Voice in the Wilderness

The news about the "war on terror" your local newspaper won't print.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

What was I thinking . . . What were they thinking?

A number of emails reached me on Tuesday morning to the effect of "what did you mean by the U.S. rigging the Iraqi election"? Huh? It was in all the papers . . .

Oh, foolish me! I was so consumed by Christmas grog that I completely forgot that here in Des Moines we don't get the news that's in all the papers. So readers of the Newspaper That Iowa Depends Uppon didn't get to read in any shape or form that the Bush administration has suggested guranteeing seats in the Iraqi parliament to Sunnis -- even if they don't win them in the voting!
"There's some flexibility in approaching this problem," said an administration official. "There's a willingness to play with the end result - not changing the numbers, but maybe guaranteeing that a certain number of seats go to Sunni areas even if their candidates did not receive a certain percentage of the vote."

The idea of altering election results is so sensitive that administration officials who spoke about it did not want their names revealed. Some experts on Iraq say such talk could undercut efforts to drum up support for voting in Sunni areas.
Gee, you think?

This latest effort at importing American-style democracy to Iraq should evoke guttural derisive laughter from those Americans who followed the 2000 elections, the 2004 elections and the posturing of the United States regarding the fradulent elections in Ukraine. Obviously there is something that transcends irony in the fact that an administration that ascended to the throne by stopping recounts in 2000 and disenfranchising tens of thousands this past November would first preach against strange elections in Ukraine, then advise poll-rigging or disregarding votes entirely in Iraq to achieve a desired outcome.

But more than the outrage this has generated from the region and around the world (see earlier posting on this blog), this should provoke the good citizens of Iowa to descend en masse on 715 West Locust Street and demand to know why a story that sheds so much insight on the minds of those who perpetrated this war, a story that was carried around the world, was deemed so insignificant that it received nary an inch in the local Gannett outlet store?

News is made, but news is packaged. The Des Moines Register subscribes to the New York Times news service; it's not as if the Register didn't receive the story. And even if the Times jealously guarded the story and didn't release it to service subscribers, once it hit print it was fair game to be picked up by the Associated Press, which distributes it around the world. So the Register could have run with it in Monday's paper, if it couldn't do it on Sunday. But it didn't.

That means an editor, or editors, saw the story but chose not to use it. Why? What are they thinking? That subverting democracy in Iraq -- democracy being the only reason left in the administration's kit bag to justify destroying that country, killing tens of thousands and shattering what was left of our credibility in the Arab Muslim world -- is not significant enough to bring to the attention of thousands of Iowans?

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