November 6, 2007

Another "Wedding Party"... Well, Not Quite

Hatched by Sachi

During a bulletin-board discussion the other day, a poster argued that whenever I talk about Taliban deaths, I ignore civilian casualties. "How do you know those were all Taliban?" he demanded; "they might all be civilians that we killed by mistake!"

I at once thought of the most effective -- and most fraudulent -- journalistic attack on Coalition forces in Iraq in 2004: the infamous "wedding party massacre". Power Line quotes from the Belmont Club:

Why was a wedding party in full swing at 02:45 am in the middle of the desert? A glance at the map would show the area in which the wedding took place was 250 kilometers from "Dr. Salah al-Ani, who works at a hospital in Ramadi," and who "put the death toll at 45." A long way to go for medical treatment or burial when Qusabayah is 50 kilometers away. Under normal circumstances, there are two wounded for every dead. By the normal ratios there should have been at least 90 injured. There was a videotape "showing a truck containing bodies of people who were allegedly killed in the incident. Most of the bodies were wrapped in blankets and other cloths, but the footage showed at least eight uncovered, bloody bodies, several of them children. One of the children was headless." A video of the dead, but where were the wounded?...

The scene in the desert included the now-infamous "immaculate instruments": An AP photograph of one spot of carnage showed some slightly damaged musical instruments lying on the ground. The photo was used to "prove" that the target really was just a wedding celebration, as the local villagers claimed, rather than a group of al-Qaeda fighters, as our military reported.

Yet an earlier photo taken of the exact, same spot showed no such instruments. Did they appear by magic, or were they planted after the fact? And if the latter -- what did AP know, and when did they know it?

There are so many incongruities in the "wedding party massacre" story that the only logical conclusion is that we, in fact, hit a gathering of al-Qaeda fighters, as the American military still insists. But al-Qaeda supporters swiftly collaborated with Iraqi Sunnis who had a direct feed to American news services such as AP and the New York Times -- perhaps those agencies' Iraqi stringers themselves -- and they spun the story to make us look like monsters. The elite media were only too happy to cooperate; there was a war on, recall... the war for the White House in the November, 2004 elections.

Fast-forward to Afghanistan last month. The same odious technique of simply accepting the word of interested, anti-American parties in preference to the word of the American military was the tactic du jour in this recent 60 Minutes piece, dissected by News Busters:

In a segment on Sunday’s "60 Minutes," anchor Scott Pelley described how "The enemy has killed hundreds of civilians this year, but surprisingly, almost the same number of civilians have been killed by American and allied forces." Pelley focused on U.S. air strikes citing a statistic from the liberal group Human Rights Watch: "So far this year, 17 air strikes have killed more than 270 civilians, according to the humanitarian organization Human Rights Watch.".

Now, I don't know if the Allies' air strikes have killed more civilians than the Taliban's direct attacks, though I do find Human Rights Watch's number rather suspicious. However, even if that claim is true, it changes nothing: The deaths are still the responsibility of the Taliban. Dafydd argued this point back in July:

When NATO drops bombs on Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters who are shooting at NATO or Afghan troops, and some civilians are killed -- who would you say "caused" those civilians to die: NATO or the insurgents?

The answer is the insurgents... because absent their incessant attacks, murders, and random use of explosives, we wouldn't be shooting at them in the first place; and the civilians wouldn't have died.

But Pelley digs his hole even deeper. He claims that NATO airstrikes often hit totally innocent houses, killing totally innocent people. From the transcript of the show:

Our journey took us through Afghanistan up the Shomali plain, north of the capital, Kabul. The Taliban are active here, so we hired Panjshiri mercenaries to cover our trip. The scene of the air strike is a village in the hills above Kapisa Province. We found the dead buried in a cornfield. There were no enemy combatants. It was four generations of one family, all killed in the air strike: An 85-year-old man, four women and four children, ranging in age from five years to seven months. One boy (Mujib) survived...

That's terrible! NATO attacked "four generations" of women, children, and senior citizens for no reason at all. But wait; as is usually the case, there actually is more to this story:

Mujib's father was not there. He's accused of being a local Taliban leader. The U.S. Has been searching for him, with no luck. The air strike came the night of March the 4th. An Army press release says it started after enemy forces fired a rocket at this U.S. Base above the village. The rocket fell, causing no coalition casualties; in fact, missing the fire base altogether. Then U.S. pilots saw two men with AK-47 rifles leaving the scene of the rocket attack and entering a compound in the village. The fort, which is on the hill over there, began raining down mortar fire on this location, mortar fire that came down for about an hour. It was night time, and even though there were no U.S. forces in contact with the enemy on the ground, a decision was made after the mortars to call in an air strike. U.S. Air force aircraft dropped two bombs on this neighborhood, each one weighing 2,000 pounds. This is what it looks like when a ton of high explosives hits a house made of mud. The bombs hit their intended targets. But when the smoke cleared, there were no men with rifles, just Mujib's family.

Who, specifically, told Pelly that "there were no men with rifles?" Likely the same villagers who told him that there were no Taliban in the village, when in fact there were "enemy forces" shooting at us.

If Mujib's father is "a local Taliban leader," then Mujib's family is Taliban. If the local Taliban leader lives openly in this village, then the village itself is Taliban as well. So why is Pelly so shocked to hear that these Taliban villagers hate Americans just as much (or even more) than they hated the Soviets?

These Afghans, like many others, are trying to decide whether to support the U.S. backed government. We expected anger, but we didn't expect this.

Pelly (talking to a villager) You can't be saying that the Soviets were kinder to your people than the Americans have been.

UNKNOWN MAN B( Translated ): We used to hate the Russians much more than Americans. But now when we see all this happening, I am telling you Russians behaved much better than the Americans.

Yes; the Russians had the good manners to lose. Of course the Taliban today hate Americans more than Russians: They kicked the Russians' rears -- but the Americans are kicking theirs.

So this is the same old story... another "wedding party massacre," this time in Afghanistan; and once again, the American elite media prefers to believe, not our own military, but Taliban-supporting villagers, about whom the only thing we really know is that they hate Americans.

There is nothing new under the sun.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, November 6, 2007, at the time of 6:35 AM

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You know about those "wedding parties" in terrorist-dominated areas that "suffer" the occasional bombardment? Yeah, the ones that usually bring out a page or two of weeping and gnashing of wire service teeth, yet never seem to actually have actual casual [Read More]

Tracked on November 26, 2007 5:29 PM


The following hissed in response by: Fat Man

The wedding party story that Wretchard disected was filed by an AP stringer named Scheherezade Faramarzi. That name should have been a dead giveaway.

The above hissed in response by: Fat Man [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 6, 2007 9:06 AM

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