AP Tells Its Reporters to Avoid Saying the Iraq War Is Over

Over the last few weeks, celebration has been in the air -- celebration about the supposed end of the Iraq War. From the White House's victorious declarations to the media's "breaking news" graphics, we're asked to believe the combat is finished. But as my new newspaper column shows, military officials quietly concede that the "Iraq War is over" spin is just that: spin.

The fact is, the Iraq war continues -- and you don't have to just trust me or the generals on that. Just look at this Los Angeles Times headline: "U.S. soldiers help repel deadly attack on Iraq army headquarters." That doesn't sound like a war that's over -- that sounds like a war that continues, whether we acknowledge that reality or not.

The good news is that not every media outlet is complicit in the "Iraq War is over" illusion. Check out this memo sent out by Associated Press executives to its reporters in the field:

Combat in Iraq is not over, and we should not uncritically repeat suggestions that it is, even if they come from senior officials. The situation on the ground in Iraq is no different today than it has been for some months... As for U.S. involvement, it also goes too far to say that the U.S. part in the conflict in Iraq is over... 50,000 American troops remain in country. Our own reporting on the ground confirms that some of these troops, especially some 4,500 special operations forces, continue to be directly engaged in military operations. These troops are accompanying Iraqi soldiers into battle with militant groups and may well fire and be fired on.

In addition, although administration spokesmen say we are now at the tail end of American involvement and all troops will be gone by the end of 2011, there is no guarantee that this will be the case.

In this age of stenographic journalism and misinformation, it is encouraging to see at least some media outlets trying to stick to the basic, demonstrable truths -- in this case, the truth that the war is not over. That may be an inconvenient truth, but it is one that we deserve to know -- and that our soldiers fighting in ongoing combat need us to be aware of.