Thursday, April 10
The victor of the news war has been the internet
Natasha Walter, The Independent, 10 April 2003
This war has brought home to so many of us that, although we live in a world with an endless deluge of information, that doesn't necessarily make us feel well informed. There are ever more urgent column inches to read and harrowing images to look at, but a sense persists that this war is being fought in places very distant from us, among people who cannot communicate freely with us and within corridors of power where we cannot go.
Although most people rely on television news for a rolling update of the situation, who hasn't felt impatient with the way that bulletins are being presented?
... Certainly, if you've been using the internet during this war, you will know that there have been a couple of places where you could feel almost close to the hearts and minds of civilians in the country that we are invading. The famous Baghdad blogger, who wrote under the name Salam Pax, gave readers a better insight into what the bombs falling on Baghdad looked like to Baghdadis than any Western reporter. "As one of the buildings I really love went up in a huge explosion," he wrote early on in the war, "I was close to tears."
And you can always find places on the internet that give you a version of the facts that is rather different from the one preferred by mainstream British and American media. Take the recent deaths of journalists in Baghdad. Despite some heroically dissenting voices, such as that of Robert Fisk, ... ... mainstream media outlets in Britain and the US agreed that simple errors sent missiles flying into the Palestine Hotel, killing Taras Protsyuk of Reuters and the Spanish correspondent Jose Couso; and into the headquarters of al-Jazeera, killing their chief correspondent Tariq Ayoub.
... ... But if you are flipping through internet sites, you can run through a whole gamut of other opinion. You can visit crazy sites for conspiracy theorists, to read those who believe that the shells that killed the journalists must, in fact, have been fired by Iraqis, since the Americans would never, could never, have done such a thing deliberately or in error.
... But at its best, what the internet is good at is providing a channel of international communication between people rather than governments. The anti-globalisation movement has been harnessing that facility for years, and the international flavour of the great protests against the war back in February would have been impossible without co-ordination through the internet.
Whatever its shortcomings, however hopelessly unreliable it can seem when you're trawling through it, during this war the internet has also shown us the overwhelming desire that so many people have to communicate, across all sorts of geographical and political divides. We shouldn't overestimate how far that desire is being met – since the internet is only useful to those who have access to the kind of technology that is beyond the reach of most people.
But at their best, parts of the internet remind us of the ideal expressed by the Israeli man who hosted a copy of the Baghdad blogger's diary: "I'm Israeli, but I don't think it's weird that I'm mirroring an Iraqi guy's blog.
We're all people, you know, we're not --robots programmed with the official policies of our countries.
Details Given on Contract Halliburton Was Awarded
Elizabeth Becker, New York Times, April 11, 2003
WASHINGTON, April 10 — The Pentagon contract given without competition to a Halliburton subsidiary to fight oil well fires in Iraq is worth as much as $7 billion over two years, according to a letter from the Army Corps of Engineers that was released today.
The contract also allows Kellogg Brown & Root, the Halliburton subsidiary, to earn as much as 7 percent profit. That could amount to $490 million. [...]