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Disinformation Operations

By Bill Roggio | December 27, 2005

Monday’s Washington Post featured an article written by Jonathan Finer and Doug Struck titled Bloggers, Money Now Weapons in Information War - U.S. Recruits Advocates to the Front, Pays Iraqi TV Stations for Coverage, of which my embed in Iraq was the subject of scrutiny as a military information operation.

There are three problems with this article which require a response: the use iof incorrect facts which could have been easily checked; the portrayal of my embed as an information operation; and equating U.S. military information operations with al-Qaeda propaganda efforts.

The “Facts”

There are several factual errors in this story, all of which could have been easily verified by direct questions to me, by reviewing my “About” pages at either ThreatsWatch.org or The Fourth Rail, or by asking some questions within their own organization.

I conducted an email interview with Mr. Finer from Iraq. This interview consisted of a single email exchange, and never once were the facts below addressed in any follow up questions.

I am not a “retired soldier”, as that would have required me to serve in the military for twenty plus years. I spent four years on active duty and two years in the National Guard. The article also indicates that I am currently in Iraq and embedded with the Marines in Western Anbar. I am not. I returned home on December 20th.

I was not credentialed by the American Enterprise Institute. This would be impossible as the needed press credentials must be provided by a media organization. A friend suggested I approach the American Enterprise Magazine, which is a periodical published by the American Enterprise Institute. We were unable to work out an agreement, so I searched for an alternative.

Another friend suggested I contact The Weekly Standard. Richard Starr was happy to help and provided the necessary credentials to embed. Also, Rod Breakenridge of the Canadian talk radio show The World Tonight kindly provided documentation for credentials as well. The two letters allowed me to successfully embed, and there were no questions about my credentials in Baghdad or elsewhere.

The Weekly Standard or Mr. Breakenridge did not establish any preconditions for providing the credentials, nor did they fund my trip in any way. I wrote a single article for The Weekly Standard about Election Day in Barwana, and gave two phone interviews from Iraq to The World Tonight.

Finally, The Washington Post astonishingly misrepresents the entire embed process. Captain Jeffery Pool, the Public Affairs Officer for the 2nd Marine Division is quoted as saying “A thorough review of his work was taken into account before authorizing the embed." Perhaps my work was reviewed before extending the invite to embed, of this I have no knowledge. However, the military has absolutely no authority to “authorize the embed” that I am aware of.

The embed process requires you to be credentialed by a legitimate media source; any citizen who obtains the proper press credentials can embed as a journalist. Once I obtained the credentials, I chose where and when I embedded, and the Public Affairs Officers merely provided assistance with facilitating the embed and movement to the different units.

The only approval required was for embeds that were of a potentially classified nature, such as a Special Forces embed, or requests to work with sensitive intelligence gathering platforms. That a media organization which must certainly deal with the embed process on a regular basis got this entirely wrong is stunning.

The facts mentioned above were easily crosschecked with additional inquiries to me, investigations via the web or some simple questions within their own organization. A media organization should pride itself on obtaining the facts, particularly when they are easily obtainable.

A Suggestion of Impropriety

In an email to Mr. Finer expressing my displeasure with being labeled a military information operation, Mr. Finer suggested I read the entire article. I assured him I did. The title and subtitle are not meaningless to the context of the article; it is implied I was a tool of the military, when in fact the military had no influence whatsoever in what I said from Iraq.

The details of my embed are then followed with a discussion on military information operations, the Lincoln Group's activities in paying for positive articles to be published in Iraqi publications, and the military funding Iraqi radio stations. The implication is clear: a blogger embedding in Iraq must be part of a nefarious scheme by the military to influence the perceptions on Iraq.

The truth is far more mundane. I wasn't paid a dime to report from Iraq by the Marines, nor was I influenced in any way in what I could or could not write about. I had full control over the where and when of my embeds. Never once was my work subject to the approval or review of the military. I wrote what I experienced, both the good and the bad.

The invitation to come to Iraq was an invitation only. The invitation to embed alone did not allow me entry. As mentioned above, proper media credentials were required. This invitation merely was motivation for me to take my coverage of Iraq to the next level; instead of reporting from afar, I could provide some first hand accounts from Iraq and assess the situation on the ground on my own.

I questioned Captain Pool about journalists being invited to embed with the military. He assured me that journalists have been invited to embed prior to operations, and Mr. Finer himself was invited at one point in time, which he declined. My invitation to embed with the Marines was neither unique nor special under these circumstances.

In the past, the established media has paid Iraqi stringers that have turned out to be insurgent or al-Qaeda operatives. And they have provided cover for Saddam’s brutal regime in order to maintain a Baghdad office. Never have these improprieties caused the media to question the motivations of their counterparts as the motivations of my embed have been questioned.

Any suggestion the trip was funded by a single entity, such as those being hurled by the left-of-center bloggers, is both laughable and easily disproved as I kept meticulous records of those who kindly donated to assist in defraying the costs. This could have been easily confirmed by the reactionary pundits by a mere inquiry. Instead, it is easier to hurls insults, innuendo and rumor about my means and motivations to go to Iraq than to get to the truth.

I organized the trip without any outside assistance, save that of a few trusted friends and my wife. It was funded entirely by donations from my readers. Well over 700 of my readers donated approximately $33,000, plus equipment and services, including plane tickets, a bullet proof vest, and other items. The average donation was about $50. The number of readers that donated $200 or more can be counted on the digits of my four limbs, the number of $500 donations can be counted on one hand, and a single donor contributed $2,000. This was an individual, and not an organization or corporation.

Influence vs. Propaganda

Perhaps the most disconcerting theme of the article relates not to my embed, but to the greater issue of military information operations and equating these efforts with al-Qaeda sponsored propaganda efforts in Iraq. Cori Dauber at RantingProfs neatly summarizes the difference:

On the one hand, finally, there's a recognition that the enemy is engaged in information operations, that there needs to be some critical reflection regarding what they do and how they do it, that there's a strategy underlying their behavior. On the other hand, that's treated with equivalence to information ops American forces engage in. The difference is American forces are trying to influence the way articles are placed by, you know, influencing the way articles are placed, while the enemy are trying to influence the way articles are placed by staging events -- meaning by killing people. It ain't quite the same thing.

Equating military information operations with al-Qaeda propaganda efforts is a form of moral equivalence of the worst sort. The U.S. military is conducting an influence campaign to draw attention to the news which is missed by the media on a daily basis. Their belief (and one that I share) is the portrayal of events in Iraq do not reflect the actual situation on the ground. While the articles may be viewed as “favorable” to the Coalition, the question is, are they accurate and factual? The Washington Post does not address this issue, nor does it provide evidence that the military is running a disinformation campaign.

Richard Fernandez describes the difference between reporting and propagandizing as such: “The clear mark of a propagandist is one who consistently misrepresents events, allowing for occasional errors which every human being must make. Track record matters.”

al-Qaeda is running a sheer disinformation campaign which uses human beings as props in events such as beheadings and execution styled killings. It manufactures events, such as the faux uprising in Ramadi in the beginning of December. The truth is not relevant to al-Qaeda’s propaganda operations, only results matter.

Critics of my writings on Iraq have every right to criticize, but in fairness they should judge the accuracy of my analysis and reporting. Those who question what I witnessed in Iraq can, with some effort, contact the soldiers and Marines I talked to and wrote about to confirm the events took place as I describe. The test of time will show if my reporting from Iraq was truthful reporting or propaganda.

A review of my analysis of operations prior to embedding in Iraq will show I was able to predict the timing and order of operations in Western Iraq over the late summer and fall of 2005. At one point during Operation Steel Curtain I halted my predictions out of fear I was compromising operational security. I did this out based on my own concerns for compromising operational security, not by the request of the military, despite the fact that being “right” would have enhanced my credibility. Some things are more important than reputation.

The information I used in my analysis didn’t come from inside or classified sources, but from a careful study of the situation in Anbar province and the political and military situation, which included the growth of the Iraqi Army, the importance of the Euphrates Ratline to al-Qaeda and the insurgency, and the desire of the Iraqi government and U.S. military to put a dent into the most dangerous and deadly elements of the insurgency.

Perhaps Messrs. Finer and Struck should have asked Colonel Stephen Davis why he extended the invite to embed. It was the analysis of the operational situation which prompted the invite from the Marines. The rest of the embed was of my own doing, and my opinions and experiences were entirely my own.

Reference

Listed below are links that reference Disinformation Operations:

» FUD and the MSM from L'Ombre de l'Olivier
The WaPo has hit piece on Bill Roggio which is, at first sight, an example of the usual "blogger falls foul of stuck up MSM hack" article that have become all too common over the last couple of years. But this one is a little different, IMO. In order... [Read More]

» Washington Post hit-piece on Blogger Bill Roggio from The Reclusive Antiquarian
Yesterday's Washington Post contained an ill-disguised attack on the credibility of Bill Roggio, a blogger who was invited by Marines to report from the front lines in Iraq [Read More]

» The Mainstream Press Launches Preemptive Strike on from Right-Wing of the Gods
Picked-up this story from a morning recon into the enemy territory known as The Democratic underground: Bloggers, Money Now Weapons in Information War Now when I saw the headline, I thought this article may be about an active conspiracy hatched... [Read More]

» Mission accomplished maybe? from Fish Fear Me
At first I thought Bill Roggio was getting a little too riled up about the Washington Post story that mentions his recent trip to Iraq. To be sure, the factual problems are annoying. Mentioning Bill in a piece that also [Read More]

» From the "Oh, please" files: Evil media strikes again from Kantor.com
So the Washington Post publishes an article, "Bloggers, Money Now Weapons in Information War," in which it talks about how the military, unhappy about the way the Iraq war is being portrayed in the press, has invited people friendlier to its point of v... [Read More]

» al-WaPo slimes two good men from Small Town Veteran
... I'm not going to try to add anything to the story except to state unequivocally that I'd trust Bill Roggio and Michael Yon over anyone working for any of the major media outlets any time, any where, and anyone who questions the integrity of either ... [Read More]

» Bill Roggio Speaks Out About Washington Post Article from The Lone Elm
Bill Roggio has come out with a number of critiques of the Washington Post article discussing his recent embedded tour in Iraq. I think the most interesting issue here is how many problems there were with a professional journalist's article. [Read More]

» War Journalist Action Figures from The Business of America is Business
Of course, nothing about this tendency to lose objectivity is unique to journalism: doctors are advised not to treat themselves or their families; lawyers who represent themselves are said to have fools for clients; and many therapists have their own t... [Read More]

» Lord of the Blogs from La Shawn Barber's Corner
Conservatives are usually pretty easy on bloggers, as the most important and influential blog swarms tend to be generated by conservative bloggers trying to right the wrongs of the leftist mainstream media (MSM). That’s why I was taken aback by... [Read More]

» Will the Real Journalist Please Stand Up? from The Redhunter
It has become a staple of conservatives that "you can't trust the msm and the best information about Iraq is on the Internet". I keep looking for something to prove that proposition wrong, but the harder I look the more it is confirmed. ...The good ... [Read More]

» Blogger dynamics the Ivory Tower Dwellers (still) do not understand from Security Watchtower
My harried schedule precluded proper comment about yesterday's post that addressed the Washington Post's treatment of Mr. Bill Roggio. I wanted to get this particular story spread yesterday and follow up as time permitted, which happens to be one of th... [Read More]

» On IO Campaigns from GroupIntel
ThreatsWatch is one of those sites that I’ve always meant to hit. They get a lot of play from other sites I visit, but for whatever reason I never got around to getting there. After reading about the digital scuffle between TW blogger Bill Roggio and... [Read More]

71 Comments

Bill - how about a letter signed (in our real names) by all of your contributors?

i am more than happy to take responsibility for sponsoring your scurrilous propaganda!

All my life I have found that on every occasion on which I personally knew the facts behind a news story the 'professional' journalists had, through sloth, bias or both, gotten them grotesquely wrong. Welcome to the club. You will never read a story from the MSM with the same inclination to believe it again.

Every minute somebody new realizes that they have been misled by the MSM since they were old enough to read a newspaper or watch TV. That's a good thing.

OOH RAH Bill. Those people are the reason we appreciate people like you so much more.!!!!

Semper Fi,
Proud Momma of a USMC Sniper

Thanks so much for this reply
I need to see the truth as an American, a conservative, and a veteran of the military.
The liberal bias of the MSM must be outted constantly. and we need leaders like Bill to do it.
Rush Limbaugh has been doing a good job on the NYTimes among others.
They are poison. We must get the truth spread. Thank you all.

Welcome home Bill.

Sorry you had to be subjected to the Washington Post's rather bad habit of insinuating some sort of nefarious motivations to anyone who presents a view of the world that differs from their own.

Kind of ironic, one of the largest propaganda mouth pieces in the world singling out a blogger who merely reports the facts.

IMHO, those who incessantly imply nefarious motivations to others are themselves engaged in a nefarious activity.(I.E. Thieves believe everyone else is also a thief, Mr Finer should take a good hard look in the mirror)

Glad you're back safe and sound- keep up the good work!

I donated a small amount to Bill for the trip. I consent to you releasing my name and amount Bill.

I guess to the agit-prop pamphleteers masquerading as journalists in our media 'fake but accurate' trumps 'factual but favorable.'

Thanks for the work you've done, Bill.

Whether or not your press coverage is accurate, thanks to such coverage I have learned of your blog.
I'll judge you by what you write, not be how others assess your efforts.

foreign@washpost.com
Doug Struck email
ombudsman@washpost.com
WashPost ombudsman.

They should both get emails from all of us on this disgusting article they did. Bunch of hacks.

Bill,

Thanks. Nothing beats getting there and seeing things first hand. I had the privilege of seeing things in August of '04, and the stark differences stunned me.

Bill:

you are the true reporter, and what you are doing is the future. The WaPo is a dinosaur. keep up the great work.

Kirk

The MSM is becoming more irrlelvant daily. I am sorry you are being dragged through part of their collapse. Perhpas it will comfort you to know that their lack of factual informaiton is matched by their lack of character.

Your presumption is that the WashPost actually cares about factual reporting. This is not supported by years of reading the "house organ" of The Federal Bureaucracy. Outside the beltway, they join NYTimes LATimes and SFChronicle as biased and increasingly irrelevant to national discourse. Their subscriber numbers reflect more the desires of their classified and display ad readers than news worthiness of reporters and editors.

We don't need the reports of our "betters" to reach facts. We have an open marketplace of factual content and opinion. As long as the marketplace functions those who provide value will drive out those who waste time and space.

Do not hold your breath waiting for a response. They do not desire a conversation about their sources and methods. They have made a charge, produced a headline and moved on.

Keep up the good work. It is individuals such as yourself that we rely on to get the correct information.
jasjfarrell

Bill, Glad you are home safe and sound. Your reports from Iraq were greatly appreciated. I am not ashamed to say we only gave $20.00 to Bill. It was all we could afford. The reason we gave it is because he is a man of INTEGRITY. That is something the MSM will never have said about them. OOH RAH Bill, we are with you for the long haul sir. Sam Cosgray

I was one of the minor contributors to the Bill Roggio trip. $10 if I remember correctly. You are welcome to use my name. I have stopped taking the local paper that just rips and pastes articles off the NYT wire.
Subsidising their propaganda, cannot be justified any more. With the money I saved, I can afford to contribute in a small way to a more honest information flow about Iraq and the larger war on terror.

Deepest thanks for what you have done.

Rob

Glad the trip went so well Bill. It seems to me that the WaPo also diminishes those of us that contributed to your trip with their inaccuate take on it. Feel free to release my name and contribution as well -- although you really should feel no need to justify anything to the MSM, your readers know the truth.

BTW, the reason i suggested a signed letter from Bill's supporters, was to deal with crypto-fascist responses like this one from a poster at Livejournal (HT: PJ Media): "One needs to ask who supplied the $30 k for Mr. Roggio's trip. Such a payment could be hidden monetary support for the Bush administration..."

> A review of my analysis of operations prior to embedding in Iraq will show I was able to predict the timing and order of operations in Western Iraq over the late summer and fall of 2005. At one point during Operation Steel Curtain I halted my predictions out of fear I was compromising operational security.

As a long-time reader of The Fourth Rail, I can confirm what Bill wrote. The interesting question that was never asked was, "Since Roggio's analyses of al-Anbar are proving correct in crucial details, and since he relies entirely on open-source materials, why isn't comparable reporting available from mainstream news sources?"

That question was never answered. Presumably Messrs. Finer and Struck are reading this web-log, at least for a while. Maybe they could try their hands at a response?

"Their subscriber numbers reflect more the desires of their classified and display ad readers than news worthiness of reporters and editors."
Andy

My wife loves the coupons...and the rest goes under the kitty litter.

Great counterbattery fire! Nice shootin' pardner.

Well done. That's a proper bitch-slap to a couple of punks like Finer and Struck. I was in Iraq from Feb '04 to Feb '05, mostly in Baghdad. Never saw a reporter. That's because they never left the fortress that served as their "base". Of course, that didn't keep them from reporting the facts from "on the ground in Iraq". Hacks. Kind of like these two.

Bill,

Glad you are back and OK.

What I found astonishing is that the professional journalists saw the campaign in Western Iraq as a sequence of whack a mole events. They simply passed on press releases, viewing them through a lens of confirmation bias that caused them to see the campaign as a thrashing around in a quagmire.

You, who are not a professional reporter, were the only observer to infer the strategy.

Congratulations.

The Washington Post's view on Iraq is only too clear. You should watch the first 2 minutes of the interview of Washington Post reporter Jackie Spinner on C-Span archives on the web. She has spent about 2 years in Iraq reporting, and is in the US right now. The interview of her was just after the Dec election. She is asked directly what is it that we are missing in the reporting on Iraq. Her answer, "Even people who were persecuted under Saddam want him back."
Now how is it someone can actually say this, and believe it? And how does this person find employment, unless their employer actually believes it too. I should note that the interviewer, Brian Lamb, followed up his quetion with one asking if the Kurds and Shia feel this way; and she was forced to backtrack. But, please?

The buggy whip manufacturers are running scared.

They are outmoded.

Keep it up.

As a writer (mostly of social policy and research) the behavior of the Post makes me furious. I sure hope Abe Lincoln was right about "...you can't fool all of the people all of the time." Thanks for all you did in going to Iraq. Happy New Year.

Bill,

I agree wholeheartedly with what you and your commentors before me said. As a personal example, I have developed a certain amount of expertise in three topics during my life. I've loved (and modeled) trains since I was just a little boy; I spent 24 years in the U. S. Army Reserve, in Civil Affairs; and I spent over 20 years in a career doing public school district budgets, the last district I worked at having an annual budget in excess of $250,000,000. In easily 200+ articles in newspapers large and small I saw a total of (wait for it) 2 that were correct, and I'm not talking about nit-picking differences of wording but factual differences. BTW I called/emailed the two reporters and congratulated them. Now my point is, if something less than 2% of the articles on topics about which I have a better than the average reader's knowledge, then why should I accept any more than 2% of the articles on OTHER topics as being right? No reason whatsoever.

Keep up the good work and it's good to have you safely back from your time in the sandbox.

Richard Fernandez describes the difference between reporting and propagandizing as such: “The clear mark of a propagandist is one who consistently misrepresents events, allowing for occasional errors which every human being must make. Track record matters.”
The Washington Post certainly qualifies.

AMac makes the point very well. I've been a reader of The Fourth Rail for a year, and it is incredible (to me, at least) how closely events on the ground have followed Bill's projections and analyses. Such is the foundation of true credibility. Kudos to Bill for going a step beyond, for taking the opportunity to go to Iraq to get the facts straight from the source.

I like your idea, ex-democrat, but realistically, such will have little impact on the moonbat left and the fantasy world in which they live. Still, as a gesture of support for Bill, I'm all for it.

Mr. Roggio:

While I suspect you and I would have much to disagree with politically, I can certainly appreciate the ire you feel at the way the reporters from the WP screwed up their facts. I've been feeling that way myself for several years now about one or two things.

That said, can you honestly say -- as someone who didn't have a media accreditation prior to the invitation you received -- that you think someone in the same position with views in opposition to yours would have gotten the same invite? And why not? Did you and your readers need convincing that the Iraq war was a just cause? Aren't the people who need convincing the ones who are on the fence or who have changed their minds about the war? Inviting someone who is already a supporter seems as if it's simply preaching to the choir.

Not that choirs are bad.

my personal favorite part.
"...and Mr. Finer himself was invited at one point in time, which he declined..."
tee hee.

Bill, you so rock!

I am so filled with rage. The Washington Post is, in my eyes, part of al Qaeda's information ops. Discrediting you is part of the whole Islamofascist plan. Stick it to 'em hard, Bill.

I also proudly sent you a contribution via PayPal on Oct 31, 2005 and I feel slimed by the Post as it implies I am just a front for a US military propaganda campaign.

This is proof enough for me that the MSM aren't just biased. They are outright liars. And they smear those that expose their lies.

If I may borrow a favorite line from the Left: Bill is speaking truth to (MSM)power and power doesn't like it.

darrelplant:

"That said, can you honestly say — as someone who didn’t have a media accreditation prior to the invitation you received — that you think someone in the same position with views in opposition to yours would have gotten the same invite?"

It would appear you missed the part where Bill cites the invitation that Mr. Finer (who could, I think, fairly be said to have political views opposed to Bill's) received and refused.

Bill:

Welcome back. Kind of the Post to hand you such a length of rope.

Thank you for your excellent work and courage. Also, I share the disgust others here have expressed with the MSM, they are more propogandists than journalists.

One point however; Finer may have declined to embed at one time, but he also might have been embedded at another time. At least, the Wapo seems to say he is embedded in the caption to this photo:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/nation/nationalsecurity/abroad/iraq/field/finerjonathan/

Best regards to all...

cjr:

It would appear that you missed the part (although you quoted it) where I mentioned previous media accreditation. Mr. Finer works for a newspaper. He, unlike Mr. Roggio (or myself), is employed by a newspaper with national distribution.

As for Mr. Finer's political beliefs, without any proof of what they actually are, I have no idea whether the errors in the article about Mr. Roggio are due to sloppy reporting or bias.

During the 2003 taking of Baghdad, Mr. Finer was embedded with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. I don't know if he declined an invitation to return to Iraq more recently or if the captain Mr. Roggio spoke to was misinformed, but the articles I've looked at from that period certainly don't seem as if they're biased against the military.

The WaPo provides yet another reason why I get my news from sources like you.

Glad to see you are back safe and sound, Bill.

Just one more person who is proud to have done a little bit to help Bill prod the MSM. Let's all send in a comment and they can count us!

I can confirm through many email conversations with Bill over the last year that this is a man of integrity and truth. He would often temper my own overly optimistic views with pragmatic realities.

Two weeks ago I highlighted how far behind the mainstream media, specifically Chris Tomlinson of the AP, was on the U.S. strategy in Anbar, summarizing by saying that "Bloggers like Bill Roggio have been talking about this strategy for months and months."

source

Excellent job all around, Mr. Roggio. Also, thanks for this reminder:

In the past, the established media has paid Iraqi stringers that have turned out to be insurgent or al-Qaeda operatives. And they have provided cover for Saddam’s brutal regime in order to maintain a Baghdad office. Never have these improprieties caused the media to question the motivations of their counterparts as the motivations of my embed have been questioned.

I think the most interesting issue here is how many problems there were with a professional journalist's article. This is not new, but Bill, you do a great job of pointing out exactly where Mr. Finer went wrong and what he should have done to be more accurate.

As one of your many supporters, I'd be happy to answer any reporters questions about why I did what I did for you.

I'm proud for being a part of your story, even if it is a small part.

What have I received for my contribution?

Some very fine reporting that I did not see in the main stream media.

Why did I support you?

Because of your very fine reporting and analysis of what is going on militarily in Iraq.

There are a few websites I visit daily and the fourth rail is one.

Good writing, clear analysis and supporting illustrations help to make a very poorly understood war more vivid.

I have had an opportunity to see some of the personal photos of Iraq vets and I would gladly pay 30,000 for the chance to "Hang out with the boys" who are doing such magnificent work.

The Washington Post, the NYT and others are simply choking on the road kill crow they must now consume.

Bill,

Keep shootin' at the enemy, Bill. I think you got the Post on the run. A pity they can't see who they hurt with their stories and who they help. Of course that would assume they opened their eyes and actually looked at the world instead of reading their positions off media policy papers.

Keep up the good work.

Subsunk

Bill - like several others above I have been impressed by your understanding of the basic strategy behind the Anbar campaign. I have always been interested in following the progress of wars since my father 'listened to the war' as reported by Edward R Murrow on an old Emerson radio when I was boy. Later I learned a great lesson listening to shortwave during the Suez crisis in 1956. I always compared the Voice of America, the BBC and Radio Moscow. When the Brits went into Egypt the usually balanced BBC (then not now) became the polar opposite of Radio Moscow and the Voice of America the voice of reason in the center. Things have changed and the MSM have become...well I can't think of any temperate words...and blogs like yours have become the best source of information. You stand out because so much of what you predicted happened. As Eric Raymond points out in his The Cathedral and the Bizarre the bizarre like structure of the web ferrets out the best solutions because it finds the people with the necessary skillset - and the gumption - to get the job done. And you are doing it. Congratulations.

typo

"shear disinformation campaign "

sheer, not shear

great article

Everyone who has been reading your blog these past years,including me, couldn't get our checkbooks out fast enough to donate to a greater cause than getting your talent over to Iraq. Your embed with our military during Ops in Anbar was a Godsend to me. My son is deployed with some of those men. Your dispatches were outstanding.....your blog is outstanding. Thx Bill.

Bill,

You are getting some great publicity now and I believe those new to your work by way of the Post will either recognize it for its excellence or simply dismiss it, blinded by a deeply rooted bias.

Looking forward, I'm curious about where military operations strategy is headed in Iraq. It seems that there will be a collection of minor operations that collectively provide a strategic impact versus some larger combat operations supported by minor operations like in Steel Curtain.

Shawn

Mr. Roggio,
Please, keep telling it as it is.

I did my year in Iraq, OIF2 Feb 2004-March 2005, and was disgusted by the news slant in the papers and on TV after I came home. After witnessing it, I would read a completely different account of what I just saw!

Keep up the fight, we have your back Sir!

I agree that the MSM slant is disgusting, but Finer's WP article actually links to Roggio's blogs and Yon's blog and goes over MSM bias, admitting it exists (albeit not calling it leftist bias). I read several MSM articles or see reports that make my blood boil and want to comment. This WP article wasn't, however, one of them.

Welcome back, Bill, and thank you for your courage in travelling to the most dangerous part of Iraq to report the truth.
The differences between you and the WashPost could not be more stark.

Welcome back, Bill, great reports from the field. My son serves in the DSU river patrol unit about which your wrote. I like, many, quickly contributed some funds ($20 as I recall) as soon as you announced your plans. I wish I could have done more. Your analysis of Anbar Operations simply took public information from Centcom, Coalition Forces, Iraqi govt sources, then did a lot of work to give us clear graphic presentations of the entire Anbar campaign. Your credibility is excellent. These same sources are available to the main line media - they just choose to ignore it, pick out a few out of context facts, or distort it. Good to have you back.

Hi Bill,
great work, and you can definitely say you've arrived once profiled incorreclty by the washington post. My one request is that you update your flash presentations - especially the one about the clear & hold operations in anbar.
thanks, and regards
jp

Glad your back safe, Bill. I just have to second the conclusion that the cheap lazy low-ball shot by the WP can only mean that they are nervous. After all they can't run a front age story like this:
"Courageous American writer goes to Iraq to report accurately from the ground while exposing our inept anti-Bush reporting."

Happy new year to you and yours -

darrellplant writes:

...can you honestly say — as someone who didn’t have a media accreditation prior to the invitation you received — that you think someone in the same position with views in opposition to yours would have gotten the same invite?

Just based upon the cross-section of journalists who actually have been embedded, I think the simple answer to the question is yes. After all, Mr. Finer himself was apparently an embed at one point.

darrelplant,

Who do you think has a larger readership, the Fairbanks Daiy News-Miner or www.threatswatch.org

No one questions the propreity of the embed from the Fairbanks News-Miner.

50,000 readers puts a print publication into the Top 200 in the US.

Considering threatswatch doesn't have a sports or comics page, no cooking section, no classified ads, and it can't be used to wrap fish or line the kitty litter box, it is a major publication.

Journalists don't have to pass some sort of exam like doctor's or lawyers. There is no requirement to have a journalism degree or in fact, have any education at all.

To be a credentialed journalist merely means you have an affilliation with an organization that subscribes to the journalistic equivalent of the "Better Business Bureau".

It is infinitly more difficult to become a licensed plumber or electrician than it is to become a credentialed journalist.

In fact, a waitress in a restaurant that serves alcohol is required to have more formal training than a journalist.

We need to be reminded occasionally that to the left "the truth is anything which advances our cause" (Lenin). Most of the left wing press is still puzzled and mourning over the collapse of the Soviet Union, but they are dedicated to its principles. Right wingers are at a disadvantage in information battles because the right is all about telling the truth, but remember "the truth will set you free" (a preacher in Gallilee 2000 years ago).As one who made a small donation (I think it was 50) thanks for telling the truth and placing a spotlight on those jerks, and use my name anytime.

Bill,
Glad you made it back, and thanks for the great reporting. Nothing to add to the great discourse of the commenters, but you can use my name as one of your donors. $ given freely, with no expectation of anything but accurate, factual reporting. Well done!

Bill,

Once again reason rises above assertion. The Wapo was wrong on several counts, but they all came from the same point, namely one that has an inherent mistrust/disdain of the US Military. While they will report something ginned up by Al Quaida without questioning either its content or motivation, they treat every utterence by the US Mil as lies surrounded by conspiracy.

My son has been deployed to Iraq twice. It is a shame that my "thirst" for information was not quenched by the MSM. It took the Fourt Rail to tell me was was going on. Good work Bill and welcome home...

darrelplant:

I would have replied sooner, had I realized you had replied to me, but you mis-addressed your reply to cjr. Please note in future that the signature for a comment follows rather than precedes the text.

That said, on to your contentions:

Although I deliberately quoted a complete sentence rather than a fragment, my own comment was not centered on accreditation, a trivial possession for a member of the press, as Soldier’s Dad has observed. The point was that nowhere is there any evidence that these invitations were limited by political view. In fact, I cited Mr. Finer’s own invitation as evidence that invitations were non-specific in that regard.

This, of course, requires thought about Mr. Finer’s political views; there, I think it logical and fair to infer opposition to Bill Roggio’s based on Mr. Finer’s apparent willingness to lend his byline to such a transparent example of the logical fallacy of juxtaposition, something specified by Bill and widely recognized in the comments here. This might be attributed to sloppy reporting, as you appear inclined to do, but I feel that a presumably competent and experienced reporter should be held to a standard commensurate with that experience, thus leaving your stated alternative of bias as the explanation (unless you can construct further alternatives).

As to Mr. Finer’s earlier work, it is not relevant to my comment, which was solely based on this specific and current article. I would type as unsupported speculation your supposition that the captain may have been misinformed; Bill’s statement was unambiguous and I have had enough experience of his work to find his reporting credible. Finally, I have made no claim of bias in any manner by anyone.

Bill, you write that "In the past, the established media has paid Iraqi stringers that have turned out to be insurgent or al-Qaeda operatives" and link to this CNN story.

However, I'd refer you to this NYT story for an update. The CBS cameraman, Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, has never been charged, and CBS says it has found no evidence suggesting Hussein was working with the insurgents. The military has not made its evidence public.

While it may be the case that Hussein was working with the insurgents, I believe you are mistaken in stating that as facts so emphatically. We don't yet know how this will "turn out."

The whole issue of credentials is just another example of how journalist perceive themselves to be members of a class with special privileges, not just an example of the 1st Amendment rights all Americans have.

I say that as a "credentialed journalist". I publish a couple of automotive web sites and get credentials to automotive media events. I'm not sure exactly what the credentials were that Bill received from the Weekly Standard the The World tonight, but I'm guessing that they were assignment letters or some other form of letters indicating that Bill was going to be filing some stories with them. Most large organizations that work with the media require either a letter on letterhead from an editor or news director, or three examples of published professional writing and links to web sites. Once you've established your bonefides, you're a credentialed journalist. Voila!

I have no doubt that some journalists are writers of the calibre of Damon Runyan, and others are true whistleblowers, but most are just folks who get paid to write (or stand in front of a camera or microphone) for a living. They might know nothing at all about the subject on which they are writing, and like everyone, they bring their own biases.

During the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last year, I was having a beer at a free bar & grill set up for the media across the street from Cobo Hall. DaimlerChrysler takes over the first floor of what once was a big fire station downtown and is now the private parking structure for Detroit Fire Dept. brass, and turn it into a pretty spiffy saloon. I was sitting at the bar, chatting with a woman who was in town from China, where she covers the Chinese car industry for Crain Communications, which publishes a bunch of local business newspapers, like Detroit Business News, as well as their flagship publications, Automotive News and Autoweek. We chatted a bit about Malcolm Bricklin and his plans to import cars from the Chinese [provincial gov't owned] Cherry car company to the US. Eventually she admitted that she had no interest in cars, didn't even like them, just that this was the only way she could write about business. We moved on to other subjects, she eventually referred to Israel as "a terrorist state".

Writers for the Washington Post may feel that they have an annointed mission. They can't be bothered with simple things like factual accuracy when they are more interesting in fitting a few carefully chosen facts into a preconceived framework.

Hi Bill,

This is my first time to review your site, though am an ardent follower of the Powerline Blog, RealPolitics, etc.

Am Ugandan, in the communications industry, based in Uganda-but a strong advocate and supporter of every effort the US Administration is making to combat terrorism, radicalism and jihadism worldwide- and have been following the Afghanistan and Iraq situations since 911- all I can say is I am nearly as expert as you.

Now, regarding the MSM, it just goes to show that they have absolutely no idea how much they tolerate, endorse and indirectly, contribute to the propagandists efforts of the jihadis, hence the reason why they question from the comforts of their air conditioned offices, the great and factual on-the-ground work you are doing for King and Country.
Let me conclude by saying I will contribute to your next trip to Iraq, however little. I will, if you allow me, accompany you. I will, despite all the negative MSM publicity, continue to support your blog, those of other bloggers and wholly endorse and contribute where I can.
A Blessed, Successful and Prosperous New Year. 2006 is going to be a dismal year for Bin Laden, Iran, Al Zarqawi, LRA, Syria and their inkling. Great shooting Bill!! Ax

Derek Rose,

"The CBS cameraman, Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, has never been charged"

Exactly what paragraph of the Geneva Conventions require, or even suggest, that an enemy combatant be be "charged"?

Excuse my ignorance, but absent a war crime, it seems to me enemy combatants are never charged. They are held until a cessation of hostilities then freed.

Bill,
I just read your response to those two at the Post. It's clear to me that you were targeted by these people to further their jaundiced agenda. I can't say that it comes as a surprise. You are telling the truth and that infuriates the MSM types.
I am a former Marine photo-journalist/editor/combat correspondent. I know from first hand experience just how this business works and what goes on from the inside. So do you, obviously.
You Sir, have done an outstanding job. What you have done is a service to the nation, our military and certainly to the Marine Corps. That's not to fail to mention a credit to yourself. Such things do not go unnoticed.
It's more than a notion to go into a combat zone with Marines. It ain't a cake walk. It' very serious business...you have moxie, my friend.
Excellent reporting, simply outstanding,Sir.
Semper Fi
Karl R. Ebert
USMC '72-'76

Feel obliged to say how proud I am of you and your work! Now that your are home safely, I can say that I am happy to have been one of your supporters. Use my name anytime.

I'm sending info re: John Murtha, the arrogant fat nti marine. My nephew lcp Eliot Doray 3/1 marines, lima co. who has returned to c. Pendleton from the3 Haditha dam and the upper Euphrates valley has told me upon my questioning they never shot any non combatant women or children nor did they fire on any arabs who showed their hands in front of them . He was at Haditha in february, march of 2006. I feel the marines side of the story should be heard and publicized in the american press and television before any thing else is printed or said by some extreme left,bolshevik congressional com mitte. As an ex marine can you help these kids. The grun ts in lima co. cleaned up western iraq and would have done the same in the baghdad area if they were called upon to do so. These kids are my heros, their commanding general told us when they came back to california( Pendleton), he'd never seen any better combat troops in his life in the corps, including Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and the currentbattles in western iraq. These kids need to be supported now. Please support Lima Company.

bob hemmerle
an old warrior of Korea in the 101st airborne.