We may never know the truth behind President Bush's alleged leaked memo to bomb the television network Al Jazeera, but with this administration's obvious distaste for the free press, it doesn't seem so out of bounds.
A few days ago, on the orders of President Karzai's Attorney General, Tolo TV in Kabul was raided and reporters beaten, while President Bush remained silent. Independent journalist Arthur Kent puts it in perspective:
Taxpayers in Western democracies have helped rebuild Afghanistan's army and police, providing President Karzai's Attorney General with a potent weapon against free speech and free broadcasting.
A couple of days after al Qaeda suppressed free speech by setting a Baghdad radio station on fire and murdering a guard, Vice President Cheney, a leader from the free world, visits the war torn region in supposed support of democracy. If it weren't so tragic, it would be humorous having a man who despises, as well as controls the media, espouse the idea of democracy at the same time as making it clear that reporters are only good for a managed photo op and little else. According to this report, "...several hundred protesters gathered in the Shiite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf to protest against Mr. Cheney's visit," -- which doesn't sound like being greeted as a liberator to me. Where have all the flowers gone, Mr. VP?
Granted, it's not the same as beating up reporters or setting a radio station ablaze, but Cheney's refusal to answer journalists' questions sends a dangerous, un-democratic message. It's par for the course, though, for this administration. They want to manage their own sound bites, images and PR campaign. Why wouldn't they want to defend the democracy we're ostensibly promoting? The question is rhetorical since it's obvious that freedom of the press would mean exposing this administration's crimes here and abroad, which doesn't make a pretty picture at all.