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Torture TV: Hottest Show in Iraq Is Run by Americans

Reported by Marie Therese - May 22, 2005

On Friday [5/20/05] pretty, perky, mouthy conservative columnist Michelle Malkin hosted The O'Reilly Factor. Although Malkin, a FOX News contributor, has guested on The O'Reilly factor several times - most recently to upbraid the First Lady's racy comedy routine at the White House Correspondents Dinner - this is the first time she's hosted his show (at least since I've been watching). With FOX's ratings plummeting, especially in the younger age group (see Judy's post on this), could the "fair and balanced" channel be screen-testing new talent in hopes of recapturing the thirtysomething crowd? However, the scene-stealer of the day was her guest, Richard Miniter, who dropped a bombshell about American-run al-Iraqiya TV.

Like gay conservatives who vilify their own, Malkin is a child of immigrants who rails against immigrants. The title of her latest book pretty much says it all: In Defense of Internment: The Case for "Racial Profiling" in World War II and the War on Terror. In it she uses a few examples of betrayal on the part of Japanese-Americans in the 1940's to justify Roosevelt's policy of interning an entire population in concentration camps and then makes the leap from that to justify Bush's internment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay - which is rather like stating that, because of Columbine, all teenagers are suspect and therefore should be incarcerated in prisons thousands of miles away from home in order to protect the rest of us!

Malkin started the show by airing a segment about the release of photos of Saddam Hussein in his BVDs. Her guests were FOX News Military Analyst retired Colonel David Hunt, author of "They Just Don't Get It," and Richard Miniter, author of "Shadow War," a book that makes the now-debunked assertion that Saddam Hussein was linked to 9/11.

It was interesting to note the differences between these two guests' on-screen presence. Love him or hate him - Colonel Hunt is clearly in great physical shape and presents an image of the hardened, disciplined military man. Miniter on the other hand was baby-faced and soft in every sense of that word. One wondered if this guy has ever lifted anything in his life other than a poison pen.

Hunt argued repeatedly and vehemently that the photos showed a serious lack of discipline on the part of people running the prison. He argued that 1600 soldiers have died and 12,000 have been wounded and they didn't do it so someone could "take pictures of Saddam in his underwear." He stated "it's bad because it will make some people feel sad or feel sorry for Saddam who is a brutal dictator who needs to be tried and executed."

Miniter's response: "Look. This guy tortured and killed millions [sic] of people A few photographs of him in his underwear, embarrassing as they are, are not going to ruin his day. And frankly I think his day should be ruined. ... I think the military establishment and the Colonel are wrong. I think it's important to attack the pride of a dictator. Dictatorships are built with an aura of invincibility ... Seeing him like this makes him look humiliated, helpless and small. In other words, just like the rest of us." [N.B. I have never heard it stated anywhere that Saddam killed millions of people. Like everything else about this whole mess in Iraq, Saddam's "kill" numbers seem to rise exponentially as the popularity of the war decreases. To date, after a year of excavating mass grave sites, the Iraqi government claims but cannot substantiate that 300,000 bodies have been found. There is verification through excavated grave sites of approximately 16,000 victims of Saddam's brutality. Both the actual numbers and the Iraqi governmental numbers are a far cry from Miniter's "millions." I mention this to give you some idea about Richard Miniter's ultimate credibility as a terrorism expert.]

Throughout the segment, Malkin made it abundantly clear through tone of voice, facial expressions and the wording of her questions that she clearly agreed with Miniter and not Hunt.

Colonel Hunt argued that "you don't diminish a people" just to get the bad guy and that these photos - which show a lack of respect for the military code of conduct and a complete disregard for customs and practices of the Islamic people - will come back to haunt us later.

Miniter hemmed and hawed, trying to fudge on whether or not it really was a military source that released the photos, finally claiming that "it's entirely possible that this was released by an Iraqi worker, not by the U. S. military ..." Hunt disagreed, stating that these were clearly produced by a military security camera.

[N.B. The Sun, a British tabloid paper that first ran the photos, has stated unequivocally that a military source gave them the photos. In light of this, Miniter's arguments seem disingenuous at best. But what else do you expect from a guy who wrote a whole book trying to tie Iraq to 9/11? AT NO TIME in this segment or during this show did anyone ever acknowledge that FOX News Channel, the New York Post and The Sun (publisher of the original pictures) are all part of the same corporate conglomerate, News Corps, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch. Is it any wonder FOX viewers are ill-informed?]

Ms. Malkin jumped right in to note that the U. S. government has already released compromising pictures of Saddam Hussein having his mouth examined, etc., etc. Obviously caught in the grips of a massive memory loss about prisoner abuse, Hunt and Malkin engaged in the following exchange:

HUNT: "... One of the great things about this country and our military is we treat people with respect. We give them a court of law and they go to trial and we execute the bad guys. The Iraqis have to know this is not the way to do this."

MALKIN: "Isn't it true, Colonel, that a lot of observers of the war on terror that's been playing out over the last couple of years have said that one of America's problems is that we're too hypersensitive, we bend over backwards to pander to the sensitivities of the enemy. ..."

Miniter then dropped his bombshell with this statement: " ... Look. Saddam Hussein tortured and killed millions [sic] of people. The families of his victims are still in Iraq and they're not unhappy to see these pictures. They're happy. If you read the Iraqi press, one of the most popular programs they have is called in Arabic Terrorists in the Grip of Justice. They show people who've been - insurgents - who've been captured by Iraqi police, who've been beaten and tortured and confessed on live TV."

Apparently, the U. S. government has sidestepped questions about this program, which is currently shown on al-Iraqiya, a network still run by an American company. Originally, in 2003 occupation officials hired Harris Corp, a defense contractor located in Melbourne, Florida to run Iraq's radio, TV and newspapers under the blanket heading of Iraqi Media Network (IMN). San Diego-based defense contractor SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation is also involved in IMN.

From an article by Alexander Lynch of Alternet:

In 2003 the Bush administration gave its stamp of approval to the American mainstream media configuration when it awarded a $96 million contract to Harris Corp, a defense contractor, to run the Iraqi Media Network (IMN), al-Iraqiya. In fact, Harris Corp., which was given responsibility for al-Iraqiya's news content despite having no experience in covering news, received over $1 billion in contracts from the U.S. government during 2003. Harris Corp. has also spent millions of dollars over the years on lobbying and, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, gave 96 percent of its campaign contributions to the Republican Party during the 2004 elections.

By January 2004 the project was a dismal failure, according to an article by CorpWatch:

In the streets of Basra and Baghdad we ask people if they watch Al Iraqiya and the answer is almost invariably no. What is most surprising is that we get the same answer from people who hate Saddam Hussein and support the Americans, almost everybody gets their news from Al Jazeera or Al Arabiya.

"Al Iraqiya has no news. Just yesterday's information," is the common refrain. Chagrined reporters at the Al Iraqiya agree because of strict rules that ban them from reporting material that might incite violence.

Management says that this is simply not true. We meet with Alaa Fa'ik, an Iraqi American from Ann Arbor, Michigan, who is the second in command at the Iraqi Media Network. He is dressed casually in a sweater, with short-cropped grey hair and glasses, with a military issued badge on a blue strap hanging round his neck that identifies him as a SAIC employee.

"I am not in competition with Al Jazeera, let them do whatever they want to do. In fact most Iraqis don't have satellite dishes. Those that do found the remote control to be a new toy. Now they are returning to us because they trust us to tell the truth. Freedom has to be exercised with responsibility and we will not allow Saddam Hussein to use this as a platform," he says.

However despite the fact that not everybody can afford a satellite dish, a recent government survey that shows that one in four Iraqis watch Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya compared to less than one in ten for Al Iraqiya.

SAIC is described by CorpWatch as follows:

The company made a fortune during the dot com boom by buying Network Solutions, the Web domain name keeper, for $4.5 million in 1996 and selling it for $3.1 billion before the bubble popped.

But SAIC's biggest source of income is surveillance especially for the United States spy agencies: it is reportedly the largest recipient of contracts from the National Security Agency (NSA) and one of the top five contractors to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Some 5,000 employees (or one in eight employees) have security clearances. [Company founder J. Robert] Beyster himself has one of the highest top-secret clearances of any civilian in the country.

"We are a stealth company," Keith Nightingale, a former Army special ops officer, told a magazine named Business 2.0. "We're everywhere, but almost never seen."

Today two of SAIC's most valuable products are: TeraText and Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) data-mining programs that are used by intelligence agencies to sift the immense volumes of data they now collect by monitoring phone calls, faxes, e-mails, and other types of electronic communications.

It would seem that the solution to sagging ratings in Iraq is not hard news. It's Torture TV run by a "stealth company" affiliated with the CIA. Watching other human beings degraded and ridiculed is the time-tested way to distract the masses from thinking about their own miseries. Al-Iraqiya has emulated the Saudi Arabian model of public punishment.

Hey, who knows? If it's a big enough hit in Iraq, maybe we'll see the spin-off here. We could call it "Pinhead Liberals in the Grips of Justice."

Will Americans soon be able to sit at home and watch loathsome liberals with swollen lips and blackened eyes who've been waterboarded, sleep-deprived, chased by dogs, stripped naked, forced to sleep in their own feces and interrogated for hours on end (without benefit of counsel) grovel on the floor in front of FBI interrogators, begging forgiveness and confessing their love and loyalty to George Bush before being sentenced to labor camps or the execution block?

I wonder who the Administration would like to see as the first bomb-throwing, pinhead, elitist, left-wing, anti-American "guest" on American Torture TV?

Hillary? Teddy? Howard? Jesse? Dan? Jacques? Kofi? You? Me?

The host of the show would have to be someone above reproach, confident in his or her moral purity, an upstanding Christian of impeccable reputation and unwavering certitude! The possibilities are endless!

Who would you hire? Ann Coulter? Michelle Malkin? These women certainly project the hard-edged unavailability of the dominating Christocentric female. Sean Hannity? Bill O'Reilly? Rush Limbaugh? Geraldo Rivera? These stalwart red-blooded American males would clearly not flinch at the sight of blood.

What are your ideas?

Who should host "Pinhead Liberals in the Grips of Justice"? Can you think of a better title for this spin-off? What "guests" would you like to see?

Or, on a more serious note, how do you feel about Iraq's American-run Torture TV? Good idea? Bad idea? Are you indifferent? Why?

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