Democratic Underground  

I'm Calling You Out!
February 25, 2003
By Dennis Hans

Stop what you're doing! I've got something far more important that you need to do this very instant. Here is your assignment, if you are. . .

National-security bureaucrats disgusted with Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell for distorting and inventing intelligence to build a case for war:

Go public! We appreciate your anonymous efforts to alert reporters to the exaggerations and lies about the bogus Saddam-al Qaeda connection and Iraq's real or imagined WMD. But to have an impact you need to step out of the shadows. Ten of you need to go public, under the protection of Senator Carl Levin and other statesmen enraged at the politicization of intelligence. Stage a press conference and show, step by step (without compromising intelligence "sources and methods"), how the administration "enriches" raw information into pure disinformation.

Ben and Jerry, Hollywood stars, Jimmy Carter and other wealthy advocates of a peaceful resolution to the Iraq conflict:

Establish a "Whistleblowers Fund" to compensate in full any whistleblower whose career is terminated for the "crime" of enlightening Americans. It is tragic and absurd for these officials to remain in the shadows out of financial fear. In a nation that calls itself a democracy and cherishes the notion of "informed consent of the governed," we cannot launch a war that the public would prevent if only the public knew what a bunch of intimidated intelligence pros know but are afraid to tell.

Prominent African Americans:

Tell Colin Powell in no uncertain terms that he will be forever shunned if he doesn't immediately go on national TV and admit that the case he made at the U.N. was laden with distortions, exaggerations and lies.

Colin Powell:

Admit that your U.N. presentation was built on this fundamental falsehood: "My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence." The entire world outside of the fake world of the U.S. news media now understands just how fraudulent that statement was. Tell the world the case for war does not now exist, and ask the world to forgive you for bringing us to the brink.

Charles Barkley, former NBA superstar and host of TNT's "Listen Up!":

Repeat in the strongest terms the courageous anti-war stance you've been articulating for months, and call on all ACTIVE professional athletes who feel the same to STAND UP and be counted.

Bob Woodward:

Go back and read pp. 124-29 of your 1987 book "Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA 1981-1987." Then write a front-page story about the precise parallels between the corruption of the intelligence process in 1981 under Reagan-Casey and today under Bush-Tenet. Then go on Meet the Press, Larry King Live and ABC's This Week and tell the world that Bush and Powell have been knowingly, systematically lying to the American people in an attempt to gain our support for an attack on Iraq.

"Liberal" columnists at the super-hawkish Washington Post (Mary McGrory, E. J. Dionne, Richard Cohen):

Develop a backbone (and in Cohen's case, a brain). If you can't or won't, give up your column to a liberal or progressive WITH backbone. In your present condition you're worse than worthless, because you take up prime op ed space in the most important (but godawful) newspaper in our nation's capital, and you use it to publish love letters to Colin. There is no shortage of well-informed, hard-nosed liberals and progressives - only a shortage of media moguls willing to hire even one.

Journalists based at the U.N.:

Interview Hans Blix, Mohammed ElBaradei and their top aides. Go over every single assertion in Powell's presentation. Americans need to know if Blix and ElBaradei's public criticisms of Powell were merely the tip of the iceberg on Powell's deceit. (To get motivated, read these analyses by Cambridge University's Glen Rangwala: "Sixteen discrepancies between Powell's claims and the evidence of Blix and ElBaradei," and "The 44 claims made by Secretary Powell to the UN on Iraq, 5th Feb 2003 - and their evaluation.")

Brian Ross, ABC News investigative reporter:

Your Feb. 14 "20-20" story on Saddam Hussein's vicious son, Uday, featured comments from Peter W. Galbraith, a former U.S. ambassador to Croatia and now professor of national-security studies at the National War College in Washington, D.C. who today champions the worthy cause of the beleaguered Iraqi Kurds. Put Galbraith back on the air and ask him to elaborate at length on what he wrote this past December in the Boston Globe:

"the Kurds have not forgotten that Secretary of State Colin Powell was then the national security adviser who orchestrated Ronald Reagan's decision to give Hussein a pass for gassing the Kurds."

TV producers who book talking-heads:

Expand your rolodex! Fifty-nine percent of Americans want the inspectors to be given more time. How about giving 59 percent of your airtime to proponents of that view? Pitting a rightwing unilateral hawk against a center-right multilateral hawk - even if he or she is a Democrat - does not a balanced, representative debate make.

Select minority commentators who reflect the view of their communities, and if a community is sharply divided, be sure your mix of commentators reflects that. It's absured to feature black ultraconservative Raymond Tanter or Arab-bashing Arab-American Fouad Ajami. Jewish-Americans are sharply divided on Iraq, but those who get the most airtime tend to be superhawks such as Richard Perle and Joe Lieberman.

Create genuine balance and diversity by regularly working into the mix these astute center-to-left critics of the rush to war: Edward Peck, Glen Rangwala, Phyllis Bennis, James Zogby, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Rashid Khalidi, Jeff Cohen, Hussein Ibish, Dennis Kucinich, Stephen Zunes, John Conyers, Eric Alterman, Noam Chomsky, Rahul Mahajan, Robert Scheer, As'ad AbuKhalil, Sheila Jackson Lee, Norman Solomon, Ali Abunimah, Joseph Cirincione and Alistair Millar.

Connie Chung and other celebrity journalists:

Remember how you cross-examined Gary Condit, whose "crime" was that he didn't immediately tell police every last detail of his relationship with Chandra Levy? If you can hound a man who told the truth at every step of that investigation, how about hounding Bush, Powell, Rice and Rumsfeld? If you can be a tiger with Condit, you can be a tiger with them. Need background on how the administration deceives on Iraq? Here's my dissection of 15 of its "techniques of deceit."

All journalists:

Never use the verbs "think" or "believe" when reporting what Bush administration officials "say" about Iraq or Saddam. You do not know what these officials "think" or "believe"; you only know what they SAY they think and believe. Powell - the most credible administration official in the eyes of Americans and the world - almost certainly didn't "believe" that Osama had formed a "partnership" with Saddam when Powell went before the Senate and selectively quoted from Osama's latest message, leaving out the part where Osama calls Saddam an "infidel" whose "jurisdiction . . . has fallen." If the most credible Bush administration official will deceive so brazenly - he knew that within hours the complete Osama transcript would be available worldwide - imagine what the "less credible" members of this administration are capable of.

Get to work!

Dennis Hans is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, National Post (Canada) and online at, Slate and The Black World Today (, among other outlets. He has taught courses in mass communications and American foreign policy at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg, and can be reached at

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