• Mainstream media admits censoring news at the behest of the U.S. federal government
By Mark Anderson
Flagship news publications in the United States mainstream media have been forced to admit that over the years they quietly forged partnerships with the federal government in order to withhold from American taxpayers vital information on such topics as the government’s drone-assassination program, torture, secret prisons and warrantless snooping.
Some of the worst cases of collusion and suppression go back 10 years to the early days of the modern “war on terror.” The existence of a secret U.S. drone base in Saudi Arabia which The Washington Post and The New York Times admittedly kept hidden for two years is the latest in a string of coverups. Others include: The Times obeying Bush Administration demands in mid-2004 to cover up warrantless wiretapping of Americans’ communications for 18 months and the Post concealing which nations served as secret, unlawful Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) torture prison locations.
This is all coming out as John O. Brennan, the current nominee to head the CIA, is being identified as the agency’s architect of a secret base in Saudi Arabia out of which remote-controlled drones are flown. From that base, the U.S. in 2011 executed perhaps the most chilling and game-changing action in recent history—the planned killing of American citizen Anwar Awlaki, an alleged terrorist recruiter. His American son, Abdulrahman, only 16, also was assassinated by a drone strike from the same base. There were no arrests, no trials and no presumption of innocence.
Meanwhile, foreign media, months and even years ago, reported these and related revelations. This left American taxpayers—the people who pay the bills—in the dark about a U.S. assassination program, while the rest of the world stayed informed.
American journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote in a February 7 column about the Times and the Post colluding with the federal government regarding such topics. “The entity that . . . endlessly praises itself for being a check on U.S. government power is, in fact, its most loyal servant,” he wrote.
The Post did report the secret prisons’ general existence. But it “purposely concealed the identity of the countries serving as the locale of those secret prisons in order to enable the plainly illegal program to continue without bothersome disruptions,” Greenwald added. “The Washington Post is not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program, at the request of senior U.S. officials,” the above-noted Post article concluded.
On February 5, 2013, the Post admitted covering up details on the Saudi drone operation in its online version: “The Washington Post had refrained from disclosing the specific location at the request of the administration, which cited concern that exposing the facility would undermine operations against an al-Qaeda affiliate regarded as the network’s most potent threat to the United States, as well as potentially damage counterterrorism collaboration with Saudi Arabia.”
The same Post piece noted “another news organization” planned to reveal the base’s location, “ending an informal arrangement among several news organizations that had been aware of the location for more than a year.” The public editor of that other news organization, Margaret Sullivan of the Times, noted in a February 6 online column: “The Times and other news organizations, including The Washington Post, had withheld the location of that base at the request of the C.I.A., but The Times decided to reveal it now because, according to the managing editor, Dean Baquet, it was at the heart of this particular article and because examining Mr. Brennan’s role demanded it.”
Mark Anderson is AFP’s roving editor. Listen to Mark’s weekly radio show and email him at email@example.com.