Spinning The Reality Of Iraq War
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
It’s that time of year when New Yorkers start making their summer vacation plans. Renting a place in the Hamptons? Nah, been there, done that. How about a Parisian jaunt? Noooo. Too many riots. Well, how about visiting a country that’s ancient, historic, beautiful and exotic – Iraq? Sure, there’s a little war going on there, but when you look at the violent death statistics in the world, it’s safer than a number of other popular travel destinations. Believe it or not.
I happened to catch Rep. Steve King, a Republican of Iowa, on C-span last week and he rattled off some startling figures that demonstrate how off-base journalists are when it comes to reporting on the war in Iraq. According to Mr. King, the violent death rate in Iraq is 25.71 per 100,000. That may sound high, but not when you compare it to places like Colombia (61.7), South Africa (49.6), Jamaica (32.4), and Venezuela (31.6). How about the violent death rates in American cities? New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina was 53.1. FBI statistics for 2004-05 have Washington at 45.9, Baltimore at 37.7, and Atlanta at 34.9.
The point Mr. King was making is that if journalists covered only the violence in these other cities and countries, as they do in Iraq, our perceptions of these places would also be highly negative.
Of course, I’m not serious about Iraq being a prime vacation spot, at least not yet. However, while this country of very brave people has made enormous strides in a relatively short time, it is hardly being reported to the American people. Why?
On a daily basis, mainstream journalists are spewing out anything they can that is negative about the Bush administration, regardless of whether the information threatens our national security. Leaking highly classified information to the public during a war should be grounds for criminal investigations. Instead, it’s been deemed worthy of reward.
Dana Priest of the Washington Post received a Pulitzer for reporting that the CIA was holding terrorist suspects in secret European prisons. The New York Times exposed intimate details of the CIA charter flights ferrying prisoners overseas. The names of the charter companies were disclosed and the Times even ran a picture displaying the identification number of one of the aircraft. Al Qaeda must be so grateful to these newspapers for doing all their legwork.
Now the big brouhaha is about the phone-number database that the government maintains, and we’re supposed to get upset that our civil rights are being invaded. I don’t care if the FBI has my phone number – Radio Shack, Macy’s, and the New York Times have it as well. Besides, the phone companies that are cooperating with the government are furnishing only numbers, not names and addresses. NSA is looking for patterns to detect terrorist activity, not to record your conversations with your mother.
Before the phone database furor, there was the “wiretap” uproar. Let’s be clear: Wiretapping is what Democrat Robert Kennedy did to Martin Luther King Jr. There is a huge difference between that activity and eavesdropping on communications between America and other countries to thwart potential terrorist attacks.
The thinking public knows this, and recognizes that national security trumps our right to privacy, which has always been ignored by the IRS anyhow. Syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell said it best in a January column at Townhall.com headlined “Fourth estate or Fifth Column?” He writes: “With all the turmoil and bloodshed in Iraq, both military and civilian people returning from that country are increasingly expressing amazement at the difference between what they have seen with their own eyes and the far worse, one-sided picture that the media presents to the public here.”
It’s not just the war that gets spun out of reality. Another Pulitzer went to the Times-Picayune of New Orleans, which tied with a paper in Biloxi, Miss., for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina. That much of the coverage was a pack of lies meant absolutely nothing to the Pulitzer panel. Nevertheless, the distorted coverage did its job. The nation was outraged at the horrific images conjured up by the newspapers. Forty bodies were stacked in freezers, reporter Brian Thevenot wrote – or were they? Mr. Thevenot later admitted that he never verified that information before rushing it into print. His reporting, too, won a Pulitzer.
Maybe we should start awarding a new journalism award for uncovering the absolute truth, regardless of who’s in office. Wouldn’t that be unique?
The reality is that the Iraqi people and the coalition forces are winning the battle to rid the country of the murderous Islamofascists. In a few years, tourists will be flocking to Iraq, site of the most famous ancient city, Babylon, and other cultural treasures. That’s the truth – believe it or not.