Sunday, 23 October 2005 01:00

The Hindujas –brothers in arms?


Last Thursday’s Newsnight programme did not go to air as originally planned. Earlier, on the same day, the following was sent out in an email from the BBC to the show’s mailing list.

“…we also have a big Newsnight investigation tonight. For over 10 years the UK has held an arms embargo against Sudan. Some of the tightest laws in the world have been drafted to prevent British subjects and residents sending prohibited military goods to countries ravaged by war. But when an Indian company owned by some of the richest men in the world announced it had struck a deal to sell army trucks to the Sudanese government, Newsnight decided to look into it. Did the British based businessmen involved in that deal break the embargo? We'll bring you Mark Thomas's investigation…”

The Story was not aired. The Subjects of the investigation are members of the Hinduja family.

According to US military sources Psyops units are currently active in Iraq scoping out venues for voter registration for elections in Autumn 2005.
According to Kenneth Anthony a 2nd lieutenant with the 155th Brigade Combat Team in Iraq in a report in the Mississippi Daily Journal, 'My platoon was escorting the PSYOPS team (psychological operations) to the police station to conduct an assessment of its suitability as a voter registration site for the elections in the fall.'

As is well known the object of psyops in the US and UK militrary is to manipulate perceptions (in Iraq and elsewhere) in favour military and government interests. Making the local police station a voter registration centre in an area of Iraq where the police are regarded as collaborators with the occupation does not suggest a great desire for maximising voter registration. More on this as we hear about it...

'Independence is only a first step in Iraq' 7/18/2005 6:58:26 AM Daily Journal BY KENNETH ANTHONY Special to the Journal

Wednesday, 23 March 2005 01:00

Weapons of Mass Deception


Review of Weapons of Mass Deception – a film by Danny Schechter

“If you’re going to have shock and awe you need somebody to record it. They needed the media to fight this war. The war was set up to be recorded by the media.” Robert Young-Pelton

Another American media documentary. Perhaps it's time for some British and European ones. Nevertheless, this analysis of US mainstream media coverage in the run-up to the Iraq war and its aftermath is insightful, occasionally upsetting and even amusing in parts.

Schechter’s ‘dissection’ as he calls it (after his online blog), amongst other things, explains the effect that the process of embedding has had on (mainly U.S.) media output from the Iraq war. Christine Amanpour from CNN states that

“Behind the backs of the field reporters, field producers and crews on the ground our bosses made a deal with the establishment to create ‘pools’, what I call ‘ball and chain’, handcuffed, managed news reporting.”

There was in fact a 12 page contract signed by network executives regarding the behaviour of embedded journalists setting out the rules by which journalists had to abide. The film also shows a board in a British Army office listing subjects to be avoided by media embeds (including depleted uranium and bombing accuracy).

Schechter’s premise about embedding is that the pro-administration reports produced by embeds may not necessarily be deliberate attempts at falsification by journalists. Rather the embedding process produces a sense of loyalty by placing an unarmed individual under the protection of a group of armed soldiers. Journalists then have to rely upon the soldiers for protection, shelter, food and so on. The natural reaction to a situation such as this is to become sympathetic toward those who are providing for you (essentially the Stockholm syndrome). The suggestion is that military psychological operations units (Psy-Ops) knew this was likely to be the outcome of embedding and therefore encouraged this style of reporting.

The film suggests that because much of the American news media is based in New York many journalists therefore took 9/11 very personally, leading to statements like

“I am willing to give the President and the military the benefit of any doubt.” Dan Rather CBS (22/9/01)

A ‘patriotic correctness’ swept through the US media after 9/11 with FOX becoming known in the industry as the ‘patriotism police’. This meant that the Bush administration was able to push the war through without serious discussion. Some commentators in the film say that the war would not have been possible without the active support of the mainstream media. US networks would not run paid anti-war commercials made by activists. In the run up to the war 71% of sources used on mainstream TV were pro-war: in contrast only 3% of sources were identifiably anti-war Fairness and Accurary in reporting (FAIR).

Schechter also accuses the US media of ignoring context and background (e.g. how did Saddam get power and weapons in the first place?). This is an accusation frequently leveled at both UK and US media in relation to Israel-Palestine and other conflicts.

Of particular interest are camcorder recordings of US military ‘Media On the Battlefield’ training exercises and similar exercises for journalists. These are conducted in order to teach soldiers how to talk to media whilst undertaking military operations. The film suggests that they are also designed to create an unwarranted sense of danger in the mind of journalists. A question that arises from this is how much duress are the soldiers actually under whilst embedded journalists talk to them? This is partially answered by the fact that the US divisions engaged in most combat in Iraq were the ones that were covered least by the media.

Schechter’s comments on reporting of anti-war demonstrations in the US seem remarkably reminiscent of the coverage in the UK….

“Mainstream media sort of ‘ghettoizes’ this coverage and doesn’t allow it to really enter into the mainstream discourse. They’ll report it, they’ll show the crowd as a mass, they might show some soundbites but they won’t go into what the significance of this movement is.”

This is a good film but there are some problems with it. Some issues are mentioned but not fully explored. The growth of independent media as a reaction to mainstream media always ‘taking the pipe’ is one example. He consistently hints at news corporations making money out of war but doesn’t produce many figures (though he does mention that General Electric got $600m of contracts in Iraq and that it is the parent company of NBC). Schechter’s ‘personal story’ is also slightly clumsily woven through the film to give it more of a narrative.

There is an interesting section about the contrast between US, European and Arabic coverage of the war. Arabic networks tended to show more of the actual mess that’s caused when a bomb hits a building (the film itself actually has plenty of this) whereas US networks tended to focus more on the ‘tactical’ side. John Donovan from ABC news says there is a “long-standing practice [not to] put gore on television”. This, combined with video enhancement techniques, computer graphics etc., makes the coverage seem more like a computer game than a war. This can leave the public unaware of the full implications of what is being undertaken in their name.

Another deeply troubling moment in the film is the footage of the attack on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad which caused injuriy and led to the death of two journalists. The footage shows a tank which has not been fired upon shelling the hotel. It then cuts to the aftermath of an explosion inside the Palestine Hotel as dead and wounded are attended to. The implication is that this was deliberate targeting of non-embedded journalists.

An amusing moment comes when it is revealed that a suggestion for the name of the operation in Iraq – ‘Operation Iraqi Liberation’ was turned down on account of the fact that the Acronym was ‘OIL’ .

Available to buy at wmdthefilm . Danny Schechter’s book ‘The More You Watch The Less You Know’ is also worth a look.

Added: March 23rd 2005
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Related Link: wmd the film
Language: english

BBC Panorama'’s John Ware aired a documentary on 30 July 2006 aimed at showing how funds raised by British charity Interpal have helped Hamas.

Subsequent criticisms of Ware have pointed out that the Board of Deputies of British Jews had to settle out of court with Interpal last year after calling them a 'terrorist organisation'. It has to be noted though that Ware was more clever. All he is saying is that Interpal had 'helped build Hamas into the popular movement it is today'. As such, these are still preposterous grounds for a documentary. It is something intangible that nobody could know or prove. Ware consequently had to clutch at various straws to try and construct a case. He also employed some very questionable methods.

Tuesday, 15 August 2006 11:07

The spin machine behind a failed war


So Israel’'s war against Hezbollah has failed. After a month of barbaric bombing that has left over 1,000 Lebanese dead and an estimated one million homeless, Israel has failed to beat one of its arch enemies. Instead Hezbollah’s reputation has been “lionised across the Arab world”, according to veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk of the Independent. Israel’s defeat leaves US policy in the region in tatters, for Israel’s attack on Hezbollah was meant to be a dry run for an American strike against Iran.

Israeli and American foreign policy in the Middle East is now essentially identical and working in tandem. According to another veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, who wrote in the New Yorker this weekend that even before Hezbollah had kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, Israel officials had visited Washington “to get a green light for the bombing operation.”

Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei

In 2005, Mohammad El Baradei was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his outstanding work in the international control of nuclear weapons.  In 2003, El Baradei had proposed a verifiable ban on the production of weapons grade fissile material - a positive move that would severely limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons.  

In a vote of the Disarmament Committee of the United Nations (UN), one and only one nation voted against El Baradei's proposal - George Bush's America.  In that same vote, Israel abstained, apparently fearing international interference with their own outlaw nuclear weapons programme, and Britain abstained in an act of diplomatic fealty to the 'special relationship' between Tony Blair and George Bush.  The final tally was 147 nations to one with the two abstentions.  In a later vote of the entire UN General Assembly, Israel and Britain abstained, while America and Palau voted against El Baradei's verifiable ban on fission, and 179 nations voted in favor of his proposal.  The final vote on that occasion was 179 in favor, 2 opposed (US and Palau) and 2 abstentions (Israel and Britain).

El Baradei's proposal would monitor all nuclear fission and guarantee that non-nuclear weapons states would be able to obtain adequate supplies for their non-military usage of enriched plutonium.

Israeli billionaire Haim Saban endorses the ‘Governator’ - and so do Stephen Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg
Israeli billionaire Haim Saban endorses the ‘Governator’ - and so do Stephen Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg

Israeli billionaire Haim Saban endorses the ‘Governator’ - and so do Stephen Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg

As Israel prepares for round two in its battle against Hizbullah, and Iran moves onto a war footing with a defensive mobilization and with the US already at war in the Middle East, the California governor's race has become a crucible of American politics.  In the politically charged world of Hollywood, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has triggered a minor realignment on the Democratic right and some familiar names are now in the process of moving across the partisan divide.   

Led by billionaire media mogul, Haim Saban, several prominent Hollywood Democrats:  James Campbell, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jerry Zucker and and Bud Yorkin have announced their support for the Republican ‘Governorator,’ Arnold Schwarzenegger, who once pitched a film that featured an unlikely hero, an "Everyman" characterized as a kind and decent Nazi caught up in the violent conflict of the Second World War.  How Schwarzenegger planned to treat his character’s anti-Semitism remains obscure.

Andy Rowell, 9 May 2005

No matter how long he stays Prime Minister, whether it is just for one year or a full term of office, one thing is certain. Tony Blair will continue to be haunted by the legacy of the Iraq war and the ghosts of dead British servicemen. They follow him everywhere he goes. And now they could land him in jail as a war criminal.
Tuesday, 28 June 2005 23:15

Iraq: Lies, Half-truths & Omissions

David Morrison, 28 June, 2005

In this pamphlet David Morrison provides a comprehensive account of the series of lies, half-truths and omissions employed by the British government to rationalize its planned aggression against the sovereign nation of Iraq.

Thursday, 30 June 2005 07:15

Blair’s Big Lie

David Morrison, 30 June 2005

In the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, the Prime Minister continually stated that his objective was the disarmament of Iraq as laid down in Security Council resolutions, and not regime change.  For example, on 25 February 2003, he told the House of Commons:


“I detest his [Saddam Hussein’s] regime – I hope most people do – but even now, he could save it by complying with the UN's demand. Even now, we are prepared to go the extra step to achieve disarmament peacefully.”


In fact, a year earlier, the Prime Minister had already offered his wholehearted support to President Bush in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.