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"Seems to be a Taliban ambush. There's a lot of fire going out"
That's a quote from journalist Nick Meo, captured in his own video made in the immediate aftermath of an IED attack that flipped the armored vehicle in which he was traveling. Watch it for yourself - count the rounds you hear fired, it debunks the characterization in so many media reports of massive, indiscriminate fire as the doctrinal response to such an attack.
But Meo's written and spoken claims contradict his own video evidence:
Crouching between the vehicles, I watched as infantrymen poured fire into the night. ...Heavy machine-guns and grenade-launchers were hammering furiously in what the Americans call suppressive fire, to keep the enemy's heads down.That would be an impressive video, indeed. What reporter wouldn't love to be the guy that had captured such an event? Thunderous concussions from the heavy machine guns combined with continuous bursts from multiple M4s punctuated by occasional grenades - while the muzzle flashes from thousands of rounds turn night into day.
The British would have regarded this level of fire as excessive, and perhaps even trigger-happy. Thousands of rounds must have been used.
Damn shame Meo doesn't have such a thing.
During Meo's posted 4+ minute video - much of which was taken as he "crouched between the vehicles" you'll hear less than 50 rounds fired. It's certainly possible he stopped filming when the action became too intense and missed the other 1,950 (at least) rounds that would qualify his claim as accurate, and if not it's likewise possible that the Telegraph chose not to provide the portions of the video that support Meo's description of what happened that night. Why? I certainly can't say - but neither possibility could be described as "good journalism".
But Meo goes on to describe why it's important that you believe what he says - not your own damn lyin's eyes:
It dawned on me that there could be Afghan homes out there. I thought of all the villages I have driven past on this road when it was safe for journalists to travel in a taxi.At least he couldn't bring himself to lie about the presence of villages or homes and contented himself with suggesting there could have been some that he didn't see.
Meo maintained and expanded his claims in a follow-up report - that also includes the video:
The vehicle I was in was hurled into the air and landed on its roof, killing the top gunner and injuring two soldiers. The small unit then fired thousands of rounds blindly into the night – from automatic rifles, grenade launchers and heavy machine guns — in an area where there are many villages, as well as Taliban guerrillas.But there's not one single incident of a weapon being fired on fully automatic captured on Meo's video.
Following an ambush it is standard US military procedure to switch weapons to fully automatic and pour out rounds.
Of which he says: "such footage of what happens in the aftermath of a bomb attack is rare." In fact, such footage doesn't exist at all, except in the fevered imagination of Nick Meo.
There are numerous other lies, inconsistencies, contradictions, omissions and instances of disgusting and cowardly behavior contained in Meo's two brief reports. See Bouhammer and Blackfive (also here). I choose to keep the focus here on this specific example.
Why? Because as in Iraq, "insurgents" in Afghanistan aren't content to simply attack Americans :
A suicide attacker in a police uniform blew himself up inside a police station in the northern Afghan province of Baghlan on Monday, killing two American soldiers and an 8-year-old boy, Afghan officials said.But Meo's report is designed to "prove" that trigger happy, panicked Americans are no better.
The blast wounded several other people, including one American soldier, officials said.
Baghlan is a relatively peaceful province, and there is said to be no active insurgency there. But it was the scene of one of the bloodiest suicide attacks last year, in which as many as 72 people were reported killed, including 5 lawmakers and more than 50 schoolchildren.
In fact, in his first report Meo indicated his belief that "the Taliban" limits their hostility to soldiers:
I suddenly realised what could happen if we fell into the hands of the attacking Taliban. With dread, I recalled what I'd read about the fate of Red Army prisoners.Most likely they would have beheaded him in the road, and used his own camera to capture the moment for internet posting.
I wondered if I would be able to explain that I was a journalist if men in turbans dragged me out of the crippled vehicle and I tried to recall a few phrases of Pashtun. I hoped they would understand "journalist" if I waved a notebook at them, but decided that it probably wouldn't help much.
Such horrors inflicted on the population by al Qaeda-type "foreign fighters" in Iraq ultimately led to the "awakening" movement there, and hastened their defeat. But while bogus or exagerated reports of American atrocities couldn't fool the people actually on the scene, they did enhance enemy foreign recruiting, erode support for coalition efforts, and lengthen the duration of hostilities.
With Iraq at least temporarily considered "lost" (or too hostile) to the potential holy warrior, Afghanistan is increasingly seen as the more attractive destination - some of the rise in hostilities there can be attributed to this factor. They are fanatics - driven to frenzy by tales of the brutalty of the crusader. Their motives are known, their actions unsurprising. Unfortunately, their media wing appears to be ready and eager to do their bit, too.
Even his own Brit colleagues are seeing the folly of Meo's ways. One of them spoke to me yesterday. At least there is some justice.Posted by Susan Katz Keating at October 29, 2008 06:34 PM
I have had my say at my Blog on this so called journalist, rest assured the ret of the British military community no know what a piece of work he is, he is not fit to cover a boy scouts jamboree http://rogue-gunner.blogspot.com/2008/10/night-i-was-killed-in-action-by-taliban.html
God Bless America &Great Britain on the War on Terror.Posted by Rogue Gunner at November 1, 2008 07:10 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(2) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)