Category Archives: Media coverage

BBC correspondent in Afghanistan admits pro-army bias ‘Embedded in Iraq: ‘a tool in the military tool box, willingly or not’

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/blogcollegeofjournalism/posts/Embedded-in-Iraq-a-tool-in-the-military-tool-box-willingly-or-not?postId=116764291#comment_116764291

Caroline Wyatt has covered the conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq for the BBC. In the first instalment of a two-part blog to mark the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, she describes the nature of the relationship between the media and the military in 2003 and what that meant for embedded journalists:

Caroline Wyatt reporting from Iraq
It is hard to believe that 10 years have passed since we stood nervously by our vehicles on the Iraq border with Kuwait, scarves over our faces to protect us from the vicious sandstorm that whipped up in the region that long March day, waiting for our war to start.

For the dozens of journalists ‘embedded’ with British forces as they drove into Iraq that day, the war was threatening a rather belated beginning.

A Kuwaiti border guard was insisting that, even if we were part of a higgledy-piggledy column of British military and civilian vehicles, driving through long after the initial US tanks and Humvees, we didn’t have the right stamps in our passports to invade Iraq.

Thankfully, after much shouting and gesticulating through mouthfuls of sand, someone in British uniform persuaded the border guard that he really should let us through. We had a war to cover and it wasn’t going to wait for us.

It was almost worthy of Evelyn Waugh’s comic yet brilliantly accurate novel of war corresponding, Scoop. For a journalist, conflict provides some of the most vivid and powerful stories of humanity; of individual or collective acts of great courage; of good versus evil. But just as often we end up covering stories in shades less identifiable – where it can be hard to tell friend from foe, victory from stalemate, or when tragedy and comedy sit perilously close, and information is hard to come by – as it was in the early days of Iraq, a war that was, and remains, deeply controversial in the UK and elsewhere.

We often talk about the media and the military. But really there are no such things. I prefer to think of us first as individuals, and then as tribes, rather than homogenous blocks: the broadcasting tribe and the newspaper tribe within the media and the Army tribe and all its sub-units, and the RAF and Royal Navy and Royal Marine tribes that make up the military.

Just as any of those tribes can work together, and are part of a collective, each can also come into conflict with the other or within its own sub-tribes at any moment, and loyalties can be stretched in unexpected ways.

In 2003, we had to sign up to embed as official ‘war correspondents’, sign the Green Book with the MoD/military, and agree that all our copy and images would be screened by our military media minders.

We had to train to protect ourselves from chemical/biological/nuclear warfare with the NBC respirators and rubber suits that the MoD would provide us with that February. And agree to embed for up to a year if necessary – if the war lasted that long.

We agreed, and were issued with our smart blue ‘war correspondent’ armbands. I learned that I would be one of the BBC team embedding with British forces attached to the media ‘hub’, which began in a desert somewhere in Kuwait before we crossed into Iraq.

On day one in the desert, in the heat and the sand, we quickly realised where the power lay – and it wasn’t with us. We knew that as embedded journalists our lives were in the forces’ hands. British forces cooked our meals, dug our shelters, gave us information, and controlled where we could go – and that was an uncomfortable position for any journalist to be in.

That first day we were told to put our tents up while wearing our unwieldy and hot NBC kit. It wasn’t necessary, but it did show us that we were not in charge and didn’t make the rules here. We did have our own vehicle but we were told not to use it. So we were also relying on the British forces we were with for access to people and places, as well as information.

It also meant that we had chosen a side to report from, albeit as part of a wider BBC team that also had journalists and crews inside Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad, giving a different perspective and the other side to the war.

And all those embedding, wherever they were, knew that they had become a tool in the military toolbox, willingly or not, which the military and governments on both sides would seek to use to send messages to each other and to the wider watching public around the globe. It was hard not to feel an instinctive sympathy and indeed empathy with the troops looking after us. A benign form of ‘Stockholm syndrome’, if you like.

But at the same time embedding did not mean that we gave up the right to be analytical or indeed critical in the best sense when reporting on what we saw.

People often talk about the fog of war. In and around Basra in spring 2003, the fog and dust of war kept getting in the way. One day we were briefed that 80 Iraqi tanks were seen coming out of Basra. Two hours later it was down to just one or two tanks.

All the media that day – whether us, Sky, ITN or Channel 4 – in the ‘Press Information Unit’ had to go back on air to say, rather sheepishly, that the 80 tanks we’d been briefed about didn’t exist. Had never existed. Well, at least 79 of them hadn’t. And as for the other one – who knows?

Edward Snowden’s nightmare comes true

http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/edward-snowden-nsa-93742.html?fb_action_ids=10151761440457658&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_ref=.Udc_r-hzq9Q.like&fb_source=ticker&action_object_map=%7B%2210151761440457658%22%3A358649504260749%7D&action_type_map=%7B%2210151761440457658%22%3A%22og.likes%22%7D&action_ref_map=%7B%2210151761440457658%22%3A%22.Udc_r-hzq9Q.like%22

Edward Snowden’s nightmare may be coming true.
Not exile; not the danger of imprisonment or prosecution; and not his newfound association with dictators, lawyers and impresarios.

Snowden’s worst fear, by his own account, was that “nothing will change.”
“People will see in the media all these disclosures, they’ll know the lengths the government is going to grant themselves powers, unilaterally, to create greater control over American society and global society,” he told The Guardian last month after he’d asked it to identify him as its source. “But they won’t be willing to take the risks necessary to stand up and fight to change things, to force their representatives to actually take a stand in their interests.”

One month after The Guardian’s first story, which revealed an order from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing the National Security Agency to collect the phone records of every Verizon customer, there has been no public movement in Washington to stop the court from issuing another such order. Congress has no intelligence reform bill that would rein in the phone tracking, or Internet monitoring, or cyberattack planning, or any of the other secret government workings that Snowden’s disclosures have revealed.
There is no modern day Sen. Frank Church ready to convene historic hearings about the intelligence community, like the ones Church ran in the 1970s, proceedings that radically transformed the U.S. intelligence services. Far from having been surprised by Snowden’s disclosures, today’s intelligence committee leaders stepped right up to defend the NSA’s surveillance programs. From Republicans, led by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, to Democrats, including Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, they’ve been nearly unanimous in their support.
“I feel I have an obligation to do everything I can to keep this country safe,” Feinstein told The New York Times. “So put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/edward-snowden-nsa-93742.html#ixzz2YGIXyIUG

How the BBC is still spinning lies and myths about the Iraq war

How the BBC is still spinning lies and myths about the Iraq war.

As a participant in BBC Newsnight special, “Iraq – 10 Years On“, I found myself feeling slightly miffed at the lack of real debate on the crucial issues.

On the one hand, Newsnight presented a number of narratives of the war and its aftermath as ‘fact’, which are deeply questionable. On the other, there were no serious, factually-grounded criticisms of the war, despite a diverse panel which included people who did not support it.

MYTH 1. Sectarian violence has increased in postwar Iraq because sectarianism has always existed in Iraq, and the removal of Saddam allowed it to erupt

One of the first Newsnight bloopers started with a short introductory clip from John Simpson, the BBC’s World Affairs Editor.

Amongst other things, Simpson talked about the rise of sectarian Sunni-Shi’a violence in postwar Iraq, and argued that while Saddam’s regime had clamped down on sectarian divisions, regime change effectively unleashed those previously suppressed divisions and allowed them to worsen.

This was the first of many oversimplifications about the escalation of sectarian violence in Iraq. The reality, as pointed out on the show by my colleague in the audience, anthropologist Professor Nadje al-Ali, is that prior to the war, genericsectarian antagonism was unheard of in Iraqi society. Although Saddam’s regime was unequivocally sectarian in its own violence against Shi’as and Kurds, as a mechanism of shoring up the Ba’athist regime, Iraqis did not largely identify in sectarian terms. As one Iraqi blogger living in Baghdad noted:

Senior BBC official insists that all of Jerusalem is an “Israeli” city

Senior BBC official insists that all of Jerusalem is an “Israeli” city.

(Part 1) Interview given by President Bashar al-Assad to Turkish – April 5 2013

US ‘backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria, blame it on Assad govt’ : Story removed from Daily Mail web site

Obama allegedly approved chemical weapons attack in Syria – to be blamed on Assad and justify NATO invasion

The Obama administration gave green signal to a chemical weapons attack plan in Syria that could be blamed on President Bashar al Assad”s regime and in turn, spur international military action in the devastated country, leaked documents have shown.

A new report, that contains an email exchange between two senior officials at British-based contractor Britam Defence, showed a scheme `approved by Washington’.

See screenshot of one of the leaked emails:

chemwep 280113email

As per the scheme `Qatar would fund rebel forces in Syria to use chemical weapons,’ the Daily Mail reports but the article was then taken down from the Daily Mail website  (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2270219/U-S-planned-launch-chemical-weapon-attack-Syria-blame-Assad.html) but you can see a screenshot here:

daily mail assad chem weapons false flag

Barack Obama made it clear to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad last month that the U. S. would not tolerate Syria using chemical weapons against its own people.

According to Infowars. com, the December 25 email was sent from Britam”s Business Development Director David Goulding to company founder Philip Doughty.

The emails were released by a Malaysian hacker who also obtained senior executives resumes and copies of passports via an unprotected company server, according to Cyber War News.

According to the paper, the U. S. State Department has declined to comment on the matter.

see also : http://www.infowars.com/hack-reveals-washington-approved-plan-to-stage-chemical-weapons-attack-in-syria/

and:

War with Syria? Not in our name!

Ron Paul says no to yet another Imperialist war

Syria – The REAL Story — MUST SEE — CIA & MOSSAD Death Squads

Armed groups raped, killed women in Houla

A witness to the May 25 carnage in the western Syrian town of Houla says armed groups raped women before killing them, a recent report has revealed.

“They (armed groups) burned houses and killed people by the families because they were loyal to the (Syrian) government. [They] raped the women and killed the children,” the witness said, according to a June 1 report posted on Global Research website.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/06/02/244292/armed-groups-raped-women-in-houla/

Not reported by the BBC : US troops accused of torture in Iraq and Afghanistan in war crimes trial

http://www.examiner.com/article/us-troops-accused-of-torture-iraq-and-afghanistan-war-crimes-trial

KUALA LUMPUR – Former Iraqi detainee Abbas Abid told a War Crimes Tribunal in sworn testimony that he was “tortured” in Baghdad during questioning by “American troops”, who had demanded names of “terrorists” in his neighborhood during the invasion to oust strongman Saddam Hussein in August 2005.

BEATEN, ELECTROCUTED AND MOCK EXECUTIONS

Abbas Abid, who is the tribunal’s first witness, said he was brought to the Al-Muthanna Brigade headquarters, where he was “beaten, electrocuted and threatened of being shot after the soldiers failed to obtain any names”.

 

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