Wednesday, March 8, 2006

CSI: Baghdad

Yesterday in the Washington Post:

Rumsfeld Says Media Exaggerating Iraqi Civilian Deaths

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today presented an upbeat report of the conflict in Iraq and said he agrees with the commander of the U.S.-led coalition, Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., that the news media has exaggerated the number of civilian casualties in the conflict.

Rumsfeld said that while insurgents are “obviously trying to ignite a civil war,” Iraqi security forces have “taken the lead in controlling the situation” and the Iraqi government has taken “a number of key steps that have had a calming effect in the situation.”

But the news media in the United States and abroad has misreported the number of Iraqi civilians that have been killed and the number of mosques that have come under attack, Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news conference.

This misreporting, Rumsfeld said, has swayed American public opinion. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll reported yesterday that 80 percent of Americans believe that fighting between Sunni and Shiite Muslims in Iraq will lead to civil war.

This morning in the Washington Post has an example of said “misreporting.”

Bodies of 23 Men Found in Baghdad

The bodies of 23 men who had been strangled or shot were found in two locations in Baghdad Wednesday morning, with 18 discovered aboard an abandoned bus in a predominantly Sunni area of the capital, police said.

[…]

The discovery of executed people — sometimes from an entire family, often with their hands bound, their mouths gagged and shot in the head — has become commonplace.

Sunni Arab leaders allege that the killings are being carried out by “death squads” from the country’s Shiite-led Interior Ministry, a charge denied by the government.

For the record, the coroner in Baghdad did not cite “exaggeration by the media” to be the cause of death of the 23 civilians.