James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Following up on Georgia

Democrats were upset when Karl Rove ignored a congressional subpoena in early July.

He was called before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about his meddling – excuse me, alleged meddling – in Justice Department prosecutions, but in essence told Congress to get stuffed.

Republicans didn't seem to mind, but then they haven't paid any attention to the Constitution in years.

What the Dems didn't know until considerably later, according to Newsweek and several other publications and online news agencies, is that at the time he was supposed to be in the hearing room, Bushcheney's pet cane toad was on an airplane, wafting to a speaking gig at Yalta, a famous Ukrainian Black Sea resort.

Rove's stated assignment was to talk about the upcoming United States election. His audience included former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and a bunch of officials from the client countries Bush and the neocons are using in their undisguised attempt to surround Russia with hostile governments. One of those in attendance was Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Newsweek didn't mention that latter fact, but several other outfits such as Truthdig.com did.

General reports on the conference said Rove told his audience that John McCain is their kind of guy-- hostile to Russia, in favor of the neocon strategy of ringing that country with unfriendly governments, in favor of “free trade.” He also allowed that both McCain and Barack Obama favor adding Ukraine and some of its neighbors to NATO.

Rove. Saakashvili. Some of the reports said the two spoke privately at Yalta, but apparently no one knows what they talked about.

A few days later, on July 9, Saakashvili met with Condi Rice, the U.S. secretary of state. Again, there are no solid reports of what was said.

The Los Angeles Times reported that shortly before Georgia began shelling and sending its troops into South Ossetia, Joseph Wood, Dick Cheney's deputy assistant for national security affairs (read pot stirrer), was in Georgia.

Since the Aug. 7 Georgian attack on South Ossetia, the White House has denied that there was any discussion about that then-future strike on July 9. It has not addressed Rove's visit. Rove is, of course, a private citizen. Neither has there been any official comment Wood's visit, of course.

You probably won't have seen those facts on television or in your local newspapers. Deemed unimportant. Certainly they prove nothing.

Yet it strains credibility to the breaking point to suggest that none of the Americans were told of the upcoming attacks on South Ossetia, leaving aside the question of whether Bushcheney administration approval was sought or given. Saakashvili is wholly a creature of the White House.

Given the current American presidency's record of fabricating false provocations in order to create excuses for an unnecessary war and its innumerable unconstitutional acts, it would be stupid not to keep the information in an open file of facts that seem to be building toward yet another tale of deception and creation of unwarranted conflict.

I was unaware of the Rove and Rice talks with Saakashvili until a reader tipped me on the Rove meeting a couple of days ago, by the way. Given the massive and frequently deliberate failures of the corporate media in America, we need to work together to assemble what facts we can gather and get them to as broad an audience as possible.


Speaking of the miserable performance of corporate-controlled media in this country:

It is astonishing, even to some of us who keep watch daily, the degree to which the country's newspapers, not to mention its rich wingnut-controlled broadcast media, have adopted the White House propaganda line on Georgia and its small neighbors as fact. There could be no better example of how completely the media empires have abandoned the job of honest reporting.

Media Channel, a generally solid observer of American “news” operations, carried a piece Aug. 25 from The Guardian with the headline “Georgia has won the PR war.”

The Guardian story contains some useful information about the flackery on behalf of the phony tale of Russia's supposedly out-of-the-blue “invasion” of South Ossetia -– news releases from Georgian agents went to American reporters almost hourly during the first few days of the conflict -- but still doesn't explain nor detail the complete rollover, the willingness to tell a patently twisted story without apparent qualms.

On Wednesday, Aug. 26, my local birdcage liner, the StarTribune, carried a Los Angeles Times story on page 3 -– where news of significance goes these days in order to leave the front page open for sex scandals and other circuses -– on Russia's recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

It was better than previous coverage.

The article leaned heavily to the White House propaganda line in early paragraphs, as in declaring that Russia's decision “would amount to an attempt on the part of Moscow to redraw the borders of the former Soviet Union. By attempting to chop away territory from a neighboring nation with close ties to the United States, the declaration would also be viewed as a challenge leveled at Washington...”

Farther along, it did note that South Ossetians and residents of Abkhazia have long carried Russian passports, “collect Russian pensions, trade in Russian rubles and even voted in this year's election for Russian president,” which is a good deal more than most American newspapers or any television outlets have told their readers.

It was semi-balanced, in other words. The over-all impression, however, was one of a Soviet-style intrusion in a little country that wanted to be left alone.

For sheer confusion of coverage, look to the New York Times.

Much of the Times coverage has been pure propaganda, with repeated references to the “Russian invasion” and no mention of the prior military attack(s) by Georgia or other mitigating circumstances.

Several Times stories also left readers with the strong impression that Ossetians were mourning their separation from Georgia and being roughed up by Russian troops.

But the Tuesday, Aug. 26, Times front page carried a story headlined “Enclave Hails Tight Embrace from Moscow.” It told of the long-standing closeness between South Ossetia and Russia.

The piece even reported something entirely missing from all other coverage I've been able to turn up –- that South Ossetia has tried three times before to shake itself free from Georgia, to declare its independence. And it reported on the enthusiastic, Champagne-popping celebrations of South Ossetians this week when they learned of Russia's decision to recognize their independence this time.

It's as though there are two competing news units within the Times, one eager to participate in the propaganda campaign being run by the White House with the happy cooperation of the big news empires and one trying to do the traditional job of newspapers –- to tell the story honestly without political coloring.

We can only hope the real news people will win the struggle, but keep your bets small.