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Robert Parry

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  1. The first two or three months of 2007 represent a dangerous opening for an escalation of war in the Middle East, as George W. Bush will be tempted to “double-down” his gamble in Iraq by joining with Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair to strike at Syria and Iran, intelligence sources say. President Bush’s goal would be to transcend the bloody quagmire bogging down U.S. forces in Iraq by achieving “regime change” in Syria and by destroying nuclear facilities in Iran, two blows intended to weaken Islamic militants in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. The Israeli army and air force would carry the brunt of any new fighting albeit with the support of beefed-up U.S. ground and naval forces in the Middle East, the sources said. Bush is now considering a “surge” in U.S. troop levels in Iraq from about 140,000 to as many as 170,000. He also has dispatched a second aircraft carrier group to the coast of Iran. So far, however, Bush has confronted stiff opposition from the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to the plan for raising troop levels in Iraq, partly because the generals don’t think it makes sense to commit more troops without a specific military mission. But it’s unclear how much the generals know about the expanded-war option which has been discussed sometimes in one-on-one meetings among the principals – Bush, Olmert and Blair – according to intelligence sources. Since the Nov. 7 congressional elections, the three leaders have conducted a round-robin of meetings that on the surface seem to have little purpose. Olmert met privately with Bush on Nov. 13; Blair visited the White House on Dec. 7; and Blair conferred with Olmert in Israel on Dec. 18. All three leaders could salvage their reputations if a wider war broke out in the Middle East and then broke in their favor... In early 2007, the revival of this neoconservative strategy of using the Israeli military to oust the Syrian government and to inflict damage on Iran’s nuclear program may represent a last-ditch – and high-risk – gamble by Bush and the neocons to salvage their historic legacy. If that is the case, then Bush will approve “the surge” in U.S. forces into Iraq, which likely will be followed by some provocation that can be blamed on Syria or Iran, thus justifying the expanded war. Betting the lives of American soldiers and countless civilians across the Middle East, Bush will follow the age-old adage of gambling addicts: in for a dime, in for a dollar. http://consortiumnews.com/2006/122006.html
  2. Robert Gates

    While in charge of the CIA's analytical division in the mid-1980s, Robert M. Gates made wildly erroneous predictions about the dangers posed by leftist-ruled Nicaragua and espoused policy prescriptions considered too extreme even by the Reagan administration, in one case advocating the U.S. bombing of Nicaragua. Gates - now President George W. Bush's nominee to replace Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary - expressed his alarmist views about Nicaragua and the need to bomb the country's military targets in a secret Dec. 14, 1984, memorandum to then-CIA Director William Casey. The memo has new relevance today because Gates's private advice to Casey suggests that Gates was either more of an extremist ideologue than many in Washington believe or he was pandering to Casey's personal zealotry. Either possibility raises questions about Gates's fitness to run the Pentagon at a time when many observers believe it needs strong doses of realism and independence to stand up to both a strong-willed President and influential neoconservative theorists who promoted the invasion of Iraq. The Iraq War - now exceeding the length of U.S. participation in World War II - has been marked by politicized intelligence, over-reliance on force, fear of challenging the insider tough-guy talk, and lack of respect for international law - all tendencies that Gates has demonstrated in his career. In the 1980s, Gates was a Cold War hardliner prone to exaggerate the Soviet threat, which put him in the good graces of Reagan administration officials. They also rejected the growing evidence of a rapid Soviet decline in order to justify a massive U.S. military build-up and aggressive interventions in Third World conflicts. Put in charge of the CIA's analytical division, which supposedly is dedicated to objective analysis, Gates instead pleased his boss Casey by taking an over-the-top view of the danger posed by Nicaragua, an impoverished Third World nation then ruled by leftist Sandinista revolutionaries who had ousted right-wing dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979. Though Gates opens his December 1984 memo with the declaration that "it is time to talk absolutely straight about Nicaragua," he then ignores many relevant facts that get in the way of his thesis about the need to launch air strikes against Sandinista military targets and to overthrow the supposedly "Marxist-Leninist" regime. For instance, Gates makes no mention of the fact that only a month earlier, the Sandinistas had won an election widely praised for its fairness by European and other international observers. But the Reagan administration had pressured pro-U.S. candidate Arturo Cruz into withdrawing when it became clear he would lose - and then denounced the election as a "sham." Without assessing whether the Sandinistas had any real commitment to democracy, Gates adopts the Reagan administration's favored position - that Nicaragua's elected president Daniel Ortega was, in effect, a Soviet-style dictator. "The Nicaraguan regime is steadily moving toward consolidation of a Marxist-Leninist government and the establishment of a permanent and well armed ally of the Soviet Union and Cuba on the mainland of the Western Hemisphere," Gates wrote to Casey. The Gates assessment, however, turned out to be wrong. Rather than building a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship, the Sandinistas competed six years later in a robust presidential election - even allowing the United States to pour in millions of dollars to help elect Washington's favored candidate, Violeta Chamorro. The Sandinistas respected the election results, ceding power to Chamorro. The Sandinistas also have competed in subsequent elections with Ortega finally regaining the presidency in the latest election held in November 2006. In the 1984 memo, Gates also promotes another right-wing canard of the era - that Nicaragua's procurement of weapons was proof of its aggressive intentions, not an attempt at national self-defense. Again, Gates ignores significant facts, including a history starting in 1980 of first the right-wing Argentine junta and then the United States financing and training a brutal counterrevolutionary movement, known as the contras. By 1984, the contras had earned a reputation for rape, torture, murder and terrorism - as they ravaged towns especially along Nicaragua's northern border. In 1983-84, the CIA also had used the cover of the contra war to plant mines in Nicaragua's harbors, an operation later condemned by the World Court. But Gates offers none of this context in his five-page memo to Casey, a strong advocate of the contra cause. The memo makes no serious analytical attempt to gauge whether Nicaragua - the target of aggression by a nearby superpower, the United States - might have been trying to build up forces to deter more direct U.S. intervention. Instead, Gates tells his boss what he wants to hear. "The Soviets and Cubans are turning Nicaragua into an armed camp with military forces far beyond its defensive needs and in a position to intimidate and coerce its neighbors," Gates wrote. Gate also paints an apocalyptic vision of what might happen if the contras retreated to Honduras. According to Gates, the flight of the contras would touch off a new wave of refugees and destabilize the region. "These unsettled political and military circumstances in Central America would undoubtedly result in renewed capital flight from Honduras and Guatemala and result in both new hardship and political instability throughout the region," Gates wrote. This so-called "feet people" theme was another administration rationale for continuing the contra war against Nicaragua. But the truth was that right-wing "death squads" then operating in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras generated far more of a refugee flow than had followed the Sandinista victory in Nicaragua in 1979. After laying out his premises, Gates moves to his conclusion - that there is no hope the Sandinistas will accept democracy, even if the contras were sustained in the field, and thus there was no choice but to oust the Sandinistas by force. Gates wrote: It seems to me that the only way that we can prevent disaster in Central America is to acknowledge openly what some have argued privately: that the existence of a Marxist-Leninist regime in Nicaragua closely allied with the Soviet Union and Cuba is unacceptable to the United States and that the United States will do everything in its power short of invasion to put that regime out. Hopes of causing the regime to reform itself for a more pluralistic government are essentially silly and hopeless. Moreover, few believe that all those weapons and the more to come are only for defense purposes. Dressing up his recommendations as hardheaded realism, Gates added: Once you accept that ridding the Continent of this regime is important to our national interest and must be our primary objective, the issue then becomes a stark one. You either acknowledge that you are willing to take all necessary measures (short of military invasion) to bring down that regime or you admit that you do not have the will to do anything about the problem and you make the best deal you can. Casting aside all fictions, it is the latter course we are on. ... Any negotiated agreement simply will offer a cover for the consolidation of the regime and two or three years from now we will be in considerably worse shape than we are now." Gates then calls for withdrawing diplomatic recognition of the Nicaraguan government, backing a government-in-exile, imposing an economic embargo on exports and imports "to maximize the economic dislocation of the regime," and launching "air strikes to destroy a considerable portion of Nicaragua's military buildup (focusing particularly on the tanks and the helicopters)." In the memo, Gates depicts those who would do less as weaklings and fools, including some administration officials who favored focusing on arranging new covert aid to the contras. "These are hard measures," Gates wrote about his recommendations. "They probably are politically unacceptable. But it is time to stop fooling ourselves about what is going to happen in Central America. Putting our heads in the sand will not prevent the events that I outlined at the beginning of this note. ... "The fact is that the Western Hemisphere is the sphere of influence of the United States. If we have decided totally to abandon the Monroe Doctrine, if in the 1980's taking strong actions to protect our interests despite the hail of criticism is too difficult, then we ought to save political capital in Washington, acknowledge our helplessness and stop wasting everybody's time." More than two decades later, as the Senate rushes to confirm Gates as Rumsfeld's successor, neither the Republicans nor Democrats are showing much inclination to review Gates's troubling record. But the Nicaragua-bombing memo alone should give the senators pause. One could readily imagine Gates playing into George W. Bush's predilections on Iraq by presenting similar dichotomies between doing the wise but "politically unacceptable" thing by escalating the violence or "putting our heads in the sand" to negotiate some cowardly compromise. What's less clear is whether Gates actually believed his hard-line rhetoric in 1984 or was just parroting what he thought his boss wanted to hear. Some longtime Gates watchers at the CIA believe Gates is essentially a "chameleon" who adapts to the colorations of whatever political environment he finds himself in. His mild-mannered style also has led powerful mentors to see what they wish to see in him. So, is Gates a closet ideologue who shares his real views only with like-minded individuals like Casey or is he a skilled apple-polisher who curries favor with those above him by leaving them little presents like the Nicaragua-bombing memo for Casey. Another striking aspect of the Nicaragua memo is that it proves what many Gates critics have alleged over the years - that he tossed aside the principles of objective analysis to position himself as a political/policy advocate. Gates did that in the 1984 memo even while serving as the official responsible for protecting the integrity of the intelligence product. But Gates not only crossed the red line against entering the world of policy recommendations, he turned out to be wrong in virtually all his dire predictions. None of his predictions proved true after the Reagan administration rejected Gates's extreme proposals. The Reagan administration did not create a Nicaraguan government-in-exile. Nor did it bomb Nicaragua's military targets. Instead, President Reagan ordered his subordinates to continue arranging financial and military support for the contras, an operation led by White House aide Oliver North. Later, during George H.W. Bush's presidency, Secretary of State James Baker pushed a strategy of negotiations to resolve the bloody violence raging across Central America. Then, in 1990, the Bush I administration spent millions of dollars to support the Nicaraguan presidential candidacy of Violeta Chamorro against Daniel Ortega. The Sandinistas permitted the elections to go forward despite the continued contra violence and despite the U.S. intervention in Nicaragua's internal politics. After Chamorro's victory, the Sandinistas accepted the outcome and went into opposition. Despite Gates's apocalyptic vision, Nicaragua never hardened into a "Marxist-Leninist" dictatorship; it never used its military buildup against neighboring states; it turned out that hoping Nicaragua would become a pluralistic democracy wasn't "silly and hopeless"; Nicaragua even joined in regional peace negotiations that halted the political violence. As it turned out Gates had favored policies to the right of Ronald Reagan - and was proven wrong in judgment after judgment after judgment. Yet now two decades later, after a stint as president of Texas A&M, Gates is returning to Washington as a respected Wise Man who will be trusted to guide the United States out of the bloody debacle in Iraq. Thankful that George W. Bush's first Defense Secretary is on his way out, the U.S. Senate seems determined to trust in Bush's wisdom in choosing a replacement. The Senate also appears ready to trust in the judgment of Robert M. Gates to make the right decisions about the Iraq War. http://www.consortiumnews.com/2006/112706.html
  3. John Hull

    John Hull, the American farmer in Costa Rica whose land became a base for contra raids into Nicaragua, averted prosecution for alleged drug trafficking by fleeing Costa Rica in 1989 with the help of U.S. government operatives. A report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich disclosed new evidence about Hull's escape from Costa Rica in a plane flown by a pilot who worked for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The report, however, could not reconcile conflicting accounts about the direct involvement of a DEA officer and concluded, improbably, with a finding of no wrongdoing. The finding makes Bromwich's report the latest chapter in a long saga of U.S. government protection of Hull, a fervent anti-communist who became a favorite of the Reagan-Bush administrations. For years, however, contra-connected witnesses also cited Hull's ranch as a cocaine transshipment point for drugs heading to the United States. According to Bromwich's report, the DEA even prepared a research report on the evidence in November 1986. In it, one informant described Colombian cocaine off-loaded at an airstrip on Hull's ranch. The drugs were then concealed in a shipment of frozen shrimp and transported to the United States. The alleged Costa Rican shipper was Frigorificos de Puntarenas, a firm controlled by Cuban-American Luis Rodriguez. Like Hull, however, Frigorificos had friends in high places. In 1985-86, the State Department had selected the shrimp company to handle $261,937 in non-lethal assistance earmarked for the contras. In 1987, the DEA in Miami opened a file on Rodriguez, but soon concluded there was no case. Still, as more evidence surfaced in 1987, the FBI and Customs indicted Rodriguez for drug trafficking and money-laundering. But Hull remained untouchable, although five witnesses implicated him during Sen. John Kerry's investigation of contra-drug trafficking. The drug suspicions just glanced off the pugnacious farmer, who had cultivated close relationships with the U.S. Embassy and conservative Costa Rican politicians. In January 1989, however, Costa Rican authorities finally acted. They indicted Hull for drug trafficking, arms smuggling and other crimes. Hull was jailed, a move that outraged some U.S. congressmen. A letter, signed by senior Democrat Rep. Lee Hamilton and others, threatened to cut off U.S. economic aid if Hull were not released. Costa Rica complied, freeing Hull pending trial. But Hull didn't wait for his day in court. In July 1989, he hopped a plane, flew to Haiti and then to the United States. Hull got another break when one of his conservative friends, Roberto Calderon, won the Costa Rican presidency. On Oct. 10, 1990, Calderon informed the U.S. embassy that he could not stop an extradition request for Hull's return but signaled that he did not want to prosecute his pal. The embassy officials received the message. A cable noted that the new president was "clearly hoping that Hull will not be extradited." The Bush administration fulfilled Calderon's hope by rebuffing Costa Rican extradition requests, effectively killing the case against Hull. While not objecting to that maneuvering, Bromwich's report revealed that behind the scenes, another drama was playing out: an internal investigation into whether DEA personnel had conspired to thwart Hull's drug prosecution. That phase of the story began on May 17, 1991, when a Costa Rican journalist told a DEA official in Costa Rica that Hull was boasting that a DEA special agent had assisted in the 1989 flight to Haiti. DEA launched an internal inquiry, headed by senior inspector Anthony Ricevuto. The suspected DEA agent, whose name was withheld in Bromwich's report, admitted knowing Hull but denied helping him escape. Ricevuto learned, however, that one of the agent's informants, a pilot named Harold Wires, had flown the plane carrying Hull. When interviewed on July 23, 1991, Wires said the DEA agent had paid him between $500 and $700 to fly Hull to Haiti aboard a Cessna. In Haiti, Wires said, they met another DEA pilot Jorge Melendez and Ron Lippert, a friend of the agent. Melendez accompanied Wires back to Costa Rica, and Lippert flew with Hull to the United States. From DEA records, Ricevuto confirmed that Melendez had been a DEA informant and freelance pilot. But when questioned, Melendez denied seeing Hull in Haiti. Then, 20 days later, Ricevuto got a call from Wires who reversed his initial story. Wires suddenly was claiming that the DEA agent did not know that Hull was on the Cessna. Later, Wires amended the story again, saying that the agent gave him $700 to pay for the Cessna's fuel but only for the return flight. Wires also claimed it was the agent's friend, Lippert, who asked Wires to fly Hull out of Costa Rica, not the agent. Wires added that he took the assignment because he felt the CIA had abandoned Hull. Yet, Wires also acknowledged that he had received an angry call from Hull who wanted to clear the agent of suspicion. Though Hull's overheard comments about the DEA agent's role had started the investigation, Hull weighed in on Oct. 7, 1991, with a letter. "I have no idea if [the accused agent] knew how and when I was leaving Costa Rica," Hull wrote. He then added, cryptically, "I assumed the ambassador was fully aware of my intentions." For his part, Lippert told Ricevuto that the DEA agent indeed had helped plan Hull's escape. But a DEA polygrapher was brought in to test Lippert and judge him "deceptive." No polygraphs apparently were ever administered to Wires, Hull or the DEA agent. So, despite the evidence that DEA personnel conspired in the flight of an accused drug trafficker, the DEA cleared the agent of any wrongdoing. Bromwich endorsed that finding as "reasonable." http://www.consortiumnews.com/1990s/consor15.html
  4. Operation Mockingbird

    I suppose there are always things you don't know. As for my hiring at Newsweek, I think it resulted from how poorly the magazine had done on the scandal to that point. That said, Newsweek never liked the story and wanted it put to rest as soon as possible. Editor Maynard Parker was very sympathetic to the neoconservatives and became my nemesis. Evan felt that my presence so angered Parker that I had become an obstacle for Evan's plans for the Washington bureau. Newsweek did see itself as a centrist Establishment publication, but it was not necessarily in line with the CIA, especially when the analysts described a weakening Soviet Union. Newsweek favored a much harder line and even considered the CIA soft of the Soviets. Even in the late 1980s, Parker and other top editors pushed for an article about Soviet tanks threatening the Fulda Gap in Germany. Despite objections from Washington correspondents, I think that story was eventually done.
  5. I suppose there are always things you don't know. As for my hiring at Newsweek, I think it resulted from how poorly the magazine had done on the scandal to that point. That said, Newsweek never liked the story and wanted it put to rest as soon as possible. Editor Maynard Parker was very sympathetic to the neoconservatives and became my nemesis. Evan felt that my presence so angered Parker that I had become an obstacle for Evan's plans for the Washington bureau. Newsweek did see itself as a centrist Establishment publication, but it was not necessarily in line with the CIA, especially when the analysts described a weakening Soviet Union. Newsweek favored a much harder line and even considered the CIA soft of the Soviets. Even in the late 1980s, Parker and other top editors pushed for an article about Soviet tanks threatening the Fulda Gap in Germany. Despite objections from Washington correspondents, I think that story was eventually done. As for the Clinton stuff, it's absolutely nonsense and disinformation. Clinton was not involved in the contra drug trade. That was a psy-op run by the Republican Right -- and pushed by some leftists who hated Clinton and were quietly collaborating with the Right. (I don't want to mention names but one became a prominent hawk on Iraq.) Some of those Clinton-cocaine books were just dishonest ways to make money. Other times, good people have been sucked into the disinformation. But Mena wasn't why Clinton failed to use the Hitz material differently. The Clinton crowd had decided by late 1992 to give Bush Sr. and others a pass on the scandals of the 1980s so that would not interfere with their domestic agenda. Once that decision was made there was no reasonable way for them to go back on it, even when the Republicans began trashing Clinton. Please don't fall for these silly Clinton conspiracy theories. They have been another bane of my existence.
  6. I suppose there are always things you don't know. As for my hiring at Newsweek, I think it resulted from how poorly the magazine had done on the scandal to that point. That said, Newsweek never liked the story and wanted it put to rest as soon as possible. Editor Maynard Parker was very sympathetic to the neoconservatives and became my nemesis. Evan felt that my presence so angered Parker that I had become an obstacle for Evan's plans for the Washington bureau. Newsweek did see itself as a centrist Establishment publication, but it was not necessarily in line with the CIA, especially when the analysts described a weakening Soviet Union. Newsweek favored a much harder line and even considered the CIA soft of the Soviets. Even in the late 1980s, Parker and other top editors pushed for an article about Soviet tanks threatening the Fulda Gap in Germany. Despite objections from Washington correspondents, I think that story was eventually done. As for the Clinton stuff, it's absolutely nonsense and disinformation. Clinton was not involved in the contra drug trade. That was a psy-op run by the Republican Right -- and pushed by some leftists who hated Clinton and were quietly collaborating with the Right. (I don't want to mention names but one became a prominent hawk on Iraq.) Some of those Clinton-cocaine books were just dishonest ways to make money. Other times, good people have been sucked into the disinformation. But Mena wasn't why Clinton failed to use the Hitz material differently. The Clinton crowd had decided by late 1992 to give Bush Sr. and others a pass on the scandals of the 1980s so that would not interfere with their domestic agenda. Once that decision was made there was no reasonable way for them to go back on it, even when the Republicans began trashing Clinton. Please don't fall for these silly Clinton conspiracy theories. They have been another bane of my existence.
  7. An interview with Robert Parry

    I suppose there are always things you don't know. As for my hiring at Newsweek, I think it resulted from how poorly the magazine had done on the scandal to that point. That said, Newsweek never liked the story and wanted it put to rest as soon as possible. Editor Maynard Parker was very sympathetic to the neoconservatives and became my nemesis. Evan felt that my presence so angered Parker that I had become an obstacle for Evan's plans for the Washington bureau. Newsweek did see itself as a centrist Establishment publication, but it was not necessarily in line with the CIA, especially when the analysts described a weakening Soviet Union. Newsweek favored a much harder line and even considered the CIA soft of the Soviets. Even in the late 1980s, Parker and other top editors pushed for an article about Soviet tanks threatening the Fulda Gap in Germany. Despite objections from Washington correspondents, I think that story was eventually done. As for the Clinton stuff, it's absolutely nonsense and disinformation. Clinton was not involved in the contra drug trade. That was a psy-op run by the Republican Right -- and pushed by some leftists who hated Clinton and were quietly collaborating with the Right. (I don't want to mention names but one became a prominent hawk on Iraq.) Some of those Clinton-cocaine books were just dishonest ways to make money. Other times, good people have been sucked into the disinformation. But Mena wasn't why Clinton failed to use the Hitz material differently. The Clinton crowd had decided by late 1992 to give Bush Sr. and others a pass on the scandals of the 1980s so that would not interfere with their domestic agenda. Once that decision was made there was no reasonable way for them to go back on it, even when the Republicans began trashing Clinton. Please don't fall for these silly Clinton conspiracy theories. They have been another bane of my existence.
  8. Obviously, the Internet has helped and we've been part of providing free journalistic content since 1995. But the Internet has limits. Part of the problem goes to resources. The major news outlets - newspapers and TV - still have the money to do substantial journalism when they choose to. The Internet tends to be derivative of that work. There's also a lack of professionalism, which some actually favor although I am not among them. I believe there's an important role for journalistic professionalism relating to standards of evidence, readability, fairness, etc. Amateurism raises the odds that serious mistakes will be made. So, I think the key will be to figure out how to infuse quality Internet journalism with sufficient resources so the work can be upgraded and sustained. I agree that the 1970s was not some Golden Age of journalism, but it was a lot better than what preceded it and what has followed. In many ways, that era reflected the divisions in the Establishment that had opened up because of Vietnam and Watergate. There was also increasing pressure from the more leftist "underground press" which was challenging the mainstream press on credibility with large segments of the readership. These various pressures and fractures gave journalists a little more freedom to do their jobs. The Reagan-Bush era was about reversing those trends, a process that was carried out ruthlessly and successfully. Groups were funded to attack honest mainstream journalists, a robust conservative media was created, and the "underground press" pretty much disappeared. The media's anti-Clinton-Gore aggressiveness of the Clinton era was really just a coinciding of the interests of the emerging conservative media with the "we're not liberal" mainstream media. That dynamic was made worse by woeful judgments from wealthy progressives that media was not important. So, there was no "liberal" counterweight news media to speak of (just a few under-funded magazines usually based in out-of-the-way places like San Francisco, Madison, Boston, Chicago - almost anywhere but Washington, the front lines of the media battles). What I'm saying is that I think the process is a bit more complicated that simply seeing the disclosures of the 1970s as an orchestrated limited hang-out. Like today, it was more the result of the competing interest groups, but they were weighted in different directions. That could be interpreted as hopeful news, since I think the dynamic could be changed with a serious devotion of resources to build an honest media infrastructure. But we'll see.
  9. An interview with Robert Parry

    Obviously, the Internet has helped and we've been part of providing free journalistic content since 1995. But the Internet has limits. Part of the problem goes to resources. The major news outlets - newspapers and TV - still have the money to do substantial journalism when they choose to. The Internet tends to be derivative of that work. There's also a lack of professionalism, which some actually favor although I am not among them. I believe there's an important role for journalistic professionalism relating to standards of evidence, readability, fairness, etc. Amateurism raises the odds that serious mistakes will be made. So, I think the key will be to figure out how to infuse quality Internet journalism with sufficient resources so the work can be upgraded and sustained. I agree that the 1970s was not some Golden Age of journalism, but it was a lot better than what preceded it and what has followed. In many ways, that era reflected the divisions in the Establishment that had opened up because of Vietnam and Watergate. There was also increasing pressure from the more leftist "underground press" which was challenging the mainstream press on credibility with large segments of the readership. These various pressures and fractures gave journalists a little more freedom to do their jobs. The Reagan-Bush era was about reversing those trends, a process that was carried out ruthlessly and successfully. Groups were funded to attack honest mainstream journalists, a robust conservative media was created, and the "underground press" pretty much disappeared. The media's anti-Clinton-Gore aggressiveness of the Clinton era was really just a coinciding of the interests of the emerging conservative media with the "we're not liberal" mainstream media. That dynamic was made worse by woeful judgments from wealthy progressives that media was not important. So, there was no "liberal" counterweight news media to speak of (just a few under-funded magazines usually based in out-of-the-way places like San Francisco, Madison, Boston, Chicago - almost anywhere but Washington, the front lines of the media battles). What I'm saying is that I think the process is a bit more complicated that simply seeing the disclosures of the 1970s as an orchestrated limited hang-out. Like today, it was more the result of the competing interest groups, but they were weighted in different directions. That could be interpreted as hopeful news, since I think the dynamic could be changed with a serious devotion of resources to build an honest media infrastructure. But we'll see.
  10. Obviously, the Internet has helped and we've been part of providing free journalistic content since 1995. But the Internet has limits. Part of the problem goes to resources. The major news outlets - newspapers and TV - still have the money to do substantial journalism when they choose to. The Internet tends to be derivative of that work. There's also a lack of professionalism, which some actually favor although I am not among them. I believe there's an important role for journalistic professionalism relating to standards of evidence, readability, fairness, etc. Amateurism raises the odds that serious mistakes will be made. So, I think the key will be to figure out how to infuse quality Internet journalism with sufficient resources so the work can be upgraded and sustained. I agree that the 1970s was not some Golden Age of journalism, but it was a lot better than what preceded it and what has followed. In many ways, that era reflected the divisions in the Establishment that had opened up because of Vietnam and Watergate. There was also increasing pressure from the more leftist "underground press" which was challenging the mainstream press on credibility with large segments of the readership. These various pressures and fractures gave journalists a little more freedom to do their jobs. The Reagan-Bush era was about reversing those trends, a process that was carried out ruthlessly and successfully. Groups were funded to attack honest mainstream journalists, a robust conservative media was created, and the "underground press" pretty much disappeared. The media's anti-Clinton-Gore aggressiveness of the Clinton era was really just a coinciding of the interests of the emerging conservative media with the "we're not liberal" mainstream media. That dynamic was made worse by woeful judgments from wealthy progressives that media was not important. So, there was no "liberal" counterweight news media to speak of (just a few under-funded magazines usually based in out-of-the-way places like San Francisco, Madison, Boston, Chicago - almost anywhere but Washington, the front lines of the media battles). What I'm saying is that I think the process is a bit more complicated that simply seeing the disclosures of the 1970s as an orchestrated limited hang-out. Like today, it was more the result of the competing interest groups, but they were weighted in different directions. That could be interpreted as hopeful news, since I think the dynamic could be changed with a serious devotion of resources to build an honest media infrastructure. But we'll see.
  11. Biography: Robert Parry

    Robert Parry is an American investigative journalist who has written extensively about the Iran-Contra scandal. During the 1980s, he worked for Associated Press and Newsweek, and broke a number of Iran-Contra stories. Along with his AP partner Brian Barger, he was the first to report on Oliver North's activities in the White House basement, and the first to describe the Nicaraguan Contras' involvement with cocaine traffickers. In 1995, he established ConsortiumNews.com as an online ezine dedicated to investigative journalism. Robert Parry has written several books, including Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & "Project Truth." (1999) and Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq (2004).
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