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ANYTHING to inflame public opinion

by NBC Nightly News Sunday, Mar. 30, 2003 at 7:38 AM

The most innocent things become centerpieces for US propaganda, but they're really clutching at straws with this latest BS.

NBC presented a "news" segment tonight (3-28-03) on what coalition forces found when they gained control of the hospital in An Nasiriyah. (This is the same hospital where the stock of brand new chemical suits that are the staple of civil-defense preparedness in every country in the world were discovered.) In a reporting style seemingly borrowed from the front page of the National Enquirer, Tom Brokaw announced a "chilling discovery" had been made. A blood-stained uniform identified as belonging to a female US soldier was found cut into pieces on the floor of one of the hospital's rooms, which Brokaw cited as "evidence" the Iraqis had done something terrible to the woman. The intrepid NBC anchor went on to describe "even more chilling evidence of torture discovered in another room just down the hall," as the camera zoomed in to show a soldier holding what appeared to be a small lead/acid battery with wires attached - the type of battery used in wall-mounted emergency lights or motorcycles. In ominous tones Brokaw opined this may have been used to "torture" American POWs.

This unrelenting effort to propagandize EVERYTHING has taken us into a theatre of the absurd. A bloodstained uniform cut into pieces on a hospital floor is evidence of mistreatment? Give me a break! One of the first things done in a hospital emergency/trauma setting is to cut the patient's clothes off so as to ascertain and gain access to as-yet-unknown injuries while minimizing patient movement that might make those injuries worse. This WAS, after all, a hospital.

As for the battery with the wires, there are so many RATIONAL possibilities one would consider before jumping off the paranoiac deep end and concluding torture. Patient monitors, emergency lighting, infusion pumps, defibrillators or other battery-powered medical equipment found in every hospital all require batteries. That such batteries were found on a table with wires attached is not altogether surprising considering that the hospital and much of the city had been without electric power for several days. In these circumstances it's likely that essential equipment was kept working by hooking it up to any batteries still functioning - nothing terribly sinister about that. I don't even know how it would be possible to use a 6 or 12 volt battery to "torture" somebody, unless one were to use it to hit the victim over the head. And exactly why would any Iraqi under siege in a hospital with no electricity, water or food be so keen to play the role of the evil Gestapo torturer anyway? Certainly the POWs interviewed on Iraqi TV (one of whom was undoubtedly the owner of the aforementioned cut-up uniform) could never have been mistaken by their Iraqi captors as potentially valuable sources of intelligence or military secrets.

In the last several days it has been stated as fact that prisoners were executed by their Iraqi captors - a claim based solely on the observation that one dead soldier had a bullet wound to the head while the other had been shot in the chest, and neither was wearing a helmet. That claim has since been thoroughly debunked by the dead soldiers' commanding officer, who personally told the mother of one that her son had been shot in combat. Okay, that didn't sell, so now it's on to cut up clothes and batteries! Maybe next they'll discover offices equipped with sinister staplers ... or infer an Iraqi assassination plot from a hidden cache of deadly pretzels.

It's been said the first casualty of war is truth, but this is getting more ridiculous by the day. One can even understand their reasons for being willing to sacrifice their own "integrity" to demonize people they want everyone to think of as "the enemy." But have they no regard for their own credibility? Have they no shame?

This thing stank during all the many months Bush & Co. piled fabrication upon plagiarism upon lies upon outright forgeries to convince the world this war was justified ... and they never succeeded. Do they think that spewing still more of these stinking-fish stories will change anything? Or is this new crop of propaganda directed at stanching the inevitable hemmorhage of support on the home front by inflaming the passions of the most credulous and ignorant among us? If that's the case, they may have forgotten what every medical student learns early on - even the comatose react to foul smells.

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BREAKING NEWS direct action Sunday, Mar. 30, 2003 at 12:48 PM
The Other News From Reuters Sunday, Mar. 30, 2003 at 3:29 PM

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