Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Greatest Story Never Told

America's finest are beating the brains out of the bad guys. But, Paris Hilton gets more attention.

From today's Investor's Business Daily

Iraq War: You've no doubt heard of Paris Hilton, and of Rosie O'Donnell as well. We're pretty sure you know what Barry Bonds is up to. But have you ever heard of Arrowhead Ripper? The likely answer is no.

But if that's the case, it's not your fault. Arrowhead Ripper isn't an athlete, a TV star or a person famous for being famous. It's the code name for a massive U.S.-led assault under way in Iraq's Diyala province — an undertaking that has garnered token media coverage since it began Tuesday.

After getting some initial front-page treatment in major U.S. newspapers, the story was pushed back to page 18 in the Washington Post Thursday and Page 10 in The New York Times on Friday. The Los Angeles Times ran a front pager Thursday, then nothing.

Meanwhile, NPR radio this week highlighted U.S. soldiers' deaths during the assaults, with nary a mention of the bigger context for the soldiers' sacrifices.

The Associated Press' dispatches focused on U.S. casualties: "U.S. military says 15 American troops killed in last 48 hours." CNN ran with: "12 U.S. troops killed in Iraq in 48 hours." The New York Times headline read: "14 U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq in 2 Days."

Surprisingly, only Reuters seemed to get what was going on. Its headline said: "U.S. troops set trap for militants near Baghdad."

Never mind that the aforementioned headlines don't seem to agree on the number of deaths. What needs to be said is this is one of the war's largest operations to date, and perhaps the most significant. If successful, it could push al-Qaida out of Iraq. It also might lay the groundwork for an eventual war-ending peace.

This operation also stands out because the U.S.-led assault force has explicitly made it a goal to "eliminate" the enemy — not to let it slip away, then watch as it returns to bring more chaos and terror to Diyala province.

Michael Yon, a blogger who is embedded with the 3/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Diyala, has written extensively at his Web site (michaelyon-online.com) about the battle. He's also taken some dramatic pictures. He's a brave journalist, and his site is worth a visit.

Here, in an e-mail to the highly popular Instapundit Web site, is what Yon had to say about what's going on:

"It's Friday evening 22 June. Operation Arrowhead Ripper continues to unfold. The operation is going very well. This looks like it will become a serious problem for al-Qaida."

That, of course, would be great. But then, if the media don't start covering it seriously, we may never know.

We can be sure, however, that if Arrowhead Ripper is less successful than hoped, we'll be treated to an endless number of "Diyala: What Went Wrong?" retrospectives.

The fight will go on for up to two months, military officials say. It involves 10,000 troops, with "a full complement of attack helicopters, close-air support, Strykers and Bradley fighting vehicles."

Using unusually blunt language, Army Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek told American Forces Press Service, "The end state is to destroy the al-Qaida influences in this province and eliminate the threat against the people. That is the No. 1, bottom-line, up-front, in-your-face task and purpose."

And so far, it's working, with dozens of terrorists killed. It bears watching. But sadly, if the successes pile up, it won't be long until the story's pushed even further back in the nation's newspapers.

So, has Paris Hilton gone to the bathroom yet? That's what the MSM considers more important than winning the war.

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