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May 05, 2011

Comments

Dan Hardie

'What's the point of rapidly retracted fabrications about events that are going to be closely scrutinized?'

Because most people believe what they first hear about any incident.

belle le triste

As this is an event the Obama administration want to resonate in fairly different ways for a lot of quite different constituencies, doesn't the multiplicity of stories released one on top of another work for them rather than against them, even when people are selecting rival stories almost entirely tribally?

Paul_trembath

"Research shows that even when news reports have been retracted, and we are aware of the retraction, our beliefs are largely based on the initial erroneous version of the story."

http://mindhacks.com/2011/05/04/why-the-truth-will-out-but-doesnt-sink-in/

Guano

A long time after the death of de Menezes, some news' stories and blogs still included (or hinted at) information that had been proved to be wrong at the Inquest and the H&S trial. Various groups are probably seeding the OBL narrative with various factoids that they can pick up on later (or ignore if that is what proves to be more useful).

CharlieMcMenamin

Perhaps it's all a bit less fiendish. Perhaps it's about people wanting to boast and embellish and satisfy the ravenous, hungry mouth of the great monster 'newscycle' - and pretend to know slightly more than they do.

Or rather, pretend to themselves to be able to interpret slightly more of the raw 'event' data than they can, forgetting that the nature of complex,violent events means information arrives late quite often and normally in disjointed and at least partially conflicting forms.

In short: perhaps its at least as much about cockup as conspiracy.

ejh

In the case of people killed recently by the Metropolitan Police, it's happened too often for it to be anything other than a deliberate tactic. (Perhaops assisted, of course, by the close relationship between that organisation and anotehr one.)

Mordaunt

What Dan said. It's not massively different to the advice your careers adviser gave you about dressing up smartly for your first job interview.

And once you've committed yourself emotionally to a reaction of 'Hell, Yeah!' it's psychologically harder to back track to 'shooting unarmed people is not cricket'.

My guess is that Obama had his original statement in the inside pocket of his jacket whilst he was humiliating Donald Trump and waiting for a text from the Navy Seals to the effect of 'Gotcha!' Then it was a case of letting the sordid details dribble out as necessary.

Dan Hardie

I don't actually know, btw, whether the initial De Menezes inaccuracies were deliberate lies, or whether they partly stemmed from journalists turning up at the scene and speaking to people who really had seen an agitated man in a bulky jacket hurdling the ticket barriers and running down to the platform. Said man turne out to be a Met Police firearms officer, of course, but some of those initial stories might have been honestly written.

Guano

"Some of those initial stories might have been honestly written."

Maybe in the first few hours, but this story-line continued for months after the Stockwell shooting. The Met could have put the press straight but they did not and there were too many "Police sources say ... " stories. The moment the H&S trial opened it became clear that the reality had been different, but by then too many journalists had got it into their head that shooting a random member of the public was a suitable way of protecting the public.

CharlieMcMenamin

My guess is that Obama had his original statement in the inside pocket of his jacket whilst he was humiliating Donald Trump and waiting for a text from the Navy Seals to the effect of 'Gotcha!'

This much I agree with. People make plans for how things should happen, and media messages to go with those plans. I just think that once messy reality goes 'off message' people over estimate their ability to spin it back on message, and tend to have over optimistic hopes of how things may actually turn out as planned in the end.

Guano

http://www.septicisle.info/2007/11/guilty-verdict-but-still-no-justice.html

Especially para. 3.

Dan Hardie

Of course the follow-up to the initial stories was purposely dishonest, hence my taking care to say 'initial'. Quite apart from, and much worse than, the Met's failure to withdraw the 'jacketed man jumped over ticket barrier' stories, we had the 'Brazilian was a rapist' story, the 'Brazilian was illegal immigrant' story, the 'Brazilian was high on coke' story, and the photofit of De Menezes that miraculously got altered on the way to the inquest to resemble one of the 21/7 suspects...

All really vicious stuff. It was notable how not a single journalist named the Met Police officers and PR people who were putting this stuff out, even though their names must have been common knowledge. 'Protecting your sources' surely ought to become inoperative once those sources have been going through the whole 'telling barefaced lies' thing.

NomadUK

You know, it really is astounding to me that anyone can honestly be suggesting that those in power be given the slightest shred of the benefit of a doubt. If the past 40 years or more have taught one nothing else, it should be that the first assumption, in the absence of ironclad proof to the contrary, should be that they are lying through their teeth. About everything.

dsquared

The trouble with that view of the world is that this assumption doesn't actually lead you anywhere because "they're lying" doesn't (in most situations) give many clues as to which bit they're lying about or what the truth is.

I mean, with respect to Osama, I am pretty sure that every single official version of the story is untrue, in the sense of having large and important self-serving distortions. But ... so what? What do I believe now? All that this does (and I suppose this can be important) is tell you that you shouldn't wager anything important on a government statement.

ajay

It was notable how not a single journalist named the Met Police officers and PR people who were putting this stuff out, even though their names must have been common knowledge.

As became completely apparent later on during the phone-tapping business, the links between London journalists and the Met are deep, enduring, and fundamentally corrupt.

belle le triste

There's a fundamental difference between the De Menezes shooting and offing OBL, though -- which is that the org responsible for the first had a ghastly stupid mistake on their hands, to their immediate discredit, the basics of which they needed urgently to spin; while the Obama administration are delightedly satisfied with almost the entirety of their op. An ink-squid cloud of uncertainties -- leaked lies and rumours -- has made the Met look worse in the long run (or look as bad as it actually is); but I think the blizzard of little changes in the Abbottobad story doesn't especially harm the optics of the Bin Laden operation; because it beds in the basic aspect they want everyone to believe, and redirects the nay-sayer agitation into relatively irrelevant details.

ajay

If the past 40 years or more have taught one nothing else, it should be that the first assumption, in the absence of ironclad proof to the contrary, should be that they are lying through their teeth. About everything.

Nomad, presumably this means that you believe Osama is still alive. Care to place a small bet?

NomadUK

Nomad, presumably this means that you believe Osama is still alive. Care to place a small bet?

Hm. No, I don't actually believe he's still alive, but inasmuch as the evidence has been conveniently disposed of, it's an article of faith rather than belief in the official line. It seems a reasonable likelihood, though.

CharlieMcMenamin

OBL must surely be assumed to be dead.

But this doesn't necessarily mean that this is the last we've heard from him. Why on earth wouldn't he have made a 'last will and testament' video ?

Just a stray thought.

Alex

He may not have made a video, but his actual will has been published. There may also be a "political testament" to come but if so we've not seen it yet.

ajay

Hm. No, I don't actually believe he's still alive

Right. So, just to really rub this in, despite the complete absence of ironclad proof, you actually believe that the US government is telling the truth on this point? And not lying through its teeth?

ejh

One way to deal with that would be to observe that while it's a lie they would be capable of telling, the very grave consequences of being caught - and they would be caught - would far outweigh the very few benefits of the lie.

dsquared

On the other hand, if they had found out he had just died in his bed and then staged a Bravo Two Zero Re-Enactment Society, then once you've got rid of the body (and the bodies of anyone else in the house who might have had a mind to contradict you), it's pretty much the perfect crime.

Not that I'm actually advancing that as a theory, but with a spare afternoon and a pot of coffee I daresay I could do you half a dozen equally (im)plausible alternative possibilities that can't be ruled out by verifiable facts.

BenSix

Nomad -

If they are lying (and I wouldn't rule it out - I'm trying to keep my mind open) it's more likely that OBL, the ODB, was dead already, no?

Richard J

One of the memes building up strength in the right-wing echo chamber before wider release seems to be an accusation that the CIA/armed forces etc. essentially overruled Osama's initial refusal, and went ahead with it anyway, forcing a retrospective granting of permission. Complete bollocks, AFAICT, but it's a rather clever bit of black propaganda, particularly with the hint of double patriotism always popular among certain bits of society.

belle le triste

And you can see why Oßama might have refused initially, given where he ended up...

Richard J

Ah, fuck. If it's any consolation, the Guardian had an apology on the same mistake in today's edition as well.

Matthew

The De Menezes kililng was illuminating for the sheer audacity of the lies - I remember reading the day after about how it was a 'warm' day in London and so wearing a bulky jacket was odd, which was strange as I was in London and it was distinctly cold. Of course there was no bulky jacket either.

NomadUK

So, just to really rub this in, despite the complete absence of ironclad proof, you actually believe that the US government is telling the truth on this point?

Well, my first assumption, as I said, was that they were lying. They appear, on the other hand, to have made a statement some elements of which, given subsequent reports from other sources, actually appear to be true. I don't have a problem with that. Stopped clocks, and all that.

Cian

Isn't it interesting how the CCTV footage always goes missing...

Guano

I have wondered whether there is a group of spin-doctors somewhere testing how far you can go in telling porkies without any come-back. The death of Menezes and the invasion of Iraq provide plenty of instances that suggest this.

Chris Williams

In the early 1960s when the Met baton-charged a demostration in favour of the St Pancras rent strike, the first thing they were careful to do was to beak all the cameras of the press photographers present. Nowadays, that sort of thing is very hard to stitch up, but I suspect that we are dealing with people who learned their trade in the pre-Panopticon day.

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