Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Hotel Window Reporting

By now readers have all heard about the story of AP reporters staying in Baghdad Hotel and not going anywhere. I can testify to that fact. In the Fall of 2004, there was a masacre of around 50 Iraqi soldiers. The story dominated the news for 2-3 days. I witnessed the aftermath and know the incident in intimate detail.
These soldiers are Shiites from the South. They just finished their 8 weeks of basic training and were allowed a week of leave before reporting back for their next duty assignment. They all put on their civilian clothes and took taxis home (the taxis were actually Kia minivans). As the vans crossed Wasit Province from Diyala Province, they were ambushed.
The terrorists dragged the occupants out of the vehicles, ordered them to lay down along the side of the road in row, and shot them in the back of their head. Even the civilian taxi drivers were killed. Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi claimed credit for the attack.
What is interesting about the attack is despite the heavy coverage in the news. The media was not actually there. Despite being informed by the Iraqi Defense Ministry about the incident (by press release), not a single foreign journalist showed up at the crime scence - no BBC, MSNBC, CNN, not even Al-Jazeera. For two days, the 206th Iraqi National Guard Battalion transported the remains back to Forward Operation Base Wolverine. Only after the remains were inside a Iraqi military facility did the media showed up. They were not there at the site with the 206th ING, they were not there when the transportation of the remain occured.
I wonder how in the world can they report a story accurate if they do not even show up at the scence. And of course, typical of the ignorant media, they got the fact wrong. They reported the victims as Iraqi National Guard - the victims were regular Iraqi Army. They got the location of the incident wrong. They reported that the place of the masacre was in Diyala Province. It was in Wasit Province. Diyala Province was where the bodies were - not where it happened.
Beside the time where I saw the media inside FOB Wolverine, I never saw member of the Press anywhere. So the next time some clueless reporter has the audacity to tell us how important his job is, and how he inform us. Remember that he most likely has no idea what goes on in the world, his world view is the view of his hotel window. And if you want good reporting in Iraq, read Michael Yon, Faces from the Front, or better yet read Milblogs.

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