The New York Times of July 15, 2010 contained two articles that reminded me of why, during 45 years of following national media reports, I've developed a healthy suspicion of the stories told citizens by their governments.
he first one was titled, "Despite Settlement Freeze, Buildings Rise."1 On August 12 2009 Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced, with great fanfare, a freeze on settlement construction in the occupied West Bank territories, "It will enable us to show the world this simple truth: The Government of Israel wants to enter into negotiations with the Palestinians, is taking practical steps to enter into negotiations and is very serious in its intention to advance peace."2 Secretary Of State Hilary Clinton praised this as an "unprecedented" Israeli concession at the time.3 The reality has been the "freeze" was just a smokescreen for a continued building blitz.
"When the freeze was announced, it came with the assertion that some 3,000 units were grandfathered in and would proceed during the moratorium. David Ha'Ivri, spokesman for the [settlers] Shomron Regional Council in the northern West Bank, said the leader of the council, Gershon Mesika, knew a freeze was coming and so approved more than 1,600 units in 2009, nearly 10 times the number that had been approved the previous year for his area.
Data from the Central Bureau of Statistics for 2006 through 2008 show that on average about 3,000 West Bank settlement units were built in each of those years. So the 10-month freeze offered no fundamental change of pace. In addition, the statistics show, in the last quarter of 2009, more than 750 housing units were approved for West Bank settlements. That was double the number of each of the three previous quarters."1 The peace process in the Middle East has a sad history of "now you see it, now you don't" initiatives. The only constant is that Israel for sixty years has been the annual recipient of the most U.S. foreign aid and military weapons sales.
Misused intelligence data helps start a war? Remember Secretary of State Colin Powell's hyper–televised testimony before the U.N. February 2003, prelude to the Iraq invasion one month later? History certainly repeats itself all too quickly.
hese are two of a multitude of government-philandering-with-the-truth examples that could be cited. Call to mind and further investigate / publicize others which have impacted your lives. Truth is the first casualty of war, and not a day of my 62 years have I lived with my country not at war. If truth dies, so does democracy. Our country has basic need of a Truth Commission to get to the bottom of our recent history, to re-establish our values as a society. If South Africa and Guatemala have done this, so must we, but with much greater depth and breadth, as our country has impacted so many others.
Some other time I'll tell the story of my conversion from true believer in the system, to healthy skeptic of politics in the media. It happened during the 1960's in my MSU college years, when I was working in Capac, MI area migrant labor camps, part of a Catholic Church summer project. Volunteers in a parallel Quaker service group gave me a copy of "I.F. Stone's Weekly" [4 to 8 page Washington D.C. critical, insightful newsletter--died with its originator a couple decades back]. That Jewish investigative reporter opened my eyes about one instance of Vietnam War dysinformation. [You'd be right if you supposed that my "Weekly" pays some homage to his.]
Historians note that a few days after the supposed [Tonkin Gulf] attack he [President LBJ] told George W. Ball, the under secretary of state, “Hell, those dumb, stupid sailors were just shooting at flying fish!” 4
"If you live according to my teaching...you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Jn 8:32
Illuminations by Kathy Brahney
5 For more on the contribution of the NSA historian, Robert J. Hanyok, to our greater understanding of the depth and complexity of dysinformation [terminology coined by Oliver North, conspirator in the Iran Contra affair], take some time with this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/02/politics/02tonkin.html