Project Censored 2003
Neocons' plans for global domination
top the annual list
of stories ignored or downplayed by the mainstream media.
Camille T. Taiara
IF THERE'S ONE influence that has shaped worldwide political
events over the past year, it's the extent to which the Bush
administration has exploited the events of Sept. 11, 2001, to
solidify its military and economic control of the world at the
expense of democracy, true justice, and the environment. But
George W. Bush hasn't simply been responding to world events.
The agenda his administration has followed fits perfectly with
a clearly defined plan that's been in place for more than a
blueprint for United States military domination is hardly a
secret. A group called the Project for a New American Century
a think tank founded by hawks who are now in prominent
jobs in the White House released a version of it three
years ago. The document is shocking in its candor: it asserts
that the United States should be moving unilaterally to assert
military control around the globe, and that all that's necessary
to jump-start the effort is a "new Pearl Harbor."
of the major news media in this country have reported on this
document or on the fact that Bush is so closely following its
the biggest "censored" story in the nation last year,
according to Sonoma State University's Project Censored, a 27-year-old
program dedicated to shining some light on the shortcomings
of the major news media.
at Sonoma State meticulously combed through news reports from
2002 and the first quarter of 2003 to find stories that didn't
get the media attention they deserved. This year's big stories
include the attack on civil liberties at home, Donald Rumsfeld's
plan to provoke terrorists, and treaty-busting by the United
cases, these stories got little or no play or else were
presented piecemeal, without any attempt to put the information
stories this year reflect a clear danger to democracy and governmental
transparency in the U.S. and the corporate media's failure
to alert the public to these important issues," Project
Censored director Peter Phillips told the Bay Guardian. "The
magnitude of total global domination has to be the most important
story we've uncovered in a quarter century."
follows is the Bay Guardian's rundown of Project Censored's
top 10 censored or underreported stories for last year:
neoconservative plan for global dominance
A question of when, not if" read the front-page headline
of the Sept. 7, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle. Americans, it
argued, will just have to get used to the fact that we're now
engaged in a "perpetual war."
that day Bush went on TV to ask the nation for another $87 billion
for the fight against terrorism. But the concept of "perpetual
war," and the military strategy that comes with it
of unilateralism, preemptive strikes, and a "forward presence"
in key regions throughout the globe is nothing new. The
Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon
simply provided the perfect rationale to implement existing
in the early 1990s, hawks in Bush Sr.'s administration
notably, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, with the help
of General Colin Powell and Paul Wolfowitz (at the time, Joint
Chiefs of Staff chair and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy,
respectively) drew up a plan that was virtually identical
to the National Security Strategy unveiled in September 2002.
blueprint first spelled out in a classified internal
policy statement in 1992 titled "Defense Planning Guidance"
(later repeated in Cheney's "Defense Strategy for the 1990s,"
formally released in January of 1993) called for the
United States to assert its military superiority to prevent
the emergence of a new superpower rival.
for the United States to diversify its military presence throughout
the world, offered a policy of preemption, argued nuclear program
while discouraging those of other countries, and foresaw the
need for the United States to act alone, if need be, to protect
its interests and those of its allies. Sound familiar?
neocons knew they faced a hard sell as Bill Clinton took office.
"Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources,"
a report released by the Project for the New American Century
in 2000, stated that the United States needed a catastrophe
"a new Pearl Harbor," as the authors called
it to jump-start the neocons' blueprint for all-encompassing
military and economic world dominance. (PNAC was founded by
none other than Cheney, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld,
and other former Reagan and Bush administration hawks.)
came the attacks of Sept. 11 just nine months after the
Bush administration took office. The events of that day provided
the perfect excuse for Cheney and company to finally see their
plans to fruition.
their list of targets was Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Within 24 hours
of the planes hitting the World Trade Center and Pentagon
and without so much as an inkling of evidence as to who had
carried out the attacks Attorney General John Ashcroft
was already calling for war on Iraq, according to a report by
Bob Woodward in the Washington Post.
the neocons have had the Persian Gulf in their crosshairs for
30 years now. Ever since the oil crisis of 1976 and the Gulf
states' nationalization of their petroleum industries in the
years that preceded it, the United States began building up
forces in the region primarily in Saudi Arabia
and strengthening relationships with regional dictatorships.
The reasons seem simple: the region holds two-thirds of the
over the Persian Gulf translates into control over Europe, Japan,
and China," Hampshire College professor and Resource Wars
author Michael Klare told Mother Jones. "It's having our
hand on the spigot."
Censored's sources: David Armstrong, Harper's Magazine, October
2002; Robert Dreyfuss, Mother Jones, March 2003; John Pilger,
security threatens civil liberties
2002 ought to be remembered as the year when Big Brother came
of age. As the Pentagon waged unending war abroad in the name
of battling terrorism, the Bush administration pursued a parallel,
wholesale war on dissent at home, fusing foreign intelligence
operations with domestic security.
such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation were granted sweeping
powers to spy on U.S. citizens. Civil liberties took the greatest
hit in the last 30 years as the feds consistently slashed away
at our basic constitutional rights including the right
to privacy, to any semblance of a fair trial in cases broadly
defined as terrorism-related, and to the freedoms of speech,
association, and assembly.
administration undertook all this and much more by means of
the USA PATRIOT Act, executive orders, and the newly created
Department of Homeland Security.
1, 2002, the government established the Northern Command
a branch of the U.S. armed forces empowered to coordinate military
"assistance" to domestic law enforcement agencies.
That was just the latest in a push to allow the federal government
to use the U.S. military against its own citizens in the event
of mass civil unrest. (That trend wasn't without precedent:
an anonymous Justice Department official reportedly told the
Seattle Weekly, in late December 1999, that the feds had deployed
an elite U.S. Army strike force by the name of the Delta Force,
to infiltrate the now-infamous anti-World Trade Organization
demonstrations in that city weeks earlier.)
coverage of such measures was piecemeal at best and failed
to shed light on the sordid details and ominous repercussions
that accompanied them.
gets worse: The administration is pushing the Domestic Security
Enhancement Act of 2003, dubbed Patriot Act II. Now that there's
opposition, the administration is trying to sneak major provisions
through as riders in other congressional bills.
second Patriot Act is a mirror image of powers that Julius Caesar
and Adolf Hitler gave themselves," Alex Jones wrote on
Morales, Global Outlook, Winter 2003; Alex Jones, www.rense.com,
2/11/03 and Global Outlook, Vol. 4; Charles Lewis and Adam Mayle,
Center for Public Integrity, 2/7/03.
illegally removes pages from Iraq U.N. report
administration insiders often take extreme measures to protect
their own including those who supplied Saddam Hussein's
regime with weapons of mass destruction and training on how
to use them.
as Bush urged military action against Iraq for the country's
failure to divulge details of its alleged chemical, biological,
and nuclear arsenal, the U.S. government covertly removed 8,000
of the 11,800 pages of the weapons declaration the Iraqi government
had submitted to the United Nations Security Council and the
International Atomic Energy Agency.
Iraqis released copies of the full report to key media outlets
in Europe. It turns out that the missing pages may have contained
damning details on 24 U.S.-based corporations, various federal
departments and nuclear weapons labs, and several high-ranking
members of the Reagan and Bush administrations that, from 1983
until 1990, helped supply Hussein with botulinum toxins, anthrax,
gas gangrene bacteria, the makings for nuclear weapons, and
associated instruction. Among those implicated: Eastman Kodak,
Dupont, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Bechtel, the U.S. Department
of Energy and Department of Agriculture, the Livermore, Los
Alamos, and Sandia nuclear weapons labs, and Defense Secretary
I. Niman, The Humanist and ArtVoice, March/April 2003.
plan to provoke terrorists
deep in one of its Sunday issues late last October, the Los
Angeles Times published a story by military analyst William
Arkin about a slew of secret armies the Pentagon had been creating
around the world. One such force caught the eye of Moscow Times
columnist and regular CounterPunch contributor Chris Floyd,
who picked up on the tip and ran with it.
to a classified document prepared for Rumsfeld by his Defense
Science Board, the new organization the 'Proactive, Preemptive
Operations Group (dubbed the "Pee-Twos")' will
carry out secret missions designed to 'stimulate reactions'
among terrorist groups, provoking them into committing violent
acts which would then expose them to 'counterattack' by U.S.
forces," Floyd wrote.
the alleged document seemed to show that the Pentagon was gearing
up to actively instigate terrorist acts, despite the risk to
innocent civilians. "The Pee-Twos will thus come in handy
whenever the Regime hankers to add a little oil-laden real estate
or a new military base to the Empire's burgeoning portfolio,"
Floyd continued. "Just find a nest of violent malcontents,
stir 'em with a stick, and presto: instant 'justification' for
whatever level of intervention/conquest/rapine you might desire."
Or, he proffers, just make them up after the fact.
Floyd, CounterPunch, 11/1/02.
effort to make unions disappear
better way to make those pesky unions disappear than by branding
them a threat to national security? That's precisely what the
neocons in the White House and on Capitol Hill have been doing
in a blatant move to break some of the country's most
powerful labor syndicates. And, so far, they've gotten away
certainly not known as a stalwart of workers' rights
invoked his war on terrorism rhetoric in early October
2002 to force striking International Longshore and Warehouse
Union dock workers in Oakland back on the job, thereby undermining
the future of the ILWU's West Coast labor agreement.
$300 billion worth of cargo equivalent to 30 percent
of U.S. gross domestic product passes through ILWU members'
hands each year," Lee Sustar wrote in Z Magazine. (The
ILWU is also renowned as one of the nation's most progressive
unions having shut down ports up and down the Pacific
coast in solidarity with Mumia Abu-Jamal and, later, the anti-WTO
protesters in Seattle during the '90s.)
when the Bush administration created the Department of Homeland
Security, its Secretary Tom Ridge invoked similar reasoning
to argue that the department's employees be exempted from civil
service regulations governing pay scales, hiring and promotion
practices, bans on discrimination, whistle-blower protections,
and last but not least collective bargaining rights.
The formation of the DHS accounted for the largest restructuring
of U.S. government since 1947 and brought together more than
100 executive agencies under one roof equaling a total
of 180,000 workers.
workers also took a big hit. The federalization of airport screeners
caused thousands of noncitizens to lose their jobs. Others were
swept up by Immigration and Naturalization Service raids targeting
not only baggage screeners but also other airport workers, including
Z Magazine, 9/20/02; David Bacon, War Times, October-November
2002; Anne-Marie Cusac, The Progressive, February 2003; Robert
L. Borosage, The American Prospect, March 2003.
access to information technology
stories that make up this year's Project Censored winners were
gleaned from alternative and international media sources. Likewise,
progressives quickly learned to seek out sources like CommonDreams.org,
truthout.org, and the U.K. Independent's Web site for the real
news on the latest war on Iraq. The Internet has functioned
as the single most important medium for accessing these kinds
of information. But if the big communications companies get
their way, the Web could be compromised as a democratic source
of alternative news and perspectives. Soon, what we get from
the Web could be a carbon copy of what we already get from corporate
TV, cable, radio, and newspapers.
years now, businesses that provide access to the Web
cable, telephone, and (more recently) satellite companies
have been working to cash in on their control over distribution.
the companies controlling the telephone lines (which by law
must grant access to any company that wants to use them) the
Federal Communications Commission opted, in spring 2002, to
grant cable companies full control over who could use their
cable networks and under what terms. Cable companies
can now manage the speed at which different sites pop up, block
out any content they choose, and even deny sites and ISPs access
to their lines altogether. Of course, the telephone companies
have since been lobbying for the same exclusive rights over
and cable lines are controlled by monopolies in most U.S. cities
and towns. (Comcast, now the world's largest cable company,
exerts sole control over cable lines serving almost one third
of U.S. households including San Francisco.) Without
any open-access laws to preserve competition, those monopolies
are sure to hike up their rates, making it more difficult for
small businesses and nonprofits to stay online.
of ISPs currently available could dwindle down to just two or
three for any given region, as broadband distributors like AOL
Time Warner favor their own companies' ISPs over others. Customers
might be forced to pay more for a wider variety of sites, and
companies could block whatever sites they chose to.
the largest media conglomerates have already been merging with
the companies that provide Internet access to the vast majority
of U.S. households and that stand to gain handsomely from such
a deal. So, is it any wonder they've blacked out the story?
Stamoulis, Dollars and Sense, September 2002.
7. Treaty busting by the United States
as the Bush administration publicly demanded that terrorists
be brought to justice and that Iraq, Iran, and North Korea,
and others dismantle their (in Iraq's case, alleged) nuclear
weapons programs, it consistently worked to undermine hard-fought
international agreements including numerous treaties
and the international court system meant to do just that.
has resuscitated the Reagan-era missile defense program, pursued
the development of a "Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator"
bomb and other small-size nuclear weapons for use in its military
campaigns abroad, declared its intent to create bio-warfare-agent
facilities at Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos labs, adopted
a policy of preemptive military strikes, waged an illegal war
against Iraq, and actually voted to authorize a U.S. military
attack on the International Criminal Court in The Hague should
the ICC dare try any American for war crimes.
the United States has now "either blatantly violated or
gradually subverted" at least nine multilateral treaties
on which it is a signatory, Project Censored found. These include
the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Commission,
the Biological Weapons Convention, the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Treaty Banning
Antipersonnel Mines, the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, the
U.N. Convention on Climate Change, and the Rome Statute of the
action have been taken in the name of national security. Yet,
"this unprecedented rejection of and rapid retreat from
global treaties ... will render these treaties and conventions
invalid without the support and participation of the world's
foremost superpower," wrote Project Censored's authors.
Kelly and Nicole Deller, Connections, June 2002; John B. Anderson,
The Nation, April 2002; Eamon Martin, Ashville Global Report,
June 20-26, 2002; John Valleau, Global Outlook, Summer 2002.
and British forces continue use of depleted uranium weapons
despite massive evidence of negative health effects
Sergeant First Class Carol Picou will never be the same after
serving in the first Gulf War. On the frontlines with a mobile
medical unit, "I noticed that all the bodies that were
on the highways and the tanks and all the armament that was
damaged was burnt," the veteran nurse told Hustler magazine
last spring. "It was actually literally black, and I thought
the Iraqi people were black-skinned. It amazed me that they
were burnt that bad that we would have used some type
of armament that would actually melt these people into their
began experiencing serious health effects almost immediately.
Back in the United States, her muscles were deteriorating. She
permanently lost control of her bowels. She suffered from 104-degree
fevers, and her skin would break open and bleed. Rather than
take care of Picou, who had served in the armed forces since
1978, the Army medically discharged her against her wishes in
than 9,600 of the relatively young Operation Desert Storm veterans
have died since serving in Iraq, a statistical anomaly"
wrote Dan Kapelovitz, the reporter who interviewed Picou. Of
those still living, more than a third upward of 236,000
have filed Gulf War Syndrome-related claims with the
overwhelmingly suggests these ailments and deaths were caused
by depleted uranium, a metal the military uses in much of its
hardware that is so dense it can pierce through steel-armored
tanks. But this radioactive material has a half-life of 4.5
billion years, according to renowned scientist Helen Caldicott.
In Iraq incidences of cancer, childhood leukemia, and rare mutations
in newborns have skyrocketed.
conducted by the U.S. Army in 1990, at least six months before
the first Gulf War, shows the U.S. government knew what the
effects would be. Nonetheless, the Americans and Brits dropped
anywhere between 300 to 800 tons of the stuff on Iraq over the
four-day assault. They've done nothing to clean up the radioactive
mess left behind.
effect, George Bush Sr. used weapons of mass destruction on
his own people," Kapelovitz continued.
didn't end there. The United States has since used depleted
uranium weapons in Kosovo, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and again during
its most recent assault on Iraq a fact that was reported
in the European media but not widely in the United States.
Hustler Magazine, June 2003; Reese Erlich, Children of War,
Afghanistan: poverty, women's rights, and civil disruption worse
than allow the international community to supply sufficient
security forces to safeguard Afghan citizens from brutal warlords
and thereby create the foundation necessary for democracy
and reconstruction the United States has instead financed
and armed regional warlords in its effort to root out the last
remaining al-Qaeda forces.
result, by October 2002 a year after the U.S. embarked
on its campaign to "liberate" that war-torn Central
Asian country private armies were estimated to be 700,000
strong. (The International Security Assistance Force, in contrast,
consists of a scant 5,000 troops only enough to provide
meager protection for Kabul, Afghanistan's capital.)
has, in effect, strengthened the nation's endemic system of
military feudalism. The heroin trade has skyrocketed. Life expectancy
is a mere 46 years with more than one in four children
not making it to their fifth birthday. Only 10 percent of those
who survived had access to an education. In many regions the
constraints placed on women's basic liberties have reverted
to those imposed by the Taliban. Per capita average yearly income
was only $280. And the basic infrastructure needed to reintroduce
law and order like a working justice system, banking
institutions, a national army remained a pipe dream.
thanks to American policies, Afghanis are more forsaken than
ever. Yet, as far as the mainstream U.S. media are concerned,
Afghanis' worst fear has come true: Afghanistan has once again
dropped off the corporate media's radar and, with it,
that of the American public.
Rashid, The Nation, 10/14/02; Pranjal Tiwari, Left Turn, February-March
2003; Jan Goodwin, The Nation, 4/29/02; Scott Carrier, with
a photo essay by Chien-Min Chung, Mother Jones, July-August
faces new threat of new colonialism
Americans are now at least marginally aware of recent neoliberal
economic programs such as the Free Trade Area of the Americas
and Plan Colombia. But how many have heard of the New Partnership
for Africa's Development a plan being forwarded by the
world's most powerful industrialized nations?
was launched at the G8 meeting in June 2002 presumably
to help combat poverty in Africa by encouraging outside investment.
Curiously enough, the architects of the program didn't bother
to consult with representatives of a single African nation while
drawing up their plans. Critics fear the program is just another
bid by more powerful nations to exploit the continent's last
remaining natural resources at the expense of Africans
meddling has already wrought havoc on Africa. During the cold
war, the United States alone injected $1.5 billion worth of
weaponry and training into the continent now the most
war-torn in the world. From 1991 to 1995 the U.S. increased
its military contributions to 50 out of Africa's 53 nations.
Millions have died from war, displacement, disease, and starvation
as a result.
structural adjustment programs force-fed to African nations
by the IMF, World Bank, and G8 in the name of development have
only resulted in the continent's foreign debt rising by a whopping
500 percent over the past 20 years. More of the same isn't likely
Robidoux, Left Turn, July-August 2002; Asad Ismi, Briarpatch,
Vol. 32, No. 1 (excerpted from the CCPA Monitor, October 2002);
Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, New Internationalist, January-February
Censored awards ceremony and book-release party, with keynote
speaker Cynthia McKinney, MC Larry Bensky, and progressive journalists
and intellectuals, takes place Oct. 4, 6 p.m., Jewish Cultural
Center, 200 San Pedro, San Rafael. $25. (707) 664-3373, www.projectcensored.org.
E-mail Camille T. Taiara at camilleTK@sfbg.com.
Project Censored's other picks for 2002
implicated in Taliban massacre Kendra Sarvadi, Asheville Global
Report; Adam Porter, In These Times.
administration behind failed military coup in Venezuela Duncan
Campbell and Greg Palast, The London Guardian; Joe Taglieri,
Global Outlook; Karen Talbot, People's Weekly World; Jon Beasley-Murray,
NACLA Report on the Americas.
personhood challenged Thom Hartmann, CommonDreams and Impact
Press; Thom Hartmann, Wild Matters; Jim Hightower, The Hightower
refugees a global problem Daniel Swift, In These Times; Charles
Bowden, Mother Jones; Bill Frelick, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
military' war on the earth Bob Feldman, Dollars and Sense; David
S. Mann and Glenn Milner, Washington Free Press; John Passacantando,
Puebla-Panama and the FTAA Miguel Pickard, CorpWatch.org; Timi
Gerson, Public Citizen's Trade Watch; Tom Hansen and Jason Wallach,
Labornotes; Rachel Coen, Asheville Global Report and Extra!
Channel monopoly draws criticism Jeff Perlstein, MediaFile.
forest proposal threatens access to public lands Kristin Robison,
Earth First! Journal; Jon Margolis, American Prospect.
dollar vs. the euro: another reason for the invasion of Iraq
William Clark, The Sierra Times; Cóilín Nunan,
FEASTA; William Greider, The Nation.
increases private military contracts Nelson D. Schwartz, Fortune;
Pratap Chatterjee, CorpWatch.org; Antony Barnett, The London
world austerity policies: coming soon to a city near you Greg
Palast, Harper's Magazine; Michael Parenti, Covert Action Quarterly;
Gabriella Bocagrande, The Texas Observer.
reform up for reauthorization but still no safety net Barbara
Ehrenreich and Frances Fox Piven, Mother Jones; Neil deMause,
In These Times; Dave Hage, The American Prospect; Heather Boushey,
Dollars and Sense.
crisis sparks cooperative growth Lisa Garrigues, Yes! Magazine;
Leif Utne, Utne Magazine.
aid to Israel fuels repressive occupation in Palestine John
Steinbach, Covert Action Quarterly; Matt Bowles, Left Turn;
Bob Wing, War Times.
corporations receive perks instead of punishment Emad Mekay,
Asheville Global Report; Ken Silverstein, Mother Jones.