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Special Report

High Turnout, Hardly Violent

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

High Turnout, Hardly Violent

Today’s elections in Iraq may have been a success, with millions of Iraqis turning out to vote and only scattered violence, but you would have a hard time knowing it from earlier reports in some foreign media.

Reuters reported, "Iraqis trickled to polls amid insurgent attacks," saying later, "Iraqi vote bloodied by attacks." The Australian newspaper The Age said, "Iraqi attacks deterred voters." The Pakistani newspaper The Dawn said, "Violence rages on as Iraqis go to polls today." And Al-Jazeera reported, "Attacks plague Iraqi election day," adding later, "Iraqis show mixed response to polls."

Iran Into Democracy?

One of the 14 countries were Iraqis living abroad could vote was, of all places, Iran, which set up polling sites in more cities than any other country, with more Iranian state TV urging Iraqis in Iran to get out and vote, saying, "In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful, all Iraqis are hereby invited to participate in the crucial elections for establishing a flourishing, free, independent Iraq."

But the message then told Iraqis how to vote, insisting, "Vote for the United Iraqi Alliance, list number 169." That’s the powerful group of Shiites posting candidates such as Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi and followers of the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Network Now Apologizing

The BBC is now apologizing for reporting that 60 percent of Iraqi civilian war casualties in recent months were caused by coalition forces, saying it, "misinterpreted the information on Friday." The BBC citing Iraqi health records said the other day that, of 3,274 Iraqi civilians killed over the past six months, more than 2,000 were killed during U.S.-led military operations.

The BBC said the rest were killed during terrorist operations, but the health ministry says its statistics refer to all Iraqis, not just civilians, so the more than 2,000 Iraqis killed in U.S.-led military operations would have included terrorists and Iraqi security forces hit in those attacks. The BBC now says it, "regrets mistakes in its reports."

Annan Now Admitting Role in Sale?

And Kojo Annan, son of U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, has been accused of profiting from the Iraqi Oil-for-Food program is now admitting he helped negotiate the sale of millions of barrels of Iraqi oil on behalf of Saddam Hussein, that according to a friend of Kojo quoted by the London Times. According to the unnamed friend, Kojo told him that, in 2001, he went to Morocco to help finalize a deal set up by one of Kojo’s business associates to sell $60 million worth of Iraqi oil to a Moroccan company. The deal, however, never went through. Kojo’s lawyers deny the claims.

— FOX News' Michael Levine contributed to this report