Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Oil for news

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Eric Stakelbeck at the Weekly Standard have an interesting article that tells about Uday Hussein (Saddam's son) using the oil-for-food program to manipulate the press. If you want to dignify Al Jazeera with that label (or vice versa, I suppose). The piece begins:

On January 6, 2005, the U.S.-funded Arabic satellite network Al Hurra broadcast an explosive exposé detailing the financial links between Saddam Hussein's regime and the Arab press. Al Hurra's documentary--so far overlooked in the West--aired previously unseen video footage, recorded by Saddam Hussein's regime during its murderous heyday, of Saddam's son Uday meeting with several Arab media figures and referring to the bribes they had received.

Recipients of this Baathist largesse appeared to include a former managing director of the influential Qatar-based government-subsidized satellite network Al Jazeera, Mohammed Jassem al-Ali. The videotaped meeting between Uday and al-Ali occurred on March 13, 2000, when al-Ali still worked as Al Jazeera's managing director. Their conversation makes clear that this was not their first meeting, but that they had met on prior occasions--and that Al Jazeera had put into effect the directives that Uday had proffered in those previous meetings.

Referring to how his advice had affected changes in Al Jazeera's personnel, Uday states, "During your last visit here along with your colleagues we talked about a number of issues, and it does appear that you indeed were listening to what I was saying since changes took place and new faces came on board such as that lad, Mansour."

This "lad" is Ahmed Mansour, an Al Jazeera journalist who has been criticized for his pro-insurgency reporting. In particular, Mansour came under fire in early 2004 for his coverage of the U.S. attack on Falluja, which pointedly emphasized civilian casualties.

Read the whole thing.

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