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Spinning US atrocities, words matter: shooting sprees & shopping rampages

Headlines about Sunday’s midnight massacre in Kandahar transformed quickly from NATO FORCES RAID to become LONE GUNMAN KILLS 16, as the attributed sources shifted from Afghan locals on the scene to US military spokesmen. One might argue it’s in the interest of national security to attribute the murders in Balandi and Alkozai to a solitary stalker, to tamp the swelling anger of the Afghan populace, but what’s the truth? Making a rare concession, the NYT has revised its headline a 3rd time to read LONE SOLDIER SAID TO BE KILLER OF 16 AFGHANS, and the BBC puts “ACTED ALONE” in quotes. (UPDATE: AP adds “allegedly” and LA Times “apparently”)
 
Pundits stroke our soldiers’ egos by asking could one special forces soldier alone kill so many (?!), but more difficult to imagine is how a rogue fighter can equip himself and pass through multiple security defenses unobserved. Also doubtful is how and why a stealth assassin would burn the victims’ bodies as he moved about. Easier to believe is that damage control decided it best that one man take the fall for his comrades, God and country, probably the one too drunk to object.

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