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How FOX News Hides Truth About Iraq War in Leadup to Petraeus Report

Reported by Nancy - September 9, 2007 -

Guest blogger: Bill Corcoran
FOX News has been notorious for shading the truth about the Iraq war in an all out effort to keep their website readers and television viewers in the dark about what is really happening in Iraq. For example: FOX News refers to "suicide bombers" as "homicide bombers," even when the person who sets off the explosion dies in the blast. If they were a "homicide bomber" they would walk away from the explosion.

However, as the September 11 date rapidly approaches for General David Petraeus' report to Congress on the impact of the "surge" in Iraq, FOX News has taken hiding the truth to a new level. Earlier this week, the FOX News website carried a story with this headline: "Roadside Bomb Kills 9 in Baghdad's Sadr City Slum." But when you click on the individual link to the bombing story in Sadr City, you find the story is really about eight U.S. soldiers who were killed in Iraq. The nine Iraqi citizens killed by the bomb was secondary to the eight American GIs killed in the original Associated Press story which FOX News carried on their website with the misleading headline.

In the weeks leading up to the Petraeus report, FOX News has minimized a number of reports coming out of Iraq which would not paint the rosy picture FOX News wants to present to their audience about conditions on the ground in the war-torn country. Here are just a handful of reports about Iraq which FOX News felt were barely worth telling their readers and viewers.

Iraq body count running at double the pace  
This year's U.S. troop buildup has succeeded in bringing violence in Baghdad down from peak levels, but the death toll from sectarian attacks around the country is running nearly double the pace from a year ago. Some of the recent bloodshed appears the result of militant fighters drifting into parts of northern Iraq, where they have fled after U.S.-led offensives. Baghdad, however, still accounts for slightly more than half of all war-related killings — the same percentage as a year ago, according to figures compiled by The Associated Press. The tallies and trends offer a sobering snapshot after an additional 30,000 U.S. troops began campaigns in February to regain control of the Baghdad area. It also highlights one of the major themes expected in next week's Iraq progress report to Congress: some military headway, but extremist factions are far from broken.

With tours extended, multiple deployments and new tactics that put them in greater danger, U.S. troops feel their leaders are out of touch with reality and
their morale dips as the war drags on.

YOUSIFIYA, IRAQ — In the dining hall of a U.S. Army post south of Baghdad, President Bush was on the wide-screen TV, giving a speech about the war in Iraq. The soldiers didn't look up from their chicken and mashed potatoes. As military and political leaders prepare to deliver a progress report on the conflict to Congress next week, many soldiers are increasingly disdainful of the happy talk that they say commanders on the ground and White House officials are using in their discussions about the war. And they're becoming vocal about their frustration over longer deployments and a taxing mission that keeps many living in dangerous and uncomfortably austere conditions. Some say two wars are being fought here: the one the enlisted men see, and the one that senior officers and politicians want the world to see. "I don't see any progress. Just us getting killed," said Spc. Yvenson Tertulien, one of those in the dining hall in Yousifiya, 10 miles south of Baghdad, as Bush's speech aired last month. "I don't want to be here anymore." Morale problems come as the Bush administration faces increasing pressure to begin a drawdown of troops.

Shiite militias cleans Baghdad

When General Petraeus goes before Congress next week to report on the progress of the surge, he may cite a decline in insurgent attacks in Baghdad as one marker of success. In fact, part of the reason behind the decline is how far the Shiite militias' cleansing of Baghdad has progressed: they've essentially won. "If you look at pre-February 2006, there were only a couple of areas in the city that were unambiguously Shia," says a U.S. official in Baghdad who is familiar with the issue but is not authorized to speak on the record. "That's definitely not the case anymore." The official says that "the majority, more than half" of Baghdad's neighborhoods are now Shiite-dominated, a judgment echoed in the most recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq: "And very few are mixed." In places like Amel, pockets of Sunnis live in fear, surrounded by a sea of Shiites. In most of the remaining Sunni neighborhoods, residents are trapped behind great concrete barricades for their own protection.

Then there's a report that says the Iraqi Army shows promise but police should be scrapped and rebuilt .

WASHINGTON - Critical to U.S. plans for redeploying American troops from the battlefield, Iraq’s security forces appear far from ready to take over the fight against al-Qaida and insurgents, an independent report concluded. Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, who led the 20-member panel studying Iraqi security forces, was to testify before Congress on Thursday. His report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, said that Iraq’s security forces would be unable to take control of their country in the next 18 months. The readiness of Iraq’s security forces will be an important element in the congressional debate over the war. Republicans see success by the Iraqi forces as key to bringing U.S. troops home, while an increasing number of Democrats say the U.S. should stop training and equipping such units altogether. The study found that the Iraqi military, in particular its Army, shows the most promise of becoming a viable, independent security force with time. It predicted that an adequate logistics system to support these ground forces is at least two years away. Worse off is the Iraq national police force. The study, which described the police force as dysfunctional, corrupt and infiltrated by militias, recommended that the force be scrapped and entirely rebuilt.

Closer to home, Fox News' Hume, Baier uncritically aired Bush's claim on troop withdrawals .
Summary: On Special Report, Bret Baier uncritically aired President Bush's statement that "[i]f the kind of success we are now seeing continues, it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces" in Iraq. But neither Baier nor host Brit Hume noted that regardless of the level of security in Iraq -- as Wendell Goler reported on Special Report the previous day -- Bush's "military advisers have told him he can't keep the current deployment in Iraq beyond April or the Army itself will suffer."

Nor did FOX give much air time or web space to this new record: 172,000 Troops in Iraq is a record high .

BAGHDAD - The number of U.S. troops in Iraq has climbed to a record high of 168,000, and is moving toward a peak of 172,000 in the coming weeks — a level that could extend into December, a senior military official said Thursday. Maj. Gen. Richard Sherlock, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the increase is the result of troops rotations, as several brigades overlap while they move in and out of the war zone. Previously officials had predicted the number could go up to about 171,000.

... or the stories about how Hefty re-up bonuses are being offered. Apparently the Army is making what it's calling a "year-end push" to re-enlist soldiers, offering bonuses ranging from $6,500 to $33,500. Meanwhile, they're offering the National Guard a (relatively) paltry $2,000 per recruit to bring in new recruits. The Army is said to be "quietly working out final details" of a program that would give a bonus of $2,000 per recruit to any National Guard soldier who brings somebody into the active-duty Army.

And in an area FOX has chosen almost entirely to ignore, the humanitarian crisis in Iraq was hardly on their radar: US surge sees 600,000 more Iraqis abandon home. The number of Iraqis who have fled the fighting has more than doubled since the US military build-up began in February. The Iraqi Red Crescent said the total number of internally displaced has jumped from 499,000 to 1.1 million since extra US forces arrived with the aim of making the country more secure. The UN's International Organisation for Migration says the numbers fleeing fighting in Baghdad grew by a factor of 20 in the same period. So, despite much-trumpeted security improvements in certain areas, the level of murderous violence has not declined.

Comment: It is a well know fact that FOX News cherry picks the news coming out of Iraq. The television station and their website are notorious not so much for what they report, but what they don't report. As the time draws near for Petraeus to present his long-anticipated report to Congress on the success or failure of the "surge," FOX News has been pulling out all the stops in an effort to send a message to their fan base that things are improving dramatically in Iraq. What FOX News doesn't tell their viewers is that Petraeus has said in the past there is not a military solution to the Iraq war---only a political solution. Therefore, the Petraeus report, which has been ghost-written by White House speech writers, will be more symbolic than substantive.

Guest blogger BILL CORCORAN