In the days since the downing of MH17 a lot of people have jumped to conclusions prematurely. Evidence provided by the Ukrainian Security Service, combined with the results of social media investigations, suggests the Ukrainian authorities have been less than honest in key disclosures of information to date. Continue Reading…
Archives For Propaganda
Evidence shows that photographic evidence is being misused to “prove” the presence of Russian special forces in Eastern Ukraine. It is clear that corporate media are complicit, either through stupidity or design, in this attempt to mould perceptions of the situation in post-coup Ukraine. Continue Reading…
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…
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!