Saturday, March 24, 2007

Dahr Jamail: "Another Casualty: Coverage of the Iraq War"

Iraq is the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. Along with names and dates, the Brussels Tribunal has listed the circumstances under which Iraqi media personnel have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. This extremely credible report cites 195 as dead. If non-Iraqi media representatives are included, the figure goes beyond 200. Both figures are well in excess of the media fatalities suffered in Vietnam or during World War II.
The primary reason why reporting from Iraq is dangerous for all journalists is the horrific security situation. Iraqi journalists reporting from the streets are in perpetual danger. If any of the countless militias does not want a certain story made public, it will make sure that the journalist has filed his or her last story. Not to mention the scores of reporter deaths which have been the combined handiwork of the Iraqi government, occupation forces and/or criminal gangs. Despite President Bush's assertion that life in Iraq is improving, a senior Iraqi journalist was found dead in the capital on March 3, 2007. On the same day the body of the managing editor of Baghdad's al-Safir newspaper, Jamal al-Zubaidi, was found shot in the head.
The Realities of Repression
The United States continues to claim that its military operations in Iraq bring freedom and democracy. But such freedom apparently doesn't extend to Iraqi journalists. Several journalists critical of the United States or the U.S.-backed Iraqi government have been killed. For instance, on March 4, 2007 gunmen killed prominent journalist Mohan al Zaher in his home. That Sunday, his column concluded with the lament, "...if this is the democracy that we (Iraqis) dreamt of." His earlier articles questioned U.S. policies in Iraq.
The U.S. military has also conducted direct raids on media establishments and representatives. During the invasion, on April 8, 2003, a U.S. warplane bombed the al-Jazeera bureau in Baghdad, killing 35-year-old journalist Tareq Ayoub. Britain's Daily Mirror later cited the "top secret" minutes of a meeting during November 2004 where George W. Bush attempted to get British Prime Minister Tony Blair to consent to the bombing of the al-Jazeera headquarters in Doha, Qatar.
More recently, on February 23, 2007, U.S. soldiers raided and ransacked the offices of the Iraq Syndicate of Journalists (ISJ) in central Baghdad. The soldiers arrested ten armed guards and seized ten computers and 15 small electricity generators meant to be donated to families of killed journalists. Youssif al-Tamimi of the ISJ in Baghdad told one of my close colleagues, "The Americans have delivered so many messages to us, but we simply ignored all of them. They killed our colleagues, shut down our newspapers, arrested hundreds of us and now they are shooting at our hearts by raiding our headquarters. This is the freedom of speech we received." Many Iraqis believe that the U.S. soldiers were conveying from their leadership to Iraqi journalists the message of zero tolerance for criticism of the U.S.-led occupation.

The above is from Dahr Jamail's "Another Casualty: Coverage of the Iraq War" (Foreign Policy in Focus). Lynda highlighted it and it's an opener or a closer -- so we've got two entries this morning.

Meanwhile, on the heels of Paul von Zeilbauer's "Army Revises Upward the Number of Desertions" (New York Times) report on the undercounting of self-check outs in the army, Gareth notes Colin Brown's "Ministers finally admit full scale of war casualties" (Independent of London) on the count of the British wounded:

Figures for casualties before 2006 are to be published for the first time next week by the Ministry of Defence. The MoD has been wary of issuing the figures, in spite of attempts by campaigners using Freedom of Information legislation to find out the casualty rate.
The Independent has learned the figures will show that 114 British soldiers were seriously hurt in Iraq from 2004, compared to 46 during the invasion of 2003.
In Afghanistan, the figures reveal that the casualty rate rose last year to 30 seriously hurt, compared to two for the previous year. The rise was caused by a Taliban offensive last summer, and raised fears that it could rise sharply again when the next, expected, offensive gets underway.
The number of British fatalities in both conflicts have been regularly released by the MoD. The number of UK troops killed in Iraq rose to 134 this week after a soldier died in Britain having been critically injured while on patrol. The number killed in Afghanistan since 2001 rose to 52 after the death on 8 March of Warrant Officer Michael Smith in Helmand province.
[. . .]
The figures also reveal that soldiers are at more risk from disease or non-battle injuries in Iraq. UK field-hospital admissions in Iraq since the start of 2006 were 1,460, with fully 1,324 of these suffering from disease or non-battle injuries.

Today the US military announced: "While conducting a dismounted combat patrol, a MND-B Soldier died when an improvised explosive device detonated near the Soldier's position south of Baghdad March 23." And another division of the US military announced: "A soldier assigned to Multi National Force-West died March 23 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar Province." ICCC puts the current total at 3236. So two deaths announced since Friday when the ICCC count was 3234. We'll be returning to that number frequently in the coming months.

Violence has returned to Iraq! pants the press breathlessly (after most took Friday and Thursday off). Violence never left, only the coverage was absent. Reuters Factbox demonstrates this as they only today note the 26 corpses discovered on Friday in Baghdad.
Today, Reuters notes multiple bombings and multiple corpses throughout the country including
12 corpses discovered in Falluja and one was discovered in Diwaniya; bombings took place in Qaim (10 dead, 18 wounded thus far), Hilla (highest count is 16 dead, 45 wounded), Tal Afar (10 dead, 3 wounded), and Baghdad (20 dead, 26 wounded). Combine corpses with the bombing numbers and you have 69 reported thus far.

Randy notes David Swanson's " Versus Its Members" (

"A liberal is the kind of guy who walks out of a room when the argument turns into a fight." - Saul Alinsky
The Congress that was elected to end the war just voted to fund the war. Congresswoman Barbara Lee was not permitted to offer for a vote her amendment, which would have funded a withdrawal instead of the war. Groups that supported Lee's plan and opposed Pelosi's included United for Peace and Justice, Progressive Democrats of America, US Labor Against the War, After Downing Street,, Peace Action, Code Pink, Democracy Rising, True Majority, Gold Star Families for Peace, Military Families Speak Out, Backbone Campaign, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Voters for Peace, Veterans for Peace, the Green Party, and disgruntled former members of
True Majority was a late addition to the list. The organization polled its members. Did they favor the Pelosi bill to fund the war but include various toothless restrictions on it, or did they favor the Lee plan to use the power of the purse to end the war by the end of the year? Needless to say, True Majority's membership favored the Lee plan.
MoveOn polled its membership without including the Lee alternative, offering a choice of only Pelosi's plan or nothing. Amazingly, Eli Pariser of MoveOn has admitted that the reason MoveOn did this was because they knew that their members would favor the Lee amendment.

Now, there's nothing here that's surprising. John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton called out the MoveOn "poll" in plenty of time for those who began reporting on Monday (KPFA, Democracy Now!, et al) to have been aware of it. The 'membership' didn't vote on all options. But repeatedly they presented this as coming from members. It didn't. We didn't hear Stauber or Rampton invited on the radio to discuss their article (or Stauber's follow up). We did get a guest on Democracy Now! who works with MoveOn -- though that wasn't disclosed on air. (If anyone was unaware, they can start checking mainstream reporting in 2004 when no article on MoveOn could be written, apparently, without including a quote from the jerk.)

On Stauber's update, which noted that 96% of what MoveOn claims its membership numbers are did not vote in the poll, a ridiculous excuse came in to the public account where it was noted that not everyone in America is polled by the New York Times. No, not everyone is. That's a polling of the nation. They use a sample. When you're going to speak for membership, you need to reflect membership which means a "poll" where only 4% of your supposed membership votes isn't a poll of anything. But, in fairness to WalkOn, I will note that I don't think they attempted to "sample," I think that number is reflective of the true number of members the organization has at this point. Membership based upon who signed up during the 2004 elections -- "members" who've never been "active" since -- isn't a sign of how many members an organization has. I think a little over 100,000 is how many members they actually have. As always, I could be wrong.

But who decided they were a liberal organization? Did anyone on KPFA not repeat that this past week when citing the "poll"? They're not a liberal organization and they've never been one.
People want to act surprised now but if you paid attention, you saw them drop Iraq right off the map as soon as the spin and myths of the November 2004 election began to take hold. And they were called out on that position in real time (Norman Solomon and Danny Schechter are but two who strongly noted it). Call them "center-left" if you must but they are not a liberal organization.

The (mainstream) press chased after them because they were a flavor of the month. There's no reason for the left to follow that lead. As Elaine pointed out, it needs to be driven home now that they do not stand with the left (they try to stand with the Democratic leadership) and if you doubt that, you need to realize that the 2008 primaries and elections are coming up. The damage needs to stop now. Not after they marginalize a candidate truly trying to end the war. And they will do that. They'll do it for the same reason they went with the Pelosi-measure. They do not fight for anything, they take the easiest path. To repeat, that is in their roots. Censure wasn't a serious option to anyone (of Bill Clinton) until they started floating it. Instead of attempting to stop the impeachment, they provided cover to the witchhunt by proposing censure. It was just the thing to do to win press acceptance -- refuting any measure would have been a slap in the face to the mainstream press which was selling impeachment like crazy. Those same finger waggers who cautioned the country of the dangers in not punishing a president who lied (about sex!) have not a word to say on the same topic when the Bully Boy's lied a nation into a war. This time, they again went with what the press supported.

That's how you get fawning profiles and no tough questions from the mainstream press. Why the independent press elected to play along is another issue. (In some cases, they've entered into relationships with MoveOn. Relationships that should cease immediately if they are the independent press and not an advocacy group.)

Cecil and Kendrick both noted Margaret Kimberly's "Andrew Young's Nobel War Prize" (Freedom Rider, Black Agenda Report) on Thursday (others followed):

Andrew Young broke down and cried at the ground breaking of the Martin Luther King memorial on the Washington mall. What should have been going through his mind as he wept in Jesse Jackson's arms? "Martin must be spinning in his grave to see how low I have sunk."
How does one begin to describe the perfidy of Andrew Young? There is plenty of material to work with as examples of his bottom feeding grow exponentially. The man who made a name for himself as a trusted aide to Martin Luther King is now nothing more than a whore for corporations and crooked kleptocrats.
His correct title may be lobbyist or consultant, but the world's oldest profession is Young's as well. Actually, calling him a whore is an insult to the street walkers, call girls and rent boys who are at least transparent about what they do and why they do it. Young's client may be Jesse Jackson, or the Nigerian government, but the end result is always the same. He gets a big check and someone else gets the shaft. The shaftee may be a worker at Nike or Wal-Mart or millions of Nigerians suffering from environmental disasters and theft of their nation's resources.
"Calling Andrew Young a whore is an insult to the street walkers, call girls and rent boys."
Young's lobbying firm, the ironically named
GoodWorks International, is his source of ill gotten gains. The latest outrage emanating from GoodWorks is a sordid attempt to refurbish the image of a client who has stolen millions of dollars and participated in the killing of millions of people.
Olusegun Obasanjo is the outgoing president of Nigeria who also ruled as a military dictator in the 1970s. When the
Ibo people struggled for independence from 1966 to 1970, then Gen. Obasanjo participated in the slaughter of 3 million lives.
Young is now using the Nobel Peace Prize as a public relations tool for his thieving client, Obasanjo. A man who killed and robbed on a mass scale is now being promoted as a Nobel prize recipient by his lobbyist Andrew Young.
When Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize it was not just a great honor conferred upon a single individual. It was recognition from the world community of the terrible wrongs committed by American racism and recognition of the rightness of the American civil rights movement. Now Andrew Young, his hypocritical former follower, has sullied his past work and King's memory in order to make a dirty man appear clean.

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