Pretty Slick

A March 1 New York Times story, "A Revival for Iraq's Oil Industry as Output Nears Prewar Levels," trumpeted U.S. progress, but don't believe it. The Defense Department's own Weekly Report released the same day shows that oil production in Iraq actually fell steadily from mid January to the end of February. The Times also swallowed Jerry Bremer's claim that electricity generation has been restored to prewar levels and is expected to rise rapidly. The Defense Department report actually shows that power production declined during the last part of February and still hasn't hit its "October 2003 goal." Diesel fuel production has leveled off, and kerosene production has fallen. Also, the unemployment rate is 28 percent, and the "underemployment rate" is an additional 21.6 percent. Meanwhile, Iraq's Consumer Price Index increased 33.6 percent during 2003. None of those grim figures were in the Times story. Judging by how much of the U.S. press has been embedded and co-opted by BushCo, the only part of the U.S. program that may work is what the Weekly Report says is the plan to co-opt Iraqi journalists: "Media: will be addressed to help create an informed cadre of professional journalists that can effectively relay accurate information and encourage participation through innovative and attractive civic education programs."

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