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CNN tries to create a military conspiracy theory

CNN is trying hard to sow doubt in U.S. military leadership after officials confirmed 11 American servicemen are being treated for traumatic brain injuries following Iran’s Jan. 8 missile attack on an Iraqi airbase.


“Breaking,” tweeted Jim Sciutto, chief national security correspondent and former Obama State Department appointee, citing CNN’s reporting, “11 US service-members were injured during Iranian missile attack on Al Asad airbase in Iraq.”

He added, “Following the attack, the Pentagon had said no casualties had resulted from the 16 missiles fired by Iran.”

The U.S. military uses the term "casualty" to refer broadly to servicemen who have been killed, injured, or even detained.





CNN published a report with nine bylines titled, “US troops were injured in Iran missile attack despite Pentagon initially saying there were no casualties.”
The implication in the network's reporting is clear: The Pentagon may have tried to cover up the full extent of the damage inflicted on U.S. forces after the Trump White House escalated hostilities with Iran by killing the terrorist Qassem Soleimani.


This would be a great catch by CNN, were it not for the simple explanations offered by U.S. officials. First of all, the Jan. 8-related injuries did not manifest until days after the Pentagon announced there were no casualties, according to CNN’s reporting and Defense One. The latter outlet was the first to report the story that nearly a dozen U.S. servicemen have been medically evacuated to military hospitals in Germany and Kuwait for brain trauma-related issues and evaluations.
One senior U.S. official told Defense One specifically: “As a standard procedure, all personnel in the vicinity of a blast are screened for traumatic brain injury, and if deemed appropriate, are transported to a higher level of care. At this time, eight individuals have been transported to [Landstuhl, Germany] and three have been transported to Camp Arifjan [in Kuwait].”


Another senior official said, “About a week after the attack, some service members were still experiencing some symptoms of concussion.”
U.S. Central Command spokesman Bill Urban later confirmed these details in a statement.
The CNN report then tries to have it both ways, arguing both that there is a practical explanation for the discrepancy and that it is likely not good enough. “Concussions are not always apparent immediately after they've been suffered, but the disclosure indicates that the impact of the attack was more serious than initial assessments indicated.”
The “facts first” network then quotes a Defense official who said of the supposed discrepancy between what the Pentagon first reported and what is being reported now: “That was the commander's assessment at the time. Symptoms emerged days after the fact, and they were treated out of an abundance of caution."
Rather than present this explanation as a reasonable one and leave it at that, CNN tries a bit too hard, launching into a lengthy aside about how official U.S. reports regarding the Jan. 8 attacks "have shifted since it occurred.”

Either the Pentagon reported what it knew at the time about U.S. casualties, and then reacted responsibly when new information became available, or CNN has cracked the case and caught CENTCOM in a shameful conspiracy to mislead the public. Take your pick. 

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