The Listening Post

The propaganda behind Obama’s drone war

The campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia is one of the Obama administration’s worst-kept secrets.

On Listening Post this week: The propaganda push behind Obama’s drone war. And Somalia – where being a journalist can cost you your life.

It has been one of the worst-kept secrets of the Obama administration – the aggressive campaign of drone strikes against suspected militants hiding out in the tribal areas of Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, under President Barack Obama there have been a total of 280 drone strikes on Pakistan alone and the civilian death toll has been anywhere from 482 to 832. The Obama administration puts this figure at just 60. In our News Divide this week we analyse what is behind the difference in the casualty figures the US government reports and what investigative journalists have found on the ground.

Quick hits from the world of News Bytes: WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange requests political asylum from Ecuador; broadcast regulators in Ecuador shut down six radio stations and two TV channels in two weeks; a Mexican crime reporter is found dead, the fourth reporter to be murdered in the troubled state of Veracruz in two months; and Google’s latest report on transparency reveals that Western governments are stepping up efforts to censor material online.
Somalia ranks as Africa’s most dangerous place to be a journalist – this year alone six reporters have been murdered. The threats to the media in Somalia come from all sides – there are powerful politicians in power battles with each other, there is the notorious armed group al-Shabab and even wealthy businessmen can mean danger. Trying to report on the country’s various issues has proven difficult for journalists. Those that do, do so at their peril. But that fragile media environment has not stemmed the growth of the media sector or discouraged young journalists from entering the field. In this week’s feature, Listening Post’s Flo Phillips explores the media landscape in Somalia; a country where being a journalist can cost you your life.

With the dearth in critical mainstream media coverage of the US’ covert drone war, you can sometimes learn more about that story from comedians and satirists than from newspapers and news channels. We have featured San-Francisco-based online animator, Mark Fiore’s cartoons on the show before. The Pulitzer Prize winner has a knack for cutting right to the heart of an issue and his offering on the drone story does just that. Our Internet Video of the Week is called Dronetopia; it is a satirist’s take on the virtues of waging a war by remote control. We hope you enjoy the show.


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