Information Warfare: Libyan Spin Not Up To Speed


June 10, 2011: Libya has been trying to get some media traction in its Information War against NATO. Libya wants to create some media pressure against the NATO bombing campaign. Since NATO is using precision weapons, there are very few civilian casualties. So Libyan media specialists have tried to create some atrocities. The Libyans have not been very good at it. In one case, foreign reporters were taken to the backyard of a home and shown the wreckage of a missile, and some civilians who said they barely escaped injury when this NATO weapon fell into their back yard. Foreigners were allowed to examine the wreckage, and one of them asked the Libyan media specialist why some of the missile components had Cyrillic (Russian script) on them. The Libyan was quick to respond that this was a actually Libyan missile, thrown from a nearby military facility that was bombed by NATO.

In another case, a little girl in a hospital, obviously injured, was described as the victim of a NATO bombing. A foreign reporter asked around in the hospital and found out that the little girl had been hit by a car. There were more such cases, and the Libyans finally figured out that many of the reporters had been covering the Middle East for a long time, and had lots of experience covering Palestinian related violence. No wonder these journalists saw through the Libyan deceptions, as the Palestinians are recognized as masters at playing Western journalists. Or at least the ones who were not aware of the deceptions.

The Palestinians have been trying to portray Israel as a heartless butcher, and themselves as innocent victims, for decades. The Palestinians have become quite good at these media deceptions, although most of them are now known to any journalists, and intelligence analysts, who cover the Middle East. For the last decade, since the Palestinians rejected an Israeli peace deal by launching a terror campaign against Israeli civilians, both have been fighting an Information War over who is doing the most damage to each other's civilians. Both sides take a markedly different approach to how they deal with documenting casualties. The Israelis photograph and record any available data on anyone killed in areas they control. In addition, the Israeli press (which includes pro and anti-government outlets) scrutinize the deaths for possible headlines. So the Israeli count of who died, and whether or not they were fighters or unarmed civilians, is generally considered accurate.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, severely restrict media access to combat areas they control. The Israelis do this as well, but not as consistently and persistently as the Palestinians. Moreover, the Palestinians play with the numbers and will claim as high a number of dead Palestinians that they think they can get away with. In cases where a third party was able to double check, the Palestinians were found to be exaggerating the number of their dead by five to ten times.

Staging atrocities has become a Palestinian specialty. For example, a striking photo appeared worldwide last year, showing a Palestinian boy being hit by an automobile. The accompanying story described the two boys as having thrown stones at the car (driven by an Israeli), which then ran them down. The boys were injured, and four other photos were made available showing concerned adults tending to the injured boys. What was not reported was that the incident was staged.

Some twenty rock throwers had stationed themselves along a road near Jerusalem, known to be used by Israelis, along with a news photographer ready to make a few bucks if something really interesting took place. An Israeli car did come along, and the Palestinian men and teenagers surrounded the vehicle, throwing rocks. Glass in the vehicle was shattered and the driver tried to drive away, but the Palestinians wouldn't make way. The driver hit the gas and drove down the least crowded part of the road, hitting the two kids. In a way, everybody won. The driver got away alive, the two kids became heroes, the photographer made some money, and the media had a great photo. The only victim here was the truth.

All this is nothing new. The Palestinians long ago learned how to deceive the Western media, portraying themselves as victims rather than ruthless terrorists. The most useful Palestinian tactic was the staged "atrocity" or "funeral." For the staged atrocity, they would escort Western reporters (or just use their own cameramen and reporters) to a carefully prepared site where "innocent civilians" had been killed or wounded by an "Israeli attack." Dead bodies, and real or fake "wounded civilians" would be available, as were victims fluent enough in English to give a heart wrenching (and well rehearsed) account of the tragedy. These events eventually became so blatant and obvious that the deceptions were quickly (thanks to the Internet) picked apart, and more (but not all) editors became wary of running this stuff without some assurance that it was real.

Same deal with the funerals, although these were unmasked via a famous Israeli UAV video, showing mourners approaching, with the deceased on a stretcher, held at shoulder height. Suddenly, one of those carrying the stretcher stumbles, and the "body" tumbles to the ground. The body then gets up and lays back down on the stretcher, which is again raised to shoulder height and the funeral procession resumes its sad, but newsworthy, journey to the waiting reporters.

Palestinian organizations also find that they can get unfavorable (to their cause) videos on sites like YouTube removed by just complaining to YouTube management. These videos are often, but not always, restored after someone points out to YouTube that they have been played by terrorist supporters. The Libyans have the same intentions as the Palestinians, but lack the experience to get away with it. The Libyans also failed to note that reporters are now generally skeptical of Palestinian claims. You can fool the media for a while, but eventually the reporters are seen as dupes, not professional journalists, and stop taking the bait.





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