Cluster Bombs

Photo: Amnesty International, taken from FAIR's blog

Photo: Amnesty International, taken from FAIR’s blog

This piece in FAIR shows how the the use of cluster bombs, which are highly inaccurate and often cause civilian deaths, are treated differently in the US press depending upon who uses them. The two examples are of the New York Times coverage of the Syrian army’s use of these weapons and a case where the US used them in Yemen, killing 35 women and children.

The lesson to be drawn is that, at the very least, the use of cluster bombs against civilians is newsworthy depending on who is using them. If it’s an enemy state, like Syria or Qaddafi’s Libya, you can expect to read about it, and in clear language on the front page. “Qaddafi Is Using Cluster Bombs in Civilian Area”–that’s the page 1 headline in the New York Times (4/16/11). As FAIR’s Jim Naureckas noted at the time, the destruction was described in vivid terms: “Where a crowd had assembled for food, bits of human flesh had been blasted against a cinder-block wall.”

And an article like this will mention, almost in passing, that our own government does the same:

“At the same time, the United States has used cluster munitions itself, in battlefield situations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in a strike on suspected militants in Yemen in 2009.”

As noted in that article, the Yemeni journalist responsible for the reporting on that deadly US strike in Yemen is in prison, kept there after Obama made a phone call to the then-Yemeni President Saleh and “expressed concern” that he would be released.


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