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Letter to the Washington Post
June 10, 2005
Having read countless pieces on the Iraq war and having just been an embedded reporter in the Anbar province, I can say with some authority that the front-page article "Building Iraq's Army: Mission Improbable" (June 10th) is almost certainly the most miserably biased piece I've ever seen on the conflict. A recurrent theme was that the Iraqis get inferior and even downright dangerous equipment. For example: "The Americans drove fully enclosed armored Humvees, the Iraqis open-backed Humvees with benches, the sides of which were protected by plating the equivalent of a flak jacket." It continued, "As an American reporter climbed in with the Iraqis, the U.S. soldiers watched in bemused horror."You might be riding home alone," one soldier said to the other reporter. "Is he riding in the back of that?" asked another. "I'll be over here praying."
Sorry, but when I rode through the improving but still hostile city of Fallujah I also chose an open-backed Humvee – horrifying nobody. Both types of Humvee provide protection against AK-47 rounds but are readily penetrated by rocket-propelled grenades and can be demolished by a decent-sized improvised explosive device. The advantage of the "inferior" Humvee is that if fired upon you can instantly just pop up and fire back, without the need for the vehicle to stop (very dangerous in an ambush) and without clambering out and exposing your whole body instead of just enough to peer out and fire.
This one example is enough to show the Post article was not news but mere agit-prop, ostensibly aimed at discouraging further efforts to defeat the terrorists.