Monday, June 05, 2006

Denial is a powerful force

I read the news today, oh boy:

Gunmen in police uniforms raided bus stations Monday in central Baghdad, seizing at least 50 people, including drivers and passengers preparing to travel outside Iraq, an Interior Ministry official said.
Compare to Robert Fisk on April 7, 2006:

We keep hearing about people being kidnapped by men wearing police uniform or police stations being taken over by men wearing army uniform. Well, do you mean to tell me there’s a warehouse in Fallujah with 8,000 police uniforms made to measure for insurgents? I don’t believe it. I think the policemen are real policemen. I think the men wearing army uniforms are real soldiers.
Occam's Razor tells you which story seems more likely. And yet we continue to make excuses; or at least blandly report them. Read the entire article; smell the cognitive dissonance:

"They [the "gunmen dressed in police uniforms"] took all workers from the companies and nearby shops," said Haidar Mohammed Eleibi, who works for the Swan Transportation Co. in the Salihiya business district.

He said his brother and a cousin were among those detained, along with merchants, passers-by and even a vendor selling tea and sandwiches.

"They did not give any reason for it," he said. "Police came afterward and did nothing."
What's more, these "gunmen" had "cars belonging to the police:"

Another transportation worker, Amjad Hameed, said 15 cars belonging to police rushed to the area and began randomly seizing people. "We asked them why but nobody replied," he said, adding that Iraqi forces and Americans came to the site afterward.
The only logical conclusion is that these cars were stolen. Right?

The US military spokesman quoted in the article says al Qaeda is taking advantage of sectarian violence. My only question is: do they really believe this? Do they really believe "gunmen in police uniforms" and using "cars belonging to police" are doing this? Or do they see reality?

UPDATE: I shall be blue in the face one day...

Via Atrios, TPM Cafe gives us the humorous side of news reporting (you can look it up; go ahead, I'll wait).

When Ted Koppel interviewed Jon Stewart, during the 2004 Conventions, Koppel told Stewart that if someone stood on the floor of the convention center and reported that Koppel was a drug lord, Koppel would have an obligation to report that statement, false though it was. Koppel gave no indication he'd have to point out how false it was (though does anyone doubt he would?), except maybe later he'd find someone to counter the charge, in which case he'd report on that. This is what bothers me about the article reported in this post. It's little more than stenography, determined to be so even-handed in its relentless application of the passive voice("cars belonging to police"?) that it is utterly ludicrous. Are the "gunmen" expected to contact the journalist and provide "their side" of the story?

The whole thing reminds me that "stenography" rhymes with "pornography." And that I don't expect journalists to practice either one.

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