Who Watches The Watchmen

Control Room is not (as I have read here) the movie that Fahrenheit 9/11 should have been. Hijacking Catastrophe is. Control Room is an excellent behind the scenes look at an international news organization under threat politically and under fire. It is focused on the role of Al Jazeera in the Iraq invasion. See an excellent complement to the documentary here, at CBC.

The cleverly titled documentary takes a look at the news factory that was CENTCOM, Central Command for the Department of Defense's Office of Public Affairs, a barracks for the world's news organizations 700 miles from Baghdad. This was the control room, the clearing house for the images and spin spewing out of Iraq during the conflict.

The hypocrisy of Rumsfeld, decrying Al Jazeera as liars while rattling off strings of his own lies, is at once comic and chilling. The engineering of the toppling of Saddam Hussein's statue photo-op was something I had not been aware of. This iconic image suggesting a jubilant and liberated Iraq was a sham.

By constructing simulacra of truth, the US breeds skepticism about any other assertion it makes. And that's in the West. Imagine how they feel about the US in the Middle East.

Back to Al Jazeera. I wholeheartedly support the availability of an Arab news network beyond the jurisdiction of the region's dictators, and beyond the reach of American advertisers. Al Jazeera will be made available to Canadians, with some modifications. It is interesting that Control Room appeared on the season premiere of The Passionate Eye, on the eve of the news network's rollout to the Canadian market. Al Jazeera senior producer Samir Khader offered up some feel good platitudes about Al Jazeera's noble cause, all the while chain-smoking like Nathan Thurm. More power to AJ, but I've been duped enough times to be skeptical of any news organization, a sad truth.

Just so we get this straight: lies, damned lies, statistics, and press releases of the US Department of Defense. Just kidding. I'm sure some of these statements are true. I just can't tell which ones, and therein lies the problem.

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