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Armstrong Williams Alive and Well in Mesopotamia

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Perhaps it's better to laugh at the ineptness and contradictions plaguing the Bush administration. Crying might be more appropriate, but it's messier, and who wants to cry for three more years?

The latest insanity is the administration's self-righteous indignation over the recent revelation that the Pentagon has been secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish pro-U.S. propaganda stories in the Iraqi media.

Through an administration-friendly public relations firm, The Lincoln Group, the Pentagon has been secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish pro-American propaganda articles. This of course, is against U.S. law, but what isn't that the Bushies have done lately?

The Pentagon awarded Lincoln a $5 million contract in 2004, after privately admitting that we were losing the public opinion war with the Iraqi Muslims. Imagine that? Who'd a thunk it? Just because we use white phosphorous shells on their civilians? Oh yeah, and we've killed maybe 100,000 of their civilians.

They even bought an Iraqi newspaper, and took over a radio station. Radio Free Rumsfeld. Can you imagine?

Senate Armed Services Committee chair John Warner (R. VA) ordered top Pentagon officials into a closed door session to explain whatever they are up to. General George Casey, one of the top three military men in Iraq, initially tried the time-honored approach of calling this a classified situation, which could then not be discussed, for security reasons. Well, Bush's star has fallen so low that the Republican majority in the senate no longer fears him, or any of his people. Casey was basically told that the Committee wasn't interested in playing his little game.

Senator Warner said, "A free and independent press is critical to the functioning of a democracy, and I am concerned about any actions which may erode the independence of the Iraqi media."

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, himself badly battered by the endless flow of bad news washing over the gunwales on a daily basis, bravely, if somewhat lamely, said, "We are very concerned about the reports. We have asked the Department of Defense for more information."

The President himself mentioned this was a serious matter. As a matter of fact, it was serious enough for them to strategically release the information on a Friday, hoping the American people would see little of it over the weekend.

What makes this so absurd, so hypocritical, even for this administration, is the fact that they have regularly, and in direct disobedience to a directive from the General Accounting Office, participated in the very same unethical use of both the written word and video news releases (VNR's) right here in America.

Anybody recall conservative journalist Armstrong Williams, who was paid $240,000 in taxpayer's money to pimp for Bush's "No Child Left behind Act?" Mr. Bush also spent an estimated $254 million of your tax dollars in his first term to produce literally thousands of VNR's for at least 20 US agencies, utilizing professional actors to pretend they were citizens on the street.

How can Bush feel it is acceptable for his phony journalists like Williams, Maggie Gallagher ($21,500) or Michael McManus ($10,000) to use the media to lie to the American people at home, and yet get upset when Rumsfeld's Pentagon does the same thing in Iraq?

As New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd put it most succinctly, "You have to admire Scott McLellan, the president's spokesman. He kept a straight face when he called the U.S. 'a leader when it comes to promoting and advocating a free and independent media around the world"we've made our views very clear when it comes to freedom of the press.' "

Dowd adds, "Exceedingly clear. The Bushies don't believe in it. They disdain the whole democratic system of checks and balances."

This is all occurring at the same time that Bush released his silly little "Victory in Iraq" booklet, little more than a PowerPoint presentation, which includes verbiage supporting "a free, independent and responsible Iraqi media."

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Thomas L. Walsh graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Communications/Journalism degree in 1962. Following a successful business career, he retired to Idaho's Teton Valley in 1999, where he works as a free-lance writer. Walsh and his (more...)
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