Phil Sands, a freelance journalist, was held by gunmen who ambushed his car in Baghdad. He was threatened with beheading and forced to record a video urging the British people to remove Tony Blair from office. He told The Observer that he had lost all hope and was sure that he would be killed.
Fortunately for Mr. Sands, he was wrong. He was rescued by American special forces. Certainly this is good news but the most interesting thing about this article isn't the news itself, but how it is reported.
First, there's this paragraph:
The rescue was a rare slice of good fortune in Iraq, where yesterday Rizgar Amin, chief judge in the trial of Saddam Hussein, quit in protest at pressure from the Iraqi government on his court, which has already seen two defence lawyers murdered and witnesses threatened.
Other than happening in the same country, just what does this have to do with the story that's being reported? It makes as much sense as it would to report a change in the board members of General Motors in the middle of an article about a traffic accident.
Then there's the statement by Sands that "he was not treated badly by his Sunni captors". If being taken from your car at gun point and having your life threatened isn't bad treatment, what is? Oh, wait, I forgot, bad treatment is having to listen to loud music with the air conditioning turned too high or too low.
Last but not least is the description of the rescue as part of a "routine mission". That's true in the general sense that the military does seek to find and capture terrorists but describing it as "routine" makes it sound as if there was little more than random fate behind the rescue. They may have been surprised to find a hostage but I doubt that the decision to make a middle of the night visit to the farmhouse was just happenstance.Posted by marybeth at January 15, 2006 11:24 AM Iraq