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Oct 09, 2007

The Blackwater Network

Blackwater-Explosion

It's only fitting the abc logo escapes the fire.

My question is: with the media bumping around in bed with the U.S. military, how would the September 12th Blackwater shooting have been perceived if the Iraqi's hadn't blown a big whistle on the mow down?  Although it is no surprise media storytelling largely parrots the (Grand Old) party line, ABC's early framing of the event serves a vivid reminder of the death of even semi-independent media thinking.

What is especially troubling is how the visuals ABC presented in the aftermath of the incident creates a picture that is both wildly inaccurate and completely deferential to Blackwater.  The photos in the ABC slide show (gathered from whom, we're not told) makes it look and seem like the shoot out was directly related to the dramatic car bombing above.

According to a U.S. Embassy report, however, the bombing incident and the shooting attack in Nisoor Square were virtually unrelated.  What actually happened is that a roadside bomb detonated during a Blackwater-supervised visit by a U.S. official to a financial compound.  Following the explosion, the two original Blackwater teams transported that official back to the Green Zone.  At that point, a completely different Blackwater unit was dispatched "to "deal with the aftermath of the blast" along with one of the Blackwater teams that had dropped the official off.

Given the fact this explosion occurred at 11:50 (as reported by the NYT and ABC), then Blackwater teams waited for the official, then transported him to the Green Zone, then arrived at the square at 12:08 (via NYT) means it is highly unlikely this explosion -- as dramatic as it appears, and as much as the ABC slide show hypes the connection -- has any cause-and-effect relationship to the eventual shoot out.

Instead, we can 1.) clearly see that a separate and more beef-up convoy of Blackwater armored vehicles (apparently, on an independent commando mission) returns to the scene, and 2.) the layout of the street where the shoot out occurred, with its tree-lined median strip, has a different configuration than where the initial blast occurred.

Why would ABC go on to highlight holes blown in the asphalt, reinforcing the idea that the initial explosion (quoting their caption) "precipitated the Blackwater shooting incident," when the shoot out happened elsewhere?  And, considering ABC knew there was an 18 minute gap between the incidents, why did they still choose to stitch the version together this way -- unless, of course, rather than thinking and asking obvious questions, they simply kneejerk-assimilated  the Blackwater version?  Further, not only did ABC package this scenario in the slide show, they also produced a video report, complete with digital video simulations, even splicing in close-up footage of Blackwater enforcer's itchy trigger fingers.

Funny thing is, checking out the account at ABC's Blotter blog, notice how commenter after commenter smelled the rat right away, and then totally picked apart the pictures.  (The comment I liked best, by the way, was the one pointing out that the aerial shot was likely taken a different day, with the vehicles simply drawn in!)

For the flip-side to this mockery, my companion entry at HuffPost exposes the complementary problem at the executive level.

(screen shot: September 20, 2007. abcnews.go.com)

Comments

" it is highly likely this explosion -- as dramatic as it appears, and as much as the ABC slide show hypes the connection -- has any cause-and-effect relationship to the eventual shoot out. "

I think you mean it is highly UNlikely, yes?

ABC is the maker of the Bushco friendly faux documentary "The Road to 9-11". 'Nuff said.

As you say, BAG, it's only because Maliki spoke out on this incident, and is pursuing it doggedly, that so many more people are aware of the private security contractor lawlessness in Iraq.

I attended one of Jeremy Scahill's book tour events after reading his book, and learning some of the background to the various Prince Foundation philosophical and political interests. Very wealthy, and very right wing. In speaking of it to a newly-entered US senate candidate, I drew blank looks. After the news "explosion," the campaign responded with what I consider a fairly weak acknowledgement that outsourcing was definitely a problem in Washington.

Bremer's Order No. 17 giving the contractors immunity - page 4, after intro and definitions - comes home to roost.

This incident is an excellent example of how differently we experience war in today's information environment. If this had been the 60's or 70's, the news report would, naturally, present OUR side (we are in a war, remember) and the audience would watch it. That's it. The historians might pick it apart years later, but there were virtually no means to react to or challenge the message in real time.

Now, we have the internet, blogs, comments and many, many observers pouring over every report in nearly real time. The BAG's mention of the dissenting comments on the ABC blog is the most interesting part of the story in my opinion.

As for the actual events, it sounds to me as if at least the one soldier mentioned in that video had a PTSD episode and thought he was being shot at from every angle and just blew the cr@p out of everything in sight...

18 minute gap? Are you making a Nixon tapes reference here? Because I calculate a different number of minutes between 11:00 and 12:08.

Ah, from the NYT link I see that it should be 11:50 rather than 11:00.

A yes, chuck another one to the "left-leaning media". I guess the Mouse has decided that if your going to lay down with lions you might as well do it with those wearing U.S. flag lapels.

nice work, BAGman. these news -not- news re-creations or video "spots" or illustrations or whatever the hell they call them ~ have become ubiquitous. slice & dice mashups, they are ~ about as 'original' as RipIt "sample-based" RAP MUSIC.

imho, the FCC should require that all broadcast video should be DATE and HH:MM:SS timestamped.

Demit and Grimmstail: Thanks for the editing help. Things start getting a little blurry in the wee hours.

Bag, there is an Oct. 10, 2007 story in the UK's Independent about the families of the four mercenaries killed and burned in Fallujah suing Blackwater and Blackwater in turn suing the families for violating a clause in the men's contracts indemnifying Blackwater from such suits. Blackwater is winning in US courts.

But the 'story' of Fallujah is another interesting case in how the media has portrayed the actions of mercenaries, in particular Blackwater.

For every one of these doctored stories, I'm betting the news organization gets a big check from the Office of Stategic Disinformation (or whatever office they're using to disburse those millions/billions in media propaganda.

There are just too dam many stories being put out on major media that are patently biased or totally incorrect. And didn't I see a story recently where they're even using paid government shill blogger/commenters to pollute the Internet?

I'm for impeachment and war crimes trials, assuming that any of the top dogs survive the treason trials. It would be poetic justice to see the same coercive techniques they've revived from the dark ages applied to help their consistently poor recollections when under oath. I'm consistently assured that more and more of Americans are coming around to the same conclusion (finally).

Enjoy.

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