July 29, 2002
5:47 PM   Subscribe

The Times has a story about a preliminary UN report claiming there could have been a cover-up regarding the "wedding-party airstrike" earlier this month. Reuters/Yahoo also has the story but it's not getting much coverage in US media. This blog claims the story is front page material in a few european countries. The US military denies any cover up.
posted by rhyax (13 comments total)
And now we know why the US won't sign the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:33 PM on July 29, 2002

Thanks for the update.
posted by Dean_Paxton at 7:14 PM on July 29, 2002

aeschenkarnos - what exactly do we 'know'? We have unnamed sources 'in the UN'. Is this somebody from a nation in the security council, or just a member nation? The un-elaborated-upon 'preliminary investigative committee' was unable to corroborate the US military's claims, so the US military must be lying right? Well, I'm far from being an Apologist for the Regime©, but I would like someone other than an 'unnamed UN source' to make the claim that there were American soldiers on the ground literally hiding bodies and scrubbing the scene of bloodstains before people start yelling 'war crimes'. This kind of story is the purview of people who love to use the phrase "denies any cover up". They must be guilty if they deny it, right?

And as far as being unable to corroborate the US military's claims, I would remind you that if you were walking down the street, and a journalist stopped you and asked you why you made a habit of having intercourse with farm animals, you would say "But I don't!" and if the journalist asked you to prove it, you wouldn't be able to. Tomorrow the story would be "XYZ denies sheep-sex charge; blocks demands to prove otherwise - friends and family fail to conclusively corroborate XYZ's claims of innocence".

I hate to get all ranty, but anytime I see people falling for badly-done propaganda, I tend to get a little hot under the collar.
posted by GriffX at 8:54 PM on July 29, 2002

How could anyone not trust such esteemed UN members as Syria, Sudan and others? Surely, they are the Enlightened keepers of the Truth.
posted by dagny at 11:05 PM on July 29, 2002

I agree with Griffx that the Times story is barely news since it relies on no cited sources whatsoever (although I hardly think that membership in the Security Council gives a country's constituents more credibility).

The UN itself has issued a press release which addresses the issues brought up in the Times story, and it at least cites two actual officials by name. For the most part the UN piece looks like damage control: the first report was inaccurate (or politically unacceptable, if you prefer) and so they're rushing to revise and release it before the original version gets any more coverage.

Personally, I'm inclined to believe the Times version of events, being as how I'm a paranoid and pessimistic individual. It's going to take much better reportage to convince me one way or another, though.
posted by whir at 11:36 PM on July 29, 2002

Mr. Eckhard stressed that Mr. Brahimi did not want to change the objective facts

whew, i'm glad there will be no changing of objective facts... :\
posted by rhyax at 11:39 PM on July 29, 2002

I cannot see why there should be a difference between the word of "just" a member of the U.N or a member of the security council, are you suggesting that one is intrinsically more trustworthy than another?
I cannot see how someone asking for more evidence negates the initial findings. I cannot see how Griffx's facile animal analogy has any merit whatsoever. The events happened, no one disputes that, what is at issue is what happened subsequently.
posted by Fat Buddha at 12:45 AM on July 30, 2002

Some of you appear to have great difficulty accepting that the US military is capable of any wrongdoing whatsoever. UN report blames the US military? Simple - try and transfer the blame back on to the UN. We should wait for the full report, but even if it said exactly the same as this preliminary report, some of you would still use it as an excuse to attack the UN.

More interesting is the question of why this story has so far failed to appear in the US media. Whether the UN report is true or not, the fact that this UN report exists is news. Why is it not being reported that the UN harbours doubts over the US' version of events? Is it that the US population is so soundly behing the "war" that editors are afraid of publishing anything which might undermine the "war" effort?
posted by salmacis at 12:52 AM on July 30, 2002

Well, now that the NY Times has covered the story, I suppose something actually did happen after all. [/snark]

I have a lot of faith in the US military being extraordinarily capable of wrongdoing; my objection to the (London) Times piece is that it's not very credible--in a literal sense--because there's no way to verify its claims, short of waiting for more information to be revealed. I do agree that the fact that the UN report exists is news (so is the fact that the Pentagon is not releasing the film it has of the gunfire).
posted by whir at 1:47 AM on July 30, 2002

posted by pracowity at 5:29 AM on July 30, 2002

(The Majcher trick is now blocked.)

My major objection here is the very strange accusation that "evidence was removed". What sort of evidence could there have been that would make it seem worse?

Hypothesis A: It was an innocent wedding party. Gunfire or no, there was no targeting of American forces. The US acted on intelligence, which was either faulty or fraudulent, or overreacted in self-defense. Innocent people died.

Hypothesis B: An anti-aircraft gun was concealed in a village; the wedding party was cover, or unwitting human shields. Intelligence was dead-on, or self-defense moves were appropriate. Innocent people died.

The Pentagon prefers the interpretation in B, but has acknowledge A. The only other hypothesis that would be "worse" (it's bad enough, obviously) is

Hypothesis C: American forces deliberately targeted civilians, for reasons unknown, thus committing a war crime.

Now, I can see saying that you don't trust the military enough to believe its version of events, but supporting C ought to require more evidence than anonymous leaks from an unreleased report. Rule of law, presumed innocent, incompetence before malice, and all that. The thing is, the evidence for such nefarious acts would not be on the ground. It just doesn't make sense.

The incident outlined in the Times article sounds, on the other hand, just like an investigation. Yes, the place would be secured; yes, people would be tied up. Yes, evidence would be taken away for investigation. The outcome was that the Pentagon essentially acknowledged it had bombed the place. If the "cover-up" occurred, the people doing it didn't do a very good job. If anything, their job should have been to plant evidence that would demonstrate the legitimacy of the bombing, if they were going to acknowledge it, or divert blame toward the hill-fighters' ack-ack, if they were not.

So I don't buy that there was a cover-up. Hemming and hawing, yes, but deliberate attempts to pretend nothing happened just were not going to fly.

And aeschenkarnos, there's nothing in the Rome Statute which prohibits either scenario A or scenario B. There's plenty of rules regarding attacks on civilians in the body of international law and laws of war, but generally to prove a war crime one must show intent. Besides, you're wrong: we did sign the treaty, the court was established; we simply won't ratify it.
posted by dhartung at 6:57 AM on July 30, 2002

UN keeps damning report on Afghan massacre secret

By David Usborne in New York

31 July 2002

The United Nations went into abrupt reverse yesterday and said it no longer intended to release a report compiled by a team of UN officials who visited the site where a US
warplane attacked a wedding party in Afghanistan on 1 July.

The change of tack by the UN was apparently the result of pressure from within its own hierarchy, particularly in Afghanistan itself, and from the US not to release the report that allegedly contradicts claims made by the US about the circumstances of the attack.

posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:25 AM on July 31, 2002

How interesting. No responses to Foldy, guys?

posted by dash_slot- at 7:16 AM on August 4, 2002

« Older “There are ethical ways to cut costs,   |   Artemis Records waives Internet royalty fees. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments