CBS' Mark Strassmann filed from "dicey territory" in a battlefield south of Baghdad where B-1 bombers, F-16 fighter jets and Apache helicopters combined with soldiers from the USArmy's Third Infantry Division in an operation dubbed Marne Thunderball. Strassmann played us terrifying videotape taken from a USArmy helicopter of four men and a dog walking across a field; a Hellfire missile blew three men away; a man and his dog ran off; then a second missile finished the job.
CBS also picked up on the dueling videotape accounts of the naval confrontation in the Straits of Hormuz between Iranian speedboats and USNavy warships. Richard Roth played Teheran's "benign" version. He also pointed out that the audio threat of an explosion on the Pentagon's less reassuring video had been overdubbed at a later date from a separate source.
From the Pentagon, NBC's Jim Miklaszewski filed a progress report to mark the first anniversary of the Commander in Chief's announcement of his so-called surge of military reinforcements to Iraq: "Security has improved dramatically" while on the political front "the Iraqi government has failed to meet any of the benchmarks laid down by President Bush."
The Pentagon story selected by ABC and CBS was a domestic one. The USAF has grounded of 160 F-15 jets--40% of the Air Combat Command's fleet--because of the discovery of a flaw in the manufacture of a structural beam. Both CBS' David Martin and ABC's Jonathan Karl aired Pentagon computer graphics that offered an animated recreation of Major Steve Stilwell's plane breaking apart in midair over Missouri last fall. Neither reporter told us which contractor is responsible for fabricating the flawed part. Stilwell ejected and parachuted to safety with his arm broken.
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