Monday, March 17, 2008


Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in Baghdad under extremely tight security that had him flying by helicopter to the Green Zone because the streets are too dangerous to drive on. The Vice President's plane arrived at the Baghdad airport with all but the landing lights turned off because mortar fire from insurgents could easily bring it down if they could see it.

Cheney wore a flak-jacket during his ride on the chopper from the airport to the Green Zone.

Despite all these security precautions, Cheney claims Baghdad is a city enjoying peace and quiet due to the success of "the surge."

Naturally, FOX NEWS will ONLY report how successful the Cheney visit was to Baghdad and how pleased Cheney is with "the surge."

Explaining Dick's Trip to Iraq

Posted: 17 Mar 2008 12:40 PM CDT

By Brandon Friedman

Vice President Dick Cheney has been in Iraq to highlight just how safe and secure the country actually is. In fact, according to the AP, he
said there was no question but there had been a dramatic improvement in security.

So let's take a look at that:

To prove his point, Cheney landed at Baghdad International Airport, then flew by helicopter into the dusty, heavily secured Green Zone for talks with U.S. military and diplomatic officials and the Iraqi prime minister.

He flew by helicopter because the roads are too dangerous for him to drive. The Green Zone is "heavily secured" because, if it weren't, it would either be overrun or it would be the scene of intense sectarian fighting.

For security reasons, Cheney officials divulged few details about the vice president's schedule and asked reporters not to report on his location until he had moved on to another.

Cheney officials declined to divulge details on his whereabouts because if people knew where he was, the location would likely be attacked. And not only would the Vice President be a target, but these "Cheney officials" have no faith in the Iraqi security forces or the American military to stop such an attack, otherwise there would be no reason to keep his visits secret.

Cheney's motorcade zigzagged through Baghdad to meetings as helicopter gunships circled overhead. Explosions were heard in parts of the city, but none were near the vice president.
Cheney's motorcade "zigzagged through Baghdad" because stopping--or even slowing down--can, and often does, mean that you'll be hit.

Helicopter gunships "circled overhead" because there was no other way to guarantee the Vice President's safety. To be clear, this was not an issue that could be handled safely by a Secret Service detail or a light infantry company. This was a situation that called for 30mm chain guns, Hellfire rockets, and Sidewinder missiles.

Explosions were "heard in parts of the city" because there's always somebody in contact in Baghdad.

Despite what Vice President Cheney would have you believe, Iraq is a country locked in a cyclical, bloody sectarian conflict. In fact, while he was there,
two American soldiers were killed just north of Baghdad and a female suicide bomber killed 39 in an attack near a mosque in Karbala.


The Bush White House and their propaganda arm, FOX NEWS, have been doing their level best to "spike" any story about the Iraq War, but is there any reason why the rest of electronic have bailed out of Iraq War coverage?

Why is it there has to be wall-to-wall coverage on the upcoming election? Why does every lurid detail of former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer's tryst with a hooker have to get so much coverage? New York is ONLY one of the 51 states.

Why is it FOX NEWS will use any excuse to trot out footage of scantily-clad Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and even dipping into the archives to run footage of the late Anna Nicole Smith showing off her enmormous breasts?

The flimsly excuse that all these are what the public wants is bogus.

Judging by the success of my blog, CORKSPHERE, which pulls in over 1,000 "hits" a day, there is a huge appetite for new of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because that is all I write about.

Television news is a disgrace, if not a total joke.

The United States has 160,000 young Amerians deployed to Iraq and 30,000 deployed to Afghanistan and we are fast approaching 4,000 young Americans KILLED in Iraq, and the television media considers covering the Iraq war a waste of time.

What is a waste of time is watching network and cable news.

Commentary by Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE,

Remember the war in Iraq?
By Miami Herald. 17 Mar 2008-->

The question isn’t entirely facetious. The war has nearly vanished from TV screens over the past few months, replaced by stories about the fascinating presidential campaign and faltering economy.

Yet Americans continue to fight and die there, five years after the war started in March 2003.

“It’s no big secret that this is a war that everyone has grown tired of,” said CNN correspondent Arwa Damon, whose documentary “On Deadly Ground: The Women of Iraq” is airing several times this month. “Iraqis are aware of it. They think it’s a story that people are tired of hearing about. That’s what makes our job more crucial.”

ABC News will draw attention to the war this week with the fifth edition of its “Where Things Stand” series, polling and interviewing Iraqis about what is happening in their country.

Statistics clearly illustrate the diminished attention. For the first 10 weeks of the year, the war accounted for 3 percent of television, newspaper and Internet stories in the Project for Excellence in Journalism’s survey of news coverage. During the same period in 2007, Iraq filled 23 percent of the news hole.

The difference is even more stark on cable news networks: 24 percent of the time spent on Iraq last year, just 1 percent this year.

“The fact that it went down didn’t surprise me,” said Tom Rosenstiel, the project’s director. “But the fact that it almost disappeared is something I didn’t expect.”

The fatigue factor is hard to fight.

From a journalist’s standpoint, the story hasn’t changed for several months. The American “surge” appears to have made progress, and while Iraq is hardly safe, pockets of the country are much safer than before.

It’s possible to pinpoint the exact week that the switch turned off. The war averaged 30 minutes per week of coverage last year on the three network evening newscasts up until Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the U.S. forces, testified in September about the surge’s progress, according to news consultant Andrew Tyndall. In the last 15 weeks of the year, the broadcasts collectively spent four minutes per week on the war.

A week before Petraeus’ testimony, Katie Couric did some of her best journalism since joining CBS during a trip to Iraq and Syria.
Her reward? The least-watched week for the “CBS Evening News” since at least 1987, and probably long before.

“The story there is so difficult to cover and there’s so little to get to that represents something you haven’t said already and haven’t shown already,” said Paul Friedman, senior vice president of CBS News.

It’s also dangerous and expensive, he said.
Unless the story changes dramatically, Friedman said, the point may come when a network pulls full-time staff from the country.

Whether the media is to blame or not, people clearly know less about what’s going on in Iraq than they used to. About half of Americans have consistently been able to correctly estimate how many U.S. military personnel have died there, most recently last August. But a survey conducted two weeks ago by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found only 28 percent knew that just about 4,000 Americans have been killed.

To this point, the networks say they haven’t cut back on their staffing and commitment to covering Iraq.

“It’s clear that this is going to be a big story for some time to come,” said ABC News President David Westin. “It’s our job to find ways of presenting that story in the most memorable and compelling ways to our audience because they need to know what’s going on there.”
That means replacing micro stories - how many people were killed by the latest roadside bomb - with macro stories of investigations and subtle changes in Iraqi society, said NBC News President Steve Capus.

For correspondents, the trade-off is less exposure on the air for more interesting stories that show enterprise. ABC’s Terry McCarthy reported a love story with a Sunni woman and Shiite man marrying to the backdrop of sectarian violence in Baghdad. NBC’s Richard Engel spent 10 days in Najaf reporting on Iranian influence there, and Damon got a strong viewer reaction to her story about a 5-year-old boy whose face was doused with gasoline.

“There is always news out there if you look for it,” said Jon Klein, CNN U.S. president. “What too many news organizations were doing was covering the car bomb du jour, and when the car bombing ceased, the coverage ceased.”

Still, Engel senses a growing dissatisfaction among some correspondents about the lack of air time.

Engel said he believed war news would come back to the fore. It was pushed back following the Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, but those stories faded. This interval is just longer than the others, he said.

“Obviously, the economy is really critical and the campaign is really critical,” Rosenstiel said. “But you do have a sense that when all is said and done, when we have a new president, the thing that will dominate the presidency is the war.”


We have been writing on this blog for months how the mainstream media in the United States has abandoned coverage of the Iraq war.

Now comes a story backing up what we have been writing.

War In Iraq Kept Away From Public

By Connecticut Post. 17 Mar 2008-->

Q: Professor News, what happened to the war in Iraq? A: If you have lost track, I am not surprised. Americans are still being killed and wounded there. So are Iraqis. Yet the war is receiving less and less news coverage.

It’s a vanishing war. Are the news media bored with it?

Last Monday The New York Times had only one story from Iraq. It was about a 2-year-old Iraqi girl who had been flown to Nashville for heart surgery. U.S. Marines picked up the expenses. Nice, but was that all there was from Iraq?

At least the Times had a heart-warming feature. Other news outlets seem to have forgotten about the war entirely unless something really bad happens to our forces.

Try to find something about the war in the March 17 issues of Time and Newsweek. Zilch.
Later Monday, five U.S. soldiers on foot patrol were reported killed in a suicide bombing. It was the deadliest attack against the U.S. military since five soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing on Jan. 28.

That got some attention on TV and radio on Monday and in the newspapers on Tuesday. It made Page 1 of The New York Times but not The Washington Post.

We can expect a lot of stories about the war in Iraq to mark its fifth anniversary next Wednesday. It was on March 19, 2003, that coalition forces, led by the U.S., started the invasion.

But after an orgy of look-backs, I bet coverage will fade again. It shouldn’t.

This war is the second longest in U.S. history, after Vietnam, and the second costliest, after World War II. About 157,000 U.S. service members are now in Iraq, many on their second or third tour. Another 10,000 are from the United Kingdom and other coalition countries.

As of March 7, 3,975 Americans had been killed in Iraq and 29,320 had been wounded. At least 81,000 Iraqi civilians — including children — have been killed in various forms of violence since March 2003. Some studies put the total at 600,000. Epidemiologists believe another 650,000 Iraqis have died from indirect causes.

The cost of the war is staggering. One estimate says it will total at least $3 trillion dollars, many times more than the official total of $600 billion to date. The $3 trillion total comes from Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel laureate, and Linda Bilmes of Harvard University in their new book titled, appropriately, “The Three Trillion Dollar War.”

To the direct cost of the war, the two American economists added costs that will be absorbed in the defense budget (to refit the military and help veterans) and costs to our economy (for increasing an already massive deficit).

Fortunately, NPR is still filing regular reports from Iraq. “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” on PBS is still running photos, names and hometowns of American service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Otherwise, we can go for days without being told anything substantial about the war. Maybe we will see a brief item in the newspaper, or hear a passing mention on TV or radio.

Yes, the rate of violence is down in Iraq. But typically five or six Americans are killed there each week. The war is not going away. There is no end in sight.

I think it is worth at least a Page 1 box in the newspapers every day and a report near the top of every TV and radio news program.

The war in Iraq deserves much more coverage. It should still be considered a big story five years later.


There has been much written and said in the past few days about the success of "the surge" in Iraq as the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War will be held on Wednesday.

Vice President Cheney and Senators' McCain, Lieberman and Graham are all visiting Iraq and will no doubt be holding press conferences to sing the praises of "the surge."

But what about the real truth about "the surge" and not just Bush administration and Republican spin.

Here is a story that sheds an entirely different picture of "the surge" and the consequences it is sure to bring in Iraq.

Rule, Not Reconciliation
Foreign Policy in Focus

Dahr Jamail March 17, 2008
Editor: Erik Leaver

As we mark the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, rhetoric around the "success" of the so-called surge continues. Presidential hopefuls, along with members of the Bush administration, continue to tout "progress," citing fewer U.S. casualties and moves amongst Iraqi groups towards "reconciliation." While indeed, there has been a reduction in violence, it is lost in the headlines that thousands of Iraqis still are losing their lives each month in the conflict.

But even worse, the "success" of the surge has the potential to bring violence to all time highs.

In his final State of the Union address in January, George W. Bush proudly held up the newly formed "Awakening Groups," known locally in Iraq as the Sahwa, as examples of both Iraqi cooperation and independence. Members of these groups now total nearly 80,000, and are paid $300 of U.S. taxpayer money a month to not attack occupation forces.

These groups are referred to as "Concerned Local Citizens" by the military, as though they are comprised of concerned fathers and uncles who suddenly became keen to collaborate with members of a foreign occupation force which has eviscerated their country.

In reality, most of the Sahwa are resistance fighters who are taking the money, arms, and ammunition, whilst biding their time to build their forces to move, once again, against the occupation forces which now support them, in addition to planning to move against the Shia dominated government. Furthermore, it is widely known in Iraq that many of the Sahwa are al-Qaeda members, the irony of which is not lost to Iraqis, who heard the U.S. propaganda as to the reasons the Sahwa were formed: to drive al-Qaeda from Iraq and to promote security so as to enable political reconciliation within the government in Baghdad by providing the space for this to occur.

Illustrating the counter-productive nature of Bush's plan, Iraq's puppet government, led by U.S.-installed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is having nothing to do with the Sahwa. When the U.S. military began to organize the Sahwa by buying off prominent Tribal Sheikhs across Iraq's al-Anbar province, Maliki made it clear that none of the Sahwa would ever be granted positions within the government security apparatus.

And why should he feel differently? With Shia mlitiamen and death squad members he supports comprising the brunt of the Iraqi military and police, why would Maliki choose to grant legitimacy to the very groups who wish to gain a counter-balance of power in the Baghdad government?

Despite the periodic bickering and blaming from the Bush administration aimed at Maliki and his government, the Prime Minister remains in power for the sole reason that he and his cronies enjoy the backing of the occupation forces. After all, this is an "Iraqi" government that is located within the Green Zone. It is an "Iraqi" government that would not last five minutes without that kind of protection, as polls in Iraq indicate that it enjoys less than one percent support from the Iraqi population.

Arming (and splitting) Shia and Sunni
"I can't think of a more classic example of divide and rule," Phil Aliff, a then active duty U.S. soldier with the 10th Mountain Division told me at Fort Drum last October. He served nearly one year in Iraq from August 2005 to July 2006, in the areas of Abu Ghraib City and Fallujah, both west of Baghdad. Aliff was disgusted in the U.S. policy of, as he described it, "Arming the Sunni while politically supporting the Shia ... how is that promoting reconciliation?"

According to the U.S. military, 82 percent of the Sahwa are Sunnis. Now the Sahwa, as my Iraqi colleague Ahmed Ali and I have been reporting for Inter Press Service, are openly challenging the government in Baghdad. In Baquba, the capital city of Diyala province, they are in the process of forcing the resignation of the Shia police chief of the province, Gen. Ghanim al-Qureyshi. A local Sahwa member told Ali in Baquba recently that their demands also include "the nomination of four Sunni assistants to be available as the new police chief, hiring 5,000 members of the Sahwa to serve as government security personnel, and government police no longer to be allowed into certain predominantly Sunni districts in an effort to eliminate the sectarian conduct of the police."

So much for reconciliation. The Sahwa albeit wrought with its own infighting, corruption, and power struggles, now form an effective counterweight to the Iraqi government and are beginning to demand posts in various ministries in Baghdad, as well as power within government security forces.

Click on link above to read full story....


The Iraq Veterans Against the War wrapped up their press conference in Washington yesterday and in this must see VIDEO 101st Airborne soldier Jesse Hamilton talks about how the Iraqi Army refused to follow the "Rules of Engagement" and would shoot indiscriminately at anyone they saw, including Iraqi civilians.


At least one in four Connecticut soldiers in a recent survey fit the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder after they returned from overseas deployments, according to a new study.

It also suggested troops are reluctant to seek counseling from mental health workers, and about half said their general health was “much worse” or “somewhat worse” than before their wartime deployments.

Survey: Vets have trouble adjusting back home

The Hartford Courant via The Associated PressPosted : Sunday Mar 16, 2008 15:40:17 EDT

HARTFORD, Conn.— At least one in four Connecticut soldiers in a recent survey fit the criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder after they returned from overseas deployments, according to a new study.

It also suggested troops are reluctant to seek counseling from mental health workers, and about half said their general health was “much worse” or “somewhat worse” than before their wartime deployments.

The findings come from surveys sent to 1,000 Connecticut troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The study is being conducted by Central Connecticut State University’s Center for Public Policy and Social Research with help from the Yale School of Medicine.

More than 11,000 state residents have returned from wartime deployments in the past five years, according to state officials. In the last nine months, a state hot line has fielded more than 300 calls for help from Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their family members.


Vice President Dick Cheney has made an unannounced visit to Iraq.

We can only hope he is thirsty and somebody offers him a glass of water. The "dance of the seven veils" will look like a hoedown compared to how Cheney will dance around so he avoids having a glass of water while he is in Iraq.

I'm sure the veep knows his old company, Halliburton and their subsidiary, KBR, have been providing U.S. troops in Iraq with contaminated water according to the Inspector General's office.

A recent report by the Inspector General found KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton the company that Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO of at one time, has been delivering contaminated water to U.S. troops in Iraq. On a video seen here, Senator (ND-D) Byron Dorgan talks about the Inspector General report and provides charts indicating how KBR was sending contaminated water to the U.S. military personnel in Iraq.

I'm sure Vice President Cheney brought his own bottled water from Washington, D.C. to Baghdad.

God forbid Vice President Dick Cheney would have to drink the same contaminated water his old company, Halliburton, has been providing our U.S. military in Iraq.


Vice President Dick Cheney has made an unannounced visit to Iraq where he is expected to meeting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Cheney's visit comes one day after Sen. John McCain, Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sen. Lindsay Graham all visited Baghdad.

(Editor's comment: The PSD (Personal Security Detail) will be bumping into each other trying to protect all the visiting VIPs from Washington. One wonders how much all the extra security will cost and how much money will be spent on gasoline for choppers flying overhead and Humvees prowling the streets just to make sure nobody takes a potshot at Cheney.)

Cheney makes unannounced visit to Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney arrived in Baghdad on Monday on an unannounced visit, the Iraqi prime minister's office said.

Cheney plans to meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister's office said.

Cheney began a trip to the Middle East on Sunday with an official itinerary that listed stops in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and the West Bank, according to the White House.


Apparently Republican Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain was under the false assumption that Iraqis would be greeting him with flowers and candy like Vice President Dick Cheney said five years ago when U.S. forces invaded and occupied Iraq.

However, McCain was treated as just another politician making a junket to Baghdad to try and boost his Oval office aspirations and he didn't fool the Iraqi people.

McCain is expected to return to the U.S. after making a stop in London for a fund-raiser and FOX NEWS will be giving him plenty of "face time" so he can talk about how wonderful everything is going in Iraq and how "the surge" has been a roaring success.

It is just a pity there are so many Americans who are taken in by the propaganda of the FOX NEWS reichwing Republican public relations machine.

There is hardly a day goes by this blogger doesn't present a long list of security incidents in Iraq, and, yes, in the area supposedly cleared up by "the surge," as well as a growing list of Americans killed in Iraq. There have been 14 deaths of American GIs in Iraq in the past four days.

McCain was accompanied on his "pep talk" tour of Baghdad's "Green Zone" by turncoat Senator Joseph Lieberman and military wannabe Senator Lindsay Graham, who lives under the delusion that serving in the JAG office was the same as being in combat.

When FOX NEWS does show McCain, Lieberman and Graham touring a Baghdad neighborhood, take a look around at the security precautions. The cameras won't show it all, but you can bet your bottom dollar there will be PSD (Personal Security Detail) soldiers everywhere, plus Humvees and overhead choppers will be circling over the "good will tour."

What a farce.

Comments by Bill Corcoran, editor of CORKSPHERE.

Iraqis Unmoved by McCain Visit

By Charles Crain/Baghdad
TIME MAGAZINE,8599,1722800,00.html?xid=feed-cnn-topics

"All American leaders — and people — know what is going on in Iraq," said Hassan Suneid, a member of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Dawa Party on Sunday. Senator John McCain's surprise visit to Baghdad, he said, was "only for the sake of his candidacy."
McCain, who is making his eighth trip to Iraq since the U.S. invaded the country in 2003, arrived on Sunday, although for security reasons, only a handful of Iraqis had been made aware of his visit.

"Unfortunately," said Faleh Hassan Shansal, a member of the parliamentary bloc loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada Sadr, "all American politicians and leaders sneak into Iraq in the darkness, without letting anyone know."

The U.S. Embassy, citing security concerns, has not released McCain's itinerary, but he is expected to meet with Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq and author of the "surge" strategy backed by McCain, as well as with some Iraqi officials. But by entering Iraq unannounced, staying about a day, and leaving before many Iraqis will even know he was there, chances are slim that the Arizona senator will learn much he didn't already know.

McCain is being accompanied by Republican Senator Lindsay Graham and former Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, who broke with his party in large part over his support for the war. Both men are strong supporters of McCain's campaign for president.

Perhaps recognizing that the visit might be perceived as a campaign stop rather than a Senate fact-finding mission, McCain has no plans to meet with the media while in Iraq.

McCain's trips have not always garnered the kind of publicity he may have liked. In early 2007, as the U.S. troop surge was getting underway, he pointed to his trip to a Baghdad market as proof that it was possible to "walk freely" in Baghdad, and that the media was not providing Americans with a full picture of the situation in Iraq. It was soon revealed that McCain had been accompanied on his market trip by two attack helicopters and dozens of American soldiers, calling into question his grasp of the situation.

That embarrassment has since been softened somewhat by the drop in violence that began in mid-2007, although violence levels have begun rising again in recent months. But, while McCain's strong support for the surge has set him apart from his potential Democratic opponents and even from many Republicans, the perception in the U.S. that McCain offers a significantly different approach to Iraq than can be expected from his rivals is not shared by many Iraqis. They see more similarities than differences among U.S. politicians, and are not expecting much to change in 2009.

"Things will never change, whether Clinton or Obama or McCain comes to the White House," said Suneid. "Whoever is in the White House will continue the American agenda."