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<nettime> Will The Media Remember Al-Shifa?

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                    Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
               Media analysis, critiques and news reports

August 17, 1999
Contact: Seth Ackerman (mailto:SAckerman@fair.org)

Embassy Bombings Commemorated Without Mention of Factory Attack

This month marks the anniversary of the August 7, 1998 terrorist attacks on
American embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, which claimed the lives of 224
people, including 12 Americans. The anniversary has received substantial
media attention, including stories on NBC's Sunday Today (8/8/99), ABC's
World News Saturday (8/7/99), CBS's Evening News (8/7/99), and the
Washington Post (8/8/99), the New York Times (8/7/99), and Los Angeles Times

But virtually absent from this coverage has been any mention of the U.S.
response which followed those attacks: the cruise missile raids launched two
weeks later by President Clinton against camps in Afghanistan and against
the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Khartoum, Sudan.

Although U.S. officials originally claimed the Sudanese factory was involved
in the production of chemical weapons and had links to accused terrorist
Osama bin Laden, those assertions-along with many of the subsequent,
shifting allegations offered in the days following the attack-have turned
out to be inaccurate.

To date, the U.S. has presented no convincing evidence directly linking the
factory to either bin Laden or chemical weapons. But it should be noted that
even if the U.S. could offer credible evidence that the Al-Shifa plant made
chemical weapons, or that it was linked to bin Laden, the missile strike
would almost certainly still be a violation of the United Nations charter
and a serious contravention of international law. The Charter permits
countries to use force only in "self-defense" against an "armed attack"-an
attack which, according to the accepted legal standard, must be so imminent
as to leave "no choice of means, and no moment of deliberation."

August 20 will mark the anniversary of the Al-Shifa attack. With the notable
exceptions of the Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report, which
recently ran informative articles about the Al-Shifa case (Washington Post,
7/25/99; U.S. News &World Report, 8/16-23/99), the mainstream media have
paid little attention to the Al Shifa case.

FAIR encourages journalists to use the anniversary of the cruise missile
attacks as an opportunity to review the evidence upon which the Sudan attack
was based, and the legality of the attacks on both Sudan and Afghanistan.
Media outlets should look back in their reporting not only on crimes
committed against the U.S., but also on possible crimes committed by the

For more information on the media's response to the Al-Shifa attacks, please
read "Media in Cruise Control" at:


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