Bush worse than Saddam, Iraqi who toppled Saddam statue says

Saddam statue falls in 2003

From Stories in America blog:

Regrets from the Man Who Brought Down Saddam

His hands were bleeding and his eyes filled with tears as, four years ago, he slammed a sledgehammer into the tiled plinth that held a 20ft bronze statue of Saddam Hussein.

Then Kadhim al-Jubouri spoke of his joy at being the leader of the crowd that toppled the statue in Baghdad’s Firdous Square. Now, he is filled with nothing but regret.

The moment became symbolic across the world as it signalled the fall of the dictator.

Wearing a black vest, Mr al-Jubouri, an Iraqi weightlifting champion, pounded through the concrete in an attempt to smash the statue and all it meant to him.

Now, on the fourth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq, he says: “I really regret bringing down the statue.

The Americans are worse than the dictatorship. Every day is worse than the previous day.”

The weightlifter had also been a mechanic and had felt the full weight of Saddam’s regime when he was sent to Abu Ghraib prison by the Iraqi leader’s son, Uday, after complaining that he had not been paid for fixing his motorcycle.

He explained: “There were lots of people from my tribe who were also put in prison or hanged.

It became my dream ever since I saw them building that statue to one day topple it.”

Yet he now says he would prefer to be living under Saddam than under US occupation.

Mr Kadhim al-Jubouri is not alone on this.

90% of Iraqis see things similarly.

Including maybe the most pro Bush politician in Iraq, Iyad Allawi.

As for the toppling of the statue in 2003: a big media show was built around it by the US government and corporate media.

Saddam statue toppled in 2003, photo showing small crowd size

Big media images were from angles that disguised that few people were present on Baghdad’s Firdous Square.

Most of those were US soldiers, and exile Iraqis flown in with very unpopular politician, Ahmed Chalabi, convicted to a long prison term for fraud in Jordan; said to be a US-Iranian secret services double agent.

Most Iraqis opposed Saddam Hussein; however, even in April 2003, many already suspected that Bush rule might become even worse than Saddam Hussein rule.

Today, these views are even stronger. Many of those who in 2003 thought freedom had come, have found out that though Saddam might be gone, tyranny was definitely not. On public opinion polls in Iraq: Halliburton Polls, by Arianna Huffington.

Time to bring down Bush, Blair, and their accomplices.

Chalabi’s ex sidekick Makiya now: here.

Chalabi, ‘Curveball‘, and ‘WMD‘: here.

Pollution in Iraq: here.

27 thoughts on “Bush worse than Saddam, Iraqi who toppled Saddam statue says

  1. read this and throw up
    Posted by: “hapi22” hapi22@earthlink.net robinsegg
    Mon Mar 19, 2007 4:35 pm (PST)

    I almost lost my lunch when I read this latest pronouncement from
    Condoleezza Rice.

    Will some one PLEASE ask her what “sacrifice” SHE has made.

    And, how DARE she say the “sacrifice” was “worth” it

    What has SHE sacrificed?

    Did she have to buy one fewer pairs of Ferragamo shoes?

    Did she have to have one less hors d’oeuvre at the last D.C. cocktail party?

    What the hell sacrifice has SHE made?

    And how dare she talk about the death and maiming of others as “worth
    the sacrifice”?

    **Rice: Iraq War ‘Worth the Sacrifice’*

    Secretary Asks for Patience as Deadly Bombings Rock Baghdad and Kirkuk*

    by Karin Brulliard and Howard Schneider/
    The Washington Post
    March 19, 2007/

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this morning asked Americans “to
    be patient” as the war in Iraq entered its fifth year, acknowledging
    early missteps in the conflict but saying “it is worth the sacrifice” to
    have toppled former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

    You can read the rest of this crap at:


  2. Take Action: Demand Better Iraq War Coverage
    Posted by: “cpmondello” cpmondello@yahoo.com cpmondello
    Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:16 pm (PST)
    Take Action: Demand Better Iraq War Coverage
    By MediaChannel.

    Join MediaChannel.org [http://MediaChannel.org] and hundreds of thousands of Americans in calling on U.S. media outlets to do a better job of reporting on the war in Iraq and the anti-war movement protests against it.

    As the fifth year of the occupation of Iraq begins, as the conflict in Afghanistan escalates and as threat of war with Iran builds, can we honestly say that our media is doing a better job than it did in the days when it shamelessly served as a cheerleader for the occupation of Iraq?

    Aren’t you upset when you see the same media/propaganda techniques that led to the catastrophe in Iraq being deployed again to encourage violence against Tehran?

    While there has been some improvements in coverage as Congressional opposition mounts, the anti-war movement, the voices from the region and critical perspectives are still being marginalized. US Goverenment sources are still being given more credence than the ideas of those who opposed the war. We need real journalism, not jingoism.

    It’s Time to Make the US Media Accountable!

    Are you willing to join and support Mediachannel’s “TELL THE TRUTH” campaign? Help us press the press and move the media to tell the truth and report in more balanced manner, the way so many Canadian and European outlets seem to be able to do.


  3. ABC (Under)counting Iraqi Dead
    Posted by: “Corey” cpmondello@yahoo.com cpmondello
    Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:06 pm (PST)

    Action Alert: ABC (Under)counting Iraqi Dead

    March 22 2007


    ABC News is marking the anniversary of the start of the Iraq War this week by reporting on its major survey of Iraqi public opinion. But when it comes to one fundamental tally of the cost of the war—the number of Iraqis who have been killed by the war—top ABC anchors are minimizing the death toll.

    On the Sunday morning show This Week (3/18/07), George Stephanopoulos reported: “More than 3,200 U.S. military dead. At least 24,000 wounded. About 60,000 Iraqis killed.” The next day on Good Morning America, his ABC colleague Diane Sawyer mentioned almost the same figures: “3,218 U.S. military fatalities and 24,042 U.S. wounded, not to mention the some 60,000 Iraqis who have been killed.”

    No source was given for the 60,000 figure by either anchor. The figure resembles the totals for Iraqi civilian deaths reported in English-language news reports by the Iraqi Body Count (IBC) project: between 59,326 and 65,160. (George W. Bush also appeared to rely on IBC’s figures when asked in December 2005 how many Iraqis had been killed in the war; he gave the number of 30,000, which was close to IBC’s tally at the time.)

    Using IBC’s count as an estimate of how many Iraqis have died in the war is sloppy reporting, however. For one thing, it is explicitly a count of *civilian* deaths, ignoring Iraqi combatants who died either resisting the U.S. invasion and occupation or defending the U.S.-backed government. Estimates for the number of Iraqi combatants killed in the initial invasion range from 7,600-10,800 (Project on Defense Alternatives, 10/20/03) to 13,500-45,000 (London Guardian, 5/28/03); the total of Iraqis killed fighting the U.S. has surely increased substantially in the four years that followed.

    As for Iraqi forces allied with the U.S., the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count website has counted 6,301 deaths of Iraqi police and military, based on news reports, up to March 20, 2007. It’s striking that even these allied deaths—nearly twice the number of U.S. forces killed—are often ignored in U.S. press accounts.

    Any total based on official recordkeeping or news reports is almost certainly going to be incomplete—particularly in a country like Iraq, where reporters’ well-grounded fear of being attacked by either side results in them seldom venturing out of Baghdad (or into most neighborhoods in Baghdad, for that matter). As IBC itself notes on its website, “It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported.”

    In countries with functioning governmental institutions, reporters can rely on official censuses or health records. In Iraq, however, a proposed census was vetoed by the U.S. occupation government (Extra!, 3-4/04), and at this point it would probably be too dangerous to conduct one. And the Iraqi Ministry of Health, which maintains morgues and issues death certificates, has close ties to Shiite death squads, according to the U.S. military, making it a questionable source for casualty statistics (Extra! Update, 2/07). For what it’s worth, the United Nations reviewed government records and death certificates and reported a civilian death toll of 34,000 for 2006 alone (New York Times, 1/17/07). And Iraqi Health Minister Ali al-Shamari estimated in November 2006 that 100,000 to 150,000 Iraqis had been killed by violent acts since early 2004.

    The standard way to estimate death tolls in war-torn areas is to use epidemiological surveys based on a random sampling of the population. The United Nations made one such survey in 2004, estimating 24,000 war-related deaths in roughly the first year of the conflict. Using that as a minimum annual figure—since it’s recognized that violence has greatly intensified since the first year of the occupation—produces roughly 100,000 as a conservative estimate of Iraqi deaths. A comprehensive demographic survey by Johns Hopkins University published in the medical journal Lancet (10/21/06) arrived at a much higher death toll for the Iraq War: between 400,000 and 900,000 “excess” deaths by violence in Iraq-civilians and combatants-since the beginning of the U.S. invasion, with 600,000 being the mostly likely statistical estimate.

    Given the difficulties inherit in gathering precise data on Iraqi deaths, journalists should cite a plausible range of casualty estimates, rather than using the lowest estimate available—as Sawyer and Stephanopoulos have done.

    In February, the Associated Press released a poll that found that while the U.S. public knows the death toll for U.S.
    servicemembers in Iraq, the median estimate for Iraqi deaths was 9,890. The findings are a damning indictment of the corporate media’s reporting on Iraq. Journalists like Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos don’t make things any better by severely low-balling the number of Iraqis who have died as a result of the war.

    ACTION: Encourage ABC to use more accurate estimates of Iraqi deaths when reporting on the issue. Ask them to explain how they arrived at their 60,000 figure.

    ABC’s This Week
    ABC’s Good Morning America
    Comment form


  4. Fake News War
    Posted by: “Corey” cpmondello@yahoo.com cpmondello
    Thu Mar 22, 2007 2:09 pm (PST)
    Fake News War

    By Robert Love.

    March 15, 2007


    Just before his famous confrontation with Tucker Carlson on CNN ’s Crossfire two years ago, Jon Stewart was introduced as “the most trusted name in fake news.” No argument there. Stewart, as everyone knows, is the host of The Daily Show, a satirical news program that has been running since 1996 and has spun off the equally funny and successful Colbert Report. Together these shows are broadcast (back to back) more than twenty-three times a week, “from Comedy Central’s World News Headquarters in New York,” thus transforming a modest side-street studio on Manhattan’s West Side into the undisputed locus of fake news.

    The trope itself sounds so modern, so hip, so Gawkerish when attached to the likes of Stewart or Stephen Colbert, or dropped from the lips of the ex-Saturday Night Live “Weekend Update” anchor Tina Fey, who declared as she departed SNL, “I’m out of the fake news business.” For the rest of us, we’re knee deep in the fake stuff and sinking fast. It comes at us from every quarter of the media—old and new—not just as satire but disguised as the real thing, secretly paid for by folks who want to remain in the shadows. And though much of it is clever, it’s not all funny.

    Fake news arrives on doorsteps around the world every day, paid for by You, Time magazine Person of the Year, a.k.a. Joe and Jane Citizen, in one way or another. Take for instance, the U.S. government’s 2005 initiative to plant “positive news” in Iraqi newspapers, part of a $300 million U.S. effort to sway public opinion about the war. And remember Armstrong Williams, the conservative columnist who was hired on the down low to act as a $240,000 sock puppet for the president’s No Child Left Behind program? Williams’s readers had no idea he was a paid propagandist until the Justice Department started looking into allegations of fraud in his billing practices.

    Fake news has had its lush innings. The Bush administration has worked hand-in-glove with big business to make sure of it. Together, they’ve credentialed fringe scientists and fake experts and sent them in to muddy scientific debates on global warming, stem cell research, evolution, and other matters. And as if that weren’t enough, the Department of Health and Human Services got caught producing a series of deceptive video news releases— vnr s in p.r.-industry parlance—touting the administration’s Medicare plan. The segments, paid political announcements really, ended with a fake journalist signing off like a real one—”In Washington, I’m Karen Ryan reporting,” and they ran on local news shows all over the country without disclosure. All of this fakery taken together, it may be fair to say that the nation’s capital has been giving Comedy Central a run for its money as the real home of fake news.

    But let’s dispense with the satire, whose intentions are as plain as Colbert’s arched eyebrow. And let’s step around the notion of fake news as wrong news: The 1948 presidential election blunder “Dewey Defeats Truman,” for instance, or even the New York Post’s howler from the 2004 campaign, “Dem Picks Gephardt as VP candidate.” Those are honest mistakes, set loose by overweening editors perhaps, but never with the intention to deceive. That wasn’t always the case, as we shall see. In the early days of American journalism, newspapers trafficked in intentional, entertaining hoaxes, a somewhat puzzling period in our history. In modern times, hoaxes have migrated from the mainstream papers to the tabloid outriders like the old National Enquirer, the new Globe, and the hoaxiest of them all, The Weekly World News, purveyor of the “Bat Boy” cover stories.

    The mainstream press covers itself with the mantle of authority now. Six of ten Americans polled in 2005 trusted “the media” to report the news “fully, fairly and accurately,” a slight decline from the high-water mark of seven-in-ten during the Woodward-and-Bernstein seventies. What’s more, in a veracity dogfight between the press and the government, Americans say they trust the media by a margin of nearly two to one.

    But here’s a question: Can we continue to trust ourselves? Are we prepared for the global, 24-7 fake news cage match that will dominate journalism in the twenty-first century? Let’s call it Factual Fantasy: Attack of the Ax-Grinding Insiders. The boundaries have vanished, the gloves are off, our opponents are legion and fueled with espresso. Both cnn and The New York Times were used by the U.S. military as unwitting co-conspirators in spreading false information, a tactic known as psychological operations, part of an effort to convince Americans the invasion of Iraq was a necessary piece of the war on terror.

    But let’s not leave out the technology. Leaks may be the time-tested tactic for manipulating the press, but the new digital toolbox has given third-party players—government, industry, politicians, you name ’em—sleeker weapons and greater power to turn the authority of the press to their own ends: to disseminate propaganda, disinformation, advertising, politically strategic misinformation—to in effect use the media to distort reality. Besides a vast and sophisticated degree of diligence, the rising generation of journalists would be wise to observe two rules for working in this new environment: Beware of profiteers and hyper-patriots, and check out a little history—lest it repeat itself.

    Fake news has been with us for a long time. Documented cases predate the modern media, reaching as far into the past as a bogus eighth century edict said to be the pope-friendly words of the Roman emperor Constantine. There are plenty of reports of forgeries and trickeries in British newspapers in the eighteenth century. But the actual term “fake news”—two delicious little darts of malice (and a headline-ready sneer if ever there was one)—seems to have arisen in late nineteenth century America, when a rush of emerging technologies intersected with newsgathering practices during a boom time for newspapers.

    The impact of new technology is hard to overestimate. The telegraph was followed by trans-Atlantic and transcontinental cables, linotype, high-speed electric presses and halftone photo printing—wireless gave way to the telephone. The nation, doubled in population and literacy from Civil War days, demanded a constant supply of fresh news, so the media grew additional limbs as fast as it could. Newly minted news bureaus and press associations recruited boy and girl reporters from classified ads—”Reporting And Journalism Taught Free Of Charge”—and sent their cubs off to dig up hot stories, truth be damned, to sell to the dailies.

    By the turn of the century, the preponderance of fakery was reaching disturbing proportions, according to the critic and journalist J.B. Montgomery-M’Govern. “Fake journalism,” he wrote in Arena, an influential monthly of the period, “is resorted to chiefly by news bureaus, press associations and organizations of that sort, which supply nearly all the metropolitan Sunday papers and many of the dailies with their most sensational ‘stories.’”

    Montgomery-M’Govern delivers a taxonomy of fakers’ techniques, including the use of the “stand-for,” in which a reputable person agrees to an outrageous lie for the attendant free publicity; the “combine,” in which a group of reporters concoct and then verify a false story; the “fake libel” plant, in which editors are duped by conspirators into running false and litigious articles; the “alleged cable news” story, in which so-called “foreign reports,” dashed off in the newsroom or a downtown press association, are topped with a foreign dateline and published as truth. The editors of huge Sunday editions, with their big appetites for the juiciest stuff (what M-M calls “Sunday stories”) naturally set the bar lower for veracity than they did for hot-blooded emotional impact.

    Have I mentioned that news was suddenly big money? By the century’s turn, the tallest buildings in New York and San Francisco were both owned by newspapers. And the business became so hypercompetitive that some reporters not only made things up but stole those fake scoops and “specials” from one another with impunity. The Chicago Associated-Press fell into a trap set by a suspicious client, who set loose a rumor at two in the morning that President Grover Cleveland had been assassinated! True to its reputation, Chicago AP ran with it—no fact-checking here—and put it up on the wires. The assassination story ran in newspapers all over the country the next day, amid much chuckling and finger pointing.

    The further away the newsworthy event, the more likely it was to involve fakery. bogus foreign news ran the headline in The Washington Post of February 22, 1903, but the subheads that followed it are so illustrative as to deserve full reproduction below.





    It was a global problem. Even twenty true words cabled from London about an Indian Ocean hurricane could grow to a story ten times that length, padded out with imaginary details and encyclopedia facts. Mo’ words, mo’ money.

    The loudest whoops at the fake news fiesta were shouted at William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal. Hearst, the legendary publisher and proud leading light of the “yellow press,” propounded two combustible ideas at the height of his influence in the late 1890s. First, he believed in the “journalism of action,” an activist press solving crimes, supporting charities, investigating corruption—taking charge in the arenas of national and international affairs. Second, he held unvarnished truth to be a somewhat negotiable commodity, especially when its subversion could lead to profit or power.
    By 1897, the stage was set for a little international combustion. Cuba, ruled as a Spanish colony since 1511, had grown an insurgency, which was put down with terrific cruelty by its European overlords. In the U.S. there was a growing sentiment for a free and independent Cuba, along with the feeling that we should be mobilized for war to help out. Teddy Roosevelt, Joseph Pulitzer, and Hearst, among many others, felt that aggression was the proper response, but President McKinley was slow to act. And so began the first privately funded propaganda push to war in modern media history.

    It kicked off in earnest on February 15, 1898, when the warship USS Maine, docked in Havana Harbor, exploded, killing 266 crewmen. Hearst first placed an ad offering “$50,000 reward! For the Detection of the Perpetrator of the Maine Outrage!” He then threw all of his paper’s resources at covering the explosion and its investigation, sending boatloads of reporters and illustrators to Cuba and Key West. Hearst’s Journal—along with Pulitzer’s World—not only produced the bulk of the news coming out of Cuba, but within days began spinning it to blame Spain for the explosion.
    Competing papers cried foul! “Nothing so disgraceful as the behavior of these two newspapers has ever been known in the history of journalism,” wrote E.L. Godkin in the New York Evening Post. He alleged “gross misrepresentation of the facts, deliberate intervention of tales calculated to excite the public and wanton recklessness in construction of headlines.”

    Nevertheless it was headlines that propelled the United States to war with Spain, headlines that swayed the populace with somewhat dubious evidence. War was declared and in two weeks it was over; we had freed Cuba, gained three
    new territories, and ended Spain’s influence in the Western Hemisphere.

    Okay, headlines can lie, but can you better determine the truth in a photo or the voice of a trusted colleague? With the advent of faster and easier halftone reproduction in the 1920s came the photo-driven tabloid newspapers like the New York Illustrated Daily News. In 1924 the most tabloidy of all tabloids arrived, the New York Evening Graphic (nicknamed the Porno-graphic), which launched the gossip careers of Ed Sullivan and Walter Winchell and the vaunted Composograph photo. The Composograph was actually a technique that combined real and staged pictures to depict events where no cameras had ventured. The Graphic’s editors had a blast with the pop star Rudolph Valentino, documenting the singer’s unsuccessful surgery, funeral, and his meeting in heaven with the departed Enrico Caruso—the headline: rudy meets caruso! “Tenor’s Spirit Speaks!”

    Telephones meant faster, more accurate newsgathering at a time when speed was prized and “extra” editions meant extra profits. The telephone necessitated the creation of two-man urban reporting teams—leg men and rewrite men—which irritated H.L. Mencken to no end. Journalism, he wrote in 1927,
    is in a low state, mainly due to the decay of the old-time reporter, the heart and soul of the American newspapers of the last generation. The current rush to get upon the streets with hot news, even at the cost of printing only half of it, has pretty well destroyed all his old qualities. He no longer writes what he has seen and heard; he telephones it to a remote and impersonal rewrite man….But it must be manifest that, hanging on his telephone, maybe miles away from the event he is describing, he is completely unable to get into his description any of the vividness of a thing actually seen. He does the best he can, but that best is to the reporting of a fairer era as a mummy is to a man.

    Of course Mencken’s selective memory harks back to the glory days of yellow journalism, when the worst (or best) fakery in history took place, but never mind that. He seems to have completely forgotten his own role ten years earlier in a great classic newspaper hoax, “A Neglected Anniversary,” a fake history of the bathtub, which ran in the New York Evening Mail on December 28, 1917.

    “Not a plumber fired a salute or hung out a flag,” Mencken lamented. “Not a governor proclaimed a day of prayer. Not a newspaper called attention to the day,” the purported seventy-fifth birthday of the bathtub. Mencken’s piece provided a vivid and full history of the introduction of the tub to American life. It singled out for praise Millard Fillmore for his role in bringing one of the first tubs to the White House, giving it “recognition and respectability in the United States.”

    “A Neglected Anniversary” was so finely rendered that it literally sprang back to life—like a reanimated mummy—and found its way into print dozens of times, criticized, analyzed, and repeated as a real chapter in American history.

    Hoaxes like this seem so Colbert now, like mutant cousins to his notion of “truthiness.” But hoaxers are historically not comedians; they are, like Mencken, journalists who write entertaining stuff that sounds vaguely true, even though it’s not, for editors who are usually in on the joke. The hoaxing instinct infected newsrooms throughout the early days of modern newspapers to a degree that most of us find puzzling today. Newspapers contained hundreds, if not thousands of hoaxes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, most of them undocumented fakes in obscure Western weeklies. The subjects were oddball pets and wild weather, giants, mermaids, men on the moon, petrified people (quite a few of those), and (my favorite) the Swiss Navy. As a novice editor at the Virginia City, Nevada, Territorial Enterprise, a young Mark Twain put his talent to the test with a hoax of hoaxes. “I chose to kill the petrification mania with a delicate, a very delicate satire,” he
    wrote. He called it “A Petrified Man.”

    Who knew? The twinning of news and entertainment that plagues us today grew not from some corporate greedhead instinct of the go-go eighties, but from our own weird history. The reasons for hoaxing were mostly mercenary: for the publisher, it was to fill column inches and bring in eyeballs. For the journalist, it was sport, a freelance fee or a ploy to keep his job. Strange to say, readers didn’t seem to mind too much.

    The first major fake news event of the modern media age was the Great Moon Hoax of 1835. A series of articles began appearing in the New York Sun on August 25, the late-summer brainchild of its ambitious publisher, Benjamin Day. Day wanted to move papers, like every publisher, and came up with a novel method. He began publishing a series of articles, allegedly reprinted from a nonexistent scientific journal, about Sir John Herschel, an eminent British astronomer on his way to the Cape of Good Hope to test a powerful new telescope.

    What Herschel saw on the moon was… Life! Not just flora and fauna but living men—hairy, yellow-faced guys, four feet tall with enormous wings that “possessed great expansion and were similar in structure of those of the bat.” It was all too much, but New Yorkers had to see for themselves and the Sun’s circ hit a new high of 15,000. Even after its men-in-the-moon story was revealed to be a hoax, the paper retained its popularity with readers.

    Edgar Allan Poe, famous but destitute in 1844, wrote another well-known hoax for the Sun. “The Atlantic Crossed in Three Days!” Poe’s story began, and it went on to describe a lighter-than-air balloon trip that wouldn’t actually take place for another sixty years. Thirty years later, at the behest of its publisher, James Gordon Bennett Jr., the New York Herald ran what’s often been called the Central Park Zoo Hoax. escaped animals roam streets of manhattan, the headline warned. The article maintained that twenty-seven people were dead and 200 injured in terrible scenes of mutilation. State militiamen were called in to control the situation, and sensible New Yorkers barricaded themselves in their homes.

    In 1910, The Washington Post waxed nostalgic over the old men-on-the moon hoax, with a short item under a no-nonsense headline: “This was a Famous Hoax.” In fact, that kind of warm retrospective began to appear as an occasional column or feature, illustrating a growing trend among newspapers to look back with a smile on the bad old days of great hoaxes. In the intervening years, the newspaper business had grown up into the Fourth Estate; hoaxes, for better or worse, were a part of its wild-child adolescence. By 1937, it was pretty much over, at least according to Marvin H. Creager, the president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors who addressed the group’s fifteenth annual convention. “The day of the fake and the hoax…seems to have passed,” he said, “and with it the reporters and editors who delighted in perpetrating them.”

    Creager, speaking to his confident colleagues at a time of rising circulation, added, “The reporter with a box of tricks is out of place in the newspaper world today.”

    Times change and so do the tricksters. The newspaper, the first mass-marketed medium to enter American living rooms, was a jack of all trades, a witty parlor guest with a deck of cards. Over time, mass distribution of movies, radio, TV, and the Internet arrived to entertain Americans and eventually to eat the lunch of the great newspaper dynasties.

    From the days of the Yellow Press onward, publishers began to see themselves as public servants and guardians of truth; editors learned the wisdom of marking off news columns from opinion pages and imparting a higher level of veracity even to soft features. Hoaxes? The Fourth Estate has no use for hoaxers, even of the pathetic dysfunctional variety; our tribal councils cast out fabulists like Jayson Blair or Stephen Glass with great harrumphing fanfare.
    Today, people expect the news media to give them relevant, accurate information. Serious journalists have for decades thought of themselves as the descendants of muckrakers, reformers, and watchdogs.

    But hold the applause for a moment. This presumption of good faith makes us the perfect marks for the new agenda-based fakers. Just last year, the Center for Media and Democracy identified sixty-nine news stations that ran clearly marked government- or industry-produced vnrs as unbiased news during a ten-month period. Many station managers, it was reported, even disguised those advertisements to look like their reporters’ own work and offered no public disclosure.

    Doctored pictures from war zones? The Los Angeles Times ran one in 2003, and Reuters ran one last year. Grassroots organizations with Orwellian names like Project Protect, funded not by conservation-minded voters, but the timber industry? The investigative reporter Paul Thacker brought that one to light, along the way revealing that a Fox News science reporter named Steven Milloy had undisclosed ties to the oil and tobacco industries. Milloy discredited reports of the danger of secondhand smoke as “junk science” on foxnews.com, never letting on he was on the payroll of Phillip Morris.

    Welcome to journalism’s latest transitional phase, where another rush of technology is changing the business in ways not imaginable ten years ago. Picture, cell, and satellite phones, wireless Internet, cheap digital cameras, Photoshop, and blogger software make it easier to deliver the news and also easier to fake it. If you’re the kind of person who thinks there ought to be a law, there is one, at least for the conduct of our elected officials. Federal statutes prohibit the use of funding for “publicity or propaganda purposes” not authorized by Congress. The ban seems to have been observed as closely as speeding laws in recent years. For the rest of us, however, it’s what they call a self-policing situation.

    Late last year, Armstrong Williams, the conservative commentator who took undisclosed payments to promote President Bush’s education agenda, settled his case with the Justice Department. The feds had pursued him not for propaganda violations, though they might have, but under the False Claims Act, for false or fraudulent billing. A weary Armstrong agreed to repay $34,000 to the government and said he was happy to be done with it. He admits no wrongdoing and has committed no crime.

    In the exposure, however, he lost his syndicated column and suffered an eighteen-month investigation. The notoriety of his case jump-started a government-wide inquiry into the use of fake news as propaganda, which may actually have done some good. According to USA Today, “the Government Accountability Office, Congress’s nonpartisan watchdog, in 2005 found that the deal violated a ban on ‘covert propaganda.’”

    But make no mistake; it’s a small, isolated victory. In a time of falling circulation, diminishing news budgets, and dismantled staffs, the fakers are out there, waiting for their opportunities to exploit the authority that modern journalism conveys. Some of us, I fear, aren’t doing all we can to help readers and viewers know the difference between the fake and the honest take. In early January, The Huffington Post reported that The Washington Post’s Web site was talking to Comedy Central about enlisting The Daily Show staff to cover the 2008 presidential campaign. Jon Stewart, the elder statesman of fake news, working for The Washington Post? There was no confirmation of a deal at press time.

    So, here’s my totally mock serious signoff: If General Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, who has already appeared once on The Daily Show, returned to announce that he had captured Osama bin Laden, would that be fake news? And what would we call it when it ran in The Washington Post?

    Just asking.

    – Robert Love is an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and the executive editor of Best Life.


  5. AGAIN……Hussein’s Prewar Ties to Al-Qaeda Discounted
    Posted by: “Corey” cpmondello@yahoo.com cpmondello
    Fri Apr 6, 2007 5:54 am (PST)
    Hussein’s Prewar Ties to Al-Qaeda Discounted

    Documents reveal prewar consensus that Iraq and al- Qaeda had limited contacts and say deeper ties were based on dubious or unconfirmed data.

    By R. Jeffrey Smith – Washington Post Staff Writer

    Staff writer Dafna Linzer and staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.
    Friday, April 6, 2007; A01




    Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides “all confirmed” that Hussein’s regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.

    The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community’s prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information. The report had been released in summary form in February.

    The report’s release came on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh’s radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq “before we ever launched” the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.

    “This is al-Qaeda operating in Iraq,” Cheney told Limbaugh’s listeners about Zarqawi, who he said had “led the charge for Iraq.” Cheney cited the alleged history to illustrate his argument that withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq would “play right into the hands of al-Qaeda.”

    Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.), who requested the report’s declassification, said in a written statement that the complete text demonstrates more fully why the inspector general concluded that a key Pentagon office — run by then-Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith — had inappropriately written intelligence assessments before the March 2003 invasion alleging connections between al-Qaeda and Iraq that the U.S. intelligence consensus disputed.

    The report, in a passage previously marked secret, said Feith’s office had asserted in a briefing given to Cheney’s chief of staff in September 2002 that the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda was “mature” and “symbiotic,” marked by shared interests and evidenced by cooperation across 10 categories, including training, financing and logistics.

    Instead, the report said, the CIA had concluded in June 2002 that there were few substantiated contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and Iraqi officials and had said that it lacked evidence of a long-term relationship like the ones Iraq had forged with other terrorist groups.

    “Overall, the reporting provides no conclusive signs of cooperation on specific terrorist operations,” that CIA report said, adding that discussions on the issue were “necessarily speculative.”

    The CIA had separately concluded that reports of Iraqi training on weapons of mass destruction were “episodic, sketchy, or not corroborated in other channels,” the inspector general’s report said. It quoted an August 2002 CIA report describing the relationship as more closely resembling “two organizations trying to feel out or exploit each other” rather than cooperating operationally.

    The CIA was not alone, the defense report emphasized. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) had concluded that year that “available reporting is not firm enough to demonstrate an ongoing relationship” between the Iraqi regime and al-Qaeda, it said.

    But the contrary conclusions reached by Feith’s office — and leaked to the conservative Weekly Standard magazine before the war — were publicly praised by Cheney as the best source of information on the topic, a circumstance the Pentagon report cites in documenting the impact of what it described as “inappropriate” work.

    Feith has vigorously defended his work, accusing Gimble of “giving bad advice based on incomplete fact-finding and poor logic,” and charging that the acting inspector general has been “cheered on by the chairmen of the Senate intelligence and armed services committees.” In January, Feith’s successor at the Pentagon, Eric S. Edelman, wrote a 52-page rebuttal to the inspector general’s report that disputed its analysis and its recommendations for Pentagon reform.

    Cheney’s public statements before and after the war about the risks posed by Iraq have closely tracked the briefing Feith’s office presented to the vice president’s then-chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby. That includes the briefing’s depiction of an alleged 2001 meeting in Prague between an Iraqi intelligence official and one of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers as one of eight “Known Iraq-Al Qaida Contacts.”

    The defense report states that at the time, “the intelligence community disagreed with the briefing’s assessment that the alleged meeting constituted a ‘known contact’ ” — a circumstance that the report said was known to Feith’s office. But his office had bluntly concluded in a July 2002 critique of a CIA report on Iraq’s relationship with al-Qaeda that the CIA’s interpretation of the facts it cited “ought to be ignored.”

    The briefing to Libby was also presented with slight variations to then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet and then-deputy national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley. It was prepared in part by someone whom the defense report described as a “junior Naval Reservist” intelligence analyst detailed to Feith’s office from the DIA. The person is not named in the report, but Edelman wrote that she was requested by Feith’s office.

    The briefing, a copy of which was declassified and released yesterday by Levin, goes so far as to state that “Fragmentary reporting points to possible Iraqi involvement not only in 9/11 but also in previous al Qaida attacks.” That idea was dismissed in 2004 by a presidential commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, noting that “no credible evidence” existed to support it.

    When a senior intelligence analyst working for the government’s counterterrorism task force obtained an early account of the conclusions by Feith’s office — titled “Iraq and al-Qaida: Making the Case” — the analyst prepared a detailed rebuttal calling it of “no intelligence value” and taking issue with 15 of 26 key conclusions, the report states. The analyst’s rebuttal was shared with intelligence officers on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but evidently not with others.

    Edelman complained in his own account of the incident that a senior Joint Chiefs analyst — in responding to a suggestion by the DIA analyst that the “Making the Case” account be widely circulated — told its author that “putting it out there would be playing into the hands of people” such as then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, and belittled the author for trying to support “some agenda of people in the building.”

    But the inspector general’s report, in a footnote, commented that it is “noteworthy . . . that post-war debriefs of Sadaam Hussein, [former Iraqi foreign minister] Tariq Aziz, [former Iraqi intelligence minister Mani al-Rashid] al Tikriti, and [senior al-Qaeda operative Ibn al-Shaykh] al-Libi, as well as document exploitation by DIA all confirmed that the Intelligence Community was correct: Iraq and al-Qaida did not cooperate in all categories” alleged by Feith’s office.

    From these sources, the report added, “the terms the Intelligence Community used to describe the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaida were validated, [namely] ‘no conclusive signs,’ and ‘direct cooperation . . . has not been established.’ ”

    Zarqawi, whom Cheney depicted yesterday as an agent of al-Qaeda in Iraq before the war, was not then an al-Qaeda member but was the leader of an unaffiliated terrorist group who occasionally associated with al-Qaeda adherents, according to several intelligence analysts. He publicly allied himself with al-Qaeda in early 2004, after the U.S. invasion


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