- The Indian writer Vandana Shiva has called for an "insurrection
of subjugated knowledge." The insurrection is well under way. In trying
to make sense of a dangerous world, millions of people are turning away
from the traditional sources of news and information and toward the world
wide web, convinced that mainstream journalism is the voice of rampant
power. The great scandal of Iraq has accelerated this. In the United States,
several senior broadcasters have confessed that had they challenged and
exposed the lies told about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, instead
of amplifying and justifying them, the invasion might not have happened.
- Such honesty has yet to cross
the Atlantic. Since it was founded in 1922, the BBC has served to protect
every British establishment during war and civil unrest. "We"
never traduce and never commit great crimes. So the omission of shocking
events in Iraq - the destruction of cities, the slaughter of innocent people
and the farce of a puppet government - is routinely applied. A study by
the Cardiff School of Journalism found that 90 per cent of the BBC's references
to Saddam Hussein's WMDs suggested he possessed them and that "spin
from the British and US governments was successful in framing the coverage."
The same "spin" has ensured, until now, that the use of banned
weapons by the Americans and British in Iraq has been suppressed as news.
- An admission by the US State
Department on 10 November that its forces had used white phosphorus in
Fallujah followed "rumours on the internet," according to the
BBC's Newsnight. There were no rumours. There was first-class investigative
work that ought to shame well-paid journalists. Mark Kraft of insomnia.livejournal.com
found the evidence in the March-April 2005 issue of Field Artillery magazine
and other sources. He was supported by the work of film-maker Gabriele
Zamparini, founder of the excellent site, thecatsdream.com.
- Last May, David Edwards and David
Cromwell of medialens.org posted a revealing correspondence with Helen
Boaden, the BBC's director of news. They had asked her why the BBC had
remained silent on known atrocities committed by the Americans in Fallujah.
She replied, "Our correspondent in Fallujah at the time [of the US
attack], Paul Wood, did not report any of these things because he did not
see any of these things." It is a statement to savour. Wood was "embedded"
with the Americans. He interviewed none of the victims of American atrocities
nor un-embedded journalists. He not only missed the Americans' use of white
phosphorus, which they now admit, he reported nothing of the use of another
banned weapon, napalm. Thus, BBC viewers were unaware of the fine words
of Colonel James Alles, commander of the US Marine Air Group II. "We
napalmed both those bridge approaches," he said. "Unfortunately,
there were people there ... you could see them in the cockpit video ...
It's no great way to die. The generals love napalm. It has a big psychological
- Once the unacknowledged work
of Mark Kraft and Gabriele Zamparini had appeared in the Guardian and Independent
and forced the Americans to come clean about white phosphorous, Wood was
on Newsnight describing their admission as "a public relations disaster
for the US." This echoed Menzies Campbell of the Liberal-Democrats,
perhaps the most quoted politician since Gladstone, who said, "The
use of this weapon may technically have been legal, but its effects are
such that it will hand a propaganda victory to the insurgency."
- The BBC and most of the British
political and media establishment invariably cast such a horror as a public
relations problem while minimizing the crushing of a city the size of Leeds,
the killing and maiming of countless men, women and children, the expulsion
of thousands and the denial of medical supplies, food and water - a major
- The evidence is voluminous, provided
by refugees, doctors, human rights groups and a few courageous foreigners
whose work appears only on the internet. In April last year, Jo Wilding,
a young British law student, filed a series of extraordinary eye-witness
reports from inside the city. So fine are they that I have included one
of her pieces in an anthology of the best investigative journalism.* Her
film, "A Letter to the Prime Minister," made inside Fallujah
with Julia Guest, has not been shown on British television. In addition,
Dahr Jamail, an independent Lebanese-American journalist who has produced
some of the best frontline reporting I have read, described all the "things"
the BBC failed to "see." His interviews with doctors, local officials
and families are on the internet, together with the work of those who have
exposed the widespread use of uranium-tipped shells, another banned weapon,
and cluster bombs, which Campbell would say are "technically legal."
Try these web sites: dahrjamail.com, zmag.org, antiwar.com, truthout.org,
indymedia.org.uk, internationalclearinghouse.info, counterpunch.org, voicesuk.org.
There are many more.
- "Each word," wrote
Jean-Paul Sartre, "has an echo. So does each silence."
- Tell Me No Lies: Investigative
Journalism and Its Triumphs, edited by John Pilger, is published by Vintage.