Thursday, May 13, 2004

More Official Elevator Music From MSNBC 

So who really killed Nick Berg?

MSNBC, who never met an official government press release they wouldn't swallow hook line and sinker, was alive and hoppin' with analysis of the Berg murder. Dan Abrams (The Abrams Report), never short of wind or at a loss for some grand expoundment on this that and the other thing, was motoring away about the entire matter as it applied to fingering al Qaeda and the Jordanian Zarqawi for the beheading of Berg. Deborah Norville was whooping up the tale as well, making no secret that, by God and country and king, the message delivered upon that tape from the group that killed Berg was a message from al Qaeda. (unfortuantly MSNBC is slow on transcript production values so I have no links to those transcripts as of this writing.)

Moving along...

Well, I dunno if al Qaeda was involved or not. And i don't know if Zarqawi was the man who performed the execution in that video, although Debbie Norville repeats the allegation, ie: conventional wisdom, that he has taken credit for the act. Which I guess is good nuff for MSNBC. Ah yes, MSNBC, you can always count on them folks to straighten out any confusing news-like stuff, thanks berry much. Sure. (Isn't that how they sold us the glorious CakeWalk War and all those excitable yarns about WMD and forty five minutes to mushroom cloud meltdown?) Nice to see MSNBC is back in fine form.

In any case, apparently no one at MSNBC's television day camp actually listens to news, aside from whatever it is that's piped in from the Pentagon, because CNN (no prize themselves) was actually reporting a different take on the al Qaeda/Zarqawi Berg murder video link. Hours before Debbie and Dan began their nightly pantings CNN aired the following interview with their own senior editor for Arab affairs Octavia Nasr. Here is what Nasr had to say with respect to suggested al Qaeda and Zarqawi participation in the Berg murder. Including the US governments official translation of that video:

O'BRIEN: Interesting. All right, now one final thought here. You did a very careful translation of your own, of the statement. And in it, you see no reference to al Qaeda. And yet the official U.S. government translation does. Explain how that happened.

NASR: Oh, I find it very interesting, because out of the blue, there is a mention of al Qaeda on the U.S. government translation. It says: "Does al Qaeda need any further excuses?" Any speaker of the Arabic language is going to notice a difference between the word al Qaeda, which means "the base," and al qaed, which means "the one sitting, doing nothing."

My translation says: "Is there any excuse for the one who sits down and does nothing?" Basically they're telling people, you have no excuse for not doing anything, for not acting and defending Islam and so forth. Whereas the U.S. government translation has this factual error, I'm sure it's an honest mistake, but basically it sort of adds al Qaeda to the statement, which is not on the statement.

O'BRIEN: All right, Octavia Nasr, we don't know exactly how that got in there. We'll try to get more on that. We appreciate you bringing that all to light and appreciate your insights, of course.

NASR: You bet.

Shucks no, how could something like that possibly git in there. Jeepers! So in other words the official US gov. translation is either mistaken or intentionally bogus? Or, Nasr is wrong when she says that the tape makes no mention of al Qaeda whatsoever. Nasr then indicates that the man alleged to be Zarqawi (speaking on the tape) does not have a Jordanian accent, which leads her to believe it is not Zarqawi:

O'BRIEN: Well, let me ask you this. You've had a chance to really listen to this tape and get a sense who might be responsible, just by deciphering, say, accents. And certainly, there in the Arab world, they're very attuned to that. And given the fact of who this may or may not be, does that have some effect on how it is being played?

NASR: Yes, and if you listen to these voices that we're hearing on Arab networks, Iraqis are condemning this execution. And they're saying these are foreigners. These are not Iraqis. They do not represent us and so forth.

Now, of course, the original claim was that Zarqawi is the actual man who performed this execution. Our experts listened to the accent, as you said, and they determined the accent is not Jordanian...

O'BRIEN: He is a Jordanian who is working supposedly, allegedly, at the behest of al Qaeda in Iraq. So go ahead.

NASR: Right, he is very close to bin Laden, and works, you're right, as an agent of al Qaeda in Iraq. Now, the accent is not Jordanian so that takes the Jordanian element out of the story immediately.

The interview with Nasr took place on Wed. afternoon, May 12. You can read it all here: CNN - LIVE FROM... Berg Family Has Questions;...Intelligence Gathering | May 12, 2004 - 12:59 ET.

Similarly, an Associated Press report from early March, 2004 suggests that Zarqawi himself may have been killed some time ago. It also reports that Zarqawi has an artificial leg, which did not appear to be the case with the man in the Berg murder video, who is allegeded to be Zarqawi. See: Alleged Statement Says Extremist Killed - 3/4/04. (Associated Press)

Update: al-Zarqawi had a leg amputated, al-Zarqawi did not have a leg amputated? From April 2004:
A U.S. official said Tuesday that al-Zarqawi traveled to Baghdad in May 2002 for treatment of a leg injury but, contrary to previous reports, appears not to have had a leg amputated. The official would not discuss the reason for the change in assessment. via CNN

Thanks to "anna" (see comments) for digging up the link to the blockquote cited above. You can also visit with anna at her blog annatopia.

And then there was this: From MSNBC's parent company NBC. Which apparently didn't merit any windy vetting from Debbie or Dan or anyone else at MSNBC-TV as far as i can recall.

Avoiding attacking suspected terrorist mastermind Abu Musab Zarqawi blamed for more than 700 killings in Iraq | By Jim Miklaszewski -Correspondent, NBC News | Updated: 7:14 p.m. ET March 02, 2004

With Tuesday’s attacks, Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, is now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq.

But NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger.


The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.

As I said, I don't recall hearing anything about that from any of the nightly cable news-noise television theater departments. Not even Joe "Hollywood did it!" Scarborough, who, no doubt, was busy investigating Hollywood's appetite for farm animal sexual molestation, or girls gone bad videos, or something really real and really important like that. Uh huh.

In any event, all of this is yet again another fine example of why the television news-o-tainment opinion-yawp industry (how'd you like to depend on Maureen Dowd or Maggie Gallagher to cack up the "news" each evening. Yeeks!) is designed for no other reason than to offer up one more boing-eyed allegation after boing-eyed allegation, to trowel on one layer of bullshit after another. One on top of the next until the allegation becomes the "real" story and any competing information is shoveled off to a compost heap.

None of these awful shows are designed to peel back the onion and poke around at what is under the surface skin. To find any answers or disseminate any greater detailed understanding of a particular issue, event, or political debate. It's all about scripted story telling. And like any cheap thrill, once the script is booted into the vein there is no end to the junkies that will show up to help enhance the high.

Note: As far as I know none of the usual evening news crickets at CNN made any mention of Nasr's earlier observations either. Certainly not CNN's official White House Press release reader and translator John King. At least I didn't catch it. So, either I missed something, or Nasr's analysis was rejected by the script writers and producers and conventional wisdom apologia wonder clucks at the home office. Whatever. What the hell do i know? Not a goddamned thing.

On and on it goes.... reductio ad absurdum.

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