The Antiwar Media Strikes Again

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Originally published June 21 2006

Since the onset of the war on terrorism, the antiwar movement has been searching desperately for this generation’s My Lai Massacre.  Mired in the Vietnam Syndrome, or a desire to see the U.S. lose the war if not by military means, then by loss of morale, the co-called mainstream media has positioned itself as the propaganda arm of the antiwar movement.  It might more appropriately be called the antiwar media.

So it was with barely concealed glee that the press broke the story on Memorial Day no less that U.S. Marines had allegedly committed “atrocities” against innocent Iraqis.  It was claimed that during a counter-insurgency operation last November in the then terrorist dominated Sunni town of Haditha, Marines had deliberately gunned down 24 Iraqi civilians, including 11 women and children, in their homes in cold blood.  The “Haditha massacre” as it almost instantly came to be known, would now be added to the canon of antiwar media talking points, alongside Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and other real and imagined “crimes against humanity.”

But unfortunately for its progenitors, the “Haditha massacre” is slowly but surely being exposed as a hoax.  Perhaps hoax is too a generous way of putting it, for what it’s truly shaping up to be is a fraud.  A fraud cooked up by members of the insurgency in Iraq and aided and abetted by the antiwar media.

The story didn’t come to light until four months after the alleged incident took place and it turns out that the main sources were suspect, to say the least.  A videotape purporting to show the 24 bodies at a local morgue was provided to the media by one Thaer Thabit al-Hadithi, Secretary General of the Hammurabi Human Rights Group. Ties to Human Rights Watch were alleged in order to give the group more credibility.  But it was later discovered that not only does the Hammurabi Human Rights Group have no connection to Human Rights Watch, but Al-Hadithi is one of only two members and clearly created the group as a front for anti-American propaganda.  Meanwhile, the alleged chairman of the group, Abdul-Rahman Al-Mashhadani, remains a mysterious figure.

This is just the tip of the iceberg.  There are a variety of other contradictions and holes in the “Haditha massacre” story, none of which elicited any prominent corrections on the part of the antiwar media when brought to light.  Instead, they were buried on the back pages, in contrast to the original story, which was plastered on page one for all to see.

But those at the center of the storm have been speaking out.  Staff Sgt. Frank D. Wuterich, who led the squad of Marines at question, has firmly denied the charges, saying that military rules of engagement were followed and that there was no cover up involved.  His wife, Marisol Wuterich, has come out publicly in support of her husband, also denying the charges.  Rev. Christopher Price, a minister who was embedded with the Marines in Haditha, reported seeing no discord between residents and U.S. troops in the weeks following the alleged massacre.  As he put it, “Nobody disparaged the Iraqis while we were there.  They were proud stores were beginning to open, the town was coming back to life.”

Those who are attuned by now to the ways of Islamist propaganda knew right away that something was not right with the Haditha story.  It was just too over the top, too farfetched.  In other words, exactly the kind of thing that our enemies regularly come up with and an all too willing media, always ready to believe the worst about our troops, buys in a heartbeat.

The terrorists are aware of all this, which is why it’s actually in the al-Qaeda handbook to claim torture if taken prisoner and to allege untold cruelty on the part of American forces.    Through captured documents, the most recent belonging to the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, we know that al-Qaeda leaders have discussed the propaganda arm of their battle against the west and how the antiwar media is a willing tool for their purposes. Yet still, each massacre claim is taken at face value, no matter how outlandish, as long as it confirms the preconceived notions of those on the receiving end.

We could learn a lesson or two from the propaganda battle being waged in the Middle East against Israel.  Palestinians have been falsely claiming “massacres,” “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” on the part of IDF forces since the conflict began.  Indeed, an elaborate production company of sorts, labeled “Pallywood” by a documentary of the same name, exists in order to provide the media with footage that supports this view.  Such classics as the “Jenin massacre” and the alleged shooting of Mohammed Al-Dura figure prominently in the pantheon of Palestinian propaganda.  Sure enough, each time the western media immediately broadcast the narrative of Israeli guilt and each time, it turned out to be false.

The latest such accusation held that IDF rocket fire had killed seven Palestinian civilians on a beach in Gaza, when in fact looks to be yet another Palestinian terrorist “work accident.”  Either that or it was deliberately staged.  The investigation has so far shown that a Hamas mine aimed at IDF naval commandos was the likely culprit.  This didn’t stop Palestinian television from broadcasting doctored scenes involving unrelated footage, as well as conveniently dramatic footage of a young Palestinian girl on the beach supposedly lamenting her father’s death.  The latter was also broadcast all over the world, despite the numerous inconsistencies surrounding the footage that have been uncovered.

What’s at work here goes way back to medieval times.  It’s called a blood libel and although originally used against Jews, its now being used to target Israeli, American and Coalition troops.  These destructive lies spread like wildfire with the help of the 24-hour media and even when corrected, the initial falsehoods often remain in circulation for years to come.  It seems that if you repeat it enough times, fiction becomes fact.

Only through the investigative work of the blogosphere and media watchdog websites have such frauds been brought to light.  While the antiwar media sits on its haunches, lazily spewing out enemy propaganda without the slightest pretense of professionalism or even intellectual curiosity, the truth seekers on the Internet do the real digging.

The question is, are the members of the antiwar media pure propagandists or true believers?  It would seem that if one is constantly presuming guilt on the part of their own country (or civilization), while presuming innocence on the part of its enemies, then they’re pretty much rooting for the other side.   

Perhaps “enemy media” would be a more apt description.

 

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