A POTEMKIN OPERATION?….Via Atrios, Christopher Allbritton says that Operation Swarmer, the recent air assault on Samarra, is a “Potemkin operation”:

According to a colleague of mine from Time who traveled up there today on a U.S. embassy-sponsored trip, there are no insurgents, no fighting and 17 of the 41 prisoners taken have already been released after just one day. The ?number of weapons caches? equals six, which isn?t unusual when you travel around Iraq. They?re literally everywhere.

….About 1,500 troops were involved, 700 American and 800 Iraqi. But get this: in the area they?re scouring there are only about 1,500 residents. According to my colleague and other reporters who were there, not a single shot has been fired.

?Operation Swarmer? is really a media show. It was designed to show off the new Iraqi Army ? although there was no enemy for them to fight.

This is a pretty serious charge. I wonder what Time’s “official” coverage of Operation Swarmer will have to say about this?

UPDATE: Here’s the official coverage:

On Scene: How Operation Swarmer Fizzled

….Contrary to what many many television networks erroneously reported, the operation was by no means the largest use of airpower since the start of the war….In fact, there were no airstrikes and no leading insurgents were nabbed in an operation that some skeptical military analysts described as little more than a photo op. What?s more, there were no shots fired at all and the units had met no resistance, said the U.S. and Iraqi commanders.

The operation…was initiated by intelligence from Iraq security forces….But by Friday afternoon, the major targets seemed to have slipped through their fingers.

Needless to say, this piece is a little more restrained than Allbritton’s blog post, but it still gets the point across.

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