FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A Wikileak on the US and Al- Jazeera

The United States has had it in for al-Jazeera at least since 2000, when the Qatar-based news network began reporting on Israel’s harsh treatment of Palestinians during the intifada and, a year later, covered the start of U.S. war-making in the Middle East, revealing to the Arab world a graphic picture of U.S. and Israeli brutality.  During the Iraq war, U.S. planes bombed the al-Jazeera station in Baghdad and killed one of its correspondents, in what clearly appeared to be an attempt to silence the network.  CounterPunch can show, through a Wikileaks-released cable from the U.S. embassy in Doha, Qatar, where al-Jazeera is based, that U.S. officials were still ragging the network in February 2009 in the wake of Israel’s three-week assault on Gaza, because, alone of news networks the world over, al-Jazeera had actually shown what was happening on the ground to Gazan civilians besieged by an unrelenting Israeli air, artillery, and ground attack.

The U.S. ambassador’s scolding of al-Jazeera is particularly relevant today in view of the network’s running coverage of the popular uprising in Egypt against U.S. ally Husni Mubarak.  Mubarak himself has tried to shut down the network, and one can assume that U.S. officials, undecided just how torespond to this crisis and which side to support, are at least biting their fingernails over what to do about this latest instance of al-Jazeera’s honest reporting.  There is no way to hide this uprising, even with press censorship, and U.S. networks are also reporting non-stop, but al-Jazeera is the network watched throughout the Arab world, and it is easy to imagine U.S. policymakers ruing the fact that it is once again exposing the U.S. alliance with dictatorships and oppression of Arabs.

Accordig to the cable from Doha, on February 10, 2009, three weeks after the Gaza assault ended, U.S. Ambassador Joseph Lebaron arranged a meeting with al-Jazeera’s director general, Wadah Khanfar, to express concern that the network’s reporting from Gaza was harming the U.S. image “in the Arab street.”  Lebaron’s contorted reasoning went as follows: al-Jazeera’s coverage “took viewers’ emotions and then raised them to a higher level through its coverage.”  Then Qatar’s ruling royal family, which provides funding to the network, would point to anger on the Arab street as “a call to action,” which Lebaron contended created a vicious circle leading to “more graphic coverage, more emotion, more demonstrations, and then more calls to action” — as if the emotion-raising images from Gaza that started this circle revolving were somehow not real and not the basis of the story.  There would obviously have been no emotion and no demonstrations if Israel had not launched the assault in the first place (using U.S. arms).

Lebaron simply did not like the fact that al-Jazeera had shown what was happening in Gaza.  With jaw-dropping illogic, he complained that al-Jazeera provided no balance in its reporting because on one side it showed Israeli talking heads, while “on the other side of the scale, you are broadcasting graphic images of dead children and urban damage from modern warfare.”  Lebaron was not convinced by Khanfar’s point that, even though al-Jazeera had attempted to provide both perspectives by running reports in every news bulletin from correspondents in Israel as well as in Gaza, it was still impossible to “balance” coverage because it was Gazans who were being killed and Israelis who were talking.

In answer to Lebaron’s argument about the vicious circle, Khanfar noted that demonstrations in other sizable Muslim countries such as Turkey and Indonesia had also been very large, despite the fact that there was not a big market for al-Jazeera in these countries.  But Lebaron thought this argument “extraneous.”

It is of course in the nature of any war-making country to wish no one were looking over its shoulder reporting on the atrocities it and its allies are committing.  U.S. policymakers and the U.S. media have long regarded al-Jazeera’s television coverage of Israeli and U.S. actions as “incitement” — as if al-Jazeera rather than we and the Israelis were the perpetrator, as if al-Jazeera rather than U.S. and Israeli actions were the cause of anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment among Arabs.  This cable is one of the most blatant examples of this effort to manage the news, avoid responsibility, and blame the messenger.

KATHLEEN CHRISTISON is a former CIA political analyst and the author of several books on the Palestinian situation, including Palestine in Pieces, co-authored with her late husband Bill Christison.  She can be reached at kb.christison@earthlink.net.

 

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
Brian Cloughley
Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly
Jessicah Pierre
A Revolutionary Idea to Close the Racial Wealth Divide
George Burchett
Revolutionary Journalism
Dan Bacher
U.S. Senate Confirms Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary
Nicky Reid
The Strange Success of Russiagate
Chris Gilbert
Defending Venezuela: Two Approaches
Todd Larsen
The Planetary Cost of Amazon’s Convenience
Kelly Martin
How the White House is Spinning Earth Day
Nino Pagliccia
Cuba and Venezuela: Killing Two Birds With a Stone
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Guadalcanal and Bloody Ridge, Solomon Islands
David Kattenburg
Trudeau’s Long Winter
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
Ellen Lindeen
What Does it Mean to Teach Peace?
Adewale Maye and Eileen Appelbaum
Paid Family and Medical Leave: a Bargain Even Low-Wage Workers Can Afford
Ramzy Baroud
War Versus Peace: Israel Has Decided and So Should We
Ann Garrison
Vets for Peace to Barbara Lee: Support Manning and Assange
Thomas Knapp
The Mueller Report Changed my Mind on Term Limits
Jill Richardson
Why is Going Green So Hard? Because the System Isn’t
Mallika Khanna
The Greenwashing of Earth Day
Arshad Khan
Do the Harmless Pangolins Have to Become Extinct?
Paul Armentano
Pushing Marijuana Legalization Across the Finish Line
B. R. Gowani
Surreal Realities: Pelosi, Maneka Gandhi, Pompeo, Trump
Paul Buhle
Using the Law to Build a Socialist Society
David Yearsley
Call Saul
Elliot Sperber
Ecology Over Economy 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail