More than 140 U.S. military women have died in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the military has officially placed nearly 50 of these deaths in the ambiguous “non-combat” category (Democracy Now!, 7/23/08). Some women’s veterans and advocacy groups, such as VETWOW (Veteran Women Organizing Women), say at least 20 of these non-combat deaths are suspicious, and their families are speaking out to some degree, questioning the military’s official explanations. In at least two of the 20 deaths under scrutiny, the military has tried to strongarm media that were questioning the official ruling —in one case threatening to pull military advertising if […]
Pentagon seeks to spin, squelch stories on female fatalities
Iraq all over again?
Much of the corporate media coverage of a new UN report on Iran strongly asserts that Iran is close to building nuclear weapons. But the International Atomic Energy Agency report does not actually arrive at that conclusion, and many critics contend that the speculations that are in the report are misguided. A USA Today piece (11/9/11) was headlined "UN Agency Issues Red Alert Over Iran's Secret Nuke Program"--with the "red alert" hype coming from a source in the piece, Rep. Ed Royce (R.-Calif.). On CBS Evening News, Scott Pelley reported (11/7/11), "The U.N.'s nuclear agency is expected to report later […]
Hunger from harmful aid and agriculture policies
As Somalia sank deeper into famine in late summer, with 63 percent of southern Somalia’s population at risk of starvation, U.S. media coverage focused on stories of misery and resilience. Measuring children’s emaciated arms and describing the scraps of dignity people struggled to maintain in refugee camps substituted for investigation of causes, or discussion of remedies beyond appeals for donations. A typical report came from CBS Evening News (8/8/11): “The faces dusted with the desert and...the eyes that have seen too much,” with an interview with a woman “who had fought to save her children in an unforgiving land.” The […]
With Pakistan drone strikes, official story is media’s story
The New York Times (12/4/09) calls the American drone program “one of Washington’s worst-kept secrets.” This is particularly true for people in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan that border Afghanistan, where the low humming sound which gives them their local name—machay, meaning wasps—is very familiar. Since the drone program in Pakistan began in 2004, between 1,650 and 2,880 people have been killed in as many as 295 drone attacks (New America Foundation, 8/11/11; Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 8/10/11)—with the number increasing drastically in 2009, after President Obama took office. In his first year in office alone, there […]
Media enlist to promote unending military adventures
In the era of the "War on Terror," the United States has embarked on two major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a NATO-led "humanitarian" bombing of Libya that almost immediately morphed into a war for regime change, and undeclared drone bombing campaigns in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Launching these wars has been fairly easy for the White House, with or without congressional approval. How any of them ends, though, remains unclear. The shift from the U.S.'s time-limited military adventures since the Vietnam War--in conflicts like Grenada, Panama, Somalia and Kosovo--to today's seemingly interminable and endlessly multiplying military commitments is one […]
Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: 'Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be elected president of the United States, please pay attention.' That was late columnist Molly Ivins' advice near the end of the George W. Bush era. But lo and behold another Republican governor of Texas is running for president, and from the tone of the coverage so far Rick Perry is some kind of job-creating machine. What else should we know about Rick Perry? Texas columnist and commentator Jim Hightower will join us to talk about the real Rick Perry record. Also on the […]
Were Dozens Killed in Majer NATO Airstrikes?
Allegations of Libyan civilian deaths as a result of NATO bombing have often been covered in the corporate media as an opportunity to scoff at the Gadhafi regime's unconvincing propaganda (FAIR Blog, 6/9/11). But dramatic new allegations that dozens of civilians were killed in Majer after NATO airstrikes on August 8 have been met with near-total media silence. According to Libyan officials, 85 civilians were killed in Majer--a town south of Zliten, a site of frequent clashes and NATO airstrikes. There is no reason journalists should take this claim at face value. But reports from the scene suggest that something […]
Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin. The debt ceiling has been lifted; that fixed everything, right? Well, the Democratic base is unhappy with the White House capitulation, the ratings agencies still aren't sure the United States has its fiscal house in order, and there's nothing here to address the jobs crisis. Of the budget cuts we've been hearing about, reports say that one early slice comes from the military budget--with a second round of potentially larger cuts possible in a few months. But is that really true? We'll talk it over with Bill Hartung of the Arms and Security Project. […]