Lie Spotter
Jenny Brown
April 2003

The lies are coming thick and fast since the U.S. invaded Iraq. Here we tackle tales of banned missiles, Iraqis bombing themselves, and U.S. 'warning shots' fired to stop a carload of civilians.

Mythical Scuds
Almost as soon as the U.S. started bombing Baghdad, they claimed Iraq was responding with Scud missiles, firing them into Kuwait. This was significant because Scud missiles were banned under the UN weapons regime, along with other missiles with a range greater than 150 km.

But immediately after U.S. reports claimed that "Scuds" hit Kuwait, the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz-which is concerned with any missiles that could reach Israel-pointed out that they were certainly not Scuds, but probably FROG missiles:

"The missiles launched by Iraq at targets in Kuwait on [March 20] were not Scuds, as was originally believed, but FROG (Free Rocket Over Ground) missiles-or something similar-which have a maximum range of 70 kilometers.

"According to Israeli defense officials, the short-range conventional missile attack on U.S. troops does not reflect a significant change in the Iraqi approach, and does not require Israel to change its state of readiness...." (

Marketplace bombing: 'Iraq did it to themselves'
This is a bold lie, you have to admit. After two weeks of nearly continuous aerial bombardment of Baghdad by U.S. and UK forces, the U.S. claimed that an explosion which killed at least 62 civilians in a Baghdad market was 'not one of ours.' (They have, however, admitted that stray U.S. bombs have hit Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.)

Oh well, the bigger the lie and all that. They weren't counting on reporters on the ground to examine fragments of the weapon, as British correspondent Robert Fisk did shortly after the attack.

The Independent reported on April 2: "The Anglo-American claims [that Iraq bombed itself by mistake] were undermined by the series of 25 digits and letters on the piece of fuselage shown to Mr. Fisk by an elderly resident of Shu'ale who lived 100 yards from the site of the 6ft crater made by the explosion.

"The numbers on the fragment--retrieved from the scene and not shown to the Iraqi authorities--read: "30003-704ASB7492". The letter "B" was partially obscured by scratches and may be an "H". It was followed by a second code: "MFR 96214 09."

"An online database of suppliers maintained by the Defence Logistics Information Service, part of the Department of Defence, showed that the reference MFR 96214 was the identification or "cage" number of a Raytheon plant in the city of McKinney, Texas. The 30003 reference refers to the Naval Air Systems Command, the procurement agency responsible for furnishing the US Navy's air force with its weaponry."

But is there still a chance it could be a U.S.-supplied missile left over from when Saddam was best buddies with Dick Cheney? "Investigations by The Independent show that the missile--thought to be either a Harm (High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile) device, or a Paveway laser-guided bomb--was sold by Raytheon to the procurement arm of the US Navy. The American military has confirmed that a navy EA-6B "Prowler" jet, based on the USS Kittyhawk, was in action over the Iraqi capital on Friday [March 28] and fired at least one Harm missile to protect two American fighters from a surface-to-air missile battery."

The U.S. military refuses to look up the serial number and maintains the shrapnel could have been planted at the scene to discredit the U.S. That hardly seems necessary.

"Ignored warning shots"
It was widely reported in the US media that on April 1, 2003, in Najaf, Iraq, U.S. soldiers fired on a civilian vehicle, killing up to ten civilians, all women and children. The official line Pentagon line was, well, what could we do? We thought they were suicide bombers. They ignored the warning shots.

But, according to a Washington Post reporter present at the scene, no warning shots were fired, although an order had been repeatedly given to fire them.

The following description comes from the UK paper, the Independent:

"As a blue Toyota van raced towards an intersection held by American troops, Captain Ronny Johnson grew increasingly concerned. He radioed to one of his forward platoons, giving the order: "Fire a warning shot." The vehicle kept coming, so, with increasing urgency, he told the platoon to shoot a machine-gun round into its radiator. "Stop [messing] around!" Capt Johnson yelled into the radio when he saw no action being taken. Then he shouted at the top of his voice "Stop him, Red 1, stop him!"

"The hail of gunfire that followed resulted in the deaths of up to 10 Iraqi women and children, including five under the age of five.

" ... William Branigin, a journalist for The Washington Post who witnessed the incident, filed a graphic account of Capt Johnson's interchange with his platoon. The reporter said 10 people were killed, and that the first shots fired included 25mm high-explosive cannon shells from one or more Bradley fighting vehicles, which tore into the four-wheel-drive.

"[Branigin] claimed that Capt Johnson, a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War, after peering into his binoculars from the intersection where he was positioned, screamed at his platoon leader: "You just [expletive] killed a family because you didn't fire a warning shot soon enough!"

"Afterwards, reported Mr Branigin, the soldiers gave the survivors 10 body bags to recover the remains and offered them money in compensation."

"...[The] sharply conflicting accounts of the tragedy ...were still circulating April 2 when American troops shot dead another civilian at a roadblock. He was unarmed."


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