Liberation
September 23, 2003 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Iraq's governing council bans Al-Jazeera, al-Arabiya TV stations. "US officials have accused Qatar-based Aljazeera and Dubai-based al-Arabiya of giving too much prominence to anti-US attacks and providing a forum for backers of ousted President Saddam Hussein." Wouldn't buying them be more American?
posted by Eloquence (44 comments total)
 
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:00 AM on September 23, 2003


Here's a link from a more reliable source. It should be pointed out that "ban" in this context means "not allowed to cover official activities or enter ministries."
posted by Slothrup at 10:11 AM on September 23, 2003


"Freedom number one: press. Oh, wait, scratch that ..."
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:16 AM on September 23, 2003


Senior Wences is less of a puppet than Iraq's governing council. No wonder we're in no hurry to let the people vote in "democratic" elections. Seems to me the chances of the people of Iraq voting in any sort of US friendly government is slim to none, but the chances of the US letting them have a real representative democratic government is even less than that.
posted by GiantRobot at 10:16 AM on September 23, 2003


Well, how can we expect them to develop a democracy if all these competing voices keep chiming in with their own versions of the truth? Freedom of the press is best served with tube and funnel--just ask CNN!
posted by squirrel at 10:31 AM on September 23, 2003


Poor Al-Jazeera, haven't they been banned from a lot of Arab countries for being pro-American, now they're banned for being anti-American? Heck, Al-Jazeera journalists were being banned by Saddam.
posted by bobo123 at 10:40 AM on September 23, 2003


"This would be a lot easier if it were a dictatorship."

"Freedom of the press is only available to those who own one."

"The truth is overrated."

"Facts are such troublesome things."

"We report, you decide."
posted by nofundy at 10:40 AM on September 23, 2003


When are you complainers going to realise that we have to destroy democracy and freedom in order to maintain it?
posted by Blue Stone at 10:56 AM on September 23, 2003


Huh? Didn't we just fight a war to give freedom and democracy to this country? Didn't Americans just die to ensure that Iraqis had freedom? Why the hell isn't Bush threatening to remove the governing counsel by force if they don't allow the freedoms our brave troops fought and died for?
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:57 AM on September 23, 2003


Can we bomb someone for this?
posted by xmutex at 11:10 AM on September 23, 2003


Well, they're banned for a month, and no one is really certain in the Iraqi Council can make it stick. More of a grounding, really.

And apparently they aired Saddam's kill list, which was followed up by a suicide bomber attempting to take out some people on that list. Also: they aired death threats against the Council, after which one of the women on the Council was murdered. I'm not sure that's "journalism" exactly, fair or otherwise.

I don't believe ejecting journalists is ever a good idea. But it looks like they can make a decent case that al-Jazeera is condoning and promoting - perhaps even tacitly aiding - the murder of Iraqi citizens. You may not agree with the presence of American troops in Iraq, but the incidents mentioned in the Guardian article were about the murders of Iraqis and UN personnel, not Americans.
posted by UncleFes at 11:51 AM on September 23, 2003


I was wondering where all those graphic photos of dead civilians and american soldiers were coming from. I don't believe it was straight from the pentagon. Could this be damage control on Bush's part? I'm not sure, maybe someone more clued in on how how much press there is in Iraq (AP?) could comment, but...

and this is a big but - I watched a lot of the war at my dad's place which gets three Greek channels. It was like nothing on American television, there lay dead civilians and soldiers with no fancy 3D graphics on how cruise missiles work. Try as hard as you might, no one was getting a techno-war boner out of these broadcasts.

"he broadcast was a "conduit for terrorists", said Philip Reeker, an American state department spokesman."

Anything can be a conduit for terrorists. Word of mouth is just as powerful if not more secure and with the recent boom in local newspapers and what we would call 'zines this will make no difference when it comes to attacking US or UN interests.

"said there were plans to introduce tougher media laws."

And so it begins.
posted by skallas at 12:06 PM on September 23, 2003


Subhy Haddad - the former head of the Iraqi News Agency as well as a long time contributor to Reuters and the BBC - said he had mixed feelings about the decision to stifle the two networks.

"I do not like Chalabi or the American occupation," he said. "But on this move they might be right. Al Jazeera has been irresponsible in its coverage. And it is dangerous in a place like Iraq."

...Abdullah Alami, the head of the Iraqi Journalists Union, told UPI in an interview conducted before Tuesday's announcement that about eight Iraqi journalists were detained for anti-coalition writing immediately after the war ended, but that most were released almost immediately.

Alami and about a dozen editors of Baghdad newspaper contacted by UPI, agreed, however, the CPA has been unwilling to shut down critics of the occupation who conducted themselves in a professional manner and did not directly call for violence.
(upi coverage)
posted by revbrian at 12:10 PM on September 23, 2003


"Freedom of the Press ...as long as it's ours."
posted by bkdelong at 12:14 PM on September 23, 2003


xmutex, you brought your A-game today buddy. But we already bombed Al-Jazeera... they didn't go away :(
posted by zekinskia at 12:26 PM on September 23, 2003


Yes it's a strange predicament. I read Al Jazeera, during, and after "Operation Iraqi Freedom". What's the right thing to do when you want Iraq to be a satellite state?

Obviously the paper has it's readership, as does CNN, FOX, The Guardian, BBC, The Globe and Mail, NYT, etc. Yes, if I were born, and currently living, in Iraq, I think reading Al Jazeera wouldn't make me less angry at having an American military force in my homeland. Not because the paper exaggerates much more or much less than any other paper, but because they report on what would definitely "incite anti-US violence" in people already angry about the occupation of Iraq.

"Can we bomb someone for this?" Yes, sure you can. The offices of < http://www.newswire.ca/releases/april2003/08/c8916.html>Al Jazeera were bombed last April.
posted by giantkicks at 12:42 PM on September 23, 2003


They weren't banned outright, they were suspended for inciting both anti-occupation violence and ethnic/religious violence. Not just objectively reporting facts that might anger people into violence, but actually inciting it. Something that the press isn't allowed to do here in the US either.
posted by wrffr at 12:49 PM on September 23, 2003


Didn't we just fight a war to give freedom and democracy to this country?

Don't forget that it is American-style democracy that Bush and co. wanted to give them. So this sounds just about right.
posted by sic at 12:57 PM on September 23, 2003


Hey Wrffr, we should ban every media source that televised the verdict of the Rodney King trial. I don't see where "objective reporting" is necessarily mutually exclusive from "inciting"
posted by GiantRobot at 1:01 PM on September 23, 2003


"I'm not sure that's "journalism" exactly, fair or otherwise."

So if CNN reports that the Arian Nations is making death threats against members of congress that wouldn't be "journalism"???

It's not al-Jazeera making the threats. And how is it not news? If one of the most wanted men in the world makes a statement of any kind I'd say that's news.

"Not just objectively reporting facts that might anger people into violence, but actually inciting it."

I think you just made that up. Where is al-Jazeera not reporting the facts? Where are they inciting violance?
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:07 PM on September 23, 2003


So if CNN reports that the Arian Nations is making death threats against members of congress that wouldn't be "journalism"???

Well, If Aryan Nations were an actively murderous group of recently deposed secret policemen with lots of guns and explosives and CNN had previously staked its claim as the White Power news outlet, I might wonder, yes, whether that's journalism is the strictest sense.
posted by UncleFes at 1:55 PM on September 23, 2003


As for the claims of incitement, if you want to control the media, you always make such claims: They were working against the state. They were endangering national security. They were inciting the populace. That's what they do in China, that's what they do in North Korea, and that's what they do in Iraq.

Yes, inciting people to violence is wrong. I see no evidence, however, that al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya did this. What I see in the comments above are paraphrases of paraphrases. What I see is evidence that they repeatedly aired purported statements from resistance leaders and from Saddam Hussein himself. The latter is, of course, particularly inconvenient for the United States, who seem to judge the authenticity of such statements not based on any empirical criteria but on political opportunism.

If America was concerned about building a secular, democratic state that allows critical voices, they would define very specifically the type of broadcasts which are not allowed, such as death threats, and determine sanctions to use in such cases. In case of repeat violations, civil and possibly criminal prosecution could follow. What we have here is the threatened expulsion of two media outlets from a country based not on a trial and a collection of evidence, but based on the judgments of the few individuals who run things. These are not the mechanisms of a growing democracy. And it smacks of pure hypocrisy.

The problem with United States foreign policy today is that it is planned, developed and executed by people with no morality and with no ability to think more than three months ahead, while all the time believing that they are the greatest strategists the world has ever seen. While its military might is unchallenged, America is losing the battle of ideas. Anti-Americanism two years after Sep. 11 is greater than ever.
posted by Eloquence at 1:57 PM on September 23, 2003


Eloquence, great comment. Point to your first paragraph which you described well, controlling the media. But in a way, with Bush's vow to let Iraq still be Iraq, isn't he handling this the way Iraq would? The comments above reflect how we in the USA would handle it, and it's not USA but Iraq. Too bad too, been nice witnessing fair democracy instead will add.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:15 PM on September 23, 2003


and CNN had previously staked its claim as the White Power news outlet,

Is there an analogy in that straw man trying to get out?
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:18 PM on September 23, 2003


There's also no evidence that American forces in Baghdad had anything to do with this decision. The Guardian - hardly a bastion of fervent pro-American jingoism abroad - "It is not clear whether the decision to act against the two Arabic TV channels was endorsed by the US-led civilian administration..." says nothing of coercion, and questions even approval.
posted by UncleFes at 2:19 PM on September 23, 2003


Is there an analogy in that straw man trying to get out?

If there's a straw man here, he is almost certainly lost in a colossal army of them.
posted by UncleFes at 2:20 PM on September 23, 2003


UncleFes, Iraq is a country under occupation. It would be ridiculously naive to assume that the present Iraqi council makes major decisions without consulting the United States military, if not receiving orders directly from it. You get from ridiculous to plain silly if you assume that the US military does not have the authority to stop decisions it does not approve of. It's like the Church saying, "We had nothing to do with any executions. Sinners were delivered to the secular arm."
posted by Eloquence at 2:52 PM on September 23, 2003


"I might wonder, yes, whether that's journalism is the strictest sense."

I'm sure you're being ironic, but where do we really see journalism is the strictest sense these days? Is "Mother Jones" strict journalism? Obviously it is, but even as I agree with most of it's positions in principal I find the stilted nature of the it's articles too heavy-handed to bear. Still, it's journalism, as in "the press", and it obviously deserves to be allowed the freedom to publish. I suspect you will agree it fills a void rarely encroached on by mainstream media.

Same with al-Jazeera. They have a palpable spin on issues, but they aren't inciting people to violence anymore than "Mother Jones" is inciting people to spike trees. They fill a need for news in the Arab world. And as distasteful as I find some of their output, I'm willing to defend their right to say it.

"There's also no evidence that American forces in Baghdad had anything to do with this decision."

Exactly. But just as our government would challenge any attempt to shut down "Mother Jones" it should also challenge this encroachment on freedom of the press. If we stand by and let this go, where does that put our credibility when it comes to promoting freedom and democracy in Iraq? Indeed, doesn't this send a clear message that we (the US) don't want real democracy?

How can our quest for freedom and democracy be anything but a mockery if we won't even defend freedom of the press?
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:57 PM on September 23, 2003


our government would challenge any attempt to shut down "Mother Jones"

*cough*
posted by Eloquence at 3:33 PM on September 23, 2003


It's like the Church saying, "We had nothing to do with any executions. Sinners were delivered to the secular arm."
You lost me as church & state are seperated for me. Or are you talking about an era in time????

Indeed, doesn't this send a clear message that we (the US) don't want real democracy?

Good point, but from the Iraqi view do they want US democracy? Seems Bush is giving Iraq what they want, how they lived. Not saying it would be good for them or right.
posted by thomcatspike at 4:51 PM on September 23, 2003


FOX incites people to violence. Why can't we ban them?
posted by troybob at 5:52 PM on September 23, 2003


Advantage: troybob.
posted by squirrel at 5:54 PM on September 23, 2003


... and CNN had previously staked its claim as the White Power news outlet

You know, Al-Jazerra has an English translation web site that you could peruse before making such a spectacularly - let's be polite - unenlightened comment.
posted by JackFlash at 6:39 PM on September 23, 2003


So this is the same governing council that the US should nearly immediately transfer power to? Or is it better to limit power from these 30-odd until a constitution, which presumably would incorporate some sort of freedom of speech if under the eye/hand of the Americans? At least then the govt would have more weight that the 30, currently presided by Chalabi, previously and perhaps currently viewed as US puppet. Interesting questions to me, at least.

Was this good? I think probably not, but I've never seen Al-Jazeera TV in Iraq and it is still essentially a war zone, which I think, does effect the issue. I know their english language articles are only a subset of it's Arabic, so I wouldn't want to decide by view viewport of those alone. That case in Spain with their reporter from the same judge who went after Pinochet does linger on the mind, though. Not to say that they are the "Terrorist" network in any way, but you can't ingore that issue completely. I certainly don't think that Qatar is haven for Al-Queda.

As someone distant geographically from the sources, it is also interesting to use this instance to see the different ways in which "objective" reporters portray an incident. See the UPI and Reuters articles in addition to the others mentioned to see how the same event can be reported with different biases. ( One damn good thing google news has allowed easily). Most of us can't affect the issue directly, but perhaps by looking at how the issue is "reported" by differernt people we can see how the issue affects us individually. I was amazed by the difference between the two articles. Time to see who runs each press office for me.
posted by superchris at 6:45 PM on September 23, 2003


Troybob - you got specific examples in your little Fox analogy, where Fox has said "here's a list of people marked for death by the leader of any group" and then those people went out and got killed? Anything like that at all?

Advantage: bombast and bluster without thought.

There are limits to a free press. Libel and Slander are always the first to come out, and then outright lies aren't considered journalism, incitement is considered incitement, not journalism.

If the Times tomorrow published a list saying "the following Protestants are marked for death by the glorious Catholic Council" what do you think the reaction would be?

Remember too that we have the well delineated fire in a crowded theater exception to our first amendment rights. You are distinctly not allowed to just say anything you want at any time and expect there not to be repurcussions. Well, you could expect no repurcussions, but then you'd be a moron.

(and, umm, Superchris... "Member of Qatari Royal Family Helped Senior Al Qaeda Official Get Away"... I'm just sayin...(actually, I'm not sayin' anything about that, just thought it was pertinent))
posted by swerdloff at 7:15 PM on September 23, 2003


If Aryan Nations were an actively murderous group of recently deposed secret policemen with lots of guns and explosives and CNN had previously staked its claim as the White Power news outlet

But Fes, I thought this was the case! ~wink~

If the Times tomorrow published a list saying "the following Protestants are marked for death by the glorious Catholic Council" what do you think the reaction would be?

Considerably different than it would be if the word 'glorious' were left out. Your point?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:42 PM on September 23, 2003


It would be ridiculously naive to assume that the present Iraqi council makes major decisions without consulting the United States military, if not receiving orders directly from it. You get from ridiculous to plain silly if you assume that the US military does not have the authority to stop decisions it does not approve of.

Ah, but we weren't talking about assumptions, we were talking about evidence, and neither al-Jazeera nor the Guardian provides any that this is the case. Between you and I, I agree with you, but my point was that evidence, fact and opinion are not the same. Also: the Guardian article mentioned that the US had not commented one way or the other yet on the decision - maybe they WILL stop it! or the may just let it go away, since it may be the Council doesn't have the stones yet to make the ban (a temporary ban, remember) stick. Or is could just be a PR move on the part of the Council, and will disappear tomorrow.

They have a palpable spin on issues, but they aren't inciting people to violence anymore than "Mother Jones" is inciting people to spike trees. They fill a need for news in the Arab world. And as distasteful as I find some of their output, I'm willing to defend their right to say it.

But Mother Jones DOES incite people to spike trees! Not in so many words, of course, but by lauding those who do...? And spiking trees isn't the same as publishing a kill list, or airing death threats, from people who have the means, ability and willingness to make good on them. I have stated earlier that I think banning al-Jazeera is a bad idea; but I can understand the Council's impetus, in light of the blood so recently shed of one of their own after al-Jazeera aired death threats against them.

Indeed, doesn't this send a clear message that we (the US) don't want real democracy?

I don't think so. Mosly I think it says that, in a river of shit, sometimes you gotta pick which turd you want to deal with first, and while bombs are going off in the streets I would guess the claims of a news organization who has been extremely biased and overtly antagonistic to your cause is pretty low on the list of turds to deal with today. But it is a damned-do-damned-don't situation, again, which we seem so adept at getting into lately. We are villified for not giving the Iraqis control, and villified when they make decisions like this.

You know, Al-Jazerra has an English translation web site that you could peruse before making such a spectacularly - let's be polite - unenlightened comment.

I've read it. It's virulently anti-American, pro-bin Laden, pro-Hussein and, recently, anti-Iraqi Council, has maintained cordial relations with all of the major terrorist networks from Hamas to al Qaeda, and in these instances aired death threats and kill lists. AND I was making an analogy to illustrate a point of perspective. Enlightener? Enlighten thyself.

In sum? Keep it up, Stavros, and I'm cancelling your belly rub. I mean it this time! I'm serious!

Ah, dammit, c'mere you... *rub-rub-rub*
posted by UncleFes at 9:13 PM on September 23, 2003


Troybob - you got specific examples in your little Fox analogy, where Fox has said "here's a list of people marked for death by the leader of any group" and then those people went out and got killed? Anything like that at all?

Sorry to jump in but wouldn't Uday and Qusay fit that bill quite neatly? I think everybody really needs to see the tone and the nature of the actual proposed evidence of "incitement" or whatever they are accused of (the news report didn't appear to make that clear) and then judge for themselves.
posted by Onanist at 9:29 PM on September 23, 2003


Troybob - you got specific examples in your little Fox analogy, where Fox has said "here's a list of people marked for death by the leader of any group" and then those people went out and got killed? Anything like that at all?

Is that you, Rupert? Well, let's see... the "Iraq Playing Deck" constitutes a list of people marked for death; I think Bush qualifies as the leader of a group. Depends on how you define leader, of course. Oh, and, yeah... a lot of them "went out and got killed."

Advantage: your mama.
posted by squirrel at 12:03 AM on September 24, 2003



I've read it. It's virulently anti-American, pro-bin Laden, pro-Hussein and, recently, anti-Iraqi Council, has maintained cordial relations with all of the major terrorist networks from Hamas to al Qaeda, and in these instances aired death threats and kill lists.


Neither is the English al-Jazeera homepage "pro-bin Laden, pro-[Saddam]", nor have you provided any evidence that they have aired "kill lists". Are you deliberately lying to prove your point?
posted by Eloquence at 2:48 AM on September 24, 2003


Uncle Fes if you find the English al-jazeera site to be pro-saddam and pro-bin laden, and virulently pro american then you really must have just emerged from a little bubble somewhere.
posted by chaz at 3:23 AM on September 24, 2003


(Are you deliberately lying to prove your point?)


Isn't this acceptable as a rhetorical strategy in the reign of Bush II? Hell, without looking at facts, or just plain ignoring facts, lets make as many specious generalizations to support our predetermined agenda. If the facts don't fit, screw it, we're America, who can really get in our way?
posted by GiantRobot at 4:22 AM on September 24, 2003


pro-bin Laden, pro-[Saddam]", nor have you provided any evidence that they have aired "kill lists

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2003/09/11/international0805EDT0515.DTL

http://www.aim.org/publications/media_monitor/2003/06/18.html

The kill list thing was in the guardian article linked above.

And I resent the implication that I am a liar and a mindless Bush shill. I've treated everyone here with respect, even when they've implied that I'm stupid, and I've never claimed my opinion to be incontrovertible fact, only sought to present an alternative view. For my trouble, I receive personal attacks on my character and my intelligence. THAT, apparently, being a widely accepted rhetorical strategy. So, I will not trouble this thread further with my viewpoint.
posted by UncleFes at 7:15 AM on September 24, 2003


UncleFes I think you are an honest person, and I usually enjoy your posts on MeFi. I know for a fact that you have one of the broader minds here, and aren't afraid to challenge the ideas of the left, right and center. I'm sorry if I indicated otherwise.

But I still think that if you think Al-Jazeera is Pro-Bin Laden and Pro-Saddam, and virulently anti-American, than you haven't left the United States ever, or in a very long time. I think your knowledge of what is "anti-American" and "Pro Bin Laden or Hussein" is very, very limited.
posted by chaz at 7:48 AM on September 24, 2003


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