Bush's Bitches

What's going on in Fallujah? Don't rely on the Pentagon's embedded reporters.

Renowned Satan hunter Gareth Brandl, the Marine lieutenant colonel doing God's work for us in Iraq, is quoted in today's Los Angeles Times story from Fallujah as saying, "There are no high-fives yet."

But Don Rumsfeld is probably trying to do them back in his Pentagon bunker: Once again, his plan to embed reporters with U.S. troops has paid dividends. (See this August Bush Beat item to refresh your memory about Rumsfeld's glee over embedded reporters.)

The L.A. paper's Patrick J. McDonnell is embedded with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, and is doing a fine job as propagandist for the Pentagon. The city, he and his editors back in L.A. tell us, is "largely abandoned." The Marines, he pounds into our heads, are fighting "militants," "insurgents," a "guerrilla force," and "the enemy." Only in the 16th paragraph of his story does the word "civilian" pop up—and that's after his editors have inserted this irrelevant bullshit quote from George W. Bush's Saturday radio address:

The terrorists will be defeated, Iraq will be free, and the world will be more secure. The defeat of terror in Iraq will set that nation on a course to lasting freedom, and will give hope to millions, and the Iraqi people know it.

Only then does the L.A. Times story finally say:

International concern has been mounting for civilians trapped in Fallujah, where there is no running water, power or food deliveries. Great swaths of the city have been reduced to debris and bombed-out, shot-up structures.

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Embed a reporter with some of these freaked-out Iraqis and see what kind of story you get. Absent that, go to Iraq Body Count's recent piece on last April's bloody assault by U.S. troops on Fallujah. Tales of civilians being mowed down may open your eyes about what's probably going on in this month's assault. It could be months before we start getting the full story of what's taking place in Fallujah now.

We do know, based on U.S. soldiers' past mayhem in Fallujah, that this ain't no Sgt. Rock comic book. Rather than throw in the irrelevant Bush quote, the L.A. Times could have told its readers some details of what happened during last spring's assault on Fallujah.

Regarding the current assault, you'll see a different view of Fallujah from other sources, including this morning's BBC story, which notes, starting in the second paragraph:

The first aid convoy has arrived, amid fears of a humanitarian crisis.

But a relief agency spokeswoman told the BBC that U.S. forces had refused to let them distribute the supplies.

Fardous al-Ubaidi, from the Iraqi Red Crescent, said five lorries and three ambulances had driven to the city's hospital carrying food and medicine, but were told to go no further.

Medic! We've got some reporters lodged up the Pentagon's ass!

While we're waiting for them to be disembedded, take a look at Antony Loewenstein's long "Engineering Consent" column from last March's Sydney Morning Herald. The Aussie focused on Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who was embedded with the Pentagon before we even invaded Iraq.

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