Denying Dissent

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It has sometimes been difficult to find accurate information about what is actually happening in Iraq.

Embedded journalists only put a highly censored story. It is not surprising, then, that alternative news sources on the web have been the subject of intense debate and in some cases censorship. The nature of the internet makes websites particularly sensitive to attack or closure if their content doesn't meet the approval of the people whose computers run the site, or those with the skills to cause damage.

When Arabic satellite news channel Al Jazeera launched its news site it almost immediately suffered Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks from those who disagreed with its point of view. A DDoS attack is when floods of messages are sent to a computer to overload it and shut it down. The full story can be read here: www.theregister.co.uk. There is speculation that the US government may have been involved, but no proof, and certainly from a technical point of view there was no need for this to be the case.

At the time of writing Al Jazeera is still without a website. As the magazine the Register points out, it could be too much of a poisoned chalice for the company prepared to host it. The lack of real information coming from Iraq meant that many people were excited by the appearance of www.iraqwar.ru (English translations available from www.aeronautics.ru). This website was 'created recently by a group of journalists and military experts from Russia to provide accurate and up to date news and analysis of the war'. Even though it reported 'coalition forces' casualties much higher than even the most cynical reader of US reports might think, many people (including John Sutherland in the 'Guardian') praised its accurate and predictive reporting.

However, its last article, dated 8 April, says that the articles were 'not genuine materials from any Russian or other special services, but rather an "intellectual product" of the group itself'. The question remains--just how accurate was their writing?

Finally, a site that should be required reading for all those Labour MPs who backed the slaughter--www.iraqbodycount.net. There is no real need to go into details, the stark title tells it all.