Huh? Online Iraqi Insurgent Propaganda = "Access to Combat Scenes" for "Average Americans"

Jihadist videos as public service? "...the videos give average Americans a level of access to combat scenes rarely available before."

Give the Times half a point for fronting Edward Wyatt's Friday story, "Now on YouTube: Iraq Videos Of U.S. Troops Under Attack," about controversial clips posted on the popular video-sharing site YouTube.

But evasive wording like this rankles: "Many of the videos, showing sniper attacks against Americans and roadside bombs exploding under American military vehicles, have been posted not by insurgents or their official supporters but apparently by Internet users in the United States and other countries, who have passed along videos found elsewhere."

What exactly is an "official supporter" ofan insurgent, and where does one sign up? The "unofficial" supporters spreading jihadist fantasies online are bad enough, and the Times' interest in softening their deadly beliefs is troubling.

Wyatt paints the videos, which he admits have previously been available on "jiahdist Web sites," as some kind of public service: "At a time when the Bush administration has restricted photographs of the coffins of military personnel returning to the United States and the Pentagon keeps close tabs on videotapes of combat operations taken by the news media, the videos give average Americans a level of access to combat scenes rarely available before, if ever.

"Their availability has also produced some backlash. In recent weeks, YouTube has removed dozens of the videos from its archives and suspended the accounts of some users who have posted them, a reaction, it said, to complaints from other users."

Deep inside Wyatt admits that some of the clips are "propaganda": "Some of the videos are obvious propaganda, with Arabic subtitles and accompanying music, while others simply have scenes without sound or graphics. They appear to be real, though the results of attacks are not always clear."

Another angle the Times misses is something Michelle Malkin has pointed out: Videos featuring criticism of Muslims have also been routinely pulled from the YouTube archives, while many of the clearly jihadist videos remain.