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This is the reality of war.   We bomb.   They suffer
Veteran war reporter Robert Fisk tours the Baghdad hospital to see the wounded after a devastating night of air strikes
Published: 23 March 2003
Donald Rumsfeld says the American attack on Baghdad is "as targeted an air campaign as has ever existed" but he should not try telling that to five-year-old Doha Suheil.
She looked at me yesterday morning, drip feed attached to her nose, a deep frown over her small face as she tried vainly to move the left side of her body.
Cruise missile that exploded close to her home
The cruise missile that exploded close to her home in the Radwaniyeh suburb of Baghdad blasted shrapnel into her tiny legs — they were bound up with gauze — and, far more seriously, into her spine.
Now she has lost all movement in her left leg.
Her mother bends over the bed and straightens her right leg which the little girl thrashes around outside the blanket.
Somehow, Doha's mother thinks that if her child's two legs lie straight beside each other, her daughter will recover from her paralysis.
She was the first of 101 patients brought to the Al-Mustansaniya College Hospital after America's blitz on the city began on Friday night.
Seven other members of her family were wounded in the same cruise missile bombardment; the youngest, a one-year-old baby, was being breastfed by her mother at the time.
Something sick, obscene
There is something sick, obscene about these hospital visits.
We bomb.
They suffer.
We turn up and take pictures of their wounded children
Then we turn up and take pictures of their wounded children.
The Iraqi minister of health decides to hold an insufferable press conference outside the wards to emphasise the "bestial" nature of the American attack.
The Americans say that they don't intend to hurt children.
And Doha Suheil looks at me and the doctors for reassurance, as if she will awake from this nightmare and move her left leg and feel no more pain.
So let's forget, for a moment, the cheap propaganda of the regime and the equally cheap moralising of Messrs Rumsfeld and Bush, and take a trip around the Al-Mustansaniya College Hospital.
For the reality of war is ultimately not about military victory and defeat, or the lies about "coalition forces" which our "embedded" journalists are now peddling about an invasion involving only the Americans, the British and a handful of Australians.
War, even when it has international legitimacy — which this war does not — is primarily about suffering.
"It was on my arms, my legs, my chest."
Take 50-year-old Amel Hassan, a peasant woman with tattoos on her arms and legs but who now lies on her hospital bed with massive purple bruises on her shoulders — they are now twice their original size — who was on her way to visit her daughter when the first American missile struck Baghdad.
"I was just getting out of the taxi when there was a big explosion and I fell down and found my blood everywhere," she told me.
"It was on my arms, my legs, my chest."
Amel Hassan still has multiple shrapnel wounds in her chest.
Her five-year-old daughter Wahed lies in the next bed, whimpering with pain.
She had climbed out of the taxi first and was almost at her aunt's front door when the explosion cut her down.
Her feet are still bleeding
Her feet are still bleeding although the blood has clotted around her toes and is staunched by the bandages on her ankles and lower legs.
Two little boys are in the next room.
Sade Selim is 11; his brother Omar is 14.
Both have shrapnel wounds to their legs and chest.
Isra Riad is in the third room with almost identical injuries, in her case shrapnel wounds to the legs as she ran in terror from her house into her garden as the blitz began.
Imam Ali is 23 and has multiple shrapnel wounds in her abdomen and lower bowel.
Najla Hussein Abbas still tries to cover her head with a black scarf but she cannot hide the purple wounds to her legs.
Multiple shrapnel wounds.
After a while, "multiple shrapnel wounds" sounds like a natural disease which, I suppose — among a people who have suffered more than 20 years of war — it is.
And all this, I asked myself yesterday, was all this for 11 September 2001?
All this was to "strike back" at our attackers, albeit that Doha Suheil, Wahed Hassan and Imam Ali have nothing — absolutely nothing — to do with those crimes against humanity, any more than has the awful Saddam?
Who decided, I wonder, that these children should suffer
Who decided, I wonder, that these children, these young women, should suffer for 11 September?
Wars repeat themselves.
Always, when "we" come to visit those we have bombed, we have the same question.
In Libya in 1986, I remember how American reporters would repeatedly cross-question the wounded: had they perhaps been hit by shrapnel from their own anti-aircraft fire?
Again, in 1991, "we" asked the Iraqi wounded the same question.
A British radio reporter — yes, you've guessed it — "Do you think, doctor...
And yesterday, a doctor found himself asked by a British radio reporter — yes, you've guessed it — "Do you think, doctor, that some of these people could have been hit by Iraqi anti-aircraft fire?"
Should we laugh or cry at this?
Should we always blame "them" for their own wounds?
Certainly we should ask why those cruise missiles exploded where they did, at least 320 in Baghdad alone, courtesy of the USS Kitty Hawk.
Isra Riad came from Sayadiyeh where there is a big military barracks.
Najla Abbas's home is in Risalleh where there are villas belonging to Saddam's family.
The two small Selim brothers live in Shirta Khamse where there is a store house for military vehicles.   But that's the whole problem.
Targets are scattered across the city.
The poor — and all the wounded I saw yesterday were poor — live in cheap, sometimes wooden houses that collapse under blast damage.
Kill and maim
It is the same old story.   If we make war — however much we blather on about our care for civilians — we are going to kill and maim the innocent.
Dr Habib Al-Hezai, whose FRCS was gained at Edinburgh University, counted 101 patients of the total 207 wounded in the raids in his hospital alone, of whom 85 were civilians — 20 of them women and six of them children — and 16 soldiers.
A young man and a child of 12 had died under surgery.
No one will say how many soldiers were killed during the actual attack.
Driving across Baghdad yesterday was an eerie experience.
The targets were indeed carefully selected even though their destruction inevitably struck the innocent.
There was one presidential palace I saw with 40ft high statues of the Arab warrior Salaheddin in each corner — the face of each was, of course, that of Saddam — and, neatly in between, a great black hole gouged into the façade of the building.
The ministry of air weapons production was pulverised, a massive heap of pre-stressed concrete and rubble.
But outside, at the gate, there were two sandbag emplacements with smartly dressed Iraqi soldiers, rifles over the parapet, still ready to defend their ministry from the enemy which had already destroyed it.
The morning traffic built up on the roads beside the Tigris.
No driver looked too hard at the Republican Palace on the other side of the river nor the smouldering ministry of armaments procurement.
They burned for 12 hours after the first missile strikes.
It was as if burning palaces and blazing ministries and piles of smoking rubble were a normal part of daily Baghdad life.
But then again, no one under the present regime would want to spend too long looking at such things, would they?
And Iraqis have noticed what all this means.
In 1991, the Americans struck the refineries, the electricity grid, the water pipes, communications.
But yesterday, Baghdad could still function.
The landline telephones worked; the internet operated; the electrical power was at full capacity; the bridges over the Tigris remained unbombed.
For Iraq's new masters
Because, of course, when — "if" is still a sensitive phrase these days — the Americans get here, they will need a working communications system, electricity, transport.
What has been spared is not a gift to the Iraqi people: it is for the benefit of Iraq's supposed new masters.
The Iraq daily newspaper emerged yesterday with an edition of just four pages, a clutch of articles on the "steadfastness" of the nation — steadfastness in Arabic is soummoud, the same name as the missile that Iraq partially destroyed before Bush forced the UN inspectors to leave by going to war — and a headline which read "President: Victory will come [sic] in Iraqi hands".
Again, there has been no attempt by the US to destroy the television facilities because they presumably want to use them on arrival.
During the bombing on Friday night, an Iraqi general appeared live on television to reassure the nation of victory.   As he spoke, the blast waves from cruise missile explosions blew in the curtains behind him and shook the television camera.
So where does all this lead us? In the early hours of yesterday morning, I looked across the Tigris at the funeral pyre of the Republican Palace and the colonnaded ministry beside it.
There were beacons of fire across Baghdad and the sky was lowering with smoke, the buttressed, rampart-like palace — sheets of flame soaring from its walls — looked like a medieval castle ablaze; Tsesiphon destroyed, Mesopotamia at the moment of its destruction as it has been seen for many times over so many thousands of years.
Xenophon struck south of here, Alexander to the north.
The Mongols sacked Baghdad.   The caliphs came.   And then the Ottomans and then the British.   All departed.
Now come the Americans.
It's not about legitimacy.
It's about something much more seductive, something Saddam himself understands all too well, a special kind of power, the same power that every conqueror of Iraq wished to demonstrate as he smashed his way into the land of this ancient civilisation.
Yesterday afternoon the Iraqis lit massive fires of oil around the city of Baghdad in the hope of misleading the guidance system of the cruise missiles.
Smoke against computers.
The air-raid sirens began to howl again just after 3.20pm London time, followed by the utterly predictable sound of explosions.

©2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd.  All rights reserved
Inside TV News: We Were Silenced by the Drums of War
By Jeff Cohen
t r u t h o u t | Guest Contributor
Tuesday 26 December 2006
[Images inserted by TheWE.cc]
September 11th made 2001 a defining year in our country's history.
But 2002 may have been the strangest.
It began with all eyes on Osama bin Laden and ended with Osama bin Forgotten — as the White House turned its attention to Iraq.
Bin Laden not once
Bush's January 2003 State of the Union speech mentioned Saddam Hussein 17 times, but bin Laden not once.
Everything about my nine-month stint at cable news channel MSNBC occurred in the context of the ever-intensifying war drums over Iraq.
The drums grew louder as D-Day approached, until the din became so deafening that rational journalistic thinking could not occur.
Three weeks before the invasion, MSNBC Suits terminated "Donahue," their most-watched program.
For 19 weeks, I had appeared in on-air debates almost every afternoon — the last weeks heavily focused on Iraq.
I adamantly opposed an invasion.
Terminated
I warned that it would "undermine our coalition with Muslim and Arab countries that we need to [help us] fight Al Qaeda" and would lead to "quagmire."
In October 2002, my debate segments were terminated.
There was no room for me after MSNBC launched Countdown: Iraq — a daily show that seemed more keen on glamorizing a potential war than scrutinizing or debating it.
The show featured retired colonels and generals resembling boys with war toys as they used props, maps and glitzy graphics to spin invasion scenarios.
They reminded me of pumped-up ex-football players doing pregame analysis.
Myth and misinformation unchallenged
It was excruciating to be silenced while myth and misinformation went unchallenged.
Military analysts typically appeared unopposed; they were presented as experts, not advocates.
But their closeness to the Pentagon often obstructed independent, skeptical analysis.
When Hans Blix led UN weapons inspectors back into Iraq in November 2002 after a four-year absence, Countdown: Iraq's host asked an MSNBC military analyst, "What's the buzz from the Pentagon about Hans Blix?"
The retired colonel declared that Blix was considered "something like the Inspector Clousseau of the weapons of mass destruction inspection program ... who will only remember the last thing he was told — and that he's very malleable."
On the board of a military contractor
Retired General Barry McCaffrey was the star military analyst on NBC and MSNBC — a hawk who pushed for an invasion every chance he got.
(After the war started, McCaffrey crowed, "Thank God for the Abrams tank and the Bradley fighting vehicle."   Unknown to viewers, McCaffrey sat on the board of a military contractor that pocketed millions on the Abrams and Bradley.)
As the war began, CNN news president Eason Jordan admitted that his network's military analysts were government-approved:
"I went to the Pentagon myself several times before the war started.
I met with important people there and said, for instance, at CNN, here are the generals we're thinking of retaining to advise us on the air and off about the war.
And we got a big thumbs-up on all of them.
That was important."
[The idea of] Pentagon-approved analysts calls to mind FAIR's protest chant: "Two, four, six, eight/Separate the press and state."
Besides military analysts, each news network featured "weapons experts" — usually without opposition or balance — to discuss the main justification for war: weapons of mass destruction.
The problem for US media was that there was wide disagreement among WMD experts, with many skeptical about an Iraqi threat.
The problem only worsened when UN inspectors returned and could not confirm any of the US claims.
How did MSNBC and other networks solve the problem?
How did MSNBC and other networks solve the problem?
Management favored experts who backed the Bush view — and hired several of them as paid analysts.
Networks that normally cherished shouting matches were opting for discussions of harmonious unanimity.
This made for dull, predictable TV.
It also helped lead our nation to war, based on false premises.
CNN and other outlets featured David Albright, a former UN inspector who repeatedly asserted before the war that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons.
Asked later about his assertions, Albright pointed his finger at the White House:
"I certainly accepted the administration claims on chemical and biological weapons.
I figured they were telling the truth."
Another CNN expert was former CIA analyst Ken Pollack, who fervently pushed for war.
He warned Oprah viewers that Saddam could use WMDs against the US homeland and was "building new capabilities as fast as he can."
Later, he blamed his errant remarks about Iraq's WMDs on a "consensus" in the intelligence community:
"That was not me making that claim.
That was me parroting the claims of so-called experts."
No American TV network would hire Scott Ritter
Not every weapons expert had been wrong.
Take ex-Marine and former UN inspector Scott Ritter.
In the last months of 2002, he told any audience or journalist who would hear him that Iraqi WMDs represented no threat to our country.
"Send in the inspectors," urged Ritter.
"Don't send in the Marines."
It's telling that in the run-up to the war, no American TV network hired any on-air analysts from among the experts who questioned White House WMD claims.
None would hire Ritter.
Inside MSNBC in 2002, Ritter was the target of a smear that he was receiving covert funds from Saddam Hussein's government.
The slur was obviously aimed at reducing his media appearances.
It surfaced like clockwork at MSNBC when we sought to book Ritter as a guest on "Donahue."
Armstrong Williams
The irony is that MSNBC at that time regularly featured another commentator who would soon become a recipient of covert government funds.
The covert funder was the Bush administration.
I'm talking about pundit Armstrong Williams, who pocketed nearly a quarter of a million dollars to promote Bush's No Child Left Behind Act.
When I repeatedly debated Williams at MSNBC, I had no inkling of Bush's No Pundit Left Behind program.
MSNBC and Donahue
As war neared, MSNBC Suits turned the screws even tighter on "Donahue."
They decreed that if we booked one guest who was anti-war on Iraq, we needed two who were pro-war.
If we booked two guests on the left, we needed three on the right.
At one staff meeting, a producer proposed booking Michael Moore and was told she'd need three right-wingers for political balance.
I thought about proposing Noam Chomsky as a guest, but our stage couldn't accommodate the 28 right-wingers we would have needed for balance.
Donahue banished from the system
It's says a lot about TV news that people like Phil Donahue, who correctly questioned the Iraq war, have been banished from the system.
Yet I'm unaware of a single TV executive, anchor, pundit or "expert" who lost his job for getting such a huge story so totally wrong.
I do know of a hawkish host on MSNBC who was taken off the air — he was kicked upstairs to become the general manager of the channel.
Many in the media who were the loudest and most dramatically wrong about Iraq have not relinquished their war drums.
Today, they target Iran and argue vociferously against withdrawal from Iraq.
In corporate media, few are held accountable.
Iraq: the hidden cost of the war
Andrew Stephen
Published 12 March 2007
America won't simply be paying with its dead.  The Pentagon is trying to silence economists who predict that several decades of care for the wounded will amount to an unbelievable $2.5 trillion.
They roar in every day, usually direct from the Landstuhl US air-force base in the Rhineland: giant C-17 cargo planes capable of lifting and flying the 65-tonne M1 Abrams tank to battlefields anywhere in the world.
But Landstuhl is the first staging post for transporting most of the American wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan back to the United States, and these planes act as CCATs ("critical care air transport") with their AETs — "aeromedical evacuation teams" of doctors, nurses and medical technicians, whose task is to make sure that gravely wounded US troops arrive alive and fit enough for intensive treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre, just six miles up the road from me in Washington.
These days it is de rigueur for all politicians, ranging from President Bush and Ibrahim al-Jaafari (Iraq's previous "prime minister") to junior congressmen, to visit the 113-acre Walter Reed complex to pay tribute to the valour of horribly wounded soldiers.
Last Christmas, the centre was so overwhelmed by the 500,000 cards and presents it received for wounded soldiers that it announced it could accept no more.
Yet the story of the US wounded reveals yet another deception by the Bush administration, masking monumental miscalculations that will haunt generations to come.
Thanks to the work of a Harvard professor and former Clinton administration economist named Linda Bilmes, and some other hard-working academics, we have discovered that the administration has been putting out two entirely separate and conflicting sets of numbers of those wounded in the wars.
This might sound like chicanery by George W Bush and his cronies — or characteristic incompetence — but Bilmes and Professor Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel laureate economist from Columbia University, have established not only that the number wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan is far higher than the Pentagon has been saying, but that looking after them alone could cost present and future US taxpayers a sum they estimate to be $536bn, but which could get considerably bigger still.
Just one soldier out of the 1.4 million troops so far deployed who has returned with a debilitating brain injury, for example, may need round-the-clock care for five, six, or even seven decades.
In present-day money, according to one study, care for that soldier alone will cost a minimum of $4.3m.
Article continued here: Iraq: the hidden cost of the war
© New Statesman 1913–2007
Revealed: How the road to war was paved with lies
Intelligence agencies accuse Bush and Blair of distorting and fabricating evidence in rush to war
By Raymond Whitaker
27 April 2003
The case for invading Iraq to remove its weapons of mass destruction was based on selective use of intelligence, exaggeration, use of sources known to be discredited and outright fabrication, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.
A high-level UK source said last night that intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic were furious that briefings they gave political leaders were distorted in the rush to war with Iraq.
"They ignored intelligence assessments which said Iraq was not a threat," the source said.
Quoting an editorial in a Middle East newspaper which said, "Washington has to prove its case.
If it does not, the world will for ever believe that it paved the road to war with lies", he added: "You can draw your own conclusions."
UN inspectors who left Iraq just before the war started were searching for four categories of weapons: nuclear, chemical, biological and missiles capable of flying beyond a range of 93 miles.
They found ample evidence that Iraq was not co-operating, but none to support British and American assertions that Saddam Hussein's regime posed an imminent threat to the world.
On nuclear weapons, the British Government claimed that the former regime sought uranium feed material from the government of Niger in west Africa.
This was based on letters later described by the International Atomic Energy Agency as crude forgeries.
On chemical weapons, a CIA report on the likelihood that Saddam would use weapons of mass destruction was partially declassified.
Parts released made it appear that the danger was high
The parts released were those which made it appear that the danger was high; only after pressure from Senator Bob Graham, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was the whole report declassified, including the conclusion that the chances of Iraq using chemical weapons were "very low" for the "foreseeable future".
On biological weapons, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, told the UN Security Council in February that the former regime had up to 18 mobile laboratories.
He attributed the information to "defectors" from Iraq, without saying that their claims — including one of a "secret biological laboratory beneath the Saddam Hussein hospital in central Baghdad" — had repeatedly been disproved by UN weapons inspectors.
On missiles, Iraq accepted UN demands to destroy its al-Samoud weapons, despite disputing claims that they exceeded the permitted range.
No banned Scud missiles were found before or since, but last week the Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon, suggested Scuds had been fired during the war.
There is no proof any were in fact Scuds.
Global show of American power
Some American officials have all but conceded that the weapons of mass destruction campaign was simply a means to an end — a "global show of American power and democracy", as ABC News in the US put it.
"We were not lying," it was told by one official.   "But it was just a matter of emphasis."
American and British teams claim they are scouring Iraq in search of definitive evidence but none has so far been found, even though the sites considered most promising have been searched, and senior figures such as Tariq Aziz, the former Deputy Prime Minister, intelligence chiefs and the man believed to be in charge of Iraq's chemical weapons programme are in custody.
Robin Cook, who as Foreign Secretary would have received high-level security briefings, said last week that "it was difficult to believe that Saddam had the capacity to hit us".
Mr Cook resigned from the Government on the eve of war, but was still in the Cabinet as Leader of the House when it released highly contentious dossiers to bolster its case.
One report released last autumn by Tony Blair said that Iraq could deploy chemical and biological weapons within 45 minutes, but last week Mr Hoon said that such weapons might have escaped detection because they had been dismantled and buried.
Blair cherry-picking evidence
A later Downing Street "intelligence" dossier was shown to have been largely plagiarised from three articles in academic publications.
"You cannot just cherry-pick evidence that suits your case and ignore the rest.   It is a cardinal rule of intelligence," said one aggrieved officer.   "Yet that is what the PM is doing."
Another said: "What we have is a few strands of highly circumstantial evidence, and to justify an attack on Iraq it is being presented as a cast-iron case.   That really is not good enough."
Glen Rangwala, the Cambridge University analyst who first pointed out Downing Street's plagiarism, said ministers had claimed before the war to have information which could not be disclosed because agents in Iraq would be endangered.
"That doesn't apply any more, but they haven't come up with the evidence," he said.   "They lack credibility."
Chelabi and Pentagon money
Mr Rangwala said much of the information on WMDs had come from Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress (INC), which received Pentagon money for intelligence-gathering.
"The INC saw the demand, and provided what was needed," he said.
"The implication is that they polluted the whole US intelligence effort."
Facing calls for proof of their allegations, senior members of both the US and British governments are suggesting that so-called WMDs were destroyed after the departure of UN inspectors on the eve of war — a possibility raised by President George Bush for the first time on Thursday.
Switched from looking for WMDs
This in itself, however, appears to be an example of what the chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix called "shaky intelligence".
An Iraqi scientist, writing under a pseudonym, said in a note slipped to a driver in a US convoy that he had proof information was kept from the inspectors, and that Iraqi officials had destroyed chemical weapons just before the war.
Other explanations for the failure to find WMDs include the possibility that they might have been smuggled to Syria, or so well hidden that they could take months, even years, to find.
Unconventional weapons term now preferred
But last week it emerged that two of four American mobile teams in Iraq had been switched from looking for WMDs to other tasks, though three new teams from less specialised units were said to have been assigned to the quest for "unconventional weapons" — the less emotive term which is now preferred.
Mr Powell and Mr Bush both repeated last week that Iraq had WMDs.
But one official said privately that "in the end, history and the American people will judge the US not by whether its officials found canisters of poison gas or vials of some biological agent [but] by whether this war marked the beginning of the end for the terrorists who hate America".

©2003 Independent Digital (UK) Ltd.  All rights reserved
 
Good enough for me, said the Chickenhawks
“We were led to believe that you couldn't take a walk in Iraq without tripping over [WMDs].   But as luck would have it, just as the whole world was starting to shout, ‘Liar, liar, pants on fire!’ the military gets a visit from the WMD Fairy.
WMD?   Why yes we had them aplenty but just before you got here we destroyed them all.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said the Pentagon.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said the Chickenhawks.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said Judith Miller of the New York Times.
Oh, and WMD Fairy, did Saddam by any chance share these weapons with Al Qaeda?   ‘Why he certainly did," said the WMD Fairy.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said the Pentagon.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said the Chickenhawks.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said Judith Miller of the New York Times.
It would be oh so helpful if Saddam shipped some of these nasty old weapons to Syria.   ‘Well I'm nothing if not helpful," said the WMD Fairy.   ‘I personally saw Saddam drive them across the border in his pickup truck when he escaped."   ‘Good enough for me,’ said the Pentagon.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said the Chickenhawks.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said Judith Miller of the New York Times.”
THE ROLE OF MEDIA
   IN THE SECOND GULF WAR
An Address By Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson At St Andrew's On The Terrace — Tuesday, 29 April 2003
"The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers."— Thomas Jefferson
THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA IN CIVIL SOCIETY — INTRODUCTION
While preparing this morning for this talk I was listening to the latest radio news bulletins and reading this morning's paper, and I think we can now say with some confidence that the New Zealand media's focus on Iraq has come to an end.
However for reasons I will expand upon today I think that reports of the demise of this war are greatly exaggerated.
The subject matter for this talk is potentially so broad as to risk my taking up your entire afternoon.
I will try to be relatively brief however and confine myself to addressing several of the most interesting aspects of our recent collective experiences of the war and the media.
But first of all I should introduce myself.
I am the editor of a small New Zealand based independent news agency called Scoop.
We publish on the Internet at the address Scoop.co.nz.
Scoop is a fairly unusual news agency.   There are only two fulltime staff.   Myself and Deputy Editor Selwyn Manning, based in Auckland, and we have no paid writers nor formal connections to any other media networks.
We publish a combination of raw news — press releases and speeches from political parties, government departments, corporates and lobbying organisations etc — and commentary from what might loosely be described as a wide range of independent writers and thinkers.
These include lots of Kiwis, a few of them expats, and recently — especially during the lead up to the recent war and the war itself — lots of Americans.   We also have a smattering of commentators from elsewhere writing for us too.
During the war Scoop has been a place where if you visited on a daily basis you would most probably find a smattering of the news behind the news about the war.
In our international section we have been running raw transcripts of what protagonists have been saying, George Bush, Rumsfeld, Powell, Blair and Annan, as well as a wide variety of press releases from NGOs.   Meanwhile in what we call our Scoops section we have been publishing news and views on what is really going on.
In addition we have published a large number of images of the "reality of war", it is clearly true that a picture is worth a thousand words as these images resulted in an massive surge in our readership, which is something I will talk about in more detail later.
But before I move on to discussing what has happened in the past few months I think it is necessary for us to have a starting point for this discussion.
Namely, what is the media supposed to do during wars?
Rupert Murdoch would no doubt have a different view on this question, but in my view the role of the media in civil society is to inform and illuminate in the public interest.
The media's role in a democratic society in general is to provide the public with an informed basis upon which they can exercise their democratic rights to lobby, and express their views on what should happen to their elected representatives.   And nothing changes during wartime.
When measured by this standard I would conclude that the media both here in New Zealand and everywhere else in the Western World — with the exception of the Internet — has failed spectacularly to do its job.
Notably what is excluded from this definition of the Media's role is their job of making profits for their owners.   This is presumably the role of the media carved on Rupert's desk, and is unfortunately, a role of the media now commonly understood in large segments of civil society.
The philosopher Jeremy Bentham once remarked, "As to the evil which results from a censorship, it is impossible to measure it, for it is impossible to tell where it ends."
Information War
It is clear that during the Second Gulf War the media not only had to contend with censorship — much of which was self-imposed — but also with a serious dose of what is called information warfare.
This information war was conducted on numerous fronts.
Among the techniques used have been direct attacks on journalists, deliberate misinformation — i.e. lies, obstruction, legal threats and intimidation, linguistic sophistry, staged media events, planted information, forgery, and even cointel-pro type slander attacks on commentators and opposition figures.
Severely underestimating level of organisation into misinforming you
And if you are inclined to simply believe that all this was simply a case of the fog of war, and or that it can be neatly summed up in the old adage, "truth is the first casualty of war", I think you would be severely underestimating the level of organisation that has gone into misinforming you.
To return to Jeremy Bentham's analysis it is impossible indeed to determine the evil that has resulted from all this.
What can be said with certainty is that the public by and large remain hugely uninformed not only about what happened during the war, but about why the war was waged in the first place and about what has happened since.
And because they remain uninformed about what happened they are also ill-equipped to perform their democratic duties with respect to their government.
On a more positive note in order for there to have been an information war it is clearly necessary for there also to be some opposition to the misinformation and propaganda offensive.
And in my view the recent war has seen the emergence of a remarkably effective new media force — the independent Internet media.
Nearly all of what I will talk about that follows is sourced from this new media.
TV3, CNN, difficult questions?
In principle the counter-propaganda role ought to have been played by the mainstream media — and certainly that is how they bill their coverage — TV3 promises to always "ask all the questions", CNN promises to ensure you the viewer will be the "first to know".
But before, during and after the war, neither of these organisations it seems has tried very hard to ask any of the difficult questions.
Newspaper reporters did little better with a few notable exceptions, Robert Fisk of the Independent being the most well known of these.
Fisk's reports were published in New Zealand in both the Dominion Post and the NZ Herald so they would have been very widely read here.
US and UK news sources
While I cannot claim to have studied in any great detail the New Zealand media's portrayal of the war, from what I have seen and heard, most of the criticisms that I will make today about the international media apply equally to the New Zealand media.
This is because by and large NZ's media has simply picked up and republished whatever information has been supplied to them off the satellite and over the wires from what are almost exclusively US and UK news sources.
A notable exception to this rule has been Radio New Zealand who at least go to the trouble of interviewing foreign commentators directly, rather than picking up pre-packaged content.
Also worthy of a bouquet have been The New Zealand Listener, and editor Finlay MacDonald and writer Gordon Campbell in particular.
In order to impose some order on the rest of this speech I have divided it into three distinct sections which deal with respectively the lead up to the war, the war itself, and the aftermath.
I refer to numerous concrete examples in the course of this talk.
And to assist you to research some of the issues I raise more full I have placed the text of this address and links to all of the source material online at Scoop.co.nz.
Rowe after Rowe after Rowe
Rowe after Rowe after Rowe

Arlington Northwest in Seattle 2006.
These men and women died in Iraq 
for what they believed was right.
The man who sent them was
AWOL from his national guard
unit during the Vietnam War.
Vice-President Dick Cheney
had 5 deferments to stay out of
the military during the Vietnam War.
He had other priorities.
Collegiate wrestling was the closest
Donald Rumsfeld ever came to combat.
Rowe after Rowe after Rowe.
Condolesszza Rice had an oil tanker
named after her. When she speaks,
you can see the damage control in her face.
John Ashcroft never served.
Paul Wolfowitz now serves the World Bank.
Richard Pearle never served. When he spoke
in Portland, Oregon last year, someone in the
audience threw two shoes at him.
And then, there is Karl Rowe.
The Architect.
Bush's top political adviser.
A man who never served, but one of the
worst political hitmen in Bush's America.
There are so many more,
sending men and women off to war.
Rowe after Rowe after Rowe...
When you don't study history,
your beliefs are born in the moment.

Photo and words: Mike Hastie
Vietnam Veteran
November 2, 2006


Arlington Northwest in Seattle 2006.
These men and women died in Iraq for what they believed was right.
The man who sent them was AWOL from his national guard unit during the Vietnam War.
Vice-President Dick Cheney had 5 deferments to stay out of the military during the Vietnam War.
He had other priorities.
Collegiate wrestling was the closest.
Donald Rumsfeld never came to combat.
Rowe after Rowe after Rowe.
Condolesszza Rice had an oil tanker named after her.
When she speaks, you can see the damage control in her face.
John Ashcroft never served.
Paul Wolfowitz now serves the World Bank.
Richard Pearle never served. When he spoke in Portland, Oregon last year, someone in the audience threw two shoes at him.
And then, there is Karl Rowe - the Architect - Bush's top political adviser.
A man who never served, but one of the worst political hitmen in Bush's America.
There are so many more, sending men and women off to war.
Rowe after Rowe after Rowe...
When you don't study history, your beliefs are born in the moment.
Photo and words: Mike Hastie
Vietnam Veteran
November 2, 2006
LINKS
George Bush During His 2003 State Of The Union Address
George Bush During His 2003 State Of The Union Address
THE WAR BEFORE THE WAR
With the benefit of hindsight it is now possible to trace the origins of this war back to well before George W. Bush was even elected and a organisation called the Project for the New American Century, a group of Washington Hawks which include an alarmingly large number of the members of the Bush Administration.
However for the benefit of this address the countdown proper to the Second Gulf War began in August 2002.
Not that the White House wanted it to start then, as Bush was still on holiday on his ranch.
And as White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card explained in 2003, this was why the plan to wage war against Iraq was formally introduced in September 2002.
"
From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in August.", he said.
Leaving aside the insensitivity of this remark itself, from a media perspective it is interesting to see the way the Internet has digested this off-hand remark — a remark which Card would no doubt love to retract, but which returns 31,200 matches when searched for in Google.
(Links: The Roll Out for the War on Saddam )
At Scoop we didn't wait for the official launch of the war plan.
By mid-August we had been publishing commentaries for several weeks on the subject of a possible war with Iraq, and we then launched a special feature page to archive content on the subject.
(links: Countdown To War With Iraq
Archiving: Countdown To War Full Coverage (1))
It was at this stage that what I like to call "The War Against The War On Iraq" began in earnest.
This war reached its nadir on February 15th 2003 when an estimated 11-15 million people marched against the planned war in Iraq in close to 1000 cities around the world.
(links: Worldwide Peace Mobilisation — F15 Full Coverage)
This mobilisation is by far the biggest public demonstration of displeasure over a war in human history.
Not that the mainstream media were keen to acknowledge this fact.
Some of you may recall that George Bush's response to the mobilisation was to say that the administration did not, "make policy based on focus groups".
1 million marched around the world
Illustrative of the media's response to the anti-war movement was the coverage of the lead-up demonstration to the Feb 15 mobilisation held on January 18th.
Though nearly 1 million marched around the world and more than 200,000+ in Washington the Associated Press estimated the crowd in Washington at 30,000 — a number far less than the 200,000-500,000 estimated by the Washington Post, and numerous independent observers.
Meanwhile a columnist in the Washington Post accused the marchers of having been duped by a remnant group of Stalinists.
Washington March against the Iraq War, January 18th. 2003

Two hundred thousand plus people in Washington.

More than 1 million people protested around the world
Washington March January 18th — 30,000 People?   You Be The Judge
( How the Press Downplayed the Protests
Demonstrations in Washington Show Mounting Opposition to Iraq War
Michael Kelly's Libel A Response
Marching With Stalinists — Washington Post Jan 22
World-wide protests demand: `Don't attack Iraq!')
Notably Jan 18th was not the first time U.S. media were caught out with this trick.
During an earlier also impressively large October 26th March in Washington with at least 100,000 in attendence NPR's Nancy Marshall remarked:
"It was not as large as the organizers of the protest had predicted.
They had said there would be 100,000 people here.   I'd say there are fewer than 10,000."
A similar remark in the New York Times brought out an action alert from media watchdog organisation FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), this in turn led to both NPR and the New York Times — both of which are considered liberal left-leaning media outlets — to correct their reports.
THE ROLE OF MEDIA
   IN THE SECOND GULF WAR
An Address By Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson At St Andrew's On The Terrace — Tuesday, 29 April 2003
However as was shown with the widely carried AP report January 18th even if the flags have been raised on such questions, the media can still easily revert back to its old ways.
The protest story was of course only a small part of the story of the lead-up to war.
In fact I suspect there has never been a war which has received more coverage and public debate in the planning than this war.
And well before we even started the countdown to the war we had already seen the arrival on the scene of organised propaganda on a scale not seen since the Goebbles and the Second World War.
Office of Strategic Influence
In February 2002 it emerged that the U.S. Defense Department had established an organisation called the Office of Strategic Influence shortly after the attacks of September 11th 2001.
Among the methodologies that the OSI said it would use was the "planting of false stories in foreign media" in order to manage perceptions of the War on Terror.
Unsurprisingly the revelation of this till then unknown gem in the public service in the New York Times made the OSI's job untenable very rapidly.
In late February it was technically dissolved under the "alleged" orders of Donald Rumsfeld.
(links: New Pentagon office to spearhead information war)
However the publicly acknowledged existence of an organisation committed to lying to the public is arguably not necessary for such things to go on.
And what is clear from the fact that the OSI was established in the first place is that lying for the purposes of pursuing war was a key part of the game plan in Donald Rumsfeld's suite in the Pentagon.
Paid by the Kuwaiti Government, fabricated a story
Moreover in the first Gulf War a very instructive example of how PR lies can be used to sell war occurred without such an organisation in place.
Then Hill and Knowlton, paid by the Kuwaiti Government but acting with the apparent approval of the then Bush I administration fabricated a story that in 1990 invading Iraqi soldiers pulled Kuwaiti premature babies from their incubators and left them to die on the cold floor.
The story's star witness was a 15-year-old identified only by her first name of Nayirah.   It later emerged that Nayirah was in fact a member of the Kuwaiti royal family, and her father the ambassador to the United States.
And the story itself was an outright lie.
Nevertheless it provided much of the impetus for the Congressional approval of the first Gulf War.
(links: Propaganda: Remember the Kuwaiti babies?
Funding War Public Relations With Foreign Cash — Like Father Like Son? )
12 years later in January 2003 George Bush Junior, flush with his very own signed and sealed congressional authorisation to go to war against Iraq, signed into existence a new organisation capable of managing similar PR tasks to those previously contracted out to PR agencies working for administration friendly nation states.
And while there is no hard evidence that the New Office of Global Communications working out of the White House is doing the work that the OSI used to do, nor is there any evidence it isn't.
(links: White House Office Coordinates Global Communications)
What there is a great deal of evidence of is that someone has been playing the misinformation warfare game on a grand scale.
Tony Blair's propaganda
In the lead up to the war the sharp end of the propaganda war can be found in the communications of the U.S. President and the U.K. Prime Minister to their legislatures and in public statements.
Tony Blair's propaganda was a great deal more sophisticated than that of George Bush, but equally deceptive in the final analysis.
Classic propaganda ploy used by the Nazis
On Pennsylvannia Avenue the White House strategy appeared to be to mention September 11th as frequently as possible in the context of Iraq so as to drive an impression in the public mind that Saddam was involved in organising the 911 tragedy.
This flew in the face of all the evidence, but never mind, it is a classic propaganda ploy used by the Nazis and it worked a treat.
Repeat a single simple idea often enough
Repeat a single simple idea often enough and you will drum it into the minds of your audience.
By the time war broke out nearly 50% of Americans believed that Saddam was involved in 911.
Across the Atlantic at Downing St message discipline was focussed around the publication of a series of dossiers which gave the impression of some substance behind the, "imminent threat from weapons of mass destruction", arguments coming out of the white house.
Unfortunately as we now know the first of these dossiers was based largely on a plagiarised undergraduate thesis.   And the second dossier based its most significant conclusion — that Iraq was lying about its attempts to purchase uranium from Niger — on a set of forgeries.
Notably these dossiers formed not only the basis of Tony Blair's arguments, but also the basis of speeches given at the UN by both Powell and Bush himself.
The extent of the use of misinformation in the lead up to the war was such that I cannot possibly do it justice here.   At the Scoop Website you will find links to a series of articles by Dennis Hans — an American writer — in which he thoroughly analyses the techniques of deceit employed during this period.
(links: Bush the Fork-Tongued Scaredy Cat
Exposing Bush and His "Techniques of Deceit"
The Disinformation Age
I'm Calling You Out:
Marching Orders for Journalists, Officials and Celebrities

See also also on this page the Independent on Sunday — Revealed: How the road to war was paved with lies
ADDENDUM: As this speech is prepared for publication a new report has been published today by ABC news quoting unnamed Bush Administration sources saying that they " emphasized the danger of Saddam's weapons to gain the legal justification for war from the United Nations and to stress the danger at home to Americans."   "We were not lying," said one official.   "But it was just a matter of emphasis."
 
THE ROLE OF MEDIA
   IN THE SECOND GULF WAR
An Address By Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson At St Andrew's On The Terrace — Tuesday, 29 April 2003
Concluding my remarks on the lead up to the war I will mention two more incidents that highlight important issues and tactics utilised in the information war.
First there was the Scott Ritter affair.   Scott Ritter is a former UNSCOM Chief Arms Inspector who has campaigned against war with Iraq for several years.   He is (or should I say was) the leading anti-war arms expert on the network TV circuit.   His testimony was important and credible because of his background.
Undercover cop posing as a sixteen-year-old girl
And then in mid-January this year he suddenly taken out of the game.   Justin Raimondo of Anti-war.com wrote the seminal piece on this affair and I will paraphrase a couple of paragraphs from his detailed report that you will find linked at Scoop.
Ritter according to news reports from an obscure New York newspaper may have been arrested, in June 2001, as the result of an internet sex sting, in which an undercover cop posing as a sixteen-year-old girl lured him into "sex chat" over the internet.
This story apparently came to light when an assistant district attorney was fired for settling the case and not informing the D.A.
Raimondo goes on to say:
"So the police just happened to conduct a "sex sting" operation against the one man who had exposed the lies of our war-mad rulers from the inside.
On the eve of war, as hundreds of thousands protest in the streets, this staunch Republican and solid family man who has become one of the War Party's most formidable enemies is suddenly "exposed" as a child molester."
(links: TARGET: SCOTT RITTER — The War Party gets ugly )
The use of such tactics to blackmail and thereby gain control of troublesome individuals and people in strategic positions is another age-old tactic and one made famous in the bad old days of Cointelpro.
I notice that Ritter has now re-emerged into the public arena, but the smearing had the desired effect of knocking him completely out of the debate over WMDs a key point in time, and continues to provide perfect ammunition for online pro-war forum participants and leader writers to smear any arguments against the war attributed to information sourced to Ritter.
My last example of prewar information warfare is the strange case of the "Capture" Of "Most Wanted Terrorist" Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
This example also serves to bring out one of the key problems of war reporting, the necessity of accepting information from "official" sources.
If you think about it even if a war correspondent is attempting to do their job in good faith, what are they to do?  
They are forced to get their information from the security forces.
The very same spooks, generals and police inspectors whose information they are supposed to be scrutinising, and critically reporting on.
We owe another North American writer, Paul Thompson, a debt of gratitude for revealing the full extent of media duplicity in case in the Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.
All that can be said for sure following an examination of Thompson's research is that all news in Pakistan is lies.   Thompson examined reports from The Washington Post, New York Times, Times of London, Christian Science Monitor and several other publications all reporting on the capture of the Al Qaeda kingpin.
The thing is, they all reported completely different accounts of what happened?
Each paper had a different version of the number of people present in the raid, the number of people arrested, the evidence recovered and sundry other small details.
Meanwhile the family who live in the house where the raid took place tell another story altogether.
Sure, there is always a bit of a risk of Chinese whispers interfering with the clarity of such reports, but on reading the evidence it seems clear the extent of variation is beyond that which could occur by accident.
Required to tell a convincing lie
And so it seems Pakistan's security services aren't very good at the level of message discipline required to tell a convincing lie.
But how good are the U.S. spokespeople?
As you will soon discover lying is not quite as easy as it seems.
(links: Is there more to the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than meets the eye? )
Is there more to the capture of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed than meets the eye? - version two)
Bring Me Home

When I was a boy I played with toy soldiers.
When these toy soldiers were killed, they fought
another battle in my imagination.
When I became a man, and became a soldier,
soldiers were not reborn when they were killed.
When I came home from war with my horrible
pain and disillusionment, I wonder if my boyhood
days with toy soldiers had anything to do with me
not facing reality.
I never thought I would have to face the face of death.
After all, my toy soldiers always went back in the box,
to fight another day.
Death and dying was never part of my reality.
Now I'm left with coffins filled with buddies,
stories that will never be shared.
I wish I had never played with toy soldiers.
I wish I had learned to cry like my sisters.
Maybe I would have never been filled with fear
and anger, always ready to go to war to protect
what was so bottled up inside of me.
War toys.
Death toys.
Why can't I ever be happy?
What am I so fearful of?
Why do I feel I have to protect myself all of the time?
Guns, guns, guns!!!
Why didn't countless adults tell me the truth?
Why did they abuse me everyday with the lie?
Why didn't they tell me the truth about WAR?
Why did I have to find out the death way, that
WAR stands for, Wealthy Are Richer?
Why did the churches in America go along with the lie?
WAR spelled backwards is RAW.
I did not serve in Vietnam for the cause of freedom,
I served Big Business in America for the cause of profit.
WAR spelled backwards is RAW.
The RAW truth that was buried so long ago.
That is why boys play with toy soldiers.
The horror of war is covered up with glorification.
Another generation is being groomed for glory.
More innocent civilians are killed than soldiers.
I don't recall killing innocent people with my toy soldiers.
Why that is against my childhood beliefs.
But, the ambush is always the same when soldiers come home,
when they realize that WAR stands for, Wealthy Are Richer.
It is a truth that will destroy many.
That way, they will never be able to bear witness.
Betrayal is the lethal dose that kills in silence.
But, I have a secret, that the government does not know.
It is not what we experience in life that destroys us.
It is our inability to feel the pain behind the experience
that destroys our lives.
That is what my elders never taught me.
Because they could never face their own pain about war.
Photo and words: Mike Hastie
U.S. Army Medic
Vietnam 1970-71
November 5, 2006
My toy soldiers always went back in the box, to fight another day
When I was a boy I played with toy soldiers.
When these toy soldiers were killed, they fought
another battle in my imagination.
When I became a man, and became a soldier,
soldiers were not reborn when they were killed.
When I came home from war with my horrible
pain and disillusionment, I wonder if my boyhood
days with toy soldiers had anything to do with me
not facing reality.
I never thought I would have to face the face of death.
After all, my toy soldiers always went back in the box,
to fight another day.
Death and dying was never part of my reality.
Now I'm left with coffins filled with buddies, stories that will never be shared.
I wish I had never played with toy soldiers.
I wish I had learned to cry like my sisters.
Maybe I would have never been filled with fear
and anger, always ready to go to war to protect
what was so bottled up inside of me.
War toys.
Death toys.
Why can't I ever be happy?
What am I so fearful of?
Why do I feel I have to protect myself all of the time?
Guns, guns, guns!!!
Why didn't countless adults tell me the truth?
Why did they abuse me everyday with the lie?
Why didn't they tell me the truth about WAR?
Why did I have to find out the death way, that
WAR stands for, Wealthy Are Richer?
Why did the churches in America go along with the lie?
WAR spelled backwards is RAW.
I did not serve in Vietnam for the cause of freedom,
I served Big Business in America for the cause of profit.
WAR spelled backwards is RAW.
The RAW truth that was buried so long ago.
That is why boys play with toy soldiers.
The horror of war is covered up with glorification.
Another generation is being groomed for glory.
More innocent civilians are killed than soldiers.
I don't recall killing innocent people with my toy soldiers.
Why that is against my childhood beliefs.
But, the ambush is always the same when soldiers come home,
when they realize that WAR stands for, Wealthy Are Richer.
It is a truth that will destroy many.
That way, they will never be able to bear witness.
Betrayal is the lethal dose that kills in silence.
But, I have a secret, that the government does not know.
It is not what we experience in life that destroys us.
It is our inability to feel the pain behind the experience
that destroys our lives.
That is what my elders never taught me.
Because they could never face their own pain about war.
Photo and words: Mike Hastie
U.S. Army Medic
Vietnam 1970-71
November 5, 2006
THE ROLE OF MEDIA
   IN THE SECOND GULF WAR
An Address By Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson At St Andrew's On The Terrace — Tuesday, 29 April 2003
"The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers."— Thomas Jefferson
THE WAR ITSELF
Which brings us to the war proper.   As we now know at 1pm on March 18th NZT (March 17th Primetime in the US) Bush delivered his 48 hour ultimatum to Saddam.   Get out or face an invasion.
(links: Hussein Must Leave Iraq Within 48 Hours : Bush)
But even in this final phase of the countdown George was still being disingenuous.   Ari Fleischer explained the real position the following day.
"The President also made plain to the American people that if Saddam were to leave, the American forces, coalition forces would still enter Iraq, hopefully this time peacefully, because Iraqi military would not be under orders to attack or fire back."
(links: Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer — March 18, 2003 )
That is the US would invade either way.   Whether Saddam left or not.   So why give the ultimatum?
The answer to this question can I think can be found in the same lexicon that produced Shock and Awe, and the Most Wanted Deck Of Cards.   The media strategy in this war has been to turn the war into something the audience — Andrew Card's market who need to be sold the war — are familiar with, Hollywood drama.
Sheriff Bush
Therefore Sheriff Bush issues his ultimatum to the villain of the peace, and so sets the tone of what was to come.
A war made for the small screen, one which was minutely stage managed, and in which every shot needed to be approved by the script editors.
Readers of newspapers and viewers of what we have come to call "CNN war-porn" during those first few days of the war will recall the breathless tone of proceedings.
Reports in the newspapers attempted to evoke a sense of moment with purple and gushing prose, satellite crossovers on live TV brought the viewer to the locations, albeit with virtually no actual information about what was going on.
The media played the game they were asked to play.
Instead of analysis we received grainy pictures of tanks streaming across the desert, the seventh cavalry — a name seemingly evoking Injun hunting parties of yore.
We watched reports about scuds being fired that were not actually scuds, and we saw numerous reports about the taking of Um Qasr, the discovery of WMDs and the surrounding of Basra nearly all of which turned out to be false.
We waited patiently for the top billing act, "Shock and Awe" for several days before being presented it in glorious technicolor only to find that it was far briefer than what we had been promised.
Meanwhile we got used to briefings from Generals Brooks and Franks delivered at the Qatar press center from a $250,000 set designed in Hollywood.
And these briefings too quickly sunk into a predictable pattern.
Regardless of what he was asked and how much evidence to the contrary raised by the questioner General Brooks' answers were always the same.
The U.S. was doing its absolute best to avoid civilian casualties, no he could not confirm any reports of any actual bombing mistakes, nor could he confirm reports of Iraqi resistance or tell us where the troops were as that would potentially compromise security.
This strategy worked remarkably well.
During the first 48 hours of news of any potential Public Relations catastrophe or military mistake occurring — for example, the bombing of a market in Baghdad or the cluster bombing of the town of Hilla — the reports of civilian casualties could not be nailed down and confirmed as being the responsibility of U.S. forces for several days.
Always there were inquiries underway — and suspicions of Iraqi malpractice were hinted at.
Later, by the time reporters emerged with pieces of identifiable wreckage and photographs confirming U.S. Air Force involvement, the attention of the media had moved on to the next issue of the moment.
A case in point was the missile that hit Kuwait.
For the first 48 hours it was reported that this missile was probably a silkworm Chinese made missile filed by the Iraqis from the Al Faw peninsula.
Later we learned that it was in fact a stray U.S. cruise missile.
But by then the cameras had moved on to new vistas.
Admirable and quality newspaper reporting of these issues was done in numerous print publications, but it rarely saw the light of day on television screens and certainly hardly ever made it into New Zealand papers.
Meanwhile General Brooks obfuscatory performance was of course closely matched by that of the Iraqi information minister Mohammed Said Al-Sahaf who also knew it seemed nothing of anything untoward happening to Iraqi forces.
Strangely Al-Sahaf has become a cult figure but General Brooks has not.
But so much for the official spokespeople, what about the reporting of the war from the field
Main alternative to being embedded appeared to be to become a target
Well for a start it paid in spades for reporters to be accredited and embedded, and for them to consent to the U.S. government censorship that this entailed.
It paid because the main alternative to being embedded appeared to be to become a target.
Again with the benefit of hindsight it was not that surprising that the ranks of Journalists experienced a remarkably high level of casualties in this war.
What was perhaps remarkable was the lack of hard questions asked about this to the military hierarchy by their colleagues.
It was not surprising because of what we had seen from the earlier war in Afghanistan.
U.S. bombed Al Jazeera
Then the U.S. bombed Al Jazeera too.
And then there was the warning given to the BBC's Kate Adie before the war began.
On March 10th, Adie, a senior BBC war correspondent told Irish national radio broadcaster Tom McGurk.
" I was told by a senior officer in the Pentagon, that if uplinks — that is the television signals out of... Bhagdad, for example — were detected by any planes ...electronic media... mediums, of the military above Bhagdad... they'd be fired down on.   Even if they were journalists .."
( Pentagon Threatens To Kill Independent Reporters In Iraq)
Strangely this apparent Scoop, which was picked up and widely distributed by the independent online media prior to the war, was as far as I can see not reported in any other mainstream media at all.
Later, after numerous independent journalists were targeted — allegedly accidentally of course—the question about Pentagon shoot to kill policies regarding independent journalists were raised by several Journalist related bodies, if not by many actual media outlets.
On April the 10th after the most egregious examples of Journalist targeting on April 8th FAIR issued an advisory press release headed: " MEDIA ADVISORY: Is Killing Part of Pentagon Press Policy?".
(links: MEDIA ADVISORY: Is Killing Part of Pentagon Press Policy?".
This said:
"On April 8… U.S. military forces launched what appeared to be deliberate attacks on independent journalists covering the war, killing three and injuring four others.
In one incident, a U.S. tank fired an explosive shell at the Palestine Hotel, where most non-embedded international reporters in Baghdad are based.
Two journalists, Taras Protsyuk of the British news agency Reuters and Jose Couso of the Spanish network Telecino, were killed; three other journalists were injured.
The tank, which was parked nearby, appeared to carefully select its target, according to journalists in the hotel, raising and aiming its gun turret some two minutes before firing a single shell.
Earlier in the day, the U.S. launched separate but near-simultaneous attacks on the Baghdad offices of Al Jazeera and Abu Dhabi TV, two Arabic-language news networks that have been broadcasting graphic footage of the human cost of the war.
Both outlets had informed the Pentagon of their exact locations, according to a statement from the Committee to Protect Journalists."
(links: MEDIA ADVISORY: Is Killing Part of Pentagon Press Policy?)
THE IMPORTANCE OF IMAGES OF WAR
Which of course begs the question why?
Why would the U.S. military be targeting independent camera crews.
And this in turn brings us to the importance of images.
Fairly early on in the conflict it was clear where the Pentagon was drawing their lines in the sand.
As soon as the pictures of U.S. POWs appeared on the Al Jazeera arab news channel the Pentagon spin doctors threw a major hissy fit.
"Out of respect for the families and consistent with the principles of the Geneva Conventions:" their advisory read.
"We request news organizations not air or publish recognizable images or audio recordings that identify POWs. Additionally, we request you not use their names, first or last, or their unit until next-of-kin notification is complete."
Notably a follow up advisory was never issued indicating that notification of next-of-kin had been completed, and in the meantime the initial advisory had performed its function.
Network TV in the States did not broadcast the pictures, newspapers did not show them.
And a major debate was prompted over the ethics and legalities of posting pictures of POWs.
An independent news website with which Scoop works yellowtimes.org, based in the States did post the pictures., and their Internet Service Provider promptly pulled the plug on the entire website citing the DoD Advisory as the reason for doing so.
By then however Scoop and several other outlets had published the pictures too and they quickly proved to be extremely popular viewing.
In the end thousands of Americans viewed the images that they could not see at home on Scoop.
(links: War Pictures Cause Yellowtimes.Org To Be Shut Down, Again
Scoop Images: U.S. POWs Shown On Al Jazeera TV
Link: Truthout.org's Version Of Images (Very Graphic)
Grisly Images Stoke Media Debate
Amnesty Intl. - Iraq: Treatment of POWs
ADF Advisory - Identifying prisoners of war
DoD Advisory — On Coverage of POWs and Deceased
Recovered History — Al Qaeda Prisoners At Camp X-Ray)
What was quickly pointed out in the independent media was that the concern over the legality of POW images was entirely one-way.
No similar concerns over the Geneva Convention were raised concerning the Guantanamo Bay captives, who the Pentagon issued pictures of trussed up like turkeys, nor had any concern been shown about the screening of pictures of surrendering Iraqis.
What was abundantly clear from the incident was the level of sensitivity that the Pentagon's media minders had over unfavourable war images.
They didn't want any.
And once bitten by Rumsfeld's dogs the U.S. Media proved remarkably shy on the image front for the rest of the war.
The decapitations, the dead civilians and charred soldier corpses invisible
Meanwhile all around the world U.S. owned subsidiaries and other publications acting as imitators thereof played ball too, largely keeping the reality of war, the decapitations, the dead civilians and charred soldier corpses invisible to the Western public.
Think to yourself how many pictures you have seen of the casualties in this war, both coalition and Iraqi?
How many photo essays have you seen of the dead and wounded in Baghdad not being treated because the hospitals have been looted and are closed?
This clean-sanitised view of war was not followed in the Arab Media, and this probably goes a long way towards explaining why it was Al Jazeera and Abu Dhabi TV officers that were bombed in Baghdad on April 8th.
Though there is another explanation for this as well which I will come to later.
Back home here in New Zealand Selwyn and I at Scoop decided as a matter of editorial policy not to follow the rest of the media on this point.
The images we published — many of them taken from Al Jazeera screenshots — were horrible it is true.
But then so is war.
Deputy Editor Selwyn Manning explained why we published these images in an editorial on March 27th.
"Is it right that the general public have access to the realities of what is going on in Iraq?
Ought we to be determined to publish and present a true reality of warfare?
Is it likely that images such as those of the US POWs will aid people to realise how chilling, how unfair, how cruel, how sick warfare is?
Scoop’s editorial policy insists this is so.
The more people who realise this, the more compelled our communities may be to become participants in our democracies, to challenge elected leaders, and to insist leaders pursue alternative means of resolution outside the devolved condition of state-sanctioned murder.
To sanitise the reality of warfare is abhorrent to those serving the public interest.
To censor images of capture, of death, as a consequence of war, is wrong.
If Scoop were to do so, it would be subscribing to the glitzy rah rah top-gun Hollywood-façade-style of reportage that the mainstream United States based media has become obsessed with."
(links: Scoop Continues To Publish Reality Of War Images
Scoop War Images Feature Page)
We also solicited feedback from readers on what they thought about our decision and over the course of the next three weeks we received hundreds of pieces of feedback on this question — most if which we published.
At a ratio of roughly 15 to one the feedback supported our stance.
Subsequently the issue of the visual scrubbing of the Iraq War has become a fairly hot topic for discussion on the Internet and several almost mainstream media commentaries have been written on the subject in the states.
Some of these are linked in the website version of this address, and two of these linked back to Scoops images to illustrate their views.
(links: Truthout — MSNBC's Banfield: Media Filtered Realities Of War
SF Chronicle — Body counts, Rummy's plan, and the grisly stuff they don't want you to see
Salon.com Disasters of war — Photos you're unlikely to see on U.S. television. — you will need to get a free day pass here to view this story.
NOTE: Both the Salon.com and the SF Chronicle articles link to Scoop's images.)
THE ROLE OF MEDIA
   IN THE SECOND GULF WAR
An Address By Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson At St Andrew's On The Terrace — Tuesday, 29 April 2003
DISINFORMATION & INFORMATION WARFARE — THREE EXAMPLES
1) THE STATUE TOPPLING
Which brings me to another important visual moment in the war.
It was called the "defining moment", "The tipping point".
Network television in the United States lingered live at the scene for two hours waiting breathlessly for the triumphant moment.
And the following day it was heralded all around the world with huge front page photos and banner headlines proclaiming the fall of Saddam and Baghdad.
I am talking of the symbolic toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue.
Donald Rumsfeld compared it to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and network talking heads nodded wisely in agreement.
But was the scene what it seemed to be?
And was it what we were told it was, namely a spontaneous outpouring of Iraqi feeling against their dictator?
Apparently not.
Within hours of the great event an enterprising Indymedia contributor had pulled together a remarkable piece of detective work seemingly proving that at least one of the angry Iraqi's photographed at the statue toppling by Associated Press was actually none other than one of Ahmed Chalabi's henchmen — and possibly even a bodyguard to the former exile and Pentagon nominated future leader of Iraq.
If this doesn't concern you then there is also a wide angle photograph of the square — seemingly taken from the Palestine Hotel which housed most of the Western Media in Iraq showing that the crowd present at the occasion was at the most around 150 people, and that this relatively small crowd was guarded by at least three Abram's tanks.
Meanwhile a close look at video footage of the event shows that apart from the frenzied few who jumped on the statue and started whacking it with their shoes, most of the crowd at the scene hardly even moved as the bronze Saddam hit the dust.
(links: The pulling down of the Statue was a staged media event
Russell Brown's Hard News — Paranoid and Let Freedom Ring
Information Clearing House - How Bush And Rumsfeld Traded American $, Citizenship And Residency In The US For The Capitulation Of Baghdad.
Scoop - Image: A Wider Angle View Of The Fall Of Baghdad)
In a recent analysis of the event in his Hard News blog mediawatch's Russell Brown quoted John Lee Anderson in the New Yorker being almost dismissive of the statue event:
2) THE REPUBLICAN GUARD SURRENDER / DEAL
My second example of information warfare is no so much a piece of propaganda as an inside Scoop on an aspect of the war that has received very little airplay.
Last week a report carried in a Lebanese newspaper outlined what it claimed were the terms of a surrender deal by the Republican Guard.
Several aspects of this story are remarkable from a media and information warfare perspective.
Firstly there is the fact that if true this report is the clearly the supreme Scoop of the war, it is the real story of how the war ended when it did, explaining why U.S. casualties were kept to a minimum, and why the U.S. was able to march in to Baghdad virtually unopposed.
What is really odd is that thus story be found almost exclusively in independent and online media sources? Aspects of it have been reported in the French and Russian media too.
Moreover why hasn't it been clearly denied by official sources?
Perhaps this is because from the U.S. Defense Department media minder's perspective it has numerous unsavoury aspects they would probably want to keep from the general public.
And denying its allegations would just draw attention to them. These are
— the fact that senior Republican Guard commanders — some of whom are almost certainly war criminals — have not only been given large sums of cash and gold but also offered resettlement inside the United States.
— and secondly the article begs the question.
If a deal was done for the Republican Guard to surrender peacefully then why did numerous armoured columns advance to the center of Baghdad guns a-blazing and killing reportedly hundreds of civilians and militia members on the way?
— Finally there is the level of detail in the report.
And one detail in particular.
According to the author the shelling of the Palestine Hotel and the attacks on Al Jazeera and Abu Dhabi TV on April 8th were part of the plan.
As he explains it, this was done in order to: " herd the journalists into a place from which they could not move, except by order of the coalition forces, or, to be precise, the US Marines."
With the journalists so occupied the evacuation of 200 top commanders of the Republican Guard could be accomplished without embarrassment.
(links: The Surrender Deal Of Iraq's Republican Guard
U.S. drops top Iraqi general from most-wanted list
Secret War: How the CIA Defeated Saddam Hussein
Russian Ambassador: U.S. Bribed Generals to Surrender
CIA’s golden victory: U.S. Bribed Iraqi Military Leaders )
But none of this of course explains why the media aren't doing their job and asking these questions.
3) NYT'S JUDITH MILLER And The WMD FAIRY
The search for Weapons of Mass Destruction is a focal point for misinformation for obvious reasons.
Failure to find these weapons will make Rumsfeld, Bush, Blair and Hoon into fools at best, and liars if not war criminals at worst.
Perhaps more importantly from their perspective a failure to produce a smoking gun will put ammunition into the hands of their political opponents and potentially undermine their credibility with the public when it comes around to election time.
Consequently cynics the world over have been confidently predicting the discovery of a smoking gun at any moment.
Afterall even if one cannot be found then presumably one can be planted, and as we have seen before with the Niger Uranium documents, this sort of operation is not beyond the expertise of some of the people involved in this affair.
On the other hand the delay in seeing this smoking gun is also understandable, given the fact that so many earlier misinformation plots in this area have been sprung, and that so many people are waiting and watching for this plot to be hatched.
This time the information warfare team really needs a victory.
And so thus far there has been almost nothing.
(The discovery of several missiles and drums of chemicals over the weekend could be the something we are waiting for, but so far everyone is being cautious about calling this flock of swallows summer.)
The almost something we have had so far came on April 21st in an article from the New York Time's Judith Miller.  
Miller it is worth pointing out has made a career out of writing breathlessly accusatory articles about Saddam Hussein's Iraq, including a book purchased in bulk by the Kuwait government.
Links to a couple of articles on her background can be found in the online version of this address.
Miller's report which was also published in full in the NZ Herald was an extremely carefully crafted piece.
While it studiously avoided claiming the existence of any actual evidence and contained enough disclaimers to make you wonder why it had been published it all, it still managed to make all the points necessary for President Bush to claim in a very widely reported statement on Friday that evidence of WMD programmes is being found:
"Iraqis with firsthand knowledge of these programs, including several top officials who have come forward recently — some voluntarily — (laughter) — others not — (laughter) — are beginning to cooperate, are beginning to let us know what the facts were on the ground.
… And so, it's going to take time to find them.   But we know he had them.   And whether he destroyed them, moved them, or hid them, we're going to find out the truth.," The President said Friday.
Not everyone has been so easily convinced however.   A reader of Buzzflash wrote the following response to Judith Miller's article.
"Good enough for me," said the Chickenhawks.
"We were led to believe that you couldn't take a walk in Iraq without tripping over [WMDs].   But as luck would have it, just as the whole world was starting to shout, "Liar, liar, pants on fire!" the military gets a visit from the WMD Fairy.
WMD?   Why yes we had them aplenty but just before you got here we destroyed them all.   "Good enough for me," said the Pentagon.   "Good enough for me," said the Chickenhawks.   "Good enough for me," said Judith Miller of the New York Times.
Oh, and WMD Fairy, did Saddam by any chance share these weapons with Al Qaeda?   "Why he certainly did," said the WMD Fairy.   "Good enough for me," said the Pentagon.   "Good enough for me," said the Chickenhawks.   "Good enough for me," said Judith Miller of the New York Times.
It would be oh so helpful if Saddam shipped some of these nasty old weapons to Syria.   "Well I'm nothing if not helpful," said the WMD Fairy.   "I personally saw Saddam drive them across the border in his pickup truck when he escaped."   "Good enough for me," said the Pentagon.   "Good enough for me," said the Chickenhawks.   "Good enough for me," said Judith Miller of the New York Times."

(Links: Judith Miller's original NYT piece Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert
Buzzflash — Judith Miller and the WMD Fairy
Scoop Dennis Hans — Judith Miller reveals Raiders won 2003 Super Bowl
President Gives Iraq Update to Workers of Tank Plant in Lima, Ohio
The Decline and Fall of American Journalism (Part LXV): the Case of Judy Miller)
THE AFTERMATH
A reader of Scoop recently wrote to the editor urging us to remain especially vigilant about events in Iraq now that the glare of the International Media spotlight is beginning to dim.
And he is very right to be concerned.   How much have you read lately or heard lately about the war in Afghanistan? I can report that it is very much still underway, and is getting bloodier by the day.
War lords remain in control of most of the country and very little of the international aid and reconstruction promised by Tony Blair, George Bush and the international community has eventuated.
Instead the country is flourishing as a home to organised crime, drug production and drug trafficking.
All the while US military aid is being provided to ruthless local commanders to be used to police this narcotics trade and further ruthlessly oppress the civilian population.
I wonder if this picture sounds familiar to anyone.
In the aftermath of the war in Iraq the role of the media — as in Afghanistan — ought to be to hold the politicians to their promises.
It should be to insist that war criminals are brought to justice, that Iraqis be delivered a democratic state and that they receive a fair share of the income from the sale of their oil.
Unfortunately it appears that certain that the media are headed towards a very similar position to that they have adopted over Afghanistan.
Iraq will soon be old news and events there will rapidly disappear off the radar screen — especially if the Bush Administration mounts a new offensive against North Korea, Syria or Cuba.
(Links: UN-Afghan mission condemns killings in Afghanistan)
I personally would not be at all surprised if we were to see a state of emergency declared for security reasons in the fairly near future in Iraq, followed closely by a crackdown on political leaders who are causing the new administration problems.
Particularly Shiite religious leaders.
This scenario could very quickly turn into a guerrilla war situation like that in Afghanistan with ruthless puppet proxies doing the U.S.'s dirty work well away from the eyes and ears of the Western Media.
Meanwhile in the aftermath of the war, the evidence of deception and duplicity that we experienced before and during the war has continued at pace.
In my view at least there is very little reason to be hopeful that the liberation of Iraq will be followed by a blooming of freedom and civil society.
Some of you will have read Robert Fisk's reports concerning groups of arsonists arriving by bus after the looters leave government buildings in order to torch them.
As libraries, museums and police stations full of the history of the nation and the evidence of war crimes go up in flames, the only two ministries in Baghdad under U.S. military guard are the oil ministry and the ministry of the interior.
Is the U.S. military being held to account over these issues by the media?
I am sure you can guess the answer.
Instead the news diet both here and in the U.S. in the aftermath of this war continues to be driven directly off a menu provided by the Pentagon's spin masters.
Yet another dumbed down Hollywood style device has been employed to keep us infotained, this time a pack of cards.   War it seems is now like a game of cards.
And so every morning if you tune in to the radio you will hear a running total on the number of "most wanted" cards who have thus far been taken into custody, and which card the latest captive is represented by.
(links: Deck of Cards Helps Identify Regime's Most Wanted)
II for one would be keen to know a bit more about the deck of cards than simply who has been caught so far.
How this list was decided on, by whom and what is its official status?
Is this the entire list of people who will be arrested by the coalition forces?
Are U.S. soldiers authorised to shoot these people on sight, and if not what exactly does General Brooks mean in saying these are people the U.S. "intend to pursue, kill or capture"?
Is this legal?
How did they decide to confine their list to just 55 people?
Who was left off because they didn't make the cut?
Why are there only four names on the list associated with the feared republican guard? (Of course we now know one possible answer to that question, but it would be nice to hear what the story is officially.)
Unfortunately in the reports I have seen thus far on the deck of cards none of these questions have been asked let alone answered.
A search of Google news on the most wanted cards is kind of instructive.
In addition to news on the capture of the six of clubs, you will see that a video game based on the cards has now been launched, that spam generated by the sales of the cards has become a major problem and that they are selling like hotcakes all around the world.
One cannot help but wonder if the cards were ever really supposed to be taken seriously? Indeed if the war itself supposed to be taken seriously?
Probably not.   Leastways not if the United States' democratically elected representatives have their way.
Fortunately as always the independent online media have produced an antidote to Rumsfeld's Most Wanted Deck of Cards.
A deck of their own featuring Tony Blair, the Bush Family, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and a clutch of corporate CEOs who are as we speak making plans to make a killing out of the reconstruction and exploitation of Iraq.
(links: Playing Card Deck Shows Way to U.S. Regime Change)
Man injured in US attack.

US bombing of Iraq, March, 2003.  

The illegal invasion of Iraq by the US military, the American government, its Congress, President, Vice-President, Rice, Rumsfeld, Democrat and Republican leaders, and its people.

Photo: www.robert-fisk.com/
Man injured in US attack.
US attack.

Bombed wreckage.  

The illegal invasion of Iraq by the US military, the American government, its Congress, President, Vice-President, Rice, Rumsfeld, Democrat and Republican leaders, and its people.

Photo: www.robert-fisk.com/


The
Bombing
Of
Baghdad
Shock
&
Awe
US attack — Shock & Awe.

The Bombing Of Baghdad 

Young woman injured.  

The illegal invasion of Iraq by the US military, the American government, its Congress, President, Vice-President, Rice, Rumsfeld, Democrat and Republican leaders, and its people.

Photo: www.robert-fisk.com/
The Bombing Of Baghdad
— Shock & Awe

THE ROLE OF MEDIA
   IN THE SECOND GULF WAR
An Address By Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson At St Andrew's On The Terrace — Tuesday, 29 April 2003
CONCLUSION
In conclusion you will by now be aware that I have been less than impressed with the mainstream media's efforts in covering this war.
In fact I would go further and say that the mainstream media are now quite clearly part of the problem.
Global media ownership is now concentrated in fewer hands than it has ever been.
And many of the major media companies are now associated with industrial empires with fingers deep into the war profiteering pie.
General Electric, Murdock
Mega-corporation General Electric is the owner of the NBC and CNBC networks.
Rupert Murdoch is the owner of the rabidly pro-war Fox network — and Rupert himself is on the record as saying he is fully behind the war on Iraq.
Why?
God only knows… perhaps he thinks war is good for the sales of newspapers.
It is certainly odd on one count as televised war is not a favoured medium of advertisers — in fact they tend to keep away from it as if it were leprosy.
But while the mainstream media may have served us appallingly badly, the fact that I am able to stand here and tell you all that I have today is proof positive that something in the media melee is still working.
And that something in my view is the Internet.
The Internet is populated by an army of independent writers, editors and reporters.
While they are working completely without formal coordination and largely without remuneration they have done an absolutely remarkable job of providing a force of opposition in the information war just experienced.
It seems as though within hours of any significant piece of misinformation appearing someone has written a well researched and referenced column as a counter.
Significant in enabling this to happen has been the remarkable development in the effectiveness of search engines.  
This means that it is possible to immediately, on reading a piece like Judith Miller's about the WMD Fairy, find out a considerable amount of information about her background.
And while online audiences are relatively small in straight numerical terms, I suspect they are far more influential than they look.
For while the general public may not get their news off the Internet many journalists, politicians, defence analysts, PR people and public servants do, and the networked nature of the internet enables the important information in the morass to be filtered and distributed extremely quickly.
Even among the public at large the fact that 11 million people turned up to peace demonstrations on February 15th is proof positive of the power of the Internet as a co-ordinating tool.
It can be safely assumed that very few of those marchers were coordinated with the assistance of the mainstream media.
And even more conservative elements in public — people like newspaper letter writers, traditionally fairly well healed middle aged types — are increasingly showing they are far more attuned to the skeptical views expressed on the Internet than they are to those they are routinely reading in their papers.
Take for example the remarkable Dominion Post reader reaction to Michael Bassett's column poking the borax at anti-war protestors following the fall of Baghdad.
While I may have missed the letters written in support of his view, from what I could see there were none and there were certainly a huge number of letters attacking his position.
Did these people form their views from reading the Dominion Post's editorials, or news coverage?
Finally before answering your questions I would like to make a brief request on behalf of the independent media for your support.
None of those involved in the independent online media business are in it for the money.
But these ventures all need your support.
And equally importantly the Rupert Murdoch's, Tony O'Reilly's and Izzy Asper's of this world will only understand one sort of message from their readers.
And that is the cancellation of subscriptions, and boycotts by their advertisers.
If you want a media that serves you better than what you now have you will have to start doing something about it.   And as always that something will start at home.
Thankyou for listening.
GENERAL LINKS
Iraq The Media War — Guardian Special Report
Information Warfare Resources: Pro-U.S. Information Must Prevail
The Memory Hole — A Great Source Of Censorship Info
Truthout.org — An Excellent Daily Summary of Important News
Take Back The Media — A Website About Fixing the Media
Information Clearing House — A Great Source Of Important But Difficult To Find News Stories
Buzzflash.com — A Brazenly Partisan Source Of Links To The Best Of American Media
Sam Smith's Progressive Review — Another Excellent Source of Links To The Best Of American Media
Whatreallyhappened.com — A Link Based Website Dedicated To Digging Behind The News
Mike Ruppert's From The Wilderness — Independent News Service For The Robustly Skeptical
Antiwar.com — A Great Source of War Story Links and Commentary
Fair.org — Fairness And Accuracy In Reporting
Counterpunch.org — A Great Independent News Site
Commondreams.org — Another Great Independent News Site
Cooperativeresearch.org— A Website Dedicated To Researching Media Issues Via A Comparative Analysis Methodology
Bartcop.com — The One And Only
There are countless more independent news websites that I should list here, but part of the fun of the Independent Online media is to find it for yourself.
— Scoop Editor Alastair Thompson April 29, 2003

Copyright (c) Scoop Media
 
          
Weapons of Mass Deception
Monday 25 April 2005
By Christian Hendersonn
 
Schechter analysed the US mainstream media for his film
In the prelude to the war, the Bush administration hinted at the existence of a link between Iraq and the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.
However, intelligence investigations commissioned by the White House and Congress have since determined the suggested links were false.
According to Danny Schechter, a media veteran of almost 40 years who nicknamed himself the News Dissector, the 70% figure suggests US media failed their public and led them to believe a baseless claim.
As the invasion played out on television screens around the world, Schechter "self-embedded" in his living room and examined US media coverage of the war.
He turned his conclusions into Weapons of Mass Deception www.wmdthefilm.com, a documentary film that examines how the media covered the war.
In the post-September 11 nationalistic ardour, the film concludes the US mainstream media failed to challenge Washington over its reasons for going to war, shut out anti-war voices and blurred the lines between commentary and journalism.
Aljazeera.net spoke to Schechter on the sidelines of last week's Aljazeera Television Productions Festival in the Qatari capital, Doha, where Weapons of Mass Deception was shown.
Aljazeera.net:  Why did you make this film?
Danny Schechter:  I have been a journalist since the 1960s.  And in some ways, this project grew out of a lifetime of work. I worked in radio; I worked in local television; I worked in cable news; I worked in ABC; I worked in mainstream and I worked in independent [media] so I think I had a wide range of experience.
I have also written six books about media issues, so I have had a chance to think about it more deeply; I think all that uniquely qualified me to take on this project.
Aljazeera.net:  What are you trying to do in this film?
Danny Schechter:  I try to offer some fresh insights.  I also try to speak to journalists about what this means in terms of our responsibilities to challenge and what this means in terms of democracy.
In the film, I make the suggestion that the Bush administration practices deception as part of its strategy and military strategy.
WMD accuses the US media of group think 
We know that everything they were saying about WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction)and the link with Usama [bin Laden] were not true and many of us knew it then and we said so, but everyone was saying something different.
Now, with study after study they say it was "group think" in the intelligence community.  That's why they screwed up.
If there was group think in the intelligence community, what about the journalistic community?  There was group think there, too.
Aljazeera.net:  Are you influenced by Noam Chomsky and his theory of manufacturing consent?
Danny Schechter:  Noam Chomsky doesn't watch television; he is more of an analyst of the New York Times and elite journalism so I didn't go to him for an interview.
I was more interested in journalists who covered the war and how they were debating it.  So I feel that Chomsky had a brilliant analysis of media, but more of it is oriented toward print.  It doesn't always take into account the techniques of the media.
Aljazeera.net:  What do you think of Chomsky's critics who accuse him of overestimating the sophistication of media control, and that - in reality - it is more to do with day-to-day decisions and market forces?
Danny Schechter:  I don't buy the conspiracy theories of media.  I remember a group of Syrians came to our office and they said:  'We agree with you because we really know the Jews run everything.'  This was their analysis.  I said, excuse me, Rupert Murdoch is not Jewish the last time I looked.
You know the problem is corporate media and corporate-controlled media and how they operate within their framework.
Aljazeera.net:  What do you mean when you use the term post-journalism era?
Danny Schechter:  Journalism is at a crossroads.  There are many journalists today who still believe in the values of journalism but who are frustrated by the difficulty of practicing it because the companies they work for do not really respect journalistic principles.  What they are there to do is satisfy their bottom line concerns, they have closed bureau after bureau.
 
The film accuses the media of shutting out anti-war voices
There has been a pattern of dumbing down, and by dumbing it down it means people inside media are dumbing themselves down.  They are not asking good questions, they are not challenging official narratives the way they should be.
If you look at Fox News, there is very little journalism, very little reporting.  Mostly it is talk shows posing as news programmes and [they are] opinion driven, you have three times more pundits on air as opposed to journalists.  That's another sign of the post-journalism era.
Aljazeera.net:  Are blogs an alternative to mainstream media sources?
There are now 10 million blogs.  Of those, maybe 10% claim to be journalistic.  Some of the bloggers are very responsible, really challenging and doing investigative digging that mainstream media are not.

Some are motivated just by ideological concerns. Recently, for example, Eason Jordan, the former chief of news at CNN - when he said at Davos 12 journalists had been killed by US soldiers there was a big shock and he was forced to resign.  In that case, a blogger took an off-the-record meeting and just blasted it out there with out having a full record of what was said.
I think a lot of blogging can be very irresponsible and some of it is sponsored by political forces by the Republican party or the Democrat party and the like, so it has a political and ideological not a journalistic function.
But in my blog www.mediachannel.org what I try to do every day is take the top stories and report what is not being reported by comparing and contrasting.
Aljazeera.net:  You credit American journalists who helped you make this film.  Do you think many in the US media are sympathetic to your message?
Journalists review copies of the 9/11 Commission report
 
Danny Schechter:  Whenever I talk to people in the media off the record, including anchormen, people are very supportive, people slip me footage from various networks.  People are very helpful, but a lot of them are living in a lot of fear.  Everybody feels vulnerable, people have mortgages; they have families - it's difficult to be courageous.
Many American media people feel vulnerable and as if they are being bullied, they feel totally insecure.  In the culture of the newsroom, if you put your head up, it will get chopped off.  Everybody is getting along by going along and that's a dangerous kind of conformity.
Aljazeera.net:  If the US is involved in another war, how do you think it will be reported in the US media?  Do you think the media have learned from some of the mistakes of the Iraq war.
Danny Schechter:  The institutional practices have not changed.  I feel like the coverage of the elections was very similar to the coverage of the war.  The same templates are being used, the same approach, the lack of political scrutiny, the lack of other voices, the way things are being framed, the lack of investigative checking.
The American media reported the Iraqi elections as a great victory for democracy.  Everyone else reported them and asked Iraqis why they were voting and they said to get the Americans out and to end the occupation.  Their reasons are very different from the way it was presented on American televisions.  So we still have this propaganda system, in effect, but its credibility is starting to be questioned.  And I hope my film will contribute to that.
What I want to see is more journalists taking more responsibility for what they do and showing more solidarity when other journalists are shot and killed.
How many people in the American media protested the killing of Tariq Ayub [Aljazeera's correspondent slain in Baghdad by US fire on 8 April 2003]?  That was blatant, a completely blatant assassination and yet nobody said a word.  We need to challenge that and show more solidarity with other media workers.
          Aljazeera - Features
 
January 6 / 7, 2007
The Surge Pushers
The War and the New York Times
By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
T he war in Iraq, one of the most disastrous military enterprises in the history of the Republic, has the New York Times' fingerprints all over it.   The role the newspaper played in fomenting the 2003 attack is now one of the best known sagas in journalistic history, as embodied in the reports of Judy Miller, working in collusion with Iraqi exiles and US spooks to concoct Saddam's imaginary arsenal of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
But so fixated have many Times critics been on the WMD/ Miller saga, that they have failed to notice that across the past sixth months the Times has been waging an equally disingenuous campaign to escalate American troop levels in this doomed enterprises.
The prime journalistic promoter of the escalation — it is time to retire the adroitly chosen word "surge" — now being proposed by the White House is Michael Gordon, the Times' military correspondent, a man of fabled arrogance and self esteem.
Gordon's has been the mouthpiece for the faction — led by Gen. David H. Petraeus — inside the U.S. military in Iraq that has been promoting the escalation.   As Gordon himself triumphantly announced in the New York Times this weekend, Gen. Petraeus has been picked by Bush to lead the open-ended escalation of the war that Petraeus has long campaigned for.
Throughout his time in Iraq Gen. Petraeus himself has been very adroit at fostering good relations with carefully selected reporters, like Gordon.   That strategy has been vindicated by the steady stream of stories in the Times — not just by Gordon — reflecting his views.
On the face of it, the idea that the addition of some 25,000 to 30,000 troops will do anything more than add to the cumulative disaster is exactly the sort of crackpot realism "Crackpot realism" defined by the great Texan sociologist, C. Wright Mills in 1958, when he published The Causes of World War Three, also the year that Dwight Eisenhower sent the Marines into Lebanon to bolster its local factotum, Lebanese President Camille Chamoun.
"In crackpot realism," Mills wrote, " a high-flying moral rhetoric is joined with an opportunist crawling among a great scatter of unfocused fears and demands.   .. The expectation of war solves many problems of the crackpot realists; ... instead of the unknown fear, the anxiety without end, some men of the higher circles prefer the simplification of known catastrophe....They know of no solutions to the paradoxes of the Middle East and Europe, the Far East and Africa except the landing of Marines. ... they prefer the bright, clear problems of war-as they used to be.   For they still believe that 'winning' means something, although they never tell us what..."
Just as it seemed beyond the realm of possibility a month ago that the US could contrive a situation in which Saddam Hussein would be resurrected as a martyr, so now it still seems incredible that two months after an election on November 7 in which the voters punished Bush for the Iraq disaster by giving Congress back to the Democrats , Bush should be pressing for an escalation, backed by almost daily doses of crackpot realism in the New York Times.
A realistic appraisal of the situation in Iraq instructs us that the Shi'a control most of the country, with the exception of the Kurdish areas and the Sunni enclaves.   Insofar as Iraq has a government, it is a Shi'a government.   The country is already effectively divided.   The option of a non-sectarian national army has long gone.   So the idea of lengthening US tours of duty, to up the US military presence in Baghdad is the essence of crackpot realism.   Of the 30,000 maybe a sixth will actually be combat troops.   This little force is supposed to make a long-term difference in a savagely divided, vast city — an urban theater ideal for a guerilla insurgency.
On New Year's Day the Times ran a piece by John Burns and Mark Santora clearly dictated by US officials in Baghdad trying to recoup from the PR disaster of Saddam's hanging.   It was a comical essay in Pilate-like handwashing, filled with self-serving accounts of how the Americans had vainly counseled the Maliki puppet regime to observe a more dignified schedule, in accordance with legal proprieties.   Of course, the United States controlled the trial and outcome from start to finish, even postponing the announcement of the guilty verdict to November 5, right before election day.   The rush to execution was intended to produce headlines overshadowing the 3,000th American death of the war.
I have discussed here more than once the strenuous efforts over the past few months of the Times' military correspondent, Michael Gordon, to promote a hike in US forces in Iraq.   A long piece on January 2, under the byline of Gordon, John Burns and David Sanger, made these promotion efforts particularly clear.   The piece was a prolonged attack on Gen. George Casey, top military commander in Baghdad, depicted in harsh terms as espousing a defeatist plan of orderly withdrawal.
Finding favor in the reporters' eyes was the military/policy-making faction urging the escalation ceaselessly promoted by their tool, Gordon,
Gordon managed to dodge the fall-out from the WMD debacle he played a major part in contriving.   For example, he co-wrote with Miller the infamous aluminum tubes-for-nukes story of September 8, 2002, that mightily assisted the administration in its push to war, In the latter part of 2006 he became the prime journalistic agitator for escalation in troop strength.
On September 11, 2006, the Times ran a Gordon story under the headline, "Grim Outlook Seen in West Iraq Without More Troops and Aid".   Gordon cited a senior officer in Iraq saying more American troops were necessary to stabilize Anbar.   A story on October 22 emphasized that "the sectarian violence [in Baghdad] would be far worse if not for the American efforts" There were of course plenty of Iraqis and some Americans Gordon could also have found, eager to say the exact opposite.
When John Murtha — advocate of immediate withdrawal — was running for the post of House majority leader in the new Democratic-controlled Congress, Gordon rushed out two stories, both front-paged by the New York Times.   In "Get Out Now? Not So Fast, Some Experts Say" (11/14/06) Gordon sought out the now retired General Anthony Zinni and others, who "say the situation in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq is too precarious to start thinning out the number of American troops," while "some military experts said that while the American military is stretched thin, the number of American troops in Iraq could be increased temporarily"
The next day, November 15, 2006, a second Gordon story was headlined "General Warns of Risks in Iraq if GIs Are Cut" Gordon cited Gen. Abizaid's warnings that phased withdrawal of troops would lead to an increase of sectarian violence, and that more troops might be necessary temporarily.
At the start of December, the infighting in Washington rose to feverish intensity.   With Baker and Hamilton about to issue thneir bipartisan Iraq Study Group report, the White House — as the New York Times' Jan 1 story acknowledged — was desperate to have a "victory" strategy ready to counter the gloomy assessment of Baker and Hamilton.   This is what Gordon and the Times had helped provide.
On December 4, with the Iraq Study Group about to issue its report, Gordon returned to General Zinni.   In a story headlined, "Blurring Political Lines in the Military Debate" Gordon gave warm, supportive coverage to Gen. Zinni's plan for temporary increase of troops on the grounds that they are needed to offset Iranian influence.   The story promoted the line that any precipitate withdrawal would destabilize Middle East and leave Iraq in chaos.
On December 7, Pearl Harbor Day, Gordon was at it again, flailing away at Baker and Hamilton's Report.   Headline: "Will it Work on the Battlefield?"   Lead: "The military recommendations issued yesterday by the Iraq Study Group are based more on hope than history and run counter to assessments made by some of its own military advisors."   Precipitous withdrawal, Gordon charged, would leave Iraqi armed forces unprepared to take over security burden.
Reporter with a propaganda mission can always find the mouthpieces to say what they want.   Gordon's "troop surge" campaign has been politically much more influential than the mad-dog ravings of the right-wing broadcasters.
One of the most famous lines in the history of journalism is William Randolph Hearst's 1897 cable to his artist, Frederic Remington, in Cuba, who was complaining there no war for him to draw pictures of.   "You furnish the pictures," Hearst cabled his man."   I'll furnish the war."
The Times helped furnish the 2003 U.S. attack on Iraq.   Now it has played a major role in furnishing a likely escalation.   There is blood on its hands, and grieving mothers like Cindy Sheehan have as much cause to demonstrate outside its offices as outside Bush's ranch in Crawford.
In his syndicated column published January 2, Robert Novak reported that barely more than a dozen Republican senators favor escalation.   The rest remain impressed by the November 7 verdict of the electorate and fearful of worse in 2008.   The Democrats' leaders in Congress — Reid and Pelosi — waver.   One day they profess to oppose any escalation.   The next, they refuse to countenance any effort to cut off funds for the war.
They need 20,000 Cindy Sheehans in their faces, day after day, reminding them forcefully that they have one prime mandate: to bring the troops home.
Good enough for me, said the Chickenhawks
“We were led to believe that you couldn't take a walk in Iraq without tripping over [WMDs].   But as luck would have it, just as the whole world was starting to shout, ‘Liar, liar, pants on fire!’ the military gets a visit from the WMD Fairy.
WMD?   Why yes we had them aplenty but just before you got here we destroyed them all.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said the Pentagon.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said the Chickenhawks.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said Judith Miller of the New York Times.
Oh, and WMD Fairy, did Saddam by any chance share these weapons with Al Qaeda?   ‘Why he certainly did," said the WMD Fairy.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said the Pentagon.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said the Chickenhawks.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said Judith Miller of the New York Times.
It would be oh so helpful if Saddam shipped some of these nasty old weapons to Syria.   ‘Well I'm nothing if not helpful," said the WMD Fairy.   ‘I personally saw Saddam drive them across the border in his pickup truck when he escaped."   ‘Good enough for me,’ said the Pentagon.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said the Chickenhawks.   ‘Good enough for me,’ said Judith Miller of the New York Times.”
Alex Jones End Game.

Photo: prisonplanet.tv
Alex Jones End Game.

Photo: prisonplanet.tv
Alex Jones End Game.

Photo: prisonplanet.tv
Alex Jones End Game.

Photo: prisonplanet.tv
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EndGame — Alex Jones, you have done the world a great favor
It has taken me until now to view this great masterpiece that chronicles the planet's true history
But I am glad for this delay as my awareness of reality, and the events that seemingly must unfold to educate humankind, have come from sentience off planet — now with this movie the circles merge
A movie par excellence, it will likely be considered the most significant in the downfall of the rich and powerful who control the world and rising politicians already in their pocket — the imprisonment of all those who seek to bring forth this horror, this enslavement of 'New World Order'
Kewe
Alex Jones End Game.

Photo: prisonplanet.tv
Unspeakable grief and horror
                        ...and the circus of deception continues...
Most recent 'Circus'    click here
— 2014
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— 2003
Circus of Torture   2003 — now
He says, "You are quite mad, Kewe"
And of course I am.
Why, I don't believe any of it — not the bloody body, not the bloody mind, not even the bloody Universe, or is it bloody multiverse.
"It's all illusion," I say.   "Don't you know, my lad, my lassie.   The game!   The game, me girl, me boy!   Takes on interest, don't you know.   T'is me sport, till doest find a better!"
Pssssst — but all this stuff is happening down here
Let's change it!
 
 
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