Thursday, June 22, 2006

Iraq War: And the lies keep on coming

"I think we are winning.  Okay?  I think we're definitely winning.  I think we've been winning for some time." - Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on the Iraq War 04/26/05

"I just wonder if they will ever tell us the truth." - Harold Casey, Louisville, KY, October 2004.

One thing the Iraq War has shown is that the Pentagon's approach to "information operations" has some basic flaws.  The basic problem being that they think they can just lie about anything they want, however far it may be removed from any consideration of operational security.  See  Truth about deaths delayed:  Family of Slain Bay Area Soldier Angry That Army Waited 9 Months by Brandon Bailey San Jose Mercury News 06/22/06.  Bailey reports:

Army officials initially told McCaffrey's family that he was killed in an enemy ambush while on patrol outside Baghdad, two years ago today.

A subsequent investigation, however, concluded last fall that McCaffrey, and another soldier, 33-year-old 2nd Lt. Andre Tyson of Riverside, were deliberately killed by Iraqis who had joined the civil defense forces and pretended to be allies. A Pentagon official who did not want to be quoted by name said Wednesday that one Iraqi has been arrested and will be prosecuted for the killings, while another suspect is believed dead.

Army officials confirmed that their investigation was completed Sept. 30, but they did not share the findings with the families until this week, after McCaffrey enlisted California Sen. Barbara Boxer's help in answering questions about her son. Officials denied a coverup, saying it took months to unravel what happened and that it was simply an oversight that no one had followed up with the families.

"We deeply regret the delay in formal notification to the family,'' said Army spokesman Paul Boyce, adding that the soldiers' former commander met with Tyson's parents Tuesday and with Nadia McCaffrey at her Tracy home Wednesday.

But critics said the delay in sharing the truth has caused more pain for the soldiers' relatives and could lead other families to mistrust the military's handling of their own loved ones' deaths.

And Sen. Boxer's guess at the main reason for the delay is also what I would think, as well:

"The only thing I can think of is that there may well have been a desire not to let the families know, not to let the public know, that the very people we're helping and training are turning on the military - because it would decrease support for the war.''

That's what Bob McCaffrey, the soldier's father, believes.

"This war was started on a lie, and they continue to lie to the American public,'' he said. "They're putting a lot of media spin on how well the Iraqi'' civil defense "forces are doing.''

This editorial connects that incident with the story of Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Lowell Tucker,  the two soldiers kidnapped and murdered just recently, and also with the indictment of eight soldiers on murder charges:  Horrors of war San Francisco Chronicle editorial 06/22/06.

The editorial doesn't explicitly address the credibility issue.  But when we know of various high-profile instances now, including the Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch cases, where the Pentagon deliberately withheld information or just lied in order to create a story that sounded better for their PR, even to the extent of given wrong information to the families of the affected soldiers, you just have to question whether any information that give out  is even remotely accurate.  Especially on a case like the Menchaca and Tucker killings, that reportedly involved what the Chronicle describes as "death by extreme acts of cruelty".

Steve Gilliard commented fairly bitterly on the delays in telling the families of the two soldiers killed deliberately by "friendly" Iraqi troops:

The US may pretend that this happened [only] once but I can't imagine US troops trust large groups of Iraqis.

[The Pentagon] would rather play up executions [like those of Menchaca and Tucker] than admit that the Iraqi Army is about as trustworthy as a junkie.

Stand up? You bet, one they they'll stand up and complete the job these guys started.

Just to be clear on the last line.  Gilliard clearly means that he expects the Iraqi army to turn on the US Army on a much larger scale.

"Wars are easy to get into, but hard as hell to get out of." - George McGovern and Jim McGovern 06/06/05

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