Saturday, March 26, 2005

Everything Remains the Same

I would like to call attention to a review in the New York Review of Books. Entitled "More Than Fit to Print," It is written by Anthony Lewis, former long time editorial columnist for the New York Times, about a new book called, Inside the Pentagon Papers, by John Prados (Editor) and Margaret Pratt Porter (Editor). Mr. Lewis writes with an easy style that brings intense insight into an amazing transition period for the press, the government, and relations between the two. What is really telling, is how deceitful US officials were, and by extension, how little has changed since then.

When we think of the banana republics and CIA intrusion into Latin American governments in the 1950's, of which many of us have been long aware, we think of strange days long gone that could never happen now with the scrutiny of the press in the post-Watergate era. Well, think again. There were plenty of attempts by the Nixon people to paint Daniel Ellsberg, Rand Corporation defense analyst who leaked the thousands of pages of documents nicknamed "The Pentagon Papers," as a psychological weirdo. Similarly, when Seymour Hersh wrote in a fervently-researched and documented work, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, of striking instances of prisoner abuse by American soldiers in the Iraq War, he was all but attacked by a right-wing backlash which tried everything from discrediting his sources to ad-homonym arguments about his non-journalistic bias.

The good news is that Inside the Pentagon Papers will indeed serve to remind all of us how we need to remain vigilant, especially as we are told by the powers-that-be that we don't need to be, because they are looking after our interests.

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