Tag: jonathan rugman

Is the BBCs Ian Pannell complicit in crude anti-Syrian propaganda?

By Daniel Margrain

This is Ian Pannell’s latest BBC report on Syrian chemical weapon use (September 10) allegedly by the Syrian government. Apparently this is yet more evidence of chemical attacks.

I want to declare from the outset that I am not a conspiracy theorist. That’s not to say, historically, there have not been genuine conspiracies’ undertaken by the state against adversaries that have served the political agendas of their protagonists.These have come in many guises from false flag attacks such as the Russian apartment bombings in 1999, the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 and the nurse Nayirah affair in 1990.

After having studied the contents of Robert Stuart’s blog in which he has meticulously and tenaciously examined the September 30, 2013 edition of the BBC Panorama documentary, ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ and other related BBC news reports by presenter Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway, Stuart has attempted, without much success, to negotiate around its Orwellian complaints procedure.

Pannell’s reports’ appeared peak time on BBC TV a few days after the attack in Ghouta and were seemingly intended as a propaganda tool in the prelude to war. After having studied Pannell’s work and Stuart’s detailed analysis, it’s impossible to disagree with journalist Jonathan Cook who said that we, the news consumers, “are being constantly spun by the media machine that’s the modern equivalent of “soma”, the drug in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World that its citizens were fed to keep them docile and happy.” 

What the Panorama documentary and related reports actually illustrate, in line with Chomsky and Herman’s Propaganda Model, is the media’s apparent ability to be able to keep many of us in a state of perpetual hypnosis. Stuart contends that sequences filmed by BBC staff and others at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 purporting to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a school in Urm Al-Kubra are largely, if not entirely, staged.

Scenes from the documentary were shown as part of a brief BBC News at Ten broadcast report by Pannell and Conway which contained harrowing scenes of teenage boys and young men, their skin apparently in tatters, racing into what the report describes as “a basic hospital funded by handouts” to be treated for burns. In one particularly disturbing scene a tableau of young men writhe, drool and groan, seemingly in great distress.

My first impression after having seen the film was that it was totally contrived and staffed by actors. What initially led me to this conclusion were the actions of the central figure, Mohammed Asi, who looked directly into the camera for several moments before raising his arm, at which point the group around him instantly became animated before moaning in unison.

Many other anomalies and contradictions too numerous to mention here in detail were evident throughout the Panorama documentary and the related reports’. These included conflicting and contradictory accounts, a “victim” who appeared to be grinning, implausible demeanours’ of alleged victims, questions as to the authenticity of the alleged burns to victims by experienced doctors, apparent choreographed behaviour, unconvincing injuries and testimonies’ that challenge the BBC version of events.

But perhaps the most controversial aspect of all was the participation of Dr. Rola Hallam who appeared anonymously to report on the aftermath of another attack in Syria. Her emotional call for humanitarian intervention in the shape of bombs drew parallels with “Nurse Nayirah“‘s lies to the Congressional Human Rights Caucus in the run up to the US vote on the 1990-91 Gulf War.

But arguably most significantly of all, in a report headlined BBC Crew returns to Aleppo on 30 September 2013, rehashed footage from the original programme was aired again. The BBC explains “In a special edition, Panorama travels with British doctors inside Syria to exclusively reveal the devastating impact of the war on children caught in the conflict”  It is a heart-rending report of the suffering of the Syrian people, made so as to demonise the Syrian government.

Close inspection of the two different versions reveals that there were actually two or more takes of this scene.  The easiest tell is the arm position of the man in the fluorescent jacket next to the doctor.

If Dr Rola was as “overwhelmed” as the video claims, why take time off to do multiple almost identical takes of an interview?

The BBC portrayed this as a live action piece with casualties being rushed in. But clearly this is nonsense given that it must of been rehearsed because several takes were done. Furthermore, nobody else in the courtyard is wearing a face mask. One would have thought that if the doctor had time for various takes she would also have time to take her mask off to talk to camera.

Both Panorama programmes talk of two British female doctors, “volunteers for the Charity Hand-in-Hand-for Syria“, suspected to be Dr Rola Hallam and Dr Saleyha Ahsan. The BBC did not mention the backgrounds of either of the “charitable volunteers”. Dr Rola’s connections to the SNO and FSA and the fact that she was shilling for military action under medical/charitable/ altruistic volunteer credentials, all of which the BBC clearly understood but deliberately witheld from the viewer.

Her father is Dr Mousa al-Kurdi, a senior SNO member – who actually taught Assad at university; the Dep leader of the FSA is Col Malik al-Kurdi. Her on-site colleague is a former Captain in the British Army Medical Corps. There is plenty of other clear corroborating evidence of her support for the rebellion too.

All of it was hidden by the BBC who gave the impression she is just an ordinary doctor with selfless humanitarian concerns and plays to the Western interventionist agenda perfectly.

The BBC has not addressed any of the legitimate issues raised. All of the anomalies and contradictions call into question the authenticity of the entire alleged attack. George Galloway said:

The Bush-Blair Corporation as it became known leading up to the Iraq war has lost almost all journalistic integrity. A full inquiry must be launched into why the BBC used a piece of material that was not just wrong but was falsified…for the purpose of propelling our country into war. That’s not what the British public pays its TV license for so that it can be tricked into a war

It’s my view that it’s probable some kind of chemical attack did indeed take place but in a different location to the one depicted but the BBC embellished, fabricated and falsified the aftermath for propaganda purposes. The claims made throughout were that the Assad regime was responsible for the alleged attack despite the fact that there is no evidence supporting the assertion that he was responsible for the chemical attacks in Ghouta in the suburbs of Damascus on September 16 prior to the BBC documentary.

What both Pannell’s latest BBC report and Jonathan Rugman’s recent piece for Channel 4 News before that highlight, is that once again, the British public is being conditioned for war. Two years ago, when the majority of MPs voted against intervention in Syria, would seem to suggest that MPs were sensitive to the views of a highly sceptical and hostile public. But Cameron’s cynical exploitation of the little boy found washed up dead on a Turkish beach, might change all that.

Channel 4s Jonathan Rugman Sets The Tone For More War

Sirte-destroyed-1

It would appear that the failed Western interventions predicated on packs of lies that have resulted in widespread chaos and hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya with many more displaced and turning up on the shores of Europe, is not enough for harbingers of democracy and freedom and their media echo chambers’.

Since Nato’s illegal “humanitarian intervention” which resulted in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddaffi, thousands of prisoners have been held without trial in government jails, and torture and brutality have become rife. In fact, torture, bombings and assassinations are now par for the course in Libya, as described here.

Similarly, In Iraq, where prior to the allied invasion and occupation, Al Qaeda had no presence, the country is currently awash with the medieval savages known as ISIS and where sectarian violence is commonplace. In a single day in 2013, thirteen bombs were detonated in Baghdad killing at least 47 people. This is the context in which thousands of academics have been forced to leave the country.

Despite all of this carnage and human misery, the Pew Research Journalism Project finds that ‘the No. 1 message’ on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News, and Al Jazeera, was “that the U S government should get involved in the conflict” in Syria. No surprise, then, that much of UK journalism had decided that the current Official Enemy was responsible for the chemical attacks in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta almost two years to the day.

This was long before the UN published the evidence in its report on “the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta area” on September 16 of that year. The UN did not blame the Syrian president, Assad, for the attack, but in truth expressed “grave doubts”, despite pre-emptied media claims to the contrary.

Just one day after the attacks, for example, a Guardian leader claimed there was not “much doubt” who was to blame, as it simultaneously assailed its readers with commentary on the West’s “responsibility to protect”. The media’s response to the May 2012 massacre in Houla, similarly blamed it on Assad.

By not sticking to the script, Reuters was one of the few outlets who actually relayed the truth. On September 7, 2013 it reported:

“No direct link to President Bashar al-Assad or his inner circle has been publicly demonstrated, and some U.S. sources say intelligence experts are not sure whether the Syrian leader knew of the attack before it was launched or was only informed about it afterward.

“While U.S. officials say Assad is responsible for the chemical weapons strike even if he did not directly order it, they have not been able to fully describe a chain of command for the August 21 attack in the Ghouta area east of the Syrian capital.”

The lack of evidence of Assad’s culpability didn’t prevent US president Obama from regurgitating the media line by unequivocally pinning the blame on Assad for the chemical attack. Following Obama’s earlier warnings that any use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line”, he then declared on September 10, 2013:

“Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people …We know the Assad regime was responsible … And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Seymour Hersh saw through the lies and accused Obama of deceiving the world in making a cynical case for war. In response to pressure from an informed public who also saw through the deceptions, British MPs voted in parliament against war and Obama subsequently backed down.

Award-winning investigative journalist Gareth Porter shows that:

[T]he Syria chemical warfare intelligence summary released by the Barack Obama administration August 30 did not represent an intelligence community assessment, [but appears to be] more politicised than the flawed 2002 Iraq WMD estimate that the George W Bush administration cited as part of the justification for the invasion of Iraq.

Two years down the line and the unsubstantiated media claims keep coming. A Channel 4 News report (August 26) by foreign affairs correspondent, Jonathan Rugman, showed what appeared to be the aftermath of what he described as “air attacks by the Assad government….that have killed scores of people” allegedly committed on August 23, once again, in Ghouta. Amid scenes of widespread destruction and panic, civilians were filmed carrying blood soaked dead or injured bodies from the rubble.

It’s my view that the public are once again being softened up for yet more military intervention in another sovereign nation, this time, Syria which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon pointed out, would clearly be illegal. What people appear to be questioning in ever increasing numbers, since the Iraq debacle, is the nature of war and the role the imperialist powers like Britain and America play in these wars.

These debates have taken on a new sense of rigorous critique since Iraq resulting, for example, in the rejection by the British parliament of Obama’s red line. In America, congressional voting has unleashed a swarm of debates such as why should the US be the world’s policeman and what exactly are “US interests” in another country’s sectarian civil war?

People are increasingly beginning to understand that foreign military interventions in places like Syria and Iraq exacerbate ethnic and tribal sectarian based conflicts and that the only feasible option in resolving what has in effect become an international conflict, is discussion and diplomacy. People are less likely to believe their governments’ and their media echo chambers’ when they make unsubstantiated claims about reasons for a war.