Joined: Sat May 29, 2004 11:46 pm
Mike Whitney: 'Leg-irons for the press corps'
By Mike Whitney
According to the British medical journal Lancet approximately 100,000 Iraqis have been killed by the American invasion of Iraq. To understand that number in terms of a similar loss of life in the US; we would have lose approximately 1,2000,000 Americans. That is the equivalent of 4,000 September 11s.
The reader should reflect on these dramatic figures when considering the recently released British memo that provides "incontrovertible" proof that the war was both unnecessary and illegal. That top-secret Dearlove memo ("the smoking gun" memo) proves beyond a doubt that the reasons for invasion were cooked up by the White House at least 9 months before the war, and that "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
"...the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."
In view of this new development (which has been mainly ignored by the American media) we can say without hesitation that the war in Iraq is the greatest terrorist act of the new century. The war has destroyed Iraqi society, devastated their infrastructure, poisoned their water, polluted their environment, tortured their people, and left a legacy of depleted uranium that will continue to kill and maim their people until the end of time.
There is no adequate compensation for crimes of this magnitude but, at the very least, we should remain focused on the achievable goals of ending the occupation, evaluating the cost of reparations to the Iraqi people, and convening an international tribunal for the prosecution of war crimes.
Those tribunals, by necessity, will have to involve prominent members of the western press and elite American circles; many of whom share direct responsibility for the tragic destruction of the world's oldest civilization.
The likelihood of blame may explain why many in the media still defend the American attack so vehemently despite the mountainous body of facts that prove the invasion was an illegal act of aggression. David Brooks of the New York Times, for example, has been supportive of the effort throughout, although his strategy has become increasingly nuanced. Rather, than posing an outright defense for the war, Brooks denigrates an illusory "enemy" as a bloodthirsty, American-hating Arab who threatens to eventually "rule America" and "finish off the Jews." (These are direct quotes from his recent editorial) This is the depth to which the fanatical American militarists and their apologists at the NY Times have descended. Faced with the nightmarish results of their schoolboy aspirations for world domination, and the possibility that their culpability will be exposed; the media is now relying on more heavily on the puerile phantoms of Islamic-demons. Brooks and his cadres at the NY Times are only a hairs-breadth away from the cartoon-world expounded by the Bush public relations team.
The same nonsense flows from Tom Friedman's pen on a bi-weekly basis. His latest contribution was particularly obscene. Friedman, in his characteristic manner of blaming the victim, asks why the terror bombings that have ripped apart Baghdad "have not prompted a single protest march anywhere in the Muslim world?" Is Friedman suggesting that Iraqis enjoy the chaos and lack of security that have resulted from the illegal invasion of their country? Or, that Muslims are so consumed with "hating-America" that they ignore the shortcomings of their own societies?
If Friedman had done his homework he'd know that the Islamic world universally condemned the war from the onset and dismissed the nonsensical claims that its goals were democratization or liberation. A recent poll confirmed that 85% of the people living in the Middle East believe that the war was a blatant act of terrorism. Unlike Friedman, the people of the region seem to have a keen appreciation for the principles that underscored the Nuremburg Tribunals, that is, that war is the "supreme crime" from which all the lesser crimes naturally flow.
Friedman, of course, is intelligent enough to know that the people of Iraq are suffering enormously from the invasion and have no power to stop the ongoing slaughter. Like Brooks and the rest of his colleagues in the media, Friedman's job is to create a believable storyline that supports the idea that the war was waged for humanitarian purposes against the forces of barbarism in the Arab world. This explains why media-propagandists have latched onto the spurious idea that America wants to bring democracy to the Muslim world. In fact, America has only added to the suffering of the Iraqi people, which suggests that we should rigorously investigate the media's role in facilitating the war.
The corporate, profit-driven media model is the antithesis of a "free press". Rather, the news and opinions are made to conform to the clearly articulated interests of management. This, however, does not excuse journalists from disseminating information that they know is wrong and injurious to the public. Now that we know that the war was built on fabrications, we need to ask whether the media exceeded the limits of "freedom of the press" and willingly contributed to the criminal invasion of a defenseless nation.
Was American media directly complicit in the invasion, or is the complete corruption of our information-systems protected under the 1st amendment? How we decide this issue will determine the likelihood of future wars.
The Media on Trial; Frog-marching Russert, Rather and Hume
President Bush limits his use of the term "justice" to describe the unleashing of American military hellfire on unarmed nations. There is, however, a broader meaning relating to opportunity, education, wealth-distribution and mercy. In the narrow sense, though, justice is regarded as the impartial application of the law; holding responsible parties accountable for their wrongdoing. Using this definition we have an obligation to ensure that the members of the media who played a key role in executing the Iraq war be brought to justice. An independent investigation will certainly show that the major media collaborated on presenting news that was intended to deceive their viewers and elicit support for the war. The stories concerning Saddam's alleged connections to Al Qaida and 9-11 were particularly deceptive. Given the extraordinarily high cost of the war in human terms, these stories require a thorough investigation up the chain of command to the top levels of the industry. These are the men who share Rumsfeld's view that "Information is power". If that is so, than we should be prepared to hold them accountable for abuse of that power like any other petty despot.
The CEO's of ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and the New York Times should be given every opportunity to acquit themselves of criminal charges in an open forum at the Hague. Let's see how they defend the fabrications, deceptions and outright lies that played out day by day on the front pages of America's newspapers and paved the way for the killing fields of Iraq.
"Behind every great fortune lies a great crime."
Honore de Balzac
"Democrats work to help people who need help.
That other party, they work for people who don't need help.
That's all there is to it."
~Harry S. Truman