Tuesday, May 11, 2004

of course the top story for today (or the only one anyone's paying attention to today) is the brutal beheading of american freelancer nick berg (i have to comment briefly just because of his name). the video is on the net; the story is everywhere (although no western media will actually link to or name the site where it was posted... nor will any of them [not even the much-hated al jazeera] show the actual video.. at most they'll show calm excerpts or photos).

white houseboy scott mclellan says

"It shows the true nature of the enemies of freedom. They have no regard for the lives of innocent men, women and children. We will pursue those who are responsible and bring them to justice."

predictably, one video of them doing bad "shows their true nature" but the countless photos of us soldiers doing bad are "the actions of a few". granted, this beheading is a horrific inexcusable crime and more extreme than any of the abu ghraib photos that have been released (so far? there are apparently 1200 more out there), but it's interesting to watch the propaganda in action.

speaking of which, some conservatives have convinced themselves that this beheading video somehow "proves" that the abu ghraib torture story is not a big deal, because the beatings, rape, psychological torture, and possibly manslaughter (if not murder) that are alleged to have taken place there are somehow morally less evil than the ghastly murder and decapitation of mr berg. even if it "less evil", that's totally missing the point of why abu ghraib is a big story anyway: that the u.s.'s justifications for this war all revolved around our supposed moral superiority, & our reuse of saddam's torture & "rape rooms" undermines that.

but far more interesting than what some reactionaries or nuts on message boards might say is what salon has to say about the effect of tech on war journalism:

There was a time, early in the invasion, when it seemed as if the American government might exercise near-perfect control over what we saw of the battlefield, and that no horrific pictures from the war would ever leak out. But in the last few weeks, with the publication of leaked pictures of returning caskets, tortured Iraqis, and now Nick Berg's slaughter, all of the controls the government had hoped to place on images from war seem to have completely failed. Digital technology -- the cameras and laptops carried by the soldiers and the contractors in Iraq, and the ability of our enemies to access the same communications technology -- has brought us a newer, far less palatable picture of what's going on in Iraq.

another tale of guerilla diy journalism, enabled by cheap digital cameras & the internet, circumventing even the strictest media controls.

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