Qaddafi regime's canopy of lies obscures the glints of truth
The constant manipulation of information by Muammar Qaddafi's regime makes convincing the outside world of any fact that helps its cause an uphill battle.
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That missile is four meters long and with a ten-inch diameter, and online photographs account for the remaining chunks found at the Libyan site, including a light-weight nose cone and another particular piece of shrapnel – a single belt of metal bolted around the halfway point on the missile.Skip to next paragraph
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The “bullet holes” in the wall are explained by how the AGM-88 HARM destroys its radar target: by using particular cube-shaped fragments that are smaller than bullets, which blast from the missile above the ground with a proximity fuse – not on impact.
Expert descriptions of how the HARM performs may help explain why the missile did not land on a radar site.
The HARM has “an unparalleled ability to home in on enemy [radar] emitters” and knock out air defense systems, according to GlobalSecurity.org. But unlike precision-guided weapons, they “cannot be steered and under certain conditions may not guide on the target that they were originally fired.”
Little of that was evident to the Libyan government minders at the scene, nor to the skeptical journalists who have learned that political stagecraft here is an art form.
To give just a couple recent examples:
* At a mass burial Thursday, Libyan Red Crescent workers unloaded 33 coffins for a public, made-for-TV spectacle that officials said was for victims of allied airstrikes. Hundreds of men and a handful of women prayed and chanted anti-Western slogans.
After the ceremony nearly half the coffins were taken away, ostensibly for burial elsewhere at the request of families.
But as shrouded bodies were removed from their coffins at the gravesite, one coffin was found to be empty. The rest were buried in graves originally prepared – but inexplicably never used – for another, separate funeral ceremony for supposed war victims, witnessed by journalists four days earlier.
* At the funeral Thursday, one of the most colorful characters was a man shouting slogans, waving a green flag with a child sitting on his shoulders who was holding a toy assault rifle. Later he was seen in the lobby of a five-star hotel where journalists are staying, hobnobbing with Libyan intelligence agents and minders tasked with monitoring journalists.
The man, who gave the name Osama Bin Salah, said he was a “taxi driver” whose Qaddafi-loving family was blown up by rebels in Misrata. Four days later he is still in the exclusive preserve of such a hotel, the type of which government officials have stated is “illegal” for ordinary people to enter.