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The Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum. This is a site devoted to politics and current events in America, and around the globe. The THREE lunatics posting here are unabashed conservatives that go after the liberal lies and deceit prevalent in the debate of the day. We'd like to add that the views expressed here do not reflect the views of other inmates, nor were any inmates harmed in the creation of this site.

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Michael Ware Part IV: The Replay

On Tuesday Hugh Hewitt conducted an interview with Michael Ware, Time's Baghdad bureau chief. Today, he replayed that interview. No, this isn't a revisit to the live-blog I did of it. Those were initial reactions. This time through, I paid close attention to a few things that simply bug me.

HH: So Michael Ware, what do you think...and you've spent time with insurgents, too. That's very controversial reporting that I've read. Explain to the audience how you connected up with them, and how much time you spent with them in Iraq.

MW: Well, in the course of the past three years, I've had ongoing contact with different elements of the insurgency. It all began immediately after the fall of Saddam's regime in the early months of the occupation. I was doing a story which was looking at the invasion. I was trying to find out from the Iraqi commanders themselves what had happened on their side, what was the chaos like, what was it like as a dictatorship deteriorated, and dissolved before their eyes in the midst of this American attack. Now at that time, I met these men. They were Republican Guard commanders, members of the secret police, the intelligence service, the secret service, all manner of agencies, asking them what had happened to them during the war. Then as time went by, these men started to feel more and more disenchanted, more and more dishonored. And one by one, they started picking up arms, and in a very ad hoc fashion, started attacking passing American vehicles and so on. Then over time, they started to evolve. And I got to watch that with my own eyes, as they did take shape as the insurgency we've ultimately come to see today. ...

HH: Have you spent time with the jihadis?

MW: I have. I have. It's certainly not something that's simple to do at any time, particularly now. However, in the past, though, I have actually been with Zarqawi's organization on different occasions. I once was taken to a Zarqawi training camp, although I was not told that that's where I was going, or for quite a while, that that's where I was. I've been to some of their safe houses. I've received some of their propaganda materials. By the same token, trying to film them secretly in Baghdad, I was kidnapped by them, dragged out of my car, and a group of Syrian fighters for Zarqawi were preparing to execute me on the street here in Baghdad. So I've been with Zarqawi's people in a number of different forms. ...

I don't really think that I need to beat this dead horse anymore, but I have a problem with a journalist covering the enemy the way Michael Ware did. It's one thing to report what you see, what you hear from people on the street about it, and even get your hands on some of their propaganda, but I got a serious problem with this sort of embed for a journalist, and that applies to the entire field of journalists. I don't care about the country of origin. I don't care about their personal biases. I'm referring to their lives, and I question any journalist who has communication with them, and leaves their company still breathing. The US has already faced accusations from the MSM in regard to more than one incident involving a journalist in Iraq. (TY Eason Jordan.) But this concern arises when it comes to their lives, and a question of the reporting that comes out from that point forward. Hugh is correct on the fact that there is a level of fear coming from Mr. Ware.

HH: Now that's very interesting, because that would indicate that...and I understand it, but that fear is affecting your reporting, or your candor level.

MW: Well, it certainly affects the way you couch things. It doesn't stop you saying things. I mean, like I said for example, I came across a tape once of Zarqawi himself, on an audio cassette, instructing or giving a seminar to some of his recruits and fighters, somewhere outside of Baghdad. Now this was a tape that was meant purely for internal consumption, for ideological or for training purposes. Now by one means or another, that fell into my hands, and I published it. I published its contents. Now within that discussion, Zarqawi himself showed that there was great division between his organization and one of the leading Iraqi Sunni organizations, and you're hearing him criticizing this very important Iraqi leader. Now by me publishing that, that aired their dirty laundry. As a result of that, he threatened, or his organization threatened to kill me. I mean, one has to be careful about how you couch things, but it doesn't stop you reporting the facts.

OK. I can vouch for tape story but my gripe here doesn't reflect that. Is it me, or is this a complete lack of common sense. He's still talking to them after having his life threatened. Either this guy is suicidal, or he's completely off his rocker. I'm sorry, but this is just plain nuts. No story is worth your life. None! I don't care if it's the answer to the meaning of life, the universe, and everything (for the record, the answer is 42). You don't get killed for it.

HH: So you would have encouraged such reporting, had it been possible in World War II?

MW: Well, I don't know. I wasn't around in World War II, so I'm not sure I'm really in a position to determine. All I can talk to about are the circumstances that have presented themselves to me, and the wars I've found myself in. ...

HH: Because we talked about this on CNN. Do you think Iraq is better off today, just...than it was under Saddam? Do you think that...

MW: Well, I was never here under Saddam. My period during Saddam's regime was in the Kurdish North, where with U.S. air cover, they've forged their own autonomous sanctuaries. So I never lived under Saddam, and I can only imagine what the horrors were like, and what the restrictions were like. All I can tell you that life here right now is extraordinarily difficult, and there's a lot of killing going on, and there's a lot of deprivation going on, and to be able to compare that to something I never saw is a bit difficult for me.

HH: Well, do you think the Russian people were better under Krushchev than they were under Stalin? Neither of us saw Kruschev or Stalin, but both of us...

MW: Yeah, I wouldn't have a clue, you know?

HH: You wouldn't have a clue? Really?

MW: No, not really. I mean, Stalin was the beast of all beasts, but you know, I'm not a student of Russian modern history, nor of the Cold War, on where the broad brush strokes...and I certainly don't hold myself out as expert enough to be able to comment on something like that. All I can tell you about is what I see, and what I experience.

Call this petty if you want, but I don't understand how he just can't answer this questions. They're simple and straight-forward. He can't answer for Saddam because he never lived under him. He can't speak about Stalin or Khruschev because he doesn't know Russia. He can't state if he would have encouraged similar reporting during World War II because he didn't live back then. These aren't yes-or-no questions, per se. It goes more to his opinion. He injects opinions into his reporting, so why can't he opine about these subjects?

HH: He was there before the war began. He had come back and forth to Afghanistan. In your dealings with the insurgents, had they dealt with him prior to the war?

MW: No. I did uncover some documents, however, that referred to his presence, here in some form. Now it seemed to be covert and unofficial, and one can only guess. However, I did receive a document written by one of his right hand men, a man who was killed in 2004 by a U.S. JDAM in his vehicle, who wrote an after action report of the first battle of Fallujah, in the course of which he said well, you know, Abu bil-Bloggs (phonetic spelling) was killed at this point. You know Abu bil-Bloggs. He was the one who saw Zarqawi in Baghdad before the war.

HH: Did you publish that?

MW: Yeah.

HH: In Time Magazine.

MW: Yeah.

HH: Oh, that's interesting. I missed that one. I have to go back and find that. That's a very significant find.

At least it would be if it were true. As yet, no one in the blogosphere can find that story. We've tried. Marcie and I have busted our humps trying to locate it through a variety of searches, pouring over his Baghdad reports, and checking even the stateside reporting. There isn't a story about Zarqawi being in Iraq. As far as I know, no one has sent Hugh a link to it, and that includes Michael Ware. This makes me trust him even less.

This story is still generating a buzz in the blogosphere. As of right now, according to the lists on Hugh's site, these other sites have commented on this story:

MySandman 1
My Sandman 2
My Sandman 3
Ed Driscoll
Democracy Project
One Destination
The Asylum
View from a Height

These people are pretty ticked at this guy, too. They've got some serious gripes, and I'm sure what I said above will be reflected in more than a couple of these.

Publius II

I found something from the interview today on it's replay, and it sort of gnawed at me a bit. I believe Mr. Ware about something else, as well. If this is the case, I take offense at his boast. Here's how it went:

HH: I'm sitting in the Empire State Building. Michael, I'm sitting in the Empire State Building, which has been in the past, and could be again, a target. Because in downtown Manhattan, it's not comfortable, although it's a lot safer than where you are, people always are three miles away from where the jihadis last spoke in America. So that's...civilians have a stake in this. Although you are on the front line, this was the front line four and a half years ago.

MW: Absolutely, and I think that's really the reason that a lot of us are doing what we're doing. I mean, it's because of that horror that so much has ensued. It is because of this fight that these people came and picked, that so much has happened. But I mean, what I'm saying to you is that if you think anyone would have the right to complain or to take umbrage at what I do, it would be the troops here on the ground. It would be U.S. military intelligence. It would be the U.S. military. You'd think that they wouldn't give me embeds, wouldn't you? You'd think that they wouldn't grant me backgrounders, or wouldn't take me out on special events. You'd think that they wouldn't give me access to the generals, or to military intelligence. You know, in this war alone, I've been in combat with virtually every kind of U.S. fighting force there is, from the SEAL's, to the Green Berets, to Delta, to Infantry, Airborne, Armored, Mechanized. I mean, I've been there, done that in combat. I've been in every major battle of this war, except from Najaf and the first battle of Fallujah. That includes the battle of Tal-Afar, the Battle of Samara, and the Battle of Fallujah, with front line units. I witnessed an event that the Pentagon subsequently asked me to write about as a witness, which is now a matter for the Congressional Medal of Honor nomination. And I am mentioned in that citation. So if anyone would have a problem with what I do in exploring the issues of this war, you'd think it'd be the military. Yet strangely, they don't.

To my knowledge there has been one CMH winner since the beginning of the GWOT in Iraq. That would be Paul Ray Smith. The following is the citation for Sgt. Smith:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.

Mr. Ware is nowhere within the citation. Again, I take offense to this. Inventing facts doesn't sit well with some people, and I'm one of them. The CMH is the highest award given to any service member, and Michael Ware, in what I'd call a blatant attempt to gain a little "fame" injected himself into the incident.

Now, maybe I'm going off half-cocked here. Maybe he's referring to another CMH winner. But by "citation" I take that to mean the award has been given. Sgt. Smith is the ONLY CMH winner for Iraq that I can find.


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