Last month, of course, there was a constant stream of BBC reports warning of attacks on ferries, tube trains, public events; talk of dirty bombs, of terrorist suspects arrested, of preparations to counter germ warfare attacks, of police snipers being distributed to kill suicide bombers, of fighter jets on permanent standby, of plans for the distribution of radiation pills, of plans to evacuate major cities, and so on, almost on a daily basis. According to a former intelligence officer quoted in the Daily Mirror recently, this is part of a “softening up process,” for a war on Iraq, “a lying game on a huge scale”. (The Daily Mirror, December 3, 2002) A Guardian editorial noted, “it cannot be ruled out that Mr Blair may have political reasons for talking up the sense of unease, in order to help make the case for a war against Iraq that is only backed by one voter in three”. (The Guardian, ‘Gloom in Guildhall,’ November 12, 2002) It is, after all, well understood in Downing Street and Washington that talk of terror threats increases the public’s support for war. The results could be appalling. According to a report in November by the US Medical Association for Prevention of War, the intense bombardment that would undoubtedly precede another Gulf War could cost half a million Iraqi lives. Vincent Hubin, director of Premiere Urgence, the largest foreign aid agency operating in Iraq, warns: “It is not a war they are starting; it’s a slaughter. It will be a catastrophe.” We believe you are being used to channel propaganda to generate public support for a cynical war against Iraq. It is the job of free and honest journalists to +challenge+ crude attempts to manipulate the public, not merely to pass them on without comment. Your responsibility to the British public and to the people of Iraq is clear. Please consider the moral gravity and responsibility of your position. Yours sincerely David Edwards and David Cromwell The Editors – Media Lens Suggested Action We urge all our readers to take five minutes of your time to protest this outrageous and lethal manipulation of British public opinion. Write to Richard Sambrook, either copying the above letter or writing a letter of your own: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Margaret Gilmore: Email: email@example.com Copy all your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. In writing letters to journalists, we strongly urge readers to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone. Feel free to respond to Media Lens alerts (email@example.com).