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Jane Hamsher Makes The WaPo! | Main | More Fun With Exoskeletons
August 03, 2006

Qana Conspiracy Theory Debunked (Mostly)

The fact that most of the victims were from two extended families known to live in the area would seem to put the kibosh on speculations about Hezbollah trucking in bodies from morgues.

Cooler heads, like Allah, said we were getting into Truther territory on this-- and he was right.

The Lebanese have a quite plausible reason for the initial claim of, I think 56 dead, despite only 28 or so bodies being recovered from the rubble. They say (no link, not sure where I read it) 56 people were checked in to, or otherwise believed to be inside, the makeshift basement bomb shelter; that's why they first guessed 56 casualties. It appears that not all of those first believed to be in the shelter were there. Some may have wisely fled the area; the adult or near-adult men may have been "checked in" to the bomb shelter while they were actually out firing rockets for Hezbollah.

Similar stuff happened with the WTC massacre. It takes time to verify that all persons believed to be in a destroyed buidling were, in fact, there.

So, I went out on a limb suggesting the theory that the bomb site had been "sweetened" with additional corpses. Or, rather, linking other bloggers making that suggestion, with my endorsement.

The Green Hat Guy's constant media availability, and the likely repeated parading of corpses for photographers, does suggest this was a Hezbollah propaganda effort, but a propaganda effort based, more or less, on the actual truth, simply milked and milked again for maximum impact.

There's a criticism of the media to be had there -- the media's eagerness to be used by America's enemies for propaganda -- but that's not nearly the same as speculating about trucked-in bodies and "controlled demolitions," as the JPost noted.

I should have known from my own ridiculing of the Truthers that just because you suspect someone is a liar doesn't make everything they say, no matter how well documented, a lie. And just because you generally support someone, like the Israelis, you shouldn't go too far afield in postulating, or lending credence to, farfetched theories that completely absolve them of even making an understandable mistake in the fog of war.

Even if it's true that the building did not collapse for seven or so hours after the strike, that's not a reason to believe the people inside were held there against their will by Hezbollah, waiting for it to collapse upon them. Not only is that pretty outlandish, but there's a pretty plausible explanation: the initial strike hit low on the building, collapsing the basement, killing or trapping most people inside. The building took a while to collapse, but those inside couldn't evacuate, because they were either already dead, or dying, trapped under rubble.

Why weren't the Lebanese rescue workers more prompt about trying to dig them out? Well, either because they were cowards and don't want to say so, or because the building was simply too dangerous to enter. American firefighters and cops were incredibly courageous during 9/11, but there comes a point when superiors will call off any attempted rescue missions, deeming it most likely simply to result in additional deaths of rescue workers with very little chance of saving anyone else.

Occam's Razor can keep you out of a lot of trouble, and I seemed to have misplaced mine during several postings on Qana.

I still think this was an exercise in propaganda, of course, but only in the "weak form," i.e., sweetening the story a bit, parading the bodies repetitively, etc., for maximum media effect.

The "strong form" of the propaganda theory, so to speak, seems to have been well off-base. And, to my embarrassment, it should have struck me so at the time. I sprinkled my postings with caveats and "it may be's" and such, but still, I should have just said, "This whole idea of quickly shipping in bodies to the bomb site seems pretty damn farfetched. There's a much simpler explanation-- the dead bodies at the strike site were there because they were killed by the strike."

But I didn't, because, again to my chagrin, it really didn't strike me as terribly farfetched at the time. It seemed kind of possible to me. Hezbollah are documented liars. Ergo, everything they say is a lie. Q.E.D., right?

Except it isn't.

Measure twice, cut once, they say. And think twice, post once, bloggers should say. I'm not even sure I thought once before posting.

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posted by Ace at 12:57 PM

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