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Friday, December 02, 2005

A failure of reporting 
I saw this yesterday but I wasn't able to log on to blogger this computer, because Mac OS X sucks. Which is also why I don't do hyperlinks and can't post pictures and can't read the Washington Post or MSN news articles online either.

The AP went with a story by Robert Reid which most outlets ran with with the breathless sky-is-falling headline "US BASES ATTACKED IN RAMADI" or some similar variant.

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=1362625

Now, in the lead paragraph, the story says that the moojies attacked "several U.S." bases.

But let's see how long that characterization holds up.

The attacks in Ramadi occurred as local tribal leaders and U.S. military officials were to hold their second meeting in a week at the governor's office in the city center. The insurgents apparently tried to shell the building, but reporters inside said there was no damage or injuries.

Police Lt. Mohammed al-Obaidi said at least four mortar rounds fell near the U.S. base on the eastern edge of the city, but that there were no reports of casualties.


Oooh. Four freaking mortar rounds and the AP is covering it like it's the Tet Offensive all over again. It takes two jerks and a car to pop off four mortar rounds and skedaddle. And during my time over there, Combat Outpost, which is the US base on the eastern edge of the city, was mortared on a near daily basis - typically with quite a few more than four rounds. A lot of times you got hit with RPG fire there. I've been mortared there myself, several times. It was an ongoing low-intensity battle around that compound the whole time, with moojies trying to sneak in mortar and RPG attacks, and US troops countering with ambush patrols and aimed Mk 19 fire and .50 cal fire at muzzle flashes when we did get hit with mortars and could identify them.

(Those guns drew blood at least once, but I don't recall recovering the mortar in that instance.)

So the AP is really reporting nothing new, and the "attack" so hysterically reported by the Associated Press really represents nothing new at all. Indeed, the very fact that such an event is "news" suggests that things in Ramadi have been pretty quiet.

Also, look at the sourcing. The AP goes to an Iraqi police chief to confirm the shelling at a US base. But if you read yet further into the article, the U.S. military states that the ONLY incident that day was a single RPG being fired at a guard tower.

Again, we used to catch RPG rounds in the compound every couple of days...usually just one or two at a time, as the moojies figured out how to use them in the indirect fire role. No comment one way or the other on how effective or accurate they were.

And Hurricane Point and Combat Outpost were both mortared regularly - sometimes daily - since the earliest days of the occupation there.

Of course, you don't get that context from the AP.

So somehow, the moojies did nothing new whatsoever - displayed no capabilities we didn't already know they had (we've known they've been capable of massing in platoon strength in Ramadi since April 2004 when 12 Marines were killed in one incident, and we also know they can mass in platoon strength there because we just killed a platoon of them a couple of months ago in an airstrike.)

Bloomberg also states that the AP reports that the insurgents attacked "several U.S. bases, the governor's office and the Iraqi registration office in Ramadi, capital of the western al-Anbar province, with mortars and Russian-made Katyusha rockets today before dispersing."

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aB1GvWCm1cKw&refer=us

The Katyusha claim is just absurd. Not because Al Qaeda doesn't have them. We know they do. But there is only two suitable targets in Ramadi that could be effectively engaged with that system, and we know they weren't, because they're both US bases, and the US has already made clear the only incident was the RPG attack. You cannot engage the police station or the voting registration center in urban areas because there are no suitable firing points.

Any major attack on the police station - particularly including rocket and mortar attacks - would be easily audible from both Hurricane Point and Combat Outpost and would have been listed as SIGACTS and reported along with the RPG attack on the guard tower.

The unwitting stooges at the AP got led around by the nose on this one.

And for once, US Public Affairs Officers are standing up for accuracy. As Cori Dauber notes, quoting the WaPo,

"Today I witnessed inaccurate reporting, use of unreliable sources, media using other media as sources, an active insurgent propaganda machine, and the pack journalism at its worse," Capt. Jeffrey Pool, a spokesman for the 2nd Marine Division, said in an e-mail to news organizations."


Indeed.

Dauber has much more here: http://www.rantingprofs.com/rantingprofs/2005/12/the_post_has_de.html

This was a deft stroke of misinformation for the moojies, and a major failure of reporting at the AP. Really, they look like asses on this one.

I mean, why report an attack on a US military base as if it happened when the military categorically says it DIDN'T happen, AND YOU HAVE NO EYEWITNESSES SAYING IT DID?

This story is flawed on every level. But when AP screws up, it's leveraged across every paper in the country. And other media sources are relying on the AP's reporting, and themselves reporting that insurgents have "taken over the city." Which is an outright falsehood.

Here's some nonsense from the oh-so-reliable Italian media:

Insurgents took over the city with very little resistance


http://www.adnki.com/index_2Level.php?cat=Security&loid=8.0.235867586&par=0

Good one, people.

You guys couldn't report an accurate story about a lost puppy.

Splash out,

Jason

Comments:
Jesus but you are hyper!! The report characterizes the event as an alqaeda publicity stunt and explains away some video shot of masked "insurgents" firing mortars at a US base. So if you saw the video somewhere they defused it with a report on the reality behind it. You really should not miss taking your medecine.
 
Have you seen the rant at "One Marine's View" http://shepherdaway.blogspot.com/?
It's great! ...and the above commenter is wrong about the original report. It didn't characterize it as a publicity stunt. The MSM got their tails caught in a crack on this one. Yippee!!
 
Ooops! MissBirdlegs is correct. My fault. AP actually called it a "propaganda stunt". Sorry.
 
Look at the headline.

'Nuff said.
 
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