Monday, February 07, 2005


Eason Issue in Stasis

UPDATE 10:30 am PST

Maybe not such statis after all. Michelle Malkin scored THE interview with Rep. Barney Frank. According to Franks' account of the seminar, Jordan did initially make a slanderous assertion, though he tried to back just far enough out of it to avoid slander. Once again one's initial choice of expression speaks volumes.

Access to the video may not be as we have hoped.

Original Post

The issue of Eason Jordan's abominable utterances, finds itself in the limbo between the blogosphere and the MSM this morning. MSM is waiting on the video, and the Blogosphere is chasing down whatever leads and angles they can find. Captain's Quarters this morning picks up on an interview that was conducted with a BBC reporter that was present at the conference. Easongate pulls some good investigative work into the actual deaths of journalists in country.

Both posts are reporting expanded interpretations of Eason's clarification email, that even this lowly blog received. Essentially the agrument contends that the US Military did not murder journalist, but rather that they were mistakenly identified as targets, and therefore killed with mistaken intent. Further, it appears that Jordan was attempting to make the point that this was somehow different than "mere" collateral damage.

The military does make a distinction between "collateral" and "unintended" damage. But both are considered one of the unfortunate side effects of war. The following quote is from a presentation made by COL Gary Crowder, and located at the link just given:

If, however, in the course of dropping that bomb, a laser-guided bomb, for example, a fin breaks off the laser-guided bomb and the thing goes spiraling 3,000 feet away from the target, there was really no practical way for me to plan for that. That is not collateral damage; that is unintended damage, and if there are civilians killed, they are unintended civilian casualties. I don't mean to kind of draw a fine legal line between the two, but it's important to understand that as we plan these things, there are a great deal of things we can do to mitigate collateral damage and in fact have potential to mitigate some unintended damage, but these things, again, are mechanical devices and some will fail. And so if somebody has a hope that we're going to go into a conflict and nothing is going to happen in terms of collateral damage, unintended damage or civilian casualties, I think you should absolve yourself of that hope because that probably is not a realistic expectation. (emphasis mine)

While this presentation concerns bombing, earlier in the presentation, intelligence failure is included in unintended damage, and the mistaken targeting of anyone, including a journalist, is in fact unintended damage. Note that the military draws the distinction between collateral and unintended damage not on any moral grounds, but on the grounds that they can plan for the mitigation of collateral damage, while unintended damage is for the most part simply unavoidable in war situations.

So now the question becomes, if we grant Jordan his distinction, does it make his abominable utterances any less offensive? In one sense, if the tape reveals that Jordan was trying to make this distinction, as opposed to accusing the military of murder, his choice of words remains highly insulting, but perhaps not slanderous.

That said, I have a couple of questions I would love to ask Mr. Jordan. The first question would concern why Mr. Jordan chose the words he did to make this relatively minor distinction. One would presume because Mr. Jordan holds the military in a certain contempt. That alone would be sufficient to justify the outrage that has been expressed in the blogosphere. Our military is simply too honorable to be subjected to such disdain at the hands of a few elite.

The other question I have for Mr. Jordan is that if he were trying to make this distinction, as opposed to making an accusation, why did his clarification email not contain an apology for any offense the misunderstanding may have created? Again, one is forced to conclude that Mr. Jordan does not care if he offends the military. Again, this is outrageous on the face of it, and again, it is worthy of the outrage that has been expressed.

Mr. Jordan, you are entitled to your opinion. But many of us do not wish to have opinions such as yours driving our media coverage. Are we gunning for you? You betcha. Even if what you said is not slander -- and the trial is still going -- it was ugly, hateful, and dishonorable. We expect more from our media leadership, and we are going to do our best to get it.


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