US Media Iraq Reporting: See No Evil
The Iraq war may be over, at least for US troops, but the cover-up of the atrocities committed there by American forces goes on, even in retrospectives about the war. A prime example is reporting on the destroyed city of Fallujah, where some of the heaviest fighting of the war took place.
On March 31, 2004, four armed mercenaries working for the firm then known as Blackwater (now Xe), were captured in Fallujah, Iraq’s third largest city and a hotbed of insurgent strength located in Anbar Province about 40 miles west of Baghdad. Reportedly killed in their vehicle, which was then torched, their charred bodies were strung up on a bridge over the Euphrates River.
Pictures and videos of Fallujah residents mocking the bodies, which, unlike the images of burned and mutilated Iraqi victims of American forces, were broadcast on American television and displayed on the front pages of American newspapers, created a wave of indignation and outrage in the U.S., and led the Bush/Cheney administration and the Pentagon to decide they needed to punish the city of over 300,000.
Accordingly, a few weeks later in April, a brutal assault was launched on Fallujah involving heavy aerial bombardment and house-to-house fighting by thousands of Marines. By the time the US forces had battled their way to the center of the city, the civilian casualties were so high that there were mass demonstrations in cities around the country, including in Baghdad where Iraqi workers held a three-day general strike. Under pressure from its own puppet regime in Baghdad, the U.S. withdrew its troops, leaving insurgents largely in control of the city.
In mid-October, however, the US, embarrassed by what was being portrayed by the Iraqi resistance as an American defeat in April, decided to go in again, this time with larger numbers and much more destructive force.
The plan, as explained by commanding officers interviewed by American reporters at the time, was to trap the insurgents in the city and wipe them out. To achieve that, an announcement was made on Oct. 14 to residents of the city that all civilians should leave. The Marines, aided by units of the UK military’s Black Watch regiment, placed a cordon of troops around the entire perimeter of Fallujah. Those civilians desiring to leave what would become essentially a city-wide free-fire zone, had to pass through checkpoints to escape the looming carnage.