By Grace Reid
This morning Sheila, a Corkwoman, asked me why my eyes looked so tired and my face so strained. I explained that I had been staying up all night writing articles about a story that broke in the UK on the 20th of March, but still hadn’t been reported in the US news by the first week in June. “Sure, there’s censorship of the news in America, isn’t there?” she said. “I mean, everybody knows that there are stories about the war in Iraq that you can’t print in America.” This came as the biggest news of the day to me, that censorship of the news is a state policy. “Can’t you get in trouble with the US government for writing stories like this? Will the FBI be paying us a call?” I told her that I was not too concerned, as the stories came from the BBC and that is about as establishment as you get. All I have been doing, I told her, is finding the news from here and delivering it over there.
Having been out of the country for more than a decade, how could I have known that censorship had become a state policy? How could I have known that the government had shackled and gagged the fourth estate? But I learned fast during the Newsweek Debacle. How did that one go again? Newsweek reported the truth, as had the International Committee of the Red Cross, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty before them. A massive amount of FBI emails released through the FOIA by the ACLU last December told the same story. Yet the US government stepped in and demanded that Newsweek retract, and blamed the press for the ensuing violence for having reported the truth. The Qu’ran was desecrated, but one was not to report it.
The hardest thing to do is to find the truth. And it’s the only worthwhile thing to pursue. During the 2003 State of the Union Address I heard the President of the United States boast that he had summarily executed 3,000 Afghani prisoners. “And let’s put it this way, they will no longer be a problem to us or to our allies.” Then later we learned of the “Convoy of Death.” And how hundreds of these prisoners died in transit in airless containers, and that these containers were shot full of holes, “for the ventilation.” And some of the personnel doing the shooting were American soldiers. And some of the witnesses to these atrocities of war were American soldiers.
Among all the other lies I have heard, that one about allies sticks in my craw as well. I suspect the United States has no allies. A few bought friends. A very few. Looks right now like only one. And all the documents that have been leaked, every single one of them points like a neon arrow back to Washington, back to Crawford. Do you make your friends break the law with you?
There has been a media blackout of the story of the illegal war in Iraq. The truth is coming out against the strongest, and at times, the most peculiar resistance. Now we’ve got minutes, memos transcripts, briefings, and notes. We have briefcases full of doctored “Intelligence that was fixed around the policy” of an illegal war of aggression. A large portion of the informed public has adopted the attitude that this is “old news.” This is, they seem to imply business as usual. Lying to Congress is business as usual. Manipulating the press, manipulating the circumstances to create the conditions for war that was, apparently predetermined in 2001. Manipulating the weapons inspectors, manipulating the Security Council, manipulating the intelligence, manipulating the people. With a rhetoric of God, faith, freedom and democracy for all.
OK, all you “old news” people, would you tell me who is paying for it? Who foot the bill for all the paychecks of all the phony intel, of all the illegal bombings, of all the depleted uranium weapons? Who paid the salaries of the torturers, and the ones who devised the torture policy? Who paid for the illegal CIA ghost flights to secret torture prisons? Who paid the bill to doctor vote tallying software? Who paid for the illegal war that has cost as much as 4 billion US dollars a month? Who is paying the salaries of these thugs? Who is paying for Condoleezza Rice’s SS man’s boots?
And now we’re told to “stay the course”? Now, we accept that the war is illegal, was illegal, but we have to “stay the course?” in a war that is unwinnable. Another war that is unwinnable. Who paid for all this? How can you explain that there are more than 1,600 Americans killed in action of a war that is criminal, except that the one who created and promoted it to the exclusion of all consideration for International Law, that he himself is a criminal. What is the rule in the Military Code of Justice that says you have to obey your commanding officer if that officer is a criminal, and the order violates all known military, international and humanitarian law?
The second most explosive piece of information to come out of the Downing Street Minutes case came from an “unnamed former senior US official” who is quoted as saying the account of the senior British Intelligence officer’s visit to Washington is “an absolutely accurate description of what transpired.” Now there is someone in Washington who is telling the truth. Maybe this will be the beginning of a trend. How long can you carry poisonous lies? It’s enough to make one seriously ill. Or angry enough to tell the truth. To report the truth. That would be a good trend. Then maybe my friend Sheila in Cork will not continue to hold the opinion that censorship is the way the press is operated in America