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Goebbels Award for Condi

by Greg Palast

"It's appalling that this story got out there," Secretary of State 

Condoleezza Rice said on her way back from 



What's NOT appalling to Condi is that the 


 is holding prisoners at 


 under conditions termed "torture" by the Red Cross.  What's 

not appalling to Condi is that prisoners of the Afghan war are held in 

violation of international law after that conflict has supposedly ended.  
What is NOT appalling to Condi is that prisoner witnesses have reported 
several instances of the Koran's desecration.  

What is appalling to her is that these things were REPORTED. So to 

Condi goes to the Joseph Goebbels Ministry of Propaganda Iron Cross.

But I don't want to leave out our President.  His aides report that 

George Bush is "angry" about the report -- not the desecration of the 

Koran, but the REPORTING of it.

And so long as George is angry and Condi appalled, Newsweek knows what 

to do:  swiftly grab its corporate ankles and ask the White House for 


But there was no mercy.  Donald Rumsfeld pointed the finger at Newsweek 

and said, "People lost their lives.  People are dead."  Maybe Rumsfeld 

was upset that Newsweek was taking away his job.  After all, it's hard 

to beat Rummy when it comes to making people dead.

And just for the record:  Newsweek, unlike Rumsfeld, did not kill 

anyone -- nor did its report cause killings.  Afghans protested when they 

heard the Koran desecration story (as Christians have protested crucifix 
desecrations).  The Muslim demonstrators were gunned down by the Afghan
 military police -- who operate under Rumsfeld's command.

Our Secretary of Defense, in his darkest Big Brother voice, added a 

warning for journalists and citizens alike, "People need to be very 

careful about what they say."  

And Newsweek has now promised to be very, very good, and very, very 

careful not to offend Rumsfeld, appall Condi or anger George.

For their good behavior, I'm giving Newsweek and its owner, the 

Washington Post, this week's Yellow Streak Award for Craven Cowardice in Journalism.  

As always, the competition is fierce, but Newsweek takes the honors by 

backing down on Mike Isakoff's expose of cruelity, racism and just 

plain bone-headed incompetence by the 
 military at the 




Isakoff cited a reliable source that among the neat little 

"interrogation" techniques used to break down Muslim prisoners was putting a copy 

of the Koran into a toilet.  

In the old days, Isakoff's discovery would have led to Congressional 

investigations of the perpetrators of such official offence. The 

Koran-flushers would have been flushed from the military, panels would have 
been impaneled and Isakoff would have collected his Pulitzer.

No more.  Instead of nailing the wrong-doers, the Bush Administration 

went after the guy who REPORTED the crime, Isakoff.  

Was there a problem with the story? Certainly. If you want to split 

hairs, the inside-government source of the Koran desecration story now 

says he can't confirm which military report it appeared in.  But he saw it in 
one report and a witnesses has confirmed that the Koran was defiled.

Of course, there's an easy way to get at the truth.  RELEASE THE 

REPORTS NOW.  Hand them over, Mr. Rumsfeld, and let's see for ourselves 

what's in them.

But Newsweek and the Post are too polite to ask Rumsfeld to make the 

investigative reports public.  Rather, the corporate babysitter for 

Newsweek, editor Mark Whitaker, said, "Top administration officials have 
promised to continue looking into the charges and so will we."  In other words, 
we'll take the Bush Administration's word that there is no 

evidence of Koran-dunking in the draft reports on 



It used to be that the Washington Post permitted journalism in its 

newsrooms. No more.  But, frankly, that's an old story.

Every time I say investigative reporting is dead or barely breathing in 



, some little smartass will challenge me, "What about Watergate?  

Huh?"  Hey, buddy, the Watergate investigation was 32 years ago -- that 

means it's been nearly a third of a century since the Washington Post 

has printed a big investigative scoop.  

The Post today would never run the Watergate story:  a hidden source 

versus official denial.  Let's face it, Bob Woodward, now managing editor at 
the Post, has gone from "All the President's Men" to becoming the President's 
Man -- "Bush at War."  Ugh! 

And now the Post company is considering further restrictions on the use 

of confidential sources -- no more "Deep Throats."  

Despite its supposed new concern for hidden sources, let's note that 

Newsweek and the Post have no trouble providing, even in the midst of 

this story, cover for secret Administration sources that are FAVORABLE to Bush.   
Editor Whitaker's retraction relies on "Administration 

officials" whose names he kindly withholds.

In other words, unnamed sources are OK if they defend Bush, 

unacceptable if they expose the Administration's mendacity or evil.

A lot of my readers don't like the Koran-story reporter Mike Isakoff 

because of his goofy fixation with Monica Lewinsky and Mr. Clinton's 

cigar.  Have some sympathy for Isakoff:  Mike's one darn good reporter, but as 
an inmate at the Post/Newsweek facilities, his ability to send out serious 
communications to the rest of the world are limited.

A few years ago, while I was tracking the influence of the power 

industry on Washington, Isakoff gave me some hard, hot stuff on Bill Clinton -- 
not the cheap intern-under-the-desk gossip -- but an FBI report for me to publish 
in The Guardian of Britain.  

I asked Isakoff why he didn't put it in Newsweek or in the Post.

He said, when it comes to issues of substance, "No one gives a sh--," 

not the readers, and especially not the editors who assume that their 


audience is small-minded, ignorant and wants to stay that way.

That doesn't leave a lot of time, money or courage for real reporting.  

And woe to those who practice investigative journalism.  As with CBS's 

retraction of Dan Rather's report on Bush's draft-dodging, Newsweek's 

diving to the mat on 


 acts as a warning to all journalists who step out of line. 

Newsweek has now publicly committed to having its reports vetted by 

Rumsfeld's Defense Department before publication.  Why not just print 

Rumsfeld's press releases and eliminate the middleman, the reporter? 

However, not all of us poor scribblers will adhere to this New News 

Order. In the meantime, however, for my future security and comfort, I'm having
 myself measured for a custom-made orange suit.


Greg Palast was awarded the 2005 George Orwell Prize for Courage in 

Journalism at the Sundance Film Festival for his investigative reports 

produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation.  See those reports for 

BBC, Harper's, The Nation and others at