Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fantasyland Media

Memorial Day is not actually a day to pray for U.S. troops who died in action but rather a day set aside by Congress to pray for peace. The 1950 Joint Resolution of Congress which created Memorial Day says: “Requesting the President to issue a proclamation designating May 30, Memorial Day, as a day for a Nation-wide prayer for peace.”

But peace today is a nearly impossible challenge for the United States. The U.S. is far and away the most militarized country in the world and the most aggressive.

The U.S. spends over $600 billion annually on our military, more than the rest of the world combined. China, our nearest competitor, spends about one-tenth of what we spend. The U.S. also sells more weapons to other countries than any other nation in the world.

The U.S. has about 700 military bases in 130 countries world-wide and another 6000 bases in the US and our territories.

And why is this a little hard to believe for some of you out there? Our media and our politicians never talk about the empire. It is off the agenda, even though it is probably the largest issue confronting our nation.


The world is witnessing a terrible human rights crime in Gaza, where a million and a half human beings are being imprisoned with almost no access to the outside world by sea, air or land. An entire population is being brutally punished.

This gross mistreatment of the Palestinians in Gaza was escalated dramatically by Israel, with United States backing, after political candidates representing Hamas won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Authority parliament in 2006. The election was unanimously judged to be honest and fair by all international observers...

Regardless of one's choice in the partisan struggle between Fatah and Hamas within occupied Palestine, we must remember that economic sanctions and restrictions in delivering water, food, electricity and fuel are causing extreme hardship among the innocent people in Gaza, about one million of whom are refugees. Israeli bombs and missiles periodically strike the encapsulated area, causing high casualties among both militants and innocent women and children.

Whose voice is this? Not one heard in US media, which has pretty much eliminated anything the former president Jimmy Carter has had to say after his visit to occupied Palestine. The article is from the Times of India, where the Israeli lobby can't censor it. Here, the Israeli lobby dictates what you and I read about Palestine.,prtpage-1.cms


WASHINGTON - A senior U.S. official said Wednesday that a proposed treaty banning cluster bombs would hurt world security and endanger U.S. military cooperation on humanitarian work with countries that sign the accord.

Stephen Mull, an assistant secretary of state, briefed reporters at the State Department to explain why the United States was not attending a gathering in Ireland of representatives of more than 100 nations working on a treaty to ban the bombs blamed for killing or maiming civilians as their mini-bombs explode months or years after they are dropped.

Cluster bombs are fired by cannon or dropped from aircraft and release hundreds of smaller explosives in the air that are supposed to explode upon impact. In Israel’s 2006 war against the Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, the bomblets’ failure rate was around 30 to 40 percent, and the United Nations said up to a million unexploded bomblets were left after hostilities ceased.

So there we have it. The US opposes limits on cluster bombs for "humanitarian reasons," a delicious irony waiting for any American media to expose. But the NY Times didn't see any irony at all. In fact, for the last two months it has refused to cover the issue at all. Perhaps the story is too anti-American for the nation's most prestigious propaganda machine.


Should the news media be patriotic? When a journalist uncovers a government secret, which comes first–national security or the public’s right to know? In the United States, reporters consider themselves Americans first, journalists second. That means consulting the government before going public with a state secret. “When I was at ABC,” James Bamford told Time in 2006, “we always checked with the Administration in power when we thought we had something of concern, and there was usually some way to work it out.”

In a new book about the Bush Administration’s efforts to expand the president’s powers at the expense of the legislative and judicial branches, the assumption that the press shouldn’t publish security-sensitive stories is so hard-wired that New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau accepts it as a given. But it’s a very American concept, and one that relies on the presumption that the U.S. government may make mistakes, but is largely a force for good. In other countries, the relationship between rulers and the press is strictly adversarial.

Lichtblau's book is about the NY Times decision to delay for a year the story of the government's illegal wiretapping of its own citizens. With a media like that, who needs censorship?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fantasyland Media

The Pentagon has posted to its website the roughly 8,000 pages and audio tapes it was forced to provide to the NY Times regarding its “military analyst” program. Anyone who reads through them...can only be left with one conclusion: if this wasn’t an example of an illegal, systematic “domestic propaganda campaign” by the Pentagon, then nothing is.

Despite this, the truly extraordinary blackout by the major television and cable news networks — which were complicit in this program — continues. Howard Kurtz of CNN and The Washington Post previously called this blackout “pathetic”, and yesterday, The Politico published a relatively impressive article further documenting the “deafening silence” from the networks at the center of this story.

As the article noted:
While bloggers have kept the story simmering, Democratic congressional leaders also are speaking out, calling for investigations that could provoke the networks to finally cover the Times story - and, in effect, themselves.

Here is an interesting story of government wrongdoing that the NY Times and Washington Post covered, but no the major TV networks. Of course, the Pentagon's planting of stories makes TV reporting look bad, not newspaper reporting. This from an article by Salon:


Amid all the talk about the U.S. military “surge” in Iraq, little has been said about the accompanying “surge” of Iraqi prisoners, whose numbers rose to nearly 51,000 at the end of 2007. Four years after the Abu Ghraib scandal, occupation forces are holding far more Iraqis than ever before and thousands more languish in horrendous Iraqi-run prisons.

Detainees are held by the U.S. command in two main locations — Camp Bucca, a 100-acre prison camp and Camp Cropper, inside a massive U.S. base near the Baghdad airport. The number of Iraqis held in these facilities has steadily risen since the early days of the occupation. In 2007, the inmate count rose 70% — from 14,500 to 24,700.

Camp Bucca, with about 20,000 inmates, is perhaps the world’s largest extrajudicial internment camp. The facility is organized into “compounds” of 800 detainees each, surrounded by fences and watch towers. Most detainees live in large communal tents, subject to collapse in the area’s frequent sandstorms. Water has at times been in short supply, while temperatures in the desert conditions can be scorching hot in the day and bone-chilling at night.
In October 2007, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded a contract to expand Camp Bucca’s capacity from 20,000 to 30,000. While easing notorious crowding, the contract suggests Washington is preparing for even more detentions in the future.

Camp Cropper consists of more traditional cellblock buildings. Among its roughly 4,000 inmates are hundreds of juveniles. Cropper is a site of ongoing interrogation and it holds many long-term detainees who complain that they never see the light of day. Though recently expanded, the facility suffers from overcrowding, poor medical attention and miserable conditions.

This article by the Institute for Policy Studies was never printed in the NY Times. Perhaps it is too revealing of the continued human rights abuses America is committing in Iraq.


I fail to see that the envious and bitter attacks of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright should have created the crisis in Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign when the remarks of Pastor John Hagee have not created a similar crisis in Sen. John McCain’s campaign. Why is McCain somehow not responsible for Hagee while Obama is responsible for Wright? I suggest the difference is that the senator from Illinois is a Kenyan American and the senator from Arizona a white American.

A second question is why the elite national media fix on Wright and ignore Hagee. Wright, you will say, is much better media copy than Hagee. Yet the latter explains Hurricane Katrina as God’s wrath on gays and lesbians and describes the Catholic Church as the “whore of Babylon.”

As the watchdog group Media Matters points out in a recent report, two elite papers — The New York Times and the Washington Post — have paid 12 times as much attention to Obama’s clergy as to to McCain’s.

Since McCain accepted Hagee’s endorsement on Feb. 27, the Times has published 46 articles about Obama and Wright and five articles about McCain and Hagee. The Post’s score is 53-3. The Times has produced 22 editorials and op-eds that mention Obama and Wright and two about McCain and Hagee, and the Post scores 40-2. In the words of Karl Frisch of Media Matters, “It is time for the major media outlets to ask themselves if they’ve been covering the candidates for president with equally critical eyes. . . . If they are honest, they’ll admit they have not.”

One must wonder why not. Obama is the front-runner and hence his destruction is raw meat even for the top journals in the country. Surely both papers understand that many Americans are looking for a reason not to vote for a Kenyan American and that this gaffe will feed their hunger.


Amnesty International has called for the role of the United States in Somalia to be investigated, following publication of a report accusing its allies of committing war crimes.

According to the report, based on the testimonies of refugees who have fled Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, in recent weeks, Ethiopian troops have killed civilians by slitting their throats. Ethiopian and Somali forces were also accused of gang-raping women and attacking children.

But the NY Times is fixated on the Olympic Torch (a windfall for US propaganda). The only Amnesty International story it carried was about torch protesters in Hong Kong.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Fantasyland Media

Israel’s Tactics Thwart Attacks, With Trade-Off

This is a wonderful example of just how distorted the NY Times coverage of Israel is. In fact, it is pure propaganda. Let's look at some of the article's assumptions:

-That Israel built the wall to stop suicide bombers. There is no mention that the wall is almost completely on Palestinian territory.

-That the wall has provided "enough quiet for Israel to resume peace talks," as if Israel was actually seeking peace rather than an appropriation of more territory.

-That Israel was interested in the economic success of Gaza rather than the strangulation of its population: "After Israel unilaterally pulled out its troops and Jewish settlers in 2005, some hoped that with Western support, the tiny coastal strip might become a model for a future Palestinian state." No mention of the blockade, of course, that has led to extreme shortages in food and medicines.

This story has no news in it. Nor does it have any other point of view (like a Palestinian voice). It is simply an example of how poorly the NY Times does when it comes to Israel. This front page article is nothing but one sided opinion presenting itself as news. It could have been written by the Israeli lobby. And probably was.

The writer, Ms. Kershner, is married to Hirsh Goodman, an Israeli who served as a Strategic Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, an influential think tank dedicated to promoting the Israeli agenda in the US.