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Monday, June 12, 2006 

"Accept the personal risks of revealing the truth"

Today in the LA Times Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers, urged anybody in government who has access to them, to leak documents that would show the true story of how and why we invaded Iraq. This is pretty heady stuff for the MSM.

Today, there must be, at the very least, hundreds of civilian and military officials in the Pentagon, CIA, State Department, National Security Agency and White House who have in their safes and computers comparable documentation of intense internal debates - so far carefully concealed from Congress and the public - about prospective or actual war crimes, reckless policies and domestic crimes: the Pentagon Papers of Iraq, Iran or the ongoing war on U.S. liberties. Some of those officials, I hope, will choose to accept the personal risks of revealing the truth - earlier than I did - before more lives are lost or a new war is launched.

Haditha holds a mirror up not just to American troops in the field, but to our whole society. Not just to the liars in government but to those who believe them too easily. And to all of us in the public, in the administration, in Congress and the media who dissent so far ineffectively or who stand by as murder is being done and do nothing to stop it or expose it.

It is past time for Americans to summon the civil courage to face what is being done in their name and to refuse to be accomplices. We must force Congress and this president, or their successors if necessary, to act upon the moral proposition that the U.S. must stop killing men, women and children in Iraq, and must not begin to do so in Iran.

Neither the lives we have lost, nor the lives we have taken, give the U.S. any right to determine by fire and airpower who shall govern or who shall die in countries we have wrongly attacked.

Of course we do have documents galore out in the open, British documents. But does anybody care to investigate them seriously?

Heck, in early February we learned of a new document that pins George W. Bush right back to the wall of shame--the (British) minutes from the Jan. 31, 2003 meeting at the White House between Bush and Blair. At the meeting, Bush talks about trying to find a way to trick Hussein into starting a shooting war by setting up a U.S. spy plane to be shot down by Iraq.

From the new document, it was clear Bush had already decided to go to war, and it was just a question of finding the right pretext. In other words, the new "smoking gun" confirmed that the correct interpretation of the Downing Street Memo was exactly what the Iraq War critics had said it was.

The British press was all over the story. The U.S. media? Not so much. The Christian Science Moniter, San Diego Union Tribune, and Chicago Sun-Times quickly printed good articles on the British reports; the Associated Press too produced a story. Then, radio silence for weeks, as if the document really meant nothing more than business as usual in DC.

Then in late March out of the blue, the NY Times decided to publish a story on the "new" document. And then another flurry of media interest, and then again, nothing more.

So we have a pretty damning document already. Or do we? For some reason never revealed, the NY Times article by Don van Natta was NOT accompanied by publication of the actual minutes.

This, sad to say, perfectly encapsulates the contrast between American journalism of the 1970s and of today. In 1971, first the NY Times and then the Washington Post stepped forward to publish the immense, and rambling, texts we call the Pentagon Papers. In 2006, however, the NY Times has in its hand a short, decisive document on how and why we were dragged into another disastrous war--and they don't even bother to explain why they haven't published it!

Well, compare this to the sorry reporting on the Downing Street Memo in 2005. When we were conducting our media campaign one year ago at Daily Kos, I asked letter writers to urge all newspapers to publish that text in full. It was key to making the DSM a huge scandal in the U.S. And the result? However much they eventually did write about the DSM last June, almost no newspapers actually printed the damn text.

If they had, if even half the American population had read the full minutes from that July 23rd, 2002 war meeting, there's a reasonable chance the nation would have called for Bush's ouster. The document makes a powerful impression upon the reader.

So I fully welcome Ellsberg's call today for patriots to leak the most incriminating evidence they have access to. But, I have to wonder, would the newspapers print it even if they do?

Crossposted at Inconvenient News.

 posted by smintheus  # 7:49 PM  
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