THE NEWSWEEK SOAP OPERA:
HOW THE BUSH REGIME MANIPULATED THE CORPORATE - OWNED MEDIA TO DISTRACT FROM LEGITIMATE ISSUES
By Brandon and Advocate 1
The continuing drama of the Bush Regime and its ongoing attempt to dominate our obsequious, corporate-owned media is beginning to sound like a sleazy afternoon soap opera; another Machiavellian episode of The Misguiding Light.
First, the London Times released the incriminating Downing Street Memo (see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1593607,00.html ) which disproved the Administration’s fallacious excuses for invading Iraq in the first place. The story didn't receive a great deal of coverage, but is was beginning to gain legs, having been run in the Chiacgo Tribune and a few other outlets. But then the May 9 edition of Newsweek featured an allegedly inaccurate story which claimed that a Koran had been flushed down a toilet at Guantanamo Bay--supposedly resulting in riots and 15 deaths in Afghanistan. As if to distract from the potentially devastating effects of the Downing Street Memo, the sole, anonymous source behind the Newsweek story decided to recant his allegations, prompting Newsweek to first, back away from, and then, to officially retract the entire story.
The central plot became more complicated , when the American people were given yet another opportunity to see just how spineless the fourth estate had become. In the days following the retraction, our servile, corporate-owned media engaged in an act of public, self-flagellation which bordered on the masochistic: “Yup, that’s us; we’re the biased, left wing press; Newsweek blew it; we screwed it up again; we can’t do anything right.” Whereupon, the Administration, in a stunning example of duplicitous chutzpah, had the audacity to demand that Newsweek work with Bush and his fellow Necons to repair some of the damage which had been done in Afghanistan--a demand which sounded more like a GOP diktat for Newsweek to become an official mouthpiece for the Necon war machine than a legitimate request to help with reparations.
In the meantime, other media outlets, such as the BBC, UK Guardian, and UK Daily Mirror, were reporting about similar incidents of both, Koran and prisoner abouse at Guantanamo and elsewhere. Indeed, on May 26, Dan Eggen and Josh White of the Washington Post reported that as early as April 2002 detainees were telling FBI investigators that the Koran and prisoners alike were being abused by their American captors. On the same day, Amnesty International (see http://web.amnesty.org/report2003/Usa-summary-eng ) released a report in which it referred to Guantanamo as “the gulag of our time,” and the United States as a “leading purveyor and practitioner of torture and mistreatment.”
To divert public attention from the Amnesty International Report (and quite probably from the distinct possibility that Newsweek might not have blown it so badly after all), the Pentagon claimed, with little in the way of actual proof, that the prisoner who had leveled the accusation of Koran abuse had been on May 14 and not corroborated his earlier claim: which makes you wonder. Did the prisoner really refuse to corroborate his original statement on May 14, and if so was he rubber hosed until he did so?
If that sounds cycnial it's probably because this administration has been so dishonest in its dealing with both, the American people and the reporters that I find it difficult to take it seriously. In fact, I have more or less come to the conclusion that the only way this Administion will ever tell the truth about anything will be if it does so by accident. Call me distrusting, but when a government goes to war under false circumstances; and when that same government condones a female interrogator smearing ink on the face of a Mulsim detainee and then tells that detainee that the ink is menstraul blood, I tend to think that the government in question wouldn't be too upset if a Koran were flushed down a toilet. It isn't all that difficult. You could easily flush the entire book piecemeal, page by page, until the entire book had been disposed of. Such a tactic would prolong the spiritual and psychological distress of the Muslim detainee and it would certainly be in character with the other types of abuses which have surfaced during the past few years.
Through it all Assistant Propaganda Minister—ur ah—White House Press Secretary, Scott McClellan had been holding increasingly irrelevant press conferences in which he offered meaningless, unsubstantiated doublespeak about how the allegations of Koran and prisoner abuse are “ridicules and unsupported by the facts,” claiming that the Bush Regime is going out of its way to “protect human rights and dignity.” Of course, McClellan’s explanations and denials beg the obvious question:
"If that’s the case Scooter, then why don’t you and the President put your money where your mouths are give the press greater access to the prisoners?"
But that would require courage and independent thinking, as well as a basic enthusiasm for discerning the truth, and if we know anything about our corporate-controlled journalists it's that they aren’t about to push this administration on anything. That much became obvious when Newsweek editor, Mark Whittaker made those God-awful comments about how the Pentagon hadn’t warned the magazine about the hostile reaction that the story might produce. Translated into modern English, the American press should help the American government cover up corruption and allow sadism coupled with sexual perversion to go unreported. So much for indepth reporting. When American journalism sinks to the point where it's reporters and editors believe that they are obliged to submit copies of news reports to the various branches and agencies of the federal government for prior approval, then we might as well replace the American Constitution with a dog-eared copy of Mein Kampf and admit that the Necons have achieved their longterm goal of destroying both, the United States Consitution and representative government. Hyperbole? Not at all. What the right wing bloggers and spin masters don't want to admit is that the Pentagon had actually been allowed to read the story before it was published and offered to no criticism nor denials. It wasn't as if the portion about the Koran were somehow burried in a lengthy article. This was not a 300 page document. It was only ten sentences long, so I think we can safely assume that the individual or individuals who read it actually knew what the story was about. And, if that weren’t sweet enough, in the days following the Afghanistan riots, Air Force General Richard Myers of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (see http://usinfo.state.gov/is/Archive/2005/May/13-299433.html ) openly admitted that the Newsweek article had not been primarily responsible for the death and destruction.
The soap opera plot took an unexpected twist on Friday, May 27 when a Washington Post story by Josh White and Dan Eggen revealed that allegations of Koran abuse at Guantanamo were in fact true. To quote the Post:
Brig. Gen. Jay W. Hood, commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo, said investigators have looked into 13 specific allegations of Koran desecration at the prison dating to early 2002 and have determined eight of them to be unfounded, lacking credibility or the result of accidental touching of the holy book. Of the five cases of mishandling, three were "very likely" deliberate and two were "very likely accidental," he said. But Hood declined to provide details, citing an ongoing investigation.
Granted, Hood refused to admit that Newsweek had actually gotten it right, but in retrospect it seems as if Newsweek had more right than wrong.
And yet I am not completely satisfied. The real story here is not Newsweek. It isn't even the Koran abuse nor the riots in Afghanistan. We're talking about Muslim extremists here. It wouldn't take a lot to stir them into action anyhow. No, the real issue here is the Downing Street Memo.
Throughout the late 1990s we were told that Bill Clinton wasn't being impeached because of his personal affairs but because he lied under oath. Well, if Bill Clinton could be impeached because he lied under oath then what do you do with a President whose lies resulted in the deaths of more than 1,600 Americans and thousands of innocent Iraqis? What do we do with a President whose lies and inept bungling have stretched the United States military too thin and diminished our pretige and honour across the face of the earth?
The degree to which the regime in Washington manipulated the press and hid behind the Newsweek Koran story is proportinate to just how revealing and destructive the Downing Street Memo truly is. The Downing Street Memo proves that Bush and the Necons did not want a peaceful soultion. Whether Bush and the Neocons were motivated by economics, geo-politics, or personal psychology is irrelevant. The Downing Street Memo shows that Weapons of Mass Destruction were the excuse, the pretense that this Administration would use to invade a sovereign state. The Downing Streer Memo shows that this Administration had lied during the build up to the war. The Downing Street Memo shows that Bush and his merry band of sociopaths had no intention of giving diplomacy a fair chance.
The Downing Street Memo raises the ultimate question.
If Newsweek had to retract a story because it was based on an unrreliable source and faulty information, then shouldn't the Neocons retract the Iraq War and the Bush Presidency which created the war in the first place?
Stay tuned for tomorrow's fact-twisting episode of The Misguiding Light, starring Dick Cheney, Donald Rumfeld, and George W. Bush.