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News About Iraq Goes Through Filters
Published on Thursday, February 17, 2005 by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer
News About Iraq Goes Through Filters
by Dahr Jamail
 

How is it that more than 40 percent of Americans still believe Iraq has weapons of mass destruction even though President Bush personally has admitted there are none?

How is it possible that millions of Americans believe the recent election in Iraq showed that Iraqis are in favor of the ongoing occupation of their country? In reality, the determination displayed by the roughly 59 percent of registered voters who participated in the election did so because they felt it would bring about an end to the U.S. occupation.

How do so many Americans wonder why more Iraqis each day are supporting both violent and non-violent movements of resistance to the occupation when after the U.S. government promised to help rebuild Iraq, a mere 2 percent of reconstruction contracts were awarded to Iraqi concerns and the infrastructure lies in shambles?

It's because overall, mainstream media reportage in the United States about the occupation in Iraq is being censured, distorted, threatened by the military and controlled by corporations that own the outlets.

Recently at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Eason Jordan, a CNN executive, told a panel that the U.S. military deliberately targeted journalists in Iraq. He said he "knew of about 12 journalists who had not only been killed by American troops, but had been targeted as a matter of policy," said Rep. Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts who was on the panel with Jordan.

When we hear this statement with the knowledge that 63 journalists have been killed in Iraq, in addition to the fact that in a 14-month-period, more journalists were killed in Iraq than during the entire Vietnam War, one begins to get the feeling that the military clampdown on the media is more than a myth or a conspiracy theory.

(Editor's note: Jordan has since resigned from CNN, telling fellow CNN staffers: "I never meant to imply U.S. forces acted with ill intent when U.S. forces accidentally killed journalists, and I apologize to anyone who thought I said or believed otherwise.")

I've personally witnessed photographers in Baghdad who have had their cameras either confiscated or smashed by soldiers, who were, of course, acting on orders from their superiors. And no, the journalists weren't trying to photograph something that would jeopardize the security of the soldiers.

Even Christiane Amanpour, CNN's top war correspondent, announced on national television that her own network was censuring her journalism.

Most Americans don't know that on any given day, an average of three U.S. soldiers die in Iraq as a result of 75 attacks every single day on U.S. forces or that Iraqi civilian deaths average 10 times that amount.

Most Americans also don't know there are four permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq, with the Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root diligently constructing 10 others.

Most Americans don't know overall troop morale in Iraq resembles that of the Vietnam War, with tours being extended and stop-loss orders imposed.

Nor do most folks know where billions of their tax dollars have been spent that were supposed to be used in the reconstruction of Iraq.

But who can blame Americans when the military and mainstream media continue, day in and day out, to distort, deny and destroy the truth before it reaches the audience back home? An international peoples' initiative called the World Tribunal on Iraq met in Rome to focus on media complicity in the crimes committed against the people of Iraq as well as U.S. citizens who are paying with their blood and tax dollars to maintain the occupation. The tribunal found Western mainstream media outlets guilty of incitement to violence and the deliberate misleading of people into the war and ongoing occupation of Iraq.

Makes you wonder what else Americans aren't being told about Iraq. After spending eight of the past 14 months reporting fromIraq, I can tell you the points made here are just the tip of the iceberg.

Dahr Jamail, an independent reporter covering the Iraq war, has several current speaking engagements in Western Washington. For more info, go to www.dahrjamailiraq.com.

© 2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer

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