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today's required reading

I am reprinting this entire article from the New York Times here today. It needs to be read.

Tell me again how we should have waited months, even years to take Saddam's regime out.

Tell me again how appeasement would have worked.

Tell me again how we would have found a peaceful solution.

Tell me again how Bush is as bad as Saddam.

Tell me again that you still regret the action we took.

Do you really think there was another way.

Read.

(note* I have no love for Eason Jordan. I think he's a soulless, pitiful, selfish creep. Please see what Laurence has to say for more of my feelings on the issue)

The News We Kept to Ourselves
By EASON JORDAN

(reprinted without permission from today's New York Times)


ATLANTA — Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN's Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard — awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.

For example, in the mid-1990's one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government's ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency's Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk.

Working for a foreign news organization provided Iraqi citizens no protection. The secret police terrorized Iraqis working for international press services who were courageous enough to try to provide accurate reporting. Some vanished, never to be heard from again. Others disappeared and then surfaced later with whispered tales of being hauled off and tortured in unimaginable ways. Obviously, other news organizations were in the same bind we were when it came to reporting on their own workers.

We also had to worry that our reporting might endanger Iraqis not on our payroll. I knew that CNN could not report that Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, told me in 1995 that he intended to assassinate two of his brothers-in-law who had defected and also the man giving them asylum, King Hussein of Jordan. If we had gone with the story, I was sure he would have responded by killing the Iraqi translator who was the only other participant in the meeting. After all, secret police thugs brutalized even senior officials of the Information Ministry, just to keep them in line (one such official has long been missing all his fingernails).

Still, I felt I had a moral obligation to warn Jordan's monarch, and I did so the next day. King Hussein dismissed the threat as a madman's rant. A few months later Uday lured the brothers-in-law back to Baghdad; they were soon killed.

I came to know several Iraqi officials well enough that they confided in me that Saddam Hussein was a maniac who had to be removed. One Foreign Ministry officer told me of a colleague who, finding out his brother had been executed by the regime, was forced, as a test of loyalty, to write a letter of congratulations on the act to Saddam Hussein. An aide to Uday once told me why he had no front teeth: henchmen had ripped them out with pliers and told him never to wear dentures, so he would always remember the price to be paid for upsetting his boss. Again, we could not broadcast anything these men said to us.

Last December, when I told Information Minister Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf that we intended to send reporters to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, he warned me they would "suffer the severest possible consequences." CNN went ahead, and in March, Kurdish officials presented us with evidence that they had thwarted an armed attack on our quarters in Erbil. This included videotaped confessions of two men identifying themselves as Iraqi intelligence agents who said their bosses in Baghdad told them the hotel actually housed C.I.A. and Israeli agents. The Kurds offered to let us interview the suspects on camera, but we refused, for fear of endangering our staff in Baghdad.

Then there were the events that were not unreported but that nonetheless still haunt me. A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for "crimes," one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family's home.

I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely.

Eason Jordan is chief news executive at CNN.

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Michele reprints a NYT piece by Eason Jordan, a CNN exec, on some Iraqi atrocities the media kept quiet, fearing for their own safety. Worth a read. The more we learn about Saddam, and I think there's still lots more [Read More]

Comments

I totally agree with you... We should have went in long before now! These poor people.... and anyone thinking this war is over oil is just pure crazy!

Of course you realize, Michele, that someone out there from Indymedia is going to spin this that the reporter is being pressured at gunpoint by the CIA to tell these tales of horror, because, as we all know, Saddam was a benevolent leader, Uday is a pussycat who secretly champions women's rights, and the Iraqis all have plenty of food, 2 cars per family, and excellent healthcare.

I'm just sayin'.

It strikes me as odd, though, that a news organization would censor itself like that, becoming, in effect, a propaganda tool for the Iraqi regime. What's the point of being in Baghdad at all if they're so afraid of reprisal that they'll sacrifice the truth?

I'm waiting. I'm waiting oh so patiently for the first sack of shit peacenik-appeaser-world-opinion-trumps-common-sense-and-moral-judgement asshat to assert that we shouldn't have gone in, that we should have tried the U.N. for an 18th, 19th or 20th time, that this is illegal and afterall, it's all about oil. Bring it on motherfuckers, it's friday, I just got paid and I've got a sack of shiny nickels I'd like to beat your ass down with so let's hear how this was an unjust war... Chippy? Anyone?

"They" knew all along. But didn't want to tell us because "they" were afraid it would get people killed. Unbelievable.

Didn't it occur to them that NOT telling us the truth allowed the international community to turn a blind eye to the situation, thus ALLOWING further killing and torture?

I suspect that what these people were REALLY preserving was their standing within Iraq which allowed them the inside track on news. That, and they wouldn't want to piss off the simpletons back home. Heck, if average working class America were to find out about these things, we might urge our government to DO something about it, heaven forbid.

No, this kind of information can only be trusted to our intellectual betters. They'll tell us what we need to know.

OK, nice work.
I'm really pleased of the end of Saddam's era, for the Irakis as for the freedom of the world.
Though, there's some questions I'd like to say :
I know USA come in Irak to free the irakis. Well, ok.
Now, please, go to somalia, a place we can call hell on earth, please go to north korea, please don't forget Afghanistan, warlods becoming more and more powerful here ...
I say : the preople of Irak's freedom has never been the purpose of ANY debate, for one side and for the other ( pro/anti war ).
We are all thinking that the freedom is a valuable gift, but USA are not giving freedom in Irak. They are taking control of the petrol market.
North korea has no wealth.
Nor Somalia.
The only hop of these countries' inhabitants are their government 's madness : if north korea uses nukes against japan, the world will hit back for sure, and this'll be a logical decision.
But without a valuable interrest to attack, NK will have all the time to devellop its weapons.

Stop reading newpaper without thinking : the freedom in this war is a collaterral damage...

The only debate is : can a country attack another country, being the only judge ?
USA are totally outlaw in this case, and this is not france, nor russia, or whoever, but the USA who've caused a new deal to happen for the diplomatical relations in the world, leaded by ONU directions.

Yupa, you should get out more, maybe read a little. There are actions being taken in some/most of those places you name that are having good effect. I'm not here to educate you. But, if you do find some FACTS, maybe the grownups will let you in on the reasoned discourse.

Good on you, Michele. Glenn has it, too. I am flabbergasted by this op-ed. Amazed that Jordan would write it, astounded the NYT printed it.

We have to FLOOD THE ZONE on this one. It needs to get maximum attention. They lied. They covered up. They shilled.

Who else are they afraid to tell the truth about?

Something like this came out a number of months ago in relation to the "minders" who were assigned to each of the reporters to insure the reporters didn't say anything they shouldn't and the Iraqis to whom they spoke also didn't say anything. CNN was called on the ethics of continuing to report in a manner that was basically shilling for the regime, and their rationalization was that if they did tell the truth they'd be kicked out of Baghdad. They sold themselves out just to stay in Baghdad for the privilege of repeating lies given to them by the Iraqi regime. They were as much a propaganda machine as Al-Jazeera.
Mr. Jordan's pious "Oh, I feel so bad", is a day late, a dollar short and seriously disgusting.

Monsieur Jordan and CNN are criminally complicit in every murder committed in Iraq by the Saddam regime... I hope someone tries to hold them accountable.
Liars... what other lies are they spreading?

CNN, Peter Arnett..... Scum bags

$$$$$$and how much didi y'all profit by staying silent?How many advertising dollars did this little ruse earn you and your company,eh EJ?Liberal fuckwads like this are beneath contempt.They are not business people in my book.They are hoods.$$$$$$$$$$$$$

I agree in principle with the idea that CNN's record on this is appalling, but CNN's record on EVERYTHING is appalling.

That should not be an excuse--that because CNN didn't report it, we were ignorant about what was going on. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I just posted an article on my blog (Iraqis Tortured Children, written back in June 2002 on another questionable motive source, the BBC.

fas.org has had hundreds of articles about WMDs in Iraq and elsewhere, as well as a full accounting of the weapons inspections process. They’ve been around for years.

"We" should not blame the media for our unwillingness to seek the truth. We shouldn't put our faith in a single news source. If people are doing that, and wanting to cast the blame at CNN for their own ignorance, I think they're displacing. They have no one but themselves to blame. The information was out there. It was EVERYWHERE. You just had to be willing to hear it.

And heaven forbid we should listen to our own President who made it clear that Iraq was "evil." But hey, he only had the CIA, FBI, Intel, and Scotland Yard as his sources.

Instapundit posted a heartwarming part of an interview:

BOB GARFIELD: "[Franklin Foer] charges that the Western press is appeasing the Iraqi regime in order to maintain its visas ... What's your take on that?"

EASON JORDAN: "The writer clearly doesn't have a clear understanding of the realities on the ground because CNN has demonstrated again and again that it has a spine; that it's prepared to be forthright; is forthright in its reporting."

Sweet.

Some folks are suggesting that Eason's NYT article is an apology. It reads more like a Tom Wolfe character's speech, look at meeeee, ooh I care so much. Here are some excerpts so you can learn about Eason's feelings, and come to understand his sacrifices. Oh, and everyone else did it too.

I became more distressed by what I saw and heard
Other news organizations were in the same bind we were
We also had to worry that our reporting might endanger Iraqis not on our payroll
I felt I had a moral obligation to warn Jordan's monarch, and I did so the next day
Then there were the events that were not unreported but that nonetheless still haunt me
I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me

Remorse? What's that?

The only thread I could find about it at the DUmmies' forum, pardon my incompetence at putting in a link:

http://www.democraticunderground.com/duforum/DCForumID38/12632.html

I realize that one should not get too excited about these air thieves, but the more I read their forums, the more I become convinced that the really important war to be fought will occur on our own soil. Maybe not immediately, but in the next 10 to 15 years. How long can a wealthy, liberal, prosperous civilization tolerate such?

Well, hell, I guess it's better to go in the other room and calm down.

There may be cases where information had to be withheld to protect sources. But what about Asrar Qabandi, the Kuwati women who was captured and killed in 1991? Who was left to protect?--her family was in Kuwait, where they were presumably safe.

I suspect that a big part of what was really being protected was CNN's presence in Iraq.