I read the news today, oh boy

Published June 30, 2004 5:37PM (EDT)

We didn't watch the Early Show on CBS this morning, but just for people like us, the ABC News political unit monitors the morning shows every day and summarizes what the talking heads told the network anchors. Today's summary of CBS' The Early Show described an exchange between Harry Smith and Paul Bremer, newly returned from Iraq.

"During Bremer's appearance on 'The Early Show,' Harry Smith asked if he was surprised by the absence of violence in Iraq the last couple of days. 'No, one of the things that we have always hoped is that once the Iraqis had full responsibility for their country, a lot of people who are doing these attacks against the coalition would realize that they would now be attacking their own people,' Bremer said."

The absence of violence in Iraq? This may be the language chosen by whoever paraphrased Smith's question rather than Smith's exact word choice. But still, the general idea that violence has ebbed in Iraq since Bremer took off on Monday is just plainly, sadly, false.

Here's today's bad news, which came in early this morning.

"Insurgents fired at least 10 mortar rounds at a U.S. base on the outskirts of Baghdad International Airport on Wednesday, wounding 11 soldiers, two of them seriously, and starting a fire that burned for well over an hour."

"That attack, along with a car bomb that exploded outside a police headquarters in Samawah, 150 miles south of the capital, Baghdad, were yet more evidence that insurgents have no plans of letting up their attacks even after the U.S. coalition authorities handed over sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government on Monday."

On Tuesday, insurgents fired mortars at a U.S. base 50 miles north of Baghdad, hours after a roadside bomb hit a military convoy in southeast Baghdad, killing three U.S. Marines and wounding two.

On Monday, the day of the handover ceremony, three U.S. soldiers and six Iraqis were killed in attacks. It's this persistent violence  not the absence of it -- that has led Iraq's interim prime minister to consider implementing martial law.

By Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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