Get off their backs

Monday, November 22, 2004

Are the media on our side, or are they rooting for a bunch of murderous thugs who enjoy lopping off innocent peoples' heads? We are getting the answer loud and clear: What the United States does in Iraq is always wrong, and the enemy is usually shown, not as a terrorist, but a victim of unwarranted U.S. aggression.

Consider the firestorm that erupted when a young U.S. Marine, wounded the day before, was videotaped in the act of shooting a so-called insurgent who may or may not have been armed or booby trapped, waiting for a chance to blow Marines and himself to kingdom come.

That videotape, filmed by an embedded NBC photographer whose photos are prominently featured on an anti-war German website, has now replaced the Abu Ghraib pictures as proof of American brutality even though the film doesn't begin to explain the circumstances behind the incident.

But that hasn't prevented the media from showing the film over and over again without telling the other side of the story -- that the situation could well have been one of kill-or-be-killed -- as happened time and again to Marines during the battle for Fallujah.

NBC, the photographer's employer, led the pack, broadcasting the controversial footage four times an hour for two days. And the rest of the media jumped aboard. Not one of them has bothered to explain what lay behind the incident.

As of this writing, 40 United States Marines have died while cleaning out the terrorist havens in Fallujah.

In a single week, Marines and Army units killed as many as 1,200 of the enemy and captured 1,000 more and did this despite forfeiting the element of surprise, so civilians could escape, according to The Star newspaper.

Along with the Marine who shot the insurgent, his comrades over more than eight days have had to endure what the Star described as "some of the toughest infantry duty imaginable, house-to-house urban fighting against an enemy that neither wears a uniform nor obeys any normal rules of war." The newspaper cited this report from The Times of London describing how the insurgents fight: "In the south of Fallujah yesterday, U.S. Marines found the armless, legless body of a blonde woman, her throat slashed and her entrails cut out. It was unclear if the remains were the body of the Irish-born aid worker Margaret Hassan, 59, or of Teresa Borcz, 54, a Pole abducted two weeks ago. Both were married to Iraqis and held Iraqi citizenship; both were kidnapped in Baghdad last month." While zeroing in on this incident, the media has largely ignored the grisly discoveries of so-called "slaughter houses" where the insurgents committed atrocities unheard of since the barbarian invasions of the West in 400 and 500 A.D.

On Monday, 12 male corpses were found in two homes -- six in a living room and another half-dozen in a bedroom -- their bodies tangled together, stacked on each other.

One of the execution rooms unearthed by the Marines -- dubbed "the slaughterhouse" -- was believed to have been used by Zarqawi's terror group to behead foreign hostages, including American businessman Nicholas Berg, whose body was found in early May, Marine Lt. Col. Patrick Malay told the Star.

Yet few networks or newspapers bothered to show photos of the Fallujah slaughter pens which graphically revealed the true nature of the enemy -- they were all too busy showcasing the photo of the Marine engaged in what any fair-minded person would see as a fully justifiable action.

Whose side is the media on? Not ours.

Michael Reagan is a syndicated columnist.

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