Peter Arnett: I report the truth

By Joe Kovacs

On the same day Peter Arnett was fired by NBC for controversial statements to Iraqi TV, the veteran journalist was hired by the Daily Mirror, a British tabloid known for its anti-war stance.

Britain’s Daily Mirror known for its opposition to Iraq war

“I report the truth of what is happening here in Baghdad and will not apologize for it,” said Arnett.

As WorldNetDaily reported yesterday, Arnett was axed after granting an impromptu interview to state-run television in Baghdad, making comments that appeared to many to be anti-American.

“I am still in shock and awe at being fired,” writes Arnett in his debut dispatch for today’s edition of the Mirror. “There is enormous sensitivity within the U.S. government to reports coming out from Baghdad. They don’t want credible news organizations reporting from here because it presents them with enormous problems.”

Arnett’s comments on Iraqi airwaves sparked a firestorm of complaints in the U.S. to NBC and “National Geographic Explorer” for whom the New Zealand-born correspondent was reporting.

Peter Arnett on Iraqi TV

“Clearly, the American war planners misjudged the determination of the Iraqi forces,” Arnett told Iraqi TV. “That is why now America is reappraising the battlefield, delaying the war, maybe a week, and rewriting the war plan. The first war plan has failed because of Iraqi resistance now they are trying to write another war plan.”

Even though NBC fired Arnett, he still appeared on the network’s “Today” show, saying he wanted to apologize to the American people.

“It was clearly a misjudgment talking to Iraqi TV,” Arnett said. “I’m not anti-war. I said what we all know about this war. But I’ve created a firestorm and for that I’m sorry.”

Regarding his future, he joked: “There’s a small island in the South Pacific I’ll try to swim to. I’ll leave.”

But within hours of Arnett’s termination in the U.S., the Daily Mirror – the British publication most opposed to Operation Iraqi Freedom – announced it had hired him.

“Fired by America for telling the truth … Hired by Daily Mirror to carry on telling it,” read the headline on the tabloid’s front page today.

“I don’t want to give aid and comfort to the enemy – I just want to be able to tell the truth,” says Arnett. “I came to Baghdad with my crew because the Iraqi side needs to be heard, too.”

On June 7, 1998, Arnett was the reporter on a broadcast of CNN’s “NewsStand” which accused U.S. Army commandos of using sarin nerve gas in a top secret operation known as “Tailwind” during the Vietnam War.

The report accused Tailwind participants of using the lethal gas against American defectors who were hiding in a small village in Laos. The entire village and all in it were reportedly wiped out in about 10 minutes.

The Tailwind story was first exposed as a fraud in WorldNetDaily, and both the network and Time magazine were forced to issue apologies and retractions. Arnett kept his job but was reprimanded over the report. He subsequently left CNN when his contract was not renewed.

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