A Curious Phenomenon

As you may recall, a couple of days ago, in writing about David Brooks' column titled "The Center Holds," I noted that when I searched the New York Times' website for it, it wasn't there: Not in the list of Brooks' columns, nor even using the Times' general search feature for headlines, keywords and authors.

Anyway, I read the Times almost daily — that's The New York Times, of course; the L.A. Times is pretty much only good for entertainment news, and don't even get me started on the Daily News — and I cut out articles I think I may want to comment on ... and recently, I've noticed a couple of articles that the Times printed that I can't seem to bring up electronically because they never come up in a search.

One was the article I reported on about how, although violent crime in general rose 2% in 2006, rapes actually dropped 2% between 2005 and 2006 — but no matter what key words I used, the Times' engine wouldn't bring the article up. Of course, the article was bylined "(AP)", for Associated Press, and they may not allow the Times to archive their stuff ... but I'm pretty sure I've gotten AP articles before, using the Times search function.

Somewhat more troubling, however, is an article by Paul von Zielbauer, printed in the Sept. 25, 2007 edition, titled "Snipers Killed Iraqis Who Took 'Bait,' Soldiers Testify." It's all about a "program developed by a Defense Department warfare unit," where "Army snipers have begun using a new method to kill Iraqis suspected of being insurgents, using fake weapons and bomb-making material as bait and then killing anyone who picks them up, according to testimony presented in a military court."

According to a Washington Post article on the same subject, "Baiting is putting an object out there that we know they will use, with the intention of destroying the enemy," said Capt. Matthew P. Didier, the leader of an elite sniper scout platoon attached to the 1st Battalion of the 501st Infantry Regiment, in a sworn statement. "Basically, we would put an item out there and watch it. If someone found the item, picked it up and attempted to leave with the item, we would engage the individual as I saw this as a sign they would use the item against U.S. forces."

I don't know about you, but I'm troubled that the Army thinks it's okay to pull the old "wallet on a string" gag on what may be innocent Iraqis who, seeing something they think may be valuable (in a country where something like a quarter of the population is unemployed), pick it up with plans perhaps to sell it on the black market .. and then they get shot in the head for their trouble. I'd think that's a subject the Times might want its readers, and even outside researchers, to be able to get back to someday.

Hmmm ... curiouser and curiouser ... 



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