Thursday, July 25, 2013
Obama’s war on journalism extended to a personal phone call to imprison a journalist in Yemen
by Larry Geller
“The White House is saying that they are disappointed and concerned that a Yemeni journalist has been released from a Yemeni prison. The White House is citing his conviction, that he supposedly was a supporter of al-Qaeda, in a kangaroo court, a court that was condemned by every major international media freedom organization, every major international human rights organization, that it was a total sham trial, where he was kept in a cage during the course of his prosecution and was convicted on trumped-up charges. So, Mr. Constitutional Law Professor President is saying that this Yemeni court, that has been condemned by every international human rights organization in the world, is somehow legitimate.”—Jeremy Scahill, on Democracy Now, 7/25/2013
by Larry Geller
The first segment of today’s Democracy Now (see video below) is devoted to the situation of Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider, who has just been released from prison after being tortured and held for three years on terrorism-related charges at the request of President Obama.
In one swoop, guest Jeremy Scahill exposes Obama’s war on journalism not only by exposing the extent of his personal interference in Yemen in the case of journalist Abdulelah Haider, whose “crime” in the eyes of our President was that he exposed the U.S. cruise missile attack on the Yemeni village of al-Majalah that killed 41 people, including 14 women and 21 children in December 2009. Yemeni officials were in the habit of shielding the US attacks and avoiding sovereignty issues by claiming the attacks as their own.
Jeremy Scahill commented on Obama’s vendetta in the program:
Then-Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced his intention to pardon Shaye in 2011, but apparently changed his mind after a phone call from Obama. In a statement, the White House now says it is "concerned and disappointed" by Shaye’s release. "We should let that statement set in: The White House is saying that they are disappointed and concerned that a Yemeni journalist has been released from a Yemeni prison," says Jeremy Scahill, national security correspondent for The Nation, who covers Shaye’s case in "Dirty Wars," his new book and film by the same name. "This is a man who was put in prison because he had the audacity to expose a U.S. cruise missile attack that killed three dozen women and children."
Scahill noted Obama’s war on journalism later in the interview:
Yeah, I mean, look at this White House’s position on whistleblowers and on journalists. You had the seizure of the Associated Press phone records. You have record numbers of prosecutions and indictments under the Espionage Act. You have what I think amounts to a criminalization of independent reporting.
James Risen of The New York Times has been ordered to testify against a source of his who was a whistleblower. You have Bradley Manning’s trial coming to conclusion. The charge against him of aiding the enemy boils down to an assertion that anyone who provides information on the Internet, that then can be read by a terrorist, is somehow aiding the enemy. They’re actually contending that Bradley Manning, in leaking the diplomatic cables, aided Osama bin Laden directly, because Osama bin Laden was reported to have read some of the WikiLeaks cables. If that charge sticks, it should be chilling not just for journalists, but for the public at large, in the day of social media, when everyone is a journalist of sorts.
Also in the segment is Scahill’s report that the US used internationally-banned cluster bombs on the village:
And why is it that the Obama administration has never had to publicly state why they killed 14 women and 21 children in the first strike that President Obama authorized? And, you know, cruise missiles are a devastating weapon, and cluster bombs, which are banned internationally—the United States is one of the only nations on earth that continues to use cluster bombs. These are like flying land mines that shred people into ground meat. That’s why the tribal leaders were saying, "We couldn’t tell if it was the flesh of goats or sheep or humans." I mean, I’ve seen in Yugoslavia and elsewhere the aftermath of cluster bombs, but to use these on a Bedouin village—I mean, this White House should have to explain why that strike was in the interest of U.S. national security.
Amy Goodman’s interview with Jeremy Scahill is worth watching in its entirety. Click the thingy in the video below for full screen, or watch the program at the link below.
The original content of the Democracy Now program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.