The text of the letter from the White House to John McCain and Carl Lewin, reproduced below, makes it clear that the Obama Administration has, despite media reports, not been able to confirm the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Continue Reading…
Archives For Propaganda
Abby Martin of RT is doing some good work exposing mainstream media war propaganda. The video below is from her latest programme. Continue Reading…
Seasons greetings to our readers! Our festivities are on temporary hold as we look at the Halfaya bakery massacre.
The main elements of the Halfaya bakery massacre reported by news agency Reuters, CNN, Al Arabiya and other media channels, are that Syrian MIG jets bombed a bakery in Halfaya killing more than a hundred (CNN) and at least 300 (Al Arabiya) people. Continue Reading…
A major thread running through the story of the Libyan conflict has been the information war – propaganda spread by intelligence agencies, military, media and political groups designed to encourage hatred, conflict, war, foreign intervention, death and destruction.
One sad aspect of the propaganda war has been the role played by Amnesty International and – as we will see -the heavily compromised Human Rights Watch (HRW), organisations which used to be highly regarded (and still employ some decent, well-intentioned and brave individuals.)
The daily output of propaganda is difficult to keep up with, let alone dispel. With fabricated stories describing camel bones as mass graves containing 1270 bodies, Moussa Ibrahim reportedly being found in women’s clothing and viagra apparently being distributed as a weapon of mass destruction in order to “rape children as young as EIGHT” the propaganda is beyond parody.
Human Rights Watch – infiltrated
HRW has always been a somewhat dodgy organisation, largely funded by billionaires such as George Soros and the Rausing family whose fortune comes from Tetra Paks, exploiting cheap labor in China and (allegedly) tax dodging on an industrial scale. According to its 2010 financial statements, HRW’s annual spend on fundraising was $8,042,326 and $2,344,370 on management and general costs.
Human Rights Watch is very close to the US foreign policy establishment. Cables recently released by Wikileaks show HRW workers regularly meet with US officials abroad and as 08BANGKOK1522 makes crystal clear, HRW has been infiltrated by US government assets (our emphasis and italics):
2. (C) A long-time and trusted Embassy contact based in Thailand with HRW (STRICTLY PROTECT) revealed to us that the May 14 press release \”Burma: Donor States Must Monitor Aid\”generated a certain amount of internal dissent during its drafting.
Of particular concern to HRW staff on the ground was reference to a report that the Burmese military appropriated international relief supplies. The final version released to the media stated \”HRW confirmed an Associated Press (AP) report in which high-protein biscuits supplied by the international community had been seized by the military, and that low-quality, locally produced substitutes were instead delivered to communities in need.\”
3. (C) According to our contact, HRW received the story from a trusted source in Rangoon on May 12. This Rangoon source stated that a Burmese Ministry official (NFI) had claimed that the Burmese military confiscated a shipment of high-protein biscuits and transferred them to a military warehouse. The Ministry official adamantly believed that the biscuits were replaced with an inferior version before distribution to cyclone victims, though he provided no verification of this claim. The Rangoon source had no first-hand knowledge of the action by the Burmese military and had not been able to follow-up with the Ministry official as to the current whereabouts of the alleged biscuits. HRW Thailand shared this story with their headquarters in New York, but couched it as for internal consumption only.
The Zainab al Hosni affair
The emasculation of Amnesty International is perhaps even more disappointing and it is a major victory for Admiral Stavridis’ information warriors to have neutered this once radical organization. Fresh evidence that Amnesty has been hijacked to a pro-NATO intervention agenda has been revealed by Syrian State TV and Russia Today.
Fresh evidence of the extreme brutality being meted out to Syrian protesters and their families has been revealed today by Amnesty International.
The mutilated body of 18-year-old Zainab al-Hosni of Homs, the first woman known to have died in custody during Syria’s recent unrest, was discovered by her family in horrific circumstances on 13 September.
The family was visiting a morgue to identify the body of Zainab’s activist brother Mohammad, who was also arrested and apparently tortured and killed in detention. Zainab had been decapitated, her arms cut off, and skin removed.
“If it is confirmed that Zainab was in custody when she died, this would be one of the most disturbing cases of a death in detention we have seen so far,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“We have documented other cases of protesters whose bodies were returned to their families in a mutilated state during recent months, but this is particularly shocking.”
The killings of Zainab and Mohammad bring Amnesty International’s records of reported deaths in custody to 103 cases since mass protests in Syria began in March this year.
Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, CNN, Al Jazeera and most other media outlets used the case of Zainab in order to try to justify the sanctions against Syria (see Infanticide masquerading as policy) and intervention in Syrian affairs by the thoroughly discredited International Criminal Court and by the UN Security Council.
In a statement guaranteed to fan the flames in Syria, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, Joe Stork pronounced:
“Syrian security forces either killed and mutilated Zaynab al-Hosni or are turning a blind eye to gangs committing gruesome murders against anti-government activists and their families.
In either case, the government of Bashar al-Assad is perpetuating a climate of terror in Syria and fanning the flames of sectarian mistrust.”
Now, embarrassingly for all concerned, Zainab has turned up alive and well (though complaining about having had to run away from home due to being abused by her brothers) on Syria TV:
An Amnesty International spokesperson told the BBC:
We will endeavor to be a little more cautious and phrase things a bit more nuanced.
Update: Amnesty Internatioanl and Human Rights Watch have issued a joint-statement which seeks to explain their position on Zainab al-Hosni case and in which they
“regret any inaccuracy in the misidentification of the body as that of Zaynab al-Hosni.”
As is now well documented, the rebellion in Libya began with violent attacks on police stations, such as this one in Al-Bayda where people locked inside were reportedly burnt to death:
An intensive propaganda campaign systematically distorted the facts on the ground, including in particular allegations that the Libyan airforce was bombing peaceful protestors and that Libyan soldiers were being massacred for not shooting on unarmed protestors (since proven to have been a false flag operation). This propaganada allowed a mobilisation of the international community and the passing of UN Resolution 1973 which imposed the No-Fly Zone.
It is UN Resolution 1973 which NATO argues provides the legal basis for the coalition operation in Libya as NATO makes clear in their Factsheet on Operation Unified Protector:
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 mandates “all necessary measures” to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under attack or threat of attack. In line with this authorisation, NATO conducts reconnaissance, surveillance and information-gathering operations to identify those forces which present a threat to civilians and civilian-populated areas.
Notwithstanding this NATO supported the rebels as they escalated the level of violence directed against those who opposed them, civilians and guest workers with attacks using Grad rockets, artillery, tanks and mortars - in fact any weapons that could be looted from arms dumps or supplied by NATO, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Here is an early example from Misrata of rebel forces nonchantly firing mortars, in between drinking cups of tea:
With the brutal assault on Sirte, which is facing a bombardment from the air, surpassing Guernica, the indiscriminate assaults on civilian areas are now being taken to a higher level:
As we have seen, NATO’s official justification for their operations includes a requirement “to identify those forces which present a threat to civilians or civilian-populated areas.”
Furthermore the justification includes this:
Targeting depends on the decisions of operational commanders. Targets struck to date have included tanks, armoured personnel carriers, air-defence systems and artillery around and approaching key civilian areas including Misrata, Ajdabiyah and Zintan. [My emphasis]
Yet clearly NATO is supporting the rebel use of tanks and artillery around and approaching the key civilian area of Sirte; indeed NATO and its allies are almost certainly supplying the ammunition for these big guns.
Many journalists are having trouble processing this information, let alone communicating it to their readership, as it does not fit in with the overriding paradigm of an operation “intended to protect civilians.”
It remains to be seen, which journalists have the intelligence to realise that the old paradigm is dead and the courage to communicate this fact to their readers. A new paradigm is required, a new framework to understand the NATO war on Libya, one which recognises that the mantra of “responsibity to protect civilians” which NATO repeats at every press conference and in every press release is nothing more than:
1) A propaganda device, aimed at the fooling the public into supporting a war of aggression.
2) A legal device whereby the NATO command seeks to escape responsibility for war crimes.
As our regular readers will be aware, we have been reporting on the fate of the people of Tawergha since the local rebel commander Ibrahim al-Halbous, said he was going to wipe the town off the map. We reported the storming of the town, with NATO support, and the extremely worrying reports of prisoners in shipping crates and the people of the town being “handed over to the red cross,” which they weren’t (see ‘Tawergha no longer exists, only Misrata’).
We relayed the reports from Diana Eltahawy of Amnesty International about the inhabitants who managed to flee being persecuted in Tripoli.
This pro-Gaddafi settlement has been emptied of its people, vandalised and partly burned by rebel forces. The Sunday Telegraph was the first to visit the scene of what appears to be the first major reprisal against supporters of the former regime.
“We gave them thirty days to leave,” said Abdul el-Mutalib Fatateth, the officer in charge of the rebel garrison in Tawarga, as his soldiers played table-football outside one of the empty apartment blocks. “We said if they didn’t go, they would be conquered and imprisoned. Every single one of them has left, and we will never allow them to come back.”
Andrew Gillighan is a serious reporter and he even mentions the racial context:
And as so often in Libya, there is also a racist undercurrent. Many Tawargas, though neither immigrants nor Gaddafi’s much-ballyhooed African mercenaries, are descended from slaves, and are darker than most Libyans.
Along the road that leads into Tawargha, the Misurata Brigade has painted a slogan. It says, “the brigade for purging slaves [and] black skin.”
We have to say, the racist element is more than an undercurrent, but if more journalists had reported the truth rather than turning a blind eye, refusing to report or to investigate then perhaps lives could still be saved.
In this context we should just mention the ”reporting” of so-called journalists such as Chris Stephen who has been in Misrata for weeks writing pro-war, pro-NATO propaganda for the benefit of the Guardian’s readership and failing miserably to report on the racist atrocities and ethnic cleansing.
Update (12 September) – The Washington Post reports Human Rights Watch Emergencies Director Peter Bouckaert as confirming:
“It really is racist violence against all dark-skinned people, this situation for Africans in Tripoli is dire.”
Update (14th September) – The ethnic cleansing of Tawergha is now being made permanent with the seal of approval of Mahmoud Jibril.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation
NATO Media Advisory on the correct use of language in case of armed conflict.
NATO Headquarters 07 Sep 2011
1. This Media Advisory contains recommended guidelines for the use of language by media representatives in their reports.
2. For further information, please visit: http://www.nato.int .
For enemy forces please use the following approved terms:
The government of [ ] ……………………………………the [ ] regime
Government officials ……………………………………..regime officials / henchmen
President/Prime Minister [ ] ………………………….[ ] / the dictator /ruthless dictator /tyrant
[ ] armed forces …………………………………………….regime forces /mercenaries /snipers
[ ] volunteers …………………………………………………[ ] militia / thugs / regime diehards /regime loyalists
NATO proxies ……………………………………………….freedom fighters/armed civilians
In reporting civilian casualties it is important to follow the following guidelines:
Civilian casualties caused by NATO are always alleged casualties/ unavoidable collateral damage. If in doubt, don’t report.
In any report alluding to civilian casualties it must always be stated that NATO do their utmost to avoid civilian casualties and the target was in all cases a legitimate one.
Civilian casualties caused by the other side are to be reported as the result of deliberate targeting of civilians.
Human Rights Abuses
Media representatives need to be careful in the use of the words massacre, mass grave, atrocity and war crime – these terms are solely for the use of acts committed by the enemy, where they should be used as frequently as possible.
It is important to realise that NATO opponents in this and future wars will inevitably use rape as a weapon of war – all media outlets should ensure that they cover this properly.
In reporting any human rights abuses or war crimes it is considered good journalistic practice to assign guilt to the regime or regime forces. Where evidence suggests otherwise, the use of the word alleged is mandatory.
Any alleged abuses by NATO proxies must be put firmly in the context of
a) They probably didn’t happen
b) The proxy leadership does not approve
c) They are partially justified (revenge, use of mercenaries etc)
It is a frequent tactic of enemy forces to massacre their own people for the cameras.
Weapons used by NATO and those of our allies are targeted and precise. NATO will provide details of successful deployment of weapons systems and it is recommended that media representatives use the manufacturer designated brand names in their reporting.
Weapons used by our opponents are to be described as indiscriminate and their use is invariably a war crime. ANY use of heavy weapons is to be described as use of weapons of mass destruction.
Media should stick to these guidelines even where both sides are apparently using the same weapons and tactics (e.g. use of Grad rocket systems).
The approved sources of information for media are:
1) Statements by the NATO secretary-general
2) NATO press releases
3) NATO press conferences
4) Briefings by NATO officials
5) Statements of Heads of State of NATO countries
6) Statements by Defence officials
7) Off -the-record briefings from intelligence officials.
Any statements by these sources may be reported as fact.
Media may produce reports based on other sources, but in each case we strongly recommend they contact us to check the story for reliability.
If you have any problems about what to write, please contact NATO press centre and we will provide you with any information required.
Any failure to report according to these guidelines will certainly lead to a loss of privileges and could be regarded as a deliberate attempt to give succour to the enemy by undermining the information war.
For an example of media best practice we recommend the British Broadcasting Corporation .
This is, of course, not a real media advisory – we don’t need to teach you guys how to do your job!
“Saif was captured in Libya,” he said.
“We have confidential information from different sources that we have within Libya confirming this.”
Libyan rebels had said earlier that they had detained Saif and Colonel Gaddafi’s eldest son Mohammed Al-Gaddafi.
According to BBC correspondent in Tripoli:
Saif’s brother Mohammed was also reportedly captured, but apparently managed to escape.
This is not the first time the heavily compromised alleged rapist (who was instrumental in spreading the false reports about mercenaries, mass rape and viagra) the has been involved in psyops in Libya.
Human Rights Investigations again demands his immediate resignation.
Update: Release from Reuters suggests some confusion within the ICC and the office of the prosecutor:
“There was no official confirmation from the National Transitional Council,” ICC official Fadi el-Abdallah said. “Different answers were given. That was a little ambiguous.”
He added that statements from both the ICC and the prosecutor on Monday said they had received information about the arrest but that they were trying to confirm this.
The office of the prosecutor, which told Reuters early on Monday it had confirmation from sources that Saif had been arrested, has not yet responded to requests for comment.
Update (23 August): Mahmud Jibril tells Al Jazeera in all transparency, three days ago one of the revolutionaries from Tripoli told him that Saif had been captured. Mahmud Jibril asked him if he had carried out the detention and was told - no another group. Mahmud Jibril told him to go to the place where Saif was kept to confirm after he saw him. The revolutionary said he would ring back in 30 minutes. Mahmud Jibril rang Mustafa Abdel Jalil and told him that there was an unconfirmed report Saif had been captured but would have to wait for confimration. But the revolutionary in Tripoli did not ring back.
When Moreno Ocampo called he was told the reports received were not certain and unconfirmed. Ocampo was also told that the NTC would get back to him if it was confirmed as Mahmud Jibril believed some help would be required for security.
Mahmud Jibril confirmed that the report Saif wsas captured was very useful, including in ensuring more countries recognised the NTC and more embassies declared they had joined the rebels.
The NTC military spokesman Colonel Ahmad Bani also confirmed that Saif had never been under arrest and the news was not planned but did give good results including to surrenders of some brigades - in fact he said that they “won with this trick.”
Tawergha has been taken by rebel forces from Misrata, according to a report by Andrew Simmons for Al Jazeera. Unfortunately, the mainstream media has not been giving any context to the battle for Tawergha, so most viewers will be entirely ignorant of the significance of this event.
Rebel forces from Misrata, including one of their commanders, have long threatened to wipe Tawergha off the map, ethnically cleansing its inhabitants.
The report from AL Jazeera shows at least one of the large residential blocks in Tawergha alight, prisoners packed inside a freight container (who the rebels didn’t want filmed), an injured man in civilian clothes and the rebel fighters evicting one of the last civilian left in the town (an Egyptian woman who has lost her 9 children under 12 who ran away during the attack.)
The last remaining civilians and defenders of the town are reportedly surrounded. Andrew Simmons even failed to challenge the palpable nonsense claimed by the rebel commander he interviewed that only rifles and no heavy weapons were used in the assault on Tawerga:
The apparent fall of Tawergha was also reported by Orla Guerin of the BBC who also, disgracefully, failed to give the ethnic cleansing context despite actually interviewing Ibrahim al-Halbous, the very commander of whom the Wall Street Journal reported:
Ibrahim al-Halbous, a rebel commander leading the fight near Tawergha, says all remaining residents should leave once if his fighters capture the town. “They should pack up,” Mr. Halbous said. “Tawergha no longer exists, only Misrata.”
The acting police chief, Sveinung Sponheim, said the suspect’s Internet postings:
“suggest that he has some political traits directed toward the right, and anti-Muslim views”
In the aftermath, the New York Times and the BBC and right-wing commentators rushed to publish unreliable and quickly discredited evidence of Jihadi involvement:
Here is the immediate reaction to the bombing from Michelle Malkin:
Michelle Malkin is a conservative commentator who was regularly given a platform by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, until she objected to fellow commentator Geraldo Rivera saying of her:
“Michelle Malkin is the most vile, hateful commentator I’ve ever met in my life, … She actually believes that neighbors should start snitching out neighbors, and we should be deporting people”
This is how Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun newspaper reported the massacre:
- How Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun reported the Norway Massacre
The irresponsibility of Murdoch, the New York Times and the BBC is clear from this quote by Reverend Carl Petter Opsahl of Oslo who stated:
“As a citizen of Oslo I think it is a relief that it is a Norwegian. It would be very difficult to be muslim or an immigrant if it was Al Qaeda. We saw a little it of that on Friday when we didn’t know who the killer was. Some were beaten up and I hope that will not continue.”
It is worth pointing out that of 294 terrorist attacks in 2009 in Europe (latest figures) only 1 was an act of Islamic terrorism.
More evidence is emerging of Anders Behring’s links to the US Right – he posted regularly to anti-immigration web sites and his writings indicate that he advocated for a “cultural Euro-version of a Tea Party movement.”
He also recommended posts on ‘Atlas Shrugs’ (winner of a 2008 best conservative blog award) run by Pamela Geller, one of the main organisers of the campaign against the Park51 community centre who heads an organisation called ‘Stop Islamization of America.’
Update – Manifesto of a Killer
What looks like the manifesto of this mass murderer is now available – its called “2083 A European Declaration of Independence” and calls for a cultural conservative and nationalist revolution across Europe to defeat “cultural Marxism” (defined as multi-culturalism), Islamism and Nazism in the interests of monoculturalism, patriarchy and isolationism.
The manifesto calls for a Pan-European Crusader Movement (an ‘infidel movement’) and reiterates many of the themes of ‘Stop Islamization of America,’ and its affiliate sites such as ’Stop Islamization of Europe’ and ‘Stop Islamization of England.’
Extremely worryingly the manifesto calls for the targeting of ‘multiculturalist cultural Marxist traitors’ and talks of a meeting of 12 ‘conservative revolutionary’ delegates from 10 countries – France, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Greece, Spain, Russia and Serbia in London in 2002.
Anders Behring, who describes himself as Andrew Berwick in the manifesto, is clearly a complete fantasist, but from his other writing it seems he had significant funds available and he is clearly operating within an ideological framework shared by other islamophobes. In fact, his islamophobic views correlate with those of Pamela Geller who writes for Murdoch’s Fox News.