Imperialism and Disinformation

Once Again: Corporate and State Media Complicity in Imperialist War

If the establishment manufactures disinformation (i.e., it lies), then what validity does the establishment have in its agenda?

Also what moral pretext could the agenda have given that disinformation is argued to be a crime against humanity and a crime against peace?1

In 2005, the participants at the Halifax Symposium on Media and Disinformation framed disinformation as:

1. A deliberate instrument to attack the consciousness, conscience, rights and well-being of the world’s peoples;

2. Is a major block to the aspirations of humanity to establish a world of peace and justice and the ecology of sustainable and healthy life of the planet; and

3. Is a flagrant violent of fundamental international law and norms.

The symposium participants also unanimously declared:

1. Disinformation—its creation and propagation—is a crime against humanity and a crime against peace;

2. Those responsible for the creation, propagation, and orchestration of disinformation campaigns should be indicted for crimes against humanity and peace.2

When the establishment disinforms about weapons-of-mass-destruction in Iraq and kills a few million people based on this lie, what claim to credibility does the establishment have thereafter? This is but one lie in a historical series of lies in which distant peoples have been slaughtered and their lands taken over.3

The latest disinformation comes from the BBC,4 dutifully picked up from AP and reported elsewhere.5 There was no impartiality in the BBC story; starting with the title — “Syria massacre in Houla condemned as outrage grows” — it was presented from the outset as cut and dry who had perpetrated the massacre. The BBC story leads:

Western nations are pressing for a response to the massacre in the Syrian town of Houla, with the US calling for an end to President Bashar al-Assad’s “rule by murder”.

And just how is it that the US rules the world?

My first reaction when I read about the massacre was: Could Bashar Assad really be so foolish to commit a massacre while the US, Israel, and their lapdog states are chomping at the bit to attack and put a new Syrian client regime in place?

Syria’s government denies being behind the massacre in Houla. Where was the BBC’s evidence for blaming the Syrian government? I read no evidence in the article — just allegations. After citing UK and US condemnations of the Syrian government for the massacre, there was several denunciations of the massacre implicitly aimed at Assad’s government. Near the end of the story, however, the BBC quotes the head of the United Nations observer mission in Syria, Norwegian major general Robert Mood:

Whoever started, whoever responded, and whoever carried out this deplorable act of violence should be held responsible.

Given that a UN observer mission in Syria had not identified a responsible party for the massacre, how should responsible journalism report?

As if the slanted reporting was insufficient, the photo used by the BBC to depict the bodies of the Houla massacre turns out to be a 2003 photo from Iraq.6,7

It is more tar and feathers for BBC’s journalistic reputation.8

  1. See Kim Petersen, “Disinformation: A Crime Against Humanity and a Crime Against Peace,” Press Action, 17 February 2005. []
  2. From the proceedings of the 2005 Halifax Symposium on Media and Disinformation, of which I was a participant. []
  3. See Kim Petersen, “Grasping at Straws: Searching for a War Pretext,” Dissident Voice, 4 March 2003. []
  4. Syria massacre in Houla condemned as outrage grows,” BBC News, 27 May 2012. []
  5. See, e.g., AP, “Syrian regime denies role in Houla massacre,” CBC News, 27 May 2012. []
  6. ANI, “BBC criticised for using Iraq photo to illustrate Syrian massacre,” sify news, 28 May 2012. []
  7. It brings to mind the disinformation about Iraqi soldiers removing premature babies from their incubators in Kuwait. For $10.8 million, disinformation specialists Hill and Knowlton coached a teenage girl, Nariyah, who purported to be a volunteer at the Kuwaiti hospital to give such tearful testimony, but she had never worked in the hospital and was the daughter to the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US. See Johan Carlisle, “Public Relationships: Hill & Knowlton, Robert Gray, and the CIA,” Covert Action Quarterly, Spring 1993. []
  8. It is hardly new for the BBC. See David Edwards and Media Lens, “The BBC, Self-Glorification And Disaster,” Dissident Voice, 18 September 2003 []

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org. Read other articles by Kim.