It has long been standard counter-propaganda practice--especially by those in power--to claim that some very damning video exposé was "taken out of context." That line was used throughout the war in Vietnam, then Desert Storm, and then Bush/Cheney's new war on Iraq. Remember Rumsfeld jeering that the lethal post-invasion anarchy throughout Baghdad
had been exaggerated by the press? He noted that the news included countless shots of vases in distress: "Is it possible that there were that many vases in the whole country?" he asked rhetorically (and, it must be said, moronically).
That defensive line has been deployed not just in wartime but in other controversial cases here at home. The footage of the LAPD stomping Rodney King, for instance, met with fierce howls of denial from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, who claimed, predictably, that that sensational footage was a mere misleading fragment of the whole encounter. See it all, they said, and you will see that King had really asked for it, and that the cops had acted with heroic restraint, etc. But what the entire video showed was quite the opposite, as all it showed was members of the LAPD stomping Rodney King.
And so it is with Al Jazeera's video of the military's top chaplain in Afghanistan instructing US troops to "hunt people for Jesus" in that Muslim land. The Pentagon's spokesman quickly charged that that explosive moment "grossly misrepresent[ed] the truth," as it was mostly "taken out of context."
To which denial Al Jazeera, and American filmmaker Brian Hughes, who shot that film, have come out with a devastating answer, as Jeremy Scahill reports below. Specifically, they released the raw footage shot by Hughes, who also offers a detailed account of his experience shooting it.
Al Jazeera Strikes Back at Pentagon, Releases Unedited Footage of U.S. Soldiers' 'Bible Study' in Afghanistan
By Jeremy Scahill, Rebel Reports
Posted on May 5, 2009, Printed on May 6, 2009
[An excerpt of Scahill's article is below. Click on the link above for the complete article.The comments are made by filmmaker Brian Hughes in response to the Pentagon's charges.]
"With the exception of a few minutes I could not film because I was reloading my camera or moving to position for another shot, I videotaped Hensley's entire sermon.
"Any contention by the military that his words are purposefully taken out of context to alter the tone or meaning of his sermon is absolutely false.
"In recent press statements, the military also contends that - in the footage depicting the Afghan-language (Dari and Pashto) bibles - a cut was made before "it would have shown that the chaplain instructed that the Bibles not be distributed." This is a false statement. The chaplain - as seen in the footage before the cut - instructs the group to be careful and reiterates the definition of General Order #1. After this cut he begins to organize the group for the evening's bible study lessons.
"Finally, and in my opinion most important, is the fact that EVERY FRAME of the rough cut from Bagram was provided to the U.S. Army Public Affairs Office in advance of this release. On Thursday, April 30 at approximately 1 pm EST, the Army took possession of a DVD with this footage by accepting a FedEx from me. Since Al Jazeera English first aired the piece Sunday, May 3 at 10pm EST, the Army had every frame of this rough cut for more than 80 hours."
Jeremy Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.
© 2009 Rebel Reports All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/http://rebelreports.com//139824/