AMERICA'S BEST KEPT SECRET
The most powerful forces in Desert Storm were not the bombs or
missiles dropped on Iraq. Without firing a shot, the U.S. media
ensured the destruction of Iraq. Their acquiescence to U.S. government
demands stopped all discussion of a negotiated settlement of the
crisis. Schwarzkopf said it all on the day after the cease-fire. At a
press conference, he laughed as he told the journalists, "You printed
everything just the way we said it."
If the media tried to find the truth, or gave both sides a chance to
be heard, there is a possibility that there would have never been a
Desert Storm. The U.S. public had no idea of why Iraq went into
Kuwait, or the history of the area. To this day, because of biased
media coverage, the American public, for the most part, thinks Saddam
Hussein was attempting to take over the world.
During Desert Shield, the buildup to the massacre, there was much talk
about impending military action. For months, we heard many voices,
however, those who supported military action dominated the debate.
Occasionally, an opponent of a military solution was given a chance to
speak, but the message was usually negated by the opposition and the
moderators of radio and TV shows.
Politicians were allowed to tell the U.S. public outrageous lies about
the situation. The press was remiss in challenging these untruths, so
more and bigger lies followed. The media, the military, politicians
and administration officials were exempt from having to tell the truth.
It would take thousands of pages to chronicle the deficiencies of the
media in their lapdog role during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, but
one portion of history was totally ignored by the U.S. press — former
U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark's formation of a war crimes
tribunal and the following trial and judgement against the U.S.
In February 1991, Ramsey Clark visited Iraq during the height of
allied bombing. He did not see a pretty sight. Clark returned with
much videotape and tales of horror of Iraq's civilian population being
bombed, despite the U.S. government's denial. No videotape was shown
on U.S. television and Clark's message went unheard and unseen.
Shortly after the cease-fire, Clark formed a Commission of Inquiry to
travel to Iraq to see if there was enough evidence to put the U.S.
government on trial for war crimes and crimes against peace. The
Commission found a wealth of evidence and returned to the U.S.
For the next nine months, Clark and various members of the Commission
traveled worldwide to gather further evidence of war crimes. The
results were overwhelming. People came forward to give evidence of
atrocities perpetrated against Iraq's population, its military, the
environment, and citizens of other countries. Whenever the Commission
took evidence, whether in Europe, Asia, Africa or the Middle East, the
media of many countries were in attendance. Despite the large
attendance at meetings, the U.S. media were absent.
On February 29, 1992, in New York City, the International War Crimes
Tribunal convened to try George Bush, Dan Qualye, James Baker, Dick
Cheney, William Webster, Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf and others
on 19 charges of crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and
other criminal acts and high crimes. The Martin Luther King High
School auditorium was filled to capacity (more than 1,500) and many
others lined up outside to hear the proceedings over loudspeakers. The
broadcast media of various countries carried the trial live, but,
despite the attendance and international coverage, the event was
totally ignored by the U.S. press.
The panel consisted of 21 people from assorted countries and it ruled
on the following 19 counts:
The U.S. engaged in a pattern of conduct beginning in or before 1989
intended to lead Iraq into provocations justifying U.S. military
action against Iraq and permanent U.S. military domination of the Gulf.
President Bush from August 2, 1990, intended to prevent any
interference to his plan to destroy Iraq militarily and economically.
President Bush ordered the destruction of facilities essential to
civilian life and economic productivity in Iraq.
The U.S. intentionally bombed and destroyed civilian life, commercial
and business districts, schools, hospitals, mosques, churches,
shelters, residential areas, historical sites, private vehicles and
civilian government offices.
The U.S. intentionally bombed indiscriminately throughout Iraq.
The U.S. intentionally bombed and destroyed Iraqi personnel, used
excessive force, killed soldiers seeking to surrender and in
disorganized flight, often unarmed and far from any combat zones and
randomly and wantonly killed Iraqi soldiers and destroyed materiel
after the cease-fire.
The U.S. used prohibited weapons capable of mass destruction and
inflicting indiscriminate death and unnecessary suffering against both
military and civilian targets. [Clark is referring to uranium weapons,
or depleted uranium (DU).]
The U.S. intentionally attacked installations in Iraq containing
dangerous substances and forces.
President Bush ordered U.S. forces to invade Panama resulting in the
deaths of 1,000 to 4,000 Panamanians and the destruction of thousands
of private dwellings, public buildings and commercial structures.
President Bush obstructed justice and corrupted United Nations
functions as a means of power to commit crimes against peace and war
President Bush usurped the Constitutional power of Congress as a means
of securing power to commit crimes against peace, war crimes and other
The U.S. waged war on the environment.
President Bush encouraged and aided Shi'ite Muslims and Kurds to rebel
against the government of Iraq causing fratricidal violence,
emigration, exposure, hunger and sickness, and thousands of deaths.
After the rebellion failed, the U.S. invaded and occupied parts of
Iraq without authority in order to increase division and hostility
President Bush intentionally deprived the Iraqi people of essential
medicine, potable water, food and other necessities.
The U.S. continued its assault on Iraq after the cease-fire, invading
and occupying at will.
The U.S. has violated and condoned violations of human rights, civil
liberties and the U.S. Bill of Rights in the U.S., in Kuwait, Saudi
Arabia and elsewhere to achieve its purpose of military domination.
The U.S., having destroyed Iraq's economic base, demands reparations
which will permanently impoverish Iraq and threaten its people with
famine and epidemic.
President Bush systematically manipulated, controlled, directed,
misinformed and restricted press and media coverage to obtain constant
support in the media for his military and political goals.
The U.S. has by force secured a permanent military presence in the
Gulf, the control of its oil resources and geopolitical domination of
the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf region.
When the trial concluded, there was a verdict. According to the
Commission of Inquiry for the International War Crimes Tribunal:
The Tribunal panel concluded an afternoon of testimony by finding U.S.
President George Bush and his associates and allies guilty of war
crimes, crimes against peace and crimes against humanity. They based
this decision on clear violations of international law. The Tribunal
panelists included internationally-known civil rights activists, legal
workers and freedom fighters. Some have served in the governments of
their countries, others in prisons; some have done both. They reflect
a diversity of cultures, nationalities and ideologies. When it came
time to vote a judgement, they were unanimous. The crowd broke into
shouting and applause as Attorney Deborah Jackson of the U.S. read the
verdict: Guilty on all 19 counts of war crimes.
How could a trial held in the U.S. against the U.S. government be
ignored by the press? The subject matter alone should have piqued the
media's curiosity. The blackout was not due to lack of notice from the
International War Crimes Tribunal — many press releases were sent and
many phone calls were made in an attempt to gain publicity.
I tried to discover why there was a lack of coverage. First, I talked
to Irv Cass, news director of Channel 39, and NBC affiliate in San
Diego, California. He explained, "There could be a variety of reasons
why we didn't cover it. We get news from a variety of sources, such as
AP, NBC Network and CNN."
Could AP (Associated Press), the agency from which thousands of
television stations, radio stations, and newspapers gain their
information be the culprit? According to Adrianne Weil Parks of the AP
office in New York, the AP has a clean record on this issue. She said,
"Sure. I put all their (Tribunal) stuff on the wire. Believe me, I've
put them out."
Three major wire services (AP, UPI and Reuters) were given much
information from the Tribunal. UPI admitted to receiving the
information, but could not verify if it was sent over the wires.
Reuters did send the story. According to Art Spiegleman of Reuters,
"We sent out the story a couple of days before it (the trial) took place."
At least two of the three major wire services announced the War Crimes
Tribunal, leaving the media one less excuse for not running the story.
Paul Ahuja was the press director for the Tribunal. He mentioned some
publications that did not cover the story because of its controversial
nature. Ahuja recalled a conversation with Sidney Schanberg of Newsday
in which Schanberg told him, "I can't cover this story. I'd get fired."
The New York Times was just as squeamish. Staff at the publication
told Ahuja, "This story is editorial suicide."
Ramsey Clark was critical of the press coverage of Desert Storm and
the lack of coverage of the Tribunal. He said, "The press has totally
defaulted. It began with Grenada." His reference of Grenada alluded to
the U.S. government's blackout of press coverage of the invasion of
the island by U.S. forces in 1983. Clark added, "They (the press)
complained for a while, but they soon forgot."
During Desert Storm, Clark was vocal about his opposition; however, he
and many other opponents were totally shut out by the media. Clark
said, "The press led the American people to celebrate a slaughter."
Clark called the media remiss in attempting to get the facts. He stated:
The morning of January 15, 1991 was the saddest moment for American
journalism. There, at the cashier's desk (at the Al-Rashid Hotel in
Baghdad), checking out were the journalists. Here you have the press,
whose duty it was to cover the facts for the public, checking out.
According to Clark, the journalists used the excuse of imminent danger
for their exit. He said, "It's like a fireman saying, `Hell, that's a
big fire. I'm not going in there.'"
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