"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Thursday, November 24, 2005

WP and the BBC

Dear Sirs/Madam,

In November 2004 the BBC reported that "between 10,000 and 15,000 US and Iraqi troops...were facing an estimated 3,000 insurgents inside the city [of Fallujah]" while the US commander "Gen Casey...believed some 50-70% of the civilian population of 200,000 had left the city." Leaving up to 100,000 civilians.

Biologist Mohamad Tareq, interviewed in a recent Italian documentary, said; "A rain of fire fell on the city, the people struck by this multi-coloured substance started to burn, we found people dead with strange wounds, the bodies burned but the clothes intact."

How does the BBC decide between what is indiscriminate and what is not? Please illuminate me.

Yours sincerely,


Many thanks for your note. This Italian documentary was covered by us here http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/4417024.stm . Please be assured we will continue to cover Iraq in detail, with as many perspectives as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Pete Clifton
Head of BBC News Interactive

Dear Mr Clifton,

Thank you for your reply.

As you may know, my concern was not whether the documentary was covered or not. I was concerned about the way in which it was covered.

Earlier versions of the story you refer to contained the line:

"Italian state TV has broadcast a documentary accusing the US military of indiscriminate use of chemical weapons in the Iraqi city of Falluja last year."

The claim of indiscriminate use of chemical weapons was subsequently edited out. My question is, why?

I await your reply.

Yours sincerely,