March 9, 2008

An excersize in bullshit detection

I was looking through some British news sites, ones I don't usually read like The Independent and The Times, and I found this article about Hamas/Iran at the latter 'news' paper. The article is really short and to the "point," and to the average reader, this article would probably present a reasonable excuse for starting a war with, or at least placing sanctions on, Iran. Is it possible that that's what the article is designed to do, make the average Joe who happens to read it feel like the authorities are doing the right thing at that time? Just consult your bullshit detector, here's how:

THE Palestinian group Hamas, blamed for last week’s massacre of eight students at a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem, has revealed that hundreds of its fighters have been trained in Iran.

So Hamas was "blamed," but were they actually responsible for it? Did they admit to committing the "massacre"? While the subject of the article is aside from that detail, the addition of "blamed for killing school girls," makes sure the reader knows these are the bad guys, regardless of who actually trained them (that's the subject of the article). Let's continue:

A senior commander interviewed by The Sunday Times said 300 of the group’s “best brains” had been secretly sent to Tehran.

You can't tell from just this quote, but the senior commander they're referring to is supposedly a commander from Hamas. This may seem like a weightless argument, but why would a senior commander of Hamas reveal a "secret" to a reporter from The London Times, much less agree to an interview in the first place? Is this a credible testimony? The article doesn't name who the commander was, so if what "he said" was actually true (considering the interview really happened), he must be sabotaging Hamas from the inside. That would make sense, except that the article also says this:

“Iran is our mother,” the commander said. “She gives us information, military supplies and financial support.”

Forgive me again, for sounding like a conspiracy theorist, but isn't that statement kind of.... exactly what certain people want to hear from groups like Hamas, so they can continue to label Iran a "terrorist threat" and therefore legitimize sanctions or even war? and once again, why would a senior commander of Hamas, who says things like "Iran is our mother," expose all of this to a Times reporter if the training was supposed to be a secret?

Enough with my pointed questions, I'll just say this: I think it's highly likely that this article is complete bullshit. There's no way to confirm that this interview even took place, that's the beauty of the story: the guy was giving away a secret about his big bad terrorist organization, he'd be killed if he were identified. But therein lies another contradiction: if this guy is a commander of a big ol' bad schoolgirl killing organization, why hide his identity and protect him? What does The Times owe to this guy, who's part of an organization who supposedly kills innocent people? It is physically impossible that everything in this article is accurate, there's at least one fabrication here.

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