by Marjorie Cohn, CommonDreams.org, Nov 1, 2010
In their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert effectively demonstrated how the media hypes fear. They brought out Kareem Abdul Jabbar to show that not all Muslims are terrorists. A couple of musical numbers dealt with the wars we are fighting. But neither Stewart nor Colbert mentioned Iraq or Afghanistan and how they are allowed to continue by the hyping of fear.
Like his predecessor, President Obama also hypes fear – by connecting his war in Afghanistan to keeping us safe, even though CIA director Leon Panetta recently admitted that only 50 to 100 al Qaeda fighters are there. Hoping to put the unpopular Iraq war behind him, Obama declared combat operations over, although 50,000 U.S. troops and some 100,000 mercenaries remain.
Tragically, both wars have largely disappeared from the national discourse. On October 22, Wikileaks released nearly 400,000 previously classified U.S. military documents about the Iraq war. They contain startling evidence of more than 1,300 incidents of torture, rape, abuse and murder by Iraqi security forces while the U.S. government looked the other way. During this time the Bush administration issued a “fragmentary order” called “Frago 242” not to investigate detainee abuse unless coalition troops were directly involved. U.S. authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of torture, rape, abuse and murder by Iraqi soldiers and police. Manfred Nowak, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, called on Obama to order a complete investigation of U.S. forces’ involvement in human rights abuses.