Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Say it ain’t so, Joe

Clueless Joe Sobran has been watching too much al-Jazeera. He informs us that “The Arab coverage … shames the American media into showing the war more candidly,” and describes what the world sees. “It sees brave young Arab soldiers desperately fighting a mighty invader.”
posted at 3:50 PM

What PBS doesn't show you
Charles Johnson catches an interesting piece in the anti-American, anti-Semitic Arab News, by one Kevin James, previously profiled on the taxpayor-subsidized Public Broadcasting System:

Remember the blatantly whitewashed commercial for Islam that PBS showed last December, called Legacy of a Prophet? The one that held up a New York City firefighter named Kevin James as a shining example of a patriotic, moderate Muslim?

Today this same Kevin James, who also just happens to be the director of government relations for the New York chapter of CAIR, has a Chomskyesque hate-America rant in the ever-loathsome Arab News, titled Bush's war on terrorism needs to begin with the face in the mirror. This is the first time I’ve seen such a deeply hostile screed openly attributed to a CAIR official, and it makes the agenda of that PBS documentary very, very clear.

A Clinton Legacy Moment: Will Abu Abbas go free?

Terrorist Abu Abbas, best known for the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro in which a wheelchair bound American was murdered and pushed overboard, has been captured in Iraq. The reaction from the Palestinian Authority?

Gaza City - Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erakat called on Wednesday for the "immediate" release of Palestinian radical chief Abu Abbas, arrested by US forces in Baghdad, saying the arrest violated a 1995 peace accord...

"We ask the US administration for the immediate release of Abu Abbas and for it to respect the 1995 interim agreement between the Palestine Organisation Liberation (PLO) and Israel ... and signed by (former) US president Bill Clinton," Erekat said.

He pointed to one of its clauses that says PLO members cannot be arrested or tried for acts committed before September 1993.

Abbas was tried an convicted in absentia in Itally, so there may be a loophole here. We'll see what happens.

via Damian Penny

UPDATE: According to the BBC:
# "The Israeli supreme court formally declared Abu Abbas immune from prosecution five years ago and allowed him to return to Gaza."
# (Jerusalem :: Simon Wilson :: 0927GMT) "The United States also dropped a warrant for his arrest several years ago but his capture in Iraq is now likely to be used as evidence that Saddam Hussein was supporting terror groups." (Centcom, Qatar :: Dominic Hughes :: 0540GMT )

UPDATE: From the Associated Press:

While out of the limelight for the past decade, Abbas is believed to have continued plying the terror trade from Iraq up to the time of his capture Monday in a raid on the southern outskirts of Baghdad.

Israeli intelligence officials say the PLF faction under Abbas was a conduit for Saddam Hussein's payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.

Israel reported earlier this year that it captured several Palestinians who trained at a PLF camp in Iraq and were told by Abbas to attack an Israeli airport and other targets.

UPDATE: According to the AP, Abbas will not go free because, "State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said the interim accord involves only Israel and the Palestinian Authority. 'The United States is not a party to that or any amnesty arrangements regarding Abul Abbas.'" However, "Officials said their first priority is to determine through interrogation whether Abbas can provide useful intelligence about Iraqi leaders, plots by terrorist groups and the presence of other terrorists who might have been sheltered by Saddam Hussein." Reportedly the U.S. has not decided whether to try him, but Itally is seeking to extradite Abbas, and according to "the Justice Department's top counterterrorism prosecutor in the mid-1980s," Victoria Toensing,"unless prosecutors have better evidence than existed in the 1980s it would be unwise to go forward."

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

The “Republic of Fear”

No, not Iran or Iraq.

According to The Village Voice, New York Times Executive Editor Howell Raines:

manages through humiliation and fear. Aside from right-hand men Gerald Boyd and Andy Rosenthal and a core of loyalists, morale is said to be at a new low. There are many rooms in that palace and nobody sees the whole picture. But, says one source, "the old timers who lived through the worst of [former executive editor] Abe Rosenthal say they have never seen anyone be so arrogant, so petty, so mean. Vindictiveness is in." Another source says, "It's no longer about managing down. It's about paying obeisance to the king." Among cognoscenti, 43rd Street is now known as the "republic of fear."

via Drudge Report

UPDATE: Mickey Kaus points out an important aspect of the story:

Raines spiked investigative pieces about New Jersey Senator Robert Torricelli that would have run before Torricelli pulled out of his re-election race in October, 2000. Golden's sources subsequently turned to a TV station, which ran the stories that finally appeared to drive Torricelli from the race.

It seems likely that the Times, not WNBC, would have delivered Torricelli's coup de grĂ¢ce—had Raines not killed key stories in the heat of the election campaign.

Remember -- and, I agree, it seems like six years ago rather than six months -- that at the time control of the Senate was hanging on a single vote. Retaining Torricelli's seat was considered vital for the Democrats. So Raines spikes stories that might have tipped the Senate to the Republicans (just as he or his henchpeople spiked Augusta columns he disagreed with).

Do something about BBC Bias

Vladimir Bukovsky’s group,, is holding a one-day seminar on BBC Bias: How Can We Stop It? on Saturday, May 31, 2003 in Canterbury Hall, University of London, Cartwright Gardens, LONDON WC1 (near King’s Cross). Registration closes May 24, 2003.

Bukovsky is:

appalled at the political bias displayed by the BBC. In order to re-establish impartiality he is prepared to withhold his licence fee and face prosecution rather than live with ‘Soviet’ style reporting.

posted at 12:50 PM

Academic freedom pop quiz
You’re President of the University of California. Students complain that their instructors are violating their academic freedom by improperly imposing their political beliefs. Do you:

1) Take the students seriously and remind errant instructors of their obligations under the University of California’s Statement on Academic Freedom. Or, do you

2) Gut the Statement on Academic Freedom?
posted at 11:33 AM

Berkley on the James?
Michael Graham’s QUOTE OF THE DAY:

”I don't really see the difference between [America] and Saddam Hussein. Killing is killing. We aren't more innocent than he is."--Richmond (VA) Vice Mayor Delores McQuinn, last night.

Despite the Vice Mayor's argument, Richmond Mayor Rudy McCollum's resolution calling for immediate withdrawal of US troops in Iraq was defeated by the City Council.

Yes, these are the same Mayor and Vice Mayor who held a press conference last year calling for the state police to patrol city streets because crime is out of control in their city.
posted at 10:16 AM

Al Jazeera as the Arabs see it
Al Jazeera in it’s anti-American and anti-Semitic glory – this is the stuff you won’t find on their English language website. Just page through the cartoons. Julius Streicher would be proud.

via Marduk
posted at 9:58 AM

Go read Biased BBC
Biased BBC has plenty of material to work with these days. For example:

The BBC's bias department seems to have been working overtime in the last week, producing both a report stating that ordinary Iraqis have more to fear from Coalition control of Iraq than the rule of Saddam Hussein, and a documentary that celebrates the lives of four British communist traitors who cost this country the lives of hundreds of its agents.

Monday, April 14, 2003

Perfidious France update

While France was calling for more time for UN weapons inspections and sanctions to work, Saddam was receiving “an abundant supply” of French weapons. According to Newsweek:

U.S. forces discovered 51 Roland-2 missiles, made by a partnership of French and German arms manufacturers, in two military compounds at Baghdad International Airport. One of the missiles he examined was labeled 05-11 KND 2002, which he took to mean that the missile was manufactured last year. The charred remains of a more modern Roland-3 launcher was found just down the road from the arms cache. According to a mortar specialist with the same unit, radios used by many Iraqi military trucks brandished MADE IN FRANCE labels and looked brand new. RPG night sights stamped with the number 2002 and French labels also turned up. And a new Nissan pickup truck driven by a surrendering Iraqi officer was manufactured in France as well.

The French, of course, deny violating the sanctions and insist that “new goods from France found in Iraq were probably illegal deliveries that Saddam purchased on a marche parallel, or black market.”

CNN, media access and Walter Duranty

What bothers me about the media piling on CNN for trading silence in exchange for access in Iraq is the knowledge that they were not, and are not, alone. In many parts of the world the only way for the press to maintain a presence is to implicitly agree to keep quiet about certain, uncomfortable, facts. They become complicit in the regimes they cover.

Sure, CNN wasn’t reporting the awful things they were learning inside Iraq, but who was? They weren’t the only news agency with offices there. When do we get the other mea culpas?

Too often, in too many different ways, media silence is traded for access. Whether in covering a brutal dictatorship, Capitol Hill or celebrities, compromises are made, and the news outlets most willing to compromise their integrity get the access.

Does anybody remember The New York Time’s man in Moscow -- Walter Duranty?

As Andrew Stattaford observed:

[Duranty] knew. Privately, he told British diplomats that as many as ten million people might have died, "The Ukraine," he admitted, "had been bled white."

Publicly, however, his story was very different. He claimed that tales of a famine were "bunk," "exaggeration," or "malignant propaganda." There was "no actual starvation."

Duranty also reported favorable on Stalin’s show trials, writing that the defendants were genuinely guilty. The New York Times received a Pulitizer Prize in 1932 for Duranty’s reporting from Russia. It has never been withdrawn or returned.

UPDATE: CNN spins:

CNN spokeswoman Christa Robinson noted that CNN reporters have frequently been kicked out of Baghdad by angry authorities, most recently a few days after the start of the war.

"The decision not to report these particular events had nothing to do with access, and everything to do with keeping people from being killed as a result of our reporting," she said.

Yeah, that's the problem with reporting the truth about repressive regimes -- people get killed. But not reporting enables those same regimes to survive with the result that many more people die as a result. If CNN couldn't report the truth about Sadam's regime while maintaining an office within Iraq, they should have closed their office. But they were not alone, and Iraq is not the only place where the press strikes this implicit sordid bargain.

UPDATE: Peter Collins recoounts how, back in 1993, he was required by his bosses at CNN to parrot Iraqi propaganda and to "shade the news" in order to help CNN score an interview with Saddam. Eventually he resigned.

Tuesday, April 1, 2003

A strange coincidence

Michael Fumento observes that:

First China not only sells Iraq fiber-optic links to improve that country's surface-to-air batteries, but it even provides the workers to install them. The French are caught selling parts to Iraq for F-1 Mirage fighters. Now we've found that the Russians have been selling Saddam anti-tank missiles, night vision equipment, and jamming equipment. What a strange coincidence that these are the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council who threatened to veto a U.S. liberation of Iraq.

posted at 11:14 AM

Reporting both sides of the war
Debra Saunders observes in The San Francisco Chronicle that:

WHEN MAINSTREAM journalists report both sides of racism -- pro and con, with equal weight -- or both sides of having a free press in America, then I'll believe that American media don't take sides on issues, and that there is at least a rationale for American media not rooting for U.S. troops to win in Iraq…

There are certain issues on which thinking Americans don't disagree… Yes, serious people can disagree on whether U.S.-led forces should have gone into Iraq. But serious anti-war Americans understand the consequences of a U.S. capitulation.

A U.S. pullout would send a green light to terrorists everywhere. It would invite global chaos and violence. If that doesn't scare journalists, they should think of how the news media likely would be silenced in a world that welcomes the likes of Saddam Hussein.