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May 25, 2005by Bob Parks

I just finished recording a radio spot on this topic and felt it needed further analysis.

During Tuesday’s edition of Democracy Now!, it again reemphasized the fact that there are some on the left who genuinely want the United States to lose the war against the insurgents (terrorists) in Iraq.

Hostess Amy Goodman interviewed Aaron Glantz, reporter for ultra-leftist Pacifica Radio who wrote the new book, “How America Lost Iraq,” LA Times reporter James Rainey, and Sidney Schanberg of The Village Voice.

Rainey was complaining that despite the recent bloody battles like the ones in Fallujah, American news publications weren’t showing enough pictures of our dead soldiers. Just so they can’t take the cowardly way out and say I was taking them out of context, this is a direct quote from the Democracy Now! Transcript….

“Well, what we did is we started in September of last year and went through the end of February of this year. We wanted a manageable period, because that’s a lot of newspapers to look at. We also wanted to take in some of the major fighting, which was the assault on Fallujah last November, and then the run-up to the election, which I think everybody remembers was pretty bloody. So, we looked at the six newspapers and we looked at Time and Newsweek, and what we found is what you already stated, essentially, that the readers of those publications didn’t see any U.S. dead. They saw very few pictures of U.S. wounded. There was one of the eight publications we looked at, The Seattle Times did run a picture of a U.S. serviceman who was killed. He was covered with a blanket. It was after the mess hall bombing last December near Mosul. So that was — those were our findings in terms of U.S. casualties. Very few pictures.”

Schanberg was complaining about “Pentagon babysitters” who escorted reporters to the stories and called that “censorship.”

“Well, I think I can tell you that American reporters have always been careful not to show, certainly not to show the face, identifiable face of a fallen soldier who is dead, and still do that. And that’s — I think that’s a useful guide, a taste guide in terms of whether you are going to over-shock people or not. But we always showed pictures of fallen soldiers in Vietnam, and we, as Jim Rainey points out, we see almost none of them in the Iraq war. This censorship has been going on for a long time. I mean, if we go back to the Gulf War, you remember, reporters had to be taken by babysitters, Pentagon babysitters, to stories, and the soldiers that they met on these stories had been pre-interviewed by the same babysitters, so that no truth might slip out during the interviews with the journalist. So — and we acceded, the major news organizations acceded to those ground rules.”

He later quoted photographer David Leeson, who he worked with in Vietnam:

“Well, he said — David is very impassioned, and he is a terrific journalist and person. He said — he — the way he felt when he was working in Iraq was that “if I am hurting inside, then I want you,” that means the reader, the viewer, the audience, “I want you to hurt inside. And if I am brought to tears, I want you to be brought to tears, too.” That’s exactly how one feels. I mean, that’s how I felt. You feel a bit like you are throwing a tantrum, like you are saying, “Pay attention! Pay attention! People are dying here!”

Goodman asked Rainey to share with us conversations with those who made the decisions not to run the photos, and he said he would… and did not. Instead, he accused the US government is stopping photographers from taking those pictures. No proof was offered. Rainey also complained about “considerable pressure” from the military and the families of the soldiers and marines to not have these photos in the papers.

“Yeah. First of all, I’d like to say, though, one of the major reasons that we’re not seeing these pictures of the American dead is the photographers just aren’t getting them. And some of that has to do with the actions of the government. A lot of it has to do with straight logistics. We’re talking about a huge country. We’re talking at any one time as few as three embedded journalists, and then others who, as Sidney said, are free to roam the country, there aren’t many of them right now who want to do that, because this is probably the most dangerous conflict that any of these folks have ever covered. That’s what they told me. So, many of the decisions aren’t even made back here in the United States. There’s no decision to be made, in essence, because the picture is never taken. The humvee gets blown up by a roadside. You know, there are six or seven G.I.s or marines killed, and they’re shipped off to hospitals very quickly. The photographers often don’t get there until it’s all over.”

What really animated me was a taped piece by Aaron Glantz in Fallujah where he quoted the “head of an unnamed, anonymous medical team…”

“A team of local volunteers in surgical masks lift the rotting corpse of a middle aged woman from a shallow grave in the front yard of a single family home. The owner of the house explains the woman has been lying dead in his front yard for three weeks. He says an American warplane bombed her car as she fled the city with her husband, who is buried in the garden of the house next door. The destroyed remains of the car still smolder a few meters away from his front door. “We couldn’t give her a proper burial,” he says, “because every time we would go outside, American snipers would shoot at us. They even shot at us when we retrieved her carcass from the car after the Americans bombed it.”

The head of the medical team asks to speak anonymously, because his clinic’s ambulance was shot by U.S. Marine snipers twice during the siege. One of the clinic’s volunteers was killed. “The Americans are dogs. They try to kill anybody who works humanitarian aid. They attack humanitarian aid worker, doctor or ambulance to kill them.”

In the meantime, the aid worker says many corpses continue to rot under buildings, which collapse on top of them, amid a hail of American firepower. The volunteers place the woman onto a gurney and take her away in a small pickup truck. In a half an hour, she is buried in the municipal football stadium, alongside 600 others killed in the last month by the U.S. military.”

So we all know the agenda here, so let’s be consistent. We’re also not seeing the pictures of the new schools being built by our servicepeople and American civilians, some of whom risk capture and beheading by the insurgents. We’re not seeing the pictures of the sewage treatment plants and irrigation systems being restored using American taxpayer money. We’re not seeing pictures of the hospitals being rebuilt. In fact, if there are setbacks in the reconstruction of the Iraqi infrastructure, it’s being done by the insurgents we are sending American kids to defeat.

These liberals never saw a cause worth fighting for, and the United Nations they love so much has never solved a conflict by days of talking. When Bill Clinton initiated conflicts without the UN’s blessing in Bosnia, Iraq, and Mogadishu, and the Sudan, there were no calls to see pictures of war dead caused by a fellow liberal.

I can appreciate their hatred of war, but instead of consistently portraying the United States’ liberation of Iraq as an “invasion”, lamenting our disrespect of the Geneva Convention by not condemning the release of pictures of Saddam in his Fruit of the Looms, calling for the humane treatment of prisoners that would torture an Amy Goodman, James Rainey, and Aaron Glantz, because they spoke out against their government, I’d like to offer a possible reason we’re not seeing that many photos of the new schools our troops are building in Iraq: maybe it’s because our soldiers are busy trying to stay alive instead of dropping everything to provide cover for narcissistic activist so-called “journalists” who’ll use those pics to bash them with later.

Maybe Democracy Now! and it’s minions should remember what side they’re on as the photos they call for may make the enemy feel emboldened to fight on and kill more Iraqi civilians and our soldiers. Also remember, it wouldn’t take much, like a photo, to make some in the Arab world lose their minds, take to the streets, and want to kill more civilians to get to us.

As shocking as this may sound to you at Democracy Now!, this war is not about you. You want to stop the war? Maybe Amy Goodman should go to Iraqi insurgents, tell them whose side she’s on and demand they stop fighting, that is if they’ll pick up her expenses (“Donate funds, equipment, or frequent flier miles to Democracy Now!”).

On second thought, that would take guts….

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