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June 24, 2005

Censoring the Carnage


by Dahr Jamail

At long last, the culminating session of the World Tribunal on Iraq is upon us. As a witness providing testimony, I'm being interviewed by many outlets. Today, one of them was by reporters for one of the larger newspapers in Turkey, Yeni Safak.

I'll leave the reporters nameless, for reasons you'll soon see.

The newspaper has been translating various articles of mine into Turkish and running them, particularly those concerning the most recent Fallujah massacre. The reporter who was interviewing me today told me that the former American consulate here, Eric Edelman, asked the prime minister of Turkey to pressure his paper to not run so many of my stories.

"Why did he do this?" I asked him.

"Edelman said it was the wrong news," he told me with a smile.

Turns out Edelman also asked that articles by Robert Fisk and Naomi Klein not be run so often in Yeni Safak, either.

He smiled at me while he watched the wheels turning in my head before I smiled back and said, "That makes me very happy; it means I'm doing my job as a journalist."

We laughed heartily together at this, as did everyone else at the table.

Reminds me of the obtuse hate mails I sometimes receive – confirmation that I am doing my job. They always make me smile.

So the American government is pressuring foreign countries to censor their news. Aside from the fact that this act is the height of arrogance by the United States, it makes it exceedingly clear why so many Americans who rely on the corporate media for their news continue to be so misinformed/uninformed about the goings-on in Iraq. If the American government is attempting to censor the news in foreign countries, you can imagine what they are doing at home.

Because people like Edelman don't want citizens of the United States to know that events like the massacre of Fallujah or the atrocities in Abu Ghraib are not isolated incidents.

People like Edelman don't want people to know what one of my sources in Baquba just told me today.

His e-mail reads:

"Near the city of Buhrez, five kilometers south of Baquba, two Humvees of American soldiers were destroyed recently. American and Iraqi soldiers came to the city afterwards and cut all the phones, cut the water, cut medicine from arriving in the city, and told them that until the people of the city bring the 'terrorists' to them, the embargo will continue."

The embargo has been in place now for one week now. He continued:

"The Americans still won't [allow] anyone or any medicines and supplies into Buhrez, nor will they allow any people in or out. Even the al-Sadr followers who organized some help for the people in the city (water, food, medicine) are not being allowed into the city. Even journalists cannot enter to publish the news, and the situation there is so bad. The Americans keep asking for the people in the city to bring them the persons who were in charge of destroying the two Humvees on the other side of the city, but of course the people in the city don't know who carried out the attack."

People like Edelman don't want people to know about the recent U.S. attacks in al-Qa'im and Haditha, either. Attacks that Iraqis are describing as just as bad as the massacre of Fallujah.

On Haditha and al-Qa'im, an Iraqi doctor sent me this e-mail yesterday:

"Listen…we witnessed crimes in the west area of the country of what the bastards did in Haditha and al-Qa'im. It was a crime, a really big crime we have witnessed and filmed in those places and recently also in Fallujah. We need big help in the western area of the country. Our doctors need urgent help there. Please, this is an URGENT humanitarian request from the hospitals in the west of the country. We have big proof on how the American troops destroyed one of our hospitals, how they burned the whole store of medication of the west area of Iraq and how they killed a patient in the ward … how they prevented us from helping the people in al-Qa'im. This is an URGENT Humanitarian request. The hospitals in the west of Iraq ask for urgent help …we are in a big humanitarian medical disaster…."

People like Edelman don't want the public to know that the same tactics were used in Fallujah by the U.S. military – posting snipers around the city to shoot anyone who moved, targeting ambulances, impeding medical care, and detaining innocent civilians en masse.

After all, Fallujah is the model. Fallujah is our Guernica. And now, Haditha and al-Qa'im can be added to the list, with Baquba and Buhrez under deconstruction.

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    Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Dahr Jamail writes about the effects of the US occupation on the people of Iraq, since the mainstream media in the US has in large part, he believes, failed to do so.

    Dahr has spent a total of 5 months in occupied Iraq, and plans on returning in October to continue reporting on the occupation. One of only a few independent reporters in Iraq, Dahr will be using the DahrJamailIraq.com website and mailing list to disseminate his dispatches and will continue as special correspondent for Flashpoints Radio.

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