Haaretz Threatened for Exposing Israeli Assassination Cover-Up

MP Calls for Paper’s Closure Over Leak

By Jason Ditz,
April 8, 2010

Reports have emerged over the past few weeks that Israeli reporter Anat Kam has been held under secret house arrest in the nation since December of last year, but the reports have been confined to the Western media as, despite the story appearing in papers the world over, the Israeli government had forbidden domestic media from reporting on the matter until today.

Kam is facing charges of “treason” for leaking copies of classified military documents to Uri Blau, a reporter for Haaretz who has often been critical of the Israeli military. Blau has written several stories over the past few years, mostly based around the Israeli military flouting orders about rules of engagement by the High Court, based on the documents. One of the articles involved an “arrest” mission that ended in the deaths of three Islamic Jihad members. Soldiers admitted in the classified data that they were ordered to kill, not arrest the three.

Blau has since fled the country and is said to be in Britain. Haaretz has defended publishing the stories and says it will support Blau in the matter. The Israeli Justice Ministry has vowed to use “all possible” means to return Blau to Israel to face charges of his own and interrogation by Shin Bet. Shin Bet declared today that Blau must submit to interrogation, and that his possession of classified data is a “direct threat” to national security.

But this could be just the beginning of the fallout for Haaretz, a popular leftist newspaper in Israel which often publishes articles critical of government policy. One opposition MP has urged patriotic Israelis to cancel their subscriptions to the paper. Another MP in the ruling coalition, National Union’s Michael Ben-Ari, has called on the Interior Ministry to close the newspaper down entirely in the name of national security. Yisrael Beiteinu MP David Rotem called for Kam and potentially others involved in the leak to have their citizenship taken away. Other members of the Israeli parliament condemned the paper as “anti-semitic” and alleged that the leaks were a plot by the ideological left to see Israel handed over to “the Arabs.”

Haaretz for its part claims to have had a secret deal with Shin Bet allowing them to reveal the data, but says Shin Bet has since broken the deal by attempting to capture Blau. It has defended Kam’s actions as that of a whistleblower and even published an article likening censorship in Israel media to that in Iran. Source

Related

Israel Gags News on Extra-Judicial Killings

No Freedom of  Speech, No Freedom of the Press. How Israeli is that?

Typical of Israel however. They try to remove all Freedom of Speech or Press around the world. The anti-semitic propaganda is what Israel calls everyone who criticizes Israel, Even other Jews or Jewish groups are called anti semitic.  It doesn’t hold water. It is just a typical talking point used to silence the truth.

It has been used to death by Israel. To a point of nausea. What ever turns their cranks. No one is going to fall for the BS anymore. Well not anyone who has an independent though at any rate. They may be able to brainwash those in Israel, but not the rest of the world.

Assassinations/Murders are illegal. They have been getting away with murder far to long.

The rest of the world is fed up with their illegal actions on many fronts.

Assassinations/Murders, False Flags, abuse of other countries passports, Manufacturing reasons for wars….. ETC ETC ETC. The list is so long it would take me all day to write it.

Israel is anti Semitic, they hate Arabs most of whom are the ” Real Semites”.

Update April 9 2010

Israeli court lifts gag order on military espionage case

By Joel Greenberg in Jerusalem

April 9 2010

An Israeli court yesterday lifted a gag order on a military espionage case in which a former female soldier was charged with leaking classified military documents to an Israeli newspaper.

Some of the documents showed that top military officers approved killings of wanted Palestinians in what were ostensibly arrest operations in the West Bank, in violation of strict limits imposed on such assassinations by the Israeli Supreme Court.

Anat Kamm, 23, the former soldier, had been under house arrest since December, but the Israeli media was barred from reporting the case under a sweeping gag order obtained by the Israeli authorities. The restrictions were eased after details of the case were reported by foreign websites and newspapers, including The Independent, and a growing chorus of critics in Israel said that the blackout on local media coverage was a violation of press freedom and the public’s right to know.

The gag order had been challenged in court by the Haaretz newspaper and Israel’s Channel Ten television channel.

An indictment revealed Thursday alleges that Kamm copied some 2000 classified documents while she worked in the office of the military’s top West Bank commander, and after her discharge passed some of them to a Haaretz reporter, Uri Blau. About 700 documents were classified as top secret.

Some of the documents were cited in a 2008 article by Blau which reported that top officers of the army and leaders of the Shin Bet security service had authorized killings of wanted Palestinian militants in operations in which they could have been arrested, in violation of the Supreme Court ruling. The article was approved for publication by the Israeli military censor.

Blau is currently in London, out of reach of Israeli prosecutors, and Haaretz said on its website that it was negotiating with the Israeli legal authorities for his return. Yuvak Diskin, the chief of the Shin Bet, told reporters Thursday that Blau was suspected of holding classified documents obtained from Kamm, and that the Shin Bet wanted them recovered. “It’s the dream of any enemy state to get their hands on such documents,” he said.

Kamm, who became a media columnist for an Israeli website after completing her military service, faces charges that carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. She has been charged with espionage – possessing and passing classified information with the intent of harming state security.

Eitan Lehman, a lawyer for Kamm, asserted that his client had caused no harm to state security and had no intention of doing so. “All the newspaper stories were published with the consent of the military censor,” he said. “If she had posed a threat to national security, she would not have been allowed to stay home and continue working.”

A hearing in court in which Kamm will be formally charged is scheduled for April 14. Source

Blau-Kamm case exposes the dark underbelly of Israel’s security state

By Jonathan Cook,

April 9  2010

What is misleadingly being called in Israel the “Anat Kamm espionage affair” is quickly revealing the dark underbelly of a nation that has worshipped for decades at the altar of a security state.

Next week 23-year-old Kamm is due to stand trial for her life — or rather the state’s demand that she serve a life sentence for passing secret documents to an Israeli reporter, Uri Blau, of the liberal Haaretz daily. She is charged with spying.

Blau himself is in hiding in London, facing, if not a Mossad hit squad, at least the stringent efforts of Israel’s security services to get him back to Israel over the opposition of his editors, who fear he will be put away too.

This episode has been dragging on behind the scenes for months, since at least December, when Kamm was placed under house arrest pending the trial.

Not a word about the case leaked in Israel until this week when the security services, who had won from the courts a blanket gag order — a gag on the gag, so to speak — were forced to reverse course when foreign bloggers began making the restrictions futile [including notably Richard Silverstein]. Hebrew pages on Facebook had already laid out the bare bones of the story.

So, now that much of the case is out in the light, what are the crimes supposedly committed by Kamm and Blau?

During her conscription, Kamm is said to have copied possibly hundreds of army documents that revealed systematic law-breaking by the Israeli high command operating in the occupied Palestinian territories, including orders to ignore court rulings. She was working at the time in the office of Brig Gen Yair Naveh, who is in charge of operations in the West Bank.

Blau’s crime is that he published a series of scoops based on her leaked information that have highly embarrassed senior Israeli officers by showing their contempt for the rule of law.

His reports included revelations that the senior command had approved targeting Palestinian bystanders during the military’s extra-judicial assassinations in the occupied territories; that, in violation of a commitment to the high court, the army had issued orders to execute wanted Palestinians even if they could be safely apprehended; and that the defence ministry had a compiled a secret report showing that the great majority of settlements in the West Bank were illegal even under Israeli law (all are illegal in international law).

In a properly democratic country, Kamm would have an honorable defence against the charges, of being a whistle-blower rather than a spy, and Blau would be winning journalism prizes not huddling away in exile.

But this is Israel. Here, despite a desperate last-stand for the principles of free speech and the rule of law in the pages of the Haaretz newspaper today, which is itself in the firing line over its role, there is almost no public sympathy for Kamm or even Blau.

The pair are already being described, both by officials and in chat forums and talkback columns, as traitors who should be jailed, disappeared or executed for the crime of endangering the state.

The telling comparison being made is to Mordechai Vanunu, the former technician at the Dimona nuclear plant who exposed Israel’s secret nuclear arsenal. Inside Israel, he is universally reviled to this day, having spent nearly two decades in harsh confinement. He is still under a loose house arrest, denied the chance to leave the country.

Blau and Kamm have every reason to be worried they may share a similar fate. Yuval Diskin, the head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police, which has been leading the investigation, said yesterday that they had been too “sensitive to the media world” in pursuing the case for so long and that the Shin Bet would now “remove its gloves”.

Maybe that explains why Kamm’s home address was still visible on the charge sheet published yesterday, putting her life in danger from one of those crazed talkbackers.

It certainly echoes warnings we have had before from the Shin Bet about how it operates.

Much like Blau, Azmi Bishara, once head of a leading Arab party in Israel, is today living in exile after the Shin Bet put him in their sights. He had been campaigning for democratic reforms that would make Israel a “state of all its citizens” rather than a Jewish state.

While Bishara was abroad in 2007, the Shin Bet announced that he would be put on trial for treason when he returned, supposedly because he had had contacts with Hizbullah during Israel’s attack on Lebanon in 2006.

Few experts believe Bishara could have had any useful information for Hizbullah, but the Shin Bet’s goals and modus operandi were revealed later by Diskin in a letter on its attitude to Bishara and his democratisation campaign. The Shin Bet was there, he said, to thwart the activities of groups or individuals who threatened the state’s Jewish character “even if such activity is sanctioned by the law”.

Diskin called this the principle of “a democracy defending itself” when it was really a case of Jewish leaders in a state based on Jewish privilege protecting those privileges. This time it is about the leaders of Israel’s massive security industry protecting their privileges in a security state by silencing witnesses to their crimes and keeping ordinary citizens in ignorance.

Justifying his decision to “take the gloves off” in the case of Kamm and Blau, Diskin said: “It is a dream of every enemy state to get its hands on these kinds of documents” — that is, documents proving that the Israeli army has repeatedly broken the country’s laws, in addition, of course, to its systematic violations of international law.

Diskin claims that national security has been put at risk, even though the reports Blau based on the documents — and even the documents themselves — were presented to, and approved by, the military censor for publication. The censor can restrict publication based only on national security concerns, unlike Diskin, the army senior command and the government, who obey other kinds of concerns.

Diskin knows there is every chance he will get away with his ploy because of a brainwashed Israeli public, a largely patriotic media and a supine judiciary.

The two judges who oversaw the months of gagging orders to silence any press discussion of this case did so on the say-so of the Shin Bet that there were vital national security issues at stake. Both judges are stalwarts of Israel’s enormous security industry.

Einat Ron was appointed a civilian judge in 2007 after working her way up the ranks of the military legal establishment, there to give a legal gloss to the occupation. Notoriously in 2003, when she was the chief military prosecutor, she secretly proposed various fabrications to the army so that it could cover up the killing of an 11-year-old Palestinian boy, Khalil al-Mughrabi, two years earlier. Her role only came to light because a secret report into the boy’s death was mistakenly attached to the army’s letter to an Israeli human rights group.

The other judge is Ze’ev Hammer, who finally overturned the gag order this week — but only after a former supreme court judge, Dalia Dorner, now the head of Israel’s Press Council, belatedly heaped scorn on it. She argued that, with so much discussion of the case outside Israel, the world was getting the impression that Israel flouted democratic norms.

Judge Hammer has his own distinguished place in Israel’s security industry, according to Israeli analyst Dimi Reider. During his eight years of legal study, Hammer worked for both the Shin Bet and Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

Judge Hammer and Judge Ron are deeply implicated in the same criminal outfit — the Israeli security establishment — that is now trying to cover up the tracks that lead directly to its door. Kamm is doubtless wondering what similar vested interests the judges who hear her case next week will not be declaring.

Writing in Haaretz today, Blau said he had been warned “that if I return to Israel I could be silenced for ever, and that I would be charged for crimes related to espionage”. He concluded that “this isn’t only a war for my personal freedom but for Israel’s image”.

He should leave worrying about Israel’s image to Netanyahu, Diskin and judges like Dorner. That was why the gag order was enforced in the first place. This is not a battle for Israel’s image; it’s a battle for what is left of its soul.

Source

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Trafigura attempts to silence Norwegian Media/Trafigura charged in Norway

The Minton report:

Minton-rapporten

In the report an expert analyses the Probo Koala waste on behalf of Trafigura. The oil-trader has chosen not to disclose the content of the report to the public. The content of the report shows that the waste contained hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and a wide variety of toxic substances.

The expert writes that the waste in worst case can cause deaths. The analysis is done in September 2006, only a month after the Probo Koala delivered waste in the Ivory Coast, and a month before Trafigura sent the Probo Emu to Norway with identical waste.

Possible gas-chamber

Professor Emeritus in Chemistry, Jon Songstad is shocked by the Minton-report. –If this had exploded without burning, the whole village of Sløvåg could have turned into a gas-chamber.

After the tank-explosion in Western Norway in May 2007, people in the village became ill. They vomited, had severe headaches and chemically red sore throats.

Based on information from the Minton-report, Songstad is convinced that the fire in the tank saved the population. H2S burned in the fire, and prevented deadly concentrations of toxic fumes leaking out.

Sworn to silence

The British newspaper, The Guardian, has also obtained a copy of the Minton-report, but according to a High Court ruling have until today not been allowed to mention it, report on it or in any way disclose that they have the document.

Read the Court ruling here:

Kjennelse The Guardian

The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation received the High Court ruling and information about The Guardians situation directly from Trafigura’s Norwegian lawyers. The information and the ruling was sent to us in an attempt to stop us from publishing this report on our web pages.

Communication with Trafigura

Trafigura has not been willing to comment on the content of the report. But on September 15th they sent us this e-mail:

« As mentioned in our e-mail of yesterday, Trafigura finds it improper to answer questions to the media as long as the criminal charges in Norway are still under investigation by Økokrim. However, certain of the additional questions and statements in your e-mail of this morning are biased and can not be left unchallenged. Trafigura is in process of producing a written statement as a response to the questions raised by NRK. We will forward this statement to you during the course of business tomorrow, and kindly ask that you refrain from publishing anything before having had the opportunity to carefully examine the response from Trafigura.
Your questions of today do also reveal the fact that you are in possession of a draft, preliminary expert opinion produced by Minton Treharne & Davies Ltd, and that you appear to be ready to disclose information from this report. Trafigura looks very serious upon this, as disclosing any information from this report would be a clear breach of confidentiality and privilege. The report is clearly privileged and confidential and was obtained unlawfully by whoever is responsible for it coming into your possession.

Please be aware that on Friday of last week, our clients sought and obtained an injunction in relation to this document and information contained in it against the Guardian newspaper and Persons Unknown, pending a further hearing. For your attention we have attached hereto a copy of the Court Order.

In the circumstances, we kindly ask you to confirm that NRK will not disclose or make reference to this expert report or its contents. We might add (although it is not directly relevant to your obligation not to publish a document which has been obtained unlawfully) that the document was, as we say, draft and it is clear from its text that it was produced generically without reference to the underlying evidence. We can also assure you that its generic conclusions have long since been wholly superseded by the analyses of the Probo Koala slops by independent experts.»

Trafigura charged in Norway

Oil-trader Trafigura is under police investigation in Norway, accused of illegal import of waste. The waste was brought to Norway on the Probo Emu in 2006, and is identical to the waste that Trafigura shipped to the Ivory Coast on the Probo Koala.

The Norwegian police have been investigating Trafigura for more than a year and a half, but so far nobody in the company has been willing to give statement or answer questions from the Norwegian police.

– We are surprised, and have the impression that Trafigura is not interested in assisting in the investigation, says Hans Tore Høviskeland, head of prosecution in Økokrim.

Source

Well I am glad Norway isn’t letting Trafigura dictate, what can or cannot be reported.

Petition/E-mail the UK Government in Protest of Gag orders on the Press

UK: Press Banned from Reporting on Parliament/Trafigura

Pollution Reports including Top 100 Corporate Air Polluters 2008 in US and around the world

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Why Americans get a distorted View of the Conflict between Israel and Palestinians

This is quite interesting. Seems they were less then honest.

Imagine how distorted the conflict in Iraq or Afghanistan must be.

I just happened upon this and thought it needed to be shared.

Accuracy in Reporting of Israel/Palestine

ABC World News Tonight
CBS Evening News
NBC Nightly News

Study Periods:
September 29, 2000 – September 28, 2001
January 1, 2004 – December 31, 2004

Figure 16
In 2004, ABC, CBS, and NBC news reporting on Palestinian children’s deaths followed virtually the same line as Israeli children’s deaths, in stark contradiction to the reality, in which Palestinian children were being killed at a rate 22 times greater than Israeli children.

Download Report
Press Release

Abstract

This study consists of a statistical examination of ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News coverage of the first year of the current Palestinian uprising, and of their coverage of that uprising in 2004. The categories examined are coverage of conflict deaths and, as a subcategory, children’s deaths. Our findings indicate significantly distorted coverage by all of these network news shows. In the first study period ABC, CBS, and NBC reported Israeli deaths at rates 3.1, 3.8, and 4.0 times higher than Palestinian deaths, respectively. In 2004 these rates increased or stayed constant, to 4.0, 3.8, and 4.4, widening still further, in the case of ABC and NBC, the disparity in coverage. An additional sub-study of deaths reported in introductions revealed a similar but even larger disparity. The networks’ coverage of children’s deaths was even more skewed. In the first year of the current uprising, ABC, CBS, and NBC reported Israeli children’s deaths at 13.8, 6.4, and 12.4 times the rate of Palestinian children’s deaths. In 2004 these large differentials were also present, although they decreased in two cases, with deaths of Israeli children covered at rates 9.0, 12.8, and 9.9 times greater than the deaths of Palestinian children by ABC, CBS, and NBC, respectively. Given that in 2004 22 times more Palestinian children were killed than Israeli children, this category holds particular importance. We could find no basis on which to justify this inequality in coverage.

Introduction

Beginning in 2003, If Americans Knew1 began issuing report cards to media across the country on their coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This study of ABC World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News (we will call them, collectively, the networks) covers the first year of the current uprising (September 29, 2000 through September 28, 2001). This period was selected for study because it set the context within which all subsequent reporting on the conflict is viewed. We also studied these networks’ coverage for 2004 to discover whether the patterns we found for the first year had continued, diminished, or increased.

Given that the media have a desire and a responsibility to cover this topic accurately, we provide these reports in the hope that our analyses can assist them in achieving this goal.

In addition, we are making these reports public, as a way to help viewers evaluate for themselves the reliability of their sources of information on this issue.

The goal of this report is to

  • Establish clear standards for assessing accuracy in reporting.
  • Provide, in a consistent format, an assessment of the media’s accuracy in reporting on the Israel/Palestine conflict.

Methodology

We recognize that reporting on Israel/Palestine has been an exceptionally controversial topic. Therefore, while there are many potential yardsticks for measuring accuracy, we chose criteria that would be widely acknowledged as significant, conducive to statistical analysis, and immune to subjective interpretation.

We chose to focus on the reporting of deaths, because this allows meaningful statistical analysis that would be impossible in a qualitative study. This unambiguous yardstick allows us to determine whether media demonstrate even-handed respect for human life, regardless of ethnic or religious background. Fortunately, accurate data for both populations is available from the widely respected Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselem2. We only included Israeli deaths directly caused by the actions of Palestinians, and vice versa. In addition, we did not examine the coverage of killings that took place outside Israel and Palestine.

As a subcategory, we investigated the coverage of children’s deaths, since children are illegitimate targets of violence. Each such death represents a universally recognized human tragedy, and we felt it would be important to study how the media are covering these events among both populations.

Another sub-category examined was deaths reported in introductions, since these bring added attention and emphasis to such reports.

Finally, we gathered data on the networks’ reporting of cumulative death counts. While such cumulative statistics are not equivalent to individual reports on the deaths, they can provide useful contextual information, particularly when appended to high-quality daily reporting.

For this study we used the LexisNexis database to access transcripts of all of the ABC, CBS, and NBC evening news programs broadcast during our study periods.

Findings:

I. Coverage of All Deaths: First Year of the Uprising

During the first year of the current uprising, 165 Israelis were killed by Palestinians and at least 549 Palestinians were killed by Israelis.3 The majority of those killed among both populations were civilians.

165 Israelis and 549 Palestinians were killed during the first year of the current uprising.

Examining this first year of news coverage, we found a significant disparity in the likelihood of a death being reported based on the ethnicity of the person killed.

This disparity was compounded by the fact that while the networks periodically reported on deaths more than once, through follow-up stories and mentions in later news reports, such repetitions were found to be more frequent in reporting on Israeli deaths than in reporting on Palestinian deaths. In fact, such repetitions caused the networks in some cases to report on Israeli deaths in greater rates than they had actually occurred. Palestinian deaths, on the other hand, were significantly under-reported by all three networks.

In its first year of coverage, we found that ABC reported on 305 Israeli deaths and 327 Palestinian deaths – 185% of Israeli deaths and 60% of Palestinian deaths.

CBS reported on 334 Israeli deaths and 296 Palestinian deaths – 202% of Israeli deaths and 54% of Palestinian deaths.

NBC reported on 227 Israeli deaths and 190 Palestinian deaths – 138% of Israeli deaths and 35% of Palestinian deaths.

Figure 2

In other words, ABC reported Israeli deaths at a rate 3.1 times greater than Palestinian deaths, CBS reported Israeli deaths at a rate 3.8 times greater than Palestinian deaths, and NBC reported Israeli deaths at a rate 4.0 times greater than Palestinian deaths.

On average, the networks reported Israeli deaths at a rate 3.5 times greater than Palestinian deaths (175% of Israeli deaths and 49% of Palestinian deaths).

II. Coverage of Children’s Deaths: First Year of the Uprising

In the first year of the current uprising, 28 Israeli children and at least 131 Palestinian children were killed.4 (Children are defined by international law as those who are 17 and younger.)

Thus, Palestinian children were killed at a rate 4.7 times greater than Israeli children. 825 of these Palestinian children were killed in the first three-and-a-half months of the conflict, before any Israeli children had been killed.

Figure 3

During the conflict Palestinian children have consistently made up a disproportionately large number of Palestinian deaths. In this first year children’s deaths accounted for 24% of the Palestinians killed, while children’s deaths accounted for 17% of Israelis killed.

During this time, ABC reported on 56 Israeli children’s deaths (including repetitions in later newscasts) and 19 Palestinian children’s deaths – 200% of Israeli children and 15% of Palestinian children, a ratio of 13.8 to 1.

CBS reported on 37 Israeli children’s deaths (including repetitions) and 27 Palestinian children’s deaths – 132% of Israeli children’s deaths and 21% of Palestinian children’s deaths, a ratio of 6.4 to 1.

NBC reported on 45 Israeli children’s deaths (including repetitions) and 17 Palestinian children’s deaths – 161% of Israeli children and 13% of Palestinian children’s deaths, a ratio of 12.4 to 1.

Figure 4

Collectively, the networks reported on an average of 46 Israeli children’s deaths – 164% of the Israeli children killed – and 21 Palestinian children’s deaths – 16% of the Palestinian children killed. In other words, the networks reported on Israeli children’s deaths at a rate 10.2 times greater than Palestinian children’s deaths.

To understand the pattern of network news coverage of children’s deaths, it is useful to compare the number of deaths reported to the actual number that took place. While repeated coverage of Israeli children’s deaths creates an impression of a higher number of Israeli victims than there actually were, omissions of the majority of Palestinian children’s deaths considerably under-represents the number of Palestinian child victims.

Figure 5

Comparing the day-by-day reporting of children’s deaths to the actual daily death toll reveals an additional dimension of the distortion. In this comparison, we discover that the reports on Palestinian children’s deaths followed the curve for Israeli children’s deaths, rather than the much steeper curve of their actual death count.

This finding underscores the tendency by all three networks to report a fictional situation in which Israeli and Palestinian deaths occur at more or less the same rate, and illustrates the substantial gap between the reality of Palestinian fatalities and the coverage of them. It suggests that the desire to appear ‘balanced’ is too often prioritized above the need for accuracy.

Chronological Running Totals of Children’s Deaths – Reported and Actual
First Year of Uprising (9/29/2000 – 9/28/2001)

Figure 6 Figure 7
Figure 8

III. Coverage of Deaths in Introductions: First Year of the Uprising

As another sub-category, we looked at the networks’ reports of deaths in introductions to newscasts, since such anchor lead-ins tend to lend additional emphasis to a report. Interestingly, for all three networks the disparity in coverage found in full newscasts grew even larger in this category.

ABC reported on 99% of Israeli deaths and 25% of Palestinian deaths in introductions. Hence, an Israeli death was 4.0 times more likely to receive coverage than a Palestinian death in the introduction, an even larger disparity than the ratio of 3.1 found in ABC’s coverage in full newscasts.

CBS reported Israeli deaths at a rate 5.8 times greater than Palestinian deaths in introductions. (128% of Israeli deaths and 22% of Palestinian deaths were reported.) This is up from the ratio of 3.8 to 1 present in coverage throughout full newscasts.

NBC’s rate of covering Israeli deaths over Palestinian deaths, 4.0 to 1 in full newscasts, grew to 5.9 to 1 when only introductions were studied. NBC covered 72% of Israelis killed compared to 12% of Palestinians killed in introductions.

Figure 9

IV. Coverage of All Deaths: 2004

In studying the networks’ 2004 coverage, we found that these patterns continued and, in many cases, increased.

During 2004 violence against Israelis had significantly decreased relative to the first year of the uprising. At the same time, violence against Palestinians was much higher than it had been in the first year.

In 2004, 107 Israelis were killed by Palestinians and at least 821 Palestinians were killed by Israelis.6 Thus the ratio of Palestinian to Israeli deaths was 7.7 to 1, more than double the first year’s ratio of 3.3 Palestinian deaths for each Israeli death.

Figure 10

During this period, ABC reported on 168 Israeli deaths and 322 Palestinian deaths – 157% of Israeli deaths and 39% of Palestinian deaths, a ratio of 4 .0 to 1, up from 3.1 in its first year’s reporting.

CBS reported on 112 Israeli deaths and 227 Palestinian deaths – 105% of Israeli deaths and 28% of Palestinian deaths – a ratio of 3.8 to 1, the same ratio as its first year reporting.

NBC reported on 165 Israeli deaths and 287 Palestinian deaths – 154% of Israeli deaths and 35% of Palestinian deaths – a ratio of 4.4 to 1, up from 4.0 in the first year.

Figure 11

Taken together, then, the three networks reported on Israeli deaths, on average, at a rate 4.1 times greater than on Palestinian deaths, an increase over the 3.5 to 1 average ratio during the first year of the uprising.

V. Coverage of Children’s Deaths: 2004

In 2004, as with adults, fewer Israeli children and more Palestinian children were killed than in the first year of the conflict.

Eight Israeli children and 179 Palestinian children were killed in 2004. This ratio of 22 times more Palestinian children killed than Israeli children was nearly a five-fold increase over the first year’s ratio of 4.7 to one.

Again, Palestinian children were making up a much greater part of the total number of Palestinians killed than Israeli children were of Israeli conflict casualties. Children’s deaths accounted for 22% of the Palestinians killed, while Israeli children’s deaths had decreased to only 7% of Israelis killed during this period.

Figure 12

ABC reported on 8 Israeli children’s deaths and 20 Palestinian children’s deaths – 100% of Israeli children and 11% of Palestinian children, 9.0 to 1, down from 13.8 in the first year.

CBS reported on 4 Israeli children and 7 Palestinian children – 50% of Israeli children’s deaths and 4% of Palestinian, a ratio of 12.8 to 1, up from 6.4 in the first year.

NBC reported on 8 Israeli children’s deaths and 18 Palestinian children’s deaths – 100% of Israeli children and 10% of Palestinian killed during 2004, a ratio of 9.9, down from 12.4.

Figure 13

On average, the networks reported 83% of Israeli children’s deaths and 8% of Palestinian children’s deaths. That is, an Israeli death was 9.9 times more likely to be reported than a Palestinian death (compared to the first year’s ratio of 10.2 to one).

Visual representation of this pattern of omission gives a sense of the size of the disparity.

Figure 14

Comparing running totals for actual deaths and reported deaths once again reveals that television reporting on Palestinian children’s deaths followed virtually the same line as Israeli children’s deaths, in stark contradiction to the reality, in which Palestinian children were being killed at a rate 22 times greater than Israeli children. Again, all three networks revealed similar patterns of reporting.

Chronological Running Totals of Children’s Deaths – Reported and Actual
2004

Figure 15 Figure 16
Figure 17

VI. Coverage of Deaths in Introductions: 2004

In 2004 the trend of emphasizing Israeli deaths over Palestinian deaths, by reporting them at a higher rate in the introductions, continued.

ABC included mentions of 92% of Israeli deaths in introductions and only 10% of Palestinian deaths. That is, ABC covered Israeli deaths at a rate 9.68 times higher than Palestinian deaths, much higher than the ratio of 4.0 found in their coverage in full newscasts.

CBS’s rate of covering killings of Israelis over those of Palestinians was also greater in introductions: 4.7 to 1, up from 3.8 in full newscasts.

Only NBC’s ratio of coverage of Israeli deaths to Palestinian deaths dropped when we examined introductions in 2004: NBC covered Israeli deaths at a rate 3.6 times higher than Palestinian deaths in introductions, as opposed to the ratio of 4.4 in their full newscasts.

Figure 18

VII. Coverage of Cumulative Totals

In addition to counting daily reports of deaths, we examined the networks’ mentions of cumulative deaths: reports summarizing the number of deaths that had occurred over an extended period of time (longer than one week), rather than reports on specific incidents.

The most complete (and therefore most informative) type of cumulative report is what we call a full two-sided cumulative – a report of the total number of conflict deaths for both populations as of the date of the news report. Also useful in analysis are partial two-sided cumulatives: reports of the total number of conflict deaths for both populations over a period of time longer than one week, but shorter than the duration of the conflict or with some other limiting parameter.

Unfortunately, we found that full two-sided cumulative reports were almost never given, and partial two-sided cumulatives were only rarely given. Instead, we found that it was far more common for the networks to report one-sided cumulatives. These, whether full or partial, make it more difficult for the viewer to make a comparison and draw conclusions on the relative levels of violence. In fact, such one-sided cumulatives may at times do more to obscure understanding of the conflict than to enhance it.

In May of the first year ABC gave one full two-sided cumulative report on children’s deaths. CBS gave three full two-sided cumulatives, one of which included numbers of children killed. NBC also gave three full two-sided cumulative reports, although they were all in the first two months of the uprising. Additionally during this time, partial two-sided cumulatives were reported, twice by CBS and once by NBC.

In 2004, none of the networks reported a single full two-sided cumulative, and only CBS reported a partial two-sided cumulative, with the following remark on March 7: “Over the last year … nearly 200 Israelis have been killed, more than 600 Palestinians as this conflict grinds on.”

The networks’ full one-sided cumulative reports display an interesting pattern.

All three networks reported full cumulatives of Palestinian deaths without corresponding numbers for Israelis in the first few months of the uprising, but quickly discontinued this practice: In the first two weeks of the uprising ABC twice reported the total number of Palestinians killed. CBS reported the total numbers of Palestinians killed once in the first month. NBC reported full cumulative numbers of Palestinian deaths five times, all in the first five months of the uprising, and once reported the full number of Palestinian children killed, in May of 2001. (Again, not counting the two-sided reports discussed above). The only full one-sided cumulative for Israelis during the study periods was reported by CBS in February, 2004; this was also the only full one-sided cumulative reported in 2004 by any of the networks.

Finally, one-sided cumulative reports fall into the following groupings:

  1. Numbers of Israelis killed by specific Palestinian organizations, people, or tactics (e.g. suicide bombings). Of this type, ABC reported four cumulatives (all in 2004), CBS reported two, and NBC reported ten.
  2. Numbers of Palestinians killed by specific Israeli tactics, e.g. the campaign of “targeted assassinations.” ABC provided such reports five times, CBS three, and NBC four. Notably, this type of report carries the suggestion that the victims are legitimate targets of military action.
  3. The remainder of cumulatives were simply reports of numbers of people killed in some extended period of time, possibly also in a limited area. ABC reported six of this third type (number of Palestinians killed along a specific road, number of Palestinians killed in Bethlehem, number of Israelis killed since Arial Sharon was elected Prime Minister of Israel, and three other Palestinian cumulatives). CBS reported this type once (Palestinian). NBC gave four reports of this kind (three Palestinian, one Israeli).

In examining these cumulative reports, a consistent pattern emerges in which cumulative reports of Israeli fatalities provide information on extensive periods of time – most often back to the beginning of the uprising, while cumulative reports of Palestinian deaths cover far shorter periods of time – often only weeks. Thus, similar numbers of deaths are reported in these cumulatives, despite the fact that throughout the conflict Palestinians have been killed in substantially larger numbers than Israelis.

Additional Notes

While gathering our data, we came across a number of additional patterns of distortion that merit further examination.

Most significantly, it appeared that context was largely missing from this reporting. While we realize that the exigencies of network news programming decree that reports be relatively short, there is an obligation, nevertheless, to ensure that brevity does not create inaccuracy. In particular, there seemed insufficient information on the unusual historic and geographic dimensions of this conflict. Many viewers, given the nature of the reporting, may not realize that in the multitude of fatal incidents Israeli armed combatants were invading and occupying Palestinian territories, not vice versa.

A few patterns of omission were particularly startling. The Israeli press, international human rights organizations, and medical relief agencies have all reported on the targeting of Palestinian children by Israeli forces. In the first year of the conflict, for example, at least 45 Palestinian children were confirmed to have been killed by Israeli gunfire to the head.9 Yet, two of the networks carried no reports on this disturbing phenomenon, and one network, CBS, reported on it only once (“…a 12-year-old boy shot in the head by an Israeli soldier…” 10/10/00).

Finally, while reports of deaths were repeated on both sides, we found a significant difference in the types of deaths repeated. Follow-up stories on Israeli deaths often focused on civilians. By contrast, repetitions of Palestinian deaths were primarily devoted to the deaths of combatants, particularly members of militant groups.

Such reporting significantly distorts the reality of the conflict, in which civilians are being killed in great numbers on both sides, and the number of Palestinian civilian deaths is considerably greater than the number of Israeli ones.10

Conclusions

It is sometimes said that the only uncontroversial aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that it is controversial. Indeed, many news sources are simultaneously accused of displaying diametrically opposed biases. If Americans Knew has undertaken this study with the aim of providing objective, verifiable analysis of coverage.

The Middle East is currently among the most volatile regions in the world. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the central issues of this region, and intimately related to the escalating regional violence we see today. American forces are presently deployed in one country in the region, and it is uncertain when they will be withdrawn. More US tax money goes to Israel than to any other nation; and more American money is sent to the Middle East than to the rest of the world combined. For all these reasons and more, it is essential that Americans receive full and accurate news coverage on Israel/Palestine.

Unfortunately, our findings indicate that this is not occurring. Our analysis reveals troubling patterns of omission and disparities in emphasis that, we feel, profoundly hamper the ability of viewers to understand this conflict.

In the first year of the current uprising, when there were four times more Palestinians being killed than Israelis, two out of three networks reported on more Israeli deaths than Palestinian deaths. This gives the viewer an essentially inverted view of the violence, which persists in following years. Such distortion also creates a chronological reversal, in which Israeli forces are seen as retaliating, when in reality many Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and Gaza before any Jewish Israelis were killed inside Israel.

Reporting on children’s deaths was even more flawed.

In 2004, when 22 times more Palestinian children were being killed than Israeli children, we found that ABC, CBS, and NBC were reporting Israeli children’s deaths at rates 9 to 12.8 times higher than Palestinian children’s deaths. By omitting the killings of a great number of Palestinian children, ABC, CBS, and NBC were failing to perform their function as new agencies – the reporting of the news. In the course of completing this study we found that there was no lack of newscasts on the subject – during many periods there were daily reports from the area – there was simply a pattern of omitting violence against Palestinians while emphasizing violence against Israelis.

Finally, we found that the networks virtually never reported the total number of deaths among both populations in this conflict. This is a bizarre and highly perplexing omission. Such numbers are easily available and immensely significant. At the same time, we found the networks’ tendency in 2004 to report on the fact that “hundreds of Israelis have been killed” without at the same time mentioning the number of Palestinians killed (several times greater) inexplicable. Such reporting can only mislead. We hope that by alerting the networks to this lapse, they will correct it.

We are deeply disturbed at the findings contained in this report. We hope that ABC, CBS, and NBC will be as concerned about these patterns as we are, and will undertake whatever actions are necessary to rectify the flaws in their coverage.

Summary of Data

Reporting of All Deaths – First Year of Uprising (9/29/2000 – 9/28/2001)

Israeli

Palestinian

Actual Number of Deaths

165

549

ABC

Deaths Reported

305

327

Percentage of Deaths Reported

184.8%

59.6%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

3.1 : 1

CBS

Deaths Reported

334

296

Percentage of Deaths Reported

202.4%

53.9%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

3.8 : 1

NBC

Deaths Reported

227

190

Percentage of Deaths Reported

137.6%

34.6%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

4.0 : 1

Reporting of Children’s Deaths – First Year of Uprising (9/29/2000 – 9/28/2001)

Israeli

Palestinian

Actual Number of Children’s Deaths

28

131

ABC

Children’s Deaths Reported

56

19

Percentage of Children’s Deaths Reported

200.0%

14.5%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

13.8 : 1

CBS

Children’s Deaths Reported

37

27

Percentage of Children’s Deaths Reported

132.1%

20.6%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

6.4 : 1

NBC

Children’s Deaths Reported

45

17

Percentage of Children’s Deaths Reported

160.7%

13.0%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

12.4 : 1

Reporting of All Deaths in Introductions – First Year of Uprising (9/29/2000 – 9/28/2001)

Israeli

Palestinian

Actual Number of Deaths

165

549

ABC

Deaths Reported in Introduction

164

137

Percentage of Deaths Reported in Introduction

99.4%

25.0%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

4.0 : 1

CBS

Deaths Reported in Introduction

212

122

Percentage of Deaths Reported in Introduction

128.5%

22.2%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

5.8 : 1

NBC

Deaths Reported in Introduction

119

67

Percentage of Deaths Reported in Introduction

72.1%

12.2%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

5.9 : 1

Reporting of All Deaths – 2004

Israeli

Palestinian

Actual Number of Deaths

107

821

ABC

Deaths Reported

168

322

Percentage of Deaths Reported

157.0%

39.2%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

4.0 : 1

CBS

Deaths Reported

112

227

Percentage of Deaths Reported

104.7%

27.6%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

3.8 : 1

NBC

Deaths Reported

165

287

Percentage of Deaths Reported

154.2%

35.0%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

4.4 : 1

Reporting of Children’s Deaths – 2004

Israeli

Palestinian

Actual Number of Children’s Deaths

8

179

ABC

Children’s Deaths Reported

8

20

Percentage of Children’s Deaths Reported

100.0%

11.2%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

9.0 : 1

CBS

Children’s Deaths Reported

4

7

Percentage of Children’s Deaths Reported

50.0%

3.9%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

12.8 : 1

NBC

Children’s Deaths Reported

8

18

Percentage of Children’s Deaths Reported

100.0%

10.1%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

9.9 : 1

Reporting of All Deaths in Introductions – 2004

Israeli

Palestinian

Actual Number of Deaths

107

821

ABC

Deaths Reported in Introduction

98

78

Percentage of Deaths Reported in Introduction

91.6%

9.5%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

9.6 : 1

CBS

Deaths Reported in Introduction

59

96

Percentage of Deaths Reported in Introduction

55.1%

11.7%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

4.7 : 1

NBC

Deaths Reported in Introduction

77

165

Percentage of Deaths Reported in Introduction

72.0%

20.1%

Ratio (Israeli % : Palestinian %)

3.6 : 1

Source

Indexed List of all Stories in Archives

Published in: on January 30, 2009 at 4:54 am  Comments Off on Why Americans get a distorted View of the Conflict between Israel and Palestinians  
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Senate Report Links Bush to Detainee Homicides; Media Yawns

By Glenn Greenwald
December 15, 2008

The bipartisan Senate Armed Services Committee report issued on Thursday — which documents that “former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other senior U.S. officials share much of the blame for detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba” and “that Rumsfeld’s actions were ‘a direct cause of detainee abuse‘ at Guantanamo and ‘influenced and contributed to the use of abusive techniques … in Afghanistan and Iraq'” — raises an obvious and glaring question:  how can it possibly be justified that the low-level Army personnel carrying out these policies at Abu Ghraib have been charged, convicted and imprisoned, while the high-level political officials and lawyers who directed and authorized these same policies remain free of any risk of prosecution?   The culpability which the Report assigns for these war crimes is vast in scope and unambiguous:

The executive summary also traces the erosion of detainee treatment standards to a Feb,. 7, 2002, memorandum signed by President George W. Bush stating that the Geneva Convention did not apply to the U.S. war with al Qaeda and that Taliban detainees were not entitled to prisoner of war status or legal protections.

“The president’s order closed off application of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment,” the summary said.

Members of Bush’s Cabinet and other senior officials participated in meetings inside the White House in 2002 and 2003 where specific interrogation techniques were discussed, according to the report.

The policies which the Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously concludes were authorized by Bush, Rumsfeld and several other top Bush officials did not merely lead to “abuse” and humiliating treatment, but are directly — and unquestionably — responsible for numerous detainee murders.  Many of those deaths caused by abusive treatment have been formally characterized as “homicides” by autopsies performed in Iraq and Afghanistan (see these chilling compilations of autopsy findings on detainees in U.S. custody, obtained by the ACLU, which reads like a classic and compelling exhibit in a war crimes trial).

While the bulk of the attention over detainee abuse has been directed to Guantanamo, the U.S., to this day, continues to imprison — with no charges — thousands of Iraqi citizens.  In Iraq an Afghanistan, detainee deaths were rampant and, to this day, detainees continue to die under extremely suspicious circumstances.  Just yesterday, there was yet another death of a very young Iraqi detainee whose death was attributed to quite unlikely natural causes.

The U.S. military says a detainee has died of an apparent heart attack while in custody at a U.S. detention facility in Baghdad.

Monday’s statement says the 25-year-old man was pronounced dead by doctors at a combat hospital after losing consciousness at Camp Cropper. . . .

The U.S. military is holding thousands of prisoners at Camp Cropper near the Baghdad airport and Camp Bucca in the southern desert.

For years, it has been common to attribute detainee deaths to “heart attacks” where the evidence makes clear that abusive interrogation techniques and other inhumane treatment — the very policies authorized at the highest levels of the U.S. government — were the actual proximate cause of the deaths.  This deceptive practice was documented in this fact-intensive report — entitled:  “Medical Investigations of Homicides of Prisoners of War in Iraq and Afghanistan” — by Steven H. Miles, Professor of Medicine and Bioethics at the University of Minnesota:

It is probably inevitable that some prisoners who reportedly die of “natural causes” in truth died of homicide. However, the nature of Armed Forces’ medical investigations made this kind of error more likely. The AFME reported homicide as the cause of death in 10 of the 23 death certificates released in May 2004. The death of Mohamed Taiq Zaid was initially attributed to “heat”; it is currently and belatedly being investigated as a possible homicide due to abusive exposure to the hot Iraqi climate and deprivation of water.

Eight prisoners suffered “natural” deaths from heart attacks or atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Threats, beatings, fear, police interrogation, and arrests are known to cause “homicide by heart attack” or life-threatening heart failure. People with preexisting heart disease, dehydration, hyperthermia, or exhaustion are especially susceptible. No forensic investigation of lethal “heart attacks” explores the possibility that these men died of stress-induced heart attacks. There are a number of reports of “heart attack” following harsh procedures in rounding up noncombatants in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A typically sketchy US Army report says, “Detainee Death during weekend combat …. Army led raid this past weekend of a house in Iraq … an Iraqi who was detained and zip-locked (flexi-cuffed with plastic bands tying his wrists together) died while in custody. Preliminary information is that the detainee died from an apparent heart attack.” Sher Mohammad Khan was picked up in Afghanistan in September 2004. Shortly thereafter, his bruised body was given to his family. Military officials told journalists that he had died of a heart attack within hours of being taken into custody. No investigation, autopsy, or death certificate is available.

Or consider this:

Adbul Kareen Abdura Lafta (also known as Abu Malik Kenami) was admitted to Mosul prison on December 5, 2003 and died 4 days later.[20,21] The short, stocky, 44-year-old man weighed 175 pounds. He was never given a medical examination, and there is no medical record. After interrogation, a sandbag was put over his head. When he tried to remove it, guards made him jump up and down for 20 minutes with his wrists tied in front of him and then 20 minutes more with his wrists bound behind his back with a plastic binder. The bound and head-bagged man was put to bed. He was restless and “jibbering in Arabic.” The guards told him to be quiet.

The next morning, he was found dead. The body had “bloodshot” eyes, lacerations on his wrists from the plastic ties, unexplained bruises on his abdomen, and a fresh, bruised laceration on the back of his head. US Army investigators noted that the body did not have defensive bruises on his arms, an odd notation given that a man cannot raise bound arms in defense. No autopsy was performed. The death certificate lists the cause of death as unknown. It seems likely that Mr. Kenami died of positional asphyxia because of how he was restrained, hooded, and positioned. Positional asphyxia looks just like death by a natural heart attack except for those telltale conjunctival hemorrhages in his eyes.

There are countless other episodes like this of human beings in American custody dying because of the mistreatment — authorized by Bush, Rumsfeld and others — to which we subjected them.  These are murders and war crimes in every sense of the word.  That the highest level Bush officials and the President himself are responsible for the policies that spawned these crimes against humanity have been long known to anyone paying minimal attention, but now we have a bipartisan Senate Report — signed by the presidential nominee of Bush’s own political party — that directly assigns culpability for these war crimes to the President and his policies.  It’s nothing less than a formal declaration from the Senate that the President and his top aides are war criminals.
***
This Report was issued on Thursday.  Not a single mention was made of it on any of the Sunday news talk shows, with the sole exception being when John McCain told George Stephanopoulos that it was “not his job” to opine on whether criminal prosecutions were warranted for the Bush officials whose policies led to these crimes.  What really matters, explained McCain, was not that we get caught up in the past, but instead, that we ensure this never happens again — yet, like everyone else who makes this argument, he offered no explanation as to how we could possibly ensure that “it never happens again” if we simultaneously announce that our political leaders will be immunized, not prosecuted, when they commit war crimes.  Doesn’t that mindset, rather obviously, substantially increase the likelihood — if not render inevitable — that such behavior will occur again? Other than that brief exchange, this Senate Report was a non-entity on the Sunday shows.

Instead, TV pundits were consumed with righteous anger over the petty, titillating, sleazy Rod Blagojevich scandal, competing with one another over who could spew the most derision and scorn for this pitiful, lowly, broken individual and his brazen though relatively inconsequential crimes.  Every exciting detail was vouyeristically and meticulously dissected by political pundits — many, if not most, of whom have never bothered to acquaint themselves with any of the basic facts surrounding the monumental Bush lawbreaking and war crimes scandals.  TV “journalists” who have never even heard of the Taguba report — the incredible indictment issued by a former U.S. General, who subsequently observed:  “there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimesThe only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account” — spent the weekend opining on the intricacies of Blogojevich’s hair and terribly upsetting propensity to use curse words.

The auction conducted by Blagojevich was just a slightly more flamboyant, vulgar and reckless expression of how our national political class conducts itself generally (are there really any fundamental differences between Blagojevich’s conduct and Chuck Schumer’s systematic, transparent influence-peddling and vote-selling to Wall Street donors, as documented by this excellent and highly incriminating New York Times piece from Sunday — “A Champion of Wall St. Reaps the Benefits”)?  But Blagojevich is an impotent figure, stripped of all power, a national joke.  And attacking and condemning him is thus cheap and easy.  It threatens nobody in power.  To the contrary, his downfall is deceptively and usefully held up as an extreme aberration — proof that government officials are held accountable when they break the law.

The media fixation on the ultimately irrelevant Blagojevich scandal, juxtaposed with their steadfast ignoring of the Senate report documenting systematic U.S. war crimes, is perfectly reflective of how our political establishment thinks.  Blagojevich’s laughable scheme is transformed into a national fixation and made into the target of collective hate sessions, while the systematic, ongoing sale of the legislative process to corporations and their lobbyists are overlooked as the normal course of business.  Lynndie England is uniformly scorned and imprisoned while George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are headed off to lives of luxury, great wealth, respect, and immunity from the consequences for their far more serious crimes.  And the courageous and principled career Justice Department lawyer who blew the whistle on Bush’s illegal spying programs — Thomas Tamm — continues to have his life destroyed, while the countless high-level government officials, lawyers and judges who also knew about it and did nothing about it are rewarded and honored, and those who committed the actual crimes are protected and immunized.

Just ponder the uproar if, in any other country, the political parties joined together and issued a report documenting that the country’s President and highest aides were directly responsible for war crimes and widespread detainee abuse and death.  Compare the inevitable reaction to such an event if it happened in another country to what happens in the U.S. when such an event occurs — a virtual media blackout, ongoing fixations by political journalists with petty scandals, and an undisturbed consensus that, no matter what else is true, high-level American political figures (as opposed to powerless low-level functionaries) must never be held accountable for their crimes.

UPDATE:  Here — from July of this year — is one of the more remarkable quotes of the Bush era; it’s from Nancy Pelosi, who was explicitly briefed on the CIA’s torture program in 2002:

Q:  You’ve ruled against impeaching George Bush and Dick Cheney, and now Kucinich is trying to pass that. Why do you insist on not impeaching these people, so that the world and America can really see the crimes that they’ve committed?

PELOSI: I thought that impeachment would be divisive for the country. . . . If somebody had a crime that the President had committed, that would be a different story.

It’s not like there’s any evidence that Bush committed any crimes or anything, said Pelosi.  From Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side (h/t Hume’s Ghost)

One year of the Afghan prison operation alone cost an estimated 100 million, which Congress hid in a classified annex of the first supplemental Afghan appropriation bill in 2002. Among the services that U.S. taxpayers unwittingly paid for were medieval-like dungeons, including a reviled former brick factory outside of Kabul known as “The Salt Pit.” In 2004, a still-unidentified prisoner froze to death there after a young CIA supervisor ordered guards to strip him naked and chain him overnight to the concrete floor. The CIA has never accounted for the death, nor publicly reprimanded the supervisor. Instead, the Agency reportedly promoted him.

Those Blagojevich tapes sure are disgusting, aren’t they?  Let’s study those some more.

UPDATE II:  Well worth reading on the various implications of the Senate report are Dan Froomkin, Scott Horton, and Andrew Sullivan (scroll down for multiple posts).

Source

Cheney admits authorizing detainee’s torture

Blame Bush policies for detainee abuse: U.S. Senate report

Kibaki is told: Apologize over Journalists Arrested

December 15 2008
By Job Weru

President Kibaki should apologize to Kenyans over the unprecedented arrests of journalists on Jamhuri Day, former MP Wanyiri Kihoro has said.

Addressing a Press conference in Nyeri, Mr Kihoro, said the communications Bill was passed irregularly since only 25 MPs were in Parliament.

Kihoro, a lawyer, said a quorum of at least 30 MPs should be in Parliament to discuss and pass any law.

“This law is inappropriate and irregular. It did not pass the quorum test, and Kibaki should not give Kenyans a law that will allow Government to commit crimes against the media,” he said.

He said if signed into law, the Bill would allow the Government to perpetrate ills against Kenyans, without fear of being exposed by the media.

Kihoro said there would be no free governance without free Press.

“We better have a free Press, than a free Government and gagged media, since free Press will always ensure justice and tranquility for all Kenyans,” he said.

He added: “It is time we spoke openly against this Bill. It is draconian and would lead us into darkness. Let us all rise against this Bill.”

Kihoro termed MPs saying they were not in Parliament as insincere, and taking House business outside Parliament.

“That is conspiracy that should not be allowed to continue, since we have learned that most of those claiming they were not in Parliament drew their sitting allowances for the day,” he said.

Unfortunate

Kihoro said, Kibaki owed Kenyans an apology, over the sideshows created during Jamhuri Day celebrations by his security detail who were arresting journalists.

“Kibaki must not allow such scenes to occur. Instead of celebrating, the ruthless security personnel chose to engage journalists in inhumane arrests,” he said.

Kihoro also termed Monday’s arrest of journalists protesting over passing of the controversial Bill in Nairobi as a return to the dark days when Kenyans were not allowed to speak of issues affecting them.
And speaking separately in Ngorano area in Mathira, Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni described the arrest of journalists as unfortunate.

“The media people are holding a view that should be addressed carefully, other than booking them into cells,” he said.
He added: “People should not be apprehended while pushing for crucial rights.”

Speaking at a funeral service in the area, the MP criticized colleagues now against the Bill after it was passed in Parliament saying they were playing populist politics.

“Where were they when the Bill was passed?

If they are genuine, they should have been in the house where I was personally and I supported the amendment but the opposition was too much,” he said.

Source

Journalists arrested in Kenya
December 13 2008
By Alex Kiarie
Kenya

Kenya police have arrested journalists who were protesting at the passing of a bill in parliament which gives the Internal Security Minister the powers to raid and disable media houses which he feels are a possible threat to national security.

Kenya parliament

The Kenya Communication Amendments Bill was passed by the Kenyan parliament on Wednesday. The bill has drawn criticism from media houses, human rights organizations and the general public.

The arrest occurred on Friday at the Jamhuri Day (Independence) celebrations in the capital Nairobi. Journalists from different media houses were arrested as they held a demonstration in support of media freedom at the Nyayo stadium where president Kibaki was scheduled to lead the nation in marking the 45th anniversary of Kenya’s independence. It is celebrated on 12th December each year.

Amongst those arrested are John Allan Namu and Sadiq Shabaan both of Kenya Television Network, and the combative Kiss FM breakfast show host, Caroline Mutoko. Also arrested was Mwalimu Mati of Mars Group – a civil rights organization together with other activists. The demonstrators were in black T-shirts calling on MPs to pay tax.

Meanwhile, a radio comedian with Nation Media Group’s Q FM was arrested as he tried to present a letter to the president that calls on him (president) not to assent to the media bill. Walter Mong’are alias Nyambane was manhandled by the police and the presidential security detail as he attempted to reach the presidential dais. This drew boos and jeers from members of the public and the media-which captured the commotion live. All those arrested are currently being held at the Langata Police Station.

Source

Kenya: Media row over new Bill
December 12 2008
By Ferdinand Wanangwe
Kenya

Kenya Members of Parliament have passed a bill that will limit the liberties of the media in the country. The Kenya Communications (Amendments) Bill 2008 is feared by many that it will gag the media which has been very liberal since multi-party system in Kenya.

The Communications Commission of Kenya will now be mandated to control what can be broadcasted and when it can be broadcasted by private television and radio stations and the CCK will be required to receive guidelines from the Minister of State Security on what content they can or not cover.Media experts in Kenya are now worried that this might take Kenya back during the single party system when politicians decide what is news and what is not news. The big threat is also manifested on the stiff penalties proposed for the offences, which includes confiscating the media equipment. This is seen by many as proportionate to the seriousness of the offences.

Media practitioners say that the current breed of politicians who ascended to leadership in 2002 under NARC was helped by the media and rights groups to acquire power. “It is interesting to note that the same politicians are now fighting to kill media freedom,” a practitioner said.

But the government Minister for Communication, Samuel Poghisio, has stated that the government is committed to the freedom of the press and that the government has no intention present or in future to gag the media.

Media practitioners in Kenya are now very worried that the interpretation of the bill by future governments could differ and this will be the start of dictatorship in a country viewed by many as role model in Eastern Africa.

The country has questionable record of respecting civil liberties at personal and at media levels. A Government Minister recently told a press conference that if you rattle snake you face it. That was after an invasion in a leading media house in Kenya in which damages worth millions of shillings were recorded.

Should President Kibaki sign the bill to become a Kenyan law then the current members of parliament will regret for years having passed it in Parliament. The bill which appeared as an amendment to the already existing Kenya communications act 1998 is totally changed and can only be termed as a new law.

General opinion making rounds has it that Kenyans will only be happy if the president sends the Bill back to Parliament for redrafting so that a new ICT Bill is crafted and debated and the issues of broadcasting omitted in totality.

Published in: on December 15, 2008 at 8:32 pm  Comments Off on Kibaki is told: Apologize over Journalists Arrested  
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Israel blocks foreign media from Gaza

November 12 2008

JERUSALEM:

Israel has barred foreign journalists from entering the Gaza Strip for a week, in a move media have assailed as a serious violation of press freedom.

Israeli military spokesman Peter Lerner said the restrictions were imposed because Palestinian militants have resumed their rocket fire from Gaza, in violation of a 5-month-old truce. The only people allowed to enter and leave Gaza under the policy are international aid workers and Palestinian patients seeking medical treatment outside the territory, he said.

Because the Islamic militant Hamas group that rules Gaza “is not doing anything to stop the rockets firing into Israel, the decision is that only humanitarian movement is allowed,” Lerner said.

Journalists dismissed that explanation as implausible and said current hostilities did not justify the ban on access.

“It is absolutely essential that international journalists be allowed to enter the territory and deliver their news reports to Israel and the rest of the world,” said a statement from the Foreign Press Association, which represents international media covering Israel and the Palestinian territories.

“We note that humanitarian cases are still going in and out, proving safe passage is possible,” added the statement, issued earlier this week. “The curtailing of journalists’ right to enter Gaza is a serious violation of press freedom.”

The Israeli military said some 75 rockets have been fired at southern Israel from Gaza since the barrages resumed last week, prompting Israel to attack militant targets, seal cargo crossings and restrict fuel shipments.

Source

U.N.: Israel won’t allow food aid to enter Gaza

Published in: on November 14, 2008 at 7:36 am  Comments Off on Israel blocks foreign media from Gaza  
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U.S. DOD to Fund Pro-American Publicity in Iraqi Media

IRAQ: U.S. to Fund Pro-American Publicity in Iraqi Media

by Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus,
October 3rd, 2008

The Defense Department will pay private U.S. contractors in Iraq up to $300 million over the next three years to produce news stories, entertainment programs and public service advertisements for the Iraqi media in an effort to “engage and inspire” the local population to support U.S. objectives and the Iraqi government.

The new contracts — awarded last week to four companies — will expand and consolidate what the U.S. military calls “information/psychological operations” in Iraq far into the future, even as violence appears to be abating and U.S. troops have begun drawing down.

The military’s role in the war of ideas has been fundamentally transformed in recent years, the result of both the Pentagon’s outsized resources and a counterinsurgency doctrine in which information control is considered key to success. Uniformed communications specialists and contractors are now an integral part of U.S. military operations from Eastern Europe to Afghanistan and beyond.

Iraq, where hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on such contracts, has been the proving ground for the transformation. “The tools they’re using, the means, the robustness of this activity has just skyrocketed since 2003. In the past, a lot of this stuff was just some guy’s dreams,” said a senior U.S. military official, one of several who discussed the sensitive defense program on the condition of anonymity.

The Pentagon still sometimes feels it is playing catch-up in a propaganda market dominated by al-Qaeda, whose media operations include sophisticated Web sites and professionally produced videos and audios featuring Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants. “We’re being out-communicated by a guy in a cave,” Secretary Robert M. Gates often remarks.

But Defense Department officials think their own products have become increasingly imaginative and competitive. Military and contractor-produced media campaigns, spotlighting killings by insurgents, “helped in developing attitudes” that led Iraqis to reject al-Qaeda in Iraq over the past two years, an official said. Now that the insurgency is in disarray, he said, the same tools “could potentially be helpful” in diminishing the influence of neighboring Iran.

U.S.-produced public service broadcasts and billboards have touted improvements in government services, promoted political reconciliation, praised the Iraqi military and encouraged Iraqi citizens to report criminal activity. When national euphoria broke out last year after an Iraqi singer won a talent contest in Lebanon, the U.S. military considered producing an Iraqi version of “American Idol” to help build nonsectarian nationalism. The idea was shelved as too expensive, an official said, but “we’re trying to think out of the box on” reconciliation.

One official described how part of the program works: “There’s a video piece produced by a contractor . . . showing a family being attacked by a group of bad guys, and their daughter being taken off. The message is: You’ve got to stand up against the enemy.” The professionally produced vignette, he said, “is offered for airing on various [television] stations in Iraq. . . . They don’t know that the originator of the content is the U.S. government. If they did, they would never run anything.”

“If you asked most Iraqis,” he said, “they would say, ‘It came from the government, our own government.’ ”

The Pentagon’s solicitation for bids on the contracts noted that media items produced “may or may not be non-attributable to coalition forces.” “If they thought we were doing it, it would not be as effective,” another official said of the Iraqis. “In the Middle East, they are so afraid they’re going to be Westernized . . . that you have to be careful when you’re trying to provide information to the population.”

The Army’s counterinsurgency manual, which Gen. David H. Petraeus co-wrote in 2006, describes information operations in detail, citing them among the “critical” military activities “that do not involve killing insurgents.” Petraeus, who became the top U.S. commander in Iraq early last year, led a “surge” in combat troops and information warfare.

Some of the new doctrine emerged from Petraeus’s own early experience in Iraq. As commander of the 101st Airborne Division in northern Nineveh province in 2003, he ensured that war-ravaged radio and television stations were brought rapidly back on line. At his urging, the first TV programs included “Nineveh Talent Search” and a radio call-in show hosted by his Arabic interpreter, Sadi Othman, a Palestinian American.

Othman, a former New York cabdriver employed by Reston-based SOS International, remained at Petraeus’s side during the general’s subsequent Iraq deployments; the company refers to him as a senior adviser to Petraeus.

SOSi has been one of the most prominent communications contractors working in Iraq, winning a two-year $200 million contract in 2006 to “assist in gathering information, conducting analysis and providing timely solutions and advice regarding cultural, religious, political, economic and public perceptions.”

“We definitely believe this is a growth area in the DOD,” said Julian Setian, SOSi’s chief operating officer. “We are seeing more and more requests for professional assistance in media-related strategic communications efforts, specifically in gauging of perceptions in foreign media with regard to U.S. operations.”

The four companies that will share in the new contract are SOSi, the Washington-based Lincoln Group, Alexandria-based MPRI and Leonie Industries, a Los Angeles contractor. All specialize in strategic communications and have done previous defense work.

Defense officials maintained that strict rules are enforced against disseminating false information. “Our enemies have the luxury of not having to tell the truth,” Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman told a congressional hearing last month. “We pay an extremely high price if we ever even make a slight error in putting out the facts.”

Contractors require security clearances, and proof that their teams possess sufficient linguistic abilities and knowledge of Iraqi culture. The Iraqi government has little input on U.S. operations, although U.S. officials say they have encouraged Iraqis to be more aggressive in molding public support.

The Pentagon is sensitive to criticism that it has sometimes blurred the lines between public-affairs activities and unattributed propaganda. As information operations in Iraq expanded, some senior officers warned that they risked a return to psychological and deception operations discredited during the Vietnam War.

In 2006, the Pentagon’s inspector general found that media work that the Lincoln Group did in Iraq was improperly supervised but legal. The contractor had prepared news items considered favorable to the U.S. military and paid to place them in the Iraqi media without attribution. Then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters that his initial reaction to the anonymous pay-to-publish program was “Gee, that’s not what we ought to be doing.”

On Aug. 21, the day before bids on the new contract were closed, the solicitation was reissued to replace repeated references to information and psychological operations with the term “media services.”

Senior military officials said that current media placement is done through Iraqi middlemen and that broadcast time is usually paid. But they said they knew of no recent instance of payment to place unattributed newspaper articles. The officials maintained that news items are now a minor part of the operation, which they said is focused on public service promotions and media monitoring.

But a lengthy list of “deliverables” under the new contract proposal includes “print columns, press statements, press releases, response-to-query, speeches and . . . opinion editorials”; radio broadcasts “in excess of 300 news stories” monthly and 150 each on sports and economic themes; and 30- and 60-minute broadcast documentary and entertainment series.

Contractors will also develop and maintain Web sites; assess news articles in the Iraqi, U.S. and international media; and determine ways to counter coverage deemed negative, according to the contract solicitation the government posted in May. Polls and focus groups will be used to monitor Iraqi attitudes under a separate three-year contract totaling up to $45 million.

While U.S. law prohibits the use of government money to direct propaganda at U.S. audiences, the “statement of work” included in the proposal, written by the U.S. Joint Contracting Command in Iraq, notes the need to “communicate effectively with our strategic audiences (i.e. Iraqi, pan-Arabic, International, and U.S. audiences) to gain widespread acceptance of [U.S. and Iraqi government] core themes and messages.”

Lawmakers have often challenged the propriety of the military’s information operations, even when they take place outside the United States. The Pentagon itself has frequently lamented the need to undertake duties beyond combat and peacekeeping, and Gates has publicly questioned the “creeping militarization” of tasks civilians traditionally perform.

In 2006, President Bush put the State Department in charge of the administration’s worldwide “strategic communications,” but the size of the military’s efforts dwarf those of the diplomats. State estimates it will spend $5.6 million on public diplomacy in Iraq in fiscal 2008. A provision in the fiscal 2009 Defense Authorization Bill has called for a “close examination” of the State and defense communications programs “to better formulate a comprehensive strategy.”

Some inside the military itself have questioned the effectiveness of the defense program. “I’m not a huge fan” of information operations, one military official said, adding that Iraqi opinions — as for most people — are formed more by what they experience than by what they read in a newspaper, hear on the radio or see on billboards.

“A lot of money is being thrown around,” he said, “and I’m not sure it’s all paying off as much as we think it is.”

Source

DOD paying for propaganda is more like it. Tax payers of course are footing the bill for this. What a waste of tax dollars considering the poverty and economic state in the US.

Published in: on October 6, 2008 at 4:37 am  Comments (1)  
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