2008-02-11 How the spooks took over the news
<hide> <let name=data index=Date>2008-02-11</let> <let name=data index=Author>Nick Davies</let> <let name=data index=Source>Independent.co.uk</let> <let name=data index=Topics>\book excerpts\mainstream media\propaganda\US-Iraq War</let> <let name=data index=URL>http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/how-the-spooks-took-over-the-news-780672.html</let> <let name=data index=Title>How the spooks took over the news</let> <let name=data index=TitlePlain>How the spooks took over the news</let>
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On the morning of 9 February 2004, The New York Times carried an exclusive and alarming story. The paper's Baghdad correspondent, Dexter Filkins, reported that US officials had obtained a 17-page letter, believed to have been written by the notorious terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi to the "inner circle" of al-Qa'ida's leadership, urging them to accept that the best way to beat US forces in Iraq was effectively to start a civil war.
The letter argued that al-Qa'ida, which is a Sunni network, should attack the Shia population of Iraq: "It is the only way to prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us. If we succeed in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis."
Later that day, at a regular US press briefing in Baghdad, US General Mark Kimmitt dealt with a string of questions about the New York Times report: "We believe the report and the document is credible, and we take the report seriously... It is clearly a plan on the part of outsiders to come in to this country and spark civil war, create sectarian violence, try to expose fissures in this society." The story went on to news agency wires and, within 24 hours, it was running around the world.
For the first time in human history, there is a concerted strategy to manipulate global perception. And the mass media are operating as its compliant assistants, failing both to resist it and to expose it.
The sheer ease with which this machinery has been able to do its work reflects a creeping structural weakness which now afflicts the production of our news. I've spent the last two years researching a book about falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media.
The "Zarqawi letter" which made it on to the front page of The New York Times in February 2004 was one of a sequence of highly suspect documents which were said to have been written either by or to Zarqawi and which were fed into news media.
<let name=data index=TextShort>“For the first time in human history, there is a concerted strategy to manipulate global perception. And the mass media are operating as its compliant assistants, failing both to resist it and to expose it.”</let> </hide><if not flag=$including><let name=docat val=1 /><call ShowLinkData /></if>