On the tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, Consortium News reprinted Peter Dyer's 2008 piece on propaganda as a war crime:
On Oct. 16, 1946, Julius Streicher was hanged, a historical precedent that should hold considerable interest for American journalists who have written in support of "Operation Iraqi Freedom" - the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
Streicher was one of a group of 10 Germans executed that day following the judgment of the first Nuremberg Trial - a 40-week trial of 22 of the most prominent Nazis. Each was tried for two or more of the four crimes defined in the Nuremberg Charter: crimes against peace (aggression), war crimes, crimes against humanity, and conspiracy.
All who were sentenced to death were major German government officials or military leaders. Except for Streicher. Julius Streicher was a journalist.
Editor of the vehemently anti-Semitic newspaper Der Stürmer, Streicher was convicted of, in the words of the judgment, "incitement to murder and extermination at the time when Jews in the East were being killed under the most horrible conditions clearly constitut(ing) ... a crime against humanity."
The next year  another General Assembly Resolution was adopted: Res. 110 which "condemns all forms of propaganda, in whatsoever country conducted, which is either designed or likely to provoke or encourage any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression." [..]
The existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was central to the Bush administration's campaign for war. Other important elements were Saddam Hussein's ties with Al Qaeda and the strongly implied association of Iraq with the tragedies of 9/11. All were false. In propaganda, though, selling the product trumps truth.
The role played by American mainstream media during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq was marked by widespread unquestioning submission to the Bush administration and abandonment of the most fundamental journalistic responsibility to the public.
The piece notes the eerie parallel of "Some prominent American media figures [...] passionately encouraged Americans to commit and/or approve of war crimes, before and during Operation Iraqi Freedom." Prominent among these was Fox's Bill O'Reilly and right-wing media figure Ann Coulter. In contrast to the war-0crimes cheerleaders, consider the 2003 firing of Phil Donahue, who was canned "on the eve of the war by MSNBC because he was allowing antiwar voices on the air:"
The problem was not Donahue's ratings, but rather his views: An internal MSNBC memo warned Donahue was a "difficult public face for NBC in a time of war," providing "a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity." Donahue joins us to look back on his firing 10 years later. "They were terrified of the antiwar voice," Donahue says.
PHIL DONAHUE: They [MSNBC] were terrified of the antiwar voice. [...] I had to have two conservatives on for every liberal. I could have Richard Perle on alone, but I couldn't have Dennis Kucinich on alone.
Despite the facts (such as "intelligence officials said they found no evidence "indicating that WMD or significant amounts of components and equipment were transferred from Iraq to neighboring Syria, Jordan or elsewhere"), Fox spun numerous conspiracy theories related to Iraq's WMDs:
Fox News suggested that an attack in Syria might have involved chemical weapons from Iraq, pushing a conspiracy theory that Saddam Hussein hid WMD in other countries prior to the Iraq war. Fox made a similar claim just two days ago.
AlterNet's piece 10 years after the invasion notes with dismay "the web of myths, euphemisms and ever-growing secrecy behind which our leaders feel compelled to hide their war policies" and praises "The brave efforts of Julian Assange, Wikileaks and Bradley Manning to let us honestly examine the record for ourselves and draw our own conclusions are met with vindictive terror in the halls of power."
"Our military leaders may be chronically unable to win a war in another country," the article snarks, "but they sure know how to wage a propaganda war in America." It also links to:
- A leaked report from the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2004, based on 27 visits to 14 U.S. prisons in Iraq
- Human Rights First's "Command's Responsibility" report investigated 98 deaths in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan. These included at least 12 people who were definitely tortured to death, 26 other cases of suspected or confirmed homicide and 48 more that escaped official investigation altogether. [...] The paper trail already in the public record appears sufficient to convict Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, their lawyers and senior military officers of capital offenses under the U.S. War Crimes Act.
talked to The Nation
's reporter Barbara Bedway in May 2003:
"We don't have a sense of what we have waded into here," said Hedges. "The deep divisions among the varying factions could be extremely hard to bridge, and the historical and cultural roots are probably beyond the American understanding.... Now that the feel-good, flag-waving part of war is over, the real culprits, the commercial-broadcast media, are going to pack up and leave. What they've done is a huge disservice to the nation. They have no sense of responsibility to continue reporting as the story gets more complicated and difficult to report."
Andrew Sullivan reflects on his post-9/11 smear of the Left, writing that "My horror at 9/11, combined with crippling fear, compounded by personal polarization was a fatal combination. This is not an excuse. It's an attempt at an explanation:"
When I really examine my emotional state that year, I can see better now why my anger at the left in general came out so forcefully in the wake of such a massacre. It was a foolish extrapolation from a handful of haters to an entire political tradition. Again, this is not an excuse. But if I am to understand my own personal anger at the anti-war left, it is part of the story.
"That epistemic closure, that surrender of the mind to the gut, that replacement of analysis with anger," he continues, "was the mother of all confirmation biases:"
It was also the very beginning of the blogosphere, and I had not yet learned the brutal lessons of writing instantly with reason-crushing emotion pulsing through my brain. The one silver lining was this blog - and the necessity to write every day in real time for the years that followed. That effectively denied me cover for my massive misjudgment and bias. You forced me to confront a reality I had never wanted to see, or had blinded myself to.
I cannot undo the damage and do not seek to put this behind me. Instead it is in front of me, a constant reminder that fixed convictions are dangerous, that premises should not be mistaken for conclusions, that confirmation bias is real ...
If only other pro-war partisans would be half as honest.