March 02, 2007
Precision Bombing

Brother Bill sends this—

When I was a young reporter for the Boston Globe, I had a close friend named Thomas Hackett. Tommy was a shrink and would later become head of psychiatry at Mass General and a Harvard Medical School professor.

He loved to tell stories about his service as a doctor in the medical corps. During combat, he said, the medics would all sit with their backs against the cab. I asked him why and he said that the enemy gunners would aim at the big red crosses on the ambulance’s side.

I thought of Tommy, now long gone, when I saw this picture from the action in Lebanon. I have some other interesting Hackett stories. They’re for another time.

—and Bill also sends the picture below. It doesn’t change the validity of Tommy’s observation, which I’ve heard from other medical corpsmen. But as one who used to front for the U.S. Air Force in Laos, the picture made me suspicious. It seems to show that the pilot hit precisely what he was aiming at, which happens in real life at a frequency ranging from almost never to never. Maybe the picture is legit, but then again … Well, you decide.



Posted by Jerome Doolittle at March 02, 2007 03:21 PM
Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):


That picture has become a cause celebre for the wingnuts. And yes, that's a direct ad hominem attack on the argument put forth at Zombietime. If a wingnut argued that the sky was blue, I'd go outside to check.

"In previous conflicts in Gaza and the West Bank, Israel has struck ambulances when it believed the vehicles were being used to smuggle weapons and personnel to militants. In a statement Monday, an Israeli army spokesman said the ambulances in Qana were attacked "in an area known to be one of the main sources of the launching of hundreds of missiles," according to Cox News Service. The Red Cross has asked Israel for a more detailed explanation."

Shmuel Ben-Mordechai was not murdered at Auschwitz in 1944, but in fact was murdered in Munich in 1938. His surviving family admits as much. Therefore one must question the entirety of the Shoah.

I have my doubts about the picture too. None about the Israeli policy of targeting ambulances.

Posted by: A very fretful porpentine on March 2, 2007 4:00 PM

To Fretful (and other commenters, too): It may have seemed at first that your comment didn't go through. Now it has. The reason is that our new version of Movable Type,as an anti-spam measure, delays for approval any comment with three or more links in it. Chuck and I will try to wave your comments on through as quickly as we can. Thanks for your patience.

Posted by: Jerry Doolittle on March 2, 2007 4:19 PM

Now it gets confusing, Fretful. Your original email, the one that was sidelined by Movable Type, contained three identical links. Which I only noticed after I approved the comment and it appeared on the site with only one link. So I went back to retrieve and repost the missing links, and saw that they were all identical.

Only thing I can think of is that you inadvertently entered the same URL three times, triggering the spam blocker. And then when I approved the comment, Movable Type saw three duplicate links and very sensibly removed two of them.

Actually this scenario seems improbable to me, though. Any Movable Type experts out there who actually know what they're talking about?

Posted by: Jerry Doolittle on March 2, 2007 4:35 PM

I inspected the text of the comment several times, for a preview to make sure I got it right, before I clicked the button for the final posting. That might trigger a spam alert. Your blog probably thought I was an especially stupid automated spambot :-(

Posted by: A very fretful porpentine on March 2, 2007 6:05 PM

Careful not to miss the point. The picture reminded me of a story told by a medic in another war. The validity of this particular picture was not the point. I trusted Hackett's story, That's all.

Posted by: Bill Doolittle on March 3, 2007 5:47 AM

Human Rights Watch

The “Hoax” That Wasn’t: The July 23 Qana Ambulance Attack.

Posted by: on March 3, 2007 4:05 PM

Thanks, anonymous. This will teach me not to grab hold of the first plausible argument I come across. I was thinking in terms of live pilots and gunners rather than drones. It makes sense to me that the search imaging system of a drone would lock in on such large and obvious X as the red cross. And a small drone-fired missile could explain the suspicious neatness of the hole if the missile had punched out the vent.

Not that this makes the Israelis into good guys. It wasn't clear in the Human Rights Watch report (or at least I didn't spot it) whether the drone was controlled by distant operators who could see the target on their screen. If so, it was no accident that the two ambulances were hit. If not — if the drone picks up targets by itself, which seems unlikely — Israeli culpability is only slightly lessened. If a booby-trap kills a Girl Scout selling cookies, the homeowner can't escape punishment by pointing out that he meant the trap for burglars.

Posted by: Jerry Doolittle on March 3, 2007 6:36 PM
Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember info?