U.S. Government

Historians Criticize Bush Secrecy

Richard Reeves, author of an acclaimed work on President Kennedy, has joined other leading historians in criticizing President Bush's executive order last fall that tightened access to presidential records of previous administrations. Currently working on a book about President Reagan, Reeves held up an index of government documents that he has been prohibited from seeing. "There's great determination to prevent these papers from ever becoming public," he said.


Actions Louder than Words

Though President Bush says he envisions a world that settles disputes with "reason and good will," he is deepening U.S. ties with countries that commit human-rights abuses. "But Bush's coalition against terrorism is deepening U.S. military ties with countries that ... commit human-rights abuses that are well documented by the State Department," writes Frida Berrigan. "Last month, the department released its annual 'Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.' It lists 52 countries that are receiving U.S. military training or weapons as having 'poor' or 'very poor' human-rights records."


PBS's "Commanding" Conflict of Interest

PBS has applied its "conflict of interest" guidelines to refuse programming that receives sponsorship from unions, lesbians or battered women, on grounds that these groups have a "vested interest in the subject matter of the program." When it comes to corporations, however, the network follows a different standard. Currently the network is premiering a six-hour series about the global economy which was sponsored by major corporations that have a clear interest in the show's content.


Bush Administration Tramples on Press Freedom

When Spozhmai Maiwandi, who ran the Pashto service of the U.S. government's Voice of America, aired remarks made by Taliban leader Mullah Omar not long after September 11, the Bush administration got upset. Maiwandi lost her job. Frank Smyth writes for TomPaine.com that "unfortunately the VOA case is only one of many examples in which Bush officials have manipulated the press, particularly since 9/11. The administration has demonstrated a callous disregard for journalism, truth and transparency.


The Other War Room

George Bush likes to insist that he governs "based upon principle and not polls and focus groups." In reality, writes Joshua Green, "the Bush administration is a frequent consumer of polls, though it takes extraordinary measures to appear that it isn't." In 2001, the administration spent close to $1 million for polling, using political advisors like Jan van Lohuizen and his focus-group guru, Fred Steeper. "Policies are chosen beforehand, polls used to spin them.


America Is Not a Hamburger

President Bush's attempts to "rebrand" the United States are doomed, according to Naomi Klein. Klein analyzes of the strategy developed for the U.S. by Charlotte Beers, the advertising executive hired by the State Department as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. One of the problems, Klein notes, is that Beers' strategy of "branding" is itself in conflict with her attempt to equate Americanism with democracy and diversity.


The Music Man

"How good bad music and bad reasons sound when we march against an enemy," observed the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft seems to have taken this to heart. Workers at the Department of Justice are complaining about being expected to sing a patriotic song written by Ashcroft himself. "Have you heard the song?


The Rendon Group Got Almost $100M From CIA

The Rendon Group received close to $100-million dollars from the CIA for work it did in Iraq in the five years following the Gulf War according to reporter Seymour Hersh in a New Yorker article. Between 1991-96, The Rendon Group did "media relations" work for the Iraqi National Congress, a coalition opposition group supported at the time by the CIA.



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