Whenever the self-marginalizing old-media elite start asking orchestrated, irrelevant questions about a criminal case, our country faces a new challenge, of a covert media operation against the judiciary or police.
This time it is about which court should judge the former chief of General Staff. The self-marginalizing old-media elite claim he should be judged in the Supreme State Council. These people intentionally deny their readers any information -- in fact, memory -- about why on earth the former chief of General Staff is being judged after all. The covert media operation to save the former chief of General Staff from the special court in which he is being judged for the time being has been so well-orchestrated that it surpassed even the voice of the retired general* who pled not guilty.
In the past, we have seen similar operations when information that proved the existence of terrorist cells within the army was leaked to the press. The media operation was centered on one question: Who leaked this information? In complete accord with media operations, the Army General Staff used to launch administrative inquiries about the identities of the “moles,” not about the “terrorists.” Wiretapped speeches of former officers -- and this is by no means endorsing illegal wiretapping as a legitimate way of gathering information -- were broadcast on the Internet, and by launching an inquiry into who might have leaked the recording onto the Internet, the army acknowledged those speeches had taken place, but still, the old media elite didn't question the content of the speeches. They continued to stone the unknown moles. In the meantime, the content of those speeches was forgotten…
Now that the former chief of General Staff has been arrested and will be judged for the Internet memorandum and what is publicly known as the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism, a plan to finish off the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and the Gülen movement, shouldn't the media be asking, what are the prosecutor's claims and on what account are former “brothers-in-arms” accusing each other?
The court case known as the Internet memorandum is not anything new. Already several army generals are under arrest and have been testifying about their roles in the preparation of 42 smear-campaign websites defaming the AK Party and the Hizmet (aka the Gülen movement). All of the officers in question have pointed to their superior as the person who ordered, approved, financed and oversaw the preparation of the websites. These websites were used as evidence against the AK Party in the now-infamous closure case. This is the Internet memorandum part of the case. The Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism included planting arms in the houses of innocent people and then “finding” them, leading to the labeling of lawful citizens of this country as terrorists.
Had that plan materialized, would that self-marginalizing old-media elite be asking irrelevant questions like why were the operations on the houses of these innocent people conducted in the early morning hours? Would they be claiming that, since all evidence has been gathered, the judgment should have been made without an arrest?
If journalists attempt to do the jobs of judges, police and the army, who will do the job of journalists?
* For those who are reading my column for the first time: In Turkey, the army applies accreditation to the press. My newspaper, along with religious and ethnic minority papers, is not invited to the press meetings of the Army General Staff. My colleagues are not welcome on army premises. As long as the Turkish army does not embrace universal standards of democracy, I don't want to be accredited, either. Following prominent journalist Oktay Ekşi, I believe it is a journalist's right to accredit people, and I do not accredit soldiers in my columns. I refer to them with their titles only, not by name. It is nothing personal.
Published on Today's Zaman, 11 January 2012, Wednesday