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Today's Stories

August 1, 2006

Michael Neumann
What is to be Said?

July 31, 2006

Jonathan Cook
Birth Pangs or Death Throes?

Uri Avnery
Syria in the Gunsight

Robert Fisk
Atrocity in Qana: Israel Kills 34 Kids

Amina Mire
The Struggle for Somalia: Warlords, Islamists, US Global Militarism and Women

Marjorie Cohn
Bush's Enemy Du Jour

Sibel Edmonds / William Weaver
All That's Given Up in the Name of Security

John Ross
Report from a Red Alert: Zapatistas at Critical Crossroads

Stanley Rogouski
Why Howard Dean Denounced Our Puppet in Iraq

Gideon Levy
Days of Darkness: the Cruel, Collective Punishment of Lebanon

Ron Jacobs
No One Is Illegal

James Ridgeway / Alicia Ng
Witch Hunting Russell Tice: 3 Films

Brian Tokar
The Visionary Life of Murray Bookchin

Alexander Cockburn
The Triumph of Crackpot Realism

July 29 / 30, 2006
Weekend Edition

Michael Neuman
Humanitarian Intervention: The White Man's Burden

Vijay Prashad
Cry Havoc: Anyone Who Opposes Israel is Labeled a Terrorist

Ramzi Kysia
Lebanon's Children: Voices from an Invasion

The Manchurian Clergyman: Rev. John Hagee's War

Robert Fisk
Bush and Blair: "Keep It Up!"

Patrick Cockburn
Repeating the 1982 Fiasco

Ralph Nader
Big Oil's Biggest Score: Who Says Crime Doesn't Pay?

Rachard Itani
Professor of Propaganda: the Lies of Alan Dershowitz

Eduardo Galeano
One Country Bombed Two Countries

Gary Leupp
Cowboys Still in the Saddle: Neocon Plans in the MIddle East

Eve Poretsky
The Biggest Stick in the Middle East

John Chuckman
Delusional Expectations: How Israel Could Destroy Itself

Fred Gardner
San Diego v. Prop 215

Juan Santos
Apocalypse No!: an Indigenist Perspective

Punyapriya Dasgupta
Israel's Foes as Beasts and Insects

Liaquat Ali Khan
The War Crime Machine: Defeating the IDF

Israel Shamir
Friends, True and False

William A. Cook
The Power of Evil

Stanley Heller
Bill Clinton Comes to Lieberman's Rescue

Dave Lindorff
Bush's War Crimes Dodge

Moshe Adler
Kelo, a Year Later: Property Sezied By Eminent Domain Must Remain Public

Susie Day
Comrade Bush: Back in the USSA

Pat Williams
The Right's Pre-Election Sleight of Hand

Anthony Papa
Collateral Damage from the War on Drugs

John V. Whitbeck
Imperial Overreach: Suez 1956 to Lebanon 2006

Jackie Corr
Last Rites for Evel Knievel

Myles Palmer
Old Soul: James Hunter's "People Gonna Talk"

Tom D'Antoni
Playlist: What I'm Listening to This Week

Poets' Basement
Orloski, Louise, Davies, Engel and Meyers

Website of the Weekend
Electronic Lebanon


July 28, 2006

Jonathan Cook
The Lies Israel Tells Itself

Uri Avnery
Who is Winning? Questions and Answers About the War in Lebanon:

Renee Bowyer
When Condi Came to Ramallah

Robert Fisk
Smoke Signals from Bint Jbeil

Patrick Cockburn
Baghdad's Death Squads, Official and Otherwise

Ramzy Baroud
The War in Lebanon: More Than Meets the Eye

Don Fitz
Half-Hour Hurricanes: Where Were the Warnings About St. Louis's Ultra Storm?

Elaine Cassel
The Second Andrea Yates Verdict: Why the Jury Did the Right Thing

David Price
Much Ado About Landis: What Kind of Tour de France Was It?

Mike Whitney
Bull's Eye: Israel's Targeted Assassination of UN Peacekeepers

Mickey Z.
Power (Outage) to the People: Why Queens Went Dark

Niranjan Ramakrishnan
The Power of Arrogance in a World Without Deterrence

Charles Glass
Operation "Save Israel's High Command"

Website of the Day
Military Intelligence and You!


July 27, 2006

Tanya Reinhart
Israel's New Middle East

Saul Landau
Castro at 80: History Absolved Him, Now What?

Ramzi Kysia
Watching Lebanon Burn: Notes From a Free Fire Zone

Tom Barry
John Bolton: Israel's Man at the UN

Joseph Grosso
Israel and Iraq: Hillary's White House Ticket

Sharon Smith
Lebanon and the Future of the Antiwar Movement

Gale Courey Toensing
9/11 Nablus: First, Destroy the Archives

Christopher Reed
Hirohito's Ghost: Japan's New Militarists

Hoosier Hooey: Is Terre Haute the Peshawar of the Midwest?

Yusuf Mansur
Can the Crime Justify the Act?

Richard Harth
Squeezing the Last Drops from Palestine

Website of the Day
Who's Arming Israel?

July 26, 2006

Norman Solomon
Applauding While Lebanon Burns: Richard Cohen's Blood Lust

Barbara Olshanksy
Gitmo: Justice Denied is Murder, and a War Crime

David Nally
The Detention of Ghazi Walid Falah: Israel Arrests Geography Professor from University of Akron

Jonathan Cook
Five Myths That Sanction Israel's War Crimes

Patrick Cockburn
Beware Iraqi Leaders Bearing Good News

William Blum
They Simply Can't Stop Lying, Can They?

Joshua Frank
Israel's Invasion Pretext Under Fire

Gabriel Kolko
Bankers Fear World Economic Breakdown

Daniel Cassidy
How the Irish Invented Dudes

Michael Dickinson
Arrested in Istanbul: "Sorry, We Thought You Were Israeli!"

Robert Fisk
Beirut as Munich

Uri Avnery
Is Beirut Burning?

Website of the Day
Free Ghazi Walid Falah


July 25, 2006

Harry Browne
Acquittal!: Activists Found Not Guilty in Irish Ploughshares Case

Marjorie Cohn
Willful Blindness: Bush Greenlights War Crimes

Robert Bryce
Israel and the Irony of UN Resolutions

Sharat G. Lin
Chronology of the Latest Chrisis in the Middle East

George Bisharat
Most Lebanese Now Know Who Their Real Tormentor Is

CounterPunch News Desk
Class War in the Blathersphere

Zena El-Khalil
"Tell Them That I'm Not Leaving. We Love Lebanon"

Larry Lack
The Bottled Water Madness

Mike Mejia
The Secret Behind "State Secrets"

Ashraf Isma'il
Why Israel Is Losing

Website of the Day
Peace on Trial


July 24, 2006

Mark Levy
The Whys and Wherefores of PTSD

Robert Fisk
Israelis Bomb Fleeing Villagers

Maher Osseiran
Beirut, 1982

Paul Craig Roberts
Israel's Criminal Accomplice

Patrick Cockburn
More Than 100 Iraqis Being Killed Each Day

Website of the Day


July 22-23, 2006

Jonathan Cook
Israel's Indiscriminate Onslaughts

Paul Craig Roberts
The Shame of Being an American

Gilad Atzmon
Israel's New Math

Robert Fisk
Elegy for Beirut

Ralph Nader
Here's How to Halt This Horror

Fred Gardner
The Double Standard on Depression

Christopher Reed
The Right's Use of Sexpot Schoolgirls

Dr. Susan Block
Bush's Fecal World

Najla Said
Do People Know How Much We Hurt?

Uri Avnery
"Stop that Shit"

July 21, 2006

George Galloway
John Cornford and the Fight for the Spanish Republic

P. Sainath
Indian Prime Minister Faces the Dead Farmer Problem

Aseem Shrivastava
The Iraq War is a Huge Success

Alexander Cockburn
Hezbollah, Hamas and Israel: Everything You Need to Know

Website of the Day

July 20, 2006

William S. Lind
Why Hezbollah is Winning

Robert Jensen
Florida Puts History on Probation

John Ross
AMLO Presidente!

Tom Hayden
I Was Israel's Dupe

Paul Craig Roberts
The Unfolding Horror Show

July 19, 2006

Patrick Cockburn
Massacres Soar in Central Iraq: Maliki Government Discredited

Trish Schuh
Israel Targets, Flattens Beirut TV Station HQ

Jonathan Cook
Is Israel Using Arab Villages As Human Shields?

Vicente Navarro
The Spanish Civil War, 70 Years On: The Deafening Silence on Franco's Genocide

July 17 / 18 2006

Mike Whitney
Israel's Shameful Attack on Gaza

Kathleen Christison Atrocities in the Promised Land



July 14 / 15, 2006
Weekend Edition

Alexander Cockburn
How Venice is Dying

Tanya Reinhart
The IDF is Hungry for War

Robert Fisk
Beirut Waits: Is Damascus the Key?

Daniel Cassidy
How the Irish Invented Jazz

Winslow Wheeler
Pentagon Budget Gimmickry: When a Cut is Actually an Increase

Hugh O'Shaughnessy
In Amazonia: Slavery and Deforestation

M. Shahid Alam
Israel, the US and the New Orientalism

William S. Lind
Two Signposts in Iraq

Ramzy Baroud
Racism Plagues Media Coverage of Gaza Assault

Gilad Atzmon
Echoes of the Wehrmacht

Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg
Railroading Your Rights

Samar Assad
A History of Israeli-Palestinian Prisoner Exchanges

Ron Jacobs
Japan and Pre-Emptive Strikes: Why Would They Want to Go There?

Lee Ballinger
A New Kind of Jim Crow?

Walter Brasch
A World Without Fajitas?: the Rightwing's Language Police

Dave Lindorff
The Bush Swingers?: They Broke the Law and People Died

Clifton Ross
Up from Below in Oaxaca

Tom Crumpacker
Planning for the Re-Colonization of Cuba

Ricardo Alarcon
The Mad Annexationist

William Hughes
Rev. Billy Graham: A War-Monger in the Pulpit

Susie Day
Bugging Hillary

Farrah Hassen
The Road to Gitmo: Dramatizing the Banality of Evil

Poets' Basement
Smith-Ferri, Engel and Davies


July 13, 2006

Rev. William Alberts
Rationalizing War Crimes: Saying the Obvious to Conceal the Devious

Ramzi Kysia
Scenes from the Lebanese Front

Rep. John P. Murtha
What the Iraq War is Costing Us

Radford / Santos
Race, Class and the Battle for South Central Farm

Stan Cox
Marching Plague: the Critical Art Ensemble's Biological Defense Program

Saul Landau
Lies as Patriotism

José Pertierra
Is Venezuela the Real Target of Bush's New Cuba Plan?

Website of the Day
National Security Whistleblowers' Dirty Dozen Campaign


July 12, 2006

John Ross
Mexico Splits in Half: the Election Hits the Streets

John Stauber
The CIA Propagandist and Former Prankster Stewart Brand: John Rendon's Long, Strange Trip in the Terror Wars

Robert Boston
Top 10 Powerbrokers of the Religious Right

Wayne S. Smith
Bush's New Cuba Plan: Embargoes, Blacklists and Assassination Plots

John Graham
Secrecy and the Curtain of Oz

Ed Kinane
Arrested for Failing to Obey a Lawful Order to Cease Protesting an Unlawful War: My Statement to the US District Court

Kevin Prosen
Goodbye Mr. Zeidler, You Will Be Missed

Jonathan Cook
Israel's Latest Bueaucratic Obscenity

Website of the Day
Addicted to Oil: Starring GW Bush


July 11, 2006

Dave Lindorff
Does a State of War Give Bush the Right to Commit War Crimes?

Dave Zirin
Why I Wear My Zidane Jersey

Mokhiber / Weissman
Boeing's Criminal Agreement: Odd and Unusual

Amira Hass
A War on Families

Clare Hanrahan
The Last Free Fourth of July?

Brian Cloughey
Stop Blaming Pakistan

Felice Pace
The US Media and the World Cup

Raed Jarrar
Iraq: Raped

Website of the Day
Bad Boy of Gitmo


July 10, 2006

Paul Craig Roberts
Courting Doom with North Korea

Uri Avnery
A One-Sided War

Roger Burbach
Democracy Betrayed: Electoral Fraud and Rebellion in Mexico

Ron Jacobs
The New SDS: Toward a Radical Youth Movement

Joshua Frank
Sectarian Flames in Iraq

Missy Comley Beattie
Bush's Stunning Admission to Larry King

Alexander Cockburn
The War in Iraq: a Dreadful Mistake

July 8 / 9, 2006
Weekend Edition

Stephen Green
When War Criminals Retire

Paul Craig Roberts
Republic or Empire?: Lessons from Stanford

Greg Moses
Boots Down on the Rio Grande

Ralph Nader
The Wail of the Oceans

Laura Carlsen
Mexico's Election Lacks Credibility

Conn Hallinan
Dumping Musharraf: Is Pakistan Expendable?

John Chuckman
Afghanistan is No One's War

Fred Gardner
Big Pharma's Strange Holy Grail: Cannabis Without Euphoria?

Dr. Tod Mikuriya
Cannabis as a Frontline Treatment for Childhood Mental Disorders

Pierre Tristam
Missile Envy: Is N. Korea Bush's Most Reliable Ally?

Lucinda Marshall
Deep Sexing the News: the Rape of Iraq

David Swanson
Command Rape: the Ordeal of Suzanne Swift

Heather Gray
The Spiral of Violence: What the Dead Might Tell Us

Dave Zirin / John Cox
French Soccer and the Future of Europe: Le Pen's Racists vs. Zindane and Henry

Mark Engler
Mexico's Fear of Democracy: Elites, Fraud and the Status Quo

Michael Lettieri
Mexico: Don't Discount a Recount

Ron Jacobs
2008 Might Be Too Late: the Case for Impeachment Now

Jamal Juma'
Globalizing the Occupation

Jeffrey St. Clair
Playlist: What I'm Listening to This Week

Poets' Basement
Engel and Kirbach


July 7, 2006

John Ross
Anatomy of a Fraud Foretold: Mexico's Surreal Elections

July 6, 2006

Nick Dearden
Profiting from the Occupation: the Corporate Interests Behind the War on Palestine

John Stanton
Nationalize the Defense Industry

Ralph Nader
The Politics of the Minimum Wage

Laray Polk
Cambodia Then; Gaza Now

Saul Landau
Who Mourned the Victims of the US Covert War on Chile?

Joshua Frank
Sweet Angst, Power Chords and Politics: Farewell Sleater-Kinney

William S. Lind
To Be or Not to Be a State? Hamas and 4th Generation War

Adelman / Lindorff
Impeachment Comes to Main Street, USA

Jonathan Cook
An Experiment in Human Despair

Website of the Day
Adulterers in Chief?

July 5, 2006

Mike Whitney
Is Cheney Betting on Economic Collapse?: the Veep's Curious Investment Portfolio

Saul Landau
False Axioms: Star Democrats and Iraq Massacres

Ramzy Baroud
And Israel Shall Be Safe Again

Missy Comley Beattie
An Axis of Nuts: Ready, Aim, Fear

Arthur Neslen
A Way Out of the Gaza Crisis?

Vincent Maruffi
Party Politics in Connecticut: Lieberman, Lamont and the Greens

Paul Cantor
Aberrations: Hell, High Water and the Moral High Ground

Paul D. Johnson
Mystery Meat: Let's Be Honest About Food's Origin

David Price
Shouting Down Nazis in Olympia

July 4, 2006

Col. Dan Smith
Iraq and Independence Day: Lessons from the War of 1812

Chris Floyd
American Power in Mahmudiyah

Marjorie Cohn
Israel's Collective Punishment of Gaza

James Brooks
Israel 9,000 Palestine 1: Destroying the Gaza Strip

Medea Benjamin
"Dictatress of the World:" Has America Become JQ Adams' Worst Nightmare?

Matt Reichel
An Independence Day Lesson for the American Left from France

Elisa Salasin
Why I am Fasting Today

Rick Wilhelm
Will Lieberman Apologize to Ralph Nader?

Paul Craig Roberts
Rape, Lies and Murder

Website of the Day
A Mighty Handsome Family


July 3, 2006

Robert Bryce
Gaza in the Dark: Poor, Frustrated and Powerless

Dr. Bouthaina Shaban
"I Hope You're Not Here to Talk About the Palestinians"

Julia Olmstead
The Biofuel Illusion: Running on Top Soil

Dave Lindorff
The Real Meaning of the Hamdan Ruling: Bush Adm. Has Committed War Crimes

Andres Gomez
A Mockery of Justice

Alan Singer
Another Encounter with Chuck Schumer: Just as Hawkish as Hillary, But Nastier

Alexander Cockburn
Temple of Mammon, Planet of Doom

July 1/2, 2006
Weekend Edition

Paul Craig Roberts
Bush's Assaults on Freedom: What's to Stop Him?

Stephen T. Banko
Echoes from Vietnam; Nightmares in Iraq

Daniel Cassidy
How the Irish Invented Slang: the Bunkum of Bunkum (for Dizzy Gillespie)

Fawzia Afzal-Khan
The Class Behind the Muslim

Jeff Taylor
The Sandy Foundation of the White House: a Bible-Believing Christian's View of Bush

John Ross
Mexico: There's a Riot Going On

Greg Moses
Psycho-Management Hits Mexico's Maquiladoras

Laura Carlsen
Mexico's Elections: a Choice for Change

Justin E.H. Smith
Lethal Injection and Other Fashion Trends

Brian Cloughley
Different Worlds: When Liberation is Worse Than Oppression

Anthony Papa
Punishing Addiction: No Walk in the Park for Dwight Gooden

Mike Ferner
Getting Busted for Wearing a Peace T-Shirt

Jerry Tucker
Liberalism's Long Goodbye: McGovern Hoists the White Flag

Jane Goodall / Rick Asselta
Remembering the Marshall Islands

Phyllis Pollack
Roll Over Beethoven: Chuck Berry is Back in Town

Poets' Basement
Salasin, Swindell, Ferri-Smith and Engel


June 30, 2006

Marjorie Cohn
Supreme Rebuke: Bush Loses Gitmo Case

Heather Williams
Will Mexicans Ignore What Bolivians Learned?

Burbach / Cantor
Yellowback Democrats: the Party of Cut-and-Run (from Principle)

Nick Dearden
Crime in the Valley: Life on the Other Side of Palestine

Michael J. Smith
Under the Broadcast Flag: Intellectual Property as Intellectual Theft

Brian Concannon
The Return to Haiti: a Homecoming for Aristide?

Virginia Tilley
Israel's Appalling Act: Starving in the Dark


June 29, 2006

Bill Quigley
Gutting New Orleans

Ron Jacobs
Killing a Nation to Rescue a Soldier

Paul Craig Roberts
The High Price of American Gullibility

June 28, 2006

Jorge Mariscal
Mexican-American Soldiers, Iraq and the Politics of Immigrant Bashing

Greg Moses
Down in Pinal County: Where the Pun's on Us

Mark Weisbrot
Mexico: Their Brand is Crisis

Ramzy Baroud
Re-Interpreting Iraq: the Latest Propaganda Campaign

Dave Lindorff
Redacting the Constitution: Why Signing Statements Matter

William S. Lind
Neither Shall the Sword: War in a Fouth Generation World

Mike Ferner
50 Years Down the Wrong Direction: Taken for a Ride on the Interstate Highway System

Zoltan Grossman
Military Resistance: a Brief History


June 27, 2006

Marjorie Cohn
Playing Politics with Timetables

Benjamin / Jarrar
Leading Dems Froth Over Amnesty Plan

William Hughes
Roadmap to Starvation

Doug Giebel
Showdown in Montana: Burns vs. Testor

Uri Avnery
The World Cup and Middle East Peace

Alexander Cockburn
Hitchens Hails the "Glorious War"


June 26, 2006

Don Santina
American Rituals: Massacres, Baseball and Apple Pies

Ralph Nader
Beyond Binary Politics

Dave Lindorff
CounterPunch v. CounterPunch: Taking Impeachment on the Road

Rafael Rodriguez-Cruz
An Interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal on Hispanics and Latin America

Evelyn Pringle
Big Pharma's Big Graveyard: Drug Profits, Fraud and Death

Jonathan Cook
Israeli "Retaliation" and Double Standards


June 23, 2006

Youmans / Erakat
Divestment, Corporate Engagement and Israel

Dave Lindorff
Cut and Run: a Winning Strategy

Ron Jacobs
Dogs of War Barking at the Moon

Col. Dan Smith
Iraq: Fool Me Twice


June 22, 2006

Marjorie Cohn
Friendly Fire Ambush

Winslow T. Wheeler
Lockheed, the Senator and the F-22

Tanya Reinhart
A Week of Israeli Restraint

Mike Marqusee
The Forest Gate Raid

William Blum
Why Bush's Iraq is Worse Than Saddam's




Subscribe Online

August 1, 2006

International Republican Institute Grants Uncovered

Reporters Without Borders and Washington's Coups


British press baron Lord Northcliff said, "News is something that someone, somewhere wants to keep secret, everything else is advertising." If this is true, then U.S. government funding of Reporters Without Borders must be news, because the organization and its friends in Washington have gone to extraordinary lengths to cover it up. In spite of 14 months of stonewalling by the National Endowment for Democracy over a Freedom of Information Act request and a flat denial from RSF executive director Lucie Morillon, the NED has revealed that Reporters Without Borders received grants over at least three years from the International Republican Institute.

The NED still refuses to provide the requested documents or even reveal the grant amounts, but they are identified by these numbers: IRI 2002-022/7270, IRI 2003-027/7470 and IRI 2004-035/7473. Investigative reporter Jeremy Bigwood asked Morillon on April 25 if her group was getting any money from the I.R.I., and she denied it, but the existence of the grants was confirmed by NED assistant to the president, Patrick Thomas.

The discovery of the grants reveals a major deception by the group, which for years denied it was getting any Washington dollars until some relatively small grants from the NED and the Center for a Free Cuba were revealed (see Counterpunch: "Reporters Without Borders Unmasked"). When asked to account for its large income RSF has claimed the money came from the sale of books of photographs. But researcher Salim Lamrani has pointed out the improbability of this claim. Even taking into account that the books are published for free, it would have had to sell 170 200 books in 2004 and 188 400 books in 2005 to earn the more than $2 million the organization claims to make each year ­ 516 books per day in 2005. The money clearly had to come from other sources, as it turns out it did.

The I.R.I., an arm of the Republican Party, specializes in meddling in elections in foreign countries, as a look at NED annual reports and the I.R.I. website shows. It is one of the four core grantees of the NED, the organization founded by Congress under the Reagan administration in 1983 to replace the CIA's civil society covert action programs, which had been devastated by exposure by the Church committee in the mid-1970s (Ignatius, 1991). The other three pillars of the NED are the National Democratic Institute (the Democratic Party), the Solidarity Center (AFL-CIO) and the Center for International Private Enterprise (U.S. Chamber of Commerce). But of all the groups the I.R.I. is closest to the Bush administration, according to a recent piece in The New York Times exposing its role in the overthrow of Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide:

"President Bush picked its president, Lorne W. Craner, to run his administration's democracy-building efforts. The institute, which works in more than 60 countries, has seen its federal financing nearly triple in three years, from $26 million in 2003 to $75 million in 2005. Last spring, at an I.R.I. fund-raiser, Mr. Bush called democracy-building 'a growth industry.'" (Bogdanich and Nordberg, 2006)

Funding from the I.R.I. presents a major problem for RSF's credibility as a "press freedom" organization because the group manufactured propaganda against the popular democratic governments of Venezuela and Haiti at the same time that its patron, the I.R.I., was deeply involved in efforts to overthrow them. The I.R.I. funded the Venezuelan opposition to President Hugo Chavez (Barry, 2005) and actively organized Haitian opposition to Aristide in conjunction with the CIA (Bogdanich and Nordberg, 2006).

The man who links RSF to these activities is Otto Reich, who worked on the coups first as assistant secretary of state for Latin American affairs, and, after Nov. 2002, as a special envoy to Latin America on the National Security Council. Besides being a trustee of the government-funded Center for a Free Cuba, which gives RSF $50,000 a year, Reich has worked since the early 1980's with the I.R.I.'s senior vice president, Georges Fauriol, another member of the Center for a Free Cuba. But it is Reich's experience in propaganda that is especially relevant. In the 1980's he was caught up in investigations into the Reagan administration's illegal war on the Sandinistas. The comptroller general determined in 1987 that Reich's Office of Public Diplomacy had "engaged in prohibited covert propaganda activities." (Bogdanich and Nordberg, 2006). In early 2002, once George Bush had given him a recess appointment to the State Department, "Reich was soon tasked to orchestrate a massive international media defamation campaign against Chávez that has continued until this day" (Conkling and Goble, 2004).

Did Reich introduce RSF to the I.R.I. grants and coach the group in its propaganda efforts against Aristide, Chavez and Cuba? A look at the group's methods indicates this may be the case; the propaganda against Aristide, a former priest, was as crude as any of Reich's trademark slanders of Latin American leaders. RSF branded the Haitian president a "predator of press freedom" after linking him, without any evidence whatsoever, to the murders of journalists Jean Dominique and Brignol Lindor. It prominently featured photographs of the journalists' bodies on its web site, turning them into poster victims of Aristide's alleged repression against the press.

In 2002 RSF wrote, "A journalist was beaten to death in the town of Petit-Goâve on 3 December 2001 by a gang of killers with ties to local politicians and President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas ("Avalanche") movement. The murder happened at a time when press freedom in Haiti was steadily deteriorating in the wake of the killing of Jean Dominique, head of the radio station Haiti-Inter, on 3 April the previous year" (Lionet and Avila, 2002). Note the intentional mistranslation of Lavalas (which means flood, not avalanche), and the way RSF tied the gang of killers to "Aristide's Lavalas movement," implying that the president himself was in charge of the gang.

The article is riddled with this kind of innuendo and outright falsehoods: "In this atmosphere, the killing of Lindor was seen by the entire media as a new warning." Here RSF has already tried and convicted Aristide by implying that he ordered the murders of the journalists to send a warning to the opposition media not to be critical of him. But Jean Dominique was murdered in April of 2000, many months before Aristide was even elected, and there is likewise no evidence the president had knowledge of the Lindor murder.

In the same piece RSF called the Aristide government an "authoritarian regime," accused him of calling for lynchings by the "necklace" method (see origin of this slander below), described Aristide supporters as "street thugs" and concluded that all of these alleged actions the group imputed to the government were "part of a wider strategy by the authorities to make use of para-legal militias to intimidate the media."

The propaganda would have been bad enough if RSF hadn't taken additional steps to help strangle the desperately poor, aid-dependent country ­ a tactic it has also tried to employ against Cuba (Barahona, 2005). AP quotes Secretary General Robert Menard, referring to the government's alleged failure to bring Dominique's killer to justice, "President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is responsible for this obstruction, and we will list him among the Predators of Press Freedom, if no progress is made in coming months" (Norton, 2001).

The article continued,"Menard said he hoped the list, which would be sent to world governments and financial institutions, would help influence the European Union to prolong the suspension of some $100 million in foreign assistance." The economic sanctions imposed by the United States caused inflation to soar and deprived the government of the money it needed to operate or defend itself. To illustrate RSF's double standards, Colombia has a dismal record when it comes to prosecuting the killers of journalists, but Menard has never lobbied the United States or the EU to cut off aid to the Uribe government.

But Reporters Without Borders wasn't content with a mere cutoff in aid; by January 2002 Menard was calling on the U.S. Congress and the EU to take "individual sanctions" against Aristide and Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, including "the refusal of entry and transit visas" and "the freezing of any foreign bank accounts they have" (Norton, 2002).

Following the Feb. 29, 2004 ouster of Aristide, RSF ignored nearly all of the violence and persecution against journalists critical of the foreign-imposed Latortue government, instead claiming that press freedom had increased. RSF's 2005 and 2006 reports failed to condemn the extrajudicial execution of community journalist and radio reporter Abdias Jean, whom witnesses say was killed by police after he had snapped shots of three youngsters the police had killed. It also ignored the arrests of journalists Kevin Pina (Pacifica Radio) and Jean Ristil, and failed to properly investigate several attacks on pro-Lavalas radio stations.

Asked for his response to news of the grants, Pina had the following to say: "It was clear early on that RSF and Robert Menard were not acting as objective guardians of freedom of the press in Haiti but rather as central actors in what can only be described as a disinformation campaign against Aristide's government. Their attempts to link Aristide to the murder of Jean Dominique and their subsequent silence when the alleged hit man, Lavalas Senator Dany Toussaint, joined the anti-Aristide camp and ran for president in 2006 is just one of many examples that expose the real nature and role of organizations like RSF. They provide false information and skewed reports to build internal opposition to governments seen as uncontrollable and unpalatable to Washington while softening the ground for their eventual removal by providing justification under the pretext of attacks on the freedom of the press."

We asked the group's Haiti expert based in Paris why RSF had ignored the murder of Abdias Jean, and he said, "We asked the police about the killings of Abdias Jean and we were told by the police that it was an attack made by the police but that they didn't know he was a journalist. He was taking pictures." He admitted that none of the witnesses to the murder had been interviewed, while all the unpublished information he had on the case was based on the testimony of the police, known for their widespread killings and abuses. Regarding the arrest of Pina and Ristil he said, "Generally when somebody is put in jail, we wait to see how long they will stay.They were released so we did not take up that case." Considering RSF never took up the case of Abdias Jean, the likelihood it would stick its neck out for Pina, a critic of both the interim government and of RSF, is negligible.

He who pays the piper calls the tune. Taking its cues from the State Department, RSF has been guilty of demonizing governments that the U.S. wanted to overthrow, such as Cuba, Venezuela and Haiti, while downplaying the human rights abuses of strategic allies such as Mexico and Colombia. Because it was able to hide I.R.I. grants which would have alerted people to its ulterior motives, RSF has been an effective tool in the Bush administration's covert attacks on recalcitrant Latin American leaders. The organization has also leveraged its image as an independent human rights organization to get its message into the U.S. media and university textbooks. This would be an impressive feat for a small group of individuals with no apparent journalistic credentials were it not for the fact that they have the richest, most powerful patrons in the world.

Diana Barahona is an independent journalist with an interest in Latin American politics. She can be reached at dlbarahona@cs.com

Jeb Sprague is a graduate student, freelance journalist, and a correspondent for Pacifica Radio's Flashpoints. Visit his blog at http://www.freehaiti.net

Special thanks to Jeremy Bigwood and attorney Michael D. Steger.

Barahona, D. (2005, May 17). Reporters Without Borders Unmasked: It's Secret Deal With Otto Reich to Wreak Cuba's Economy. Counterpunch.org.

David Ignatius (Sept. 22, 1991). Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups. The Washington Post. Retrieved from ProQuest database. "'A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,' agrees [Allen] Weinstein."

Bogdanich, Walt and Nordberg, Jenny (2006, Jan. 29). Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Towards Chaos. The New York Times. Retrieved from ProQuest database.

Barry, Tom (2005, Aug. 4). Profile: International Republican Institute. International Relations Center. Retrieved July 4, 2006, from

Conkling, Will and Goble, Sam (2004, July 13). Otto Reich: A Career In Disservice. Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

Lionet, Christian and Avila, Calixto (2002, Sept. 10). Zero tolerance for the media : an enquiry into the murder of journalist Brignol Lindor. Reporters Without Borders. Retrieved on 7 July 2006 from www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=3755

Necklace slander: The "necklace" allegations, as explained by Erwin Stotzky in his book Silencing the guns of Haiti , refered to a 1991 speech given by Aristide at the UN in which he vowed to "turn the streets red" employing the well-known kreyol protest mechanism of burning tires, with no explicit reference to "necklacing" or any method of violence. Soon after the speech, the Haiti Observateur, a right-wing opposition paper, twisted the kreyol metaphor into the allegation of support for "necklacing," which was recycled tenfold over the years by foreign media, CIA reports, and conservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation.

Norton, Michael (2001, Nov. 24). International press freedom group blasts Haitian government for stalling progress in Jean Dominique murder investigation. Associated Press. Retrieved 7 July 2006 from Lexis-Nexis database.

Obstruction slander: Three suspects (Ti Lou, Guimy and Markington) were arrested in connection with Dominique's murder under the Aristide government but they mysteriously escaped in a "prison mutiny" under Latortue's watch in February of 2005 and were never apprehended.

Norton, Michael (2002, Jan. 10). Journalists Group Urges Sanctions for Haiti's President. Associated Press. Retrieved 7 July 2006 from Lexis-Nexis database. "Aristide is personally responsible for the deterioration of press freedom in Haiti and sanctions should be taken against him personally," Menard said.



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