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YellowTimes Shut Down for Telling the Truth

By Firas Al-Atraqchi, Yellow Times Org, 25 March 2003

Somebody doesn’t like hearing the truth. Okay, for a second, lets scratch that and choose a slightly less politically charged term. Someone doesn’t like to be disputed with alternative views, counterclaims, research and fact. Someone wants you, the reading public, to only gather one-sided, monotone, Orwellian dispatch. News the way they fashion it. Or as CNN will have you believe, the most reliable source for news.

And so, once again, the staff at YellowTimes.org was threatened with a shutdown: We are sorry to notify you of suspending your account: Your account has been suspended because (of) inappropriate graphic material.

Within hours, the (YellowTimes.org) site was shut down.

What’s next? Martial law?

An e-mail hours later was more explanatory: As ‘NO’ TV station in the US is allowing any dead US soldiers or POWs to be displayed, we will not either. Of course, at the time of this e-mail, TV stations across the US were allowing the images of US POWs to be brought to the public’s attention.

Yesterday, Iraqi TV and Al-Jazeera, followed by Spanish National TV, Portugal’s networks and most European TV stations, aired footage of US Marine fatalities in the southern town of Nassiriya. A handful of terrified US POWs were also shown. According to the Associated Press: Anecita Hudson of Alamogordo said she saw her 23-year-old son, Army Spc. Joseph Hudson, who was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, interviewed in the Iraqi video, which was carried on a Filipino television station she subscribes to.

There was public outrage in the US, citing the Geneva Convention on treatment of Prisoners of War, which forbids the broadcast of any footage or graphic depiction of POWs. True, the Geneva Convention does indeed include that provision.

However, the outrage follows on the heels of extensive, and I repeat, extensive footage of Iraqi POWs, sometimes with cameras panning in for extreme close-ups of blank-staring Iraqi soldiers, disheveled and fatigued as they were.

CNN grilled an Al-Jazeera spokesperson on the (de)merits of airing such footage yesterday. When asked by the Al-Jazeera spokesperson why it was allowed for US stations to broadcast footage of Iraqi POWs, CNN’s Aaron Brown said, because their families wouldn’t be watching.

Not true. CNN is broadcast around the world and is available to Iraqis. There are millions of Iraqis living outside Iraq who may recognize an Iraqi POW as a family member.

Notwithstanding, to say their families wouldn’t be watching is not an excuse. If it is a violation on the Iraqi side, then surely, it is as well on the US side.

Monday’s front page of The Washington Post has a picture of an Iraqi POW being handled by US troops.

As of Monday afternoon we were shut down.

I do beg your pardon, no, we weren’t shut down—we were censored—pure and simple.