Thursday, November 18, 2004

Independent reporting in Iraq

One of the only unembedded reporters in Iraq is Dahr Jamail. You can read his weblog here.
Here he talks to Amy Goodman from Democracy Now about among other things political and media censorship in Iraq.

AMY GOODMAN: Which brings up the issue of what kind of news is getting out of there. You have got embedded reporters with the U.S. military, and then the two major Arab satellite networks, Al Arabiya, the reporter detained by the U.S. military, and Al-Jazeera, forbidden to report from Fallujah. Could you explain what's happening and what you know of this Al Arabiya reporter, what has happened to him?

DAHR JAMAIL: Well, as you mentioned, he did go to Fallujah to try to get inside the city, to report on what was really happening, and he was promptly detained by the military, and he is still being held. That's all the news that we have. He's essentially disappeared at this point, which is the typical case when anyone is detained here. They vanish. There is no contact with them. And so he’s had -- no one has been able to contact him, nor him anyone else. I should add also that as of yesterday, U.S.-backed Prime Minister Allawi made a statement that any Al-Jazeera journalists caught trying to report in Iraq will be detained. So, they remain under the gun, and the media crackdown here has really been beyond belief. They have made announcements prompting media to report, quote-unquote, “accurately,” meaning they only want the U.S. military side of the story. And this crackdown on the Arab media has been very pronounced because stations like Al-Jazeera have consistently done a very good job of reporting extremely accurately what is happening here on the ground in Iraq. They do very good war reporting. They do show the graphic images, as they should, because this is a war, and this is what's happening here. This is why they continue to catch so much flack from the United States, particularly Defense Minister Rumsfeld. This is why their office in Baghdad was bombed during the initial invasion of Iraq, even though they specifically gave their coordinates to the Pentagon to avoid that happening. So, it keeps continuing on into the occupation. Of course, when the fighting rages and reports come out that don't play in the best interests of the U.S. military here, or the U.S. government, of course, the hammer gets dropped once again on the media that's doing their job.


Cost of the War in Iraq
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