What Fresh Hell Is This?

July 22, 2007

Jack Kelly Spins Again

When you read his column today, pay careful attention to what he's saying and what he's not saying and what his general assumptions are. Let's begin:

It is reasonable (though it no longer may be accurate) to describe the security situation in Iraq as "bad," or "grim," or "dire." But it isn't getting worse. Security has improved so much since January that after a visit to Iraq last week, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said a "sea change" has taken place.

Let's take a look at that "sea change" reference. Here it is at the Washington Post:

Upbeat on what could be his final visit to Iraq before retiring, the top U.S. general said Tuesday that parts of Iraq are undergoing a "sea change" in improved security.[emphasis added]
Here it is at Time.com:

In his most optimistic remarks since the U.S. troop buildup began, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday that Iraq has undergone a "sea change" in security in recent months, and that this will influence his recommendation to President Bush on how long to continue the current strategy.

After conferring with Maj. Gen. Walter Gaskin and other commanders in this provincial capital west of Baghdad, Pace told reporters he has gathered a positive picture of the security environment not only here but also in Baghdad, where he began his Iraq visit on Monday.

He was asked whether this would inform his thinking about whether to continue the current strategy, with extra U.S. troops battling to security Baghdad and Anbar province. "It will because what I'm hearing now is a sea change that is taking place in many places here," he replied. "It's no longer a matter of pushing al-Qaida out of Ramadi, for example, but rather — now that they have been pushed out — helping the local police and the local army have a chance to get their feet on the ground and set up their systems."

So it's "many places here" in Iraq undergoing the sea change - not the whole country.

Gen. Pace was speaking in Ramadi where Time says he gathered a positive picture of what's going on "here and in Baghdad" - did you catch that? J-Kel never qualifies things that way. To him, the sea change is in Iraq.

But this "sea change" is really not news. Take a look at this from the Washington Post from last month:
Three months into the new U.S. military strategy that has sent tens of thousands of additional troops into Iraq, overall levels of violence in the country have not decreased, as attacks have shifted away from Baghdad and Anbar, where American forces are concentrated, only to rise in most other provinces, according to a Pentagon report released yesterday. [emphasis added]
Ramadi, where General Pace spoke, is the capital of Al Anbar province. So as of early last month, the violence in the whole country has not decreased, but shifted away from Baghdad and Anbar (where General Pace was speaking) out to the other provinces.

By leaving that out, Commando Kelly leaves us with a false impression. That's what's known as a lie of omission.

Kelly does write this:
Americans are being misinformed because many journalists and politicians are less interested in the facts on the ground than in putting their spin on those facts.
I just don't know if Kelly understands his unintentional irony.


Bram Reichbaum said...

I liked the part where he quoted an official saying that Ramadi was the Al-Qaeda "hearland" just a few months ago, and now its so peaceful!

1. Ramadi may have been where the revolutionaries were banding together lately, but Ramadi was no "heartland." Heartland for them -- depending on who you're talking about -- but its very likely to be Jordan or Saudi Arabia, or Egypt -- or maybe failing that, maybe south and western Iraq.

Ramadi was just a watchtower; a military camp.

2. And you took it over, and it's been so quiet for 3 months? Congratulations! We've just whacked a mole.

Now a question:

What's the plan if Arrowhead Ripper and the such just keep pushing the insurgents about? Let's assume, for the moment, that the Iraqi National Army are not about to sweep in and slay the hydra.

Anonymous said...

I used to get angry at Kelly, now I don't read it.

As much as the PG likes to look down their nose on the Trib, they publish far worse every Sunday.