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FOX News Out of Sync with Journalists Covering Iraq War. Geraldo and O'Reilly Mislead FOX News Viewers

Reported by Marie Therese - December 2, 2007 -

GUEST BLOGGED BY BILL CORCORAN

Those getting information on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ONLY from FOX News are getting only half the story at best. FOX News has been shouting from the rooftops about the success of the "surge" in Iraq. It is true there have been military gains, but what FOX News has spent little time explaining to their audience is the fact reconciliation between the Shi'a and Sunni in the fledgling and stumbling Iraqi government is still a distant dream. Geraldo Rivera was in Baghdad this past week and filed this report for "Hannity & Colmes." What Geraldo failed to tell the Fox News viewers is that a recent survey of journalists by the Project for Excellence in Journalism painted an entirely different picture of conditions on the ground in Iraq. The journalists indicated that covering the Iraq war is more dangerous now than it has ever been.(More on this story below.) As you scroll through this post you will see just how dangerous it still is in Iraq and how Geraldo Rivera's report from Baghdad was overly optimistic.

On another front, Bill O'Reilly spent several days in Afghanistan, mostly autographing one of his books and handing out "Factor" trinkets to the troops (Comment: a "Factor" coffee mug is just what every GI in Afghanistan wants!). When he returned, O'Reilly spoke with Edward Powell, President and CEO of the USO (see Deborah's reports on this here and here).

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann, the constant thorn in O'Reilly's side, commented on the O'Reilly interview of the USO president as well as what Dr. Laura Schlessinger said about the USO turning down her request to visit Afghanistan.

O'Reilly, who now fancies himself a "war correspondent" just because he went on an extended book signing tour to Afghanistan, is furious that more celebrities are not visiting our troops in Afghanistan. While interviewing the president of the USO, O'Reilly said he had talked with his "good friend" Dr. Laura Schlessinger and she was denied going to Afghanistan by the USO. Powell explained that it wasn't the USO, but also the DOD (Department of Defense) who makes the final decision on who goes to Afghanistan.

(Comment: I have a question for Bill O'Reilly. Is Dr. Laura an entertainer? Does she sing, dance, twirl a baton or do tricks with a hula hoop? I thought she was an advice "infotainer." What was Dr. Laura going to do to entertain the troops in Afghanistan? Talk to the GIs about marital problems? And incidentally, O'Reilly apparently didn't know the USO arranged for the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders to visit the troops in Afghanistan. Given their "druthers," I feel confident in saying the GIs would rather be "entertained" by the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders than listen to Dr. Laura lecture them on how to deal with a "Dear John" letter.")

Continue reading for what is really happening in Iraq and Afghanistan and not the flag-waving hype FOX News has been "selling" to their one-dimensional viewing audience. You can also scroll to the end of this post to read the LATE BREAKING NEWS ABOUT IRAQ.

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New Survey Shows FOX News Not in Sync with War Correspondents

Journalism.org

In a new PEJ (Project for Excellence in Journalism) survey, journalists reporting from Iraq say the conditions are the most dangerous they've ever encountered. Ninety percent say most of Baghdad remains too dangerous to visit. Nearly 60% of the news organizations have had at least one Iraqi staff member killed or kidnapped in the last year. The survey is of 110 journalists from 29 news organizations reporting from Iraq.

Above all, the journalists—most of them veteran war correspondents—describe conditions in Iraq as the most perilous they have ever encountered, and this above everything else is influencing the reporting. A majority of journalists surveyed (57%) report that at least one of their Iraqi staff had been killed or kidnapped in the last year alone—and many more are continually threatened. “Seven staffers killed since 2003, including three last July,” one bureau chief wrote with chilling brevity. “At least three have been kidnapped. All were freed.”

A majority of journalists surveyed say most of the country is too dangerous to visit. Nine out of ten say that about at least half of Baghdad itself. Wherever they go, traveling with armed guards and chase vehicles is the norm for more than seven out of ten surveyed.

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And just to prove the point the journalists made in the survey, here are just a handful of stories coming out of IRAQ this week which are in stark contrast to the "Happy Iraq War" FOX News is presenting.

Insurgents kill U.S. soldier in Baghdad

China View

BAGHDAD, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. soldier was killed by insurgents' small arms fire in Baghdad, the U.S. military said on Thursday.

The soldier, assigned to Multi-National Division - Baghdad, was killed in western Baghdad on Wednesday, a military statement said.

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Female suicide bomber hits Baghdad - Blast hits convoy of returning Iraqis, heartened by reports of lull in violence

MSNBC

BAGHDAD - A woman wearing an explosives belt blew herself up near an American patrol northeast of Baghdad — a rare female suicide bombing that wounded seven U.S. troops and five Iraqis, the U.S. military said Wednesday

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More Iraqi Civilians Shot Dead by U.S. Troops

Big News Network

Iraqi officials say American troops in Baghdad have killed as many as seven Iraqi civilians, including a child, in two separate shootings.

In one incident, Iraqi security officials say as many as four people were killed when U.S. troops opened fire on a minibus. Officials say the troops shot at the vehicle as it advanced toward a roadblock in Baghdad's northern Shaab neighborhood.

In another incident, a suicide bomber disguised as a shepherd has killed seven people in an attack on Iraqi police in the town of Baquba.

In the deadly attack, the suicide bomber herded sheep past the main entrance of the police station when he detonated his explosive vest, killing seven people and wounding another seven.

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2 Soldiers Killed in Northern Iraq

Army Times

BAGHDAD — Two U.S. soldiers were fatally injured in a blast while conducting combat operations in northern Iraq, the U.S. military said.

Two other soldiers were wounded in the explosion in Salaheddin province, a mostly Sunni area where al-Qaida and other insurgent groups remain active

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U.S. troops kill two government employees in Baghdad

China View

BAGHDAD, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. military affirmed that its soldiers opened fire on a minibus carrying government employees in northeastern Baghdad on Tuesday, killing two passengers.

"This morning, coalition forces fired on a mini-bus in Baghdad after the driver failed to heed a warning shot," the military said in a statement.

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Baghdad blasts kill at least 11

CNN

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Two blasts in separate areas of Baghdad killed at least 10 people and wounded 18 Sunday morning, an Interior Ministry official said.

A car bomb exploded near to Iraq's Health Ministry complex in the Bab al-Muadham commercial district in central Baghdad killing nine people and wounding 31 others. A roadside bomb explosion targeted at an Iraqi army convoy in northeastern Baghdad's Waziriya neighborhood killed one civilian and wounded eight other people -- including six Iraqi soldiers.

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Iraq to Seek Long-Term US Presence

Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq's government, seeking protection against foreign threats and internal coups, will offer the U.S. a long-term troop presence in Iraq in return for U.S. security guarantees as part of a strategic partnership, two Iraqi officials said Monday.

The proposal, described to The Associated Press by two senior Iraqi officials familiar with the issue, is one of the first indications that the United States and Iraq are beginning to explore what their relationship might look like once the U.S. significantly draws down its troop presence.

In Washington, President Bush's adviser on the Iraqi war, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, confirmed the proposal, calling it "a set of principles from which to begin formal negotiations."

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In addition to the death and carnage that continues in Iraq, there is also a staggering number of injuries and residual effects to American troops that seldom are reported by FOX News. Stories like those that follow.

20,000 Wounded Veterans Not Included in Pentagon's Official Count of Injured Because They Have Brain Injuries

Marine Corps Times

Along with 20,000 other veterans, Marine Lance Cpl. Gene Landrus is NOT INCLUDED in the Pentagon’s official count of U.S. troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s because his wound was to his brain and hidden from view.

Landrus — who faces medical separation from the Corps and is up for the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in a May 2006 roadside bomb attack outside Abu Ghraib, Iraq — said he did not realize the nausea, dizziness, memory loss and headaches he suffered after the blast were signs of a lasting brain injury.

Army medics who examined him in the field didn’t find the wound either.

“They wanted to know if we had any holes in us, or if we were bleeding. We were in and out of [the aid station] in 10 to 15 minutes,” said Landrus, 24, of Clarkston, Wash.

For the balance of his combat tour, he tried to shake off the blast’s effects and keep going. Now, “my goal is to get back to a normal life,” he said.

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War Vets Fighting Addiction

Military.com

They were prepared for war. They were prepared to die for their country. But Fort Carson soldiers say they weren't prepared to come home and fight a different battle -- addiction to illegal drugs.

Many of this country's bravest men and women who volunteered to defend America in a time of war have come home wounded -- physically and mentally -- and are turning to illicit drugs as they adjust to normal life, according to soldiers, health experts and advocates.

"Lots of soldiers coming back from Iraq have been using drugs," said Specialist William Swenson, who was deployed to Iraq from Fort Carson. "Right when we got back there were people using cocaine in the barracks, there were people smoking marijuana at strip clubs; one guy started shooting up," he said.

Fort Carson, just outside Colorado Springs, is home to 17,500 active duty personnel. 4,800 service members are currently deployed in the "sand box" as soldiers call Iraq and Afghanistan. ABC News spoke to more than a dozen soldiers who described widespread abuse of illegal drugs at Fort Carson by service members back from the war.

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Meanwhile, in Afghanistan Bill O'Reilly failed to mention a number of things that are happening that could determine whether it is safe for the DOD and USO to send entertainers into the country. Read on.

More Than Half of Afghanistan "Under Taliban Control"

Truthout.org

More than half of Afghanistan is back under Taliban control and the Nato force in the country needs to be doubled in size to cope with the resurgent group, a report by the Senlis Council think-tank says. A study by the group found that the Taliban, enriched by illicit profits from the country's record poppy harvest, had formed de-facto governments in swathes of the southern Pashtun belt.

Senior defence sources say that a lack of frontline combat forces has meant that areas clawed back from the Taliban often cannot be held and have to be retaken after costly and fierce fighting. There is also an acknowledgement that the dangers on the ground have meant that aid efforts are being stymied.

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NATO air-strike kills 12 Afghan civilians: governor

Reuters

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (Reuters) - U.S. air-strikes killed 12 civilian road workers in eastern Afghanistan, a provincial governor said on Wednesday, an incident bound to fuel Afghan resentment against the presence of international forces.

NATO has tightened procedures for launching air-strikes after Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned of rising anger over mounting civilian casualties, but military commanders say some civilian deaths are almost inevitable in any conflict.

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Bush-Maliki Agreement Defies US Laws, Iraqi Parliament

Truthout.org

Monday's "declaration of principles" between President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki indicates the US will maintain a "long-term" presence in Iraq and involve itself closely in the Iraqi oil trade, backsliding on rules made in this year's two largest defense laws.

The 2008 Defense Appropriations Act, which Bush signed into law in mid-November, bars the United States from establishing permanent bases in Iraq and from exerting control over Iraqi oil. The 2008 Defense Authorization Act, which has passed the House and Senate and is expected to be sent to the president sometime in the next few weeks, contains similar language.

Under both acts, the US is forbidden "to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq." Although when Bush approved the Appropriations Act, he released a signing statement exempting himself from several of the law's provisions, the proscription against permanent bases was not one of them.

FOX News devoted 32 seconds to this story on the November 28th edition of Special Report. Video here.

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Late Breaking War News from Iraq

If you want the latest news from Iraq, just log onto Iraq Today's daily list of war news. It is a sobering read. For instance, here are some of the headlines for December 1st.

The Boston Globe is reporting the death of a soldier who died in an explosion in Baquba, Diyala Province on Friday, November 30th.

Security incidents:

Baghdad:

#1: A roadside bomb wounded three police commandos when it targeted their patrol in the Shaab district of northern Baghdad, police said.

#2: A bomb left in a taxi wounded the driver and another person in the New Baghdad district of the capital, police said.

#3: A roadside bomb went off, this morning, in al-Hurriya city, northern Baghdad, wounding four civilians," the source told the independent news agency Voices of Iraq

#4: Also in a separate incident, a bomb "stashed in a mini-bus exploded in Baghdad al-Jadiydah area, southeastern Baghdad, leaving four civilians wounded," the same source said.

#5: Around 4,00 pm, an IED exploded targeting a national police patrol in Mansour neighborhood west Baghdad. No casualties reported.

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Here's another important announcement, further indication that Iraq is nowhere near achieving the political reconciliation that was supposed to follow hard on the heels of a successful military "surge."

Iraq's Largest Sunni Bloc Withdraws from Parliament

China View

BAGHDAD, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) -- Iraq's largest Sunni Arab bloc announced its withdrawal from the parliament on Saturday, protesting the crackdown of their leader Adnan al-Dulaimi and the detention of dozens of his aides.

"We have decided to withdraw from the Council of representatives (parliament) until Adnan al-Dulaimi returns by today or tomorrow," said Ahamd Sulaiman, member of the Iraq Accordance Front, which has 44 out of the 275 seats in the parliament.

Sulaiman demanded the end for Dulaimi's "house arrest, the release of all detainees and the return of all properties confiscated from his office by the Iraqi troops."

"The Iraqi government is attempting to defame Dulaimi's reputation," he said, adding "we call on all the parliamentary blocs to support our stand, and to respect the immunity of the parliament members."

Earlier on Saturday, the Iraqi government denied that the leader of the county's largest Sunni Arab political bloc is under house arrest, a day after the U.S. and Iraqi troops detained 53 of his guards and staff, including his son, on suspicion of linkage to a booby-trapped car found near his office compound in the Adel neighborhood in western Baghdad.

SUMMARY

The wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan aren't going nearly as well as FOX News wants their viewers to believe. The stories we have posted here are just a handful of reports we have collected in the past week alone. They spell out in clear and distinct detail, along with corroboration from legitimate news sources, conditions in both Iraq and Afghanistan---conditions which paint a picture in black and white that is a far cry from what FOX News is telling their viewing audience.