17 September, 2007

With reporters like this

...who needs enemies? Over the weekend in the Washington Post, I happened to run across a brief article which may truly be the worst piece of "journalism" from a major paper that I have ever seen.

We'll start with the headline: "Sunni Group Says Its 'Holy Operation' Killed Tribal Leader." At least the subheading mentions Al Qaeda in Iraq ("Al-Qaeda in Iraq lauds death of Anbar Foe") though it doesn't specifically tie AQI to the killing. Based on that introduction, though, my first thought was that it was something about civil war in Iraq.

Let's see what it was really about (quotes from the article are in italics below):

The Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq asserted responsibility Friday for planting the bomb that killed a prominent tribal leader Thursday, calling the assassination a "holy operation" that targeted Abdul Sattar Abu Risha for his alliance with U.S. forces.

Remember that: al Qaeda in Iraq is a "Sunni insurgent group." It'll come up again later.

A statement posted on the Web site of the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group believed to have been formed by al-Qaeda in Iraq, celebrated the killing of Abu Risha, whom it described as President Bush's "dog." A tribal coalition led by Abu Risha had fought against al-Qaeda in Iraq for the past year in Anbar province, leading to a dramatic drop in violence, and Abu Risha met with Bush this month during his surprise visit to Iraq.

It's wonderful that Risha led a group that fought al Qaeda, but where were the Americans? They did it alone? I guess the WaPo cleared this with Schumer rather than actually fact-checked it. But that's a bit of a quibble, perhaps; it gets much worse.

At Abu Risha's funeral in Anbar's capital, Ramadi, hundreds of mourners vowed to retaliate against al-Qaeda in Iraq, a predominantly Iraqi insurgent group whose links to Osama bin Laden's organization remain unclear.

*BUZZ!* Massive, humongous, correction-worthy errors there! The supposed leader of AQI was busted a couple months ago. Turns out he is just an actor, and he spilled the beans on AQI. Among the most notable of info he delivered was that AQI is a front organization led by foreigners, designed to give an Iraqi face to al Qaeda's activities in Iraq. Furthermore, these foreigners are in direct contact with global AQ leadership.

After a brief description of the funeral and Rishawi's brother's vow to fight on, we find the following (if you want to know the real implications of Rishawi's death, read Captain's Quarters):

Meanwhile, the republic of Georgia announced Friday that it would withdraw all but 300 of its 2,000 troops from Iraq by next summer. Georgia has become a devoted U.S. ally in Iraq, maintaining a consistent military presence since the American-led invasion in 2003 as it has pushed for inclusion in the European Union and NATO.

Yikes! Even steadfast Georgia is bailing on us! Two more paragraphs beyond that, we finally get the rest of the story on the withdrawal:

"We had an agreement with the Americans that we would cut our military contingent by the summer of 2008. This was set up from the very beginning and, accordingly, there will be no talk at all about any sort of reduction before that time," Kezerashvili said, according to the Associated Press.

Oh, it was something that had been planned four years ago! That last little bit of the spokesman's statement makes me wonder about the question he was replying to...

Also Friday, a suicide truck bomber plowed his vehicle into a restaurant near the northern city of Baiji, killing at least 10 people, police said. The bombing occurred at the only restaurant in the village of Hijaj that had remained open during fasting hours of Ramadan, Hijaj police said.

They said four police officers were among the dead because a patrol had been set up outside the restaurant.

So, who/what motivated the bombing in this town in the Sunni Triangle? The article only implies, so let's see... it was the only restaurant in the village open during fasting (Muslim heretics). Must've part of that Iraqi civil war in which both sides are Muslim. Not. Oh, wait... maybe the targets were the police patrol. Strange that police would be attacked by their fellow citizens when they felt safe enough to set up a command post in front of a restaurant that was breaking Ramadan...

If ever simply the target itself could ID the attacker, this has got to be it--whether the target is the "heretical" diners or the police themselves, it's got the power-hungry religious fanaticism and indiscriminate violence of AQ written all over it. But al Qaeda in Iraq is just a "Sunni insurgent group," remember? Sure.

And finally, the closing lines:

Special correspondents Naseer Nouri and Saad al-Izzi and other Washington Post staff in Iraq contributed to this report.

No. Comment.