11 May, 2007

Why hide if there's nothing to hide?

Anybody remember the 2004 classified British memo outlining comments Shrub made to Blair about wanting to bomb the Doha, Qatar headquarters of Al-Jazeera? Anybody? It was during the worst days of the Battle of Falluja. You remember, right? Back when "Mission Accomplished" was a the general assumption for the US media and not shorthand for "total clusterf***." You know, back when Bush & Co. could claim we were "winning" the war and still get the majority of Americans buy it.

The story certainly failed to register with most of the media in the US or stir any righteous indignation with most in the US. In addition to swallowing the Al-Qa'ida/Saddam link people in the US have also sucked up Bush & Co.'s assertions that Al-Jazeera is basically Osama's PR machine. We STILL don't have a cable company willing to program Al-Jazeera in English, which continues frustrate and sadden me. Nobody seemed to think twice about a US President expressing interest in bombing A) an allied country B) civilians C) an outlet of the world media. The idea that Shrub would be up for such a strike was hardly far-fetched given the US millitary's treatment of Al-Jazeera prior to the leaking of the memo: the 2001 bombing of their offices in Afghanistan and the 2003 killing of correspondent Tariq Ayoub in an attack on their Baghdad office. I will admit I had forgotten about this story. More precisely, I assumed the publication of the leaked memo was the end of it.

Instead, the day after Blair finally announced he's stepping down in June, two men are off to prison following a highly secretive trial. According to Davide Simonetti from Blairwatch in an interview with Democracy Now!, these aren't even the two men who did the leaking (scroll down to the bottom). Those would be MPs and members of Blair's own cabinet. Nobody wants to get into bringing MPs up on charges because that would be messy and uncomfortable, no?

The memo has yet to see the light of day. Even Al-Jazeera couldn't get it under a FOIA request and if anybody deserves a look at it I'd say it's the people who were to be bombed. Anybody who would publish it also faces jail time, but that hasn't stopped countless people from offering to do just that if it gets out. After all, if you don't have anything to hide....?


Poem for the moment

The recent revelations from the Save the Children report should not be forgotten:
Since 1990 child mortality has jumped 150% and no other country in the world has seen such a sharp rise. One in eight Iraqi children died before reaching their fifth birthday in 2005.
In addition to the children lost there are the orphans.

When I read the following poem this week it stayed with me.
(from Modern Poetry of the Arab World ed. and trans. by Abdullah al-Udhari)

My Apologies by Buland Al-Haidari

My apologies, my honored guests,
The newsreader lied in his last bulletin:
There is no sea in Baghdad
Nor pearls
Not even an island,
And everything Sinbad said
About queens of the jinn
About the ruby and coral islands
About the thousand thousands flowing from the sultan's hand
Is a myth born in the summer heat
Of my small town
In the burnt-up shadows of the midday sun
In the silent nights of the exiled stars.
We used to have
A sea, shells, pearls
And a polished moon
And fishermen returning in the evening;
We used to have,
Said the newsreader's last bulletin,
An innocent, dream paradise;
For we, my honored guests,
Lie to be born again,
Lie to stretch in our long history
The myth told by Sinbad -
We used to have
A sea, shells, pearls
And the hour of birth.

My apologies, my honored guests,
The newsreader lied in his last bulletin:
There is no sea in Baghdad
Nor pearls
Not even an island.

10 May, 2007

The Best Program Most of You Aren't Watching

I suggest everybody link over to Hometown Baghdad. This is an ongoing series of documentary shorts about the realities of life in Baghdad as told by those living it. It is a collaboration between Chat the Planet and a group of Iraqi filmmakers and is well worth your time. To hear these people speaking about what all this - headlines and newscast teases to us - means to them on a very personal level is profound.