COMMENTS: Hearts & Minds

The day's big development in Baghdad was an interview on Iraq's state-run TV with Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric and opposition leader. CBS' Lara Logan noted that it was al-Sadr's first interview since the US military began its so-called surge and that it coincides with US troops "finally" setting up a joint security station on the edge of Sadr City, the Baghdad neighborhood that is al-Sadr's political base. Logan noted that al-Sadr "has tolerated the US presence here and avoided direct military confrontation" while at the same time forbidding community leaders from even talking to soldiers.

On Capitol Hill confirmation hearings were held for Douglas Lute, the army general nominated as the National Security Council's so-called War Czar. Evan Bayh, the Democratic Senator from Indiana, took the opportunity to quote from the latest report on Iraq from the National Intelligence Council and CBS' David Martin took the opportunity to relay the NIC's highlights: the trend in Iraq is "negative;" the chances for political reconciliation are "pessimistic;" the likelihood that the so-called surge will suppress violence is "slim;" and the prospects of weakening al-Qaeda's presence in Iraq are "gloomy." Apart from that, as they say…

On NBC, Lisa Myers relied on the online monitoring by, the Middle East Media Research Institute, to warn us about the "fight for American hearts and minds on the new virtual battlefield of the Internet." MEMRI uncovered an Arabic Website that instructs Islamist opponents of the US military occupation in Iraq to "invent stories about American soldiers who were drafted to Iraq and then committed suicide or concoct a story about a soldier who was paralyzed or his legs were amputated." Myers warned us, in particular, about a 27-minute movie that has "popped up all over the Internet" entitled Lee's Life For Lies. It purports to be the video diary of Lee Tucker, a disillusioned GI recorded before he was killed in battle. "In fact Tucker is very much alive and his father says Lee actually supports the war."


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