Transcribed by Ken Hechtman | 16.01.2003 01:24
Ladies and Gentlemen, September the 11th, 2001 did not change the world. I tell my colleagues, "Please stop printing and broadcasting those words." Over and over, after September the 11th, this had become one of the outstanding dangerous lies which we journalists have been propagating. September the 11th may give President George W. Bush the excuse to change the world but that should be exposed for what it is: a manipulation of grief and fear in order to start a war that has nothing to do with the international crimes against humanity which took place in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania just over a year ago. A war against a country -- yes, led by a monster - but a country which has nothing to do with those atrocities.
On September the 12th this year, I went to the United Nations General Assembly to have a look at Mr. Bush. You know, when you see someone on television, that flat image gives you an idea, but you need to actually see the man in the flesh. So I went to the General Assembly, I wasn't very far away from Mr. Bush. I watched him start what I fear is an American attempt to reshape the Middle East. To rewrite the history of a region which is white-hot with anger at the United States. It will, I suspect, be the most frightening attempt to change the map of the Middle East, since Britain and France, victors over the Ottoman Empire divided up the spoils of the 1914-18 war, the war my father fought in.
I heard Mr. Bush's increasingly violent demands for an attack on Iraq and ranging change elsewhere in the Middle East. And be sure when it starts, if it starts, our television broadcasters will use their familiar strap-line "War on Terror." Already, I notice, it's "Showdown in Iraq" on CNN and "Crisis in Iraq" on the BBC - we're a little bit behind CNN, but we'll catch up.
In the days and weeks that followed September the 11th, I became increasingly disturbed by the vapid, hopeless, gutless, unchallenging, journalism which passed for coverage in the Western media. The terrifying events of September the 11th were mutated into a movie: America at War, The War on Terrorism, War on Terror. Often, these titles would appear in a kind of laminated gold typeface, the kind that once appeared in Biblical epics. Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur… And each newscast would be introduced with an orchestral theme. A jingle for someone to come back to the living room to watch the next part of a serial. I felt that this obscured realities, just as I felt it also dishonored the dead. And just as in the 1991 Gulf War, we were also treated to the hapless, gutless picture of journalists wearing army costumes. CNN's man in Kandahar was among the first to don a Marine helmet. When I condemned this pathetic piece of theater, CNN's executives announced that the US Marines had insisted that their reporter wear the helmet. This is no excuse. Journalists have no business obeying military orders that make them look like combatants.
And when so many of our colleagues accept these orders, as they did in the 1991 Gulf War, or when they turn up with a pistol, like Geraldo Rivera in Jalalabad, saying they want to shoot Osama Bin Laden, the representative of FOX News, is it any wonder that we journalists have become the targets of attacks?
But my talk to you tonight is not about the dangers of journalism. It's about the dangers now posed by journalism itself. Facile, unquestioning acceptance of authority, and the trite and bland and deeply misleading government statements which are parroted and then blended into and headlines. From the very start, I predicted in the Independent, my own paper in London, that this was not a war on terror, but a war against America's enemies, and most probably, Israel's enemies too. Which is what it is turning out to be. Yet we went along, indeed we still go on, against all the evidence, in calling it a war on terror, a war for democracy, a war against evil. Newsweek actually carried a front cover headline which read, "The Evil One." Not content with allowing governments to become headline-writers, journalists were now using Biblical authority for their stories. We: the West, democracy, the forces of good. We were the ones that suffered. And a few weeks ago we had to suffer again. But when the date fell due for the anniversary of the bombardment of Afghanistan, and the thousands of civilians killed there, did we carry long and moving accounts of those thousands of people killed? Did we, hell.
Let me first ask you one question: When did we first hear of the Iraqi dimension of September the 11th? A dimension that factually has no substantial connection with the slaughter that occurred just over a year ago. Did anyone say back then, in the days and weeks immediately following these crimes against humanity, that Iraq would be in the firing line? Where exactly did the slippage come? At what point did Osama Bin Laden fade away, to be replaced by Saddam Hussein? Our journalists, who should have picked this up at once, were silent. Far from doing their jobs alerting readers and viewers to this astonishing transition in US foreign policy, they were [unintelligible], the New York Times, the Washington Post, suddenly began to run a lot of stories on the supposed intelligence links between Iraq and Bin Laden. Eight stories in one week, I recall. Each sourced to administration officials, intelligence officials, diplomats -- all of them, of course, anonymous. A copy of the International Herald Tribune - I read the Tribune in Beirut to get an idea of what the Post and the Times are saying - the copy had seven stories, of which each first paragraph ended with the words, "Comma, officials said." That should be the name of the newspaper, Officials Said.
I want to show you the front page of the Daily Express, not my favorite British tabloid, from September the 9th, 2002. For decorum's sake, I shall put my hand here… Nuclear Attack in Just Months! Mr. Blair didn't tell me about that a year ago. What's the target, Trafalgar Square? So today while we prepare to discuss the wisdom of starting yet another war in the Middle East, as though there weren't a bloody enough war going on there already, we remain quiescent. We do not want to investigate just how Target: Kabul became Target: Baghdad and in the coming days perhaps Target: Damascus or Target: Beirut or even, since the RAND Corporation's lecture which referred to the Kingdom as "the kernel of evil", Target: Riyadh.
Even when our own dear prime minister Tony Blair returns from the United States telling us that there is going to be a "blood price", quote-unquote, that has to be paid in the event of a war, not a single journalist points out that this will be a blood price principally paid by the Iraqis, not by us. And if by the British, certainly by the young soldiers from Manchester or Suffolk, not by anyone from the region of Mr. Blair. Blood, by the way, the word blood is becoming an increasing part of our discourse. Richard Armitage [unintelligible], announced two months ago that the Lebanese Hezbollah was the A-Team of terrorism, Al Qaeda being relegated to the World Division. Armitage said that Hezbollah owed America a blood debt. Note how yet again, we're on the move. First the heart of darkness beats in a man with a beard and a propensity to live in Afghan caves. Then he transmogrifies into a resident of Baghdad with a liking for chemical weapons and who is supposedly building a nuclear bomb. [unintelligible]
Armitage's blood debt presumably refers to the killing of 241 US servicemen in the US Marine Barracks in Beirut in October of 1983, though he didn't say so. Very few reporters have tried to winkle out what all this means. To its great credit, I should say that the Nation magazine in New York has published a first-class article detailing the number of US administration officials who had previously worked for pro-Israeli lobby groups in Washington. This at least might persuade why the Bush administration now appears to be set to redraw the map of the Middle East along lines which Israel itself can only dream of. No mention of all this, of course, in the mainstream media in the United States or in Canada. And still the blindness goes on.
Immediately after the 1991 Gulf War, once it was clear that the awful Saddam would remain in power, the United States government suddenly stopped making reference to the Iraqi president. I remember how Colin Powell told a press conference I attended in northern Iraq (the Kurdish bit) that the American government was talking to "Iraqi officials" He made no mention of the Hitler of Bagdad who had been on our screens for so long. So I asked Colin Powell, "What happened to the Saddam factor? Why are there no references to the [unintelligible] - and not without good reason - a few weeks before?" He just shrugged his shoulders and went on talking [unintelligible]. Having failed to destroy him, Saddam had been turned into a non-person, to be reactivated eleven years later when we wanted to go to war again. In just such a way, this year Osama Bin Laden was airbrushed out of the picture - he may be bring himself back in at the moment, but that's a different matter. No US official this year any longer mentions his name, exactly the same as Saddam Hussein in 1991. Having failed to destroy him, Bin Laden was turned into a non-person, although Saddam-like, I'm sure we will be able to disinter him when we need him in the months to come.
The language of journalism has, as usual, fallen into step with that of government. Note how almost every journalistic reference to Al Qaeda now talks about how US forces in Afghanistan are mopping up - wait for it - Al Qaeda remnants. The word remnants began to be used at a US press briefing I attended at Bagram, Afghanistan, and has effortlessly and without any self-questioning, entered the journalistic lexicon. We are always closing in on, hunting down, chasing, liquidating, cornering, those elusive remnants. True, when US forces tried to ambush those remnants in Shah-I-kot earlier this year, those remnants turned out to be of around brigade-strength. And true, the attempted assassination of Hamid Karzai and the carbomb in Kabul which killed 26 people does suggest that there are rather more remnants than we bargained for. But no matter. We've now lined up Baghdad in our sights.
Many of you will be aware of the story which appeared in the New York Times on October 10th in which it was revealed to us that the White House is developing a detailed plan based on the post-war occupation of Japan, to install an American-led military government, war crimes trials for Iraqi leaders and - wait for it - General Tommy Franks, commander of US forces, is likely to play the role of General Douglas MacArthur. Quite a role to fill. There's a little bit of a problem. See, there is no emperor of Iraq. The problem for General Tommy Franks, if he does turn up in Baghdad to play the role of General Douglas MacArthur, is that the one unifying sovereign symbol that held Japan together amid the ashes of nuclear defeat in 1945 was the Emperor Hirohito, mysteriously absolved of his war responsibility for Japan's wartime atrocities - his military underlings went to the gallows on his behalf. But in Iraq, of course, the emperor is Saddam Hussein, and if you were to believe the US administration, the dictator from Tikrit will be in the dock with all the rest of the Iraqi war criminals. General Franks will have to combine the role of emperor with that of military governor, which is how America's whole imperial adventure, I suspect, may fall to bits. And what if the mosques defy American occupation? What if the Shiites in the south and the Kurds in the north set up their own civil administration? Will the United States arrest all the imams who preach against America's hegemony?
After the 1991 Gulf War, a large group of Iraqi opposition figures met in Beirut. They met there to plan for the new Iraq. Sounds familiar to you, does it not? On the prevailing belief of [unintelligible] of course, that Saddam would be gone within weeks. But within 24 hours, the opposition, including the most secular and liberal of Iraqi movements, was announcing that it would not allow foreign troops to contaminate what it called, quote, "the sacred banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers." At this point, of course, the Americans lost all interest in this manifestation of Iraq's opposition to Saddam Hussein. In 1991, US troops occupied only a small part of Southern Iraq. Does the Bush administration think things will be any better if they occupy all of Iraq?
Now, it just might be that the Americans do have an emperor in mind for occupied Iraq. A member of the same Hashemite family which was, long ago, awarded the throne of Baghdad courtesy of Winston Churchill as a consolation prize for being booted out of Damascus by the French. The re-establishment of the Hashemite Kingdom in Iraq might allow King Abdullah of Jordan to cash in on some of the oilfields of Iraq, which he'd have to share, of course with the very [unintelligible] American oil companies run by Mr. Bush's chums. Or it might be a question of the former Crown Prince Hassan who showed up to a meeting of the Iraqi opposition in London a couple of months ago. I notice that General Franks paid a sudden visit to Amman last month. I wonder why.
But let's go back to Afghanistan for a moment. Afghanistan is descending deeper into anarchy. It is impossible to travel by night on the roads. The drug barons are back in control. Read the UN's warning on the massive new narcotics traffic that's due to start when this year's poppy crop is in. And we can't even bother to investigate the mass graves in northern Afghanistan where our war criminal allies buried over a thousand of their Taliban enemies after they were suffocated to death in containers.
But let me give you a personal reflection on all this. As Aaron mentioned, on December 8th of last year, I was attacked by a gang of Afghan refugees in a village, in Qila Abdullah, not far from the Pakistan-Afghan border. My car had broken down and the Afghans, many of whom were refugees from the recent US bombing raids on Kandahar, decided to take out their rage on me. I was beaten on the head with stones, kicked and cut. Rescue came from a religious man. I recall he had a turban, but I had so much blood in my eyes I could scarcely see him. And he escorted me to a Pakistani policeman.
Sitting in the Red Crescent ambulance on it's way to Quetta, I realized how carefully I was going to have to handle the frightening and very painful event which had just occurred to me and which I knew would be reported by other journalists. I did not with to be the source of another Muslim-bashing story. A lone Briton savagely assaulted by an angry mob of Afghans either. I hate the "What and Where" stories that leave out the "Why". Some context had to be given to their fury, some reference had to be made to the fact that they had been most cruelly bereaved. That my sudden and very Western appearance represented to them the face of those who had just slaughtered their loved ones. So I felt I needed to make this point. I said it and I wrote in my own newspaper, the Independent, that if I was one of those grief-filled Afghan men, I too would have attacked Robert Fisk. Those who beat me, I wrote, were innocent of any crime except being victims of the world. Almost every published and televised report mentioned the reasons behind the assault, except for the British Mail on Sunday, which used an agency story from the Associated Press but then deleted my explanation. In the Mail, a mob of angry Afghans, of course, attacked me, apparently without reason. Readers might have been excused for thinking that Afghans are always angry, primitive, generically violent and thus prone to beat up foreigners. The classic Islamophobic reaction of anyone reading the Mail.
Later reactions were even more interesting. Among quite a number of letters which arrived from readers of the Independent, by far the great majority of them expressing their sympathy, came a few Christmas cards, all but one of them unsigned, expressing the writers' disappointment that the Afghans hadn't, quote, "finished the job."
The Wall Street Journal, one of my favorite newspapers, carried an article which said more or less the same thing, under the subhead, "A Self-Loathing Multiculturalist Gets His Due." In it, Mark Steyn wrote of my reaction that, I quote, "had to have a heart of stone not to weep with laughter." The "Fisk Doctrine," I'm quoting somebody, "the Fisk Doctrine," he went on, "taken to its logical conclusion absolves of responsibility, not only the perpetrators of September the 11th, but also Taliban supporters who attacked several of his fellow journalists in Afghanistan, all of whom, alas, died before they were able to file a final column explaining why they deserved [unintelligible]."
Now apart from the fact that most of my colleagues who died in Afghanistan were killed by thieves, who had taken advantage of the Taliban's defeat, Steyn's article was interesting for two reasons. He insinuated that I somehow approved - approved! - of the crimes against humanity on September the 11th, or at least would absolve the mass murderers. More importantly, Steyn's article would not have been written had I not explained the context of the assault that was made upon me, tiny though it was in the scale of suffering being visited on Afghanistan. Had I merely reported being attacked by a mob, the story would have fitted neatly into the general American media presentation of the Afghan war. No reference to civilian deaths from US B-52 bombers, no suggestion that the widespread casualties caused by the American presence would turn Afghans furious against the West. We were, after all, supposed to be liberating these people, not killing their relatives. Of course my crime -- and the Wall Street Journal gave its column a headline "Hate-me Crimes" - my crime was to report the Why as well as the What and Where.
I was crossing the Atlantic on September the 11th, 2001. My plane took off from Belgium just after the first reports of the first attack on the World Trade Center. It turned round off the coast of Ireland after the US closed its airspace. So I filed my first column for the Independent on the satellite phone - the plane's phone - on the seat beside me. I did so without notes, dictating to a copy-taker wearing earphones in Manchester, England. And I did so pointing out there would be an attempt in the coming days to avoid asking the Why questions. I wrote about the history of deceit and lies in the Middle East, the growing Arab anger over the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children under UN sanctions and the continued occupation of Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. I suggested Bin Laden could well have been responsible. I wrote that thousands of Muslims may soon die in Afghanistan and elsewhere as a result of the outrages that occurred in New York and Washington.
Emails poured into the Independent. Most of them in support of my article, but many demanding my resignation. The attacks on America were caused, quote, "by hate itself, of precisely the obsessive and dehumanizing kind that Fisk and Bin Laden have been spraying." According to the same message, from Professor Judea Pearl of UCLA, I was "drooling venom and a professional hate-peddler." Another missive, signed Ellen Popper, announced that I was "in cahoots with the arch-terrorist Bin Laden." Mark Bourne labeled me "a total fascist." I was "psychotic", according to Lillian Barry-Weiss. Brendan Corrin of San Diego told me, "you are actually supporting evil itself." It was only 750 words on the inside page of the Independent, ladies and gentlemen.
On an Irish radio show, a Harvard professor, whom I needn't mention - Dershowitz, of course - announced that I was "a vile, a dangerous man," and that anti-Americanism, of which I was obviously guilty, was the same as anti-Semitism. The show's Irish presenter pulled the plug on the good professor. But I got the point. Not only was it wicked to suggest that someone might have had reasons, however warped, to commit this mass slaughter, it was even more important not to suggest what the reasons might be. To criticize the United States, to be anti-American, whatever that is, is to be a Jew-hater, a racist, a Nazi. Merely to suggest that Washington's policies in the Middle East, its unconditional support of Israel, its support for Arab dictators, its approval of the UN sanctions that cost so many lives, might have led, however in such a warped way and a twisted way, to the heinous attacks on September the 11th, was an act of evil in itself. Oddly, the fact that the mass murderers were all Arabs and that most of them came from Saudi Arabia, was not regarded as a problem by typical readers. Arab terrorists are familiar from Hollywood films, of course. The sin was to connect the Arabs who did this with the problems of the lands they came from. To ask the Why question.
When the cops turn up at the scene of any crime here in Montreal - oh, you don't have any crimes here in Montreal, do you? When the cops turn up at the scene of a crime in Toronto… When the cops turn up at the scene of a crime in Vancouver, the first thing they do is look for a motive. Even in television movies, they look for a motive. But when the crime scene is on a vast and terrifying scale in New York and Washington, the one thing we're not allowed to do is look for a motive. The killers of New York, they hated democracy - never mind they wouldn't have had the slightest idea what democracy is…
Ladies and gentlemen, I say all this because I have a particular interest in Osama Bin Laden. Back in 1997, I met him and not for the first time. I interviewed him in Sudan in 1994 and then in Afghanistan in 1996, then again the following year. That last night in May, I was driven by one of his armed followers hundreds of miles across the mountains of Afghanistan, high above the rugged [unintelligible] gorge. The clouds were below us, waterfall ice clinging to the rock above our Toyota. On the [untintelligible] journey, at one point the gunman next to me said, "Toyota is good for holy war."
[unintelligible] fairly amusing, and I kid you not, however, Bin Laden would never make a joke like that. After hours of sliding and slipping on the scree by sheer persistence we reached a pile of stones - an air-raid shelter 25 feet high and 25 feet wide cut into the living rock of the mountainside by Bin Laden's own construction crews at the height of the war between the Afghans and the Russians. The war, of course, in which Bin Laden had fought with great courage on our side, being wounded 6 times. The side, of course, the allies, the West called "themselves", of course. Indeed, it's interesting that that particular camp was bombed last year, by the Americans, and with pinpoint accurate strikes. It was accurate. All the camps were hit. The only thing we weren't told by reporters at the time was it wasn't very difficult to find them because virtually all those camps had been built by the CIA.
I waited in a tent along with several of Bin Laden's armed followers. The phrase "Al Qaeda" was not known to us then. A paraffin lamp sputtered in a corner. Then Bin Laden himself came in. White Saudi robe, dishdash, red kaffiyah, cheap plastic slippers on bare feet, lithe as a cat, but I thought I saw a slight infirmity in one of his feet. I was carrying over my shoulder a small satchel which I use in rough country to carry my passport and other items but Bin Laden saw some Arabic-language newspapers in the bag and seized upon them, turning to study them in the corner of the tent in silence for all of 20 minutes. He didn't even know the Iranian foreign minister had just visited Saudi Arabia. And I sat there in the tent, all of us ignored by Bin Laden, and thought how isolated he appeared. He didn't have a radio, he didn't have a television. When he spoke, however, it was with a determination, a chilling self-conviction that I had not seen before. I still have my notes from that meeting and what he said is even more sinister in retrospect.
"Mr. Robert," he said, "We fought and beat the Russian Army in Afghanistan. We won our battle against the Russians on this very mountain upon which you are now sitting, and that battle destroyed the Soviet Union." Give or take some exaggeration, I wouldn't want to object to that. There's a certain amount of truth in it. From time to time, Bin Laden, rather disconcertingly to me, would clean his teeth with a piece of wood while I was asking a question, a piece of mishrak wood. The only man who's ever been interviewed by me who cleaned his teeth while I'm asking questions. But then he went on, "Mr. Robert, I pray to God that he will permit us to turn the United States into a shadow of itself."
Ladies and gentlemen, I could not fail to remember those terrible words when I saw the equally terrible images of New York when I got back to Brussels that night, and saw the World Trade Center disappearing into two almost Biblical columns of smoke. New York, I realized, was now a shadow of itself. Just that one word comes to immediately to mind. But Bin Laden's power in the Middle East - in the Middle East - comes from what he says and not what he does. I don't believe he climbs to the top of a mountain, pulls out a mobile phone and mutters, "Put Plan B into action," the way it's done in Hollywood and the State Department. I fear, however, that his awful power and influence comes more from his words. Many times, I have listened, I have personally been present, his armed followers hanging upon those words as though he were the Messiah or the Mahdi.
He would demand the American forces leave the Middle East, leave what he called the land of the two holy places, Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. He demanded the end of what he called the corrupt regimes which are supported by the West. Saudi Arabia, of course, the other Gulf States, Egypt, Jordan, etc. He demanded an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. He demanded an end to the sanctions on Iraq. Whether or not he really felt that strongly, that is what he said. And his words have a special resonance in the Arab world because for decades they were humiliated by the West and especially by America. A world which many perceive as deeply corrupted and damaged almost beyond repair by the culture and armed might and politics of the West. Without those feelings of despair, humiliation and fury, Bin Laden would, I believe, truly be a voice in the wilderness - ignored, derided, perhaps committed to a hospital for the insane. But to many Arabs, and this is the point, to many Arabs who are appalled, for moral and religious reasons, by the staggering massacres in New York and Washington, Bin Laden does not sound insane. Which is why [unintelligible] today.
You know, I spent 26 years in the Middle East trying to answer the Why. And in no part of the world is our reporting so flawed, so biased in favor of one country and so contemptible in its use of words. Indeed, the language of Middle East journalism, has become so cavalier, so slippery, so deferential, so wrong, so ready to use the phrases used by the State Department, the President, US diplomats, Israeli officials that reporting has become in many cases incomprehensible. Such is the bizarre nature of our profession in the region that any talk like the one given to you tonight, has to follow a special mantra: Saddam Hussein is a wicked, cruel tyrant who invaded Iran - we were very keen on that at the time - and then Kuwait. He used poison gas on the Kurds - but we didn't object to that at the time. His Iranian war did cost up to a million lives. He has a hangman on 24 hour duty. Women are hanged on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Yasser Arafat is a corrupt, vain little despot, allowing his 11 - some say 13 - secret services to beat torture and occasionally kill Palestinians opponents. I should add that I never could see why Israel wanted to negotiate with him, unless they saw him as a[n unintelligible] ally who [unintelligible].
[unintelligible] Middle East, because we have distorted the truth, either because we are afraid of criticism from Israel and its supporters or because we journalists prefer an easy life, unencumbered by hate mail and letters to the editor. Take the pejorative use of that word "terror". The mass murders of September the 11th may require a redefinition by those journalists, including myself, who normally abjure the word from our reporting on the grounds that it is used exclusively about Arabs. Its overuse, almost as a punctuation mark, in any discussion of the Arab-Israeli conflict remains as poisonous as ever. It's difficult to explain to Arabs, for example, why the New York and Washington massacre was and act of terror - which it was - but the massacre of up to 1700 Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut between the 16th and the 18th of September 1982 has never been called terrorism by journalists or by governments. The death toll in Chatila, after all, was more than half that of the Twin Towers.
Was this strange omission of the word terrorism because the killers, members of the Christian Lebanese Phalangist militia happened to be allied to Israel? Did it not qualify as an act of terrorism because most of the murderers were wearing Israeli Defense Force uniforms, albeit with the acronym Zahal crossed out? Did it fail the terrorism test because Israel's forces had surrounded the camps and because Ariel Sharon, the defense minister, had sent the Phalange into the camps. Not once, ever, has a Western newspaper called the mass murderers of Sabra and Chatila terrorists. Indeed, Israel's own Kahane Commission of Inquiry, flawed but none the less a very good document in its way, which held Ariel Sharon personally responsible, called the Phalangist killers "soldiers."
This is not an isolated example. Twelve Israelis, most of them armed, were killed - and I called it a massacre, just as I do when the Israelis kill Palestinians in the same way. They were killed, twelve of them, just a couple of days ago. But let's go back to another massacre in Hebron, where an Israeli reserve officer, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians in a Hebron mosque, on the 25th of February, 1994. He was not called a terrorist. CNN referred to him as deranged. Later, the Israeli ambassador to London said that Goldstein was "deranged by fanaticism." Other reports spoke of Goldstein as an extremist, or a member of the underground - note the ghostly echo of World War II heroism there. Yet when Hamas took its inevitable and wicked revenge with a bus bomb in the Israeli town of Afula, CNN recovered its nerve. The reporter Bill Delaney told us it was an act of Arab terrorism. I should say that there are Israeli journalists who entirely take my side on this and agree on the total misnomer that is the use of the word terrorism.
A far greater effort of significance, and here I'm going to need the first transparency I brought. This is the cover of Newsweek magazine on February 19th last year. We'll have a look at it here. It's one of those lovely American covers which I enjoy. Terror Goes Global! There we are. It alludes, of course, to Osama Bin Laden's global network of terror. Beneath these words, as you can see, is a photograph of a Palestinian in a kaffiyah headdress which almost totally conceals his face. Holding in his hand is an automatic rifle. Now the reader, you tonight, might suppose that this is part of the terror network. Indeed, we're obviously meant to believe this. But I was puzzled when I saw this cover picture because I'd seen it before. It was taken by a Finnish photographer, Ilka [unintelligible] of the Gamma Picture Agency in Paris. [unintelligible] now lives in New York. So from Beirut I gave him a call. I called up the United States and I said, "Ilka, tell me about this picture."
"I took the picture in the West Bank," Ilka told me, "It was a member of the Tanzim at a Palestinian funeral." Thus, you see, a Palestinian gunman, armed and attending the funeral of a fellow Palestinian killed by Israelis, had been turned into a representative of global terror. Palestinians as a people, and the man on this cover is very clearly a Palestinian, have been effortlessly transformed into enemies of the world. It wasn't the fault of the photographer, but that cover on Newsweek is a lie. The man whose face is covered by the kaffiyah, dangerous though he undoubtedly is - or was - to the Israelis, has nothing to do with Bin Laden or the lead story in the magazine. Thank you for taking that off and putting up the second one.
Just as Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, has been doing his best, rather vainly I think, to link Yasser Arafat with Bin Laden - how they must hate each other for the comparison - [unintelligible] underway to decontextualize Israel's role in the occupied territories. Indeed, once the State Department in Washington told its diplomats throughout the Middle East to stop using the word occupied in relation to the West Bank and Gaza, American journalists dutifully followed their example. Henceforth the land would be called disputed, as in, quote, "Benjamin Netanyahu turns up the heat by OK'ing new housing in the disputed territories." Time caption, March 7th, 1997. Disputed, of course, changes the reality.
I was driving through Ashafiya into Beirut the other day when the BBC called me up, live from London, "we're going on the air in just a few seconds, Bob." - with the Israeli spokesman in Jerusalem. And the moment I referred to the occupied territories - "They are not occupied!" he said. "Oh, I see. So those soldiers who stopped me between Ramallah and Jenin last week were Swiss, were they? Or were they Burmese?" You see, by deleting occupation from the lexicon, journalists erase the colonies - illegally built for Jews and Jews only on Arab land. They erase the humiliating checkpoints which still cover, as they do today, the West Bank and Gaza. Disputed suggests an argument about land deeds, or conflicting inheritance claims, as CNN once memorably called them. Failing to point out, of course, that many of the Palestinians have documents to prove their ownership while many of the settlers believe that someone up there gave them the land. The Associated Press, the largest American news agency in the world, has now gone one further. Anxious to avoid occupied, the agency now refers to lands which are - try this one out - war-won. There must have been a bloody good reason to escape from occupied to get that word. This contorted expression places an almost victorious façade upon the reality of occupation.
I've been searching in vain to find the first use - and this is a linguistic issue - of the phrase settlements and settlers in relation to the occupation. These Israeli settlements, as you know, on occupied land, are colonies and their inhabitants are colonists, every bit as much as the French colonized Algeria. When I made that point in my own newspaper, the Independent, in London, a stream of letters accused me of deliberately trying to make a parallel between Palestinian terrorism and the FLN's ultimately successful 1958-62 war of independence against France. I was indeed making that parallel. Interestingly, Ariel Sharon has himself compared all of Israel to Algeria under French rule, revealing to the correspondent of the French magazine L'Express, just under a year ago, that he told President Chirac of France that, quote, "you've got to understand that we here are like you in Algeria. We have no other place to go. Besides, we have no intention of leaving."
It's very interesting - and how many of you spotted this? - that the phrase "The Peace of the Brave" which Arafat trundles out all the time, which President Clinton often uses, that phrase is a phrase of De Gaulle's used about the Evian agreement which brought the Algerian-French war to an end. The French word for settler is colon, accurately representing what the Israeli settlers in the West Bank and Gaza are doing. But today even that word settler is disappearing. CNN, in one of its most recent contributions to journalism, sent out an instruction to correspondents telling them that Gilo, the Jewish settlement build partly on Arab land, not entirely, but partly on Arab land south of Jerusalem, is to change its definition. I quote: "We refer to Gilo as a Jewish neighborhood on the outskirts of Jerusalem, built on land occupied by Israel in 1967. We don't refer to it as a settlement."
Now it happens of course that Gilo is a settlement, built for Jews only on occupied Palestinian land, some of it originally bought by Jews but otherwise taken - CNN's got the occupied bit right - which is partly owned by Palestinians in the village of Beit Jalla. Gilo of course is Hebrew for Jalla. It was constructed in violation of UN Security Council resolution 242 and 338 and in violation of international law. CNN's little lie about neighborhood transforms the history. Cruel though it is to do so -- and I oppose all violence, at all times, always - cruel though it is for them to do so, you can understand why a Palestinian might want to shoot at a settlement. But a friendly neighborhood, like downtown Montreal? He would have to be insane. Mindless violence. Terrorism. You see? The decontextualization. Of course I called up CNN in Atlanta from Beirut. I wanted a comment on this. And it's only fair to tell you what CNN told me down the telephone line. A spokesman officially said, "We really don't want to talk about this."
The BBC recently advised its reporters in the Middle East to use the phrase, quote, "targeted killings" for the murder of Palestinians in the streets by Israeli death squads, preferring this to assassinations, which, suggests the BBC, should be reserved for more important folk than the suspected Palestinian gunmen and bombers on Israel's hit list. But of course it just happens that targeted killings is Israel's own expression for the killing of certain Palestinians and I don't believe for a moment that the BBC did not know that. And as a growing list of totally innocent civilians killed during these attacks demonstrates, the word targeted - particularly the nine children killed in the air strike in Gaza to kill the Hamas man - targeted is itself highly deceiving. The only one presumption that hasn't come yet is Palestinians using the word targeted when they so cruelly kill civilians.
I would like that next slide up here. Now, I was amused to see a BBC advertisment - here we are - a Group Television documentary announcing the end of the peace process - I often wonder about that. Whoever gave us the phrase "peace process"? Who, I wonder, did? But anyway, When Peace Died is a BBC film, came out last year. On the left, as you can see, the appalling picture of a Palestinian, his hands covered, as you can see, in Israeli blood after the cruel lynching of two Israeli soldiers. The third soldier [unintelligible]. On the right, the equally iconic picture of poor little Mohammed Al-Dura just before he was shot dead by Israeli soldiers. Let's have a look at the back of the post card, shall we? I'm going to read it to you.
On the left it says - spot what's wrong, I'll stick my hand up to help you, "Two images capture the hatred that is destroying the peace process in the Middle East. Mohammed, the boy from Gaza, shielded by his father, but still dying under a hail of bullets and the brutal murder of two Israeli soldiers by a Palestinian mob. Note how Mohammed Al-Dura's death carries no attribution. Now many Israelis, a very brave member of the Israeli Knesset who spoke up about this, and almost all the journalists who investigated the case - but not, of course, the Israeli Army - concluded that Israeli troops did kill the boy, though they may not all have known who was behind the wall when they were firing. So Al-Dura's death, you see, was caused by a hail of bullets. A distant relation, I think, of the clashes in Palestinians keep seeming to walk into, the crossfires in which they seem to keep getting caught. While the killing of the Israeli soldiers is firmly attributed, and rightly, to a Palestinian mob.
The easiest way out of this problem for many journalists, I fear, is to distort the coverage so that events which are unfavorable to Israel, however dramatic, are buried deep in the story. Just five days before the Qana attack, in which 106 Lebanese civilians were killed in the UN base in 1996, an Israeli pilot flying an American Apache helicopter fired an air-to-ground missile into an ambulance packed with women and children in southern Lebanon. The Israeli Army claimed, wrongly, I discovered after weeks of investigation, that a Hezbollah fighter, a terrorist of course, was in the vehicle. Four children, two women were killed. I actually was a little bit in front of the ambulance on the road, got back there in time and with a Swedish UN liason officer and soldiers of the UN Fijian battalion, we collected all the bits of the missile, including the bits from the corpses. And we put it all together. And we were able to work out the entire computer-coded markings on the exploded missile parts and trace its origin back to an American factory in [unintelligible], Georgia.
Of course, I decided to take the missile back to the factory. This is a big problem, trying to get a missile from Beirut to the United States. I could imagine the story - I have a shrewd idea who'd be writing it - I can imagine the story in the New York Times: British Journalist Scanned at JFK with Explosive Traces. But we got it back. I had to take the train all the way to [unintelligible], 17 hours on the Amtrak, think about that. Boeing, of course, stalled on getting an interview about this wonderful missile. The man was quite complacent when I put it on the table and showed them the pictures of women and children. I wanted to know about responsibility. We eventually carried the story in our Sunday magazine as the cover story.
[…] with the US Marines, it was taken to Saudi Arabia to be used against the Iraqis in 1990, and subsequently, with many other similar missiles, given free of charge to the Israelis on the Haifa munitions pier as part of a quid pro quo with Israel for not joining in the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq. Harper's later ran a shortened version, edited by me, in their magazine in New York. Yet not a single American news outlet tried to follow it up. The best attempt came from a radio station in Chicago, whose reporter eventually told me he couldn't write about the missile because, quote, "the Defense Department in Washington won't confirm the story."
It is ironic that among the exceptions to the grotesque and misleading journalism coming out of the Middle East are a few brave Israeli reporters who question the morality of Israel's actions and Arafat's corruption with a ruthlessness that is rare in any European publication and is totally absent in the United States and Canada. Among the most courageous and eloquent of these journalists are Gideon Levy and Amira Hass in Ha'aretz. And if you don't read Ha'aretz, you should.
Hass recently told me - we had a long chat recently about journalism, and I went waffling on and on with my pet theories of how basically we write the first page of history. Oh, how [unintelligible] that British [unintelligible] has got. But we do, in a sense. We're the first people there. We're the nearest to impartial people there will ever be. But Amira disagreed. Her mother, by the way, was a Jewish partisan in Yugoslavia captured by the Gestapo and she lived through the war. Amira's version was different. She said that the duty of journalists, and I quote her, is to monitor the centers of power. As good a definition as I've ever heard of our profession. But it raises an important question: How can Amira say things which her American counterparts shy away from - at least not without the weasel words that are [unintelligible] increase?
Needless to say, Hass not only puts us to shame but Arab journalists as well. Out in the arid wastes of Arab journalism, as many of you are very familiar, there is as little interest in serious investigation of the Middle East conflict as there is in the United States. As I know to my cost. I get plenty of hate mail from people who claim that they're friends of Israel but I get an awful lot from the Arab world. You know, when I managed to get into Hama, the Syrian city under siege in 1982 during the Islamist uprising, and saw Syrian tanks shelling the mosques of Hama, Damascus radio condemned me as a liar. In Egypt, when I dared to question President Mubarak's 98.87% election victory -- he didn't get a hundred, for God's sakes. The Syrians once claimed 110% in 1976.
When I dared to question Mubarak's legitimacy as president, I was referred to in Al Ahram as "a black dog pecking at the corpse of Egypt." And I'll tell you what happened to me in Bahrain, where I investigated torture at the secret police headquarters, an institution run by a former British Special Branch officer. A Scotsman, actually, whose name was Ian Henderson. It turned out - and here, if you'd help me, I don't know how all these people are all going to see it, but we'll sort of turn it around and let them all see it. Here is a cartoon that appeared in Akhbar Al Khaleej. As you see - those of you who speak Arabic can read it - the BBC's up here. Here's Christopher Walker of the Times. And in the middle - the white dog here, staring at all those pound notes and bags of thousand dollars - here's Bob, the white dog, here. I'll show it around. Have a closer look at Bob. I'm sure Mr. Henderson would wish you to. He's still there, by the way, but they say he has a nice little place somewhere in the Far East to go to. Now, here's Bob. And I must say, I've never seen all this swag here in my life. I want to say also that the nightmare dentures are absolutely accurate. But as you can see, this dog is rabid. Well, have a look for the people 'round here. Here's Bob. Here's the money - which I never get. Here's the dentures. And look, he's slobbering, this dog. Because you see, he's a rabid dog. And rabid dogs have to be exterminated. Which is why that Arab cartoon, ladies and gentlemen, was not a joke. It was a threat.
In all the Middle East, nothing I think quite surpasses our journalistic desire to humor Turkey by obfuscating the reality of the 20th century's first genocide. The deliberate killing of one and a half million Armenians, Christians, most of the slaughtered in 1915 by Ottoman Turkish Muslim authorities. No serious academic, except for those holding chairs funded by Turkey, disputes the facts. And anyone who doubts them should read the recently published - and brilliant - Encyclopedia of Genocide by Israel's foremost Holocaust scholar Israel Charny. Indeed, my newspaper, the Independent, now refers to the Armenian Holocaust with a capital "H", just as it does for the Jewish Holocaust.
Much of Charny's horrifying documentation comes from 1915 editions of the New York Times. The New York Times, ladies and gentlemen, broke this story, one of the great stories of the century. The New York Times. And all praise to it for doing so. And thus, all shame to it for allowing the following. Because these appalling and bloody events have been almost universally referred to, now, by journalists, as disputed. Like the disputed West Bank. Or as controversial claims. And most extraordinary of all, the New York Times, the paper which 87 years ago did more to publicize this horror than any other paper in the United States, has done its bit to discredit the tragedy.
In April of 1998, for example, the Times' Steven Kinzer wrote a report about the 70,000 Armenians who live in present-day Turkey. Here is a key paragraph from his report. And I'll ask you to listen carefully and spot the troubles in it. In fact, I'll stick my hand up when they occur. "Relations between Turks and Armenians were good during much of the Ottoman period. But they were deeply scarred by massacres of Armenians that pro-Ottoman forces in eastern Anatolia carried out in the spring of 1915. Details of what happened there are still hotly debated, but it is clear that vast numbers of Armenians were killed or left to die during forced marches in a burst of what is now called ethnic cleansing."
I still read this paragraph with a sense of great shock. What did Kinzer mean by deeply scarred? Relations between Turks and Armenians came to a virtual end in 1915 because there weren't many Armenians left to have relations with. And note the intriguing phrase "pro-Ottoman forces", which avoids Turks, Turkish, Turkey. Most incredible of all, is Kinzer's assertion that the details are hotly debated. Turkey may use its lobby groups to lie about the genocide and the Turkish government still tries to cover up the massacres as the side effects of civil war. But for the New York Times to present the Armenian Holocaust as a subject of serious dispute is as insulting to Armenians as it is for Jews to hear the facts of their Holocaust denied. Note too how Kinzer talks about vast numbers killed, thus avoiding the all-important and terrible figure of one and a half million and how ethnic cleansing takes the place of genocide in the text.
Another of Kinzer's articles, written from the Armenian capital of Yerevan, even carries the headline "Armenia Never Forgets - Maybe it Should". I find this as outrageous as if the Times ran a headline saying that Jews should forget the hideous crimes committed against them. During the Pope's recent visit to Yerevan, scarcely a single agency report referred to the genocide without a Turkish government disclaimer. BBC World Television's coverage of the papal visit referred to more than a million Armenians killed as the Ottoman Empire broke up. Like the Palestinians who mysteriously die in clashes, the BBC couldn't bring themselves to tell us who actually killed more than a million Armenians. Let me give you a very recent example, this is the New York Times of April 24th this year. April 24th, as many of you will know, is the day on which Armenians commemorate their genocide. He's referring here at the beginning to the fact that there is a Holocaust Museum, as we all know, in Washington. His parallel - great parallel - Washington already has one major institution, the United States Holocaust Museum, that documents an effort to destroy an entire people. The story it presents is beyond dispute. But the events of 1915 are still a matter of intense dispute.
I'll go one further, since we're in Canada. Mr. B. N. Gazzarian of Toronto -- he may even be with us tonight, I don't know - sent me a very interesting email. He enclosed a copy of a letter he'd written to the Toronto Globe and Mail. Here it is. "Dear Sir, I was very upset and offended that the Globe, the leading national newspaper in Canada" - well, we'll just leave that - "reprinted the article Now Who Are the War Criminals? by Mr. Robert Fisk in its November 30th issue. It had originally appeared in the Independent. It had been edited in the original text and edited in the Globe in an arbitrary, highly offensive way to Armenians and disgraceful to your newspaper. In the original article" - all this is correct, by the way - "by Mr. Fisk that appeared in the Independent, he referred to the Armenian genocide that occurred in 1915 as the Armenian Holocaust, while the reprint in your newspaper has been changed to read the mass murder of the Armenians. Still your newspaper shows that author of the article is Mr. Fisk."
Anyway, Mr. Gazzarian called up a Miss Valerie Ross who is the editor of the Comment section, who said, and apparently Mr. Gazzarian was very upset about this, she said it was the newspaper's house policy to use the word Holocaust in reference to only one historical event. Needless to say, I called our syndication department in London. We have special penalties for people who buy the syndication rights to our newspaper and then change the copy. However, they called me back to say that not only had they changed it, they'd bloody well stolen it. They never asked our permission to take it. So my article was stolen by the Toronto Globe and Mail and then changed and printed on the Comment page. Thank you, Canada.
But now I want to go back to the points I've been making to you earlier. Back in 1993, I made a 3 part documentary film for the Discovery Channel in the United States, and also for Channel 4 in Britain. It was called Beirut to Bosnia and it attempted to find out why an increasing number of Muslims had come to hate the West. Indeed, the title was "Why Muslims Have Come to Hate the West." We filmed in Beirut, Southern Lebanon, Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza, Egypt, Bosnia and Croatia. Among many of the sections and stories we filmed was that of a Palestinian farmer called Mohammed Hakim trying to hang on to his land just outside Jerusalem. I want to show you this very short clip of film now.
[…] Jews, Muslims and Christians has been illegal annexed by Israel, which still claims it to be its eternal and unified capital. East of the city, outside the internationally recognized border of Israel, only a little bit of the old rural Palestine remains, and the huge Jewish settlements built on Palestinian land are now cities -- a ring of Israeli concrete around Jerusalem. It takes a brave Palestinian to hold out here, to cling onto his own land in the face of Israel's expanding settlements. But in this little patch of orchard, is a family that's refused to leave its land, despite an order to get out.
[…] He did not do so. He was out before Christmas and he now lives with his family in that village of Qismay which you saw on the film. I went back to the place of his home a few weeks ago and it's now concreted over. It looks like the other houses which you saw on the film. Again, I repeat: this film was made nine years ago. And as I said, many people took exception at the time to the idea that things were happening which would bring about some kind of explosion. The last short piece of film I want to show you is an attempt to display and to demonstrate how Americans can provoke [unintelligible] even if they don't realize it. This film again -- and remember it was made nine years ago. When I see it now in retrospect I find it very chilling in the light of events that occurred just over a year ago. It begins in Sabra-Chatila.
[…] see a house in Beirut. He'd lost a home in Acre in 1948, went back to that home, found an elderly Israeli inside who had been tuned out of his home in southern Lebanon in 1939 and then we took our crew to southern Lebanon and knocked on his front door. And the old lady who answered the door said, "Are they coming back?" It was a fascinating journey back through the course of history. However, shortly after the series aired on Discovery, a series of pro-Israeli lobby groups, including CAMERA - which is Camera Media Resources Center - bombarded the channel with complaints. Joseph Ungar wrote to say that for me to say that Israel confiscates occupied land and builds huge Jewish settlements on Arab land, that, quote, "was twisted history." We were also told that by claiming the Phalange was sent into Sabra and Chatila by Israel - which the Kahane Commission, of course, acknowledges - this was an egregious falsehood.
In due course, we discovered that Discovery was being sent American Express cards cut in half. American Express being one of the sponsors of the original series. Discovery rang me in Beirut to say they were receiving lots of letters condemning the films from various groups. Then director Mike Dutfield and I heard that Discovery had cancelled the reshowing. In an imperishable letter to Dutfield, Bunting wrote - and I ask you not to laugh until the end - quote, "Given the reaction to the series on its initial airing we never scheduled a subsequent airing. So there's not really an issue as to any scheduled re-airing being cancelled." When I read those words, ladies and gentlemen, I was ashamed to be a foreign correspondent.
So, in the next and last five minutes, let me ask you what has happened to us in the months since September the 11th, 2001? Here we spent decades preaching to the Third World, to China and the Soviet Union, to Black Africa and to the Arabs about law, democracy, human rights, fair trials. But the moment our glittering towers were struck, we tore up all those old lectures, arrested hundreds on suspicion, brought prisoners drugged and blindfolded to Guantanamo Bay, bombed the poorest country in the world, killed thousands of its citizens. Now, as I said, in any ordinary crime, in any domestic crime, the first thing the cops do is look for a motive. This we cannot and are not allowed to do with September the 11th.
Oddly, the killers themselves were not from the deprived. I visited the home of Ziad Jarrah, the Lebanese suicide pilot, who came from a village in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. This was the pilot of the plane crashed in Pennsylvania after the passengers so bravely stormed the cockpit. His parents were middle-class, his mother a schoolteacher, his father a civil servant in the Lebanese government. I was amazed to find that I actually knew his uncle, a bank manager in the town of Shtira. The family desperately wanted to believe that their son was an innocent passenger on the plane. His father wept in front of me because he knew. His son had had a girlfriend, a Turkish girl, who had met his parents the summer before their engagement was announced. In the end, she travelled alone to meet the family - a strange arrangement in Lebanon - because Jarrah suddenly announced he was too busy with flight training in the United States. His father sent him $2000 three days before September the 11th, another ten the day before the attacks. He told me Ziad rang him up to thank him for the money - I suspect it was used to buy airplane tickets. He had been, it later transpired, to Afghanistan. He had not been political before, however as a boy he had been trapped in Beirut in the '82 siege, spending weeks under shellfire. Had this touched him, as it had so many others at the time? The '82 siege, after all, gave rise to the Hezbollah.
And what are we to learn of the personal reasons for the crimes against humanity of September the 11th? Not much. The middle-class murderes left only one infantile statement, because I suspect their message was their deed. They came from the Middle East. They came from a land that has been deceived and mistreated and humiliated for decades. Was the world really changed forever? I don't think so. Perhaps America was changed forever. But why should the world be changed? Back in 1982, during Israel's invasion of Lebanon, 17,500 people, almost all of the civilians, were killed in just three months. And as I said earlier, in February of the same year, 20,000 Syrians were killed by the Special Forces of the late President Assad's brother. No one lit candles for them. There were no church services. There were no memorials. No one remembered and the world did not change.
In the fall of last year I heard Colin Powell telling us from Louisburg University, that never again could we look up into the pale blue sky and see an airliner and feel the same way about it. I think this is rubbish. I look up every day from my home in Beirut on my balcony and I see airplanes flying in the pale blue sky and they land at Beirut Airport. I fly a lot more planes than Secretary Powell and they take me to my destination. You know, without in any way belittling the horror and the evil of that terrible day, I do sometimes wonder whether America's concentration on that one day, to the point where we cannot discuss the whys, isn't becoming a form of dangerous self-absorption.
So, kindly, journalists, ignore the abuse and the lobby groups and the attempt to softpedal reporting about the Middle East - and about Afghanistan, and about Iraq. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer's remark from October of last year that, and I quote, the press is asking a lot of questions that I suspect the American people would prefer not to be asked or answered, carries its own ominous implication. But when the head of CNN announced to his reporters that they shouldn't say too much about the thousands of Afghan civilian casualties of America's bombing because this might provide propaganda for the Taliban, it was, I think the most shameful comment made by a Western news head in recent times.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I make an appeal to you? Let's stop saying that September the 11th, 2001 changed the world. Let's not say disputed when we mean occupied, neighborhood when we mean colony, ethnic cleansing when we mean genocide. Let's not go to war for human rights when we didn't care about those human rights 19 years ago.
Let me just mention one thing to you before you go on. Did you know I was in the Middle East 19 years ago covering Iraq? At that time, when Saddam Hussein was using poison gas against Iran - a war crime - President Reagan sent his envoy to reopen the American Embassy in Baghdad, and the envoy who went there and shook the hand of Saddam Hussein was Donald Rumsfeld. In the following year, Donald Rumsfeld went to meet Tariq Aziz, on the very day that the United Nations published its first report on the war crime of the use of gas by the Iraqi Army. So let me finish by saying one thing to you and one sentence only. Let's do what Americans used to tell their journalists to do and let's try to tell it how it is. Thank you very much. God bless.
Transcribed by Ken Hechtman