AP Uses 'Don't Read This' Headline, Lede-Burying Content as Al Qaeda Retakes Fallujah
Discouraging headlines are appearing about the deterioration of the situation in Iraq, the war U.S. troops won in 2008. Bloomberg News notes, "Al-Qaeda Fighters Take Fallujah as Iraqi Army Attacks." The Washington Post reports that an "Al-Qaeda force captures Fallujah amid rise in violence in Iraq."
At the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, the headline writers are apparently more interested in making sure that as few readers as possible take an interest in the story, based on the non-descriptive headline they have chosen to employ:
AL-QAIDA SWEEP IN IRAQ CITIES REVIVES BATTLEGROUND
At best, the headline makes it appear as if Al Qaida is fighting again in Iraq, but little more.
Unfortunately, the story by Qassim Abdul-Zahra tells us that the Iraqi government has suffered serious setbacks in cities U.S. troops fought extraordinarily hard to take during the Iraq War. Obviously overly sensitive to the potential exposure the Obama administration faces to accusations of having left Iraq to totally fend for itself prematurely, the story waits until its third paragraph to even identify Fallujah by name (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Two Iraqi cities that were strongholds of Sunni insurgents during the U.S. war in the country are battlegrounds once more after al-Qaida militants largely took them over, fending off government forces that have been besieging them for days.
The overrunning of the cities this week by al-Qaida's Iraqi branch in the Sunni heartland of western Anbar provinces is a blow to the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Malik. His government has been struggling to contain discontent among the Sunni minority over Shiite political domination that has flared into increased violence for the past year.
On Friday, al-Qaida gunmen sought to win over the population in Fallujah, one of the cities they swept into on Wednesday. A militant commander appeared among worshippers holding Friday prayers in the main city street, proclaiming that his fighters were there to defend Sunnis from the government, one resident said.
"We are your brothers from the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant," militants circulating through the city in a stolen police car proclaimed through a loudspeaker, using the name of the al-Qaida branch. "We are here to protect you from the government. We call on you to cooperate with us."
Government troops, backed by Sunni tribesmen who oppose al-Qaida, have encircled Fallujah for several days, and have entered parts of the provincial capital Ramadi, also overrun by militants.
It's pretty amazing how circumspect Abdul-Zahra is about all of this, given the direct reporting present at Bloomberg and WaPo:
Al-Qaeda-linked militants held control of much of the Iraqi city of Fallujah and other nearby towns, fighting off efforts by troops with air support to regain control, according to a witness.
The al-Qaeda fighters have seized military equipment provided by the U.S. Marines to Fallujah police, whose headquarters have been seized, Uthman Mohamed, a local reporter in the city in Iraq’s western Anbar province, said in a phone interview late yesterday. There’s no sign of government forces inside Fallujah, and most of the fighting is taking place on a highway that links the city to Baghdad, he said.
A rejuvenated al-Qaeda force asserted control over the western Iraqi town of Fallujah on Friday, raising its flag over government buildings and declaring an Islamic state in one of the most crucial areas that U.S. troops fought to pacify before withdrawing from Iraq two years ago.
The capture of Fallujah came amid an explosion of violence across the western desert province of Anbar in which local tribes, the Iraqi security forces and al-Qaeda militants have been fighting one another for days in a confusingly chaotic three- way war.
AP's thousands of subscribing newspaper, radio and other broadcast outlets — and of course news consumers — are being denied news they won't otherwise receive unless they go to the trouble of investigating the matter on their own. That's not what they're AP subscribers.
AP appears to be more interested in buying time for the Obama administration to cobble together a response than it is in reporting the news as it happens. How disgraceful.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.