Information Warfare: All The News That Fits

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March 2, 2007: Spokesmen for Multi-National Forces-Iraq ( MNF-I) have decided to go toe-to-toe with the Associated Press again. This time, it centers around reports claiming 18 children were killed in a bombing at Ramadi. This attack, like a reputed air strike during a firefight in January, seems to have never occurred. This time, MNF-I states that the casualties were inadvertently caused during a controlled detonation, just as spokesmen previously denied the January air strike.

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This is the latest blow to the credibility of the mainstream media. The Jemil Hussein controversy is still festering, and that was just one of the media scandals in the war on terror that involved questionable news reporting. In August 2006, Reuters had to pull photographs, that had been doctored to create the appearance that Israeli air strikes in Lebanon were doing more damage than had actually occurred. Other photos taken during the summer fighting were discovered to have been staged by Hezbollah. In 2005, media reports that guards at Guantanamo Bay had flushed a Koran turned out to have no basis in fact (the actual flushing was done by detainees).

Now, the media has been caught with more stories from sources who could not be verified. This is a disturbing pattern that has drawn notice from the blogosphere. For instance, the photos used by the media in various reports as late as 2005 on the detainee camps at Guantanamo Bay took things out of context. The images used then were of Camp X-Ray, a temporary camp that was replaced by Camp Delta in April, 2002. Camp Delta is on par with the latest correctional institutions in the United States. A detainee Time magizine profiled in 2005 was slated to be the 20th hijacker - the fifth person on Flight 93. Another detainee traveled to Pakistan in 1998 with an Iraqi intelligence officer to carry out an attack on the American and British embassies using a chemical mortar. Nor has the media mentioned the fact that at least a dozen detainees that have been released, have gone back to fighting with al Qaeda. The media has also neglected to point out that al Qaeda manuals instruct members to make false claims of being tortured if they are captured.

The media mistakes are becoming too frequent to dismiss as accidents. There has been a pattern of such "mistakes", all of which have made the United States look bad. An increasing number of readers, journalists and bloggers have been calling out the media on this. Reporters are upset at incidents like a story about the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, that was rewritten by editors in New York because the original submission made the American troops look "too heroic". That incident only added to the suspicion of the mainstream media among bloggers and the military. It seems that once again, the mainstream media is going to have some serious explaining to do. People who want to get the straight scoop from Iraq or other matters involving the war on terror should check out Central Command's newsroom website (http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom2/FrontPage%20Stories/Forms/AllItems.aspx), MNF-I's web site (http://www.mnf-iraq.com), or the Department of Defense's website (http://www.defenselink.mil/). - Harold C. Hutchison (haroldc.hutchison@gmail.com)
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