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Monday, June 14, 2010 

How tabloid journalism works.

1. Patrick Mercer, former chief pusher of Glen Jenvey, gets wind of a new horror being deployed by the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan: fake IEDs buried with used hypodermic needles, intended to cut and scratch those attempting to defuse such devices.

2. The Sun is informed of this development. These fake devices are turned by Tom Newton Dunn, former defence editor and now political editor, into "HIV bombs", where if the IED goes off the needles become "deadly shrapnel".

3. A quote is later added to the initial Sun report from Deborah Jack of the National Aids Trust that "there is no risk of HIV transmission from dirty needles".

4. An actual journalist from Stars and Stripes magazine looks into whether such devices are genuinely being deployed. He asks Mercer himself whether he actually had confirmation that such fake IEDs were being planted, and the best he came up with was that he "had the impression" they were. Inquiries to the International Security Forces-Afghanistan were answered "[N]o reports, no intel, nothing - but we're checking". The best answer he got was from the Joint IED Defeat Organization, who despite having no confirmed reports of such bombs said the Taliban often "employed anti-tamper devices".

5. Jeff Schogol's verdict? "More like an enemy propaganda campaign than a widespread new tactic". Nice of the Sun and Patrick Mercer to do the job of the Taliban for them.

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