from my state – literally and figuratively – and other places. i'm not in florida any more, but i haven't given up the sunshine.


reality iraq

while reality tv freaks in the u.s. are riveted by makeovers, matchmaking and millionaires, in iraq reality tv portrays a strange form of justice. i did a bit of research after hearing a report on npr this morning.

according to the international herald tribune, terrorism in the hands of justice airs on al iraqiya, a network run by an 'american contractor hired by occupation officials'

this series shows detained suspects - with bruised, swollen faces and hunched shoulders but no lawyer or any apparent form of due process - confessing to murders, kidnappings, and other acts of terror. some call the it a tool against the insurgency and 'a major turning point in the government's battle for hearts and minds' of iraqis. (christian science monitor) and say it reveals 'those who claim to be jihadists as simple $50 murderers' (washington post).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi betsy,

i wandered to your site from "" and came across your post. i spent last year in Iraq helping to modernize and re-build the media network there, which includes Al-Iraqiya. i found the articles you have linked to interesting and i commend you on your research! i hope you don't mind if i make a couple of comments. one of the articles used the words "U.S. funded" when referring to Al-Iraqiya. this was a common misconception, most often fueled by our own (U.S.) media, that cost many of our Iraqi employees life and limb. although we were there under a Dept of Defense contract to perform the work, it was entirely funded by Iraqi money. the DoD contract ended on January 7, 2005 but we remained another three months under direct contract with the Iraqis. during the months of January - April 7 of 2005, we were there strictly to finish building the studios in Baghdad (we were unable to finish studios in Mosul due to the dangers to our Iraqi contractors there) and to finish technical training for the equipment. the Al-Iraqiya employees and their new Director General, Habib Al-Sadr, were completely running the show in terms of the grid and programming content. the "Mosul tapes" (all raw footage) making up the show the articles discussed were hand-delivered by our Northern Program Manager to Baghdad - always a life threatening venture, the trip from Baghdad to Mosul - and delivered in person to the Iraqi producers at Al-Iraqiya. it was ultimately the decision of Al-Iraqiya and its Iraqi management to show the tapes. i can attest to the popularity of the show - at 9:00pm in the Baghdad hotel where we lived you could find EVERY hotel employee glued to the television in the main lobby. i am not advocating the show as a form of justice and i understand that it is a question of the rights of these detainees being filmed. however, the show gives the Iraqi people a sense of empowerment in place of the usual helplessness. i've seen the innocent, young looking faces of the men on the Iraqi police force standing out in the streets of Baghdad - i have a hard time worrying about the guys on those tapes when i see a car bomb go off at an Iraqi police station and kill a bunch of innocent recruits standing outside. it's tough for me to feel sorry for the guys on those tapes giving their confessions with their shoulders hunched when meanwhile, employees of Al-Iraqiya dressed their best and came to work every day - many for shit wages because the Ministry wouldn't give us the budget to pay them what they were worth.....that $50 those guys were claiming drove them to crime........the average salary of an Iraqi Media employee was 200,000 Dinar per month, or $140. many on the lowest rung made 100,000 dinar monthly, or about $70. these employees came to work even though walking out of their house could mean getting killed. we had employees return to work after being shot and nearly dying. although i do hope the gentlemen on those tapes are being treated fairly and just, i find it hard to concern myself with that. all i can say for them is "En Sha' Allah" ("God Willing"). i just think as i assume the Iraqi people do, "yeah, one for the good guys!"

7/13/2005 03:30:00 AM

Blogger betsy said...

wow. there is nothing more powerful than a first hand account. the truth is so difficult to ascertain when reading any news, much less news about iraq. thank you for the comment. good dialogue on this stuff is hard to come by.

i can’t say i believe the u.s should have entered iraq in the first place. but, i do have the utmost respect and appreciation for americans who are there risking their lives to build a better world. i can imagine that, particularly for someone living among the violence every day, it would be nearly impossible to feel sorry for these men who are – or are at least shown to be – monsters. at the same time, i hope we all concern ourselves with justice - particularly when that’s supposed to be why the u.s. is there in the first place.

7/13/2005 08:48:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello again,

Bush would be proud of me. i started with a thousand points of light and used over 550 words and a lot of "blogtime" to boil things down to my one very succinct point about the men on those tapes: "screw those guys!" i delivered my point with the Bush trademark swagger and sway although, as Bush probably is too at 3:15am after many beers with the boys, i was much more swaying than i was swaggering. lastly, i'm sure he would be very impressed that i used such big words in my delivery like, "U.S." and "200,000" and "yeah" and "shit".

but a few hours sleep and some sunshine spreads a whole new light on things. i have to agree with you that justice is what's most important. and in spite of what i wrote earlier about those tapes, i know deep down that airing them is probably revenge-driven and wrong.

believe me, there was a lot of discussion in the Embassy and probably in Washington about those tapes before they aired. thankfully, the decision was made not to intervene and prevent Al-Iraqiya from airing them. i think it's important that it was left up to the Iraqs. after all, it is their t.v. station, not ours.

i also agree that we shouldn't have entered iraq. if we're ever going to leave there though, we have to stop playing interference and let them govern themselves completely, once and for all. nine months after the farce called the "CPA handover" on June 28 of last year, there were still American "advisors" in the Iraqi Ministries. although we see evidence on the tapes of these men being treated unfairly, and although we disagree with airing them, should we interfere? at what point do we step in and at what cost?

7/13/2005 10:53:00 AM


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