Marlowe's Shade

Friday, February 11, 2005

Unembedded Propaganda

It's been a while since I've gone dumpster diving at (I still won't give them a link). I came up with a particularly pungent piece from an "independent unembedded journalist" named Dahr Jamail,who's report from Iraq led off like this:

"Speaking on condition of anonymity, the doctor sits with me in a hotel room in Amman, where he is now a refugee. He’d spoken about what he saw in Fallujah in the UK, and now is under threat by the US military if he returns to Iraq.

“I started speaking about what happened in Fallujah during both sieges in order to raise awareness, and the Americans raided my house three times,” he says, talking so fast I can barely keep up. He is driven to tell what he’s witnessed, and as a doctor working inside Fallujah, he has video and photographic proof of all that he tells me.

The piece is an almost endless litany of stories like this:

“One story is of a young girl who is 16 years old,” he says of one of the testimonies he video taped recently, “She stayed for three days with the bodies of her family who were killed in their home. When the soldiers entered she was in her home with her father, mother, 12 year-old brother and two sisters. She watched the soldiers enter and shoot her mother and father directly, without saying anything.”

The girl managed to hide behind the refrigerator with her brother and witnessed the war crimes first-hand.

“They beat her two sisters, then shot them in the head,” he said. After this her brother was enraged and ran at the soldiers while shouting at them, so they shot him dead.

“She continued hiding after the soldiers left and stayed with her sisters because they were bleeding, but still alive. She was too afraid to call for help because she feared the soldiers would come back and kill her as well. She stayed for three days, with no water and no food. Eventually one of the American snipers saw her and took her to the hospital,” he added before reminding me again that he had all of her testimony documented on film.

Leaving aside that the piece is based on one source, Jamal's credulity in regard to these stories is never marred by any critical inquiry. Jamail is never at a loss for superlatives or hyperbole to describe the endless accounts of atrocity, and they are all of course documented, and in light of the overwhelming evidence, never dishonors the memory of the victims by employing descriptors like "alleged" or "reported".

So I decided to take a look at Jamail's webpage to see what motivates this fearless champion of the truth. I found a link to this profile of him in New Utopia Magazine:

I was born and raised in Houston, Texas and attended college at Texas A&M University where I majored in Speech Communications. After graduating, I moved to Colorado, then Utah, then Washington State where I worked for awhile on a Masters in English Literature. Funds ran out, so I took a job working in an air monitoring laboratory on Johnston Island, a US territory in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We monitored the air at a chemical demilitarization plant that incinerated 6% of the chemical weapons (now obsolete) of the military.

While there I traveled around the world on my breaks from the monotonous job. The perspective and experiences I gained from my travels opened my mind and heart to the world-seeing the unearned and unfair privilege we in the US had struck me whilst traveling to so many developing countries like Indonesia and Palau, then later Nepal.

I had a calling to move to Alaska to climb Denali. I moved there in 1996, climbed Denali the next summer, and have stayed ever since. There I worked as a mountain guide during summers, as well as assisting in rescues with the park service. My life there for 5 years centered primarily on climbing and being in the mountains. Climbing found me traveling to Mexico, Pakistan, Chile and Argentina.

One of the largest influences on me was a job I took in the climbing off-season which was working as a personal assistant for my dear friend Duane French, who experiences quadriplegia. I saw the efforts he went to just to exist, and how government policy directly affected his life. Here I was awakened politically. Our daily discussions of policy and political parties got my wheels turning, pulling me out of the classic American comfort-zone of apathy and ignorance.

Then of course watching the stealing of the presidency in 2000 by the Bush regime shocked me further into action, followed by the military response to 9/11, then of course the selling of the Iraq invasion. During the media sell job, I could take no more and knew that this was an information war. I had done some freelance writing for various magazines and continued this by writing in our alternative weekly rag in Anchorage.

We did a good job showing the alternative view after the events of 9/11, showing the US support of bin Laden, who the Reagan administration funded and trained them, etc. Shortly thereafter our editor was fired, so the entire staff left in protest within one month.

So I started saving my money and came to the front lines to start telling the truth from Iraq in November, 2003.

So Jamail is not merely a journalist, but a warrior. Here he describes some of his fellow "media warriors":

However, as with repression of any kind, the more the “powers that be” attempt to muzzle independent media and the truth, the more they create a growing, powerful, diverse entity that finds new and creative ways to work here.

For example, the closing of the Al-Jazeera office here has simply caused their journalists to go underground and decentralize, making it impossible for the government to control them. In this way, the repression naturally creates a smarter, more diverse and creative resistance in the form of increased independent reportage.

Wow, covert cells of journalist resistance warriors! There's something almost Romantic about it in a kind of T.E. Lawrences sort of way. Because of his militant commitment to the truth he is uniquely positioned to distill the kernel of truth out of the deceptive images of jubilant Iraqis displaying ink stained fingers:

The elections are viewed as a joke. Most here now believe there is no way they can be held in an honest, transparent and truly democratic way. Most are also too afraid to vote. I’ve heard people say things like, “The Americans won’t even allow a legitimate election in their own country, so why would they want to have one here!”

After his current speaking tour, I think we can count on Jamail to return to Iraq, which will permanently silence his critics who claim he never left the US, and continue to speak the truth to power! And you can bet your Birkenstocks it will all be documented.
papijoe 8:26 AM