Saturday, May 18, 2002

Matthew Engel in The Guardian: US media cowed by patriotic fever, says CBS star.

The White House was to blame for its failure to provide adequate information about the war, [Dan] Rather said. “There has never been an American war, small or large, in which access has been so limited as this one.

“Limiting access, limiting information to cover the backsides of those who are in charge of the war, is extremely dangerous and cannot and should not be accepted. And I am sorry to say that, up to and including the moment of this interview, that overwhelmingly it has been accepted by the American people. And the current administration revels in that, they relish that, and they take refuge in that.”

He said his view of the patriotism differed from that of the administration. “It’s unpatriotic not to stand up, look them in the eye, and ask the questions they don’t want to hear – they being those who have the responsibility, the ultimate responsibility – of sending our sons and daughters, our husbands, wives, our blood, to face death.”

As I’ve said before, if our country is going to go to war on our behalf, torture suspected terrorists, tolerate collateral damage, and for that matter, execute death-row inmates — if we are going to do all that, we damn well better know the truth about it.

If we’re too lazy, numb, frightened, or self-censored to ask the important questions and share what we learn with each other, we might as well sign over what’s left of our civil rights right now. It will be a lot easier to lose them, than it will be to get them back.