AP Iraq Coverage: Believe the U.S. Military or Us?

October 17th, 2005 11:51 AM

Does the Associated Press take sides against the U.S. military when reporting in Iraq? You decide. In a story today describing retaliation for a roadside bomb that killed five American soldiers on Saturday, the ABC/AP story titled, “U.S.: 70 Insurgents Killed in Airstrikes,” opens:

U.S. helicopters and warplanes bombed two villages near the restive city of Ramadi…

The “restive” city of Ramadi? My dictionary defines that word as “uneasy or fidgety.” Hardly the way to describe a rat’s nest of terrorist activity; one that even UPI said is “exploding with violence”. The story continues:

…killing around 70 militants, the military said Monday. Officials said all the dead were insurgents, though witnesses said at least 39 were civilians.

Except that’s not what U.S. officials said:

Coalition forces continued counter-terrorism operations in areas of Al Anbar Province Oct. 16, killing an estimated 70 terrorists in separate actions.

Our military tends to call those who intentionally kill innocent men, women and children terrorists and not militants or insurgents. AP writer Thomas Wagner admits as much but snidely employs quotation marks as if to mock the usage:

The military said in a statement that the crowd was setting another roadside bomb in the location of the blast when F-15 warplanes hit them with a precision-guided bomb, killing around 20 people, described by the statement as "terrorists."

And exactly who were the witnesses cited by the AP? Was intrepid reporter Wagner on the scene? No, of course not:

A tribal leader, Chiad Saad, said the airstrike hit the crowd, killing 25 people civilians. Several witnesses corroborated his version, though they refused to give their names out of fear for their safety.

“Fear of their safety” from whom? Perhaps from certain tribal leaders who give aid, shelter and comfort to terrorists who cowardly slaughter indiscriminately?

For the AP to even remotely try to make the case for moral equivalency and credibility between the U.S. military and shady, uncorroborated sources in a former Baathist stronghold is, even for them, a new low.