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Explosive Wikileaks US Cable:
Al Jazeera Deletes Content that Disturb US Government

By Guest Post

September 11, 20111 --
"
Information Clearing House"- US government keeps talking about its values of democracy, freedom in general and freedom of press. But when it comes to exposing their own crimes or publishing views of the “other side”, freedom of press is not anymore free and one sided view should be the only one “beamed.”

A confidential US cables from US embassy in Doha, Qatar where Aljazeera head quarter is located and was published recently on Wikileaks, reveals that Al Jazeera Managing Director Wadah Khanfar has agreed to US government request to delete and altar website content that “disturb” the US government.

The cable talks about the meeting between US government officials with Wadah Khanfar to discuss the latest US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report on Al Jazeera and what the US government considers “disturbing” Al Jazeera website content.

In the meeting US government officials raised the question of an Al Jazeera website piece published listed under the heading “”Special
Coverage”, and containing “Live Testimony Concerning Tal Afar”. “The site opens to an image of bloody sheets of paper riddled with bullet holes. Viewers click on the bullet holes to access testimony from ten alleged “eye witnesses” who described recent military operations in Tal Afar. “”

Khanfar said said that in accordance with an earlier promise to US government officials, he had taken a look at the piece and had two images removed (two injured children in hospital beds, and a woman with serious facial injury.)

US government officials also pointed out “that the testimony of a “doctor” in the piece also implied that poison gas had been used on residents of Tal Afar and that the appearance of the piece, in particular the bloody bullet hole icons, came across as “inflammatory and journalistically questionable.” Khanfer said he would have the piece removed. he said “Not immediately, because that would be talked about, but over two or three days,”

(Writer Note): that the US government has launched the war on Iraq under the pretext of dismantling weapons of mass-destruction, reports of US army using such weapons would undermine any legitimacy the US government has at home or aborad.

According to the cable Khanfar said he had told the website staff that in future, when they want to add an item to the “Special Coverage”
section of the website, they should send a draft of the idea over to his office.

The cable notes that The AJ website is located in a separate building across town. Khanfar added “I don’t say that such things are not going to be repeated on the website, but it is a learning process,”

The cables reveals that Khanfar was preparing a written response to to DIA points about coverage from July,August and September of 2005. The cable says the meeting with Khanfar happened in 10/19/2005. He asked for fixing “the method of how we receive these reports” as he has had found one of them in the fax machine ( Writer note: maybe he feared that other coworkers would read them.)

In the cable US officials told Khanfar that despite an overall decrease in “negative coverage” since February, the month of September
showed a worrying increase in such programming over the previous month. (Writer: Negative coverage most probably means content that criticize the US government.) These Problems according to the cables “still remain with double-sourcing in Iraq; identifying sources; use of inflammatory language; a failure to balance of extremist views; and the use of “terrorist” tapes. “

Khanfar objected to the to the use of the word “agreement” as used in the August report on the first page, under the heading “Violence in Iraq”, where a sentence reads: “In violation of the station’s agreement several months ago with US officials etc”. “The agreement was that it was a non-paper,” said Khanfar. “As a news organization, we cannot sign agreements of this nature, and to have it here like this in writing is of concern to us.”

Khanfar said there are some mistakes “which we accept and address” but he said that the points are taken out of context noting that during the “AJ broadcasting day, a comment made or position taken by one person may be balanced with a different comment or position later in the same show or later on during the same day.”

As for using “terrorists tapes” Khanfar said “We have always said that we are going to use these tapes and we will continue to use them. The
question is how. None of the tapes are used just like that,” the cable wrote: “meaning that they are reviewed for newsworthiness
and are edited.”

On Concerning the use of inflammatory language, Khanfar said the station’s concern is with the language used by its own reporters and anchors and that would addressed. However the reports’ focus on inflammatory language is on that used by non-Al Jazeera interviewees, he pointed out. saying that AJ can not control what these people say.

Commenting on the reports overall, Khanfar said they lacked balance in that they only focus on the negative. “A report like this should have both sides,” he said. “It does not report the voice we have given to American spokespeople over the recent past,” he said. “We do not always find a military spokesman, for example, but we are trying our best, and we have some success. This is not mentioned.”

Conclusion:

We do not know what made Khanfar resort to US pressure to delete website content that the US government considers as “disturbing”, as ethically, they should not resort to such pressure. What the public knows is that Aljazeera station in Afghanistan and Iraq has been bombed by US forces, and that its former reporter in Afghanistan who interviewed Osama Bin Ladin has been sentenced to prison time in Spain. While its Jordan’s office chief Yasser Abu Hilaala was recently beaten by a Jordanian policeman and civilian uniformed man during AJ coverage of a strike in Amman, and most recently AJ corresponded in Afghanistan has been detained by Israeli forces for suspicion of being a Hamas member, which has no bases as his lawyers say.

In recent years observers notes that AJ coverage of the war in Iraq has been one sided, meaning it is broadcasting US and Iraqi government officials points of views and failing to broadcast the other side, whether it is al Qaeda in Iraq or other Suni insurgent organizations. This confidential cable might have revealed the reason behind the AJ one sided coverage of Iraq in the recent years. What it also reveals is the US government intolerance to other views that would expose their wrong doing and the pressure that the US mounts on independent media.

Viewing cable 05DOHA1765, PAO MEETING WITH AL JAZEERA MANAGING DIRECTOR

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05DOHA1765 2005-10-20 13:25 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Doha
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DOHA 001765 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/PD, NEA/ARP 
INFO NSC FOR ABRAMS, DOD/OSD FOR SCHENKER AND MATHENY 
LONDON FOR ARAB MEDIA OFFICE 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/19/2010 
TAGS: PREL KPAO QA ALJAZEERA
SUBJECT: PAO MEETING WITH AL JAZEERA MANAGING DIRECTOR 
 
REF: A. THORNE-EMBASSY DOHA 10/18 EMAIL 
     B. THORNE-NANTONGO 10/18 EMAIL EXCHANGE 
 
Classified By: Ambassador Chase Untermeyer, Reasons 1.4 (b&d) 
 
1. (C) Summary: PAO met 10/19 with Al Jazeera Managing 
Director Wadah Khanfar to discuss the latest DIA report on Al 
Jazeera and disturbing Al Jazeera website content. Khanfar is 
preparing a written response to the DIA points from July, 
August and September which should be available during the 
coming week. Khanfar said the most recent website piece of 
concern to the USG has been toned down and that he would have 
it removed over the subsequent two or three days. End 
summary. 
 
2. (C) Per Ref A, PAO gave Khanfar a hard copy of DIA's 
unclassified snippets from July, August and September. 
 
SIPDIS 
Khanfar said he had recently received hard copies of the July 
and August snippets via the MFA and was in the process of 
preparing a written response to them. He said he would 
include September's points in the report and pass it to PAO 
during the course of the coming week. "We need to fix the 
method of how we receive these reports," said Khanfar, noting 
that he had found one of them (presumably sent from the MFA) 
"on the fax machine." 
 
DIA's unclassified snippets for September 
----------------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) PAO told Khanfar that despite an overall decrease in 
negative coverage since February, the month of September 
showed a worrying increase in such programming over the 
previous month. She summarized the latest USG reporting on Al 
Jazeera by noting that problems still remain with 
double-sourcing in Iraq; identifying sources; use of 
inflammatory language; a failure to balance of extremist 
views; and the use of terrorist tapes. 
 
4. (C) Having had an opportunity to review the July and 
August reports, Khanfar said he had several observations to 
make. On a semantic level, he objected to the use of the word 
"agreement" as used in the August report on the first page, 
under the heading "Violence in Iraq", where a sentence reads: 
"In violation of the station's agreement several months ago 
with US officials etc". "The agreement was that it was a 
non-paper," said Khanfar. "As a news organization, we cannot 
sign agreements of this nature, and to have it here like this 
in writing is of concern to us." 
 
5. (C) He then said that broadly, the reports' points fell 
into three categories. "Some are simple mistakes which we 
accept and address," he said. In the second category, he 
said, are points that are taken in isolation and out of 
context by the USG report. "This report takes bits and pieces 
from a whole thing and does not give the context," he said, 
noting that in some instances during the AJ broadcasting day, 
a comment made or position taken by one person may be 
balanced with a different comment or position later in the 
same show or later on during the same day. Since Al Jazeera 
is live 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it is not always 
possible to provide needed balance at the moment itself, he 
said. The report, he said, fails to note where balance was 
achieved in the following news hour, for example, or later on 
the same day. Thirdly, said Khanfar, there are points on 
which resolution does not seem possible, such as the use of 
terrorist tapes. "We have always said that we are going to 
use these tapes and we will continue to use them. The 
question is how. None of the tapes are used just like that," 
he said, meaning that they are reviewed for newsworthiness 
and are edited. Concerning the use of inflammatory language, 
Khanfar said the station's concern is with the language used 
by its own reporters and anchors. No station staff member is 
permitted to use loaded vocabulary. The reports' focus on 
inflammatory language is on that used by non-Al Jazeera 
interviewees, he pointed out. "How can I control what these 
people say? I can only control Al Jazeera staff. All we can 
do is try to balance what these people say in other parts of 
the program," he said. 
 
6. (C) Commenting on the reports overall, he said they lacked 
balance in that they only focus on the negative. "A report 
like this should have both sides," he said. "It does not 
report the voice we have given to American spokespeople over 
the recent past," he said. "We do not always find a military 
spokesman, for example, but we are trying our best, and we 
have some success. This is not mentioned." Speaking of Al 
Jazeera's coverage of the Iraqi referendum, he said the 
station provided 12 hours of continuous coverage, which 
featured voices from all those vested in the process -- 
Kurds, Shia, Sunni, Americans, Britons and others. "I would 
really like to see that in next month's report," he said. 
Khanfar repeated that he would respond in more detail to all 
three reports over the coming days and pass the response to 
PAO. 
 
Troublesome website material 
---------------------------- 
 
7. (C) PAO raised the question of an Al Jazeera website piece 
published in the last week, listed under the heading "Special 
Coverage", and containing "Live Testimony Concerning Tal 
Afar".  The site opens to an image of bloody sheets of paper 
riddled with bullet holes.  Viewers click on the bullet holes 
to access testimony from ten alleged "eye witnesses" who 
described recent military operations in Tal Afar. 
 
8. (C) Khanfar said that, in accordance with an earlier 
promise to PAO (Ref B), he had taken a look at the piece and 
had two images removed (two injured children in hospital 
beds, and a woman with serious facial injury). PAO pointed 
out that the testimony of a "doctor" in the piece also 
implied that poison gas had been used on residents of Tal 
Afar and that the appearance of the piece, in particular the 
bloody bullet hole icons, came across as inflammatory and 
journalistically questionable. Khanfar appeared to repress a 
sigh but said he would have the piece removed. "Not 
immediately, because that would be talked about, but over two 
or three days," he said. 
 
9. (C) He said he had told the website staff that in future, 
when they want to add an item to the "Special Coverage" 
section of the website, they should send a draft of the idea 
over to his office. (Note: The AJ website is located in a 
separate building across town. End note.) He noted that until 
two or three months ago, the website staff had enjoyed much 
more autonomy. Now, however, website director Abdel Aziz Al 
Mahmoud attends the weekly editorial meetings at the TV 
channel offices, and the website staff is being pulled under 
the umbrella of the same editorial standards as the TV 
channel. "I don't say that such things are not going to be 
repeated on the website, but it is a learning process," said 
Khanfar. 
UNTERMEYER

Read The Original Cable Here

Source

 

 

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