On June 11, French journalist Florence Aubenas and her Iraqi guide Colonel Hussein Hannoun were released in Baghdad. The French media celebrated the event as a victory of “freedom”. But, as much as we may rejoice at the news, the reactions that it provoked offer a worrying image, although not surprising, of the situation of French media.

A big movement of professional joy contributed to continue hiding the crimes of the Coalition that occupies Iraq. The abduction relegated everything else to a second level in Iraq. The unjustified detention of thousands of Iraqis disappeared after the abduction of the journalist. The declarations of joy published in editorials were very incoherent although they seemed not to bother their authors at all.
Thus, journalists applaud a victory of “information freedom” while they obediently accept, in the same articles, that the strange aspects of the abduction do not have any explanation in the name of the state’s reason. The struggle aimed at allowing journalists work without any obstructions and their submission to the power’s decision is simultaneously extolled.
Similar reactions were seen when a book by Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, also former French hostages, was published. The French media praised what was presented as a clarifying testimony, although the authors noted that the text had been read and censured by the DGSE [The General Direction of Foreign Security is the French intelligence service (Note of the Translator)] before it was published. That is, the French media show their self-satisfaction as they affirm that, although the release of Florence Aubenas was the result of the steps taken by the French government, nothing would have been possible without the mobilization that resulted from the huge media campaign.

In those circumstances, we should not expect to hear about the background of the kidnapping and the release of the journalist in the French media. In the meantime, there are lots of accusations -without evidence - against those allegedly responsible. Serge July, director of Libération, the news daily of Florence Aubenas, points his accusing finger against the Iraqi resistance. In his opinion, it is clear that if the kidnappers are members of a mafia group, there has to be a link between them and the Iraqi resistance. What elements does he use to support this thesis? He doesn’t say. However, July’s statement confirms that a ransom was given to the kidnappers, an open secret that continues to be a taboo issue. Actually, rather than pointing to the Iraqi resistance, the most probable trail leads to a mafia group linked to the one responsible for the kidnapping of Romanian journalists that we mentioned in this columns before the release of Florence Aubenas ->http://www.reseauvoltaire.net/artic...].
Media intellectual Bernard Henri Levy gives an even more fantastic interpretation about the identity of the kidnappers. In Le Point, he wrote that his work about the death of Daniel Pearl [that was, however, widely criticized by specialists] ->http://www.reseauvoltaire.net/artic...], allows him to affirm that it is very difficult for a group to keep hostages without the emergence of internal problems. Without any political or religious links, the group would have not been able to keep Florence Aubenas and Hussein Hannoun during 157 days without killing each other. Taking this doubtful principle as a premise, he affirmed that, then, it could be a merely criminal group. However, as no political group claimed responsibility for the taking of hostages, it is necessary to search in a list of other crimes committed in the region, which group or country uses that modus operandi.

If we set up an implicit parallel with the killing of Rafi Hariri, an act for which no one claimed responsibility either although the Atlantist media accused Syria, the author concludes that the responsibility falls on Damasco. This fascinating rhetoric exercise leaves us speechless.
For his part, the former French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Michel Barnier, hardly answered the questions about the issue from Le Figaro. However, he insisted on the fact that this case had nothing to do with the abduction of Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot, and he is very careful not to give an opinion about the identy of the kidnappers.

In the United States, the controversy increases around the treatment given to prisoners in Guantanamo after the publication of a report by Amnesty International, which presents this prison as a “goulag”. Dick Cheney answered in a violent way and said that he was “offended” by this accusation and for the publication of this kind of information that only aimed at “discrediting the United States”. However, the report is only another element about the tortures that take place at Camp Delta and in the other US detention centers after September 11, 2001.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld counterattacked in the USA Today. He affirmed that there was no desecration of the Koran in Guantanamo as the United States respects “the religious sensibility of its enemies”, that is, Islam. Understanding that the Bush administration perhaps took the wrong way by denying everything, he affirmed that maybe some mistakes could have been made due to the novelty of the war on terrorism. However, those methods were used during low-intensity conflicts.
In Gulf News, UNESCO professor Adel Safty expressed his anger over these denials. How could anyone give them any credit when there are so many elements about the topic today? However, if the scandal does not break it is only because neither the Bush administration nor the population seems to care about the fate of the prisoners.
This lack of action by the public opinion could be explained by the way in which media portray the prisoners. The more they describe them as monsters, the less they care about their fate. This is confirmed by Salman Rushdie in the Toronto Star. Rushdie also affirms that the treatment they receive is, in his opinion, contrary to the American identity. Like the scandal of Abu Ghraib, the narcissistic image that the United States sends itself matter more than the fate of the prisoners.
The infinite dangerousness of the men detained in Guantanamo and in other US territories is only an element of the media stereotype “of the” terrorist designed by Washington to make its citizens accept its policy. Since September 11, a picture of this so much fantasized adversary has been elaborated with the help of previous representations and racist assumptions. The enemy is Muslim, generally Arab, belonging to a superstructure called Al Qaida or at least he has links with it, he loathes the United States as it is a democracy and supports Israel and he was trained in a madressa.
In the New York Times and in the International Herald Tribune, Peter Bergen and Swati Pandey, researchers of the New America Foundation, question this assertion to validate the others. The authors analyze the biographies of those accused for the attacks against the World Trade Center in 1993; Kenya and Tanzania in 1998; September 11, 2001; and Bali, in 2002. They present statistics and affirm that terrorists are actually well educated people and not illiterate people. The image of the madressas (koranic schools) as places where terrorists are trained is not a credible one but, while they deny this aspect of the stereotype they validate other insidious assertions: the terrorists are all fundamentalist Muslims and the ones responsible for those four attacks belong to a united group, coherent enough so that more statistics may be obtained by including their biographies. In addition, for the two analysts, there is no doubt that those accused were the ones who really perpetrated the attacks.
This image “of the” terrorist was spoiled when the Washington-paid anti-Castro terrorist Luis Posada Carriles - whose backgrounds we analyzed in our columns ->http://www.reseauvoltaire.net/artic...] - started to make news again. Posada Carriles may be extradited to Venezuela after he was arrested for illegal entry in the United States. Former British Trade Minister, Brian Wilson, told the Guardian that the White House is facing a serious dilemma. It does not want to give one of its agents to Venezuela, what could be the beginning of his transfer to Cuba. However, if the United States does not extradite him, its hypocrisy in the war on terror would be much more evident for the rest of the world.
Anyway, Washington’s agents in the media try hard to trivialize the issue. Thus, in its edition of June 16th, the news daily of the French elites, Le Monde, published the following title: “Fidel Castro wants to put George Bush in a tight spot regarding an opponent accused for terrorism.” Maybe because they realized that they had gone too far, the article was moved to the online archives of the news daily.