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Petition drive calls for U.S. to revoke Peter Arnett’s passport

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The American Family Association has started a Internet petition drive to revoke the passport of Peter Arnett, yet have him remain in Iraq.

Arnett was fired by NBC News March 31 after making critical comments on Iraqi television about the coalition war strategy. He had been working for National Geographic — an affiliate of NBC — while reporting from Baghdad on NBC and MSNBC.

The petition is addressed to President Bush.

“Since Peter Arnett has elected to become the mouthpiece for the Iraqi regime; I ask that you revoke his passport and let him remain in Iraq,” it reads. “Despite the fact that he has apologized for what he calls a ‘misjudgment,’ his comments have not been retracted and are being used in the Moslem world as a tool against the U.S. His comments will make the job of U.S. and British forces much more difficult and possibly cost the lives of coalition forces and innocent Iraqi people.

“I ask that you pull his U.S. passport and let him remain in Iraq.”

Speaking on state-run Iraqi TV, Arnett said the coalition forces had miscalculated the level of Iraqi resistance.

“Now America is reappraising the battlefield, delaying the war, maybe a week, and rewriting the war plan,” Arnett said. “The first plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance. Now they are trying to write another plan.”

Arnett said it is “very clear that within the United States there is growing challenge to President Bush about the conduct of the war and also opposition to the war.”

Arnett, who has faced similar controversy several times in his career, has since apologized for his misjudgment, although he has not retracted his statements.

NBC originally backed Arnett but issued a statement a day later saying he had been released. Arnett has since been hired by the British tabloid the Daily Mirror, which ran a headline April 1 reading, “Fired by America for telling the truth … Hired by [the] Daily Mirror to carry on telling it.”

The Mirror is known for its opposition to Operation Iraqi Freedom. It ran a story April 1 with the headline, “7 women and children killed by American troops.” The headline was referencing an incident in which U.S. troops shot at a van after it refused to stop at a checkpoint. The shooting took place two days after four American troops were killed by a car bomb at a checkpoint.

“I am still in shock and awe at being fired,” Arnett said in the Mirror April 1. “There is enormous sensitivity within the U.S. government to reports coming out from Baghdad. They don’t want credible news organisations reporting from here because it presents them with enormous problems.”

In other war news:

— FOX News correspondent Geraldo Rivera is being removed from his war coverage for compromising “operational information,” Reuters reported.

The Associated Press quoted a military spokesman as saying, “We have asked that he be removed and we are working with [FOX] to make that happen.”

— Columbia University professor Nicholas De Genova is taking heat following comments suggesting that he wants to see American soldiers killed in battle.

“U.S. flags are the emblem of the invading war machine in Iraq today,” De Genova has said, Daniel Pipes and Jonathan Calt Harris recounted in a New York Post column April 1. “They are the emblem of the occupying power,” the professor asserted. “The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military.”

According to Pipes and Harris, “De Genova went on, in words that will long shame his university, to call on U.S. soldiers to ‘frag’ (i.e., murder) their officers and to wish ‘for a million Mogadishus,’ referring to the 1993 ambush in Somalia that left 18 U.S. soldiers dead and 84 wounded.”

Pipes is director of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum; Harris is affiliated with Campus Watch.

Pipes and Harris additionally took aim at statements by other professors at Columbia, lamenting “an intellectual crisis at a school long considered one of the country’s best.”

“Alumni, parents of students and other friends of the university should first acknowledge this reality, then take steps to fix it,” Pipes and Harris wrote.

Among the professors quoted by Pipes and Harris: Tom Paulin, a visiting professor, who has stated that Brooklyn-born Jews “should be shot dead” if they live on the West Bank.

Eric Foner, Dewitt Clinton professor of American history, meanwhile, has declared, “Our notion of ourselves as a peace-loving republic is flawed. We’ve used military force against many, many nations, and in very few of those cases were we attacked or threatened with attack.”

Edward Said, university professor, has called the U.S. policy in Iraq a “grotesque show” perpetrated by a “small cabal” of unelected individuals who hijacked U.S. policy. Pipes and Harris wrote that Said has accused “George Bush and his minions” of hiding an imperialist grab for “oil and hegemony” under a false intent to build democracy and human rights. Said has described Operation Iraqi Freedom as “an abuse of human tolerance and human values” waged by an “avenging Judeo-Christian god of war.” The war, he said, fits into a larger pattern of America “reducing whole peoples, countries and even continents to ruin by nothing short of holocaust.”

Joseph Massad, assistant professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history, “seems to blame every ill in the Arab world on the United States,” Pipes and Harris wrote. Massad has said poverty results from “the racist and barbaric policies” of the American-dominated International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and the absence of democracy is the fault of “ruling autocratic elites and their patron, the United States.”

— Singer Lenny Kravitz has joined with Iraqi pop star Kazem Al Sahir to record an anti-war single, according to USA Today. Several other artists have recorded anti-war singles and made them available on the Internet: Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, R.E.M., the Beastie Boys and John Mellencamp.

— MTV is providing war coverage because, as Dave Sirulnick, an executive vice president, told The New York Times, “… a year ago, many of [the] people who are now fighting the war were sitting home watching MTV.”
Compiled by Michael Foust & Art Toalston

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