Denying Reality to Defend Power

Self-censorship may not be the most pernicious form of censorship out there, but it certainly can reorient one’s perspective on what really is happening in the world. It’s strange enough to interact with people without a shared vision of what is actually happening in the world. Even stranger is to watch people deliberately repress their own knowledge in the service of a political agenda, whether that’s misinforming the public about global warming, “protecting” secrets that have already been released, or sustaining a deceptive narrative of the Great Recession.

One

Democracy Now! has obtained the text of a memo that’s been sent to employees at USAID. This is to thousands of employees, about reading the recently released WikiLeaks documents, and it comes from the Department of State. They have also warned their own employees. This memo reads, quote, “Any classified information that may have been unlawfully disclosed and released on the Wikileaks web site was not ‘declassified’ by an appopriate authority and therefore requires continued classification and protection as such from government personnel… Accessing the Wikileaks web site from any computer may be viewed as a violation of the SF-312 agreement… Any discussions concerning the legitimacy of any documents or whether or not they are classified must be conducted within controlled access areas (overseas) or within restricted areas (USAID/Washington)… The documents should not be viewed, downloaded, or stored on your USAID unclassified network computer or home computer; they should not be printed or retransmitted in any fashion.” That was the memo that went out to thousands of employees at USAID. The State Department has warned all their employees, you are not to access WikiLeaks, not only at the State Department, which they’ve blocked, by the way, WikiLeaks, but even on your home computers. Even if you’ve written a cable yourself, one of these cables that are in the trove of the documents, you cannot put your name in to see if that is one of the cables that has been released. (Democracy Now!)

The Library of Congress followed suit in blocking Wikileaks, prompting a lively debate among librarians on information access.

Two Media Matters exposed the following memo from Fox News managing editor Bill Sammon: “…we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.”  To quote Media Matters,

“Contrary to Sammon’s email, the increase in global temperatures over the last half-century is an established fact. As the National Climatic Data Center explains, the warming trend ‘is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change’ and “is also confirmed by other independent observations.'”

(Further outrage from the über-centrist National Wildlife Federation)

Three

The bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission was established by law to “examine the causes, domestic and global, of the current financial and economic crisis in the United States.” …

It’s a straightforward story, but a story that the Republican members of the commission don’t want told. Literally.

Last week, reports Shahien Nasiripour of The Huffington Post, all four Republicans on the commission voted to exclude the following terms from the report: “deregulation,” “shadow banking,” “interconnection,” and, yes, “Wall Street.”

When Democratic members refused to go along with this insistence that the story of Hamlet be told without the prince, the Republicans went ahead and issued their own report, which did, indeed, avoid using any of the banned terms.

That report is all of nine pages long, with few facts and hardly any numbers. Beyond that, it tells a story that has been widely and repeatedly debunked — without responding at all to the debunkers. (“Wall Street Whitewash,” by Paul Krugman)

It’s been said that, Everyone’s entitled to their own opinions; but everyone is not entitled to their own facts. Someone tell Fox News, the State Department, the Library of Congress, and the Financial Crisis Commission.

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