Thursday, July 12, 2007

Is this story for real?


Given that's it's reproduced at National Review Online, you have to be at least a little suspicious:

Speaking through an American interpreter, Lieutenant David Wallach who is a native Arabic speaker, the Iraqi official related how al Qaeda united these gangs who then became absorbed into “al Qaeda.” They recruited boys born during the years 1991, 92 and 93 who were each given weapons, including pistols, a bicycle and a phone (with phone cards paid) and a salary of $100 per month, all courtesy of al Qaeda. These boys were used for kidnapping, torturing and murdering people.

At first, he said, they would only target Shia, but over time the new al Qaeda directed attacks against Sunni, and then anyone who thought differently. The official reported that on a couple of occasions in Baqubah, al Qaeda invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking. In each instance, the family had a boy, he said, who was about 11 years old. As LT David Wallach interpreted the man’s words, I saw Wallach go blank and silent. He stopped interpreting for a moment. I asked Wallach, “What did he say?” Wallach said that at these luncheons, the families were sat down to eat. And then their boy was brought in with his mouth stuffed. The boy had been baked. Al Qaeda served the boy to his family.

This just reeks of the same kind of fabricated sensationalism as the now-discredited "Kuwaiti babies and incubators" story.

Is there anything to this?

PALADIEA-RELATED AFTERSNARK
: No, we're not done here, but you will all note, I hope, how Dave (a man with actual military experience) explained slowly and carefully why the story simply isn't credible, after which "anonymous" -- by way of illogical, childish rebuttal -- deliberately misinterpreted and misquoted him.

You might want to get used to that sort of thing, Pal. I'm betting you'll be seeing a lot of it.

17 comments:

Dave said...

No. It's not true.

There is an obvious sign, but I'll get there in a moment.

First, this is produced for NRO by Michael Ledeen, who still remains the prime suspect in the Niger "yellowcake" forgery.

Second, the actual report is provided by Michael Yon, a blogger and author who, despite having no press credentials, managed to get himself embedded with the 24th Infantry Regiment in 2004. Because he's a "freelance" story-teller he has had to rely on reader donations to his blog. He's now in the middle of a movie deal in which, he hopes, Bruce Willis will play the lead in a role based on Yon's stories.

A nice "shock" story would be pretty good for him right now.

But that's not the tell. The tell is the supposed actions of Lt Wallach.

No interpreter would stop and then provide what he "thought" he heard without a fairly lengthy period of clarification. Yon's very dramatic depiction of the event is just that - drama. The fact that Yon doesn't describe an animated verbal exchange is enough to convince me that this is a complete fabrication.

Anonymous said...

So if a story teller is sponsored by his readers rather than the left-biased MSM his accounts don't count? Is that what you're saying dave?

Dave said...

No, anonymous, read it all. It's not that long.

In the meantime, try not employing inductive fallacies.

WTFiwillbeanonymoustoo said...

Hey, anon, what the fuck are you talking about? How the fucking hell did you get out of Dave's remarks that he was saying the story doesn't "count" because the "story teller is sponsored by his readers rather than the left-biased MSM"? You either dishonest or thick to think that's what he was saying.

Anonymous said...

this is what leads to my POV:

Second, the actual report is provided by Michael Yon, a blogger and author who, despite having no press credentials, managed to get himself embedded with the 24th Infantry Regiment in 2004. Because he's a "freelance" story-teller he has had to rely on reader donations to his blog. He's now in the middle of a movie deal in which, he hopes, Bruce Willis will play the lead in a role based on Yon's stories.

Dave included that paragraph in an attempt to discredit Yon's writings. There's absolutely no other reason for it to be there...

the rev. said...

Yon is a self-publishing freelancer. That means he doesn't have anyone factchecking his work, he doesn't have anyone confirming what he says is true. I've worked for newspapers most of my adult life and believe me, editors check to make sure what reporter wrote is accurate. When you don't have an editor, you are asking the readers to simply take you at your words. Given the clear political bias in Yon's writing, and the fact that he is trying to peddle it for a multimillion dollar movie script at the moment, I'm more than a little reluctant to take him at his word on this.

Dave said...

Anon...

That's not a point of view. That is, as I have already pointed out, an inductive fallacy. In other words, you believe what Yon has written, without the benefit of an interceding editor, and are defending his position.

Yon is an unrepentant war-blogger, but that isn't the point.

I would provide you with the point, but it's already been done. Therefore, (and this is not a logical fallacy), attempting to explain it to you further would be a waste of my time and CC's comment space.

So, I'm done with you.

Rev, your point about editors extends to interpreters. That interpreter would have had to report that conversation and what he did to clarify the meaning of what he thought he heard. In short, he is responsible for providing accurate and concise interpretation. The fact that the story is presented without the interpreter grilling the respondent for clarification is more than a little curious. There is also the fact that Yon drops the subject right there and moves on to other items.

Bombshell? Hardly.

Anonymous said...

So I was correct. The bias is against Yon because he isn't because he isn't from within the fold.

As for that whole fact checking thing within the MSM, maybe we should look at all the recent retractions:

http://www.google.com/search?q=news+retraction&client=netscape-pp&rls=com.netscape:en-US

Yup. That MSM sure keeps their facts strait...

Anonymous said...

That's not a point of view. That is, as I have already pointed out, an inductive fallacy. In other words, you believe what Yon has written, without the benefit of an interceding editor, and are defending his position.

Actually I haven't said a single thing about Yon's writings. I've never read them. What I am discussing is the idea that Yon is being discredited because he doesn't have an editor. Do you have an editor dave? Are the things you experience less valid because your communication of the same doesn't go through the MSM vetting process?

Both you and the rev need to do us a favor and dispence with the whole "no editor" straw man...

Dave said...

Compared to the number of retractions that Yon has issued? Or is he completely infallible?

Nice strawman.

But, hell, anonymous, go on and believe it. Nobody's stopping you. Post the story on your blog and scream about it.

I'll still demand to know why the interpreter didn't clarify what he thought he'd heard.

Hell, anonymous, you speak more than one language. You know that even someone with complete fluency can misinterpret, particularly when you have to speak the thought received in one language in a completely different order. You know that if you don't believe or understand what you heard, you will ask a question of the person speaking to you.

Anonymous said...

Compared to the number of retractions that Yon has issued? Or is he completely infallible?

Please indulge. Just exactly how many retractions has Yon issued?

What's that? You can't find any? Really? Well, imagine that...

I'll still demand to know why the interpreter didn't clarify what he thought he'd heard.

And you've never had to clarify something you've heard? Ever? Not once?

Hell, anonymous, you speak more than one language. You know that even someone with complete fluency can misinterpret, particularly when you have to speak the thought received in one language in a completely different order. You know that if you don't believe or understand what you heard, you will ask a question of the person speaking to you.

Actually, you're correct about the bilingualism but blew it on everything else... You've obviously not had much exposure to interpretors...

Dave said...

Hmmm... the descent into gibberish was expected.

Dave said...

You've obviously not had much exposure to interpretors (sic)

Really! That will come as quite a shock to a lot of people. :)

the rev. said...

Since haloscan ate my last post, I'll try again, although I think Dave has buried this mook already.
Re:Interpreters. I work with them every day and believe me, nothing gets passed on without being confirmed if there is any question about it or it seems the least bit odd.
Re:Yon not being part of the pack. I don't care that he isn't part of the pack, my point is that there is no one fact-checking his work, verifying his information. The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and even the National Enquirer have editors who ensure that standards of journalism (obviously differing standards) are maintained. In this case, we don't have any idea how credible Yon is,how credible his source is or whether he made the whole thing up. His ties to the military (he's an ex-Green Beret) make me suspect he may be a less-than-unbiased observer, financial considerations aside.

Re: keeping facts "strait" Of course the MSM issues retractions and corrections when it makes mistakes, do you expect them to imitate the Bush administration and ignore errors and hope they go away or at least stay unnoticed? People sue the MSM when it makes mistakes, and I make a reasonable salary fact-checking news stories. You clearly don't know what the fuck you are talking about Anonymous.

Finally, if this sensational story is so credible and believeable, why is Yon the only one reporting it? Do you really think if there was a chance of making it stick that it wouldn't be all over FOX and CNN by now? That AP and Reuters would ignore a story about cannibal terrorists? Yeah, I can see that getting turned down at the morning pitch meeting...

mikmik said...

Thanks, rev. One of the tactics of critters like anonymous is to obfuscate by nitpicking, argue irrelevancies, and basically throw in as many red herrings as possible so that any debate (or discussion/arguement) is quickly overwhelmed with tangential quibbling.
Here is one hierarchy: Taxonomy of fallacies
For instance Tu Quoque
To wit, anonymous: Yup. That MSM sure keeps their facts strait..

Anonymous said...

Dave is a military bouy?

Paladiea said...

Oh man, I get no love from CC anymore...

:(