Democratic Underground  

Mushroom Nation
April 1, 2002
By Christian Dewar

When the local media reported that a pastor from New Mexico had burned Harry Potter books for promoting satanism, most people probably dismissed this as an isolated act by a provincial religious zealot. But the media overlooked a more sinister book burning that threatened one candidate's run for the presidency.

The book, 'Fortunate Son' by J.H. Hatfield is a well researched, extensively documented account of the life of George W. Bush. A scathing portrayal, Hatfield wrote about Bush's lackluster academic career, his three known arrests, his alcoholism, the failure of all of his oil companies and the 'crony capitalism' that allowed him to become rich by insider trading and quid pro quos with powerful family friends.

This book was especially damaging to Bush because of the examination of the family influence that allowed Bush to join the Texas National Guard despite a long waiting list and avoid service in Vietnam. It reports his frequent absences from duty, his alleged AWOL and his release from duty two years before the end of his committment. The author interviewed sources who claim Bush was busted for possession of cocaine and that a sympathetic judge expunged the record as a favor to his father.

When the book was printed, tremendous pressure was brought to bear on St. Martin's, the publisher, to destroy the copies. Reports of the author's arrest and conviction were leaked to the press in an effort to smear him, nevermind that this was irrelevant to whether the book was factual or not. Never addressing the substance of the charges against Bush, the attack focused on killing the messenger.

St. Martin's panicked and vowed to turn the books into furnace fodder. Fortunately, the new publisher, Soft Skull press picked up the book despite being sued. It is now possible to buy the book and readers can decide for themselves whether the book is credible or not.

The degree of secrecy in the Bush administration is unprecedented. They have taken steps to withhold records of previous presidents (including records of his father's involvement in Iraqgate, Iran-Contragate, the October Surprise, the S&L scandal, etc.) as well as Dubya's own records as the governor of Texas. His attorney general instructed government agencies to thwart the release of records under the Freedom of Information Act. Cheney is blocking the release of records of meetings formulating energy policy. They have sought to prevent the release of accounts of corrupt FBI contacts with Boston mafia figures and reporters are black listed for writing less than flattering accounts of the president.

Bush's obsession with secrecy extends to the internet. His campaign bought up dozens of domain names such as bushsucks.com, bushblows.com, etc., in an effort to deny these to critics who might satirize his official site. The campaign sued one such site, gwbush.com. Bush commented on this saying, "There ought to be limits to freedom." Known to be thin skinned, Bush has had peaceful demonstrators arrested.

Readers probably noticed that the Pentagon announced and then denied that it was setting up The Office of Strategic Influence to plant disinformation in the foreign press in order to present a more favorable view of U.S. policy. This would most likely be illegal and most assuredly would have leaked back to the domestic media. The Bush clan also hired a former Madison Avenue executive to peddle this improved view as she had promoted Uncle Ben's Rice.

U.S. propaganda against it's own citizens is not new. Carl Bernstein reported on the CIA's Operation Mockingbird during the 1970's. He discovered that the CIA had over 400 assets planted in the American press as reporters, stringers, editors, etc. Former director William Colby was quoted as saying, "The CIA owns everyone of significance in the major media." The plan was referred to as Operation Wurlitzer because the CIA could play the press like the instrument of that name.

During the Reagan-Bush years, government officials planted stories to make the Contras seem more benign. Reports of massacres and atrocites by U.S. backed troops were covered up. Some of the very same officials who perpetrated these lies have assumed high level posts in the new administration including Otto Reich, Admiral Poindexter, John Negroponte and Elliott Abrahms.

In the current "War on Terrorism," the press has been neutered. Journalists have been forbidden to accompany U.S. troops and have had to content themselves with regurgitating whatever Rumsfeld spews forth at press conferences. One reporter who was investigating civilian casualties was told by U.S. soldiers that he would be shot if he continued. There have been reports of our troops encouraging soldiers of the Northern Alliance to harrass reporters.

After the tragedy of 9/11, much of the world mourned with the U.S. and stood behind our efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice. If the United States is on the side of truth and right, if we stand on the side of the angels, why does this administration wish to operate in secrecy? Why does Bush feel that we have to feed the world "black propaganda" and lies to foster goodwill towards our country?

He apparently believes that we should become a nation of mushrooms: kept in the dark and fed bullshit.

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