Thursday, December 14, 2023

  • Thursday, December 14, 2023
  • Elder of Ziyon
CNN does it again, using a sensational headline that is undercut by information buried far later in the article.

The article is a classic example of how journalists can craft a story that is technically accurate and thoroughly - and intentionally - misleading.

The headline:

Exclusive: Nearly half of the Israeli munitions dropped on Gaza are imprecise ‘dumb bombs,’ US intelligence assessment finds
It starts off with information we can assume is factual:

Nearly half of the air-to-ground munitions that Israel has used in Gaza in its war with Hamas since October 7 have been unguided, otherwise known as “dumb bombs,” according to a new US intelligence assessment.

The assessment, compiled by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and described to CNN by three sources who have seen it, says that about 40-45% of the 29,000 air-to-ground munitions Israel has used have been unguided. The rest have been precision-guided munitions, the assessment says.
Then it slides into speculation:
Unguided munitions are typically less precise and can pose a greater threat to civilians, especially in such a densely populated area like Gaza. The rate at which Israel is using the dumb bombs may be contributing to the soaring civilian death toll.   
It then brings in fake evidence based on what is probably a presidential gaffe:
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden said Israel has been engaged in “indiscriminate bombing” in Gaza.  
CNN doesn't mention that White House officials have been walking back that statement all day yesterday.

Then it trots out the "experts:"

But experts told CNN that if Israel is using unguided munitions at the rate the US believes they are, that undercuts the Israeli claim that they are trying to minimize civilian casualties.

“I’m extremely surprised and concerned,” said Brian Castner, a former Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) officer who now serves as Amnesty International’s senior crisis adviser on arms and military operations.

“It’s bad enough to be using the weapons when they are precisely hitting their targets. It is a massive civilian harm problem if they do not have that accuracy, and if you can’t even give a benefit of the doubt that that the weapon is actually landing where the Israeli forces intended to,” Castner added.
Note that Castner is not at all an expert on targeting. He's (presumably) an expert on disposing mines and unexploded bombs. Which means he is not an expert at all.

And then comes another favorite "expert," Nazi memorabilia collector Marc Garlasco:
Marc Garlasco, a former United Nations military analyst and war crimes investigator who served as chief of high value targeting on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff in 2003, said that using unguided munitions in a densely populated area like Gaza both greatly increases the chance that a target is missed and that civilians are harmed in the process.
Besides his problematic hobby, Garlasco quit the Pentagon two weeks after arranging an attack on a major Iraqi figure - who was not in his home, killing 17 innocent civilians instead. And he then joined Human Rights Watch, who had no problem hiring someone who did something they routinely call war crimes when anyone else does it. But, hey, he's an "expert."

So now CNN set the stage to make people think Israel is bombing civilians with dumb bombs. It gives sly implications and quotes "experts" who aren't experts. 

Finally, in paragraph 15, we learn from real experts  that "dumb bombs" can be nearly as accurate as smart bombs:
A US official told CNN that the US believes that the Israeli military is using the dumb bombs in conjunction with a tactic called “dive bombing,” or dropping a bomb while diving steeply in a fighter jet, which the official said makes the bombs more precise because it gets it closer to its target. The official said the US believes that an unguided munition dropped via dive-bombing is similarly precise to a guided munition.
That one sentence undercuts the entire story. And it is buried between two quotes from potential war criminal and Nazi SS enthusiast Garlasco, as if his opinion has more weight than actual US military experts.

But Garlasco said the Israelis “should want to use the most precise weapon that they possibly can in such a densely populated area.” With an unguided munition, “there are so many variables to take into account that could lead to an incredibly different accuracy from one moment to the next,” Garlasco added.  The US has deliberately phased out its own use of unguided munitions over the last decade, he noted.   

But Israel doesn't have a Pentagon-sized budget to toss aside perfectly good munitions that can be used without hurting civilians.  

The structure of the CNN article is designed to marginalize the most important part of the story - the part that contradicts the entire story itself. But it can defend itself against charges of bias because it does mention the dive bombing assessment from real military sources (not marginal former military who do not have the knowledge or expertise to even know about dive bombing.)  Yet the structure of the article is where the bias lies.

The problems with the story don't end there.

The story is based on the assumption that Israel used the dumb bombs exclusively on crowded civilian areas. But there is zero proof of that. 

It could have used them after all civilians have left an area, and therefore the bombs are an effective weapon against large underground targets - tunnel networks. 

More importantly, Israel doesn't only target places where there are residents.

Open source intelligence identified a dumb bomb that the Israel Air Force showed in a tweet on October 12, an M117:

This is early in the war, so it seems unlikely that the IDF was running out of guided weapons at that point. So either Israel was purposefully using dumb bombs in cities, they were dive bombing in cities (which seems unlikely), or they were not aiming these bombs at residential areas altogether.

The New York Times published maps showing where they identified building damage in Gaza. Here's a detail of  one such map from October 18:

While the detail is poor, it looks like this target is in the middle of an area where there are no residential buildings.

Google Earth shows more detail:

Zooming in:

It is a large warehouse (5600 m3, 60,000 square feet) surrounded by fields.

Assuming it was identified as a Hamas military site, the best weapon to use would be a "dumb bomb."

Here's another industrial area targeted by the Israel Air Force according to the NYT maps early in the war:

Gaza has plenty of similar industrial parks that no one lives near. The media concentrates on airstrikes in crowded urban areas, but there is a lot more in Gaza. 

It just so happens that Hamas prefers to place its tunnels - which are their key military assets -under the civilian areas. 

CNN could have done what I just did. They have access to far more resources than I do. But they chose to frame the story to make Israel look monstrous, when the facts show quite the opposite.

They could have quoted the US officials who said they believe Israel is using the dumb bombs in responsible ways before extensively quoting the "experts" who are literally paid to find dirt on Israel. 

This article tells us much more about CNN's desire to demonize Israel than it does about Israel's supposed lack of concern for civilian lives. 

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 19 years and 40,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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