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peeve

Why, why, WHY is the media insisting on linking the anthrax epidemic to bin Laden? There is absolutely no evidence save the circumstantial timing to link the two - and I'd find it at least as plausible that some opportunist unconnected with him decided this was a good time to make the most of his plan. (If so, it's certainly working - this would have been bad without the war, but the two together are putting a pretty big strain on things.)

Despite every official coming out and saying explicitly that while they cannot rule out a link, there is nothing to connect them either, headline after headline says "U.S. bombs Afghanistan; Anthrax spreads" like the two are linked (or they're not worthy of separate stories?); TLC is showing documentaries on "bin Laden and Anthrax" and "Terrorists' use of Biological Weapons".

Thanks to this, most of the country probably is assuming the anthrax is another attack from al-Qaeda. With zero evidence. Of course some people would assume this anyway, but non-misleading headlines would help tremendously.

This has been your daily expression of Frustration With Human Stupidity (tm) brought to you by the letter Q and the number 12.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
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dphilli1
Nov. 2nd, 2001 08:52 am (UTC)
americans are against death. They want to be safe, but don't want anybody to die. People don't seem to realize that war means that people are gonna die. Yes, its tragic that non-combatants are dying, but thats what happens in war. People die. did they ask to get in the way? no. Is it our fault that they got killed? Yes. Does it change the fact that if we fight, we should fight to win? No. I think that we should have accepted the fact that there were going to be casulties on both sides, and gone to a full-scale war, or we should have not gotten involved.
antimony
Nov. 2nd, 2001 09:16 pm (UTC)
yes, but...
...this is America, and those of us who care more about the fact that there is civilian blood on our hands than the fact that our government has decided that Afghanistan is the hot bombing target of the week should be allowed to be upset over it.

(okay, I'm up way too late if I'm using nested clauses that are twice the length of the surrounding sentence. but my point stands, I think. I didn't choose this war, and I'm horrified by it. But I'm also a pacifist, so no-one should be surprised by this. I do think showing the consequences of war is good. Not like in the Gulf War, where the media humanized the weaponry (Smart Bombs) and depersonalized the enemy people (hostile units).)
jnala
Nov. 2nd, 2001 10:31 pm (UTC)
Well, you can't exactly buy weapons-grade anthrax at the corner store, and we believe the type that's been used in these attacks could have only come from two places, Iraq or the ex-USSR.

We know that bin Laden has previously attempted to buy biological weapons. We know that one of the head honchos in al-Qaeda was in communication with Iraq. Al-Qaeda and Iraq have major ideological differences, so if they're talking, you'd expect it to be for some sort of deal. What could al-Qaeda want from Iraq that they couldn't get more easily elsewhere? Hmmmm.

This isn't enough to conclude that bin Laden or al-Qaeda is involved, and I agree that the media is leaping to conclusions, but there's certainly plenty of evidence to support strong suspicions.

The very recent appearance of anthrax in Pakistan makes the suspicions even stronger. Who has a major grudge against Pakistan right now? US militants couldn't care less about Pakistan. Neither could most other groups. Islamic militants who believe that this is a holy war between Islam and the West, and that Pakistan's relatively secular leadership is betraying the Muslim world, are the only ones I can imagine who have motive for such an attack.
jnanacandra
Nov. 3rd, 2001 07:19 am (UTC)
Hmm. I had heard that it could have come from any number of places in the US as well. Has that been ruled out now? If so, yes, that's certainly more evidence to link them - though there are a whole lot of terrorist groups in that area, all of whom hate the US, not all of whom are linked to al-Qaeda.

As for targeting Pakistan (and now India, too, looks like) being more evidence for al-Qaeda, that's certainly a point - but again, anyone who is unhappy with US foreign policy might also be mad at Pakistan and India for cooperating with us.

And as with the original linking of bin Laden to 9/11, there's probably more evidence linking them that we don't know about. But the media is still jumping to conclusions, unless *they* have more evidence that they're not telling the public about.

In my view, they're being sloppy and sensationalistic. Last week sometime I actually saw a headline that said "Official links Anthrax, bin Laden" and the first line of the article was "A government official today said that there was no evidence for a link between the anthrax attacks and bin Laden's terrorist organization." The title was worded such that it was unlikely to be a typo (no missing word or letter would have reversed the meaning). Nothing else I've seen has been that blatant, but it looks like the overall pattern of sensationalism over accuracy, which I get very upset about. The most accurate news I can find I get through my job, and even though it's not technically classified I still can't share it with anyone else. Grrr.
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