A warning about what you should believe.
Doubt your allies as much as your enemies.
Frontpagemag: Yesterday's Jihadists
In reading leftist literature on the political oppression of the left, I have never seen the reasoning behind the oppression laid out in such striking detail as in this Frontpagemag article.
The reality seems to lie somewhere between "all leftist are terrorist" (the right's position) and "the right brutally suppresses innocent dissenters" (the left's position).
Once again an example and warning to every person: You should not fully trust anything you read, even if it does fully support your own narrow ideology.
Another wonderful example:
Is this the same interview?
The conservative Media Research Center: Sawyer Hits Bush with Liberal Spin, Iraq or Aid Katrina Victims?
The liberal Media Matters: News outlets downplay Bush administration's failure to prepare for and respond to Hurricane Katrina
A warning about what you believe. In an article the author wrote the following:
* In 1986, in response to a bombing in a German disco, 18 Air Force F-111s bombed Tripoli, even though there was little evidence linking Libya to the bombing, which was eventually traced to Iran and Syria.
This is not the case.
According to the Los Angeles Times November 14, 2001 Wednesday:
4 Convicted in '86 Berlin Disco Blast
Justice: Trial ends with one acquittal for murder of two GIs and a Turkish woman. Judge adds that Libya's involvement was proved but not Kadafi's.
A German court convicted a former Libyan diplomat and three accomplices on murder charges Tuesday more than 15 years after they bombed a crowded West Berlin discotheque, killing two U.S. soldiers and a Turkish woman.
This just shows how important it is to check ALL of your facts, not only those facts which you disagree with, but those you agree with too.
I have caught some of the articles I read at commondreams.org with highly inaccurate misinformation.
I have personally found that usually the most angrily written articles often have the most inaccurate statements.
I emailed the author and he was very cordial. I was happy that he took the time to talk to me.
Just keep on guard.
Excerpt from the book:
Into the Buzzsaw.
Shouting at the Crocodile by CBS Maurice Murad
A…lesson that Irv Drasnin (CBS News) taught me was to do my own digging and to believe my own eyes. It sounds ridiculously simple, but I’m always surprised by how many reporters don’t do it…(p 88)
In October 1995, just before the fifth anniversary of the Gulf War, I was assigned to do an hour documentary that looked at the war and its consequences…At that time, no air traffic was allowed into Baghdad. The only way to get there was over land from Amman, Jordan, in a tedious twenty-five hour journey across the Iraqi desert. We were pretty groggy as we motored into Baghdad, but almost instantly I began to feel something was odd. I turned to my colleague, Deirdre Naphin, and said, “This doesn’t look like a place that’s under sanctions.” There was normal street activity, trucks carrying consumer goods, a huge amount of construction, an inordinate amount of traffic, food stalls that were bulging with fruit and vegetables, and people who were as well dressed as any place in the Middle West. What to make of it? We got to the al Rasheed hotel, unpacked, and headed straight for the Ministry of Information. Anyone who has ever covered the Middle East knows how hard it is, once in a country, to get going on a story. We were lucky that our cameraman had been to Iraq before, and he guided me to the person in the ministry who tended to be the most cooperative. I will not use named here because, even now, anyone who helped us, though innocently, could be in danger. I was asked what I wanted. I said, “I want to see the starvation—any place it exists—in hospitals, the countryside, in city neighborhoods, up north, down south, in Karbala, Nejef, Mosul, Basra, or Baghdad. I need to bring the story to our viewers back home.” He nodded. “Of course, of course. You shall have it…” We waited for days. Nothing. But we had many other things to film around the city, and so we kept busy. I kept noticing food stands full of food, even in poor neighborhoods, and, Lord knows, we were eating well in restaurants and at the hotel. We also found that there was a food program being run by the government that allotted each family a ration of rice, cooking oil, tea, sugar, and, for those young children, powdered milk. At one point we got an interview with a gentleman who headed the World Food Program. He told us that there was no starvation in Iraq as yet; in fact, they didn’t even have a feeding program going on at the time. I asked, “What about the half million dead Iraqi children?” He said that was the number of children that were at risk of starvation, but he had not seen any famine as yet. “What about in the countryside?” I asked. He said, because the people there were closer to the food supply, there was less risk for them. He also told us that Saddam had begun an irrigation program to grow food in the desert and that , as far as fruit and vegetables were concerned, the Iraqis were self-sufficient. We then interviews a person for CARE (A private international relief and development organization) a woman most sympathetic to the Iraqis, who also told us that there were no current feeding programs but warned that children were at risk if the government ration supplement ever stopped.
Finally, we were given permission to visit Saddam Hussein Children’s Hospital in Baghdad where, we were told, we would see the problems caused by the lack of food. There was a “minder” with us from the Ministry of Information, a man who kept tabs on what we did. Journalists go nowhere in Iraq without a “minder”. Once at the hospital, the first hint I noticed was a lot of men standing around doing nothing. Odd, since the second thing I noticed was the dirt and cigarette butts all over the floors. We were brought up to a wing that was supposed to be where they dealt with malnutrition. There were three children on the ward, two premature babies and one boy about four years old. Each was attended by a woman from the child’s family. The first woman, dressed in Western clothes, was leaning over an incubator looking at her child inside. She looked healthy, was obviously upper class, and luckily spoke English. I asked if the baby’s early birth was due to malnutrition. She was reluctant to speak with me but said, “No, I had enough to eat.” She didn’t know why her baby was born prematurely. Next to the second incubator, a woman in traditional Muslim dress silently stared out in to the ward. She spoke no English, and I didn’t speak Arabic well enough to ask her about the baby. The doctors had already told us all three cases were due to malnutrition. The third child, a four year old boy was, we were told, suffering from kwashiorkor, a condition brought about by severe protein deficiency. The boy had no orange discoloration of the hair associated with the condition, not was his stomach distended. He did have scabrous brown marks the size of quarters over most of his body, and I knew that rashes were common in people suffering from kwashiorkor. Usually, powdered milk will help the condition, but perhaps the family hadn’t gotten the ration. The woman who was tending him spoke no English, so I accepted the doctor’s diagnosis at face value. I thought it was strange though that, in a city as large as Baghdad, there were only three cases of so-called malnutrition. On any given day there would be more cases than that in any New York City hospital. So, I asked Deirdre to interview the doctor on camera knowing that our “minder” would concentrate on that. When the interview started, I backed out the door and began searching the floor of the hospital, looking for more cases of starvation or malnutrition. There were none, just what seemed to be ordinary pediatric patients.
So, we went to the countryside, ostensibly to cover the voting in the presidential election. We headed first to Nejef, then to Karbala. All the while I was looking for evidence of starvation. Because I had the heart breaking experience of covering the famine in Ethiopia in 1987, I had a pretty good idea of what famine looked like. There was nothing. Not even in Karbala where the people had fought bitterly against the government and where Saddam responded by bombing the entire city, including the mosques. It was still in ruins and rubble was everywhere. But no starvation. It’s time, I thought, to start believing my own eyes.
What we finally figured out was there was no food crisis in Iraq; there was a currency crisis caused by inflation. The problem wasn’t finding food; the problem was paying for it. During the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam began to flood the market with Iraqi dinars to be used to purchase armaments. So much money was needed the began printing it with color photocopy machines. By the time we got there, one hundred dinars was worth about seventeen cents. The deprivation, such as it was, in Iraq in late 1995 was as much due to the Iran-Iraq war as it was to the UN sanctions. Though food was plentiful, Iraqis were forced to pawn their worldy possessions or barter with others in flea markets for food money.
It turns out that what was happening in Saddam’s Iraq resembled in many ways what happened in Mengistu’s Ethiopia. This was nothing more than political deprivation. Control the food supply, and you control the people. Like Mengistu, Saddam could easily have ordered the food be distributed to his people at any time. But fear of starvation is a powerful political weapon. It was not lost on anyone that during the Iraqi presidential election, government food ration cards were used for identification. As far as UN sanctions were concerned, anyone standing at the Jordanian or Turkish border could easily see them being broken. King Hussein of Jordan was diligent in not allowing anything to pass that could be used for weapons, but winked at everything else. I saw large earthmoving equipment piggy backed on flatbed trucks headed from Jordan to Iraq. At the Turkish border, there was no inspection of vehicles at all. All day long one could see trucks with huge containers hanging beneath them. They were empty coming in and full of Saddam’s oil coming out. It was clear that Saddam had plenty of money for medicines or anything else he might have needed to alleviate the suffering of his people as evidenced by the presidential palaces that were then under construction. Iraqi officials denied that this was proof of sanction building, saying that the palaces were paid for in local currency. Imported steel reinforcement rods paid for in worthless currency? Hardly. And if you could smuggle in steel rods, how hard would it be to smuggle in antibiotics? While we were there, Saddam was building his fifty-second palace. Former Iraqi officials, now in exile, have testified to over $30 billion in personal wealth held by Saddam in foreign bank accounts. The reality is, this image of starving people suited him. The doctors, in a kind of dog and pony show, would display gutted ambulances that were waiting for spare parts while right down the avenue there were car dealers showing Mercedes Benz, BMW, Lexus, and other luxury cars. At the car mart, a kind of used-car bazaar, there were hundreds of vehicles that could have been cannibalized to keep the ambulances running. The doctors told us there were no antibiotics available to treat infections but, by that time, Saddam had twice refused our offer to let him sell @2 billion worth of oil for, among other things, medicine. Saddam’s whole strategy was geared to getting all the sanctions lifted. To do that, he had to elicit the sympathy of the world. Smart man, that Saddam. It was working then. It still is. After the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, the first message Osama bin Laden sent through al Jazeera cited our killing of children in Iraq.
So, five months after I see all this and report all this, what do I read in the New York Times? What do I see and hear on television, including my own network? A half million Iraqi children have died because of UN sanctions. It had been over a year since I first read that figure, but these reports were still using the 500,000 number. Amazingly, thought the sanctions were still in place, not one child had died in the last year. At one point my boss, Linda Mason, sent me a rocket. “What the hell is going on?” she asked, “Did you miss something?” I have to tell you, even when you know you are right, when something like this happens, your mouth gets dry. I told here I would send her a detailed account of how I reported my story and what I had to back it up. Instead what I did was send her a detailed rendering of what was wrong with all the other stories and told her to burn it after she read it. The last thing I wanted to do was get into a pissing match with broadcasts in my own news division. Even now I am loath to do it because most of the people involved are first rate journalists who seldom get snookered. And anyway, they know who they are.
On May 20, 1996, the Iraqis and the UN reached a settlement allowing more Iraqi oil to be sold for money to purchase food and medicine. The New York Times began to hedge on its previous reports. They put the number this was. “Since the earlier deal broke down, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (not Iraqi children) have become malnourished or ill, with many dying from lack of medication, United Nations agencies estimate.” The parenthesizes are mine. Then, in the May 1996 issue of Harper’s, Paul William Robert wrote about a recent trip to Baghdad. In the article there is detail after detail about life in the city. No mention whatever of famine.
Finally, in the New Yorker of [June] 17, 1996, T.D. Allman, in a long article on his visit to Iraq, [Saddam Wins Again] wrote, “I found no evidence that they were suffering and dying because of the embargo.” He goes on, “All over Iraq, I made impromptu visits to hospitals and dispensaries. I talked with hundreds of Iraqis about the embargo. No one mentioned the rampant malnutrition and disease that was so widely reported.” More, “…fresh fruits and vegetables were available everywhere. Every night there were traffic jams in front of Baghdad’s most popular restaurants, as the jeunesse doree (French: fashionable and wealthy young people) flocked to them in their Nissans and Mercedes. One couldn’t help noticing that there was no shortage of imported cigarettes. Aspen, A Canadian filter tip, and Johnny Walker Black seemed the most popular brands.” He ends, “Under the new arrangements, access to food and medicine will remain a political, not a humanitarian matter. Saddam and his enforces will decide who eats and who gets antibiotics.” (Letter from Baghdad: Saddam Wins Again," The New Yorker (June 14, 1996))
Whooof! It was like the foreman of the jury had pronounced me “not guilty” or rather, “not crazy”. But let’s try an experiment. It is probable that Iraq will remain under sanction for a while yet. Secretary of State Collin Powell has stated that he will try to enforce them even more stringently. How many more times do you think you’ll see the 500,000 dead Iraqi children” figure cited? Keep your eyes open.
Excerpts of the June17, 1996 New Yorker article:
It's a curiosity of Iraq under Saddam Hussein that a regime purportedly incapable of feeding or medicating its people, because of the embargo, never lacked for steel girders, reinforced concrete, marble, and gilt. For example, I found that Tikrit, a primitive village near which Saddam was born…is steadily being transformed into a living mausoleum, marbled over in monuments [to Saddam]. (p 61)
Before arriving in Iraq, I had assumed that the embargo was causing great suffering and that I would find evidence of this as I traveled throughout the country. But while I found that many Iraqis were indeed suffering, and some dying, under the embargo, I found no evidence that they were suffering and dying because of the embargo.
Last September, the World Food Program, a United Nations agency, issued a report that said, “Alarming food shortages are causing irreparable damage to an entire generation of Iraqi children.” It asserted that “more than four million people, a fifth of Iraqi’s population, [are] at severe nutritional risk.” Similar reports have been issued by visitors ranging from the Americans Ramsey Clark and Louis Farrakhan to members of France’s ultra-right National Front and Russia’s Vladimir Zhirinovsky. But an economist from a developing nation told me, “There was no problem. The embargo provides wide scope for humanitarian assistance. So we worked up a program for the import of food and medicine.” He continued, “Neither Saddam Hussein nor Tariq Aziz bothered to answer.”
All over Iraq, I made impromptu visits to hospitals and dispensaries. I talked with hundreds of Iraqis about the embargo. No one mentioned the rampant malnutrition and disease that were so widely reported. Instead, I kept getting responses so weird that neither Borges nor Beckett—the two writers who came to mind most often in Iraq—could have invented them.
“The embargo must be lifted so we can get Pampers,” one Iraqi expert said. His wife had recently given birth to triplets, and the lack of disposable diapers was making his life hell on earth…
When I visited the Saddam Hospital in Tikrit, I was told, “Our greatest need is Valium.”