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Reporting From Baghdad

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Posted on Sep 6, 2007
Couric and troops
AP Photo / Charles Dharapak

What I did on my summer vacation: Katie Couric poses with Marines while awaiting a presidential visit in Anbar province.

By Scott Ritter

(Page 2)

Rhetoric aside, however, American officials who make these claims have been unable to back them up with hard facts and figures.  There is an al-Qaida presence in Iraq.  However, the majority of what is known as “al-Qaida in Iraq” is composed of Iraqis, not foreigners.  The whole phenomenon is a direct result of the American occupation of Iraq, and would dissipate the moment America left the country.  Likewise, the accusation of direct Iranian involvement in anti-American violence is questionable.  Iranian political support of Iraqi Shiite groups who violently oppose the American occupation of Iraq is real, but then again we know this:  We invited the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq to join us in toppling Saddam.  Based out of Iran, functioning as a de facto arm of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command, SCIRI did as we asked.  Why, then, are we shocked when SCIRI maintains ties with the very entity that created and nurtured it?  It is Iraqi Shiites who are killing Americans, not Iranians.  And they would kill us with or without the support of Iran. 

Now we come to the third and perhaps most difficult question:  “Why?”  In some odd way, Katie Couric’s jaunt to Iraq answers that question:  Because Americans truly don’t care.  Oh, we care about vague softball issues, such as “conditions in the street,” “fear,” and of course, “how the American troops are really doing,” especially when they are fed to us in 30-second sound bites or three-minute “in-depth” stories.  Little feel good segments planted in between commercials, designed not to infringe on our intellectual curiosity for more than 30 minutes so we don’t loose our focus watching the latest “reality” show or made-for-television drama.

The fact is, Couric’s made-for-television news is to what is really happening in Iraq as “CSI: Las Vegas” is to what is really happening on the streets of Sin City.  CBS knows that, which is why they are packaging Katie in this fashion.  The shame is that for most Americans watching, they think they’re getting the real deal.  They are not, but will continue to wallow in their ignorant indifference.  Katie will struggle to tell us that our kids keep dying in Iraq to “improve the quality of life” and “reduce the level of fear” on the streets of Baghdad.  She solemnly informs us that “our boys and girls” are suffering, but they know it is in support of a just and noble cause.  Katie will continue to report the story in Iraq from the perspective of an American political dynamic, not Iraqi reality.

She won’t go visit one of the American mercenary units in Iraq, the private military contractors who challenge the American military for numerical supremacy.  She won’t burrow into the never-never land of legal ambiguity that allows these mercenaries to commit murder at will, to treat Iraq (and Iraqis) as second-class citizens in their own nation, and whose continued abuse of Iraq results in a deep and undying hatred for all things American.  Katie may catch a movie in a hardened underground theater on one of the Pentagon’s mega-bases, or go shopping in a PX inside the “Green Zone” to get a “feel” of life for our troops, but she won’t venture up north, into Kurdistan, where other secure outposts of foreign occupation sit, out of sight and mind.  If Couric would visit the Iraqi Oil Ministry, she might be shocked to witness the legal maneuvering and exploitation carried out by foreign oil companies (including, directly or indirectly, American oil companies).

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Working with local Kurdish officials, small oil exploration and drilling camps are sprouting up all over northern Iraq, where they siphon off the wealth of the Iraqi people.  Shipped out of Iraq via Turkey and (surprisingly) Iran, using long-established smuggling routes, these illegal ventures are generating billions of dollars in income for oil companies, and because these ventures aren’t supposed to exist, this income goes unreported.  You can’t miss these sites.  Any review of Google-Earth imagery would show these facilities springing up like mushrooms over the last few years.  The U.S. military knows about them, and yet does nothing.  Note to Richard Kaplan (Katie Couric’s producer):  If you want to investigate this story, I’ll provide you with the geographic coordinates.  Drive up and try to talk your way into the security perimeter.  Position Katie well for the camera shot and demand answers. Just look out for the Canadian, South African or American mercenaries who are charged by “Big Oil” to keep this dirty little secret “secret.”

Instead of going to Iraq to report on why Americans keep dying, Katie could just stay here, in America.  There are any number of corporations whose boardrooms she could visit.  Or she could smooth-talk her way into a number of country clubs, to interview the human face of the “military industrial complex” that President Eisenhower warned us about a half-century ago.  She might take a look at congressional campaign financing, where the profits from these corporations fund the campaigns of the politicians who continue to do nothing about Iraq.  Then, and just then, would Katie come close to answering the question of “Why?”

But she won’t.  Or should I say, she can’t.  CBS is owned by General Electric.  GE is working hard to get favorable trading status with any number of foreign trading partners.  The U.S. trade representative is working hard on GE’s behalf.  Hard-nosed “reporting” by the likes of Couric would not go over well in the bowels of the White House, where instructions to the U.S. trade representative are issued. “I’m Katie Couric,” her broadcast could begin.  “Tonight I am declaring independence from corporate control over how I report (i.e., read) the news.”  Answering the “why” of Iraq requires confronting the layers of corruption and corporate domination of America on so many levels that even if Katie wanted to, she couldn’t—at least not from her perch as anchor of the CBS Evening News.

In a way, Iraq is a manifestation of all that ails America today.  A complete breakdown of fundamental societal checks and balances brought on by greed and hubris.  From General Petraeus who will give it, to the mindless corporate-owned minions who populate much of Congress who will receive it, to the entertainment-as-news media which will report on it, and to the American people who will consume it with no foundation upon which to evaluate it, the “Petraeus Report” will have little relevance to what is really going on in Iraq.  Once again, Americans will be searching for a solution to a problem they have yet to properly define.

Just ask Katie Couric.  Or better yet, watch her.


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By shz, September 15, 2007 at 1:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The service person’s mother isn’t likely to get any realistic information.  The main purpose of basic training is to empty the soldier’s mind and program it with whatever it takes to make a person kill on command and risk being killed.  Critical thinking skills have no use on the battlefield.

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By Jeff29, September 14, 2007 at 11:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Questions for and about Mr. Ritter.

In December 1998 he said, “without effective monitoring, Iraq can in a very short period of time measured in months, reconstitute chemical and biological weapons, long-range ballistic missiles to deliver these weapons, and even certain aspects of their nuclear weaponization program.”  Then, in 2002, after deciding that he didn’t like the Bush Administration he said, “since 1998 Iraq has been fundamentally disarmed: 90-95% of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction capacity has been verifiably eliminated…as of December 1998 we had no evidence Iraq had retained biological weapons, nor that they were working on any. In fact, we had a lot of evidence to suggest Iraq was in compliance.”

So he went from saying that they could be up and running again in a matter of months to saying that they had nothing. Huh?  This, along with the brushes with the law, and the alleged accepting of $400K from an Iraqi businessman (in violation of U.N. sactions), make him really hard to believe.  Funny how he went on a tirade last month about the lies of the Bush Administration.

Not that anyone here would provide the information, but it would be interesting to know why he left the Marine Corps.  An early promote to Major, with twelve years of service just leaves.

Someone please make some sense of this for me.  I hate to speak badly of a fellow (former) military officer, but things just don’t add up.

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By Geotpf, September 13, 2007 at 10:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Note to Scott Ritter: GE owns NBC, not CBS.  Obvious, sloppy mistakes like that makes it hard for one to take anything you say seriously.

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By Calibpatriot, September 12, 2007 at 4:43 pm Link to this comment

This excellent report by Scott Ritter really cuts to the chase. 

We have so much wide-spread commercial, political and military corruption rampant throughout our society that it may be impossible to extricate ourselves from its tentacles through the normal processes. 

The solution is something that all of us has to give very serious thought to now before it’s too late.  The freightening thing is that we may have passed the point of no return.

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By purplewolf, September 11, 2007 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment

#99712 Cyrena:
I beleive you when you relayed the story of the soldiers today not knowing who Rhummy was. In my city we have lowered the grade point average to 2.0 so the students can play hoops. I was outraged when they did that and the school board came out with the slogan,“Our students are ready for employers,” talk about students being dumbed down more so they can play basketball.This does not help the students at all,the only place they can find a job-maybe by inlisting in the bush war machine. Our students are not ready for the work force in this city that once turned out a lot of talent.This could also explain why some of the abuse that our military youth have done to the Iraqi people, they don’t know any better-there just kids.

I agree it is to bad Lucinda feels this way. Now how did she manage to talk to so many in Iraq in such a short time.Does the word plant come to mind.From what I have heard a lot of what the soldiers send back even thru email I heard was censored.

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By tomack, September 11, 2007 at 5:35 am Link to this comment

Cyrena is right on the money: how many 18 to 21 yr old people really KNOW or understand what is going on around them. We talk about what the soldiers are thinking and doing, and what their reactions are, yet we don’t touch on what our 18-21 yr olds are doing HERE. Forgive me for saying this—because I really don’t mean it—but there is a very small part of me that hopes for Draft talks to start again. Maybe that will get our youth—and their parents—out on the streets. But that won’t happen because THEY know what the repercussions will be. 

I have been blogging, and writing letters to my represented officials, and in a few instances talking to them (what a vacuous exercise that is)for many years, and while it does some good it does not have the impact of Americans on the Streets. Peaceful protests mind you.

To be honest I am not one to talk because I have DONE NOTHING to organise such an event, and I have NOT participated in any. While the closest may have been 200 miles away, I could have, should have, made the trip. Doing it Berkeley in 1970 is not enough. Will any on this post please share your street protest experiences, we need the bolstering. 

My apologies…

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By cyrena, September 10, 2007 at 10:08 pm Link to this comment

Purplewolf (#99581)

Excellent post here my friend, though sadly, I don’t think it registered. And, it is so sad, because I hate that Lucinda has felt “run off” from frank reality checks.

Your suggestions were all excellent. You suggested that she talk to her son…who could be in a better position to know and tell her? Well, that was what…yesterday, or the day before, and now she’s back with a full report, which tells her little more than she knew before…aside from what the FOB McHenry is putting out. How could he do all of that in a days time? How did she talk to so many others…presumeably also in Iraq, is such a short space of time.

And, did she ask the ultimate question, What’s the mission? Do our troops know what their mission is? How is the “improvement” being measured? Number of Iraqis dead? Number of concrete and razor wire barriers built to imprison entire neighborhoods of Iraqis.

It reminds me of a story from almost a year ago. A couple of soldiers were on patrol last November, when it was still relatively routine for the citizens to welcome the soldiers into their homes and serve them tea, or whatever they had. So, two soldiers were sitting in the home of an ordinary Iraqi, and the gentleman asked the soldiers (3 of them) what they thought about the “resignation” of Donald Rumsfeld. Two of the soldiers had never heard of him, and so their simultaneous response to the question (from the Iraqi) was, “Who’s Donald Rumsfeld”? The 3rd soldier explained to his commrades, who Donald Rumsfeld was.

So, I said that to say, that it could take some time for some of the troops to be able to answer these other fundamental questions about the operation to which that have been committed. Maybe just observation alone, isn’t enough. They can only know what they are allowed to know, and what they are allowed to observe.

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By Lucinda Jones, September 10, 2007 at 2:17 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ok. You said I should ask my son questions and listen to him. I did and I asked others in different areas the same question. I am getting different answers from them. Some of the soldiers I asked if they thought things were getting better. They said the people were glad we were there and they have seen so much improvement. They said things were changing for the better. That was from FOB McHenry. We get updates of the changes that are good from there all the time. My son does not feel the same way. But he does not deal with the everyday people of Iraq. So you wonder why it is so confusing? There are people there who are glad we are there that our soldiers are helping. There are also people there that hate us and want us gone. So I will gladly stay away from this blogg so as not to offend some of you as I have so obviously have done. I guess freedom of speech only works one way. God bless all of you anyway.

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By mr constitution, September 10, 2007 at 2:12 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

James Madison:  “. . . The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature . . . the executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.”  (1793.)
    “The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it.  It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war to the Legislature.”  (Letter to Jefferson, c. 1798.)

James Wilson:  (framer and ratifier):  “This system will not hurry us into war; it is calculated to guard against it.  It will not be in the power of a single man, or a single body of men, to involve us in such distress; for the important power of declaring war is vested in the legislature at large. . . .”  (To the Pennsylvania ratifying convention, 1787.)


George Washington:  “The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.”  (1793.)


James Madison: “War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. ... No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

James Madison: “War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will which is to direct it. In war, the public treasuries are to be unlocked; and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them. In war, the honors and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed; and it is the executive brow they are to encircle. The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast, ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venal love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.”

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By anonymous, September 10, 2007 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

from wikipedia:

1995 - The original Westinghouse Electric Corporation acquires CBS from Laurence Tisch
1997 - Original Westinghouse Electric Corporation changes its name to CBS Corporation, ending the reign of the 101-year old brand as the name of a major corporation
1998 - CBS Corporation founds the present-day subsidiary WEC whose sole role is to own the intellectual property assets of the Westinghouse brand and to license it to other manufacturers and distributors
1999 - CBS Corporation sells its remaining nuclear assets to BNFL who operates the business as Westinghouse Electric Company; the business is later sold to the Toshiba Group and currently operates under its present name. CBS is also acquired by Viacom.
2005 - Viacom changes its name to CBS Corporation and spins off a new subsidiary company that calls itself Viacom. CBS Corporation retains ownership of WEC.

=====================================================

Well why didn’t they just sell the whole thing to Enron and move to the Cayman Islands with a couple of strippers? That’d be the way American capitalism works these days…

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By scurvybro, September 10, 2007 at 11:46 am Link to this comment

Hey Lucinda—

Why do we need to pray, when our Bubble Boy in Chief speaks directly to God? According to the chimpmeister, he had America invade Iraq because God told him to do it.

So Lucinda, a more apt question is: “Why did God give our Idiot King bum advice?” Or, is it conceivable that Shrub didn’t actually receive a message from God, but just heard the wind whistling through his ears?

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By purplewolf, September 10, 2007 at 8:08 am Link to this comment

# 99463 lucinda:
Get a grip girl.I read your comment and thought about answering you the other day. I had to now.

You say you have no idea who to believe.Yet you have a son in Iraq right now.Duh! Your son has first hand knowledge of what is going on even,if it is a little bit and not the whole country of Iraq. Ask him,listen to his answers,they will be more truthful than the spin you get from this side….You said your son doesn’t know what to think. Don’t think, as emotion get’s in the way. Ask him to observe, what does he see, from the time he arrived in Iraq, what has taken place, what has he seen and what does he see now. Is it better or worse than before. Ask him direct questions, make a list,it will help you to remember them, he is there,you have a inside source for information many do not have. Take advantage of that.

I question the God you pray to and listen to for answers. Is this the same God that Bush says has told him to do this atrocity in Iraq and other places around the world? If so you are listening to a false God.People should know that George Bush lied about the information used to invade Iraq.The info used was 12 out of date-from his dad’s term as president,so the facts were 12 years old and he knew it.He has changed the reasons for invading so many times anyone with half a brain would know up front he is lying.If there was a God, it would seem that God would throw a lightening bolt at him everytime he entered a house of worship-as seen on tv- to wake up this hypocrite as he brings a bad name not only to all of America, he brings a bad name to God,by using God as an excuse to commit the atrocities to others all over the world.Anything coming out of the goverment spin machine is propaganda and is not to be believed. When it comes to the goverment,trust no one.

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By Miguel Nieto, September 10, 2007 at 5:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Lucinda Jones is a classic example as why America is in such a mess as it is. Most Americans are very much like Lucinda Jones, Lucinda Jones’ mind set. Ignorant and unaware of that is truly happening in America, Iraq and especially the rest of the world. Those of you who write here in opposition to the war and Bush are but a small example of the tiny minority who are enlightened to the reality of today’s issue.
As long as the majority of Americans are like Lucinda Jones then war and strife will continue in foreign lands brought about by American aggression and deep desire to control the world by those in power, knowing full well that as long as you lie to the Lucinda Jones like Americans, they can get away with anything, including murdering innocent children in foreign lands.
If most Americans were nothing like Lucinda Jones then real peace would prevail. Unfortunately there are too many Lucinda Jones in America to ever hope for real peace.
Good luck ya’ll.

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By cyrena, September 9, 2007 at 11:51 pm Link to this comment

Lucinda Jones,

On #99463 ,

No disrespect intended, because I believe that prayer does have intended usage. Just not here. God didn’t order up this war, and so God isn’t likely to end it. This is an argument that sometimes comes up with any of us, as we collectively or individually, attempt to rationalize the irrational. It’s like the gun lover who rationalizes away all of the senseless “accidents” that routinely occur with guns. They sloganize away the guilt with things like, “Guns don’t kill people – People do!” Well yeah, and isn’t that what guns are for? Is that not their intended purpose? Isn’t that why guns are manufactured and sold? To kill people or other living things? Isn’t that why PEOPLE buy and/or steal them? And, does God really have anything to do with any of that?

I’m inclined to say that it wasn’t a Godly decision to invade Iraq, and we didn’t do it to save civilians that were being killed. That’s not to say that innocent people didn’t die in Iraq at the hands of Saddam Hussein, but certainly not any more, (and actually far, far fewer) than the number of innocents dying right here at home, at the same time, at the hands of a government that has become a dictatorship, and has left millions to suffer in the worst sort of poverty, in the midst of what is allegedly the most wealthy nation in the world. And, we can’t blame that on God either.

And, while the suggestion that we have gone to Iraq to save people that were being persecuted under Saddam is certainly a lofty ideal, these same characters who have us in the war now, are the same ones who supported Saddam when he was doing all of those dastardly deeds, and even supplied some of the weapons that he used.

And now, here we are in September, 2007, and we know that we have now been responsible for killing 1000 times more innocent Iraqis than Saddam could or ever would have even considered.

At LEAST a million innocents have been slaughtered, and there are another 4 million of them that have been displaced. And, we’ve been praying. I have friends that have been praying hard, all of this time. I’ve even joined them, especially when their children and spouses return home in boxes, because there are no logical answers. So, we do the illogical…what has never produced any results that we can actually point to, but they do it anyway. They pray.

So do the Iraqis. Matter of fact, they pray a whole lot more than most Americans. So, what’s up with that? Do they have a different God than we do? And, if God has any control over the war, who’s side is God on? Who’s prayers is God listening to?

It’s hard to know, and here again, there’s not a lot of logic. The Iraqis desperately pray that we will leave their nation, as they have for the nearly 5 years into their continued slaughter. And of course you’ve said here, that our troops just want to return home safely, which is what we all want. So, in this war, everybody seems to want the same thing, except for Dick Bush, and a handful of al-Queda types, and other related thugs that the invasion and occupation has managed to attract.

So, if there’s a God, and if the praying helps, wouldn’t it just seem like by now, God should have figured out that the majority of us want all of the killing and dying and destruction to stop, and just make it happen?

I’m more likely to agree with boggs. If there’s a God, She’s already spoken, and it’s to say…”I gave you some common sense and moral decency. Now….USE IT!!” Get off your knees, and do your praying in action. Get to it. Everybody is so busy praying, they never bother to listen for any of the answers.

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By Wade Roberts, September 9, 2007 at 10:47 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Blew it on the paragraph that alleges Couric is being gagged by GE as a CBS parent company.

That’d be MSNBC.

With his many rants regarding fact checking and mindless propaganda, it’s a terrible shame that Mr. Ritter has fallen prey to his own success and failed to check his own facts prior to this publication.

Retract and correct this, the credibility of Mr. Ritter and this publication are on the line.

Peace,

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By steven, September 9, 2007 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

CBS is owned by Westinghouse not GE-correct?

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By Kwagmyre, September 9, 2007 at 5:11 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Lucinda Jones #99398….....

“If you don’t like the way things are there are better ways to change them.”

I can sympathize with the pain you’ve undergone in having a son stationed there as I could with any parent in your position but what kind of “better change”
is there if we don’t like the way things are?  How much clearer do we who oppose the war have to be?  So long as we have a President who doggedly persists in his pursuit of a truly troubling vision, we’re forced to turn to a forum like this at the very minimum to register our views.
After all, nobody in Congress seems willing or able to accomplish what we wanted anyway which our vote in the 2006 election should have shown.

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By purplewolf, September 9, 2007 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

#99439 victorberry:

Many of these bloggers you talk about may very well have fisrt hand experience with what war does,not only to the people we fight,but the end results for both sides and long after that war is done and the next is on the horizon. Many bloggers also do things outside of blogging to try to get the braindead politico parties to wake up and stop this madness. Blogging just gives us another way to find out information from others from all over, not just a narrow area which is what happens when the protests and marches happen-it is in a small area and often not noticed,or sometimes we are rounded up by authorities.

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By sophrosyne, September 9, 2007 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Curic may be the light weight and incompetent we all know her to be.  But the problem with the media is much greater.  We have been witnessing a blurring of entertainment and disinformation/information for many years.  Many young Americans do not even know what a real journalist looks or sounds like

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By Bill, September 9, 2007 at 11:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A sign of what is wrong with our country indeed. The laundry list of wrongs is so long that it just gets lost. Hubris, arrogance,political disinterest, abandonment of American ideals and laws; it has become I think to many in this country a nightmare that must be put out of sight and out of mind. So few have any immediate vested interest in what happens in our foreign policy. The children of our lower middle class and working poor are fighting this battle while the majority of Americans are more concerned with the superficial trivialites of daily life in this country. Congressman Rangel and Ralph Nader are right, were the draft to be reinstated, the howls of public protest would end this imperialist venture in quick order. Sadly, it has come to this. Scott is right, Americans are to preoccupied with other things to bring any pressure to bear on this criminal military adventure by a criminal administration. To paraphrase a historical American patriot, a people who would forsake liberty in the name of security deserve neither. We as a people must have a political reawakening for this to end anytime soon.

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By osage, September 9, 2007 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

AL QAEDA’S NUMBERS ARE ONLY 3% TO 5% OF THE TOTAL SUNNI INSURGENCY!

IF WE’RE IN IRAQ TO FIGHT “AL QAEDA”, THE TERRORISTS RESPONSIBLE FOR 9/11, WHY DO WE NEED 160,000 AMERICAN SOLIDIERS TO THWART A FORCE ESTIMATED TO BE AT BEST 3,000?

IS “AL QAEDA’S” FORCE OF 3000 SO MUCH BETTER ORGANIZED, ARMED AND EQUIPPED THAT THEY’VE BEEN ABLE TO DEFEAT 160,000 AMERICAN SOLDIERS?

IS “AL QAEDA’S” FORCE OF 3000 SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE NEARLY 4000 AMERICAN DEATHS THUS FAR? 

HOW MANY AMERICAN’S WERE KILLED BY SUNNIS OR SHITES?  HOW MANY AL QAEDA HAVE BEEN KILLED BY AMERICAN TROOPS IN IRAQ?

WHO IS DOING THE KILLING OF THE HUNDREDS OF THOSANDS OF IRAQI CIVILIANS?

AL QAEDA ISN’T THE REASON FOR ALL THE KILLING THAT’S GOING ON IN IRAQ.  GEORGE W. BUSH IS!

“[I]t is estimated that foreigners make up at least 70 percent of al Qaeda’s 1,000 to several thousand fighters. Other estimates suggest al Qaeda’s numbers around 850, about 3 to 5 percent of the Sunni insurgency.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Qaeda_in_Iraq

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By Lucinda Jones, September 9, 2007 at 9:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yes I do believe prayer can change things and will help things. God does care about what has happened to people on both sides. But he has said that bad things happen to the just and the unjust. Innocent people are being killed on both sides, that is war. Innocent people in Iraq were being killed before we got there where were the cries for these people before we got there? I’m not saying what is going on there now is right. I have no idea who to believe. I am not there to see what is going on. There are too many stories from too many people and none of it matches what each other says. My son is there now and I just want him home safely. This whole thing scares me for his and the others safety. He doesn’t know what to think about it there. They just want to be home with their families.They are tired od the fighting. He is tired and worn out. Most of them are. How many of us know what the truth really is? How can any of us really pass judgement? I don’t have faith in the media at all. They will say whatever gets the most attention.

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By JRP, September 9, 2007 at 8:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is an excellent piece but it contains a glaring error at the end - CBS is NOT owned by GE. I would expect this error to have been corrected by now.

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By boggs, September 9, 2007 at 7:49 am Link to this comment

Lucinda Jones, do you actually believe that we can pray our way out of the mess we created for the Iraqi people?
What a leap of faith!
Does she think GOD won’t care that we’ve killed (slayed, murdered, executed) over one million innocent Iraqi people as well as make another four million homeless refugees.
Wake up and use the free spirit that God gave you to think with. The free will to think for ourselves and I believe He would have surely been hoping that we would use some reason and logic.
We must start to see the bunch who caused all this suffering in Iraq by their true image. They are new-nazis, with a desire for empirical power that is so great, they have no conscience!
We must hold them accountable for this great 21st century holocaust, just as we held Hitler responsible.

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By victorberry, September 9, 2007 at 4:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

purpledog ...

Don’t you think that if everyone of us Americans were made to view firsthand the destruction of Iraq and its people, we anti-war blogger types might do more than just blog the next time some buffoon tries to sell a “pre-emptive war” (or the totally nonsensical concept of “preventive war”)?

It was obvious in November 2002 when Bush began sending the troops to Kuwait that the cocky bastard was not going to settle for a diplomatic victory and bring them back home without firing a shot or dropping a bomb.  Yet, all we did was sit back, voice our complaints, and let the inevitable happen.

None of us were able to stop it, so we’re all complicit.  With few exceptions, history will not distinguish us from the bloodthirsty warmongers amongst us.  We’re all guilty by association.

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By purplewolf, September 8, 2007 at 7:45 pm Link to this comment

#99284 Victor Berry:
Only the people who voted for this president and his diehard supporters should be the one forced to walk thru this atrocity brought on by thier president.In fact all the top people in the country directly responsible for this should be forced to live in this,the fruits of their labour,as all the victims in Iraq are having to, for the rest of their days. No electric,running water,proper shelter,no perks,no exception.We know who we mean,starting with the Bush clan.
As for those of us who never supported this invasion and occupation in Iraq and have tried to help end this,why do you think we should also view the destruction? We,unlike to many of the sheeple who believe the lies out of the white house,are the very people trying to open the eyes of the sleeping population.We have researched and seen what has really happened and is still going on.I agree that people really need to see for themselves what has been done and not the dog and pony show that this goverment and the news media continue to fabricate.

I am also sick of the line, “we have to fight them over there or they will follow us home”. JUST WHO OPENED THEIR MOUTH AND CHALLENGED THE OTHER SIDE FIRST AND SAID-BRING IT ON”? When you tell someone to bring it on, it usually means to bring it to me, instead we took it to them.Duh!

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By HeevenSteven, September 8, 2007 at 7:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great piece Scott! Keep it up, PLEASE!

CBS is not owned by G.E.; but It hardly matters which corporate conglomerate owns which network. The whole MSM is asleep at the switch.

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By Lucinda Jones, September 8, 2007 at 6:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

America the land of the Free. Thank God for the freedom you have to tear our government down the way you do and speak so badly about this great nation. What really saddens me is that more people from this great nation don’t spend their time on their knees praying for our soldiers and our leaders. If you don’t like the way things are there are better ways to change them. We have young men and women being killed every day over there. Try praying for our soldiers safety instead of spending so much of your time hating and bashing everybody.

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By BSW, September 8, 2007 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

One other issue - I have heard both sides being reported as to the Iraqi people not wanting us to stay or leave issue.
If anyone does anything right in this mess - at least have the IRAQI PEOPLE vote just on that one ISSUE.  Then it can be decided (if they don’t cheat on the vote).

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By Spanky, September 8, 2007 at 1:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Enjoyed the article as usual Scott.

Although you mentioned it briefly, I think that the role of PMCs (private military contractors) will continue to grow and flourish as Bush looks for ways of maintaining control over Iraq while making it appear as though he will be drawing down US troop levels as “security improves”.

The lack of oversight of the PMCs will continue to hinder stability in the region and draw outrage towards the West.

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By BSW, September 8, 2007 at 1:21 pm Link to this comment

As was stated - GE own NBC as well as MSNBC - which broadcasts Countdown - which does try to report on the nonsense the Bush admon is trying to hand us.  His ratings keep going up (at Bill’Os expense) and NBC did put him on Sunday one week.  What they need to do is put him on at 7pm for an hour instead of the E crap and then things will start happening!

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By JohnD, September 8, 2007 at 11:17 am Link to this comment

I never watch TV news. Mr. Ritter reminds me why. I am saddened by this, however.

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By Vitny, September 8, 2007 at 10:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The Baghdad report by Mr. Scott Ritter is very good.
I have one remark about the mercenary forces he mentions in the report. The US Army of today is different then what it was during the Vietnam war. All the military today is receiving good pay and bonuses. They are there for the money and a large number are foreigners expecting also US citizenship. So, what is the difference between the military contractors from anywhere or the official US Army ?

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By ChicagoGuy, September 8, 2007 at 9:08 am Link to this comment
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Ms. Couric is doing nothing different than most main stream meadia news readers. She is just simply making an Iraq junket to bolster her ratings. Who but the ill-informed would be fooled by this?

I would find it more of interest to hear from the average Iraqi citizen living in Baghdad, or one of the countless Iraqi refugees living elsewhere or even the uncensored views of our troops rather than the same old public relations tripe we constantly get out of the White House. If Ms. Couric thinks things are going so well then why doesn’t she and her crew venture unprotected into the markets and do some real interviews? I think we know the real reason.

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By mark, September 8, 2007 at 8:33 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Katie Couric’s Iraq tour follows a long tradition of powerful white people trampling the graves of brown people they have just slaughtered and then claiming the moral high ground for bringing peace to the savages.

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By Eric, September 8, 2007 at 5:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Where are you American citizen ?

In France everybody go in the street to manifestate
the opposition with the political.

Americans people are too much rigids with an exagerated sense of patriotism ...
Patriotism need existence for the peoples, the citizen,the soldiers (they are citizens too)....
NOT WITH A FALLACIOUS GOVERNMENT WHO MANIPULATED
THE FACTS ....
Wake up, otherwise you are not higher than the Irak
nation which give obédience to Saddam Hussein by the
past… YOU BELIEVES IN DEMOCRATIE ?
Or you deeper accept to be manipulated, through
an illusion of truth, and liberty ???

Sometimes i think about the thousands US soldiers
falling DURING WWII? to bring us (in Europe) our lost
liberty .

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By Victor Berry, September 8, 2007 at 4:59 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Just like the Allies made German citizens walk by and view the concentration camps and death camps after World War II, each and every one of us Americans should be forced to do the same in Iraq ... Fallujah, Sadr City, etc.  All 300 million of us should smell the stench of war and see the utter destruction that our government has wrought in our name.  Yes, we are as guilty of complicity in war crimes as any of the ordinary German citizens in 1945.

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By Aman, September 7, 2007 at 9:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hi there,

Could you please provide the coordinates of the illegal oil drilling sites you mentioned?

Thanks!

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By Louise, September 7, 2007 at 7:57 pm Link to this comment

Oh golly whiz!

Thanks for the chuckles posters!
Reading through, it’s apparent CBS has changed ownership a bit, lately!

[Who does own CBS? Anybody?]

But then, reading through anything requires an assistant to keep track of all the buy-outs and take-overs and mergers, and except for the fact that consolidation may increase the size of the current controlling corp. or corps [and returns to the do-nothings who keep the Market going] it typically condenses the value to the consumer. Which is why so many of them [the news corps] have become so ... well boring.

Cheez! Did I just say that? News is not supposed to be entertainment. It’s supposed to be boring!
Actually it’s supposed to be informative.

I suppose if you want to hear the rosy side of Iraq, Kitties the right man for the job.
If on the other hand you want to see the truth about Iraq, you’ll have to hunt it down. A much better use for that assistant I mentioned.

But all the same ...

elmeroguero [#990206] has a valid point.
I suspect the media outlet he works for may be one that I hunt through.

Far more bloggers rely on main stream media than they care to admit. Sometimes, but not always for a juicy bit of news, and sometimes for the mention of something that leads to that hunt thing I mentioned. In fact, I am increasingly delighted to see MSM print something that was scooped by a blogger!

Bloggers have been printing media scoops for years.

The good ones give credit, when they can find it, but credit doesn’t pay the bills.

Sooner or later MSM, [well that part of MSM that hasn’t sold out yet anyway. There’s a few left] and the universe of blogs will come together and work out an arrangement that will actually give us what we want and make an income for all!

Great article Scott ... as usual.

I put you right up there with Amy Goodman ... in the National Treasure frame!

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By Dwight Thomas Powers, September 7, 2007 at 7:25 pm Link to this comment
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Early in 1968,(RIGHT AFTER WESTMOREAND HAD DECLARED ‘HE SAW LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL’ IN VIETNAM AND THEN CAME TET, there were arguments over the shape of the Peace Table and our troops still died in Vietnam each day. In March of 1968, LBJ abdicated and threw in the proverbial towel over Vietnam and the troops still died each day. In June of 1968, the man who said if elected he would pull all the troops out of Vietnam, Robert F.Kennedy, was blown away in a hotel in L.A. mere minutes after he won the California Democratic Primary, and the troops still died each day (I really knew I was screwed then). The presidential elections between tweedle dee and tweedledum(b) were decided and Nixon won with his “secret peace plan to end the war” that was so secret it was never revealed because it never existed AND the troops still died every day in Vietnam. During all that time I ducked and ate my c-rations and the war went on and on and on, but, after I was a civilian again, in the summer of 1969, Tricky Dick announced troop withdrawls as concocted by Henry Kissinger and less and less troops died each day in Vietnam. If the old ‘red baiter’ himself could cook up a scheme to eventually withdraw 550,000 plus troops from Vietnam with the aide of Henry the K, why then cannot a similar plan be cooked up once again by Kissinger or some other lameass? Are not our troops lives in Iraq worth at least the same as those of us who got suckered into serving in Vietnam? One thing is for sure tomorrow and the days beyond. more of our fine young Americans lives will be wasted in Bush Iraq thanks to the daily hand wringing that goes on, not only in the the House and the Senate, but in offices and kitchens and living rooms all across America. Get off your asses folks, call, write and e-mail all of your elected officials and DEMAND IMMEDIATE TROOP WITHDRAWALS FROM IRAQ! WE THE PEOPLE do indeed have the power to change things for the better, b ut we must all particpate in this denmocratic republic!

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By elmeroguero, September 7, 2007 at 3:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The war in Iraq has become a major generator of advertising revenue for these corporations, so there is no incentive to actually report the truth, but rather manipulate the fiction.”

I was with you until there.
Newspapers, including the MSM outlet I work for, have made incredible sacrifices, including of lives, to attempt to sort out the truth in Iraq, at a time when our revenue is absolutely TANKING. That charge is the mark of an immature analysis, frankly. While it may be so of Couric and her particular show, don’t spread the blame beyond your grasp.
Most of the MSM in Iraq have done a fair job of reporting, and of training and equipping locals to dig up the truth and contest the script in places where it has become unsafe for Westerners to go.
I think sometimes the left fails to read the MSM carefully enough or often enough, and makes the same mistake as the GOP - simplifying everything into, well, an easy acronym.

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By Mudwollow, September 7, 2007 at 1:49 pm Link to this comment

Nice piece. Thank you Scott. Thank you “reality news” provider Truthdig.

Reading it still leaves one with the gnawing question, what can be done? Or possibly not. If this whole thing really is the fault of the masses, (that’s us) how can it be fixed? What can the masses due to rain in an oligarchy that controls their government and the vast majority of their information systems?

I am sincerely asking this question of Scott Ritter and anyone else who cares to take a stab. There’s much to be learned from some of the posters on these boards. Some of the ultra-right wing rhetoric babblers can be instructive in how they’re so easily able to prod and goad evildoer liberals for the pantywaists that they often are. No pantywaists answers. Everyone has their own pet ideas. Before pasting your pet answer to “What can be done?” step back some and refocus for the fun of it. What might actually work?

Boil it down to something reasonably simple and easily understood by most.

About the only thing I know of that might qualify is the National Initiative Process.

Almost completely unheard of.
Not quick (ponderously slow).
Not tried on a national level.
No easier to pull off than the first American Revolution.

But that’s all I can think of besides kicking chairs, which may qualify as a good enough answer in this tormenting predicament.

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By ocjim, September 7, 2007 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment

tomack:: Statement is correct….
Viacom, the owner of CBS, is the second-largest media company in the country. Disney, the owner of ABC, is the fourth. NBC (as a division of G.E.) is the

A quick copy from the web. And yes Scott should be careful about any false statements with all the legal neocon BS and propaganda

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By tomack, September 7, 2007 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment

They own NBC. I believe VIACOM owns CBS. That aside, I do not agree it takes away from the truth of what he says.

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By Eric Gebert, September 7, 2007 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If the Democrats want to end this war…they need to listen to Charles Rangel and bring back the draft…ITS TIME FOR SOME NEW TACTICS CONGRESS…like the ones SCOTT RITTER lays out in his new book “WAGING PEACE”...A DRAFT WILL END THIS WAR…BECAUSE THE RICH IN THIS COUNTRY AREN’T GOING TO LET THERE KIDS DIE IN THIS PATHETIC WAR!...and as far as Katie Couric goes and the rest of the corporate media buffoons…I think its time to bring back the FAIRNESS DOCTRINE..oh but thats right..Congress won’t bring back the Fairness Doctrine because they don’t care about the American people…they care about themselves and their profits!

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By TC, September 7, 2007 at 12:16 pm Link to this comment

And so it goes.

The Petraeus Plan to Abolish America and Iraq
The Pelosi-Reid Plan to Abolish America
The Bush Plan to Abolish America

http://apragmaticpolicy.wordpress.com/tag/the-plan-to-abolish-america/

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By Jimnp72, September 7, 2007 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

WAit and see. Next week the general will say the surge is working and “the next four to six months will be crucial.”
If I were a betting man I’d put money on him saying this.
They just keep repeating the same stupid crap year after year and expect it will all be swallowed.

Im afraid expecting congress to act properly and impeach bush and cheney is rather like expecting a five year old to wrestle a teenager.

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By Ed, September 7, 2007 at 11:30 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Commercial television has done a great job brainwashing the masses (they’ve sanitized it for your protection under the direction of the US government). What americans really need is graphic video depictions of the carnage they have wrought; they need their noses rubbed in it like potty training a dog.

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By BruceInAustin, September 7, 2007 at 11:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great article, Scott.  But your assertion that GE owns CBS devalues much of your article.  That is such an amateurish mistake….. how can a professional journalist make such a mistake?!?  It only serves to give your critics ammunition to shoot down the entire article.  And where were the Truthdig editors on this point?  Couldn’t you have corrected this before “going to print?”

Come on guys.  If we are going to be successful in pointing out the shortcomings of the MSM, then we must set the higher standard for them.

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By Outraged, September 7, 2007 at 10:36 am Link to this comment

Since ABC and the other networks refuse to show the American people the truth, here it is:

What the Iraqis had:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXIgkmYejJg

What we did to it:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Acn3fwwNH00&mode=related&search;=

What it did to us:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZwnDVsbgWc

Good article Scott.

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By Charlie, September 7, 2007 at 9:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great lowdown on the REAL situation in Iraq.  One egregious error: The new embassy in Baghdad has cost a half a TRILLION dollars - not half a billion.

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By micah, September 7, 2007 at 9:25 am Link to this comment

While lobbing grenades at the mainstream media, Scott indulges himself in the same thing he hates them for: oversimplification, factual inaccuracies, and a lack of enterprise. The answers to his questions are not nearly so cut and dry, CBS isn’t owned by GE, and if the oil smuggling he refers to is a reality, why doesn’t he (or TruthDigg) start reporting on it?

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By tomack, September 7, 2007 at 9:06 am Link to this comment

I always forward Ritter’s stuff to as many folks in government as My little fingers will allow. I am up to the letter J. Anyone want to help. The place to go for e-mail addresses is: http://www.thecapitol.net/FAQ/uc2_7.htm

Might not help but it makes me feel good. Where his words should be sent is to every mail box in country with the label: You WON!!

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By felicity, September 7, 2007 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

Great article, Scott.  At last count, this is my fifth American war - II, Korea, Nam, Gulf, Iraq - so I figure I have a ‘passing’ acquaintance with what has become an American institution.

By this time I know that the ONLY language appropriate to war is killing, who’s going to kill and who’s going to be killed. The language of the media, the politicians, the profiteers is not the language of war, thus is not only inappropriate it, and this is the point, insures the continuation of the institution.

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By Marshall K, September 7, 2007 at 8:24 am Link to this comment

Bill Richardson will pull all the troops out if elected.  All we have to do is work to get him elected instead of letting the media tell us who the “top tier” candidates are.  Let’s get real, Clinton, Obama, and Edwards are going to perpetuate this lunacy in one form or another. 
We are letting the MSM warp the news both in Iraq and on the campaign trail, and everyone is falling for it.

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By ocjim, September 7, 2007 at 8:22 am Link to this comment

I totally concur with Scott. I realize that Couric is somewhat of a current backdrop to surge/Iraq criticism, but I object to anyone making it personal and/or casting aspersions to her sex or her ambition. That doesn’t help the sorry equation. Scott’s assertions are right on the mark and require us to recognize all the elements in our society feeding the Iraq fiasco, not just Couric.

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By Tom Patterson, September 7, 2007 at 8:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Scott: Fantastic article, but the issue of who actually owns CBS should be corrected for the sake of credibility.  GE owns NBC (another stellar outlet for “real news”).  It’s Westinghouse that owns CBS.

My family and I can no longer stomach watching the traditional “news” sources, and, in fact, no longer watch TV at all.  Its whole reason for existence is to deliver the viewer into commercials.  But since the introduction of technology that allows the viewer to record and skip through commercials, the producers have found ways to have commercials as part of the story lines—and not just via traditional “product placement” techniques.

Here’s my fantasy, though I’m quite sure it’ll never happen:  GW calls for a press conference, and the moment he opens his mouth and starts his usual childlike, simplistic, dishonest rhetoric, the entire press corps stands up and walks out.  The fact that they sit there and listen to him at all (as if he’s actually being a. truthful, and b. intelligible) is actually an embarrassment to them, though they apparently don’t even see it.  It blows my mind that they talk with him like he’s actually got something to say!

Anyone on this site associated with the White House Press Corps?  Can you help me see my dream come true??

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By dp, September 7, 2007 at 8:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yesterday it was a Bush in Iraq photo op, today…Katie Couric.  It’s just all pseudo-news.  I’ve had to quit watching the national news, especially Couric.  She’d maybe be a little more believable if she’d adopt a grownup name…Kate, maybe, instead of the little girl image she gives off.  Network and all-news channels have become nothing more than advertisement for the government.  All nicely washed and spun.

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G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, September 7, 2007 at 7:45 am Link to this comment

Iraq must be getting better, after all president Bush was just there and so was Katie Couric. And look, She’s not even ducking!

Mexican trucks are rolling accross our borders, the stock market is reboundng, president Bush has a plan to rescue those unfortunates who are having trouble keeping their mortgages going, and people in New Orleans are under the personal supervision of president Bush, things couldn’t be better…

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By fpal, September 7, 2007 at 7:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mr. Ritter, I don’t believe what you are saying.

I think Americans know what’s going on.

It reminds me of my cat, that after catching a mouse doesn’t put it out of its misery but rather she plays with it. As I and others watch on.

Bush is playing with Iraq, to the delight of his corporate sponsors. As Americans watch with disinterested detachment.

Perhaps we need more stories about Iraqis and not Americans.

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By doglover, September 7, 2007 at 7:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Spot-on article, Scott. Viacom owns CBS and GE owns NBC; you need to make that correction.

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By Kary Love, September 7, 2007 at 7:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Scott Ritter’s evolution has been remarkable; I have watched with interest as he has confronted lies by his own government and has responded with fidelity to the Constitution.  His service to America deserves the gratitude of all citizens.  Thank you Mr. Ritter for speaking truth to power.

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By KISS, September 7, 2007 at 6:16 am Link to this comment

Couric is a dizzy blond, no more capable of knowing the truth than the Texas turd. If she wants to know the truth all she must do is read Scott’s assessments and listen to Michael Ware. Scott has told us, like it is, and is truthful to a fault. That being ” We had no business going to Iraq, fighting in Iraq, and letting our boys and girls bleeding in Iraq. Blood for oil is not working. We should get out and let Iran an Iraq go at it.

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By Marjorie L. Swanson, September 7, 2007 at 6:00 am Link to this comment

I guess then we won’t all be cheering that well known War Correspondent Katie Couric anytime soon?

Is there anyone really stupid enough to pay attention to Couric or anyone else that flies into Iraq, stays a few hours or even days and is suddenly an expert? What a bunch of B.S. journalism or what passes for it these days has become.

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By Cherny, September 7, 2007 at 5:46 am Link to this comment

Actually, to be clear;  Westinghouse Electric owns CBS.  General Electric owns NBC.

And so what if Katie Couric is reporting from Iraq?  News media coverage of “what’s really happening” in Iraq won’t move Congress to act in pulling troops out considering they have all the top-secret knowledge about the real skinny on the ground.  Truth be told they are ALL making money off the blood of young Americans: Congress, GE, Westinghouse, et al…

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By driving bear, September 7, 2007 at 4:20 am Link to this comment

I noticed this report failed to mention the fact that the CBS evening news is in last place in the ratings and is losing viewers. This is a desperate attempt by Katie to boost ratings. Also the questions the author purposed should be posed to the democrats in congress , not US troops in Iraq

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By Howard, September 7, 2007 at 4:03 am Link to this comment

Scott:  Great article.  Well written and on the money.  When combined with such profound understanding of the situation in Iraq, its at the top of the ladder compared to the multitude of other writers in out country. Deserves to carry a lot of weight !
  Keep up the good work.

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