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Saturday, February 2, 2008

Print the headline, then let the facts catch up with it

Surely you saw or heard the headlines yesterday: A pair of bloody suicide bombings carried out in Iraq by "mentally disabled" women who were tricked into wearing bomb vests detonated from nearby by "al-Qaeda in Iraq" operatives. Of course, this is all too possible -- but most of the media presented it as fact, rather than wild speculation. The Washington Post headline carried no qualifier: 'Mentally Disabled Women Used in Bombings."

So, it turns out on the following day, that the evidence for the mentally disabled part was that one of the alleged bombers' head recovered after the blast was deformed, suggesting Down's syndrome. Now the AP admits that the severed head may have merely been deformed by the blast (duh). Also, McClatchy's crack Baghdad bureau now reports that Iraqi officials "have made similar claims in the past" about mentally crippled bombers and a police official told them "that authorities were still investigating whether the explosion at the second market might have come from a bomb hidden in a cage or a box of eggs."

Update Sunday: Iraqi officials are sticking to the Down's syndrome claim, but McClatchy now reports: "However, Bob Lamburne, director of forensic services for the British embassy in Baghdad, cautioned that suggesting the two bombers suffered from Down syndrome based on photographs of their severed heads was 'dangerous.' He noted that the heads would have suffered massive trauma when the bombers' explosives detonated. 'The diagnosis would have to be more scientific than that,' said Lamburne."


Anonymous said...

So, basically, because they're saying that the suicide bombers' heads were deformed so therefore they must be retarded, does that mean that whenever there is a dead US soldier whose head is deformed is he also retarded?

Beauzeaux said...

When I saw this story, my first thought was "how awful." My second thought was "how do they know they were menatally disabled?Surely the people behind the bombs didn't annouce it."
Unfortunately, the unsubstantiated claim is all that people will remember.

Professor Smartass said...

How do they know it was "al Qaeda in Iraq" and not friends of Bush like the Brits the Iraqis caught driving around with a car full of explosives and shooting randomly at people?

Cranky Media Guy said...

Anyone remember the alleged babies snatched from their incubators and thrown on the floor by Iraqi soldiers during the first Gulf war?

Remember how that turned out to be completely made up bullshit?

Starting to see a pattern yet? Accuse your enemy of the most heinous behavior and your fellow countrymen will support anything you do to the sub-human bastards.

It doesn't matter if it is eventually revealed to be nonsense, so long as in the short term they believe it.

cwazilla said...

so they were george bush supporters??

Anonymous said...

The same thing happened with the Iranian speedboat "attacking" a U.S. ship in the Strait of Hormuz.
It was on the front page of my newspaper. But later when it was revealed as a hoax, it was a small item inside.
It's the media, stupid. They're letting democracy down, time and time again.

gandhi said...

Problem is, this tactic works, at least in the short term: the US public's horror at the first reports was channeled into anti-terrorist anger. And as we all know, the follow up story is always buried (or never run).

The real damage is done in the longer term, to the media's credibility, and to the Iraqi "leaders" credibility.

And the media complain that circulation numbers are falling??? Puh-lease!

Personally, as soon as I saw this headline, I doubted it so strongly that I didn't even bother reading the article. I no longer trust either the media or any supposed "authorities" in Iraq. Or anyone in Washington either, for that matter.

To my mind, Iraq was always been a War of Spin, and the real "enemy" being targeted by the likes of Rumsfeld, Bush and Cheney has not been Al Quaeda, or the Sunnis, or the Shi'ites, but you and me.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen: the war in Iraq is a war for control of our own minds. "We invent out own realities," the neocons boasted. This is how far the art of political spin has developed. Are we going to let them keep getting away with it?

Anonymous said...

It's been over a week since the tragic death of Heath Ledger, and the final, conclusive results of the autopsy have yet to be resolved or released. Yet, we are to immediately concur in the government/media assessment that the bombers were mentally retarded or having Down's syndrome, without having the hundred-fold ability to make such assertions in occupied-Iraq, a country left without basic medical services, compared to the superior, so it goes, of the U.S. and NYC forensic dept. re: Health Ledger. The media has lost all credibility; how can the suicide bombers in Iraq, with no health care system left, be more reliable than that determining the death of Ledger? It's all lies, and MSM laziness/timidity in following up on a story in Iraq.

Arch Stanton said...

"Problem is, this tactic works, at least in the short term: the US public's horror at the first reports was channeled into anti-terrorist anger."

1) Doubtful. If the US public were truly interested in mitigating terrorism, George Bush and Dick Cheney would be under arrest and there would no longer be any US military presence in Iraq (or Afghanistan).

2) If the US public believe anything they are told by the state department, the pentagon or the US "mainstream media" then the suspicions of mental retardation shift from Iraqis to the US populace.

Anonymous said...

As a matter of fact, I wonder if anybody willing to blow himself in the middle of a crowd could be labbelled mentally sane...
One thing is to understand the cause, another to agree with the means. I always thought that all of those guys or women able to strap themselves with explosives in order to kill civilians in a crowd are totally insane...

As for the "information", it goes now on a daily basis...It was the "#3" alqaeda executive supposed to have been on the middle of people supposed to have been all killed by what was suppposed to be a missile attack in Pakistan. Iranian boats...
Two of my favorites come from 2003: Private Lynch courageous fight and dramatic rescue, and the fake turkey for Bush at thanksgiving!

PS, to the guy pissed off because his paper had iranian boats headlines a day and "apology" in a small item the day after: don't buy that paper anymore.