The "News Dissector Weblog": Danny Schechter's dissections of the day's news.>

"U.S. Marines fight skirmishes with Iraqi resistance in and around the restive city of Fallujah, closing off the city in response to the killing and mutilation of four Americans last week. The clampdown comes as the coalition issues an arrest warrant for radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.A poster distributed by the U.S. army in Iraq shows Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian said to be leading a terrorist group with links to Al-Qaeda " Four marines are reported dead in the province in which Fallujah is located. The fighting continues. Prediction: the death toll will be heavy.

We keep hearing about that "arrest warrant" as if there is real evidence here of a proven crime. Jim Clancey was on CNN this morning sounding as if he had been pumped full of data by the US military — i.e, number of mortars fired, air attacks etc with the predictable "no figures on Iraqi casualties." He did say that al-Sadr is "wanted for questioning" but not accused of committing a crime. That hardly sounds serious legally. But it sounds good politically. The implication is he's a "bad guy" who we are bringing to justice.

We have been hearing about the retaliation raid into Fallujah but not seeing much because journalists for the most part were not allowed in. That's often when the worst atrocities occur. An embed reported for Nightline but he was on the outskirts of the city where marines are digging. He and others reported explosions but not much more.

ABC's correspondent reported "everything is different" pointing out that there is no place they consider "safe" to report from. The general tenor of the Nightline report was that it wasn't supposed to be this way but it is. And it is getting worse. Bear in mind also that the number of violent incidents has continually been underreported.


CNN was not in Fallujah but Al Jazeera was. I couldn't get on their site this morning. "Aljazeera's correspondent in Falluja reported late on Monday several loud explosions across the mainly Sunni Muslim town, where US helicopters have been in action, firing a number of missiles.

"The offensive, named Operation Vigilant Resolve, aims to re-establish US authority and to capture the people who killed four US security advisers in Falluja last week. Their bodies were mutilated by a jubilant crowd.

Husayn Ali, a member of Al Jazeera production team in Falluja, has been monitoring the tense situation since early morning.

"Falluja's main and minor entry points are totally closed," he said. "US forces are not allowing anyone in or out. We talked to US forces. They said they have orders to seal the city off for two or three days. "


World Press Review continues:

"Arab writers, though alarmed by the March 2 bombings that killed more than 200 Shiite pilgrims in Baghdad and Karbala on the Shiite holiday of Ashura, are also generally suspicious of what they see as a U.S. government and media campaign that depicts the Iraqi situation solely through the lens of possible sectarian conflict. Many Arab writers fear that warnings about an Iraqi civil war along sectarian lines lends further justification for the occupation.

"Arab editorial pages have also voiced skepticism that Al-Qaeda is orchestrating the attacks in Iraq. The basis of these claims is a captured letter believed to have been written by a Jordanian agent of Al-Qaeda, Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, detailing his overall strategy in Iraq. In his March 3 op-ed for London's Palestinian expatriate Al-Quds al-Arabi, Bashir Musa Nafi' underscored that Al-Zarqawi is a convenient suspect because he permits the United States to link Al-Qaeda to Iraq and to exploit the "sectarian strife argument" because Al-Qaeda promotes a radical Sunni ideology. But, Nafi' reminded readers, Al-Qaeda, which has proudly claimed responsibility for a variety of controversial bombings throughout the Islamic world, denied any such responsibility for the March 2 attacks.…


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