From Bohemian.com in the USA:
Fit to Print
The top censored news stories of 2005-2006
By Peter Phillips, Trish Boreta & Project Censored
For 30 years, Sonoma State University‘s Project Censored has released an annual list of the most important news stories not covered by the corporate media in the United States.
Here again are the top 10 news stories that didn’t make much news.
1. Net Neutrality
Throughout 2005 and this year, a largely underground debate has raged regarding the future of the Internet.
More recently referred to as Net neutrality, the issue has become a tug of war with cable companies on the one hand and consumers and Internet service providers (ISPs) on the other. …
Source: “Web of Deceit: How Internet Freedom Got the Federal Ax, And Why Corporate News Censored the Story,” by Elliot D. Cohen. Buzzflash.com, July 18, 2005.
According to journalist Jason Leopold, sources at Dick Cheney‘s former company, Halliburton, allege that as recently as January 2005, Halliburton sold key components for a nuclear reactor to an Iranian oil development company.
Leopold says his Halliburton sources have intimate knowledge of the business dealings of both Halliburton and Oriental Oil Kish, one of Iran’s largest private oil companies.
Halliburton has a long history of doing business in Iran, starting as early as 1995, when Vice President Cheney was chief executive of the company.
In an attempt to curtail Halliburton and other U.S. companies from engaging in business dealings with rogue nations such as Libya, Iran and Syria, an amendment was approved in the Senate on July 26, 2005.
The amendment, sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, would penalize companies that continue to skirt U.S. law by setting up offshore subsidiaries as a way to legally conduct business and avoid U.S. sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
A letter, drafted by trade groups representing corporate executives, vehemently objected to the amendment, saying it would lead to further hatred and perhaps incite terrorist attacks on the United States and “greatly strain relations with the United States primary trading partners.”
The letter warned that “foreign governments view U.S. efforts to dictate their foreign and commercial policy as violations of sovereignty often leading them to adopt retaliatory measures more at odds with U.S goals.”
According to Leopold, during a trip to the Middle East in March 1996, Dick Cheney told a group of mostly U.S. businessmen that Congress should ease sanctions in Iran and Libya to foster better relationships, a statement that, in hindsight, is completely hypocritical considering the Bush administration’s foreign policy.
“Let me make a generalized statement about a trend I see in the U.S. Congress that I find disturbing, that applies not only with respect to the Iranian situation but a number of others as well,” Cheney said.
“I think we Americans sometimes make mistakes. . . .
There seems to be an assumption that somehow we know what’s best for everybody else and that we are going to use our economic clout to get everybody else to live the way we would like.”
Cheney was the chief executive of Halliburton Corporation at the time he uttered those words.
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.
Source: “Halliburton Secretly Doing Business with Key Member of Iran’s Nuclear Team“, by Jason Leopold. GlobalResearch.ca, Aug. 5, 2005.
Oceanic problems once found on a local scale are now pandemic.
Data from oceanography, marine biology, meteorology, fishery science and glaciology reveal that the seas are changing in ominous ways.
A vortex of cause and effect wrought by global environmental dilemmas is changing the ocean from a watery horizon with assorted regional troubles to a global system in alarming distress. …
Source: “The Fate of the Ocean,” by Julia Whitty. Mother Jones magazine, March/April, 2006.
The number of hungry and homeless people in U.S. cities continued to grow in 2005 despite claims of an improved economy.
Increased demand for vital services rose as needs of the most destitute went unmet, according to the annual U.S. Conference of Mayors Report, which has documented increasing need since its 1982 inception. …
Sources: “New Report Shows Increase in Urban Hunger, Homelessness,” by Brendan Coyne. TheNewStandard.com, December 2005.
“U.S. Plan to Eliminate Survey of Needy Families Draws Fire,” by Abid Aslam. OneWorld.net, March, 2006.
5. High-Tech Genocide in Congo
The world’s most neglected emergency, according to Jan Egeland, the U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator, is the ongoing tragedy in the Congo, where 6 million to 7 million have died since 1996 as a consequence of invasions and wars sponsored by Western powers trying to gain control of the region’s mineral wealth.
At stake is control of natural resources that are sought by U.S. corporations: diamonds; tin; copper; gold; cobalt, an element essential to nuclear, chemical, aerospace and defense industries; and, more significantly, coltan and niobum, two minerals necessary for production of cell phones and other high-tech electronics.
Eighty percent of the world’s coltan reserves are found in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Niobium is another high-tech mineral with a similar story. …
Sources: “The World’s Most Neglected Emergency: Phil Taylor Talks to Keith Harmon Snow,” The Taylor Report, March 28, 2005.
“High-Tech Genocide,” by Sprocket. Earth First! Journal, August 2005.
“Behind the Numbers: Untold Suffering in the Congo,” by Keith Harmon Snow and David Barouski. Z Magazine, March 1, 2006.
[Also on Congo: ‘King Leopold’s Ghost‘, by Adam Hochschild]
6. Whistleblower Protection in Jeopardy
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. …
Source: All stories by Jeff Ruch, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility website.
“Whistleblowers Get [No] Help from Bush Administration,” Dec. 5, 2005; “Long-Delayed Investigation of Special Counsel Finally Begins,” Oct. 18, 2005; “Back Door Rollback of Federal Whistleblower Protections,” Sept. 22, 2005.
7. U.S. Operatives Do Torture
The American Civil Liberties Union released documents of 44 autopsies held in Afghanistan and Iraq on Oct. 25, 2005.
Twenty-one of those deaths were listed as homicides.
The documents show that detainees died during and after interrogations by the Navy Seals, military intelligence and other government agencies.
“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 Department of Defense released the autopsy reports in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Physicians for Human Rights, Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans for Peace.
One of 44 U.S. military autopsy reports reads as follows: “[A] 27-year-old Iraqi male died while being interrogated by Navy Seals on April 5, 2004, in Mosul, Iraq.
During his confinement, he was hooded, flex-cuffed, sleep-deprived and subjected to hot and cold environmental conditions, including the use of cold water on his body and hood.
The exact cause of death was ‘undetermined,’ although the autopsy stated that hypothermia may have contributed to his death.”
An overwhelming majority of the so-called natural deaths covered in the autopsies were attributed to “arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease” (heart attack).
The Associated Press carried the story of the ACLU charges on their wire service.
However, a thorough check of Nexus-Lexus and Proquest electronic data bases, using the keywords ACLU and autopsy, showed that at least 95 percent of the daily papers in the United States didn’t pick up the story.
Sources: “U.S. Operatives Killed Detainees During Interrogations in Afghanistan and Iraq,” American Civil Liberties website, Oct. 24, 2005.
“Tracing the Trail of Torture: Embedding Torture as Policy from Guantanamo to Iraq,” by Dahr Jamail. TomDispatch.com, March 5, 2006.
8. Pentagon Exempt from FOIA
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.
The rule could, for instance, frustrate the work of the ACLU and other organizations that have relied on FOIA to uncover more than 30,000 documents on the U.S. military’s involvement in the torture and mistreatment of foreign detainees in Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay and Iraq–including the Abu Ghraib scandal.
Several key documents that have surfaced in the advocacy organization’s expansive research originate from DIA files, including a 2004 memorandum containing evidence that U.S. military interrogators brutalized detainees in Baghdad, as well as a report describing the abuse of Iraqi detainees as violations of international human rights law.
According to Jameel Jaffer, an ACLU attorney involved in the ongoing torture investigations, “If the Defense Intelligence Agency can rely on exception or exemption from the FOIA, then documents such as those that we obtained this last time around will not become public at all.”
The end result of such an exemption, he told TheNewStandard.com, is that “abuse is much more likely to take place, because there’s not public oversight of Defense Intelligence Agency activity.”
Jaffer added that because the DIA conducts investigations relating to other national-security-related agencies, documents covered by the exemption could contain critical evidence of how other parts of the military operate as well.
The Newspaper Association of America informs that due to lobbying efforts of the Sunshine in Government Initiative and other open-government advocates, congressional negotiators imposed an unprecedented two-year “sunset” date on the Pentagon’s FOIA exemption, ending December 2007.
Source: “Pentagon Seeks Greater Immunity from Freedom of Information,” by Michelle Chen. TheNewStandard.com, May 6, 2005.
9. World Bank Funds Israel-Palestine Wall
Despite the 2004 International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision that called for tearing down the Wall and compensating affected communities, construction of the Wall has accelerated.
The route of the barrier runs deep into Palestinian territory, aiding the annexation of Israeli settlements and the breaking of Palestinian territorial continuity.
The World Bank’s vision of “economic development,” however, evades any discussion of the Wall’s illegality. …
Sources: “Cementing Israeli Apartheid: The Role of World Bank,” by Jamal Juma. Left Turn issue #18.
“US Free Trade Agreements Split Arab Opinion,” by Linda Heard. Al-Jazeera, March 9, 2005.
10. Expanded Air War in Iraq
There is widespread speculation that President Bush, confronted by diminishing approval ratings and dissent within his own party, as well as within the military itself, will begin pulling American troops out of Iraq this year.
A key element of the drawdown plans not mentioned in the president’s public statements, or in mainstream media for that matter, is that the departing American troops will be replaced by American airpower.
Writing in The New Yorker magazine, Seymour Hersh quotes Patrick Clawson, the deputy director of the Washington Institute, whose views often mirror those of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, as saying, “We’re not planning to diminish the war.
We just want to change the mix of the forces doing the fighting–Iraqi infantry with American support and greater use of airpower.”
While battle fatigue increases among U.S. troops, the prospect of using airpower as a substitute for American troops on the ground has caused great unease within the military.
Air Force commanders in particular have deep-seated objections to the possibility that Iraqis will eventually be responsible for target selection.
Hersh quotes a senior military planner now on assignment in the Pentagon as saying, “Will the Iraqis call in air strikes in order to snuff rivals or other warlords, or to snuff members of their own sect and blame someone else?
Will some Iraqis be targeting on behalf of al Qaida or the insurgency or the Iranians?”
Visions of a frightful future in Iraq should not overshadow the devastation already caused by present levels of American airpower loosed, in particular on heavily populated urban areas of that country.
The tactic of using massively powerful 500- and 1,000-pound bombs in urban areas to target small pockets of resistance fighters has, in fact, long been employed in Iraq.
No intensification of the air war is necessary to make it a commonplace.
Sources: “Up in the Air,” by Seymour M. Hersh. The New Yorker, Dec. 5, 2005.
“An Increasingly Aerial Occupation,” by Dahr Jamail. TomDispatch.com, December 2005.