NYTimes.com Article: The News We Kept to Ourselves

khare at alumni.caltech.edu khare at alumni.caltech.edu
Fri Apr 11 20:25:17 PDT 2003

This article from NYTimes.com 
has been sent to you by khare at alumni.caltech.edu.

This is an *extraordinary* confessional. It is oddly reassuring to know that there is, indeed, "secret" knowledge in the world that cancels out wavering in the face of 'alleged' evils.

Credit for this link actually goes to Vinod V, from an entry on his blog: http://vinod.com/blog/News/TheHiddenNews.html  

He adds, " Stories like these undoubtedly lurk behind the news print of outlets like Al Jazeera, the BBC, and the French media -- will they have the fortitude to present them (and thus risk tacitly acknowledging Intervention was a good idea after all?)."

The war may be a lot of things, but it is an improvement in the state of the world (not just for the Iraqi people -- the knowledge that evil can be mitigated does us all some good).

khare at alumni.caltech.edu

/-------------------- advertisement -----------------------\

Explore more of Starbucks at Starbucks.com.

The News We Kept to Ourselves

April 11, 2003


ATLANTA - Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to
Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN's Baghdad
bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders.
Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw
and heard - awful things that could not be reported because
doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis,
particularly those on our Baghdad staff. 

For example, in the mid-1990's one of our Iraqi cameramen
was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to
electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police
headquarters because he refused to confirm the government's
ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence
Agency's Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long
enough to know that telling the world about the torture of
one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him
killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk. 

Working for a foreign news organization provided Iraqi
citizens no protection. The secret police terrorized Iraqis
working for international press services who were
courageous enough to try to provide accurate reporting.
Some vanished, never to be heard from again. Others
disappeared and then surfaced later with whispered tales of
being hauled off and tortured in unimaginable ways.
Obviously, other news organizations were in the same bind
we were when it came to reporting on their own workers. 

We also had to worry that our reporting might endanger
Iraqis not on our payroll. I knew that CNN could not report
that Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, told me in 1995
that he intended to assassinate two of his brothers-in-law
who had defected and also the man giving them asylum, King
Hussein of Jordan. If we had gone with the story, I was
sure he would have responded by killing the Iraqi
translator who was the only other participant in the
meeting. After all, secret police thugs brutalized even
senior officials of the Information Ministry, just to keep
them in line (one such official has long been missing all
his fingernails). 

Still, I felt I had a moral obligation to warn Jordan's
monarch, and I did so the next day. King Hussein dismissed
the threat as a madman's rant. A few months later Uday
lured the brothers-in-law back to Baghdad; they were soon

I came to know several Iraqi officials well enough that
they confided in me that Saddam Hussein was a maniac who
had to be removed. One Foreign Ministry officer told me of
a colleague who, finding out his brother had been executed
by the regime, was forced, as a test of loyalty, to write a
letter of congratulations on the act to Saddam Hussein. An
aide to Uday once told me why he had no front teeth:
henchmen had ripped them out with pliers and told him never
to wear dentures, so he would always remember the price to
be paid for upsetting his boss. Again, we could not
broadcast anything these men said to us. 

Last December, when I told Information Minister Muhammad
Said al-Sahhaf that we intended to send reporters to
Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, he warned me they would
"suffer the severest possible consequences." CNN went
ahead, and in March, Kurdish officials presented us with
evidence that they had thwarted an armed attack on our
quarters in Erbil. This included videotaped confessions of
two men identifying themselves as Iraqi intelligence agents
who said their bosses in Baghdad told them the hotel
actually housed C.I.A. and Israeli agents. The Kurds
offered to let us interview the suspects on camera, but we
refused, for fear of endangering our staff in Baghdad. 

Then there were the events that were not unreported but
that nonetheless still haunt me. A 31-year-old Kuwaiti
woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police
occupying her country in 1990 for "crimes," one of which
included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her
daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In
January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive,
they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by
limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on
the doorstep of her family's home. 

I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now
that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will
hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about
the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told

Eason Jordan is chief news executive at CNN.


For information on advertising in e-mail newsletters 
or other creative advertising opportunities with The 
New York Times on the Web, please contact
onlinesales at nytimes.com or visit our online media 
kit at http://www.nytimes.com/adinfo

For general information about NYTimes.com, write to 
help at nytimes.com.  

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

More information about the FoRK mailing list