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FOX News Distorts - Whitewashes Deaths of UNIFIL Peacekeepers

Reported by Marie Therese - July 28, 2006 -

As we all know, four United Nations UNIFIL observers were killed in an Israeli bombardment of their well-marked U. N. Patrol Base, located in Khiam, Lebanon. U. N. Secretary General Kofi Annan issued a statement claiming that there is evidence that the UNIFIL location was deliberately targeted, something that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has strongly denied. Beginning Thursday morning with FOX & Friends First and continuing all day long, various FOX News reporters and hosts dismissed Annan's claims, claiming that "new evidence" revealed that Hezbollah fighters were lurking within 10 feet of the observation post, using it as a shield.

This "new evidence" turned out to be (1) a one-sentence excerpt from an e-mail written by one of the UNIFIL officers, Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, of Canada (who is listed as "missing-presumed dead") and (2) unsubstantiated claims mixed with opinion made by Kruedener's former commander, whom FOX never named.

hessvonkruedener-cyn#11A75F

In an interesting aside, since his body has not been recovered, Major Hess-von Kruedener's wife, Cynthia, refuses to believe that her husband is really dead. Still, she holds Israel responsible and feels that his outpost was deliberately targeted. Source: CBC News

With their usual partisan gusto, the FOX & Friends' interchangeable hosts - Steve Doocy, E. D. "Edith Ann" Hill and Judge Andrew Napolitano - rolled out what would become the FOX News "whitewash of the day".

First, FOX News plastered one of its tabloid-style banners across the bottom of the stage, carefully worded to mislead its viewers:

IS THE U.N. BEING USED FOR COVER BY HEZBOLLAH?

Then the talking heads compounded the misinformation.

NAPOLITANO: Here's what happened. The Secretary General was having dinner with Condoleezza Rice in Rome along with 18 or 20 heads of state and foreign ministers when he received word that four U. N. peacekeeping observers, present in southern Lebanon, had been killed by Israeli fire. Without getting any other evidence, he ran to the microphones and issued a statement that this was apparently intentional. He stuck to that notwithstanding a ...

HILL: He continues to.

NAPOLITANO: He continues to stick to it notwithstanding substantial evidence to the contrary, notwithstanding a profound Israel apology.

DOOCY: Well now, here's the big development today and that is this. Appar - there's a Canadian Army officer, a Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener - he was killed in the strike. He e-mailed a friend back in Canada ...

HILL: His former commander.

DOOCY: That's right. And he said "Look. I'm at this post and Hezbollah is all over us." And he wrote: "Has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity."

VIDEO CLIP of the words "Has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity." - Via email, Major Paeta Hess-von Kruedener, The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL)

DOOCY: As it turns out ...

HILL (interrupting): Referring to the Israeli fire coming in, because they were within - Hezbollah was within ...

DOOCY (emphatically): Ten feet!!!

NAPOLITANO: Right.

DOOCY: Hezbollah's standing 10 feet away from the U. N. observers because they know, because we're not a member state, we can't get into trouble, so we're gonna stand right next to it. According, in other words, let's make this clear, according to this report - it's in the New York Sun and it's being carried in Canada as well - Hezbollah was using United Nations as a human shield.

NAPOLITANO: And you know what?

HILL: And Kofi Annan comes out with that and is still sticking to it. In fact one of the U. N. people is claiming that "no, there wasn't any fire within 3 miles." Surprisingly, they refused to give out any documentation showing that because here's from the person who was killed that day saying "they're within ten feet of me."

NAPOLITANO: Unbelievable! Guess what? It's a war crime to use somebody else as a human shield and youre absolute ...

HILL: Yeah, but they're not covered.

DOOCY: They're terrorists!!

NAPOLITANO: Correct. And you're absolutely permitted to attack the terrorists even if they're using an innocent human shield.

COMMENT

The Judge has spoken. The voice of FOX's resident Legal Eagle - the source of all sanity and reason - has set a new standard, one that will make the job of America's police officers much easier.

The next time some deranged father uses his 9-month-old baby daughter as a human shield, the police have Da' Judge's permission to blow the kid and the father away. Just think of all the money this "perfectly legal" tactic will save the cities! No more long, drawn-out hostage negotiations that drain the municipal coffers. Nope. A quick couple of sniper shots, a trip to the morgue, a few commiserating words to the grieving mother and the police are free to pursue more important tasks, like rounding up arch-criminals like Juan and Maria Garcia and shipping them back to Mexico.

I wonder how Napolitano can sleep at night? Unlike his co-hosts, who are nothing more than empty vessels filled each morning with what claptrap their creators dictate, Andrew Napolitano actually understands the law. This makes him more culpable. He knows what he's doing is distortion and yet he does it anyway.

As for the content of the F&F segment, how does one begin to unravel the web of distortions and half-truths, false innuendo, non sequitur, etc. that went into this caricature of a news report? Journalism, thou are lost and gone forever over at FOX News!

To begin with, the source that the F&F crew used - the story in the New York Sun - is, in and of itself, a masterpiece of deception.

Did the FOX & Friends crew even bother to cross-check their one source? No. Rather than fact-check, the jingo jokers at FOX News sacrificed honest reporting in order to conjure up a picture of dark-skinned, bearded men in turbans surrounding the UNIFIL bunker, wildly screaming, brandishing rocket-launchers, hiding behind a loophole in international law, daring the stalwart, godly Israelis to blow them to smithereens.

Thanks to Judge Napolitano, FOX viewers went to bed last night believing that Kofi Annan is a congenital idiot and Israel was within its rights when it blew up four unarmed men in a clearly marked bunker whose position was well known by blanketing the surrounding area with bombs after the men placed frantic phone calls asking the Israelis to back off. Additionally, according to the U. N., on the day the incident occurred, Hezbollah fighters were 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) away - not 10 feet!

FOX never once gave the name of Hess-von Kruedener's "former commander" even though the New York Sun did. That person turned out to be Major General (ret) Lewis Mackenzie, a colorful character in Canadian military history. Long associated with U. N. peacekeeping missions, Maj. Gen. Mackenzie has enjoyed a distinguished career as a soldier, an author, public speaker and conservative politician.

On the military side, the high point was his service as Chief of Staff for the United Nations Protection Force or UNPROFOR in Yugoslavia in 1992. Mackenzie is highly decorated. Despite this, his otherwise stellar career was irreparably marred by what is known in Canada as the Somalia Affair. Along with many other officers, Maj. Gen. Mackenzie was harshly reprimanded for laxity in overseeing the Canadian Airborne Regiment during a 1992 deployment in Somalia. An out-of-control Regimental group committed atrocities including the torture and murder of a 15 year old boy.

(The Somalia Affair reads eerily like the stories coming out of Iraq. Ill-trained soldiers caught up in an environment where even their "good works" are sabotaged, reviled by the locals, descending into behavior reminiscent of Apocalype Now with strange initiation rituals, trophy collection, fetishism and planned murder raids, winked at or ignored by lax commanders.)

The words quoted above by Steve Doocy ("Has not been deliberate targeting, but has rather been due to tactical necessity") are also contained verbatimin the Sun article and in an e-mail, sent to CTV on July 18th. Yes. July 18th, a full seven days before the Israeli attack. One wonders if there is a reason Maj. Gen. Mackenzie hasn't produced any e-mails? Could it be that he received EXACTLY the same e-mail that CTV did? If so, perhaps his claims are, in fact, exaggerations of Hess-von Kruedener's very dry recitation of things as they were on July 18th?

Neither Maj. Gen. Mackenzie or the Sun or the FOX News' hosts ever mentioned the three words that would mess up their tidy little theory that Israel's attack was an accident.

PRECISION

GUIDED

MISSILE.

Last time I looked, one of those babies had to be told where to go by someone.

"Deliberately targeted" is just another way of saying "precisely guided".

Now explain to me how a PRECISION GUIDED MISSILE is an "accident".

****************

In the course of doing research for this post, I came across an interesting and depressing piece of information about the town of Khiam, Lebanon, something I had never heard before.

From Wikipedia:

Khiam (Arabic الخيام) is a village located in South Lebanon Governorate, near the city of Nabatieh.

It was a former French barrack complex originally built in the 1930s. It became a base for the Lebanese army before falling under control of the South Lebanon Army (SLA) and in 1985 was converted into a detention and interrogation centre. It remained in use for detention and interrogation of Lebanese civilians until Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, and the subsequent collapse of the SLA.

Khiam was notorious for extensive use of torture, and the atrocious conditions in which inmates were kept.

What is more controversial is the question of whether, and to what extent, the centre was operated by or for the Israelis. Israel has denied direct involvement in Khiam, claiming to have delegated operation of the centre to the South Lebanon Army (SLA) as far back as 1988.

However, this claim is open to dispute. In particular, an affidavit penned by IDF Brigadier General Dan Halutz for the Israeli Ministry of Defence admits a considerable level of Israeli involvement, including paying salaries and providing training for interrogators.

In addition to killing the UNIFIL peacekeepers, Israel also destroyed the Khiam prison, which had been converted to a museum, in the same barrage of bombs.