The Independent’s Robert Fisk told delegates that the coalition forces in Iraq had lied to journalists.
“The horrific Saddam lied to us, but the Americans lied to us and, yes, the British lied to us.”
Fisk cited the bombing of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad as an instance of where lies had been told. “As for the shell that hit the hotel and killed my colleagues, the commander of the US First Iinfantry Division claimed that light arms fire had been directed at his tank on the bridge, that the tank had fired at the hotel and the shooting ceased.
“This was a lie. I was between the tank and the hotel and there was no shooting. Had there been, I would not have been on the streets that morning.” Fisk defended his coverage of the war, saying he had been vindicated by events. “At the time I was criticised for using the word ‘liberated’ in quotation marks. I suggested this was occupation – and far fewer people would argue with that description today.”
Fisk said the language used in journalism and in news programmes was “never more important”.
Fisk claimed last week, unpublicised in the West, that the Anglo-American authorities in Iraq had set up a legal committee to organise press censorship, although officially it is not called that. “What the Iraqis need is journalistic help rather than censorship, rather than a colonial-style suppression of free speech which is what censorship will become,” he said.