Tripoli Playing Up Civilian Deaths?
John F. Burns of the infamously propaganda-laden New York Times has a new op-ed piece: Libya Stokes Its Machine Generating Propaganda decrying a defensive war of words and ideas as the latest tools in an evil war against freedom and innocent people. As Burns sums up the effects of NATO's crimes, justified by rumors, against a sovereign nation:
With Colonel Qaddafi effectively a fugitive in his own capital; with Libyan rebels making important gains in recent days in the western mountains; with growing food shortages; and with an urban underground in Tripoli capable of mounting mass protests that the government can suppress only with deadly fire, the government now seems to be relying ever more heavily on its propaganda machine.He may be right about two cases he cites, where a girl hit by a car was shown as a victim of a NATO bomb, and the church damaged only as a side-effect of a bombing of the military compound right next door. He might even be right about a general policy of exaggerating civilian death reports. I wouldn't be so flippant as to claim to know the answer to such complex questions with so many variables I couldn't pin down. And, as he says, what the hell else can they do, aside from undignified and abject surrender?
With no way of stopping the airstrikes, it seems as though the hidden power of the government’s intelligence and security agencies has been turned to persuading world opinion — above all, opinion in the NATO countries carrying out most of the airstrikes, the United States, Britain and France — that the strikes’ main victims, and often the intended targets, are civilians, and not military, as NATO has said.That's some paranoid imagination (which I encourage, of course), suggesting basically, the Libyan CIA is engineering this to trick us. But brutal as they're supposed to be, they can't come up with enough dead civilians to be very convincing (see below).
Such silliness aside, the real targets of the bombs is the same as that of the sanctions and money seizures, which are designed to squeeze civilians. The common target of these, and of all other anti-Gaddafi efforts, is the government and the economic system it protects. They want at Libya's resources like Gaddafi wouldn't allow, and what we're seeing is the oyster shell being cracked open for the pearl.
They won't shy away from killing civilians and denying it, but neither will they wantonly seek that out, as the government there might seem to suggest at times.
Laughing at the "Bank Shot"
Another incident the other day saw a family host a missile in their yard following a nearby NATO strike in the mid-evening. This is explained in more detail here, and called "absurd." It was first passed off to the foreign media, apparently, as a NATO missile. Burns notes, starting with the obvious mix-up as the laughable and showing moment it isn't:
But a NATO missile with Cyrillic script on its components? With that discovery from the wreckage, the official briefing about 50 journalists paused in his fulminations against NATO, but only to recalibrate his account. Yes, he said, it was a Russian missile, part of Libya’s armory, but it had reached the backyard by what foreign reporters familiar with arcade games quickly dubbed the “bank shot” or “pinball” method.Why would there not be dangers like secondary explosions and even fluke missile flight, when hitting ammunition stores? Earlier in the conflict, late March, a young baby boy was killed by a Libyan missile, allegedly ignited in a NATO strike at an ammunition depot around 6 am. The depot was some five miles (8km) away, but there was a hole in the wall and a baby who reportedly died less than instantly after a sheet of exploded metal cut into his little face and head.
In that sequence, a NATO bomb or missile first hits a Libyan arsenal somewhere out in the dark, igniting the Russian missile and sending it blasting off into the night. The effect, the handler said, was the same, regardless of the missile’s provenance. NATO had nearly killed innocent Libyan civilians.
“It is an aggression,” he said. “It is evil.”
The account was doubted somewhat at the time, partly from the great distance involved, but was mostly just left "unconfirmed," for lack of detail from NATO. Now Burns and others dismiss the same thing happening again, from a confirmed strike on an ammunition depot one kilometer distant. Thankfully, no one was killed this time.
Both denials carry a soft implication that the Libyans fired their own missiles around into civilian areas to create propaganda against NATO. Another turn of their intel agency propaganda machine! Certainly drawing attention to the fact of these incidents is taken as propaganda by the ilk of Mr. Burns.
This might sound a little "conspiracy theory," but to be fair, consider the odds - at least two Libyan missiles land in civilian areas, at the time of NATO strikes with US missiles that never target civilian areas. And out of about 3,000 strike sorties to date ... many hitting places full of other explosives ... really, what are the odds that only two or three rockets would enter homes?
"Linked in Some Way..."
Burns seems quite confident that basically no civilian deaths have occurred from NATO's "humanitarian bombardment" of Libya, and certainly none on purpose.
Civilian damage, where there has been any, has been mainly in the form of blast and shockwave impact on nearby buildings. Where civilian buildings have been hit, they appear to have been empty, and linked in some way to the military targets.He doesn't mention the Gaddafi family residence in the Ghargour neighborhood, where a NATO bomb fell, at about 8:30 pm on April 30, while the Libyan leader was present. He was spared, but three toddlers, the Leader's son Seif, a family friend, and some of the animals in the peting zoo out back were killed.
Sightings of civilian casualties have been rare, though not for want of official endeavor. But 11 weeks into the airstrikes, the government minders’ credibility, at least among foreign reporters, has worn perilously thin.
It had been deemed a command and control bunker linked to "attacks on civilians," and NATO claimed no idea why - or if - the Gaddafi family was there.
Burns also glosses over the NATO bombing of a group of religious leaders in Brega, at dawn on May 13. These clear civilians, on a mission of peace into rebel territory, were hit right during their brief stay in a government building, deemed just then a command and control bunker needing to be taken out. Nine were killed, their bodies shown on state TV, verifiable on Youtube (see above link).
Mr. Burns first came to my attention covering the funeral for these nine killed at Brega, which he suggested was fake. (again, see above link) Never mind the strike was acknowledged by NATO for time and locale, that the Imams' presence there was known, that nine bodies were shown, and nine coffins were laid in the ground in Tripoli within 24 hours.
He slyly countered it all with silence, appeal to bias, and rumors he picked up from whispers on the side, with or without cash enticements. The men in the coffins were other people, he learned - the long-dead, a driver, someone's uncle, possibly Gaddafi victims dug up for this show, but not the Imams claimed to have been killed.
Now in his current work, he says:
Visits to bombing sites, hospitals and funerals have produced a succession of blunders, including patients identified as bombing victims who turned out not to be, empty coffins at funerals and burials where some of those interred turned out not to be airstrike victims at all.Chances are he's referring in part to that little "fact-finding mission." The other points, well ... take them with a grain of salt, until verified somehow.