Tuesday, June 14, 2011
It’s big news that the Pentagon Papers have finally been released by the government.
But the statements from Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg about 9/11 have not been covered by the corporate media.
As Fire Dog Lake’s Jeff Kaye writes today:
The entire 9/11 field of inquiry has been vilified, poisoned over the years by ridicule, sometimes fantastic conspiracy mongering, and fearfulness by journalists of approaching the material, lest they be branded as irresponsible or some kind of conspiracy freak. As a result, little work has been done to investigate, except by a small group of people, some of whom have raised some real questions …
Similarly, Air Force Colonel and key Pentagon official Karen Kwiatkowski – who blew the whistle on the Bush administration’s efforts to concoct false intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction – wrote (page 26):
I have been told by reporters that they will not report their own insights or contrary evaluations of the official 9/11 story, because to question the government story about 9/11 is to question the very foundations of our entire modern belief system regarding our government, our country, and our way of life. To be charged with questioning these foundations is far more serious than being labeled a disgruntled conspiracy nut or anti-government traitor, or even being sidelined or marginalized within an academic, government service, or literary career. To question the official 9/11 story is simply and fundamentally revolutionary. In this way, of course, questioning the official story is also simply and fundamentally American.
Several months after 9/11, famed news anchor Dan Rather told the BBC that American reporters were practicing “a form of self-censorship”:
There was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around peoples’ necks if they dissented. And in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions…. And again, I am humbled to say, I do not except myself from this criticism.
What we are talking about here – whether one wants to recognize it or not, or call it by its proper name or not – is a form of self-censorship.
The head of CNN agreed:
There was ‘almost a patriotism police’ after 9/11 and when the network showed [things critical of the administration’s policies] it would get phone calls from advertisers and the administration and “big people” in corporations were calling up and saying, ‘You’re being anti-American here.’
Keith Olbermann said:
You can rock the boat, but you can never say that the entire ocean is in trouble …. You cannot say: By the way, there’s something wrong with our …. system.
Former Washington Post – and now Huffington Post – columnist Dan Froomkin wrote in 2006:
Mainstream-media political journalism is in danger of becoming increasingly irrelevant, but not because of the Internet, or even Comedy Central. The threat comes from inside. It comes from journalists being afraid to do what journalists were put on this green earth to do. . . .
There’s the intense pressure to maintain access to insider sources, even as those sources become ridiculously unrevealing and oversensitive. There’s the fear of being labeled partisan if one’s bullshit-calling isn’t meted out in precisely equal increments along the political spectrum.
If mainstream-media political journalists don’t start calling bullshit more often, then we do risk losing our primacy — if not to the comedians then to the bloggers.
I still believe that no one is fundamentally more capable of first-rate bullshit-calling than a well-informed beat reporter – whatever their beat. We just need to get the editors, or the corporate culture, or the self-censorship – or whatever it is – out of the way.
The Pulitzer prize-winning reporter who uncovered the Iraq prison torture scandal and the Mai Lai massacre in Vietnam, Seymour Hersh, said:
All of the institutions we thought would protect us — particularly the press, but also the military, the bureaucracy, the Congress — they have failed. The courts . . . the jury’s not in yet on the courts. So all the things that we expect would normally carry us through didn’t. The biggest failure, I would argue, is the press, because that’s the most glaring….
Q: What can be done to fix the (media) situation?
[Long pause] You’d have to fire or execute ninety percent of the editors and executives. You’d actually have to start promoting people from the newsrooms to be editors who you didn’t think you could control. And they’re not going to do that.
Veteran reporter Bill Moyers criticized the corporate media for parroting the obviously false link between 9/11 and Iraq (and the false claims that Iraq possessed WMDs) which the administration made in the run up to the Iraq war, and concluded that the false information was not challenged because:
“he [mainstream] media had been cheerleaders for the White House from the beginning and were simply continuing to rally the public behind the President — no questions asked.
Of course, the corporate media is always pro-war. Since 9/11 provided a justification for the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere, the mainstream media doesn’t want to question the government’s version of events.
As Tom Brokaw notes:
All wars are based on propaganda.
What Does Ellsberg Say?
Ellsberg says that the government has ordered the media not to cover 9/11:
Ellsberg seemed hardly surprised that today’s American mainstream broadcast media has so far failed to take [former FBI translator and 9/11 whistleblower Sibel] Edmonds up on her offer, despite the blockbuster nature of her allegations [which Ellsberg calls “far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers”].
As Edmonds has also alluded, Ellsberg pointed to the New York Times, who “sat on the NSA spying story for over a year” when they “could have put it out before the 2004 election, which might have changed the outcome.”
“There will be phone calls going out to the media saying ‘don’t even think of touching it, you will be prosecuted for violating national security,'” he told us.
* * *
“I am confident that there is conversation inside the Government as to ‘How do we deal with Sibel?'” contends Ellsberg. “The first line of defense is to ensure that she doesn’t get into the media. I think any outlet that thought of using her materials would go to to the government and they would be told ‘don’t touch this . . . .'”
He supports a new 9/11 investigation.
He says that the case of a certain 9/11 whistleblower is “far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers”. (Here’s some of what that whistleblower says.) He also said that the government is ordering the media to cover up her allegations about 9/11.
And he says that some of the claims concerning government involvement in 9/11 are credible, that “very serious questions have been raised about what they [U.S. government officials] knew beforehand and how much involvement there might have been”, that engineering 9/11 would not be humanly or psychologically beyond the scope of those in office, and that there’s enough evidence to justify a new, “hard-hitting” investigation into 9/11 with subpoenas and testimony taken under oath (see this and this).
Alternative Media Is Not Much Better
It is not just the corporate media.
I have had the owners of highly-regarded alternative media companies confide in me privately that they don’t believe the government’s version of 9/11, but that are scared of discussing it publicly because they don’t want to be tarred-and-feathered for discussing “conspiracy theories”.
Even writers like Glenn Greenwald – who are good on so many issues – won’t touch it.
Of course – as Ellsberg points out – “Secrets … can be kept reliably … for decades … even though they are known to thousands of insiders”. Indeed, the whole label “conspiracy theory” is just an attempt to diffuse criticism of the powerful.
People used to understand this. As the quintessential American writer Mark Twain said in a more rational age:
A conspiracy is nothing but a secret agreement of a number of men for the pursuance of policies which they dare not admit in public.
Of course, as thousands of top American military officers, counter-terrorism officials, intelligence officers, congressmen, structural engineers, and others have publicly said, the government’s story about 9/11 makes absolutely no sense. See this, this, this and this. And family members of people who died on 9/11 – and many New Yorkers – want a new investigation.
But you’ll never hear that in the corporate media.