More fake balance from NYT

Sat, 30 Oct 1999 =========Iraq Action Coalition ======== ======= To subscribe, send an e-mail to "[email protected]" with 'subscribe iac-list' in the body of the message ================================================================== This New York Times article is a great example of false "balance" and misreporting on Iraq. My comments are interspersed in the text and denoted by [***square parentheses with asterisks]. Ali Abunimah [email protected] *********************************** The New York Times October 29, 1999, Friday, Late Edition - Final HEADLINE: U.N. Council Shelves Proposal on Upgrading Iraq Oil Industry BYLINE: By BARBARA CROSSETTE DATELINE: UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 28 BODY: A recommendation by Secretary General Kofi Annan that Iraq be allowed to double the amount it may spend on upgrading its oil industry was shelved by the Security Council today, somewhat to the surprise of the United States and Britain, which were prepared for a spirited debate with France and Russia over the request. France's representative, Alain Dejammet, said in an interview afterward that his Government still considered it "quite reasonable" to allow Iraq to spend an additional $300 million on oil spare parts in the current six-month period of the "oil for food" program. But he added that the French did not want to provoke more controversy while the Council was trying to devise a new arms monitoring system for Iraq. Other diplomats said the Russians had also agreed to put off consideration of the proposal until next month, when the Security Council will debate the next six-month phase of the program under which Iraq is to sell limited amounts of oil to pay for urgent civilian needs. Iraqis are earning record amounts because of the high price of oil. The Council was briefed on the program today by Benon Sevan, the overall director of civilian operations in Iraq, and Carol Bellamy, executive director of Unicef, the children's fund, who has just returned from a visit to Baghdad. [***Note how no mention is made of UNICEF's big report in September which found a doubling of child mortality in Iraq. But read on...] Mr. Annan proposed to the Council this month that Iraq be allowed to spend $600 million of the money gained in controlled oil sales. He based his recommendation on advice from independent experts who say Iraq's oil industry is fraught with worker safety and environmental hazards. The Iraqis made the same request. The United States questions whether the extra money would upgrade equipment strictly related to the permitted pumping programs, or might go to other projects. Mr. Annan and his Iraqi experts have criticized holds that Washington and London have placed on other contracts that Iraq presented for buying goods for public utilities and other services to the population. [***Note how the report says only that UN Secretary General Annan and his staff "have criticized" the US and Britain but does not say anything about the substance of his criticism. For instance, The Washington Post on October 25 quoted Annan saying that United States "is disrupting the operation" of the U.N. oil-for-food program; that "I think one should be transparent and not withhold some of these items unreasonably because it undermines our professed desire to help alleviate the suffering of the Iraqi people." Finally Annan says boldly, "I think the U.S. national policy on Iraq goes beyond what the [U.N. Security] Council has mandated." This is heavy stuff, especially from the understated Mr. Annan.] Mr. Sevan said today that many of those holds occur because not enough technical information accompanies applications to the Council's Iraqi sanctions committee, or because some companies have a track record of trying to help Iraq evade restrictions in the past. [***While Annan's views are reported in the most general and unspecific terms, Benon Sevan's explanation, which effectively excuses the United States is reported in full. Sevan has been strongly criticized for essentially rationalizing US actions, by persons such as Denis Halliday, the former head of the UN's relief operations in Iraq. Hence, by omitting Annan's criticisms and including Sevan's explanations, we are led by the nose to the untrue conclusion that US holds on contracts are simply "technical" and not political motivated.] Peter Burleigh, who has managed the Iraq issue for the United States on the Security Council this week while Richard C. Holbrooke, the chief American representative, has been in Washington fighting for Congressional action on American dues to the United Nations, told reporters after the Council meeting today that "the world knows that Iraq has a demonstrated commitment to both sustaining and possibly rebuilding their weapons of mass destruction." "I went into some detail about the reasons why the U.S. puts a hold on various contracts," Mr. Burleigh said. "There are a variety of reasons, first and foremost concern about potential dual-use items -- dual use in having both a civilian and a military potential use." "We go over every contract with that question in mind," he added. American diplomats have in effect made the contract review process a partial replacement for monitoring the disposition of certain flagged imports on the ground by weapons inspectors, who have not worked in Iraq since December. [***Again, if Mr. Burleigh's rationalizations can be reported, why are Mr. Annans' opinions left out. Surely they are relevant.] Ms. Bellamy said that on her trip to Iraq, she saw great hardships, "but I didn't view a country about to collapse." [***This is really the clincher. Bellamy's agency, UNICEF, found a doubling of child mortality in Iraq. You would think that contextual information would be juztaposed with this tiny little comment, whose context and meaning we cannot judge. Clearly the selectivity of the quote is again designed to lead us to believe that while things in Iraq may be bad, we should not worry too much. Disgusting.] Ali Abunimah [email protected]