Monday, 22 February 2010

invasion of iraq: over 1m deaths (3 texts)

#1 News Story selected by Project Censored in 2009

Over One Million Iraqi Deaths Caused by US Occupation

by Michael Schwartz*, Joshua Holland*, Luke Baker, Maki al-Nazzal, Dahr Jamail*

Reproduced below is the first of the 25 investigations selected by Project Censured in 2009. It is based on research by Michael Schwartz, posted on Voltaire Network in 2007, which was continued by other associated researchers. Several official sources have validated the studies conducted by the ORB pollsters and The Lancet demographers, thus certifying that the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Iraq has caused the death of over one million civilians. Whereas this information was disseminated by the media in countries which officially opposed the war, it was suppressed in those which endorsed the military operation. This is yet another example of how media conglomerates fall into line with the predominant interests of the countries they are in.

21 February 2010

This article follows "What is Project Censored?"

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Summary

Over one million Iraqis have met violent deaths as a result of the 2003 invasion, according to a study conducted by the prestigious British polling group, Opinion Research Business (ORB). These numbers suggest that the invasion and occupation of Iraq rivals the mass killings of the last century—the human toll exceeds the 800,000 to 900,000 believed killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994, and is approaching the number (1.7 million) who died in Cambodia’s infamous “Killing Fields” during the Khmer Rouge era of the 1970s.

ORB’s research covered fifteen of Iraq’s eighteen provinces. Those not covered include two of Iraq’s more volatile regions—Kerbala and Anbar—and the northern province of Arbil, where local authorities refused them a permit to work. In face-to-face interviews with 2,414 adults, the poll found that more than one in five respondents had had at least one death in their household as a result of the conflict, as opposed to natural cause.

Authors Joshua Holland and Michael Schwartz point out that the dominant narrative on Iraq—that most of the violence against Iraqis is being perpetrated by Iraqis themselves and is not our responsibility—is ill conceived. Interviewers from The Lancet report of October 2006 (Censored 2006, #2) asked Iraqi respondents how their loved ones died. Of deaths for which families were certain of the perpetrator, 56 percent were attributable to US forces or their allies. Schwartz suggests that if a low pro rata share of half the unattributed deaths were caused by US forces, a total of approximately 80 percent of Iraqi deaths are directly US perpetrated.

Even with the lower confirmed figures, by the end of 2006, an average of 5,000 Iraqis had been killed every month by US forces since the beginning of the occupation. However, the rate of fatalities in 2006 was twice as high as the overall average, meaning that the American average in 2006 was well over 10,000 per month, or over 300 Iraqis every day. With the surge that began in 2007, the current figure is likely even higher.

Schwartz points out that the logic to this carnage lies in a statistic released by the US military and reported by the Brookings Institute: for the first four years of the occupation the American military sent over 1,000 patrols each day into hostile neighborhoods, looking to capture or kill “insurgents” and “terrorists.” (Since February 2007, the number has increased to nearly 5,000 patrols a day, if we include the Iraqi troops participating in the American surge.) Each patrol invades an average of thirty Iraqi homes a day, with the mission to interrogate, arrest, or kill suspects. In this context, any fighting age man is not just a suspect, but a potentially lethal adversary. Our soldiers are told not to take any chances (see Story #9).

According to US military statistics, again reported by the Brookings Institute, these patrols currently result in just under 3,000 firefights every month, or just under an average of one hundred per day (not counting the additional twenty-five or so involving our Iraqi allies). Thousands of patrols result in thousands of innocent Iraqi deaths and unconscionably brutal detentions.

Refugees: an underestimated crisis

Iraqis’ attempts to escape the violence have resulted in a refugee crisis of mammoth proportion. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration, in 2007 almost 5 million Iraqis had been displaced by violence in their country, the vast majority of which had fled since 2003. Over 2.4 million vacated their homes for safer areas within Iraq, up to 1.5 million were living in Syria, and over 1 million refugees were inhabiting Jordan, Iran, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, and Gulf States. Iraq’s refugees, increasing by an average of almost 100,000 every month, have no legal work options in most host states and provinces and are increasingly desperate.1

Yet more Iraqis continue to flee their homes than the numbers returning, despite official claims to the contrary. Thousands fleeing say security is as bad as ever, and that to return would be to accept death. Most of those who return are subsequently displaced again.

Maki al-Nazzal and Dahr Jamail quote an Iraqi engineer now working at a restaurant in Damascus, “Return to Iraq? There is no Iraq to return to, my friend. Iraq only exists in our dreams and memories.”

Another interviewee told the authors, “The US military say Fallujah is safe now while over 800 men are detained there under the worst conditions. . . . At least 750 out of the 800 detainees are not resistance fighters, but people who refused to collaborate with occupation forces and their tails.” (Iraqis who collaborate with occupation forces are commonly referred to as “tails of the Americans.”)

Another refugee from Baghdad said, “I took my family back home in January. The first night we arrived, Americans raided our house and kept us all in one room while their snipers used our rooftop to shoot at people. I decided to come back here [Damascus] the next morning after a horrifying night that we will never forget.”

Update by Michael Schwartz

The mortality statistics cited in “Is the United States Killing 10,000 Iraqis Every Month?” were based on another article suitable for Project Censored recognition, a scientific investigation of deaths caused by the war in Iraq. The original article, published in Lancet in 2006, received some dismissive coverage when it was released, and then disappeared from view as the mainstream media returned to reporting biased estimates that placed Iraqi casualties at about one-tenth the Lancet estimates. The corporate media blackout of the original study extended to my article as well, and has continued unabated, though The Lancet article has withstood several waves of criticism, while being confirmed and updated by other studies.

By early 2008, the best estimate, based on extrapolations and replications of The Lancet study, was that 1.2 million Iraqis had died as a consequence of the war. This figure has not, to my knowledge, been reported in any mass media outlet in the United States.

The blackout of the casualty figures was matched by a similar blackout of other main evidence in my article: that the Bush administration military strategy in Iraq assures vast property destruction and lethality on a daily basis. Rules of engagement that require the approximately one thousand US patrols each day to respond to any hostile act with overwhelming firepower—small arms, artillery, and air power—guarantee that large numbers of civilians will suffer and die. But the mainstream media refuses to cover this mayhem, even after the Winter Soldier meetings in March 2008 featured over one hundred Iraq veterans who testified to their own participation in what they call “atrocity producing situations.”

The effectiveness of the media blackout is vividly illustrated by an Associated Press poll conducted in February 2007, which asked a representative sample of US residents how many Iraqis had died as a result of the war. The average respondent thought the number was under 10,000, about 2 percent of the actual total at that time. This remarkable mass ignorance, like so many other elements of the Iraq War story, received no coverage in the mass media, not even by the Associated Press, which commissioned the study.

The Iraq Veterans Against the War has made the brutality of the occupation their special activist province. The slaughter of the Iraqi people is the foundation of their demand for immediate and full withdrawal of US troops, and the subject of their historic Winter Soldier meetings in Baltimore. Though there was no mainstream US media coverage of this event, the live streaming on Pacifica Radio and on the IVAW website reached a huge audience—including a vast number of active duty soldiers—with vivid descriptions of atrocities committed by the US war machine. A growing number of independent news sites now feature regular coverage of this aspect of the war, including Democracy Now!, Tom Dispatch, Dahr Jamail’s MidEast Dispatches, Informed Comment, Antiwar.com, and ZNet.

Update by Maki Al-Nazzal and Dahr Jamail

The promotion of US general David Petraeus to head CENTCOM, and General Raymond Odierno to replace Petraeus as commanding general of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, provoked a lot of anger amongst Iraqis in both Syria and Jordan. The two generals who convinced US and international society of improvement in Iraq do not seem to have succeeded in convincing Iraqi refugees of their success.

“Just like the Bush Administration decorated Paul Bremer (former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority), they are rewarding others who participated in the destruction to Iraq,” stated Muhammad Shamil, an Iraqi journalist who fled Iraq to Syria in 2006. “What they call violence was concentrated in some parts of Iraq, but now spread to be all over the country, thanks to US war heroes. People are getting killed, evicted or detained by the thousands, from Basra (South) to Mosul (North).”

Other Iraqi refugees seem to have changed attitudes regarding their hopes to return. Compared to when this story was published in March 2008, the refugee crisis continues to deepen. This is exacerbated by the fact that most Iraqis have no intention of returning home. Instead, they are looking for permanent residence in other countries.

“I decided to stop dreaming of going back home and find myself a new home anywhere in the world if I could,” said thirty-two-year-old Maha Numan in Syria, “I have been a refugee for three years now living on the dream of return, but I decided to stop dreaming. I have lost faith in all leaders of the world after the surges of Basra, Sadr City and now Mosul. This seems to be endless and one has to work harder on finding a safe haven for one’s family.”

Iraqis in Syria know a lot more of the news about their country than most journalists. At an Internet café in Damascus, each of them calls his hometown and reports the happenings of the day to other Iraqi refugees. News of ongoing violence across much of Iraq convinces them to remain abroad.

“There were four various explosions in Fallujah today,” said Salam Adel, who worked as a translator for US forces in Fallujah in 2005. “And they say it is safe to go back! Damn them, go back for what? For roadside bombs or car bombs?”

It has been important, politically, for the Bush administration to claim that the situation in Iraq is improving. This claim has been assisted by a complicit corporate media. However, the 1.5 million Iraqis in Syria, and over 750,000 in Jordan, will tell you differently. Otherwise, they would not remain outside of Iraq.

(To be continued ...)

 Michael Schwartz

Michael Schwartz is a professor of sociology and faculty director of the Undergraduate College of Global Studies at Stony Brook University

Joshua Holland

Editor and senior writer at AlterNet


Luke Baker

Maki al-Nazzal

Dahr Jamail

Dahr Jamail is an independent U.S. journalist based in Iraq.


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http://www.voltairenet.org/article163975.html

Enquête primée par « Projet Censuré »

Plus d’un million d’Irakiens tués sous l’occupation US

Nous reproduisons ici la première des 25 enquêtes primées par « Projet Censuré » en 2009. Il s’agit du travail de Michael Schwartz, que nous avions diffusé en 2007, et que Joshua Holland, Luke Baker, Maki al-Nazzal et Dahr Jamail ont poursuivi. Plusieurs sources officielles permettent de valider les études des sondeurs d’ORB et des démographes du « Lancet » et d’établir que l’invasion anglo-saxonne et l’occupation de l’Irak ont causé la mort de plus d’un million de civils. Cette information, qui a été relayée par les médias dans les Etats dont les gouvernement s’opposaient à la guerre, a été ignorée par les médias des Etats soutenant l’opération anglo-saxonne. Une fois de plus, il apparaît que les consortium médiatiques s’alignent sur les intérêts dominants du pays où ils se trouvent.

9 février 2010

Cet article fait suite à « Qu’est-ce que le "Projet censuré" ? », par Ernesto Carmona.

Synthèse

Plus de 1,2 million d’Irakiens ont succombé à une mort violente depuis l’invasion du pays en 2003, d’après une étude du prestigieux institut britannique de sondage Opinion Research Business (ORB). Ces chiffres suggèrent que les décès provoquées par l’invasion et l’occupation de l’Irak rivalisent en nombre avec les massacres massifs du XXe siècle —le nombre de personnes tuées en Irak dépasse les 800 000 à 900 000 victimes du génocide du Rwanda, en 1994, et se rapproche d’ores déjà du chiffre de 1,7 million de disparus dans les tristement célèbres « camps de la mort » des Khmers rouges, dans les années 70 du siècle dernier—.

L’enquête de l’ORB a couvert quinze des dix-huit provinces de l’Irak. Parmi les zones non couvertes figuraient les deux régions les plus instables du pays —Kerbala et Anbar—, ainsi que la province d’Arbil, dans le Nord, où l’institut s’est vu notifier une interdiction de travail par les autorités locales. Il ressort des entrevues face à face avec 2 414 adultes que plus d’une personne sur cinq avait eu un mort dans son foyer à cause du conflit.

Les auteurs, Joshua Holland et Michael Schwartz, ont constaté que la version officielle, selon laquelle la violence contre les Irakiens serait essentiellement exercée par les propres Irakiens et non pas par les troupes états-uniennes, est mal acceptée. Dans leur reportage d’octobre 2006, les enquêteurs de la revue The Lancet ont interrogé des Irakiens sur la façon dont avaient péri leurs proches et 56 % ont imputé ces décès à l’action des forces des Etats-Unis et de leurs alliés.
Schwartz a fait remarquer que si une partie proportionnelle de la moitié du reste des morts irakiennes non attribuée a été provoquée par les forces des USA, le résultat final serait que près de 80% de l’ensemble de ces morts ont été causées directement par les Etats-Unis.

Même en prenant les estimations les plus basses confirmées à la fin de 2006, il se trouve que les forces des USA sont responsables de la mort de 5 000 Irakiens en moyenne par mois depuis le début de l’occupation. Cependant, le taux des victimes mortelles en 2006 a été deux fois plus élevé que la moyenne, ce qui veut dire que la moyenne des morts provoquées par les troupes US cette année a dépassé les 10 000 par mois, soit plus de 300 par jour. Avec la vague de violence amorcée en 2007, le chiffre actuel est probablement beaucoup plus élevé.

Schwartz a précisé que la logique de cette boucherie réside dans les statistiques émises par les militaires US, et divulguées par la Brookings Institution : pendant les quatre premières années d’occupation militaire, chaque jour plus de mille patrouilles ont été dépêchées dans les quartiers hostiles, avec l’ordre de capturer ou de tuer des « insurgés » et des « terroristes ». (Depuis février 2007, le nombre de ces patrouilles s’est élevé à près de 5 000 par jour, si l’on compte les forces irakiennes encadrées par les forces US). En moyenne, chaque patrouille procède à une trentaine de descentes musclées dans les maisons irakiennes, avec pour mission d’interroger, de capturer ou de tuer des suspects. Dans ce contexte, n’importe quel homme en âge de combattre est non seulement tenu pour suspect, mais pour un adversaire représentant un danger mortel. On recommande donc aux soldats US de ne pas courir de risques.

Selon les statistiques militaires des USA, également rendues publiques par la Brookings Institution, ces patrouilles donnent actuellement lieu à environ 3 000 fusillades par mois, ou un peu moins de 100 par jour en moyenne (sans compter les 25 autres provoquées par les alliés irakiens). Des milliers de rondes et de patrouilles ont entraîné la mort de milliers d’Irakiens innocents, ainsi que de nombreuses arrestations d’une brutalité extrême.

Les réfugiés : une crise ignorée

Les tentatives des Irakiens pour échapper à la violence sont à l’origine d’une crise des réfugiés qui a pris d’énormes proportions. D’après des rapports émis en 2007 par le Haut commissaire des Nations unies pour les réfugiés (ACNUR) et l’Organisation internationale pour la migration (OIM), prés de 5 millions d’Irakiens ont été déplacés par la violence, la plupart ayant fui le pays à partir de 2003. Plus de 2,4 millions ont abandonné leur maison pour aller chercher abri dans des zones plus sûres à l’intérieur du pays, 1,5 million se sont réfugiés en Syrie, et plus d’un million ont gagné la Jordanie, l’Iran, le Liban, la Turquie et les pays du Golfe persique.

Les déplacés en Irak, dont le nombre augmente en moyenne de près de 100 000 par mois, n’ont aucun statut juridique et aucune possibilité d’emploi dans la plupart des provinces et Etats où ils se sont réfugiés, et leur situation est de plus en plus désespérée. Cependant, les Irakiens qui continuent de quitter leur foyer sont plus nombreux que ceux qui sont retournés chez eux, en dépit des versions officielles indiquant le contraire. Des milliers de déplacés estiment que la sécurité est aussi mauvaise qu’avant et que le retour signifie la mort. Et la plupart de ceux qui reviennent ne tardent pas à repartir.

Les journalistes Maki al-Nazzal et Dahr Jamail ont interviewé un ingénieur irakien qui travaille actuellement dans un restaurant à Damas, en Syrie : « Retourner en Irak ? Il n’y a plus d’Irak où retourner, cher ami, L’Irak n’existe plus que dans nos rêves et nos souvenirs ! »

Une autre personne interrogée a déclaré aux auteurs : « Les militaires états-uniens affirment qu’à présent Fallujah est sûre, alors que 800 hommes sont retenus là-bas dans les pires conditions… Au moins 750 des 800 hommes détenus ne sont pas des combattants de la Résistance, mais des gens qui refusent de collaborer avec les forces d’occupation et leurs auxiliaires fantoches ».

Un autre réfugié de Bagdad a déclaré : « Je suis retourné dans mon foyer avec ma famille en janvier. Dès la première nuit qui a suivi notre arrivée les Etats-uniens ont investi notre maison et nous ont maintenu tous dans une seule chambre alors que leurs francs-tireurs montaient sur le toit pour tirer sur les gens. Nous avons décidé de revenir ici [à Damas] le lendemain matin après avoir passé une nuit d’horreur que nous ne sommes pas prêts d’oublier. »

Mise à jour de Michael Schwartz

Les statistiques de mortalité citées dans « L’occupation US de l’Irak tue-t-elle 10 000 civils par mois ou beaucoup plus encore ? » sont basées sur une enquête sur les décès causés par la guerre en Irak, publiée dans un autre article plausible pour Projet censuré. L’article original, paru dans The Lancet en 2006, a reçu une couverture dédaigneuse des médias avant de disparaître purement et simplement de la vue des lecteurs, tandis que les grands médias recommençaient à divulguer des estimations partiales qui situaient le nombre d’Irakiens morts à un dixième des calculs de The Lancet. Le blocus de l’information exercé par les consortium médiatiques s’est également étendu à mon article, et n’a pas diminué le moins du monde, même si l’article de The Lancet a résisté plusieurs vagues de critiques, tandis que d’autres études confirment ou mettent à jour son contenu.

Début 2008, la meilleur estimation, basée sur des extrapolations et des reproductions de l’étude de The Lancet, a révélé que 1,2 millions d’Irakiens sont morts à cause de la guerre. Pour autant que je sache, ce chiffre n’a été relevé dans aucun média aux Etats-Unis.

Le blocus de l’information sur le nombre de victimes a été accompagné d’une autre forme de censure sur une autre preuve capitale contenue dans mon article : la stratégie militaire de l’administration Bush en Irak a provoqué chaque jour de vastes destructions matérielles et une mortalité élevée. Les modes de recrutement exigent que les quelque mille patrouilles US ripostent chaque jour à tout acte hostile avec une écrasante puissance de feu —armes de faible calibre, artillerie et opérations aériennes laissent derrière elles un cortège de souffrance et provoquent de nombreuses pertes parmi la population civile—. Mais les principaux médias ont refusé de couvrir ce délit de mutilation, même après les réunions de l’organisation « Soldats de l’hiver », de mars 2003, pendant lesquelles plus d’une centaine de vétérans de la guerre en Irak ont reconnu avoir participé à ce qu’ils ont appelé « des situations génératrices d’atrocités »

L’efficacité du blocus de l’information exercé par les médias a été confirmée par une enquête réalisée par l’Associated Press en février 2007, auprès d’un échantillon représentatif de résidents états-uniens, auxquels on a demandé s’ils avaient une idée du nombre d’Irakiens tués dans la guerre. La moyenne des personnes interrogées a estimé qu’ils étaient moins de 10 000, soit 2% du total réel pour l’époque. Cette ignorance grossière et générale, de même que le déroulement de la guerre en Irak n’a reçu aucune couverture médiatique, même pas de la par de l’Associated Press, qui a commandé l’enquête.

L’organisation « Anciens combattants d’Irak contre la guerre » a placé la brutalité de l’occupation au centre de l’action de ses membres. Le massacre du peuple irakien est au cœur de leurs revendications. Ils exigent le retrait immédiat et total des troupes des Etats-Unis, tout comme l’organisation des historiques réunions des « Soldats de l’hiver » à Baltimore.

Même si cet événement n’a été relayé par aucun des principaux médias aux USA, le flux de l’information diffusée par Pacifica Radio et le site Web de l’IVAW a enregistré un fort taux d’audience —y compris parmi un grand nombre de soldats en service actif—, avec les descriptions des atrocités commises par la machine de guerre US. Un nombre croissant de sites indépendants offre à présent une couverture régulière sur cet aspect de la guerre, dont Democracy Now, Tom Dispatch, Dahr Jamail’s Mideast Dispatches, Informed Comment, Antiwar.com, et ZNet.

Mise à jour de Maki Al-Nazzal et Dahr Jamail

La nomination des généraux de l’US Army David Petraeus, à la direction du CentCom et Raymond Odierno, en tant qu’adjoint de Petraeus à la tête de la Force multinationale en Irak, a soulevé le courroux des Irakiens vivant en Syrie et en Cisjordanie. Ces deux généraux, qui ont convaincu les Etats-Unis et la communauté internationale d’une soi-disant « amélioration en Irak », ne semblent par contre pas avoir réussi à convaincre les réfugiés irakiens qu’il y a eu « du mieux » dans leur pays.

« Tout comme l’administration Bush a décoré Paul Bremer (le patron de l’Autorité provisoire de la coalition), d’autres ont été récompensés pour avoir participé à la destruction de l’Irak », se plaignait Muhammad Shamil, un journaliste irakien qui a fui vers la Syrie en 2006. Ce qu’ils appellent violence s’est concentré d’abord dans certaines zones de l’Irak, mais à présent le phénomène a été étendu à tout le pays par les héros de guerre des Etats-Unis. « Ceux qu’ils tuent, expulsent ou capturent se comptent par milliers, depuis Basra (dans le sud) jusqu’à Mossoul (dans le nord) ».

L’espoir d’un retour se fait de plus en plus mince dans l’esprit des réfugiés irakiens. Depuis la parution de cet article, en mars 2008, la crise des réfugiés s’est encore aggravée. La situation s’aggrave du fait que la plupart de ces gens n’ont plus aucune intention de retourner chez eux et préfèrent s’établir ailleurs.

« J’ai décidé de ne plus rêver de rentrer au pays, et d’essayer de construire un nouveau foyer n’importe où dans le monde », a déclaré Maha Numan, 32 ans, réfugié en Syrie. « Voici trois ans que je suis réfugié et que je caresse le rêve de retourner là-bas, mais j’ai décidé de ne plus y rêver. J’ai perdu la foi dans tous les dirigeants du monde après les vagues de violence à Basra, Al-Sadr et aujourd’hui Mossoul. Cette situation ne semble plus avoir de fin, et je dois trouver un refuge sûr pour ma famille ».

« La majorité des Irakiens en Syrie sont plus au courant des nouvelles de leur pays que la plupart des journalistes. Dans n’importe quel cybercafé de Damas, chacun appelle sa ville ou son village natal et fait part aux autres réfugiés irakiens des nouvelles du jour. Les informations sur la violence qui sévit dans une grande partie de l’Irak les renforcent dans leur conviction de rester à l’étranger.

« Aujourd’hui il y a eu quatre explosions à Fallujah ! », s’est exclamé Salam Adel, qui a travaillé comme traducteur pour les troupes US à Fallujah en 2005. « Et ils disent qu’on peut rentrer, que la situation est sûre ! Rentrer pour quoi faire ? Pour se faire tuer par les mines ou les voitures piégées ? »

Pour l’administration Bush, il a été important, du point de vue politique, de faire croire que la situation s’améliore en Irak. Ce genre d’information a été relayé avec la complicité des médias corporatifs. Cependant, 1,5 million d’Irakiens vivant en Syrie et plus de 750 000 en Jordanie ne partagent pas cet avis. Autrement, ils seraient déjà rentrés chez eux.

(A suivre…)

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http://www.voltairenet.org/article164177.html

The news that didn’t make the news

What is "Project Censored"?

by Ernesto Carmona*

Voltaire Network is initiating the publication of a series of research articles selected by the School of Social Sciences at Sonoma State University that form part of « Project Censored ». One of our main collaborators, Ernesto Carmona - Executive Secretary of the Investigative Commission into the Attacks Against Journalists, set up by the Latin American Presss Federation – expounds on the significance and importance of these investigations.

21 February 2010

Santiago (Chile)


In order to understand how « Project Censored » originated and prospered in the United States, one must go back to the Watergate scandal that resulted in President Richard Nixon’s impeachment in 1974. This controversial landmark event alerted many U.S. citizens to the fact that they were not being truthfully informed. Stirred by his own skepticism, Carl Jensen, a sociology professor at Sonoma State College (California), set out to personally investigate the sequence of facts that culminated in the Watergate scandal. Everything led to believe that the Republican administration had orchestrated an espionage operation against the headquarters of the Democratic Party at the Watergate Business Center in Washington D.C.

As in the case of the President of Guatemala who recently found out that his house and offices had been bugged with microphones and hidden cameras, the Washington democrats discovered that five innocent-looking « plumbers » were actually spies at the service of Nixon and the White House. They were restricted to planting microphones since mini video cameras had not yet been invented!

At first, on 30 April 1973, President Nixon acknowledged his government’s partial responsibility and fired a number of his most incriminated officers, but the following year, on 9 August 1974, he was compelled to resign from his functions. However, despite the magnitude of the scandal and the ensuing torrent of best-sellers, the major media continued to keep much of the information under wraps.

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Carl Jensen, Carl Jensen, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies at Sonoma State University in California; founder of "Project Censored"

A significant proportion of U.S. citizens began to realize that commercial news outlets were covering up the truth. Seconded by a group of students and sociology professors from his university, Carl Jensen set about surveying the preeminent facts that the big media [1] were concealing from the public.

It was under these circumstances that « Project Censored » came into being, publishing its first research report in 1976. It has since been institutionalized as an on-going, year-round research project, involving a team of students and researchers who work fearlessly to unearth the news that are intentionally omitted by the mainstream media to accommodate specific interests. More recently, « Project Censored » has been calling on ordinary citizens every year to help select, among the many hundreds of censored stories, the twenty-five most revealing press articles. Jensen has meanwhile retired, but he remains on the selection jury. At present, the project is directed by Peter Phillips, also a sociologist.

« Project Censored »’s turn to be censored

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Peter Phillips, Professor of Communication Studies at Sonoma State University in California; current Director of "Project Censored".

« Project Censored » publishes yearly a 500-page volume that broaches issues of crucial importance on a global scale, and which the imperial powers are hell bent on concealing from public notice. If a story is not printed on the pages of the U.S. mainstream media, it will also never surface in the worldwide communications system controlled by the multinational media corporations that cater to the interests of Washington and its allies. Together, major daily newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post, radio stations such as Clear Channel Communications and television networks like CNN and Fox News, as well as the leading press agencies, constitute a global web with the power to decide on the trivia to be fed to the world population and on the critical issues that they want obfuscated.

The same news stories that are buried by the U.S. media groups are equally kept from the rest of world citizens, if only by way of the omissions dictated by the big media monopolies that hold sway over the information system worldwide. What is not aired on CNN or other big news channels is not likely to be picked up by news channels in other countries, not even in the third world. This explains the impact that censorship and disinformation, albeit for different reasons, have on countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and others insofar as they have no way of knowing about such information nor would they be able to access it as long as it remains the monopoly of the world communication system.

Sociologist Peter Phillips considers that in the U.S. media ownership is concentrated in such few hands that any story which is likely to ruffle the interests of the powers that be is simply eclipsed. The team that runs « Project Censored » collects each year hundreds of « censored news » at the hands of the big media, but which can be found through independent media, small editors, websites, radio programmes, trade union journals, or through foreign outlets, etc.

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Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, Sonoma State University. Member of "Project Censored".

Mention of this media research project in major newspapers has been dwindling. In 2003, erstwhile legendary journalist Walter Cronkite stated that «Project Censored» "is one of the organizations we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism." However, according to Phillips, the New York Times did not refer to it even once. “Two years ago, our project was acknowledged on only one occasion by the Chicago Tribune, just before the death of renowned journalist Molly Ivins who had commented our work in her regular column. Our local newspaper in California, which is also owned by the New York Times, grudgingly published our list of articles ... in the obituaries! We made the front page of our local paper only once when we published a physicist’s observations pointing out that the collapse of WTC Building 7 on September 11, 2001 could not have been caused by fire. Needless to say, the article was radically negative”, said Phillips. [2]

According to Phillips, « U.S. corporate media peddle sheer propaganda from the first line to the last and refuse to investigate the most egregious hypocrisies that mark the life of our nation, like the 2000 and 2004 electoral frauds ; the 1.2 million Iraqis killed since the occupation ; the 300% benefits raked in by corporations like Lockheed Martin as a result of the occupation ; or the juicy profits harvested by transnational companies like Halliburton and others thanks to the war.

Censorship or deception

The big media not only suppress certain stories, but they also distort what they publish on a daily basis. Their goal is to keep public opinion in the dark or to instill bogus ideas through a relentless feed of disinformation. For example, Georgia was transformed from aggressor to attacked country after its failed attempt to forcibly annex South Ossetia and Abkhazia, with secret U.S. and NATO support, on 8 August 2008 when everybody’s eyes were riveted on the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Reports concerning the Governments of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador and others are systematically distorted. U.S. investigator Justin Delacour stated that « after having combed though the opinion columns of the twenty-five most important U.S. newspapers published in the first six months of 2005, he concluded that approximately 95% of the articles dealing with Venezuelan politics were unequivocally hostile towards democratically–elected President Hugo Chávez Frias. »

He further stated that « the opinion columns in question portray the President of Venezuela as a demagogue and an autocrat, misrepresenting the achievements of his domestic and foreign policies. These articles simply omit to mention that the Government of Venezuela enjoys the overwhelming support of the population, as evidenced by Chávez’s landslide victory in the 2004 presidential referendum and in other more recent surveys. Nearly always absent are commentaries by analysts who look favourably on Venezuela’s policies relating to mass education, health, food subsidies, microcredits favouring the poor, and so on». [3]

The U.S. media intentionally ignores and skews the real story of the five Cubans (internationally known as « The Five » or « Les Cinq »), who have been held in a U.S. prison for more than 10 years, falsely accused of committing espionage against the United States without a shred of evidence to support the charges or to show that they constituted a threat to the security of the Empire. They are well and truly political prisoners, incarcerated for monitoring the activities of Miami-based terrorist groups in order to gather information on their plans of aggression and sabotage against Cuba, like the bomb attacks perpetrated against foreign tourist hotels. Simply put, the Five are antiterrorist combatants ironically sanctioned by a country proclaiming to be the world champion of the «war on terror», abusing this guise to legitimize the torture of prisoners and the invations of Afghanistan and Iraq.

In their book Manufacturing Consent [4], Phillips reminds us, Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman explain that private ownership acts as a filter between the events and their publication by the media, whose ultimate goal is to increase their profits, protect the capitalist market, shield the powers that be and sow skepticism in respect of all independent media. He also notes that « the current landscape is different from the one painted by these two authors twenty years ago. The media CEOs can now congregate in one single room : they are a total of 180 people who influence the entire range of national media ». [5]

Phillips points out that « CEOs and media owners identify with the powerful. Their idea of what makes news is determined by their cultural mindset and they share the same conception of what is newsworthy or not. As for the journalists, they write to get their pieces published, to be heard on the radio or appear on television. If their opinions differ from those of the owners, their work will slip down the memory hole and the media doors will be closed on them forever."

 Ernesto Carmona

Chilean journalist and writer. Director of the Chilean Council of Journalists. Executive Secretary of the Investigation Commission on attacks against journalists, Latin American Federation of Journalists (CIAP-FELAP).

[1] By « big media » we mean the conglomeration of newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television channels that formed at that time the information system in the United States. Their ownership was less concentrated than it is today, but at the end of the day it was the same companies that have merged in the meantime constituting at present the ten mega-conglomerates that have melded news and information with the leisure industry, in the same way as sports magazines, film production, movie theater screening. The daily newspapers, radio stations and television channels come under the same umbrella.

[2] Meeting with Peter Phillips, José Martí International Institute of Journalism, 14 May 2008; Havana, Cuba.

[3] Justin Delacour, « Is there a link between the Government and the U.S. media ? », Ministry of Popular Power for Communication and Information, March 2008 ; Caracas, Venezuela.

[4] Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky (Vintage, 1998).

[5] Conference by Peter Phillips, José Martí International Institute of Journalism, 12 May 2008; La Havane, Cuba.

3 comments:

  1. Your figure of a million deaths is conservative and whitewashes the death and suffering of the other 366,000+humans. http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq
    The US and its cowering, prostitute coalition having manifest this obscenity, expose profound perversity of their humanity.

    It is no excuse to accuse Israel or its Zionist media of manipulating them. By which ever cunning they were maneuvered, it was fully their deed and it is they who now, still semi-consciously, stagger about dripping in the carnage of their evil butchery.

    ReplyDelete
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