Good things in Iraq not being reported-Truth!, Fiction!, and Unproven!
Good Things in Iraq Not Being Reported by the Media-Truth!, Fiction, and Unproven!
Summary of eRumor:
A message said to be from an Iowa Army National Guardsman named Ray Reynolds who is serving in Iraq.
It lists a number of improvements in Iraq since the U.S. led incursion in 2003.
This message began circulating on the Internet in April, 2004.
It’s a passionate email from a soldier serving in Iraq about some of the good things that are happening as a result of the U.S.-led incursion.
We checked into each one of his statements and some were accurate, some were not.
Over 400,000 kids have up-to-date immunizations – Truth! But his figure is low!
According to a UNICEF report at the end of 2003, more than 3 1/2 million children had been immunized.
School Attendance is up 80%-Truth!
Again, according to an April, 2004 report from UNICEF, school attendance in Iraq increased by 60 percent shortly after the war to more than 95 percent during the recent national exam week.
More than 1,500 schools renovated-Truth!
UNICEF says that as of April, 2004, more than 2,500 schools have been renovated with the goal of 4,000 being completed by the end of the year, but 10,000 more need repair.
The Port of Uhm Qasar [sic] renovated so grain can be offloaded faster-Truth!
In a November, 2003 interview on National Public Radio, Andrew Natsios of the U.S. Agency for International Development said that the port at Umm Qasar, Iraq’s largest, is modern and functioning for the first time in 20 years.
Iraqi oil reached 2 billion barrels exported in August of 2003-Fiction!
Iraq sits on the second largest proven crude oil reserves in the world and the flow of oil resumed in August, 2003 amid equipment that needed repair and suffered from looting and attacks from saboteurs.
The initial flow in August, 2003, was 500,000 barrels per day, according to the BBC.
Iraqi oil is subject to the ups and downs of the crude oil market but in April, 2003, more than 2 million barrels a day were being produced, but that has not accumulated to 2 billion.
Clean drinking water for the first time for than 4.5 million Iraqis-Fiction!
According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, safe drinking water was not widespread in Iraq before the U.S. led coalition invaded Iraq but that was partly because of water treatment systems that were in disrepair or had been looted.
In other words, clean water is not new to Iraq.
We couldn’t find any figures that indicated how many would be receiving clean water for the first time.
In December, 2003, USAID was on track to provide clean water to more than 14 million Iraqis.
Iraq has twice the electrical power than before the war-Fiction!
USAID says power was restored in October, 2003 to slightly more than pre-war levels, or more than 4500 MW as opposed to about 4400 MW prior to the war.
The goal was to reach 6000 MW by the summer of 2004.
All of the hospitals operating-Truth!
Because of disrepair and looting, it took a lot of work to get hospitals back up to speed but according to James Haverman, the Coalition Provisional Authority Senior Advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Health, all 240 hospitals in Iraq as well as 2400 primary health care clinics were operating as of December, 2003.
Elections taking place in all major cities-Fiction!
This has been a source of contention in Iraq.
In June of 2003 U.S. authorities called halts to local elections across Iraq and chose to put hand-chosen mayors or administrators into office.
There have been various local elections since that time and debate over whether Iraq is ready for national elections.
According to the Army New Service, there were three truly democratic elections by the end of 2003 in the cities of Tallafar, Zumar and Al-Eyaldia in northern Iraq.
Sewer and water lines installed in every major city-Unproven!
We’re not sure about all the major cities, but according to USAID, the water and sewage in Iraq has been suffering from years of neglect, electricity shortages, and post-war looting.
Work is underway to restore healthy water and sewage treatment to more than 14-million Iraqis.
More than 60,000 police in the streets, more than 100,000 Iraqi civil defense police securing the country, and 80,000 Iraqi soldiers patrolling the streets with the U.S. soldiers-Mostly Fiction!
All accounts regarding the Iraqi police say that the goal is to have 35,000 to 50,000 trained and in place by 2005 or 2006, according to the U.S. State Department.
The first class of more than 400 police offers graduated in January, 2004.
The Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) is composed of Iraqis who remain citizens, as opposed to serving full time in the military, and are integrated into the coalition military units.
The internal defense of the country is in their hands and they are led by the coalition.
There were about 25,000 hired and trained by February, 2004.
The first Iraqi Army battalion of 700 soldiers graduated in October of 2003.
By February of 2004, 3,500 had been recruited, about 2000 of those being operational.
Over 400,000 people have telephones for the first time ever-Unproven!
We’ve not found any statistics regarding how many new customers there will be for telephones.
Most of the work in Iraq has been to restore telephone communications that were lost because of damage from the war.
An interim constitution has been signed-Truth!
On March 8, 2004, an interim constitution that defines Iraq as being “federal, democratic and pluralist” was signed by members of the Iraqi Governing Council.
Girls are allowed to attend school-Truth! But Misleading!
A quick read of Sgt. Reynolds’ report would leave the impression that Iraqi girls are able to attend school for the first time because of the invasion.
According to Human Rights Watch, Iraqi girls and women have enjoyed comparatively more rights than in some of the other countries of the Middle East.
The Iraqi Constitution of 1970 included women’s rights for voting, attending school, owning property, and running for office.
Still, the status of women in Iraq has not always been the best because of other cultural and economic factors such as the aftermath of the 1991 war and economic sanctions.
School attendance for girls has not been prohibited although more boys than girls have been enrolled, especially in rural areas.
Students are taught field sanitation and hand washing techniques to prevent the spread of germs-Truth!
Not only are U.S. soldiers demonstrating field sanitation and hand washing, but UNICEF is conducting an active health education program to improve personal hygiene and promote more hand washing.
Textbooks that don’t mention Saddam are in the schools for the first time in 30 years-Truth!
According to published reports, a team of U.S. appointed Iraqi educators combed through more than 500 Iraqi textbooks and removed every mention of Saddam Hussein and the Baath
party including pictures.
The texts will probably be revised by the Iraqis at some point in the future, but the pre-war texts were dominated with Saddam Hussein.
Last updated 4/24/04
A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:
Subject: About Iraq from a cousin
This is a letter from Ray Reynolds, a medic in the Iowa Army National Guard, serving in Iraq:
As I head off to Baghdad for the final weeks of my stay in Iraq, I wanted to say thanks to all of you who did not believe the media. They have done a very poor job of covering everything that has happened. I am sorry that I have not been able to visit all of you during my two week leave back home. And just so you can rest at night knowing something is happening in Iraq that is noteworthy, I thought I would pass this on to you. This is the list of things that has happened in Iraq recently: (Please share it with your friends and compare it to the version that your paper is producing.)
* Over 400,000 kids have up-to-date immunizations.
* School attendance is up 80% from levels before the war.
* Over 1,500 schools have been renovated and rid of the weapons stored there so education can occur.
* The port of Uhm Qasar was renovated so grain can be off-loaded from ships faster.
* The country had its first 2 billion barrel export of oil in August.
* Over 4.5 million people have clean drinking water for the first time ever in Iraq.
* The country now receives 2 times the electrical power it did before the war.
* 100% of the hospitals are open and fully staffed, compared to 35% before the war.
* Elections are taking place in every major city, and city councils are in place.
* Sewer and water lines are installed in every major city.
* Over 60,000 police are patrolling the streets.
* Over 100,000 Iraqi civil defense police are securing the country.
* Over 80,000 Iraqi soldiers are patrolling the streets side by side with US soldiers.
* Over 400,000 people have telephones for the first time ever
* Students are taught field sanitation and hand washing techniques to prevent the spread of germs.
* An interim constitution has been signed.
* Girls are allowed to attend school.
* Textbooks that don’t mention Saddam are in the schools for the first time in 30 years.
Don’t believe for one-second that these people do not want us there. I have met many, many people from Iraq that want us there, and in a bad way. They say they will never see the freedoms we talk about but they hope their children will. We are doing a good job in Iraq and I challenge anyone, anywhere to dispute me on these facts. So If you happen to run into John Kerry, be sure to give him my email address and send him to Denison, Iowa. This soldier will set him straight. If you are like me and very disgusted with how this period of rebuilding has been portrayed, email this to a friend and let them know there are good things happening.
Ray Reynolds, SFC Iowa Army National Guard
234th Signal Battalion