Group Seeks to ‘Balance’ News Coverage From Iraq

By: Ron Word, Associated Press Writer

(AP) Sgt. Chris Beard suffered shrapnel wounds to his face, back and spine when a roadside bomb exploded next to his Humvee in Iraq late last year.

But he joined a coalition of Americans and Iraqis on Wednesday as the group emphasized the improvements being made in the war-torn country.

The Iraq-America Freedom Alliance said it wanted to counter news reports focusing on attacks and kidnappings by insurgents.

“I just want to make sure we balance it,” said Beard, a Florida Army National Guard soldier. “From my experience, they were thankful for us being there.”

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, more than 3,000 Iraqi schools have been renovated, 9 million new math and science textbooks have been printed and improvements have been made to utilities and health care, said retired Maj. General Ronald O. Harrison, former adjutant general of the National Guard in Florida.

“Our men and women who are making the sacrifices on behalf of our nation are not focusing on the negatives and the obstacles as they interact daily with the citizens of Iraq,” Harrison said. “Americans’ helping hands are everywhere.”

Of those fighting U.S. efforts, Beard said: “There are bad apples who want to spoil it for everyone.”

The group is committed to fostering good will between the United States and Iraq and winning the war on terrorism. While its parent organization is headed by conservatives, including Jack Kemp, Steve Forbes and Jeanne Kirkpatrick, it lists both Republicans and Democrats on its board of advisers.

“We cannot afford to let the good news go untold,” Harrison said. “It’s not all chaos. Iraq is not burning in all areas.”

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