Why Aren't US Journalists Reporting from Iraq?

American journalists have totally fallen down on the job when it comes to reporting from Baghdad, writes Nina Burleigh, who was one of the first American journalists to enter Iraq after the Gulf War. That allows the White House to make increasingly
hyperbolic -- and false -- claims about the Iraqi threat to America. "This notion that the Iraqi leader is in cahoots with Osama will be easy to feed the American people. To the American people, one bad Arab is the same as the next, and Osama equals Saddam," Burleigh writes. In reality, though, "Anyone who spends a little time in Baghdad knows there is one thing the dwindling, beaten-down middle class of that country fears more than the hideous regime of Saddam Hussein: an Islamic uprising. ... As much as they hate their dictator, Iraqis hate the Islamists even more. As a Sunni Muslim, so does Saddam. As in the 1980s, this creepy strongman is standing between Iraqis and the jihad." The Bush administration is so determined to prevent facts like this from getting in its way that its plan to use military force in Iraq "was set last fall without a formal decision-making meeting or the intelligence assessment that customarily precedes such a momentous decision," reports the Washington Post. "An intelligence official says that's because the White House doesn't want to detail the uncertainties that persist about Iraq's arsenal and Saddam's intentions." And with journalists asleep at the switch, no one else will detail those uncertainties either.