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UK too promotes Iraq war propaganda?

Aljazeera.com, UK

December 3, 2005

It emerged last week that the U.S. Department of Defense has been selling the war to Iraqis by covertly planting fake news in their media; paying Iraqi newspapers to run favorable stories.

And as a top Pentagon official admit that "transgressions" may have occurred in a secret military program that pays Iraqi newspapers to publish information favorable to the U.S. mission in IRAQ, an article by David Miller on Bellaciao.com revealed a similar case in Britain. The article said that the BBC commissioned journalists from the Services Sound and Vision Corporation (SSVC) to provide them with news reports which, according to what is mentioned on their website make a "considerable contribution" of the armed forces.

According to Spinwatch investigation, the BBC is using the reports the SSVC provide as authentic news reports.

There is a similar deal happening through the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS). The BFBS task is to "entertain and inform" the British armed forces. Journalists who supply the reports are getting paid by the British Ministry of Defense.

For instance, a report was broadcast where the journalist explained that she is standing in a street in Basra where residents depend on robbery and killing for their living, adding that there are tribal conflicts between the inhabitants. Then the reporter explained that all these problems had been solved by the troops stationed in area.

The report included interviews with British soldiers and not even one interview with Iraqis. It concluded by saying, "While the Scots Guards remain the ceasefire is likely to hold strong. There’s been little trouble in the area since the peace was brokered and the ceasefire has been extended to December 1st. But the Iraqi police and National Guard still lack confidence and credibility to keep the peace on their own and should the fighting resume, the governor of Basra has given the go ahead for the Scots Guards to use more force to make route 6 safe again."

Although those reports use the term "occupying forces", they still call them "peacekeeping forces."

According to the editor of Good Morning Scotland, people comment on these reports –which are broadcasted on BBC- as "an audio press releases for the army".

Many journalists decided lately to join the government. Also, BBC journalists are now more interested in working as propagandists.

A BBC editor tried to defend the agency position claiming that the BFBS "is not controlled by the MOD," however it funds them the same way BBC is funded by the Foreign Office. He also mentioned that the journalists are hired by the SSVC which as he stated is a "charitable organization with editorial independence from the MOD," according to Bellaciao website.

What had been said by the BBC editor is a complete contrast of what is stated on the SSVC website. On its site, the SSVC said:, "Our work makes a considerable contribution to the maintenance of the efficiency and morale of the three Services. Our activities are carried out directly for the Ministry of Defense. Any profits are donated towards Forces’ welfare."

The BBC editor, on the other hand said that "the Foreign Office runs a network of fake news operations and has done for years. In recently times these have been contracted out to private production companies with the helpful effect that the government funding is further camouflaged. They have also been extended markedly to focus more centrally on the Middle East since 2001. One such is the London Press Service which is described as follows on the government I-uk site: 'an agency offering the latest British headline news, news round-ups, features and pictures for use by journalists overseas.’"

As mentioned on the Bellaciao.com, what the BBC editor said is a detailed description to the propaganda journalism.

Bellaciao moreover referred to the British Satellite News (BSN), as "’a free television news and features service, which provides you with coverage of worldwide topical events and stories from a British perspective. Our dedicated team of experienced television journalists specializes in producing topical stories that inform and entertain a global audience."

Transcript follows:

Good Morning Scotland, BBC Radio Scotland, 25 November 2004


Presenter 1: "Soldiers from the Black Watch regiment in IRAQ have carried out a major raid against suspected insurgents in villages on the banks of the Euphrates. The raid involving 500 troops was one of the largest British operations since the end of the IRAQ war last year."

Presenter 2: "Meanwhile the Scots Guards have successfully negotiated a ceasefire between two warring tribes just weeks into their tour of duty in IRAQ. The soldiers were called in after fighting flared along the main road north out of Basra. Operation Energise aimed to stop the violence which has been affecting transport and communications to and from Basra City." Martha Fairley from the British Forces Broadcasting Service has been embedded with the Scots Guards.

Martha Fairley: "Route 6 is the main road north out of Basra. It runs through the badlands of Iraq’s marsh Arabs they make a living from crime - carjackings, smuggling and murder are common place. It’s also the scene of an age old feud between two warring tribes. The Garamsha and Al Halaf kept a low profile during Saddam’s regime. But recently the fighting’s flared up again and the warriors and tanks of the Scots Guards and Royal Dragoon Guards were brought in as a show of force and as Sergeant Jason Manassi from the Scots Guard has discovered they are also a source of fascination for hoards of local people."

Jason Manassi: "There are a lot of people obviously trying to get involved but it’s not in a bad way -they are -I really think they don’t mean any harm at this stage. However we still need to be on our toes. We’re at the moment doing a re-supply. We are showing a bit of force at the moment sending troops up all the time. It is working but I think they are more inquisitive as opposed to hostile at this present moment - which is good, which is good.

We traveled with a convoy of Scots Guards bringing supplies and fuel to the troops stationed along route 6. The Iraqi police have set up vehicle checkpoints along the road to try and control the violence and while they’re stopping and checking the vehicles, the British forces are providing them with the support and credibility they need. But even after the arrival of the Scots Guards there’s been a murder on this stretch of road. The second checkpoint we stop at is Beruki camp. The Iraqi police service have a station here and the policemen proudly show off their uniforms and weapons as we arrive. But they fear for their safety. Three of their colleagues have been killed by a sniper here in recent months. Scots Guards master sniper Robert Milton set up an operation to find the gunman who’s thought to be holed up a mile away."

Robert Milton: There’s a sniper, enemy sniper within the buildings to our front, just behind and we’re here to take him on basically. And it gives them reassurance on the ground that we’re here to take out this person if we can find him.

MF: "We return to route 6 the following morning a ten day cease fire had just been negotiated by the Scots Guards and the two tribes had had their first nights sleep in several months. Commanding officer Colonel Harry Nicoson says persuading them to come to the negotiating table was relatively easy."

Harry Nicoson: "If you’ve got an armoured battle group and you plonk it in the middle of their village you tend to get their attention quite quickly and that is what happened. They immediately came up and spoke to us, we had two separate meetings brokered the cease fire with both sides and told them that if they didn’t stick to it then we would come and sort them out or words to that effect and that’s where we’ve got to at the moment. So we’re now waiting for them to take it forward, set up their own meetings, led by Iraqis to now try and find some sort of solution to this problem. "

MF: "Meanwhile some of the heavy armour has been rolled back as this tentative peace unfolds. For Lance Corporals Stewart Thorpe and Ian McGinty it’s been their first chance to get out on operation since they arrived in IRAQ last month. "

Stewart Thorpe: "Basically we’re just sat in a static location. The Iraqi police are doing their vehicle checkpoints and we’re just showing a presence on the ground. If anything does happen we’re there to respond to it. "

Ian McGinty: "What we’ve seen so far is the people are quite friendly they come and talk to us there’s no problems there but the threat’s always out there so we just have to wait and see and bide our time sort of thing and keep safe. You just have to keep your wits about you, make sure the guys are doing their job and make sure you’re doing your own job as well."

MF: "While the Scots Guards remain the ceasefire is likely to hold strong. There’s been little trouble in the area since the peace was brokered and the ceasefire has been extended to December the first. But the Iraqi police and national guard still lack confidence and credibility to keep the peace on their own and should the fighting resume, the governor of Basra has given the go ahead for the Scots Guards to use more force to make route 6 safe again." Martha Fairley reporting from Basra city. It’s 8.42


:: Article nr. 18404 sent on 04-dec-2005 01:24 ECT

www.uruknet.info?p=18404

Link: www.aljazeera.com/cgi-bin/news_service/middle_east_full_story.asp?service_id=100
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