filing charges against them. Al-Jazeera, the Arabic satellite news channel, was one of the attack victims.

In fact, though, the media may be under-reporting the Iraq tragedy. According to one career Army GI of my acquaintance stationed in Iraq, "Things here are worse than the media is reporting. Nobody is safe from incoming."

Corroboration comes from Dr. Saad Eskander, director of Iraq's National Library and Archive in Baghdad, whose Internet journal, according to The New York Times of February 7th, is so disturbing he said, "I feared that people would not believe what I would say about daily life and the state of total chaos and destruction prevailing in Baghdad."

A chart he compiled on the impact of sectarian violence on his staff in December included 4 assassinations of employees, two kidnappings, 66 murders of staff members' relatives, 58 death threats and 51 displacements of people forced to abandon their homes.

The archivist went on to write "terrorists attacks, especially mortars shelling represent a considerable threat." He added, "It is extremely difficult for my staff, including me, to work in a normal way. Many roads and bridges are blocked.
Hundreds of checkpoints are responsible for the daily heavy traffic. There is always the danger of daily car bomb attacks, assassinations, kidnapping and so on...All these 'tiny things' affect our works on daily basis."

In a related Times article of the same date, "Military Wants More Civilians To Help In Iraq," General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is quoted as telling the Senate, Washington has got to put more civilian shoes on the ground "to be able to help with judiciary systems, be able to help with engineering, be able to help with electricity and the like before a country devolves into a state where the terrorists can find a home."

Notice Pace's use of the distancing phrase "a country" rather than "Iraq," as if Iraq's agony was something going down in China. Notice the phrase "devolves into a state where terrrorists can find a home" as if the terrorists aren't already camping out right under his nose. And why not? Wasn't it the self-declared "Mission Accomplished" Mister Bush who crowed, "Bring 'em on!"?

The Times says the Pentagon has told Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates "the new Iraq strategy could fail unless more civilian agencies step forward quickly to carry out plans for reconstruction and political development," yet Condoleeza Rice replies her State Department "needed six months to locate and prepare civil servants and contractors to send abroad."

Of course, the roads of Iraq are strewn with the corpses of contractors who could not do their jobs because the Pentagon could not protect them so who's surprised Ms. Rice can't recruit new contractors?

Rice's plea for more time sounds a lot like Iraq Prrime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki who complained on Iraqi national TV February 6th the delay providing security "is giving a negative impression and has led some people to say that we have already failed." (Some people?)

While Iraqis suffer and die, while the morgues overflow with tortured bodies, with hospitals unable to care for the wounded and the dismembered, with perhaps as many as 650,000 killed, with 50% unemployment and the employed unable to get to work, with electricity sputtering and families forced to abandon their homes and homeland, with, indeed, what Dr. Eskander has called "total chaos," with all this terrible unfolding human tragedy triggered by the lies of George Bush, the U.S. Congress is incapable of even passing a non-binding, panty-waist resolution to cut off funding for this massacre, much less assuming the honorable and urgent task of impeaching, trying, and convicting the worst president ever to occupy the White House.

Maybe it's time for members of both political parties to reread "Dante's Inferno," particularly the part about corrupt politicians immersed in a lake of boiling pitch.

As the tragedy soars to a Wagnerian crescendo, it gets ever harder for GWB and his backers to make their spin audible. Perhaps Congress would see Iraq in a different light if "surged" themselves over to Baghdad, and lived and worked there amid the same perils shared by the troops they committed and the Iraqi civilians dying by the thousands. Wanna bet how quick they'd vote to get the hell out?
(Sherwood Ross is an American reporter and columnist. Reach him at
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Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular "Workplace" column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public (more...)
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