Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Timing is Everything

I am not one to take USAToday seriously. Other than sports, I find it more amusing than informative. Nonetheless, I see it everywhere when I travel (I mean EVERYWHERE,...hotels, airports, etc.) so if anything else, I realize its headlines get 'read' by many. It's with that in mind that I noticed today's headline while walking in the street: "Foreign detainees are few in Iraq." In reading the byline, I found the following:
"Data suggest administration has overstated role of jihadists in the insurgency."

That piqued my interest. On line, I read the following in the article:
"Suspected foreign fighters account for less than 2% of the 5,700 captives being held as security threats in Iraq, a strong indication that Iraqis are largely responsible for the stubborn insurgency."

Now, I understand the logic being employed here, but I thought that was a remarkable conclusion. Is the relationship that USAToday is suggesting truly linear? Maybe I am a statistical idiot, but I really couldn't see what the correlation was between the number of foreign detainees is with the number of foreign fighters without knowing a hell of a lot of other information. Are the tactics of locals and foreigners the same, thereby rendering probability of capture equivalent? What are the methods of the US military in capturing potential terrorists and do they apply equally to foreigners and Iraqis? What are the methods of foreigners?; do they employ locals to do their bidding? Etc. I just found that a remarkable NEWS story; I can see that as an opinion piece, given that the conclusions are remarkably speculative. But as news? Then again, should I even be remotely surprised these days? No...just doing what I can to point out idiocy and bias; or just bad journalism.

But, timing is everything. On the same day that USAToday publishes its piece, I see this from Reuters (not the most pro-Bush publication you will find...):
"Video Shows Foreign Fighters in Major Iraq Attacks"

The article goes on to read:
"Foreign Muslim militants from across the Arab world have appeared in a chilling video tape which claimed they carried out some of the bloodiest bombings in Iraq since the war ended.
The tape obtained by Time magazine and given to Reuters Television shows young men enraged by the U.S. occupation of Iraq saying farewell to their loved ones before climbing into vehicles and blowing themselves up in operations across Iraq.

The U.S. military and senior Iraqi officials have said for months that foreign fighters have played a major role in bombings and shootings that have killed thousands of people and destabilized the country.

But they have produced little tangible evidence. Muslim militant groups have previously claimed responsibility for attacks on Web Sites which are impossible to verify.

In the video, Muslim militants in headdresses clutching rocket-propelled grenades and AK-47 assault rifles stand in the desert late at night as one of their ranks engages in what appears to be a pre-suicide bombing ritual.

He reads a statement telling his father, mother, brother and loved ones that he will miss them after he performs his duty to wage holy war.

Abu Harith al-Dosari, whose accent sounded Saudi, then climbs up into a large fuel truck and points to a electric cord that he will use to detonate a large bomb.

Footage then shows him driving to Baghdad's Kathimiya bridge, where the truck explodes into huge balls of fire.

The video shows several young Muslim militants uttering their final words before carrying out major operations such as last year's massive truck bomb attack on United Nations headquarters in Baghdad that killed 22 people.

It was the worst attack on a U.N. civilian complex in the organization's history.

Read the whole thing. Very scary stuff. So, now we have concrete proof of this. But do you think this will appear in USAToday? Will there be a 'correction?' What bothers me is that I know that USAToday will get distributed widely. But will the Reuters report(that was provided by information given by TIME...I guess TIME didn't think it was worth publishing themselves?) get a fraction of the distribution? I only caught it because it happened to be on one site I tend to look at. If there are no repurcusions for this kind of reporting, what will make it stop?


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