Thursday, December 27, 2012

Don't Believe Initial Accounts of Drone Strikes Killing 'Al Qaeda Militants'

Don't Believe Initial Accounts of Drone Strikes Killing 'Al Qaeda Militants':
"The bodies were charred like coal."Foreign Policy has a
perfectly awful account
of a U.S. drone strike in Yemen this
September that killed a dozen civilians. Begins like this:
SANAA, Yemen — The villagers who rushed to the road, cutting
through rocky fields in central Yemen, found the dead strewn around
a burning sport utility vehicle. The bodies were dusted with white
powder -- flour and sugar, the witnesses said -- that the victims
were bringing home from market when the aircraft attacked. A
torched woman clutched her daughter in a lifeless embrace. Four
severed heads littered the pavement.
"The bodies were charred like coal. I could not recognize the
faces," said Ahmed al-Sabooli, 22, a farmer whose parents and
10-year-old sister were among the dead. "Then I recognized my
mother because she was still holding my sister in her lap. That is
when I cried."
What enables such state-sanctioned murder? One crucial
ingredient is highlighted in the next paragraph:
Quoting unnamed Yemeni officials, local and international
media
initially described the victims of the Sept. 2
airstrike in al-Bayda governorate as al Qaeda militants.
Follow that link to the
Sept. 2 Reuters article
, and you'll see this loaded lead
paragraph:
Five suspected militants linked to al Qaeda were killed by a
U.S. drone attack on Sunday in central Yemen, in what appears to be
stepped up strikes by unmanned aircraft on Islamists.
Note that "suspected" only modifies "militants"; Reuters treated
as fact that the charred bodies were "linked to al Qaeda," and part
of a broader campaign against "Islamists" who don't qualify as
being "suspected."
This isn't just linguistic nitpicking of journalismese; this is
how you midwife propaganda–straight from anonymous government
sources who have a huge incentive to legitimize targeted
death-dealing against undesirables, and unadorned with the kind of
protective skepticism that such ultimate power (let alone fog of
war) so richly deserves.
Link via the Twitter
feed of Laura Pitter
. Reason on drone strikes here.