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Memo to Mainstream Media


By Geov Parrish, Seattle Weekly

I have a three-word response to the media frenzy that followed revelation of the long-secret identity of Deep Throat: Downing Street Memo.

Here's what John Dean, a key Watergate figure, wrote about Dubya's case for the Iraq war in a June 2003 column for www.findlaw.com: "To put it bluntly, if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. . . . Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be a 'high crime' under the Constitution's impeachment clause."

That's exactly what the Downing Street Memo, first reported a month ago by The Times of London, proves. The memo is an account of the report given to British leadership by Richard Dearlove, head of Britain's MI-6 (the equivalent of the CIA), after a meeting with top White House officials. Dearlove described, fully eight months before the invasion of Iraq, an American determination to go to war and to manipulate public and congressional opinion with what Dearlove characterized as a "thin" case for the presence of weapons of mass destruction and links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

It's hard not to contrast the frenzy that greeted the revelation of a 30-year-old secret with the thudding indifference U.S. media have given the Downing Street Memo. The memo has scarcely been mentioned in the country's leading newspapers and has been completely ignored by evening network news.

The reasons are numerous, but it adds up to a depressing reminder that Watergate, as reported in 1972�74, would never be reported today. The same secrecy, paranoia, and demands for absolute loyalty that were the undoing of the Nixon administration have been used, in our modern media climate, with resounding success by the Bush administration. Media outlets today are far less willing to invest the time and money in investigative journalism, far less willing to rock the boat or risk being tagged with the dreaded "liberal media" tag. The right-wing firestorm that followed the miscues of Dan Rather and Newsweek has further cowed big media outlets from taking risks, but the barriers were already there, as Gary Webb could testify if he hadn't killed himself last December. The career costs can be enormous for enterprising journalists who want to take on power, and the likelihood that your publisher will back you up these days, as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein were backed up by The Washington Post, is unpredictable. Webb reported and wrote a series of stories about the CIA and crack cocaine for the San Jose Mercury News in 1996. Under a flurry of criticism, including from other mainstream newspapers, his editors backed away from the series' findings. Two years later, the CIA confirmed some of Webb's major findings.

The information needed to impeach George Bush for lying to Congress, the United Nations, and the American public about the most serious imaginable matter�the misuse of military force�is all out there. It's been reported, in foreign media, in the alternative press, in the margins. But it has not been championed by major media, and so it has not been taken to heart by either the American public or Congress. Bush and his aides intentionally lied about the case for mounting an unprovoked invasion of a sovereign country. The outcome has been a conflict that has so far left more than 1,400 American soldiers dead, many thousands more maimed, and has led to the deaths of an estimated 100,000 Iraqi civilians. The Downing Street Memo erases any doubt about the intentional nature of the disinformation campaign waged upon us to justify this war.

Obviously, a Republican-controlled Congress is not about to impeach its own president. Enormous public pressure would have to be brought to bear. But that public pressure has also been missing, starting with the media coverage. It's difficult to imagine, at this point, any sort of "smoking gun" sufficient to generate momentum against the Bush administration. Vietnam era dissident Daniel Ellsberg has been touring the country for the past year, urging federal officials within earshot to do as he did with the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War, which he leaked to The New York Times�to do as Deep Throat did with the Watergate cover-up, to leak to the press what they know of the Bush administration's misdeeds. But even that might not be enough, because there is no guarantee that the press would even carry, let alone highlight in proper context, such allegations.

We now know the identity of Deep Throat. Fine. But take a moment to mourn the fact that the courage and integrity displayed by Deep Throat would not be effective today, because there seems to be nobody in our country's major media willing to hear such secrets. We've lost an essential tool for accountability of our country's highest powers. They still lie and cheat�only, today, we no longer seem to care.

gparrish@seattleweekly.com

Columnist Geov Parrish is a regular guest on "Mind Over Matters" on KEXP-FM (90.3) Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. and provides news commentary on KBCS-FM (91.3) Fridays at 4:30 p.m.

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This article makes an accurate, and chilling, observation: that if Watergater were to have happened today there wouldn't be any kind of investigation, no impeachment proceedings, and no Nixon resignation. I find this to be the most appalling thing about the Bush theft of power and his heinous high crimes and misdemeanors committed during the last five years -- by far the blackest period in the history of the United States of America-- that the media and so many citizens in this country have just allowed him to. He can apparently commit just about any atrocity and it is not only accepted, it is supported by a majority of citizens here and completely ignored by the press. It sickens me to think that in a mere 30 years a majority has since devolved to this level of stupidity and cowardice that wouldn't have been imaginable in the 1970s. I am of the opinion that it has become necessary for those of us who see the difference and recognize what it means, who realize the ramifications of this dangerously idiotic mass mentality, and who cannot and will not ever go along with it, to leave what used to be our country. It is unrecognizable as the democracy run for free individuals with rights and liberty to pursue our happiness in privacy without fear of reprisal by our government. There is a pervasive undercurrent of a terrible vindictiveness and a radical right wing McCarthyism revival occurring that is not at all an atmosphere conducive to individual rights, to life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness, or to justice for all that never existed in this country prior to the Reagan/Bush era. We saw the eight year interlude of government perfectly run by Clinton between the theft of office by another Bush--just a branch off of the axis of evil we can clearly recognize now for what it is. That they plan for Jeb Bush to steal the office next is not a stretch for anyone with two brain cells to rub together. The handwriting is on the wall: if we do not figure out how to oust this (literal) son of a bitch that IS nothing but a fascist dictator, along with his Nazi gestapo regime, and fast, what we can expect from now on is one Bush Nazi after the other at the helm guaranteeing ours, our children's, and all their children to come after, lives of unpaid servitude to the likes of these 'evildoers' that so many have been mesmerized by. Those who, like me, are able to see through them and who despise them and say so openly will not be allowed to live--if you can call an existence of slavery living. I, for one, do not and I will not kow tow to any lowlife Bush or Bush clone; not now, not ever. Give me liberty or give me death. But, if we're smart--and I am--we will be getting the hell out of this hell while we can. Expatriots are multiplying in droves already, and it's easy to see the reason for the exodus out of the twilight zone we find ourselves in, one that really did used to be America, land of the free and home of the brave. It might look like America, but it is not America.Those supporting Bush's Nazis may look like human beings who are American citizens, but they are not. There is no way that any human being born in America, given the gift of freedom and liberty with the warning to remain ever vigilant against the federal government's intrusion into our private lives to the point we see them intruding in ours today. If you'll just go to any airport in this country where Americans are treated like we are the criminals who caused 9/11 instead of the only terrorist we have ever needed to be concerned about (clue # 1: He lives in the White House -- illegally, immorally, and unethically) you will see how far the intrusion goes already. Read the "Patriot Act" (if it weren't so serious that title would actually be funny); you will soon see what level this intrusion has reached and is now at the fingertips of the Gestapo Goon Squads at the local levels under this regime. A roving pack of killers operating above the law, shooting us while we pay them and supply their weapons and ammunition. But they, too, are on pedestals erected by these alien beings masquerading as Americans, a majority of the 'citizens' who therefore rule. We are going to have to prevail in getting action on the Downing Street Memo and get the impeachment proceedings going, or we are going to have to leave it to these imposters who will have succeeded in having taken over our country completely and irreversibly. That's exactly how I see it: it is a now or never, all or nothing, one way or the other situation that cannot be anything but all of it, our way, right now or else it will be nothing ever except their way which is utterly unacceptable to me.

And I have three words for Geov Parrish:

"Minutes, not memo."

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