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Editor Parry's Year-End Letter

By Robert Parry
December 26, 2005

Dear Readers,

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.

But this failure of the U.S. media wasn’t an accident or simply a reaction to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Taming the news media has been a longtime goal of the neoconservative operatives who now dominate George W. Bush’s administration.

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.

That is where our Web site, Consortiumnews.com, comes in.

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 it’s in today. Among our investigative projects:

--We traced the origins of Republican contacts with Iran’s 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 Iraq’s 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 Right’s 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.

--We questioned George W. Bush’s case for war in Iraq and his risky military strategy that was based on dangerous wishful thinking. By contrast, most of the U.S. news media was wrapping itself in the American flag and doing features on “freedom fries.”

While we’ve accomplished much with our decade-old Web site, we’ve been hobbled by a chronic shortage of money. At a crucial juncture in early 2000, I had no choice but to make the Web site part-time and take a decent-paying job as an editor at Bloomberg News. (In 2004, I left that job to write Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and try to rebuild Consortiumnews.com.)

For our survival, we remain dependent on the generosity of our readers. (We have appealed to many large funders for help, but they have not been supportive. They don’t seem to understand the need.)

So, if you can, we would deeply appreciate your help.

You can contribute either by credit card online or by sending a check to Consortium for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Suite 102-231, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201. For contributions of $100 or more, you can get an autographed gift copy of Secrecy & Privilege or one of my other books. Also, since we are a non-profit 501-c-3 organization, your contribution is tax-deductible.

Thank you -- and best wishes for the New Year.


Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

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