Friday, August 25, 2006

Are FOX News Employees really “Noncombatants”?

By Mike Whitney






Are FOX employee’s innocent bystanders or an integral part of the American war machine? That may turn out to be an important question now that 2 FOX workers have been captured by a group of Palestinian militants.

It would be hard, if not impossible to draw a line of separation between the US military and FOX News. Their anchors may shun the camouflage fatigues and jack-boots, but that is where the difference ends. FOX is a fully-integrated cog in the corporate/state media apparatus; faithfully reiterating the official statements of Pentagon Big-wigs and administration powerbrokers. Their “embedded” news team provides the splashy graphics and right wing chatter which energize their base and marshal public support for American aggression. They carefully create a narrative which makes deliberate acts of unprovoked warfare appear necessary and (even) humanitarian.

No one has violated the basic standards of journalistic integrity more consistently than FOX News. Their unwavering support for the war in Iraq demonstrates their blatant disregard for professional evenhandedness and neutrality. Dissenting opinions are scrupulously scrubbed from their broadcasts while the vulgar displays of jingoism and xenophobia are presented as “Fair and Balanced” coverage. On some FOX web sites it’s still possible to find articles which claim that Weapons of Mass Destruction were actually found in Iraq. No wonder nearly 50% of the American people still believe that Saddam posed a threat to our national security and that Bush’s illegal invasion was justified.

If FOX is an essential part of the state propaganda-system which facilitates the war, then how can we absolve their employees from accountability? Doesn’t that make them legitimate targets for resistance organizations?

Reporters are given immunity because their work is perceived to be beyond the activities of combatants. That rule cannot be applied to FOX. FOX is the corporate-arm of the war machine; a critical cog in the Pentagon’s information-management strategy. It is as indispensable to the smooth operation of the modern army as any of the high-tech weaponry or space-age gadgetry.

FOX News is franchise journalism; information that is crafted to meet the requirements of ownership. Counterpunch editor Alexander Cockburn summarized the Rupert Murdoch business-model this way:

(Murdoch) “offers target governments a privatized version of a state propaganda service, manipulated without scruple and with no regard for truth. His price takes the form of vast government favors such as tax breaks, regulatory relief, monopoly markets and so forth. The propaganda is undertaken with the greatest cynicism, whether it’s the stentorian fake populism and soft porn in the UK’s Sun and News of the World, or the shameless bootlicking of the butchers of Tiananmen Square” (Alexander Cockburn “A Journey into Rupert Murdoch’s Soul” counterpunch.org)

The journalists who participate in the Murdoch-system are mere functionaries in a corporate news-militia. They deserve the same treatment as any other POW, nothing more.

The group which captured the two FOX employees did what they felt they had to do to address the egregious human rights abuses at American gulags at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. When peaceful means for acquiring justice are foreclosed, violence becomes inevitable. This truism is even enshrined in our own Declaration of Independence.

The “Holy Jihad Brigades” has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, although the group remains unknown in Gaza. They have released a video demanding a prisoner-swap for Muslims held by the United States.

“We are going to exchange the Muslim female and male prisoners in American jails in return for the prisoners we have. We are going to give you 72 hours, beginning tonight, to make your decision,” says the voice on the video. “If you implement and meet our condition, we will fulfill our promise. If not, wait, and we are going to wait with you.”

It is not clear what will happen to the victims after the 3 day deadline passes, but the FOX duo appears to be in good health and there are no signs of torture or abuse. The same cannot be said for the victims of American detention in Iraq or Cuba.

The demands of the militants are consistent with the basic principles of American justice. The prisoners at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib have been detained in violation of international law and without regard to their fundamental human rights. Bush claims the absolute authority to imprison anyone he chooses; stripping them of their right due process and of any legal means for acquitting themselves.

The prisoners at Guantanamo are nothing more than Bush’s personal hostages. It was only a matter of time before someone responded to this insidious act of tyranny.

Bush is not above the law. The inmates at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib have “inalienable rights” just like the rest of us. These rights cannot be repealed by presidential edict.

The first of these rights is the “presumption of innocence”. If Bush insists these men are “the worst of the worst”; let him prove it in court of law with solid evidence of wrongdoing.

Secondly, “justice delayed is justice denied”; either try them or let them go. Bush has no authority to keep these men languishing indefinitely in a legal black hole without formally charging them with a crime.

Guantanamo should be shut down, dismantled, and steamrolled into finely-ground powder. The prisoners should be returned to their countries of origin and compensated for their mistreatment at the hands of American jailors. The men who are responsible for creating Guantanamo should be held accountable before an international tribunal.

As long as Muslims are deprived of their rights and freedom, we can expect more random incidents of kidnapping andcruelty. These are the unavoidable consequences of injustice.

The Holy Jihad Brigades is the natural offspring of Bush’s “New Middle East”, a hotbed of animosity and violence. America has radicalized the region and is fueling the rage and bloodshed. The chickens will continue to come home to roost until America withdraws from Iraq, stops its blind support of Israel, and negotiates a comprehensive settlement to the Palestinian issue.

If Bush really wants to know why Americans are targets, he ought to take a good look at his own blinkered foreign policy and rethink his strategy.

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