While searching for a picture of Neda Agha-Soltan for my next post, I ran across this. I didn’t have time to check out Gary Trieste, or even to examine the evidence. But just reading it through once I had a sense of how it must be for pro-Palestinians to read our arguments. I just don’t want to believe this is a fake, so I am ill-inclined to consider the arguments. I submit it to the readers of this blog to respond to. I have no position yet, although just reading it has been a salutary emotional experience. All comments welcome.
Was the Neda Agha-Soltan video a Hoax?
A few humble observations, and a few impertinent questions.
by Gary Trieste
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
It was the shocking video that flashed around the world by the Internet. An at-the-scene moment, taken during the recent Iran election protest demonstrations.
The Neda Agha-Soltan video, shows a young woman in the street, having been struck down by a government sniper’s bullet.
The video shows her stunned, and collapsing backward to the ground while being let down gently by a man.
The woman peers sideways at the camera coming towards her, with an perturbing visage of resignation on her face, probably due to massive shock.
A closeup of her face suddenly reveals rivulets of blood streaming down the side of her mouth and then from her nose, while a doctor attempts to revive her.
In the background we can hear her friends trying encourage and console her. Heart rending sounds of anguish and cries come shortly thereafter when it is apparent she had succumbed to her injuries.
Shocking. An indictment of the callous and brute force of the Iranian militia. A tragic and senseless death that shows perfectly how wrong this conflict is.
And yet, as one gets over the visceral impact of it, past the gut wrenching tragedy, and one begins to reflect . . . does it not have, perhaps, a bit of a “too-perfect-to-be-true” feel to it?
Much like the infamous Stephen Glass articles written for the New Republic, edgy, highly topical, and on point to cutting edge social events, his articles were just too good not to be true, they went down as smoothly as KoolWhip and Flan.
But too good they were, and 90% of what he wrote about as an eye-witness reporter, he simply made up.
Before I continue, I should say that I totally support, and am in awe of, the brave Iranian citizens who defied the threat of lethal force from their Supreme Leader, and who continued to protest for their civil rights against the fraudulent election results that their corrupt regime declared by divine edict.
But in this case, the video, the backstory – are just too good not to be true. And thus perhaps, just too good to be true.
Taken with a skeptical eye, the analytical acumen of a Monk, or a Patrick Jane, a point-by-point analysis of this video (and another of the same event), what we actually see, suggests things may not be what they are purported to be.
And then we might just suspend belief in the easy, consumable story we are being served up by the story’s proponents, participants, and the incritical media at large.
As a disclaimer, I might be completely off base and the story may totally be what it appears to be. If so, I apologize to any who may be offended, however . . . .
As I see it, there truly are a series of misconnects, non-sequitors, inconsistencies, and not-quite-right factoids surrounding the videos and backstory accompanying them.
To start off, there is what appears to be two different Nedas (photos of two different women supposedly her), and (currently) a question of any independent source identifying Neda as a real person.
Then, Neda was said to have been shot by a member of the Basij, an officially sanctioned vigilante organization.
And yet, as they are not police or military, most Basiji are not permitted to carry firearms except for special requirements and when not in actual combat?
And then, why would they pick out a non-protesting woman, 1km from where the protests were occuring, just stepping out of a car for a few minutes. And, how did anyone even know it was a Basiji, since it was claimed to be from a unseen sniper on an adjacent building.
Moving now to the video . . .
For the massive injury she supposedly sustained, a direct bullet shot to the center of her chest, I have to wonder, where is all the blood that would be coming from her torso or her back onto the ground, it should have been everywhere, including the spot where they are trying to give her CPR, all over their hands and her clothing, and a huge pool on the ground. Yet the only pool of blood appears to be at her feet before she falls down.
Then, most curious . . .
Shortly into the video, we see blood coming from her mouth. She is not sputtering it out, or coughing it up, as in an inability to breathe. Rather it appears rapidly and self flowing, and runs down both sides of her mouth, almost exclusively. Her center teeth aren’t even stained.
Shortly thereafter blood appears to pour out her right nostril . . . Looking carefully in the video, it appears that both the mouth and nostril bleed occurs right after a hand is seen pushing up onto or into them.
These flow patterns appear more to be from a blood bladder timed for rupture when the camera was in the correct position. And the nose bleed appears only after what appears to be a rapid slight-of-hand insertion of blood into her nose.
Conveniently, an anonymous doctor was on hand to provide the CPR, and to try to save her life, provide credible medical testimony, then disappear from the scene.
Now I am nitpicking, but this video was supposedly shot with a cellphone videocam. It really seems a bit too high quality for that, more like a DV camcorder.
And then, there is the almost too perfect backstory of Neda, preceding the shooting and in preparation to go to the protests – her supposed repeated prescient commentary about any danger there, was a flippant “Don’t worry. It’s just one bullet and it’s over”, and that “Neda had said that even if she lost her life and got a bullet in her heart, she would carry on”.
Of course, we find out that she was not really political and had no intention of active protesting, only that she was passionate about the honesty of the election process, and wanted to be there to see. Her fiancee said she “studied philosophy, music and tourism, was not political”, i.e. principled, but thoroughly inoffensive.
Then on followup, there is the extreme rapid nature of her burial; no wake, or prefuneral proceedings, no Imam attending, or even pictures/video of that proceeding?
We now hear unsubstantiated reports that the Iranian government has banned any memorials or gatherings in her name, which conveniently explains why there is a dearth of public involvement in her very public death.
I don’t want to bust anyone’s bubble, but there seems to be too many “just right” elements to this story.
The Iranian government crackdown on foreign media reporting to the rest of the world, and curtailment of phone services and internet access, provides a ripe environment for just this kind of staged tragedy. All news coming from Iran is from amateur on-the-street participants.
The mass media, starving for news, and implicitly antipathetic toward the Iranian regime for their actions, snatched up this story and ran with it. It was just too good not to be true.
My oddsmaker assessment, 15% likely true, 85% likely hoax or staged.
I honestly hope the latter; this video made me cry.
Strange final remark.