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

7. FOIA IS AN OXYMORON

In theory at least, the 25 year old Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) bucks the bureaucratic impulse for secrecy. In reality, however, the executive branch and federal courts are stretching the law’s exemptions to give that impulse freer rein. As a result, this precious piece of legislation is fading into obsolescence.

Paul McMasters, a USA Today editor who heads a committee on freedom of information for the Society of Professional Journalists, sees this bleak future if the law isn’t fixed: “more adverse court decisions, more erosion of access rights, more ignoring of FOIA.”

The erosion of FOIA over the past ten years coincides with a new and particularly hostile attitude towards the public’s right to know which was ushered in with the Reagan-Bush administration. The new administration expansively redefined “national security” to cover virtually all aspects of international activity. A 1982 executive order told government officials to classify documents whenever in doubt, and even reclassified material already released under FOIA. The new strategy became: Fight every possible case, even if the only defense against disclosure was a technicality.

Justice Department official Mary Lawton, addressing an FOIA conference sponsored by the American Bar Association summed up the Reagan-Bush approach: “Some of us who have been plagued by this act for 25 years aren’t real enthusiastic about this anniversary.”

FOIA is supposed to work this way: You make your request and the government has 10 days to fill the request or explain why it won’t do so. But in most agencies roadblocks are endemic. So are delays, despite the 10-day deadline. The FDA often takes two years to fill requests, the State Department often takes a year. Last year the FBI calculated that its average response time was more than 300 days. A Navy FOIA officer suggested to one reporter that he’d be better off finding someone to leak the document he wanted. “If you have to make a request,” one media lawyer says, “that means you’ve failed.”

A major source of the problem lies with the Office of Management and Budget for insuring that FOIA offices remain under-funded and understaffed. The Navy’s central FOIA office has a staff of two and no fax machine. Emit Moschella, then FOIA director for the FBI, testified last year that his 1991 request for new staff was cut in half by Justice and then “zeroed out” by OMB. To make matters worse the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles most FOIA cases, and the Supreme Court have moved aggressively to expand the government’s power to withhold. One would think that the press would find such a vital access issue to be of importance, yet finding significant coverage is as difficult as obtaining it through a FOIA request.

SSU CENSORED RESEARCHER: ANNE BRITTON

SOURCE: COMMON CAUSE

2030 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036, DATE: July/August 1991

TITLE: “The Fight To Know”

AUTHORS: Peter Montgomery and Peter Overby

COMMENTS: The authors note that freedom of information is a subject that journalists talk a lot about — among themselves. ‘The discussions typically focus on individual cases and immediate problems. We found very little written about the issue in general-circulation publications; for example, they barely glanced at the NASA cover-up attempt described in our lead. But while reporters were griping to each other, the Reagan and Bush administrations not only expanded but institutionalized loopholes in the Freedom of Information Act. Common Cause Magazine, a frequent FOIA user, decided it was time to try bringing the subject into public debate.”

The benefit of more public discussion of the threat to FOIA boils down to two basic truths according to the authors. “First, democracy depends on citizens’ access to government information. Second, given the choice, governments will always operate in secrecy. If the public, and the press as-its representative, don’t continually demand access, information will be available only to the government and its friends. As events from Watergate to Iran­-Contra show, the nation suffers when that happens. If citizens have a better understanding of FOIA’s importance, they may more actively defend it. Exposure of FOIA abuses may encourage efforts to strengthen the law or to hold accountable those who flout it.”

On the other hand, the authors add, “A lack of coverage makes life easier for any government officials who prefer less oversight to more. It allows enemies of free access to information to continue to undermine the public’s right to know. It also, unfortunately, serves many in the media who don’t want to make waves. Using FOIA is never quick, often provokes a battle and usually produces stories that upset lots of people — e.g., the realization that the Challenger explosion was an avoidable catastrophe. The 1980s saw a strong and continuing shift away from that style of investigative journalism.”

Although the article was circulated to newspapers around the country, just one reprinted it while several others wrote editorials based on it. While there has been some action in the Senate, Senator Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) introduced

FOIA reform bills, and in the courts, the authors report that there has been no reversal of the trend they reported.

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