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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Al Jazeera Broadcasts Aid Iraq's Government

August 18, 2004

Re "News Should Flow in Iraq," editorial, Aug. 15: The Times, citing the critical importance of freedom of expression, was correct to condemn the closure of the Baghdad bureau of Al Jazeera by the Iraqi government.

Al Jazeera has always given extensive airtime to U.S. government spokesmen and the government we brought to power. Without its Baghdad bureau, Al Jazeera no longer is in a position to balance its coverage of the opposition with interviews with the U.S.-sponsored government, which has partially disappeared from Arab television.

Needless to say, today Al Jazeera is operating in Iraq just fine. In a couple of months this policy will be reversed, but right now is the window of opportunity that the Iraqi regime needs to shore up its dubious legitimacy. In short, it needs Al Jazeera's coverage far more than Al Jazeera needs it.

John Yard

Sunland

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