The #8 story on Project Censored‘s list for 2007 is the revelation that the Pentagon is not compelled to comply with the 40-year-old Freedom of Information Act.
According to articles written in 2005, the Pentagon spent much of the year seeking “immunity” from FOIA requests. In November 2005, blogger Michael Petrelis did democracy a favor by submitting an FOIA request for the details of the number of FOIA requests submitted to the Pentagon between 2000 and 2005 from the top news publications. He publicized the results, which are detailed in this Raw Story column. (Bottom line: USA Today, WSJ, and NYT — all with circulations over 1 million, submitted a combined total of 36 requests of the Pentagon over the 5-year period).
In December 2005, according to the non-profit Newspaper Association of America Web site, President Bush authorized full exemption to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).
However, a Lexis search for “pentagon” and “foia” in the full text of all major papers (indexed by Lexis-Nexis) since January 2006 garnered a measly 9 results. Maybe this year we WILL take Project Censored’s leads?
A front-page story in the Sept. 10 L.A. Times does exactly this, in Patrick J. O’Donnell’s disturbing “Why the Numbers Don’t Add Up in Iraq“:
“We typically characterize trends in ways that do not divulge raw data,” explained a military spokesman, Lt. Col. Barry Johnson.
This combination of misinformation and a lack of transparency — even at higher levels — explains exactly how Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell can report to a room of “Operation Forward Together” officials and the press that sectarian violence and deaths are DEcreasing in Iraq. And, naturally, there are no questions asked or reasons for him to qualify this statement in spite of simultaneous figures from Baghdad morgues revealing that the body count actually tripled during the month of August. (The above graphic was presented by Caldwell Sept. 6).
The Washington Post Sept. 8 headline, “ Baghdad Body Count Nearly Triples comes just a week after the Post marquee: (via AP and citing “preliminary Health Ministry figures”), “Violent Deaths in Iraq Dropped in August.”
Not till well after multiple Pentagon press releases were published nationwide as unquestionable fact, did a spokesman step up and clarify (via McClatchy) numbers in the official tabulation did NOT include the scores of civilians killed in car bombings and mortar attacks — deaths that in fact WERE most likely related to “sectarian violence.”
There are a million different ways to account for — and to count — the dead. But to categorically not count the dead?