Front Page: Iraq, April 7, 2003

Newspapers world press
The following is a compilation of today's newspaper reports about the Iraq crisis from around the country and around the world. It is just a sampling of different perspectives, designed to offer additional context into the conflict. Compiled by's Andrew Cohen.

From around the country:

Ron Martz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was with U.S. troops in Baghdad: "American forces planted the flag squarely in the heart of Saddam Hussein's regime Monday morning. With a lightning-like thrust, about 5,000 soldiers of the 2nd Brigade combat team of the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) launched a pre-dawn raid that carried them into the center of downtown Baghdad. By 7:45 a.m. local time (11:45 p.m. EDT) elements of the brigade had taken up positions in Zawra Park, just west of the Tigris River. The park is home to the Iraqi unknown soldier monument and the VIP reviewing stand where Saddam once reviewed his much-vaunted Republican Guard. The attack on the seat of Iraqi government essentially means the end of Saddam's reign. A provisional government reportedly was flown into Baghdad International Airport Sunday night and was ready to assume power. 'On Saturday we knocked on Saddam's door. Today we walked into his front room,' said Capt. Jason Conroy, 30, commander of Charlie Co. Opposition to the move into downtown Baghdad Monday morning was relatively light compared to the intense firefight that Task Force 1-64 encountered when it made the first U.S. foray into central Baghdad. In that incursion, the task force moved north on Highway 8 and then west to the airport to link up with forces of the 3rd Division's 1st Brigade."

Drew Brown filed this for the Detroit Free Press: "Sometimes you pull a good mission in combat. Other times you pull a bad one. A bad mission can mean you lose guys. It can also mean you end up chasing shadows. First Platoon Apache Company 1-30th Infantry pulled a bad mission Sunday when it was sent to clear out a tunnel complex under the main terminal at the recently renamed Baghdad International Airport. The order came after a Special Forces group reported hearing people moving around below them. On Saturday, Iraqis had been spotted running into a tunnel entrance near the main terminal building. 'There could be 12 to 15 guys down there,' a Special Forces officer named Troy said as he sketched a diagram in the sand during a briefing for 1st Platoon. 'Nobody knows how big it is, or where it goes. If there's anybody down there, it could be a mean fight.' An hour later, more than 30 men from Apache Company went down an escalator to a basement dining room underneath the baggage claim area. Soldiers dropped to one knee, fixing night-vision devices to their helmets. The tunnel was through a door that read 'Staff only.' Psychological operations specialists went in first and announced through a loudspeaker in Arabic that U.S. soldiers were coming in. Anyone who was inside and surrendered would not be harmed. A pair of 7-Up and Red Bull cans sat on a nearby table, evidence that someone was in the tunnel. The platoon was on edge."

Allie Shah of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune filed this: "God is watching the Friday prayers at the Columbia Heights mosque. So are the police. Squad cars have become a familiar sight at Muslim gatherings — requested by the congregation to help them feel safe in this time of war. In Minnesota and across the country, Muslims are on edge, afraid of being attacked, jailed, deported or even just typecast as Public Enemy No. 1. The war with Iraq is the source of this latest wave of uneasiness, which first emerged after the Sept. 11 attacks. Since the war with Iraq began, there have been no reports in Minnesota of violence against Muslims, Arab Americans or Sikhs, who often are mistaken for Muslims. But in Indiana, an Afghan man was set on fire and was burned over more than half of his body. In Illinois, a Palestinian family's van was bombed. Those reports — and the news that Omar Jamal, a Twin Cities activist and Somali immigrant, had been arrested and faces deportation — have spread through the community, exacerbating fears."

Jack Kelley of USA Today filed this from Kuwait: "As U.S. air and ground forces blast into Baghdad, dozens of CIA paramilitaries and thousands of U.S. special operations troops are waging a hidden war in Iraq's shadows. Under the cover of darkness, they're hunting and assassinating Baath Party members and Republican Guard leaders, rigging selected bridges to explode when suspected Iraqi leaders drive by in armored vehicles, and using viruses to disable computers at military command centers, power plants and telephone networks. Their efforts, largely off-camera, burst into view with the dramatic rescue last week of Pfc. Jessica Lynch from a hospital in Nasiriyah where she was being held as a prisoner of war. Lynch, 19, had been captured March 23 in an Iraqi ambush of an Army supply convoy. But most of what the special operations forces do has been conducted undercover. Their chief goal: finding and killing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and other top officials. The commandos' efforts, seen and unseen, began in October. They have paved the way for the rapid U.S. advance on Baghdad, U.S. military and intelligence officials say. 'Special ops and the agency's paramilitaries are the secret weapons of this war,' says a U.S. military official with direct knowledge of the operations. 'Our conventional forces would never have gone this far, so quickly, without them.' Special operations forces — the Army's secretive Delta Force, Green Berets and Rangers, the Navy's SEALs and select units from the Air Force and Marines — have played a bigger role in Iraq than in any other war in recent history, officials say. Nearly 10,000 of the estimated 100,000 U.S. troops in Iraq are 'special ops.' That's the largest number in any war since the Vietnam conflict in the 1960s and 1970s."

Howard Kurtz and David Brown of the Washington Post wrote this about the life and death of NBC's David Bloom: "During the run-up to the war with Iraq, Bloom worked with technicians in creating a mobile satellite transmission unit that could be mounted on an M88 tank recovery vehicle and transmit sharp pictures at up to 50 mph. The camera sent microwave signals to a converted Ford crew-cab truck several miles back in the convoy, where the images were beamed to NBC. 'He conceived of how to do it and what parts he needed,' 'Meet The Press' moderator Tim Russert said. 'He'd call up and say, "We need one last part, but we need a license from the State Department." No one thought he could do it.' Network executives were thrilled with Bloom's emerging role as the unofficial travel guide to the war, and his dispatches, which also played constantly on MSNBC and CNBC, drew praise from affiliate stations. 'The stuff from David Bloom in the tanks is so effective,' said an e-mail from WAGT in Augusta, Ga. 'The pieces filed by David Bloom this morning are incredible,' said WSTM of Syracuse, N.Y. From Iraq, Bloom sent Weekend Today co-anchor Soledad O'Brien e-mails about how he was craving pizza and hoped to be home soon, urging her not to worry. He called his old boss at Miami's WTVJ, and people were lined up down the hall to talk to him. On Saturday night, colleagues said yesterday, Bloom called the MSNBC news desk in Secaucus, N.J., to check on the scores of the Final Four basketball games, then called his wife. He slept in the cramped Bloommobile. When he woke up, he walked 10 yards and collapsed."

And from around the world:

The London Times focused upon a post-Saddam Iraq: "The battle for the minds of Iraqi schoolchildren has begun. The United States is looking for a contractor to rewrite Iraq textbooks that, under Saddam Hussein, have been filled with military imagery and exhortations to defeat Zionists, Americans and Saddam's other great enemy, the people of Iran. In his drive to enforce the domination of Baathist thinking in Iraq at the expense of the Shia majority, the Iraqi President targeted the young. Now the United States is hoping to reverse that trend by shaping the children's minds in a more democratic direction. The U.S. government's development arm has tendered for a contractor to help children to return to education when the new school year begins in September. Part of its task will be to distribute new books, the U.S. Agency for International Development's Web site says. Saddam considered that children were crucial to his revolution and set out his views in a tough speech to Ministry of Education workers in 1977, according to The Republic of Fear, a book by Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi writer living in exile in the U.S. Children, Saddam said, should be taught to tell their parents not to discuss secrets of the state or the party, and to criticize them if they do. Suspicion of foreigners as potential 'saboteurs of the revolution' should be planted in a child's mind, he said. 'Accompanying foreigners and talking with them in the absence of known controls is forbidden. The child,' he said, 'was to a teacher what a piece of marble was in the hands of a sculptor.'"

The United Arab Emirates Gulf News focused upon Kuwait: "Kuwait yesterday declared that Iraqi threats against the Gulf country were now over as the U.S.-led coalition troops closed in on Baghdad and were preparing for the final battle that could overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein. The government also defended its position to allow the deployment of the coalition troops on its territory and use it as a springboard for the offensive against Iraq, saying the absence of foreign protection could have tempted Saddam to repeat his 1990 occupation of the country. Addressing a public gathering in the capital, Sheikh Ahmed Al Fahd, Minister of Information, said Kuwaitis must remain united to face the coming stage and criticism by some countries of Kuwait's decision to let in allied forces. 'This issue will take time but I can tell you the danger is now over and we are past the problem of missile attacks and daily sirens,' he said. 'In such circumstances, national unity remains vital for the security and safety of Kuwait...some parties have cast doubts on our Arab and Islamic identity because of what happened...but I tell them that we have every right to defend ourselves...we needed to take brave decisions because if we told the allies to leave our country, then once the last soldier leaves, we will see the first Baathist coming in from the North...I would like to repeat our position that we are not party to the war.'"

Saudi Arabia's Arab News looked at the media's role in covering the war: "The American forces have put blanket restrictions on all unembedded reporters in Iraq, effectively banning them from traveling inside the country. Obtaining the necessary escort in order to report freely as an unembedded journalist is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Basically, the only journalists authorized to be in Iraq are those embedded with the troops, and they are escorted at all times. What those journalists are allowed to see and report on is controlled by the unit's military commander. Yesterday, this Arab News journalist and others who were traveling together were detained by U.S. Military Police for over four hours. We had earlier obtained permission from the Public Affairs Officer in charge of our previous camp — a Lt. Harrington — to proceed onward toward Nassiriyah. Lt. Harrington said she would notify the checkpoints along the way. The traveling convoy of clearly marked journalists' vehicles was allowed to proceed, but moments later was stopped at the first checkpoint. We were all ordered to stop by armed MPs and asked to step out of our cars. As we sat, the entire time a guard or armed soldiers watched our every move. Two hours later, a Capt. W. G. Dragan, the military policeman in charge, explained that we were waiting for a security contact team to 'assess the legitimacy of our presence in Iraq.' He added: 'For your safety as well as our own we are going to keep you here until we determine what we are going to do with you. There have been reports of suicide bombers in vehicles, and we are on a higher state of alert.'"

Rosie Dimanno of the Toronto Star filed this from Iraq: "A scrawled inscription on the barrel of the turret gun reads: 'COJONE EH.' The Canadianism — eh? — notwithstanding, this is the carcass of an American M-1 Abrams tank, burned out and char-blackened, its caterpillar tracks sagging like loose garters, perched precariously on the edge of a missile crater in the middle of the highway leading north to the capital. Iraqis posed triumphantly around the hulk yesterday like safari hunters showing off their big-game trophy kill. They scrambled hastily, though, when a U.S. fighter jet zoomed and looped overhead. Fly boy up there was clearly just having a bit of fun, perhaps checking out the scene, with no intention of firing upon civilians. But Baghdadis, bombarded day and night, have no faith that Americans either can, or care to, distinguish between fighters and non-combatants. The crippled Abrams was a relic of Saturday's urban reconnaissance of Baghdad by coalition forces that entered the city and then deliberately withdrew, leaving behind only a whiff of menace while stamping their imposing image firmly on the minds of the city's traumatized inhabitants. It may have been merely a military feint — meant to show the coalition's ability to enter the city at will — but the in-and-out foray met with considerable resistance as the first ground penetration of Baghdad. Fierce fire clashes accompanied the advance of tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles, with some reports — impossible to confirm — putting the Iraqi military casualties at 2,000."

Compiled by Andrew Cohen