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Radically Inept
Sunday, April 04, 2004
  Al jazeera.Net v NYTimes v CNN coverage of Iraqi protests turned violent

Thought it would be interesting to compares sources and style of coverage between these three media outlets. As it turns out, the similarities are far greater than the differences, and it's my impression that the NYTimes might be the most alarmist in coverage style. So, here are some cut and pastes, and the links to the stories, I intentionally tried to be overly redundant in selecting the quotes below. If you go into the articles, you'll see they are largely in agreement on the facts.

Aljazeera.Net - Iraq protests turn bloody:
"Occupation soldiers have clashed with Iraqi demonstrators marching in support of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, leaving at least 25 people dead and more than 150 others injured.

In a separate incident at least seven people were wounded in clashes between US forces and the al-Mahdi Army, al-Sadr's militia, who seized a number of police stations in the al-Sadr City suburb of Baghdad on Sunday.

The al-Mahdi Army earlier occupied at least three police stations in the area, forcing police forces out of the buildings.

Earlier, Spanish occupation forces killed at least 20 Iraqi demonstrators and injured more than 150 others in the southern city of Najaf, reported Aljazeera's correspondent Muhammad al-Sharif.

Four occupation soldiers from El Salvador were killed and nine wounded near Najaf, said the Spanish Defence Ministry.

Some 15,000 of al-Sadr's supporters staged a peaceful protest heading towards the Spanish headquarters in the southern city."
Violent Disturbances Rack Iraq From Baghdad to Southern Cities:
"At nightfall today, the Sadr City neighborhood shook with explosions and tank and machine gun fire. Black smoke choked the sky. The streets were lined with armed militiamen, dressed in all black. American tanks surrounded the area. Attack helicopters thundered overhead.

'The occupation is over!' people on the streets yelled. 'We are now controlled by Sadr. The Americans should stay out.'

Witnesses said Mr. Sadr's militiamen had tried to take over three police stations in Sadr City, a poor, mostly Shiite neighborhood of northern Baghdad named after Mr. Sadr's father.

Franco Pagetti, an Italian photographer, said he was caught in the crossfire and witnessed several American tanks firing into the ground.

'The tanks were shooting into the pavement, not at the height of the people,' Mr. Pagetti said. 'It looked like they were trying to clear the streets.'

Mr. Pagetti also said he had watched a group of militiamen launch three rocket propelled grenades at American Humvees but the militiamen had missed each time.

'The situation is getting worse,' Mr. Pagetti said. 'I saw injured people getting put in cars. The people said they had been wounded by American helicopters.'

As the fighting raged, Mr. Sadr called on his followers to 'terrorize' the enemy as demonstrations were no longer any use. Last week, his weekly newspaper, Hawza, was shut down by American authorities after it had been accused of inciting violence. The closure began a week of protests that grew bigger and more unruly at each turn.

'There is no use for demonstrations, as your enemy loves to terrify and suppress opinions, and despises peoples,' Mr. Sadr said in a statement distributed by his office in Kufa today."
CNN.com - Seven U.S. soldiers die in ambush - Apr 4, 2004:
"The chief U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq denounced Shiite protests in Najaf Sunday, saying the lethal demonstrations had exceeded the democratic rights to protest, speak and use the media.

'A group of people in Najaf have crossed the line and have moved to violence,' Paul Bremer said. 'This will not be tolerated by the coalition. This will not be tolerated by the Iraqi people. And this will not be tolerated by the Iraqi security forces.'

Protesters opened fire on a Najaf garrison housing Spanish troops, and troops responded with return fire, a coalition spokesman said. Maj. Vicente Bizarroso said one coalition soldier was killed and 10 were wounded. Some news agencies said there were more troops killed, but the coalition did not confirm the reports.

Whether protesters were killed or wounded in the clashes remains unknown."
What stood out to me was this quote:
'A group of people in Najaf have crossed the line and have moved to violence,' Paul Bremer said. 'This will not be tolerated by the coalition. This will not be tolerated by the Iraqi people. And this will not be tolerated by the Iraqi security forces.'
Um, not that this stuff is spreading, why are we assuming it won't be tolerated by the Iraqi people.

Lastly, while this certainly is no 'Tet Offensive', it is most certainly not a good omen for things to come in the coming months. This type of stuff will not bode well for Baby Bush's re-election efforts. The more the situation appears out of control, the more Kerry can point. Just point might be all he has to do if this keeps up. 
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