Bradley Manning cleared of 'aiding the enemy' but guilty of most other charges.
"Manning, the source of the massive WikiLeaks trove of secret disclosures, faces a possible maximum sentence of more than 130 years in military jail after he was convicted of most charges on which he stood trial." Transcripts from Bradley Manning's Trial
. [more inside]
A farewell to Yasser.
The Times of London's driver of seven years in Baghdad was killed in a bombing this week. This was his story. [more inside]
An Iraqi national with a fascinating background, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad
has been documenting
the situation in Iraq. His video report is in three parts on YouTube (1
). Of particular note is the cemetery on the outskirts of Sadr City (at 2:13 of segment 2), which is disturbing beyond words.
- Given Saddam Hussein's central place in the American Consciousness over the last couple decades and particularly in recent years, I found 60 minutes' interview with FBI interrogator
George Piro pretty fascinating.
As Iraqis See It.
"About a year ago, McClatchy Newspapers
set up a blog exclusively for contributions from its Iraqi staff. 'Inside Iraq
,' it's called, and several times a week the Iraqi staff members post on it about their experiences and impressions. 'It's an opportunity for Iraqis to talk directly to an American audience,' says Leila Fadel, the current bureau chief. As such, the blog fills a major gap in the coverage." Previously discussed here
. [Via disinformation.]
What Cats Know About War.
A reporter adopts cats to reconnect with life amid unremitting death. [Via linkfilter.] [more inside]
Iraq: The Hidden Story
is a very interesting 48 minute Channel 4 report on the news you see and the news you don't. Not for the squeamish. via
Time magazine recently launched a new politics blog, Swampland
. The blog is, to this point, most interesting for its confrontations between the commenters and the bloggers. [m.i.]
The big payback in Iraq.
Last night on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer, ROBERT LICHTER, President, Center for Media and Public Affairs put forth the following: You know, Charlie Peter, a great Washington journalist, once said, "The message of Watergate was dig, dig, dig, but journalists thought the message was act tough." And so I think you're getting negative coverage that may be kind of compensatory criticism.
Should the news focus more on the optimistic elements
or is it reflecting public opinion
. Is "compensatory criticism" justified for what it might wrongly perceive as possible White House manipulation during the run up to the war?
We don't not make deals with terrorists.
Yesterday, the Guardian reported
: "Kidnappers threatened to kill the abducted US journalist Jill Carroll unless the Bush administration ordered the release of Iraqi women prisoners within 72 hours, according to a report on al-Jazeera television yesterday." Today, the BBC reports
"Iraq's ministry of justice has told the BBC that six of the eight women being held by coalition forces in Iraq have been released early. The six were freed because there was insufficient evidence to charge them, a justice ministry spokesman said." Cause, meet effect. Effect, this is cause.
Pentagon bribery scandal -- Iraqi journalists bought out.
Officials in Washington have admitted that the US military has bribed Iraqi journalists with under-the-table payoffs of up to $200 a month -- twice the average Iraqi monthly income -- for producing upbeat newspaper, radio and television reports about the war in Iraq. This follows a similar report yesterday
that the military secretly paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of pro-American articles written by the US Information Operations Task Force in Baghdad. A Pentagon spokesman described the report as "troubling". "This article raises some questions as to whether or not some of the practices that are described in there are consistent with the principles of this department."
U.S. Military Covertly Pays to Run Stories in Iraqi Press
--As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories ...
The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor ...
Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. ...
The Lincoln Group
is involved, and the military's "Information Operations Task Force"
. Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Tuesday cited the proliferation of news organizations in Iraq as one of the country's great successes since the ouster of President Saddam Hussein.
Don't Bomb Us.
In response to credible reports that Bush wanted to bomb al-Jazeera's HQ in allied Qatar
on MeFi), Al Jazeera staffers start their own English-language blog. Their site contains remembrances of their fallen colleagues
, firsthand accounts of US attacks
on their offices, links to relevant reports
on the controversy
, Flickr photosets
of protests calling for an official investigation
, and al Jazeera's code of ethics
. Also, a quick note to Tony Blair: " P.S. Thanks for talking Mr. Bush out of bombing our offices!
" Not surprisingly, their blog is generating some comments
NEWSWEEK's Baghdad bureau chief, departing after two years of war and American occupation, has a few final thoughts.
A short, yet refreshingly honest, look at Iraq from a respected journalist on the way home.
What went wrong? A lot, but the biggest turning point was the Abu Ghraib scandal. Since April 2004 the liberation of Iraq has become a desperate exercise in damage control. The abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib alienated a broad swath of the Iraqi public. On top of that, it didn't work. . . . The four-square-mile Green Zone, the one place in Baghdad where foreigners are reasonably safe, could be a showcase of American values and abilities. Instead the American enclave is a trash-strewn wasteland of Mad Max-style fortifications. The traffic lights don't work because no one has bothered to fix them. The garbage rarely gets collected. Some of the worst ambassadors in U.S. history are the GIs at the Green Zone's checkpoints. They've repeatedly punched Iraqi ministers, accidentally shot at visiting dignitaries and behave (even on good days) with all the courtesy of nightclub bouncers—to Americans and Iraqis alike.
Sy Hersh's Loose Relationship with the Literal Truth
| Interesting article from NY Metro
which seems to condem Hersh's squirrely handling of facts while admiring his accomplishments & tenacity: "In bending the truth, Hersh is, paradoxically enough, remarkably candid. When he supplies unconfirmed accounts of military assaults on Iraqi civilians, or changes certain important details from an episode inside Abu Ghraib (thus rendering the story unverifiable), Hersh argues that he’s protecting the identities of sources who could face grave repercussions for talking. 'I defend that totally,' Hersh says of the factual fudges he serves up in speeches and lectures."
Home From Iraq: photojournalist Molly
in 2003 by Iraqi security forces and held in Abu Ghraib prison from March
25 to April 2, 2003. Eighteen days after her release, she returned to Iraq to
pursue stories for The New York Times, The Guardian of London and others. Taking
a short break during the summer of 2003, Bingham had the idea of working on a
story to explore who
in the nascent
that was becoming apparent
In August 2003, Bingham returned with British journalist Steve
and spent the next 10 months reporting the story of the Iraqi resistance.
Her account was published in Vanity Fair magazine in July 2004; Connors shot a
documentary film on the subject. This experience has led Bingham to seriously
question the values and responsibilities of the press.
From her perspective, it was just opening fire by a tank
. Giuliana Sgrena, the freed Italian journalist who was shot at by American troops upon her release, sets the record straight: there was no checkpoint, she was on a secure VIP road that runs directly from the Green Zone to the Baghdad airport, and her car was shot at from behind. Transcript
, and video
of an interview with Naomi Klein, who talked to Sgrena in Rome.
Farnaz Fassihi, the Wall Street Journal
reporter whose private e-mail
to friends lamented the dangers of reporting in Iraq and criticized the Bush administration's war policy, is returning to her war beat next week for the first time since her missive sparked a controversy in October. Reports that she was being punished by her newspaper
for the e-mail were apparently false
. Her e-mail brought her unexpected attention
, raised issues
about whether reporters covering Iraq were telling the whole story, prompted some introspection
in journalism circles
, and led a variety
outlets to confirm
her dour outlook
(last link is a reprinted NYT article). Previously discussed here
US Military 'still failing to protect journalists in Iraq'
(Guardian link, reg. req use bugmenot.com
This isn't the first time
allegations of mistreatment of journalists have been levelled at the US troops. Nor is it the second
and the military has even admitted to killing an Arab journalist
and some are questioning if the US military wants to kill journalists
? The list of dead journalists
and another list from AlJazeera.net
, continues to grow
And, because I'd not seen if before and don't recall seeing it here before, the Iraq Body Count database
(the civilian death toll) and here it is, all on one big page
When respected journalist Farnaz Fassihi wrote her friends a letter
about the bleakness of trying to live in Iraq as a journalist and a westerner, I doubt she realized it would become public, and that the WSJ would recall her, and place her on a mandated "vacation" until the election is over
Five Days in Hell
- what's it like to be an Iraqi hostage? Canadian war journalist Scott Taylor provides a harrowing account of his recent 5-day ordeal as a hostage of notorious Islamic mujahedin groups. Christopher Delisso has an interview
with Taylor, and blogger Zeyad of Healing Iraq
offers informed local commentary on kidnappings in his post, "On clerics, fatwas and terrorism."
"There was an attitude among editors: Look, we're going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?''
"Editors at The Washington Post acknowledge
they underplayed stories questioning President Bush's claims of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in the months leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq." The weblog Lunaville notes
that The Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland found
that "since September 11, 2001, the Bush administration has been especially successful at getting the American media to confirm its political and diplomatic agenda. Media reporting on the President amplified the administration s voice: when Bush said to the country that Americans are vulnerable to WMD in the hands of terrorists, the media effectively magnified those fears." Lawrence Lessig says:
"As media becomes more concentrated, competition to curry favor with politicians only increases... Concentrated media and expansive copyright are the perfect storm not just for stifling debate but, increasingly, for weakening democracy as well." Can we make the media democratic?
The Battle for Najaf -- a first-hand account by the only Western reporter in Najaf as major fighting broke out this week.
An eyewitness artist's report from the Iraqi capital. Amazing watercolors.
On Monday, US Civil Administrator Paul Bremer handed over "sovereignty" to the Interim Government of Iraq in a furtive ceremony, two days ahead of schedule. Not the stuff that independence days are made of. How sovereign is Iraq; what kind of future does the ongoing process offer for that shattered nation; and most significantly, how can a genuinely free, democratic and prosperous Iraq be created? Al-Ahram Weekly, in these special pages, invited Iraqi journalists and intellectuals to provide some answers. via Informed Comment
"Frankly, part of our problem is a lot of the press are afraid to travel very much,
so they sit in Baghdad and they publish rumors," Paul Wolfowitz declared Tuesday - a slur that didn't sit well with a lot of journalists risking their lives in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq. After callouts from Howard Kurtz, Maureen Dowd
and Editor & Publisher's new rabble-rousing chief, Greg Mitchell,
Wolfowitz has submitted an apology. (PDF version.)
Ever helpful, Wonkette supplies a translation. (mostly via Romenesko)
U.S. Army Used Media Cover in Iraq for Own Ends
which sounds like a big old bowl of yellow journalism but isn't really, at least I don't think so. It was more to refute the Iraqi Minister of Lies talking about the whooping the Iraqi war machine was delivering to the coalition forces.
The main issue that the reporters had was that they were only getting the one side of the story and not the Iraqi perspective.
But it raises some questions about the supposed objectivity of the media. Is this a proper use of them? To help achieve military goals? Or to try to avoid more unnecessary deaths?
GOP Warns TV Stations Not to Air Ad Alleging Bush Mislead the Nation Over Iraq
They claim that the ad itself
is dishonest, and cite the obligation of broadcast outlets to be free of misleading information. “Such obligations must be taken seriously. This letter puts you on notice that the information contained in the above-cited advertisement is false and misleading; therefore, you are obligated to refrain from airing this advertisement.”
Despite the implicit threats, only one station has refused to run the ad, a Fox station.
Turning the tanks on the reporters
The Observer's Phillip Knightley writes that Iraq will go down as the war when journalists seemed to become a target
. Predicted here
, discussed "in progress" here
. The BBC, Al-Jazeera, and the US Committee to Protect Journalists thought it prudent to find out from the Pentagon what steps they could take to protect their correspondents if war came to Iraq... All three organisations concluded that the Pentagon was determined to deter western correspondents from reporting any war from the 'enemy' side; would view such journalism in Iraq as activity of 'military significance', and might well bomb the area.
Salam Pax, the Baghdad Blogger
is finally tracked down
Media Map of Iraq
(Requires Flash 6.) Click on a location or unit to see a list of embedded reporters. Then each reporter's name is a link to a list of their war reporting either at their website or via a Google News search. Also, Poynter.org is constantly looking to improve this map
via reader input, as the Pentagon is not giving up much information on the embedment program. Also, The Atlantic Monthly/Washington Post's Michael Kelly is the first embedded reporter to be killed
in this war.
Arafat on our side?
Other than this story (Guardian), I haven't seen much coverage of Yasser Arafat's behind the scenes efforts to protect Western journalists in Iraq. Possibly not the act of the evil man that he's often portrayed as?
Though you won’t hear about them
, there are dozens of Pentagon P.R. officers embedded with reporters in Iraq.
Celebrity TV journalist Geraldo Rivera kicked out of Iraq: Pentagon
I had seen Geraldo drawing the map referred to. Geraldo was not "embedded" and therefore acting as a real reporter. Did he give away key info? My suspicion is No. I had earlier seen retired officers (they all retire and then go on TV) make similar marking to show where our forces were on the way toward Baghdad. I knew in advance where Geraldo would conclude his map in the sand because I had seen it on the "embedded" reports on various cable stations.
"Now America is reappraising the battlefield, delaying the war, maybe a week and rewriting the war plan. The first plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance. Now they are trying to write another plan." Seems patently obvious, no? But tell Iraqi state television that and suddenly you're speaking from "a position of complete ignorance," according to the White House.
Peter Arnett, highly respected, Pulitzer Prize winner
and the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Laden on film
, wouldn't back down the last time a network caved into craven submission at hands of the American military
, and he's been sacked by NBC/MSNBC for again refusing to do so
. There's no First Amendment case, obviously, and no real surprise that the military would be exerting pressure to maintain control over information, but does the firing of high-profile Arnett for the repeating the obvious increase anybody's
confidence that we're hearing anything resembling the truth?
Robert Fisk in the Independent
Today's front page of the UK broadsheet comprises solely of a text-only report of yesterday's bombing of a Baghdad marketplace, beginning: "It was an outrage, an obscenity. The severed hand on the metal door, the swamp of blood and mud across the road, the human brains inside a garage, the incinerated, skeletal remains of an Iraqi mother and her three small children in their still-smouldering car..."
This is how war reporting should be.
Embedded? Or In Bed With The Military Spin Doctors?
Quite apart from the significant sexual and conspiratorial overtones of the word and concept themselves (when applied to people), there's something more than a little disquieting about the participant observation
aspect of the large-scale practice of embedded reporting
in the current invasion of Iraq - as opposed to the journalistic tradition of direct observation. Altogether too gung-ho - and inevitably so - I'd say. Me no like. And don't really trust myself to be able to epistemologically introduce, in my understanding of what I see, the (already minimal) distance that I'd previously taken for granted in standard reportage. What can be done to offset this bias? [Here is a very recent, detailed Department of Defense guide to what a media embed consists of [pdf format] and the release journalists must sign in order to be embedded
The idea of weblogs has defenitely inspired BBC Online news for making the following pages:
The War is about to Start and for those of us without a TV we are part of a grand experiment to see if we can be as well informed. According to this Reuters article
, Radio had World War II, Television had Vietnam, Cable TV had the Gulf War and now, the Internet may have the U.S. war with Iraq...reporters and producers with wireless laptops and handheld digital cameras will file reports from battlefields
and military installations. Cameras are at key locations for live feeds 24 hours a day. Interactive, 3-D maps will update troop movements, casualties and weapons used. ''You're combining the speed of television with the depth of print,'' says Mitch Gelman, executive producer of CNN.com. ''This could define how future wars are covered.'' (more inside)
Pentagon threatens to target journalists in Iraq.
(RealAudio, 49 minutes into the broadcast.)
In an interview with Radio One Ireland, Kate Adie
, former chief news correspondent for the BBC, drops a bombshell.
If satellite uplinks from the press are detected in Baghdad, they would be "targeted down", said a senior US military official. "They know this. They've been warned."
Ms. Adie also revealed that the US military are openly asking journalists what their feelings are on the war, and are using this information to block reporters from access to reporting on the conflict.
These actions are "shameless" and "entirely hostile to the free spread of information," says Ms. Adie. "What actually appalls me is the difference between twelve years ago and now. I've seen a complete erosion of any kind of acknowledgment that reporters should be able to report as they witness."
saddam makes it tough for reporters to work
, but this two-person US team
gets uncut news out of iraq daily in audio, video, and print.