Thursday, March 27, 2008


"It’s new, it’s so bad they named it after the hated American mercenaries, because it kills the innocent just like they do."

Hard to say where the origin of this particular factoid is, but the IPS (Inter Press Service) should know better as an established press service. The story is about Malaria:

FALLUJAH, Mar 26 (IPS) - Iraqi doctors in al-Anbar province warn of a new disease they call “Blackwater” that threatens the lives of thousands. The disease is named after Blackwater Worldwide, the U.S. mercenary company operating in Iraq.

“This disease is a severe form of malarial infection caused by the parasite plasmodium falciparum, which is considered the worst type of malarial infection,” Dr. Ali Hakki from Fallujah told IPS. “It is one of the complications of that infection, and not the ordinary picture of the disease. Because of its frequent and severe complications, such as Blackwater fever, and its resistance to treatment, P. falciparum can cause death within 24 hours.”

What Iraqis now call Blackwater fever is really a well-known medical condition, and while it has nothing to do with Blackwater Worldwide, Iraqis in al-Anbar province have decided to make the connection between the disease and the lethal U.S.-based company which has been responsible for the death of countless Iraqis.(*)
Get that? Iraqis are calling it Blackwater Fever, which is named after the lethal US contracted company responsible for the death of "countless Iraqis." Now, this is written by a news agency, by two fellows named Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail, but it reads like a tract, it's blatant propaganda.

Blackwater Fever is a rather old name, dating back at least to the early 1920s. It is an old name for a severe form of malaria (falciparum malaria) because of what color urine turns in the victims. It is not new, it has been known around the world, and has been called this for decades at least.

Not that this stops some left leaning, anti-Iraqi freedom bloggers from falling for the story, nor their readers (here's a sampling):
The repukes will spin it this way: Blackwater Fever is a good thing - much like Disco Fever…
-by Vet

Winning over the hearts and minds of Iraqis on a daily basis , aren’t they ?
-by MCMetal

Diseasing them over there so we don’t disease them here.

Relating Blackwater to a Disease is very appropriate.

Hague Trials ‘09
-by Buckie Boy
However, there was some integrity there, a few commenters tried to stop the foolishness and even asked for an update with a correction. Here's one story of Blackwater Fever from a commenter, trying to point out the facts in the case:
my friend grew up in South Africa and if memory serves, in South Africa in the 19th century “Blackwater Fever” was the name for malaria. His uncle survived “blackwater fever” because the Zulu people took him in. People who caught blackwater fever had but one potential remedy. the Zulu people had a “cure” that South Africans put in place. Persons infected with blackwater fever were strapped down to an ant hill for three days in the sun. the only thing they drank was Zulu beer. if the sun, beer, malaria, and ants didn’t kill them after three days, some were said to survive.
-by Vince3542
The funny thing is, after their grossly slanted intro (Countless deaths? Lethal?) the story goes on to point out that this isn't new, that it isn't named after the security corporation, and that it isn't an Iraqi particularity:
The deadly disease, never before seen in Iraq on at least this scale, seems to be spreading across the country. And Iraq lacks medicines, hospitals, and doctors to lead a campaign to fight the disease.
More hospitals are being built and many doctors who fled the country under the Hussein regime are returning, but the destruction of infrastructure by the former dictatorship is taking time to repair. In the process, Iraqis suffer and die, thanks to the corruption of Saddam Hussein that the UN Oil for Food program helped continue.

Are some Iraqis confusing the name with the security organization? Possibly, and for a news group like IPS, it only takes one to make a story, particularly for the primary writer who has made a career of smearing the US, spreading false stories and propaganda that can be seen in this story clear as day. This isn't a mistake, this isn't poor research, this is deliberate bias and is trash, yet that doesn't stop some from swallowing it whole because it says what they want to hear.

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