Posts tagged with ‘iraq’

Charging any individual with the extremely grave offense of ‘aiding the enemy’ on the basis of nothing beyond the fact that the individual posted leaked information on the web and thereby ‘knowingly gave intelligence information’ to whoever could gain access to it there, does indeed seem to break dangerous new ground.

Laurence Tribe, professor, Harvard Law School, to The Guardian. Bradley Manning trial ‘dangerous’ for civil liberties – experts.

The News: The trial of Bradley Manning begins today. The US soldier leaked hundreds of thousands of battlefield reports and diplomatic cables to Wikileaks in 2009 and 2010, and has plead guilty to ten of the 22 charges brought against him.

The most serious charge though is that Manning knowingly aided the enemy. If found guilty, he faces life in military prison.

The 10th anniversary this month of the invasion of Iraq will remind most people of a divisive and dubious war that toppled Saddam Hussein but claimed the lives of nearly 4,500 Americans and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians.

What it conjures up for me is the media’s greatest failure in modern times.

Major news organizations aided and abetted the Bush administration’s march to war on what turned out to be faulty premises. All too often, skepticism was checked at the door, and the shaky claims of top officials and unnamed sources were trumpeted as fact.

Howard Kurtz, host, CNN’s Reliable Sources, Media’s failure on Iraq still stings.

Ten years is a long time, so for a quick refresher on what the press did and didn’t do at the time, take a look at this 2008 article by Dan Froomkin in the Nieman Watchdog Project.

Why Yes, That is Katie Couric on a Billboard in Baghdad
The Iraqi Electricity Ministry is issuing five minute daily news bulletins about the state of the day’s electricty. The unauthorized face of the campaign: Katie Couric.
Via the New York Times:

At more than two dozen locations around this city, officials have posted giant billboards of Ms. Couric, billed as “America’s Sweetheart” during her time as a host of the “Today” show on NBC. From high above the steamy streets, or from the side of blast walls, Ms. Couric beams out at passers-by in an advertisement for a daily news bulletin about electricity that is produced by the government and is shown on 11 satellite television channels.
“It doesn’t give me hope about electricity, but I like to see her beautiful face,” Habib Harbi, who sells watermelon in the summer and sweets in the winter, said as he looked across the street at the billboard from his fruit stand…
“We were looking for a bright and optimistic face that inspires the people to imagine a better future for electricity,” said Musaab al-Mudarrs, the spokesman for the Electricity Ministry, who said designers had plucked Ms. Couric’s image from the Internet…
Mr. Mudarrs said the face of an American woman was sought for the campaign because showcasing an Iraqi woman would violate cultural taboos. And Ms. Couric, he said, was dressed appropriately in the picture — she was wearing a brown Max Mara blazer — and was the right age. “We didn’t want someone to be very old or very young, and she was in the middle,” he said. Mr. Mudarrs did say he was a bit worried that “when she finds out, maybe she will file a lawsuit against us.”

Katie Couric: Not too old, not too young and dressed just right.
Couric tells the Times there will be no lawsuits but the billboards are “bizarre and slightly amusing.”
New York Times, Putting a Megawatt Smile on a Simmering Problem.

Why Yes, That is Katie Couric on a Billboard in Baghdad

The Iraqi Electricity Ministry is issuing five minute daily news bulletins about the state of the day’s electricty. The unauthorized face of the campaign: Katie Couric.

Via the New York Times:

At more than two dozen locations around this city, officials have posted giant billboards of Ms. Couric, billed as “America’s Sweetheart” during her time as a host of the “Today” show on NBC. From high above the steamy streets, or from the side of blast walls, Ms. Couric beams out at passers-by in an advertisement for a daily news bulletin about electricity that is produced by the government and is shown on 11 satellite television channels.

“It doesn’t give me hope about electricity, but I like to see her beautiful face,” Habib Harbi, who sells watermelon in the summer and sweets in the winter, said as he looked across the street at the billboard from his fruit stand…

“We were looking for a bright and optimistic face that inspires the people to imagine a better future for electricity,” said Musaab al-Mudarrs, the spokesman for the Electricity Ministry, who said designers had plucked Ms. Couric’s image from the Internet…

Mr. Mudarrs said the face of an American woman was sought for the campaign because showcasing an Iraqi woman would violate cultural taboos. And Ms. Couric, he said, was dressed appropriately in the picture — she was wearing a brown Max Mara blazer — and was the right age. “We didn’t want someone to be very old or very young, and she was in the middle,” he said. Mr. Mudarrs did say he was a bit worried that “when she finds out, maybe she will file a lawsuit against us.”

Katie Couric: Not too old, not too young and dressed just right.

Couric tells the Times there will be no lawsuits but the billboards are “bizarre and slightly amusing.”

New York Times, Putting a Megawatt Smile on a Simmering Problem.

What WikiLeaks Means for the News

In April 2010, WikiLeaks released a video showing U.S. soldiers killing Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists from a helicopter. In a fragmented news world, what significance did this have as a media event? 

Gabriella Coleman, Assistant Professor and Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University, discusses what WikiLeaks means in a contemporary news environment. 

BBC Syria Coverage Uses Wrong Photo from Wrong Country and Wrong Year
The BBC published the photo above yesterday to illustrate the massacres taking place in Houla, Syria.
Problem is, the photo was taken by Marco di Lauro south of Baghdad in 2003.
Via the Telegraph:

Mr di Lauro, who works for Getty Images picture agency and has been published by newspapers across the US and Europe, said: “I went home at 3am and I opened the BBC page which had a front page story about what happened in Syria and I almost felt off from my chair.
“One of my pictures from Iraq was used by the BBC web site as a front page illustration claiming that those were the bodies of yesterday’s massacre in Syria and that the picture was sent by an activist.
“Instead the picture was taken by me and it’s on my web site, on the feature section regarding a story I did In Iraq during the war called Iraq, the aftermath of Saddam. “What I am really astonished by is that a news organization like the BBC doesn’t check the sources and it’s willing to publish any picture sent it by anyone: activist, citizen journalist or whatever. That’s all.”
He added he was less concerned about an apology or the use of image without consent, adding: “What is amazing it’s that a news organization has a picture proving a massacre that happened yesterday in Syria and instead it’s a picture that was taken in 2003 of a totally different massacre.”

FJP Pro Tip: a reverse image search could have flagged this photo in seconds. Where to do it? We use Google Image Search (instead of typing a search term in the text box select the camera icon which allows you to either enter the URL of an image or upload one) and Tineye (the process is the same).
Image: An Iraqi girl jumps over body bags containing skeletons found in the desert south of Baghdad. Marco di Lauro, 2003.

BBC Syria Coverage Uses Wrong Photo from Wrong Country and Wrong Year

The BBC published the photo above yesterday to illustrate the massacres taking place in Houla, Syria.

Problem is, the photo was taken by Marco di Lauro south of Baghdad in 2003.

Via the Telegraph:

Mr di Lauro, who works for Getty Images picture agency and has been published by newspapers across the US and Europe, said: “I went home at 3am and I opened the BBC page which had a front page story about what happened in Syria and I almost felt off from my chair.

“One of my pictures from Iraq was used by the BBC web site as a front page illustration claiming that those were the bodies of yesterday’s massacre in Syria and that the picture was sent by an activist.

“Instead the picture was taken by me and it’s on my web site, on the feature section regarding a story I did In Iraq during the war called Iraq, the aftermath of Saddam. “What I am really astonished by is that a news organization like the BBC doesn’t check the sources and it’s willing to publish any picture sent it by anyone: activist, citizen journalist or whatever. That’s all.”

He added he was less concerned about an apology or the use of image without consent, adding: “What is amazing it’s that a news organization has a picture proving a massacre that happened yesterday in Syria and instead it’s a picture that was taken in 2003 of a totally different massacre.”

FJP Pro Tip: a reverse image search could have flagged this photo in seconds. Where to do it? We use Google Image Search (instead of typing a search term in the text box select the camera icon which allows you to either enter the URL of an image or upload one) and Tineye (the process is the same).

Image: An Iraqi girl jumps over body bags containing skeletons found in the desert south of Baghdad. Marco di Lauro, 2003.

newsweek:

A Strange Animal: The U.S. troops are leaving, but the journalists are staying in Iraq, working under deadlines and death threats. In a short documentary special for Newsweek & The Daily Beast, filmmaker Richard Pendry reveals the new techniques — more John LeCarre than J-school — reporters have devised to get the story in Iraq. Fascinating viewing for anyone interested in the intersection of war, conflict, and journalism.

FJP: Well worth the five minutes for anyone curious about conflict reporting.

Michael Kamber reflects on his eight years photographing the Iraq War:

A picture of a mother wailing over her dead child has enormous power. A photo of another mother wailing over another dead child the following day has less power — if an editor can be persuaded to publish it again. Multiply this by hundreds of car bombings and hundreds of grieving mothers — though each is certainly suffering unspeakable pain — and one quickly sees the limitations at the nexus of photojournalism, editorial realities and what the American public wants to see.
For me and my colleagues, we nonetheless felt the duty to bear witness for those back home. Michael Herr wrote that Vietnam was what many journalists of his era had in place of happy childhoods. Iraq was like that for me. Photographing this war was probably the single definitive event of my life.
Day after day, year after year, I went out on patrols, chased down car bombs, snuck into hospitals and morgues.
If it sounds like an adventure, it wasn’t. You can’t have an adventure when you’re as terrified as I was — as many of us were. Soldiers, civilians and our colleagues were killed around us as we worked. Death became normal; a lost limb was a lucky break. On days off, I huddled in my room at the bureau, listening to Katyusha rockets scream overhead, praying they would not fall short as they crashed into the Green Zone just across the river.

Image: May 2004, a mother looks for her son near Abu Ghraib prison, by Michael Kamber. 

Michael Kamber reflects on his eight years photographing the Iraq War:

A picture of a mother wailing over her dead child has enormous power. A photo of another mother wailing over another dead child the following day has less power — if an editor can be persuaded to publish it again. Multiply this by hundreds of car bombings and hundreds of grieving mothers — though each is certainly suffering unspeakable pain — and one quickly sees the limitations at the nexus of photojournalism, editorial realities and what the American public wants to see.

For me and my colleagues, we nonetheless felt the duty to bear witness for those back home. Michael Herr wrote that Vietnam was what many journalists of his era had in place of happy childhoods. Iraq was like that for me. Photographing this war was probably the single definitive event of my life.

Day after day, year after year, I went out on patrols, chased down car bombs, snuck into hospitals and morgues.

If it sounds like an adventure, it wasn’t. You can’t have an adventure when you’re as terrified as I was — as many of us were. Soldiers, civilians and our colleagues were killed around us as we worked. Death became normal; a lost limb was a lucky break. On days off, I huddled in my room at the bureau, listening to Katyusha rockets scream overhead, praying they would not fall short as they crashed into the Green Zone just across the river.

Image: May 2004, a mother looks for her son near Abu Ghraib prison, by Michael Kamber

Wikileaks Broke, Will Stop Publishing →

View ReadWriteWeb:

Days after the announcement that the US troops would be withdrawn from Iraq, Wikileaks announced today that it will cease publication of new leaked documents to focus on rebuilding its finances.

The organization alleges that Bank of America, VISA, MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union have refused to process or withheld 95% of the attempted donations from the public to Wikileaks. Wikileaks will now focus its energy on rallying supporters to make financial donations through the limited channels still available.

What’s the relationship between Wikileaks and a US troop pullout from Iraq?

US-Iraq relationship were strained with the release of a US diplomatic cable via Wikileaks that outlined the execution of Iraqi citizens at the hands of US soldiers. 

Startup Photo Agency Highlights Iraqi Photographers’ Work
Photojournalists Kamaran Najm and Sebastian Meyer recently launched Metrography, a photo agency that now represents the work of 65 Iraqi photojournalists.
Speaking to Wired, Meyer explains the agency’s origins:

Kamaran Najm, a Kurdish photographer, started Metrography in 2009 while he was working as a photo editor for an Iraqi news magazine. He was looking for photographs and realized there was no central place to go for images from Iraq. So he decided to start one. Kamaran and I had been friends since 2008 and when I moved to Iraq in 2009 he asked me if I’d help him with Metrography. The first year was slow going, mainly because we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do. We dabbled in stock imagery and tried our hand at breaking news, but we eventually realized that we could do something much more important, namely to create a culture of photojournalistic storytelling in Iraq.
To that end we’re focusing more on running workshops and trainings so Iraqi photographers can learn how to shoot at the level demanded by Western clients. We leave the breaking news—for the most part—to the wire agencies which do an excellent job and we focus on the features, portraits, and intimate stories.

Image: An Arab migrant worker stands in the corridor of the Asia Hotel in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq. Photo by Ahmed Al Husseini.

Startup Photo Agency Highlights Iraqi Photographers’ Work

Photojournalists Kamaran Najm and Sebastian Meyer recently launched Metrography, a photo agency that now represents the work of 65 Iraqi photojournalists.

Speaking to Wired, Meyer explains the agency’s origins:

Kamaran Najm, a Kurdish photographer, started Metrography in 2009 while he was working as a photo editor for an Iraqi news magazine. He was looking for photographs and realized there was no central place to go for images from Iraq. So he decided to start one. Kamaran and I had been friends since 2008 and when I moved to Iraq in 2009 he asked me if I’d help him with Metrography. The first year was slow going, mainly because we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do. We dabbled in stock imagery and tried our hand at breaking news, but we eventually realized that we could do something much more important, namely to create a culture of photojournalistic storytelling in Iraq.

To that end we’re focusing more on running workshops and trainings so Iraqi photographers can learn how to shoot at the level demanded by Western clients. We leave the breaking news—for the most part—to the wire agencies which do an excellent job and we focus on the features, portraits, and intimate stories.

Image: An Arab migrant worker stands in the corridor of the Asia Hotel in Sulaimaniyah, Iraq. Photo by Ahmed Al Husseini.

Benjamin Lowy has photographed conflict zones from Iraq, to Darfur to Afghanistan. His upcoming book, Iraq | Perspectives, is coming out this fall.
In an interview with Jörg Colberg, Lowy describes a series of photos taken from inside a Humvee:

Originally I began shooting out my car window because, at the time, it was the only way to photograph the Iraqi “street.” It was too dangerous to just simply walk. But I began shooting out these windows, mostly because my mother kept asking me what Iraq was like. What Baghdad was like. The only pictures she saw from me or other journalists were embeds, raids, bombs sites, and hospitals. So this was my attempt to photograph something different, to show her, to show people in the West, a different Iraq. At the same time, the framing mechanism of the window itself became part of the picture, it became a metaphor for the barrier between our worlds.

The interview itself is a recommended longread. In it, Lowry discusses the pressures of career and family when conflict zones are your place of work, what it means to be embedded and his perspective on the Iraq war in general.
Interview | Lowy’s site.

Benjamin Lowy has photographed conflict zones from Iraq, to Darfur to Afghanistan. His upcoming book, Iraq | Perspectives, is coming out this fall.

In an interview with Jörg Colberg, Lowy describes a series of photos taken from inside a Humvee:

Originally I began shooting out my car window because, at the time, it was the only way to photograph the Iraqi “street.” It was too dangerous to just simply walk. But I began shooting out these windows, mostly because my mother kept asking me what Iraq was like. What Baghdad was like. The only pictures she saw from me or other journalists were embeds, raids, bombs sites, and hospitals. So this was my attempt to photograph something different, to show her, to show people in the West, a different Iraq. At the same time, the framing mechanism of the window itself became part of the picture, it became a metaphor for the barrier between our worlds.

The interview itself is a recommended longread. In it, Lowry discusses the pressures of career and family when conflict zones are your place of work, what it means to be embedded and his perspective on the Iraq war in general.

Interview | Lowy’s site.

Robert Capa once said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough,” and generations of journalists have followed his maxim. But the opposite can also be true: the farther away you are, the better you can see.