Jul
13
2011

Rebel Atrocities 'Pale' Next to Gadhafi's Similar Atrocities

A New York Times piece by C.J. Chivers (7/13/11) presents a scary picture of Libyan rebel behavior:

Rebels in the mountains in Libya's west have looted and damaged four towns seized since last month from the forces of Col. Muammar el-Gadhafi, part of a series of abuses and apparent reprisals against suspected loyalists that have chased residents of these towns away, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday.

The looting included many businesses and at least two medical centers that, like the towns, are now deserted and bare.

Rebel fighters also beat people suspected of being loyalists and burned their homes, the organization said….

Some of the abuses, Human Rights Watch said, were directed against members of the Mashaashia tribe, which has long supported Colonel Gadhafi.

Chivers later writes:

Rebel conduct in the war has been mixed. Many captured pro-Gadhafi soldiers have received medical treatment in rebel hospitals and have been kept in detention centers that nongovernment organizations have been allowed to visit.

But Colonel Gadhafi's soldiers have also been beaten at the point of capture, and some have been shot, including several prisoners in the besieged city of Misurata who were shot through the feet, either as a punishment or as a means to prevent escape.

Rebels have also been seen by journalists repeatedly firing makeshift rocket launchers indiscriminately into territory or towns held by the Gadhafi forces.

But as if to try to repair some of the PR damage, the New York Times follows that with this:

Such rebels actions, however, have paled next to the abuses of Colonel Gadhafi's forces, which have fired on unarmed demonstrators and used artillery, rocket batteries and mortars against many rebel-held cities and towns.

Phones taken from dead or wounded soldiers have yielded images that strongly suggested that some of Colonel Gadhafi's units have executed detainees.

The colonel's forces have also ransacked and looted homes and businesses on many fronts throughout the war.

So the real abuses of the war are by Gadhafi, who's attacked civilians, fired indiscriminately into residential areas, executed detainees and looted homes and businesses.

The alert reader will notice that these are the exact same crimes the Times has just said the rebels have been committing.

See "Gadhafi's Cluster Bombs–and Uncle Sam's" (FAIR Blog, 4/16/11) for another example of Chivers' skillful employment of the double standard.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.