Connect With Us

“One of the most significant media research projects in the country.” —I. F. Stone
“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
“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.
“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.
Buy it, read it, act on it. Our future depends on the knowledge this col-lection of suppressed stories allows us.” —San Diego Review
“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
“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
“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
“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.)
“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.
“[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
“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
“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.
“[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
“Those who read and support Project Censored are in the know.” —Cynthia McKinney
“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
“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
“Hot news, cold truths, utterly uncensored.” —Greg Palast

22. Exporting Censorship to Iraq

The American Prospect, Volume 14, Issue 9, October 1, 2003
Title: Exporting Censorship to Iraq
Author: Alex Gourevitch

Asheville Global Report, May 12, 2003
Title: U.S Army Major Refuses Order to Seize Iraq TV Station
Author: Charlie Thomas

Faculty Evaluator: Jeffrey Holtzman Ph.D.
Student Researchers: Sara Brunner, Doug Reynolds

Soon after Coalition forces toppled the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, occupying Chief L. Paul Bremer III, reflecting on the new freedom in Iraq, told journalists that they were no longer constrained by the government and were now “free to criticize whoever, or whatever, you want.” But he was not telling the truth. Everything changed very quickly when Bremer was the person coming under that very criticism.

When negative critiques of his policies appeared on the Iraqi Media Network (IMN), Bremer placed controls on its content. IMN was an American-run outfit contracted by the Pentagon to put out news after the fall of Saddam. IMN’s mission was two-fold: to be both a PBS-style broadcaster and a means for the occupying authorities to communicate with the Iraqis. Bremer issued a nine-point list of “prohibited activity” that included incitement to violence, support for the Baath Party, and publishing material that is patently false and calculated to promote opposition to the occupying authority. He clamped down further on the independent media in Iraq by closing down a number of Iraqi-run newspapers and radio and television stations. The IMN was bound to find a conflict in encouraging democratic values while under pressure to go along with the coalition forces ruling by force.

From the beginning, Pentagon decisions seemed to run counter to its well-publicized intention to create a free Iraqi society. Early last year, rather than hiring a media outlet to run the IMN, the Pentagon chose a defense contractor, Scientific Applications International Corp. (SAIC), instead. With SAIC’s orientation leaning more toward information control than information dissemination, it is hard to see how they were going to create a public broadcasting-style multimedia operation in post-war Iraq. The IMN was created in April, 2003, and it was not long before journalists hired by the SAIC realized their double role. The occupying authority told them to stop conducting man-on-the-street interviews, because some were too critical of the American presence, and to stop including readings from the Koran as part of cultural programming. IMN TV was also forced to run an hour-long program on recently issued occupying authority laws despite objections from Don North, a senior TV advisor to the IMN station.

Additionally, coalition forces were ordered to seize the only TV station in Mosel Iraq because they had televised some programs from the network Al-Jazeera in its broadcast. The independent station had lost its cameras to looters so they had turned to a mix of Arabic news channels and NBC to continue broadcasting. The Commander of the 101st Airborne Division, Maj. Gen. David Petraeus gave the order to seize the station. But in a surprising show of bravery and professional ethics, Major Charmaine Means, the head of the Army public affairs office in Mosul, would not agree to the seizure, saying that to do so would mean the station would be intimidated into airing only material approved by the U.S. Military. She refused twice to follow her superior officers’ orders, after which she was relieved of her duties. The station was eventually taken over by coalition forces. IMN has said that it would like to take over the offices in Mosul. IMN’s having direct control over the facilities would give the American authority a broadcasting foothold in northern Iraq.

The Occupying authority is now developing an independent media commission run by journalists rather than the U.S. Army to enforce Bremer’s rules more judiciously and to develop a more rational set of media regulations.

UPDATE BY ALEX GOUREVITCH: My main interest in writing the article was to identify the core problems with the idea of ‘exporting democracy’ to other countries. I had heard there were problems with developing an independent and public media in Iraq and thought that looking at how the U.S. tried to manage the development of open media and ‘free speech’ would be an excellent way of showing how external ‘democratization’ doesn’t work because democracy has to come from the inside. The people have to define the parameters of their politics, interpret principles like free speech, for themselves.

I thought my article exposed the contradiction between the logic of occupation and the logic of democratic politics, and I think this continues to be a problem. For instance, one of the triggering events of the recent and ongoing Sadrist uprising was the CPA’s decision to shut down al-Hawza al-Natiqa, a low circulation newspaper supportive of Moqtada al-Sadr. Less radical Iraqis have also responded negatively to heavy-handed treatment of the media. On May 4, the Washington Post reported that the editor-in-chief of Al-Sabah, the U.S. funded newspaper in Iraq, Ismael Zayer, resigned along with some editors and reporters. Zayer told the Post that “We thought that Americans were here to create a free media” but “instead, we were being suffocated.”

The CPA justifies its restrictions and censorship on the grounds that there is a tradeoff between liberty and security, especially when it comes to potentially incendiary speech. The problem isn’t that Iraqis don’t appreciate this trade-off or that the CPA is perceived as uneven and politically motivated in its application of the law. Rather, what upsets Iraqis is that it is the CPA that reserves the authority to decide when security, or some other value, trumps liberty. In fact, it appears that after the June 30 ‘hand over of sovereignty’ the CPA will keep its authority to enforce Article 14 (the statute allowing the shutting down of media outlets if they are deemed to threaten law and order). The essential problem here is not just whether the CPA’s decisions are fair or proper, but that they get to make the decisions in the first place.

What kind of sovereignty do the Iraqis have if they are not allowed to interpret their own constitution? The contradiction between the logic of occupation and the logic of democracy continues, and will persist so long as the CPA or the coalition force remains in Iraq.

There has been some mainstream press coverage of this issue, although my story in particular has not received a great deal of attention. The New York Times did publish a short summary and snippets of the article in its Sept. 28 – Oct. 4 issue of The Week in Review Reading Desk: The Reading File, section. Other than that, it has not received a great deal of attention. For further information on these topics, the best places to go are independent media watchdog groups like Index on Censorship,; Reporters Without Borders, and

UPDATE BY CHARLIE THOMAS: After Major Charmaine Means was relieved of command, she was reassigned to a stateside post at Fort Bragg. Maj. Gen. David Petraeus was promoted to Lt. General and is back in Iraq in charge of training all Iraqi military and security forces.

Since the seizure of the Mosul TV station, the whole world has become aware of the illegal actions of the U.S. in Iraq. Fresh reports of violations of the Geneva Convention are frequent. Col. David Hogg, in an off-the-cuff remark, noted that U.S. forces routinely take hostages: “…his troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general. They left a note: ‘If you want your family released, turn yourself in.’” (Washington Post, July 28, ‘03). Article 34 of the Geneva Convention is specific: “The taking of hostages is prohibited.”

Many news outlets reported that U.S. forces kept sick and injured civilians away from the hospitals during the siege of Falluja, but none noted that this behavior is a war crime.

And now comes former Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey, a veteran of the invasion of Iraq, reporting that he and his troops were ordered to, and did, fire on unarmed protestors, killing most of them.

After the World Trade Center attack, the U.S. essentially declared itself exempt from international norms. The military is following the civilian leadership: “In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions.” – White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, 1/25/02 (Memorandum to the President)

Facebook Comments