It's a shame. The Taliban uses the mainstream media's gullibility and leftist leanings for propaganda, and the media couldn't care less.
The Taliban has The Associated Press and Reuters on speed dial.
Elias Wahdat, a stringer for Reuters and BBC news services in Khost province, said that every time the Taliban launch an attack or American troops call in an air strike, he gets a text message.
The Taliban will give its version of what happened, often claiming that American bombs killed civilians. It may take officials with the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan hours to put together a news release for the press. In the meantime, the Taliban version is already circulating.
Lt. Col. David A. Accetta, the 82nd Airborne Division public affairs officer and chief spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said it takes time to verify the facts.
“The major difference between us and the Taliban extremists is that they are not bound by any regulations, laws or policies,” Accetta said. “They do not have to tell the truth and are more likely to use propaganda than they are to put out true, verifiable, factual information.”
But the lag time is leading to propaganda victories for the Taliban, experts and military officers said this week.
But Marc Garlasco, a senior military analyst with Human Rights Watch, said the Taliban have been very successful at using civilian deaths as a part of their information war against the Afghan government.
“Every civilian death in Afghanistan leads to more calls for the democratically elected government to step down. That is clearly the driving force,” said Garlasco, who just finished a draft report on civilian casualties in Afghanistan.
Afghan civilians told Garlasco that Taliban fighters force residents to remain in their homes as shields or force them to accompany insurgents on operations. A NATO source told Garlasco that the Taliban will also “seed an area with civilian dead” to make it look like NATO and coalition forces killed them.
He found that at least 388 Afghan civilians — triple the number from a year before — were killed by airstrikes in 2006-07. According to U.N. figures, 314 civilians were killed by international and Afghan government forces in the first six months of 2007 — more than the 279 civilians killed by the insurgents.