Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Bush Administration "Killing the Messenger!"

Cleopatra, in "Antony and Cleopatra" spoke about receiving messages that were less than encouraging:
Come hither, sir.
Though it be honest, it is never good
To bring bad news: give to a gracious message.
An host of tongues; but let ill tidings tell
Themselves when they be felt.

Portrait of William Shakespeare
It is thus with Newsweek that has erred by reporting information given to it by a reliable source regarding the treatment of the Koran in Guantanamo.

Even the White House, via Scott McClellan, the President's spokesman has jumped into the discussion:
“The report has had serious consequences,” he said, referring to anti-US riots throughout the Muslim world for which the report was blamed.

“People have lost their lives. The image of the United States abroad has been damaged.”
It is easy to blame the media for the messages that are presented.

However, even Senator John McCain realized that things were a bit more complex than this:
McCain said the article had damaged U.S. efforts in the region but added that "there's been a lot of things that caused long-term, significant damage, including [the abuse of detainees by Americans at] Abu Ghraib [prison in Iraq] and the stories and pictures surrounding that terrible situation.

"But we have a war of ideals and ideas, and that is to sell democracy and freedom and tolerance to the world and the stories like these set us back," McCain said.
Well Senator McCain almost got it right.

Stories like this do set us back in the Moslem world. But then again, maybe it is stories like this that hurt us the most. Stories about torture and abuse of detainees.

America has to choose the method in preventing stories like this from being in the press. Either, as some in this Administration seem to prefer, we can control the Press by manufacturing news in the form of Video News Releases, pay money to commentators to write positive stories, as has been done, prevent the President from answering questions by failing to schedule news conferences, facilitate phony reporters in the few White House News Conferences that are held, prevent access to Guantanamo itself, denying reporters the possibility of talking with detainees, and censor photos of returning caskets to prevent the deterioration of morale, or we can prevent the events from happening by cleaning up our own act!

Or perhaps, as seems to be current policy, attack CBS, and attack Newsweek Magazine, and attack the media.

On the other hand, you might consider the alternative. Maybe returning morality to government and opening up our secret Administration to inspection. Maybe abiding by the Geneva Conventions and prosecuting Generals who failed to prevent and instead implemented the policies that led to Abu Ghraib and the Guantanamo abuses instead of whitewashing investigations.

But that would be more difficult. The right way is not always the easiest way!

America deserves better. We need an America that is a beacon of liberty, a standard for other nations to follow. We need new leadership in Washington and a return to the America that makes all of us proud!



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