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The Media’s Bloody Footprints

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"It was premeditated slaughter in every sense of the word. The Marines came in and they killed everyone inside." Khalid Ahmed Rsayef; Haditha eyewitness

Western media is the bullhorn for the political establishment. Its message is crafted to reflect the objectives of elites and defend the interests of ownership. The recent coverage of the massacre in Haditha hasn't changed the media's essential purpose at all. It's still a fully-vested partner in the corporate-state power structure.

The reporting on Haditha has been surprisingly thorough. The major American newspapers have run several articles covering the incident in great detail. The mainstream media still attracts some of the brightest, most talented writers in the country. What a pity their talent is wasted promoting an immoral and tragic war which has led us to the brink of disaster.

We don't know why the media giants have veered from their traditional cheerleading and focused on the atrocities at Haditha. There have been scores of similar incidents reported on the internet over the past 3 years. What makes Haditha so special?

It's doubtful that the media executives are suddenly bothered by "pangs of remorse" about the suffering they have helped to create. More likely, the unexpected attention to Haditha indicates the growing divisions among American elites about Bush's alarming mismanagement of the war. If the occupation had gone smoothly, there'd be no recriminations or talk of massacres. Americans like a winner, and are prepared to overlook the criminal indiscretions of their leaders if they're victorious.

Haditha is characterized as an anomaly that diverges from the norm of military conduct. But, that is not what the Iraqis say. Even the newly-appointed Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki admits that such killings are a "daily occurrence" and that American soldiers routinely "crush Iraqis with their vehicles and kill them on suspicion". In fact, it is impossible to exterminate 100,000 civilians without leaving behind a conspicuous trail of war crimes. Haditha is the inevitable upshot of military invasion and occupation; it fits into the familiar pattern of serial-killing that is listed under the rubric of "pacification".

Stories, like Haditha, rarely find their way into the evening news. That would interrupt the optimistic flow of jingoism and cheery predictions that dominate the mainstream storyline. No one in the media would be brazen enough to suggest that the war was entirely motivated by self-interest, or that, the calls for "democratization" and "liberation" are merely intended to divert the public's attention from the daily record of slaughter. That would be a career-ending move, for sure.

The basic function of the media never changes. It's a top-down corporate institution designed to provide a business-friendly world view and enhance the profits of its investors. They're paid to transform a vicious colonial war into a "noble cause" and defend the indiscriminate killing of civilians as the highest expression of patriotism. Haditha is the logical extension of that system.

Voltaire said, "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities". Haditha proves that Voltaire was right. He wisely anticipated the role of media in the modern era. It is the pitch-man for atrocities that are thinly-veiled as acts of self-sacrifice and humanity. Voltaire never could have imagined that the cynical manipulation of perceptions could have developed into an entire industry. In fact, media is more like an army than an industry; a band of mercenaries who are used to carry out information-warfare against their own people.

The media campaign has been the most successful part of the Iraq war. News programs have faithfully delivered the same storyline from every soapbox in America, crowding out opposing points of view. The synchronization and uniformity of the message has left no doubt that the corporate propaganda-system is vastly superior to any other. The "profit-motive" creates the best possible incentive for manipulating the public mind and corrupting democracy. The media has become a more valuable asset to the Defense Department than an Abrams Tank or a laser-guided missile. It is the one truly indispensable weapon in the Pentagon's arsenal.

The reporting on Haditha hasn't damaged the Pentagon-media alliance. Iraq has produced thousands of Hadithas all of which will remain ignored or concealed by the media.

Where are the photos of Falluja?

2 years have passed since Rumsfeld flattened the city in a vindictive act of rage, and the media still hasn't provided even one picture of the devastation. How is it that people fail to grasp this obvious sign of collaboration between the media and the Pentagon warlords?

The media knew of Haditha months before it appeared in Time magazine. They chose to ignore it rather than expose Bush's blood-sport to the world.

Eventually, we will have to seriously address the media's culpability in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi non-combatants. Conspiracy to facilitate mass murder is not protected under the 1st amendment any more than shouting "fire" in a crowded building. The media played a crucial role in deliberately misleading the country into a war of aggression and, subsequently, aiding and abetting the vast incidents of war crimes. For that they will have to be held accountable.

The persistent slaughter in Iraq is not just the work of right wing fanatics and neocons, but of the information-managers who pumped their lies through the public air-waves and made the war a fati accompli. They've played a central role in decimating Iraqi society and putting America on the fast-track to ruin..

The bloody footprints from Haditha lead straight to the corporate headquarters at Time Warner and FOX News. They are every bit as guilty as anyone who served in Kilo Company.
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Mike is a freelance writer living in Washington state.

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