Information Clearing House Archive Part 4 November 23-30 2004

November 2004 — Information Clearing House

[I’ve been archiving ICH digests since early 2003. Unfortunately, an unknown number of the links are now dead, so I can’t guarantee that the link will take you where you want to go. WB]

Information Clearing House
Digest November 23-30 2004
Date: Tue, 30 Nov 2004

I Am Become Death – The Destroyer Of The Worlds

Anwaar Hussain

The crimson waters of the Euphrates are now emptying into the Persian Gulf the hopes and aspirations of innocent people whose lives were snuffed out on the orders of a man rewarded for his monumental crimes by his great nation.

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Media Lens: Protest the BBC on Thursday, December 2 – This is Why. Part 1

30 November 2004 — Media Lens

“There is not a single surgeon in Falluja. We had one ambulance hit by US fire and a doctor wounded. There are scores of injured civilians in their homes whom we can’t move. A 13-year-old child just died in my hands.” (Dr. Sami al-Jumaili, main Fallujah hospital, November 9, 2004)

“Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and prevent war.” (Thich Nhat Than)

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Media Lens: Fallujah – The BBC’s Director of News Responds

26 November 2004 — Media Lens

On November 8 and 11 we published two Media Alerts: ‘Legitimising Mass Slaughter in Fallujah’‚ in which we commented on the bias and inhumanity of BBC and ITV News reporting on Fallujah.

These alerts generated a massive response from readers – one of the biggest we have seen – and contributed, we believe, to a short-lived improvement in both BBC and ITV reporting. As a flood of emails was being copied to us, the BBC in particular began paying attention to the plight of civilians in Fallujah in a way that it had conspicuously not done earlier in the week. This could of course have been a coincidence, but we doubt it. We suspect that BBC editors and journalists were shocked by the intensity and extent of public feeling, a suspicion strengthened by a response of unprecedented seriousness from the BBC’s director of news, Helen Boaden (see below).

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The Blair Fear Project By William Bowles

23 November 2004



Have you seen this man? Is he bothering you? Does he know your wife? Is he the father of your children? If you see him in the neighbourhood report him immediately. This man is dangerous. He will ask you a lot of questions about yourself and ask to take intimate pictures of your body. He may ask you for a DNA sample. (Text Edward Teague)

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Information Clearing House Archive Part 3 17-22 November 2004

November 2004 — Information Clearing House

[I’ve been archiving ICH digests since early 2003. Unfortunately, an unknown number of the links are now dead, so I can’t guarantee that the link will take you where you want to go. WB]

Information Clearing House
Digest November 17-22 2004
Date: Mon, 22 Nov 2004

Report: US discussing strikes on Iran

The Pentagon is considering strikes in support of regime change, including attacks on the leadership, as well as on political and security targets

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Weasel words by the dogs of straw By William Bowles

19 November 2004

We have yet to discover the true scale of the slaughter that the US wrought on Fallujah but one thing is clear, if we rely on the British government for the numbers we’ll never know the truth. On 17 November the Foreign Office issued a response to the report in the Lancet that calculated that deaths in Iraq (excluding those in Fallujah from the current blitzkrieg and those of last April’s attack on Fallujah) were in the order of 100,000 and this number is more than likely to be on the conservative side.

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Media Lens: The Power of Nightmares and the Real Politics of Fear – Part 2

19 November 2004 — Media Lens

Manufacturing The Myth Of ‘America’

American elites have long sought to manufacture and promote a shared myth of ‘America’ based on “symbols by which Americans defined their dream and pictured social reality.” (Alex Carey, Taking The Risk Out Of Democracy, UNSW Press, 1995, p.75)

Adam Curtis alluded to this myth-making in his BBC series The Power of Nightmares, but he portrayed it as a process initiated and pursued by neoconservatives from the 1940s onwards, inspired by the teachings of Leo Strauss.

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Media Lens: The Power of Nightmares and the Real Politics of Fear – Part 1

18 November 2004 — Media Lens

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the public alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” (H.L. Mencken, 1923)

Introduction – Pyrrhic Applause

“Every so often a programme comes along that makes watching television not only a duty but a pleasure.” So wrote Guardian TV critic Rupert Smith of the BBC2 series The Power of Nightmares by Adam Curtis. Smith’s conclusion: “Documentary of the year, without a shadow of a doubt.” (October 21, 2004) Writing in the same paper, Madeleine Bunting described the series as “hugely important”. (October 25)

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No Sleepy Times Down South By Edward Teague

17 October 2004 — The New Dark Age

Roger (Rogelio) Pardo-Maurer IV is Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Western Hemisphere Affairs, and reports to Rumsfeld. Graduate in History from Yale and Economics from Cambridge (England), he contributed to 2002 National Security Strategy of the United States. Pardo-Maurer also served in combat with the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

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Information Clearing House Archive Part 2 November 10-17 2004

November 2004 — Information Clearing House

[I’ve been archiving ICH digests since early 2003. Unfortunately, an unknown number of the links are now dead, so I can’t guarantee that the link will take you where you want to go. WB]

Information Clearing House
Digest Part 2 November 10-17 2004
Date: 16 Nov 2004

800 Civilians Feared Dead in Fallujah :

At least 800 civilians have been killed during the U.S. military siege of Fallujah, a Red Cross official estimates.

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The more things change the more they stay the same By William Bowles

16 November 2004

Update: 17 November 2004

Coincidence? The surfacing of a videotape that allegedly shows the execution of Margaret Hassan coming as it does fresh on the heels of the video of the execution of a wounded Iraqi resistance fighter by US Marines seems to be part of a pattern of diverting attention away from embarrassing revelations for the occupiers. Could it be that the people who kidnapped Margaret Hassan are not what they seem? That her execution emerged at this critical time in the war for ‘hearts and minds’ strikes me as just too much of a coincidence. It’s as if she was held out of sight until needed. Of course, the media will focus on the immediate horror of it without considering the timing of her execution.

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Fallujah: Unpacking the press destroying the myths By William Bowles

12 November 2004

Western press coverage of the horror that is Fallujah has with the odd exception been nothing short of outrageous in its distortions and blatant propagandising. Even where it purports to be critical of the US in its destruction of Fallujah and its inhabitants, the sub-text continues to push the Western line of ‘foreign militants’, ‘mistakes’ and in the case of the following story, as some kind of retribution for the deaths of four US mercenaries and the beheadings by the mythical Abu al-Zarqawi.

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Media Lens: Legitimising Mass Slaughter in Fallujah – Part 2

11 November 2004 — Media Lens

“We’ll unleash the dogs of hell, we’ll unleash ’em… They don’t even know what’s coming – hell is coming. If there are civilians in there, they’re in the wrong place at the wrong time.” (Sergeant Sam Mortimer, US marines, Channel 4 News, November 8, 2004)

The Face Of Raw Power

Sometimes media choices are beyond all rational comprehension. On November 10, the BBC’s 18:00 news began with a report of Sudanese government actions against refugees in the Darfur region of the country. The conflict, the BBC reported, “is thought to have killed more than 70,000 people in a little over a year – nearly two million people have been forced from their homes into refugee camps.”

BBC foreign correspondent, Feargal Keane, reported that refugee shelters had been torn down by police. Video footage showed a village elder being kicked and beaten by police, tear gas was fired at women and children, a plastic bullet was fired at the BBC team. As police attempted to forcibly move the refugees, Keane noted that this represented “a clear breach of international law”.

Keane concluded:

“This was a day when the Sudanese government showed the face of raw power. When the international community was left powerless, and the most vulnerable, defenceless.” (BBC 18:00 News, November 10, 2004)

This did indeed represent an appalling abuse of defenceless people. But whereas the British media and public are not morally responsible for the abuses of the Sudanese government, we +are+ responsible when our own government shows “the face of raw power” to “the most vulnerable”. Can we imagine Keane, or any other BBC journalist, using similar language to describe our government’s actions?

Moreover, whereas the British public can do little to influence the actions of the Sudanese government, we have a very real ability to influence our own government through elections, protest and civil disobedience. In other words, by any sane moral standard, the actions of our government represent an incomparably +more+ important focus than the actions of the Sudanese government.

And whereas 70,000 people are estimated to have been killed in the Sudanese conflict in little more than a year, 100,000 civilians are estimated to have died as a result of our own government’s invasion of Iraq since March 2003. Whereas 2 million people are said to have been displaced in the Sudan, a quarter of a million people are estimated to have been displaced from Fallujah in just the last few weeks.

There is, readers will recall, one further difference. Whereas the Sudanese police were shown tear-gassing civilians in Keane’s report, US-UK forces are currently waging full-scale war on Iraqi civilian areas with main battle tanks, airburst firebombs, artillery barrages and helicopter gunships.

Which issue, then, should be prioritised in BBC news reporting?

And yet the BBC’s late news on November 10 began by devoting eight minutes to the Sudan story, followed by five minutes on Fallujah.

ITV – The Three Words

Over on ITV (November 10, 18:30), it is Cartoon Time as anchors Nick Owen and Andrea Catherwood stroll down the catwalk to bring us the latest news from Fallujah. This was explained with the help of computer animation: cartoon Humvees trundled along streets and cartoon tanks blasted snipers in cartoon buildings.

An outraged friend of ours asked this simple question, a question that is all but unthinkable to the media:

“What +right+ have they got to do what they’re doing to that city? What right?!”

It’s an interesting question. There were no WMDs, no links to al Qaeda, the civilian population was not being massacred by Saddam Hussein in the year prior to the war. So what actually +is+ our justification for waging full-scale war on Iraqi cities? Who are we to do it? How is it that we are helping the people we are destroying?

It is indeed like a cartoon – the US and UK governments keep running in mid-air, though any pretence of legal and moral justification has long since fallen away. But they do not fall because we have no democracy, no political opposition to establishment control, and no freedom of speech.

Our friend’s question does not exist for the elite media. For highly-trained, highly professional journalists the issue is more complex – there are caveats, nuances. But in truth, in their minds, this is just another campaign in the West’s permanent Just War. There are different units, different campaigns, different enemies – but it’s basically always the same righteous, liberating Just War.

So, for our media, Fallujah is on a par with the Battle for Normandy, it is another phase of Operation Desert Storm. We may be illegally attacking Third World residential areas housing thousands of helpless civilians, and a ragtag army of the people we came ‘to liberate’, but for our media it is the same Just War. Thus, anchorwoman Andrea Catherwood spoke over a map that might just as well have been of Arnhem:

“The US marines made steady progress… army chiefs say they have control of 70 percent of the city, including the strategically important Highway 10.”

But why is Highway 10 strategically important? What are US forces doing there? What right do they have to be demolishing this Third World city that has never threatened America or Britain?

ITV tells us simply that this is “a prime example of urban warfare” – of the kind we often see in our endless Just War.

What other truths do we need to know about this urban war? More cartoons: “The marines can call on some of the latest technology, like The Buffalo, that can locate and destroy mines and booby troops using a robot arm.”

A cartoon Buffalo is shown approaching a cartoon car, which explodes as the Buffalo’s extendable arm touches it. There’s more:

“They’ve also got the Packbot. It’s a small remote-controlled robot fitted with a camera which can climb stairs and even open cupboards to search houses and other buildings for explosives.”

A black and silver cartoon robot is shown climbing a block on a roof and touching it with a probe. This feels like an outtake from a programme on space exploration. But what is being explored here is a different moral universe – one inhabited by professional executives working for the ITV subsidiary of The Corporation.

Finally we are told: “Paul Davies reports on a day of urban warfare.”

We see footage of a marine in action. The marine turns and growls to camera:

“We’re going in, we’re taking the city this time.”

This is a classic moment from Hollywood versions of the Just War. This is John Wayne, Richard Widmark, Tom Hanks – we recognise this dialogue, we recognise this figure.

Davies repeats the marine’s tough-guy promise, savours it, adding: “It’s no idle boast, but it’s been achieved the hard way.” This, also, is straight out of Hollywood.

We see grainy shots of marines firing: “These remarkable images sent back over shaky video phones tell a story just about as far away from the clinical, long-range warfare the Americans would prefer to wage as it’s possible to be.”

Yes, how ironic for the US forces – they would surely prefer long-range combat and “clinical” killing. It’s an interesting point, isn’t it, as the superpower wages a war of colonial conquest on impoverished Third World streets? Davies continues:

“But the swift progress of this operation has been at a cost. Even before today’s street battles, ten American soldiers had been killed, more than 40 marines and their Iraqi allies wounded. There are no accurate figures on the number of militants dead, or civilian casualties.”

Throughout the whole report, these are the words we have been waiting for, and there are three of them: “or civilian casualties”. Nothing more was said on the matter.

Are we to understand, then, that because there are no +accurate+ figures, the issue need not be discussed at all? Are we to understand that it is enough to drool over Buffalos, Packbots, tank attacks on Highway 10, how the marines are “going in”, without discussing the fate of the innocent human beings being slaughtered in this city? Is this a human response to the assault on Fallujah? Is this even sane? Has there been any sense in TV reporting that this killing is, in fact, illegal?

After seeing ITV’s earlier lunchtime news, we had written to the editor and director of the programme on the same day. This is what we sent:

Dear Nick Rabin and Jane Thompson

Paul Davies’ claim on today’s ITV lunchtime news that “there is no word yet of civilian casualties” in Fallujah is incorrect. The UN’s IRIN agency [United Nations Integrated Regional Information Network] channelled this report from Red Crescent today:

IRAQ: Medical needs massive in Fallujah – Red Crescent

FALLUJAH, 10 November (IRIN) – Twenty doctors along with dozen of Iraqis were killed by a US air strike on a government clinic on Tuesday in the centre of Fallujah, 60 km west of Baghdad according to Dr Sami al-Jumaili, who survived the strike.

“In the early morning the US attacked the clinic, a place that we were using for treating the injured people in the city. A girl and ten-year-old boy, I really don’t know if they want to tackle the insurgents or the innocent civilians from the city,” al-Jumaili told IRIN.

According to the health worker, the building was one of three community clinics that had been receiving civilians wounded since the assault on the city by US and Iraqi troops to destroy insurgents began on Monday. He said that the clinic was already running out from medicines and the only ambulance that was left in the city had also been hit by US fire.

People in the town say that hundred of houses have also been destroyed and other says that they are running out water and food, adding that shops and markets have been closed and there is no place to source food. Civilians are fearful that if they go out they could be targeted by US troops, now controlling much of the north and centre of the city.

Water and electricity had also been cut off since Sunday, and doctors say that together with the chronic lack of supplies, there is not a single surgeon in the city. Without electricity medical staff cannot keep blood refrigerated. Communication has also difficult, with telephones working only sporadically.”

Not a word of this, or material like it, appeared on ITV on November 10.

ITV’s evening news (18:30) continued to limit itself to the three words: “or civilian casualties”. The late news (22:30) included additional combat footage, but the three words remained.


The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. In writing letters to journalists, we strongly urge readers to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

Write to Nick Owen:

Write to Andrea Catherwood

Write to Paul Davies

Write to ITN producer Nick Rabin:

Write to ITN news director Jane Thompson:

Write to Paul Wood

Write to Helen Boaden, director of BBC News

Write to Roger Mosey, head of BBC TV news

Please also send all emails to us at Media Lens:

Visit the Media Lens website:

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Weakness Through Strength By William Bowles

10 November 2004

As Fallujah burns and scores of civilians die at the hands of the Bush/Blair criminal action, BBC Radio Orwell talks glibly of “mopping up operations”.

No one doubts the ability of the US and its handmaiden, the UK to turn Fallujah into a pile of rubble, destroying is the one proven ability of imperialism that no one (in their right mind) can deny, as a decade of unparalleled destruction in Vietnam demonstrates.

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Media Lens: Siding with Iraq – Part 2

10 November 2004 — Media Lens

Johann Hari Responds

On October 29, we sent out Part 1 of this Media Alert. We noted how Independent columnist Johann Hari had declared that his support for war in Iraq was qualified by an important caveat:

“If you go into a war saying you want to side with the Iraqi people then you damn well have to carry on supporting the Iraqi people afterwards.”

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Information Clearing House Archive Part 1 November 1-9 2004

November 2004 — Information Clearing House

[I’ve been archiving ICH digests since early 2003. Unfortunately, an unknown number of the links are now dead, so I can’t guarantee that the link will take you where you want to go. WB]

Information Clearing House
Digest November 1-9 2004
Date: 9 Nov 2004

It’s the people stupid!

By Jerry Ghinelli

“Good Americans” are repulsed by a couple of gays holding hands in public, but not by the severed limbs and destruction of a poor and impoverished people in an illegal and immoral attack on a country that was never a threat to the fiercest military machine in the history of the planet Earth.

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Media Lens: The BBC – Legitimising Mass Slaughter in Fallujah – Part 1

8 November 2004 — Media Lens

Introduction – Pacifying The Population

In 1984, Edward Herman and Frank Brodhead described how “demonstration elections” are “organised and staged by a foreign power primarily to pacify a restive home population, reassuring it that ongoing interventionary processes are legitimate and appreciated by their foreign objects.” (Herman and Brodhead, Demonstration Elections, South End Press, 1984, p.5)

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On the Road to Fallujah By William Bowles

6 November 2004

Ship me somewhere east of Suez, where the best is like the worst,
Where there ar’n’t no Ten Commandments an’ a man can raise a thirst.

Mandalay. Rudyard Kipling

In days of ‘yore’ when the Brits had an empire they used to justify their colonial ‘adventures’ with talk of a ‘civilising mission’ with of course, the missionaries bringing up the rear guard armed to their dog-collared teeth with barrels of bibles with which to enlighten the ‘heathen’ or the ‘pagan’, or whatever suitable term justified the enterprise to their alleged Christian values.

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