Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Let Iraqi Children Eat Bombs

A Statement by Department of Making Things Better
for Children in the Middle East By Military Force

"A report to the UN human rights commission in Geneva has concluded that Iraqi children were actually better off under Saddam Hussein than they are now.

"This, of course, comes as a bitter blow for all those of us who, like George Bush and Tony Blair, honestly believe that children thrive best when we drop bombs on them from a great height, destroy their cities and blow up hospitals, schools and power stations.

"We at the department are appealing to you - the general public - for ideas. If you can think of any other military techniques that we have so far failed to apply to the children of Iraq, please let us know as a matter of urgency...
·Terry Jones is a film director, actor, Python and
author of Terry Jones's War on the War on Terror


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Taken from the "What We Know" newsletter, Week of 4/11/2005 - published by Casey Research, LLC


Commonly, we associate the term "government propaganda" with dictators in remote third-world countries or rogue regimes of the past, the most notorious being Nazi Germany. "It is the absolute right of the state to supervise the formation of public opinion," said Hitler's propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. By now, you've probably heard, it is increasingly clear that it has.

Within the last year, several unsettling stories have come to light about the U.S. government's covert attempts to influence public opinion. Remember fake journalist 'Karen Ryan' who praised Bush's Medicare prescription drug proposal during the 2004 presidential campaign. Or 'Jeff Gannon' a/k/a James Guckert, a male escort, who was handsomely paid to pose as a GOP-loyal reporter at the White House's daily press briefings for over two years. And if you believe that your TV news is still coming from "fair and balanced" sources, think again.

In March, an investigative article by the New York Times revealed that every year hundreds of so-called "video news releases" (VNRs) produced by government agencies flood the national air waves--disguised as traditional news reports from CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC, and FOX and almost never credited to their true makers. Needless to say that all of them present the efforts and achievements of our dear leaders in a glowing light.

No mention of hundreds of coffins arriving at U.S. ports, no listing of dead soldiers' names and faces on TV. Instead, we're being treated by the Army and Air Force Hometown News Service to the touching scene of soldiers in Iraq writing happy holiday cards to their loved ones.

VNRs depict a world where life is good and everything gets better all the time.

One TSA video news release, for example, applauded "another success" in the government's "drive to strengthen aviation security... one of the most remarkable campaigns in aviation history." Never mind the latest, alarming report by the Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA), which points out security gaps so wide you could drive a herd of elephants through them.

We learn about the wonders democratization has brought to Afghanistan, especially for women. Never mind that independent news sources tell a very different story. (For a more sober view of the U.S. 'success' in Afghanistan, watch the 2003 UK documentary, "Breaking the Silence.")

We see Americans busily distributing food and water to the people of southern Iraq, with the narrator proudly commenting that, "After living for decades in fear, they are now receiving assistance--and building trust--with their coalition liberators." Never mind last week's UN report stating that the number of Iraqi children suffering from malnutrition has doubled since the fall of Saddam. (Of course, one should always be skeptical of reports out of the UN as well... but the point still stands.)

In the last four years, more than 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have spent over 245 million (taxpayer) dollars to produce and distribute fake news, slanted to present a favorable image of the administration's plans and policies. And they keep them coming.

The chain of distribution is so long--from State Department to international news organizations like Reuters and AP to the major U.S. networks to their local affiliates--that even the news stations sometimes don't know where a particular news bit originated from; although officials swear that all VNRs are clearly labeled when they leave the State Department. Questioned by the New York Times, "Associated Press Television News acknowledged that they might have distributed at least one segment about Afghanistan to the major United States networks without identifying it as the product of the State Department."

However, the news stations are not entirely blameless; many edit out narrators' finishing lines, such as "I am Ed Miller, reporting for the Department of Agriculture", or replace them with their own. Some, due to a shortage of journalistic staff, find it tempting to use the prepackaged news segments so readily available to them.

"Local affiliates are spared the expense of digging up original material. Public relations firms secure government contracts worth millions of dollars. The major networks, which help distribute the releases, collect fees from the government agencies that produce segments and the affiliates that show them. The administration, meanwhile, gets out an unfiltered message, delivered in the guise of traditional reporting." It's a win-win deal for everyone, says the New York Times. Except for the viewer, of course.

But covert manipulation of the public's opinion is not limited to news reports. Popular TV shows such as JAG and the top-rating 24 effortlessly manage to justify "unpleasant necessities" like murder and torture.

In 24, Jack Bauer, CTU (Counter Terrorist Unit) agent and experienced terrorist hunter, slashes, burns, electrocutes, and otherwise tortures his way through the series; all in pursuit of sinister Islamists planning to wreak havoc on U.S. soil... and he only has 24 hours to catch them. Who could disagree that under such circumstances the end justifies any means?

"There is a seamless connection between what happens in American society, the way society is represented by Hollywood, and the torture meted out by US soldiers abroad," writes Ziauddin Sardar, co-author of Why Do People Hate America?, in a recent article on newstatesman.com, citing scenes from 24 and the movie Man on Fire as examples. "The relationship between American society and Hollywood is like a feedback loop. The extremity of one reinforces the other."

JAG (short for Judge Advocate General), a show about the U.S. military judicial system, also tends to deliver its own version of reality. A recent JAG episode, based on the true story of the videotaped shooting and killing of an unarmed, wounded Iraqi by a Marine, turned same soldier into a war hero by revealing that the injured Muslim--while apparently pleading for his life--had tried to reach for a bundle of explosives hidden under the floor boards of the mosque.

Never mind that the real mosque event went like this: A Marine unit enters the mosque. Dead and wounded Iraqis are lying on the floor.
AMERICAN JOURNALIST: These are the guys from yesterday. These are the wounded that they never picked up.
U.S. MARINE 1: (shouts) He's f***n' fakin' he's dead!
U.S. MARINE 2: Yeah! He's breathing!
U.S. MARINE 1: He's fakin' he's f***n' dead!
U.S. MARINE 3 points his gun at the man and shoots him in the head.
U.S. MARINE 3 (evenly): He's dead now.

As far as administrative involvement in the government-friendly Hollywood-fabrications goes, shows like JAG--which reflects the pro-military stance of producer and former Marine staff sergeant Donald Bellisario--often closely cooperate with the Pentagon, to get the facts straight and to be allowed to film on military sites. "[I]n the wake of Sept. 11, the military sees what television analysts call 'militainment' as one of the most effective ways to get its message across, free of filters of a critical press corps," comments a 2002 New York Times article. Even though the Pentagon insists that it has no editorial control over the episodes, an unnamed official talking to the NY Times indicated that the DOD might be 'less inclined to support' the film crew if the producers refused its editorial "assistance."

Sometimes truth is not only stranger but also much less pleasant than fiction. And if we hadn't turned into a nation of brain-dead TV junkies yet, we might have enough of our wits left to recognize it.

8:02 pm  

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