"Weapons of Mass Deception"


There’s plenty for a free press to report

Guest columnist

In the beginning, Thomas Jefferson observed that if he had to choose “between a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government,” he would choose the latter. He envisioned the press would report the truth to the American people, keeping the Congress honest. The government wouldn’t stay free long without a free press.

Today the press — the media, now — has joined the political fray, and the watchdog has become the attack dog. As a result, Mark Twain’s admonition has become the creed of both Congress and the media: The truth is so precious a commodity it should be used sparingly.

Take Social Security. Both the Greenspan Commission and the Budget Act forbade using Social Security monies for any programs other than Social Security. But the government continues to spend Social Security surpluses on everything but Social Security. Then — presto! — the Congress and the media contend that Social Security is broke and needs fixing. Social Security is not broke; it’s the government that’s broke.

One fix is political: Privatize Social Security to get the young vote. The other choice, raising the retirement age or taxes, merely means more money for programs other than Social Security. Moreover, Congress has made it a federal crime for a private company to pay the company debt with its pension fund. Yet the government constantly pays its debt with Social Security and other pension funds. The Congress and the media then cite a false deficit of $413 billion for fiscal year 2004 while the true deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office, is $593 billion.

Take trade. The second bill to pass the Congress on July 4, 1789, was a tariff bill — protectionism. We financed the government and built this economic giant, the United States, with protectionism. But after World War II, we took up the chant of “free trade,” treating trade as aid to defeat communism with capitalism in the Cold War. Now after 50 years of draining our industrial strength, it’s time to rebuild. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution provides that Congress shall regulate foreign commerce. To open markets we must control access to ours — practice protectionism. But the media acts as if protecting the economy was unconstitutional.

Worst of all is the media’s refusal to report the truth on Iraq. Saddam Hussein was no part of 9/11, had no weapons of mass destruction and was no threat to our national security. We invaded Iraq to implement a plan to democratize the Mideast for Israel.

In 1996, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser submitted a plan to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a “Clean Break” from Arafat and to institute democracy in the Mideast by bombing Lebanon, invading Syria and replacing Saddam with a Hashemite ruler favorable to Israel. Rejected by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Perle and company joined Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Scooter Libby, Stephen Cambone et. al. in the “Project for the New American Century.”

They pressured Congress in the 1990s for a change of regime in Iraq, and when George W. Bush was elected president in 2000 “Clean Break” hit paydirt. Cheney became vice president; Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Feith took the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 positions in defense; Libby headed Cheney’s staff; Cambone became Rumsfeld’s right-hand man; and Perle, the architect of “Clean Break,” was made chairman of the Defense Policy Board.

Upon winning the presidency and before his inauguration, President Bush sought a briefing on Iraq from President Clinton’s secretary of Defense, William Cohen. After the inauguration, Paul O’Neill, the new secretary of the Treasury, tells of going to the first meeting of the Security Council prepared to discuss the impending recession, but the discussion was mostly on Iraq.

When I served in World War II 60 years ago, we liberated Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, but they have yet to opt for democracy. We liberated Kuwait in the Gulf War, but it has yet to opt for democracy. But by 9/11 the president, intent on democratizing the Mideast, was asking Rumsfeld for a plan to invade Iraq. Bush was so determined to invade he disregarded his father’s admonition in A World Transformed: “We should not march into Baghdad.... To occupy Iraq would instantly shatter our coalition, turning the whole Arab world against us... condemning (young soldiers) to fight in what would be an unwinnable urban guerrilla war.”

If the media had reported the truth to the American people, we would have rejected “Clean Break” like Prime Minister Netanyahu. If the media had kept Congress honest, we would not be sending GIs to a war that most believe is a mistake and the top command says we can’t win.

Mr. Hollings is the senior senator from South Carolina.

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Milton Frihetsson, 09:38


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