Media Mistreat American Troops

Real Clear Politics July 13, 2006
Thomas Sowell

The same newspapers and television news programs that are constantly reminding us that some people under indictment “are innocent until proven guilty” are nevertheless hyping the story of American troops accused of rape in Iraq, day in and day out, even though these troops have yet to be proven guilty of anything.

What about all the civilian rapes that are charged — and even proven — in the United States? None of them gets this 24/7 coverage in the mainstream media.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated example of media hype of unproven charges against American troops. While military action was still raging in the early days of the Iraq war, there was media condemnation of our troops for not adequately protecting an Iraqi museum from which various items were missing.

When the smoke of battle cleared, it turned out that members of the museum staff had hidden these items for safekeeping during the fighting.

Then there was the incident when a Marine shot a terrorist who was pretending to be asleep and the media turned that into a big scandal until an investigation revealed how these and other tricks used by terrorists had cost the lives of American troops in Iraq.

None of the brutal beheadings of innocent hostages taken by terrorists in Iraq — and videotaped for distribution throughout the Middle East — has aroused half the outrage in the mainstream media as unsubstantiated charges made by terrorists imprisoned in Guantanamo



9 thoughts on “Media Mistreat American Troops

  1. This is an old tactic, and a sleazy and despicable one at that. If someone dares to point out that our military has experienced serious problems with it’s occupation of Iraq, the right-wing slime machine rolls into action accusing them of either treason or not supporting the troops.

    A small number of our troops stand accused by their own officers, acting in the interests of military discipline and justice, with acts ranging from torture (Abu Ghraib), to the massacre of innocent civilians (Haditha) to the rape of a 14-year old child.

    No one in the press has inferred that these actions are representative of our soldiers as a whole. No one in the press has played judge, jury and executioner. They have simply reported the facts as passed on to them by US military. If anything the reporting of the Iraq occupation by the US press has been remarkably timid and tame.

    Our occupation of Iraq has been a massive failure and a strategic error of historic proportions. The nation of Iraq is not better off but far worse. Basic utilities like water and electricity are in short supply. Iraq’s oil and industrial infrastructure has been shattered. Civil war has commenced and sectarian violence has resulted in hundreds of horrific deaths every week. The average Iraqi lives an existence of privation and terror.

    Iraq’s disintegration is destabilizing the middle-east and has emboldened our nation’s adversaries. Our nation’s standing in the world has fallen sharply. The US military has been severely drained and weakened, and is so overtaxed in Iraq that it is unable to meet challenges elsewhere in the globe. The dictator of North Korea and the Ayatollahs of Iraq thumb there noses at us and we are helpless to respond. The war is draining our treasury of $5 billion dollars every week. 2,600 American servicemen are dead and many thousands more have been horrifically maimed and crippled. The war has been so mismanaged that at this point there is no definition of “victory in Iraq” that is either realistic or attainable.

    When I see a peice of disgusting propaganda like this deliberately trying to mislead the American people and promote the fascist and un-American idea that it is unpatriotic to criticize your government I am filled with revulsion. Indeed criticizing our government when it behaves irresponsibly is the essense of Patriotism.

  2. JBL: The New York Times reported the awarding of the medal of Honor to Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith on March 30, 2005. The headline was:

    “Medal of Honor to Be Awarded to Soldier Killed in Iraq, a First” By ERIC SCHMITT (NYT); National Desk

    The story is behind the NY Times firewall now, but the first 25 words are:

    Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith, killed nearly two years ago defending his vastly outnumbered Army unit in a fierce battle with elite Iraqi troops for control of Baghdad’s airport, will receive the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award, administration officials said Tuesday. No soldier who served

  3. The Bush administration does not have a realistic or attainable plan for victory in Iraq according to the GAO (Government Accountability Office) as reported yesterday. Check it out.

    The GAO reports:

    The November 2005 National Strategy for Victory in Iraq and supporting documents incorporate the same desired end-state for U.S. stabilization and reconstruction operations that were first established by the coalition in 2003: a peaceful, united, stable, and secure Iraq, well integrated into the international community, and a full partner in the global war on terrorism.

    However, it is unclear how the United States will achieve its desired end-state in Iraq given the significant changes in the assumptions underlying the U.S. strategy.

    The original plan assumed a permissive security environment. However, an increasingly lethal insurgency undermined the development of effective Iraqi government institutions and delayed plans for an early transfer of security responsibilities to the Iraqis.

    The plan also assumed that U.S. reconstruction funds would help restore Iraq’s essential services to prewar levels, but Iraq’s capacity to maintain, sustain, and manage its rebuilt infrastructure is still being developed.

    Finally, the plan assumed that the Iraqi government and the international community would help finance Iraq’s development needs, but Iraq has limited resources to contribute to its own reconstruction, and Iraq’s estimated future needs vastly exceed what has been offered by the international community to date.

    .. the strategy falls short in three key areas. First, it only partially identifies the current and future costs of U.S. involvement in Iraq, including the costs of maintaining U.S. military operations, building Iraqi government capacity at the provincial and national level, and rebuilding critical infrastructure.

    Second, it only partially identifies which U.S. agencies implement key aspects of the strategy or resolve conflicts among the many implementing agencies.

    Third, it neither fully addresses how U.S. goals and objectives will be integrated with those of the Iraqi government and the international community, nor does it detail the Iraqi government’s anticipated contribution to its future security and reconstruction needs.

    The GAO report states pretty unequivocably that we have no plan for success and that we are unlikely to be successful. It states that we are failing in curbing the influence of militias, that we are failing to create effective ministries of government, that we are failing to revitalize the Iraqi economy, and that we have no answer to who is going to pay for ongoing operations and where that money is going to come from. We have already heard President Bush say that the decision as to when to leave Iraq is the next President’s problem. His only strategy is to muddle through for two years and hope that the final moment of defeat happens on someone elses watch.

    While our troops have performed valiantly under extremely difficult conditions, their leaders President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rumsfeld and the entire Republican leadership in Congress have failed the nation horribly.

    This is why the right-wing attack machine is trying to deflect criticism of the Bush/Cheney regime by portraying it as an attack on the troops instead.

  4. I absolutely agree that journalists have an ethical responsibility in being fair and even-handed in their treatment of US troops. However, let’s recall who actually put these troops in Iraq in the first place. Let’s also keep in mind that:

    “The Bush administration announced that on Oct. 1 it wants to roll back recent modest increases in monthly imminent-danger pay (from $225 to $150) and family-separation allowance (from $250 to $100) for troops getting shot at in combat zones.”

    The Bush’s 2004 budget proposes a $1.5 billion reduction in funds to military family housing/medical facilities – a 14% cut.

    One million children living in military and veteran families are being denied child tax credit help” in President Bush’s tax cut. “More than 260,000 of these children have parents on active military duty.

    Less than 2 weeks after the President made these comments, “the Bush administration announced its formal opposition to a proposal to give National Guard and Reserve members access to the Pentagon’s health-insurance system, jeopardizing the plan’s future and angering supporters. A recent General Accounting Office report estimated that one of every five Guard members has no health insurance.

    The President made these comments on the same day that his Administration announced it was cutting off access to its health care system for approximately 164,000 veterans. The Administration also is pushing a cut of $1.5 billion in military housing/medical facility funding, despite the fact that UPI reports “hundreds of sick and wounded U.S. soldiers including many who served in the Iraq war are languishing in hot cement barracks here while they wait – sometimes for months – to see doctors.


    And they’re critiquing the Times as “mistreating” the troops??!

    I highly recommend War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning by Chris Hedges. Hedges was a seminarian and is no pacifist. However, his book provides a much needed moral reflection on the enormous toll this war may cost us not just financially (and it’s already at $300 billion) but in terms of our national credibility and our collective soul.

  5. Dean I stated the front page, not page 13. Which is a contrary act to how they report every other negative military story on page 1.

  6. James your information about military pay is incomplete.

    Heartburn Over Pay Gains
    Tom Philpott | June 23, 2006
    White House Heartburn Can’t Slow Military Pay Gains

    The Bush administration continues to sound an alarm over rising military personnel costs from steady gains in pay and benefits voted by the Congress, including more new initiatives in the 2007 defense budget bill.

    But Congress shows no sign of heeding the alarm, not while U.S. forces “stay the course” in Iraq and Afghanistan, separated from family and suffering casualties in an uncertain quest to help democracy take root there.

    The latest administration criticisms of personnel costs appear in “heartburn” letters to the armed services committees from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. The administration, says OMB, “strongly opposes” several new initiatives for personnel in the House and Senate versions of the defense authorization bill nearing enactment.

    The House wants to add an “unnecessary” half percentage point to the 2.2 percent military pay raise planned for next January, and to make a premium-paid TRICARE health plan available to all drilling reservists. Also creating concern is a Senate initiative that would repeal a reduction in survivor benefits that occurs when surviving spouses draw tax-free Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.

    OMB criticizes both chambers for rejecting the Defense Department’s plan to raise TRICARE fees for retired military beneficiaries under 65.

    As floor debate on the Senate bill continued, more initiatives that raised the ire of the Bush team were being shaped into bill amendments. They included a faster end to the ban on “concurrent receipt” of military both retired pay and disability compensation for “unemployable” retirees, a lowering of age-60 retirement for deployed reserve forces, and a change to Reserve GI Bill eligibility so benefits can be used after they leave service.

    What drives a Republican-led Congress to ignore a Republican president’s warnings about rising compensation costs? We asked two pay experts who hold opposing views the merits of the current trend.

    Cindy Williams, a researcher with the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has been a prominent critic of rising military personnel costs. Steve Strobridge is a fierce advocate for improved pay and benefits as government relations director for the Military Officers Association of America and co-chairman of The Military Coalition, an umbrella group of three dozen service associations and veterans’ groups.

    Military compensation costs have been climbing since September 1998 when the Joint Chiefs testified to shortfalls in recruiting and retention, said Williams. They blamed inadequate pay, a discounted retirement plan for persons who had entered service since 1986, and broken promises of lifetime healthcare for older generations of retirees.

    Congress responded by repealing the so-called Redux retirement plan, committing to six years of annual pay raises above private sector wages, special increases in housing allowances to match off-base rental costs, and establishing TRICARE for Life and the TRICARE Senior Pharmacy Programs.

    Since 9/11, lawmakers also have increased military death gratuities and life insurance, improved combat-zone tax breaks, raised danger and separation pays, ended a ban on concurrent receipt of retired pay and disability compensation for seriously-disabled retirees, voted to phase out a drop in survivor benefits at age 62, and expanded health care and other benefits for mobilized Reserve and National Guard members.


  7. JBL: You might consider that even 2.7% increases (which are pretty paltry) do not even account for the inflation rate (which according to the Moore Inflation Predictor is expected to be close to 4.17%). Ten years into the military, the salary ranges from 29K to 57K a year, with the lowest four ranks (E1 – E4) making less than 40K a year. Let me break this out for you: a 2.7% increase on $40K a year is $1,080. That’s $90 a month. BEFORE taxes.

    I have a feeling that those arguing that the extra .5% is “unnecessary” are the same that feel that the current estate taxes are “draconian” and proposing estate tax cuts worth $28 billion for 4,500 estates.

    Hey, why give those grunts fighting this “necessary war” enough money for an extra burger a day when that $28 billion can go towards necessities like a second Bentley Azure or a few dozen pairs of Ferragamos?

  8. The pay raise for 2006 was 3.1 percent.

    James have you ever served in the military? If not you should do some research on military pay and benefits. (And I wonder if you’ve ever worked in the corporate world either when you down grade a 2 percent pay increase. What do you think corporations offer? 20 percent?)

    It has never been comparable to civilian pay. When I was on active duty I recall seeing studies that showed civilian counterparts to military members being paid about 30 percent more. But a difference in payscales is that military members don’t pay into their retirement or their health benefits. And besides the base pay military members receive a basic allowance for quarters or housing (unless they live in military housing, where electricity, water, and heating are taken care of). There is also a basic allowance for sustenance (food). On top of this there is the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) which is a supplement to the pay. This varies from base to base because of the cost to live in certain areas (so a military member stationed in Minot, ND isn’t going to get the same level of COLA as a member stationed in Honolulu, HI). There there is Hazardous duty pay that is extra pay for certain career fields (i.e. pilots and special forces). And on top of that there is also military bonuses for retention in certain career fields (When I was on active duty I recall seeing retention bonuses for air traffic controllers ranging from $10k to $15K. Doctors and nurses also receive some hefty bonuses).

    And you should realize that most enlisted members don’t remain at the E-1 to E-3 pay grades for long. When an enlisted member enters the military at the entry level pay grade of E-1 they’re at least to E-3 by the end of the year. This year covers the initial basic training and technical school (which can go from a month to a year depending on the specialty). This is a comparable pay scale to a union member who joins as an apprentice then works their way toward journeyman. That’s why when you look at the published pay scales you see these ending dates where there is no increase in pay after a certain number of years service. Because no one is expected to remain at the lower pay grades forever.

    I have to state I find the left’s concern about military pay a bit disingenuous. When I served during the Gulf War in between their cries of “baby killers” the left used to complain that military members were paid to much. It was the constant we pay more for the military than we pay for schools (I still remember their tacky T-shirts they would wear protesting the base that stated “Wouldn’t it be nice if our schools had all the funding they need, and the military had to hold bake sales to buy new equipment?”). Now when it can be used against a President they don’t like the military pay scale isn’t enough.

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