Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Saturday, June 15, 2002
Fact Checking Moran's Ass
Kesher blog has noted a recent attack by MSNBC blogger Michael Moran against the web site, for organizing a petition urging lournalists to label terrorists as terrorists.

Moran insists: does use the word “terrorist” to describe someone who has been convicted of a terrorist act, or someone who has admitted the act or been caught in the act.

Before that, the person is an “alleged terrorist.” ...

Further, we use the word “terrorism” rather liberally to describe suicide bombings and other acts of random violence against civilians. What we don’t do (and this is what irks “Honestreporting”) is throw the word around at every Palestinian who opposes the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Does MSNBC's own reporting back up Moran's claim? Here is the lead from their description of the notorious Netanya massacre: "Just hours after a peace plan was brought before the Arab League summit, and on the night of one of the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar, a Palestinian Hamas militant exploded a bomb at a hotel hosting a religious meal, killing 20 people and injuring more than 100." The word 'terrorism' appears only once in the story, in a context which suggests it was used by the State Department, not MSNBC.

By Moran's standards of course, the bomber wasn't a terrorist. Being dead, he had never been convicted. And it certainly seems reasonable to insist on a full trial in these cases. Otherwise, how can you be certain it wasn't a Hamas member who just happened to spontaneously combust while strolling innocently into a Jewish gathering with a bag of nails strapped to his chest? A good reporter can't jump to conclusions.

MSNBC doesn't use this caution only in Israel. In the site's story on the latest terror incident in Pakistan, a Pakistani official but never the reporter stated what the attack was:

U.S. and Pakistani investigators on Saturday searched the site of a deadly car bombing outside the American Consulate in Karachi, trying to piece together clues about the attackers. A previously unknown group claimed responsibility for the massive blast Friday that killed 10 people and injured 45 others....

Initial reports indicated a suicide attacker was responsible, but police said they also were looking at the possibility that the bomb was hidden in a car carrying the head of a driving school and three female students, then set off by remote control as it passed the consulate.

Karachi Mayor Naimat Ullah offered sympathy for U.S. officials and vowed to arrest those behind the attack.
“The terrorists have no religion. They are not Muslim. They are not human. They are just terrorists,” Ullah said.

The foot of the article is a recap of recent terrorist crimes in Pakistan that goes to almost comical lengths to avoid ever using the T word:

Violence against foreigners has increased since Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, threw his support behind the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

Militant groups were further angered when Musharraf launched a crackdown on them in January. That followed a bloody attack on the Indian parliament, blamed by New Delhi on Pakistan-based militants, which took the two countries to the brink of war.

“Of course it’s a backlash,” Hamid Haroon, publisher of Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, told India’s Star News Television.

Friday’s blast occurred less than a mile from the site where 11 French engineers and three others were killed in a suicide bombing May 8. Police suspect Islamic extremists, possibly al-Qaida members, were responsible.
A police official told Reuters that Karachi police received a tip a week ago that another suicide blast was imminent but did not have details of when or where.

Karachi was also where Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was abducted and slain in January while working on a story about Islamic militants. Four Islamic militants are on trial in that case.

On March 17, a man ran down the aisle of a church in Islamabad’s diplomatic enclave, throwing grenades. He was killed along with four others, including two Americans — a U.S. Embassy employee and her teenage daughter. The man has not been identified.

"We use the word 'terrorism' rather liberally to describe suicide bombings and other acts of random violence against civilians." Sure you do.

Incidentally, Moran's most recent entry proposes having the FBI consult with suspense novelists about possible terror attacks. That's not a bad idea. It's a pity no blogger ever thought of it.