Here is one report among many that I've been getting about the media's (disinformation) operations in Iraq. It's the first one that identifies journalists at the scene. A Marine sends the following:
Things are going real well over here. We had a fantastic turnout for the elections a couple of days ago. I should preface that by telling a story of a couple of nights ago. On the night of the 13th, I was up at one of our satellite bases on the Syrian border in the city of Husaybah. The Company Commander for the area was having a sit down with some tribal sheiks that evening and he asked me to go along. Our entire area is Sunni for the most part. We have had very little participation in this area during previous elections and the area was largely anti- Coalition Forces. The Company Commander wanted to have a sit down with this sheiks to talk to them about the upcoming election and to urge them to talk to their followers about voting on election day.
We went to the house of the sheik around 7:30 at night. We rolled up with armored humvees and 2 dozen Marines who cordoned off the house. It was a real big, stone house with a walled off yard in front, which is common for many of the homes in this area. We went inside the house, took off our shoes and were ushered into the dining room. They do not eat at tables or use chairs here. Instead, they lay down a blanket on the floor and sit cross legged. Also, all meals are communal and family style, rather than having individual plates and meals. In the middle of this room, there was a giant metal dish, approximately 3 feet in diameter. The plate was piled with rice, nuts, dates and grilled mutton. They have large circular flat bread, looks like a cross between an Indian Nan and a giant wheat tortilla, that are about 1 foot and a half across. You sit cross legged around the metal dish and tear the bread into pieces. Then, no forks or utensils, you use the bread as a tool to pick up the food off the plate and eat it. It was really good and a very interesting experience. Of course, being that America is everywhere, we washed it all down with an RC Cola.
After the dinner, we retired to the edges of the room. The sides of the room were surrounded with pillows lining the walls in a U shape. The pillows looked and felt similar to couch cushions. The younger men of the tribe, probably teenagers, swept away the meal and the elders took their places against the wall. The chief sheik sat at the curve of the U, like being at the head of the table. This guy was the top sheik for the entire tribe in the country of Iraq. He was an older man, probably 70, had a white mustache, headress and robes with golden trim. There was small talk around the room (difficult because everything was being done through interpreters) while the young men of the tribe served chai tea and fresh fruit. Suddenly, the chief sheik called everyone in the room to quiet and gave a long speech to the Captain who is the Company Commander.
The Sheik said that the Sunnis understood that democracy is the only option for Iraq. He said that in the past, they had boycotted the election process. This was completely true for our area. Last January, when the elections for the transitional government took place, our area did not have 1 single voter. Not 1 vote. In October, when the constitutional referendum election was held out here we had a few hundred voters. This was a big success in our minds, because we had been told that no one was going to vote, but still not the turnout that one would hope for. The sheik explained that they knew that these boycotts of the process had only hurt the Sunnis because they were not able to get their agenda and their representatives into the process to help form the new government. The sheik further stated that before, the insurgents had told the people that if they voted they would be killed. He said this scared many Sunnis away from the polls who might have otherwise wanted to vote. Now, though, he said that things have changed. He claimed that because of our two operations, Steel Curtain and Iron Fist, and because of the Coalition presence in the area, the people felt safer and more secure. They felt that the insurgents had been largely neutered in the area and they wanted to participate in the process. He also said that they wanted to get involved to ensure that they had representatives in the new Parliament.
Well, when the elections came about on the 15th, we had 20,000 voters show up to cast ballots in our area alone. From 0 one year ago to 20,000 for this election. The lines were a half mile long and people waited for hours to get inside the several polling places out here. That was close to 60% of the entire eligible voter pool. A pretty amazing turnaround in less than a year's time. Things are getting better out here.
Not that you will hear about it on tv. I watched CNN last night while I was eating dinner. They ran a story about my battalion on there that was originally run 5 weeks ago when we were in the middle of combat operations in the area. It was a story about a family that was killed by American bombing runs in the city of Husaybah. The family had been kidnapped by insurgents and held inside their house while the insurgents shot at Marines. Air strikes were called in and the family was killed inside the home when the bombs dropped. The video showed people wailing and crying and talked about how Americans had caused the deaths of the family. This story was 5 weeks old. When we were doing offensive operations out here, we had 25 plus reporters from CNN, USA Today, the NY Times, Time Magazine, among others. Now that the bombs aren't dropping and the cities have been stabilized... we had 1 reporter here for the elections. She is from the Christian Science Monitor. Not exactly the most widely read publication in the US of A. So, instead of CNN coming out here to report on the current situation and the success of the elections, they ran a 5 week old story showing wailing and crying and dead children. CNN has it out so bad for George Bush, that they cannot even bring themselves to accurately report the gains that are being made by us out here. They are complete misinformation artists - and I have seen first hand how they warp and manipulate the "truth" to fit their agenda. I have been on the scene and witnessed a situation with my own 2 eyes, while CNN was standing right next to me (Arwa Damon and Jennifer Eccelston have been our 2 offenders by the way). Then, the story that I read on their website or saw on CNN International did not even remotely resemble the actual scene. The video had been altered, edited out of order, and the narration used in such a way to warp the situation and twist it into what they wanted it to be. It is amazing and despicable.
Again, this is not the only first-hand report that I have received about CNN's election coverage.