Saturday, June 17, 2006

New Face, Old Lies 

Last week, after the US military and White House celebrated the killing of al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, I wondered how they would now sustain the charade that al-Qaida in Iraq actually made a fig of difference in the over-all chaos that we created there. Al-Zarqawi, after all, represented a face that the Bush administration could tie to bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks. By doing so, the Bush Bund could hold to the false theory that invading Iraq was central to its "War on Terror." It made no difference that al-Zarqawi didn't arrive there until after the US presence created near perfect conditions to foment terrorism. The Bush Bund never has been big on getting bogged down in details. Zarqawi essentially was made the bogeyman, the same as Saddam Hussein before him.

His death last week was orchestrated in such a way as to take advantage of a parallel, coordinated effort to cast the situation in Iraq in a more positive light, including Bush's fly-by-night visit to the Green Zone. It became one of the talking points that was used by Bush Bund cheerleaders across the board whether they be in the military, the mass media or various branches of government. They all parroted each other. They all read from the same page. The parrots included not surprisingly John Burns of the New York Times, whose upbeat forecast on the PBS News Hours sounded suspiciously similar, almost identical to the fat talking head from the Council on Foreign Relations who had appeared on the same program the previous evening. Everybody from Bush on down was cautiously optimistic about the future. A new government had been installed, the new prime minister was taking immediate steps to quell violence in Baghdad, Zarqawi had been killed.

Following the terrorist's death, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran a banner headline with the word "ELIMINATED" in point-size suitable for the Second Coming.

But how could the propaganda continue now with Zarqawi gone? The answer to that question was simple. Create another, new face of terror. And so it was that this week, the US military, with great pomp, announced the "new face of terror," and the New York Times sounded the alarm that Zarqawi had been replaced. A reprint of the Times story by Dexter Filkins appeared on the front page of the Post-Dispatch, too, along with another banner headline: New Face of Terror in Iraq. Directly below the headline was a mugshot of the new bogeyman: Abu Ayyub al-Masri.

New Editor of Voice Quits Before He Starts 

Faced with the daunting task of heading Michael Lacey's right-wing, anti-labor management team, the fourth editor in less than a year has decided not to take the suicidal plunge as editor of the late, great Village Voice. Lacey, whose brain has obviously been baked too long in the Arizona sun, used a sports analogy to describe the chaotic situation at the paper since he took over the operation last year, comparing the editorial department to a horse race.

CBC.ca, June 16:

Just two weeks after being named editor of the alternative New York weekly the Village Voice, Erik Wemple has decided not to take the job.

"The paper's ownership and I have failed to come to terms in our many discussions about moving forward, particularly with respect to newsroom management," said Wemple in a statement released late Thursday.

Wemple said he intends to remain at his current position as editor of Washington City Paper in the U.S. capital. Wemple has worked at Inside.com and CableWorld magazine.

"The Voice is an enormous and complex horse race. We asked Erik to mount several ponies mid-stride, and he was alarmed to find us still in several of those saddles."

The move by Wemple is the latest in a string of problems at the venerable 51-year-old paper, winner of three Pulitzer Prizes.

Wemple would have been the fourth editor to helm the weekly since last October, when New Times Media of Phoenix, Ariz., took over the Village Voice. New Times owns several free weeklies in the U.S.

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

"Rumours" of War 

Questions surrounding the circumstances of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death continue to mount.

On Saturday, AP Television News interviewed a source identified only as "Mohammed," who said that the terrorist was taken out of an ambulance by members of the U.S. military at the bomb site and beaten to death. This adds to the growing doubts about the changing chronology of events cited by official U.S. military sources pertaining to the operation.

The Chicago Tribune reported the latest allegation raised by AP Television News in a story that appeared in the newspaper's Sunday edition. But the New York Times did not. Or more accurately the version of the story that appeared on the New York Times' web site Sunday morning failed to mention the allegation. A reprinted version of the same story that appeared at the Toronto Star web site, however, did at least indirectly refer to the claim made by Mohammed.

I discovered this discrepancy by doing a simple Google News search using the keywords "al-Zarqawi" and "rumours." My reasoning was that by employing the British spelling of the word "rumor" I might find information not being reported in the American press. And that's exactly what I found. The U.S. newspaper of record -- The New York Times -- was censoring the news to its American readership. I guess we should feel fortunate that the Trib decided not to follow suit and play along with the Mighty Wurlitzer.

Here's the uncensored paragraph of reporters Dexter Filkins and John Burns story as published in the Toronto Star:

"...One Iraqi witness has come forward and told reporters a man resembling al-Zarqawi was pulled from an ambulance by U.S. troops and beaten before he died. For now, whatever clues remained of al-Zarqawi's violent life lay in the rubble of the house in Hibhib, about 50 kilometres north of Baghdad. ..."

The Times' web edition essentially replaced that information with this vague sentence:

"... Along with the scraps, it was mostly questions that remained. ..."

check it out for yourself:

Toronto Star reprint

New York Times web version:

The headlines are totally different, too, of course:

In the Star the head reads: Questions linger over death of al-Zarqawi: Head appeared intact after pulverizing blast

In the Times it's:
At Site of Attack on Zarqawi, All That's Left Are Questions

Actually, the place where all the questions remain is not in a hole in Iraq but in the news hole of The New York Times.

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