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by Eric Matthew
Monday, Feb. 24, 2003 at 2:02 PM
This is an open letter to NPR News and PRI and describes, in detail, the mistakes in their recent coverage of events. I have mailed this letter to the necessary outlets, but I think other people should do it as well. It is long, but good, I think. Thanks for your support.
Your report on Saddam Huessein’s rise to power on the February 12 episode of "The World" was inaccurate because it skipped over key elements of the story - mainly those related to U.S. involvement in his rise to power. You only mentioned once that the U.S backed Saddam Huessein in the 80's and that was several minutes after you spoke of the atrocities he committed during the time in which we backed him. This is a key issue since our own government is using these U.S. backed atrocities, committed with U.S. weapons, as a key point in explaining why we should all get on board for further terrorization of the Iraqi people. The government does not, of course, remind the citizenry that this country did back Huessein in the 80's and supplied him with the weapons, which we have been trying to dismantle ever since.
Furthermore, I have yet to hear a report on the recently leaked information that the government has a 120 page draft of a "Patriot Act II" (a document it previously denied having) which allows the government to expatriate ANYONE (U.S. born or not) without a trial, who it says has relation to a terrorist organization or who they themselves may be "plotting against the government." By the broad definitions set fourth in the first "Patriot" Act, this very letter would more than likely be considered terrorism. The American public might be more interested in learning about these issues rather than hearing to whom the Oscar nominations will be given, which you put in the first five minutes of a recent news broadcast.
Furthermore, I have heard no one at "The World" or NPR News question the government regarding the timing of the increase to "orange alert status" last week. Let it be noted: This is the umpteenth warning with no clear threat. This came at a time when the government had been embarrassed by the fact that large portions of what Powell read at the U.N. had been plagiarized from 12 year old documents and documents written by a graduate student in California. This came at a time when the U.S. was about to be embarrassed by a leak (I believe from Germany) that the government is planning an addition to the already draconian Patriot Act.
In addition to all this, I have yet to hear NPR or PRI discuss, in depth, the proven links between the destruction of U.S. weapons by U.S. troops in Iraq in the first Gulf War and the Gulf War Syndrome that ensued. This was and is being covered up by the government. Nor have I heard NPR discuss the use of the insanely toxic depleted uranium (DU) weapons and the exponential rise in birth defects and other radiological related diseases in Iraq since the first Gulf war (Source: World Information Service on Energy: Uranium Project and The Eos Life Work Resource Center). Here are some more facts you have not and probably will not discuss:
“DUP's are effective antitank weapons, but when DU bullets strike, they ignite, forming fine particles of toxic and radioactive dust which can be inhaled or swallowed. DU can cause lung and other cancers, damage to the kidneys and liver, and congenital malformations and genetic damage. DU weapons were heavily used in the Basra area of Southern Iraq. "For the past three months Dr. Zenad has been monitoring the birth defects in their delivery room (Basra, Iraq) where 20 to 30 babies are born daily. She keeps her findings in a hard-backed grey notebook. ... She begins: 'August - we had three babies born with no head. Four had abnormally large heads. In September we had six with no heads, none with large heads and two with short limbs. In October, one with no head, four with big heads and four with deformed limbs or other types of deformities..”
--Guardian Weekly, 1/10/99
DU dust remains radioactive. "Battlefields littered with the residue of spent DU bullets remain radioactive almost indefinitely."
--Christian Science Monitor, 4/30/99
It is next to impossible to clean up DU dust.. "The cost of cleaning DU residue in the Gulf would be prohibitive. The price tag for removing 152,000 pounds of DU in the now-closed 500 acre Jefferson Proving Ground in Indiana has been estimated to have been billion to billion."
--Christian Science Monitor 4/30/99
A single charred DU bullet found by US forces was emitting 260-270 millirads per hour. The current limit of exposure for non-radiation workers is 100 millirads per year.
--1991 U.S. Army Safety Memo
DU Case Narrative 9/98
p.183, available - Military Toxics
We have since used these weapons in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Vieques, and numerous other places around the globe. U.S. troops, recruited from school by the government as an effect of the military industrial complex instead of being educated, are getting sick and dying from this radiation poisoning. In fact, approximately 400,000 of the 700,000 men and women who served in the Gulf War are sick and 30,000 to 40,000 have died as a result of this bio-weapon and radiation related sickness (As presented by the Gulf War Veterans Association and in the documentary film “Gulf War Illness; Fact or Fiction”). Many of their children are being born with incredible deformities. These disabled vets receive per month and U.S. imposed sanctions on Iraq have killed over a million children since the gulf war ended. And Saddam sits in power. Who are the terrorists?
In regards to war crimes and crimes against humanity: Yes, bin Laden and Sadam have committed such acts. But prior to our action on them we must examine our own history in order to determine weather or not these actions can be justified. If we examine this history, we will surely find they cannot be. The U.S. was responsible for the deaths of millions of Vietnamese in the Vietnam war, mostly civilians. The U.S. has been involved in over 30 military actions since the end of the Vietnam war. That’s over one per year! And most of these actions resulted in the murder of vast numbers of civilians and/or the installation of a dictatorship in which human rights violations insued, many times on a massive scale. (http://www.greens.org/s-r/27/27-01a.html). The unfettered support given by the U.S. to Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestinian land is unconscionable and in one incident during the gulf war the U.S. bombed a bomb shelter not once but twice killing 408 civilians, mostly women and children.
And, in regards to the recent supposed bin Laden tape, I have yet another gripe about your coverage. One time, immediately after the tape was released, you played a translation of this tape: A translation in which bin Laden states his opposition to Saddam Hussein, reinforcing something long spoken of by the anti-war community. Bin Laden stated his belief that the government of Iraq should fall but that the Americans should not be the ones to make this happen. Every time thereafter, however, you switched from this original tape to a version filtered by Powell or Rumsfeld in which the government of the U.S. uses this tape as evidence that bin Laden is aligned with the Iraqi regime. . . exactly the opposite of what he said. This is sloppy, lazy, and irresponsible "journalism." It is now likely the U.S. government, drawing lines between Bin Laden, Al-Quaida, and the people of Iraq, will be able to justify the killing of vast numbers of Iraqi civilians using as a pretext or excuse their supposed alignment with "the terrorists" or "evildoers." You will be in no position to challenge this now that you have blindly jumped in bed with the government and have not given the other side so much as an airwave. Who are the evildoers?
Also, because your journalists have been trained by the Pentagon on what not to look at, what not to question, what not to report on, and where not to go, you are now in a place that is ill prepared to compete with the onslaught of government propaganda relating to this “war.”
As we move into these critical days, please note history: In early August of 1964 then President Johnson ordered U.S. bombers to "retaliate" for a North Vietnamese torpedo attack that never happened. This incident begun the horrid Vietnam war. History is riddled with such fabrications.
As a media outlet, you have a duty to keep the public safe. Propelling this war will not keep the people safe. It will inflict more hatred and further advance the spiritual, economical, and environmental death of the world.
As a supposedly “publicly-owned, listener-supported” media outlet, you have the duty to present and investigate a balanced view of events. And as a public media outlet you are NOT supposed to be controlled by any corporate interests, including those interests who not only still believe war will be good for the economy (despite the unprecedented tumble of the DOW) but who also will profit directly from such military action (now that I think about it, only congress can declare war, so it isn't a "war with Iraq").
As a media outlet, you are supposed to be unattached. You are clearly
not and your bias is nearly as evident as Fox's and other corporate
outlets’ biases. It is for this reason - your unprecedented fall in
quality and equality - that I must urge the public to withdraw all
support from your belittled "public" forum.
While some of your broadcasts since this time have been marginally more acceptable, you come nowhere close to being an objective news outlet. Why is it possible to objectively look at other governments but not your own? I suggest you take journalistic advice from Warren Olney, who has done a respectable job of presenting an even and honest debate on these issues
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