answer is to be found in a
remarkable film, Judgment, produced by Jared Israel
and Petar Makara of Emperors-Clothes.com
and distributed by Antiwar.com, which shows, in miniature,
how they did it and are still doing it. Looking at
this film is like suddenly being given X-ray vision, a power
that enables you to literally see behind the headlines and
witness a process that brings to mind the old saying about
how no one would ever eat sausages if they could see how they
Marshall and her film crew from Britain's Independent
Television Network (ITN) journeyed to Bosnia in search of
Serbian death camps they asked for, and received, permission
to visit two locations, a dentention center for POWs and a
refuge center run by the Serbian authorities at Omarska
Ms. Marshall didn't know that she would also be caught on
film, could not have known that the filmmaker would herself
be subjected to the scrutiny of the camera and so,
by chance, we were given a glimpse into the internal workings
and methodology of the war propaganda machine.
THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR
chance, a Serbian RTS film crew was also filming at these
locations, and since the two crews were often within a few
feet of one another, there is an almost complete record of
Marshall's visit to Omarska and Trnopolje. In effect, we get
to see what wound up on the cutting room floor and
not only that, but we can see how Marshall and her editors
cut, clipped, cropped, and took entire images out of context
in order to break the completely fabricated "story" of how
the Serbs were running "concentration camps" in Bosnia
a lie repeated by Bill Clinton and used against the Republicans
in the 1992 presidential elections. Clinton demanded to know
why George Bush was willing to countenance these "death camps"
him for not taking action military action.
have written about "the picture the fooled the world" before,
but Judgment gives a whole new dimension to this vitally
important story. The photo that came out of Ms. Marshall's
Bosnia expedition of an emaciated Bosnian Muslim framed
by barbed wire sped around the world as "evidence"
that the Serbs were demonic neo-Nazis bent on genocide. But
it is just a photo, mute except for what is implied by the
image and written in the caption. In "The Picture That Fooled
the World The Movie," we get to hear Penny Marshall
as she peppers the inhabitants of the Trnopolje "concentration
camp" with questions, the "correct" answers to which are implicit
in her tone of voice as well as in her phrasing.
MARSHALL: "They treat you badly."
"No, no, no. They are kind. Very kind."
"How did you come to be here? [Unintelligible] they came
"By bus. I came here by bus."
Penny and her "independent" film crew did not come all that
way to hear the refugees praise the Serbs, or to photograph
the clean, relatively comfortable quarters provided POWs at
Omarska or the refugees wandering free at Trnopolje (none
of that footage was ever used by ITN, though the film taken
by the RTS crew was shown on Serbian state-controlled media).
If no Serbian "death camps" existed in reality, then they
would be forced to create one by means of the subtle manipulation
of images. By zooming in on an isolated image, and dropping
the background out altogether, Marshall and her ITN editors
were able create "the picture that fooled the world." This
fascinating movie documents the falsification process, and
literally shows how a photo was created, cropped, and conjured
out of nothing to pass judgment on a whole nation. We get
to see Penny pensively scanning the crowd, looking for someone
who at least looks like a victim: not any of these husky rather
well-fed looking guys who insist they are being treated well,
and claim to have come there voluntarily on account of the
acute food shortages endemic in the wartorn region
but surely there must be someone who at least looks
the part. Then we see poor Fikrit Alic the now famous
Emaciated Man being literally pushed forward. The ITN
cameras focus in tight. . .
ALL IN THE DETAILS
as we now know, achieved his state of extreme emaciation as
the result of a childhood
bout with tuberculosis.
This information did not appear in any of the captions than
ran beneath that photo. The impact of this image was so shocking
that attention was away from the telling details, that only
a few nitpickers or an unusually observant person,
like the wife of German journalist Thomas Deichman
would notice: such as the barbed wire that was nailed into
the fence on the same side as the alleged "death camp" inmate.
But why put up a barbed wire fence if the alleged "prisoners"
could pry it loose and break free?
the film clearly shows, Marshall and her crew were filming
from within a fenced-in enclosure, a storage area for
wheelbarrows and other tools, that was mostly chicken-wire
with a few strands of barbed wire at the top to discourage
theft. So the central premise of the photo, with its jagged
strands of barbed wire underscoring the image of a "concentration
camp," was a lie, a visual trick of the crudest sort. Far
from being prisoners, the "inmates" of this "death camp" were
glad to be there, for at least they were fed and had a warm
place to sleep. "Yes, we feel safe," they say to her, repeatedly.
a dramatic illustration of how reality is "edited" by our
warmongering Western media, Judgment shows how the
images lifted from ITN's "coverage" of the "death camp" story
are manipulated and reengineered to communicate a lie, juxtaposing
the original images to the manufactured versions and showing
how they were cropped and in at least one case completely
transposed to whip up hatred against the Serbs and set the
stage for NATO's Balkan conquest.
is a small cinematic jewel that capsulizes, in its short
span of 32 minutes, the whole technique by which we have been
sold innumerable wars. Stripped of context and color, the
images of the Balkan war projected by the Western media have
been subjected to a process that can only be called Orwellian.
Judgment shows that Ms. Marshall and her editor, following
in the fictional footsteps of Orwell's "Ministry of Truth,"
created the "concentration camp" at Trnopolje out of thin
air. Their act of creative "reporting" reminds me of a passage
Eighty-Four, a novel that becomes more current with
each passing year. Winston Smith, the main character, is hard
at work at the Ministry of Truth: his job is to "revise" or
"correct" history, by eliminating or adding to the historical
record according to the dictates of the Party line of the
moment. He is stuck, momentarily, on a particularly difficult
problem: how to make a speech by Big
Brother mean something utterly different from what the
great and glorious leader had actually said. All the apparent
alternatives inverting the meaning of the speech was
too obvious, and making up something about the over-fulfillment
of the Nine Year Plan would entail too much follow-up work:
was needed was a piece of pure fantasy. Suddenly there sprang
into his mind, ready-made as it were, the image of a certain
Comrade Oglivy, who had recently died in battle, in heroic
circumstances. There were occasions when Big Brother devoted
his Order of the Day to commemorating some humble, rank-and-file
Party member whose life and death he held up as an example
worthy to be followed. Today he should commemorate Comrade
Oglivy. It was true that there was no such person as Comrade
Oglivy, but a few lines of print and a couple of faked photographs
would soon bring him into existence."
Marshall and her ITN crew went to Bosnia in search of concentration
camps. When they got back to England, without the goods, ITN
editors decided that what was needed was a piece of pure fantasy.
Suddenly there sprang into their collective editorial mind
ready-made as it were the image of a concentration
camp at Trnopolje. It was true, of course, that there was
no evidence of such a camp in any of the film shot by Marshall
and her crew. But no matter. A few blaring headlines and in
this case just one cleverly faked photo soon brought
the Trnopolje "death camp" into existence.
THE PROPAGANDA MACHINE
around the world on the winged feet of the war god's messengers,
the photo that fooled the world was emblematic of Western
liberals' moral outrage over alleged Serbian "racist" atrocities.
It is hardly surprising that this image should turn out to
have been wholly manufactured by a war propaganda machine
engaged in the mass-production of lies. In
the past, these machines have been constructed
and run by governments, and in some countries, largely the
Third World, this is still the case. But in the West, where
war propaganda has become a
high art, this machine is entirely self-regulated, ostensibly
private and even "independent." Here is something that
not even Orwell
Soviets were notorious for doctoring photographs, deleting
the images of purged heretics like Trotsky from official portraits,
and rewriting history from their own scripts. This was the
original model for the techniques described in Orwell's dystopian
novel. But of course everyone expected the Soviets
to do this; only those willing to suspend their capacity for
disbelief were taken in. Soviet propaganda was automatically
discounted by virtually everyone else, and therefore of limited
effectiveness. Official Yugoslav propaganda has the same stilted
and hectoring air about it, and a fantastical almost surreal
quality that gives it zero credibility as a source of facts.
But the new propaganda techniques deployed in the West are
far more subtle than anything Orwell ever dreamed of, for
the idea now is to make it look as though these completely
made-up "news" stories are coming from "independent" sources.
is the function of the "Independent Television Network" in
Tony Blair's Britain to lie systematically to a thoroughly
propagandized citizenry so that they don't question or protest
in any large numbers when the clarion call to war is sounded.
And this is true not just of ITN but of the entire Western
news media that, virtually to a man, was actively cheerleading
for one side rather than reporting on the civil war in the
Balkans. But now the Big Lie is beginning to unravel
Christiane Amanpour's lies about the "heroic" KLA "freedom-fighters"
are now exposed as we watch these noble figures turn, overnight,
into bloodthirsty racist thugs intent on expanding their domain
throughout the Balkans. The "genocide" that never was: the
"concentration camp" that never existed; the "freedom fighters"
that were really thugs. The illusions of the Kosovo war, projected
so faithfully by our warmongering media, have all proven to
be delusions, hallucinations induced by the narcotizing effects
of war hysteria that dangerously addictive drug that
our rulers periodically shoot us up with. The idea is to keep
us so high on our own moral superiority and sense of mission
that we fail to notice that we are being royally used
and screwed (if you'll pardon my French) in the process.
justice of the camera is hard to evade, and in Judgment
the moral character of Marshall and her minions really comes
across in an immediately visual way. Ms. Marshall, with that
militantly jutting chin, the cruel mouth, her hair braided
like some blonde Valkyrie, is well-cast in her role as the
dishonest journalist who will bend the facts to fit the prepackaged
"story." Her eyes are sleepy, and heavy-lidded: liar's eyes
that reveal nothing but an occasional flash of malice, and
glare, suspiciously, at the Serbian cameras. Yes, Ms. Marshall,
the whole world is watching and the jig is up.
can't end this column without mentioning, once again, the
malicious libel suit that Marshall and her ITN editors pursued
and won in the British libel courts. British libel laws presume
the accused guilty until proven innocent, and effectively
silence anyone who cannot afford to defend themselves against
the well-heeled whose foibles have been effectively exposed.
When Deichman's story, originally printed in the German newspaper
up by the British magazine LM, edited by Mick Hume,
ITN sued and, incredibly, won. Formerly known as Living
Marxism, the magazine had aroused the ire
of the Marxoid
Left because of its increasingly libertarian critique of the
foreign and domestic policies of the British elites. LM's
articulate and effective campaign against the Serbophobia
of the Blairite Left threw the New Labour imperialists into
a frothy-mouthed frenzy: a widely-publicized conference attended
by former US State Department Balkan desk official George
Kenney, and a series of press conferences exposing the ITN
faked photograph, were noted
with horror by the pro-government newspaper, the (London)
Guardian, which averred that:
Bonn, the Deichmann-Kenney-Living Marxism roadshow came unstuck.
As Deichmann advanced his polished thesis in Bonn's prestigious
Press Club, he noticed a rather fatter Fikret Alic standing
at the back, wearing a Los Angeles baseball jacket, with other
former Trnopolje inmates. Deichmann seemed unnerved. Afterwards
the pair shook hands in the warm Bonn sunshine. Deichmann
mumbled a few pleasantries and went off. Fikret then explained
what really happened on August 5, 1992: 'We were 100 per cent
behind that barbed wire. There was wire all around us. They
took some of it down on August 8, 1992, when Serb television
crews arrived from Belgrade and Banja Luka [when the world's
media circus also arrived].' He gulped a couple of painkillers
for his irreparably damaged kidneys. And that was that."
ALIC, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE
that wasn't that, as anyone who sees Judgment can
easily attest. Fikrit Alic is clearly visibly
lying, as did so many other Kosovars for the delectation of
Western reporters. Judgment proves beyond a doubt that
Fikrit and his compadres, far from being kept behind barbed
wire, were free to go whenever they liked. Sadly, however,
it doesn't matter to the Western media that Fikrit's lies
have been caught on videotape any more than it did
to the judge in the ITN-LM libel case. As the BBC News reported
the story of the verdict, the judge summed up the case by
telling the jury that "LM's facts might have been right,
but, he asked, did that matter?" Truth doesn't matter in the
Orwellian world of the "humanitarian" militarists.
IN THE MOTHERLAND
"free" nation, America's closest ally, and the motherland
of (classical) liberalism, is now suppressing the truth about
a politically contentious issue is a crime against liberty
one might have expected to occur in the former Soviet Union,
or in today's China. Where is the outrage? The silence, on
the left especially, is deafening, and the reason for it is
not so hard to discern. As
Mick Hume put it in the (British) Spectator:
of LM's fiercest critics, and ITN's most fervent supporters,
have come from the liberal-left media. Meanwhile, many who
have condemned ITN's actions and defended our right to publish
are conservatives who one might not think of as the natural
allies of a magazine that began life as Living Marxism.
This lineup reflects some of the strange alliances that have
drifted together as we thrash around in the uncharted waters
of post-Cold War politics, nowhere more so than in the debate
about Western intervention in the former Yugoslavia-one of
the issues behind the libel case."
US routinely expresses its disapproval of the repressive and
"undemocratic" activities of "rogue" nations such as Serbia,
Iraq, Iran, and others that fail to live up to its rather
exacting standards. Every time the Chinese government cracks
down on another wacky cult, or harms a hair on the head of
yet another intellectual dissident, Republican
congressmen like Ben Gilman are ready to impose sanctions
and call out the 82nd Airborne. But what about
the dissidents in Tony Blair's England, who are being hounded
and threatened with bankruptcy for daring to speak truth to
power? Our loquacious State Department which makes
a habit of criticizing the "human rights" record of virtually
every nation on earth is strangely silent. The New
York Times editorial board has yet to weigh in on this
subject. They are mute, all of them and that is a judgment
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