Opinion » Ted Rall

Half the Story

No context, but propaganda is amusing

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Remember Baghdad Bob? Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, Iraq's information minister during the 2003 U.S. invasion, kept denying reality, insisting that Saddam's regime was winning even as attacking tanks appeared in the background of his camera shots. I had a Baghdad Bob flashback moment earlier this week while listening to NPR's afternoon news program All Things Considered.

"President Obama toured the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington today joined by Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. Mr. Obama said the U.S. must never again allow such atrocities to take place," said Melissa Block.

The implication is that Barack Obama cares about protecting innocent people from state-run mass murder. But the United States is the world's leading perpetrator of atrocities.

American wars against Afghanistan and Iraq have slaughtered at least 2 million people and injured many millions more. The United States maintains a network of "black site" secret prisons and concentration camps around the world. Obama claims the right to assassinate anyone, including U.S. citizens, anywhere in the world. We're the No. 1 arms dealer on the planet. And as a British newspaper has learned, the military maintains dozens of secret drone bases here inside the United States, for future use against the enemies of our increasingly oppressive police state.

The report included an Obama sound bite: "And when innocents suffer, it tears at our conscience. Elie alluded to what we feel as we see the Syrian people subjected to unspeakable violence simply for demanding their universal rights. We have to do everything we can."

Well, not all innocents, right, Mr. President? Like, we're not supposed to lose sleep over the thousands of detainees at Guantanamo, Bagram, Diego Garcia and more.

In the same report, Don Gonyea let loose this howler: "Mr. Obama announced new sanctions against nations that commit grave human rights abuses through technology that includes cellphone tracking and monitoring citizens on the Internet."

From the San Francisco Chronicle: "The president took aim at Syria and Iran, whose leaders have tapped compliant phone companies and Internet services to hunt down dissenters." Reading that, you could almost forget that Obama voted for FISA, which retroactively legalized George W. Bush's illegal domestic wiretapping program, which was carried out by the National Security Agency and compliant phone companies such as AT&T. FISA also radically expanded the government's right to listen to your phone calls and intercept your email without a warrant.

Obama's own commission of "grave human rights abuses through technology that includes cellphone tracking and monitoring citizens on the Internet" is context worth mentioning in a story about Obama imposing sanctions on other countries that do the same things. Maybe: "Mr. Obama, whose administration vigorously asserts its right to track Americans' cellphones and track them on the Internet, announced sanctions against other countries that do the same thing."

They wouldn't be telling us anything we didn't already know. But as ignorant and stupid as the American public is, the media thinks we're even stupider and more ignorant.

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