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[casi] Please write re Sweeney's dangerous propaganda

When TV documentaries like this come out, many people are conviced by them.
They need to be quickly and thoroughly rebutted whilst still in the public
mind, and while editors will take notice before they move on.

Media Lens suggested asking Sweeney why he didn't seek out the views of
Halliday and Sponeck.

I asked this question by email and it was put to him on the BBC online chat.
He replied that although they were honourable men, Halliday and Sponeck were
"conned" by the Iraqi regime. He alluded to George Bernard Shaw's admiration
of Soviet Russia, saying, "he was conned, so were they."

Apart from the inappropriateness of the analogy (GB Shaw was a tourist and
never ran a Soviet humanitarian programme etc etc) this total lack of
willingness to engage with the available evidence shows an appalling lack of
journalistic integrity.

He quoted HRW reports on the abuses of the regime, but when Gabriel's
question was put to him, pointing out that HRW had explicitly said sanctions
were causing suffering, he dismissed this, saying that he had better
evidence because he had been in the north of Iraq where people are freer to

Presumably he thinks HRW have never been to Northern Iraq. Presumably he
thinks that if people are scared to talk then nothing they say can be true.

When it was pointed out that lack of clean water was the main killer,
Sweeney demonstrated ignorance on a grand scale: "If they [the Iraqi govt]
can export $12bn of oil per year, why can't they afford a few drains?"

Unfortunately Yvonne Ridley was not up to the task of answering this. Note
again though, Sweeney couldn't be bothered to ask this question of anyone in
the OFF programme. And his assumptions that all this money can be used for
aid, and that lack of aid is the main problem.

Sweeney suggested to concerned viewers (seemingly convinced by his argument
that all Iraqi suffering is down to "Saddam") that they donate to Save the
Children who work in Iraq. He avoided telling us what STC have said about

He ended up saying  "I hate war" but after some 'umming and arring'
advocated war because it would probably be over quickly, and that would be
better for the Iraqi people than 10 more years of what 'Saddam' had been
doing to them.

Though it would be tempting to slag Sweeney off as dishonest or hopelessly
incompetent, to send such responses will probably just confirm to the
editors that anti-sanctions people are only interested in personal abuse and
not dealing with the issues.

I would suggest therefore, bombarding the Observer with evidence, quotes,
and plain facts.

Whether they publish it or not is another matter. But it may mean that a
journalist with a more open mind might get a piece in the Observer some


>Letters should be sent to
>  (remember to include your address and telephone
>number). Letters should be sent to the Observer by Tuesday evening at the
>latest. Type 'Letter to the Editor' in the Subject field.

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