New York Times Finally Reports on Police Live Fire on Civilians in Iraq

Posted on April 18, 2011

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Blame it on the Arab Spring, but the New York Times seems to finally be reporting on the use of live fire by Iraqi police and security forces on demonstrators in Iraq. The NYT has an article today  that, very briefly, reports on the use of live fire by police during a demonstration on Sunday. The NYT had another report in February on a similar protest, and in June of last year. These reports, to my knowledge, represent the entirety of reporting on the use of live fire by US trained Iraqi police and security forces in Iraq.

What these latest reports all have in common is alleged escalation of protester violence. Protesters may have indeed represented a threat to the lives of other civilians and political figures, if the reporting is accurate. But throughout the US occupation of Iraq, the NYT missed opportunity after opportunity to report on the use of live fire by Iraqi police on unarmed, peacefully demonstrating Iraqi protesters, according to the military documents released by Wikileaks last year.

I reported on some of those here. The fact that US trained police and security forces were using live fire on unarmed peaceful demonstrators was extraordinarily pertinent news during the most controversial years of the US occupation of Iraq. For example, in 2005 Bush gave a Memorial Day Weekend speech to the nation trumpeting the US’s accomplishments in creating an independent Iraq, he said:

“Our strategy can be summed up this way: As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down…The terrorists can kill the innocent, but they cannot stop the advance of freedom,”

But just hours earlier, two civilians had been killed by Iraqi police, and nine injured, when the police opened fire on a demonstration about the “lack of essential services and corruption”. The reporting on that juxtaposition should have caused a media scandal. But it didn’t, for no major media outlets reported it.

It may be too little too late. Perhaps it’s part of the NYT’s expanded it-thing coverage of all things related to government repression of Middle Eastern people. But when it really mattered, when such incidents would have shaken the belief of Americans in the ability to create stable policing bodies in the midst of a civil war in Iraq, the NYT ignored it.