Patterico's Pontifications


The Power of the Jump™: Los Angeles Times Buries Possible Connection Between Samarra Bombing and Al Qaeda

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General,Terrorism,War — Patterico @ 10:51 pm

(Note: “The Power of the Jump”™ is a semi-regular feature of this site, documenting examples of the Los Angeles Times’s use of its back pages to hide information that its editors don’t want you to see.)

The U.S. Government says it suspects a senior Al Qaeda operative of being behind the Samarra mosque attack that spurred sectarian violence that some say threatens a civil war in Iraq.

Is this news? According to the editors of the L.A. Times, it is . . . barely.

Jeff Goldstein asks a sensible question about the recent strife in Iraq:

What I don’t understand—and this has to do with my [naivete] and inability to grasp the workings of foreign policy promotion—is why we are unable to point out what to everyone is obvious: that the attack on the Dome at Samara was CARRIED OUT BY AL QAEDA FOR THE EXPRESS PURPOSES OF FOMENTING A CIVIL WAR?

Because it seems to me that if everyone in Iraq was made aware of this, the pressure would be to fight back against such cynical tactics, rather than to turn their ire against the US.

Never fear, Jeff. The L.A. Times is reporting it. Sort of. In a whisper. On the back pages.

Don’t get me wrong. The paper’s editors aren’t saying that “Al Qaeda” may be responsible. A search for “Samarra” and “Al Qaeda” on the paper’s web site currently reveals no hits on the news pages. Indeed, that search reveals only one hit: an editorial that says it would be “oddly reassuring” if Al Qaeda were behind the attacks.

Why would it be “reassuring”? The answer is obvious: because that would mean that we’re not looking at an inevitable and drawn-out civil war, but rather temporary sectarian fighting that is the transparent goal of the world’s mostly fanatical and bloodthirsty terrorist organization.

And indeed, it turns out that the U.S. Government does suspect a senior Al Qaeda operative may be behind the bombing that started all the recent violence. Big story, right? Well, the lead story in today’s L.A. Times saves this bit of information for the tail end of the story on Page A5:

[A U.S.] official added that U.S. agencies believe that militant leader Abu Musab Zarqawi’s organization was behind the bombing.

“I have not heard a definitive judgment on that,” said the intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of government rules. “But it is certainly consistent with their choice of targets and overall kind of objectives — to stir up intercommunal strife and to attack the Shia.”

Of course, Zarqawi is more than a “militant leader” — he is a senior leader of Al Qaeda. Yet the news that the U.S. suspects Al Qaeda may be behind the bombing comes in one of the final paragraphs of the story — and doesn’t even mention Al Qaeda, but only Zarqawi.

The accompanying front-page story, titled A Nation Teeters on Brink of Civil War, does not mention Zarqawi or Al Qaeda anywhere in the article.

Oddly, both stories repeatedly refer to the Samarra bombing as though it just . . . happened. As if it were some kind of inevitable act of nature. For example:

It is not uncommon to hear Iraqis speaking of civil war as if it has become inevitable, as if the only questions worth asking are when it will begin, what will spark it — or whether they will one day look back and realize that this civil war, this ambiguous threat, was already underway when the Golden Mosque in Samarra was blown up.

Boom! It was just blown up! Who knows who did it?! It just was blown up!

or this:

A second U.S. official said that the ineffectiveness of some Iraqi units after Wednesday’s bomb attack on the Shiite shrine in Samarra should not have been cause for surprise.

Who did the bomb attack? The story says nothing about it until the final paragraphs.

Jeff Goldstein says:

If ever we needed a propaganda campaign of our own, now is the time. Western newspapers all over the globe should be pointing out WHO IS BEHIND the attack, and WHAT THEIR AIMS ARE.

I’d disagree with this slightly, in the sense that I don’t think we need a “propaganda campaign.” We just need the truth. If Zarqawi and Al Qaeda may have been behind this — if, indeed, as the editorial quotes Jack Straw as saying, the attack bears “the hallmark of an Al Qaeda attack” — then all we need is the truth.

Of course, if our news media is simply going to whisper it, it’s going to be a lot harder to get the message out, won’t it?

3 Responses to “The Power of the Jump™: Los Angeles Times Buries Possible Connection Between Samarra Bombing and Al Qaeda”


    Because we have no idea who carried this out and for what purposes. Just the idea that its ‘consistent’ with Al-qaeda. Like we used to say all the time that something bore the ‘hallmarks’ of al-qaeda.

    Also, its not clear how it helps that the western world be subject to jeff’s ‘propaganda.’

    actus (ebc508)

  2. I agree it’s not clear, but the fact that it bears the hallmarks of an Al Qaeda attack, and that the government suspects that Zarqawi was involved, is a bigger story than the L.A. Times has treated it.

    Patterico (8ccd07)

  3. but the fact that it bears the hallmarks of an Al Qaeda attack

    What the hell does this mean? Nobody died. It wasn’t a suicide operation. What’s ‘hallmark’ about this.

    and that the government suspects that Zarqawi was involved

    But the suspicion is also this same ‘consistency’ crap. We got nothing. The big story is who the Iraqis are blaming, not the fact that we think this has the hallmarks of al-qaeda: A non-suicide operation that kills no-one.

    actus (ebc508)

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