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Dujail - searching for the facts

Eli Stephens, Left I on the News

May 26, 2006

Following up on the post below, I've been doing a little more digging, and naturally finding more contradictions. Here's some of what I've found:

The only reference to "Dujail" in the New York Times prior to early 2005 is an article from March 29, 1991, written by Elaine Sciolino. I'm accessing it in PDF format via ProQuest, so I can't link to it, but here's what it says:

The Government also found other, more creative ways to punish Shiite dissent. In July 1982, for example, assassins tried to kill Mr. Hussein during a visit to the village of Dujail, a stronghold of Shiite militancy about 40 miles northeast of Baghdad. Mr. Hussein ordered the entire population deported and the village was razed.
Aside from the curious assertion that an assassination attempt constitutes "dissent," note that there is no mention of 250,000 acres or orchards at all.

Now let's move forward to July 3, 2005, and the last major article in the Times on the subject, written by John F. Burns. Here's a portion of the narrative that Burns spins:

In small groups at first, then in larger roundups, about 1,500 townspeople were arrested, as many as 30 from single families, and started on a journey into Mr. Hussein's gulags.
Earlier in the article, he has quoted a population figure of 75,000. So now we've gone from the more contemporaneous article in the Times claiming that "the entire population [was] deported and the village was razed" to arresting 1,500 people (2% of the town), and no mention of "razing the village" at all.

Burns also writes:

Within weeks, the razing of the palm groves and the orchards began, continuing until more than 250,000 acres had been bulldozed.
Unfortunately, he provides no source for this information. Note also that, while recent articles refer only to 250,000 acres, Burns was claiming more than 250,000 acres.

There's something else in that article--a map of Iraq showing Dujail. I've extracted it, and made one small addition. That pink square you see centered on the town of Dujail? That's a square 20 miles on a side - 250,000 acres, the area allegedly razed by Saddam. Note that that square extends all the way to the nearest large town, Balad. Seeing it graphically like this makes clear just how implausible this claim is.

:: Article nr. 23537 sent on 26-may-2006 23:08 ECT


Link: lefti.blogspot.com/2006_05_01_lefti_archive.html#114861655700185866

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