March 17, 2003
Is One of Election 2000's GOP Goons Slated to Oversee the Media in Iraq?
On the heels of Kate Adie's claim that the U.S is threatening to shoot down satellite uplink positions of independent journalists stationed in Iraq (giving credence to her observation that the Pentagon is "entirely hostile to the free spread of information") comes news that:
a) The U.S military has constructed a $1.5 million media center in Qatar, and hired a Hollywood art director to create a high tech "Star Wars" type set that will be impressive to both American and al-Jazeera audiences alike.
b) George Allison, the Hollywood honcho who designed the $200,000 stage, most recently worked on the upcoming Kirk and Michael Douglas film, as well as on George Bush's "Corporate Responsibility" and other propaganda backdrops.
c) Former Bush campaign aide Jim Wilkinson, (forever seared into the American psyche as the spokesman for GOP Miami-based protesters clamoring to stop the Florida ballot re-count during the 2000 election) has been hired as Tommy Frank's top spokesperson at the media center, and will be responsible for overseeing 42 military public affairs officers charged with managing hundreds of international correspondents covering the war.
In other words, the media center that's been built by the military, has been designed, in part, by the Hollywood art director who adds the Orwellian ambiance to George Bush's speeches. And to make matters worse, this entire public affairs operation is headed Jim Wilkinson, one of the thugs who protested the Florida recount.
Ever the good soldier, (though a civilian, Wilkinson reportedly wears a military desert camouflage uniform to work), Wilkinson is poised to "manage" journalists working at the center, many of whom are currently enjoying Ritz-Carlton accommodations, open bars and free buffets and belly dancing. "It's a first-class war," said Peter Lloyd, correspondent for Australian Broadcasting Corp.
On one hand, you have Adie, a respected veteran BBC journalist saying she's "seen a complete erosion of any kind of acknowledgment that reporters should be able to report as they witness" and on the other, you have a former spokesman for the Republican National Congressional Committee directing fat and happy correspondents.
What is wrong with this picture?
"In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy," Chief Justice Black wrote, in his Pentagon Papers case opinion. "The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell."
The Founding Fathers certainly had a glorious vision, didn't they? It's a shame we've not fought harder to save it.
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