Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Control RoomNineteen months after the actual invasion of Baghdad, and in the final week of electioneering, it was not easy to watch this remarkable Al-Jazeera documentary, knowing what we all know now. The contents alone are powerful, now evoking tears, now bringing a surge of bile to the gullet.
How even to walk the same earth as this bunch whose moral compasses have so long pointed south that the next self-serving sound bite is all that matters?
- The glib mendacity of the military spokesmen
- The squirm-making performances by Centcom press officer, Josh Rushing - particularly in his burbled briefing of the Libération correspondent, reminding me of me as he stuttered on about 'mosaics' of information and the need to stay imprecise lest the enemy, too, be informed.
- The odious Rumsfeld - increasingly resembling some poisonous toad with every TV appearance - dissing any press reports that contradicted or threatened to expose. Le Bon Dieu will have him down for an unmarked grave, but mere mortals are vindictive: this movie should play non-stop over his disgraced catafalque (and let the spitoons be liberally placed about).
- The heroically long-suffering A-J snr producer, Samir Khader
- The well-informed, articulate and outspoken Hassan Ibrahim, whose presence in any made-for-TV movie would need watering down for verisimilitude
- ... and my pinup, the beatific Deema Khatib
- Lootings: the gloating satisfaction with which an army spokesman countered an American journo's protests with the argument that, despite the city being on and under fire, it was up to local Iraqis to repel the looters and defend their museums
- The utter farce of that soldier holding up a - nay, *the* - pack of 'Wanted Poster' playing cards, and then telling the assembled press that it was the only one and there wasn't a spare even to pin up on a notice board
- The gall of the invading troops to use non-Iraqis in their "triumphant" advance into the main square and the laughable likelihood that one of them just happened to have on him a flag of pre-Saddamite Iraq. As Deema said, "What? Like he's had this flag for 10 years and just happens to be in the square when the tanks come in?"
Towards the end, as the press corps are packing up, comes a fierce and sudden rain squall, soaking equipment and scampering reporters alike, clearing the air in an almost laughable cliché of cleansing, admonitory tears.
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