Unlike the French or the Italians, for whom conspiracies are an integral
part of government activity, acknowledged by all, Americans have been
temperamentally prone to discount them. Reflecting its audience, the press
follows suit. Editors and reporters like to offer themselves as hardened
cynics, following the old maxim "Never believe anything till it is
officially denied," but in truth, they are touchingly credulous, ever
inclined to trust the official version, at least until irrefutable
evidence - say, the failure to discover a single WMD in Iraq - compels them
finally to a darker view.
Once or twice a decade some official deception simply cannot be sedately
circumnavigated. Even in the 1950s, when the lid of government secrecy was
more firmly bolted down, the grim health consequences of atmospheric testing
of nuclear weapons in the South Pacific, Utah, and Nevada finally surfaced.
In the late 1960s, it was the turn of the CIA, some of its activities first
exposed in relatively marginal publications like The Nation and Ramparts,
then finally given wider circulation.
Even then the mainstream press exhibited extreme trepidation in running any
story presuming to discredit the moral credentials of the U.S. government.
Take assassination as an instrument of national policy. In these post-9/11
days, when Dennis Blair, the director of national intelligence, publicly
declares, as he did before the House Intelligence Committee, that the
government has the right to kill Americans abroad, it is easy to forget that
nothing used to more rapidly elicit furious denials from the CIA than
allegations about its efforts, stretching back to the late 1940s, to kill
inconvenient foreign leaders. . . .
Maybe now the decline in power of the established corporate press, the
greater availability of dissenting versions of politics and history, and the
exposure of the methods used to coerce public support for the attack on Iraq
have engendered a greater sense of realism on the part of Americans about
what their government can do. Perhaps the press will be more receptive to
discomfiting stories about what Washington is capable of in the pursuit of
what it deems to be the national interest. Hopefully, in this more fertile
soil, Syd Schanberg's pertinacity will be vindicated at last, and those
still active in politics who connived at this abandonment will be forced to
give an account.
Alexander Cockburn co-edits CounterPunch. He is a regular columnist for The
Nation and also writes a weekly syndicated column. Among his books are
Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press, End Times: The Death of the Fourth
Estate (both co-authored with Jeffrey St. Clair) and Washington Babylon,
co-authored with Ken Silverstein.
[The New York Times this morning has a particularly lush installment of one
of the American media's most favored, reliable, and self-affirming rituals
-- it's time to mock and pity Those Crazy, Primitive, Irrational,
Propagandized Muslims and their Wild Conspiracy
Theories, which their reckless media and extremists maliciously
disseminate in order to generate unfair and unfounded hostility toward the
U.S.--Glenn Greenwald, "Those irrational, misled, conspiratorial
Muslims," salon.com, May 26, 2010]
[When I let it be known that I was going to tell Dad, who was director of a
U.S. Senate sub-committee at the time, about the fatal tortures that the
South Koreans were carrying out in our torture chambers, I was told that if
I ever breathed a word about this to anybody I would never get home alive.
Nowadays, such information does get out, but I doubt that anybody in the
know about 9/11 would ever divulge what really happened and certainly not
who was involved in it, because they would have a life expectancy measured
in hours. I have some tales I could tell about that, but this would
not be healthy for me. After everybody involved in 9/11 is dead, however, I
think it is highly probable if not certain that the full truth will come
out. There are good reasons why State Department documents remain
classified for fifty years.--Robert D
Crane, EMail, May 27, 2010]
[John McCain, who has risen to political prominence on his image as a
Vietnam POW war hero, has, inexplicably, worked very hard to hide from the
public stunning information about American prisoners in Vietnam who, unlike
him, didn't return home. Throughout his Senate career, McCain has quietly
sponsored and pushed into federal law a set of prohibitions that keep the
most revealing information about these men buried as classified documents.
Thus the war hero who people would logically imagine as a determined
crusader for the interests of POWs and their families became instead the
strange champion of hiding the evidence and closing the books.
[The purest example of how Americans are shielded from truth is the media's
(including many Internet sites') response to the large number of
professionals who find the official explanation of September 11, 2001,
inconsistent with everything they, as experts, know about physics,
chemistry, structural engineering, architecture, fires, structural damage,
the piloting of airplanes, the security procedures of the United States,
NORAD's capabilities, air traffic control, airport security, and other
matters. These experts, numbering in the thousands, have been shouted down
by know-nothings in the media who brand the experts as "conspiracy
theorists."--Paul Craig Roberts, "Conspiracy
Theory," foreignpolicyjournal.com, June 20 2011]