<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

"A Public Relations Failure" 
I've been waiting all week to pounce on the New York Times over the White Phosphorus story. I was sure they'd make a hash out of it. And I knew they couldn't ignore it much longer.

Credit where credit's due, though, I'm pleased to say that New York Times reporter Scott Shane gets it about right.

On Nov. 8, Italian public television showed a documentary renewing persistent charges that the United States had used white phosphorus rounds, incendiary munitions that the film incorrectly called chemical weapons, against Iraqis in Falluja last year. Many civilians died of burns, the report said.

The half-hour film was riddled with errors and exaggerations, according to United States officials and independent military experts. But the State Department and Pentagon have so bungled their response - making and then withdrawing incorrect statements about what American troops really did when they fought a pitched battle against insurgents in the rebellious city - that the charges have produced dozens of stories in the foreign news media and on Web sites suggesting that the Americans used banned weapons and tried to cover it up.

The Iraqi government has announced an investigation, and a United Nations spokeswoman has expressed concern.


"It's discredited the American military without any basis in fact," said John E. Pike, an expert on weapons who runs GlobalSecurity.org, an independent clearinghouse for military information. He said the "stupidity and incompetence" of official comments had fueled suspicions of a cover-up.

"The story most people around the world have is that the Americans are up to their old tricks - committing atrocities and lying about it," Mr. Pike said. "And that's completely incorrect."

Daryl G. Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association, a nonprofit organization that researches nuclear issues, was more cautious. In light of the issues raised since the film was shown, he said, the Defense Department, and perhaps an independent body, should review whether American use of white phosphorus had been consistent with international weapons conventions.

"There are legitimate questions that need to be asked," Mr. Kimball said. Given the history of Saddam Hussein's use of chemical weapons in Iraq, he said, "we have to be extremely careful" to comply with treaties and the rules of war.


The Times pulls no punches in establishing that WP ordnance is not a chemical weapon, nor is it banned by any treaty to which the US is signatory. And also debunks the video evidence:

The film showed disfigured bodies and suggested that hot-burning white phosphorus had melted the flesh while leaving clothing intact. Sigfrido Ranucci, the television correspondent who made the documentary, said in an interview this month that he had received the photographs from an Iraqi doctor. "We are not talking about corpses like the normal deaths in war," he said.

Military veterans familiar with white phosphorus, known to soldiers as "W. P." or "Willie Pete," said it could deliver terrible burns, since an exploding round scatters bits of the compound that burst into flames on exposure to air and can burn into flesh, penetrating to the bone.

But they said white phosphorus would have burned victims' clothing. The bodies in the film appeared to be decomposed, they said.


The article doesn't break any new ground. But it doesn't have to. Reporters shouldn't be pressured to break new stories where there are no stories to break. That's how crap stories like this one wind up seared into public memory in the first place.

The Times article could have benefited from a sidebar backgrounder on the history of WP and maybe an infographic depicting its doctrinal use as a marking round. But maybe that's a job for USA Today.

Splash, out

Jason

Comments:
For great prices and those hard to get items just check us out at http://www.bnbshoppersnetwork.com
 
I like what you have to say! Have you been to my website http://newsfromiraq.org? My site pertains to Basra. Come see it for yourself!
 
thanks for the info
 
IM TELLING YOU HOW....Do you know or have you ever heard of Gotting Money from small business grants ..If you are interested in finding out how to get more info on small business grants visit us at http://allgrants4u.com... There are so many things you can get grants for.. Homes, school, work, business, college..ect.. Find out how everybody is getting money from small business grants today... Quit living in poverty educate yourself and improve your life..
 
Hi #NAME#. Just found your site via car rental. Although I was looking for car rental I was glad i came upon your site. Thanks for the read!
 
I just came across your blog and wanted to
drop you a note telling you, Friend, how impressed I was with it.
I give you my best wishes for your future endeavors.
If you have a moment, please visit my site:
loans center
It covers loans center related contents.
All the best!
 
Hi, Thank you for having this info on the web. I enjoyed your post. If you may have any interest in
debt consolidation
then I know where you may get your solution. For your comfort, I have enclosed the link, so if needed you can visit the site. Thanks again for your lovely blog. credit
 
WHAT IS THISSSSSSSSSS

If You are looking for more info on ebooks and am glad to be on your site. If you want to find out more about......ebooks then go visit http://mofou.com......You wont be disapointed..Thanks For Visiting
 
Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Meter

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!

Prev | List | Random | Next
Powered by RingSurf!