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The media's double standard on Iraq prison abuse

by Paul Crespo Wednesday, May. 26, 2004 at 5:57 AM

For three weeks, the media has bombarded us with a pornographic orgy of lurid photos and stories of Iraqi prisoner abuse and humiliation. It has been almost impossible to avoid seeing the same disgusting images of a few rogue US soldiers mistreating naked Iraqi detainees as these images have been splashed daily across our TV screens, newspapers and magazine covers.

Even the shocking videotape of the barbaric beheading last week in Iraq of American Nick Berg, by Islamic uber-terrorist Abu Musaf al Zarqawi (in his own words, responding to our photographic barrage of self-incrimination), apparently was not enough to sideline the obsessive national self-flagellation over this issue.

While the inappropriate acts of a relatively small number of our troops merit coverage, they also need to be placed in context and perspective. We should continue to investigate and punish those guilty of any real crimes in Iraq, but it is also now well past time to end this media-fuelled feeding frenzy and get a grip on reality.

Most of the mainstream press stopped airing images of the planes striking the World Trade Center and the Twin Towers collapsing just days after Sept. 11 because the constant imagery had become overdone and was “upsetting.” Images of victims falling to their deaths were never shown. Most American media, such as CBS, also refused to air the Berg beheading video, clips or images from it because they were “too gruesome.”

It seems that these same media believe that obscene images that undermine our war effort and are guaranteed to enrage and inflame the passions of our fanatical enemies need to be published ad naseum, but photos and footage that vividly demonstrate the brutality of the medieval enemies we fight should be censored.

So, the Abu Ghraib “scandal” still sadly continues to dominate our news coverage. In one week alone, the Washington Post published 33 headline stories on the Iraq prison incidents, while the New York Times pumped out 23 similar stories. Neither Nick Berg’s murder or the earlier murders and mutilations of our contactors in Fallujah, received anything like this amount of coverage. In contrast, very little has been written of the long history of beheadings by Islamic terrorists.

And even when the press did report on Berg’s beheading it often did so in ways that minimized its impact, or provided some sort of moral equivalency with the prison abuse.

Referring to the two incidents, one USA Today front page headline read: “Brutality intensifies in Iraq.” How absurd. The fact is that brutality is increasing on the part of the terrorists, not Americans. While these Islamic nihilists are savagely murdering Americans in cold blood on video, our troops are being investigated and tried for much less serious crimes that occurred months ago and have since been stopped.

Not surprisingly, Massachusetts Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry could not keep themselves from shamelessly turning this overblown scandal into a partisan political weapon and an indictment of America’s entire Iraq policy.

In the Senate, three days after Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s May 7 testimony, Kennedy recklessly snorted: “Shamefully, we now learn that Saddam’s torture chambers opened under new management -- US management.” Apparently to Kennedy, a dozen terrorist inmates stripped naked with female underpants on their heads equates to the thousands of Saddam’s former prisoners now missing body parts like ears, tongues and hands, or the 400,000 buried in mass graves, many having been run through wood shredders feet first while still alive.

Meanwhile Kerry, eerily reminiscent of his blame-America statements during his anti-war glory days in the 1970s, added: “What happened [at Abu Ghraib]…comes out of how we went there in the first place, an attitude that comes out of America’s overall arrogance as policy.” To him a few misguided and ill-trained reservists mistreating hardened terrorists in an overcrowded Iraqi prison are somehow a direct product of America’s fundamentally flawed nature.

Thankfully, other Democrats, such as Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman have responded much more responsibly. In an Op-Ed in the May 14 Wall Street Journal Lieberman stated that “The beheading of Nick Berg … made it painfully clear how little our enemies value life. Prison abuse must not blur the enormous moral differences between us and those we fight in Iraq, and in the world-wide war on terrorism.”

The jihadists and Saddam loyalists we are fighting do not follow the Geneva Conventions, nor do they care about humiliating prisoners. Instead, they

gleefully slaughter them like animals. While their barbaric actions do not condone any wrong behavior on our part, we need a reality check. Our fight is

just. The vast majority of our soldiers are decent, courageous and virtuous, and this continuing public self-incrimination only aids our enemies and hurts our troops.

As Lieberman added: “We cannot allow the prison scandal in Iraq to diminish our own American sense of national honor and purpose, or further erode support for our just and necessary cause in Iraq…The misdeeds of a few do not alter the character of our nation or the honor of the many who serve in our – and the world’s – defense every day.”

From Senator Lieberman's lips to the media's ears.

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this is another spook more rational Thursday, May. 27, 2004 at 6:08 AM

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