Thursday, April 16, 2015

"This was a test case for the government"

This morning Ned Parker appeared on Morning Edition (NPR -- link is audio only -- they will add a transcript later today) and spoke about what happened this month in Iraq and how it forced him to leave that country.

Iraq's Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, has been on a high profile visit to DC.  (And will be taking questions later today at one forum.)  He's played like he's a man of peace and people have fawned over him -- the press.

No one wants to talk about his continued war on the press.

Or how the Reuters bureau chief had to leave the country.

From today's broadcast:

Steve Inskeep: What happened that instead began to make this a story about you?

Ned Parker: Well our team, on the day that Tikrit was liberated, they called me during the day and said, "We've witnessed an execution by federal police of a detainee in the street."  And it was a mob mentality.  And they could only stay a few moments because it was such a crazed scene I think our people feared for their own safety.  So when they came home that evening, we had a huge debate about do we report this, is this too sensationalist?  It's one incident.  But when we looked at the whole picture, we also saw a body being dragged by a group of Shi'ite paramilitaries.  We had   photos of this which we published  And there had been looting and arson of areas that surround Tikrit.  So we felt that we had to report what happened there, that if we didn't, we wouldn't be meeting our obligation to report fairly and impartially about the critical issue right now: What happens when security forces enter an area that has been under Islamic State control, that is Sunni and then has predominately Shia security paramilitary forces enter.

Steve Inskeep: This is the most basic job of a war correspondent: Go look at a war and report exactly what you see.

Ned Parker: Mm-hmm.  Right.  And this was a test case for the government.  The Iraqi government and the US government have spoken about the importance of post-conflict stabilization operations in Iraq.

Steve Inskeep: What happened after you published the story?

Ned Parker: It was picked up everywhere.  I think it was seen because of what our correspondents witnessed -- this execution which was horrific -- where they watched two federal policemen basically trying to saw off the head of a suspected Islamic State fighter to cheers from federal police, our story became really the example of what went wrong in Tikrit.  And it was published on April 3rd.  The night of April 5th on Facebook, on a site associated with Shi'ite paramilitary groups and political forces, a picture of myself went up calling for Iraqis to expell me. It quickly received over 100 shares and comments including, "Better to kill him than to expel him."

Steve Inskeep:  Did it blow over?

Ned Parker: No.  It only got worse.  I-I did go out and try to have meetings with some people, different prominent Iraqis, about it.  And then on Wednesday night [April 8th]  the channel of Asaib al-Haq -- which is a prominent Shi'ite political party and paramilitary group, my face is the backdrop as the anchor talks and he actually waives also a print out of my face and talks about how I should be expelled from the country and then proceeds to read a letter from an Iraqi living in the United States who also again calls for me to be expelled and describes Reuters as trampling on the dignity of Iraq and Shi'ite paramilitary groups and after that there's no way I could have stayed in the country -- both for myself and for my staff.  My presence was polarizing the situation.  So I left the next day.

Ned goes on to note that the threats were called out by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and that The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for an investigation.

I am noting the silence of the US State Dept.

On Saturday, they offered the press a printed statement that they've never released to the public.  That's about all they've done.

There have been State Dept press briefings every day this week and not one word has been said.

This despite John Kerry's puffed out chest when he yammers on about how important press freedom is across the globe.

The White House has been even more silent.

"This was a test case for the government."

It was.

And the US government failed.  They'd rather be silent than defend journalism -- they especially don't want to defend journalism that exposes the brutality of the regime they continue to back and fund in Iraq.

"This was a test case for the government."

And the Iraqi government failed.

For the first time, it's noted that Haider al-Abadi attacked the press in a speech.

Ned has the date wrong -- more than understandable, he had a large number of other issues on his mind.

He believes the speech was made April 9th.

No, it was made on the 8th.

From Sunday:

Thursday's snapshot noted Haider al-Abadi's attack on the press -- in a speech the press covered, one he gave in Falluja, but somehow all the outlets covering the speech failed to cover Haider's attack on the press.
His office published the attack April 8th -- in Arabic.  It never made it up to the English side of the site.  It's still not up there now.
Realizing thugs lie, we've posted the press release here.

We noted part of the speech on April 8th.  We waited on the attack on the press until the next day because I wanted to have that -- the English version -- because too many people e-mail insisting, "This doesn't say that."  When I link to Arabic articles, people who can't read Arabic flood the public e-mail account with claims that the linked to article doesn't say this or that.

So I thought we'd wait a day (this is all noted here on Thursday) to see if the press release was translated to English and posted on the prime minister's site -- as almost every other one is.

They've not published it.

Even now.

They don't want English readers to know just how disgusting and vile Haider is.

Haider fanned the flames.

He should have been called out.

Instead Barack's promising him the moon -- including $200 million US tax dollars to rebuild the areas that Iraqi forces are currently terrorizing Sunni civilians in.

It was a test case for the US government and for the Iraqi government.

Both failed.

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