This thread was motivated by Vivify's citing a defector's story to help beat the drums for war,
though I should add that the defector herself did not advocate a war to liberate the DRPK.
The idea for such a war came from the ethnocentric American Vivify.
Many refugees or 'defectors' have heart-rending stories about atrocities to tell.
Many, perhaps most, of these stories may be true, but not necessarily in every detail.
Some details may be exaggerated and some stories may be fabricated.
One should be cautious about these stories when used to help sell a war.
A propaganda myth (big lie) used to sell the US war against Iraq to liberate
Kuwait was the claim that Iraqi soldiers had murdered hundreds of babies by
forcibly removing them from their incubators in Kuwait. This myth became
the equivalent of British atrocity propaganda about German soldiers often
raping nuns (or cutting off their hands or breasts) in Belgium in the First World War.
"How PR Sold the War in the Persian Gulf"
Every big media event needs what journalists and flacks alike refer to
as "the hook." An ideal hook becomes the central element of a story that
makes it newsworthy, evokes a strong emotional response, and sticks in
the memory. In the case of the Gulf War, the "hook" was invented by Hill
& Knowlton. In style, substance and mode of delivery, it bore an
uncanny resemblance to England's World War I hearings that accused
German soldiers of killing babies.
On October 10, 1990, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus held a
hearing on Capitol Hill which provided the first opportunity for formal
presentations of Iraqi human rights violations. Outwardly, the hearing
resembled an official congressional proceeding, but appearances were
deceiving. In reality, the Human Rights Caucus, chaired by California
Democrat Tom Lantos and Illinois Republican John Porter, was simply
an association of politicians. Lantos and Porter were also co-chairs of
the Congressional Human Rights Foundation, a legally separate entity
that occupied free office space valued at $3,000 a year in Hill &
Knowlton's Washington, DC office. Notwithstanding its congressional
trappings, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus served as another
Hill & Knowlton front group, which -- like all front groups -- used a noble-
sounding name to disguise its true purpose.80
Only a few astute observers noticed the hypocrisy in Hill & Knowlton's
use of the term "human rights." One of those observers was John
MacArthur, author of The Second Front, which remains the best book
written about the manipulation of the news media during the Gulf War.
In the fall of 1990, MacArthur reported, Hill & Knowlton's Washington
switchboard was simultaneously fielding calls for the Human Rights
Foundation and for "government representatives of Indonesia, another
H&K client. Like H&K client Turkey, Indonesia is a practitioner of naked
aggression, having seized ... the former Portuguese colony of East
Timor in 1975. Since the annexation of East Timor, the Indonesian
government has killed, by conservative estimate, about 100,000
inhabitants of the region
MacArthur also noticed another telling detail about the October 1990
hearings: "The Human Rights Caucus is not a committee of congress,
and therefore it is unencumbered by the legal accouterments that would
make a witness hesitate before he or she lied. ... Lying under oath in
front of a congressional committee is a crime; lying from under the cover
of anonymity to a caucus is merely public relations."82
In fact, the most emotionally moving testimony on October 10 came
from a 15-year-old Kuwaiti girl, known only by her first name of Nayirah.
According to the Caucus, Nayirah's full name was being kept
confidential to prevent Iraqi reprisals against her family in occupied
Kuwait. Sobbing, she described what she had seen with her own eyes in
a hospital in Kuwait City. Her written testimony was passed out in a
media kit prepared by Citizens for a Free Kuwait. "I volunteered at the al-
Addan hospital," Nayirah said. "While I was there, I saw the Iraqi
soldiers come into the hospital with guns, and go into the room where ...
babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators,
took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die."83
Three months passed between Nayirah's testimony and the start of the
war. During those months, the story of babies torn from their incubators
was repeated over and over again. President Bush told the story. It was
recited as fact in Congressional testimony, on TV and radio talk shows,
and at the UN Security Council. "Of all the accusations made against
the dictator," MacArthur observed, "none had more impact on American
public opinion than the one about Iraqi soldiers removing 312 babies
from their incubators and leaving them to die on the cold hospital floors
of Kuwait City."84
At the Human Rights Caucus, however, Hill & Knowlton and Congressman Lantos had
failed to reveal that Nayirah was a member of the Kuwaiti Royal Family. Her father, in
fact, was Saud Nasir al-Sabah, Kuwait's Ambassador to the US, who sat listening in the
hearing room during her testimony. The Caucus also failed to reveal that H&K vice-
president Lauri Fitz-Pegado had coached Nayirah in what even the Kuwaitis' own
investigators later confirmed was false testimony.
If Nayirah's outrageous lie had been exposed at the time it was told, it
might have at least caused some in Congress and the news media to
soberly reevaluate the extent to which they were being skillfully
manipulated to support military action. Public opinion was deeply
divided on Bush's Gulf policy. As late as December 1990, a New York
Times/CBS News poll indicated that 48 percent of the American people
wanted Bush to wait before taking any action if Iraq failed to withdraw
from Kuwait by Bush's January 15 deadline.85 On January 12, the US
Senate voted by a narrow, five-vote margin to support the Bush
administration in a declaration of war. Given the narrowness of the vote,
the babies-thrown-from-incubators story may have turned the tide in
Following the war, human rights investigators attempted to confirm
Nayirah's story and could find no witnesses or other evidence to support
it. Amnesty International, which had fallen for the story, was forced to
issue an embarrassing retraction. Nayirah herself was unavailable for
comment. "This is the first allegation I've had that she was the
ambassador's daughter," said Human Rights Caucus co-chair John
Porter. "Yes, I think people ... were entitled to know the source of her
testimony." When journalists for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
asked Nasir al-Sabah for permission to question Nayirah about her
story, the ambassador angrily refused."
"The Nayirah testimony was a false testimony given before the
Congressional Human Rights Caucus on October 10, 1990 by a 15-year-
old girl who provided only her first name, Nayirah. The testimony was
widely publicized, and was cited numerous times by United States
senators and President George H.W. Bush in their rationale to back
Kuwait in the Gulf War. In 1992, it was revealed that Nayirah's last name
was al-Ṣabaḥ (Arabic: نيره الصباح ) and that she was the daughter of Saud
Al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States. Furthermore, it
was revealed that her testimony was organized as part of the Citizens
for a Free Kuwait public relations campaign which was run by American
Hill & Knowlton for the Kuwaiti government. Following this, al-Sabah's
testimony has come to be regarded as a classic example of modern
In her emotional testimony, Nayirah stated that after the Iraqi invasion of
Kuwait she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers take babies out of incubators in
a Kuwaiti hospital, take the incubators, and leave the babies to die."
Pretending to be an ordinary Kuwaiti witness, the daughter of Kuwait's
ambassador to the USA shamelessly lied in her testimony to the US Congress,
fabricating an extreme atrocity story about invading Iraqi soldiers.
That inflammatory false testimony was accepted by most Americans and
influenced the USA to go to war (for Kuwait's royal family) against Iraq.
Will most Americans be discerning enough to recognize when they are being played again?