Ray Hanania’s Column
On the day the were reporting yet another “assassination” attempt against Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein, the one-sided American news media was soft-balling how three non-embedded journalists had been killed, too.
Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks wasn’t as comical as his counterpart at the Iraqi Ministry of “Information,” Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, in skirting the truth when asked about the deaths.
A reporter for Al-Jazeera, the news agency criticized by Americans for alleged “bias,” and two others including one journalist from Reuters, were killed in two separate incidents by what appeared to be American fire.
American military officials claimed their forces fired back at “snipers” near the Palestine Hotel in central Baghdad killing two journalists. They insisted all day in interviews that American forces have a “right” to respond when fired upon. But a non-embedded NPR radio reporter who is staying at the hotel said no such sniper fire could be heard.
The offices of Al-Jazeera in Baghdad were hit directly by fire, killing their reporter, Tariq Ayoub.
Major Gen. Stanley McChrystal responded to inquiries about the deaths by saying, ”We are at war.” ”Our forces came under fire, they exercised their inherent right of self defense.” Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said, ”Baghdad is not a safe place é You should not be there.”
Al-Jazeera accused the United States of intentionally targeting their offices and killing their reporter because the American military doesn’t want the American people to see the extent of their own crimes in killing Iraqi civilians. Al-Jazeera is one of the few network news stations broadcasting images of apparent and alleged American war crimes.
Most American news networks have refrained from reporting news that is too critical of the war effort, fearing they will loose ratings or even be shut down by an angry pro-War American public.
I find it amazing that you use a tank to respond to a sniper at a building you know houses journalists. And the excuse that “We are at war” doesn’t seem to hold water when non-Arab civilians are killed, such as in Israel.
I can only imagine what would happen to any American official who dared respond to news about a killing of Israeli civilians with the arrogant, insensitive response, “We are at war.” The Israeli-controlled American media would have their heads and special laws would be passed by the US Congress to punish the offender.
But that wasn’t the worst news that Brooks, McChrystal and Clarke had to dodge, and I wonder if Brooks will be taking a cue from al-Sahhaf, whose denials of the obvious are both excessive in their creativity as they are outrageous in their ignorance.
While digging through the rubble of the homes that the American-led forces bombed, the bodies of a child, a woman and an old man were found.
US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld explained that the US had been given information that senior Iraqi leaders were at the homes in Baghdad. He said a B-1 bomber flying 20,000 feet in the sky dropped four one ton “bunker bombs” on the two homes in the upscale Baghdad Mansour neighborhood.
The target, of course, was Saddam Hussein and his two sons, Uday and Cusay, al certainly deserving of being charged with criminal behaviour and war crimes.
When you kill a murderer without applying the Rule of International Law, do you not become a murderer yourself?
But what happens when you also kill innocent civilians while trying to murder someone in this illegal manner? Assassination is illegal under normal circumstances and finds no legitimacy during this conflict which is an illegal and internationally unsanctioned military assault.
Reports today said that among the rubble of the building bombed by the B-1 bomber were the three civilians. The woman’s head was blown clean off, something that you definitely won’t see on American-controlled media.
So far, American bombers have flown 30,000 missions over Iraq, not counting helicopters, dropping 20,000 tons of missiles and bombs.
Leadership targets of many kinds, including government ministries and command and control centers, have been hit numerous times throughout the campaign, actions denounced as criminal under international law.
While President Bush is trying to convince the Arab World that this war is about liberation, most Arabs see it for what it really is: a grab for economic resources, an attempt to avenge Bush’s father’s honor by killing Saddam Hussein, and suicide bombing minus the suicide.
(Ray Hanania is a Palestinian American writer based in Chicago and a regular contributor to Media Monitors Network (MMN). His columns are archived on the web at www.hanania.com)