The Associated Press, one of the world's largest reporting outfits, has issued a memo to reporters warning them away from the Obama administration's narrative that the U.S. combat mission in Iraq is over and telling them, "The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months." The AP standards editor Tom Kent urged reporters, in a memo reproduced by media blogger Romenesko, "combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials." In short, he told AP writers that the official White House argument is wrong and not to report it as fact. Here's the key part of the memo:
To begin with, combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months. Iraqi security forces are still fighting Sunni and al-Qaida insurgents. Many Iraqis remain very concerned for their country's future despite a dramatic improvement in security, the economy and living conditions in many areas.The AP's Kent even rebuked the specific wording of President Obama's Iraq speech.
The Associated Press's decision comes several years after the U.S. media's controversial coverage of the Iraq war invasion, in which reporters uncritically repeated much of the Bush administration's rationale for war, including claims of chemical weapons use that were later proven untrue.
As for U.S. involvement, it also goes too far to say that the U.S. part in the conflict in Iraq is over. President Obama said Monday night that "the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country."
However, 50,000 American troops remain in country. Our own reporting on the ground confirms that some of these troops, especially some 4,500 special operations forces, continue to be directly engaged in military operations. These troops are accompanying Iraqi soldiers into battle with militant groups and may well fire and be fired on.