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June 12, 2006
The Beat Didn't Go On

Contrary to the AP's uncorroborated witness who claimed that American servicemen beat Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to death, an autopsy performed on his corpse reveals that the al-Qaeda leader died from injuries consistent with close encounters to two 500-lb bombs. This should put an end to a very strange episode where people accused soldiers of murdering a man by beating him instead of blowing him up:

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi lived for 52 minutes after a U.S. warplane bombed his hideout northeast of Baghdad, and he died of extensive internal injuries consistent with those caused by a bomb blast, the U.S. military said Monday.

Col. Steve Jones, command surgeon for Multinational Forces, said an autopsy concluded that the terrorist leader died from serious injuries to his lungs. An FBI test positively identified al-Zarqawi's remains. ...

"Blast waves from the two bombs caused tearing, bruising of the lungs and bleeding," he said. "There was no evidence of firearm injuries."

The al Qaeda in Iraq leader also suffered head and facial wounds, bleeding in his ears and a fracture of his lower right leg.

Now that we have that information, perhaps someone can explain what the fuss was all about. Zarqawi never operated within the rules of war, and also did not surrender. When faced with such an enemy in the field, soldiers kill them rather than attempt an arrest. Had they discovered that Zarqawi had survived the explosion and could still present a danger, they would either shoot him or attempt to capture him, depending on their orders. If the latter was the case, the methods used to restrain Zarqawi would appear rough and violent -- and since this isn't a law-enforcement exercise, such tactics in handling an enemy would not be out of place.

As it stands, though, the entire story has now been discredited. Now we must ask the AP about their witness and their decision to publish the uncorroborated story. Based on the descriptions of the site and its remarkable isolation, the AP should have treated "Mohammed's" story with considerable skepticism. Without having any sort of corroboration, the editors need to weigh the informative value of the story against the damage done to the soldiers involved and the military as a whole by promulgating what amounted to gossip and conspiracy theorizing. Since the entire point of war is to kill one's enemy -- and no one doubted that Zarqawi qualified as such -- the publishing of this story under the circumstances is indefensible.

The AP owes its readers an apology and a retraction. Will we get either? Doubtful. We must maintain the level of skepticism that the AP itself failed to keep in this instance. Unlike with the US military, we have a long history of transgressions with the AP on its reporting for our assumptions.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 12, 2006 2:28 PM

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» Autopsy Reveals No Zarqawi Beating from Stop The ACLU
Via CNN “It was very evident he had extremely massive internal injuries,” Caldwell said. Al-Zarqawi died 24 minutes after coalition forces arrived, he said. Jones said the autopsy conducted Saturday showed that al-Zarqawi died from inju... [Read More]

Tracked on June 12, 2006 2:49 PM

» The bombs keep a' poundin' a rhythm... from philmon
Zarqawi. 52 minutes, hopefully mostly pain-filled. Hopefully, with full knowledge of what befell him and who was responsible. And no, we didn't beat him to death (the story the AP ran with from an uncorroborated report to help paint us as bad, evil A... [Read More]

Tracked on June 12, 2006 4:55 PM

» Zarqawi Autopsy: Bombed But (Unfortunately) Not Beaten from
On Saturday, an Iraqi man, Mohammed, claimed to have witnessed the beating of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi by the Americans:When the Americans arrived they took him out of the ambulance, they beat him on his stomach and wrapped his head with [Read More]

Tracked on June 12, 2006 5:51 PM

» SAST #2 [Short Attention Span Topics] from Radioactive Liberty
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Tracked on June 12, 2006 7:32 PM

» Not That It Will Do Any Good from Blue Crab Boulevard
With some people, but the US Military has released the results of Zarqawi's autopsy. He died from massive internal injuries particularly to the lungs. That is consistent with the damage an over-pressure wave from a bomb blast causes. &quo... [Read More]

Tracked on June 12, 2006 9:21 PM

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