Two Soldiers Die of Mysterious Causes in Iraq

According to CNN, two American soldiers apparently fell on some bullets today in Iraq. I say “fell on some bullets” because it’s not possible that the bullets which killed them were shot out of a gun at them on purpose, because that would indicate they died in combat. And as we all know, combat in Iraq is over because Obama said so. As CNN clearly indicates in their story, “More than 4,400 troops died in Iraq during the war[,]” which is clearly now a thing of the past.


I don’t want to really upset anybody, but the Iraq war has never been especially high on my list of issues, pro or con. I know that seems strange, but there it is. Also, I am smart enough to know that I know absolutely nothing about military strategy whatsoever.  Accordingly, I have no firm opinions about whether the war should be over, whether the drawdown is a good idea, whether current troop levels are adequate, or even whether we should have been in Iraq in the first place.

However, I do know bovine fecal matter when I step in it, which apparently places me two steps ahead of CNN when it comes to covering Barack Obama. I respectfully submit that if you believe combat operations are over in Iraq despite the continued presence of 50,000 American combat troops who are still, you know, involved in combat, you lack the discernment necessary to disinfect bowling shoes for a living, much less cover world news.  I have to give them credit; only the Obama administration would be so bold as to peddle such transparent propaganda. And only the American media would be so pliant as to mindlessly parrot it. And if you think CNN looks like a sucker in this article, wait until you see how embarrassed MSNBC should be below the fold.

Ultra right-winger Glenn Greenwald teed this particular story up with this masterful piece last Friday on MSNBC’s embarrassing and sycophantic coverage of the “end of combat” farce perpetrated by Obama and his administration. With thanks to the greatest sock puppeteer in history, I excerpt a lengthy portion of it here because Greenwalds make an important point:


It’s not difficult to understand why NBC and MSNBC hyped the event the way they did.  The reason they had what Olbermann touted as a “worldwide exclusive” is because — in response to NBC embed requests — the Pentagon contacted them and offered exclusivity, knowing that the arrangement would incentivize NBC to treat the event as something of monumental historic importance.  By selecting NBC as the only broadcast network to be told in advance, swearing them to secrecy, but arranging for them to cover it exclusively with video, it became their story, and they thus, predictably, were eager to tout its importance.  That’s the natural inclination when someone is given exclusive access by the Government.

** snip **

By offering it exclusively to both NBC and MSNBC, the Pentagon ensured that this narrative would be given the Seriousness imprimatur from NBC, and would produce base-pleasing, Obama-favorable praise from MSNBC personalities.  Having Engel embedded in a Stryker vehicles as it “rolled out” of Iraq, and Maddow stationed in the Green Zone, added to the historic tone of the evening.  As The New York Times‘ Brian Stelter reported:  “David Verdi, an NBC News vice president, added, ‘The military had said, ‘You are the ones who are going to broadcast it first’.”  About that, Mediaite‘s Steve Kraukauer wrote:  “That’s a stunning admission, and shows a degree of coziness between both sides here.”  With this cooperative venture, the White House got exactly the coverage it wanted:  the repeatedly hyped claim that under Barack Obama, “American combat forces are leaving Iraq,” as Olbermann intoned at the start.

One of the few sour notes in this coverage came when Olbermann briefly interviewed McClatchy‘s Jonathan Landay, and asked him what the 50,000 remaining soldiers would be doing.  Landay explained:


This is the great irony for me, Keith. The fact is that under the delusional plans that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had approved for the invasion of Iraq, they had intended to come down to 50,000 troops within three or four months of that invasion. . . . .That, for me, is the ultimate irony, is the fact that more than seven years later, we‘ve now gotten down to the 50,000 troops that they thought they could get down to within three months of the invasion. . . . . [T]hose 50,000 men and women include special forces who will be going out on counter-terrorism missions with Iraqi forces. That, to me, is combat.  They’re armed. They’re going into combat.  There will be American, quote/unquote, advisers going out with Iraqi forces on regular patrols. That to me opens the door to combat.

So I don‘t think we‘re going to see the end of — we are not going to see the end of combat for American forces I don‘t think in Iraq.


The 50,000 troops staying in Iraq were noted several times by the various MSNBC commentators, especially Maddow, but, other than the Landay interview, it did not detract from the repetitious claim that — to use Brian Williams’ formulation — “U.S. combat troops have pulled out of Iraq.”  This, of course, was the same message touted in Barack Obama’s Oval Office address to the nation on Wednesday night:  


So tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.


Yea, verily. Obama promised the most sycophantic “news” network in history exclusive access to a facially farcical news event and, as expected, the dupes delivered exactly the story he wanted. Exactly how did it not occur to someone – anyone – at the brain trust over there to ask, “Wait a minute. How is this the end of combat if 50,000 combat troops are still there engaged in combat?”

The question seems to have at least occurred to someone at CNN today when they were forced to cover the fact that American soldiers are still mysteriously dying in Iraq. They voluntarily offered President Obama a fig leaf, pointing out that “SEE? He told us this was coming. No reason to be alarmed.”

President Barack Obama said last week that “violence will not end with our combat mission.”

“Extremists will continue to set off bombs, attack Iraqi civilians and try to spark sectarian strife. But ultimately, these terrorists will fail to achieve their goals,” he said in a speech from the Oval Office on August 31.

Well, there you go. No reason to think Obama was overpromising, right?

Hey, you remember that “Mission Accomplished” speech that Bush gave on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln? The one that was repeatedly and immediately pillioried by the American media as being a staged event built on a false promise? Just for kicks and giggles, let’s see if Bush said anything similar to what Obama said in his speech:

We have difficult work to do in Iraq. We are bringing order to parts of that country that remain dangerous. We are pursuing and finding leaders of the old regime, who will be held to account for their crimes. . . We are helping to rebuild Iraq, where the dictator built palaces for himself, instead of hospitals and schools. And we will stand with the new leaders of Iraq as they establish a government of, by, and for the Iraqi people. The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done. . . Our mission continues. Al-Qaida is wounded, not destroyed. The scattered cells of the terrorist network still operate in many nations, and we know from daily intelligence that they continue to plot against free people. The proliferation of deadly weapons remains a serious danger. The enemies of freedom are not idle, and neither are we.


Huh. Seems Bush was plenty clear that the violence wasn’t over after all. Of course, you’d never know that from listening to the American media, who immediately rushed out to claim that Bush had falsely promised sunshine and roses from this day forward in Iraq.  Obama makes a much larger (and more manifestly false) claim hedged by less clear statements, and the media’s incredulity meter barely registers a tick.

However, in a sign that even the friendliest of audiences have a limit to the amount of offal they are willing to swallow, Greenwald notes that the AP (the AP!!) has flat-out refused to recapitulate the “end of combat” propaganda being sold by the Administration:

Whatever the subject, we should be correct and consistent in our description of what the situation in Iraq is. This guidance summarizes the situation and suggests wording to use and avoid.

To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months. Iraqi security forces are still fighting Sunni and al-Qaida insurgents.  . . . .

As for U.S. involvement, it also goes too far to say that the U.S. part in the conflict in Iraq is over. President Obama said Monday night that “the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country.”

However, 50,000 American troops remain in country. Our own reporting on the ground confirms that some of these troops, especially some 4,500 special operations forces, continue to be directly engaged in military operations. These troops are accompanying Iraqi soldiers into battle with militant groups and may well fire and be fired on.

In addition, although administration spokesmen say we are now at the tail end of American involvement and all troops will be gone by the end of 2011, there is no guarantee that this will be the case.

Our stories about Iraq should make clear that U.S. troops remain involved in combat operations alongside Iraqi forces, although U.S. officials say the American combat mission has formally ended. We can also say the United States has ended its major combat role in Iraq, or that it has transferred military authority to Iraqi forces. We can add that beyond U.S. boots on the ground, Iraq is expected to need U.S. air power and other military support for years to control its own air space and to deter possible attack from abroad.


Fellow travelers, we should not underestimate the significance of this event. A major legacy news organization has issued an internal memorandum that Obama’s lies are not to be treated with more dignity than they deserve. Clearly, MSNBC will be content to play Mouth of Sauron until the day Obama leaves office, but this point – the point at which, less than two years into his presidency, the American media began to turn on a Democrat President – may spell the beginning of the end for Obama, even more than his sagging poll numbers have heretofore indicated.


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