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Innocent Iraqis Treated as Terrorist Supporters by US Troops

Marketplace:

Friday, November 21, 2003

(As heard on Public Radio International)

The following printed summary can be seen at: http://www.marketplace.org/shows/2003/11/21_mpp.html

Newscast:
#1 Are Baghdad's local mercenaries attacking more for the money than the ideology? For U.S. forces, that complicates fighting this guerilla war. But figuring out who is cutting those checks is a daunting task.

#2 Despite the carnage in Istanbul, a conference opens in London today to encourage more British companies to bid for Iraqi reconstruction contracts. Attendees say they will not be deterred by suicide bombings and other attacks.

Reviewing a Marketplace broadcast is especially difficult since no printed text is available, no hardcopy transcript; only an audio version is available. As of 12/13/03 the following link accessed the archived audio segment which is the topic of this page: http://www.marketplace.org/play/audio.php?media=/2003/11/21_mpp&start=00:00:01:12.0&end=00:00:08:36.0

The following two reports were the principal news stories of the day, and were presented back-to-back preceeded by brief introductory material.

#1) Rambo Raids Iraqi Family:

Newscast: Marketplace audio document:

Lead: "Are Baghdad's local mercenaries attacking more for the money than the ideology? For U.S. forces, that complicates fighting this guerilla war. But figuring out who is cutting those checks is a daunting task."

The question quoted above is not answered, but the second and third sentences clearly indicate the question was only rhetorical anyway. Marketplace is just passing along the most recent White House spin: that the resistance to the US occupation is a mercenary force - rather than a popular movement to expel a foreign invader.

This first piece, one and one half minutes long beginning about three minutes into the linked audio material, is narrated from Iraq by correspondent Adam Davidson on a ride-along. It describes a midnight convoy of Humvees with 53 US soldiers going to a Bagdad neighborhood to arrest a terrorist fundraiser. The soldiers are following up on information supposedly supplied to the army by the CIA. Once they locate the right neighborhood and the street, they cannot find the targeted "#2 house". So they raid another one, #12, anyway!

Inside the house, two college-age students, the blind father and the weeping mother are terrorized; the women's crying can be heard in the background, over the noise of the soldiers ransacking their home.

The soldiers find no weapons or sizable quantities of money. They realize they have the wrong house. But as they leave, the intelligence officer, Captain Hazleton, says to the interviewer that these non-violent ones, pay the terrorists. That is, the non-violent victims of tonight's raid, "pay poor neighbors to do the attacks."

This statement is made without a single piece of evidence or suggestion that the Iraqi family has done anything wrong. Captain Hazleton (and probably a majority of the US soldiers in the raiding party as well) do not perceive that they have violated and alienated this family. Captain Hazelton tells Davidson that about 70% of these house raids come up with nothing. Apparently there are no "innocent" Iraqis for this soldier, this occupation, or for this correspondent.

From Marketplace's willingness to broadcast this damning report, it is obvious not many among US journalists understand that the Iraqis are people and deserve to be treated decently. This broadcast shows an ugly example of American behavior and bigotry and it indicates the journalists were not sensitive to what was being described.

It is not hard to predict that the US "Iron Hammer" assault now going on in another strategy to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people (using tactics not a lot different from the terrorists we are supposedly fighting) is almost surely going to cause more Iraqis to hate Americans and to support resistance to the occupation.

#2) Business as Usual (about 5:30 into the audio clip)

LEAD/Summary:

"Despite the carnage in Istanbul, a conference opens in London today to encourage more British companies to bid for Iraqi reconstruction contracts. Attendees say they will not be deterred by suicide bombings and other attacks."

This one is a commercial version of "Bring 'em on!", with the bully boys saying, we oil companies , etc., can hire private security. They're used to being attacked in out-of-the-way places around the world. The cost is covered in the contract. In other words, the cost of private security (by Halliburton, Inc.?), at whatever level, will be paid by the US taxpayers from the $87 billion just allocated for this year's Iraq operation. Security won't cost the private contractor anything, no matter what the level or expense.

The 250 companies eager to bid are not investing in Iraq. These are "reconstruction" contracts. The money goes the other way. The whole place is way too insecure to attract long-term players. That monopoly capitalism game of investing in private infrastructure for ripping off Iraq's natural resources or exploiting Iraqi markets will have to wait until the US military suppresses the resistence and puts a puppet government in power. That comes after the reconstruction is completed , at taxpayer expense - along with "re-education" and whatever it takes to make Iraqis turn over control of their country to the multi-nationals.

Nearly everyone agrees the job of rebuilding Iraq will be a lot easier and more likely to succeed if the Iraqi people can be persuaded, or intimidated, into supporting the changes in their society that the Bush Regime wants. However, if the attitudes of the Americans recorded in these two brief news reports are in any measure typical of our military and business people, they will surely infuriate lots of Iraqis and make the task of overcoming the resistance much harder. The really bad news is that such arrogance and insensitivity are consistent with policies and statements coming from President Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and other top White House officials.