The Indian writer Vandana Shiva has called for
an "insurrection of subjugated knowledge." The insurrection is well
under way. In trying to make sense of a dangerous world, millions of people
are turning away from the traditional sources of news and information and to
the World Wide Web, convinced that mainstream journalism is the voice of rampant
power. The great scandal of Iraq has accelerated this. In the United States,
several senior broadcasters have confessed that had they challenged and exposed
the lies told about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, instead of amplifying
and justifying them, the invasion might not have happened.
Such honesty has yet to cross the Atlantic. Since it was founded in 1922, the
BBC has served to protect every British establishment during war and civil unrest.
"We" never traduce and never commit great crimes. So the omission
of shocking events in Iraq the destruction of cities, the slaughter of
innocent people, and the farce of a puppet government is routinely applied.
A study by the Cardiff School of Journalism found that 90 per cent of the BBC's
references to Saddam Hussein's WMD suggested he possessed them and that "spin
from the British and U.S. governments was successful in framing the coverage."
The same "spin" has ensured, until now, that the use of banned weapons
by the Americans and British in Iraq has been suppressed as news.
An admission by the U.S. State Department on Nov. 10 that its forces had used
white phosphorus in Fallujah followed "rumors on the Internet," according
to the BBC's Newsnight. There were no rumors. There was first-class investigative
work that ought to shame well-paid journalists. Mark Kraft of Insomnia.LiveJournal.com
found the evidence in the March-April 2005 issue of Field Artillery magazine
and other sources. He was supported by the work of filmmaker Gabriele Zamparini,
founder of the excellent site TheCatsDream.com.
Last May, David Edwards and David Cromwell of MediaLens.org
posted a revealing correspondence with Helen Boaden, the BBC's director of news.
They had asked her why the BBC had remained silent on known atrocities committed
by the Americans in Fallujah. She replied, "Our correspondent in Fallujah
at the time [of the U.S. attack], Paul Wood, did not report any of these things
because he did not see any of these things." It is a statement to savor.
Wood was "embedded" with the Americans. He interviewed none of the
victims of American atrocities nor unembedded journalists. He not only missed
the Americans' use of white phosphorus, which they now admit, he reported nothing
of the use of another banned weapon, napalm. Thus, BBC viewers were unaware
of the fine words of Col. James Alles, commander of the U.S. Marine Air Group
II. "We napalmed both those bridge approaches," he said. "Unfortunately,
there were people there
you could see them in the cockpit video.
It's no great way to die. The generals love napalm. It has a big psychological
Once the unacknowledged work of Mark Kraft and Gabriele Zamparini had appeared
in the Guardian and Independent and forced the Americans to come
clean about white phosphorous, Wood was on Newsnight describing their
admission as "a public relations disaster for the U.S." This echoed
Menzies Campbell of the Liberal Democrats, perhaps the most quoted politician
since Gladstone, who said, "The use of this weapon may technically have
been legal, but its effects are such that it will hand a propaganda victory
to the insurgency."
The BBC and most of the British political and media establishment invariably
cast such a horror as a public relations problem while minimizing the crushing
of a city the size of Leeds, the killing and maiming of countless men, women,
and children, the expulsion of thousands and the denial of medical supplies,
food, and water a major war crime.
The evidence is voluminous, provided by refugees, doctors, human rights groups,
and a few courageous foreigners whose work appears only on the Internet. In
April last year, Jo Wilding, a young British law student, filed a series of
extraordinary eyewitness reports from inside the city. So fine are they I have
included one of her pieces in an
anthology of the best investigative journalism. Her film, A Letter to
the Prime Minister, made inside Fallujah with Julia Guest, has not been
shown on British television. In addition, Dahr
Jamail, an independent Lebanese-American journalist who has produced some
of the best front-line reporting I have read, described all the "things"
the BBC failed to "see." His interviews with doctors, local officials,
and families are on the Internet, together with the work of those who have exposed
the widespread use of uranium-tipped shells, another banned weapon, and cluster
bombs, which Campbell would say are "technically legal." Try these
Web sites: DahrJamailIraq.com,
There are many more.
"Each word," wrote Jean-Paul Sartre, "has an echo. So does each