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Last updated on August 9th, 2017 at 04:50 pm
Tell Robert Fisk that the war in Iraq is a noble venture aiming to create a democracy in a region that could use one and he’ll laugh in your face. Which is fine; journalists, even Fisk, are meant to be cynical. But tell him an anti-American story that conforms almost exactly to the structure of urban myth and he’s all ears:
“I swear to you that we have very good information,” my source says, finger stabbing the air in front of him. “One young Iraqi man told us that he was trained by the Americans as a policeman in Baghdad and he spent 70 per cent of his time learning to drive and 30 per cent in weapons training. They said to him: ‘Come back in a week.’ When he went back, they gave him a mobile phone and told him to drive into a crowded area near a mosque and phone them. He waited in the car but couldn’t get the right mobile signal. So he got out of the car to where he received a better signal. Then his car blew up.”
Impossible, I think to myself. But then I remember how many times Iraqis in Baghdad have told me similar stories. These reports are believed even if they seem unbelievable.
How about finding out if these claims are true before publishing them, Robert? No time for that; Fisk’s “source” has another story:
“There was another man, trained by the Americans for the police. He too was given a mobile and told to drive to an area where there was a crowd – maybe a protest – and to call them and tell them what was happening. Again, his new mobile was not working. So he went to a landline phone and called the Americans and told them: ‘Here I am, in the place you sent me and I can tell you what’s happening here.’ And at that moment there was a big explosion in his car.”
Then Iyad Allawi turned up and shot everybody. Later a prosthetic hook was found hanging from the car’s door handle. I swear to you that we have very good information! So who is Fisk’s source, whom he evidently didn’t press for the names of these men? A clue may be found in his final paragraph:
When I asked my first “security” source what would happen to the former Iraqi dictator, he replied, banging his fist into his hand: “He will be killed. He will be killed. He will be killed.”
The guy is a triple-speaker? Fisk’s source could be … Fisk!
UPDATE. Of course, some rumours turn out to be true.