Friday, September 09, 2005

Top Censored News Stories of 2004-05.
Project Censored at Sonoma State University announces the annual release of the most important under-covered stories of 2004-05. For full postings see: http://www.projectcensored.org/
For Interviews with Project Censored Spokespersons contact: Peter.Phillips@sonoma.edu

1. BUSH ADMINISTRATION MOVES TO ELIMINATE OPEN GOVERNMENT Common Dreams, September 14, 2004, New Report Details Bush Administration Secrecy, by Karen Lightfoot http://www.commondreams.org/news2004/0914-05.htm;
http://www.democrats.reform.house.gov/story.asp

The Bush administration has been working to make sure the public - and even Congress - can't find out what the government itself is doing. In the Fall of 2004, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) released an 81-page report that found that the feds have consistently "narrowed the scope and application" of the Freedom of Information Act, the Presidential Records Act, and other key public information laws. At the same time the government expanded laws blocking access to certain records - even creating new categories of "protected" information and exempting entire departments from public scrutiny.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives citizens the ability to file a request for specific information from a government agency and provides recourse in federal court if that agency fails to comply with FOIA requirements. Over the last two decades, beginning with Reagan, this law has become increasingly diluted and circumvented by each succeeding administration.

Under the Bush Administration, agencies make extensive and arbitrary use of FOIA exemptions such as those for classified information, privileged attorney-client documents and certain information compiled for law enforcement purposes.

Bush administration has even refused to release records to Congressional subcommittees or the Government Accountability Office. A few of the potentially incriminating documents being held secret from Congress include records of contacts between large energy companies and Vice President Dick Cheney's energy task force; White House memos pertaining to Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction; and reports describing torture at Abu Ghraib.

The Critical Infrastructure Information Act of 2002 (CIIA) as part of Homeland Security exempts from FOIA any information that is voluntarily provided to the federal government by a private party, if the information relates to the security of vital infrastructure. But under the act, even "routine communications by private sector lobbyists can be withheld from disclosure if the lobbyist asserts that the changes are related to the effort to protect the nation's infrastructure. Such a broad interpretation of CIIA could hide errors or misconduct by private-sector companies working with the Department of Homeland Security.

In March 2002, the Bush Administration reduced public access to information through FOIA by mandating that agencies safeguard any records having to do with "weapons of mass destruction." This included "information that could be misused to harm the security of our nation and the safety of our people," according to a memo by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. However, the memo did nothing to define these terms and agencies were left free to withhold virtually any information under the vague charge of "national security." In 2003, the Bush Administration won a new legislative exemption from FOIA for all National Security Agency "operational files." The Administration's main rationale for this new exemption is that conducting FOIA searches diverts resources from the agency's mission. Congressman Waxman describe the government secrecy moves as "an unprecedented assault on the laws that make our government open and accountable,"

2 MEDIA COVERAGE FAILS ON IRAQ: FALLUJAH AND THE CIVILIAN DEATHTOLL
Peacework, December 2004-January 2005, The Invasion of Fallujah: A Study in the Subversion of Truth" By Mary Trotochaud and Rick McDowell World Socialist Web Site, November 17, 2004, US Media Applauds Destruction of Fallujah, by David Walsh, The NewStandard, December 3, 2004, Fallujah Refugees Tell of Life and Death in the Kill Zone, by Dahr Jamail, The Lancet, October 29, 2004, Mortality Before and After the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, By Les Roberts, Riyadh Lafta, Richard Garfield, Jamal Khudhairi and Gilbert Burnham, The Lancet, October 29, 2004, The War in Iraq: Civilian Casualties, Political Responsibilities, by Richard Horton, The Chronicle of Higher Education, February 4, 2005, Lost Count, by Lila Guterman, Asheville Global Report, April 15, 2004, CNN to Al Jazeera: Why Report Civilian Deaths?"

Les Roberts, an investigator with the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, conducted a rigorous inquiry into pre- and post-invasion mortality in Iraq, sneaking into Iraq by lying flat on the bed of an SUV and training observers on the scene. The results were published in the Lancet, a prestigious peer-reviewed British medical journal, on Oct. 29, 2004 - Roberts and his team (including researchers from Columbia University and from Al-Mustansiriy University in Baghdad concluded that the death toll associated with the invasion and occupation of Iraq is about 100,000 civilians, and may be much higher. 95% of those deaths were caused by helicopter gunships, rockets, or other forms of aerial weaponry and more than half of the fatalities were women or children.

The study was done before the second invasion of Fallujah in the Fall of 2004. More than 83 percent of Fallujah's 300,000 residents fled the city. The people had nowhere to flee and ended up as refugees. Many families were forced to survive in fields, vacant lots, and abandoned buildings without access to shelter, water, electricity, food or medical care.

The 50,000 citizens who either chose to remain in the city or who were unable to leave were trapped by Coalition forces and were cut off from food, water and medical supplies Men between the ages of 15 and 45 were refused safe passage, and all who remained were treated as enemy combatants. Coalition forces cut off water and electricity, seized the main hospital, shot at anyone who ventured out into the open, executed families waving white flags while trying to swim across the Euphrates or otherwise flee the city. US forces shot at ambulances, raided homes and killed people who didn't understand English, rolled over injured people with tanks, and allowed corpses to rot in the streets and be eaten by dogs.

Medical staff and others reported seeing people, dead and alive, with melted faces and limbs, injuries consistent with the use of phosphorous bombs. As of December of 2004 at least 6,000 Iraqi citizens in Fallujah had been killed, and one-third of the city has been destroyed.

The International Committee for the Red Cross reported on December 23, 2004 that three of the city's water purification plants had been destroyed and the fourth badly damaged.

Not long after the "coalition" had embarked on its second offensive, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour called for an investigation into whether the Americans and their allies had engaged in "the deliberate targeting of civilians, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, the killing of injured persons, and the use of human shields," among other possible "grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions ... considered war crimes" under federal law.

Marjorie Cohn, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, executive vice president of the National Lawyers Guild, and the U.S. representative to the executive committee of the American Association of Jurists, has noted that the U.S. invasion of Fallujah is a violation of international law that the U.S. had specifically ratified: "They [US Forces] stormed and occupied the Fallujah General Hospital, and have not agreed to allow doctors and ambulances to go inside the main part of the city to help the wounded, in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions." Updates: English Al-Jazeera website at http://english.aljazeera.net/HomePage, and website at www.dahrjamailiraq.com, The World Tribunal on Iraq at www.worldtribunal.org

3. ELECTION FRAUD LIKELY IN 2004
In These Times, 02/15/05, A Corrupted Election, by Steve Freeman and Josh MitteldorfSeattle Post-Intelligencer, January 26, 2005, Jim Crow Returns To The Voting Booth, by GregPalast, Rev. Jesse Jackson www.freepress.org, Nov. 23, 2004, How a Republican Election Supervisor Manipulated the 2004 Central Ohio Vote, by Bob Fitrakis, Harvey Wasserman

On Nov. 2, 2004. Bush prevailed by 3 million votes despite exit polls that clearly projected Kerry winning by a margin of 5 million. The 8-million-vote discrepancy was well beyond the poll's recognized, less-than-1-percent margin of error. And when Freeman and Mitteldorf analyzed the data collected by the two companies that conducted the polls, they found concrete evidence of potential fraud in the official count.

The overall margin of error should statistically have been under one percent. But the official result deviated from the poll projections by more than five percent-a statistical impossibility of over a 100,000 to one.

"Exit polls are highly accurate," Steve Freeman, professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Organizational Dynamics, and Temple University statistician Josh Mitteldorf. "They remove most of the sources of potential polling error by identifying actual voters and asking them immediately afterward who they had voted for."

"Only in precincts that used old-fashioned, hand-counted paper ballots did the official count and the exit polls fall within the normal sampling margin of error. And "the discrepancy between the exit polls and the official count was considerably greater in the critical swing states.

Edison Media Research and Mitofsky International, the two companies hired to do the polling for the Nation Election Pool in a final report stated that the discrepancy was "most likely due to Kerry voters participating in the exit polls at a higher rate than Bush voters."

The corporate media widely reported that this proved the accuracy of the official count and a Bush victory. The body of the report, however, offers no data to substantiate this position. In fact, the report shows that Bush voters were more likely to complete the survey than Kerry voters. The report also states that the difference between exit polls and official tallies was far too great to be explained by sampling error, and that a systematic bias is implicated.

In precincts that were at least 80 percent for Bush, the average within-precinct error (WPE) was a whopping 10.0 percent-the numerical difference between the exit poll predictions and the official count.

Also, in Bush strongholds, Kerry received only about two-thirds of the votes predicted by exit polls. In Kerry strongholds, exit polls matched the official count almost exactly.

Greg Palast reported how in June 2004, well before the election, his co-author of "Jim Crow" Rev. Jesse Jackson brought him to Chicago to have breakfast with Vice-Presidential candidate John Edwards. The Reverend asked the Senator to read Palast's report of the "spoilage" of Black votes-one million African Americans who cast ballots in 2000 but did not have their votes register on the machines.

Edwards said he'd read it over after he'd had his bagel. Jackson snatched away his bagel. No read, no bagel. A hungry Senator was genuinely concerned-these were, after all, Democrats whose votes did not tally, and he shot the information to John Kerry. A couple of weeks later, Kerry told the NAACP convention that one million African-American votes were not counted in 2000, but in 2004 he would not let it happen again. But he did let it happen again. More than a million votes in 2004 were cast and not counted

For the rest of the top 25 see: http://www.projectcensored.org/

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