Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Media Repression in 'Liberated' Land

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **

Media Repression in 'Liberated' Land

Dahr Jamail

BAGHDAD, Nov 18 (IPS) - Journalists are increasingly being detained and
threatened by the U.S.-installed interim government in Iraq. Media have
been stopped particularly from covering recent horrific events in Fallujah.

The "100 Orders" penned by former U.S. administrator in Iraq L. Paul
Bremer include Order 65 passed March 20 to establish an Iraqi
communications and media commission. This commission has powers to
control the media because it has complete control over licensing and
regulating telecommunications, broadcasting, information services and
all other media establishments.

On June 28 when the United States handed over power to a 'sovereign'
Iraqi interim government, Bremer simply passed on the authority to Ayad
Allawi, the U.S.-installed interim prime minister who has had
longstanding ties with the British intelligence service MI6 and the CIA.

A glaring instance is the curbs placed on the Qatar-based TV channel

Within days of the 'handover' of power to an interim Iraqi government
last summer, the Baghdad office of al-Jazeera was raided and closed by
security forces from the interim government. The network was accused of
inaccurate reporting and banned initially for one month from reporting
out of Iraq.

The ban was then extended "indefinitely." On Tuesday this week the
interim government announced that any al-Jazeera journalist found
reporting in Iraq would be detained.

The al-Jazeera office in Baghdad had been bombed by a U.S. warplane
during the invasion of March last year. The TV channel had given their
exact coordinates to the Pentagon to avoid such an occurrence. One of
their journalists was killed in the bombing.

Al-Jazeera now broadcasts a daily apology "because we cannot cover Iraq
news well since our offices have been closed for over three months by
orders from the interim government."

Other instances of political repression abound. The media commission
sent out an order recently asking news organisations to "stick to the
government line on the U.S.-led offensive in Fallujah or face legal
action." The warning was sent on the letterhead of Allawi.

The letter also asked media to "set aside space in your news coverage to
make the position of the Iraqi government, which expresses the
aspirations of most Iraqis, clear."

Last week a journalist for the al-Arabiya network was detained by U.S.
forces outside Fallujah when he attempted to enter the besieged city.

Citing another al-Arabiya correspondent as its source, the U.S.-based
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said the Arabic satellite station
had lost contact with Abdel Kader Saadi, a reporter and photographer
living and working in the Sunni Muslim city, on Nov. 11.

French freelance photographer Corentin Fleury was detained by the U.S.
military with his interpreter, 28 year-old Bahktiyar Abdulla Hadad when
they were leaving Fallujah just before the siege of the city began.

They had worked in the city for nine days leading up to the siege, and
were held for five days in a military detention facility outside the city.

"They were very nervous and they asked us what we saw, and looked over
all my photos, asking me questions about them," Fleury told IPS. "They
asked where the weapons were, what the neighborhoods were like, all of

Fleury said he had photographed homes destroyed by U.S. warplanes, and
life in the city leading up to the siege.

"They wanted information from me regarding the situation in Fallujah,
but they have yet to release my translator," he said. "I made a silly
photo of him holding a sniper rifle, and I think this is why they are
holding him. I've been trying to get information for the last five days
on him, and the French embassy has been trying to get him out, different
journalists he's worked with are sending letters, but there has been no
luck so far."


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