US-Media Coverup US Losses -
First-Hand News Versus CNN

Dahr Jamail
Electronic Iraq
(First published 12-30-3)

Today, on Palestine Street near Mustanceria University in Baghdad, a car packed with explosives was exploded as a US patrol passed. I saw at least one Humvee flipped upside down and another sitting nearby, completely incinerated; as soldiers, tanks, Bradleys, and Hummers had the area completely sealed. Razor wire was strung across the street, keeping the area clear.
Meanwhile soldiers went building to building pulling out all the men, and inside of their sealed perimeter stood a group of at least 25-35 men, all most likely to be detained. I stood by the razor wire watching them taking men with their hands tied with plastic ties out of buildings. The young soldier near me saw an Iraqi man staring at him, and yelled at him,
"What the fuck are you looking at motherfucker!?"
He points his gun at him.
"Get the fuck out of here. You like what you see? I said fuck off!"
My translator asked the Iraqi to please just walk away, as he stood glaring at the soldier.
We are told soldiers went through the dorms of the nearby university and pulled many young men out in order to detain them.
Each scene I've visited like this has revealed a policy that seems to be that the military will seal off the area for several blocks around where a patrol has been hit, then go house to house, building to building, and just pull men out for either questioning, or more likely, detaining them.
We were hoping to take pictures, and find out what happened. But the usual policy of the military here of preventing photos of US military hardware wreckage was in force. The first soldier we'd come upon said to us,
"Sure you can take pictures. Then I'll take your camera."
Our translator said that some Iraqis nearby said they'd watched soldiers take the camera from a man and smash it on the ground.
We move to the other side of the street and another young soldier is watching the crowds, very tense. He only speaks to us with one sentence responses, but even more with one or two word responses. His eyes constantly scan for threats.
I speak with several soldiers, all of them very down. An Iraqi man asks one of the troops if people were hurt, a rather silly question. The response was,
"Yes. What do you think? Many people are dead."
As mentioned above, one Humvee has been flipped completely upside down by the blast. At least three soldiers are dead, maybe more. Certainly civilians are killed, as the entire front of a nearby building is ripped off by the blast, pieces of plaster and ceiling dangling limply in the air from the second floor of this usually crowded shopping area near the college campus.
We move to another area near the border of razor wire to try to get a better view of the wreckage. We stand talking with the soldiers. They are very down, not talking much, other than asking one of us,
"You bang an Iraqi chick yet? Can you get good hash here? Go to Europe, they got the really good shit there man."
Another soldier pointed out the group of soldiers who were sent to the scene first to clear the area and take detainees, and said of his fellow troops,
"Those are the war criminals."
The mood is extremely tense, and needless to say, morose.
One of the soldiers tells us they won't be letting any journalists inside the perimeter until they clear the wreckage -- so we decide to head back home.
Back at the hotel I check the news and see that CNN has reported on the strike on the patrol.
On CNN, according to Brig. Gen. Martin Dempsey on CNN, commander of the US Army's 1st Armored Division speaking of this attack, "An explosion near a U.S. military convoy in a crowded area of Baghdad wounded five U.S. soldiers and three Iraqi civil defense personnel."
The soldiers on the scene had gloomily told me, first hand, quite a different story while we gazed at the two incinerated Humvees in front of a nearby building with the side of it blasted into tatters.
Dahr Jamail is a freelance journalist and political activist from Anchorage, Alaska. He has come to Iraq to bear witness and write about how the US occupation is affecting the people of Iraq, since the media in the US has in large part, he believes, failed to do so.



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