Iraq to Bar Media Coverage of Bombings

Yesterday, I was filling in for Jane at Firedoglake and I wrote about the new decision by the Iraqi Government to ban the news media from covering bombing scenes.

Iraq’s interior ministry has decided to bar news photographers and camera operators from the scenes of bomb attacks, operations director Brigadier General Abdel Karim Khalaf said on Sunday (local time).

His announcement was the latest in a series of attempts to curtail press coverage of the ongoing conflict, which has already attracted criticism from international human rights bodies.

That got me thinking.

How real is the War in Iraq to Americans who don’t have a loved one fighting in the conflict? Where has the news coverage been of the gory daily details?

For those of you old enough to remember the media coverage of the Vietnam War, you’ll remember how vividly it was brought to us every evening on our television screens by the nightly news programs.

Without the internet or e-mail, a massive anti-war movement grew. I don’t think anyone doubts that it contributed to the war’s end.


By contrast, we hardly ever see the damage inflicted in Iraq up close and personal on television news. The war has become something we hear about in headlines, like “5 U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq” and “37 Civilians Killed by Roadside Bomb,” but we don’t actually see it. Maybe we should. Maybe the visceral effect of watching people die and be maimed, which is a daily occurrence in Iraq, would spark greater outrage here at home and force Congress to act to end this war once and for all.

Reading through the comments at FDL, it seems most readers agree with me. So, what do we do about it?

Siun had a good question.

Do we go to Youtube and watch the Channel 4 documentaries?

or to yahoo’s new photos to see what they have captured each day?

or to sites like GorillasGuides where a team of Iraqis are reporting events daily that do not get reported in the US?

I say yes. In this day and age of viral media, we need to get the images out there. Americans need to see the killing that goes on. Maybe then, we'll create a swell of ground support for ending the war that our leaders can no longer ignore and play footsie with. It's a political hot potato now, but that's not enough. We need to put it on the front burner and fire it up with visuals.

Here's one source of videos. Any more that you've found?

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    Images of war.... (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by kdog on Tue May 15, 2007 at 08:38:06 AM EST
    may have played a small part in ending Vietnam, but the draft was the thing that made everybody care.  Without a draft today, the majority of Americans are free not to care.

    A draft would end this occupation, little else.

    Question from the Sheeple... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Che's Lounge on Tue May 15, 2007 at 09:07:23 AM EST
    What bombings?

    kdog is correct (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by cpinva on Tue May 15, 2007 at 10:20:11 AM EST
    it was the draft that provided the spark for the anti-war movement during vietnam, not media attention to that conflict.

    since only those who volunteer for the service are at risk, the average american can contentedly munch on his/her fritos, while "supporting" the troops, with a stupid yellow ribbon tied to a tree in their yard.

    what makes you all think (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Tue May 15, 2007 at 11:21:15 AM EST
    a draft isn't coming in the next few years?  I've been on the opinion that it is almost inevitable.  And, I oppose it, as I've said many times.

    I think the answer to your question (none / 0) (#11)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue May 15, 2007 at 12:05:46 PM EST
    is in the comments of each and every one of the threads you linked to...

    The stink of death in our noses (4.66 / 3) (#1)
    by Aaron on Tue May 15, 2007 at 06:52:36 AM EST
    This post bothers me Jeralyn because I think you're doing little to contribute to revealing the actual horrific carnage that goes on every day, just in Baghdad, let alone the rest of Iraq.  Shame on you for posting a link to Yahoo news, which is little more than the sanitizing propaganda arm of the conservatives and the Bush administration.

    We (the public in the West) don't get to see the real pictures taken by professional photographers in Iraq because they are deemed too disturbing, and would be seen as offending sensibilities of the popcorn munching public.  So what we get are the softest pictures, while the less palatable photographs pile up on hard drives unused and unseen by anyone but the photographers themselves and editors who've been telling those same photographers for years now, don't bother to submit them for publication because it ain't going to happen.

    If the US public got to see the pictures of the mangled bodies of 30 or 40 children after one of these car bombs goes off, with brains, intestines, lungs, livers and feces strewn across the ground and smeared on the walls.  Or the pictures of US sniper victims whose heads and bodies had been exploded by 50 caliber rounds, creating some ghoulish facsimile of a Jackson Pollock painting.  Or the thousands upon thousands of civilians who have been kidnapped and made to endure medieval torture's, the like of which haven't been seen since the Inquisition, living human bodies drilled, flayed, skinned and char broiled.  If Americans were being exposed to these photos on a daily basis, I have little doubt that we would have recoiled back across the Atlantic years ago.

    If every American currently being sheltered from these images got to see this stuff on TV preempting the soap operas and American Idol, I imagine that such a cry would be heard throughout the land that even George Dubya c--k sucker would be forced sit up and listen.

    If we had been exposed to these realities years ago, the American people might have demanded some kind of real progress in Iraq, instead of allowing this genocidal status quo to continue, and who knows perhaps we could have even altered the failed course of this misbegotten, illegal, immoral and unconstitutional war.

    But of course this has all been part of the Bush plan, keeping photographers and journalists away from these nightmare scenes by refusing them military protection, and forcing them to hire mercenaries to do the job American soldiers should be doing.  Leaving dedicated impartial journalists, photojournalists and cameramen relatively unprotected in the red zone, while only inviting the more "reasonable" compliant and malleable journalists to enjoy the relative comfort and safety of the green zone and continuous military protection.  The Bush administration knows that if enough journalists die in Iraq it will help deter others from coming.

    We need to institute a draft here in the US, we need to start drafting American civilians, and begin sending them to Iraq as tourists, with buses on constant standby to take them to the scene of these car bombings and shallow graves.  Let them do a little slip and slide in the blood and guts of what were once living breathing people.  Let them take pictures for themselves and get that unforgettable smell of death in their noses, the putrid rank of dying brain matter as it makes it's last desperate scream for oxygen before expiring one cell at a time, and maybe then we would wake the hell up here in America, and finally and forever learn to practice war no more, without an absolute moral imperative for doing so.

    Aaron (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by HK on Tue May 15, 2007 at 10:36:49 AM EST
    I love your forthright and eloquent post, but I do think that Jeralyn is doing more than most towards exposing the Iraq war for the horrific farce that it is.  Other than that, I can't fault your sentiments.  Well said.

    Suggestion ... (none / 0) (#13)
    by Siun on Tue May 15, 2007 at 08:11:10 PM EST
    Aaron ... I agree with the importance of all of us facing the reality of what we are doing in Iraq.

    That's why I suggested precisely those links to Jeralyn when she was kind enough to join us over on FDL. The Yahoo News Photos from Iraq are actually quite good ... most are taken by professional Iraqi photographers who risk their lives to get out precisely the kinds of images you are talking about.

    The selection varies per day as new images are uploaded.

    The UK Channel 4 documentaries includes one that does a very good job of comparing the reality on the ground - again filmed by Iraqi journalists - with what actually gets reported.

    And GorillasGuides is written by a team of Iraqis and provides very clear information on the reality of the occupation.

    Take a look before criticizing Jeralyn who is doing such a good job of taking this on!


    Or.... (1.00 / 4) (#2)
    by jarober on Tue May 15, 2007 at 08:05:57 AM EST
    The Iraqi government has decided not to play along with the information war being fought by the terrorists.  The bombings have no military significance; they are propaganda pieces.

    Cold blooded..... (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by kdog on Tue May 15, 2007 at 08:35:59 AM EST
    the bombings have no lilitary significance?  If I was dodging IED's on the way to the market everyday, I'd call it significant.

    Comments like yours have no significance (none / 0) (#6)
    by Edger on Tue May 15, 2007 at 09:55:11 AM EST
    beyond the result they have already produced.

    They're trying to cut off any scenes from Iraq (none / 0) (#10)
    by peacrevol on Tue May 15, 2007 at 11:59:04 AM EST

    They've always done $*!t like this and people dont say anything about it. I agree that a lot of the stuff that's happening over there should not be seen by most people, but maybe if you saw just a glimpse of it you'd know what the fuss is all about as we say in Texas. Of course that's exactly what they want to prevent.

    it's a pattern of censorship (none / 0) (#12)
    by Sailor on Tue May 15, 2007 at 12:25:58 PM EST
    Indymedia also does a very good job (none / 0) (#14)
    by Edger on Tue May 15, 2007 at 08:33:39 PM EST
    of reporting on things msm won't go near.

    300+ U.S.casulties: Forward Base Falcon "Coverup"

    Late on the evening of October 10, 2006, Iraqi resistance groups lobbed mortar and rocket rounds into the immense `Forward Base Falcon,' the largest American military base in Iraq, located 13 km south of the Green Zone in Baghdad. In addition to accurate mortar fire, Grad and Katyusha rockets were also used.
    After the initial shelling, fuel and ammunition stores began to erupt with massive explosions that could be heard, and seen, miles away inside the Green Zone where U.S. military and diplomatic units were heavily guarded.

    The explosions, all of them termed "immense" by BBC reporters, continued throughout the night.
    When the flames had been brought under control on the morning of the 11th of October, primarily because the entire camp had been gutted, nine large American military transports with prominent Red Cross markings were observed by members of the foreign media taking off, laded with the dead and the wounded.

    Over 300 American troops, including U.S. Army and Marines, CIA agents and U.S. translators were casualties and there also were 165 seriously injured requiring major medical attention and 39 suffering lesser injuries 122 members of the Iraqi armed forces were killed and 90 seriously injured members of same, were also evacuated to the U.S. military hospital at al-Habbaniyah located some 70km west of Baghdad.
    official U.S. DoD statements indicated that there were no deaths; that only a hundred men were inside the base guarding billions of dollars of vital military equipment and that there were "only two minor injuries to personnel," passes belief and certainly reality is more painful than propaganda.