Published On: Sat, Aug 25th, 2018

Archive: Al-Jazeera caught Wagging the Dog? Astonishing Bani Walid claim by journalist without a context

First published at Luikkerland, 18th October, 2011


The reader should understand that the towns mentioned in this piece, Sirte and Bani Walid, had to be bombed extensively by NATO air and naval forces (including the RAF and RN) before they could be captured by the NATO-proxy army of jihadist mercenaries in Libya. Both of these towns were proving too hard a nut for ground forces alone to tackle, and numerous assaults on both were repelled. The murderous campaign of destruction that NATO inflicted has all but gone missing from official history. One can find hints of it in the corporate-media reporting of the time, the following extract coming from the Guardian, dated 4th September, 2011.

Meanwhile, Nato reported bombing an ammunition storage facility near Bani Walid. It also bombed a military barracks, a police camp and several other targets near Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte.

End of preface.]

I never got around to seeing Wag the Dog, but I understand that it’s a film in which a non-existent war is played out in the media for the purposes of distracting Americans from domestic political issues. In Libya, although the war is very much real, some of the media reportage has been suspiciously in the mould of Wag the Dog; in other words, completely fictitious for a political purpose. It’s not the same sort of thing as misreporting an event, or trying to shape perception about the significance of a real happening. What I am talking about is inventing a news story in order to sway the course of the war, and change public opinion at home.

I don’t think that we have been quite able to prove outright certain suspicions we have about corporate media Wagging-the-Dog in Libya; there was a huge question mark over Jalil’s presence at Green Square back in September, and, indeed, the actual location of the place where NTC rallies were supposed to be taking place. There was the – by now well known – BBC report of a victory gathering in that same public space which was actually footage of a crowd in India (the BBC made excuses about honest mistakes). There were the rumours of SKY and Al-Jazeera filming groups of rebels who would “flash-mob” in certain places ahead of their front lines, where a victory would be claimed, and then they would disperse to avoid a hammering by the loyalists, or the Green Resistance as they are now known. Indeed, one of the explanations for the SKY and Al-Jazeera coverage of the rebels in Green Square on the night of the supposed taking of Tripoli was that it was the ultimate “flash-rebels” staged event. However, even in all these examples, the villains avoid being caught clean in the act.

Obviously, when we can prove that the corporate media is Wagging the Dog, then we can prove that it is acting as an intelligence agency for NATO. This would be a problem for corporate media, especially in the UK where it works on the back of a reputation for impartiality. If corporate media is exposed as an active cog in the machine of death in Libya, then its consumers will find out that, essentially, they have been defrauded.

The closest that we will probably ever get to exposing an incident of Wag-the-Dog is actually newly upon us. Yesterday evening there may have been provided to us an opportunity to defrock the corporate media when Al Jazeera’s Tony Birtley claimed that he was reporting from inside Bani Walid which, he claimed, had fallen to the rebels. Here are screenshots I took from the report [click to enlarge].

The really strange thing about the report was that Birtley’s production team (I don’t know who would be with him) offered no photographic context; i.e. there were no unedited shots that showed the environs of Bani Walid with Birtley in them. He was, therefore, a journalist without context. What we were offered seemingly by way of proof was separate footage – that could have been stock – of tanks painted with NTC colours moving into an urban area. This is what libyanfreepress thought of it:

Those pictures show no traces of fighting, no bullets on the street and houses without shooting marks… despite NATO and NTC… bombing Bani Walid for a couple of months… So, wherever and whenever these pictures were taken or doctored, they are surely not from Bani Walid yesterday or today.

Additionally, libyanfreepress maintain that a colleague managed to phone into Bani Walid, and “tweeted that there is no NATO/NTC in Bani Walid, these terrorists just shell the city with long range weapons from outside”.

Faced with two contradictory accounts, we must acknowledge the very important difference in the way Birtley made his claim, and the way the counter one was made by libyanfreepress. Birtley had a golden opportunity to present compelling evidence, but chose not to. That, right there, is an indication of which source is less trustworthy.

While I was writing this, Al-Jazeera have replaced the original video that could be seem via this link. Instead, now the link will take you to a new report by Birtley in which he can be seen in the context of a built-up area that has suffered the ravages of war. It seems that the location is being presented as the center of Bani Walid, but again, the sort of definitive proof that a remote viewer unfamiliar with Bani Walid would need as verification is not provided.

The text currently on the Al-Jazeera site is from the original footage, and when you study what Birtley has to say, it becomes clear why any Bani Walid victory, even a fake one, is so important.

The gunfire of celebration is ringing out and they [the rebels] are going completely crazy here because they know this is sending a very clear message to those pro-Gaddafi elements who are still holding out in Sirte. Basically, there is nowhere left to go.

The fall of Bani Walid is clearly for the purposes of demoralising the defenders of Sirte. Birtley announces it himself! It strongly suggests that he is delivering a psychological operation.

What else strikes me about the original video (which I am afraid is lost to the reader for the time being) that tells me it was a propaganda piece is the way an official on Birtley’s right hand side seemed to be directing the exuberance of the NTC men. It occurred to me that I was looking at NATO/Al-Qaeda’s version of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum: Oh meet the boys – cos the boys are here…

So, given that Birtley’s claims were originally presented in such an avoidably flawed manner, what can we learn from this little escapade? We can learn that the NATO/Al-Qaeda allies cannot take Sirte. In truth, Birtley’s report wasn’t about Bani Walid, it was about Sirte and other places. If you sniff the air, you can smell the definite tang of desperation, and you get the sense of how much trouble the NTC is in. The NTC must be wanting to shift their forces elsewhere, and they must be longing to will the new government into being for the sake of official recognition so that NATO forces disguised as UN peace-keepers can enter the country and start putting the Green Resistance down.

So how much trouble do we think that NATO/Al-Qaeda is actually in? Apparently, there is a stinking great fight going on in Tripoli, and astonishingly, hardly believably, according to Morris108 [link missing] (who, I discovered, has some views on other matters that I do not agree with [in 2018, the YouTuber mentioned is not recommended by FBEL]) it already involves NATO in the UN guise. I don’t know what to think about that. All I can do in such circumstances is pass the information on for you to sift, dear reader.

Additional, 18/10/11:

Here is the original video…


If the guy on Birtley’s right is not the head of the NTC concert party, then I’m Gunner Gloria Beaumont.

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