Blurring the Iraq-Al Qaeda Connection with "Mesopotamia"

Great minds think...identically?



Check out this paragraph from intelligence reporter David Sanger's Wednesday front-page "news analysis," "A New Gauge for Iraq - Bush Shifts Terms for Measuring Progress As Leaders in Baghdad Continue to Falter."



"The current focus on the provinces, they say, reflects the fact that the White House overestimated what could be achieved by Mr. Maliki and his government, and underestimated the degree to which the local tribes developed a deep hatred for Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown Sunni Arab extremist group that American intelligence agencies have concluded is led by foreigners. The extent of its links to Osama bin Laden's network is not clear."


Tuesday's story on Bush's surprise visit to Anbar province in Iraq by David Cloud and Steven Lee Myers employed nearly identical language, likely inserted by an editor:


"Mr. Hadley was apparently referring to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown Sunni Arab extremist group that American intelligence agencies have concluded is foreign led. The extent of its links to Osama bin Laden's network is not clear."


The Times recently reduced the size and average word count of the paper by roughly 10%, but still finds room to use the antique word "Mesopotamia" instead of "Iraq" (in this context, the words are basically synonyms).


James Taranto at Opinion Journal's "Best of the Web" has had lots of fun with the Times' tortured use of "Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia" instead of the more straightforward "Al Qaeda in Iraq," apparently to blur the Iraq-al Qaeda connection seen by the Bushadministration (see second item).