Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is dead. The news came yesterday afternoon as several US officials and the Pakistani police confirmed that a videotape had been found showing scenes of Pearl’s murder. The tape was apparently delivered to Pakistani officials late Wednesday by someone posing as a journalist. It is currently being studied by local authorities and by F.B.I. agents seeking to capture the kidnappers. While few additional details have been released, Government officials have said that the undated videocassette contains graphic images of Pearl’s being stabbed, providing incontrovertible evidence of his death.
Pearl’s murder will likely impose new pressure on Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who has been under intense pressure over the past two months to crack down on so-called militant Islamic groups. In fact, Musharraf said last week during a visit to Washington that he believed that Pearl may have been kidnapped in response to the suppression. Pearl himself had done some critical reporting of Pakistan’s failure to crack down on Islamic groups like Jaish-e-Muhammed and Lashkar-i-Taiba. But he is also the same reporter who, back in 1998, reported critically on the U.S. bombing of the al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. An article he published just days after the bombing provided some of the first evidence that the US had not attacked a chemical weapons plant, as it had claimed, but a medicine factory with a UN contract.
Now, almost four years after Daniel Pearl helped break this story, he is dead for trying to find what be believed to be the truth behind another story. As for the United States, it has launched a campaign to possibly distort the truth in other areas. According to an article published in last Tuesday’s New York Times, the Pentagon’s Office of Strategic Influence is "developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations." The goal is to help generate support for United States’ so-called war on terror.
Today, we will discuss this new propaganda campaign with Rachel Coen, who is the communications director at Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting. But first, we will speak with Rachel about the story of Daniel Pearl’s death.
- Rachel Coen, communications coordinator at Fairness And Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR).