Move along, nothing to see here

A group linked to al-Qaida claims to have abducted two U.S. soldiers. The White House suggests the incident is getting too much attention.

Published June 19, 2006 12:59PM (EDT)

An insurgent group tied to al-Qaida in Iraq is claiming responsibility for the abduction of two U.S. soldiers during an attack south of Baghdad Friday, Reuters is reporting.

A U.S. military spokesman tells the New York Times that 8,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops are involved in the search for the missing soldiers; that three insurgents have been killed and seven U.S. soldiers have been injured in the search; that 12 villages have been sealed and searched; and that eight airstrikes have been made in the process.

But White House spokesman Tony Snow suggested Sunday that the media is paying too much attention to the story of the missing soldiers. "The thing is the way the war is being covered -- and we've seen it right now, we have two U.S. servicemen, and God bless them, we hope theyre OK," Snow said in an appearance on Fox News. "We're focusing on them, and we forget that since Zarqawi was killed, hundreds of bad guys have been rounded up, there has been a lot of intelligence. The Iraqis have gone ahead [and] mobilized 50,000 men going in the five Baghdad neighborhoods. There is a lot going on there."

Snow has every reason to be concerned. As we've argued before, whatever's left of the American public's appetite for Iraq is likely to vanish pretty quickly if the media ever gives the war the kind of "human drama" coverage it lavished on, say, the Sago mining disaster. Snow got away with calling the 2,500th U.S. fatality in Iraq "a number" last week; he can't be so dismissive as Americans wait to learn the fate of Pfc. Kristian Menchaca and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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