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Chris Weigant

Chris Weigant

Posted: November 15, 2006 02:59 PM

"In Other News..." (Project Censored's Annual Top 25)


Sonoma State University have released their annual list of under-reported news stories, somewhat deceptively titled "Top 25 Censored Stories of 2007." This is misleading (since 2007 hasn't even started yet) so either they have learned to see into the future at Sonoma State, or they meant to say "2006." The use of the term "Censored" is also misleading, since none of the stories has gone through the dictionary definition of "censorship," but then the group that puts out this annual list is called "Project Censored," so I guess they get some leeway on that account.

If you're sick of politics and post-election news, check out the Project Censored website. It's a fascinating place to browse around, chock full of stories to either chill your bones or light the fires of rage within. Or you can go straight to their Top 25 page to see this year's crop of stories.

The following are ten highlights from their list, complete with links (links all take you to the Top 25 page, directly to each entry). These are just the ten I found most interesting out of the twenty-five listed. Your mileage may vary, so I invite you to peruse the full list on your own.

(1) Future of Internet Debate Ignored by Media

The online community certainly has been covering the network neutrality story, but the mainstream media has largely ignored it. From the commentary:

In particular, behemoth telecom corporations like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T want to set up toll booths on the Internet. If these companies get their way, content providers with deep pockets will be afforded optimum bandwidth while the rest of us will be left spinning in cyberspace. No longer will everyone enjoy an equal voice in the freest and most comprehensive democratic forum ever devised by humankind.

As might be expected, none of these new developments are being addressed by the MSM.

(2) Halliburton Charged with Selling Nuclear Technologies to Iran

Pretty self-explanatory. The commentary details how Cheney's mitts were all over this one:

It was Cheney who directed Halliburton toward aggressive business dealings with Iran -- in violation of U.S. law -- in the mid-1990s, which continued through 2005 and is the reason Iran has the capability to enrich weapons-grade uranium.

It was Halliburton's secret sale of centrifuges to Iran that helped get the uranium enrichment program off the ground, according to a three-year investigation that includes interviews conducted with more than a dozen current and former Halliburton employees.

If the U.S. ends up engaged in a war with Iran in the future, Cheney and Halliburton will bear the brunt of the blame.

(6) Federal Whistleblower Protection in Jeopardy

As both Juvenal and Alan Moore have asked: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Special Counsel Scott Bloch, appointed by President Bush in 2004, is overseeing the virtual elimination of federal whistleblower rights in the U.S. government.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the agency that is supposed to protect federal employees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse is dismissing hundreds of cases while advancing almost none. According to the Annual Report for 2004 (which was not released until the end of first quarter fiscal year 2006) less than 1.5 percent of whistleblower claims were referred for investigation while more than 1000 reports were closed before they were even opened. Only eight claims were found to be substantiated, and one of those included the theft of a desk, while another included attendance violations.
. . .
In a recent development, employees within the OSC have filed a whistleblower complaint about the Special Counsel, the person who is supposed to be the chief whistleblower defender.

(7) US Operatives Torture Detainees to Death in Afghanistan and Iraq

This is not humiliation. This is not "frat-boy hazing." This is not even waterboarding. This is agents of the United States of America beating people to death.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released documents of forty-four autopsies held in Afghanistan and Iraq October 25, 2005. Twenty-one of those deaths were listed as homicides. The documents show that detainees died during and after interrogations by Navy SEALs, Military Intelligence, and Other Government Agency (OGA).

"These documents present irrefutable evidence that U.S. operatives tortured detainees to death during interrogation," said Amrit Singh, an attorney with the ACLU. "The public has a right to know who authorized the use of torture techniques and why these deaths have been covered up."
. . .
The Associated Press carried the story of the ACLU charges on their wire service. However, a thorough check of LexisNexis and ProQuest electronic data bases, using the keywords ACLU and autopsy, showed that at least 95 percent of the daily papers in the U.S. did not bother to pick up the story.

(8) Pentagon Exempt from Freedom of Information Act

How convenient, when seen in relation to the previous item.

The Department of Defense has been granted exemption from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In December 2005, Congress passed the 2006 Defense Authorization Act which renders Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) "operational files" fully immune to FOIA requests, the main mechanism by which watchdog groups, journalists and individuals can access federal documents. Of particular concern to critics of the Defense Authorization Act is the DIA's new right to thwart access to files that may reveal human rights violations tied to ongoing "counterterrorism" efforts.

(12) Pentagon Plans to Build New Landmines

This one, sadly, is also self-explanatory.

The Bush administration plans to resume production of antipersonnel landmine systems in a move that is at odds with both the international community and previous U.S. policy, according to the leading human rights organization, Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Nearly every nation has endorsed the goal of a global ban on antipersonnel mines. In 1994 the U.S. called for the "eventual elimination" of all such mines, and in 1996 President Bill Clinton said the U.S. would "seek a worldwide agreement as soon as possible to end the use of all antipersonnel mines." The U.S. produced its last antipersonnel landmine in 1997.

(14) Homeland Security Contracts KBR to Build Detention Centers in the US

Many will dismiss the details of this one as "rampant paranoia," but even contemplating the ramifications is chilling indeed. It all depends on what those vague "new programs" could encompass. Read the whole article for details.

Halliburton's subsidiary KBR (formerly Kellogg, Brown and Root) announced on January 24, 2006 that it had been awarded a $385 million contingency contract by the Department of Homeland Security to build detention camps in the United States.

According to a press release posted on the Halliburton website, "The contract, which is effective immediately, provides for establishing temporary detention and processing capabilities to augment existing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention and Removal Operations (DRO) Program facilities in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs. The contingency support contract provides for planning and, if required, initiation of specific engineering, construction and logistics support tasks to establish, operate and maintain one or more expansion facilities."

What little coverage the announcement received focused on concerns about Halliburton's reputation for overcharging U.S. taxpayers for substandard services.

(16) Ecuador and Mexico Defy US on International Criminal Court

The United States is trying to strongarm every country in the world into signing a statement to the effect that the ICC will never, ever have any jurisdiction over any American, no matter what that person has done. Ecuador and Mexico refused to knuckle under, which may cost them millions in aid. Haven't heard about this before in the mainstream media? I'm not surprised.

Ecuador and Mexico have refused to sign bilateral immunity agreements (BIA) with the U.S., in ratification of the International Criminal Court (ICC) treaty. Despite the Bush administration's threat to withhold economic aid, both countries confirmed allegiance to the ICC, the international body established to try individuals accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

On June 22, 2005 Ecuador's president, Alfredo Palacios, vocalized emphatic refusal to sign a BIA (also known as an Article 98 agreement to the Rome Statute of the ICC) in spite of Washington's threat to withhold $70 million a year in military aid.

Mexico, having signed the Rome Statute, which established the ICC in 2000, formally ratified the treaty on October 28, 2005, making it the 100th nation to join the ICC. As a consequence of ratifying the ICC without a U.S. immunity agreement, Mexico stands to lose millions of dollars in U.S. aid -- including $11.5 million to fight drug trafficking.
. . .
Meanwhile, a May 11 poll by the University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes found that a bipartisan majority of the U.S. public (69 percent) believes that the U.S. should not be given special exceptions when it becomes a party to human rights treaties. 60 percent explicitly support U.S. participation in the ICC.

(18) Physicist Challenges Official 9-11 Story

This initially struck me as one from the Tinfoil Hat Brigade, but... the guy's a physicist, BYU is not exactly a bastion of left-wing thought, and I never really have seen an explanation for why Building 7 fell. Believe him or scoff at him, it's worth a read.

Research into the events of September 11 by Brigham Young University physics professor, Steven E. Jones, concludes that the official explanation for the collapse of the World Trade Center (WTC) buildings is implausible according to laws of physics. Jones is calling for an independent, international scientific investigation "guided not by politicized notions and constraints but rather by observations and calculations."
. . .
Jones also investigated the collapse of WTC 7, a forty-seven-story building that was not hit by planes, yet dropped in its own "footprint," in the same manner as a controlled demolition. WTC 7 housed the U.S. Secret Service, the Department of Defense, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Mayor's Office of Emergency Management, the Internal Revenue Service Regional Council, and the Central Intelligence Agency. Many of the records from the Enron accounting scandal were destroyed when the building came down.

(24) Cheney's Halliburton Stock Rose Over 3000 Percent Last Year

Second time I've had to use the same Casablanca quote in as many weeks:

[CAPTAIN RENAULT:] I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
[A croupier hands Renault a pile of money.]
[CROUPIER:] Your winnings, sir.
[CAPTAIN RENAULT:] (sotto voce) Oh, thank you very much.

All you need to understand about this item is the headline of the cited article:

"Cheney's Halliburton Stock Options Rose 3,281 Percent Last Year, Senator Finds"

 

[OK, I hate it when The Simpsons run a clip show as much as the next guy. I admit that after the frenzied Election Week, I needed an easy article to write. I promise that next week's article will make up for this week's cut-and-paste job.]