Top Unreported Stories of 2003
Project Censored is an amazing group of professors, students, and professionals who every year publish both a book and short reports on the top news stories which were either ignored or downplayed by the mainstream media. A summary of last year's list provided below proves quite revealing and most informative. I highly recommend these very well researched reports. A visit to their website at www.projectcensored.org may be well worth your time. The news is getting out, and we are creating a better world, one step at a time. Have a great day!
With very best wishes,
Fred Burks for WantToKnow.info
Censored! Neocons' plans for global domination top the annual list of stories ignored or downplayed by the mainstream media.
By Camille T. Taiara for the Bay Guardian
IF THERE'S ONE influence that has shaped worldwide political events over the past year, it's the extent to which the Bush administration has exploited the events of Sept. 11, 2001, to solidify its military and economic control of the world at the expense of democracy, true justice, and the environment. But George W. Bush hasn't simply been responding to world events. The agenda his administration has followed fits perfectly with a clearly defined plan that's been in place for more than a decade.
The neoconservative blueprint for United States military domination is hardly a secret. A group called the Project for a New American Century, a think tank founded by hawks who are now in prominent jobs in the White House – released a version of it three years ago--before 9/11. The document is shocking in its candor: it asserts that the United States should be moving unilaterally to assert military control around the globe, and that all that's necessary to jump-start the effort is a "new Pearl Harbor."
Yet none of the major news media in this country have reported on this document or on the fact that Bush is so closely following its script. [click here to see the full report titled Rebuilding America's Defences, written by the Bush team before the 2000 election, also mentioned on our 9/11 timeline]
That's the biggest "censored" story in the nation last year, according to Sonoma State University's Project Censored, a 27-year-old program dedicated to shining some light on the shortcomings of the major news media.
Researchers at Sonoma State meticulously combed through news reports from 2002 and the first quarter of 2003 to find stories that didn't get the media attention they deserved. This year's big stories include the attack on civil liberties at home, Donald Rumsfeld's plan to provoke terrorists, and treaty-busting by the United States.
In many cases, these stories got little or no play or else were presented piecemeal, without any attempt to put the information in context. "The stories this year reflect a clear danger to democracy and governmental transparency in the U.S. – and the corporate media's failure to alert the public to these important issues," Project Censored director Prof. Peter Phillips told the Bay Guardian.
What follows is the Bay Guardian's rundown of Project Censored's top 10 censored or underreported stories for last year:
1. The neoconservative plan for global dominance
"Terror: A question of when, not if," read the front-page headline of the Sept. 7, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle. Americans, it argued, will just have to get used to the fact that we're now engaged in a "perpetual war."
Later that day Bush went on TV to ask the nation for another $87 billion for the fight against terrorism. But the concept of "perpetual war," and the military strategy that comes with it – of unilateralism, preemptive strikes, and a "forward presence" in key regions throughout the globe – is nothing new. The Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon simply provided the perfect rationale to implement existing plans.
Back in the early 1990s, hawks in Bush Sr.'s administration--notably, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, with the help of General Colin Powell and Paul Wolfowitz drew up a plan that was virtually identical to the National Security Strategy unveiled in September 2002.
Their blueprint –was first spelled out in a classified internal policy statement in 1992 titled "Defense Planning Guidance" (later repeated in Cheney's "Defense Strategy for the 1990s," formally released in January of 1993). It – called for the United States to assert its military superiority to prevent the emergence of a new superpower rival.
It also called for the United States to diversify its military presence throughout the world, offered a policy of preemption, argued nuclear program while discouraging those of other countries, and foresaw the need for the United States to act alone, if need be, to protect its interests and those of its allies. Sound familiar?
Yet the neocons knew they faced a hard sell as Bill Clinton took office. "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources," a report released by the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) in 2000, stated that the United States needed a catastrophe, "a new Pearl Harbor," as the authors called it, to jump-start the neocons' blueprint for all-encompassing military and economic world dominance. (PNAC was founded by none other than Cheney, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, and other former Reagan and Bush administration hawks.)
Then came the attacks of Sept. 11--just nine months after the Bush administration took office. The events of that day provided the perfect excuse for Cheney and company to finally see their plans to fruition. Top on their list of targets was Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Within 24 hours of the planes hitting the World Trade Center and Pentagon--and without so much as an inkling of evidence as to who had carried out the attacks--Attorney General John Ashcroft was already calling for war on Iraq, according to a report by Bob Woodward in the Washington Post.
Indeed, the neocons have had the Persian Gulf in their crosshairs for 30 years now. Ever since the oil crisis of 1976 and the Gulf states' nationalization of their petroleum industries in the years that preceded it, the United States began building up forces in the region – primarily in Saudi Arabia – and strengthening relationships with regional dictatorships. The reasons seem simple: the region holds two-thirds of the world's oil.
Project Censored's sources: David Armstrong, Harper's Magazine, October 2002; Robert Dreyfuss, Mother Jones, March 2003; John Pilger, pilger.carlton.com, 12/12/02.
2. Homeland security threatens civil liberties
The year 2002 ought to be remembered as the year when Big Brother came of age. As the Pentagon waged unending war abroad in the name of battling terrorism, the Bush administration pursued a parallel, wholesale war on dissent at home, fusing foreign intelligence operations with domestic security.
Agencies such as the FBI were granted sweeping powers to spy on U.S. citizens. Civil liberties took the greatest hit in the last 30 years, as the feds consistently slashed away at our basic constitutional rights--including the right to privacy, to any semblance of a fair trial in cases broadly defined as terrorism-related, and to the freedoms of speech, association, and assembly. The Bush administration undertook all this and much more by means of the USA PATRIOT Act, executive orders, and the newly created Department of Homeland Security.
On Oct. 1, 2002, the government established the Northern Command, – a branch of the U.S. armed forces empowered to coordinate military "assistance" to domestic law enforcement agencies. That was just the latest in a push to allow the federal government to use the U.S. military against its own citizens in the event of mass civil unrest. (That trend wasn't without precedent: an anonymous Justice Department official told the Seattle Weekly, in late December 1999, that the feds had deployed an elite U.S. Army strike force by the name of the Delta Force, to infiltrate the now-infamous anti-World Trade Organization demonstrations in that city weeks earlier.)
Yet media coverage of these measures was piecemeal at best, – and failed to shed light on the sordid details and ominous repercussions that accompanied them.
Frank Morales, Global Outlook, Winter 2003; Alex Jones, www.rense.com, 2/11/03 and Global Outlook, Vol. 4; Charles Lewis and Adam Mayle, Center for Public Integrity, 2/7/03.
3. U.S. illegally removes pages from Iraq U.N. report
Bush administration insiders often take extreme measures to protect their own, – including those who supplied Saddam Hussein's regime with weapons of mass destruction and training on how to use them.
Even as Bush urged military action against Iraq for the country's failure to divulge details of its alleged chemical, biological, and nuclear arsenal, the U.S. government covertly removed 8,000 of the 11,800 pages of the weapons declaration the Iraqi government had submitted to the United Nations Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
But the Iraqis released copies of the full report to key media outlets in Europe. It turns out that the missing pages may have contained damning details on 24 US-based corporations, various federal departments and nuclear weapons labs, and several high-ranking members of the Reagan and Bush administrations that, from 1983 until 1990, helped supply Hussein with botulinum toxins, anthrax, gas gangrene bacteria, the makings for nuclear weapons, and associated instruction. Among those implicated: Eastman Kodak, Dupont, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Bechtel, the U.S. Department of Energy and Department of Agriculture, the Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia nuclear weapons labs, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield.
Michael I. Niman, The Humanist and ArtVoice, March/April 2003.
4. Rumsfield's plan to provoke terrorists
Buried deep in one of its Sunday issues late last October, the Los Angeles Times published a story by military analyst William Arkin about a slew of secret armies the Pentagon had been creating around the world. One such force caught the eye of regular CounterPunch contributor Chris Floyd, who picked up on the tip and ran with it.
"According to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld by his Defense Science Board, the new organization – the 'Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group (dubbed the "Pee-Twos")' – will carry out secret missions designed to 'stimulate reactions' among terrorist groups, provoking them into committing violent acts which would then expose them to 'counterattack' by U.S. forces," Floyd wrote.
In short, the alleged document seemed to show that the Pentagon was gearing up to actively instigate terrorist acts, despite the risk to innocent civilians.
[www.WantToKnow.info has had this
information on it's 9/11 timeline for over a year. See the original article
at Los Angeles Times,
Chris Floyd, CounterPunch, 11/1/02.
5. The effort to make unions disappear
What better way to make those pesky unions disappear than by branding them a threat to national security? That's precisely what the neocons in the White House and on Capitol Hill have been doing – in a blatant move to break some of the country's most powerful labor syndicates. And, so far, they've gotten away with it.
Bush, – certainly not known as a stalwart of workers' rights, invoked his war on terrorism rhetoric in early October 2002 to force striking International Longshore and Warehouse Union dock workers in Oakland back on the job, thereby undermining the future of the ILWU's West Coast labor agreement.
Then, when the Bush administration created the Department of Homeland Security, its Secretary Tom Ridge invoked similar reasoning to argue that the department's employees be exempted from civil service regulations governing pay scales, hiring and promotion practices, bans on discrimination, whistle-blower protections, and, – last but not least, –collective bargaining rights.
Lee Sustar, Z Magazine, 9/20/02; David Bacon, War Times, October-November
2002; Anne-Marie Cusac, The Progressive, February 2003; Robert L. Borosage,
The American Prospect, March 2003.
6. Closing access to information technology
All the stories that make up this year's Project Censored winners were gleaned from alternative and international media sources. Likewise, progressives quickly learned to seek out sources like CommonDreams.org, truthout.org, and the U.K. Independent's Web site for the real news on the latest war on Iraq. The Internet has functioned as the single most important medium for accessing these kinds of information.
But if the big communications
companies get their way, the Web could be compromised as a democratic source
of alternative news and perspectives. Soon, what we get from the Web could be
a carbon copy of what we already get from corporate TV, cable, radio, and
For several years now, businesses that provide access to the Web – cable, telephone, and (more recently) satellite companies – have been working to cash in on their control over distribution. Unlike the companies controlling the telephone lines (which by law must grant access to any company that wants to use them) the Federal Communications Commission opted, in spring 2002, to grant cable companies full control over who could use their cable networks--and under what terms. Cable companies can now manage the speed at which different sites pop up, block out any content they choose, and even deny sites and ISPs access to their lines altogether. Of course, the telephone companies have since been lobbying for the same exclusive rights over DSL.
The telephone and cable lines are controlled by monopolies in most U.S. cities and towns. Comcast, now the world's largest cable company, exerts sole control over cable lines serving almost one third of U.S. households.
Arthur Stamoulis, Dollars and Sense, September 2002.
7. Treaty busting by the United States.
Even as the Bush administration publicly demanded that terrorists be brought to justice and that Iraq, Iran, and North Korea, and others dismantle their (in Iraq's case, alleged) nuclear weapons programs, it consistently worked to undermine hard-fought international agreements, – including numerous treaties and the international court system – meant to do just that.
In fact, the United States has now "either blatantly violated or gradually subverted" at least nine multilateral treaties on which it is a signatory, Project Censored found. These include the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Commission, the Biological Weapons Convention, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Treaty Banning Antipersonnel Mines, the U.N. Convention on Climate Change, and the Rome Statute of the ICC. Bush has also voted to authorize a U.S. military attack on the International Criminal Court in The Hague should the ICC dare try any American for war crimes.
All these action have been taken in the name of national security. Yet, "this unprecedented rejection of and rapid retreat from global treaties ... will render these treaties and conventions invalid without the support and participation of the world's foremost superpower," wrote Project Censored's authors.
Marylia Kelly and Nicole Deller, Connections, June 2002; John B. Anderson, The Nation, April 2002; Eamon Martin, Ashville Global Report, June 20-26, 2002; John Valleau, Global Outlook, Summer 2002.
8. U.S. and British forces continue use of depleted uranium weapons despite massive evidence of negative health effects.
Former Sergeant First Class Carol Picou will never be the same after serving in the first Gulf War. On the frontlines with a mobile medical unit, "I noticed that all the bodies that were on the highways and tanks and all the armament that was damaged was burnt," the veteran nurse told Hustler magazine last spring. "It was actually literally black, and I thought the Iraqi people were black-skinned. It amazed me that they were burnt that bad, – that we would have used some type of armament that would actually melt these people into their vehicles."
Picou began experiencing serious health effects almost immediately. Back in the United States, her muscles were deteriorating. She permanently lost control of her bowels. She suffered from 104-degree fevers, and her skin would break open and bleed. Rather than take care of Picou, who had served in the armed forces since 1978, the Army medically discharged her against her wishes in 1995.
"More than 9,600 of the relatively young Operation Desert Storm veterans have died since serving in Iraq, a statistical anomaly" wrote Dan Kapelovitz, the reporter who interviewed Picou. Of those still living, more than a third, – upward of 236,000, have filed Gulf War Syndrome-related claims with the Veteran's Administration.
Research overwhelmingly suggests these ailments and deaths were caused by depleted uranium, a metal the military uses in much of its hardware that is so dense it can pierce through steel-armored tanks. But this radioactive material has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, according to renowned scientist Helen Caldicott. In Iraq incidences of cancer, childhood leukemia, and rare mutations in newborns have skyrocketed.
A study conducted by the U.S. Army in 1990, at least six months before the first Gulf War, shows the U.S. government knew what the effects would be. Nonetheless, the Americans and Brits dropped anywhere between 300 to 800 tons of the stuff on Iraq over the four-day assault. They've done nothing to clean up the radioactive mess left behind. "In effect, George Bush Sr. used weapons of mass destruction on his own people," Kapelovitz continued.
But it didn't end there. The United States has since used depleted uranium weapons in Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and again during its most recent assault on Iraq, – a fact that was reported in the European media but not widely in the United States.
Dan Kaplevitz, Hustler Magazine, June 2003; Reese Erlich, Children of War, March 2003.
9. In Afghanistan: poverty, women's rights, and civil disruption worse than ever.
Rather than allow the international community to supply sufficient security forces to safeguard Afghan citizens from brutal warlords--and thereby create the foundation necessary for democracy and reconstruction--the United States has instead financed and armed regional warlords in its effort to root out the last remaining al-Qaeda forces.
As a result, by October 2002, a year after the U.S. embarked on its campaign to "liberate" that war-torn Central Asian country, private armies were estimated to be 700,000 strong. (The International Security Assistance Force, in contrast, consists of a scant 5,000 troops, only enough to provide meager protection for Kabul, Afghanistan's capital.)
The practice has, in effect, strengthened the nation's endemic system of military feudalism. The heroin trade has skyrocketed to record highs. Life expectancy is a mere 46 years, with more than one in four children not making it to their fifth birthday. Only 10 percent of those children who survived had access to an education. In many regions the constraints placed on women's basic liberties have reverted to those imposed by the Taliban. Per capita average yearly income was only $280. And the basic infrastructure needed to reintroduce law and order, like a working justice system, banking institutions, a national army, remained a pipe dream.
In short, thanks to American policies, Afghanis are more forsaken than ever. Yet, Afghanistan has once again dropped off the corporate media's radar, and with it, that of the American public.
Ahmed Rashid, The Nation, 10/14/02; Pranjal Tiwari, Left Turn, February-March 2003; Jan Goodwin, The Nation, 4/29/02; Scott Carrier, with a photo essay by Chien-Min Chung, Mother Jones, July-August 2002.
10. Africa faces new threat of new colonialism
Many Americans are now at least marginally aware of recent neoliberal economic programs such as the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and Plan Colombia. But how many have heard of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), a plan being forwarded by the world's most powerful industrialized nations?
NEPAD was launched at the G8 meeting in June 2002, presumably to help combat poverty in Africa by encouraging outside investment. Curiously enough, the architects of the program didn't bother to consult with representatives of a single African nation while drawing up their plans. Critics fear the program is just another bid by more powerful nations to exploit the continent's last remaining natural resources – at the expense of Africans themselves.
First-world meddling has already wrought havoc on Africa. During the cold war, the United States alone injected $1.5 billion worth of weaponry and training into the continent, now the most war-torn in the world. From 1991 to 1995 the U.S. increased its military contributions to 50 out of Africa's 53 nations. Millions have died from war, displacement, disease, and starvation as a result.
Meanwhile, structural adjustment programs force-fed to African nations by the IMF, World Bank, and G8 in the name of development have only resulted in the continent's foreign debt rising by a whopping 500 percent over the past 20 years. More of the same isn't likely to help.
Michelle Robidoux, Left Turn, July-August 2002; Asad Ismi, Briarpatch, Vol. 32, No. 1 (excerpted from the CCPA Monitor, October 2002); Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, New Internationalist, January-February 2003.
Project Censored's other picks for 2002
11. U.S. implicated in Taliban massacre - Kendra Sarvadi, Asheville Global Report; Adam Porter, In These Times.
12. Bush administration behind failed military coup in Venezuela - Duncan Campbell and Greg Palast, The London Guardian; Joe Taglieri, Global Outlook; Karen Talbot, People's Weekly World; Jon Beasley-Murray, NACLA Report on the Americas.
13. Corporate personhood challenged - Thom Hartmann, CommonDreams and Impact Press; Thom Hartmann, Wild Matters; Jim Hightower, The Hightower Lowdown.
14. Unwanted refugees, a global problem - Daniel Swift, In These Times; Charles Bowden, Mother Jones; Bill Frelick, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
15. U.S. military's war on the Earth - Bob Feldman, Dollars and Sense; David S. Mann and Glenn Milner, Washington Free Press; John Passacantando, Wild Matters.
16. Plan Puebla-Panama and the FTAA - Miguel Pickard, CorpWatch.org; Timi Gerson, Public Citizen's Trade Watch; Tom Hansen and Jason Wallach, Labornotes; Rachel Coen, Asheville Global Report and Extra!
17. Clear Channel monopoly draws criticism - Jeff Perlstein, MediaFile.
18. Charter forest proposal threatens access to public lands - Kristin Robison, Earth First! Journal; Jon Margolis, American Prospect.
19. U.S. dollar vs. the euro: another reason for the invasion of Iraq - William Clark, The Sierra Times; C�il�n Nunan, FEASTA; William Greider, The Nation.
20. Pentagon increases private military contracts - Nelson D. Schwartz, Fortune; Pratap Chatterjee, CorpWatch.org; Antony Barnett, The London Observer.
21. Third world austerity policies: coming soon to a city near you - Greg Palast, Harper's Magazine; Michael Parenti, Covert Action Quarterly; Gabriella Bocagrande, The Texas Observer.
22. Welfare reform up for reauthorization but still no safety net - Barbara Ehrenreich and Frances Fox Piven, Mother Jones; Neil deMause, In These Times; Dave Hage, The American Prospect; Heather Boushey, Dollars and Sense.
23. Argentina crisis sparks cooperative growth - Lisa Garrigues, Yes! Magazine; Leif Utne, Utne Magazine.
24. U.S. aid to Israel fuels repressive occupation in Palestine - John Steinbach, Covert Action Quarterly; Matt Bowles, Left Turn; Bob Wing, War Times.
25. Convicted corporations receive perks instead of punishment - Emad Mekay, Asheville Global Report; Ken Silverstein, Mother Jones.
For more on these stories, and to learn more about Project Censored and it's great work, see www.projectcensored.org.
A special note from Fred:
As a result of my work with the www.WantToKnow.info website, I've come into contact not only with a large international network of cover-up researchers like Project Censored, I've also had significant personal contact with a number of deep insiders who have worked many years in the FBI, CIA, DEA, and more. I frequently receive powerful, sometimes very disturbing information from these sources. I rarely send out this kind of information to this list, as many people don't really want to know all the dark underbelly of everything that is happening. For those who are interested in receiving some of this deep information, I've started a new "deep insider" mailing list. If you wish to be on this list, please send me an email with "subscribe deep" in the subject line. I will not automatically put anyone on this list. This current list will continue to focus on both inspirational and educational topics. I wish you all the very best in these powerful times which present us with both many challenges and many opportunities.
With love and warm wishes,
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