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Review :: Politics
Thoghts on DC Action from Dahr Jamail -More Dissent, More Censorship
26 Sep 2005
** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **
** http://dahrjamailiraq.com **
September 26, 2005


More Dissent, More Censorship

A quarter of a million people jammed the streets of the capital this
past weekend, as Mr. Bush conveniently found himself visiting the US
Northern Command’s HQ in Colorado Springs.

While veterans from the current debacle in Iraq and scores of military
families who oppose the Bush Junta joined the throngs of protestors in
Washington DC to express their dissent, there were other goings-on
related to Iraq while Bush had his photo-op in Colorado.

A contractor I know working in Iraq wrote me recently. He gives me
periodic updates about how life is on the base where he works in support
of the military. He wrote:

“Another convoy hit hard-3 drivers killed and many others wounded- I
don’t know if it’s my friends yet. They don’t like to advertise these
kinds of things much around here because they cause the exit planes to
fill up - the only problem is, there are more plane loads waiting in
Houston [to come here]. The gullible waiting for their chance at the
tarnished brass ring. [Me and my friends] agree this countries’ policies
of oil have led us down the path of Armageddon.”

At least 1,917 US soldiers have died in Iraq now, 16 just in the last
week. At least 10 times that number have been wounded for life, both
physically and psychologically.

Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that so many people marched in the
capital this weekend, nor that so many of them are veterans and family
members who have simply had enough of this. The people I spoke with at
the demonstration expressed feelings of anger and impatience towards
this so-called administration.

So it shouldn’t have been a surprise, either, to have seen a sign in the
demo with a little pretzel drawn on it which read, “Give the pretzel
another chance!”

The recent news of a few brave soldiers from the 82nd Airborne speaking
out (on condition of anonymity in a Human Rights Watch report) about how
they “vented their frustration by systematically torturing Iraqi
detainees from 2003 into 2004, hitting them with baseball bats and
dousing them with chemicals” may have shocked some people here in the
US. However, it isn’t news to soldiers in Iraq, of course, or for Iraqis
for that matter.

A soldier currently in Iraq who works as a medic wrote me a few days ago:

“I do sick-call for the detainees. Right now, I think they have
mechanics guarding the detainees. I’ve talked to them a couple of times
and they’ve made comments like “if they were detained, they are probably
bad…” A couple of times I’ve pointed out that: 1) they might very well
be innocent and 2) that they are still human. The guards seemed to
really acknowledge that. But it’s almost like everyone knows the emperor
is naked, but are trying to cling to the idea that he is wearing new
clothes. When someone points out that he might be naked, it gives them
the freedom to acknowledge that as well. The real travesty, I think, is
the American people. With no exposure to Iraqis, all they see on the
news is that we are killing the bad guys, and they don’t see the refugee
camps, or how we trash cities (collateral damage seems a nice phrase,
because it’s not their homes which are being destroyed. Not the sons and
daughters of their friends who are being killed.) They don’t see the
casual way most soldiers feel about destroying property. All they see is
what they are told, and unless it’s stamped with a corporations seal, it
lacks legitimacy in their eyes and it gets relegated to an “extremist
position.””

My friends’ opinion of the misleading of the American people by the
corporate media about the horrific reality in Iraq applies in other
countries as well. Bush Administration pressure on the media is not
limited to within the US.

In a previous weblog
<http://dahrjamailiraq.com/weblog/archives/dispatches/000256.php>;, I
wrote about how a newspaper in Turkey had been pressured by the US
Embassy to run fewer news stories about Iraq from journalists like
myself, Robert Fisk and Naomi Klein.

Last night, here in DC, I spoke with Stelios Kouloglou, a journalist
with Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation in Greece. His program on the
public television station has won several awards for investigative
journalism and remains extremely popular in his country.

On the one year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, April of 2004, his
station broadcast a documentary he produced entitled, “25 Lies to Sell
the War,” a title which needs no explanation to anyone who is not fully
encapsulated in denial.

“I found out through a leak that the US embassy in Greece was applying
political pressure to our government in order for them to pressure my
television station for running my documentary,” he told me at his hotel.

“It became clear, after your election in ’04 when Bush stayed in office,
that his administration became much more aggressive,” he explained. “The
US embassy began asking for our program to be discontinued. They were
telling this not just to our program spokesperson, but directly to our
government! Their protest took a much more official character, and they
did not even attempt to conceal this.”

Being a journalist for 25 years and having covered the war in Yugoslavia
as well as having worked in Moscow during Perestroika, he said this type
of overt political pressure to be a first for him.

“I’ve never experienced political pressure like this, not even in Russia
when I was being critical of Gorbachev, nor in Yugoslavia when I was
being extremely critical of Milosevic,” he added.

More recently and a bit closer to home here in the US, Doug Ireland writes:

“The internationally renowned correspondent for The Independent - the
great British journalist [and citizen] Robert Fisk - has been banned
from entering the United States. Fisk has been covering war zones for
decades, but is above all known for his incisive reporting from the
Middle East for more than 20 years. His critical coverage of the
Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, and the continuing occupation that has
followed it, has repeatedly exposed US and British government
disinformation campaigns. He also has exposed how the bulk of the press
reports from Iraq have been “hotel journalism” - a phrase Fisk coined.”

He continues:

“The daily New Mexican reports that “U.S. immigration officials refused
Tuesday [20 September] to allow Robert Fisk, longtime Middle East
correspondent for the London newspaper, The Independent, to board a
plane from Toronto to Denver. Fisk was on his way to Santa Fe for a
sold-out appearance in the Lannan Foundation’s
readings-and-conversations series on Wednesday night. According to
Christie Mazuera Davis, a Lannan program officer, Fisk was told that his
papers were not in order. Davis made last-minute arrangements Wednesday
for Amy Goodman, host of Pacifica Radios daily news show, Democracy
Now!, to interview Fisk via satellite from a television station in
Toronto..." A recording of this satellite interview will soon be
available on the Lannan Foundation’s website.”

As we prepared to leave his hotel last night, my colleague Stelios
Kouloglou half-jokingly offered, “You can come visit Greece anytime,
whether for vacation or for political asylum.”

I only half-laughed as I shook his hand.

More writing, photos and commentary at http://dahrjamailiraq.com

(c)2004, 2005 Dahr Jamail.
All images and text are protected by United States and international copyright
law. If you would like to reprint Dahr's Dispatches on the web, you need to
include this copyright notice and a prominent link to the DahrJamailIraq.com
website. Any other use of images and text including, but not limited to,
reproduction, use on another website, copying and printing requires the
permission of Dahr Jamail. Of course, feel free to forward Dahr's dispatches via
email.

This work is in the public domain
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