And now the most captivating two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:
A British news report says some of the explosions seen and heard in Baghdad over the past few days were not due to coalition air strikes, but instead were bombs planted by Special Forces to kill senior Iraqi officials. The Scotsman newspaper says these undercover American Special Forces have already assassinated "several" senior Iraqi officials in a series of bomb and sniper attacks in the Iraqi capital. The report describes sophisticated communications equipment capable of receiving real-time targeting intelligence to guide them to individuals.
On the Pentagon...
Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an infantry leader in Desert Storm 10 years ago, now a military analyst for NBC News, seems confused about the war. In The New York Times today, he is quoted as saying of the Pentagon, "Their assumptions were wrong," adding that, "They went into battle with a plan that put a huge air and sea force into action with an unbalanced ground combat force." But over in the Wall Street Journal today, McCaffrey calls the early criticism of the Pentagon, of which he has been a leader, "overheated." As for the war, he says its success has been "impressive," and praising "Gen. Tommy Franks' superb air-land-sea forces."
NBC's decision to fire Peter Arnett for going on Iraqi State-run TV to announce that the U.S. war plan had failed, while praising his treatment by the Iraqi government, was apparently a close call. The New York Times describes an early decision to support and even praise Arnett, followed by an agonizing late-night conversation between Arnett and an NBC executive. Another executive had even taken home a tape of Arnett's interview to scan it for a way to defend him, but the executive came up with nothing substantial. Meanwhile, Bill Kovach, the chairman of the Committee of Concerned Journalists seems concerned about NBC's ultimate decision, saying, "It's regrettable that a news organization feels compelled to fire a journalist for essentially doing journalism."
Finally, members of parliament in the southeastern African country of Swaziland, are demanding an investigation into the war reporting of state-run radio correspondent Phesheya Dube. Dube, it seems, was doing what purported to be live reports from Iraq one day, only to be seen in the capital city of Mbabane the next day. It turned out, as one member of Parliament put it, that he had never left the capital and had been doing his reports "out of a broom closet." And the anchor of the news broadcasts had gone so far as to worry on the air about Dube's safety, even claiming at one point that Dube had been bombed and asked for prayers for his safety.