Monday, August 07, 2006

Off the Rails at the Washington Post

I wrote about this earlier today, but this needs to be addressed separately. This is too big a deal to let slide without further examination.

Vital Perspective had noted that Howard Kurtz interviewed WaPo reporter Thomas Ricks on CNN's Reliable Sources about the situation in Lebanon and Ricks made some pretty startling accusations against Israel. He claims that Israel is purposefully leaving rocket launchers in the hands of Hizbullah so that they can continue their attacks and Israel can continue its offensive in Lebanon. Shameful doesn't even begin to cover this nonsense.
KURTZ: Tom Ricks, you've covered a number of military conflicts, including Iraq, as I just mentioned. Is civilian casualties increasingly going to be a major media issue? In conflicts where you don't have two standing armies shooting at each other?

THOMAS RICKS, REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": I think it will be. But I think civilian casualties are also part of the battlefield play for both sides here. One of the things that is going on, according to some military analysts, is that Israel purposely has left pockets of Hezbollah rockets in Lebanon, because as long as they're being rocketed, they can continue to have a sort of moral equivalency in their operations in Lebanon.

KURTZ: Hold on, you're suggesting that Israel has deliberately allowed Hezbollah to retain some of it's fire power, essentially for PR purposes, because having Israeli civilians killed helps them in the public relations war here?

RICKS: Yes, that's what military analysts have told me.

KURTZ: That's an extraordinary testament to the notion that having people on your own side killed actually works to your benefit in that nobody wants to see your own citizens killed but it works to your benefit in terms of the battle of perceptions here.

RICKS: Exactly. It helps you with the moral high ground problem, because you know your operations in Lebanon are going to be killing civilians as well.


KURTZ: Tom Ricks, "The New York Times" reported the other day, quote, "Israel is now fighting to win the battle of perceptions," which to me says the battle of headlines. And, in fact, an Israeli cabinet minister was quoted, not by name, as saying, "That the narrative at the end, is part of the problem." I'm starting to hear echoes of Iraq.

RICKS: Echoes of Iraq, yes. But also the Israelis are very sophisticated in their handling of the media. They consider it part of the battlefield, officially. The word "narrative" always comes up with conversations with Israeli national security officials. They consider shaping the narrative, the battle for the narrative, to be key as part of any war fighting. So they see the media as part of the battlefield. And, in fact, there's some belief from our reporters that they have occasionally targeted the media.
My initial response was "It's Eason Jordan's spawn. Who are Ricks' supposed sources and where is he getting this pablum?"

My second take? Who the heck is advising him and providing him this information. I'd like names. Claiming anonymous sources shouldn't cut it here. He's making accusations that, if true, would be highly damaging, and yet nothing but his word and reliance on unnamed military sources. Who are these sources? John Kerry? John Murtha?

Ricks accuses Israel of purposefully putting its own citizens in harms' way to continue this military operation, without any supporting evidence. John at Powerline makes this observation:
Israel has constantly warned its citizens to stay in bunkers, and has carried out what most would say is a reasonably thorough air campaign to knock out Hezbollah rocket launchers. Hezbollah, on the other hand, deliberately locates its rocket launchers in civilian neighborhoods, fires from inside houses, and constantly parades the corpses of people who may or may not have been killed in air attacks before cameras for propaganda purposes. But in Ricks's twisted world-view, it's Israel that is deliberately getting its own people killed so that it can occupy the "moral high ground."
I'd add that Israel has repeatedly told Lebanese civilians to get out of the battle zone. Israel has repeatedly broadcast sirens and calls for its own citizens to head to bunkers that are required in much of Israel to deal with this very scenario. From dropping leaflets and even radio and television broadcasts, the Israelis have done everything imaginable to reducing civilian casualties on both sides of the border. For Ricks to make these accusations goes beyond the pale.

Others commenting on Ricks' lunacy: Dan Riehl, Ace of Spades.

Hot Air has the video and notes that Ricks stands by his comments. Hugh Hewitt weighs in.

Others noting Ricks' rants: My Vast Right Wing Conspriacy, and Say Anything.

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