Accuracy in Media

After
the September 11, 2001 attacks upon the United States, President Bush
warned of the consequence of such actions by America’s enemies.
Unfortunately, America’s friends report their own set of hazards.

Dr. Elizabeth Ferris, Senior Fellow at Brookings,
commented on the history of Iraqi refugees and victims of “internal
displacement” (ID). “Before U.S. intervention” in 2003, nearly 700,000
Iraqis had been displaced under the Saddam regime, 250,000 of which
were Northern Kurds. Since the war, approximately 4 million additional
Iraqis have been driven from their homes. Refugees – those forced to
relocate outside Iraq’s borders—total 2.2 million. They have fled to
neighboring countries, such as Syria and Jordan. IDs—those who remain within the border but have been forced to a different region of the country—total 2.8 million.

The make-up of the refugees compounds the exodus problem. Highly
trained Iraqis left first. Computer scientists, engineers, lawyers, and
doctors used their “money and connections” to flee. According to
Ferris, “30-40% of the doctors” left Iraq. Additionally, Ferris claimed
that 90% of the professional class emigrated because of “direct
threats” from warring factions, including terrorists.

Threats were not just leveled against professionals, however. Kirk Johnson worked with “local Iraqi government officials” as well as “the Second
Marine Expeditionary Force” in 2005. Johnson “coordinated a portfolio
of reconstruction and humanitarian assistance projects valued over $20
million.” His daily interchange in Iraq, and first-hand experience of
humanitarian and reconstruction efforts, has given him a new mission—“a
leading public advocate for Iraqis who assisted the U.S. Government.”

Johnson is the founder and director of “The List: Project to Resettle
Iraqi Allies.” During his Iraq labors, Johnson witnessed the daily
threats against his fellow workers.

“Affiliation with the United States government” painted targets on the
backs of those who helped the Americans. Terrorists spied on his fellow
workers from outside the Green Zone in order to target American
sympathizers. One of his fellow workers returned home one evening to
find his decapitated dog’s head lying in front of his door. A note was
pinned to it: “Your head is next.”

Solving the problem has been difficult for Johnson because there is “no
investment from the White House—not one syllable.” However, Johnson has
refused to quit. He wants the U.S. to “win more hearts and minds.”
Iraqis who are in danger and who have helped the U.S. should not be
“abandoned.”

His first step was writing an op-ed piece revealing the problem. That
caused more Iraqi “colleagues” to step forward. Next, in 2007, Johnson
gave the State Department his initial list containing 50 names of “Iraqis who assisted the U.S.
Government.” Now the list has grown to 1,300 and Johnson is receiving
“new letters by the hour.” In addition, “200 attorneys” from “three top
law firms” have offered “thousands of hours…for Iraqi refugees.”

Although government officials and the American public worry about
“letting in a terrorist,” Johnson does not. The U.S. military has made
its base of operations in Iraq “the most documented place in the
world.” In a year and a half only 150 Iraqis have been imported to the
United States. Johnson wants the government to increase that number by
following historic precedents. Operation Pacific Haven airlifted over 6000 Kurds from Iraq in 1996. In 1999 the BBC reported
that President Clinton would accept 20,000 Albanians temporarily during
the Kosovo Conflict. And, currently in Iraq, the British and Danes are already airlifting Iraqis out.

With the U.S. and Iraq governments recently agreeing to a 2011
withdrawal, it appears Bush’s early rhetoric of non-retreat had merits.
Leaving without completing the mission would be disastrous.




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