Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 26, 2009

Chinese Whisper Headlines

Part of a screenshot from the current TalkingPointsMemo homepage:

That headline is wrong. The Sudanese government said nothing about who might be responsible for the bombing of one or two convoys in Sudan in January and/or February.

The AP news piece the TPM headline is set to obfuscates who said that Israel bombed the convoy(s). Its lede:

Sudan's defense minister said air raids earlier this year, which the government suspects Israel conducted, killed 119 people involved in a smuggling ring.

Which government? When and where has the Sudanese government ever said it suspects that Israel was behind this bombing? To my best knowledge and research it never did do so. A few paragraphs further into the piece:

No one claimed outright responsibility for the attacks. However in March, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hinted at his country's involvement. When asked about the strikes, he said his government "operates everywhere we can hit terror infrastructure."

And what did the Sudanese government say? The current AP story is based on this recent report by the Sudanese news agency SUNA:

The National Assembly also heard response of the Minister of Defence, Gen. Abdul-Rahim Mohamed Hussein, to an assembly's query on the bombing of a convoy composed of around 1000 civilians in the Red Sea State, explaining that the issue was a smuggling process at the border with Egypt. He disclosed that 119 people were killed; among them were 56 smugglers and 63 smuggled persons from Ethiopian, Somali and other nationalities. Gen. Hussein indicated that this issue is still under investigation, referring to coordination in this regard between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the concerned security organs and neighbouring countries toward identifying the facts.

Nothing about Israel there.

The 'Israel bombed' rumor came up when CBS national security correspondent David Martin, know for good Mossad contacts, said he "had been told" that the Israelis did it and that the convoy was smuggling weapons from Sudan to Gaza.

The AP piece is setting the context wrong in its lede and TPM put a wrong headline on the piece. The Sudanese government never said anything about an Israeli strike.

Ynetnews makes the same mistake headlining a Reuters piece State media: Israeli air strike on Sudan convoy killed 119 even when that Reuters piece does not support that claim.

Recently Gay Gabriel analyzed the Sudan convoy bombing news and found:

In under a week, a story set in motion by the testimony of multiple unnamed sources in a new Egyptian newspaper, al-Shurooq, became a customized yet globally significant story that supposedly confirmed the long, clinical arm of Israel protecting itself from Iran.

However, certainty was an afterthought to a finished product that appeared assuredly in the Sunday papers and weekly news magazines, when in fact the foundations were provided by a sizeable number of unnamed and openly contradictory sources.

Furthermore, it would seem as though the lesson of the story - that Israel has a long, protective arm - was valedictory enough to credit obscure or fringe sources with enough substance to provide the central theme of the story in the absence of witnesses, or officially confirmed substantiation.

There is no evidence that Israel bombed the convoy(s). There is no evidence or reputable source that the convoy(s) had anything to do with weapons smuggling. Even if there were weapons (likely with smugglers) there is no evidence or reputable source of where these were coming from or where they were going to or if they were simply for the convoy(s) security.

The Sudanese government has never alleged that Israel did the bombing. I for one believe it did not. Based on a capability assessment, I think that U.S. special operation forces were responsible for the killing of those 63 migrants and 56 smugglers.

The Israeli secret services and Olmert simply used the secrecy around the event to 'suggest' greater capabilities than Israel really has and to 'suggest' Iranian involvement.

The rest is Chinese whisper, a telephone game played by news agencies and manipulative headline writers.

Posted by b on May 26, 2009 at 02:43 PM | Permalink


Revealing from the TPM article:

'The Sudanese government — a close ally of Iran and Hamas — denies sending weapons to Hamas. '

SO THATS why Sudan gets the treatment?!!!

Posted by: brian | May 26, 2009 7:19:20 PM | 1

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