CBS's Logan: Iraqi Commander Calls Report of U.S. Atrocity at Mosque a “Lie”

Kudos to CBS News and Lara Logan for undermining a widely reported incident in which U.S. soldiers supposedly killed innocent Iraqis inside a mosque. On Wednesday's CBS Evening News, Logan, who just three days earlier on CNN contemptuously dismissed as “outrageous” Laura Ingraham's criticism of Iraq war coverage for ignoring the courageous work of U.S. servicemen, relayed how “the U.S. says” those killed “were members of a militia responsible for executions and kidnappings who opened fire on elite Iraqi forces carrying out a raid early Sunday evening.” But, “many Iraqis believe they were innocent worshipers praying in a mosque who were slaughtered by American forces. Today the Iraqi commander in charge of that raid, whose identity we can't show for security reasons, told CBS News that was a lie." After soundbites from the Iraqi commander and a kidnap victim they rescued, Logan concluded with how the trouble facing Americans in Iraq is that Iraqis believe “another crime” was committed by Americans: “The American special operations troops who supported the Iraqis on this raid praised both their skill and their restraint. But the continuing problem for the U.S. is the public perception here that what happened Sunday was another crime committed by American forces.” (Transcript follows, plus Logan's attack on Ingraham)

A March 28 MRC CyberAlert article, “CBS's Logan Calls Ingraham's Iraq Coverage Criticism 'Outrageous,'" posted with a video clip, recounted:
Appearing live from Baghdad on Sunday's Reliable Sources on CNN, CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan lashed back at critics who say Iraq war coverage is not giving enough prominence to positive developments and Newsweek's Richard Wolffe ominously warned of a "bias witch hunt." When host Howard Kurtz suggested "critics would say, 'well, no wonder people back home think things are falling apart in Iraq because we get this steady drumbeat of negativity from the correspondents there,'" Logan retorted: "Well, who says things aren't falling apart in Iraq?" She proceeded to recite the bad news she didn't report, such as "all the unidentified bodies that have been turning up." After a bite of conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham on NBC's Today urging journalists "to actually have a conversation with the people instead of reporting from hotel balconies about the latest IEDs going off," a clearly angry Logan expressed her contempt: "I think it's outrageous. I mean, Laura Ingraham should come to Iraq and not be talking about what journalists are doing from the comfort of her studio in the United States." Kurtz pointed out Ingraham was on Today because she had spent eight days in Iraq, to which Logan sniffed: "For eight days."

(NewsBuster Noel Sheppard also posted an item on Logan's CNN appearance.)

As corrected against the closed-captioning by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth, the lead story on the March 29 CBS Evening News. Anchor Russ Mitchell:
"It has happened before in Iraq. American forces take on the insurgents only to be condemned by one faction or another in Iraq's violent tangle of religious, ethnic and tribal loyalties. The latest instance involves a joint U.S.-Iraqi operation on Sunday that some claim was an assault on civilian worshipers in a Baghdad mosque. Tonight chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan has an exclusive insider's account of that raid, and she reports on a vicious attack that happened today."
Lara Logan, in Baghdad:
"Gunmen reportedly dressed as police commandos are blamed for this massacre at an electronics store in Baghdad early this morning. It's the latest in a series of attacks and increased sectarian violence here that's often blamed on militias whose armed fighters have for now overtaken the insurgents as the dominant threat to Iraq's security. But as the outcry over the killing of these men shows, it's a highly charged political issue as well. The U.S. says they were members of a militia responsible for executions and kidnappings who opened fire on elite Iraqi forces carrying out a raid early Sunday evening. Many Iraqis believe they were innocent worshipers praying in a mosque who were slaughtered by American forces. Today the Iraqi commander in charge of that raid, whose identity we can't show for security reasons, told CBS News that was a lie."

Unidentified man, only back of head shown as he talks to Logan: "They say the American used the helicopter and they killed all the civilian male inside the mosque."

Logan: "And that's not true?"

Unidentified man: "That's not true."

Logan: "The commander insisted his Iraqi special operations troops had to fight their way into the target building where they killed gunmen guarding a hostage and found various weapons including rocket launchers and heavy machine guns. To your knowledge, this is not a mosque?"

Unidentified man: "We know this is used for capture of civilian people by bad guys, and they need money."

Logan, over video of another man in shadow: "This man is one of the civilian people the commander is referring to. He's the hostage they freed on the raid who chose to talk to CBS News even though he was too afraid to show his face. 'They beat me, they kicked me, and they used an electric drill on me,' he said. 'I thought I was going to die.' At one point during the emotional interview, he broke down and had to be comforted. When asked about the militiamen who were holding him, he said he was too terrified to say anything. He told us if you go to the streets and see all the people who've left their houses and if you go to the morgue and see all the bodies, then you will understand. The American special operations troops who supported the Iraqis on this raid praised both their skill and their restraint. But the continuing problem for the U.S. is the public perception here that what happened Sunday was another crime committed by American forces. Lara Logan, CBS News, Baghdad."
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center