Monday, December 17, 2007

Other Items

Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi photographer who had a hand in
The Associated Press's 2005 Pulitzer Prize for photography before being jailed without charges by the United States military, finally had a day in court last week. But his story, which highlights the unprecedented role that Iraqis are playing in news coverage of the war, is really just beginning.
He was held for around 20 months by the military -- in Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere, with no right to contest his detention -- before being turned over to an Iraqi magistrate, who will act as a one-man grand jury and decide if there is enough evidence to link him to the insurgency. He has not been formally charged with a crime.
The Associated Press has staunchly defended Mr. Hussein, pointing out that his role as a journalist involved getting close to the insurgency. Over the last three years, the American military has held at least eight other Iraqi journalists for periods of weeks or month without charges and released them all, apparently unable to find ties to the insurgency, according to the
Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent nonprofit organization.
As for Mr. Hussein and his lawyers, "they were not given a copy of the materials that were presented and which they need to prepare a defense," The Associated Press said in a statement last week, noting that Mr. Hussein was still being detained without formal charges. "The Associated Press continues to believe that claims Bilal is involved with insurgent activities are false."

The above is from Tim Arrango's "Case Lays Bare the Media’s Reliance on Iraqi Journalists" in today's New York Times. The report is a joke and Arrango should be ashamed. When you read on, you find that -- despite the gag order -- the US military (via e-mail) continues their gag order. Now Bilal's attorneys aren't allowed to go in details but the US military can? Well when you occupy Baghdad, you can do whatever you want and no Iraqi court or 'court' is going to do a thing. Sadly, the New York Times chooses to embarrass themselves by running this crap article which, for the record, puts foward a lie and does so by not citing a source.

A lie about Bilal? He's so sneering about Bilal let's move on to the lie he tells about the paper. The claim is put forward -- and not sourced -- that the paper's non-Iraqi reporters move freely: "And while Western journalists do depend on Iraqi freelancers, several news organizations, including The New York Times, continue to have resident correspondents who leave their compounds to report in Baghdad and beyond." To report in the Green Zone and -- with a team of bodyguards and/or military support -- just outside the Green Zone. What a liar. What a filthy, disgusting liar. His efforts to dismiss the work of Iraqi reporters for the paper (let's stop calling them stringers -- they do the bulk of the heavy lifting) would be shameful on any day but especially on a day when news comes of Ali Shafeya Al-Moussawi's death. Liz Gannes reports:

Ali Shafeya Al-Moussawi, a 22-year-old reporter for web news program Alive in Baghdad, was killed at home in Iraq on Friday. During an Iraqi National Guard raid in his neighborhood of Sadr City, Al-Moussawi was shot 31 times in the chest and head and died at the scene, according to the Alive in Baghdad blog.

Ali Shafeya didn't have a team of bodyguards, he didn't hide behind the US military. He did a real reporters job so to hear lies from the New York Times this morning that rob the Iraqis working for that paper and risking their damn lives for that paper about how non-essential their 'stringers' are is even more offensive.

Free Bilal can tell you more than Timmy can -- no surprise because the New York Times has repeatedly been one of the most cowardly on the issue of reporters' rights in Iraq. No need to worry, New York Times, it's a journalist whose life is at stake. Timmy wrote a really bad article -- sadly that may mean he ends up sticking at the paper of no record -- unlike at his previous jobs. In fact, were there time, we could explore Timmy's 'professionalism' and career the way he attempts to dismiss Bilal.

Meanwhile Paul von Zielbauer files the official report on the Basra hand over for the Times. In the real world? Mona Mahmoud, Maggie O'Kane and Ian Black's "UK has left behind murder and chaos, says Basra police chief" (Guardian of London) offers another take (and note, video is included):

The full scale of the chaos left behind by British forces in Basra was revealed yesterday as the city's police chief described a province in the grip of well-armed militias strong enough to overpower security forces and brutal enough to behead women considered not sufficiently Islamic.
As British forces finally handed over security in Basra province, marking the end of 4½ years of control in southern Iraq, Major General Jalil Khalaf, the new police commander, said the occupation had left him with a situation close to mayhem. "They left me militia, they left me gangsters, and they left me all the troubles in the world," he said in an interview for Guardian Films and ITV.
But in the film, to be broadcast on the Guardian Unlimited website and ITV News, Khalaf lists a catalogue of failings, saying:
· Basra has become so lawless that in the last three months 45 women have been killed for being "immoral" because they were not fully covered or because they may have given birth outside wedlock;
· The British unintentionally rearmed Shia militias by failing to recognise that Iraqi troops were loyal to more than one authority;
· Shia militia are better armed than his men and control Iraq's main port.

In the Los Angeles Times, Peter Spiegel and Julian E. Barnes report what they're told but can't analyze and don't think to go to some 'experts' in their rolodexes:

In a change of plans, American commanders in Iraq have decided to keep their forces concentrated in Baghdad when the buildup strategy ends next year, removing troops instead from outlying areas of the country.
The change represents the military's first attempt to confront its big challenge in 2008: how to cut the number of troops without sacrificing security.

What does it mean? The 'crackdown' started in June of 2006 and never 'achieved,' the escalation ('surge') began this year and never 'achieved.' But the press was kind, wasn't it? So what to do? With the UK pulling out of Basra with violence sweeping the north and south of Iraq, the thing to do is manage (American) public opinion and make it appear that Iraq is 'secure' by keeping troops in the capital and wishing & hoping that the puppet (Nouri al-Maliki) can pull off the theft of Iraqi oil and do so quickly. What the two reporters describe isn't a 'strategy' or a 'plan' and it's really sad to think how this would have been reported three or four decades ago as compared to how it is today. And, as the war drags on, Reuters reports the puppet government's spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh declared on Iraqi TV yesterday, "Of course we need international support. We have security problems. For 10 years our army will not be able to defend Iraq." Catch it? Ten more years. The puppet government needs US troops in Iraq because the puppets have no real authority and they do not represent the Iraqi people.

Rachel notes this item about today's Cat Radio Cafe -- airing on WBAI (streaming online) from two to three p.m. :

Comedienne Reno previews "That's Why I Don't Have a Gun," her holiday show at the Bowery Poetry Club; percussionist/singer/folkdancer Allesandra Belloni explains her Techno Tarantella show, celebrating the mystical power of the Tarantella; and artist and political satirist Robert Cenedella talks about the limited edition replicas of his latest homage to George Bush, "Basket Sculpture," a round metal construction, functional as a trash can. Hosted by Janet Coleman and David Dozer .

Kat's "Kat's Korner: Smashing Pumpkins, tilted windmills" went up Sunday morning, Ruth's latest "Ruth's Report" went up Saturday night and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "A Bully Boy and Pelosi Christmas" went up yesterday (noted because Bonnie reminded me, thank you Bonnie).

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