Posted by Curt on 18 June, 2007 at 6:30 pm. 6 comments already!


Bookworm notices the differences in reporting between two very liberal news organizations.  Those being The New York Times and my favorite news organization….the AP.  They both report on a coalition airstrike against a school that al-Qaeda used as a headquarters.  First The New York Times starts with a "capture your attention" headline:

7 Afghan Children Killed in U.S.-Led Airstrike

The New York Times forgets to mention for much of the article that there were al-Qaeda inside the building, instead they focus on the tragedy of the children dying.  No context at all:

It’s only when you get to the third paragraph that you discover that, in fact, that the intelligence was good and that there were, in fact, militia leaders on site:

Several militants were killed in the strike, and two militants were also detained, the coalition said. The children’s deaths come amid mounting civilian casualties in Afghanistan and rising public anger in the country over them.

The next paragraph is about the fact that a lot of civilians have been dying in recent raids making the Afghanis really angry, but it’s only in the paragraph after that that the Times quotes an Army spokesman making a point about the same problem Israel routinely struggles with in dealing with Palestinians and Hezbollah — human shields:

“We are saddened by the innocent lives that were lost as a result of militants’ cowardice,” Army Maj. Chris Belcher, a coalition spokesman, said in the statement. “We had surveillance on the compound all day and saw no indications there were children inside the building.”

The AP version waits until the 11th paragraph to put some context into the story:

The coalition said it had been part of an operation aimed at a compound containing a mosque and a madrasa thought to have been used as a safehouse by al Qaeda fighters.


"Witness statements taken early this morning clearly put the blame on the suspected terrorists, saying that if the children attempted to go outside they were beaten and pushed away from the door," the coalition said.

"Al Qaeda operatives have hidden amongst the people of Afghanistan in the past and caused unnecessary injury, and often death, to law-abiding citizens," it said.

So the context would be that surveillance showed no sign of children, but signs of the enemy using the building as a staging point.  Why in the world would they NOT bomb this place? 

But as Bookworm noticed, the Telegraph did include context from the very beginning of the article:

A Nato airstrike on a religious school sheltering al-Qa’eda militants in Afghanistan killed seven children, coalition forces admitted today.

The children died along with several militants when coalition jets bombed a compound containing a madrassa and mosque in the Zarghun Shah District of Paktika Province in eastern Afghanistan yesterday.

Nato forces insisted they were unaware of the presence of children in the compound. Major Chris Belcher, a Nato spokesman, also accused the al-Qa’eda militants of not letting the children leave the compound and using them as human shields.

"We are saddened by the innocent lives that were lost as a result of militants’ cowardice," Major Belcher said in a statement.

"This is another example of al-Qaida using the protective status of a mosque, as well as innocent civilians, to shield themselves."

This is a classic human shield story but the AP and the NYT’s refuse to print it that way.  Instead it’s about the big bad coalition forces bombing everything and anything without thinking about the consequences.  It takes the Telegraph to point out that there is some context to this tragedy.  While sad, the people to blame are the al-Qaeda scumbags who held those children at the compound, out of sight, in hopes of this very thing happening.

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