one man's conspiracy is another man's business plan
Tuesday, April 27, 2004 | War and the Fog of News
Between cover bans and closed military zones, and embeds and spin and business considerations, how can anyone claim to know what is happening halfway around the world?
It is one of the great ironies of the age that in an era of 24 hour satellite TV news, and the internet that empowers anybody with a computer and a modem to talk in real time to anybody else with those things, assuming they can scrape together enough of a common language to do so, in a world where we should be over-informed, ultra-informed, if a duck shits in Zanzibar we should, in theory know within minutes on whose petunia it shat, and with which rude phrases it was shooed from the garden, those of us who have an interest in news seem to spend an unreasonable amount of time gathering it, and debating whether it is true.
War has never made newsgathering easy, and the adversarial relationship between government and press is legendary. It is especially frustrating for people in the US who have been repeatedly told since infancy that America has a "free press," unlike thoe other nefarious nations where the government tells the newspaper what to write, to discover that their own press has, while their back was turned, morphed into something more closely resembling Pravda in Soviet days than the model of independent journalism cum dependable global town crier that forms an integral part of the fabled American sense of entitlement.
The press in the US is first and foremost, a business, a profit-making enterprise controlled by a dwindling number of expanding mega-corporations, whose mission is less about informing and more about making money. Since the government has undergone a similar transformation, the relationship between state and press has become less adversarial and more incestuous, giving rise to incidents such as Condi Rice's famous "request" to the press that they not show Osama bin Laden speeches in their entirety, lest any secret coded messages embedded in the English translation of same might be communicated to "sleeper cells" of Arabic speakers who are watching Al Jazeera anyway.
A more recent state vs. press startle involves the prohibition on showing the return to US soil of flag-draped coffins of American war dead.
Some months ago, Israel banned video or photos "identifiable" of the faces of Israeli gunmen, after discovering that a rights group was documenting atrocities for the purposes of seeking legal redress via international courts.
Banning the media from "zones" shortly before "operations" involving the slaughter of civilians, as well as from "interrogation and detention facilities" has become as standard for the US and Israel as it has long been for North Korea.
How then, is a news junkie to get his/her fix? And how to tell if the stuff is any good?
Read it all. Read government press releases, papers from everywhere, raw wires, independent media, blogs.
Comparing the raw wires alone to what you see on CNN can be very informative.
Use common sense. If the US says 1 soldier died, and the guy from the little paper in Pashtunistan says 50 died, assume that about 25 soldiers died.
Take advantage of the internet. One of the greatest and most under-utilized advantages of the net is that if CNN says it is raining in Paris, you can go to #paris and ask "Are y'all wet?" Granted, 3 people will say no, 2 will say they are drowning, 1 will tell you that Frenchmen are never wet, but be patient and you will find 9 or 10 who will tell you that either they are carrying umbrellas, or that they are not.
Learn to distinguish between deliberate bias and perspective. For example, if Malaysia invaded the US, would Canadian TV be more likely to show cute Malaysian toddlers lisping about daddy going off to kill the bad guys, or footage of destroyed homes in a suburb of Chicago and wounded American children in the emergency room.
Some Americans especially seem to find this a challenge. A good first step is to realize that while to you, Iraqis, for example, may be an exotic strange breed of creature, seen only on TV, to people in the region, Iraqis are regular folks, people they know through marriage, business, sporting events.
Some do not realize that when they speak of news from other places being "biased," what they really mean is that quoting a Syrian source without immediately following it with the White House approved line on the nation, individual and/or the situation is something they are so unaccustomed to that they are unable to process the basic information contained in the quote!
The typical complaint about Al Jazeera is that they report on civilian casualties and humanize the victims, not unlike the way US channels personalize Israeli victims of suicide bombings.
To western eyes, humanizing Arabs seems so strange that they perceive it as "anti-American." In reality, it is empirical evidence of the effectiveness of decades of indoctrination with the belief that Arabs, nor for that matter, other groups from the Majority World, are not human.
A flood in India can kill 3000 people and if mentioned at all, it is a throwaway line before the commercial break, in the "world news briefs," but if one American is among the dead, you can count on at least one network having a camera crew out in front of the home of the deceased, interviewing old school chums. To an extent this is natural. Stories that hit close to home will logically be of greater interest than events that occur in far-flung lands. But just as it is important to recognize that, it is equally important to recognize when it is taken to such an extreme that it becomes an unconscious self-parody.
In matters of war, especially wars involving the US, as most do, directly or indirectly, the parody becomes even more exaggerated, with gandaclature that would make Orwell blush: a gang of gunmen, armed to the teeth kicking in doors, backed up by aerial bombardment of a residential neighborhood is a "peacekeeping operation." Crimes against humanity are "pacification." A Berlin-wall type prison enclosement is a "peace fence." Mercenaries are "civilian contractors," people defending their homes and homeland from a foreign aggressor are "insurgents," "rebels," "militants," or "terrorists." Children of seven or eight are "youths."
If the US seizes its own citizens or those of another country, for any reason, the victims are "detainees," to be held without charges or rights, forever if the US so pleases, but any US combatants captured by Iraqis are "hostages."
This ruse, on its face transparent to the point of absurdity, seems harmless enough, until you notice that the same terminology is used, automatically, unconsciously, by people who OPPOSE the policies and actions described, effectively turning their most eloquent arguments into a concession of defeat, a homage to the superior power of those who have successfully infiltrated their very thoughts.
Words are powerful things, and though news may appear to consist of words, until you have removed the words, you cannot know what happened.
"Shut up, you're not even human," shouted his comrades in slaughter, as they murdered children, mothers, fathers, grandfathers, and even those who dared to try to help them were judged to be equally not human, and slaughtered as well.
Shut up, you're not even human, chorused moral defectives Sharon and Bush to the Palestinian people, apparently it is something that bears some repeating; the mourning for Sheik Ahmed Yassin is not yet over, and today the message rings out again, loud and clear.
It has rung through the ages, from the days of the Lawrences, the Meades, the Hitlers and Genghis Khans and General Wirantos and Kissingers and Negropontes and Churchills and Netanyahus and Corteses and Custers and Bull Connors, the Dyers and Napiers.
Such a message must be repeated, the burden is so heavy, the bearer so slow to understand, can he not see that Sahib's shoulders ache?
Ahh, Sahib, forgive your poor bearer, that he is so simple, he must be told so many times. Now it is understood, we think.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004 | Hostages and Prisoners of War: How to Distinguish the Two
Just so we're clear on this, the US hops round invading other countries, seizing people from at least a dozen and hauling them off to concentration camps, in violation of its own and international laws, and that's OK.
Those are detainees, you see. Amrika is currently holding somewhere between 10 and 20 thousand detainees in Iraq alone, nobody is sure of the exact number because the crusaders keep torturing them to death.
These are Iraqis. People who live there. There being Iraq, which the US invaded, and is currently occupying. Those are detainees. Not hostages. Oh, no. Hostages are when Iraqis capture invaders. That's what that's called. Hostages. It's terrorism, barbaric, let's get a Fatwa condemning it. Un-Islamic.
Amrika has these little seizures, it seems, of sudden and short-lived concern with what is Islamic. Attacking convoys of mercenaries is Un-Islamic. Bad native. No biscuit. Desecrating corpses is even more Un-Islamic. Very bad native. We will now blow your babies up, so you will remember to be Islamic.
General Kimmit, the planet's latest leading authority on what is and is not Islamic, has ordered any Iraqis who are disturbed by seeing their children murdered on television to change the channel.
General Abizaid, another eminent scholar of Islam, has excoriated the oft-bombed Al Jazeera channel for its coverage of crusader massacres, calling it propaganda, hateful lies and attempts to thwart Abizaid's efforts to empower the Iraqi people to hear the truth of crusadecom decrees instead. We may assume that Al Jazeera's reporters ducking bullets there in Fallujah are also Un-Islamic.
But back to the "hostages," just so we all understand how things are.
If Malaysia, for example, invades the US and seizes your cousin, that is Islamic. Your cousin is a detainee. There is no need for charges, a trial, evidence. Those things are all Un-Islamic. Not to mention anti-American and indicative of extreme hatred of freedom.
If you, on the other hand, happen to capture a Malaysian soldier, or an employee of a Malaysian corporation who is being paid either to murder your children or steal the oil on your old home place there in Texas, you have taken a hostage, and that is very Un-Islamic. As punishment, of course the Malaysians will murder your children, your neighbor's children, your wife, several of your neighbor's wives, and an indefinite number of grandmothers. Got to keep things Islamic.
Monday, April 12, 2004 | A comment from Darranar on the entry below this posed a very good question.
Such a good question I decided to address it here.
Why not non-violent resistance?
They tried non-violent resistance, and the crusaders shot into the crowds, not unlike the early marches of the Aqsa Intifada.
The reason the resistance has caught on and spread so rapidly is precisely because the crusaders have been slaughtering Iraqis for a year.
Morally, the US has been dead for decades, so throw that slide away.
Politically, it doesn't really matter. As you point out, Kerry will only continue the crusade, the US does not really have a democratic process anymore, it is just one illegitmate criminal regime or another, only makes a difference to a tiny segment of US elite.
Militarily, it reminds me of a really good piece I read in Asia Times a looong time ago. That writer was talking about Afghanistan, but his point was that in some situations, superior military machinery and firepower can actually be a disadvantage. Again, shades of Palestine, you reach a point of diminishing returns.
As I said in my comment, all they can do is commit more massacres, more war crimes.
Every martyr creates several more resistance fighters. Every massacre creates a new resistance army.
They have two options: leave, or escalate their atrocities and kill 6000 or 60,000, or 600,000 instead of 600 - and with every murder, they are like the caller to the radio station "beat the buzzer" contests - you know, the ones where the contestants listen to a recording of random amounts of money, and they have to say "STOP" and get that amount, but the next number could always be "ZERO"
Each time a crusader martyrs another Iraqi, neither he, nor his commanding officer, nor the corporations, nor even the Iraqis or their neighbors - nobody knows if that will be the "last straw."
How many shredded Iraqi babies will it take before not even the money that might have been your savings will be enough to keep Egypt's army "contained?"
How many pregnant women shot in the stomach will it take before that notorious Highway from Amman to Baghdad becomes a gridlock, as far as the eye can see - and the RPG fly?
How many Holy Korans torn and shredded by crusader hands will it take before your trip to the supermarket becomes as fraught with peril as a Haifa resident's lunchtime pizza run?
Things are not always what they seem, and the US is no longer operating from a position of strength. They have become the nervous, sweaty vacationing insurance salesman, laying his mortgage payment on the roulette wheel one more time...
| The Secret of Resistance is Joy The crusaders are trapped. All their awesome and shocking firepower cannot save them. They can, and are, committing more massacres, more atrocities, but that will not win them the oil. They have no more crusaders to send to the slaughter, and their various imperialist projects have bought up the world's supply of mercenaries.
They must content themselves with the not-insignificant windfall of the business of genocide, unconfirmed reports suggest the mercenaries are raising rates, insisting on re-negotiation of contracts. Crusade supporters may hope that the criminal regime in Washington at least owns some stock.
Whatever schemes and conspiracies and power plays may have taken place, and are taking place have little effect on the reality of the Resistance.
Many other people are saying it better than I can. Here is a small selection.
When Falluja Worshippers were Butchered in Mosque;
when bodies littered Falluja Streets,
the Controlled News Network (CNN) was beaming the following..headlines: "Trouble in Iraq," and "Iraq battles tests coalition."
Unlike the wide publicity and outcry over the images of four charred bodies, the media did not bother to show a single picture of the carnage underway in Iraq. Now the Iraqis as a whole are terrorists and the enemies of democracy. It seems as if there is an secret agreement among the "mainstream" media channels over not to tell or show the truth.
Suddenly the whole world seems to have lost interest in what the champions of human rights and democracy are doing to innocent human beings in the name of freedom and liberation. Mass demonstrations and protests in other parts of the world can overthrow even elected governments. But in Iraq, all anti-occupation demonstrators are "terrorists" and "enemies of democracy" who need to be dealt with force.
The US butchered 300 people in 3 days in Iraq and CNN considered it a test of "the coalition" to see if they can keep the killing machine grinding with increasing insensitivity or not.
First it was Saddam and his two sons, Uday and Qusay, who were leading a rump of diehard loyalists to regain power; then it was Saddam's deputy, Izzat al-Douri, leading the same rump; then it was a leaderless rump of diehards who had no place in the new free and democratic Iraq; then it was foreign terrorists "flooding" into the country; then it was a fiendish foreign al-Qaida terrorist named Zarqawi who killed Shia mourners to start a Sunni-Shia civil war; then it got a bit confusing, with a creeping number of insurgent operations in the Shia quadrangle; then it got even more confusing with the Shias changing tactics and staging increasingly militant protest marches; and today we have Moqtada al-Sadr - an "unrepresentative" Shia radical cleric leading a tiny army of extremists who happen to be active in most of Iraq's 18 governorates and who want to destroy the new free and democratic Iraq.
The 160,000 occupation forces, backed up by mass destruction technology, are now deemed insufficient in the fight against the Sunni diehards and the Shia unrepresentative extremists. Furthermore, many thousands of foreign fighters have indeed come "flooding" into Iraq - not terrorists sent by Bin Laden but mercenaries hired by the occupation authorities. Their role is to carry out dangerous tasks, to help reduce US army casualties. This is in addition to the Pentagon's Israeli-trained special assassination squads. Iraqis now believe that some of the recent assassinations of scientists and academics were perpetrated by these hit-squads. A similar campaign of assassinations in Vietnam claimed the lives of 41,000 people between 1968 and 1971.
What went so wrong that the US-led war to "liberate" the Iraqi people turned into the daily slaughter of the victims of Saddam's tyranny? The answer is simple: nothing has gone wrong. Despite the mythology, most Iraqis were strongly against the invasion from the start, though it has taken 12 months for the world's media to report that.
What has changed is that many Iraqis have decided that the peaceful road to evict the occupiers is not leading anywhere. They didn't need Sadr to tell them this. They were told it loudly and brutally a few days ago by a US Abraham tank, one of many facing unarmed and peaceful demonstrators not far from the infamous Saddam statue that was toppled a year ago. The tank crushed to death two peaceful demonstrators protesting against the closure of a Sadr newspaper by Paul Bremer, the self-declared champion of free speech in Iraq. The tragic irony wasn't lost on Iraqis.
Nor did they fail to notice article 59 of the new US-engineered constitution, which puts the new US-founded Iraqi armed forces under the command of the occupation forces, which will, in turn, be "invited" to stay in Iraq by the new sovereign government after the "handover of power" in June. This occupation force will be backed up by 14 large US military bases and the biggest US embassy in the world, tellingly based at Saddam's republican palace in Baghdad. ...
America has no business in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or any other country. Iraq is not their only problem, with Muslims rising up in all over the globe even in countries like Britain. Furthermore, the US president should long have known the significance of both Iraq and Afghanistan in Islamic prophecy. These are Muslim lands and they will not succeed here. As the long predicted Al-Malhama approaches, these lands will be defended at all costs. What only remain unclear is how many will die in the process.
Referred to a year a go as “remnants of Saddam supporters” and “pockets if resistance”, the Sunni resistance was clearly misrepresented from the beginning. In our research report, we discovered dozens of resistance organizing and actively carrying out operations months ago. Next we were told it was “insurgents” who reflected only a minority of Iraqis and then we were told it was Al-Qaida. Now it is the “firebrand al-Sadr” who “represents only the poor and marginalized Iraqis”. Will Sistani be the next “troublemaker”?
The fact is that that all along it is ordinary Muslim Iraqis that are resisting US occupation. Other than the few that have formed the puppet Iraqi council, the average Iraqi did not want Americans in their country but initially took a wait and see approach. A year on, Iraqis are no longer deceived as the results are in...Iraqis, like Afghanis, are living under a reckless occupation as a client state of America and that this sacred Muslim land is now run by the Crusaders.
Neither Iraqis nor Muslims will tolerate this. Every mosque that is decimated and every militia that is destroyed will only bring more and more resistance. The events of the past weeks have written that message in blood. As Sunnis and Shiites stand shoulder to shoulder against a common enemy to defend these lands of the Muslims...Take heed, the battle is here and the battle is now.
While the Crusadenets argue endlessly and with astonishing earnestness about how the US can stop the "insurgency" in Iraq, bland character-free fashion model brows cannot furrow with concern, thanks to Botox, but they do the best they can, when they ask expert after expert "what about the hearts and minds?"
A more pertinent question would be what about the arms and legs, and feet and heads and torsos and bits thereof, chunks of the mothers and sons and daughters and fathers and teachers and grandmothers, plumbers and tea-sellers and neighbors and sweethearts of real live people.
But in a country where an attack against soldiers for hire riding into town as part of a foreign power as an aggressive, invading occupying force are turned into a savage brutal terrorist attack against innocent civilians who only wanted to help their poor child-like brown brothers, in a country that has degraded itself into a brutish, primitive sort of pseudo-state whose raison d'etre is to kill and pillage as much of the world as possible, for a tiny elite tier of its own, while the rest of its own slides unceremoniously into a stark and unlovely serfhood, it is not realistic to suppose that even the shreds of the bedragged "left" will concern themselves much more about Iraqi lives than to suggest that they will enjoy being snuffed out by Frenchmen.
Such is the view from Amrika, narrow, insular, fantastic and completely liberated from reality, thanks to a splendid bordello of media, kept firmly in line by a willing coalition of corporate oligarchy and regime henchmen that even Orwell would have rejected as caricatures too laughable, too exagerated, to make it into his seminal work, were he alive and writing it today.
Into this vile and unwholesome stew come the Photo and the Letter.
Less than two weeks after the US-funded murder of an elderly, blind quadriplegic in a wheelchair, a photo begins making the rounds. A photo of a happy, smiling crusader next to two small beige boys. One holds a flap of brown cardboard box, with the hand-lettered inscription ""Lcpl Boudreaux killed my Dad, th(en) he knocked up my sister!"
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has now called for an investigation, posting the photo on their website and bringing it from the whispered realm of the "email lists" and websites that move around a lot and one never knows if they are real or Mosaad/CIA infoganda projects, to the bright sunlight of a mainstream, legitimate venue. Yahoo picked up their PR newswire.
CAIR was also the recipient of the Letter:
"from a soldier who recently returned from Iraq that claims a commanding officer engaged in inappropriate conduct with prepubescent Iraqi girls. The letter states that the officer, who was named by the writer, referred to the girls as "pre-rag heads" and coerced local Iraqi leaders to provide them in exchange for protection by American soldiers. (The officer's military unit was also named in the letter.)"
Kavkaz Center and some other non-US news organs are running this story with the headline "US Soldiers Rape Iraqi Children." Is the pic photoshopped? Is the letter genuine? To most of the world, it does not matter. Iraq is not the first country to which the US has sent gunmen. There are far too many human beings on the planet whose fathers were killed, whose sisters were defiled, by Amrikan gunmen.
Moqtada Sadr's declaration of jihad against the crusaders seems somewhat anti-climactic, more pro-forma than anything else. Jihad was declared by Amrika long ago, and there has been an unreported, almost unspoken effort by those chosen for annihilation to appease, to work around, to find an alternative.
While the "average American," whatever that means, may not have a solid grasp of what war will mean to them, not war on TV, not war far away, but war on their quiet suburban streets, in their Wal-Marts, many people in the Majority World are quite intimately acquainted with the phenomenon, and surprisingly well-informed on just who brought it to them.
If Amrika has any true allies, if it has any citizens who sincerely wish the place where they live to shake off the bloody goat-skin of the marauding pariah and scrabble its way up toward the light of nationhood, let them make noise, let them march, let them assemble, let them summon the ambassadors, and with one voice, demand "Cease aggression and disarm. Now."
Actions like Sep 11 do not happen in a vaccuum.
Long before those hijackers ever stepped foot on the planes the damage
had been done. They were brainwashed with the same type of garbage
propaganda that is spewed from Fatwa's weblog.
Middle Eastern countries are so much more barbaric today and preAmercia than America can ever hope to be...America has only been around 230 years...who did you blame for everything before that Ductape? I am calling a Fatwa on your bullshit!
IMO - terrorist plain and simple. He is an Al queda operative who
should be put in a cage on gitmo Skinner
My favorite..."In Defense of Holocaust Deniers"
I always thought that "The Enemy Within" was just a metaphore for liberalism, that is, until I encountered Ductape Fatwa. He should be in an orange jumpsuit for sure.
peopleforchange.netductape is either a commie, al queda, or a deep cover mole
Tells you something about this asshole doesn't it. He's really serious.
I believe that DF is nothing but a Republican plant...
Ductape is a commie, a terrorist, and he drinks blood too. He drinks
Capitalist blood. He eats unborn babies too
Give me your address and I'll send you $20 and a thank-you note for taking your hatred elsewhere.
A terrorist with a sense of humor!
He ain't nuthin' but shit
inadequate, halfway house bullshit
You are a dumbass. Fuck you and your condescension about us "benighted sheeple." hamletta
Untruthful, damaging bullshit
no better than the neocons and no different than Timothy McVeigh
dailykos.coma turd in the punchbowl...if DF were Joe Hill he probably would have killed himself rather than get put to death.
A compost pile of fecundity
dailykos.comdespicable and literally mentally ill