Al-Jazeera Embarrasses Itself

The head of al-Jazeera is delivering a letter to Tony Blair demanding the facts on reports that President Bush suggested bombing the Arab TV station. He wants a memo published which is alleged to show Tony Blair dissuaded President Bush from bombing its HQ. Attorney General Lord Goldsmith has warned newspaper editors against publication, citing the Official Secrets Act.
The White House dismissed reports of the conversation as "outlandish", but US officials have openly accused al-Jazeera of being a mouthpiece for al-Qaeda. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, Mr Khanfar said: "Al- Jazeera is in the foremost of free form and democracy in the Arab world and therefore this news that we have heard is very concerning. "So we demand a proper explanation and we would like to know the facts about this letter."
First of all, we should call a spade a spade. Yes, AJ does broadcast some content that is wholesome and useful, but it is hardly “the foremost of free form and democracy in the Arab world.” Where is the democracy in the Arab world? Last I checked it was in Iraq, the real “foremost of free form and democracy in the Arab world”, where AJ is banned!

Here is the hear of the issue:
First, it has been Osama bin Laden's propaganda outlet, taking delivery of his videotapes and broadcasting them. Second (and this is the one that has raised ire most recently), it has shown footage of the bodies of two dead British servicemen, and of captured troops paraded by the Iraqis. Third, it shows far more harrowing pictures of civilian casualties than western outlets are prepared to run, and fourth (a sum total of the first three) it is therefore peddling Iraqi propaganda.
AJ’s treatment of the terror issue (like broadcasting the disgusting beheadings of hostages live) amount easily to material support of the enemy during wartime, especially in this new media war we find ourselves in. So a high-level discussion of military action against an enemy propaganda outlet isn’t out of the realm of possibility:
The aim of propaganda is to influence people's opinions actively, rather than to merely communicate the facts about something. For example, propaganda might be used to garner either support or disapproval of a certain position, rather than to simply present the position. What separates propaganda from "normal" communication is in the subtle, often insidious, ways that the message attempts to shape opinion. For example, propaganda is often presented in a way that attempts to deliberately evoke a strong emotion, especially by suggesting illogical (or non-intuitive) relationships between concepts.
The bottom line here is that bombing AJ would have probably been a bad PR move, but the destructive presence of AJ in Iraq HAD to be dealt with, so it was banned. During wartime, are terror-propagandists allowed access to high-level memos of their adversaries’ commanders-in-chief? Is anyone allowed access to them?

AJ should be counting their blessings that they were not attacked, and only banned in the one Arab democracy. Free speech is one thing, airing hostage beheadings and the latest “death to Israel/America” message from Osama isn’t what OUR Founding Fathers wrote into OUR Constitution.

We now return to your regularly scheduled Al Jazeera Programming:
7:00- Does Al Qaeda Exist?
8:00- Hostage Execution
9:00- Special Report: Hostile Jordanians Arrest our Reporters for supporting “terror”


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