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[casi-analysis] casi-news digest, Vol 1 #120 - 2 msgs

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Today's Topics:

   1. Bremer edicts further limit sovereignty (k hanly)
   2. Television news accused of Iraq bias (Mark Parkinson)


Message: 1
From: "k hanly" <>
To: "newsclippings" <>
Subject: Bremer edicts further limit sovereignty
Date: Sun, 27 Jun 2004 09:18:10 -0500

BAGHDAD, June 26 -- U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer has issued a raft of
edicts revising Iraq's legal code and has appointed at least two dozen
Iraqis to government jobs with multi-year terms in an attempt to promote hi=
concepts of governance long after the planned handover of political
authority on Wednesday.

Some of the orders signed by Bremer, which will remain in effect unless
overturned by Iraq's interim government, restrict the power of the interim
government and impose U.S.-crafted rules for the country's democratic
transition. Among the most controversial orders is the enactment of an
elections law that gives a seven-member commission the power to disqualify
political parties and any of the candidates they support.

The effect of other regulations could last much longer. Bremer has ordered
that the national security adviser and the national intelligence chief
chosen by the interim prime minister he selected, Ayad Allawi, be given
five-year terms, imposing Allawi's choices on the elected government that i=
to take over next year.

Bremer also has appointed Iraqis handpicked by his aides to influential
positions in the interim government. He has installed inspectors-general fo=
five-year terms in every ministry. He has formed and filled commissions to
regulate communications, public broadcasting and securities markets. He
named a public-integrity commissioner who will have the power to refer
corrupt government officials for prosecution.

Some Iraqi officials condemn Bremer's edicts and appointments as an effort
to exert U.S. control over the country after the transfer of political
authority. "They have established a system to meddle in our affairs," said
Mahmoud Othman, a member of the Governing Council, a recently dissolved bod=
that advised Bremer for the past year. "Iraqis should decide many of these

Bremer has defended his issuance of many of the orders as necessary to
implement democratic reforms and update Iraq's out-of-date legal code. He
said he regarded the installation of inspectors-general in ministries, the
creation of independent commissions and the changes to Iraqi law as
important steps to fight corruption and cronyism, which in turn would help
the formation of democratic institutions.

"You set up these things and they begin to develop a certain life and
momentum on their own -- and it's harder to reverse course," Bremer said in
a recent interview.

As of June 14, Bremer had issued 97 legal orders, which are defined by the
U.S. occupation authority as "binding instructions or directives to the
Iraqi people" that will remain in force even after the transfer of politica=
authority. An annex to the country's interim constitution requires the
approval of a majority of Allawi's ministers, as well as the interim
president and two vice presidents, to overturn any of Bremer's edicts. A
senior U.S. official in Iraq noted recently that it would "not be easy to
reverse" the orders.

It appears unlikely that all of the orders will be followed. Many of them
reflect an idealistic but perhaps futile attempt to impose Western legal,
economic and social concepts on a tradition-bound nation that is reveling i=
anything-goes freedom after 35 years of dictatorial rule.

The orders include rules that cap tax rates at 15 percent, prohibit piracy
of intellectual property, ban children younger than 15 from working, and a
new traffic code that stipulates the use of a car horn in "emergency
conditions only" and requires a driver to "hold the steering wheel with bot=

Iraq has long been a place where few people pay taxes, where most movies an=
music are counterfeit, where children often hold down jobs and where traffi=
laws are rarely obeyed, Iraqis note.

Other regulations promulgated by Bremer prevent former members of the Iraqi
army from holding public office for 18 months after their retirement or
resignation, stipulate a 30-year minimum sentence for people caught selling
weapons such as grenades and ban former militiamen integrated into the Iraq=
armed forces from endorsing and campaigning for political candidates. He ha=
also enacted a 76-page law regulating private corporations and amended an
industrial-design law to protect microchip designs. Those changes were
intended to facilitate the entry of Iraq into the World Trade Organization,
even though the country is so violent that the no commercial flights are
allowed to land at Baghdad's airport.

Some of the new rules attempt to introduce American approaches to fighting
crime. An anti-money-laundering law requires banks to collect detailed
personal information from customers seeking to make transactions greater
than &dol;3,500, while the Commission on Public Integrity has been given th=
power to reward whistleblowers with 25 percent of the funds recovered by th=
government from corrupt practices they have identified.

In some cases Bremer's regulations diverge from the Bush administration's
domestic policies. He suspended the death penalty, and his election law
imposes a strict quota: One of every three candidates on a party's slate
must be a woman.

Iraqis have already scoffed at some of the requirements. Judges on the
Central Criminal Court of Iraq, who were appointed by Bremer, have refused
to impose 30-year sentences on people detained with grenades and other
military weapons. At the same time, many Iraqi politicians contend that
banning the death penalty was a mistake. Several have said they will push t=
reinstate capital punishment after the transfer of political authority.

Some of the Iraqis recently appointed by Bremer as inspectors and
commissioners said they should have been given their jobs months ago. Had
that happened, they insisted, they would have had more time to build suppor=
for the activities.

"There are some doubts about my work," said Nabil Bayati, the inspector
general in the Ministry of Electricity, who is charged with rooting out
waste, fraud and abuse. People in the ministry, he said, "don't understand
it yet."

Siyamend Othman, the chief executive of the Iraqi Communications and Media
Commission, said his fellow commissioners were only appointed three weeks
ago. "Had this commissions been set up six months ago, we would have been i=
a far more secure position than we are today," he said. "We would have had
six months to prove and to show to the Iraqi people our worth and what we'r=
capable of doing, and why this commission is such an important institution.=

In recent weeks, Bremer has issued orders aimed at setting policy for a
variety of controversial issues, including the future use of radioactive
material, Arab-Kurd property disputes and national elections planned for

On June 15, Bremer signed an order establishing the Iraqi Radioactive Sourc=
Regulatory Authority as an independent agency regulating radioactive
material in Iraq. His order forbids, even after the transfer of sovereignty=
any activity involving radioactive material except under requirements
established by the agency.

On June 19, in an effort to keep unemployed Iraqi weapons scientists from
working for other nations, Bremer established the Iraqi Non-Proliferation
Programs Foundation, a semi-governmental organization set up to provide
grants and contracts to people who worked on Saddam Hussein's chemical,
biological and nuclear arms programs. An initial grant of &dol;37.5 million
was set aside by Bremer to pay the scientists' expenses to attend
international conferences so they can be retrained for non-weapons

The foundation, which has been exempted from a ban on government support to
former high-ranking members of Hussein's Baath Party, is also supposed to
establish a venture capital fund to promote the commercial development of
products and technologies by former employees of Iraqi weapons programs,
according to the order setting up the foundation.

On May 28, Bremer signed an order establishing a Special Task Force on
Compensating Victims of the Previous Regime. The task force, appointed by
Bremer, is to devise a means for determining the number of victims, estimat=
fair compensation and recommend a system under which claims could be made
and adjudicated. An endowment of &dol;25 million was set aside from oil
income to be used to compensate victims and their families, according to th=
order authorizing the task force.

But perhaps Bremer's most far-reaching and potentially contentious order is
the election law, which he signed June 15. The law states that no party can
be associated with a militia or get money from one. It also requires the
electoral commission to draft a code of conduct barring campaigners from
using "hate speech, intimidation, and support for, the practice of and the
use of terrorism."

The law, signed last week, is intended to establish the framework and
policies that will govern next year's national elections to select a
275-member national assembly. But experts in Arab world elections have
questioned how the law will be received by the Iraqi people once its terms
are widely known. Some predicted that the rules would be challenged and
perhaps ignored by the interim Iraqi government.

"I foresee real political conflict about these rules," said Amy Hawthorne,
an Arab specialist at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who
studies elections.

"The laws came out from behind a curtain while armed conflict is going on,"
said Hawthorne, who expects people and parties to challenge the laws after
July 1 because "they were created under the [occupation] authority and thei=
legal status is a bit murky."

"The notion of [the U.S.] decreeing election law prior to June 30 is
unfortunate," said Leslie Campbell, who has worked in Iraq for the National
Democratic Institute.

Financing elections, difficult in the United States, could be an even
greater problem in Iraq where not only the wealthy but also foreign
countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and even the United States are openly
putting money into political parties and politicians. The Bremer law calls
on parties to "strive to the extent possible to achieve full transparency i=
all financial dealings" and calls on the electoral commission to consider
issuing regulations.

Campbell said such a law "may be a lot cleaner than letting the commission
have it out with the interim government in a messy way, but it is not good
that the electoral commission is not promulgating key parts of the law."

Campbell said it would be difficult, if not impossible, to enforce the
provision separating militia members from politics since all the major Iraq=
political parties are associated with armed organizations. Although the
occupation authority has attempted to demobilize militias, most have not ye=

Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who specializes in Iraq, said
the appointed electoral commission's power to eliminate political parties o=
candidates for not obeying laws would allow it "to disqualify people someon=
didn't like."

He likened the power of the commission to that of religious mullahs in Iran=
who routinely use their authority to remove candidates before an election.
"In a way, Mr. Bremer is using a more subtle form than the one used by
hard-liners in Iran to control their elections," Cole said.

Pincus reported from Washington.

=A9 2004 The Washington Post Company


Message: 2
From: "Mark Parkinson" <>
Date: Mon, 28 Jun 2004 00:47:52 +0100
Subject: Television news accused of Iraq bias

By Roshan Muhammed Salih

Sunday 27 June 2004, 20:18 Makka Time, 17:18 GMT

The media is accused of swallowing the military line

During the US siege of the Iraqi town of Falluja in April a
journalist claimed the international media was telling the world the
wrong story.

American occupation forces said they had entered the town to flush
out a small number of "Saddam loyalists" and "terrorists" after four
US security contractors were killed.

But Rahul Mahajan, an anti-war activist who was one of the few
reporters in the town, rejected the official version of events which
the world's media was relying on.

The truth is rather different, he said. The Falluja resistance was
not a small group of isolated "extremists" repudiated by the majority
of the town's population.

Rather, Falluja had been in revolt against occupation since last year
when US troops opened fire on a group of 100 to 200 peaceful
protesters, killing 15.

Like other independent journalists and media professionals, Mahajan
says many of the big western broadcasters and newspapers are failing
to tell the world what is really happening in Iraq.

They allege that major media players, such as CNN and the BBC, rely
too heavily on official occupation authority sources at the expense
of Iraqi opinion.

So much so that the line between objective journalism and partiality
is being blurred.

Iraq reports

Opponents of the US-led invasion of Iraq say several pieces of
research prove that the western media has slipped off the
journalistic fence when it comes to reporting Iraq.

In April 2003, the UK's prestigious Cardiff School of Journalism
conducted a survey into the way the four main UK broadcasters covered
the war.

It concluded the BBC's proportion of news emanating from government
sources was twice that of ITN and Channel 4 News.

"There is this assumption that western power is being used
benevolently for the good of mankind and this colours all reporting.
And in turn I think the military see western reporters as part of the
war effort"

David Miller,
Glasgow Media Group

The world's most influential broadcaster was more cautious than other
UK channels when it came to reporting official Iraqi sources, and was
less likely than other channels to use independent sources such as
the Red Cross.

Meanwhile, across British news as a whole, the Iraqi people were
around three times more likely to be portrayed as pro-invasion than

Another report by Media Tenor, the German-based media research
organisation, examined the Iraq reporting of some of the world's
leading broadcasters in the lead up to the war.

The worst case of denying access to anti-war voices was the BBC,
which gave just two per cent of its coverage to opposition views -
views that represented those of the majority of the British people.


David Miller, from the UK's Glasgow Media Group, told
that every reputable media study proves the majority of western TV
coverage on Iraq is biased.

"Falluja was a good example of the misrepresentation of what is going
on in Iraq," he said. "The kind of eyewitness reports of the killing
that was happening there that I heard on independent media just
didn't make it into western coverage.

"I think there is a lot of pressure from the military to stifle
independent reporting and the media are just going along with it."

Iraq is a dangerous place for journalists to work

Miller believes that the major western media players, including the
BBC and CNN, are ideologically in bed with the establishment.

"Western journalists are afraid of getting out and about in the
streets. They are afraid of ordinary Iraqis and the insurgents
because they know they don't like them. But most of all they are
afraid of the western military machine.

"They are prisoners of their own assumptions. There is this
assumption that western power is being used benevolently for the good
of mankind and this colours all reporting. And in turn, I think, the
military see western reporters as part of the war effort."

Moreover, Miller maintains that the US networks are even more
flagwaving than their British counterparts.

 'Lazy' allegations

A study by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a US media monitoring
group, noted that 76% of the guests on network talk shows in late
January and early February 2003 were current or former US officials,
and that anti-war sources accounted for less than one per cent of the

"You can't compare them [US networks] to the BBC because the BBC is
state funded and accountable to its viewers. This means that a degree
of political dissent is inevitable. There is no such tradition in the

 "Of course we distinguish between an insurgent who has murdered
civilians and attacked military personnel and a democratically
elected government. There is no comparison between good and evil and
to suggest the two are on a par is ridiculous"

Chris Cramer, CNN International managing editor

But Chris Cramer, managing director of CNN International, says
although some US networks may have felt the need to be patriotic,
that certainly wasn't the case with his company.

"I utterly reject accusations of bias," he told "I
think this is a lazy allegation. We do not have a viewpoint or an
agenda and I think that is a perception held by people who either
don't watch the channel or who jump to conclusions. I personally find
the accusation offensive."

Cramer said CNN has 50 media professionals working in Iraq because he
believes "with a complicated situation like Iraq you have to have
people on the ground".

Nevertheless, he said to a certain extent all media organisations
have become targets in the country.

"Safety is uppermost in our minds and of course we are not as free to
operate in Iraq as, let's say, some of the Arabic channels are.

Good and evil

"But to suggest we are just staying in a hotel and not going out to
get the story is untrue. A cursory look at the channel would be
sufficient to put that argument to bed."

However, he said CNN did make an obvious distinction between official
coalition sources and sources from the Iraqi resistance.

The US media has been pilloried
for giving Bush an easy ride

"Of course we distinguish between an insurgent who has murdered
civilians and attacked military personnel and a democratically
elected government," he said.

"There is no comparison between good and evil and to suggest the two
are on a par is ridiculous."

Since the US-led invasion in March last year 47 journalists and media
staff have been killed in Iraq.

Two Japanese journalists were killed in June as they were returning
from Japan=92s military base in the southern town of Samawa.

Their deaths came three weeks after a Polish and an Algerian
journalist were killed in a drive-by shooting on the same road. A CNN
crew was attacked in the same area earlier this year, leaving two


The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists described
the refusal by US and Iraqi authorities to protect targeted
journalists as "unconscionable and shocking neglect".

They are concerned that western journalists are increasingly being
seen as "legitimate targets".

However the major networks, such as the BBC, reject all accusations
that their reporting on Iraq has alienated ordinary Iraqis.

"Clearly, the conflict led to strongly divided opinion. And the BBC
in its commitment to impartiality offered platforms to a range of
views and opinions for audiences both in the UK and overseas"

BBC statement

The BBC told in a statement that it "aimed to be
accurate in its reporting and impartial in its analysis of the Iraq

"Clearly, the conflict led to strongly divided opinion," the
statement said. "And the BBC in its commitment to impartiality
offered platforms to a range of views and opinions for audiences both
in the UK and overseas."

The statement added that studies have shown that its coverage has
been even-handed, and that the BBC World Service is the most trusted
and objective international broadcaster when compared to its main
radio competitors.

Mark Parkinson

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