The United States is facing a political crisis almost unparalleled in our history, a crisis uniquely dangerous because at its center it is not about a loss of power but about a loss of principle and even morality.
Instead of following the guideposts of a democratic republic, the U.S. government has veered off into delusions of empire. Instead of promoting international law, it has adopted theories of preemptive war. Instead of standing for human rights, it has become known for torture techniques, detentions without trial, and secret prisons.
Yet, this American crisis is also about the manipulation of information and the failure of the U.S. news media to do its job. Indeed, it is hard to envision that the United States would be in this fix if reporters had asked the tough questions, if they had held dishonest political leaders accountable, if reporters had shown more courage.
For years, these neoconservatives have understood that before they could transform the United States into their dream of a uni-polar empire, they had to gain effective control of the information that flows through Washington and they had to neutralize the honest journalists who got in the way.
The neoconservatives knew the power that would come from controlling how Americans saw the world, a process they called perception management. So, over the past quarter century, the neocons and their political allies invested heavily in building their own news media and intimidating the mainstream press.
A decade ago, after working many years as an investigative reporter for mainstream news outlets, such as the Associated Press and Newsweek, I felt that a new kind of media institution was needed, one with the courage to resist the pressures brought to bear on journalists. (I had experienced that pressure in the 1980s and early 1990s while investigating what became known as the Iran-Contra scandal.)
So, in 1995, on the advice of my oldest son, Sam, we turned to a new medium, the Internet. I cashed in my Newsweek retirement account to raise the money to get started and we began building our Web site as a home for well-researched journalistic stories that had no place in the sensationalistic, trivialized news media of the mid-1990s.
Since then, we have produced hundreds of important stories that illuminated how our nation drifted into the predicament its in today. Among our investigative projects:
--We traced the origins of Republican contacts with Irans Islamic fundamentalist regime back to secret meetings during the pivotal 1980 presidential campaign.
--We exposed the hidden history of covert arms deals between the Reagan-Bush administration and Iraqs Saddam Hussein in the 1980s.
--We showed how international money-launderer Sun Myung Moon used his mysterious wealth to corrupt the American conservative movement and build the Rights media.
--We laid out the real story behind the myth of Colin Powell, a man whose sterling reputation masked a long record of opportunism.
--We explained how Election 2000 was distorted first by bad reporting, then by inaccurate vote tallies, and finally by more bad reporting.