Monday, April 02, 2007


McCain Strolls Through Baghdad Market, Accompanied By 100 Soldiers, 3 Blackhawks, 2 Apache Gunships

Sen. John McCain strolled briefly through an open-air market in Baghdad today in an effort to prove that Americans are “not getting the full picture” of what’s going on in Iraq.

NBC’s Nightly News provided further details about McCain’s one-hour guided tour. He was accompanied by “100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, and two Apache gunships overhead.” Still photographs provided by the military to NBC News seemed to show McCain wearing a bulletproof vest during his visit.

McCain recently claimed that there “are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today.” In a press conference after his Baghdad tour, McCain told a reporter that his visit to the market today was proof that you could indeed “walk freely” in some areas of Baghdad.

Today, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) held a press conference in Iraq. Both McCain and Graham charged that the media are not giving the American people “the full picture of what’s happening here.” As evidence of progress, they spoke of the time they were able to spend in the Bab al-Sharqi market, at which 88 people died in suicide bomber attack on Jan. 22. “We went to the market and were just really warmly welcomed. I bought five rugs for five bucks. And people were engaging,” said Graham.

What McCain and Graham didn’t mention: CNN’s Bob Franken noted today that the senators’ press conference was “held in the very, very, very heavily secured Green Zone, the center city area of Baghdad.” Additionally, the “delegation was accompanied by heavily armed U.S. troops when they were not in the Green Zone, site of the U.S. Embassy and Iraqi government. They traveled in armored military vehicles under heavy guard.”

Just last week, McCain told CNN that President Bush’s escalation is working so well, “Gen. Petraeus goes out there [in Baghdad] almost every day in an unarmed humvee.” CNN’s Iraq correspondent Michael Ware said the reaction to McCain’s claim among military sources was “laughter down the line.”

UPDATE: Newsweek’s Babak Dehghanpisheh writes: “In any case, it didn’t take the insurgents long to send their reply. Less then 30 minutes after McCain wrapped up, a barrage of half a dozen mortars peppered the boundaries of the Green Zone, where the senators held their press conference.”

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