Socialist Worker

Remember the photos that started the war?

Issue No. 1902

PIERS MORGAN was sacked as Daily Mirror editor because he told the truth about British forces, torture of prisoners but may have used staged photos to illustrate that truth.

Yet the editors who pumped out all the lies and fake photos, which led to a war that has killed thousands, still sit easy in their well-paid jobs. Virtually every paper accepted wholesale gross hoaxes such as Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations Security Council in February last year just before the war began.

Some of the pictures (and drawings) from it are shown above. The drawings were obviously not real evidence-they were, Powell said, "diagramising" what US spies had been told. Showing Slide 21 Powell said, "Here you see both truck and rail car-mounted mobile factories." See? Yes, because an artist has drawn them!

Turning to the satellite images, Powell said, "The photos that I am about to show you are sometimes hard for the average person to interpret, hard for me. The painstaking work of photo analysis takes experts with years and years of experience, poring for hours and hours over light tables." Powell then confidently asserted that there was irrefutable evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

"This one is about a weapons munitions facility in Taji," said Powell. "The two arrows indicate the presence of sure signs that the bunkers are storing chemical munitions. This is one of 65 such facilities in Iraq. We know this one has housed chemical weapons."

When a US search party entered Taji, north of Baghdad, in late April 2003 they found nothing. Powell also showed a diagram of what he claimed were "mobile production facilities used to make biological agents". When these were seized in northern Iraq a British investigation found they were facilities to produce hydrogen gas for balloons.

This was exactly what the Iraqis said they were. Powell produced pictures claiming that the militant Islamist Ansar Al-Islam group's camp, in the Kurdish-controlled region of northern Iraq, was a "poison factory".

The "poison factory" was nothing of the sort. One journalist who visited the camp discovered a bakery. Piers Morgan should clearly have told the world that he had been "diagramising" torture.


The editors who deserve to be hounded out

OTHER NEWSPAPER editors who were victims of hoaxers in very high places include:

VERONICA WADLEY: The Evening Standard's front page headline after the release of Tony Blair's September 2002 dodgy dossier was "45 Minutes From Attack". The paper reported, "Dossier reveals Saddam is ready to launch chemical war strike."

REBEKAH WADE: The Sun's front page headline read, "He's Got 'Em... Let's Get Him," the day after the dossier was published. The paper reported on page four, "BRITISH servicemen and tourists in Cyprus could be annihilated by germ warfare missiles launched by Iraq, it was revealed yesterday. "They could thud into the Mediterranean island within 45 MINUTES of tyrant Saddam Hussein ordering an attack." They both still have their jobs.


Bush backers and rich who dumped Morgan

PIERS MORGAN was toppled by giant companies who didn't like the Mirror's anti-war stance. The paper is owned by Trinity Mirror. One of the company's biggest shareholders is Fidelity Asset Management. Two of its top executives, Abigail and Edward Johnson III, are major donors to the Bush re-election campaign. Another top shareholder is US investment company Tweedy Browne. It began its assault on Piers Morgan in July 2002, obviously well before any row about fake photos.

Tweedy Browne objected to the Mirror's anti-war stance and in particular a front page headlined "Mourn On The Fourth Of July" over an article which showed the US war on Afghanistan had killed double the number of civilians who died on 11 September 2001.

Tweedy Browne returned to the attack after the photos storm. Other big shareholders, including Isis Asset Management and Deutsche Asset Management, then weighed in as well.

Deutsche's Andrew Tusa said, "We will have to look very carefully at what Trinity Mirror does next in order to protect the value of the Mirror brand. The impact of this sort of issue on the reputation of a company is something we have to grapple with as investors."


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Sat 22 May 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1902
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