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The leading segment on Thursday's Democracy Now [12/22/2011] carried the headline:
NATO Forced to Admit Air Strikes Killed Dozens of Libyan Civilians, Contradicting Initial Denials
The report begin:

JUAN GONZALEZ: NATO is admitting for the first time Libyan civilians were killed and injured during its seven-month bombing campaign that led to the ouster and death of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. NATO made the acknowledgment after a New York Times investigation revealed at least 40 civilians, and perhaps more than 70, were killed by the bombing raids. The New York Times reports the victims include at least 29 women or children, who often had been asleep in homes when the ordnance hit. Others were killed when NATO warplanes bombed ambulance crews and civilians who were attempting to aid the wounded from earlier strikes.
The segment featured two heavy hitters from the NY Times that had just done a story on the same subject. They both repeat the point that NATO had failed to take responsibility for civilian deaths before this:
ERIC SCHMITT: Well, the principal findings, as your introduction has suggested, was that initially NATO had said, and the Secretary General of NATO had said, that throughout the seven-month air campaign, they knew of no confirmed civilian casualties on the ground as a result of NATO air strikes.
C.J. CHIVERS: NATO has withheld details on most of the errors and labored to portray its role in the war as all but flawless. Until this month, it insisted it had not confirmed the killing or wounding of a single civilian.

There is a problem with this retelling of history. It is wrong on the facts.

NATO had already publicly acknowledged responsibility for civilian deaths caused by an air strike in Tripoli in late June. The Guardian ran the story on Sunday 19 June 2011:

Libya: Nato admits civilian deaths in Tripoli air raid

Nato has admitted it was responsible for an air strike that killed civilians in Tripoli over the weekend.

"A military missile site was the intended target of air strikes in Tripoli last night," a statement said. "However, it appears that one weapon did not strike the intended target; there may have been a weapons system failure which may have caused a number of civilian casualties."

Earlier the Libyan government had said that a Nato missile had struck a house in a residential area of the Libyan capital, killing at least nine civilians, including two children.

The attack is the biggest mistake by coalition forces during the four-month campaign, at a time when Nato has been trying to increase the tempo of operations against the Libyan leader.

"Nato regrets the loss of innocent civilian lives and takes great care in conducting strikes against a regime determined to use violence against its own citizens," said Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, commander of Operation Unified Protector. "Although we are still determining the specifics of this event, indications are that a weapons system failure may have caused this incident," he added.

There may have been other such reports from NATO but I remember this story because I used it in one of my diaries about Libya at the time, so Thursday the more that I heard them repeat that "NATO is admitting for the first time Libyan civilians were killed", the more I thought it important to correct this error before it gets repeated so often that it becomes legend.

At the NATO press briefing after the tragic June 19th attack, NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu said:

Clearly, the main issue for NATO over the weekend and yesterday are the allegations of civilian casualties. Mike will provide more operational information, but it's important that we put those allegations in context of the NATO mission.

Each and every civilian death is a tragedy. On Sunday, due to a technical failure, one of our weapons did not strike the intended military target, which was a missile site. We deeply regret this tragic accident.

Speaking to the media yesterday the Secretary General personally conveyed his condolences to the families of all those who may have been involved, and I would like to do that again today.

To booster the DN claims on Thursday, Juan Gonzalez, even quotes "Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Secretary General of NATO, speaking in June.":
We have carried out this operation very carefully, without confirmed civilian casualties.
But this was a quote from June, no doubt before this tragic, but admitted, accident.

And in fact, the day after the accident, the NATO Secretary General was all over the media apologizing in person, this report was typical:

Nato boss regret at loss of life in Tripoli - Channel 4 News
Monday 20 June 2011
Nato's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen tells Channel 4 News he regrets the "tragic loss of life" following an off-target air strike in Tripoli, but says the mission is meeting its objectives.

Even Democracy Now reported on it at the time, making Amy's current amnesia even more remarkable:

NATO Bombs Libyan Home, Killing Nine Civilians, Including Two Babies

NATO warplanes have bombed a home in a residential section of Tripoli, killing nine civilians, including two babies. Libyan officials said another 18 people were injured. NATO admitted to carrying out the strike but blamed the bombing on a "weapons systems failure." A Libyan government spokesperson described the NATO strike as a "pathetic attempt to break the spirit of the people of Tripoli."

So, Amy, just how do you square the DN claim in June that "NATO admitted to carrying out the strike" that killed nine civilians with the current DN claim that "NATO has admitted for the first time Libyan civilians were killed and injured during its seven-month bombing campaign?"

The claim that the NY Times investigation finally forced NATO to admit something it has never admitted before became the headline, because if the truth be told, the finding that NATO killed as many as 70 civilians, and possibly more, is hardly the indictment of NATO they were looking for.

While every single civilian death is a tragedy and each individual story, some of which were told on the DN segment, is heart rending, 70 civilians killed by NATO means that the overall NATO effort saved civilian lives when it is considered that Qaddafi killed more than 10 times that number of unarmed civilians in a single night in Tripoli and the revolutionary Libya government put the total war dead at over 30,000.

Now I know that certain factions in the US left took the early approach to the Libyan revolution that if NATO supported it they were against it. Their singular focus in this struggle was patriotic opposition to NATO, veering on support for Qaddafi. They predicted massive civilian causalities as a result of NATO bombing. They also expected that it would lead to NATO troops in Libya and the complete domination of post-Qaddafi Libya by the western powers. None of this has happened.

Now we see attempts to remember the story in such a way that it supports the views they had all along, and while they are entitled to their own opinion, they are not entitled to their own set of facts.

Orwellian re-writing of history, which is what Democracy Now engaged in on Thursday's show, must be strongly opposed whether it is done by the right or the left.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  What's 70 dead or an ethnic cleansing campaign (5+ / 0-)

    when you've got a "Good War" to cheer for.

    Fuck, after all.  They were in the way.

    Jingoes never differ in their nature, even when they differ in party label.

    She's the sort of person who would not only happily stay in Omelas, but would ask "Couldn't life be more wonderful if we threw a few more kids in there?"

    by JesseCW on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 12:00:11 PM PST

    •  I was against messing around in Libya too. (4+ / 0-)

      But it appears NYT and DN are hyping a story with misleading information.

      (And, you know, it's laughable that the NYT, who were a chief cheerleader for the Iraq War with their aluminum tube stories, can get on their moral high-horse about anything.)

      If Obama doesn't deserve credit for getting Bin Laden because he didn't pull the trigger, then Bin Laden doesn't deserve the blame for 9-11 because he didn't fly the planes.

      by Bush Bites on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 12:10:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  70 is bad but thousands would be ok ? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      skohayes, Ralphdog, BeeDeeS, shenderson

      If we had kept out, and Qaddafi had slaughtered thousands of unarmed/lightly armed civilians with tanks and chemical gas, that would have been alright? Or would you have been saddened and posting angrily about that injustice as well?

      No war deaths are good, no war is good, but we can look back and examine what was done.
      If you don't report accurately, then it's that reporting that is jingoistic, and no better than the claims of death panels.  attacking operations that ultimately saved lives.  

  •  Yeah, here's an article from June that says... (8+ / 0-)

    ...NATO admits to bombing error that killed people.

    You'd think people broadcasting on the Internet would know about Google.

    If Obama doesn't deserve credit for getting Bin Laden because he didn't pull the trigger, then Bin Laden doesn't deserve the blame for 9-11 because he didn't fly the planes.

    by Bush Bites on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 12:02:48 PM PST

  •  Clay you get the same cast of characters (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chrisfs, Ralphdog, crankyinNYC, Just Bob

    trying to wreck anything going forward.   If it is NATO, it is automatically suspect.  Nato is opposed by its rivals like Russia, China, the peace movement sympathetic to those  powers and others.   NATO has some very dubious efforts like Bush 2 and his war for profit in Iraq.

    but making a case against Libyan involvement based on "humanitarian" grounds was the same stuff peddled by the paid agents of Quaddafi, from Washington DC lobbyists to various bloggers and ex politicians to shape opinion in the USA itself.

    Friendly fire incidents and casualties in wartime can be as high as one in three.  We are very fortunate it was nothing like that number in Libya.  That was fairly good intelligence and cooperation on the ground that held it to a minimum.

    Making a case this was horrifying or exceptional or especially cruel, etc is blowing smoke up certain behinds.
    Simply doesn't square with the facts.

    I am sure many of your troubles in LA Occupy came from wreckers still smarting about how wrong they were about Libya and looking for payback.


    If you think that you and a bunch of other people can just show up on Wall St, camp out and have any effect whatsoever.... well, you will be run off in 20 minutes., you will leave town having wasted your effort 6/18/11.

    by BeeDeeS on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 12:37:33 PM PST

  •  Good stuff, refuting the deliberate misstatements. (3+ / 0-)

    T & Recc'd.

    If you think that you and a bunch of other people can just show up on Wall St, camp out and have any effect whatsoever.... well, you will be run off in 20 minutes., you will leave town having wasted your effort 6/18/11.

    by BeeDeeS on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 12:40:39 PM PST

  •  Pathetic New York Times. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 12:50:28 PM PST

  •  Proof positive that the left wing media would like (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sky Net, crankyinNYC

    to discredit the decisions of the Obama Admin just as much as the RW media would.

  •  Just assume there will be unintentional civilian (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sebastianguy99, Ralphdog

    dead and injured in most any real war.  

    The only wars without unintentional civilian casualties would be wars where civilians are intentionally targeted.

    It is common in warfare for about a third of soldier deaths to come from friendly fire.  War is not precise.  War does not operate from a clear morality.

    The most important way to protect the environment is not to have more than one child.

    by nextstep on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 02:11:16 PM PST

    •  Put lethal firepower to work, and people die. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Go figure.
      On rare occasion (as in Libya), the net result is fewer deaths and the end of a despicable dictatorship. Far more often the result is death & destruction on a massive scale, with civilians suffering the lion's share of the carnage. The Obama Administration deserves immense credit for their adriot handling of a potential bloodbath in Libya. Just compare it to Somalia in the 1990s, or George W. Bush's Operation Iraqi Clusterfuck. War is always a brutal, bloody business that rapidly spins out of anyone's ability to control. Always. The leaders of Germany, France, Britain and Russia all thought they knew exactly what they were doing in 1914.

      Aprocryphal tale: a Senior U.S. officer was asked by a politician circa 1980s what the military could offer during a particular crisis. "Sir, we can kill lots of people and destroy lots of stuff in the name of the United States. Sir." Followed by jaws dropping in silence at this bald statement of truth.

  •  So, have you send her this diary? (0+ / 0-)

    What did she say?

  •  sorry- "Did you send her" or "have you sent her" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it should read. My apologies. Sigh.

  •  I have my doubts about Libya. (0+ / 0-)

     Libya did not attack the United States during the crisis. Congress did not declare war against Libya.
      I don't know that the civil war would have been as bloody as you think it would.
      I don't think that it is accurate to say that anyone was "wrong" about Libya.

    •  You don't know, the USA was supporting Libyans (0+ / 0-)

      during the crisis. a sort of "play both sides, see who wins and support them " strategy.  It was kind of a shock for the US to realize that the commander of the rebel armies coming from Benghazi was the very same fellow that had been snatched in Asia and renditioned to Quaddafi's intelligence services  by the US agencies as a favor.

      here is the same guy blowing up a US airliner now coming into the good graces because he was signing deals with US oil companies.   That's right,  Mummmar.

      truly, what is a good American to do?  The scenery changes so fast, McCain, Graham are spinning one way, then they turn 180 degrees and start spinning another and State and DOD have different plans  and ideas...and quaddafi would never go down, he was firmly in control....

      Ohhhh,   wait.

      If you think that you and a bunch of other people can just show up on Wall St, camp out and have any effect whatsoever.... well, you will be run off in 20 minutes., you will leave town having wasted your effort 6/18/11.

      by BeeDeeS on Sat Dec 24, 2011 at 11:28:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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