You’ve got to be careful around explosives

Posted by lex, on July 3, 2007

Sometimes the damned things will blow up in your face.

Confederate Yankee was doing that citizen journalist thing, having sent a request to MNC-I for photographic evidence to buttress US military claims that Iranian-manufactured C-4 had somehow found its way across the border into neighboring Iraq.

U.S. EOD says a chemical analysis of these explosives matches those of known Iranian explosives. Because this analysis comes from explosives experts that are both (a) American, and (b) military; Glenn Greenwald is sure to allege they were actually manufactured by Halliburton in the White House basement over the weekend.

“Stuff,” snorts Cernig, in a post labeled “Credibility Explosion,” not giving Greenwald a chance to get there first. Any fool could see that the English markings on the C-4 brick meant that it was US gear being used by the US military as a prop to seduce gullible journalists and rush-to-war bloggers into extending Bu$hitler’s Endless Campaign of Criminal Violence into innocent, peace-loving Iran.

You know – like we do.

The U.S. military’s explanation is that they know the explosives are Iranian because the telltale chemical trace additives that every nation puts in its explosives as a marker point to Iranian origins.

Which means that those Iranian machiavellis are so cunning that they forge a wrapping that looks exactly like the U.S. one but then so incompetent that they forget to put explosives in that wrapping that don’t point right back to them…

(T)he other possibility is that the U.S. military just sent a picture of one of their own blocks of C-4 along with a cock-and-bullstory they knew the cheerleaders would accept and the media wouldn’t look too hard at. Whether you find that explanation more compelling will depend on whether you trust the U.S. military to tell the truth in all things.

Except, as pointed out by people who actually know what they’re talking about, the seized explosives don’t look remotely like US-issue C-4 (pdf). Not the wrappers nor the labels. Which wouldn’t have been hard to discover, if you weren’t in a big hurry, for reasons of your own, to call someone else a dupe or a liar.

Look, I’m all for healthy scepticism – nothing better for a democracy – but there’s a fine but nevertheless brightly demarcated line between hard-eyed examination of uncomfortable truths on the one hand and simply wishing them away by proposing fantastical alternative realities on the other. When the latter tactic takes you into tinfoil hat conspiracy country – PAOs unintentionally get the story wrong some times, and they will spin and dodge like a broken field runner if you give them half a chance, but one thing they will not do is manufacture evidence – you’ve a duty to rub your eyes a bit and engage in some thoughtful introspection.

Somewhat to his credit, Cernig backs water a bit in his second update, saying that it was only his intent to foster thoughtful scrutiny of a prepared narrative. Fair enough, but if he wants to be taken as a “healthy, enquiring” sceptic rather than a reflexive partisan and unthinking contrarian perhaps he ought to reconsider the title of his “Credibility Explosion” post.

Unless, you know: He’s digging on the irony.

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, GWOT, Politics and Culture

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