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Oliver North Misrepresents Iraq Study Group’s Findings In Order To Present A Happy, FOX News Fantasyland Iraq

Reported by Ellen - December 8, 2006 -

Oliver North made his third report from Ramadi last night (12/7/06) on Hannity & Colmes. Like his prior reports, it contained happy news overtly aimed at countering the Baker-Hamilton report’s grim findings on the situation in Iraq. North, a convicted liar whose conviction was overturned on a technicality, focused on just one of the 79 recommendations in the ISG report (training the Iraqis) in just one area of Iraq (part of Ramadi) and tried to make it seem as though all the recommendations of the report have already been carried out. With video.

Major Rob Hancock was with North during the report. Predictably, everything was swell with Hancock. He told North that troops are working side-by-side with the Iraqis and “part of” Ramadi was “handed back” to them.

“Does this give you a sense that this is moving in the right direction?” North not-so-subtly pumped.

“Absolutely,” Hancock replied. Things are “very positive.”

North got right to the point of using some sleight-of-hand to try to discredit the ISG report. "Some of these recommendations it seems to me are already under way… There's nothing in that report about training Iraqi troops or getting them more prepared to take responsibility for their own security that isn't already being done out here." He never mentioned the 78 other recommendations in the report nor how ill-prepared the Iraqis are in the rest of Iraq. For example, AP (the wire service FOX News uses) says, “The report said Iraqi leaders have failed to deliver better security or political compromises that would reduce violence, and it implied that a four-month joint U.S.-Iraqi military campaign to reduce violence in Baghdad is hopeless.”

Alan Colmes undoubtedly saw through the cover-up and asked “Are we up to speed” for a withdrawal by 2008, as the report suggested.

There was a long pause and a look of obvious displeasure on North's face at the question. He re-phrased and distorted it to Major Hancock "Well, there's talk about '08 being the figure, the date that people want everybody out of here." Then North asked Hancock a leading question: Give me a sense of how ready you see the Iraqi troops are. You know about the gunfight the other day. Share that with them a little bit about whether they'll stand and fight."

Surprise, surprise, surprise! Hancock said, "The Iraqi army and the Iraqi police will stand and fight. They've proven extremely capable here in Ramadi."

"These are the guys on the ground," North said. “I'm surprised at some of the recommendations in this report. It's kind of like the folks who wrote it didn't know what was going on out here."

Actually, it's kind of like Ollie didn't know what was going on with the rank and file. As Daily Kos reports, AP has some heartbreaking quotes from men "still reeling" from learning that their tour has been extended. For example: Staff Sgt. Rony Theodore, 33, of Brooklyn, N.Y.: "All of us want to change what we're doing because we're not doing very much." and First Lieutenant Gerard Dow, 32, of Chicago, Ill.: "In Iraq, we try to win the hearts and minds of population. They want Americans out of here. They blame us for all their problems. They look at us as the terrorists and then they turn around and help the terrorists who are trying to kill us.... U.S. soldiers are dying trying to help people who don't want their help."

Guess where they're stationed? Ramadi.

Chickenhawk Sean Hannity showed no interest in the troops' welfare or progress. His main concern was his own peevish displeasure at the recommendation of negotiations with Iran and Syria as a path to a resolution.

North is not exactly a heavyweight in the world of international diplomacy. But FOX News regularly allows him to play one on TV. "Let me give you my reaction because I don't want to put the major on the spot… The reality of it is that we have no leverage whatsoever with Syria and Iran. The idea that's in the report that we can somehow elicit their co-operation to deal with the situation here inside Iraq I think is wishful thinking at best and perhaps ultimately very damaging when it comes down to how we deal with Israel.”

Sean Hannity, who has appointed himself the arbiter of such things, pronounced Oliver North a "Great American."

I commend to everyone Media Matters’ excellent article on six findings in the Iraq Study Group's report that major news outlets have largely overlooked. They include: that the Pentagon has significantly underreported the extent of violence in Iraq, that U.S. officials possess little knowledge about the sources of the ongoing attacks, and that the situation in Afghanistan has grown so dire that U.S. troops may need to be diverted there from Iraq.

Media Matters notes that FOX News failed to report on any of the six.