Sunday, February 20, 2005                                               The Daily Battle Against Subjectivity
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The Real Fake Media
SOTT

Just a few months ago, we watched a clip from the CNN show Crossfire when comedian Jon Stewart was a guest. The segment in which Stewart accused shows like Crossfire of "hurting America" is now pretty much famous. Shortly thereafter, CNN announced that it would be cutting ties with Crossfire host Tucker Carlson in addition to canceling the show itself.

What is so interesting about that whole scenario is that CNN could hardly be considered an "objective" source of information on the state of the world - or anything else, for that matter. Comedian Stewart, on the other hand, often cuts right through the lies and BS and presents the viewer with a funny and fairly accurate take on current events.

CNN mindlessly repeats and pushes upon the American public the same White House deceptions that other US media organizations seem to love so much. Missing is any real analysis or commentary on the "story behind the story". According to CNN, the war on terror is exactly what Bush says it is. 9/11 happened exactly the way that Bush said it happened. CNN never seriously mentions or investigates things like the Pentagon Strike, Israeli spies in the US, or the unusual collapse of the WTC towers - even those that weren't hit by airplanes - that seemed to coincide with as-yet unexplained seismic activity at the site.

These days, the lies are piled so deep on topics such as Iraq that the US media conveys more fiction than fact to the American public each day. Most news networks appear to be getting worse, with FOX leading with the highest propaganda index. In the article Frank Rich: Operation Iraqi Infoganda, we learn that this downward slide of the news in the US has other interesting components and effects:

This phenomenon has been good news for the Bush administration, which has responded to the growing national appetite for fictionalized news by producing a steady supply of its own. Of late it has gone so far as to field its own pair of Jayson Blairs, hired at taxpayers' expense: Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia, the "reporters" who appeared in TV "news" videos distributed by the Department of Health and Human Services to local news shows around the country. The point of these spots - which were broadcast whole or in part as actual news by more than 50 stations in 40 states - was to hype the new Medicare prescription-drug benefit as an unalloyed Godsend to elderly voters. They are part of a year-plus PR campaign, which, with its $124 million budget, would dwarf in size most actual news organizations.

When one real reporter, Robert Pear of The Times, blew the whistle on these TV "news" stories this month, a government spokesman defended them with pure Orwell-speak: "Anyone who has questions about this practice needs to do some research on modern public information tools." The government also informed us that Ms. Ryan was no impostor but an actual "freelance journalist." The Columbia Journalism Review, investigating further, found that Ms. Ryan's past assignments included serving as a TV shill for pharmaceutical companies in infomercials plugging FluMist and Excedrin. Given that drug companies may also be the principal beneficiaries of the new Medicare law, she is nothing if not consistent in her journalistic patrons. But she is a freelance reporter only in the sense that Mike Ditka would qualify as one when appearing in Levitra ads.

As for the mystery of Alberto Garcia's journalistic bonafides, it remains at this writing unresolved. His reporting career has not left a trace on any data bank. Perhaps he is the creation of Stephen Glass, the serial fantasist who once ruled the pages of The New Republic.

Back at Comedy Central, Jon Stewart was ambivalent about the government's foray into his own specialty, musing aloud about whether he should be outraged or flattered. One of his faux correspondents, though, was outright faux despondent. "They created a whole new category of fake news - infoganda," Rob Corddry said. "We'll never be able to keep up!" But Mr. Corddry's joke is not really a joke. The more real journalism declines, the easier it is for such government infoganda to fill the vacuum. [...]

Keeping this excerpt in mind, watch this CNN interview with Gannon/Guckert in which the fake reporter is grilled by the "real" CNN journalist.

Well, gee, didn't that all sound familiar?

The CNN anchor also seemed rather enthusiastic to fry Guckert up nice and crispy, thereby distancing "real" CNN reporters from the likes of Guckert, Ryan, and Garcia. On the other hand, in the following article, we discover that another more well-known CNN reporter was far kinder to Guckert. It is also interesting how it was the "fake media" in the form of bloggers who broke the Guckert story, and CNN is only playing catch-up - or is that patch-up?

Fake reporters, fake journalism, nonexistent credentials... It looks like "Gannongate" is certainly not an isolated incident. And the incident is certainly not what the White House would like us to believe...

And so, today we take a look at the Real Fake Media in the US, starting with another look at the story that Bush and Rove would like to see buried as quickly as possible.

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When real news debunks fake news
By Frank Rich
The New York Times
Saturday, February 19, 2005

NEW YORK - The prayers of those hoping that real television news might take its cues from Jon Stewart were finally answered on Feb. 9, 2005. A real newsman borrowed a technique from fake news to deliver real news about fake news in prime time.

Let me explain.

On "Countdown," a nightly news hour on MSNBC, the anchor, Keith Olbermann, led off with a bit in the classic style of Stewart's classic "Daily Show": a rapid-fire montage of sharply edited video bites illustrating the apparent idiocy of those in Washington. In this case, the eight clips stretched over a year in the White House briefing room - from February 2004 to late last month - and all featured a reporter named "Jeff." In most of them, the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, says "Go ahead, Jeff," and "Jeff" responds with a softball question intended not to elicit information but to boost President George W. Bush and smear his political opponents. In the last clip, "Jeff" is quizzing the president himself, in his first post-inaugural press conference of Jan. 26. Referring to Harry Reid and Hillary Rodham Clinton, "Jeff" asks, "How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"

If we did not live in a time when the news culture itself is divorced from reality, the story might end there: "Jeff," you'd assume, was a lapdog reporter from a legitimate, if right-wing, news organization like Fox, and you'd get some predictable yuks from watching a compressed video anthology of his kissing up to power. But as Olbermann explained, "Jeff Gannon," the star of the montage, was a newsman no more real than a "Senior White House Correspondent" like Stephen Colbert on "The Daily Show." Yet the video broadcast by Olbermann was not fake. "Jeff" was in the real White House, and he did have those exchanges with the real McClellan and the real Bush.

"Jeff Gannon's" real name is James Guckert. His employer was a Web site called Talon News, staffed mostly by volunteer Republican activists. Media Matters for America, the liberal press monitor that has done the most exhaustive research into the case, discovered that Talon's "news" often consists of recycled Republican National Committee and White House press releases, and its content frequently overlaps with another partisan site, GOPUSA, with which it shares its owner, a Texas delegate to the 2000 Republican convention. Nonetheless, for nearly two years the White House press office had credentialed Guckert, even though, as Dana Milbank of The Washington Post explained on Olbermann's show, he "was representing a phony media company that doesn't really have any such thing as circulation or readership."

How this happened is a mystery that has yet to be solved. "Jeff" has now quit Talon News not because he and it have been exposed as fakes but because of other embarrassing blogosphere revelations linking him to sites like hotmilitarystud9.com and to an apparently promising career as an X-rated $200-per-hour "escort." But it shouldn't distract from the real question - that is, the real news - of how this fake newsman might be connected to a White House propaganda machine that grows curiouser by the day. Though McClellan told Editor & Publisher magazine that he didn't know until recently that Guckert was using an alias, Bruce Bartlett, a White House veteran of the Reagan-Bush I era, wrote on the nonpartisan journalism Web site Romenesko that "if Gannon was using an alias, the White House staff had to be involved in maintaining his cover." (Otherwise, it would be a rather amazing post-9/11 security breach.)

Comment: McClellan's claim that he didn't know Guckert was using an alias is actually a pretty smooth move. Now, the rapidity with which the White House is trying to bury this story can simply be written off by less curious and skeptical Americans as embarrassment over such an "amazing post-9/11 security breach".

By my count, "Jeff Gannon" is now at least the sixth "journalist"to have been a propagandist on the payroll of either the Bush administration or a barely arms-length ally like Talon News while simultaneously appearing in print or broadcast forums that purport to be real news. Of these six, two have been syndicated newspaper columnists paid by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the administration's "marriage" initiatives. The other four have played real newsmen on TV. Before Guckert and Armstrong Williams, the talking head paid $240,000 by the Department of Education, there were Karen Ryan and Alberto Garcia. Let us not forget these pioneers - the Woodward and Bernstein of fake news. They starred in bogus reports pretending to "sort through the details" of the administration's Medicare prescription-drug plan in 2004. Such "reports," some of which found their way into news packages distributed to local stations by CNN, appeared in more than 50 news broadcasts around the country and have now been deemed illegal "covert propaganda" by the Government Accountability Office.

Comment: CNN distributed illegal covert propaganda - so much for objective reporting!

The money that paid for both the Ryan-Garcia news packages and the Armstrong Williams contract was siphoned through the same huge public relations firm, Ketchum Communications, which itself filtered the funds through subcontractors. A new report by Congressional Democrats finds that Ketchum has received $97 million of the administration's total $250 million PR kitty, of which the Williams and Ryan-Garcia scams would account for only a fraction. We have yet to learn precisely where the rest of it ended up.

Even now, we know that the fake news generated by the six known shills is only a small piece of the administration's overall propaganda effort. Bush wasn't entirely joking when he called the notoriously meek March 6, 2003, White House press conference on the eve of the Iraq invasion "scripted" while it was still going on. Everything is scripted.

There were the pre-fab "Ask President Bush" town hall-style meetings during last year's campaign. A Pentagon Office of Strategic Influence, intended to provide propagandistic news items, some of them possibly false, to foreign news media was shut down in 2002 when it became a political liability. But much more quietly, another Pentagon propaganda arm, the Pentagon Channel, has recently been added as a free channel for American viewers of the Dish Network.

It is a brilliant strategy. When the Bush administration isn't using taxpayers' money to buy its own fake news, it does everything it can to shut out and pillory real reporters who might tell Americans what is happening in what is, at least in theory, their own government.

Conservatives, who supposedly deplore postmodernism, are now welcoming in a brave new world in which it's a given that there can be no empirical reality in news, only the reality you want to hear (or they want you to hear). For a case in point, you needed only switch to CNN on the day after Olbermann did his fake-news-style story on the fake reporter in the White House press corps.

"Jeff Gannon" had decided to give an exclusive TV interview to a sober practitioner of real news, Wolf Blitzer. Given this journalistic opportunity, the anchor asked questions almost as soft as those "Jeff" himself had asked in the White House. Blitzer didn't question Guckert's outrageous assertion that he adopted a fake name because "Jeff Gannon is easier to pronounce and easier to remember." (Is "Jeff" easier to pronounce than his real first name, Jim?) Blitzer never questioned Gannon/Guckert's assertion that Talon News "is a separate, independent news division" of GOPUSA.

The "real" news from CNN was no news at all, but it's not as if any of its competitors did much better. The "Jeff Gannon" story got less attention than another media frenzy - that set off by the veteran news executive Eason Jordan, who resigned from CNN after speaking recklessly at a panel discussion at Davos, where he apparently implied, at least in passing, that American troops deliberately targeted reporters. Is the banishment of a real newsman for behaving foolishly at a bloviation conference in Switzerland a more pressing story than that of a fake newsman gaining years of access to the White House (and network TV cameras) under mysterious circumstances? As Olbermann demonstrated when he borrowed a sharp "Daily Show" tool to puncture the "Jeff Gannon" case, the only road back to reality may be to fight fake with fake.

Comment: The contrast between Anderson Cooper's questioning of Guckert (see video above) and the gentle pat on the back provided by CNN heavyweight Wolf Blitzer is certainly noteworthy. Perhaps Cooper missed the memo from CNN executives ordering the burial of Gannongate. Either way, no harm has been done. Blitzer simply toed the line as usual, and Cooper's pointed questions didn't seem to result in any sort of uproar over the scandal.

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Gannongate threatens to expose a huge GOP pedophile and male prostitution ring
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer
February 18, 2005

Now that is has been discovered that "Jeff Gannon" (real name James D. Guckert), a "reporter" for Talon News Service, a front operation run by the conservative Republican-oriented GOPUSA.com, was using an alias as a cleared White House reporter, details are emerging that threaten to immerse the Bush administration in a major scandal.

"Gannongate," which is only now being mentioned by the mainstream news media, threatens to expose a potentially damaging GOP pedophile and male prostitution ring dating back to the 1980s and the administration of George H. W. Bush. James D. Guckert, using the name Jeff Gannon and possibly other aliases, was also running gay porn sites, one with a U.S. Marine Corps theme that solicited males for prostitution.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said he did not realize Gannon was using an alias until recently. However, rumors in the gay community are circulating about McClellan frequenting gay bars in Austin, Texas.

Gannon bypassed established Secret Service security controls, including a background check requiring a social security number, to obtain a White House press pass that identified him by an alias, an action seen by many seasoned Washington journalists as only being possible if he had favorable treatment from White House staff, especially McClellan and his predecessor, Ari Fleischer. One White House reporter expressed revulsion over the fact that it was Fleischer who took away press credentials from the late long-time White House correspondent Sarah McClendon and handed them to Gannon.

GOPUSA.com is run by a right-wing Texan and Bush friend named Bobby Eberle. In 2003, GOPUSA.com launched a vicious anti-Semitic attack against international financier George Soros, a leading philanthropist for progressive causes and a major contributor to the Democratic Party.

In 2003, Gannon was reportedly given access by White House staff to a classified State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research memorandum regarding a CIA meeting involving the dispatch of former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger to investigate claims, which turned out to be false, that Iraq had attempted to procure yellowcake uranium from the West African country. The Wilson case ultimately led to a leak to the media by unnamed White House staff of Wilson's wife's name and identity as a covert CIA agent.

It was also revealed that Jeffgannon.com had been registered by the same Delaware-based company that had registered other Republican-oriented web sites, along with those catering to pornographic military gay themes and male escort services.

TalonNews.com and GOPUSA.com are both registered to Endeavor Media Group LLC, operating from Post Office Box 891354 in Houston, Texas. The phone number provided is 999-999-9999. The registrant for a series of web sites, including Jeffgannon.com, Theconservativeguy.com, Exposejessejackson.com, Militaryescorts.com, militaryescortsm4m.com, and hotmilitarystud.com is Bedrock Corporation of 4001 Kennett Pike in Wilmington, Delaware. Bedrock is owned by Jim Guckert, the apparent real identity of Jeff Gannon. The administrative contact for Bedrock was listed as "J. Daniels," possibly another alias.

After the Gannon story broke, militaryescorts.com and hotmilitarystud.com were redirected to a secure log-in site at Cupertino, California-based www.dividezero.net/, which was registered to GKG.Net, which had a contact email in College Station, Texas, the home of Texas A&M University and the George H.W. Bush presidential library. Dividezero.net had a secure log-in window but no subscription information. Experts who track illegal content on the web, including child pornography, report that such sites are common where log-in information is provided separately by regular mail so that the identities of subscribers cannot be easily tracked by online enrollment and entry of credit card information.

Gannongate is reminiscent of a huge political scandal that surfaced in Nebraska in 1989 when it was learned that Lawrence King, the head of Franklin Community Credit Union in Omaha and a rising African American star in the GOP (he sang the national anthem at George H. W. Bush's 1988 nominating convention in New Orleans), was a kingpin—along with top Republicans in Nebraska and Washington, DC, including George H. W. Bush—in a child prostitution and pedophilia scandal. King was later convicted and jailed for fraud but pedophile and prostitution charges were never brought against him and other Nebraska Republican businessmen and politicians.

The scandal, investigated by Nebraska State Senator Loran Schmit, his assistant John DeCamp (a former GOP state senator), State Senate Committee investigator Gary Caradori, and former CIA Director William Colby, reached the very top echelons of the George H. W. Bush administration and GOP. Child prostitutes from Boys Town and other orphanages in Nebraska as well as children procured from China were reportedly flown to Washington for sexcapades with Republican politicians. GOP lobbyist Craig Spence and a number of GOP officials in the administration and Congress were implicated in the scandal, including Labor Secretary Elizabeth Dole's liaison to the White House. Young male members of the military in Washington, DC, were particularly sought after by the prostitution ring. During the early 1980s, a number of naval officers were implicated in a child pornography ring that extended from Oregon to the San Francisco Bay area and to Chicago and Washington, DC. The story about that ring was covered up by then-Secretary of the Navy John Lehman.

The Nebraska pedophile scandal was similarly covered up on orders from the highest levels of power in the senior Bush White House. Caradori and his young son were killed in a suspicious plane crash in Illinois in 1990. Colby was found floating dead in the Chesapeake Bay, near his home, in 1996. Craig Spence allegedly committed suicide in 1989. Witnesses, many of whom were abused themselves, were intimidated and subsequently jailed in Nebraska and the investigation of the pedophile scandal eventually collapsed. The entire military aspect of the King-Spence scandal is now being repeated in Washington in Gannongate.

Last year, a senior source on the Washington Times editorial staff (the same paper that broke the GOP pedophile scandal in 1989) linked White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove to gay activities involving top Republican political strategists in Washington, DC.

Gannon (Guckert) has been a major player in GOP and fundamentalist Christian politics in Washington and around the country. In 2004, "Jeff Gannon" was a featured speaker at a Capitol Hill Bible reading sponsored by anti-abortion Operation Rescue head Reverend Rob Schenk. [...]

Gannon hosted a web-based radio program called "Jeff Gannon's Washington," broadcast on his own web site, Jeffgannon.com, and Righttalk.com, a conservative GOP site whose registrant is based in Watsonville, California. Gannon's only journalism credentials were his attendance at a two-day seminar at the Leadership Institute's Broadcast School of Journalism in Arlington, Virginia. The head of the Leadership Institute is Morton Blackwell, a former Reagan administration official and a one-time head of the College Republicans, a post that Karl Rove also filled.

Gannon seemed particularly interested in South Dakota politics. GOP Senate candidate John Thune appeared on Gannon's radio webcast program. On February 4, 2004, while being served softball questions by Gannon, Thune called Daschle an "obstructionist and antagonist to President Bush." [...]

Gannon was also wired into the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI). He wrote a pro-Iraq war article for the March 1, 2004, issue of their magazine, American Enterprise. AEI employs such ardent neo-conservative figures as Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, and Lynne Cheney. Ironically, many of Gannon's articles were anti-gay rights, such as one that insinuated that John Kerry's "pro-homosexual platform" would make him the nation's "first gay president."

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist, author, and columnist. He is the author of the forthcoming book, "Jaded Tasks: Big Oil, Black Ops & Brass Plates" and wrote "Genocide & Covert Operations in Africa: 1993-1999" (Mellen Press).

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Rove-Gannon Connection?
CBSNews.com
Feb. 18, 2005

WASHINGTON - Karl Rove took a victory lap at an SRO lunch at the Conservative Political Action Committee meeting at the Ronald Reagan building in Washington on Thursday. After a glowing introduction by Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association, Rove proclaimed "conservatism as the dominant political creed in America," but warned Republicans not to get complacent or grow "tired and timid." He recalled the dark days when the Democrats were dominant and cautioned that that could happen again if they let down their guard. The new White House deputy chief of staff also called on conservatives to "seize the mantle of idealism."

Tired and timid are two adjectives never applied to Rove. The architect of the Bush victories in 2000 and 2004 came through the ranks of college Republicans with the late Lee Atwater, and their admitted and alleged dirty tricks are the legends many young political operatives dream of pulling off. So when Jeff Gannon, White House "reporter" for Talon "News," was unmasked last week, the leap to a possible Rove connection was unavoidable. Gannon says that he met Rove only once, at a White House Christmas party, and Gannon is kind of small potatoes for Rove at this point in his career.

But Rove's dominance of White House and Republican politics, Gannon's aggressively partisan work and the ease with which he got day passes for the White House press room the past two years make it hard to believe that he wasn't at least implicitly sanctioned by the "boy genius." Rove, who rarely gave on-the-record interviews to the MSM (mainstream media), had time to talk to GOPUSA, which owns Talon.

GOPUSA and Talon are both owned by Bobby Eberle, a Texas Republican and business associate of conservative direct-mail guru Bruce Eberle who says that Bobby is from the "Texas branch of the Eberle clan." Bobby Eberle told The New York Times that he created Talon to build a news service with a conservative slant and "if someone were to see 'GOPUSA,' there's an instant built-in bias there." No kidding.

Some of the real reporters in the White House pressroom were apparently annoyed at Gannon's presence and his softball, partisan questions, but considered him only a minor irritant. One told me he thought of Gannon as a balance for the opinionated liberal questions of Hearst's Helen Thomas. But what Gannon was up to was not just writing opinion columns or using a different technique to get information. He was a player in Republican campaigns and his work in the South Dakota Senate race illustrates the role he played. It is also a classic example of how political operatives are using the brave new world of the Internet and the blogosphere. Gannon and Talon News appear to be mini-Drudge reports; a "news" source which partisans use to put out negative information, get the attention of the bloggers, talk radio and then the MSM in a way that mere press releases are unable to achieve. [...]

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A hireling, a fraud and a prostitute

Bush's agent in the press corps has given spin a new level of meaning
Sidney Blumenthal
The Guardian
Thursday February 17, 2005

The White House press room has often been a cockpit of intrigue, duplicity and truckling. But nothing challenges the most recent scandal there.

The latest incident began with a sequence of questions for President Bush at his January 26 press conference. First, he was asked whether he approved of his administration's payments to conservative commentators. Government contracts had been granted to three pundits, who had tried to keep the funding secret. "There needs to be a nice, independent relationship between the White House and the press," said the president as he called swiftly on his next questioner.

Jeff Gannon, Washington bureau chief of Talon News, rose from his chair to attack Democrats in the Congress. "How are you going to work - you said you're going to reach out to these people - how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"

For almost two years, in the daily White House press briefings Gannon had been called upon by press secretary Scott McClellan to break up difficult questioning from the rest of the press. On Fox News, one host hailed him as "a terrific Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent". Gannon was frequently quoted and highlighted as an expert guest on rightwing radio shows. But who was Gannon? [...]

His real name, it turned out, is James Dale Guckert. He has no journalistic background whatsoever. His application for a press credential to cover the Congress was rejected. But at the White House the press office arranged for him to be given a new pass every single day, a deliberate evasion of the regular credentialing that requires an FBI security check. [...]

Comment: One does not deliberately evade an FBI security check in such a manner unless someone in a position of power is doing some serious string pulling. As Bush's political mastermind, it is highly doubtful that Rove didn't at least know what was going on.

Thus a phony journalist, planted by a Republican organisation, used by the White House press secretary to interrupt questions from the press corps, protected from FBI vetting by the press office, disseminating smears about its critics and opponents, some of them gay-baiting, was unmasked not only as a hireling and fraud but as a gay prostitute, with enormous potential for blackmail.

The Bush White House is the most opaque - allowing the least access for reporters - in living memory. Every news organisation has been intimidated, and reporters who have done stories the administration finds discomfiting have received threats about their careers. The administration has its own quasi-official state TV network in Fox News; hundreds of rightwing radio shows, conservative newspapers and journals and internet sites coordinate with the Republican apparatus.

Inserting an agent directly into the White House press corps was a daring operation. Until his exposure, he proved useful for the White House. But the longer-term implication is the Republican effort to sideline an independent press and undermine its legitimacy. "Spin" seems quaint. "In this day and age," said press secretary McClellan, waxing philosophical about the Gannon affair, "when you have a changing media, it's not an easy issue to decide or try to pick and choose who is a journalist." It is not that the White House press secretary cannot distinguish who is or is not a journalist; it is that there are no journalists, just the gaming of the system for the concentration of power.

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Who is "Jeff Gannon?"
LewisNews
2/16/2005 6:25:00 PM - Columnist

It is quite obvious who "Jeff Gannon" is, he is an artificial construct of the modern, corporate media talking head. Of the (mostly) young and beautiful "news" reciters who greet America every night with plastic smiles, perpetually recycled humor, and "insightfully" insipid commentary, they are ALL Jeff Gannons.

Unfortunately for male prostitute James Guckert, the neo-con handlers he contracted to work for were entirely too amateurish, AND THAT is why he got caught, because the blackmail info they had on him was entirely too traceable by anybody else with just a few extra internet-related brain cells ... or perhaps, just maybe, J. Guckert/Gannon's outing was entirely intentional.

Comment: Given the earlier article on prostitution and pedophilia networks involving Bush Sr's administration and possibly Daddy Bush himself, we suspect that Gannongate involves something far more insidious that the author of this article is willing to admit.

As the expanding Terror-war in Iraq and Afghanistan increasingly becomes more dangerous to even minimal prosperity in America (not to mention threatening human species survival), more and more talking heads are beginning to look entirely too uncomfortable shilling out the same old propaganda lies every night. Because of this, the war hard-on neo-cons of America have perceived the need for a very well advertised and practical example of what WILL happen to a shill when HIS(/her) dirty little secret is "outed."

WHENEVER a charlatan is telling blatant lies, to be at least minimally successful, he has to at least look like he believes what's being regurgitated. Rest assured, the whore talking heads of America's network news now have a fresh cause to really get into "acting the part."

And ALL OF THEM have some well documented dark, dirty little secret THAT
-- upon being well advertised in the public domain -- WILL destroy their lives if they EVER stand up to their bosses, causing it to be outed. THIS is solely why their corporate bosses have hired them.

As people with a secret past who are forever intended to be NOTHING MORE than "newsinfotainment" whores.

Dan

Comment: Despite our slightly different perspective on the Guckert affair, the author does present an interesting point about the blackmail of news reporters. But the blackmail itself need not be as dark and dirty as one may think.

In a controlled media, refusing to get in line and spread the government-approved propaganda of the day can result in the loss of a promotion - or even one's job. It is highly likely that many reporters and their staff continue to do their jobs for very practical reasons, like feeding their families. A mark against them from a former employer that just happens to be a major news outlet could spell career suicide.

And yet, the problem goes far deeper than that. The CIA, for example, has been manipulating US news networks for many years. Sure, Gannon/Guckert has been kicked out of the loop, but Guckert's roll should have been incredibly obvious - and yet it was only after two years that he was finally "discovered".

In any case, we can all rest assured that the US media will not change, and neither will the Neocons and Zionists currently steering the US itself. The propaganda machine will simply switch gears.

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Washington Post relegates new proof of torture to page 16
The Raw Story
2/18/2005

Nation’s largest newspapers play down a thousand pages of evidence of new torture

The Washington Post, apparently jaded by month after month of reports of torture of Iraq, Afghan, and prisoners held by Americans in various other countries, relegated a thousand pages of new torture documents to page A-16 of Friday’s paper. [...]

The New York Times also dumped the story deep into the A-section, with a meager 633 words.

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Fibbing It Up at Fox
by Dale Steinreich
June 13, 2003

"Flat out lies should be confronted"
- Bill O'Reilly; Fox News Channel; May 22, 2003

Since the Iraq conflict began on March 20, Fox News has been on a mission to legitimize it. One problem for Fox's protracted apologia is that despite promises of evidence of current weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) by the Bush Administration, the evidence has been ambiguous at best. Unfortunately for the network, I’ve been keeping a scratch diary of their reports since the war began.

Keep in mind that in the first three weeks of March, before the bombs started officially dropping, Fox was spreading all sorts of Pentagon propaganda. Iraq had "drones" that it could quickly dispatch to major U.S. metropolitan areas to spread biological agents. Saddam was handing out chemical weapons to the Republican guard to use against coalition troops in a last-ditch red-zone ring around Baghdad. Given what we now know about Iraq, these reports seem to be laughable fantasies, but they were effective in securing public backing for the war.

The following is a short chronicle of lies, propagation of lies, exaggerations, distortions, spin, and conjecture presented as fact. My comments are in brackets [ ]s.

March 14: On The Fox Report anchor Shepard Smith reports that Saddam is planning to use flood water as a weapon by blowing up dams and causing severe flood damage.

March 19: Fox anchor Shepard Smith reports that Iraqis are planning to detonate large stores of napalm buried deep below the earth to scorch coalition forces. Fox Military Analyst Major Bob Bevelacqua states that coalition forces will drop a MOAB on Saddam's bunker [!!] and give him the "Mother of All Sunburns."

[After my last article, one sniveling neocon after another wrote me to tell me I was unqualified to assess defense matters because I wasn't a "defense analyst" (never mind that the article wasn't on the war, and the "real" defense experts made one wrong prediction after another on this war). It's interesting how these sniveling Frumsters cheer on the college-uneducated Hannity and Limbaugh when they make defense analyses supporting the neocon view. I do know enough to say that the informed Bevelacqua's suggestion that a MOAB would be used on a bunker was puzzling to say the least (given the reports of less-than-dazzling performance of daisy cutters outside caves in Tora Bora). Anyway, later reports confirmed that GBU-28 bunker busters were used during The Decapitation That Apparently Failed.]

March 23: The network begins 2 days of unequivocal assertions that a 100-acre facility discovered by coalition forces at An Najaf is a chemical weapons plant. Much is made about the fact that it was booby trapped. A former UN weapons inspector interviewed on camera over the phone downplays the WMD allegations and says that booby-trapping is common. His points are ignored as unequivocal charges of a chemical weapons facility are made on Fox for yet another day (March 24). Only weeks later is it briefly conceded that the chemicals definitively detected at the facility were pesticides.

[Jennifer Eccleston has to be the worst reporter employed by any network. She began one segment with a "Hi there!" – in no response to any segue from the relaying anchor at Fox headquarters in New York. Her bangs are long and constantly blowing in her face in the wind. Her head wobbles from side to side with her nose tracing out a figure 8 all the while arbitrarily syncopating a monotone voice with overemphasis on the last syllables of different words (e.g., Bagh-DAD’). The old, white-haired flag-waving yahoos like her not for her professionalism – she has none – but because of her innocent Britney Spearsesque beauty; i.e., she's a typical young piece of meat which dirty old men with too much time on their hands fantasize about.]

March 24: Oliver North reports that the staff at the French embassy in Baghdad are destroying documents. [How could he know this?]

March 24: Fox and Friends. Anchor Juliet Huddy asks Colonel David hunt why coalition forces don't "blow up" Al Jazeera TV. [The context of the discussion makes it clear that she doesn't know the difference between Al Jazeera and Iraqi TV!!!! Juliet Huddy is a beautiful woman but not very bright.]

March 28: Repeated assertions by Fox News anchors of a red ring around Baghdad in which Republican Guard forces were planning to use chemical weapons on coalition forces. A Fox "Breaking News" flash reports that Iraqi soldiers were seen by coalition forces moving 55-gallon drums almost certainly containing chemical agents.

April 7: Fox, echoing NPR, reports that U.S. forces near Baghdad have discovered a weapons cache of 20 medium-range missiles containing sarin and mustard gas. Initial tests show that the deadly chemicals are not "trace elements."

[In the coming weeks, this embarrassing non-discovery is quickly stomped down the Memory Hole. The missiles were never mentioned again.]

April 9: The crowd around coalition troops toppling the Saddam statue in Baghdad looks strangely sparse despite the network's assertions to the contrary. The perspective is always in close and even then there is no mob storming the statue to hit it with their shoes. Just a handful of people. It's constantly asserted that there's a huge crowd. [I'm perplexed. Where's the huge crowd?!]

April 10: Fox "Breaking News" report of weapons-grade plutonium found at Al Tuwaitha. [In the coming weeks this "discovery" was expeditiously shoved down the Memory Hole as well.]

April 10 (2:59 EDT): A report noting with surprise "how little" the Iraqis were celebrating the coalition invasion. [An interesting contradiction of the allegations of widespread celebration just the day before with the toppling of the Saddam statue.]

April 10 (3 p.m. EDT: Reporter Rick Leventhal) Fox "Breaking News" report: A mobile bioweapons lab is found. Video of a tiny tan truck—about the size of the smallest truck that U-Haul rents – which had its cargo bed and fuel tank shot up with bullets after a looter tried to drive it away. Repeated assertions that this is most definitely a "bioweapons" lab. A graphic sequence is shown of a large Winnebago-type vehicle that is massive compared to the tiny truck found. The irony of this escapes the Fox newscasters and defense "experts."

[This was the first "bioweapons lab" found, not the larger one later found in Mosul. A week later it is briefly conceded that the tiny truck was probably never a bio weapons lab, but promises that real ones will pour forth from the landscape continue. The second phantom lab, a large tractor-trailer truck was discovered around May 2 by Kurdish fighters.]

April 10: To show that France is in bed with Saddam Hussein, Fox begins running old footage of Saddam Hussein's September 1975 trip to Paris to meet with Jacques Chirac and tour a nuclear power plant. [Because Fox strives so hard to be "Fair and Balanced," it's all the more curious how it fails to inform its audience about another trip four years later, this one to Baghdad on December 19, 1983 made by Reagan envoy and then former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld (see pic below). The network again, because it's so very "Fair and Balanced," also inexplicably forgot to tell its audience about another trip by Rummy to Baghdad, this time on March 24, 1984, the very same day that a U.N. team found that Iraqi forces had used mustard gas laced with a nerve agent on Iranian soldiers. Rummy obviously wasn't too concerned about the charges of gassing, as in 1986 when he was considering a run for the Republican presidential nomination of 1988, he listed his restoration of diplomatic relations with WMD-using Iraq as one of his proudest achievements.

But all that's an eternity ago for Imperial Conservatives with a 20-second attention span. The Fox newscasters rename Jacques Chirac "Jacques Iraq" (yuk, yuk, yuk – what a side splitter!) and keep going.]

April 7: Repeated ominous footage of barrels buried in a below-ground shed near Karbala. The implication is that the Iraqi landscape is replete with these types of shelters, all of them brimming with evidence of chemical weapons. [These were revealed to be agricultural chemicals as well.]

April 13: Fox Graphic: "Bush: Syria Harboring Chemical Weapons."

[My favorite Fox war commentator is definitely Colonel David Hunt. From my canvassing of all the cable network war coverage, it's hard to find an analyst who is more dogmatic. When coalition forces weren’t greeted with hugs and kisses like he predicted and instead encountered stiff resistance from Iraqi forces in Basra and other places, Davey was all denial. Everything’s going perfect. Rummy is God, hallelujah and praise Dubya! There's not a problem in Iraq that can't be solved by blowing some Iraqi's brains out.]

April 15: Fox analyst Mansoor Ijaz claims that the top 55 Iraqi leaders (along with the whole stash of chemical and biological WMDs they have taken with them) are now living it up in Latakia, Syria. [This is the same 55 that appeared on the deck of cards and is still being captured – far from all living it up in Syria.] On The Fox Report anchor Shepard Smith completely breaks with any pretense of objectivity and openly mocks actor Tim Robbins after playing an excerpt of Robbins' speech to the National Press Club. "Oh, that was so powerful!" Smith mocked. [Impressive objectivity there, Mr. Smith.]

April 16: Fred Barnes on Special Report with Brit Hume blames the looting of the Iraqi National Museum on the museum staff. [Right now there are so many claims and counterclaims about the looting it's hard to tell what happened. In a Fox segment on May 19 a coalition official asserted that 170,000 items were definitely not missing. Of course he refused to give a ballpark estimate of what was missing, which he'd surely have in order to plausibly deny that the original estimate was wrong.]

April 18: Bill O'Reilly opens his show calling Iraqis "ungrateful."

April 21: Bill O'Reilly opens his show calling Iraqi Shiites "ungrateful SOBs" and "fanatics." He concludes that "[we] can't tolerate a fundamentalist state" in Iraq.

[Whoa, O'Reilly. I thought we promised the Iraqis that we were going to implement democracy, not democracy that gives the U.S. the election results it wants. That's not democracy, now, is it? By now it's quite clear that despite the spinning on The No Spin Zone, Iraq is descending into chaos.]

April 22: Lt. Colonel Robert Maginnis states on The O'Reilly Factor that the probability of finding WMDs is a 10 out of 10. [This is the same Robert Maginnis who predicted a double-ring defense of Baghdad in the Washington Times on January 7.] O'Reilly states that if no WMDs are found within a month from today, then that spells big trouble. O'Reilly promises to explore the issue a month later. [Cool, let's hold his feet to the fire on that promise. On an earlier show he said that U.S. credibility would be "shot" if no WMDs were found. ]

May 8: Fox News Military Analyst Major General Paul Vallely states on The O’Reilly Factor that "Middle East agents" have told him that Iraq’s WMDs along with 17 mobile weapons labs (1 of which was captured around May 2) are now buried in the Bakaa Valley in Syria 30 meters underground. He also claims that France helped Iraqi leaders escape to Europe by providing them with travel papers [a charge that even the Pentagon later denies although it's apparent that's where Vallely got his information].

May 11: On The Fox Report with Rick Folbaum it is conceded that the nefarious captured trailer contains not a shred of evidence of WMDs, but Folbaum hints that what’s important is that the trailer could have been used to make them. [Hmmm. I thought we went to war for actual WMDs, not for the ability to make WMDs.]

May 16: Special Report with Brit Hume. Muslims, citing Islam's ban of alcohol, are torching liquor stores and threatening their Christian owners. Under Saddam's secular regime, Christian names were banned and schools were nationalized, but guns and alcohol were freely available; there was tolerance for Iraq's 1 million Catholic and Protestant Christians. In New and Improved Neocon Iraq, there's a letter circulating in Baghdad threatening violence to even the families of women who refuse to wear the traditional Muslim head covering. [The report is yet another interesting and reluctant concession of unintended consequences.]

May 19: O'Reilly discusses a number of inflammatory and bogus charges that were floated in the U.S. media about France (e.g., France supplied Iraq with precision switches used in nuclear weapons, French companies sold spare parts to Iraq for military planes and helicopters, France possessed illegal strains of smallpox, France helped Iraqi leaders escape to Europe by providing them with travel papers). Recall this last charge was made by Major General Paul Vallely on May 8 on The O'Reilly Factor. Again, the Pentagon denies all such charges although much of the Beltway thinks it's obvious that the Pentagon is the source of them. O'Reilly claims that Vallely is only irresponsible if the charges don't turn out to be true. O'Reilly refers to documents that prove that the French government was briefing Saddam right until the war started. [Briefed on what?]

May 20: O'Reilly concedes that the Private Jessica Lynch rescue story could be a fraud, as asserted by the BBC and Los Angeles Times columnist Robert Scheer. "Somebody is lying," he states. He says that if the U.S. military has concocted a fraud, then it will be a terrible scandal but if the BBC and Scheer are wrong, nothing will happen to them. He says he is skeptical of the BBC and Scheer.

To prove his point he brings on no other than Colonel David Hunt. Over and over, Hunt calls the allegations of staged rescue an "assail on the finest soldiers in the world." He claims that the ambulance with Lynch in it that drove up to a Marine checkpoint was never shot at, its drivers demanded $10,000 for information on Jessica, Saddam Hospital was guarded by uniformed Iraqi soldiers and Fedayeen, Jessica's life was saved, and coalition forces didn't trash the hospital. What were his sources for this information? The special ops members on the raid, some of whom are his friends and former colleagues. Over and over Hunt kept saying, "They're the best soldiers in the world, they're the best in the world. Why would they make this up?"

[What followed next was an exchange that's priceless and one of many that goes by far too un-analyzed on Fox every day:]

Hunt: In my opinion it's an assault, an effrontery to the finest men and women in our service, it's an assault on Jessica, it's an assault on these great guys, these great special operations guys ... at a minimum we should no longer buy the L.A. Times, no longer buy the Toronto Free Press, and shut the BBC off. It's a government to government issue...this is calling into question the veracity of the finest soldiers in the world and it's uncalled for, it's absolutely unbelievable."

O'Reilly: If you [Hunt] turn out to be right, nothing will happen to Scheer...he'll just go along blithely printing his lies and living his life and getting paid for it.

[To the Colonel: U.S. special ops soldiers may be the best in the world at what they do, but how does it logically follow from that assessment that particular actions taken during the raid were not excessive and unjustified? How is the BBC's story an assault on Jessica?! What do you mean when you mention a "government to government issue" given that the U.S. government now controls Iraq?! Is the Pentagon the most effective check on its own possible misdeeds? How convenient if you're suggesting that it is. Who is your source that Iraqi doctors were trying to ransom Jessica? Why hasn't this allegation made its way into any other news reports?]

[To O'Reilly: If the raid does turn out to be mostly staged, there'll be no terrible scandal precisely because you, Fox News, and the Pentagon will assert just the opposite and allow yet another embarrassment to slide into the Memory Hole. This is exactly why your demand for accountability from the BBC and L.A. Times is so hollow and hypocritical. Instead of plumbing the U.S. military to investigate itself, why don't you interview Iraqi doctor Harith al-Houssona as the London Times did on April 16 (where the story was first broken, not by the BBC or Robert Scheer) who actually saved Lynch's life instead of the U.S. special ops who could have jeopardized it? The doctor testifies that all Iraqi forces left the day before the raid and that Jessica was delivered by an ambulance that had to return to the hospital because it was shot at by Marines. Why would he lie? You say you automatically trust the Pentagon. Why, when tales of Lynch's heroics in fighting off 500 Iraqi soldiers with one hand while severely wounded and tales that she had amnesia have already been proven bogus?]

May 22 (5:54 a.m. CDT): Richard King, a military doctor, appears on Fox and Friends with promises by the show's hosts that he will verify that the Jessica Lynch rescue wasn't staged. King doesn't prove anything. He states that he arrived at Saddam Hospital the day after the rescue, concedes damage and mal-treatment of doctors at the hospital, and that he "was told " that the hospital was guarded by hostile forces but doesn't specify who told him. [The testimony of the hospital staff contradicts this last hearsay.]

May 22: O'Reilly fails to live up to his promise to make a big stink if no WMDs are found by today. In his Talking Points Memo he wonders why the U.S. has caught such informed Iraqis as Dr. Germ and Ms. Anthrax and has gotten no leads. He states that more time is needed [contradicting what he said more than a month ago, when he said that if no WMDs were found after 2 months U.S. credibility would be "shot" and there would be big trouble]. He ends his Memo saying Bush must candidly address the situation soon.

June 2: [Unfortunately for O'Reilly, Bush isn't candidly explaining anything.] A video clip on Fox and Friends is shown with Bush in Poland claiming that "[w]e found" weapons of mass destruction. His evidence? Two trailers found near Mosul that were supposedly used as mobile bioweapons labs. [A June 7 article by the Times' Judith Miller reports serious doubts by some analysts that the two trailers were used as mobile bioweapons labs. Said one senior analyst about the initial CIA report, it "was a rushed job and looks political." Yes, they violated U.N. resolutions but this is another red herring to suggest WMDs.]

June 4: O'Reilly's Talking Points Memo: [Surreal.] O'Reilly says that the WMD issue has now been politicized [!!]. The war was a just war because there's now great progress between Palestinians and Israelis and that alone made the war worthwhile [?!!]. Also the mass graves and other horrors discovered add to the case for war. The intelligence was either wrong or more time is needed to find the WMDs. [Again contradicting what he said on and before April 22.]

June 11: Fox reports a bus blast in Jerusalem caused by Hamas, killing 15 and wounding at least 100. [Looks like the real reason for war according to O'Reilly (Israeli-Palestinian peace) has also disintegrated, but don't expect O'Reilly to admit it.]

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Popular Mechanics Attacks Its "9/11 LIES" Straw Man
by Jim Hoffman
February 9, 2005

The Hearst-owned Popular Mechanics magazine takes aim at the 9/11 Truth Movement (without ever acknowledging it by that name) with a cover story in its March 2005 edition. Sandwiched between ads and features for monster trucks, NASCAR paraphernalia, and off-road racing are twelve dense and brilliantly designed pages purporting to debunk the myths of 9/11.

The article's approach is to identify and attack a series of claims which it asserts represent the whole of 9/11 skepticism. It gives the false impression that these claims, several of which are clearly absurd, represent the breadth of challenges to the official account of the flights, the World Trade Center attack, and the Pentagon attack. Meanwhile it entirely ignores vast bodies of evidence showing that only insiders had the means, motive, and opportunity to carry out the attack.

The article gives no hint of the put options on the targeted airlines, warnings received by government and corporate officials, complicit behavior by top officials, obstruction of justice by a much larger group, or obvious frauds in the official story. Instead it attacks a mere 16 claims of its choosing, which it asserts are the "most prevalent" among "conspiracy theorists." The claims are grouped into topics which cover some of the subjects central to the analysis of 9-11 Research. However, for each topic, the article presents specious claims to divert the reader from understanding the issue. For example, the three pages devoted to attacking the Twin Towers' demolition present three red-herring claims and avoid the dozens of points I feature in my presentations, such as the Twin Towers' Demolition.

The article brackets its distortion of the issues highlighted by 9/11 skeptics with smears against the skeptics themselves, whom it dehumanizes and accuses of "disgracing the memories" of the victims.

More important, it misrepresents skeptics' views by implying that the skeptics' community is an undifferentiated "army" that wholly embraces the article's sixteen "poisonous claims," which it asserts are "at the root of virtually every 9/11 alternative scenario." In fact much of the 9/11 truth community has been working to expose many of these claims as disinformation.

"The Lies Are Out There"

James Meigs, appointed editor of Popular Mechanics in May 2004, trashes skeptics of the official story of 9/11/01 as irresponsible disgracers of the memories of victims, apart from "we as a society."

This article has a page of Editor's Notes, "The Lies Are Out There," written by James Meigs, whose previous columns have praised military technology (such as the UAVs used in Fallujah). Meigs places outside of society anyone who questions the official version of events of 9/11/01:

We as a society accept the basic premise that a group of Islamist terrorists hijacked four airplanes and turned them into weapons against us. ... Sadly, the noble search for truth is now being hijacked by a growing army of conspiracy theorists.

Meigs throws a series of insults at the "conspiracy theorists," saying they ignore the facts and engage in "elaborate, shadowy theorizing," and concludes his diatribe by saying:

[T]hose who peddle fantasies that this country encouraged, permitted or actually carried out the attacks are libeling the truth -- and disgracing the memories of the thousands who died that day.

Besides trashing the skeptics, and conflating "this country" with its corrupt leaders, Meig's piece attempts to legitimate PM's "investigation." It reads:

We assembled a team of reporters and researchers, including professional fact checkers and the editors of PM, and methodically analyzed all 16 conspiracy claims. We interviewed scores of engineers, aviation experts, military officials, eyewitnesses and members of the investigative teams who have held the wreckage of the attacks in their own hands. We pored over photography, maps, blueprints, aviation logs and transcripts. In every single instance, we found that the facts used by the conspiracy theorists to support their fantasies were mistaken, misunderstood, or deliberately falsified.

This sounds impressive, but the article provides no evidence to back up these claims. It provides no footnotes to source its many assertions, and despite the scores of experts listed in its final section, the article cites only a few "experts," who would themselves likely be suspects if normal criminal justice procedures were used to investigate the crime.

Moreover, glaring errors in the article -- such as the assertion that there was only a single interception in the decade before 9/11/01 -- don't inspire confidence in PM's "professional fact checkers." It echoes the discredited assertions of official reports such as the FEMA WTC Building Performance Study and the 9/11 Commission Report, and provides no evidence that it is anything but a well-orchestrated hit piece to perpetuate the 9/11 cover-up.

"9/11: DEBUNKING the MYTHS"

The main article consists of six two-page spreads, each devoted to a topic. Spanning these spreads are a series of sixteen "poisonous claims," which the article purports to refute, while it implicitly identifies them as the beliefs of all in the "growing army" of "conspiracy theorists." The two-page spreads, beginning on page 70, are as follows:

* Introduction
* THE PLANES
* THE WORLD TRADE CENTER
* THE WORLD TRADE CENTER (continued)
* THE PENTAGON
* FLIGHT 93

Superficially, the topics appear to address the major physical evidence issues brought up by the skeptics (while ignoring the mountains of evidence of foreknowledge, motive, and unique means possessed by insiders). However, the sixteen "most prevalent claims made by conspiracy theorists" which it attacks are mostly specious claims, many of which were probably invented to discredit skepticism of the official story in the first place. The article debunks the more specious claims, and uses distortion and falsehoods to counter serious claims.

Thus the main approach of the article is to set up and attack a straw man of claims that it pretends represent the entirety of the skeptics' movement. The list includes many of the same claims that are debunked on the companion to this site, 911review.com. The article gives no hint of the questions raised by the evidence in this site, nor any sense of the issues raised by the broader 9/11 truth movement.

Before proceeding to its 16 points, the article's introduction levels more insults at the skeptics -- "extremists", some of whose theories are "byproducts of cynical imaginations that aim to inject suspicion and animosity into public debate." It begins by asking you to type "World Trade Center conspiracy" into Google.com, and claims that "More than 3000 books on 9/11 have been published" -- an incredible claim. (Of these supposed 3000 titles, we recommend only a few, listed here.)

The sixteen "claims" attacked by the article are described here under the headings taken from the article, which indicate either the claim, the counter-claim, or a broader issue. [...]

Comment: Click here to read the rest of the article with links.

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Embedded in the Spin Cycle
Isaac Baker
IPS
February 15, 2005

NEW YORK - An incisive new documentary is taking aim at the U.S. media's one-sided coverage of the war in Iraq, arguing that its collective complicity deceived the populace and made the war possible.

"WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception", which cost just 200,000 dollars to produce, points to a wide array of failures in the accuracy of the reporting, as well as an unwillingness to question the George W. Bush administration's claims and actions.

It was produced by Danny Schechter, a self-proclaimed "network refugee" who worked for CNN and as a producer for a prominent television news show.

"This is the central problem of our democracy," he told IPS in an interview. "This isn't a sidebar issue. You can't have a democracy when people aren't being informed."

The film documents the U.S. media's near-unanimous acceptance of the George W. Bush administration's claim that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed nefarious weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and therefore must be removed from power by unilateral U.S. military action.

The film also attacks the media's credulity of alleged links between Hussein and the al-Qaeda terrorist network -- claims that were unsupported by any actual evidence.

"The fact that they [the media] allowed the Bush administration to manipulate the truth so grossly and so nakedly in the run-up to the war made the war possible," Eric Alterman, media critic and writer for the Nation magazine, says in the film.

Schechter told IPS he was disturbed at the adherence to the government's line and lack of journalistic questioning among U.S. news outlets before and during the Iraq war, a time he calls "a really shameful period for journalism."

"It hints at the emergence of a state media system in our country," he said.

The film references a study by the media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) of on-camera sources used in television news in the run-up to the war. Out of 1,167 experts brought on camera during news broadcasts, the study shows, only three percent opposed the U.S.-led invasion.

"You had this incredible imbalance where people who were critical couldn't be heard," he said.

The film argues that this marginalisation of dissent and the media's refusal to question the war in Iraq was in part due to journalists and networks fear of being seen as "unpatriotic."

"In the post 9/11 media there was a lot of patriotic political correctness," Schechter said. "You have a president who says, 'You're either with us or with the terrorists,' so if you criticise him you're with the terrorists. This created an intimidating environment."

One aspect of the "media war" the film deals with in detail is the vast number of "embedded" reporters in Iraq, a policy that Schechter says led to jingoistic coverage. [...]

The film argues that since an embedded reporter's life is essentially in the hands of the soldiers, and they spend so much time together under extreme circumstances, the reporter grows attached to the troops. The bond that is formed jeopardises the reporter's ability to be accurate and objective and leads to cheerleading instead of critical journalism, Schechter says. [...]

"WMD" has already received international acclaim and is being screened at theatres from Scotland to Australia. It won the Austin Film Festival and Denver Film Festival Awards for best documentary. [...]

The film is scheduled to come out on DVD in March to coincide with the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

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Ridge, Pollsters Met During Bush Campaign
by Pete Yost
Associated Press
Thursday, February 17, 2005

WASHINGTON - Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge met privately with Republican pollsters twice in a 10-day span last spring as he embarked on more than a dozen trips to presidential battleground states.

Ridge's get-togethers with Republican strategists Frank Luntz and Bill McInturff during a period the secretary was saying his agency was playing no role in Bush's re-election campaign were revealed in daily appointment calendars obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act.

"We don't do politics in the Department of Homeland Security," Ridge told reporters during the election season.

His aides resisted releasing the calendars for over a year, finally providing them to the AP three days after Ridge left office this month.

Homeland Security officials said the meeting with Luntz at department headquarters was aimed at improving public communication of the department's message, particularly on TV. Ridge declined an interview with the AP about the calendars, referring questions to former aides.

"We did not discuss homeland security in a presidential campaign context," said Susan Neely, a former assistant homeland security secretary who attended the May 17 session with Luntz and Ridge. "We asked him his impression of how well we were explaining whatever the issues were of the day. There was no follow-up meeting."

Neely said the discussion took place after Ridge and Luntz ran into each other and the homeland security secretary expressed an interest in hearing Luntz's assessment.

McInturff, who has done the polling for all of Ridge's campaigns for Congress and Pennsylvania governor, said the two meet every few months to "shoot the breeze."

Homeland security officials said the May 26 conversation between Ridge and McInturff was personal and the secretary did not discuss any homeland security-related issues.

"When you've got Secret Service protection it's a heck of a lot easier for me to meet the secretary of a major agency at the agency than it is for him to come to Old Town and have lunch," McInturff said. Old Town is a neighborhood in Alexandria, Va., home of McInturff's company, Public Opinion Strategies.

"I have zero connection with anyone doing business with homeland security, zero connection with the Bush campaign," McInturff said.

Ridge's meetings with the pollsters occurred just before the first of 16 trips, from late May to late October, to 10 states important to the president's re-election campaign. During the same period, Ridge made 20 appearances in nine uncontested states. [...]

At the time of Ridge's meetings with the pollsters, President Bush's re-election campaign was reeling from the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and the news media was speculating that Ridge might replace Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, or even Vice President Dick Cheney.

Neely said Ridge's future in government did not come up in the meeting with Luntz.

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Madrid's Towering Inferno & The 9/11 Building Collapse Cover-Up
Infowars.com
February 14, 2005

A 32-story building burns for more than 24 hours and does not collapse. It does not collapse because buildings made of steel and concrete, despite what we are led to believe, do not typically fall to the ground because of fire, even a protracted fire as witnessed in Madrid. In fact before September 11th, 2001, no building had ever collapsed as a result of fire alone. In past events, high-rise buildings burned for as long as six days before the fires were extinguished and yet remained standing.

The media covering this event has been hovering on the edge of its seat, waiting for the building to fall, frequently commenting on the debris falling from the inferno implying that some tumbling sheet rock are an indication of the building's seemingly inevitable downfall. Their headlines reiterate this conclusion: Spanish Skyscraper Fire Subsiding, But Collapse Possible, Fears of collapse as fire ravages huge Madrid office block, Madrid skyscraper collapse feared as inferno rages. Ignoring objectivism, the reports have been clearly skewed to direct the public to belive in the new post-9/11 laws of physics:

"It is clear the structure has been damaged and has suffered high temperatures, and we cannot be certain that a pillar, girder or some other structural element will not collapse," Javier Sanz, fire chief for the Madrid region, told state radio. [read article]

The connection between this event and the collapse of WTC building 7 is impossible to ignore and the media are doing everything in their power to subvert reality and spin this event: All they have to do is remind us its going to collapse over and over again until the next news cycle and the event is forgotten in the back pages of the newspaper. At that point it won't matter if the building actually collapsed or not and the world will keep spinning according to the new post-9/11 laws of physics.

Comment: See the original article for included news stories and photographs.

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Penn prof says views may get him fired

In wake of Churchill controversy calls 9-11 attacks 'inside job'
WorldNetDaily.com
Posted: February 12, 2005

In the wake of controversy over a Colorado professor's views of 9-11, a teacher at the University of Pennsylvania who says the attacks were an "inside job" believes he's on the verge of losing his job.

Francisco Gil-White, an assistant professor of psychology, also has written articles alleging NATO framed Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic and says the U.S. is a secret enemy of Israel, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

"The academic establishment is there to protect freedom of thought," Gil-White told the paper. "That is violated when the mere fact that I question the U.S. government becomes a reason to threaten me with the loss of my job."

The Colorado professor, Ward Churchill, sparked controversy with an essay that describes the thousands of American victims who died in the World Trade Center inferno as "little Eichmanns" who were perpetuating America's "mighty engine of profit."

Gil-White objects to being compared to Churchill, and Penn officials insist academic freedom is not an issue in their review of his performance, the Inquirer reported.

"We are baffled by Professor Gil-White's assertions about the role of his politics in our review," Penn psychology chair Robert DeRubeis said in a written response.

Last year, the university gave Gil-White a one-year extension on his contract instead of the standard three years because "questions emerged" about the quality of his research and teaching, DeRubeis said.

Officials now are conducting a second review to determine whether to extend his contract again.

Students have signed a petition of support, calling him a "wonderful teacher" with good rapport.

"A lot of people who take his course say it's the best course of their lives," said freshman psychology major Michelle Rajunov.

But the Philadelphia paper said Gil-White refused to address the department curriculum committee's written concerns about his Psychology of Ethnicity course.

Gil-White said the committee had asked him to "radically gut" the class, and he decided instead to teach it his way on a not-for-credit basis.

The Inquirer said Gil-White first began to stake out his controversial positions when, shortly after the 9-11 attacks, he came across a website run by former 1960s activist, Jared Israel, who claims to have "evidence of high-level government complicity on 9-11."

Gil-White now is deputy editor of the site, "The Emperor's New Clothes," and has written for it about the war in Yugoslavia, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.

Along with his controversial writing, Gil-White has alleged that Penn political science professor Ian Lustick, who worked in the State Department 25 years ago, is an agent of U.S. intelligence working to undermine Israel.

But he insists his relationship with colleagues is not an issue.

"My perception is that I was getting along fine with people," he said.

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Half a million march in Rome to demand release of Italian journalist
AFP
Sat Feb 19, 1:38 PM ET

ROME - Up to half a million peace demonstrators marched through the centre of Rome to demand the release of Italian journalist Giulian Sgrena, held hostage in Iraqsince February 4, city authorities said.

"My offices have told me that up to 500,000 people are participating in the march," Rome's left-wing mayor Walter Veltroni told AFP as the colourful throng snaked through the Italian capital.

"The population has come out to demand Giuliana's release. And we are going to go on demanding it," Veltroni said.

Italian media said earlier some 200,000 people were expected to join the march, which got under way at Rome's Piazza della Repubblica shortly after 2:00 pm (1300 GMT) and took three hours to wind its way the six kilometres (four miles) across the city to a rally at the ancient Circus Maximus.

Another famous landmark, the Colosseum, was to be lit up at dusk in symbolic backing for the city's demand for Sgrena's release.

The journalist's elderly parents, her companion Pier Scolari and staff from her newspaper, the communist daily Il Manifesto, led the march, which came a few days after a tearful Sgrena pleaded with Italy's government to save her life by withdrawing its troops from Iraq in a video-tape released by her kidnappers.

"There are more than we had hoped," said 74-year-old Valentino Parlato, a founder member of the newspaper. [...]

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Ill. Man Killed in Case of Mistaken ID
By DON BABWIN, Associated Press Writer
Sat Feb 19,11:23 PM ET

CHICAGO - An off-duty correctional officer shot and killed a friend and co-worker Saturday whom he mistakenly believed was trying to carjack a vehicle being driven by his wife, police said.

Arlin McClendon, 36, was killed while trying to pull a joke on a longtime friend in an area where two dozen carjackings have occurred in less than a year, authorities said.

"It is a tragic accident, a case of mistaken identity," said Calumet City police Sgt. Larry Smith. "The victim and the shooter were lifelong friends. They worked together."

McClendon was driving in the suburb just south of Chicago at about 1 a.m. with a colleague when he spotted a sport utility vehicle that belonged to his friend.

"McClendon began honking and flashing his lights in an attempt to get the vehicle to pull over," Smith said.

What McClendon did not know was that his friend's wife was driving the SUV with the couple's 4-year-old child. His friend, who authorities did not identify Saturday, was in a third vehicle, Smith said.

Once the vehicle stopped, as a joke, McClendon ran up to it and started pounding on one of the windows, said Bill Cunningham, a spokesman for the Cook County Sheriff's Department, which runs the jail where the two men worked.

He also began pulling on a door handle.

The woman's husband did not recognize McClendon, whom he had worked with for years at the Cook County Jail, and mistakenly believed his wife was being carjacked, Smith said.

"He got out of his car and identified himself as a police officer and shot his friend," he said.

McClendon, who was shot multiple times, was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

Over the last six months, 24 carjackings have occurred in Calumet City and "that may have played into" the off-duty officer's belief that his wife was being carjacked, Cunningham said.

The two men both started working at the jail in 1992.

Correctional officers are not issued firearms, but are allowed to carry weapons while off-duty, he said.

No charges had been filed.

Comment: Isn't it a bit strange that the friend jumped out of his car, announced himself as a police officer, and then fired multiple times at the "carjacker" before McClendon could even identify himself? It's nice to know that police - even off-duty correctional officers - are allowed to shoot first and ask questions later.

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Inflation fears flare after surprise jump in US wholesale prices
AFP
Fri Feb 18, 5:18 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Inflation moved to the front burner after a report showing a surprisingly sharp increase in wholesale prices prompted a reassessment of the US economic outlook.

The Labor Department said its producer price index (PPI) jumped 0.3 percent in January, while the core rate, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, soared 0.8 percent.

The headline PPI figure was in line with forecasts, but the core rate was sharply higher than the 0.2 percent expected by private forecasters and was the fastest pace since late 1998.

In the past 12 months, the overall PPI was up 4.2 percent and the core PPI was up 2.7 percent, the biggest year-over-year gain in nine years.

The latest figures sparked fresh concern about inflation, which has been largely in check in recent years. Some experts said the trend, if it continues, may force the Federal Reserve to push up interest rates at a more aggressive pace. [...]

Marie-Pierre Ripert at Ixis Corporate and Investment Bank said some of price increases may be a result of the weaker US dollar, which raises the cost of imports.

She noted that the rise was led by a significant increase in capital equipment prices and some consumer goods prices -- in particular cars and tobacco.

"Even if a part of the rise is linked to special factors (such as tobacco), the significant rise in core producer prices reflects a rising 'pass through,' which could become a cause for concern for the Fed," she said.

"Indeed, (Fed chairman Alan) Greenspan put forward the fact that foreign exporters could begin to raise their prices in dollars in the future if the dollar declines further." [...]

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History of modern man unravels as German scholar is exposed as fraud

Flamboyant anthropologist falsified dating of key discoveries
Luke Harding in Berlin
The Guardian
Saturday February 19, 2005

It appeared to be one of archaeology's most sensational finds. The skull fragment discovered in a peat bog near Hamburg was more than 36,000 years old - and was the vital missing link between modern humans and Neanderthals.

This, at least, is what Professor Reiner Protsch von Zieten - a distinguished, cigar-smoking German anthropologist - told his scientific colleagues, to global acclaim, after being invited to date the extremely rare skull.

However, the professor's 30-year-old academic career has now ended in disgrace after the revelation that he systematically falsified the dates on this and numerous other "stone age" relics.

Yesterday his university in Frankfurt announced the professor had been forced to retire because of numerous "falsehoods and manipulations". According to experts, his deceptions may mean an entire tranche of the history of man's development will have to be rewritten.

"Anthropology is going to have to completely revise its picture of modern man between 40,000 and 10,000 years ago," said Thomas Terberger, the archaeologist who discovered the hoax. "Prof Protsch's work appeared to prove that anatomically modern humans and Neanderthals had co-existed, and perhaps even had children together. This now appears to be rubbish."

The scandal only came to light when Prof Protsch was caught trying to sell his department's entire chimpanzee skull collection to the United States.

An inquiry later established that he had also passed off fake fossils as real ones and had plagiarised other scientists' work.

His discovery appeared to show that Neanderthals had spread much further north than was previously known.

But his university inquiry was told that a crucial Hamburg skull fragment, which was believed to have come from the world's oldest German, a Neanderthal known as Hahnhöfersand Man, was actually a mere 7,500 years old, according to Oxford University's radiocarbon dating unit. The unit established that other skulls had been wrongly dated too.

Another of the professor's sensational finds, "Binshof-Speyer" woman, lived in 1,300 BC and not 21,300 years ago, as he had claimed, while "Paderborn-Sande man" (dated at 27,400 BC) only died a couple of hundred years ago, in 1750.

"It's deeply embarrassing. Of course the university feels very bad about this," Professor Ulrich Brandt, who led the investigation into Prof Protsch's activities, said yesterday. "Prof Protsch refused to meet us. But we had 10 sittings with 12 witnesses.

"Their stories about him were increasingly bizarre. After a while it was hard to take it seriously. You had to laugh. It was just unbelievable. At the end of the day what he did was incredible."

During their investigation, the university discovered that Prof Protsch, 65, a flamboyant figure with a fondness for gold watches, Porsches and Cuban cigars, was unable to work his own carbon-dating machine.

Instead, after returning from Germany to America, where he did his doctorate, and taking up a professorship, he had simply made things up.

In one case he had claimed that a 50 million-year-old "half-ape" called Adapis had been found in Switzerland, an archaeological sensation. In reality, the ape had been dug up in France, where several other examples had already been found. [...]

Why, though, had he done it?

"If you find a skull that's more than 30,000 years old it's a sensation. If you find three of them people notice you. It's good for your career," Prof Terberger said. "At the end of the day it was about ambition."

Other details of the professor's life also appeared to crumble under scrutiny. Before he disappeared from the university's campus last year, Prof Protsch told his students he had examined Hitler's and Eva Braun's bones.

He also boasted of having flats in New York, Florida and California, where, he claimed, he hung out with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steffi Graf. Even the professor's aristocratic title, "von Zieten", appears to be bogus.

Far from being the descendant of a dashing general in the hussars, the professor was the son of a Nazi MP, Wilhelm Protsch, Der Spiegel magazine revealed last October.

Comment: Just when you thought it couldn't get any more bizarre - it does:

The university is investigating how thousands of documents lodged in the anthropology department relating to the Nazis' gruesome scientific experiments in the 1930s were mysteriously shredded, allegedly under the professor's instructions.

They also discovered that some of the 12,000 skeletons stored in the department's "bone cellar" were missing their heads, apparently sold to friends of the professor in the US and sympathetic dentists.

Yesterday the university admitted that it should have discovered the professor's fabrications far earlier. But it pointed out that, like all public servants in Germany, the high-profile anthropologist was virtually impossible to sack, and had also proved difficult to pin down.

"He was perfect at being evasive," Prof Brandt said yesterday. "He would switch from saying 'it isn't really clear' to giving diffuse statements.

"I'm not a psychologist so I can't say why he did it. But my guess is that when he came back from the States 30 years ago he realised he wasn't up to the job of being a professor. So he started inventing things. It rapidly became a habit.'

Yesterday the professor, who lives in Mainz with his wife Angelina, didn't respond to emails from the Guardian asking him to comment on the affair. But in earlier remarks to Der Spiegel he insisted that he was the victim of an "intrigue".

"All the disputed fossils are my personal property," he told the magazine.

Missing links and planted stone age finds

Piltdown Man
The most infamous of all scientific frauds was unearthed in 1912 in a Sussex gravel pit. With its huge human-like braincase and ape-like jaw, the Piltdown Man "fossil" was named Eoanthropus dawsoni after Charles Dawson, the solicitor and amateur archaeologist who discovered it. For 40 years Piltdown Man was heralded as the missing link between humans and their primate ancestors. But in 1953 scientists concluded it was a forgery. Radiocarbon dating showed the human skull was just 600 years old, while the jawbone was that of an orang-utan. The entire package of fossil fragments found at Piltdown - which included a prehistoric cricket bat - had been planted.

The devil's archaeologist
Japanese archaeologist Shinichi Fujimura was so prolific at uncovering prehistoric artefacts he earned the nickname "God's hands". At site after site, Fujimura discovered stoneware and relics that pushed back the limits of Japan's known history. The researcher and his stone age finds drew international attention and rewrote text books. In November 2000 the spell was broken when a newspaper printed pictures of Fujimura digging holes and burying objects that he later dug up and announced as major finds. "I was tempted by the devil. I don't know how I can apologise for what I did," he said.

Piltdown Turkey
The supposed fossil of Archaeoraptor, which was to become known as the "Piltdown turkey", came to light in 1999 when National Geographic magazine published an account of its discovery. It seemed to show another missing link - this time between birds and dinosaurs. Archaeoraptor appeared to be the remains of a large feathered bird with the tail of a dinosaur. The fossil was smuggled out of China and sold to a private collector in the US for £51,000. Experts were suspicious and closer examination showed the specimen to be a "composite" - two fossils stuck together with strong glue.

Comment: Aw, no more missing link between humans and neanderthals! We imagine this news will cause many mainstream scientists to have more than a few heart palpitations after they have worked so hard to push a sanitized, "scientific" version of humankind's history.

For a far more informative look at humanity's past, present, and future, read Ancient Science.

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And Finally...

Stewart on Guckert
February 16, 2005

Click here to watch the Jon Stewart Daily Show clip on Guckert and Bloggers. (QuickTime required)

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