Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Truly (Un)Surprising

CBS creates a different impression than the one given by Marine Corps Commandant Mike Hagee. The Captain elaborates:

CBS News has an interview on their website with Marine Corps Commandant General Mike Hagee, which it promotes with the headline, "Top Marine: No Plan For Post-Saddam Iraq". The article that fronts this interview makes the claim that Hagee admits that the Pentagon had no plan at all for security in the post-invasion period:

As Commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force during the lead-up to the war, Hagee was in charge of planning for the Marines' original push to Baghdad. So I asked him about one of the enduring mysteries of the invasion — why there was no real plan for running the country once Saddam Hussein fell from power.

Unfortunately, Hagee's comments only deepen the mystery. He says he was deeply concerned about who would take charge of major Iraqi cities, like Najaf, as the Marines pushed through them on their way to Baghdad.

Hagee says he asked his boss again and again who would take charge of those cities. He wanted to know what the plan was for Phase IV — military terminology for the phase that follows the end of major combat operations. Phase IV is, in other words, what comes after "mission accomplished." Hagee says that he sent his questions up the chain of command, as they say in the military — and never heard back.

Well, that sounds pretty damning -- but that's not what Hagee says in the portion of the interview that CBS has, a 7:27 segment in which Hagee explains what happened. The connection is poor and no transcript is provided by CBS (what a shock!), but be sure to watch the video for yourselves. CBS and David Martin misrepresent Hagee in this superficial web report.

Imagine that! CBS it seems has tweaked the context of Commandant Hagee's comments and in so doing creates an impression that was not conveyed by the actual comments. A review of the piece makes it clear what Hagee was talking about, specifically:

Hagee also gives the time frame of his assessments; he talks about his forces being removed by July 2003. What Hagee discusses is the immediate aftermath of the collapse of Saddam's government, not the three years afterwards. CBS makes it sound like Hagee is talking about the entire post-invasion effort and sticks words in his mouth. In their blurb below Hagee's picture, they caption it with a "fast fact": Gen. Michael Hagee says he asked his boss again and again who would take charge of major Iraqi cities, such as Najaf.

Of course, it is CBS and they have a history of valuing memes over facts, but this is ridiculous.

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