James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Friday, July 02, 2004

Whosa culpa now?

Just weeks ago, the New York Times made public apology for – though they didn’t put it this way – acting as stenographers for the Bush administration rather than reporters before the invasion of Iraq and during the months immediately following that unjustified act.

Given how completely the Times and every other major daily and all of television failed in the duty to question facts and motivation and to provide readily available information that would have refuted the Bush party line, the apology was inadequate but it was something. And the Times piece did inspire a few other mea culpas around the country – none that I saw entirely honest and virtually all of them also heavy with self-justification, but at least there were some admissions of error.

My own local newspaper, and former employer, like most others, reported the Times statement but made no admissions of its own guilt. Given that the place now is run by people even more arrogant than they are inadequate, that’s hardly a surprise. No surprise that most others also were silent on their failures; even if editors and publishers weren’t ideologically driven these days, newspaper people find it almost impossible to admit major failures. They’ll cop to misspelling a name, but never to having badly twisted a big story.

Still, you’d think there would be a rather high degree of skepticism these days among reporters and editors covering Iraq, Afghanistan or anything at all coming from the Bush White House and its toadies.

You’d be wrong if you thought that, apparently.

Every newspaper I’ve seen, including the Times, is playing the Bush propaganda game again in coverage of what is called the “transfer of sovereignty” from the U.S./British occupiers to the mockup Iraqi “interim” government. Ditto the supposed transfer of custody of Saddam Hussein.(Forget television, as always; those people haven’t done real reporting in decades. It might muss their hair or stain their teeth.)

If you don’t get solid information from magazines, various trustworthy Web sites and such, you could hardly be faulted for believing that Iraqis now control their own government and, as some small and insignificant part of that, also are in charge of the prisoner Saddam.

You would be entirely wrong – as wrong as 99 percent of the misleading news reports on those supposed events.

The turnover of sovereignty is entirely sham. Here are facts:

The “interim government” is filled with, staffed with, people chosen by the Bushies and Paul Bremer the recently departed U.S. administrator in Iraq.

Before heading out, Bremer issued a mess of edicts maintaining this country’s control over everything and anything of importance. He named a commission to “disqualify political parties and any of the candidates they support” if Washington doesn’t approve of them.

The Iraqis have no control over the country’s money or budget. For example, the U.S. and it’s graft-inspired “contractors” (read major Bush campaign contributors) continue to skim from Iraq’s oil income to pay for recovery projects for which the U.S. Congress appropriated money. It will be interesting to see what happens to the unspent U.S. cash – if anyone bothers to keep track and report on that. Further, in a country with an unemployment rate approaching 60 percent, the contractors continue to hire workers from the United States, Europe and south Asia. And private armies, as well as the U.S. and British armies, continue to be in charge of “security.”

How can you be a sovereign nation if someone else controls all aspects of your economy? Can’t. Not possible.

Oh, and Saddam: Most of the reports I’ve seen state somewhere in the second half – after most readers have moved on to comics or box scores – that while “legal custody” of Saddam has been given to the Iraqis, he remains in “physical custody” of the United States. That, gentle folk, is such obvious scam that no sidewalk three card monte dealer would try it on. Yet American television reports it with a straight face, and newspapers smother the truth.

Write those letters, and emails please. Send letters to the editor and, more importantly, send personal notes to reporters and high-level editors at your local newspapers, telling them you see through the sham and want them to do their jobs honestly.


A personal note: I’m back, obviously, but new pieces on this site may be intermittent for a while yet. I’m still recovering from major surgery. Should be at full strength before too long.