Ronda Hauben on Mon, 18 Jul 2005 10:11:40 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Political retaliation White House Style demonstrated in the WSJ

This past week the WSJ published an editorial demonstrating how the White House
uses reporters for its political retaliation. This helps to show in a graphic way
how the corruption of the US press occurs. An article about this appears in
Telepolis. I suggest also that those interested look at the WSJ editorial itself,
if you hadn't seen it. The url is in footnote 1 below. Ronda

         Karl Rove deserves a prize
Lies and Crimes in High Places and their Cheering Squad in the US Press
                  by  Ronda Hauben 15.07.2005

On Wednesday, July 13, 2005, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an editorial
(1) calling Karl Rove a whistleblower who "deserves a prize - perhaps the next
iteration of the 'Truth-Telling' award that The Nation magazine bestowed upon Mr.
Wilson ." The editorial maintains that Rove is not guilty of any crime for telling
reporters that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. Rove was only providing
"important background so Americans could understand that Mr. Wilson wasn't a
whistleblower but was a partisan trying to discredit the Iraq war in an election
campaign." The Wall Street Journal editorial says "Thank you, Mr. Rove."[1] The
editorial then heaps further abuse on Wilson, to try to shift the arrow of blame
from Rove's disclosure of Valerie Plame's CIA ties, to Wilson's motives in publicly
challenging the Bush Administration's pretext for the Iraq war (Der Zauberer von
Bush (2)).

A problem of the scenario presented by the WSJ is that it is distorting the facts
of what was known by whom and when with regard to the charge that Iraq possessed
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The WSJ accuses Wilson of misrepresenting when
there was knowledge that the documents about uranium ore from Niger were forgeries.
The editor writes that there was a report from the British government which judged
as well-founded Bush's statement about Iraq trying to purchase uranium in Africa in
his State of the Union Address in January 2003. The fact is that there was a
serious challenge to the Bush administration claim that Iraq possessed nuclear
weapons or was trying to buy uranium ore from Africa well before President Bush
made his State of the Union Address on January 28, 2003.

The claim by Bush was sufficiently vaguely worded to make clear that he wasn't
openly stating the Niger accusation which had been discredited. His statement, "The
British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant
quantities of uranium from Africa" was, as a letter (3) sent to the White House by
U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman explains, "carefully crafted to be both literally
true and deliberately misleading at the same time."

In response to this letter, Waxman received a reply from Paul V. Kelly, Assistant
Secretary of Legislative Affairs, in the State Department dated April 29, 2003.
Kelly wrote:

Beginning in late 2001, the United States obtained information through several
channels, including U.S. intelligence sources and overt sources, reporting that
Iraq had attempted to procure uranium from Africa....

Kelly admits that the original reports had been discredited but that only on March
4, 2003 did the US government learn that "in fact the second Western European
government had based on its assessment on evidence already available to the U.S.
that was subsequently discredited."The U.S. Government Case for War in Iraq Based
on Forgery and Lies (4))

The White House did not conduct a vigorous investigation about how they came to
present a case to the American people for a war against Iraq based on evidence that
had been previously and subsequently discredited. Instead the White House has spent
much effort to discredit or harm those who have brought information about the
fraudulent nature of the claims that Iraq's was seeking to buy uranium from Africa.
Even more serious, however, is the fact that the WSJ is applauding a government
official who has tried and in some cases succeeded, in implicating reporters and
the US press in retaliating against Joe Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame, as
examples of what happens to those who are willing to challenge the lies about
Iraq's WMD that were spread by the White House.

Reporters in the US have expressed concern about their duty to protect the
anonymity of their sources. What is becoming evident, however, from the unfolding
soap opera that the White House and newspapers like the WSJ are bringing to the
world, is that the sources of government information that US reporters have
available, like Karl Rove, are sources who are willing to use their public office
to involve reporters in activities of political retribution.

The crime that the U.S. Congress and the American people have to understand is the
fact that they were presented with a set of lies, including carefully crafted
misrepresentations, to justify an illegal invasion of another country and the
killing of many people. The period leading up to the invasion of Iraq by the US
government, was a period when much of the US media, and reporters like Judith
Miller, who is now in jail to protect her sources, created a fraudulent public
pretext for the US government's steps to war.

What the WSJ doesn't mention, is that before the US government invaded Iraq, the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had clearly disclosed the forged nature
of documents the US used to claim that Iraq had sought uranium ore in Niger. The US
government at the time said that they had just gotten the documents themselves in
October 2002, yet they didn't give them to the IAEA until February 2003 ("Macbeth"
and the Forged Documents of Niger (5)).

How the US government could present forged documents to the IAEA as proof that Iraq
was seeking to buy uranium ore from Niger, is a serious question. The lies and
forgeries that the US government has been willing to present as its justification
for an illegal war continue. Also the WSJ continues to applaud government officials
for their lies and use of forgeries and in so doing helps them to cover up their
abuse of public office. The US press is faced with a serious challenge. If it
continues to protect as sources government officials who lie, it stands to lose any
of its credibility that remains with people in the US and around the world. The
obligation of the press is to expose the misdeeds of government, not to be the
mouthpiece to broadcast, or to cover up these misdeeds.

A serious principle is at stake in the current investigation into the role played
by the White House (not just by Rove) in leaking information about Joe Wilson's
wife. The principle is: Will the press act as a force to stop the US government
from presenting lies and misrepresentations as a pretext to justify illegal and
harmful deeds and policies? Or will the press be complicit in spreading or covering
up the illegal and misleading deeds of the US government?

Almost two hundred years ago, in an encyclopedia article about the "Freedom of the
Press, James Mill, the father of John Stuart Mill, explained that without a press
exposing the corruption and misrule in government, government officials will not be
able to resist the temptation to be corrupt.[2]


[1] Initially, there was little response in the rest of the mainstream press, with
the exception of CBS who published a pointer to the editorial by Dotty Lynch, "The
Wall Street Journal proclaimed Karl Rove the new Coleen Rowley - a whistleblower
just trying to help reporters sort out Joe Wilson's bad information." Dotty Lynch,
CBS, WASHINGTON, July 14, 2005 Plamegate Turns D.C. Upside Down (6), CBS,
WASHINGTON, July 14, 2005.

[2] See for example, Michael Hauben, The Computer as a Democratizer (7), "Netizens:
On the History and Impact of Usenet and the Internet.


Telepolis Artikel-URL:

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