The contrast with the treatment of Posada is dramatic. Admitted terrorist Posada's case has dragged on for upwards of six years, he has been free on bond for close to four years, and the United States still declines to charge him with any crime related to causing the death of civilians, only with giving false testimony, and it has long refused to extradite him to Venezuela, despite a longstanding treaty that obliges the United States to do so.
The contrast between the media's treatment of journalist Assange and the real terrorist, Posada, is also dramatic. One difference lies in attention levels. Reading U.S. newspapers and watching U.S. television, one would hardly know that Posada is on trial in El Paso. Thus during a ten-day period in the middle of January 2011 beginning with the first day of jury selection in the Posada trial (January 10-19), Assange's name turned up in the English-language media almost 22-times more frequently than did Posada's.
The same contrast holds true when it comes to substance: Whereas coverage of the real terrorist is protective, lacking in indignation, and exculpatory, coverage of Assange features heavily the allegations of sexual misbehavior, often using the emotionally charged term "rape," which is not even one of the charges being investigated in Sweden, along with a sense of "how-dare-he." Posada killed many people in his terrorist career, but the media do not focus on that. Nor do they search out the relatives of Posada's victims to call attention to their suffering. They do not dwell on the fact that he was a CIA asset. They do not feature the contradiction between the US government's allegedly fighting a "War on Terror" and its sponsoring and then protecting a genuine terrorist.
In short, Posada's case is a dramatic illustration of the fraudulence of the so-called "War on Terror" and highlights the U.S. refusal to abide by the rule of law. Assange's case shows well the U.S. establishment's fear of the free-flow of information that might interfere with foreign policy and reveal that there are many more Posadas whose service to the empire might be disclosed. And the media's cooperation in this protection of Posada and pursuit of Assange is clear.
This article was written for and appears in ThisCantBeHappening, the new independent, collectively-owned, journalist-run, reader-funded alternative online newspaper, at www.thiscantbehappening.net
Edward S. Herman is professor emeritus of finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and has written extensively on economics, political economy, and the media. David Peterson is an independent journalist and researcher based in Chicago. Together they are the co-authors of The Politics of Genocide , published in 2010 by Monthly Review Press.
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