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When The Press Can’t Tell Us, Who Will?

When The Press Can’t Tell Us, Who Will?

By Patricia Johnson

The announcement to close the Baghdad office of Al-Jazeera was made by Iraqi Interior Minister Falah al-Naqib during a news conference on August 7, 2004.

When the Iraqi police arrived at the Al-Jazeera Baghdad office they did not have a court order as required by law; instead they had an order from the interior ministry addressed “to whom it may concern” ordering the closing for a one month period of time. Al-Jazeera lawyers were given a document which they refused to sign, stating Al-Jazeera would change its policy regarding Iraq coverage if the office was to be re-opened after the 30-day closure.

Why were the doors to the Al-Jazeera TV channel closed?

Probably for the same reason that Sinclair Broadcast Group pulled “Nightline” from seven ABC stations throughout the U.S. – so people could not see and hear Ted Koppel read the names of our war dead earlier this year.

Probably for the same reason that the Pentagon did not want the photos of our war dead shown one casket after another -- all in a straight line, draped with the American flag.

This administration appears to take the position that war is fine as long as citizens of this country are not subjected to disturbing scenes – you know -- the real war.

The real thing isn’t Saddam’s statue being pulled down with smiling Iraqi children and cheering crowds in the background. The real thing isn’t photos of our soldiers building roads, or schools, or army barracks. The real thing isn’t President George W. Bush standing on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003 declaring “Mission Accomplished”.

The real thing is death and destruction, blood and tears, and screams of terror –daily -- because every day someone else is being killed in Iraq. It is not a pretty sight and no matter how you try to soften the blow, it is what happens during war. Not seeing it doesn’t make it disappear. It’s still there.

Time and again Donald Rumsfeld has criticized the U.S. media for not showing the positive side of the Iraq war. When the opportunity presented itself the U.S. funded, through a supplemental appropriation bill for Iraq reconstruction, the Iraqi TV station Al-Iraqiya and two radio stations. This action guaranteed the type of news that would be made available to the Iraqi people.

Kareem Hammadi, editor at Al-Iraqiya states in an AP article, published by Global Security (click here) that he accentuates positive news “for the good of the Iraqi people”. "The most important events are the good news stories: the liberation, freedom, electricity improvements and the capture of terrorists.”

Al-Jazeera does not accentuate the positive. It probably didn’t report the Children’s Theater that was built in Mosul, at a cost to U.S. taypayers of $250,000.00 or the Children’s Playground that was built, in Mosul, at a cost to U.S. taypayers of $30,000.00.

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Program Management Office, Pentagon Backgrounder, David Nash, ADM (Ret) Director May 24, 2004

Al-Jazeera probably didn’t report the new Nassir Wa Salaam soccer stadium that was built by the CPA, but I’m sure they did report the 400 dead that were buried in the soccer stadium in Fallujah (click here)

When, Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld spoke before The Chicago Council on Foreign Relations/Commerical Club of Chicago on Friday, August 6, 2004 (see Department of Defense Transcript of date) he made it clear he felt Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah were damaging the U.S. by telling the world things that were not true.

The next day the doors were closed to Al-Jazeera.

Is Al-Jazeera telling the world things that aren’t true, or is Al-Jazeera telling the world things that the U.S. and IIG doesn’t want the world to know?

How about the July 31, 2004 article “Iraqi group claims over 37,000 civilian toll” By Ahmed Janabi (click here)

According to the article, during the period of September and October 2003 the People's Kifah, or Struggle Against Hegemony, movement conducted a survey.

During this two month period of time the group went to remote villages, spoke to thousands of witnesses who saw Iraqi civilians killed by U.S. fire, obtained information from hospitals, and spoke to grave-diggers across Iraq.

The purpose of the survey was to determine the number of civilian fatalities during the period between March and October 2003 (excluding the Kurdish areas).

According to the article Muhammad al-Ubaidi, a UK-based physiology professor, provided a breakdown of the deaths for each governorate as follows:

Baghdad 6,103
Mosul 2,009
Basra 6,734
Nasiriya 3,581
Diwania 1,567
Wasit 2,494
Babil 3,552
Karbala and Najaf 2,263
Muthana 659
Misan 2,741
Anbar 2,172
Kirkuk 861
Salah al-Din 1,797
TOTAL 36,533

The study was apparently stopped when one of the workers, 32-year-old Iraqi engineer, Ramzi Musa Ahmad was allegedly arrested by Kurdish militias and handed over to US forces, where his fate still remains unknown.

In a free society an individual has the right to read what they choose in the papers, watch what they want on TV, listen to the radio stations of choice, and have private telephone and internet access for discussing issues with friends, family and associates.

On June 10, 2003 the Coalition Provisional Authority wrote an order prohibiting specific media activity.

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When Ambassador L. Paul Bremmer, head of the CPA used his authority to close Al-Hawza, the weekly newspaper published by Mugtada Al-Sadr, it led to weeks of violence between the Shiite militias and Coalition forces. Al-Hawza has since been re-opened by the IIG

Closing a TV station that the majority of Iraqi’s prefer seems like a poor decision in a country that has suffered from continual violence. Freedom with limitations is just another form of dictatorship and may very well become the sole cause of renewed civil disorder and rioting.


© 2004 Patricia Johnson

Patricia Johnson is a freelance writer and CEO of Articles and Answers. Visit us online at

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