Peter Phillips On Civil Liberties Censorship

An excellent article titled “Civil liberties, civil rights more censored in 2007” written by Peter Phillips, a professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and Director of Project Censored for People’s Weekly World Newspaper on 12/27/07 is below. I’ve added links to the laws referenced by Professor Phillips:

Civil Liberties, Civil Rights Most Censored In 2007

The U.S. corporate media like to think of themselves as providing the official most accurate news reporting of the day. The New York Times motto of “all the news that’s fit to print” is a clear example of this perspective. However, with corporate media coverage that increasingly focuses on a narrow range of celebrity updates, news from “official” government sources and sensationalized crimes and disasters, the self-justification of being the most fit is no longer valid.

We need to broaden our understanding of censorship in this country. The dictionary definition of censorship as direct government control of news is no longer adequate. The private corporate media in the U.S. significantly under-covers and/or deliberately censors numerous important news stories every year.

The common theme of the most censored stories over the past year is the systemic erosion of human rights and civil liberties both in the U.S. and the world at large. The corporate media ignored the fact that habeas corpus can now be suspended for anyone by order of the president. With the approval of Congress, the Military Commissions Act (MCA) of 2006, signed by Bush on Oct. 17, 2006, allows for the suspension of habeas corpus for U.S. citizens and non-citizens alike. While media, including a lead editorial in The New York Times on Oct. 19, 2006, have given false comfort that American citizens will not be the victims of the measures legalized by this Act, the law is quite clear that “any person” can be targeted. The text in the MCA allows for the institution of a military alternative to the constitutional justice system for “any person” regardless of American citizenship. The MCA effectively does away with habeas corpus rights for all people living in the U.S. deemed by the president to be enemy combatants.

A law enacted last year allowing the government to institute martial law more easily is another civil liberties story ignored by the corporate media in 2007. The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 allows the president to station military troops anywhere in the United States and take control of state-based National Guard units without the consent of the governor or local authorities, in order to “suppress public disorder.” In effect, the law repealed the Posse Comitatus Act, which had placed strict prohibitions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement in the U.S. since just after the Civil War.

Additionally, under the code-name Operation FALCON (Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally) three federally coordinated mass arrests occurred between April 2005 and October 2006. In an unprecedented move, more than 30,000 “fugitives” were arrested in the largest dragnets in the nation’s history. The operations, coordinated by the Justice Department and Homeland Security, directly involved over 960 agencies (state, local and federal) and are the first time in U.S. history that all of the domestic police agencies have been put under the direct control of the federal government.

Finally, the term “terrorism” has been dangerously expanded to include any acts that interfere or promote interference with the operations of animal enterprises. The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), signed into law on Nov. 27, 2006 expands the definition of an “animal enterprise” to any business that “uses or sells animals or animal products.” The law essentially defines protesters, boycotters or picketers of businesses in the U.S. as terrorists.

Most people in our country believe in our Bill of Rights and value personal freedoms. Yet, our corporate media in the past year failed to adequately inform us about important changes in our civil rights and liberties. Despite our busy lives, we want to be informed about serious decisions made by the powerful, and we rely on the corporate media to keep us abreast of significant changes. When the media fails to cover these issues, what else can we call it but censorship?

A broader definition of censorship in America today needs to include any interference, deliberate or not, with the free flow of vital news information to the American people. With the size of the major media giants in the U.S., there is no excuse for consistently missing major news stories that affect all our lives.

Peter Phillips is a professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and Director of Project Censored. His latest book, Censored 2008, from Seven Stories Press is available in bookstores nationwide or at www.projectcensored.org.

Links to More Information

Links to the information above as well as links to and snippets of other useful tidbits can be found below:

Civil liberties, civil rights most censored in 2007 article from People’s Weekly World

Military Commissions Act of 2006 information from The Library of Congress

H.R. 5211 [109th]: John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 information from GovTrack.us

Posse Comitatus Act information from The U.S. Coast Guard

Please contact the media: Their career is on the line whether or not they black out S. 1959 article from OpEdNews

How to Erode and Destroy Democracy — a Dozen Tested Strategies article from OpEdNews

Under attack, drug maker turned to Giuliani article from MSNBC and The New York Times:

“Candidate’s OxyContin work shows how he used his standing to aid a client.”

Peggy Noonan is a serious “grown up” article from Salon News:

“So Peggy Noonan is a “grown-up.” She goes on ABC News and MSNBC and writes for the Wall St. Journal in order to opine and is widely respected by our media elite as a mature political commentator. She knows that “the next American president will very likely face another big bad thing, a terrible day, or days.” America therefore needs a President with “knowledge, judgment, a prudent understanding of the world.”

John Edwards, however, is disqualified, because four years ago, he was caught red-handed brushing his hair before a television appearance — “poofing,” in Noonan’s words, which isn’t really a word at all, but rather, a British epithet for a male homosexual — “Slang: Disparaging and Offensive” — a synonym for “faggot.” Noonan is making the same point Ann Coulter made: Edwards can’t possibly be President because he’s a faggot. And to make her “grown-up” case for this, she cites one of our national media’s most talked-about political stories of both 2004 and again in 2007: Edwards’ brushing of his hair.

What a stupid and vapid woman this is, but respected and admired by our media class because she fits right in with them — endlessly impressed by her own sophistication, maturity and insight while drooling out platitudes one never hears except in seventh-grade cafeterias and on our political talk shows. As always, this isn’t worth noting because the adolescent stupidity on display here is unique to Noonan, but precisely because it isn’t. This is how our national elections are decided: by people like her, spewing things like this.”

Seymour Hersh: Negroponte–Iran Contra–Funds–al Qaeda…Oh my! article and video from Crooks and Liars:

“The President is taking his notion of executive privilege to the extreme–running covert operations, using money that’s not authorized by Congress…Negroponte is too ethical for Cheney…”

Saudi arms sale may spark Bush-Congress battle article from Yahoo! News and Reuters:

(Don’t bet on it…Congress enjoys rolling over for King George).

“WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A plan to sell Saudi Arabia highly accurate Boeing Co bomb-guidance kits is roiling Israel’s backers in the Congress, setting up a potential clash with President George W. Bush.

The administration could formally notify lawmakers as soon as January 15 of the possible sale to Riyadh of Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAM, technology.

As many as 253 members of the 435-seat House of Representatives have signed bipartisan warnings to Bush about such a sale to Saudi Arabia, still in a formal state of war with Israel.”

Jim Nielsen: Voters should say Baldwin Park not for sale article from The Pasadena-Star News:

Nothing like abuse of eminent domain by a greedy government!

“Can a city use its power of eminent domain to seize over 500 homes and small businesses and give them to a politically connected developer? Yes, and it’s happening in Baldwin Park today.

The city has entered into an exclusive agreement with a developer to demolish more than 125 acres (approximately 125 football fields) of homes and small businesses in exchange for the developer’s promise to develop projects that generate greater tax revenue.

As appealing as this may be to some, the city has given little consideration to the enormous personal and financial costs to longstanding homeowners and small business owners or that communities can be revitalized without violating property rights.

The proposed development is not as simple as demolishing buildings and homes made of just brick and mortar. The properties are homes that provide shelter for longtime residents and mom-and-pop merchants who, in addition to their own families, are also responsible for employees who have home mortgages, car payments, health care bills and student loans. They are people like you and so many other Americans. But the community’s elected leaders simply don’t see it this way. Rather, they just see the promise of big dollar signs.”

CIA provided funds to financiers of Sept 11 bomber (from 2001) article from BTInternet:

“[The FBI] were prevented for political reasons from carrying out full investigations into members of the Bin Laden family in the US before the terrorist attacks of September 11”
London Guardian, 7 November 2001

FBI Deputy Director resigned in protest in July.”

The Year In Review, And 2008 Will Be Worse article from JustAnotherCoverUp

Iraq war poster (picture) from DullesNow

Outside of the United States, this is the News people are watching: Benazir Bhutto stated that Osama bin Laden is Dead article and video from Chycho.com:

“In the following interview, which took place after the first assassination attempt on Benazir Bhutto when she first returned to Pakistan after eight years in exile, she states that Omar Sheikh murdered Osama Bin Laden. The statement occurs 6 minutes and 10 seconds into the interview.

By making this statement, Bhutto proved that she was genuine, but unfortunately she also sealed her doom. Even though it is well known that Osama Bin Laden has been dead for a number of years, very few prominent political leaders have had the courage to publicly acknowledge this fact.”

Osama bin Laden: A dead nemesis perpetuated by the US government article from WhatReallyHappened.com

With links to various well known news sources.

Judicial Watch Announces List of Washington’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” for 2007 from JudicialWatch.org:

Visit JudicialWatch.org for the details of why they’re on the list.

“Washington, DC –Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2007 list of Washington’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians.”  The list, in alphabetical order, includes:

1.  Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)
2.  Rep. John Conyers (D-MI)
3.  Senator Larry Craig (R-ID)
4.  Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA)
5.  Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY)
6.  Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR)
7.  I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby
8.  Senator Barack Obama (D-IL)
9.  Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
10.  Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)

Why Bush wants to protect phone firms article from The San Francisco Chronicle:

“Industry help seen as vital for more than NSA eavesdropping.”

Legal Fictions article from Slate – The Bush Administration’s Dumbest Legal Arguments of The Year

Bill Kristol is rewarded for being “wrong” on everything: NY Times gig is a comin’ article from Crooks and Liars:

“William “the Bloody” Kristol gets rewarded with a gig by the NY Times for being a neocon—warmongering—psycho. The MMSSSMMM RULES!

Either way – it is an absolute abomination from the standpoint of basic accountability. A pundit being factually wrong on almost everything he hung his hat on is rewarded by the largest newspaper in the world for his track record. If ever there was an example of the world of journalism literally thumbing its nose at basic accountability, this example of Bill Kristol falling up is it.”

Robert Fisk: They don’t blame al-Qa’ida. They blame Musharraf article from The Independent UK News:

“Weird, isn’t it, how swiftly the narrative is laid down for us. Benazir Bhutto, the courageous leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, is assassinated in Rawalpindi – attached to the very capital of Islamabad wherein ex-General Pervez Musharraf lives – and we are told by George Bush that her murderers were “extremists” and “terrorists”. Well, you can’t dispute that.

But the implication of the Bush comment was that Islamists were behind the assassination. It was the Taliban madmen again, the al-Qa’ida spider who struck at this lone and brave woman who had dared to call for democracy in her country.

So, of course, we were asked to concentrate once more on all those ” extremists” and “terrorists”, not on the logic of questioning which many Pakistanis were feeling their way through in the aftermath of Benazir’s assassination.

It doesn’t, after all, take much to comprehend that the hated elections looming over Musharraf would probably be postponed indefinitely if his principal political opponent happened to be liquidated before polling day.

So let’s run through this logic in the way that Inspector Ian Blair might have done in his policeman’s notebook before he became the top cop in London.

Question: Who forced Benazir Bhutto to stay in London and tried to prevent her return to Pakistan? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who ordered the arrest of thousands of Benazir’s supporters this month? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who placed Benazir under temporary house arrest this month? Answer: General Musharraf.

Question: Who declared martial law this month? Answer General Musharraf.

Question: who killed Benazir Bhutto?

Er. Yes. Well quite.

You see the problem? Yesterday, our television warriors informed us the PPP members shouting that Musharraf was a “murderer” were complaining he had not provided sufficient security for Benazir. Wrong. They were shouting this because they believe he killed her.”

Fighters deny Bhutto killing link article from Aljazeera.net News (English):

“The commander of a pro-Taliban group in Pakistan has told news agencies by phone that Baitullah Mehsud, another pro-Taliban figure, denies any involvement in Benazir Bhutto’s death.

Contradicting the official account, a close Bhutto aide told the media on Saturday that she saw a bullet wound in the head when she bathed Bhutto’s body after her assassination.

“I was actually part of the party which bathed her body before the funeral,” said Sherry Rehman, who served as Bhutto’s spokeswoman and who was in the motorcade at the time of the attack.

“There was a bullet wound I saw that went in from the back of her head and came out the other side.”

“We could not even wash her properly because the wound was still seeping. She lost a huge amount of blood.”

Rehman said: “The hospital was made to change its statement. They never gave a proper report. …

“This is ridiculous, dangerous nonsense because it is a cover-up of what actually happened.”

Earlier reports said Bhutto was gunned down by an assassin.”

Vermont town seeks Bush, Cheney arrests article from Yahoo! News and The Associated Press

Ron Paul Threatened article from OpEdNews:

“There is a seriously bad article in the American Free Press titled: “PAUL IN THE CROSSHAIRS OF THE ELITE”, (http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/paul_in_crosshairs119.html). Snip: :”sources inside the U.S. intelligence community suggesting that people from the highest levels of government are discussing “eliminating” Rep. Ron Paul because its controlled political system is threatened by Paul’s exploding popularity.”

Revealed: Pakistan hosed away scene after Bhutto attack article from The Raw Story

The Enablers Of Facism, The Mainstream News Media article from JustAnotherCoverUp:

“Very few doubt that Bush and Cheney have wrecked havoc on America and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths throughout the world, but in retrospect, their actions and behavior have been condoned and suppressed by America’s fascist Mainstream News Media – and without their support, The Commander in Thief and Darth Cheney would have been impeached, removed from office, and prosecuted for their crimes years ago if we still had real news and true investigative reporting in the United States.

The MSM, now owned and controlled by corporate America, have betrayed the people, and without their betrayal, the criminal actions of a Presidency that is out of control would have been halted long before they were able to bankrupt our country and compromise the very essence of liberty and freedom! Those who control Fox News, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, and the huge amount of radio and television stations throughout our country – which are being bought-out by fascist forces that support corporatism and tyranny, are still gaining in strength – and as usual, Fox News, The Republican Learning Channel, constantly leads the charge to change a democratic republic into a fascist and authoritarian state. Our anti-trust laws have been ignored and changed to allow the enemies of freedom to flourish, while individual rights are now severely curtailed and are disappearing almost as fast as the wealth and integrity that once made America the world’s most respected superpower.

Under the Bush administration, our Constitution has been rendered ineffective, there are no checks and balances, the rule of law only applies to those who the government sees fit – the War on Drugs has been proven to be a joke, the War on Terrorism is certainly aimed more at American citizens who disagree with the government, and Congress is either too cowardly to impeach the criminals who are destroying our country, or have been intimidated, bought-off by lobbyists, and/or threatened into silence by an administration that is beginning to rival Hitler’s Third Reich! The lobbyists on “K Street” represent nothing more than legalized bribery, and the Democratic Party has been infiltrated by “Blue Dog Democrats” that are nothing more than Republicans in disguise.”

The U.S. is Now an “Endemic Surveillance Society” article from SixHoursAWeek.com:

“Pass the Freedom Fries!  The French are still filmed, monitored and intercepted less than we are, but barely. Their status also “deteriorated” in 2007.

The U.S. has been downgraded from “Extensive Surveillance Society” to “Endemic Surveillance Society,” according to Privacy International’s 2007 International Privacy Ranking released on Friday. We now share the “Endemic” distinction with China, Russia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, and the UK:

In terms of statutory protections and privacy enforcement, the US is the worst ranking country in the democratic world. In terms of overall privacy protection the United States has performed very poorly, being out-ranked by both India and the Philippines.”

Tapes by C.I.A. Lived and Died to Save Image article from The New York Times:

“WASHINGTON — If Abu Zubaydah, a senior operative of Al Qaeda, died in American hands, Central Intelligence Agency officers pursuing the terrorist group knew that much of the world would believe they had killed him.

So in the spring of 2002, even as the intelligence officers flew in a surgeon from Johns Hopkins Hospital to treat Abu Zubaydah, who had been shot three times during his capture in Pakistan, they set up video cameras to record his every moment: asleep in his cell, having his bandages changed, being interrogated.

In fact, current and former intelligence officials say, the agency’s every action in the prolonged drama of the interrogation videotapes was prompted in part by worry about how its conduct might be perceived — by Congress, by prosecutors, by the American public and by Muslims worldwide.

That worry drove the decision to begin taping interrogations — and to stop taping just months later, after the treatment of prisoners began to include waterboarding. And it fueled the nearly three-year campaign by the agency’s clandestine service for permission to destroy the tapes, culminating in a November 2005 destruction order from the service’s director, Jose A. Rodriguez Jr.”

The Hangover That Lasts article from The New York Times

BBC Censored Benazir Bhutto’s Reports that Bin Laden Had Been Murdered article from ExistentialistCowboy Blogspot:

“When a news organization as venerable as the BBC censors the reportage of a story as important as the assassination of Benzir Bhutto –a highly visible critic of Bush/British policy with regard to the “War on Terrorism” et al –it is fair to ask: who is the BBC protecting? Are they covering up the motive for her murder? Are they protecting the regimes that engineered her assassination?

Bhutto herself has exposed the fraudulent nature of the Bush/Blair “war on terrorism”. If Bin Laden is dead, as has been reported, then the various tapes that he is alleged to have made are all phony. The war on terrorism itself is a callous, calculated fraud perpetrated by a murderous Bush regime, a murderous Blair regime, a murderous puppet regime of Musharraf.

That’s why Bhutto was murdered. She was the woman who knew too much. Bhutto exposed the fact that US policies cause terrorism and she stated the various ways in which groups inside the US and Britain benefited politically and materially from the phony war on phony terrorism, the failed war in Afghanistan, the war crime that is still perpetrated against the people of Iraq. Bhutto posed a threat to the culprits in the Bush regime to include Bush himself. She posed a threat to the kiss ups in Musharraf’s regime to include Musharraf and the liars who tried to float the incredible “lone lever” theory. She was murdered. And the BBC has been caught censoring the most important piece of the puzzle. If Osama is dead, the war on terror is a bloody fraud!”

WHEN AMERICA CEASED TO BE FREE article from OpEdNews:

“America ceased to be free when it replaced Democracy, responsibility and true freedom with security and then exported it to countries like Pakistan under the guise of  Democracy ~ thus beginning the slow descent toward a plutocracy and total loss of freedom. Bhutto’s assassination is dramatic evidence of this : Allen L Roland

Make no mistake about it, Pakistan is far more valuable to the Cheney/Bush administration as a non democratic state under the dictatorship of Musharraf than a democratic state under the possible rule of the recently assassinated Benazir Bhutto. And don’t rule out the role of the CIA in Bhutto’s death ~ two months before her death, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto sent an e-mail to her U.S. adviser and longtime friend, saying that if she were killed, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf would bear some of the blame. (http://snipurl.com/1vy7r).”

CIA-ISI Created “Qaeda Network” Blamed for Pakistan Troubles article from TruthNews.us:

“It is a familiar if not worn-out refrain: “The Qaeda network accused by Pakistan’s government of killing the opposition leader Benazir Bhutto is increasingly made up not of foreign fighters but of homegrown Pakistani militants bent on destabilizing the country, analysts and security officials here say.”

If we are to believe the New York Times — you know, the propaganda sheet in large part responsible for selling the “war” in Iraq, that is to say the plan to mass murder of more than a million Iraqis — the contrived terrorist scare crow al-Qaeda has “clearly expanded their ranks and turned to a direct confrontation with the Pakistani security forces while also aiming at political figures like Ms. Bhutto,” never mind there is absolutely no evidence of this and never mind as well al-Qaeda was in fact created by Pakistan’s ISI, with a large infusion of CIA cash and directives.

“Al Qaeda right now seems to have turned its face toward Pakistan and attacks on the Pakistani government and Pakistani people,” averred Robert Gates, one of the primary founders of al-Qaeda, a fact he willingly admitted in his memoir, From the Shadows. Of course, no mention of this slimy connection in the “liberal” New York Times, the former home of the neocon disinfo operative Judith Miller.”

FOX News & Other Media Outlets Ignore Benazir Bhutto’s Claim That Osama bin Laden Is Dead article from News Hounds

New Image Released Of Bhutto’s Assassin video from LiveLeak.com

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