News of the Dirty War

Stories the Censors Could Not Sink

Harassing Foreign Reporters. For good reason, the U.S. media have repeatedly interviewed a group of U.S. reporters whom the Iraqis detained as suspected spies, then released. But with the exception of Newsday and the Los Angeles Times, few noted that during the same time, U.S. soldiers detained a group of foreign journalists as if they were spies. In an interview with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman, Israeli TV correspondent Dan Scemama recounted trying to stop U.S. soldiers from kicking one of the journalists in his group, after the man pleaded with the soldiers to let him call his wife and kids. The lieutenant in charge later told the journalists, "Don't mess with my soldiers. . . . They are trained like dogs to kill. And they will kill you if you try again."

Bombing Media Facilities. For these details, one had to piece together buried bits in The New York Times with reports from the Guardian and the BBC. On March 29 and 30, U.S. missiles hit the Ministry of Information in Baghdad, the former home of international media, damaging equipment and wrecking the tent village on the roof. On April 2, U.S. planes landed four direct hits on Al Jazeera's headquarters in Basra.

Controlling the Oil. The Post and Times ran competing stories last week about Jay Garner, the retired general whom the Pentagon has tapped to run the new government in Iraq. But The Wall Street Journal was the first major U.S. paper to announce the Pentagon's conspicuous choice to run the Iraqi oil monopoly: Phillip Carroll, a former CEO of Shell Oil.

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