HomeFeaturesDailyBriefingsRapidReconSpecial ReportsAbout Us

Mosques, Marines and the Media

In another example of why the military holds the media in such disdain, consider the latest headline from CNN leading a story in which US Marines in Ramadi were taking fire from an insurgent/terrorist sniper from a mosque minaret:

Marines fire on mosque to repel attacks

Here's the story: Insurgents used three car bombs, mortars and at least one sniper from atop a mosque minaret across the street as well as RPG fire from the mosque grounds to attack the Marines. Yet, the insurgents were properly liquidated with only one reported Marine Casualty. An outstanding defense. Furthermore, this was the fourth time in less than a month that Marines have come under fire from that mosque, according to Lt. Col. Stephen M. Neary, commander of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.

Now, go read CNN's account. Barely mentioned is the fact that the Marines intercepted two of the three car bombs before they could reach their marks. The entire article focuses on Marines firing into a mosque and has them printed in the defensive position...not from the attack, but regarding whether or not they were justified in firing into the mosque.

A sniper's den, be it a mosque or a mud hut, is always a marked target by choice of the man pulling the sniper rifle's trigger. Yet, CNN persists.

"The Marines returned fire but continued to be attacked from the mosque's minaret," the military statement said. "The Marines fired one 120 mm tank round and several 7.62 mm machine-gun rounds into the minaret, after which fire from the mosque ceased."

CNN correspondent Arwa Damon said she saw two tank rounds fired into the mosque.

And? What if it were five? What is the point being made here? When viewed in context with CNN's body of text and it's chosen headline, it seems rather clear.

Why is the headline not "Insurgents fire on Marines from Mosque in Attack"?

Why is the headline not "Marines Repel Three Car Bomb Attack"?

No. Instead CNN leads "Marines fire on Mosque..."

Hats go off to the rest of the media for at least selecting an appropriate headline:

USA Today - U.S. troops fend off coordinated attacks on sites in Ramadi
CBS News - U.S. Marines Repel Coordinated Assault
Newark Star Ledger - Marines parry insurgents' assault in Ramadi
The Tribune Democrat - U.S. Marines Repel Coordinated Assault
Dallas Morning News - Marines repel bombers from Iraq government building
Arizona Reporter - Marines Repel Attacks in Ramadi
Canada.com - American troops repel co-ordinated insurgent assault in Ramadi
Forbes - U.S. Marines Repel Coordinated Assault
Bloomberg - Marines Repel Large Attack in Ramadi, Iraq, U.S. Military Says
San Diego Union Tribune - U.S. Marines repel coordinated insurgent assault in Ramadi


My haedline was "Another failed enemy attack in Ramadi." The Ap story on this failed attack made the mistake that reporters in Iraq make frequently. He attached significance to the fact of the attack rather than the result. One of the few easy things to do in a war is launch a failed attack, but reporters in Iraq never seem to catch on. The CNN reporter shows an ignorance of the rules of engagement and commonsense by attaching significance to shooting back at someone violating the rules of war by attacking from a religious facility.

The only surprise here to me is that CNN did not lead with "Mosque damaged by Marines in attack".

Of course, leaving it to the reader to figure out who attacked first. It's never obvious with CNN - that's why that channel is blocked on my TV. What a waste of time they are.