Progress in Iraq

Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno commands the Army’s 4th Division. Yesterday he talked to reporters from Tikrit, and gave an optimistic progress report:
–Following the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein, tips have been pouring in on Saddam’s whereabouts. Yesterday five to ten of his bodyguards were captured in Tikrit, and one of his wives was found and interviewed. Odierno said, “We continue to tighten the noose….We are hot on their trail.”
–Attacks on U.S. forces in and around Tikrit have dropped by half in the past month. In that time, American forces have rounded up more than 1,000 Saddam supporters.
–On Thursday, a tip from an Iraqi led U.S. troops to a large cache of weapons including 45,000 sticks of dynamite, 11 assembled bombs and 38 shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missile launchers. American forces have discovered more than 600 such shoulder-fired missiles in Iraq during the past week.
–Because of their failure to make headway against American troops, the Saddamites are now mostly targeting Iraqis, which is “backfiring and prompting more citizens to offer helpful information.”
With the exception of the capture of Saddam’s bodyguards, little if any of Gen. Odierno’s briefing made it into the American newspapers. This Washington Post article, emphasizing alleged doubts by Iraqis about whether Uday and Qusay are really dead, is typical.
By the way, how credulous are reporters, anyway? Does it never occur to them that their chain is being pulled? Every time someone in Iraq says, “No, no, I don’t believe those bodies are really Uday and Qusay. They are dummies created by the Americans,” reporters take it at face value and report “widespread Iraqi doubts” about the bodies as yet another “failure” in Iraq. Arabs can be odd, of course, but they’re not that weird. At least not in large numbers.

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