If there are no pictures, did anything happen?
One of the unfortunate consequences of the kerfuffle over the snapshots from Abu Ghraib was that it alerted the Pentagon to the necessity of making sure no un-authorized pictures got out of Iraq depicting the truly brutal aspects of the invasion and occupation.
It wasn't easy, especially since, in addition to embedded reporters and news photographers, the troops had been outfitted with all kinds of camera equipment in their vehicles and even on their helmets. It's my guess the idea was to save time and man-hours on after-action reports by creating contemporaneous video and audio recordings. No doubt this provided a boon to U.S. electronic equipment makers, who are always looking for a guaranteed market and, preferably, a territorial monopoly.
But, what seems to have worked to the Pentagon's advantage was that the embedded media provided a convenient cover. All that was necessary was to make sure that all transmissions out of the country were first vetted by a censor, so no information that might interfere with operations (especially against the civilian population numbering in the millions) was disseminated either within or outside the country, leading the American public to conclude that, since there were no disturbing pictures, nothing significant was going on. Not only had the mission been accomplished in record time, but the whole operation was going swimmingly. That the only thing swimming was garbage in the streets and dead bodies in the rivers didn't show up on their TVs.
There were a few unembeded journalists in Iraq from the start. Dahr Jamail, an Alaska native, was one of them. Jamail is now employed by Al Jazeera, the Qatari network George W. Bush wanted to bomb because it showed footage of civilians killed in the siege of Fallujah, and he's being interviewed as part of the ten year anniversary of the start of the Iraq misadventure.
The interview with Democracy Now was in two parts, but I want to focus on the second half where the consequences of the use of depleted uranium munitions in Fallujah are still being seen in a crisis of birth defects, greater than that associated with dropping the nuclear bombs on Japan.
Should these pictures be believed? Well, since there was already an epidemic of birth defects after the first Gulf War, where those munitions were also used, the pictures are not new. If Dahr makes a point of the rate of their occurrence, it's likely because earlier evidence was dismissed as normal when pregnancies are carried to term, instead of being surgically removed prematurely.
There's a more contemporary interview with reporters on the siege of Fallujah from 2006, but the code doesn't embed on Kos. I suggest you check it out. The reporters talk about being targeted by U.S. snipers and their removal from Fallujah being a condition for ending the military siege. Imagine the Pentagon insisting the shelling of the city won't stop unless the reporters leave. Is that the truth? Who knows? It would be a good question to ask if Congress ever has a hearing on the siege of Fallujah, where 600 people were killed because they were wearing civilian clothing and as small as children.
Al Jazeera has bought itself access to the U.S. market because all of the networks boycotted carrying their programming and streaming over the internet only reaches a small audience. While Al Jazeera is going to prove a serious competitor when it comes to quality programming, one has to wonder how much of the resistance on the part of some politicians is connected to the fear that truth will out. Laif Mushtaq alone claims to have shot fifty-five hours of video of the siege of Fallujah. That's an awful lot!