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U.S. Troops Detain U.K. Journo in Iraq
Suspicions raised about U.K. government interference in news coverage
William Pollard (will789)     Print Article 
Published 2006-01-10 16:05 (KST)   

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According to reports in the Guardian, U.S. troops on Jan. 8 stormed into the Baghdad home of journalist Ali Fadhil, firing bullets into the room where he and his wife and children were sleeping.

Fadhil was hooded and taken away for questioning. Troops also seized videotapes shot for a "Dispatches" program on Channel 4, a U.K. TV station. Fadhil has been released, but the tapes have not been returned.

The intended TV program is reported to involve claims that Iraqi funds held by Americans and British have been "misused or misappropriated."

In another story , there has been discussion as to whether U.S. President George W. Bush would ever have considered bombing Al Jazeera, the Qatar based Satellite Channel.

"We would love not to believe it. We would love it if the whole thing was a terrible misunderstanding," Wadah Khanfar, a former Baghdad correspondent, recently told the London Times.

The Fadhil incident may influence some opinion. The Guardian also reports that two Labour MPs have passed a copy of a document to John Latham, a Democrat supporter living in San Diego, California. The document is subject to the UK Official Secrets Act. There is a current court case against David Keogh, a Cabinet Office employee charged with leaking information damaging to international relations to Leo O'Connor, a researcher to Tony Clarke, former MP for Northampton South.

MP Peter Kilfoyle said, "It's very odd we haven't been prosecuted. My colleague Tony Clarke is guilty of discussing it with me and I have discussed it with all and sundry."

Peter Kilfoyle MP
©2006 BBC
Asked if he had broken the act in the same alleged way as Clarke's aide who is facing charges, he responded: "I don't know. But I'd be very pleased if Her Majesty's finest approached me about it."

Fadhil won the Foreign Press Association young journalist of the year award for 2005. This followed a previous film for the Guardian and Channel 4 -- "City of Ghosts,"-- reporting on Fallujah in Dec. 2004. He writes a blog that has been commented on by the New York Times and by Timeswatch.

As explained in Timeswatch, Fadhil wrote previously for another blog continued by his brothers, Omar and Mohammed. They have had a meeting with George Bush, partly arranged by Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine. The Timeswatch concern seems to be that Sarah Boxer from the New York Times was trying to suggest there was some reason why there was a need for a second blog.

The recent posts by Fadhil seem to balance a view on problems in recent elections with long term hope. "The final outcome I don't doubt. I still believe firmly that Iraq will be a true democracy and a model for the Arab and Muslim world but the cost and time have just been doubled."

A Dec. 3 post discusses "the Iraqi media scandal" -- the revelation that some pro U.S. stories are paid for.

"First of all, anyone following the Iraqi newspapers closely won't find it hard to notice that most of the real information and interesting newsy stories come from American sources. It's hard to miss that with most of those stories because the translation is usually close to a literal one which preserves the original western style of reporting that was unknown in our media. Also the kind of information that you get is usually one that cannot be obtained unless the reporter is working in the front with the American and Iraqi forces or has real access to the original sources which is impossible till now.

Also, whoever said that those stories were meant to improve the image of America and the coalition forces in Iraq is exaggerating, the least to say. I'm an avid reader of Iraqi newspapers and I haven't read any newsy story that gives credit to the American forces or government. In fact, apart from three or four who very occasionally publish materials that are slightly in favor of the American troops, all Iraqi newspapers are either totally against it no matter how much they're offered, or they're very scared of publishing such materials. What we get usually is positive stories about the Iraqi forces and the reconstruction process."

In a recent BBC interview with Sir David Frost, Colin Powell suggested that Europeans claiming to be shocked by rendition was a bit like an episode from Casablanca, "where, you know, the inspector says 'I'm shocked, shocked that this kind of thing takes place'."

"Casablanca" was on Channel 5 recently and the actual use of "shocked" is about gambling, not "rounding up the usual suspects." Other quotes are -- "Are you sure this place is honest? As honest as the day is long" -- "This is not Germany, or occupied France." There are many reasons to watch this film again, but not as a guide to what to expect from government.

Colin Powell also expressed disappointment that the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction has turned out to be incorrect. This is less of an issue in the U.S. than in the UK where the legal case for the war is thought to be based on intelligence. Not all documents on this are publicly available.

Frost also asked Colin Powell about U.S. "street cred" in the Middle East, suggesting it was an issue. Frost will soon be joining Al Jazeera International, to be launched in the spring. He told BBC News, "Most of the television I have done over the years has been aimed at British and American audiences. This time, while our target is still Britain and America, the excitement is the six billion other inhabitants of the globe."
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter William Pollard

  Linked Story - Al-Jazeera Bombing Leak Ends Up in Court...
  Linked Story - Trial in Al Jazeera Leak Case Set for Jan. 24...

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