"While the administration of President George W. Bush is aggressively positioning itself as the world leader in the war on terrorism, some families of the Sept. 11 victims say that the facts increasingly contradict that script," reports Eric Boehlert. "The White House long opposed the formation of a blue-ribbon Sept. 11 commission, some say, and even now that panel is underfunded and struggling to build momentum.
"Litigation public relations discussions involving lawyers and public relations professionals are protected under attorney-client privilege, according to a ruling last week by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan," PR trade publication the Holmes Report writes. "The ruling was hailed by public relations professionals as conferring new credibility on their role and acknowledging a reality of today's legal work.
The Central Intelligence Agency classified and withheld from public release a 25-year-old joke item in a weekly terrorism report about the terrorist threat to Santa Claus, notes a new report on government secrecy. "The CIA's secret Santa" leads what the report calls a "lengthy compilation of declassified documents that illustrate the arbitrary and capricious decision making that all too often characterizes the U.S.
"Even as White House political aides plot a 2004 campaign plan designed to capitalize on the emotions and issues raised by the September 11 terror attacks," report Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, "administration officials are waging a behind-the-scenes battle to restrict public disclosure of key events relating to the attacks.
"Weeks before the first bombs dropped in Iraq, the Bush administration began rebuilding plans," reports ABC News, which has obtained a copy of a 99-page contract worth $600 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) - the most money the agency has ever spent in a single country in a single year. Among the companies believed to be bidding are Bechtel, Fluor, Parsons, the Washington Group and Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney's old firm," ABC reports. "All are experienced. But in addition, all are generous political donors - principally to Republicans."
The Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press has issued an updated report showing "how the war on terrorism affects access to information and the public's right to know." The report includes sections on "covering the war," "military tribunals," "domestic coverage," and "the USA PATRIOT Act." The World Press Institute has just issued a similar report.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia banned broadcast media from his speech on March 19 at an appearance where he received an award for supporting free speech. "That was one of the criteria that he had for acceptance," said James Foster, executive director of Cleveland's City Club, which gave Scalia its "Citadel of Free Speech Award."
"A Cold War-era office with a shadowy name and a colorful history of exposing Soviet deceptions is back in business, this time watching Iraq," reports Connie Cass. "The Counter-Disinformation/Misinformation Team's moniker is more impressive than its budget. It's a crew of two toiling in anonymity at the State Department, writing reports they are prohibited by law from disseminating to the U.S. public. The operation has challenged some fantastic claims over the years -- a U.S.
Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter and author of a regular Commondreams.org feature "Ari & I: White House Briefings," was at George W. Bush's first primetime news conference in over a year and a half. He says, "Last night's [press conference] might have been the most controlled Presidential news conference in recent memory.
"On February 24, Newsweek broke what may be the biggest story of the Iraq crisis," FAIR writes. "In a revelation that 'raises questions about whether the WMD [weapons of mass destruction] stockpiles attributed to Iraq still exist,' the magazine's issue dated March 3 reported that the Iraqi weapons chief who defected from the regime in 1995 told U.N. inspectors that Iraq had destroyed its entire stockpile of chemical and biological weapons and banned missiles, as Iraq claims." The CIA denied the Newsweek story.