Haditha Weekly does damage control

Newsweek‘s new cover story on Zarko’s demise sniffs at the gaucheness of “jingoes” who celebrated the airstrike with a bit too much relish. Meawhile, across town in Manhattan…


Har. I don’t think anyone on the right’s gone so far as to make the comparison Time’s implicitly making, but they’ve been taking heat lately over their coverage of the rampage that perhaps wasn’t. For more jingoistic wingnut celebration, click here.

Time’s article is behind a reg wall but Newsweek’s isn’t. Read it and see how Zarqawi escaped death in February because, irony of ironies, U.S. troops showed restraint in not firing at a target which they thought might have been civilian:

[A] vehicle blew through a Delta Force roadblock and came bearing down on a checkpoint manned by Rangers. A machine gunner had the SUV squarely in his sights and asked permission to fire. The lieutenant in charge hesitated; he did not have a “positive I.D.” of the passengers inside. The vehicle roared by, and there, holding a U.S. assault rifle and staring wildly out the window, was the face of Zarqawi. Quickly, the special operators mounted a pursuit. Delta operators took off on a high-speed chase while an unmanned aerial drone, known as a Shadow, watched the scene unfold from on high. Zarqawi was “s—ting in his pants,” a special operator later recounted to the Army Times. “He was screaming at the driver. He knew he was caught.”

He got away when the drone’s camera malfunctioned. And then there’s this:

A former Israeli official, speaking to NEWSWEEK anonymously for diplomatic reasons, recalled being called over to the Pentagon in October 2000, while he was stationed in Washington. The phone call came from Gen. John Abizaid, at the time the head of strategic policy and planning for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The American general told the Israeli official that the USS Cole, an American destroyer in Yemen, had just been hit, and that bin Laden was behind the attack. Abizaid asked what the Israelis would do. “General,” the Israeli official says he replied, “you have to kill this guy.” Abizaid, apparently mindful of an executive order banning assassinations, just shook his head. “No, no,” he said, “We have a policy. We don’t do that.”

Newsweek also acknowledges, albeit grudgingly I’m sure, that found among the debris of Zarqawi’s safe house was the May 2 Arab-language edition of … Newsweek magazine. The cover story was about Iraq. The title? “No Exit.” Something to bear in mind the next time our lefty friends claim that the media’s defeatism is lost on the terrorists in Iraq.

The other must-read is the Times of London‘s six-pager about the raid on the safe house. It includes the most explicit account yet of the “beating” Z-man supposedly took from U.S. troops before he died. Quote:

“The Americans tore his dishdasha and they kept on asking him through an interpreter, ‘What is your name, what is your name?’,” said Abbas. “They were tearing his dishdasha, not to wrap his head with it as they did later but because they were afraid he might be wearing a suicide belt. They kept shouting, ‘Keep your distance, he may be wearing a suicide belt’.”

He was not. “Under the dishdasha he was wearing only knee-length white undershorts,” said Abbas.

Once the soldiers had established the man was not a threat, they started to kick him in the chest, said Abbas and an Iraqi policeman also there. “They kept kicking him, shouting, ‘What’s your name?’, but the man only moaned and said nothing,” said Abbas.

ToL reports yet another near-miss with Zarqawi, a raid by Special Forces last October in which U.S. troops allegedly came face to face with the filthy bastard before he slipped away through a tunnel. Sounds unlikely to me, although the Times does name an American soldier killed in the raid as Tony Yost. But an Internet search reveals that Yost was killed on November 19, 2005 (coincidentally, the same day as the Haditha incident), not in October, and that he died from an IED explosion, not in a firefight. Although maybe that’s just the cover story.

FYI, ToL also says that Task Force 145 is now known as Task Force 77. Update your Google News search terms accordingly.

More Zarqawi reading: Jordanian intelligence tells the New York Times that Zarqawi might have trained up to 300 jihadis for attacks abroad; Newsmax reminds the Times that Zarqawi has been thinking about exporting jihad for awhile now, and in spectacular fashion; four Jordanian MPs are facing a backlash, thank god, for attending the funeral of a man directly responsible for killing 60 of their countrymen last year; in Havana, el presidente uses the airstrike as an opportunity to reaffirm his left-wing bona fides; and Rasmussen says there’s no “Zarqawi bounce” for Bush.

We close with a little music. It’s by Dr. BLT, whom Stereogum thinks is conservative but I think is actually a clever lefty goofing on righties here for exulting over Z-man’s death. Regardless, the song is really funny — in particular, the line “we can celebrate cautiously” leaves me in stitches. So enjoy. And here’s the acoustic version, in case the other one strikes you as too “jingoistic.”