Project Censored

Out of the Shadows

Project Censored points out the stories that the mainstream press neglected

By Peter Phillips

Perhaps the most censored subject of this year is the growing concern among both liberals and conservatives that a dangerous trend is emerging within our political institutions. This trend has a name that is proclaimed loudly within the alternative/ independent press, on both the right and the left, but is rarely mentioned in the editorial columns of our daily newspapers and only hinted at on network and cable television. Some call it jingoism; others, nationalism or, more strongly, fascism.

Therefore, many of the best investigations this year were preoccupied with the erosion of civil and human rights, our policies overseas, and the drive toward war. Yet the stories with the most significant findings went largely ignored by the mainstream corporate media. The deeper the analysis went, the more shallow the corporate coverage seemed to become.

Our 2003 edition reveals a reluctance on the part of many journalists since 9-11 to cover stories that, though truthful, may run counter to the current political climate.

Sonoma State University Project Censored students and staff screened several thousand stories over the year. Our 90 faculty and community evaluators are experts in their fields, and they rate the stories for credibility and national importance. Some 150 stories this year made it to the final voting level. Project-wide voting by over 150 people established the most important stories for Project Censored 2003. The top 25 stories were then ranked by our national judges, including Michael Parenti, Robin Andersen, Carl Jensen, Lenore Foerstel, and some 20 other national journalists, scholars, and writers.

The Neocon Plan for Global Dominance

(Sources: David Armstrong, “Dick Cheney’s Song of America,” Harper’s Magazine, October 2002; Robert Dreyfuss, “The Thirty-Year Itch,” Mother Jones, March 2003; John Pilger, “Hidden Agendas,”, Dec. 12, 2002.)

Following the end of the Cold War and just prior to the first Gulf War, President Bush Sr.’s pentagon advisers Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and Paul Wolfowitz put forth a plan suggesting that the United States expand and intensify its military superiority.

In 1992, Paul Wolfowitz’s draft of the Defense Planning Guidance for 1994-1999 not only called for the United States “to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival,” it warned that friends as well as enemies “need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests.” This included “access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil.”

During the Clinton years the neoconservatives founded the Project for the New American Century. The most influential product of the PNAC was a report entitled “Rebuilding America’s Defense,” which called for U.S. military dominance and control of global economic markets.

With the election of George W. Bush, the authors of the plan were returned to power. With the old Defense Planning Guidance as the skeleton, the three went back to the drawing board. The United States stands ready to invade any country deemed a possible threat to its economic interests. Over the last year, mainstream media rarely addressed the possibility that larger strategies might also have driven the decision to invade Iraq.

Homeland Security Threatens Civil Liberty

(Sources: Frank Morales, “Homeland Defense: Pentagon Declares War on America,” Global Outlook, Winter 2003; Alex Jones, “The Secret Patriot Act II Destroys What Is Left of American Liberty,”, Feb. 11, 2003, and Global Outlook, vol. 4; Charles Lewis and Adam Mayle, “Justice Department Drafts Sweeping Expansion of Terrorism Act,” Center for Public Integrity (

The new Department of Homeland Security combines over a hundred separate entities of the executive branch, including the Secret Service, the Coast Guard, and the U.S. Border Patrol, among others.

One DHS mandate largely ignored by the press requires the FBI, CIA, state, and local governments to share intelligence reports with the department upon command, without explanation. Civil rights activists claim that this endangers the rights and freedoms of law-abiding Americans by blurring the lines between foreign and domestic spying. According to the ACLU, the Department of Homeland Security will be “100 percent secret and zero percent accountable.”

As part of Homeland Security, the USA Patriot Act of 2001 allows the government increased and unprecedented access to the lives of American citizens and represents an unrestrained imposition on our civil liberties. The Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 (aka Patriot Act II) poses even greater hazards: a U.S. citizen engaging in lawful activity can be picked off the streets or from home and taken to a secret military tribunal with no access to or notification of a lawyer, the press, or family.

United States Illegally Removes Pages from Iraq U.N. Report

(Source: Michael I. Niman, “What Bush Doesn’t Want You to Know about Iraq,” The Humanist, March/April 2003 (also appears as “The Bush Administration Would Rather You Didn’t Know” in ArtVoice, Jan. 9, 2003). First covered by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!)

Throughout the winter of 2002, the Bush administration publicly accused Iraqi weapons declarations of being incomplete. The reality of this situation is that it was the United States itself that had removed over 8,000 pages of the original 11,800-page report.

The Iraq government sent out official copies of the report on Nov. 3, 2002. One, classified as “secret,” was sent to the International Atomic Energy Agency, and another copy went to the U.N. Security Council. The United States convinced Colombia, chair of the Security Council and current target of U.S. military occupation and financial aid, to look the other way while the report was removed, edited, and returned. Other members of the Security Council, such as Britain, France, China, and Russia, were implicated in the missing pages as well, and so had little desire to expose the United States’ transgression.

Perhaps most importantly, the missing pages contain information that could potentially make a case for war crimes against officials within the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations. This includes current Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for his collaboration with Saddam Hussein leading up to the massacres of Iraqi Kurds and acting as liaison for U.S. military aid during the war between Iraq and Iran.

Rumsfeld’s Plan to Provoke Terrorists

(Source: Chris Floyd, “Into the Dark,” CounterPunch, Nov. 1, 2002.)

According to the classified document “Special Operations and Joint Forces in Countering Terrorism,” prepared for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld by his Defense Science Board, a new organization has been created to thwart potential terrorist attacks on the United States. This counterterrorist operations group–the Proactive Preemptive Operations Group–will require 100 people and at least $100 million a year. The team of covert counterintelligence agents will be responsible for 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. This means that the United States government is planning to use secret military operations in order to provoke terrorist attacks on innocent people.

The Effort to Make Unions Disappear

(Sources: Lee Sustar, “Employers Attack; Unions Blink,” Z Magazine, Sept. 20, 2002; David Bacon, “Unions Face National Insecurity,” War Times, October/November 2002; Anne-Marie Cusac, “Brazen Bosses,” The Progressive, February 2003; Robert L. Borosage, “Class Warfare, Bush-Style,” The American Prospect, March 2003.)

Called the “most pro-corporate president in history,” George W. Bush, particularly since 9-11, has been engaged in a relentless yet largely covert effort to undermine labor unions and worker protections.

Immigrant workers have suffered the most from the “war on unions.” In the wake of 9-11, the Bush administration used the specter of national security to justify its attack on public-sector unions and to stall passage of the Homeland Security bill until receiving the right to exempt the 180,000 employees of the new department of most civil-service protections.

The Bush administration has announced plans to accelerate the process of contracting out federal work to private companies, putting the jobs of nearly 850,000 federal employees at risk. This invites antiunion, low-wage contractors to compete for what are now, in most cases, decent-paying union jobs with good benefits. But what went unreported is that this is proving to embolden conservative governors who are seeking wholesale privatization and deunionization of state and local workforces as well.

Closing Access to Information Technology

(Source: Arthur Stamoulis, “Slamming Shut Open Access,” Dollars and Sense, September 2002.)

The 7,000 Internet service providers available today are quickly being bought out by large monopolies that also control your local phone, cable, and, possibly, satellite Internet. A policy of open access currently makes it possible for people to choose between AOL, MSN, Jimmy’s Internet Shack, and thousands of other ISPs for dial-up Internet access. Phone companies would like to use their monopoly ownership of the phone wires to have total control over phone-based Internet services as well, but telecom regulations are in place to prevent this.

As the general shift from dial-up to broadband Internet access gets underway, the FCC is moving in with a series of actions that threaten to shut down open access. In 2002 the FCC decided to characterize high-speed cable Internet connection as an “information service” rather than a “telecommunications service.” This designation frees cable broadband from telecom rules, giving the cable companies that own broadband lines the ability to deny smaller ISP companies access over their cable lines. Cable itself is a monopoly in most towns; so anyone who signs up for cable Internet will typically have no choice but to use the cable company’s own ISP. Such degree of market control spells trouble for freedom of information on the Internet.

Treaty Busting by the United States

(Sources: Marylia Kelley and Nicole Deller, “Rule of Power or Rule of Law?” Connections, June 2002; John B. Anderson, “Unsigning the ICC,” The Nation, April 2002; Eamon Martin, editor, “U.S. Invasion Proposal Shocks the Netherlands,” Ashville Global Report, June 20-26, 2002; John Valleau, “Nuclear Nightmare,” Global Outlook, Summer 2002.)

The United States is a signatory to nine multilateral treaties that it has either blatantly violated or gradually subverted. The Bush administration is now outright rejecting a number of those treaties, and in doing so, places global security in jeopardy as other nations feel entitled to do the same. The rejected treaties include the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Treaty Banning Antipersonnel Mines, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, a protocol to create a compliance regime for the Biological Weapons Convention, the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The United States is also not complying with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Chemical Weapons Commission, the Biological Weapons Convention, and the U.N. framework Convention on Climate Change.

This unprecedented rejection of and rapid retreat from global treaties that have in effect kept the peace through the decades will not only continue to isolate U.S. policy, but will also render these treaties and conventions invalid without the support and participation of the world’s foremost superpower.

U.S./British Forces Continue Use of Depleted Uranium Weapons

(Sources: Dan Kapelovitz, “Toxic Troops: What Our Soldiers Can Expect in Gulf War II,” Hustler, June 2003; Reese Erlich, “The Hidden Killer,” Children of War radio program, March 2003.)

British and American coalition forces are using depleted uranium (DU) shells in the war against Iraq and deliberately flouting a U.N. resolution which classifies the munitions as illegal weapons of mass destruction.

Nobel Peace Prize candidate Helen Caldicott states that the tiny radioactive particles created when a DU weapon hits a target are easily inhaled through gas masks. The particles, which lodge in the lung, can be transferred to the kidney and other vital organs.

A U.N. report from August 2002 states that use of the DU weapons is in violation of numerous laws and U.N. conventions. Reportedly, more than 9,600 Gulf War veterans have died since serving in Iraq during the first Gulf war, a statistical anomaly. The Pentagon has blamed the extraordinary number of illnesses and deaths on a variety of factors. However, according to top-level U.S. Army reports and military contractors, “short-term effects of high doses [of DU] can result in death, while long-term effects of low doses have been implicated in cancer.”

Soldiers in the Gulf War were often required to enter battlefields unprotected and were never warned of the dangers. In effect, George Bush Sr. used weapons of mass destruction against his own soldiers.

In Afghanistan: Poverty, Women’s Rights, and Civil Disruption Worse Than Ever

(Sources: Ahmed Rashid, “Afghanistan Imperiled,” The Nation, Oct. 14, 2002; Pranjal Tiwari, “Afghanistan: Lies, Near Lies, and Horrible Truths,” Left Turn, February/March 2003; Jan Goodwin, “An Uneasy Peace,” The Nation, April 29, 2002; Chien-min Chung, “Childhood Burdens” (photo essay with text by Scott Carrier), Mother Jones, July/August 2002; Michele Landsberg, “Afghanistan Documentary Exposes Bush’s Promises,” Toronto Star, March 2, 2003.)

While all eyes have been turned to Iraq, the people of Afghanistan have continued to suffer in silence in what is considered to be their worst poverty in decades. They still have no new constitution, no new laws, and little food. Ethnic and political rivalries plague the country and the military power of the warlords has increased.

Despite the fanfare, little has changed for the average Afghan woman. Many women have yet to stop wearing the burqa due to fear of persecution, and the new Interior Ministry still requires women to receive permission from their male relatives before they travel.

As of July 2002 the life expectancy for the people of Afghanistan is 46 years. The average yearly income per capita is $280. After 23 years of war, the adult male population has been decimated, and many children have taken the place of their fathers and mothers as the breadwinners in their families; 90 percent of children are not in school. More than one out of every four children in Afghanistan will die before his or her fifth birthday.

In January 2002, the Tokyo Conference pledged $4.5 billion for reconstruction, of which donor nations promised $1.8 billion this year. Nearly one year later, barely 30 percent of what was promised had been delivered. The U.S. government’s own contribution has been half that of the European Union.

Africa Faces New Threat of Colonialism

(Sources: Michelle Robidoux, “NEPAD: Repackaging Colonialism in Africa,” Left Turn, July/August, 2002; Asad Ismi, “The Ravaging of Africa,” Briarpatch, vol. 32, no. 1, excerpted from The CCPA Monitor, October 2002; Dr. Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, “How (Not) to Feed Africa,” New Internationalist, January/February 2003.)

Africa is the most war-torn continent in the world. Over the past 15 years, 32 of Africa’s 53 countries experienced violent conflict. During the Cold War years, the United States sent $1.5 billion in arms and training to Africa, thus setting the stage for the current round of conflicts. Over the years, these U.S.-funded wars have been responsible for the deaths of millions, and the subsequent displacement, disease, and starvation of many millions more.

In June 2002, leaders from the eight most powerful countries in the world (the G8) met to form the New Partnership for Africa’s Development as an “antipoverty” campaign. Not one of the eight leaders was from Africa. The NEPAD attempts to employ Western development techniques to provide economic opportunities for international investment.

The United States currently gets 15 percent of its total oil imports from Africa. By 2015, that figure will be 25 percent. Rather than a plan to reduce African poverty, NEPAD is a mechanism for ensuring that U.S. and other Western investments are protected.


From the September 11-17, 2003 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.

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