Monday, September 26, 2005

turning the tables

From Michelle Malkin with a hat tip to Power Line et. al.
By Michelle Malkin   ·   September 26, 2005 07:39 AM

Remember all those rapes and murders that supposedly took place in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina? By and large, according to a new report, they didn't happen. (Original report at NOLA. com)

According to Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan, "authorities have only confirmed four murders in the entire city in the aftermath of Katrina — making it a typical week in a city that anticipated more than 200 homicides this year."

Officials now say there were only six deaths inside the Superdome. Of those, "four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide." No murders.

At the Convention Center, four bodies have been recovered. Only one of the four deaths appears to have resulted from murder.

An earlier report said that none of the reported rapes in the Superdome and the Convention Center have been substantiated.


On the other hand, this report details gun battles between roving thugs and armed citizens left to fend for themselves.


John Hinderaker at Power Line turns the tables on the press:

It's time for some accountability here. The conventional wisdom is that no one performed particularly well in the aftermath of Katrina--not local, state or federal authorities, and not considerable numbers of private citizens. But it now appears clear that the worse performance of all was turned in by the mainstream media. Congress should promptly investigate, and try to get to the bottom of the following questions:

* How did so many false rumors come to be reported as fact?
* Do news outlets have any procedures in place to avoid this kind of mis-reporting? If so, why did their procedures fail so miserably?
* To what extent were the false rumors honest mistakes, and to what extent were they deliberate fabrications?
* To the extent that the false reports were deliberate, did the press pass them on through sheer negligence, or did some reporters participate in deliberate fabrication?
* Did the widespread breakdown in accurate reporting stem only from a failure to follow proper journalistic standards, or did it also reflect a deliberate effort to damage the Bush administration by passing on unconfirmed rumors as fact?
* In deciding what stories to report, did the news media consider the likelihood that passing on false rumors would damage the rescue effort?

It is vitally important to get to the bottom of these questions, so that future natural disasters are not similarly mis-reported.

Hillary, any interest?

Laura Lee Donoho at Wide Awake Cafe weighs in on the media's "game of telephone."

Previous: Debunking some Katrina myths

Setting the record straight

Too often the headlines scream and then when the story comes to nothing it gently fades into the background leaving citizens convinced they know the truth when in fact they have been duped by hyperbole.
Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan said authorities had confirmed only four murders in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina - making it a typical week in a city that anticipated more than 200 homicides this year. Jordan expressed outrage at reports from many national media outlets that suffering flood victims had turned into mobs of unchecked savages. "I had the impression that at least 40 or 50 murders had occurred at the two sites," he said. "It's unfortunate we saw these kinds of stories saying crime had taken place on a massive scale when that wasn't the case. And they (national media outlets) have done nothing to follow up on any of these cases, they just accepted what people (on the street) told them. ... It's not consistent with the highest standards of journalism."
It's not consistent with the highest standards of journalism but it is the journalism I've come to expect. As always the truth trails behind and is never as widely reported. Unfortunately since the people now "know" because they've heard the stories and seen it on Oprah, attempts to counter fiction with fact have historically been viewed as an attempted "cover-up". However, Louisiana's badly maligned citizens deserve to have the record set straight.

Monday, September 26, 2005
Rumors of deaths greatly exaggerated
Widely reported attacks false or unsubstantiated

6 bodies found at Dome; 4 at Convention Center

By Brian Thevenot
and Gordon Russell
Staff writers

After five days managing near-riots, medical horrors and unspeakable living conditions inside the Superdome, Louisiana National Guard Col. Thomas Beron prepared to hand over the dead to representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Following days of internationally reported killings, rapes and gang violence inside the Dome, the doctor from FEMA - Beron doesn't remember his name - came prepared for a grisly scene: He brought a refrigerated 18-wheeler and three doctors to process bodies.

"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalls the doctor saying.

The real total was six, Beron said.

Of those, four died of natural causes, one overdosed and another jumped to his death in an apparent suicide, said Beron, who personally oversaw the turning over of bodies from a Dome freezer, where they lay atop melting bags of ice. State health department officials in charge of body recovery put the official death count at the Dome at 10, but Beron said the other four bodies were found in the street near the Dome, not inside it. Both sources said no one had been killed inside.

At the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, just four bodies were recovered, despites reports of corpses piled inside the building. Only one of the dead appeared to have been slain, said health and law enforcement officials.

That the nation's front-line emergency management believed the body count would resemble that of a bloody battle in a war is but one of scores of examples of myths about the Dome and the Convention Center treated as fact by evacuees, the media and even some of New Orleans' top officials, including the mayor and police superintendent. As the fog of warlike conditions in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath has cleared, the vast majority of reported atrocities committed by evacuees have turned out to be false, or at least unsupported by any evidence, according to key military, law enforcement, medical and civilian officials in positions to know.

"I think 99 percent of it is bulls---," said Sgt. 1st Class Jason Lachney, who played a key role in security and humanitarian work inside the Dome. "Don't get me wrong, bad things happened, but I didn't see any killing and raping and cutting of throats or anything. ... Ninety-nine percent of the people in the Dome were very well-behaved."

Dr. Louis Cataldie, the state Health and Human Services Department administrator overseeing the body recovery operation, said his teams were inundated with false reports about the Dome and Convention Center.

"We swept both buildings several times, because we kept getting reports of more bodies there," Cataldie said. "But it just wasn't the case."

Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan said authorities had confirmed only four murders in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina - making it a typical week in a city that anticipated more than 200 homicides this year. Jordan expressed outrage at reports from many national media outlets that suffering flood victims had turned into mobs of unchecked savages.

"I had the impression that at least 40 or 50 murders had occurred at the two sites," he said. "It's unfortunate we saw these kinds of stories saying crime had taken place on a massive scale when that wasn't the case. And they (national media outlets) have done nothing to follow up on any of these cases, they just accepted what people (on the street) told them. ... It's not consistent with the highest standards of journalism."

As floodwaters forced tens of thousands of evacuees into the Dome and Convention Center, news of unspeakable acts poured out of the nation's media: evacuees firing at helicopters trying to save them; women, children and even babies raped with abandon; people killed for food and water; a 7-year-old raped and killed at the Convention Center. Police, according to their chief, Eddie Compass, found themselves in multiple shootouts inside both shelters, and were forced to race toward muzzle flashes through the dark to disarm the criminals; snipers supposedly fired at doctors and soldiers from downtown high-rises.

In interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Compass reported rapes of "babies," and Mayor Ray Nagin spoke of "hundreds of armed gang members" killing and raping people inside the Dome. Unidentified evacuees told of children stepping over so many bodies, "we couldn't count."

The picture that emerged was one of the impoverished, masses of flood victims resorting to utter depravity, randomly attacking each other, as well as the police trying to protect them and the rescue workers trying to save them. Nagin told Winfrey the crowd has descended to an "almost animalistic state."

Four weeks after the storm, few of the widely reported atrocities have been backed with evidence. The piles of bodies never materialized, and soldiers, police officers and rescue personnel on the front lines say that although anarchy reigned at times and people suffered unimaginable indignities, most of the worst crimes reported at the time never happened.

Military, law enforcement and medical workers agree that the flood of evacuees - about 30,000 at the Dome and an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 at the Convention Center - overwhelmed their security personnel. The 400 to 500 soldiers in the Dome could have been easily overrun by increasingly agitated crowds, but that never happened, said Col. James Knotts, a midlevel commander there. Security was nonexistent at the Convention Center, which was never designated as a shelter. Authorities provided no food, water or medical care until troops secured the building the Friday after the storm.

While the Convention Center saw plenty of mischief, including massive looting and isolated gunfire, and many inside cowered in fear, the hordes of evacuees for the most part did not resort to violence, as legend has it.

"Everything was embellished, everything was exaggerated," said Deputy Police Superintendent Warren Riley. "If one guy said he saw six bodies, then another guy the same six, and another guy saw them - then that became 18."

Soldier shot - by himself

Inside the Dome, where National Guardsmen performed rigorous security checks before allowing anyone inside, only one shooting has been verified. Even that incident, in which Louisiana Guardsman Chris Watt of the 527th Engineer Battalion was injured, has been widely misreported, said Maj. David Baldwin, who led the team of soldiers who arrested a suspect.

Watt was attacked inside one of the Dome's locker rooms, which he entered with another soldier. In the darkness, as he walked through about six inches of water, Watt was attacked with a metal rod, a piece of a cot. But the bullet that penetrated Watt's leg came from his own gun - he accidentally shot himself in the commotion. The attacker never took his gun from him, Baldwin said. New Orleans police investigated the matter fully and sent the suspect to jail in Breaux Bridge, Baldwin said.

As for other shootings, Baldwin said, "We actively patrolled 24 hours a day, and nobody heard another shot."

Doug Thornton, regional vice president of SMG, which manages the Dome, walked the complex from before the storm until the final evacuation and kept a meticulous journal. In a Sept. 9 interview, he said he heard reports of rapes and killings, but they were unconfirmed and came from evacuees and security officials.

"We walked through the facility every day, and we didn't see all this that was being reported," said Thornton, one of about 35 Dome employees who rode out Katrina in the building and lived there in the days after the storm hit. "We never felt threatened. It's hard to determine what's real and what's not real."

No victims

Inside the Convention Center, the rumors of widespread violence have proved hard to substantiate, as well, though the masses of evacuees endured terrifying and inhumane conditions.

Jimmie Fore, vice president of the state authority that runs the Convention Center, stayed in the building with a core group of 35 employees until Sept. 1, the Thursday after Katrina. He was appalled by what he saw. Thugs hotwired 75 forklifts and electric carts and looted food and booze from every room in the building, but he said he never saw any violent crimes committed, and neither did any of his employees. Some, however, did report seeing armed men roaming the building, and Fore said he heard gunshots in the distance on at about six occasions.

NOPD Capt. Jeff Winn's 20-member SWAT team responded on about 10 occasions to calls from the Convention Center, usually after reports of shots being fired. The group found people huddled in the fetal position, lying flat on the ground to avoid bullets or running for the exits. They also heard stories of gang rapes, armed robberies and other violent crimes, but no victims ever came forward while his officers were in the building, he said.

"What's true and what's not, we don't really know," he said.

Rumors of rampant violence at the Convention Center prompted Louisiana National Guard Lt. Col. Jacques Thibodeaux put together a 1,000-man force of soldiers and police in full battle gear to secure the center Sept. 2 at about noon.

It took only 20 minutes to take control, and soldiers met no resistance, Thibodeaux said. What the soldiers found - elderly people and infants near death without food, water and medicine; crowds living in filth - shocked them more than anything they'd seen in combat zones overseas. But they found no evidence, witnesses or victims of any killings, rapes or beatings, Thibodeaux said.

Another commander at the scene, Lt. Col. John Edwards of the Arkansas National Guard, said the crowd welcomed the soldiers. "It reminded me of the liberation of France in World War II. There were people cheering; one boy even saluted," he said. "We never - never once - encountered any hostility."
One widely circulated tale, told to The Times-Picayune by a slew of evacuees and two Arkansas National Guardsmen, held that "30 or 40 bodies" were stored in a Convention Center freezer. But a formal Arkansas Guard review of the matter later found that no soldier had actually seen the corpses, and that the information came from rumors in the food line for military, police and rescue workers in front of Harrah's New Orleans Casino, said Edwards, who conducted the review.

It's possible more than four people died at the Convention Center. Fore, the center's vice president, said he saw another body outside the building early in the first week after the storm, covered in a shroud on the pavement along Julia Street, near the back of the Convention Center. It's unclear whether that body ended up in the nearby food service entrance, where the four confirmed bodies were found later.

Also, several news organizations reported the body of 91-year-old Booker T. Harris, which sat covered in a chair on Convention Center Boulevard for several days after he died on the back of a truck while being evacuated.

Just one of the dead appeared to be the victim of foul play, said Winn, one of few law enforcement officers who spent any time patrolling the Convention Center before it was secured. Winn, who did the final sweep of the building, said one body appeared to have stab wounds, but he could not be sure. Baldwin also said only one of the dead appeared to have been slain, apparently referring to the same body as Winn described. Bob Johannessen, spokesman for the Department of Health and Hospitals, also confirmed just one suspected homicide at the Convention Center, though he said the victim had been shot, not stabbed.

A Washington Post report quoted another soldier who concluded that three of the four people appeared to have been beaten to death, including an older woman in a wheelchair.

But Spc. Mikel Brooks, an Arkansas Guardsman who said he wheeled the woman's dead body into the food service entrance, said she appeared to have died of natural causes. Brooks went on to say that the woman had expired sitting next to her husband, who shocked him by asking him to bring the wheelchair back.

The Post also cited evacuee Tony Cash and three other unnamed sources saying a young boy died of an asthma attack, but multiple officials could not confirm that death.

One attack thwarted

Reports of dozens of rapes at both facilities - many allegedly involving small children - may forever remain a question mark. Rape is a notoriously underreported crime under ideal circumstances, and tracking down evidence at this point, with evacuees spread all over the country, would be nearly impossible. The same goes for reports of armed robberies at both sites.

Numerous people told The Times-Picayune that they had witnessed rapes, in particular attacks on two young girls in the Superdome ladies room and the killing of one of them, but police and military officials said they know nothing of such an incident.

Soldiers and police did confirm at least one attempted rape of a child. Riley said a man tried to sexually assault a young girl, but was "beaten up" by civilians and apprehended by police. It was unclear if that incident was the one that gained wide currency among evacuees.

Baldwin, the National Guard commander of a special reaction team patrolling the Dome, also said he knew of only one attempted sexual assault of a child - but the details of his story, while similar, differed somewhat from that of Riley. It was unclear last week whether the two men spoke about the same incident.

Soldiers apprehended the assailant after a "commotion" in the bathroom exposed him, Baldwin said, but he knew nothing about the man being beaten. Furthermore, in a detail that raises questions about whether officials have full knowledge of any sex crimes, Baldwin said his men turned over one alleged child molester to New Orleans police - only to find him again inside the Dome two days later, reportedly attempting to molest other children.

"We ran into the same guy a couple days later," he said. "The crowd came to us and said, 'You better do something with this guy or we're going to do something with him.' ... That kind of re-confirmed (the first allegation), when the crowd came to us saying he was putting his hands on kids."

But other accusations that have gained wide currency are more demonstrably false. For instance, no one found the body of a girl - whose age was estimated at anywhere from 7 to 13 - who, according to multiple reports, was raped and killed with a knife to the throat at the Convention Center.

Many evacuees at the Convention Center the morning of Sept. 3 treated the story as gospel, and ticked off further atrocities: a baby trampled to death, multiple child rapes.

Salvatore Hall, standing on the corner of Julia Street and Convention Center Boulevard that day, just before the evacuation, said, "They raped and killed a 10-year-old in the bathroom."

Neither he nor the many people around him who corroborated the killing had seen it themselves.

Talk of rape and killing inside the Dome was so pervasive that it prompted a steady stream of evacuees to begin leaving Aug. 31, braving thigh-high foul waters on Poydras Street. Many said they were headed back to homes in flooded neighborhoods.

"There's people getting raped and killed in there," said Lisa Washington of Algiers, who had come to the Dome with about 25 relatives and friends. "People are getting diseases. It's like we're in Afghanistan. We're fighting for our lives right now."

One of her relatives nodded. "They've had about 14 rapes in there," he said.

The official word

In many cases, authorities gave credibility to portraits of violence broadcast around the world.

Compass told Winfrey on Sept. 6 that "some of the little babies (are) getting raped" in the Dome. Nagin backed it with his own tale of horrors: ''They have people standing out there, have been in that frickin' Superdome for five days watching dead bodies, watching hooligans killing people, raping people.''

But both men have since pulled back to a degree.

"The information I had at the time, I thought it was credible," Compass said, conceding his earlier statements were false. Asked for the source of the information, Compass said he didn't remember.

Nagin frankly acknowledged that he doesn't know the extent of the mayhem that occurred inside the Dome and the Convention Center - and may never.

"I'm having a hard time getting a good body count," he said.

Compass said rumors had often crippled authorities' response to reported lawlessness, sending badly needed resources to respond to situations that turned out not to exist. He offered his own intensely personal example: The day after the storm, he heard "some civilians" talking about how a band of armed thugs had invaded the Ritz-Carlton hotel and started raping women - including his 24-year-old daughter, who stayed there through the storm. He rushed to the scene only to find that although a group of men had tried to enter the hotel, they weren't armed and were easily turned back by police.

Compass, however, promulgated some of the unfounded rumors himself, in interviews in which he characterized himself and his officers as outgunned warriors taking out armed bands of thugs at every turn.

"People would be shooting at us, and we couldn't shoot back because of the families," Compass told a reporter from the (Bridgeport) Connecticut Post who interviewed him at the Saints' Monday Night Football game in New York, where he was the guest of NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. "All we could do is rush toward the flash."

Compass added that he and his officers succeeded in wrestling 30 weapons from criminals using the follow-the-muzzle-flash technique, the story said.

"We got 30 that way," Compass was quoted as saying.

Asked about the muzzle-flash story last week, Compass said, "That really happened" to Winn's SWAT team at the Convention Center.

But Winn, when asked about alleged shootouts in a separate interview, said his unit saw muzzle flashes and heard gunshots only one time. Despite aggressively frisking a number of suspects, the team recovered no weapons. His unit never found anyone who had been shot.

Many soldiers and humanitarian workers now agree that although a number of bad actors committed violent or criminal acts, the evacuees responded well considering the hell they endured.

"These people - our people - did nothing wrong," said Sherry Watters of the state Department of Social Services, who was working with the medical unit at the Dome and noted the crowd's mounting frustration. "No human should have to live like that for even a minute."

Crowds pitch in

As the authorities finally mobilized buses to evacuate the Dome on Sept. 2, many evacuees were nearing the breaking point. Baldwin said soldiers could not have controlled the crowd much longer. They ejected a handful of people attempting to start a riot, screaming at soldiers and pushing crowds to revolt.

"We're not prisoners of war - y'all are treating us like evacuees and detainees!" he recalled one of them shouting.

But many others sought to quiet such voices. On the deck outside the Dome on Sept. 1, the day before buses arrived, preachers took it upon themselves to lead the agitated crowd in prayer and song.

"Everybody needs to help the soldiers," Baldwin recalled one of them saying. "We're all family here."

About 15 others joined the medical operation, as people collapsed from heat and exhaustion every few minutes, Baldwin said.

"Some of these guys look like thugs, with pants hanging down around their asses," he said. "But they were working their asses off, grabbing litters and running with people to the (New Orleans) Arena" next door, which housed the medical operation.

As the Dome cleared out Sept. 3, Beron, the National Guard commander, fashioned a plan to deal with the dead. He knew of the six bodies in the freezer, but expected far more. He and an Ohio National Guard commander sent 450 Ohio troops to search every nook of the Dome, top to bottom. They told them to mark locations of bodies on a map of the Dome, to rope off suspected crime scenes, and leave a chemical light sticks next to each one so they could be retrieved later.

"I fully expected to find more bodies, both homicides and natural causes," he said.

They found nothing.

Staff writers Jeff Duncan and Gwen Filosa contributed to this report.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Jeremy Hall

Ces's friend Jeremy is linked on MichelleMalkin's site
Jeremy Hall is a National Guardsman in NOLA and has a collection of photos.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Presidential Prayer Team eCard


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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Three in a row

Good articles all. From Powerline.
The rules of the game

The Senate Judiciary Committee has voted 13-5 in favor of recommending the confirmation of Judge Roberts. The vote among Democratic members was three in favor (Leahy, Kohl, and Feingold) and five against (Biden, Kennedy, Schumer, Feinstein, and Durbin). The Democratic "no" vote on the 18 member Committee exceeds the number of Republican votes, Senate-wide, against Justice Ginsburg.

A majority of the Committee's Dems now has effectively endorsed the notion that it is proper for a Senator to vote against a supremely qualified conservative nominee, who receives top marks from the ABA and is backed by such liberal organs as the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times, unless the nominee promises to decide issues the way the Senator desires. If a majority of Democrats vote that way on the Senate floor, then it seems to me that Republicans will have the right to apply this same concept when Democratic presidents nominate liberal judges in the future.

Posted by Paul at 12:20 PM | Permalink
This is feminism?

Senator Feinstein will vote "no" on Judge Roberts. Feinstein likes to remind us that she is the only female on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Perhaps the "weight" of this status induced her to adopt a cartoonishly stereotypical reason for her vote -- that Roberts didn't talk enough about what kind of father and husband he is. Or maybe she reverted to this justification because, as became apparent during her questioning of the judge, she is clueless when it comes to law.

JOHN adds: This may be the most bone-headed statement of the year. I want to go back to the Ruth Ginsburg confirmation hearing and find where the Republican Senators asked her what kind of a mother she is. The feminists would have loved that!

Posted by Paul at 10:44 AM | Permalink
The right joke

President Bush spoke to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington yesterday on the occasion of the group's twentieth anniversary. The White House has posted his speech here . The speech provides some important insight into the president's thinking at this time. Apart from the substance of the speech, I want to pause over the special quality of the man making this joke before this audience:

At Tulane University, the Director of the Chabad, Rabbi Rivkin, brought teams of students to New Orleans, and southern Mississippi, and other communities hit by the storm. He called in folks to help. He didn't say, head away from the storm; he said, let's take it right to the middle of the storm area to help people. They helped rescue stranded people; they distributed bottled water and self-heating kosher meals; they cleaned up and helped salvage homes; they provided spiritual support for those who lost loved ones. And one of those rescued from New Orleans put it this way: In the days after Katrina hit, Chabad saved lives." (Applause.)

Rabbi Stanton Zamek of the Temple Beth Shalom Synagogue in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, helped an African American couple displaced by the storm track down their daughter in Maryland. When Rabbi Zamek called the daughter, he told her, "We have your parents." She screamed out, "Thank you, Jesus!" (Laughter.) He didn't have the heart to tell her she was thanking the wrong rabbi. (Laughter and applause.)


from Rick Joyner

Special Bulletin #10 - 2005:
The Next Disaster by Rick Joyner
September 21, 2005

It is crucial that we learn all of the lessons that we can from the Katrina disaster as fast as we can because more are coming. We have not even finished counting the bodies from Katrina, and Hurricane Rita is churning in the Gulf threatening Texas and Louisiana with even more destruction. It is likely, at the very least, to displace tens of thousands of more people, as well as further wreck the Gulf Coast oil industry.

One of the main lessons we need to learn from Katrina is that we must not continue to put our primary trust in the government. We must know the Lord as our Healer, Protector, and Provider. If we have built our houses upon the Rock by both hearing and obeying His words, we have nothing to fear from any storm. If we continue to place our hope in the government, or any human organization, we are building on shaky ground, and we will be shaken by what is coming.

The devastation that Katrina caused was primarily the result of where people built and how they built. This is something we all need to examine in relation to our own lives. One of the ultimate questions we need to ask at this time is: "Have we built our lives on the Rock?"

Love Your Government

When I say that we cannot continue to put our trust in the government, I say this with great appreciation and respect for our government. In spite of the controversy and blame-shifting going on, I remain very impressed by how well our government responded to the Katrina disaster. I am impressed because I expect the government to act like the government—I didn't expect a zebra to start running like a thoroughbred just because there was an emergency. No government on earth, even the greatest democracy, can handle what is coming upon the world, which is the result of man's foolishness. Katrina is a warning to us all. Anything built on this present world is going to fail us, even the best governments. We are coming to the time when everything that can be shaken will be shaken, and we must build our lives and our hope on the kingdom that cannot be shaken.

One report on the Katrina relief stated that it was estimated that the church and charities were several times more effective in helping to get resources into the hands of Katrina victims than the government. While most of the media and the world were understandably focused on just a few places in New Orleans, there were many other places that were in just as desperate a situation or worse. Thousands of churches, ministries, and individual Christians swarmed to the area with whatever they could carry and they helped many people. There were also many unbelievers, and those of other faiths, who did the same.

There were atrocities and glaring failures, but there were also countless heroes and successes. Few of the latter have made the news, but the government, including FEMA, also had heroes. Even so, there are many things that the church can and should do better than the government. Likewise, there are many things the government can do better than the church. We need to discern these and be ready to do our part.

For example, our teams in the area are now staying in a baseball stadium. They work all day to the point of exhaustion, and the National Guard provides security for them at night. By them doing their thing, we can better do ours.

After months of studies and debate about the failures of the government in the Katrina disaster, we may come to some good and helpful conclusions about needed changes in government agencies and policies. However, most of those who have been there working already know what the mistakes were and what the continuing problems are. They can and should be fixed. However, it may not be possible for such a government agency to change as much as many are wanting without the kind of leadership that simply has not arisen in our times—one that will resolutely cut out the ridiculous and wasteful spending, cut out the unnecessary layers of regulations, and channel the resources to where they are truly needed with efficiency.

One thing you can count on is that the mistakes of the government were not rooted in racism or even political prejudice. They were simply the result of the government acting just like governments do—trying to function and meet the needs, while struggling to do it with all of the red tape wrapped around it that has become inevitable for any government program. We can get mad about the red tape, but we need to understand that most of it exists because of our own demands for cutting down waste and fraud in government.

The government's attempts to cut down welfare fraud added so many layers of control and accountability that at one point it was estimated that less than 10 percent of the resources devoted to welfare were actually getting to those who needed it—the rest was being devoured by bureaucratic administration. This is the direction that every government program and agency will go if someone does not have the courage and resolve to stop it. So far, in my lifetime, there does not seem to be anyone who has.

Even so, I would rather live in an inefficient democracy than an efficient dictatorship, but that does not mean we cannot have an efficient democracy. Presently, the only way that the government knows how to react to that pressure is to add regulations. These regulations will at the very least slow down the government's ability to function and react to situations, and will ultimately increase the waste through inefficiency.

Countless layers of regulations also resist any kind of initiative and creativity in leadership, which is crucial in a disaster. Our government itself needs disaster relief as it has become out of control in its waste and inefficiency. If the waste were cut out of government spending we could easily absorb the Katrina and many other disasters, likely even cutting the deficit. Politicians say this is impossible without raising taxes, but it is possible if there were true leadership in government.

This tendency to over-regulate can, and often does, get into churches or charities just as easily as it does governments. Studies done on some charities revealed that they have become about as inefficient as the government, with just a small percentage of money given to them actually getting to the needs of people. The rest is being consumed in administration. This tendency to fix all problems with a new regulation is a deadly enemy of efficiency and effectiveness in every organization.

One example of how government red tape hindered and slowed down relief was when fuel trucks from FEMA were sent to Slidell to provide for the local emergency vehicles. Because Slidell did not have FEMA approved containers for the fuel, the trucks turned around, refusing to offload the fuel that the local government emergency workers were desperate for. This also happened with water, food, and medical supplies in some situations.

It is likely that a good number of people needlessly died because of this kind of bureaucratic mentality. Those who witnessed it operating in this dire emergency were understandably shocked, and it is hard to believe that human beings could think like that. Those who have been conditioned to live in the present government bureaucracy do think that way. Do I blame FEMA? No. Again, I don't expect a zebra to become a racehorse just because there has been an emergency.

As soon as we saw this disaster unfolding, we immediately considered how we now own the largest hotel in the state of South Carolina. We asked the local government to waive a few of the unnecessary regulations to let us restore the hotel rooms faster so we would be able to house victims of Katrina. Their first response was human, and they said they would do whatever they could to help. Then a few days later the bureaucratic mentality set in again, and they wanted to impose the layers of unnecessary red tape for us to get this done. It was understandable, and expected, and we will still work as fast as we can to do this, but we will increase our prayer for true leaders to be raised up in government on every level too.

Does FEMA need changing? Yes, and radically. But so does government bureaucracy at its very foundation. However, as stated, there does not seem to be any leadership on the horizon with the courage, resolve, and wisdom to do what it is going to take to fix it. Therefore, we need to adjust our expectations, working with it the best we can, and guard our own churches and ministries from the same type of mentality. It is a desperate enemy of good leadership and good management.

We need to also consider that much of this mentality, and red tape, is the result of people who swarm to disaster areas to bilk the government out of the very resources intended for victims. Lawlessness has increased at a dramatic rate in the last few decades. There are already multitudes of people who have swarmed to the effected area claiming to be Katrina victims in order to grab resources. There are stories about how many people, and even large corporations, made huge profits off of the 911 attack on the World Trade Center, taking money that was supposed to be going to victims. To help cut down on this, FEMA formulated many regulations that probably did help cut down such fraud, but at the same time these regulations often became a hindrance in a unique emergency like Katrina.

In praying for our churches, charities, and governments, we need to pray for the kind of leadership that will have the courage and resolve to cut this kind of cancer out of the body when it starts to grow. President Bush has the kind of leadership it takes, but he probably does not have enough time left in office to do much now. However, we should learn that when he became personally engaged in the Katrina relief, the bottlenecks were broken through, and the people who were really getting things done were located, identified, and the resources were put into their hands to get the job done. We need that same kind of leadership now throughout the government if it is going to survive the times ahead.

I appreciate President Bush's candor in accepting blame for the slow response of the government in the Katrina catastrophe, and he may have had some responsibility for this in the way FEMA was ineffectively organized that showed up in this disaster. There are many ways in which FEMA has done a great job when called on after other storms, but this one just seemed to overwhelm every system for a time. However, more disasters are coming, and we need to change!

We are in the times when all governments are going to be overwhelmed. We are coming to the time when all of creation is going to understand that we cannot run this world without God. Even so, those who have built their houses on the Rock are not going to be preserved to gloat about it, but in order to help those who didn't. Governments can be built on the Rock also. The United States government was to a large degree built on the Rock by the founding fathers. It was a godly foundation, and we must return to it. We need to pray for the kind of leadership that will do this.

On another level, the problems that FEMA had during this disaster actually seem to highlight what President Bush has obviously all along sensed about some of the government's management problems, which gave birth to his "faith based initiative." He realized that there are some things that churches and charities will always be able to do much better than the government. This is one of the important lessons of Katrina.

I am not implying that the government needs to get out of the disaster relief business, but there is a partnership between the church and government that will be increasingly needed in the times to come. The knee jerk reaction to "the separation between church and state" can, and has, seriously hindered this relationship. That line was made quite clear by the founding fathers with remarkable wisdom and foresight, but has only been blurred in the last half century. It needs to be made clear again. It was not instituted to keep the church out of the government or culture, but to keep the government out of the church. There is an intended and needed partnership between the church and government.

The church must take up its mantle and responsibility as the light of the world, especially in relation to disaster relief, because this is the time that we are now in. We must be willing to do our part, and do it with increasing efficiency and excellence regardless of what the government does, and be willing to interface and join with the government in any way that gets the job done. For the times ahead, we must learn how to work better together. However, in due time the government's resources for disaster relief is going to fall short, and the government will be reduced to just trying to keep order. However, the church will be able to increasingly tap the resources of heaven which can never run out.

There are significant and increasing troubles ahead. They are all great opportunities for the gospel and the kingdom. We need to view them with compassion and the resolve to help those affected by them. We need to learn all of the lessons we can from the Katrina disaster, and every other one to get better and better at helping people.

Katrina was grace from God in many ways. Though I am sure that those affected by it do not feel like this, it is not only going to result in a major and important region of the country being changed for the good, but it also is highlighting many weaknesses in systems, agencies, as well as churches and ministries. We need to examine all of these, not to blame people, but to correct problems and be better prepared for what is to come. We are now entering the times that are spoken of in Isaiah 60:1-5:

"Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.

"For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples, but the Lord will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you.

"And nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.

"Lift up your eyes round about, and see; they all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, and your daughters will be carried in the arms.

"Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you."

I love my country, and I deeply appreciate our government. I want to help them and support them in any way that I can, not undermine them or tear them down; they are not the kingdom of God. The kingdom is at hand, and as it arises, as we see in Daniel 2, the kingdoms of this world will start to crumble. The foundation of the kingdom of God is being laid by the Holy Spirit, who is "the Helper." It is the basic nature of the Holy Spirit to help, and those who are led by the Spirit have the same nature.


Disaster relief is going to become one of the biggest and most important ministries in the times ahead. As stated, the government will be spread too thin to deal with anything but some rescue and keeping order. That's okay because this is what the government is called to do, and the church can do the rest, because we are called to do it.

There is also one more factor in this equation—business. The chord of three strands that will be the strongest is a partnership between the church, government, and business. We must learn how to both interface with these and stay out of each other's way in areas where we should.

As a ministry we are involved and committed to the Katrina relief, but we are using it to learn all that we can so we will have the most effective disaster relief teams on the planet. We want to prophetically foresee what is going to happen and be there to help when it does. We are praying for more resources for this than the U.S. government has—we are praying for the resources of heaven to be at our disposal. We want to have resources to feed hundreds of thousands just through our own ministry, with cargo planes, ships, or whatever else is needed to get it to the point of need, as efficiently and as effectively as possible on this earth. Then we want the power to multiply the food and other resources when we are short. If we are faithful with what we are given by the Lord, He will give us much more to manage.

We are learning how to work with other churches, ministries, the government, and business. We are seeking relationships that are built on strong bridges of trust because we are proven to be trustworthy. I encourage every Christian leader, whether you are the leader of a mega church or a house church, to consider disaster relief as one of the most important missions that you can be a part of in this time. This is one mission that will grow, and you can also count on as something that the Lord is going to be building His kingdom through. The Holy Spirit is the Helper. Those who are in unity with Him are devoted to helping others, and this will be the cutting edge wave of the future.

Presently, the Red Cross is doing a great job and there are other charities that are very effective in disaster relief, but the church is going to surpass them all in efficiency and effectiveness in the near future. Consider donating to churches or ministries devoted to disaster relief in the future. Not only will they be more effective, but it will be an investment in the kingdom as well. However, churches and ministries need to be managed right, and have the kind of accountability that should be required of one trusted with our investment.

If your local church is engaged in disaster relief, I encourage you to give your time and financial support to it. If it is not, you are welcome to join us in our relief and rebuilding efforts. If you feel called to go to the area, you may want to join one of our teams. We do serious screening, not just to weed out tourists and high maintenance people who will have a negative impact on the mission, but to find out the gifts, skills, and even tools that you will be coming with so that your time and energy is not wasted, and the maximum help is provided for those in need.

You may also make donations to the Disaster Relief through MorningStar. One hundred percent of the donations designated for Disaster Relief will go to that effort. MorningStar does not keep a single cent for administration costs (one way that we fight the bureaucratic beast). We can also use materials such as trucks, buses, planes, tools such as chain saws, power saws, building materials, and other items that can be used to help in this effort.

To make a credit card donation, donate online -or- call 1-800-542-0278 and just say you want to make a donation for Disaster Relief. You may also mail your donation to the address below. Please mark your check "Disaster Relief Fund or DRF." This was formerly the Katrina Relief Fund but because other disasters are now looming, we want to be free to put it where it can best be used.

MorningStar Fellowship Church
Accounting (DRF)
P.O. Box 440
Wilkesboro, NC 28697

MorningStar already has teams there for immediate relief for those in the most desperate need, but we are also formulating a strategy for the long-term. We are going to be looking for victims that we can see through to a totally restored life, which is even better than they had before. For these we will be doing serious screening, but if you have information about those in which we could help in a long-term way like this, please also contact us through this website.

Thanks for the already very generous donations that have been sent for this effort. It is already being used, and we count every penny of it a sacred trust to be wisely used. Pray for revival to break out instead of disease!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Misunderestimated again

I could never have written so eloquently but Thomas Lifson has most assuredly expressed the absolute confidence I have known throughout all the media slurs & rapper slams. Not because I, also, am a strategist but knowing the President's heart and knowing the President's God is enough to keep me confident and at peace.

I have especially loved how the President has gone ahead and done what has needed to be done....keeping his head while all about him have been losing theirs and blaming it on him [my thanks to Rudyard Kipling] While others play at politics, feeding on the misery of the Gulf to fatten their political positions and coffers, once again the President is getting the job done. A true visionary.********************************************************************************************************************

Misunderestimated again: Bush and recovery from Katrina
September 21st, 2005

George W. Bush is well-accustomed to his political opponents handing him the invaluable asset of their misplaced contempt for his abilities. An overconfident enemy is a blessing to any strategist. But in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, members of his own coalition are beginning to express dismay and outright anger over his response, particularly his willingness to spend vast amounts of the federal budget on palliation of the immediate suffering and the reconstruction of New Orleans and the affected areas of Mississippi and Alabama.

Enemies and allies alike are once again failing to understand that a highly-trained strategist is at work, and that the foundations are being established for the achievement of long-term goals. Let the approval ratings languish in the low forties; they mean no more than did Ronald Reagan's low approval ratings at certain moments. George W. Bush has his eyes on bigger goals, and understands the means by which they will be achieved.

As I wrote almost a year and a half ago,

[an] important lesson the President learned at Harvard Business School is to embrace a finite number of strategic goals, and to make each one of those goals serve as many desirable ends as possible. The truism of this lesson is that if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. If you can't focus on everything, then you need to be able to focus on those few goals which will have the broadest impact, leading to a future capacity to attain other desirable ends. No exact number of goals is the limit, but three is an awfully good number to aim at. Those goals should be mutually consistent, so that the step-by-step accomplishment of each one aids in the achievement of the others.

The President's strategic goals remain remarkably consistent: 1) position America to win the War on terror (a goal thrust upon his presidency in 2001); 2) keep America's economy growing; 3) position the Republican Party to dominate American politics in the foreseeable future.

His response to Hurricane Katrina is being shaped by these three goals, as well as (and even more importantly) by the genuine humanitarian impulse to help fellow Americans and fellow souls when they are most in need. As a deeply religious man and a genuine compassionate conservative, the President would respond generously and vigorously under any circumstances. But he is doing so in a way which will also meet his strategic goals. The need to formulate and satisfy multiple consistent goals and prioritize actions accordingly is one of the key lessons that the first president in history to be expertly trained in management at Harvard Business School learned well, and has practiced over and over again.

Among the three meta-goals of the Bush Strategic Vision, number 1, victory in the War on Terror, is the most important overall (the future of civilization rides on it), but least relevant to recovery from Hurricane Katrina. Nevertheless, it is a consideration. Our sworn enemies as well as some of our more weasel-like supposed friends are standing ready to announce that America is reeling from this natural disaster, a "pitiful, helpless giant," to resurrect a Nixonian phrase. The appearance of weakness is a form of actual vulnerability in this war for hearts and minds all over the globe. Suicidal terrorists are encouraged by the belief that America is on the ropes, so a demonstration of our ability to bounce back vigorously from any setback is important to our long-run victory.

Goal 2, enhancing our economic performance, is being carefully and cleverly achieved in President Bush's response. Excessive regulation is one of the obstacles hobbling even better economic growth, and there is ample evidence that the President is using Katrina as a lever to allow loosening of counterproductive regulations. On September 8th, the Davis-Bacon Act, a cornerstone of union strength in the construction trades, was suspended in areas affected by the storm. Davis-Bacon requires that federally-financed construction projects pay so-called "prevailing wages" (meaning above-market union wages) whether or not union members are involved in the work, and grossly inflates the cost of contruction wherever it is applied. Its suspension will function as a demonstration that federal construction costs can be dramatically reduced when the government gets out of the way of the efficient functioning of the marketplace. Moreover, Davis-Bacon has its origins in attempts to keep low wage blacks out of the construction trades, and still harms blacks in its application.

Expect further efforts to allow temporary deregulation of construction and other economic activities, such as useless lengthy environmental reviews. Moreover, there is a good chance for public school students evacuated elsewhere to be offered education vouchers for private schools, especially given the overcrowding of public schools in areas housing large numbers of evacuees. Any opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of vouchers is anathema to the education establishment. But they will be harder-pressed than usual to oppose them when the needs of Katrina victims are so pressing and obvious.

To the horror of many fiscally conservative supporters of the President, he is also opening the federal treasury wide at a time of large deficits. As Nick Danger has pointed-out , the President understands debt from the perspective of a financier, while many on the right approach debt as a moral offense. Debt, per se, is merely a fiscal tool, and in the long term structural environment of the global economy, America has access to a huge amount of government borrowing from overseas lenders who have at least as strong a need to loan to us as we have a need to borrow from them.

The President is correctly convinced that tax cuts are essential to our further economic growth. Although the absolute dollar amounts of our deficits and debt are large, as a percentage of our rapidly-growing economy, they are well within historic norms. Ronald Reagan was denounced for his deficit spending and tax cuts, yet sparked a historic turnaround of the miserable Jimmy Carter economy with no significant economic downside from his deficit spending. While substantial, future deficits present little threat to our welfare.

The need to rebuild both public infrastructure and private businesses and homes will spark a new construction boom, and contribute mightily to economic growth over the next few years. Federal financing of much of this activity will help keep the economy moving, while Alan Greenspan and the Federal Reserve make it clear that inflation will not be allowed to rear its ugly head.

Goal three, ensuring continued and expanded GOP political dominance, is also being furthered by the President's response. Consistent, supportive humanitarian assistance based on the principle that benefits should flow to victims, rather than to bureaucracies, will demonstrate to African Americans and others that Republicans are not mean-spirited racists. The slurs of rappers and media figures aside, money talks. The President and the GOP will inevitably chip away at the 90% Democrat vote share, as the benefits flow and people improve their lot in life.

Expect the President to supplement initial efforts with follow-up programs empowering individuals to build better lives for themselves and their families. By tying benefits to individuals as much as possible, as in school vouchers, the advantages of personal choice will be made clear to people whose habitual stance has been that of victims, accustomed to making demands rather than choices. Welfare reform has already demonstrated the happy effects of putting people in charge of their lives and getting them out of the imprisonment of dependence.

If Democrat-voting minorities do not return to New Orleans in massive numbers, there is every indication that Louisiana will become a GOP stronghold, just like its neighbors in the South. It is New Orleans votes that have sufficed to elect governors and senators of the Democrat persuasion, making Louisiana the anomalous Southern Democrat stronghold it has remained since the end of Reconstruction. An enhanced GOP majority in the Senate will be helpful in further re-population of the federal judiciary with those who believe the Constitution means what it says.

George W. Bush has more than three years left in office to implement this strategy. Let his enemies relax in the dubious assumption that they have him on the ropes. That belief has betrayed them many times in the past. It is his conservative allies who need to pay close attention, and understand that he knows and understands strategy in a way no other president ever has.

Thomas Lifson is the editor and publisher of The American Thinker.

Passionate & Powerful

This is worth reading all the way to the end.
The distortions presented to the American people and the world at large by our "unbiased" media is truly shameful. I am convinced that it is mostly the result of a seething resentment of having been on the losing end of two concurrent elections. [When you believe you have the power control the opinion of the nation, to have the nation over-ride you is, at best, embarrassing]. To provide accurate coverage of events in Iraq would vindicate the vision of a great man they have tried to represent as duplicitous or evil. Instead their own duplicity is doing a very great evil.
Media Coverage Distorts Iraq Reality
By Tim Ryan | September 21, 2005

Editors' Note: LTC Tim Ryan is Commander, Task Force 2-12 Cavalry, First Cavalry Division in Iraq. He led troops into battle in Fallujah late last year and is now involved in security operations for the upcoming elections. He wrote the following during "down time" after the Fallujah operation. His views are his own.

All right, I've had enough. I am tired of reading distorted and grossly exaggerated stories from major news organizations about the "failures" in the war in Iraq. "The most trusted name in news" and a long list of others continue to misrepresent the scale of events in Iraq. Print and video journalists are covering only a fraction of the events in Iraq and, more often than not, the events they cover are only negative.

The inaccurate picture they paint has distorted the world view of the daily realities in Iraq. The result is a further erosion of international support for the United States' efforts there, and a strengthening of the insurgents' resolve and recruiting efforts while weakening our own. Through their incomplete, uninformed and unbalanced reporting, many members of the media covering the war in Iraq are aiding and abetting the enemy.

The fact is the Coalition is making steady progress in Iraq, but not without ups and downs. So why is it that no matter what events unfold, good or bad, the media highlights mostly the negative aspects of the event? The journalistic adage, "If it bleeds, it leads," still applies in Iraq, but why only when it's American blood?

As a recent example, the operation in Fallujah delivered an absolutely devastating blow to the insurgency. Though much smaller in scope, clearing Fallujah of insurgents arguably could equate to the Allies' breakout from the hedgerows in France during World War II. In both cases, our troops overcame a well-prepared and solidly entrenched enemy and began what could be the latter's last stand. In Fallujah, the enemy death toll has exceeded 1,500 and still is climbing. Put one in the win column for the good guys, right? Wrong. As soon as there was nothing negative to report about Fallujah, the media shifted its focus to other parts of the country.

More recently, a major news agency's website lead read: "Suicide Bomber Kills Six in Baghdad" and "Seven Marines Die in Iraq Clashes." True, yes. Comprehensive, no. Did the author of this article bother to mention that Coalition troops killed 50 or so terrorists while incurring those seven losses? Of course not. Nor was there any mention about the substantial progress these offensive operations continue to achieve in defeating the insurgents. Unfortunately, this sort of incomplete reporting has become the norm for the media, whose poor job of presenting a complete picture of what is going on in Iraq borders on being criminal.

Much of the problem is about perspective, putting things in scale and balance. What if domestic news outlets continually fed American readers headlines like: "Bloody Week on U.S. Highways: Some 700 Killed," or "More Than 900 Americans Die Weekly from Obesity-Related Diseases"? Both of these headlines might be true statistically, but do they really represent accurate pictures of the situations? What if you combined all of the negatives to be found in the state of Texas and used them as an indicator of the quality of life for all Texans? Imagine the headlines: "Anti-law Enforcement Elements Spread Robbery, Rape and Murder through Texas Cities." For all intents and purposes, this statement is true for any day of any year in any state. True - yes, accurate - yes, but in context with the greater good taking place - no! After a year or two of headlines like these, more than a few folks back in Texas and the rest of the U.S. probably would be ready to jump off of a building and end it all. So, imagine being an American in Iraq right now.

From where I sit in Iraq, things are not all bad right now. In fact, they are going quite well. We are not under attack by the enemy; on the contrary, we are taking the fight to him daily and have him on the ropes. In the distance, I can hear the repeated impacts of heavy artillery and five-hundred-pound bombs hitting their targets. The occasional tank main gun report and the staccato rhythm of a Marine Corps LAV or Army Bradley Fighting Vehicle's 25-millimeter cannon provide the bass line for a symphony of destruction. As elements from all four services complete the absolute annihilation of the insurgent forces remaining in Fallujah, the area around the former insurgent stronghold is more peaceful than it has been for more than a year.

The number of attacks in the greater Al Anbar Province is down by at least 70-80 percent from late October - before Operation Al Fajar began. The enemy in this area is completely defeated, but not completely gone. Final eradication of the pockets of insurgents will take some time, as it always does, but the fact remains that the central geographic stronghold of the insurgents is now under friendly control. That sounds a lot like success to me. Given all of this, why don't the papers lead with "Coalition Crushes Remaining Pockets of Insurgents" or "Enemy Forces Resort to Suicide Bombings of Civilians"? This would paint a far more accurate picture of the enemy's predicament over here. Instead, headlines focus almost exclusively on our hardships.

What about the media's portrayal of the enemy? Why do these ruthless murderers, kidnappers and thieves get a pass when it comes to their actions? What did the the media show or tell us about Margaret Hassoon, the director of C.A.R.E. in Iraq and an Iraqi citizen, who was kidnapped, brutally tortured and left disemboweled on a street in Fallujah? Did anyone in the press show these images over and over to emphasize the moral failings of the enemy as they did with the soldiers at Abu Ghuraib?

Did anyone show the world how this enemy had huge stockpiles of weapons in schools and mosques, or how he used these protected places as sanctuaries for planning and fighting in Fallujah and the rest of Iraq? Are people of the world getting the complete story? The answer again is no! What the world got instead were repeated images of a battle-weary Marine who made a quick decision to use lethal force and who immediately was tried in the world press. Was this one act really illustrative of the overall action in Fallujah? No, but the Marine video clip was shown an average of four times each hour on just about every major TV news channel for a week. This is how the world views our efforts over here and stories like this without a counter continually serve as propaganda victories for the enemy. Al Jazeera isn't showing the film of the C.A.R.E. worker, but is showing the clip of the Marine. Earlier this year, the Iraqi government banned Al Jazeera from the country for its inaccurate reporting. Wonder where they get their information now? Well, if you go to the Internet, you'll find a web link from the Al Jazeera home page to CNN's home page. Very interesting.

The operation in Fallujah is only one of the recent examples of incomplete coverage of the events in Iraq. The battle in Najaf last August provides another. Television and newspapers spilled a continuous stream of images and stories about the destruction done to the sacred city, and of all the human suffering allegedly brought about by the hands of the big, bad Americans. These stories and the lack of anything to counter them gave more fuel to the fire of anti-Americanism that burns in this part of the world. Those on the outside saw the Coalition portrayed as invaders or oppressors, killing hapless Iraqis who, one was given to believe, simply were trying to defend their homes and their Muslim way of life.

Such perceptions couldn't be farther from the truth. What noticeably was missing were accounts of the atrocities committed by the Mehdi Militia - Muqtada Al Sadr's band of henchmen. While the media was busy bashing the Coalition, Muqtada's boys were kidnapping policemen, city council members and anyone else accused of supporting the Coalition or the new government, trying them in a kangaroo court based on Islamic Shari'a law, then brutally torturing and executing them for their "crimes." What the media didn't show or write about were the two hundred-plus headless bodies found in the main mosque there, or the body that was put into a bread oven and baked. Nor did they show the world the hundreds of thousands of mortar, artillery and small arms rounds found within the "sacred" walls of the mosque. Also missing from the coverage was the huge cache of weapons found in Muqtada's "political" headquarters nearby. No, none of this made it to the screen or to print. All anyone showed were the few chipped tiles on the dome of the mosque and discussion centered on how we, the Coalition, had somehow done wrong. Score another one for the enemy's propaganda machine.

Now, compare the Najaf example to the coverage and debate ad nauseam of the Abu Ghuraib Prison affair. There certainly is no justification for what a dozen or so soldiers did there, but unbalanced reporting led the world to believe that the actions of the dozen were representative of the entire military. This has had an incredibly negative effect on Middle Easterners' already sagging opinion of the U.S. and its military.

Did anyone show the world images of the 200 who were beheaded and mutilated in Muqtada's Shari'a Law court, or spend the next six months talking about how horrible all of that was? No, of course not. Most people don't know that these atrocities even happened. It's little wonder that many people here want us out and would vote someone like Muqtada Al Sadr into office given the chance - they never see the whole truth. Strange, when the enemy is the instigator the media does not flash images across the screens of televisions in the Middle East as they did with Abu Ghuraib. Is it because the beheaded bodies might offend someone? If so, then why do we continue see photos of the naked human pyramid over and over?

So, why doesn't the military get more involved in showing the media the other side of the story? The answer is they do. Although some outfits are better than others, the Army and other military organizations today understand the importance of getting out the story - the whole story - and trains leaders to talk to the press. There is a saying about media and the military that goes: "The only way the media is going to tell a good story is if you give them one to tell." This doesn't always work as planned. Recently, when a Coalition spokesman tried to let TV networks in on opening moves in the Fallujah operation, they misconstrued the events for something they were not and then blamed the military for their gullibility. CNN recently aired a "special report" in which the cable network accused the military of lying to it and others about the beginning of the Fallujah operation. The incident referred to took place in October when a Marine public affairs officer called media representatives and told them that an operation was about to begin. Reporters rushed to the outskirts of Fallujah to see what they assumed was going to be the beginning of the main attack on the city. As it turned out, what they saw were tactical "feints" designed to confuse the enemy about the timing of the main attack, then planned to take place weeks later.

Once the network realized that major combat operations wouldn't start for several more weeks, CNN alleged that the Marines had used them as a tool for their deception operation. Now, they say they want answers from the military and the administration on the matter. The reality appears to be that in their zeal to scoop their competition, CNN and others took the information they were given and turned it into what they wanted it to be. Did the military lie to the media: no. It is specifically against regulations to provide misinformation to the press. However, did the military planners anticipate that reporters would take the ball and run with it, adding to the overall deception plan? Possibly. Is that unprecedented or illegal? Of course not.

CNN and others say they were duped by the military in this and other cases. Yet, they never seem to be upset by the undeniable fact that the enemy manipulates them with a cunning that is almost worthy of envy. You can bet that terrorist leader Abu Musab Al Zarqawi has his own version of a public affairs officer and it is evident that he uses him to great effect. Each time Zarqawi's group executes a terrorist act such as a beheading or a car bomb, they have a prepared statement ready to post on their website and feed to the press. Over-eager reporters take the bait, hook, line and sinker, and report it just as they got it.

Did it ever occur to the media that this type of notoriety is just what the terrorists want and need? Every headline they grab is a victory for them. Those who have read the ancient Chinese military theorist and army general Sun Tzu will recall the philosophy of "Kill one, scare ten thousand" as the basic theory behind the strategy of terrorism. Through fear, the terrorist can then manipulate the behavior of the masses. The media allows the terrorist to use relatively small but spectacular events that directly affect very few, and spread them around the world to scare millions. What about the thousands of things that go right every day and are never reported? Complete a multi-million-dollar sewer project and no one wants to cover it, but let one car bomb go off and it makes headlines. With each headline, the enemy scores another point and the good-guys lose one. This method of scoring slowly is eroding domestic and international support while fueling the enemy's cause.

I believe one of the reasons for this shallow and subjective reporting is that many reporters never actually cover the events they report on. This is a point of growing concern within the Coalition. It appears many members of the media are hesitant to venture beyond the relative safety of the so-called "International Zone" in downtown Baghdad, or similar "safe havens" in other large cities. Because terrorists and other thugs wisely target western media members and others for kidnappings or attacks, the westerners stay close to their quarters. This has the effect of holding the media captive in cities and keeps them away from the broader truth that lies outside their view. With the press thus cornered, the terrorists easily feed their unwitting captives a thin gruel of anarchy, one spoonful each day. A car bomb at the entry point to the International Zone one day, a few mortars the next, maybe a kidnapping or two thrown in. All delivered to the doorsteps of those who will gladly accept it without having to leave their hotel rooms - how convenient.

The scene is repeated all too often: an attack takes place in Baghdad and the morning sounds are punctuated by a large explosion and a rising cloud of smoke. Sirens wail in the distance and photographers dash to the scene a few miles away. Within the hour, stern-faced reporters confidently stare into the camera while standing on the balcony of their tenth-floor Baghdad hotel room, their back to the city and a distant smoke plume rising behind them. More mayhem in Gotham City they intone, and just in time for the morning news. There is a transparent reason why the majority of car bombings and other major events take place before noon Baghdad-time; any later and the event would miss the start of the morning news cycle on the U.S. east coast. These terrorists aren't stupid; they know just what to do to scare the masses and when to do it. An important key to their plan is manipulation of the news media. But, at least the reporters in Iraq are gathering information and filing their stories, regardless of whether or the stories are in perspective. Much worse are the "talking heads" who sit in studios or offices back home and pontificate about how badly things are going when they never have been to Iraq and only occasionally leave Manhattan.

Almost on a daily basis, newspapers, periodicals and airwaves give us negative views about the premises for this war and its progress. It seems that everyone from politicians to pop stars are voicing their unqualified opinions on how things are going. Recently, I saw a Rolling Stone magazine and in bold print on the cover was, "Iraq on Fire; Dispatches from the Lost War." Now, will someone please tell me who at Rolling Stone or just about any other "news" outlet is qualified to make a determination as to when all is lost and it's time to throw in the towel? In reality, such flawed reporting serves only to misshape world opinion and bolster the enemy's position. Each enemy success splashed across the front pages and TV screens of the world not only emboldens them, but increases their ability to recruit more money and followers.

So what are the credentials of these self proclaimed "experts"? The fact is that most of those on whom we rely for complete and factual accounts have little or no experience or education in counter-insurgency operations or in nation-building to support their assessments. How would they really know if things are going well or not? War is an ugly thing with many unexpected twists and turns. Who among them is qualified to say if this one is worse than any other at this point? What would they have said in early 1942 about our chances of winning World War II? Was it a lost cause too? How much have these "experts" studied warfare and counter-insurgencies in particular? Have they ever read Roger Trinquier's treatise Modern Warfare: A French View on Counter-insurgency (1956)? He is one of the few French military guys who got it right. The Algerian insurgency of the 1950s and the Iraq insurgency have many similarities. What about Napoleon's campaigns in Sardinia in 1805-07? Again, there are a lot of similarities to this campaign. Have they studied that and contrasted the strategies? Or, have they even read Mao Zedung's theories on insurgencies, or Nygen Giap's, or maybe Che' Gueverra's? Have they seen any of Sun Tzu's work lately? Who are these guys? It's time to start studying, folks. If a journalist doesn't recognize the names on this list, he or she probably isn't qualified to assess the state of this or any other campaign's progress.

Worse yet, why in the world would they seek opinion from someone who probably knows even less than they do about the state of affairs in Iraq? It sells commercials, I suppose. But, I find it amazing that some people are more apt to listen to a movie star's or rock singer's view on how we should prosecute world affairs than to someone whose profession it is to know how these things should go. I play the guitar, but Bruce Springsteen doesn't listen to me play. Why should I be subjected to his views on the validity of the war? By profession, he's a guitar player. Someone remind me what it is that makes Sean Penn an expert on anything. It seems that anyone who has a dissenting view is first to get in front of the camera. I'm all for freedom of speech, but let's talk about things we know. Otherwise, television news soon could have about as much credibility as "The Bachelor" has for showing us truly loving couples.

Also bothersome are references by "experts" on how "long" this war is taking. I've read that in the world of manufacturing, you can have only two of the following three qualities when developing a product - cheap, fast or good. You can produce something cheap and fast, but it won't be good; good and fast, but it won't be cheap; good and cheap, but it won't be fast. In this case, we want the result to be good and we want it at the lowest cost in human lives. Given this set of conditions, one can expect this war is to take a while, and rightfully so. Creating a democracy in Iraq not only will require a change in the political system, but the economic system as well. Study of examples of similar socio-economic changes that took place in countries like Chile, Bulgaria, Serbia, Russia and other countries with oppressive Socialist dictatorships shows that it took seven to ten years to move those countries to where they are now. There are many lessons to be learned from these transfomations, the most important of which is that change doesn't come easily, even without an insurgency going on. Maybe the experts should take a look at all of the work that has gone into stabilizing Bosnia-Herzegovina over the last 10 years. We are just at the 20-month mark in Iraq, a place far more oppressive than Bosnia ever was. If previous examples are any comparison, there will be no quick solutions here, but that should be no surprise to an analyst who has done his or her homework.

This war is not without its tragedies; none ever are. The key to the enemy's success is use of his limited assets to gain the greatest influence over the masses. The media serves as the glass through which a relatively small event can be magnified to international proportions, and the enemy is exploiting this with incredible ease. There is no good news to counteract the bad, so the enemy scores a victory almost every day. In its zeal to get to the hot spots and report the latest bombing, the media is missing the reality of a greater good going on in Iraq. We seldom are seen doing anything right or positive in the news. People believe what they see, and what people of the world see almost on a daily basis is negative. How could they see it any other way? These images and stories, out of scale and context to the greater good going on over here, are just the sort of thing the terrorists are looking for. This focus on the enemy's successes strengthens his resolve and aids and abets his cause. It's the American image abroad that suffers in the end.

Ironically, the press freedom that we have brought to this part of the world is providing support for the enemy we fight. I obviously think it's a disgrace when many on whom the world relies for news paint such an incomplete picture of what actually has happened. Much too much is ignored or omitted. I am confident that history will prove our cause right in this war, but by the time that happens, the world might be so steeped in the gloom of ignorance we won't recognize victory when we achieve it.

Postscript: I have had my staff aggressively pursue media coverage for all sorts of events that tell the other side of the story only to have them turned down or ignored by the press in Baghdad. Strangely, I found it much easier to lure the Arab media to a "non-lethal" event than the western outlets. Open a renovated school or a youth center and I could always count on Al-Iraqia or even Al-Jazeera to show up, but no western media ever showed up - ever. Now I did have a pretty dangerous sector, the Abu Ghuraib district that extends from western Baghdad to the outskirts of Fallujah (not including the prison), but it certainly wasn't as bad as Fallujah in November and there were reporters in there.

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