War News: A Troll Blog Wakes Up…Sort Of

~Snooper~

Earlier today I wrote a piece War News: Let’s Surge Some More detailing Michael Yon’s article in the WSJ Online. In the course of reading more and more items via internet on blogs and news pieces, I ran across the “progressive” blogs getting all upset with Michael Yon’s article and his book. Why are they upset with Michael Yon? Because he slams the doltish cads of the Defeatist Corp of ignorance and stupidity as being the fools that they are.

Jamie Wearing Fool (Just A Grunt) has a great piece entitled 5 years into the GWOT and progressives discover Michael Yon.

Much has been made of comments made by David Bellavia earlier this week by some who see hidden meanings in Denny’s menus, and here we have the progressives taking a shot at Michael Yon.

Firedoglake, a typical screeching, whining, gloom and doom, liberal, sorry progressive, blog has decided that Michael Yon is a propagandist. Something the author of this piece apparently is ignorant of or else he didn’t bother to read all of the Michael Yon article he presents as evidence of Mr Yons’ propaganda activity. All you need to know about Mr Yon is contained in the second paragraph of Michaels article…. (go read it)

I call the fools at FDL, SPP – SmokingPuppyPuddle – among other things and it is incredible the level(s) of ignorance and hate oozing out of their self-induced primordial ooze of hate and despair. It must truly suck to be members of such a collection of ill-informed socialist trollops.

If I hated the world and the United States like these fools do, I would have moved to happier locales by now.

Michael Yon has been In Country and covering this war from nearly the beginning and he has had boots on the ground longer than any journalist to date. Period. Bar None. This is what scares the hell out of these anti-Americanists – he knows The Truth – and Truth repels these sycophants of the Soros Troll of One World Socialism.

Too bad. We are on to your type and have been for quite some time and we are indeed watching your every move. Nice shoes. Watch the shadows.

HOOAH?

LibNot has a good piece up as well.

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War News: A Troll Blog Wakes Up…Sort Of

~Snooper~

Earlier today I wrote a piece War News: Let’s Surge Some More detailing Michael Yon’s article in the WSJ Online. In the course of reading more and more items via internet on blogs and news pieces, I ran across the “progressive” blogs getting all upset with Michael Yon’s article and his book. Why are they upset with Michael Yon? Because he slams the doltish cads of the Defeatist Corp of ignorance and stupidity as being the fools that they are.

Jamie Wearing Fool (Just A Grunt) has a great piece entitled 5 years into the GWOT and progressives discover Michael Yon.

Much has been made of comments made by David Bellavia earlier this week by some who see hidden meanings in Denny’s menus, and here we have the progressives taking a shot at Michael Yon.

Firedoglake, a typical screeching, whining, gloom and doom, liberal, sorry progressive, blog has decided that Michael Yon is a propagandist. Something the author of this piece apparently is ignorant of or else he didn’t bother to read all of the Michael Yon article he presents as evidence of Mr Yons’ propaganda activity. All you need to know about Mr Yon is contained in the second paragraph of Michaels article…. (go read it)

I call the fools at FDL, SPP – SmokingPuppyPuddle – among other things and it is incredible the level(s) of ignorance and hate oozing out of their self-induced primordial ooze of hate and despair. It must truly suck to be members of such a collection of ill-informed socialist trollops.

If I hated the world and the United States like these fools do, I would have moved to happier locales by now.

Michael Yon has been In Country and covering this war from nearly the beginning and he has had boots on the ground longer than any journalist to date. Period. Bar None. This is what scares the hell out of these anti-Americanists – he knows The Truth – and Truth repels these sycophants of the Soros Troll of One World Socialism.

Too bad. We are on to your type and have been for quite some time and we are indeed watching your every move. Nice shoes. Watch the shadows.

HOOAH?

LibNot has a good piece up as well.

Come Home to Baghdad–Muslims to Christians

The post below was cross posted by my friend Spree. The BEGINNING of this story is here in Spree’s post entitled “Why We Do What We Do” here and my post entitled “Hope, Thanks and Praise-Michael Yon” here.

A reminder from those posts–the incredible picture of a muslim man polishing and mounting the cross atop the church, St. John’s Catholic Church (this picture gets my vote for the Pulitzer). THESE ARE THE STORIES WE NEED TO HEAR MORE OF AND THE MSM WILL NEVER PUBLISH--but we here in the blogosphere are delighted to bring them to you.


Cross posted from Wake up America

Michael Yon does it again. He captures in pictures and in words the mood of Baghdad. It isn’t the Baghdad under a brutal dictator. It isn’t the Baghdad that was suffering last year with violence.

It is a new Baghdad and the Muslims in Baghdad are telling their Christian friends and neighbors that it is time to come home.

(Click image to see the Democrats finally being honest about NOT supporting the troops)
(Today, Muslims mostly filled the front pews of St John’s. Muslims who want their Christian friends and neighbors to come home. The Christians who might see these photos likely will recognize their friends here. The Muslims in this neighborhood worry that other people will take the homes of their Christian neighbors, and that the Christians will never come back. And so they came to St John’s today in force, and they showed their faces, and they said, “Come back to Iraq. Come home.” They wanted the cameras to catch it. They wanted to spread the word: Come home. Muslims keep telling me to get it on the news. “Tell the Christians to come home to their country Iraq.”)

Michael Yon:

I can’t remember my last shootout: it’s been months. The nightmare is ending. Al Qaeda is being crushed. The Sunni tribes are awakening all across Iraq and foreswearing violence for negotiation. Many of the Shia are ready to stop the fighting that undermines their ability to forge and manage a new government. This is a complex and still delicate denouement, and the war may not be over yet. But the Muslims are saying it’s time to come home. And the Christians are saying it’s time to come home. They are weary, and there is much work to be done.

Go to Yon’s site and see the whole wonderful piece, the pictures tell a story of a country rebuilding and what I have shown you here is but a small fraction of what he has there.

Remember, over 3,000 families have already returned to Baghdad, Iraq and they are encoraging the rest of Iraqi’s to do the same.

Moving along here to what is left of al-Qaeda and the Strategy Page shows us that they are more worried about surviving now than they are about those “spectacular” attacks that get blasted across the news to make Americans think they are winning in Iraq:

As the surge offensive continued to tear apart the terrorist infrastructure, the leaders put the organization into survival mode. Planning and carrying out attacks became less important than keeping remaining leaders and key people out of jail, or a grave. This is why the number of terror attacks has plummeted. The remnants of al Qaeda have fled to northern Iraq, around Mosul and areas near the Iranian border. If worse comes to worse, the terrorists know they can flee into Iran, and have a chance of bargaining their way out of an Iranian jail. Within Iraq, however, capture is either a long jail sentence, or execution. Al Qaeda is the most hated organization in the country, and may have to abandon Iraq altogether if the pressure doesn’t ease up.

[…]

If al Qaeda cannot go dark and rebuild, they will have to abandon Iraq. That is almost unthinkable, because al Qaeda has, since 2003, declared Iraq to be “the graveyard of the Crusaders.” To admit defeat in Iraq would be a tremendous blow to al Qaeda operations elsewhere. The organization is already weakened by the failure to carry out any more operations in the United States since September 11, 2001. Al Qaeda has been shut down in so many other areas as well. But it looks like Iraq may be the last stand, and the last straw.

Note to al-Qaeda in Iraq: Rot in hell you bastards, despite the past 40 attempts, and yesterdays 41st attempt, from the Democrats in our country to hand you a victory in Iraq, you have failed, they have failed and the Iraqi people have won and want no more to do with you.

As news such as this finally gets reported to the American people, support is rising and after 6 months the number of people that believe the war is going “very” or “fairly” well has risen to 44%, according to Politico which quotes the newest Pew figures.

That said, 44 percent of Americans now believe the war is going “very” or “fairly” well, a high point in the past year, according to The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, a nonpartisan group.

At the same time, CBS News polling has found U.S. opposition to Bush’s troop surge softening a bit.

As for the Democrats (Pelosi, Reid and Company) that would like to abandon those Iraqi’s shown above and all that are not shown, abandon them when things are going undeniably well, you can go to hell too and take your defeatist friends with you.

[UPDATE] The Democrats finally admit the truth: They DON’T support the troops.

B. Relevant is also spreading the truth about Iraq….check it out.

Come Home to Baghdad–Muslims to Christians

The post below was cross posted by my friend Spree. The BEGINNING of this story is here in Spree’s post entitled “Why We Do What We Do” here and my post entitled “Hope, Thanks and Praise-Michael Yon” here.

A reminder from those posts–the incredible picture of a muslim man polishing and mounting the cross atop the church, St. John’s Catholic Church (this picture gets my vote for the Pulitzer). THESE ARE THE STORIES WE NEED TO HEAR MORE OF AND THE MSM WILL NEVER PUBLISH--but we here in the blogosphere are delighted to bring them to you.


Cross posted from Wake up America

Michael Yon does it again. He captures in pictures and in words the mood of Baghdad. It isn’t the Baghdad under a brutal dictator. It isn’t the Baghdad that was suffering last year with violence.

It is a new Baghdad and the Muslims in Baghdad are telling their Christian friends and neighbors that it is time to come home.

(Click image to see the Democrats finally being honest about NOT supporting the troops)
(Today, Muslims mostly filled the front pews of St John’s. Muslims who want their Christian friends and neighbors to come home. The Christians who might see these photos likely will recognize their friends here. The Muslims in this neighborhood worry that other people will take the homes of their Christian neighbors, and that the Christians will never come back. And so they came to St John’s today in force, and they showed their faces, and they said, “Come back to Iraq. Come home.” They wanted the cameras to catch it. They wanted to spread the word: Come home. Muslims keep telling me to get it on the news. “Tell the Christians to come home to their country Iraq.”)

Michael Yon:

I can’t remember my last shootout: it’s been months. The nightmare is ending. Al Qaeda is being crushed. The Sunni tribes are awakening all across Iraq and foreswearing violence for negotiation. Many of the Shia are ready to stop the fighting that undermines their ability to forge and manage a new government. This is a complex and still delicate denouement, and the war may not be over yet. But the Muslims are saying it’s time to come home. And the Christians are saying it’s time to come home. They are weary, and there is much work to be done.

Go to Yon’s site and see the whole wonderful piece, the pictures tell a story of a country rebuilding and what I have shown you here is but a small fraction of what he has there.

Remember, over 3,000 families have already returned to Baghdad, Iraq and they are encoraging the rest of Iraqi’s to do the same.

Moving along here to what is left of al-Qaeda and the Strategy Page shows us that they are more worried about surviving now than they are about those “spectacular” attacks that get blasted across the news to make Americans think they are winning in Iraq:

As the surge offensive continued to tear apart the terrorist infrastructure, the leaders put the organization into survival mode. Planning and carrying out attacks became less important than keeping remaining leaders and key people out of jail, or a grave. This is why the number of terror attacks has plummeted. The remnants of al Qaeda have fled to northern Iraq, around Mosul and areas near the Iranian border. If worse comes to worse, the terrorists know they can flee into Iran, and have a chance of bargaining their way out of an Iranian jail. Within Iraq, however, capture is either a long jail sentence, or execution. Al Qaeda is the most hated organization in the country, and may have to abandon Iraq altogether if the pressure doesn’t ease up.

[…]

If al Qaeda cannot go dark and rebuild, they will have to abandon Iraq. That is almost unthinkable, because al Qaeda has, since 2003, declared Iraq to be “the graveyard of the Crusaders.” To admit defeat in Iraq would be a tremendous blow to al Qaeda operations elsewhere. The organization is already weakened by the failure to carry out any more operations in the United States since September 11, 2001. Al Qaeda has been shut down in so many other areas as well. But it looks like Iraq may be the last stand, and the last straw.

Note to al-Qaeda in Iraq: Rot in hell you bastards, despite the past 40 attempts, and yesterdays 41st attempt, from the Democrats in our country to hand you a victory in Iraq, you have failed, they have failed and the Iraqi people have won and want no more to do with you.

As news such as this finally gets reported to the American people, support is rising and after 6 months the number of people that believe the war is going “very” or “fairly” well has risen to 44%, according to Politico which quotes the newest Pew figures.

That said, 44 percent of Americans now believe the war is going “very” or “fairly” well, a high point in the past year, according to The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, a nonpartisan group.

At the same time, CBS News polling has found U.S. opposition to Bush’s troop surge softening a bit.

As for the Democrats (Pelosi, Reid and Company) that would like to abandon those Iraqi’s shown above and all that are not shown, abandon them when things are going undeniably well, you can go to hell too and take your defeatist friends with you.

[UPDATE] The Democrats finally admit the truth: They DON’T support the troops.

B. Relevant is also spreading the truth about Iraq….check it out.

Hope, Thanks and Praise-Michael Yon


This is too good to pass up.

Michael Yon reports from Baghdad a Catholic church has re-opened.

From Instapundit:

THANKS AND PRAISE: Michael Yon emails: “I photographed men and women, both Christians and Muslims, placing a cross atop the St. John’s Church in Baghdad. They had taken the cross from storage and a man washed it before carrying it up to the dome. A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from ‘Chosen’ Company 2-12 Cavalry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John’s, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope. The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. ‘Thank you, thank you,’ the people were saying. One man said, ‘Thank you for peace.’ Another man, a Muslim, said ‘All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.’ The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers. (Videotape to follow.)”

Let’s hope these sentiments continue to spread.

Let’s put it together–Catholic Church, Baghdad, Christian and Muslim working together, Thanks, Freedom bells—what part of good news is it that makes the left so sick?

Let’s hope we see many more stories such as this. While you’re at it, help Michael out so he can continue bringing us his good news–the news the MSM doesn’t want you to know and the news that’s the death knell for the defeatists. You can donate to him here.

Thank you Michael, and thanks to the men and women who worked together to re-open this church.

Catch the Wave!

Hope, Thanks and Praise-Michael Yon


This is too good to pass up.

Michael Yon reports from Baghdad a Catholic church has re-opened.

From Instapundit:

THANKS AND PRAISE: Michael Yon emails: “I photographed men and women, both Christians and Muslims, placing a cross atop the St. John’s Church in Baghdad. They had taken the cross from storage and a man washed it before carrying it up to the dome. A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from ‘Chosen’ Company 2-12 Cavalry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John’s, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope. The Iraqis asked me to convey a message of thanks to the American people. ‘Thank you, thank you,’ the people were saying. One man said, ‘Thank you for peace.’ Another man, a Muslim, said ‘All the people, all the people in Iraq, Muslim and Christian, is brother.’ The men and women were holding bells, and for the first time in memory freedom rang over the ravaged land between two rivers. (Videotape to follow.)”

Let’s hope these sentiments continue to spread.

Let’s put it together–Catholic Church, Baghdad, Christian and Muslim working together, Thanks, Freedom bells—what part of good news is it that makes the left so sick?

Let’s hope we see many more stories such as this. While you’re at it, help Michael out so he can continue bringing us his good news–the news the MSM doesn’t want you to know and the news that’s the death knell for the defeatists. You can donate to him here.

Thank you Michael, and thanks to the men and women who worked together to re-open this church.

Catch the Wave!

Second Chances…Pass Them Along

Second Chances…Michael Yon Reporting

Folks, if this doesn’t touch your hearts, you surely must be an empty hearted fool.

Second Chances

General David Petraeus visits Baqubah.

When distinguished visitors come to almost-where the action is, it can be disruptive to the point of wasteful. I’ve heard commanders grumble all over Iraq about the steady streams of VIPs who, while intending to be seen observing operations, instead seize the mechanics with their clumsy footprint. These are called “dog and pony shows.”

But on D+18, when a most important “visitor” came to Baqubah, not only did he not seem to cause a hiccup, but everyone I talked with was happy to see him. General Petraeus came to Baqubah on 7 July 2007, amid practically zero fuss.

The day wasn’t much different from any other. Mine began with an unrelated mission with the Brigade Deputy Commander, from which we returned around noon. General Petraeus had lunch with commanders, followed by a couple of interesting briefings that the tag-along press—there for only those few hours—were allowed to attend.

After the briefings, General Petraeus headed downtown to an area where many of the buildings had been made into bombs. Most VIPs will not dare leave base, but the top generals and command sergeant majors in this war all roll into danger taking their chances with getting blown sky-high.

When I wrote the dispatch “Be Not Afraid,” I thought at least dozens of soldiers might be killed when we attacked on 19 June, and that hundreds might be wounded. After years of experience, the terrorists had prepared Baqubah to an extent greater than either Fallujah or Ramadi had been. During one of the briefings Saturday, General Petraeus mentioned that Baqubah was probably the most rigged city of the entire war. Another officer at the briefing said there is so much explosives residue in Baqubah that the bomb dogs get confused.

Since the beginning of Arrowhead Ripper—with the loss of one 3-2 SBCT soldier killed in action—troops found more than 130 bombs planted in ambush, about two dozen buildings rigged to explode, and more than half a dozen car bombs. (That’s only the beginning.) Yet street by street, house by house, step by step, the infantry soldiers cleared most of Baqubah, working under intensely stressful conditions. They cleared block by block, no place to sleep but the ground, no showers to wash away the sweaty grit of war. This combat-experienced brigade outsmarted the enemy. I’d like to say more, but the enemy will get no help from these pages.

Saturday, while riding in a Stryker to where General Petraeus was checking out the ground situation, I met Robert Reid [right] from the Associated Press. Mr. Reid seemed to take interest in the information about the graves I reported recently, taking notes while we drove into Baqubah. Mr. Reid would later email that he has been a journalist for nearly 40 years, having first come to Iraq in 1982.

As the soldiers clear Baqubah of the enemy and its deadly trappings, the people here are coming forward and talking. Some Iraqis worry that the US will leave Baqubah too soon, only to have al Qaeda return and start dealing retribution to “collaborators.” That may explain why so many Iraqis here are offering useful information that helps save American lives and keeps al Qaeda out.

The fourth update for what I call “The Battle for Baqubah” described a mission to a village about 3.5 miles from the military base where I—and varying numbers of journalists (now down to one photographer)—stay while covering Operation Arrowhead Ripper. No journalists came along when I accompanied American soldiers to the abandoned village whose nearby palm groves offered the overpowering stench of decaying human flesh. I photographed and videotaped Iraqi and American soldiers as they disinterred the remains of adults and children. In one grave, soldiers recovered the heads of decapitated children, some with still partially recognizable remnants of flesh and hair. When I left the village, the digging was still ongoing, but I had seen and heard enough for the update I published the next day.

Thinking that the reporters here or their editors back home might have been scared off the topic of mass graves, I offered my source material. These included map coordinates, names of Iraqi and US Army officials, my photographs and videotape, and even, in the end, permission to take what I’d written and photographed and use that free of charge.

Today, there are indications that the massacre might be much bigger than what I initially reported in “Bless the Beasts and Children.” Shortly after I published “Bless the Beasts and Children,” I asked a local Iraqi official about the village and the graves. The Diyala Provincial councilmen, Abdul Jabar, went on video explaining why he believes that there might be hundreds of people buried in the area, and he said the correct spelling is actually al Ahamir. (Most Iraqis’ names seem to have variant spellings.)

Watch the interview here:
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Meanwhile, “Baqubah Update 05-July 2007” seems to have generated a dust storm of doubts. That dispatch focused on the emerging presence of Iraqi government leaders in Baqubah—both behind the scenes and actually working hard, as well as out front maintaining high visibility—stepping up to get their city operating again.

The situation under al Qaeda had degenerated on all levels. Although Diyala is Iraq’s breadbasket, it has been 10 months since a food shipment arrived here. Fuel is at a near standstill; the lights are mostly off; and water flow is better measured by drip rate than cubic liters per second.

With dispatches in the works for these topics, the 5-July update was more a chronicle of my observations of the long overdue and very much welcome emergence of Iraqi political leaders from out of hiding. During a meeting, an Iraqi official in the room—who asked to remain anonymous—provided a narrative of how al Qaeda took control of Baqubah and much of Diyala Province. The paragraph that generated controversy follows:

The official reported that on a couple of occasions in Baqubah, al Qaeda invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking. In each instance, the family had a boy, he said, who was about 11 years old. As LT David Wallach interpreted the man’s words, I saw Wallach go blank and silent. He stopped interpreting for a moment. I asked Wallach, “What did he say?” Wallach said that at these luncheons, the families were sat down to eat. And then their boy was brought in with his mouth stuffed. The boy had been baked. Al Qaeda served the boy to his family.

Every syllable I wrote about this reported incident was in that paragraph, which offers no opinion about the veracity of his words.

Mr. Abdul Jabar had lived near the al Hamari village. He had more details about what happened there, and he was willing to go on the record. The reported incidents, wretching though they were and are, were reported “as is.”

When context is other people’s children

As I write these words just a few miles from the graves I saw, the resulting controversy about whether what the man said was true, or whether his words should have been written if the writer couldn’t verify them, seems precious. There is no imaginary line of credulity that al Qaeda might cross should it go from beheading children to baking them.

No unnamed Iraqi stringer claimed that al Qaeda had taken over Baqubah. Al Qaeda said this through the press. I sit writing these words in Diyala Province just a short drive from where the self-proclaimed leader of al Qaeda in Iraq was killed by a bomb delivered by a US warplane. Al Qaeda: the organization that gleefully bragged about murdering roughly 3,000 people by smashing jets full of civilians into buildings and earth. Al Qaeda in Iraq: who proudly broadcast their penchant for sawing off the heads of living breathing people, and in such a manner as to ensure lots of spurting blood and gurgles of final pain, in some cases with the added flourish of the executioner raising up the severed head and squealing excitedly.

These are the same terrorists I often come face to face with: not on television or in magazines, but on bloodstained streets ablaze with human carnage. I remember the charred corpse of a small Iraqi boy. I remember the wailing Iraqi parents and countless other scenes that I am likely to see again and again. Back in 2005, terrorists here were intentionally attacking children. I shot the photo below on a day when they drove a car bomb through a crowd of children who had run out to American soldiers on patrol.

Many soldiers say this photograph symbolizes this war for them. It certainly has become emblematic for me.

In the more than two years since that awful day in May 2005, I’ve witnessed innumerable instances of the work of terrorists of many stripes. One clear indicator of just how bad a terrorist group is, is when battle-hardened soldiers—and writers like me who travel with them—don’t find it hard to believe a story which purports that al Qaeda had baked a child and set his roasted body out as the main course at a lunch for his parents.

People at home might find it incredible, improbable, even impossible. Yet here in combat with al Qaeda, the idea is no more improbable-sounding than someone saying “The chicken crossed the road.” Maybe the chicken crossed the road. Maybe not. The veterans I’ve been talking with here have no difficulty imagining the chicken crossing the road, or al Qaeda roasting kids. Sickening, yes. Improbable, no.

Stringers

Many look to mainstream media for “verifiable” news from Iraq, as if all those who work for established publications must by definition practice their profession with some basic level of talent and dedication. Not to unfairly single out the Associated Press—who have had some reporters in Iraq, like Tony Castenada, who produced fair and accurate reports—but the AP’s Director of Media Relations, Paul Colford, went on the record for Confederate Yankee about why the AP had not picked up the story of the Al Hamari gravesites, with a statement that seems to indicate they place a high value on reliable sources:

“With regard to Michael Yon, the Iraqi police and the U.S. military—to our current knowledge—have issued no statements to the AP about 10-14 bodies being found on June 29 in a village outside Baquba, even though the military, according to Mr. Yon’s online account, were involved in the discovery.”—Paul Colford

To see what the AP might have by way of reliable, mainstream, news resources, on the morning of 07 July, I asked Talal, an Associated Press stringer in Baqubah, if he had heard about the Al Hamari murders, and our conversation went something like this:

“Yes,” answered Talal.
“How many had been killed?” I asked.
“35,” answered Talal. Not “about 35”, but precisely 35.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“A medic at the Baqubah hospital told me,” Talal said.
“What was the medic’s name?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” answered Talal.
“You didn’t ask?”
“No,” he said. Talal said a doctor told him the same thing, but that he did not know the doctor’s name. He had not asked. Besides which, Talal said, the doctor and the medic were afraid to give their names.
“How were the people killed?” I asked.
“They were shot,” answered Talal as he motioned shooting with a pistol.
“Did you tell someone at AP headquarters in Baghdad?” I asked.
“Yes,” answered Talal.
“Who did you tell?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” answered Talal.

Captain Baker, who was commanding the Iraqi Army soldiers at al Hamari that day, was a primary source of information. I videotaped this interview as his soldiers were still digging up remains nearby:

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In all fairness to Talal, he is extremely busy doing the most dangerous job in Iraq: Iraqi journalist. It takes extreme courage, and I see Talal all over the place. I did a mission with him today on 9 July. On today’s mission, Talal told me about how two nights ago when he did a mission with Iraqi Army and American soldiers, they started walking at about midnight, trying to sneak up on al Qaeda. They sneaked for six hours, he said, and caught about 30 of them sleeping. Talal said his feet and legs still hurt from the weight of the body armor.

Clearly, context like this is not well-served by the adversarial frame of “mainstream-versus-alternative-news.” Reporting from this war is deadly serious business. Deadly for the reporters, but how they report can also be deadly for us all. Writing is only an honorable profession when done honorably. In a market-driven media, cheap stringers who are usually hard to fact-check fit the low-cost model. I do not know what Talal reports and so make no comment on his reporting. But I will say that Talal is intelligent and extremely courageous, and apparently does not sleep much because I see him all over Baqubah.

On the subject of credit given where it’s due, Robert Reid from the Associated Press was out there Saturday on the ground with General Petraeus, taking notes. It remains to be seen what will come of those, but at least he made them. The times are different for everyone who dares to report on this war. Including Talal. Including Robert Reid. Including Michael Gordon and Alexandra Zavis and Michael Yon. The bloggers who demand fairness and truth are auditing what we write, but the market ultimately determines how much of any kind of reporting about this war ever gets placed before consumers.

The Ground Truth

LTC Fred Johnson

A couple weeks ago, LTC Fred Johnson told me a story about General Petraeus. Back when LTC Johnson was Captain Johnson, and General Petraeus was Colonel Petraeus, Colonel Petraeus was Captain Johnson’s new commander. They were doing a live-fire exercise at a range at Fort Campbell when a young soldier named Specialist Terrence Jones tripped and accidentally fired his weapon while conducting a live-fire assault. The bullet from Specialist Jones’ weapon struck Colonel Petraeus, slamming through his chest and taking a piece of his back on the way out. Petraeus fell to the ground, bleeding out of his mouth. He nearly died. We could have lost one of the most important and influential military leaders in generations to a mistake. To a professional misstep.

The best that Captain Johnson and Specialist Jones might have hoped for was a painless end to their military service. I asked LTC Fred Johnson about the story of his own soldier shooting David Petraeus, and I asked how it could be that Johnson was still in the military. Johnson looked me in the eye and said something like, “Mike. You know what Petraeus did?”

“What?” I asked.

“He gave me a second chance.”

Fred Johnson actually got picked up for promotion early.

“But what happened to the young soldier?” I asked, thinking surely there had to be a consequence. Conventional wisdom stipulates that for balance to be restored after accidentally shooting and nearly killing a superior officer, a sacrifice of some magnitude is necessary. A soldier just can’t shoot a commander in the chest and walk away. There is no such thing as an “accidental discharge.” Unplanned bullet launches are called “negligent discharges.” As in negligent homicide.

LTC Johnson answered something like, “Mike, you won’t believe how Jones was punished. Petraeus sent Jones to Ranger School.”

I couldn’t believe my ears! That’s a punishment that a lot of young soldiers dream about, even though Ranger School is a very difficult course. But after thinking on it awhile, I realized it probably explains why LTC Johnson sometimes says, “I believe in second chances.”

Fred Johnson said it just the other day. He said it to me, “When someone gives you a second chance, you should pass it along.”