Dahr Jamail: AP Propaganda About Iraq


Richard Moore

Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2006 11:02:56 -0700
From: •••@••.•••
Subject: Iraq Dispatches: AP Propaganda About Iraq

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      AP Propaganda About Iraq

By Dahr Jamail
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Friday 22 September 2006

    "But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt
    -George Orwell

On Monday, September 18, Associated Press (AP) ran a story titled, "Iraqi tribes
fight Insurgency 
<http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060918/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_tribes>." At first 
glance, the average reader cannot be blamed for thinking that this is a story 
about how tribes in Iraq have decided to take up arms against the "insurgency."

The reader certainly cannot be blamed for thinking this, because the first 
paragraph in the AP story reads, "Tribes in one of Iraq's most volatile 
provinces have joined together to fight the insurgency there, and they have 
called on the government and the US-led military coalition for weapons, a 
prominent tribal leader said Monday."

Allow me to pause here and address the use of the word "insurgent." According to
Webster's Third New International Dictionary, an insurgent is "a person who 
rises in revolt against civil authority or an established government: [a] 
rebel." This of course begs the existence of a legitimately elected government 
that the "insurgent" rises in revolt against, which in Iraq we do not have. How 
is it possible to have a legitimate government in a country that was first 
illegally invaded and today is illegally occupied?

Yet, AP uses the word unquestioningly.

The story continues: "Tribal leaders and clerics in Ramadi, the capital of 
violent Anbar province, met last week and have set up a force of about 20,000 
men 'ready to purge the city of these infidels,' Sheik Fassal al-Guood, a 
prominent tribal leader from Ramadi, told the Associated Press, referring to the
insurgents. 'People are fed up with the acts of those criminals who take Islam 
as a cover for their crimes,' he said. 'The situation in the province is 
unbearable, the city is abandoned, most of the families have fled the city and 
all services are poor.' Al-Guood said 15 of the 18 tribes in Ramadi 'have sworn 
to fight those who are killing Sunnis and Shiites and they established an armed 
force of about 20,000 young men ready to purge the city from those infidels.'"

At this point, either the author of this AP story, or the editor, or both, 
rightly assume that the reader is not aware that Sheik Fassal al-Guood tried to 
lead the local resistance against the occupation in Ramadi, but turned against 
the same resistance group when its members rejected him as a leader because they
considered him a corrupt thief. Nor is the reader aware that today, Sheikh 
Fassal al-Guood lives in the "Green Zone" and happily talks to reporters from 
behind the concrete blast walls, and that his power in Al-Anbar now equals 
exactly nothing.

I contacted author and media critic Norman Solomon and asked him what he thought
of this AP story. "The holes in this story beg for questions that it does not 
raise, much less answer," he wrote. "For instance: What are the past, present 
and hoped-for financial relationships between the quoted 'tribal leader' on the 
one hand and the US and Iraqi governments on the other? Are there any 
indications that money has changed hands? Is a mercenary arrangement being set 
up? Is this part of the Bush administration's strategy to get more Iraqis to 
kill each other rather than have Iraqis killing American troops - aka 'As the 
Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down?' Isn't there a good chance that such 
arrangements will actually fuel civil war in Iraq rather than douse its already 
horrific flames?"

He continued, "So, this AP story agreeably paraphrases an official from the 
US-backed Iraqi government's Defense Ministry as saying that 'Iraqi security 
forces had met with tribal leaders and had agreed to cooperate in combating 
violence.' But how will they be 'combating violence?' With massive violence, of 
course, although the article doesn't say so. Many sources are available to make 
such a point, but in this story AP availed itself of none of them."

Solomon, a nationally-syndicated columnist on media and politics who is also the
founder and executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, a national 
consortium of policy researchers and analysts, had this to say about why AP 
might get away with this type of "reportage" as consistently as it does: "AP is 
providing the kind of coverage that it and other mainstream US media outlets 
have provided in the past. The coverage does not seem conspicuously shoddy to 
most readers because it fits in with previous shoddy reportage. From all 
appearances, this AP article is based on statements from four sources - and each
of them is in line with US government policies. There's one tribal leader from 
Ramadi who is seeking large quantities of material aid from the US and the Iraqi
government; there are two spokespeople for that Iraqi government; and there's a 
general from the US military. That all four would present a similar picture of 
events is not surprising. But for an article to rely on only those sources is 
stenography for one side of the conflict - which should not be confused with 

It is also important for the reader to note that, according to an August US 
Defense Intelligence Agency assessment, of 1,666 bombs exploded in Iraq in July,
90% were aimed at US-led forces. Along with this fact, attacks against US forces
have increased dramatically in recent months, and the US military itself has 
admitted that less than 6% of the attacks against them are from foreign fighters
(i.e., "terrorists"). Thus, at least 94% of all attacks against US forces in 
Iraq are from the Iraqi Resistance, as opposed to "terrorists."

It is time, too, that readers of mainstream news knew that any "tribal meeting" 
that discusses fighting "the insurgents" is currently being held secretly inside
American military bases or inside the "green zone." Iraqi people who are trying 
to lead that operation are well known to Al-Anbar citizens. These leaders did 
succeed in some cases in recruiting certain groups to fight resistance fighters 
by paying considerable sums of money, but it was only temporary success.

A case in point would be Al-Qa'im last spring. A tribal fight occurred between 
local resistance fighters. Sheik Osama al-Jadaan was involved in engineering it 
by paying members of his tribe to take up arms against local resistance groups. 
Yet this conflict was settled, and when it was, al-Jadaan had to flee to the 
"green zone." He lived there for a short time before his work as a collaborator 
with occupation forces caught up with him, and he was killed in Baghdad.

Yet the AP story has this to say about al-Jadaan: "In late May, a prominent 
Sunni Arab tribal leader, Sheik Osama al-Jadaan, who provided fighters to help 
battle al-Qaeda in Anbar, was assassinated in Baghdad."

There are the usual token scraps of truth in the AP story, lending it a hue of 
credibility. The story quotes a US military spokesperson who goes out on a limb 
to say that tribal leaders in Anbar "very much want to see security brought back
to that area."

Another scrap of truth came earlier in the story where Al-Guood is quoted as 
saying that most of the tribes of Ramadi "have sworn to fight those who are 
killing Sunnis and Shiites and they established an armed force of about 20,000 
young men ready to purge the city from those infidels."

This is true throughout Iraq, where even the US military has documented several 
cases of resistance groups fighting foreign terror groups that have infiltrated 
Iraq's porous borders in order to carry out attacks against Iraqi civilians.

The most disconcerting portion of this AP story, however, is the melding of the 
word "insurgent" with the word "terrorist." Clearly there is a flippancy, and I 
believe a malicious intent in this misuse. I have witnessed this melding 
repeated in AP stories from Iraq in which "insurgent" replaces "terrorist."

We can see the melding in a recent AP story 
which states: "Attacks against US troops have increased following a call earlier
this month from al-Qaeda in Iraq's leader to target American forces, the top US 
military spokesman said Wednesday."

Another example of this melding is in an AP story from September 17th about 
Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi citizen of Fallujah who has been held by the US military
without charges for five months. Part of the story 
reads, "The military said Hussein was captured with two insurgents, including 
Hamid Hamad Motib, an alleged leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq."

Regarding the reference to al-Qaeda (read "terrorism"), Solomon had this to say:
"The word 'terrorism' is clearly a pejorative. And it's an unwritten rule of US 
media coverage that the 'terrorism' label can only be used, or quoted with 
credence being given to the sources, if 'terrorism' applies to murderous 
violence opposed by the US government - in contrast to murderous violence 
inflicted or otherwise supported by the US government, in which case that 
violence is routinely presumed to be positive."

It is a melding that has the power to change minds.

A melding that may have prompted Orwell to say, "... language can also corrupt 

It is important to note that the board of directors of AP is composed of 22 
newspaper and media executives that include the CEOs and presidents of ABC, 
McClatchy, Hearst, Tribune and the Washington Post. Two of the directors are 
members of very conservative policy councils that include the Hoover Institute. 
The Hoover Institute is a Republican policy research center that has been 
referred to as "Bush's brain trust." Its fellows include Condoleezza Rice and 
Newt Gingrich, a Distinguished Visiting Fellow, along with George Shultz.

Douglas McCorkindale, also on the board of directors at AP, is on the board of 
Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense contract company. One does not 
require crystals to see that the board of AP displays a clear tilt toward 
right-wing conservative views, and comprises representatives of a huge corporate
media network of the largest publishers in the US.

It is not difficult to demolish the myth of the liberal media and its prominent 
arms like AP.

   "Political language ... is designed to make lies sound
    truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance
    of solidity to pure wind."
    - George Orwell

(c)2006 Dahr Jamail.

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