Anderson Cooper on Hezbollah

Anderson Cooper related his time with Hezbollah.

“We’d come to get a look at the damage and had hoped to talk with a Hezbollah representative. Instead, we found ourselves with other foreign reporters taken on a guided tour by Hezbollah. Young men on motor scooters followed our every movement. They only allowed us to videotape certain streets, certain buildings. Once, when they thought we’d videotaped them, they asked us to erase the tape. These men are called al-Shabab, Hezbollah volunteers who are the organization’s eyes and ears.”

Gesturing to racks of music CDs in a building that had lost at least one of its walls, Cooper remarked, “You see their CDs on the wall still.”

He continued: “Hezbollah representatives are with us now but don’t want to be photographed. They’ll point to something like that and they’ll say, ‘Well, look, this is a store.’ The civilians lived in this building. This is a residential complex.

“And while that may be true, what the Israelis will say is that Hezbollah has their offices, their leadership has offices and bunkers even in residential neighborhoods. And if you’re trying to knock out the Hezbollah leadership with air strikes, it’s very difficult to do that without killing civilians.

“As bad as this damage is, it certainly could have been much worse in terms of civilian casualties. Before they started heavily bombing this area, Israeli warplanes did drop leaflets in this area, telling people to get out. The civilian death toll, though, has angered many Lebanese. Even those who do not support Hezbollah are outraged by the pictures they’ve seen on television of civilian casualties.”As the video showed a group reporters and photographers interviewing a single woman on a blanket, Cooper explained, “Civilian casualties are clearly what Hezbollah wants foreign reporters to focus on. It keeps the attention off them — and questions about why Hezbollah should still be allowed to have weapons when all the other militias in Lebanon have already disarmed.

“After letting us take pictures of a few damaged buildings, they take us to another location, where there are ambulances waiting.

“This is a heavily orchestrated Hezbollah media event. When we got here, all the ambulances were lined up. We were allowed a few minutes to talk to the ambulance drivers. Then one by one, they’ve been told to turn on their sirens and zoom off so that all the photographers here can get shots of ambulances rushing off to treat civilians. That’s the story that Hezbollah wants people to know about.

“These ambulances aren’t responding to any new bombings. The sirens are strictly for effect.”

Cooper concluded: “Hezbollah may not be terribly subtle about spinning a story, but it is telling perhaps that they try. Even after all this bombing, Hezbollah is still organized enough to have a public relations strategy, still in control enough to try and get its message out.”

Emphasis in bold is mine.

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7 Comments

  1. Z July 27, 2006 at 6:43 pm

    BTW, NPR implied as much this morning on their daily newscast…didn’t come right out and SAY it though. They did report a journalist was asked to leave PRONTO for not reporting the story “properly”.

  2. BarbaraFromCalifornia July 27, 2006 at 12:15 am

    This terrorist militia is indeed shocking, but sadly true.

    Today, 9 Israeli soldiers were killed. It is so painful to hear this news, young men, the age of my son and daughter, out there fighting…I can only imagine how their mothers feel, which is one reason we are planning with our trip to Israel in two weeks.

    A very intense, difficult situation for our people now…

  3. Richmond July 26, 2006 at 9:54 pm

    Holy crap! Heavy emphasis on the “crap” part.

  4. Jack's Shack July 26, 2006 at 6:56 pm

    Prag,

    True.

    RR,

    I just hope that it is seen by as many people as possible.

    Z,

    We’ll have to see how this plays out.

  5. Z July 26, 2006 at 1:34 pm

    I am glad he had the testicular fortitude to at least call a spade a spade in this case. Too many others just accept the spin and pander to it. I am not a huge AAC fan but I respect that he’s his own man at least with respect to this story.

  6. RR July 26, 2006 at 1:07 pm

    Wow. That’s just…wow. Those terrorists are great at keeping the attention focused on the injured and away from their sorry selves. That last bit with the ambulances…gotta hand it to them, they know how to manipulate the media.

    Too bad 99% of the people watching the news have no idea about any of this. All they come away with is “big bad Israel, they don’t care how many civilians they kill.”

    Glad you posted this, Jack.

  7. Pragmatician July 26, 2006 at 8:01 am

    Shoking but not really.
    It’s sad though that brutal murderers are smarter than an established government.

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