Oliver North

Had the Times wanted to make a different point, instead of impugning the U.S. military, they could have done a Google search to find these headlines: "Deputies: Couple commits suicide after foreclosure notice," from KATU-TV; and "Foreclosure May Have Led to Homicide-Suicide," from WRTV; and "Lengthy SWAT Standoff Over Foreclosure Ends in Suicide," from the Houston Chronicle. The New York Times could compile such headlines to dissuade Americans from homeownership.

"Very discouraging" is how the recruiter described the current attack on those who serve in the U.S. armed forces. He's right; and the recent Times hit piece is just part of a pattern that began to emerge in the so-called mainstream media as the situation on the ground in Iraq began to improve late last year.

By autumn 2007, casualties, attacks on civilians, roadside bombings, assassinations and sectarian violence in Iraq had plummeted. But for the potentates of the press, the lack of bad news from the battlefield didn't mean that bad news about our military couldn't be created elsewhere.

From October through December last year, there was a series of print and broadcast "investigative reports" about high rates of suicide, desertion, drug abuse and divorce among members of our military. A Nov. 17 Associated Press story blared: "Soldiers strained by six years at war are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980."

In fact, the drug abuse and suicide rates for military personnel are considerably lower than that for the same age group in the U.S. population, and the divorce rate in the military remains slightly lower than in the overall population. The desertion rate for the Marines actually has declined since Sept. 11, 2001.

Despite significant improvements on the battlefield in Iraq, the combined effects of this adverse "reporting" have created a more challenging recruiting environment -- and made it more difficult for young war veterans to find good jobs once they have completed their service. In December, the unemployment rate for 20- to 24-year-old veterans was nearly 17 percent -- more than three times the rate for non-veteran Americans. It's clear evidence that the smear has worked.

Oliver North

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.