Monday, May 24, 2004


Deny Everything

Two articles, one in Haaretz by one of my two favorite Haaretz journalists (Amira Hass, the other being Gideon Levy) and one an AP story buried on page A19 of the Washington Post this morning. The connection here is the unflinching determination of the PR wing of the military (Israeli in the first case and US in the second) to deny accusations, to deflect attention, to unabashedly lie in the face of horrific and unfortunate actions taken by the military. It is so frustrating that these lies, simply because they come from a source in uniform, get repeated ad infinitum until they can be stated as fact by anybody who chooses.

Outraged by the home demolitions and killing of civilian protestors in Gaza? Well everybody's heard that there were fighters in the crowd and that they were protecting tunnels used to smuggle arms and terrorists into Gaza. Or maybe the IDF had no report of firing going on in that area. Maybe they are investigating.

Dumbfounded by the attack on a wedding party in Iraq by US forces? Well I heard it was a safe house for foreign fighters and was used for smuggling arms and drugs and there was no evidence at all to support that there was a wedding going on at all.

We'll certainly hear these lies and misinformation that easily flow from the mouthpieces of militaries (and this is certainly not limited to the US and Israel, but that's where my tax dollars are going dammit) repeated over and over and it's frustrating that factual information gets pushed back to page 19.

It's interesting that the American military response to any 'error' is an automatic denial, followed by a foot-dragging investigation which is carried out by those accused of having committed the error. There have been a number of these incidents in the past two years -- the investigation into the wedding party attacked in Afghanistan, remember?, where children were also among those killed. The results of that investigation are lost in the fog of war or something like that. And what about the investigations of the first reports of atrocities at Abu Ghraib and Cropper Green and Camp Bucca? Where are they? Could they be among the 2000 "missing" pages of the Taguba report? I don't think so.

I think the problem is greater than the down-playing of factual information. I think the Army and this administration have perfected a tactic of immediate and aggressive denial and the press lets them get away with it because the press gives greater weight to American sources than to foreign sources, even when those sources are among the people whose children were slaughtered. So it goes.
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