Friday, June 19, 2009

And That Video?

On Tuesday I saw Glenn Greenwald's post about secrecy-creep in which he noted this report from McClatchy regarding the Pentagon's decision to suppress a report on the May 4th massacre of Afghan civilians in Farah. This passage in the McClatchy piece caught my eye:
U.S. officials also said they'd release a video that military officials said shows Taliban fighters attacking Afghan and U.S. forces and then running into a building. Shortly afterward, a U.S. aircraft dropped a bomb that destroyed the building.
Video...hmmm? That seemed awfully familiar - and then I remembered that I'd heard about it on NPR. Back on May 29th's Morning Edition - Steve Inskeep interviewed General Petraeus and actually asked him about the May 4th killings, which led to this interchange:
  • Inskeep: "....U.S. military officers have said that there is video showing that in fact Taliban fighters were the targets. Have you seen that video?"
  • Petraeus: "I have....there is indeed video from a B-1 Bomber that very clearly shows bombs hitting individuals who are the Taliban who are reacting to the movements of the Afghan and coalition forces on the ground."
  • Inskeep: "How are they identifiable as Taliban? Men with guns? Men who had just been fighting with Afghan allies on the ground? What is it?
  • Petraeus: "It's a combination of intelligence that is then confirmed by this actual video. But we'll lay this out when in fact this brigadier general briefs the press in Kabul, when he's done briefing President Karzai, our leaders in Washington and then returns to Afghanistan."
  • Inskeep: "Are you going to release the video itself?"
  • Petreaus: "We won't give it to you, but I believe that we will show it as part of the press briefing."
  • Inskeep: "So, you're that confident that this video will prove your side of events that you're willing to publicize this?"
  • Petraeus: "What it will prove, is that the targets of these different strikes were the Taliban. What it does not prove, is that there were not civilians killed. I think we agree, actually, that there were civilians killed in this incident along — again — with a substantial number of Taliban...."
That was May 29th, and the military quickly made Petraeus' claims a DefenseLink news item. But now it's mid-June and it seems the amazing video isn't so amazing after all. So now I'm just waiting for NPR to get Inskeep back on the phone to the good general and ask him, "Oh yeah, General, about that video....?

My guess is, I'll be waiting and waiting.


gopol said...

Centcom and Stars and Stripes say Petraeus told NPR, so it must be true. The headline in the 5/31 issue of The Australian is
Pentagon to release Afghanistan bombing video
and the article specifies NPR as the venue of veritas for this disclosure.

Ironically, the video that was released on May 4th was of US soldiers proselytizing for Jesus.

Porter Melmoth said...

There's still a lot of good military porno on VHS out there, and the Good General seems to have found it.

My Afghan friend spent over a week living with Petraeus when he was doing a bicycle tour of police sites in Afghanistan, and proclaimed him to be 'a nice guy'. Of course he is. Much more obfuscation and seizure of power can occur under 'nice' guises than old fashioned Chinghiz Khan techniques. Look at NPR, for crying out loud.

PS: Revisionist historians tend to rate Chinghiz (aka Genghis) Khan as really a rather civilized fellow, compared to the savagery that surrounded him. Hmmm...

gopol said...

Yeah, well, Petraeus sure looks silly slumming around in a video store, but he has a winning smile. Is that Catch 22 on the shelf in front of him?

The Australian link.

Anonymous said...

The thing that bothers me most about Inskeep is that his interviews (like the one above) are scripted and all of his questions are leading and merely meant to get across the point of the interviewee.

That's not journalism.

It's propaganda.

Why the real journalists at NPR (there are some) put up with this crap day in and day out is beyond me.

If I were one of them, I would give management an ultimatum. Either Inskeep goes or I go.

gopol said...

The thing that bothers me most about Inskeep is that his interviews (like the one above) are scripted

Yeah, when you listen with that in mind, it makes it seem more plausible.

Anonymous said...

"I have....there is indeed video from a B-1 Bomber that very clearly shows bombs hitting individuals who are the Taliban..."

You can tell because they were all wearing Harry Belafonte T-shirts and singing

Hey Mr.Taliban, tally me banana

From a B-1 bomber at 40,000 feet, no less.

Either these people are all morons or they think the rest of us are.

Anonymous said...

Whenever there are two official versions of a story, you know which side National Pentagon Radio will support: they will lie with their John, good little whore that they are.

Following is from Reuters

Published on Saturday, June 20, 2009 by Reuters
"US Says Afghan Strikes Broke Rules, Orders Retraining"

by Peter Graff

"You can see from the video, no one was firing (from the buildings). There was no imminent threat," the official said. "There needs to be an imminent threat."

"The report made no mention of the Taliban deliberately using civilians as human shields in the incident, an assertion that became the main emphasis of U.S. military statements about the bombings in the weeks after they took place."

"The official acknowledged there was no firm evidence to prove the human shield allegation."