Corporate media warmongering, Media Lens interview


Wikipedia says about this 1990 video from the USA:

Nayirah Kuwaiti girl testimony

Nayirah al-Ṣabaḥ (Arabic: نيره الصباح‎), called “Nurse Nayirah” in the media, was a fifteen-year-old Kuwaiti girl, who alleged that she had witnessed the murder of infant children by Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait, in verbal testimony to the U.S. Congress, in the run up to the 1991 Gulf War. Her testimony, which was regarded as credible at the time, has since come to be regarded as wartime propaganda.

She was not a nurse at all. She later turned out to be the daughter of Saud Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States.

The public relations firm Hill & Knowlton, which was in the employ of Citizens for a Free Kuwait, had arranged the testimony. Nayirah’s testimony was widely publicized. Hill & Knowlton, which had filmed the hearing, sent out a video news release to Medialink, a firm which served about 700 television stations in the United States. That night, portions of the testimony aired on ABC’s Nightline and NBC Nightly News reaching an estimated audience between 35 and 53 million Americans.

Seven senators cited Nayirah’s testimony in their speeches backing the use of force. President George [H W] Bush repeated the story at least ten times in the following weeks.

By Ian Sinclair in Britain:

Monday, February 18, 2019

The distortions of the corporate media: An interview with Media Lens

DAVID EDWARDS and DAVID CROMWELL from media watchdog Media Lens speak to Ian Sinclair about their new book Propaganda Blitz: How the Corporate Media Distort Reality

Ian Sinclair: What is a “propaganda blitz” and how does it work?

Media Lens: A “propaganda blitz” is a fast-moving campaign to persuade the public of the need for “action” or “intervention” of some kind furthering elite interests.

Corporate media line up to insist that a watershed moment has arrived – something must be done! Eyewitness testimony proves that Iraqi storm-troopers have killed hundreds of babies by hurling them from incubators in Kuwait. Reports from Libya show that Gadaffi is certainly planning a terrible massacre in Benghazi. Survivor accounts make it impossible to deny that pro-Assad forces [in Syria] have cut the throats of hundreds of women and children in Houla, and so on.

These claims are instantly affirmed with 100 per cent certainty right across the supposed media “spectrum”, long before the facts are clear, long before the credibility and motives of the sources have been established. The resulting declaration: “We must act!”, “We cannot look away!”

Often, as above, the claims turn out to be utterly bogus. The same corporate journalists who never have anything to say about massive US-UK crimes in Iraq, Libya and Yemen pop up in unison to rage about these alleged horrors.

This is important – the more enraged they seem to be, the more the public will assume there must be some truth behind their claims. Understandably, many people find it hard to believe that so many journalists could be professional fakers, or just deceived.

The idea is to generate an atmosphere of such intense moral indignation that dissidents even questioning the sincerity and accuracy of this shrieking can be damned as “Assad apologists”, “Saddam’s willing executioners,” “Corbyn’s useful idiots,” and so on.

If the propaganda blitz has done its job, these smears will resonate with the public who will turn their noses up at dissidents viewed as morally unhygienic.

The “humanitarian action” usually involves destroying an Official Enemy of the West regardless of the cost to the civilians “we” claim to care about.

Once the enemy has been overthrown, the welfare of those civilians is never again a concern for the propaganda blitzers. Who cares about the fairness of elections in Iraq now, or the freedom of its press, or the justice system?

But these were big issues when journalists were supporting efforts to overthrow Saddam Hussein in 2002-2003.

IS: How does the current media coverage of Venezuela fit with this model?

ML: It is an excellent example of a propaganda blitz. When opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself “interim president” on January 23, US-UK journalists depicted it as a classic watershed moment – Venezuelans had had enough of the socialist government of Nicolas Maduro, who had to go, had to be replaced, probably by Guaido.

Maduro is a sworn enemy of the West, which has been working long and hard to regain control of Venezuela’s oil.

Moral outrage focuses on the claim that Maduro is a “tyrant”, “despot” and “dictator” (he is democratically elected), who is full-square to blame for the economic and humanitarian crisis (US sanctions have played a significant role), who rigged the May 2018 elections (they were declared free and fair by many credible observers), who crushed press freedom (numerous Venezuelan media are openly and fiercely anti-government).

This propaganda blitz has been particularly surreal. “Mainstream” media don’t seem to notice that it is Donald Trump – the same groping, bete orange widely denounced by these same media as an out and out fascist – who is guiding efforts to overthrow Maduro. Adam Johnson made the point for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting:

“The same US media outlets that have expressly fund-raised and run ad campaigns on their image as anti-Trump truth-tellers have mysteriously taken at face value everything the Trump White House and its neoconservative allies have said in their campaign to overthrow the government of Venezuela.”

IS: You argue “corporate media reporting and commentary” furthers “the interests of the state-corporate elites”. What role does the Guardian – a “thoughtful, progressive, fiercely independent and challenging” newspaper, according to Guardian editor Kath Viner – play in this?

ML: The Guardian was Blair’s greatest cheerleader, just as it is now among Corbyn’s greatest critics. In 2018, journalist John Pilger described how he was persona non grata at the Guardian: “My written journalism is no longer welcome in the Guardian which, three years ago, got rid of people like me in pretty much a purge of those who really were saying what the Guardian no longer says any more.”

A couple of decades ago, George Monbiot told us that there were two distinct factions competing within the Guardian: a reasonable, liberal faction working for progressive change, and a group of hard-nosed neocons who made the lives of the progressive faction “hell”.

That sounded credible. Our guess would be that, under editor Kath Viner, the neocons have gained much greater ground and now hold the paper under a kind of occupation (something similar seems to have happened at the BBC).

Many Guardian reporters and regular commentators are now no-holds-barred propagandists relentlessly promoting Perpetual War, attacking Corbyn, and in fact attacking anyone challenging the status quo.

Most embarrassing was the recent front-page Guardian claim that Julian Assange had repeatedly met with Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort in the Ecuadorian embassy. The story turned out to be fake.

Most telling is that editor Kath Viner has completely refused to respond to any queries, even from former Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald. This is a seriously disturbing sign of real dishonesty, of a brutal refusal to be in any way answerable to the public.

IS: It seems journalists are less willing to engage with you than they used to. Do you agree? If so, why do you think this is?

ML: Corporate interests have never been content to just have their wholly owned parties – Tories and Republicans – and their newspapers – The Times and the Telegraph. They have always also wanted to own the supposed “opposition” offering tiny glimmers of dissent: thus, the rise of New Labour and the Clintonian Democrats, thus the neocon-occupied BBC and Guardian. There currently is no functional “mainstream” opposition to corporate dominance.

With the arrival of social media, this power-serving corporate journalism has been forced to retreat behind thick walls of silence. It must have been the same in the past when tyrannical kings and queens were challenged by democratic forces.

Corporate journalists know that their propaganda promoting Perpetual War and corporate control of politics cannot withstand rational challenge; they have learned that they lose less credibility by ignoring us, for example, than by engaging.

Their problem is that we have solid arguments backed up by credible facts and sources. Often, there’s just nothing they can say. And because we’re not angry and abusive, they can’t dismiss us for being rude and emotional.

They also have the problem that they’re not free to comment on their brand – their employer, its product, its advertisers, their colleagues – in front of customers, so they can’t even discuss why they can’t discuss these issues. Better just to ignore us.

We also send fewer emails than we used to – we always get more responses from emails – partly because it’s easier to challenge people via Twitter, but also because we have a sense that too much criticism drives journalists into a corner where they become more resistant to change, rather than less.

IS: After 18 years of analysing the British media [Media Lens was set up in 2001], what advice would you give to young journalists just starting out?

ML: Avoid working for corporate media at all costs. It’s not possible to work as a fully human, compassionate, rational journalist within this system. Carrot and stick pressures are bound to force you to compromise your integrity, your honesty.

Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself writing garbage for money, which is a sure way of living a boring, soulless, destructive life.

In an age of looming climate collapse – which currently looks like killing us all within the next few decades – we can no longer afford for young, vibrant, juicy human beings to sacrifice their energy and delight for dead cash in a lifeless corporate media machine.

As Norman Mailer observed: “There is an odour to any press headquarters that is unmistakeable… The unavoidable smell of flesh burning quietly and slowly in the service of a machine.”

Write what you believe is true, important and helpful for reducing the suffering of yourself and other people and animals. If you get paid, fine. If you don’t, support yourself some other way, part-time.

Relax and enjoy, live simply. What you absolutely must not do is write something because you think it is most likely to make you most money.

Propaganda Blitz: How the Corporate Media Distort Reality is published by Pluto Press, priced £14.99.

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British killing of Afghan, Iraqi civilians


This 6 February 2019 video says about itself:

Ex British soldiers: UK commanders authorized civilian killings in Iraq

Killing of civilians in Iraq, children included, was authorized by UK commanders – several former British soldiers say.

“Our commanders, they would tell us: ‘We will protect you if any investigation comes. Just say you genuinely thought your life was at risk – those words will protect you.’”

By Jean Shaoul in Britain:

British troops given free hand to shoot civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan

13 February 2019

The British Army’s rules of engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan allowed troops to shoot unarmed civilians they suspected of keeping them under surveillance.

This resulted in numerous casualties, including children and teenage boys.

An investigation by Ian Cobain, based upon statements by former UK soldiers and published by the Middle East Eye (MEE) website, points to war crimes having been committed.

Cobain, who writes for the Guardian, has covered six wars, including the 1991 Gulf War and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. In September 2005, he revealed that the UK was supporting the CIA’s illegal extraordinary rendition program. While the MEE was unable to independently verify all the interviewees’ accounts, several ex-soldiers serving in different units at different times and in two different theatres of war made broadly similar allegations. In what can only be construed as an admission of guilt, the Ministry of Defence refused to comment.

Cobain interviewed several former British army soldiers who confirmed they were given orders to shoot at civilians suspected of surveilling them. This was sanctioned under the pretext that civilians were suspected of planting roadside bombs, or of acting as spotters or “dickers”—a term used during the conflict in Northern Ireland—for armed fighters.

Soldiers shot civilians without evidence they posed a threat. One soldier stationed in southern Iraq claimed he and fellow troops were told they were allowed to shoot anyone who acted suspiciously. Simply holding a mobile telephone, carrying a shovel, or being on the roof of a building—a normal occurrence in the summer heat—constituted “acting suspiciously” and warranted shooting, mostly carried out at night.

According to military law experts and the 1977 Geneva Conventions, shooting civilians is only lawful if they are participating directly in hostilities. But with no precise definition of “direct participation”, civilians are expected to be given the benefit of the doubt. Under UK domestic law, which is applicable to the armed forces, a soldier can use force to defend him/herself and others, including lethal force, only provided that it is reasonable in the circumstances.

This relaxing of the rules of engagement resulted in “a killing spree.” One former soldier said he saw a significant number of fatal shootings of civilians in Basra, not all of whom he believed were keeping British troops under surveillance. He claimed that he and his fellow soldiers were promised that they would be protected in the event of any investigation by military police. He told the MEE, “Our commanders, they would tell us: ‘We will protect you if any investigation comes. Just say you genuinely thought your life was at risk—those words will protect you’.”

Another former soldier, who served in Basra in 2007, said that he “had never seen such lawlessness.” He added, “We were shooting old men, young men.” They were not expected to ask for permission before opening fire, he said. “Anyone you deem is a terrorist, you shoot them. But how could we know if they were a threat? Not all of them were dickers, some were just holding phones.”

A former Royal Marine who served in Helmand province in Afghanistan in 2008 said that although he had to issue verbal warnings to “dickers” before firing warning shots, this routine was not always followed. He cited an incident where his captain had shot an eight-year-old child, “under the impression they were dicking us.” The captain acknowledged he had not followed the rules and insisted upon reporting it to his superiors, even though they made it clear that if he said he had followed the rules of engagement, they would back him up regardless of whether he had or had not done so. “But”, he said, “The boss reported what he had done and was removed from the troop.”

The rules on shooting changed from time to time. One former soldier, who served in Helmand in 2010 with the Parachute Regiment, said that on arrival in the province he was told that he was no longer permitted to shoot civilians thought to be keeping troops under surveillance. “During our first briefing, we were told: ‘We are no longer shooting dickers.’ It was back to winning hearts and minds.”

The soldier said that British troops continued to shoot civilians, and even mounted a cover-up of the killing of two unarmed teenage boys. He and other soldiers had seen two youths approaching on a scooter. “The lieutenant who was in charge ordered that warning shots be fired. We were firing over their heads and then at the ground in front of them, but they just kept coming. They were laughing. I wondered whether they were high.” As they were riding away, a corporal decided to fire his machine gun at them. When the patrol discovered that both boys were unarmed, two Soviet-era weapons—an assault rifle and a machine gun—were taken from the base and placed beside their bodies and photographed.

The UK’s Royal Military Police have been investigating other claims that special forces troops planted weapons on a number of Afghan men who were shot dead during night raids on their homes.

Such was the anger over civilian casualties that they became a frequent source of contention between the coalition commanders and civilian authorities in Iraq and Afghanistan, prompting the US puppet Afghan President Hamid Karzai to speak out. While the US commander General Stanley McChrystal adopted a policy of so-called “courageous restraint”, under which forces were expected to use less firepower, British troops were soon complaining that they were being expected to fight the Taliban “with one hand tied behind our backs.”

Such crimes flow from the thoroughly predatory motives of the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, where there are still 1,000 and 1,400 British troops (fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria), respectively. The September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington were seized upon as the pretext to take over these countries to secure domination over one of the world’s most strategic and resource-rich regions.

The murders made public by the Middle East Eye are a devastating exposure of the bloody role of British imperialism in Afghanistan and Iraq, whose civilians have alleged numerous incidents of abuse. Along with the hundreds of thousands of documents made public by WikiLeaks, they form the factual basis for a war crimes indictment of the leaders of the British government.

Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Gordon Brown and all the top military and foreign policy officials who served in the Labour governments that approved the wars and occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, deserve to face an international war crimes tribunal. Their Conservative counterparts should stand in the dock alongside them.

The response of the British media is significant. None of the mainstream media outlets in Britain have mentioned Cobain’s findings. The only English-language media channels carrying reports were Al Jazeera and several Russian and Iranian channels.

The revelations of war crimes are also a warning to workers and youth. Such operations and policies are part of preparations for use at home. As well as deployments to new overseas neo-colonial wars, the armed forces will be used to suppress domestic unrest in the name of combatting the disruption caused by Brexit.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson laid out proposals for a massive escalation of British militarism post-Brexit in a speech to the Royal United Services Institute. The UK must be ready to use “hard power to support our global interests,” he insisted. His speech in London Monday was framed around the need to confront Russia (mentioned 14 times), which was “rebuilding its military arsenal,” and China, which is “developing its modern military capability and its commercial power.” Quoting Winston Churchill on the necessity of British forces being able to develop “a reign of terror down enemy coasts,” Williamson declared that “Churchill’s vision” was now the goal for “our Royal Navy and for our Royal Marine Commandos.” Virtually any pretext could be used by Britain’s armed forces to go into combat, because the “very character of warfare itself is changing” as “boundaries between peace and war are becoming blurred”: here.

United States warmongering ex-vice president Dick Cheney


This 11 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

MOVIE REVIEW: VICE Underplays the “Evil” of Dick Cheney – Wilkerson and Jay Review the Movie

Cheney was the coming to power of the far right of the American elite; the Neo-cons wanted to “cash in” as they asserted US military dominance over the world – Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who was Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff and is depicted in the film joins TRNN’s Paul Jay to discuss the movie “VICE”.

This 12 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Cheney’s Lies Left Middle East in Flames – Film Review of “Vice” with Wilkerson and Jay (2/2)

Larry Wilkerson tells the story of Powell’s fateful speech to the UN that prepared the way for the invasion [of Iraq]; he’s asked why he and Powell didn’t quit – Col. Lawrence Wilkerson joins TRNN’s Paul Jay.

Britons against foreign military interventions


This December 2011 video is called Invasion of Iraq: How the British and Americans got it wrong.

By Ceren Sagir in Britain:

Friday, January 11, 2019

More than half of Brits oppose military intervention overseas, new poll reveals

MORE than half of British adults oppose the use of military troops overseas, an international poll revealed.

Of the 1,691 Brits surveyed by YouGov in November, 52 per cent agreed with the policy of Britain “not taking part in military interventions in other countries.”

Published this week, the poll suggested that only 27 per cent said they disagree and 21 per cent said they “don’t know.”

Pacifist group Peace Pledge Union (PPU) welcomed the results, pointing out that the British public was much more anti-war than most politicians.

PPU spokesperson Symon Hill said: “If the government were as keen on ‘the will of the people’ as it claims to be, it would end the role of British troops in fuelling violent conflict in countries such as Syria, Estonia and Saudi Arabia.

“With his plans for new military bases, [Defence Secretary] Gavin Williamson seems more concerned with playing out his military fantasies than with either public opinion or real security.

“The government’s policies are of more benefit to arms companies than they are to the British public or the people in the countries to which British troops are sent.”

Mr Hill said that opposition parties need to have “more courage” to clearly adopt anti-war and anti-militarist policies with ending military interventions overseas being “a great first step.”

Iraqi throws shoes at Bush, 10 years ago


10 years ago, an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at then United States President George W Bush, who had invaded and destroyed his country.