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Cheney - America's puppet-master

Headline Photo
Illustration by Josh Hagler

By Jessica Lee

Tuesday October 30, 2001

I was just 11 years old when the Persian Gulf War began. I remember sitting on the couch with my parents watching the video game-like images of offensive U.S. military coverage flash bright in our dark living room. It wasn't until 10 years later that I would learn how the First Amendment was a "smart bomb" target.

The reports we got from the Gulf War should make all Americans question the veracity of current news reports now about "The War on Terrorism."

Last week I had the privilege of speaking with the head of the UA department of journalism, Jacqueline Sharkey. She was an investigative journalist who helped bring to light the truths behind media coverage during the Panama and Grenada invasions. Those experiments with censoring media coverage during invasions set a twisted precedent on how the Gulf War was reported to the American public.

Dick Cheney, then Secretary of Defense and commando of the Pentagon, was responsible for the development of the "news-management model." Believing the United States lost the Vietnam War because "media coverage turned the American people against the conflict," Pentagon officials sought to construct a media model based, ironically, on a British system.

According to that model, the strategy should be: The government should sanitize the visual images of war, control media access to military theaters, censor information that could upset readers or viewers and exclude journalists who could not write favorable stories.

The adoption of that model disgustingly overwrote the free media rights that revolutionary Americans fought for against the British.

The First Amendment right to a free press and the public's right-to-know were without a doubt the first casualty of the Gulf War. Retired U.S. Army Col. David H. Hackworth, who covered the Gulf War for Newsweek, said in a 1991 interview, "The restrictions were a form of 'thought control' designed to influence public opinion about the conflict. The American people did not get the truth."

It was simple how the Pentagon controlled the flow of information in the gulf conflict. Media pools were erected to let only a limited amount of journalists into military areas. Reporters could only go where the Pentagon let them. Most of the information the public received came from Pentagon briefings.

Many argue that the Pentagon is justified in censoring media access and coverage in order to protect U.S. military lives. No trained journalist would disagree. But there is a difference between letting reporters document the event as it unfolds and forcing them to release their stories at a later date and denying media access to the event, period.

Navy Rear Adm. Eugene Carrol, vice president of the Center for Defense Information, a private research center focusing on correcting misleading information from the Gulf War, puts it blatantly: "Truth has a hard time catching up with the real-time falsehood."

Rep. Scott Klug, R-Wis., a former journalist, said in 1991 that "When information is rationed to the press, it gives the public the perception that the U.S. military is manipulating opinion."

"Without independent verification of Pentagon claims, I have no way of separating fact from fancy, wishful thinking from hard evidence," he said

And what about the hard evidence? Remember the smart bombs we saw blazing through the Iraqi night sky? It turns out they were "dumb" bombs that lacked any kind of guidance system. Pentagon analyst Pierre Sprey told the House Armed Services Committee in April 1991 that "for every missile that blew up a bridge, there were maybe 70 or 75 missiles that nobody was showing·that is a success rate, not of 85 percent, but under 1.5 percent."

The initial success-rate reports of the Tomahawk missiles did not state that they hit their target, but rather stated how many didn't get stuck in their launchers, said a report by Eric H. Arnett, a cruise-missile expert with the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

We should be extremely worried about media censorship now since Cheney, the guy who supports pushing restrictions so the "press doesn't screw us," is now vice president and virtually running the country under the puppet president, George Bush.

The founding fathers of our country created an indivisible fourth branch of government to function as yet another checks-and-balances system. It is not up to the government to report on itself. The second Americans rely on truth from one source, especially from a governmental body, then democracy dies, and autocracy is born.

Speak out against Cheney's media censorship. We the people need to demand the truth.


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