By Sheila Samples
“Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits – a false doorway to the backside of life, a filthy piss-ridden little hole nailed off by the building inspector, but just deep enough for a wino to curl up from the sidewalk and masturbate like a chimp in a zoo-cage.”
â€“ Hunter Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
If the Bush administration and the US mainstream media are united on any one issue, it’s an absolute refusal to rock the political boat as they sail mercilessly through the seas of corporate profit on the good ship Terrorbush. For the most part, each group is an incurious lot — undead creatures who neither care, nor dare, to glance over the side of the ship at the bloated, swirling bodies in the blood-red water below. From the beginning, their mission has been to perform so fantastically against a backdrop of such violent, explosive madness on so many fronts that we watch hypnotically but do not see — listen intently but do not hear.
They are very good at what they do.
In the last 10 days, as 36 Americans were killed in Iraq, we were inundated with a variety of devastating news — all of which literally beg for broad, investigative reporting from those whom the late, great Molly Ivins laughingly referred to as “alert guardian watchdogs of democracy.” For example…
~~A bleak National Intelligence Estimate was released, which stated flatly that what is going on in Iraq is much worse than a civil war and there is little chance that Bush’s escalation of 20,000-50,000 troops will do anything but fuel the fire. The media’s initial interest quickly faded when Vice President Dick Cheney called the report “hogwash,” and announced that he and Bush had the power to do whatever they wanted, and neither the Congress nor the people could stop them.
~~Bush appointed Adm. William Fallon to head Central Command (CENTCOM) — a Navy man to run the ground wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Formerly with NATO as Assistant Chief of Staff, Plans and Policy for Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic, Fallon has a history of high-tech war game tomfoolery that provokes the enemy to attack. With US carrier attack groups bumping into each other in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Iran, who you gonna call?
~~Nat Hentoff writes in the Village Voice that the giant aerospace Boeing is “supplying the CIA with the planes to transport the shackled, blindfolded, drugged passengers for interrogation in foreign torture chambers.” Hentoff credits The New Yorker’s Jane Meyer with breaking the Boeing story in October, wherein she quoted a former Jeppesen (Boeing subsidary) employee who was told by a top official, “We do all of the extraordinary rendition flights –you know, the torture flights…It certainly pays well. Theyâ€ — the C.I.A — â€œspare no expense. They have absolutely no worry about costs. What they have to get done, they get done.â€
~~The Pentagon’s Inspector General (IG) Report confirms what we have known for nearly five years — we were catapaulted into war with Iraq on a pack of malicious, treasonous lies dreamed up by Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, who were obviously following Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s order on 9-11 to “sweep it all up — things related or not” to justify an attack on Iraq.
. . .In testimony last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Acting IG Thomas Gimble acknowledged, albeit in bewildering doublespeak, that Feith’s office had indeed “developed, produced and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and Al-Qaeda relationship, which included some conclusions that were inconsistent with the consensus of the intelligence community, to senior decision-makers.” Gimble plowed on with an admission that Feith “was inappropriately performing intelligence activities of developing, producing and disseminating that should be performed by the intelligence community.”
. . .Given that more than 600,000 Iraqi civilians have been slaughtered, more than 2 million families are broken and displaced, and 3,379 coalition troops (3,123 of them Americans) have been blown to bits, Gimble’s limp concession that what these creatures did in manipulating intelligence to go to war was neither “illegal or unauthorized” is almost as bizarre as the media refusing to investigate such criminal activity. Almost as bizarre as Wolfowitz’ grinning admission in Vanity Fair two months after the attack, “We settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.” Almost as bizarre as the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Ledeen, who boasted in 2002, “We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia. . . The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize.”
~~Attorney General Alberto Gonzales suddenly fired seven US attorneys and replaced them with Republican insiders. One of them, Tomothy Griffin, who previously worked for Karl Rove and for the Republican National Committee, will head to Arkansas — just as the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign heats up. San Diego prosecuror Carol Lam was bounced for bringing California Republican Randy “Duke” Cunningham to justice for taking $2.4 million in bribes. According to Salon’s Joe Conason, Lam “is still pursuing important leads in that historic case. Cunningham is supposed to be cooperating,” Conason says, “but if Bush replaces her (Lam) with a partisan stooge, he may be able to keep his secrets.” In his usual Cheshire manner, Gonzales admitted the resignations were forced, but “declined to comment on details of the cases.”
~~The old news surfaced briefly of the Pentagon loading 363 tons of $100 bills onto pallets and flying them aboard military planes to Iraq where they were handed over to the Iraqi government with no accountability. That’s $4 billion, or 726,000 pounds of stash — with an additional $8.8 billion that also disappeared about the time US “Viceroy” Paul Bremer mounted up and headed for the border.
~~Then, there’s the Scooter Libby Blame Plame Game trial wherein Libby and a gaggle of journalists are wildly pointing fingers at each other in a hiliarious effort to cover their treasonous asses about who told whom what and when — while the noose tightens slowly around Dick Cheney’s neck. Great entertainment, but of course no in-depth research and investigation into matters of consequence, such as what “dark side” activity was going on at the highest levels in order to take us to war. Personally, I never believe anything anybody called “Scooter” tells me — unless his last name is Rizzuto.
You’d think that the mainstream media would bump into each other in their haste to cover one or all of the above. But no. While C-Span alone carried the interminably long Senate debate-about-the-debate on at least three toothless, nonbinding resolutions addressing Bush’s ongoing ejaculation in Iraq — while six US helicopters were brought down by enemy fire — while the Bush neocons were back at their old game of manipulating intelligence to justify a war on Iran — the silly, somnolent scriveners chose instead to overdose on the “Air Pelosi” scandal.
Reporters clambered aboard the Swift Boat with their Republican “unnamed sources,” and went full throttle at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for daring to request a plane large enough to fly from Washington to California without refueling. The story quickly went from “Air Pelosi” to “Pelosi One.” It went from, “The new Speaker of the House is apparently asking for a big travel upgrade” to “the San Francisco Democrat is abusing the perks of power by attempting to commandeer a fancy jumbo-size military jet with a ‘distinguished visitor compartment with sleep accommodations.'”
The reporters-cum-repeaters rounded out the jam-packed 10-day news period either shouting that all destructive weapons in Iraq come from Iran — or curled up on the nation’s sidewalks shrieking in ecstasy about Anna Nicole Smith.
The U.S. media is beneath contempt, and can never redeem itself for the damage it has wrought on this republic by its fawning allegience to a band of crooked, war-mongering fools. By sinking to reading scrubbed-clean White House press releases, by relinquishing all pretences of honesty, values and integrity in order to ingratiate itself to the ravenous corporate beast, its members are little more than “enablers” who cannot remember why they became journalists in the first place.
W.C. Fields once said, “There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation.” That time is now. Molly Ivins was right — it’s time we hit the streets, beating on pots and pans and take our country back. Our first stop should be at the source of our country’s problems — the shallow and destructive corporate media.
Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org