In response to Two Ways to Tell a Story Thursday, August 12, 2004 at http://dougharper.blogspot.com/
Dear Mr. Harper,
Believe it or not but I still have the email you sent me and am still trying to think of a response. At first I was asking myself "why is he doing this?" but now I ask myself, "why can't he see this?" At first I thought you were intentionally trying to avoid the points I raised (actually in your blog post and response to me you omit my strongest points) and I thought that this was a deliberate thing you were doing. But as I read your blog, I think this must be subconscious and that you just keep introducing your slant unintentionally.
I now think, "why can't he see this?" this goes to the point Chomsky makes about news editors and reporters sincerely believing what they are saying. If you want to see how the media really functions, understanding that may be key.
I assume you did not intend on deliberate deception when you posted "Two Ways to Tell a Story". But the fact is the news headline from the Oregonian was "Ordered to just walk away", it was the U.S. version of the AP story that slanted the story, not the German version. They were ordered to just walk away by US officers.
So if you go to the source, "The Oregonian" it is clear that the US version of the AP story is the one that slants it away from the main idea of the US allowing the human rights abuses to continue by ordering the US soldiers to walk away. It is the German version that more faithfully represents what the original Oregonian article actually said.
You wrote "Note, too, that the vague "were ordered to return the prisoners" of the back half of the U.S. lede becomes prison abuse that "was tolerated by U.S. commanders" in the German story." and "If you trace the story back to the "Oregonian" version". This is what get me, I traced it back also and the headline of the "Oregonian" version" was "Ordered to just walk away", I really am amazed that you can just ignore that. The Oregonian story's focus was indeed that the human rights abuses were tolerated by U.S. commanders! That is what "walk away" means in that context. That point is not in the back half of the Oregonian story, it is the headline of the story. So it should be the lede of the AP story. In the German AP story it is, in the US AP story it isn't.
You wrote, "Note the date of the incident: it occurred after sovereignty was transfered to the Iraqi government." "Sovereignty"? NOW sovereignty matters? One of the excuses of our violating Iraqi sovereignty going into Iraq was that "we had to stop the human rights abuses because Saddam is so bad." It actually is now used as the main excuse. But NOW we can tolerate it? (after we got what we wanted.)
I along with others had argued that the premise about concerns for human rights could not possibly be taken seriously as a reason for invading Iraq because of how the US tolerates and contributes to human rights abuses all over the world in nations we support. Now the premise IS IMPOSSIBLE TO MAINTAIN since US officials are willing to let human rights abuses continue regardless of the "moral imperative" to stop them when we are right there with the power to easily stop them.
It is actually worse than this, the US media has suppressed the shocking story of actual killing of six prisoners at the hands of none other than our man, Iraqi PM Iyad Allawi.
AFTER Iyad Allawi was appointed PM, there have been reports about Iyad Allawi executing six suspected insurgents in an Iraqi police station! The story, reported in the Sydney Morning Herald and Age newspapers, is that six prisoners were handcuffed and blindfolded, lined up against a courtyard wall and shot by the Iraqi Prime Minister.(1) I haven't seen the reports in American media, looks like the media is up to there usual games of suppression. Reminds we of the period when the US supported Saddam, the media wasn't eager to talk about his evils THEN. These facts should mean something to anyone that is thinking about human rights. To spell it out: talk of human rights concerns was just an excuse to invade Iraq.
Concerns about democracy cannot be a reason either I explain why I call Iyad Allawi "our man" below) and by the way, the same Oregonian story had a great quote: "We did not generally put good people in." (and the media can be counted on to suppress this fact, both the fact that we put Allawi in and that he is a brutal murderer.)
The actions of the US show contempt for democracy and an unwillingness to help a true democratic process emerge. Iyad Allawi, the PM of Iraq, was selected by the men we selected, the Prime Minster was one of the people the US selected to be on the Iraqi Council.(2) The men we selected to rule Iraq "jumped the gun" when they appointed the Prime Minister. Apparently the UN envoy was actually supposed to select. "A United Nations spokesman has said UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi - who was charged with choosing the interim government - "respects" the nomination."(3)
Allawi is one of those we hand picked originally for the governing council and his placement into the new Iraqi government into the position of PM didn't even respect the agreed upon process. Did the mainstream media make the American public aware of these facts?
Also check out Iyad Allawi's background: Saddam's secret police, British intelligence, CIA, alleged terrorist acts against civilians in Baghdad.
German AP story
American AP story
Original Oregonian story