Listening Post
Playing the Osama bin Laden card
Has the White House selectively leaked classified information about the assassination to score political points?
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2012 08:36

On Listening Post this week: Playing the Osama bin Laden card: to leak or not to leak? Plus, starved of attention: the media and the Palestinian hunger strike.

The US' former public enemy number one is enjoying a posthumous revival. Eleven years after the 9/11 attacks, and 17 months since he was killed in a raid in Pakistan, Osama bin Laden has become a divisive figure in the 2012 race for the White House. The Obama campaign has been playing the bin Laden card to publicise the president's national security credentials - and the White House has been accused of selectively leaking classified information about bin Laden's assassination for the purpose of political point scoring. And it is not just leaking to news organisations but also to Hollywood, which has a major movie on the bin laden killing in production.

The irony? The Obama administration has used the Espionage Act to crack down on leakers of classified information more than all previous administrations put together.

In this week's News Bytes: Turkey's biggest ever media trial is underway as 44 Kurdish journalists face terrorism charges in Istanbul; in Ukraine, the Yanukovych government is accused of trying to stifle independent media ahead of next month's parliamentary elections; Indian political cartoonist Aseem Trivedi faces court charges that include insulting national honour and violating internet laws; and in the UK, Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange has lost a ruling by broadcast regulators Ofcom that a documentary about him was unjust and had violated his privacy.

Listening Post this week looks at a story that we have not seen in the media - and asks why not? In recent times stories from the Middle East have been focused on the Arab Spring. A few months back a significant story came out of Palestine - but it did not involve violence, stone throwing or suicide bombings. Which is why you may not even know that Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails went on a hunger strike.

Granted, hunger strikes are not unprecedented or always newsworthy. But what set this one apart was the sheer scale of it: an estimated 2,000 prisoners going without food to protest against conditions behind bars. Why didn't the media give it the attention it deserved? And what lessons should Palestinians take, when having been lectured by the international community to favour non-violent forms of protest, they find that the most non-violent form of protest possible - a hunger strike - leaves the media non-plussed?

Finally, Juice Media calls itself a news source for the discerning viewer. It first caught our attention back in 2010, with their satirical newscasts called Rap News. Anchor Robert Foster has a way with a rhyme and a way of getting at important issues. Rap News' latest instalment deals with the global surge of internet surveillance in countries that call themselves free. He has also brought a well-known novelist back from the grave to comment on the perils of an increasingly Orwellian world. Our web video of the week has already got more than 100,000 hits online. And you know at least one of the viewers is Big Brother.

Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

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