Media Feeds Americans Fake News About Afghanistan

Paktiya province, AfghanistanGlen Greenwald of reports that Americans are being fed false and misleading "news" about the U.S. war in Afghanistan because major American media outlets, like the New York Times and CNN, publish propagandized Pentagon accounts of the violence and killing occurring there, without questioning the information they are fed.

An egregious example of this occurred on February 12, 2010, when NATO's joint international force issued a press release that bore the headline Joint Force Operating In Gardez Makes Gruesome Discovery. The release said that after "intelligence confirmed militant activity" in a compound near a village in Paktiya province, an international security force entered the compound and engaged "several insurgents" in a fire fight. Two "insurgents" were killed, the report said, and after the joint forces entered the compound, they "found the bodies of three women who had been tied up, gagged and killed."

But an Afghan news report about the same incident differed wildly.

"The Latest Imprecise Operation"

Pajhwok Afghan News reported that U.S. Special Forces, acting on a misleading tip-off, mistakenly stormed the residence of the intelligence chief in the Zurmat district. His name was Daud, and he was inside the home celebrating the birth of his son with his family. Killed in the raid were Daud, his brother Zahir, and three women. The Afghan news further reported that "A gubernatorial spokesman ... verified the latest imprecise operation by NATO-led troops."

Despite this very different account of the incident, CNN repeated the Pentagon's fake version of the events, in an article titled Bodies found gagged, bound after Afghan "honor killing." In the article, CNN quoted an unnamed "senior U.S. military official" who speculated that the Taliban "could be" responsible for the women's deaths. The New York Times, too, published an article about the incident in which they admitted there were "differing accounts" of what had happened, but failed to describe these differing accounts beyond a mere mention, while reprinting NATO's version of the events in its entirety.

Pentagon Finally Admits Botched Raid

Almost two months later, the Pentagon was finally forced to admit that international forces had badly bungled the raid that night in Paktika, and that military troops had, in fact, killed the women during their assault on the residence. One of the women was a pregnant mother of ten, and the other was a pregnant mother of six children.

Reporters Who Tell the Truth are Intimidated

The Times of London's Afghanistan reporter, Jerome Starkey, wrote an article about the botched raid that was published at In his piece, he detailed how the U.S.-led forces had lied about the events at the February 12 raid, and speculated about why the American media mindlessly repeats lies advanced by the Pentagon about military events in Afghanistan. Starkey said he personally went to the scene of the raid and spent three days interviewing survivors -- something most news organizations won't do. He blamed news organizations' lack of resources, the danger of traveling around Afghanistan and the "embed culture" for the failure of news organizations the print the truth. But he also revealed that NATO tries to censor, intimidate and punish reporters who fail to report their official versions of events in Afghanistan. After Starkey wrote about what really happened at Paktika, NATO issued a press release titled ISAF Rejects Cover Up Allegation, which named Starkey personally and called his reports of the incident "categorically false." The release continued to claim that the women at Paktika were killed prior to the arrival of American and international troops, attributing their binding and gagging to a cultural pre-burial ritual.

Americans' Diet of Phony War News

In May, 2007, PRWatch published another blog listing over half a dozen other accounts of occasions on which the military fed false information to the media and soldiers' families. It seems the practice has not changed. This incident takes its place alongside a slew of other fictionalized "news" that the Pentagon has fed the media, like the myth of Jessica Lynch's "heroic firefight" and the circumstances surrounding the friendly-fire death of football star Pat Tillman.

Americans have been fed a diet of fictionalized accounts about the war in Afghanistan, thanks to our military which cannot be trusted to tell the public the truth about what they do. We can only wonder what might happen to support for the war if Americans got truthful accounts from its military about what happens in Afghanistan, instead of lies that have to be "outed" by the very few brave independent reporters who have the integrity to undertake that task, no matter the cost.


The news about NATO admitting a role in the deaths of two pregnant woman in a botched Special Operations raid February 12, has led me to ask for assistance for these poor women's children and families! As a current pregnant woman, the admission of this travesty has brought anger, confusion, etc. but what I want to DO most of all is to try and get as many pregnant mothers, expecting couples, ANYBODY together to collect sympathy cards to these poor children and families! Please, Americans, let's show these victims and their families that we care and are NOT like the perpetrators of these crimes, but that we have compassion and do CARE for their loved ones at this dark time! Please contact me at: if you would like to help or contribute!

Well, lets see...we went to war under false pretensions (lies). we stayed there under false pretensions (lies to deliver democracy), so what makes us think those there will send home truth, especially when there are corporations making billions the longer we stay in these countries. See this link: or search global security. Peace

"We" are now the World's Tyrants. But, are we too comfortable too do anything about it? CAN we do anything? Are we afraid to do what it takes? Are we complicit? I don't know.

Did this occur in Paktya or Paktika? The graphic on the Blog is of Paktika, but Zormant is in Paktya (also spelled Paktia). If we are going to be critical of the press not checking their facts, I would suggest we do the same and confirm the province which we are discussing.

[ Gardēz] is in Paktiya province, which is also spelled "Paktia." The map is correct. Anne Landman

There is no evidence that the military officials knew that the erroneous version they initially reported was done so knowingly, is there? They may have had the motivation to do so, but unless there is an indication they knew the truth and reported otherwise, I'd have to give the military the benefit of the doubt. The media which didn't report specifics of the other, more truthful version were not in a position to independently verify either version at the time of the incident. Perhaps, the media could be criticized for putting too much credence on the official version. Still, the command officials risk losing credibility of other matters on which they report, if they frequently report falsified accounts. An assessment must have been made about the credibility of the other reportage. There is no indication in this article that the other sources had a strong track record of credible reporting.

"friendly-fire death of football star Pat Tillman" - This should have have happened to one of our great American football players.

Journalist have a responsibility to report the truth. Based on this definition, there are very few journalists left in America. The war is only making it easier for PR specialists to pretend that they are journalists.

The Propagandists, Apologists and Lie-Mongers here at the Center for Misleading Disinformation really shouldn't be hurling rocks around their glass house.

Dear Anonymous-- What? Name calling is just immature. What are your facts for casting such aspersions? You resort to ad hominen attacks because you have no facts. We are not propagandists--we point out propaganda and alert people to the truth. We don't apologize for anything, except the occasional error. And, we do not monger lies. We work to debunk lies and myths and provide links to evidence that reveals the truth about policies and spin. We aren't providing misleading disinformation--nothing could be further from the truth. If reading the truth is uncomfortable, we understand. It can be hard to hear the truth if you've been mislead into believing myths. It's basic cognitive dissonance. But, if you open your mind to reality, you will become a more informed citizen who can help support better policies. As for the article above, it documents an unfortunate case of spin. Do you need other examples? What about Pat Tillman?