Al Jazeera on March 25 - U2 Feedback

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Old 04-01-2003, 03:01 PM   #1
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Al Jazeera on March 25

Starting the very day that Al Jazeera's English-language Website launched, the "CNN of the Arab world" has been constantly hacked with denial of service attacks, spamming, hijacking, etc. While the Arabic site goes online intermittently (only to get knocked offline again), the English-language version is nowhere to be seen. (The URL for the English site now either doesn't work or brings up the Arabic site. Often, the main URL doesn't work either.)

A reader of The Memory Hole managed to capture the entire text (and some of the images) of the English-language site on 25 March 2003. We're mirroring it here.

Thanks to "thethethe" for sending this.

Al Jazeera Website ©2003 Al Jazeera


US 'precision' bomb destroys civilian bus

The United States has admitted responsibility for striking a civilian bus inside Western Iraq but added that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s government bears ultimate responsibility for the episode because of its non-compliance with UN resolutions, according to a military spokesman at US Central Command in Doha, Qatar.

Five Syrians were killed and 10 were hurt when a US missile struck the bus in Rutba, western Iraq, as it was returning to neighboring Syria on Sunday morning, the Syrian Arab News Agency SANA reported.

The bus was carrying 37 Syrians when it was struck as it drove through Rutba, 160 kilometres (100 miles) from the border, it said.

"Unfortunately yesterday (Sunday) coalition forces destroyed a civilian bus during targeting of a bridge on the Iraqi side of the Syrian border," a US military spokesman said in a statement at the coalition's forward command headquarters in Qatar.

"The bridge was in the process of being hit by munitions when the civilian bus attempted to cross. The bus stopped on the bridge and was hit by munitions already released prior to the bus approaching the bridge," he said.

But accounts by survivors of the attack who were interviewed by Syrian television conflict with this explanation. They claimed that the attack did not occur as the bus was crossing the bridge but while it was stationary and passengers were disembarking.

One of the wounded said they were surprised by the coalition air attack which occurred at a rest stop.

"Suddenly, we heard an enormous explosion and then the noise of a plane, but we could not see it," he said.

The Syrian foreign ministry reacted by summoning the US and British ambassadors Monday to lodge an official protest over the incident. The ministry had delivered an "official protest" to the two diplomats over "this terrible aggression," the Syrian news agency SANA said.

It also "reserved the right to claim damages and warned against the danger of targeting innocent civilians" in line with international law. SANA called the action ‘criminal’ and accused the US of contravening the “Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians in war.”

Syrian Information Minister Adnan Omran said Sunday's air attack indicated that shelling was being focused on civilian cars and targets.

"This is a dangerous matter and refutes claims that they only hit military targets," Omran said. "I don't know how a bus carrying people returning home and escaping bombardment and destruction can be mistaken as a military target. This is a civilian target. This is an example. There are many other targets such as houses, restaurants, gas stations and schools on the border that were damaged or destroyed."

The incident comes at a time of heightened tensions between Syria and the United States over the US-led invasion of Iraq.

US forces threw all hope of winning support from the Iraqi people ”out of the window” by placing the American flag on Umm Qasr “even before they controlled it,” a Syrian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told the BBC’s Radio 4, adding that it was a horrible reminder of an occupying power.

Iraq hit by new wave of attacks

Another round of bombs fell over west Baghdad last night. There were at least six large explosions, our correspondent in the city said. Al Jazeera television images showed anti-aircraft fire lighting up the sky over Baghdad.

US-led attacks took place on several fronts.

Al-Jazeera correspondent in Al-Rowaishid in the west of Iraq reported that Iraqi and US forces are involved in fierce fighting in Ratba, a town 150 kilometres from the Iraqi-Jordanian border. He said that Iraqi military units are currently holding back a US advance and are ordering travellers leaving for Jordan to stay until further notice. Due to the shelling, motels, restaurants and civilian cars and trucks have been damaged.

Overnight, battles have been taking place near Basra International Airport in southern Iraq where it was reported that Iraqi troops are trying to regain control of the airport.

According to eyewitnesses from the nearby village of Al-Zubair, US tanks were seen advancing from the east toward Basra, firing heavy machine gun rounds into urban areas. Reports indicated some civilian casualties and one British soldier killed. Meanwhile residents of Iraq’s second city went without electricity and treated water for the third day.

Earlier, a handful of British soldiers were also seen raising the British flag close to the area.

The northern Iraq city of Mosul experienced the heaviest bombardment since the war begun. The last round of bombings continued for 45 minutes and came in addition to an almost continuous bombardment of Iraq's northern oil capital of Kirkuk.

A resident in Kirkuk contacted by telephone told AFP last night that targets inside and around the city had been raided since late Sunday with attacking planes giving little respite. Air strikes were continuing up to midnight Monday

The source, who asked not to be identified, described the raids as "terrifying" and said the streets of the city were almost totally abandoned by civilians -- indicating that Kirkuk may be feeling the "shock and awe" promised by Washington.

Earlier, another source in the mainly ethnic Kurdish city reported "many dead and injured", mostly soldiers but also some civilians.

Iraqi officials said that 62 people have been killed in the last 24 hours.

Five people, including a woman, were killed and at least 28 wounded when a missile fired by allied warplanes hit houses in Al-Azamiyah, a densely populated area of Baghdad, residents there said.

US military sources claimed last night that an attack by US AH-64 Apache helicopter gunships has "degraded significantly " the Medina Division of Iraq's Republican Guard defending the approaches to Baghdad.

Major General Stanley McChrystal said that attack, in which one Apache was lost, was "very successful." It marked the first time Apache helicopter gunships have been used to attack the Republican Guard and the loss of another Apache brings to at least two so far lost in combat.

But later reports said US Apache helicopters ran into a "hornet's nest" of fire near the city and were forced to withdraw.

A senior US officer said Monday in Washington that Apache attacks had "degraded significantly" a division of the Guard defending the approach to Baghdad.

But in remarks to reporters in the capital, as heavy coalition air bombardment could be heard booming in the night sky, deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz said, adding that Saddam still held the reins of power and that US and British troops were facing a tough assault on the city.

"Saddam Hussein is in total control of his country," he said. "Saddam Hussein is in total control of his armed forces and his people, and the (ruling) Baath party .... We are all with him."

He said no troops from the Republican Guard had even taken part in the four days of bloody battles with coalition troops at the southern port of Umm Qasr.

Asked what coalition forces could expect from a battle in Baghdad, Aziz snarled at US claims that their soldiers would be met with applause and cheers from Iraqis happy that the United States had come to "liberate" them from Saddam.

"They will be met with the best music and the finest flowers in all of Iraq," he said. "They will be welcomed in the same way as they are welcomed in Umm Qasr."

About 40 US and British troops have been killed in the conflict so far.

Aziz was speaking hours after state television showed a uniformed Saddam addressing the nation for the second time since the war began last week.

US remembers Geneva Convention

Are US prisoners of war more equal than the Iraqi prisoners in the custody of US-led forces?

The answer seems to be yes, given the contrasting reactions to images of US prisoners of war captured yesterday.

Just a day earlier, pictures of surrendering Iraqi soldiers being forced to kneel down and being body-searched by US-troops stirred few emotions in the Western world.

But it all changed dramatically the moment Al Jazeera television broadcast on Monday images of five American troops in Iraq’s custody.
“Anyone found ill-treating American prisoners of war would be dealt with as war criminals,” insisted US President George W Bush told newsmen.

British Prime Minister, Tony Blair was more caustic and explained that “the televised parade of the US prisoners of war was yet another instance of excesses committed by Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein.”

Western leaders haven’t stopped spitting fire since then. In between criticising Iraq and condemning Al Jazeera, they have suddenly begun to recite ad verbatim the rights and privileges of prisoners of wars in the Geneva Convention.

“Its illegal to do things to the prisoners of war that are humiliating to the prisoners. It is against the Geneva Convention,” said US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

For the first couple of days of the conflict, western television broadcasts have been replete with images of humiliated and humbled Iraqi prisoners.

Some images had the Iraqi soldiers on their knees while they were frisked by US Marines. In others, they were lined up with their hands tied to their backs. Some of the Iraqi prisoners were also seen to be shivering, possibly in shock and fear.

But neither the US administration nor the western media found anything objectionable in the images, at least not until it was the turn of the captured US prisoners to be shown.

Surely, the double-standards were inexplicable and Michael Kik, the Al Jazeera representative in France wondered aloud on Monday as to “why Al Jazeera alone was being put on trial?”

Appearing before the head of the Higher Audiovisual Council(CSA), France’s broadcast watchdog, during the day, Kik argued : “for 10 years pictures of Palestinian prisoners have been shown all over the world, and in the Gulf everyone has been watching images of Iraqi prisoners kneeling in humiliation.”

Significantly, several US-based television channels have now broadcast —if not in whole, at least in parts — Al Jazeera’s visuals on the US prisoners. NBC broadcast a brief excerpt of the tape while CNN and Fox News have been showing still frames from it. CBS News broadcast a longer excerpt.

But none earned any rebuke either from the US administration or the Pentagon, as did Al Jazeera last night when a top US general, in the course of a live press conference, derided the channel for broadcasting “disgusting” visuals.

Analysts say that the US has always applied double-standards in dealing with human rights and the contrasting reactions weren’t really surprising.
However hostile, the west’s hostile reaction is not free of contradictions.

There is nothing wrong with Article 13 of the Geneva Convention that the world adopted in 1950 for enshrining rights and privileges of a captured prisoner in war. “Prisoners of war must at all time be humanely treated…..POWs must at all time be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insult and public curiosity,” it stated.

The problem is that the US is seeking to take refuge under provisions of the United Nations when the war they are waging does not have UN approval.

There is more to US double-standards.

The US is holding 625 suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda sympathisers in Guantanomo Bay in Cuba where there designation as "unlawful comabatants" has stripped them of even the most basic human rights including the right of habeus corpus.

An application filed by Human Rights groups before the US federal court seeking an end to the arbitrary detention was again thrown out two weeks ago because the “detainees held outside US territory were beyond the jurisdiction of US courts.”

Robbed of any legal recourse, the Guantanomo detainees have been chained, manacled, hooded and forcibly shaved.

On each score, the US has erred. Forcible hooding, even temporarily, is violation of the 1984 Convention against Torture and Reality. Forced shaving of beards is in contravention to the 1966 Convention of Civil and Political Rights.

The continuing ill-treatment of the Guantanomo Bay detainees bodes ill for the future of all prisoners of war. “The violations there will undermine the ability of the US government to ensure adequate treatment as and when US citizens are captured or held,” said Michael Byers of the International Law at Duke University, North Carolina.


Basra on verge of humanitarian crisis

Intense fighting is reported on the outskirts Basra as Iraq's second city of two million — in a flashback to the 1991 Gulf War — suffers from a severe water crisis.

Residents went without electricity and treated water for the third day running. Because Basra’s electricity had been shut down, the city’s main water plant was not functioning.

Civilians were reportedly drinking directly from polluted river water at the Shatt Al-Arab waterway.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan called for “urgent measures” to rescue the residents of the southern Iraqi town from “a humanitarian disaster.”

"A city of that size cannot afford to go without electricity or
water for long," he said.

The International committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) called the situation an emergency, but was unable to send in specialists to service Basra’s main water treatment plant due to the fighting.

In the 1991 Gulf War, US-led allies repeatedly struck water storage and treatment and facilities. Since then, thousands of Iraqis have died from outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as typhoid, dysentery, hepatitis, cholera and polio that reached epidemic levels.

"Water facilities were destroyed in 1991 to put pressure on Saddam Hussein to leave Kuwait,” said a retired US army colonel who preferred not to be named.

But loss of power in Basra may have also been the result of an inadvertent attack, he said, or a tactic employed by government loyalists to cloak themselves in darkness as they attempted to defend the city.

However George Washington University professor, Thomas Nagay has obtained and published US Defence Department documents that revealed water facilities were in fact, deliberate targets in 1991.

According to Nagay, the Defence Intelligence Agency foresaw the humanitarian crisis that befell the Iraqi people in a 1991 document entitled “Disease Outbreaks in Iraq,” which says:

"Conditions are favorable for communicable disease outbreaks, particularly in major urban areas affected by coalition bombing." It adds: "Infectious disease prevalence in major Iraqi urban areas targeted by coalition bombing (Baghdad, Basra) undoubtedly has increased since the beginning of Desert Storm. . . . Current public health problems are attributable to the reduction of normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, water purification and distribution, electricity, and the decreased ability to control disease outbreaks."

The document lists the "most likely diseases during next sixty-ninety days: diarrheal diseases (particularly children); acute respiratory illnesses (colds and influenza); typhoid; hepatitis A (particularly children); measles, diphtheria, and pertussis (particularly children); meningitis, including meningococcal (particularly children); cholera (possible, but less likely)."

Critics of the US military tactics during the 1991 Gulf War are quick to cite Article 54 of the Geneva Convention. It states:

“It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works, for the purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive.”

The Pentagon claims food and medicine supplies are on the way to the Basra area, and will be delivered as soon as the area is “secure.”

But, Dennis Haliday, formerly the head of the Oil for Food program, criticised the US for not immediately providing water to Basra residents.

Ironically, he noted, the US has been able to provide water for fighting oil fires.

Iraq provides first proof of US captured and dead

The bodies of at least 10 dead US troops have been shown on Al Jazeera TV in the last 24 hours. US military authorities confirmed that there have been casualties.

Four US prisoners were also interviewed by Iraqi TV. Three men and a woman confirmed their names and where they came from. Two of the prisoners appeared wounded; one was lying on a mattress on the floor apparently bleeding from his stomach.

According to Al Jazeera the casualties were sustained after US-led troops came up against stiff opposition while trying to secure the southern city of Nassiriyah.

US central command later admitted that they had lost 12 men near the city and a further 10 were missing with 50 more injured.

One of the captured soldiers Percy Miller, a private first class, confirmed that he came from Kansas. When asked if he had come to kill Iraqis, he replied “No, I came to fix broke stuff. I was told only to shoot if I’m shot at. They shot at me, so I shot back. I don’t want to kill anyone.”

Specialist Joseph Hudson, who gave his number as 585650287, said “ I was told to come here. I follow orders.”. The wounded captive whose first name is Edgar, also stated that he came from Texas.

Sgt. James Riley, visibly shaking, stated that he came from New Jersey and was part of the 507th Maintenance Company and confirmed his age and date of birth. A female soldier, named Seana, confirmed her age and stated she too came from the 507th."

US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld responded to the Iraqi TV pictures by saying that the Geneva Convention prohibits photographing prisioners. He admited that a small number of US troops were missing.

The tape showed some US soldiers lying dead from gunshot wounds to the head and body.

Denouncing the decision to show the dead and captured soldiers, he said: “It seems to me that showing a few pictures on the screen, not knowing who they are and being communicated by Al-Jazeera, which is not a perfect instrument of communication, obviously is part of Iraqi propaganda.”

President Bush and his defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who have come under heavy criticism from human rights groups for America's treatment of suspected Al-Qaeda and Taliban members as "enemy combatants" - a status that strips them of all legal rights - also denounced the Iraqi media coup.

For the last two days US and British TV channels have carried footage of Iraqi soldiers being captured and being forced to kneel while they are searched.

Some US networks last night refused to air the tape. CBS showed only a few seconds while NBC broadcast none at all. CNN said its international programming would carry short clips but only a single frame in the US.

But Al Jazeera defended its decision taking a swipe at the US for citing UN conventions while waging a war with no UN backing.

"Countries all over the world should abide by all UN conventions. You can't pick and choose as you please, an official said on condition of anonymity.

"We did what our professional duty calls upon us to do. We aired news."


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Old 04-01-2003, 03:31 PM   #2
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The last part of this about the Geneva Convention is funny. Well other parts are too, but this is one of the most glaringly biased parts. The pictures of those captured by U.S. and British troops are just them being captured and led away. Also every time I have seen this, their faces are either covered or made fuzzy so their identity is not known. No questioning, no asking them questions they do not need to answer, and not showing 4 minutes of dead / executed bodies laying in heaps on the floor with nice closeups of the faces and the bullet wounds through their foreheads. Showing a man (with a big smile on his face) picking up and turning the bodies so you can see their faces.

If any of you have had the opportunity to watch the video that Al Jazeera showed, you know what I mean. If you haven't, I would recommend NOT watching it. It is horribly sick and twisted.

I'm sick that they think that was their "professional duty"

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Old 04-01-2003, 03:44 PM   #3
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I haven“t watched it; my opinion is that maybe not the video is the most sick and twisted thing, but war itself.

I thought the above articles to be quite interesting, just as another point of view that may be shared by many people in the Near East. I think this TV station is not controlled by Iraq.
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Old 04-01-2003, 03:55 PM   #4
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No, I liked to read it too, just to see the other view, so thanks for posting. I guess it still bugs me to think about that video and then for them to claim we are putting Iraqi POWs through the same treatment.... ah, that's their view I guess.
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Old 04-01-2003, 11:09 PM   #5
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Old 04-01-2003, 11:25 PM   #6
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send lawyers, guns and money...
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Old 04-02-2003, 03:43 AM   #7
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The Wanderer:

that's perfect

But i guess what Man Inside The Child ment was probably the following:

CNN shows the launch of the rockets and a vido from far away how 3/4 of the precicion bombs hit their target, al Jazeera shows where the last 1/4 of these high tech weapons hit and what they do.

Both sources are verry biased and they don't even try to show what's going on there. But it's a possibility to watch both sides of the propaganda to make up your own mind, i prefer less onesided news (like i mentioned on another thread)

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Old 04-03-2003, 03:55 AM   #8
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The Iraqi (des)information ministry told that a al Jazeera reporter has to leave the country (Tayssir Alluni) and anotherone has to stop his work (Dijar el Omari).

To protest against this al Jazeera decreses massively their Iraq-reports.

Does that make al Jazeera more credible?


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