DOS Cable re: Media Attention on Iraq and Saudi Arabia

State Department cable concerning several press reports focusing on the situation in Iraq and Saudi Araiba. International media attention focused on human rights issues, specifically Abu Graib and the killing of civilians in U.S. air strikes and the treatment of detainees.

Doc_type: 
Cable
Doc_date: 
Monday, June 14, 2004
Doc_rel_date: 
Sunday, December 19, 2004
Doc_text: 

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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE REVIEW AUTHORITY: FRANK E SCHMELZER
UNCLASSIFIED
DATE/CASE ID: 09 DEC 2004 200303827
DOS-002140

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' Document Number: 2004STATE129610

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UNCLAS STATE 129610

INFORM CONSULS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO, PREL, US, OIIP
SUBJECT: PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ALERT, MONDAY, JUNE 14, 2004

MEDIA/OPINION ABROAD

1. THROUGH THE WEEKEND, INTERNATIONAL MEDIA ATTENTION
SHIFTED RATHER ABRUPTLY FROM LAST WEEK'S G-8 DELIBERATIONS
AND UN RESOLUTION 1546 TO THE SECURITY SITUATIONS ON THE
GROUND IN IRAQ AND SAUDI ARABIA. (THE EUROPEAN UNION
ELECTIONS ALSO GARNERED COMMENT). DESPITE WIDE COVERAGE
OF THE ASSASSINATIONS IN IRAQ, COMMENTARY FOCUSED ON HUMAN
RIGHTS TOPICS: ABU GHRAIB AND THE KILLING OF CIVILIANS IN

U.S. AIR STRIKES.

IRAQ:

-- THE GUARDIAN FEATURED A REPRINT OF A NEW YORK TIMES
ARTICLE ON HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH'S CLAIM THAT THE U.S.

DECISION TO GO FOR "HIGH-PROFILE" STRIKES AGAINST

INDIVIDUAL IRAQI LEADERS EARLY IN THE WAR HAD "RESULTED IN
DOZENS OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES THAT THE U.S. COULD HAVE

PREVENTED HAD IT TAKEN ADDITIONAL PRECAUTIONS."

-- THE GUARDIAN AND BBC ALSO HEADLINED A "RED CROSS
ULTIMATUM TO THE U.S. ON SADDAM": ACCORDING TO'THE ICRC,
SINCE THE U.S. REGARDS SADDAM AS A POW, WASHINGTON MUST
RELEASE HIM BY JUNE 30 OR CHARGE HIM, SINCE UNDER

INTERNATIONAL LAW, UNCHARGED POW'S CANNOT BE HELD PAST THE
TERMINATION OF AN OCCUPATION.

-- IN A STORY WIDELY "BOUNCED," THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

CLAIMED "FOUR CONFIDENTIAL RED CROSS DOCUMENTS IMPLICATING

SENIOR PENTAGON CIVILIANS IN THE ABU GHRAIB SCANDAL HAVE
BEEN PASSED TO AN AMERICAN TV NETWORK, WHICH IS PREPARING
TO MAKE THEM PUBLIC."

-- "[GIVEN THE SECURITY SITUATION,} THE GREATEST CHALLENGE
OF THE NEW IRAQI OFFICIALS IS JUST GETTING TO WORK.... IN
SUCH CONDITIONS, RECONSTRUCTION RISKS BECOMING UNGLUED."

(LE FIGARO)

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-- "[ACCORDING TO THE 'MARCH 6, 2003 PENTAGON REPORT']___,

AS COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, PRESIDENT BUSH WAS ABOVE BOTH

DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL LAW.... EVEN TORTURE WOULD BE

LEGAL IF ORDERED BY THE PRESIDENT IN THE PROSECUTION OF...

A WAR. THIS NEW, SECRET DOCTRINE AMOUNTED TO AN

ASTONISHING QUASI-MEDIEVAL CLAIM TO AN UNLIMITED

PRESIDENTIAL EXECUTIVE POWER.... [YET] THE ADMINISTRATION

IS NOW ASKING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO BELIEVE...THAT IT WAS
NOT THOSE WHO HAD CONCOCTED A NEWFANGLED QUASI-LEGAL

JUSTIFICATION FOR TORTURE...BUT SEVEN JUNIOR MILITARY

GUARDS WHO WERE TO BLAME FOR ABU GHRAIB."

(THE AGE--AUSTRALIA)

-- "DESPITE THE MANY AMENDMENTS [TO UNSC 1546],...THE

RESOLUTION CLEARLY ALLOWS THE OCCUPATION FORCES TO STAY IN

IRAQ. THIS PROVES ONCE AGAIN THAT THE U.S. IS NOT SERIOUS

ABOUT ENDING ITS OCCUPATION.... [1546] EXTENDED THE LIFE

OF THE OCCUPATION IN ITS NEW CLOAK OF MULTINATIONAL FORCES

MAINTAINING SECURITY...." (AL-THAWRA--SYRIA)

-- "A LEGAL FABRICATION HAS PROVIDED JUSTIFICATION FOR THE

TORTURE OF DETAINEES BY U.S. FORCES IN IRAQI JAILS AND
GUANTANAMO. UNDER THIS FRAMEWORK, PRESIDENT BUSH AND

[OTHER OFFICIALS] CANNOT BE PROSECUTED FOR TORTURE....
HOW SHOCKING THAT THIS HAS HAPPENED IN THE U.S., WHICH HAS
THUS FAR BEEN KNOWN AS THE CHAMPION OF DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN
RIGHTS." (KOMPAS--JAKARTA)

-- "THERE. SEEMS TO BE ENOUGH [EVIDENCE] TO SUGGEST THAT

THE PATTERN OF PRISONER ABUSE STEMS FROM DECISIONS MADE BY

THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION TO IGNORE THE RULES OF WAR AND THE

GENEVA CONVENTIONS.... THE U.S. CONGRESS SHOULD APPOINT A

SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE U.S.

GOVERNMENT AT THE HIGHEST LEVEL IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE

HORRORS OF ABU GHRAIB."

(NEW STRAITS TIMES--KUALA LUMPUR)

SAUDI ARABIA:

-- WRITING IN THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH, THE BBC'S WORLD
AFFAIRS EDITOR SPECULATED THAT INFORMANTS IN "THE SAUDI

INFORMATION OR SECURITY MINISTRIES" TIPPED OFF THE GUNMEN

THAT ATTACKED A BBC TEAM LAST WEEK.

-- "AS FAR AS IT IS KNOWN...NOT A SINGLE TRIAL HAS BEEN
HELD WHERE HOME TRUTHS CAN BE AIRED ABOUT THE MILITANT
ORGANIZATIONS AND ANY POSSIBLE LINK THEY MAY HAVE WITH THE
AUTHORITIES. INEVITABLY, THE MILITANTS DIE IN A HAIL OF
BULLETS AND TAKE THEIR STORIES WITH THEM TO THEIR

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GRAVES.... LINGERING DOUBTS ABOUT THE AUTHORITIES'
WILLINGNESS AND ABILITY TO PROTECT THEM...COULD DRIVE
[EXPATRIATES) AWAY."A

(BBC)

-- THE WEEKEND'S SAUDI EDITORIALS WERE DEVOTED TO
DENOUNCING THE "SICK MENTALITY" OF QADDAFHI, AND ACCEPTED
AS FACT ACCOUNTS OF HIS ATTEMPT TO HAVE CROWN PRINCE

ABDULLAH ASSASSINATED.

2. MINIMIZE CONSIDERED.
POWELL

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Doc_nid: 
6544
Doc_type_num: 
68