If It Looks Like a Civil War…

Remember the made-for-Saturday-Night-Live Iraqi Information Minister? Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf became the most laughed-about character in the early days of the 2003 Iraqi invasion, when he declared — with bombs dropping in the background — “I triple guarantee you, there are no American soldiers in Baghdad.”

Iraqis were already accustomed to misinformation and government propaganda, but the rest of the world quickly shrugged al-Sahaf off as a fool and a joker.

But, today, not only is the U.S. government lying straight to the faces of the “liberated” Iraqis, the public messages being sent home are point-blank untruths that don’t match up to accounts (see the pictures below) on the ground.

The U.S. government doesn’t need a funny-face guy like the Iraqi Information Minister — they already tried that with the Don Rumsfeld show — it just grinds out misinformation like an anarchic machine.

The NYT Week in Review has a barometerical graphic of rhetorical devices used by the administration to term what is by-definition “civil war” as anything but. And a hideous number of politicians and supposedly non-partisan journos have bought into the notion that the media isn’t reporting any of the good news (documented here by Peter Daou w/ additional commentary here, here, and here).

But, as Lara Logan made clear on CNN’s Late Edition this morning, the media goes out of its way to try and report the good news, but is precluded from doing so by the government for security reasons (transcript):

“Who says things aren’t falling apart in Iraq? I mean, what you didn’t see on your screens this week was all the unidentified bodies that have been turning up, all the allegations here of militias that are really controlling the security forces.”

Indeed, this was best exemplified in today’s nothing but the truth accounts of a Baghdad attack Sunday killing around 20 “bystanders” (or “insurgents” as the Army reports) at a “mosque” (say Iraqi’s and observers on the ground, including the video evidence below) or a “community meeting hall” (U.S. military).

Read the first few grafs of the original AP report (since updated) and join me in my frustration. It is every bit as difficult to believe the U.S. version of the story as it is to believe al-Sadr’s.

Rep. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) effectively disclosed last week that reports from U.S. generals in Iraq tend to be significantly altered as they pass through our “ministry” of information.

“I think we have had a low-grade civil war going on in Iraq, certainly the last six months, maybe the last year. Our own generals have told me that privately.”

I want to know how U.S. troops are efficiently providing security considering daily reports of sectarian beheadings and executions on public streets. Isn’t that what we went there to stop?
The screenshots from the AP video taken at what the cameraman described as an imam’s living quarters attached to a mosque in Baghdad, where the aforementioned attack occured, depict the slaying of apparently unarmed civilians. I just knew the story would change as the day progressed — I can no longer believe Pentagon press releases proclaiming a “secured objective” netting 16 dead “insurgents” and 15 additional captures.

UPDATE: The British press continues to dig for truth in Bush’s War, as pointed out by Editor and Publisher. BBCNews reports today that “Iraqi police say U.S. troops killed up to 20 people… in Baghdad mosque raid.” The Sunday Times reported the following in “Iraqis killed by U.S. Troops ‘on Rampage’“:

the evidence from Haditha and Abu Sifa last week suggested that the Pentagon is finding it increasingly difficult to dismiss allegations of violent excesses as propaganda by terrorist sympathisers.?

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