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“[Censored] offers devastating evidence of the dumbing-down of main-stream news in America. . . . Required reading for broadcasters, journalists, and well-informed citizens.” —Los Angeles Times
“Activist groups like Project Censored . . . are helping to build the media democracy movement. We have to challenge the powers that be and rebuild media from the bottom up.” —Amy Goodman
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“Censored 2014 is a clarion call for truth telling. Not only does this volume highlight fearless speech in fateful times, it connect the dots between the key issues we face, lauds our whistleblowers and amplifies their voices, and shines light in the dark places of our government that most need exposure.” –Daniel Ellsberg, The Pentagon Papers
“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
“[Censored] should be affixed to the bulletin boards in every newsroom in America. And, perhaps read aloud to a few publishers and television executives.” —Ralph Nader
“Project Censored is one of the organizations that we should listen to, to be assured that our newspapers and our broadcasting outlets are practicing thorough and ethical journalism.” —Walter Cronkite
“Project Censored interrogates the present in the same way that Oliver Stone and I tried to interrogate the past in our Untold History of the United States. It not only shines a penetrating light on the American Empire and all its deadly, destructive, and deceitful actions, it does so at a time when the Obama administration is mounting a fierce effort to silence truth-tellers and whistleblowers. Project Censored provides the kind of fearless and honest journalism we so desperately need in these dangerous times.” —Peter Kuznick, professor of history, American University, and coauthor, with Oliver Stone, of The Untold History of the United States
“Project Censored continues to be an invaluable resource in exposing and highlighting shocking stories that are routinely minimized or ignored by the corporate media. The vital nature of this work is underscored by this year’s NSA leaks. The world needs more brave whistle blowers and independent journalists in the service of reclaiming democracy and challenging the abuse of power. Project Censored stands out for its commitment to such work.” —Deepa Kumar, author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire and associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University
“Project Censored brings to light some of the most important stories of the year that you never saw or heard about. This is your chance to find out what got buried.” –Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.
“Project Censored shines a spotlight on news that an informed public must have . . . a vital contribution to our democratic process.” —Rhoda H. Karpatkin, president, Consumer’s Union
“In another home run for Project Censored, Censored 2013 shows how the American public has been bamboozled, snookered, and dumbed down by the corporate media. It is chock-full of ‘ah-ha’ moments where we understand just how we’ve been fleeced by banksters, stripped of our civil liberties, and blindly led down a path of never-ending war.” –Medea Benjamin, author of Drone Warfare, cofounder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK.
“For ages, I’ve dreamed of a United States where Project Censored isn’t necessary, where these crucial stories and defining issues are on the front page of the New York Times, the cover of Time, and in heavy rotation on CNN. That world still doesn’t exist, but we always have Project Censored’s yearly book to pull together the most important things the corporate media ignored, missed, or botched.” –Russ Kick, author of You Are Being Lied To, Everything You Know Is Wrong, and the New York Times bestselling series The Graphic Canon.
“At a time when the need for independent journalism and for media outlets unaffiliated with and untainted by the government and corporate sponsors is greater than ever, Project Censored has created a context for reporting the complete truths in all matters that matter. . . . It is therefore left to us to find sources for information we can trust. . . . It is in this task that we are fortunate to have an ally like Project Cen-sored.” —Dahr Jamail
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast
“Most journalists in the United States believe the press here is free. That grand illusion only helps obscure the fact that, by and large, the US corporate press does not report what’s really going on, while tuning out, or laughing off, all those who try to do just that. Americans–now more than ever–need those outlets that do labor to report some truth. Project Censored is not just among the bravest, smartest, and most rigorous of those outlets, but the only one that’s wholly focused on those stories that the corporate press ignores, downplays, and/or distorts. This latest book is therefore a must read for anyone who cares about this country, its tottering economy, and–most important– what’s now left of its democracy.” –Mark Crispin Miller, author, professor of media ecology, New York University.

1. US Military Forces Deployed in Seventy Percent of World’s Nations

If you throw a dart at a world map and do not hit water, Nick Turse reported for TomDispatch, the odds are that US Special Operations Forces “have been there sometime in 2015.” According to a spokesperson for Special Operations Command (SOCOM), in 2015 Special Operations Forces (SOF) deployed in 147 of the world’s 195 recognized nations, an increase of eighty percent since 2010. “The global growth of SOF missions has been breathtaking,” Turse wrote.

As SOCOM commander General Joseph Votel told the audience of the Aspen Security Forum in July 2015, more SOF troops are deployed to more locations and are conducting more operations than at the height of the Afghan and Iraq wars. In Turse’s words, “Everyday, in around 80 or more countries that Special Operations Command will not name, they undertake missions the command refuses to talk about.”

Calculated in 2014 constant dollars, the SOCOM budget has more than tripled since 2001, when funding totaled three billion dollars. By 2015, SOCOM funding had risen to nearly ten billion dollars. That figure, Turse noted, did not include additional funding from specific military branches, which SOCOM estimated to amount to another eight billion dollars annually, or other undisclosed sums that were not available to the Government Accountability Office.

Every day, Turse wrote, “America’s most elite troops are carrying out missions in 80 to 90 nations.” The majority of these are training missions, “designed to tutor proxies and forge stronger ties with allies.” Training missions focus on everything from basic rifle marksmanship and land navigation to small unit tactics and counterterrorism operations. For example, between 2012–2014, Special Operations Forces carried out 500 Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) missions in as many as sixty-seven countries per year. Officially, JCETs are devoted to training US forces, but according to a SOCOM official interviewed by Turse, these missions also “foster key military partnerships with foreign militaries” and “build interoperability between U.S. SOF and partner-nation forces.” JCETs, Turse wrote, “are just a fraction of the story” when it comes to multinational overseas training operations. In 2014, Special Operations Forces organized seventy-five training operations in thirty countries, a figure projected to increase to ninety-eight exercises by the end of 2015, according to the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense.

In addition to training, Special Operations Forces also engage in “direct action.” Counterterrorism missions, including what Turse described as “low-profile drone assassinations and kill/capture raids by muscled-up, high-octane operators,” are the specific domains of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) forces, such as the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 and the Army’s Delta Force.

Africa has seen the greatest increase in SOCOM deployments since 2006. In that year, just 1 percent of special operators deployed overseas went to Africa. As of 2014, that figure had risen to 10 percent. In the Intercept, Turse reported on the development by US forces of the Chabelley Airfield in the east African nation of Djibouti. “Unbeknownst to most Americans and without any apparent public announcement,” Turse wrote in October 2015, “the U.S. has recently taken steps to transform this tiny, out-of-the-way outpost into an ‘enduring’ base, a key hub for its secret war, run by the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), in Africa and the Middle East.” Chabelley, he reported, has become “essential” to secret US drone operations over Yemen, southwest Saudi Arabia, Somalia, and parts of Ethiopia and southern Egypt. Aerial images of Chabelley taken between April 2013 and March 2015 testify to the significant expansion of the base and the presence of drones, though officials refused to respond to questions about the number and types of drones based there. As Turse summarized, “The startling transformation of this little-known garrison in this little-known country is in line with U.S. military activity in Africa, where, largely under the radar, the number of missions, special operations deployments, and outposts has grown rapidly and with little outside scrutiny.” (For previous Project Censored coverage of US military operations in Africa, see Brian Martin Murphy, “The ‘New’ American Imperialism in Africa: Secret Sahara Wars and AFRICOM,” in Censored 2014: Fearless Speech in Fateful Times.)

If, as Turse reported, SOCOM has “grown in every conceivable way from funding and personnel to global reach and deployments” since 9/11, has its expansion resulted in significant success? In an October 2015 report for the Nation, Turse reported skepticism from a number of experts in response to this question. According to Sean Naylor, the author of Relentless Strike, a history of Joint Special Operations Command, JSOC operations are “a tool in the policymaker’s toolkit,” not a “substitute for strategy.” JSOC may have had an impact on the history of Iraq—where its forces captured Saddam Hussein, killed Uday and Qusay Hussein, and “eviscerated” Al Qaeda in Iraq—but, as Turse wrote, impacts are not the same as successes. Similarly, Andrew Bacevich, a Vietnam veteran and author of Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country, told Turse, “As far back as Vietnam … the United States military has tended to confuse inputs with outcomes. Effort, as measured by operations conducted, bomb tonnage dropped, or bodies counted, is taken as evidence of progress made. Today, tallying up the number of countries in which Special Operations forces are present repeats this error.”

Corporate media have not covered the massive expansion of Special Operations Forces around the globe, much less raised critical questions about whether these missions result in meaningful accomplishments. The increase that has taken place over the past five to ten years is not “breaking” news, and so it has gone all but completely unreported by the corporate press. Instead, the global presence of US military personnel is typically treated as the unspoken background for more dramatic reports of specific military operations or policy decisions. Thus, for example, in October 2015, Time magazine ran a graphic documenting “places with some of the most significant number” of US military personnel stationed “in over 150 countries across the world.” However, the Time map of the world featured just nine points—none of which were located in Africa—and the entire graphic ran as a sidebar to the primary story, about President Obama’s announcement to maintain the current number of troops in Afghanistan through most of 2016, which reversed his earlier plan to withdraw most military personnel by the end of his presidency.

Nick Turse, “A Secret War in 135 Countries,” TomDispatch, September 24, 2015, http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/176048/.

Nick Turse, “The Stealth Expansion of a Secret US Drone Base in Africa,” Intercept, October 21, 2015, https://theintercept.com/2015/10/21/stealth-expansion-of-secret-us-drone-base-in-africa/.

Nick Turse, “American Special Operations Forces Have a Very Funny Definition of Success,” Nation, October 26, 2015, http://www.thenation.com/article/american-special-operations-forces-have-a-very-funny-definition-of-success/.

Student Researchers: Scott Arrow (Sonoma State University) and Bri Silva (College of Marin)

Faculty Evaluators: Robert McNamara (Sonoma State University) and Susan Rahman (College of Marin)

 

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