Wednesday, May 11, 2005

CNN: We're Rolling Up Our Sleeves

We don't do much media analysis here in Senator Bulworth's office. There are others who have more time and better expertise, and to be frank, we've all but given up on the media as a responsible outlet anyhow.

But the Senator was listening to Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! broadcast this morning, where Seymour Hersh was calling the situation in Iraq basically a civil war. The Senator couldn't remember when the television media, especially the cable variety, talked about Iraq. Mostly what the Senator recalls from cable tv news is stuff like this reported over at DC Media Girl (my secret Internets crush) .

I don't know about you, but I was glad to hear that CNN was "rolling up its sleeves" and doing some honest to goodness, real reporting, for change. Well, that is, after they, quote, put that (Schiavo) story on the national agenda, unquote (so now you know who to blame). And, that is, after the "runaway bride" story settled down.

They've had Anderson Cooper over to Lebanon and Syria to talk about the burgeoning of democracy going on there, and Frank Sesno (yeah, he still works there) to Germany to, quote, report on a story of Hitler's secret family history, unquote.

And that's probably what all of you have been getting, too.

Meanwhile, on this morning's Democracy Now! broadcast, the Senator heard journalist Seymour Hersh say this to host Amy Goodman about Iraq:

So today's paper says 100 rebels. We're getting a body count going again, killed in western Iraq. And inside the story, it says -- they quote some Colonel in a telephone interview, because as you, I'm sure, know, the press in Baghdad, this is not their fault. They can't do anything much. They stay behind the Green Zone, which is pretty much penetrated, too, I believe, so I'm told, by the opposition, but, you know, the insurgency or the resistance. What will happen there, God knows. When they choose to do something inside the Green Zone, they will do it.


Its complicated because what happens is we're going along -- the way the war is, its sort of this dreary pattern. Were going along, our troops, and they're going down roads. It's really sort of astonishingly stupid. We patrol, which is stupid to begin with. What good does that do? They go down roads, certain fixed roads, certain times, certain places, usually in groups of three, four, five Humvees, Bradley tanks, Strikers, other heavy vehicles. One gets blown up. The Americans start screaming in pain. The other vehicles stop, run out. The soldiers are jammed into the back. Youve seen some tapes or TV stuff about how they do it. They come running out and they shoot at anything that runs. And thats the war.


In any case, the paper also says -- this is the last one of these things that I found great interest -- that the Lummi tribe, one of the members – its a major tribe in the Sunni heartland of Baghdad, the four provinces that Saddam -- the center post of the resistance, the Lummi tribe probably had something to do with turning in Saddam. He had turned on some of those people. Anyway, the new Defense Minister is a Sunni, from the tribe, and he says hes going to continue the policies of Mr. Allawi, the former Defense Minister, which is what? What's the defense policies of Allawi, the former interim Prime Minister? Well, basically, what we have done since -- in the last year, is we have recreated the Iraqi Mukhabarat. This is the heavy-hitting secret police that Saddam ran. We have gone in and recreated many of the members, put them through a little acid test, made them vow that their allegiance – to what? – I guess, to America, or they're no longer Saddamites.

In any case, this is our main force right now. This is the force that Allawi controls. This is a force, the former, you know, whatever the guys, whatever you want to call them, the former roughest guys that Saddam had are now working for us. Theyre our most prominent security force. And we have had really an amazing spectacle of the Secretary Of Defense, Rumsfeld, making at least two trips in the last five months, I think it’s three, but I know of two, I think it was three, though -- going in and basically -- once before the election was announced, and two more trips -- basically pleading on the inside for the two major factions, the Kurds and the Shia, I am assuming some knowledge of -- I hope I am not -- Iraq? -- you know, the country? and there's -- anyway, I dont want to kid you. But we're negotiating -- obviously the whole point of the election was to keep Allawi in play so that he could serve as a bridge, our man, between the Kurds and the Shia. And what he delivers is, of course, is the Mukhabarat.


And here you have Rumsfeld. We went to war to get rid of Saddam and all of that. Here you have Rumsfeld going at least twice in the last four months or so to beg, to beg for Allawi to stay in, and beg basically for the former Mukhabarat security forces to continue doing what they do, terrorizing. It was an amazing piece in The New York Times Magazine. I mean, amazing in its inability to go beyond the immediacy of what they were reporting about one of these militias that are former Mukhabarat, former Saddam people, that are now working for us, killing, (quote, unquote), insurgents, which means theyre basically -- I dont know, when do you describe what is going on as a civil war? I dont know. When is somebody going to say that? But if its not a civil war, its very close. And I dont know -- I cant see an end game.


But I think what is more important than that is that this guy, this Bush, absolutely believes in what hes doing. Hes not like a nervous Richard Nixon, worried about, you know, They're coming after me, or Lyndon Johnson quitting over Vietnam with great uncertainty about whether he is doing the right thing. This guy is absolutely convinced.


So, this guy (Bush) cant be reached by us. Not just me. I mean, they can ignore me, but the networks, any time theres a good story, not a blip. And what does that mean? That means, you know, the body bags arent going to stop him. This is a guy who is convinced for whatever reason that even 1,000 or another -- you know, the body count goes on. It just goes on. Of course, nobody counts the Iraqis. I love the stories -- every time you talk about Vietnam, it's always -- the Vietnam war is summarized this way, 58,000 American killed and anywhere between 2 and 3 million Vietnamese.


He (Bush) is strange in one way. You know, Wolfowitz, who if nothing, if not smart, would understand this, but Bush is truly a Trotskyite, a believer in permanent revolution. We have never had one as a president before. He wouldnt understand that, but Wolfowitz would. He truly is. And he is doing it -- what he thinks he has to do, the revolutions he has to create, without any information, without any -- without an ability to absorb information that's counter to what he wants to hear. And so, I don't know where you are when you have a man with as much power as he controls and as much ability to do something.

So, yeah, CNN, please go ahead and keep giving us those, quote, provocative, character-driven narratives, unquote.

Meanwhile, we have no idea, no idea, what is going over in Iraq, other than that the bulk of the forces we sent over there two years ago are still there and not likely to be coming back anytime soon. That's all we know folks. Let the administration's Internets supporters talk about democracy in Iraq, winning the war on terrorism, and all the rest of it. But before we allow ourselves to get bamboozled that what's going over there is anything other than a clusterbunk, remember the press (such as it is) is holed up in the Greenzone, feeding us the same garbage that's passed to them from the military overlords, with absolutely no way of knowing what's going on there.

But if we're lucky, maybe there will be another missing white woman story we can zoom in on while the undeclared civil war is transpiring under our auspices in Iraq.

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