* Their fingernails and front teeth ripped out with pliers for the "crime" of speaking with CNN
* Her skull was smashed and her body torn apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family's home
* Eason Jordan: "Obviously, other news organizations were in the same bind we were when it came to reporting on their own workers"
1. A rare public admittance
2. CNN cameraman tortured in basement of Iraqi secret police headquarters
3. "The news we kept to ourselves" (By Eason Jordan, New York Times, April 11, 2003)
4. "Charges against regime's most wanted men" (Guardian, April 11, 2003)
5. "French sceptical at jubilant scenes" (London Times, April 10, 2003)
A RARE PUBLIC ADMITTANCE
[Note by Tom Gross]
I attach a very important commentary from today's New York Times by the head of CNN news, Eason Jordan, followed by two other articles.
Obviously Jordan was in a bind as to the need to protect anyone working with or even interviewed by CNN. Yet as a result of his article, some may question why CNN deemed it more important to keep a bureau open in Baghdad that could only report lies rather than close it down and expose the truth.
The article is also a rare public admittance of the difficulty many journalists have when being watched by totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. Perhaps viewers of CNN and other stations will now be more skeptical of the objectivity of reports of the kind we saw yesterday on CNN from Damascus and Gaza. There too, viewers should bare in mind how much news journalists "keep to themselves," as the title of Jordan's article states.
CNN CAMERAMAN TORTURED IN BASEMENT OF IRAQI SECRET POLICE HEADQUARTERS
Eason Jordan confirms CNN did not fully report the truth from Baghdad over the last twelve years, for fear of having any more of the freelancers and others working for CNN being tortured. He writes of an Iraqi cameraman employed by CNN, who was abducted, beaten for weeks, and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters.
On thirteen visits to Baghdad, Jordan tells of Iraqis he met who had long been missing all their fingernails, had no front teeth since they had been ripped out with pliers, and of a 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, who was captured by Iraqi secret police for the "crime" of speaking with CNN on the phone, and beaten daily for two months, while her father was forced to watch. Then, according to Jordan, her skull was smashed and her body torn apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family's home.
Jordan adds: "The secret police terrorized Iraqis working for international press services who were courageous enough to try to provide accurate reporting. Some vanished, never to be heard from again. Others disappeared and then surfaced later with whispered tales of being hauled off and tortured in unimaginable ways. Obviously, other news organizations were in the same bind we were when it came to reporting on their own workers."
I also attach:
2. "Charges against regime's most wanted men" (Guardian, April 11, 2003)
3. "French sceptical at jubilant scenes" (London Times, April 10, 2003)
-- Tom Gross
THE NEWS WE KEPT TO OURSELVES
The news we kept to ourselves
By Eason Jordan
The New York Times
April 11, 2003
Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN's Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard - awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff.
For example, in the mid-1990's one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government's ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency's Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk.
Working for a foreign news organization provided Iraqi citizens no protection. The secret police terrorized Iraqis working for international press services who were courageous enough to try to provide accurate reporting. Some vanished, never to be heard from again. Others disappeared and then surfaced later with whispered tales of being hauled off and tortured in unimaginable ways. Obviously, other news organizations were in the same bind we were when it came to reporting on their own workers.
We also had to worry that our reporting might endanger Iraqis not on our payroll. I knew that CNN could not report that Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Uday, told me in 1995 that he intended to assassinate two of his brothers-in-law who had defected and also the man giving them asylum, King Hussein of Jordan. If we had gone with the story, I was sure he would have responded by killing the Iraqi translator who was the only other participant in the meeting. After all, secret police thugs brutalized even senior officials of the Information Ministry, just to keep them in line (one such official has long been missing all his fingernails).
Still, I felt I had a moral obligation to warn Jordan's monarch, and I did so the next day. King Hussein dismissed the threat as a madman's rant. A few months later Uday lured the brothers-in-law back to Baghdad; they were soon killed.
I came to know several Iraqi officials well enough that they confided in me that Saddam Hussein was a maniac who had to be removed. One Foreign Ministry officer told me of a colleague who, finding out his brother had been executed by the regime, was forced, as a test of loyalty, to write a letter of congratulations on the act to Saddam Hussein. An aide to Uday once told me why he had no front teeth: henchmen had ripped them out with pliers and told him never to wear dentures, so he would always remember the price to be paid for upsetting his boss. Again, we could not broadcast anything these men said to us.
Last December, when I told Information Minister Muhammad Said al-Sahhaf that we intended to send reporters to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq, he warned me they would "suffer the severest possible consequences." CNN went ahead, and in March, Kurdish officials presented us with evidence that they had thwarted an armed attack on our quarters in Erbil. This included videotaped confessions of two men identifying themselves as Iraqi intelligence agents who said their bosses in Baghdad told them the hotel actually housed C.I.A. and Israeli agents. The Kurds offered to let us interview the suspects on camera, but we refused, for fear of endangering our staff in Baghdad.
Then there were the events that were not unreported but that nonetheless still haunt me. A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for "crimes," one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family's home.
I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me. Now that Saddam Hussein's regime is gone, I suspect we will hear many, many more gut-wrenching tales from Iraqis about the decades of torment. At last, these stories can be told freely.
(Eason Jordan is chief news executive at CNN.)
CHARGES AGAINST REGIME’S MOST WANTED MEN
Charges against regime's most wanted men
April 11, 2003
Since Ali Hassan al-Majid, otherwise known as Chemical Ali, is presumed dead, these are the 10 names likely to head the most wanted list. They include those targeted by both the Americans and Indict, a British organisation which has collected evidence of crimes committed by leaders of the Iraqi regime.
President of Iraq since 1979. Invaded Iran and Kuwait. Authorised the development of chemical weapons. There are witness statements saying he personally shot batches of Kurdish prisoners with a Browning pistol.
Saddam's 38-year-old son. Commander of Saddam Fedayeen forces and head of Iraq's National Olympic Committee. Believed to have tortured victims using electric shocks and to have ordered people to be killed in acid baths.
Saddam's younger son but his chosen successor. In charge of the Special Republican Guard and Iraqi intelligence and security services. Alleged to have selected prisoners for execution; once supervised mass killings where inmates were dropped into a machine used for shredding plastic.
Vice-chairman of the revolutionary command council and military commander of the northern region of Iraq. Oversaw the mass execution of detainees, according to survivors, including one occasion when 170 people were shot in a day.
Deputy prime minister and member of the Revolutionary Command Council. Accused of shooting disgraced members of the Ba'ath regime. Said to have been informed in advance of the nerve gas attack on Halabja in 1988 which killed 5,000 people.
Mohammed Hamza al-Zubaidi:
Former prime minister and deputy prime minister. Responsible for atrocities against Shia population in southern Iraq. Filmed beating rebels. Oversaw destruction of the southern marshes.
Aziz Salih al-Numan:
Army commander during the 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait. Governor of Nassiriya. Said to have personally overseen summary execution of those who took part in Shia uprising in the city after the first Gulf war.
Abed Hamoud al-Tikriti:
Personal secretary who controlled access to the president. Frequently at Saddam's side. Said to have directed the daily matters of state and to have handed down many of the regime's repressive orders.
Taha Yasin Ramadan:
Vice-president, deputy prime minister. Commanded army during occupation of Kuwait. Had prior knowledge of the Halabja gas attack. Allegedly shot prisoners who were partly buried but still insulting Saddam Hussein.
Watban Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti:
Saddam's half-brother. Former minister of the interior. Witness statements say he beat to death a victim who had driven through a red traffic light.
FRENCH SCEPTICAL AT JUBILANT SCENES
French sceptical at jubilant scenes
By Charles Bremner
The Times of London
April 10, 2003
The fall of Baghdad sparked no jubilation in France yesterday as President Chirac prepared for a hard diplomatic battle to deter Washington from turning Iraq into an outright US protectorate. In keeping with its sceptical tone, the French media depicted the takeover of Baghdad as the victory of overwhelmingly superior forces. Images of rejoicing in the Shia district of Saddam City were balanced with footage of angry Baghdadis "meeting their new masters", as France 2 state television put it. The Americans were again lambasted for heavy-handed methods as the media continued to emphasise the suffering of civilians.
In the first bout of postwar manoeuvring, Dominique de Villepin, the Foreign Minister, staged a show of reconciliation yesterday with Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, in Paris. Both stressed the need for the UN to play a leading role in Iraq and for a settlement in the Middle East.
M Chirac flies to St Petersburg tomorrow to forge a common front with President Putin and Gerhard Schröder, the German Chancellor, his partners in the pre-war "axis of peace". M Chirac aims to lead a campaign to win as big as possible a role for the UN in post-war Iraq. It must not, he says, become an American vice-royalty with a puppet Government.
He has also ordered his team to mend fences with London and limit the damage done to ties with Washington. However, while the French are optimistic about reconciliation with Tony Blair, they are under no illusion that Washington is about to let them back in from the cold.