Democrats & Liberals Archives

Not spreading the word, the Bush way: State sponsored censorship

According to recent published reports, speeches, writings and statements from our nation’s elite who were solicited to speak on America’s behalf to the International community were systematically censored by State Department operatives. (link)

The censorship was part of the Bush administration’s larger, systematic, pattern of information control. A pattern that included stifling dissenting views, promoting only positive reflections on the Bush administration and planting fake-news stories cloaked as genuine news stories.

Karen Hughes, one of George W. Bush’s most loyal confidants, who began working for Bush as a communications director in Texas while he was Govenor and later in the White House, most recently as Undersecretary of State for public diplomacy, with a rank as an Ambassador, was in charge of the program. In her latest role as Undersecretary, she is responsible for overseeing the speaker program. She is the gatekeeper. And this gatekeeper is a censor.

According to the reports, the process of censoring violates the State Department’s own guidelines of the U.S. Speaker and Specialist Program. This program enlists America’s elite to conduct lectures, consult and conduct seminars overseas.

An investigation into the censorship practice began at the behest of Joe Biden, Democratic Senator of Delaware in December of 2005. Following a review of the system, the Inspector General’s office recommended changes to the current system of using a political litmus test for the speaker program. To date, the system has not changed; it’s stayed the course.

It seems that the current administration’s attack on the founding principals of this nations’ constitution extends throughout the world in a more aggressive fashion. It appears that, as soon as one leaves our shores, torture becomes legal, indiscriminate incarceration in hidden jails become acceptable and now censorship is the way that America spreads its word.

Posted by john trevisani at November 3, 2006 10:15 AM
Comments
Comment #193066

As Sic Eag pointed out in the Republican thread, this is an idealogically driven administration. Its policies and activities are based upon how they WANT the world to be, not on how it actually IS. They have no room for truth, only fantasy and the K-street project. They don’t even have room for discussion within their own party. If you disagree with the head, you’re a RINO. If you support the other party, you are a traitor who aids and abets the enemy. It is now clear, that the GOP is the enemy. They must be defeated so truth can be the right thing to say once again.

Posted by: Dave1-20-09 at November 3, 2006 11:14 AM
Comment #193068

The problenm in particularly bad in the scientific community. In some cases, government scientists have been prohibited from presenting their findings at international conferences because it doesn’t support the Bush administration’s position (e.g., global warming).

Posted by: Steve K at November 3, 2006 11:17 AM
Comment #193077

Read the report carefully. The instructions from Karen Hughes were to be inclusive. Some middle level (often career civil service) employees took it upon themselves to be over cautious. Many of these guys were in fact Democrats. Bureaucratic premtive fear & brown nosing trumps politics.

This article has a link to the real report. The articles spin away from the actual facts, so it is a good idea to go to the primary source and read what Joe Biden saw.

Pay particular attention to the part where it says, “Current public diplomacy leadership [in the Department of State] expressly conveyed support for a ‘realistic balanced selection of speakers representing a diversity of opinion on policy issues’ … “

In other words, the inspectors found Hughes et al, far from censoring worked hard to be ensure balance, going so far as to reorganize the operation to ensure it. I know this plays away from the anti-Bush stereotype you know and love, but it is the truth, not A truth, THE truth.

Posted by: Jack at November 3, 2006 11:50 AM
Comment #193079

Jack:
Hughes worked hard to ensure balance?

In the article that you cited:


“leadership in the State Department’s Bureau of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, whom it didn’t name, questioned the “ideological credentials” of some speakers and “this contributed to a series of internal IIP management reactions.”

But okay, let’s for the sake of discussion say that Hughes didn’t put loyalty over her duties and did, as you assert, worked hard to ensure balance. Why wouldn’t she put an end to this practice if it’s still ongoing? Doesn’t ‘in-charge’ mean anything?

i would think that if the underlings were the problem, as you suggest, then if the boss said to put and end to it, the practice would stop. But it didn’t and it continues.

So… does the buck stop somewhere?

Posted by: john trevisani at November 3, 2006 12:08 PM
Comment #193082

Sounds like one of those “unwritten” cultural understandings to me. They just got caught at it and were clever enough for this “unwritten rule” not to be covered in the published instructions.

Is there anybody that has not experienced this kind of thing?

Posted by: womanmarine at November 3, 2006 12:11 PM
Comment #193089

Marine,

The issue is probably that the true new GOPer expects to blindly follow the party line. They can’t understand why anyone would think beyond that boundary so anything said beyond the party line is simply wrong. Therefore, there is an inability to see the censorship and what is being said is the “truth” and what is being censored is simply “wrong”. Sorry for saying that so poorly, I hope I got what I meant to say across succesfully.

Posted by: Dave1-20-09 at November 3, 2006 1:01 PM
Comment #193090

Dave:

Nope. I interpret this based on my experience having worked for the government and government contractors.

There are the written rules, usually based on current law, and the “unwritten” rules the company or department REALLY follows. I have not worked in any of these places where this was not the case, in or out of the service.

This is why I no longer work for the goverment.

Posted by: womanmarine at November 3, 2006 1:07 PM
Comment #193091

John

Read the report, not the article about the report. The report is linked in the article I gave you. What you find is a normal bureaucratic environment that operates on its own logic (and the logic it has operated on for many years). During the Clinton times, some of the programs were more aimed to his priorities. Karen Hughes has specifically ordered people NOT to have an ideological litmus test. She has followed that up with personnel changes. She is behaving honorably and ethically AND the actual investigation indicates that.

What they found after months of investigation was a normal USG environment, run almost entirely by career civil servants, where some people were trying to get ahead of their instructions.

When one of the goals is to explain policy, there is alway a problem of the actual appropriatness of the speaker. If you investigate the speakers supplied, you will see that they choose Democrats to explain Democratic points because that is appropriate.

Speakers must be chosen by someone and with some criteria. But speakers are chosen by the quality of their credentials and their ability to communicate, not their personal opinions on political issues.

Woman

You might recall Henry II and Thomas Becket, probably the most famous case of this. That kind of thing happenes everywhere (although most do not suffer the fate of Henry and Thomas). You are right. The best thing a person in authority can do is exactly what Karen Hughes et al did. I do not think you could ask anything more.

Posted by: Jack at November 3, 2006 1:10 PM
Comment #193113

John, glad you wrote an article about this, as I’ve been reading some news stories about it, and I consider it an important subject.

Jack:
“When one of the goals is to explain policy, there is alway a problem of the actual appropriatness of the speaker. If you investigate the speakers supplied, you will see that they choose Democrats to explain Democratic points because that is appropriate.

Speakers must be chosen by someone and with some criteria. But speakers are chosen by the quality of their credentials and their ability to communicate, not their personal opinions on political issues.”

I honestly don’t understand why there should be any focus on controlling the flow of free speech of American citizens to the rest of the world under the guise of “appropriateness.” If they are concerned with balance, then why can’t they simply make sure that there will be enough American speakers that are going to cover several viewpoints (whether those views happen to reflect politics or not)?

Posted by: Adrienne at November 3, 2006 2:25 PM
Comment #193132

Marine,

I agree that there are unwritten rules within any and all organizations. That has been my experience. Those rules have almost always come from the boss.
I was referring to a “conservative” reply in this blog. I.e. “found Hughes et al, far from censoring worked hard to be ensure balance, going so far as to reorganize the operation to ensure it.” A very unusual interpretation given that it goes 180 degrees against the article which he linked to in the first place…

Posted by: Dave1-20-09 at November 3, 2006 3:17 PM
Comment #193412

Speaking of censorship, I sent in two posts explaining this situation, which were held up for vetting by you.

I do not think you are censoring, but you should have learned how hard it is to appear NOT to be.

Posted by: Jack at November 5, 2006 10:48 AM
Comment #193414

Since it seems to be working again, let me repeat, if you go to the relevant webpages, you find that State information services have features Dems and Republicans. They have a webchat next week with one of Clintons education advisors and they had an ACLU guy discussing religion in the schools.

I linked to the article I did because it has a link to the original source. I wanted to show the bias between what the article said and what the real report said.

The real inspection report found NO bias from the top. It found what I wrote above. Read the real report and learn.

Posted by: Jack at November 5, 2006 10:54 AM
Comment #193423
“The problenm in particularly bad in the scientific community. In some cases, government scientists have been prohibited from presenting their findings at international conferences because it doesn’t support the Bush administration’s position (e.g., global warming).”

Steve K:

Why is it that when a conservative makes a seemingly baseless comment, he gets slammed and maligned, but when a liberal like Steve here makes an unsubstantiated comment, nobody second guesses him?

This website is so left leaning, it’s almost off the map. I really am sick and tired of liberal posters getting away with murder while conservative posters get a thorough evaluation…I’m sick of the double standard.

So, since nobody else wants to step up, Steve K, what is the basis for your seemingly outlandish comment? Do you have a citation? Or do you just not bother because you know you won’t be second guessed by your liberal cronies?

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at November 5, 2006 11:53 AM
Comment #193427

Baseless? Hardly. Read this. Nice try at spin, Alex.

Posted by: ElliottBay at November 5, 2006 12:09 PM
Comment #193463

Elliot:

Thank you for the link. As Steve K had it, there was no evidence to back up his claim, no link, nothing. I thank you for providing me with the evidence of potential misconduct.

And I’m not trying to spin, I’m just trying to hold people like Steve accountable for their comments…

Thanks again.

Posted by: Alex Fitzsimmons at November 5, 2006 4:19 PM
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