Friday, August 13, 2004

Closing al-Jazeera evidence of alleged American War Crimes 8-10-04

By Ray Hanania

The biggest threat to an illegal war and a new dictatorship is a news organization that insists on reporting the truth.

It is difficult to get the truth from most mainstream American media coverage of Iraq because of the new tradition of embedded journalism: the media only report what the American-controlled Iraqi dictatorship allows.

One of the few remaining sources of accurate information there is al-Jazeera. But that ended this week when the American-controlled Iraqi dictatorship ordered al-Jazeera's offices closed. It's fascinating to me how Americans are so hypocritical about freedom.

Apparently freedoms are based on who you are and your political views.

If you agree with the prevailing demagoguery in America, you are free to espouse that extremism. But if you question that demagoguery through solid news reports and free speech, they have to shut you down.

Al-Jazeera was one of the only media organizations reporting allegations that the American-controlled dictatorship in Iraq is engaged in the murder of Iraqi civilians. It was one of the only media organizations whose reporting challenges American claims that the resistance to the Iraqi "government" is no more than a so-called terrorist movement.

Iraq's dictatorship is no different than the many dictatorships that the United States has helped establish over the years and that claim to be "democracies." In reality, they all thrived on torture, oppression and the squelching of free speech.

The Shah of Iran was installed and maintained by the United States. The shah was a war criminal whom we protected. He was responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iranians. Yet Americans have amnesia when it comes to the suffering of others, and it explains vividly why many Iranians today dislike the United States and view the United States as another terrorist regime in the world.

After the United States assassinated -- actually murdered in cold blood -- his predecessor, the shah promptly closed down all of the news media in that country.

It is a classic pattern of American-controlled dictatorships: Silence the voices of truth to protect the lies.

And the American military's activities, its control of the government and the true nature of Iraq's government are hidden by lies.

The American media and the American-controlled Iraqi media will never permit us to see the true extent of the torture, the assaults and the cold-blooded murders that took place at the hands of American soldiers in prisons like Abu Ghraib. When you are engaged in murdering civilians, you can't tolerate a free media that struggles to bring the truth to the public.

Al-Jazeera is one of the most accurate and objective media covering Iraq, far outshining any mainstream American media. It is one of the only stations raising serious questions of brutality, contradicting the propaganda manufactured by the American-controlled Arabic language publications, radio and television stations.

When truth is a victim, as it is today in Iraq, you know that the tragedy of real human victims is being concealed. Closing al-Jazeera is also another reason why the Arab world should reject any recognition of the American-controlled dictatorship in Iraq.

That may not happen, because the Arab countries who are moving toward recognition of the American-controlled dictatorship in Iraq are controlled by the United States through massive foreign funding.

But the people of the Arab world see through the lies. They know the American media is engaged in helping to silence Arab voices that are trying to expose the depth of American military brutality in Iraq.

Closing al-Jazeera doesn't silence the truth. It only makes it more self-evident.

To find out more about Ray Hanania, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at COPYRIGHT 2004 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

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