Break the Chain Ray Reynolds Sets the Record Straight?

Created 5/5/2004 (5/5/2004) Many people recognize that e-mail is a quick and easy way to send a message to many people at once. But few of us imagine that our wordswill prove popular and spread beyond our circle of friends. The author of this one hoped it would be spread far and wide, but it fails to stand up to the scruitiny its intense popularity has earned it.

SAMPLE CHAIN LETTER TEXT

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

END CHAIN LETTER TEXT

Ray Reynolds is, indeed, an SFC with the National Guard's 234th Signal Battalion. As a civilian, he is a firefighter in Denison, Iowa. Sources close to Reynolds say that he based his claims on information gleaned from publications by the United States Agency for International Development, as well as from contacts with influential Iraqis and the police chief of Baghdad.

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Independent research has found his list of accomplishments to be a mixture of accurate, misleading data. For a point-by-point breakdown of the claims, consult the TruthOrFiction.com reference listed below, but here is a quick breakdown:

Accurate

  • 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.

  • 100% of the hospitals are open and fully staffed, compared to 35% before the war.

  • An interim constitution has been signed.

  • Textbooks that don't mention Saddam are in the schools for the first time in 30 years.

Inaccurate

  • The country had its first 2 billion barrel export of oil in August.
    (Oil Production hit 2 million barrells a day in April, 2004)

  • Over 4.5 million people have clean drinking water for the first time ever in Iraq.
    (While some treatment facilities needed repair, clean drinking water is not a new thing in Iraq)

  • The country now receives 2 times the electrical power it did before the war.
    (Electricity production is only slightly higher than pre-war levels)

  • Elections are taking place in every major city, and city councils are in place.
    (Elections remain a point of contention and have been suspended in some cities)

Unproven or misleading

  • Sewer and water lines are installed in every major city.
    (Work is still underway)

  • Over 60,000 police are patrolling the streets.
    (The goal is to train and implement 35 - 50 thousand. The first class of 400 graduated in January, 2004)

  • Over 100,000 Iraqi civil defense police are securing the country.
    (About 25,000 were hired and trained as of February 2004)

  • Over 80,000 Iraqi soldiers are patrolling the streets side by side with US soldiers.
    (Only 2,000 were operational as of February 2004)

  • Over 400,000 people have telephones for the first time ever.
    (Most of the post-war work on the telephone system has focused on restoring service lost or damaged during the war)

  • Girls are allowed to attend school.
    (Girls have been allowed to attend school since 1970, more boys than girls typically enrolled)

SFC Reynolds intended his message to be spread far and wide, but underestimated the reliability of e-mail. As this one circulates, forwarders have added comments, commentary and additonal 'facts' that have less validity than Reynold's collection. Also, some forwarders have been incorrectly connected to Reynolds and this information. Break this chain.

What Do You Think?


References: TruthOrFiction.com, Orwellian Times, Snopes.com, USAID Fact Sheet

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