Last week, in his chatty farewell, Donald Rumsfeld told his staff that the low point of his tenure was when he learned about Abu Ghraib. The press corps zombies didn’t blink. Yet back on November 25, Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski told a Spanish newspaper that she has evidence that Donald Rumsfeld specifically approved the torture techniques used at Abu Ghraib. My local paper never carried that story and there is no mention of Karpinski’s allegations in reference to Rumsfeld’s professed shock and horror that such a thing occurred on his watch.
Why is it that the media does not take Karpinski seriously? I suspect that few people in this country doubt that the orders to commit torture at Abu Ghraib came from high up in the Pentagon. Yet when someone who is in a position to know offers proof, the media just ignores it and goes along with the fiction that it was the doing of lower level personnel.
But Karpinsky is not the only woman who has been silenced by my morning newspaper. Call me naïve, but you’d think that when a member of Congress introduces a bill to impeach the President, it would be considered news. Maybe even the top headline in the same papers that screamed, “Monica!”. But no, that spot in the following day’s issue of my local paper went to the Foley scandal report.
There is no mystery as to why the impeachment story isn’t a story. The bill was written by outgoing Rep. Cynthia McKinney, who lost her seat in Congress after being accused of hitting a Capitol Hill policeman, although charges were never filed, and evidence was never produced. McKinney has a long reputation of speaking her mind on unpopular topics, including the investigation of 911 and the disenfranchisement of black voters and has been a strong voice against the Iraq war.
In March, 2003, McKinney gave a speech at an anti-war rally in San Francisco. The speech was titled, “Something is Terribly Wrong in America” and in it, McKinney refers to the Iraq War as “a stick-up of global proportions.” It is haunting to go back and read that speech now. One wonders what would have happened if we had listened to McKinney then.
We will of course not listen to either her or Karpinski now either. After all, Nancy Pelosi has already decreed that there won’t be an impeachment. But McKinney stands in a position of unique strength. As the song says, she has nothing left to lose. And from such a position, comes the voice of freedom and the courage to defend the Constitution and to insist that the President is not above the law. Journalist Matt Pascarella, who was present when the articles of impeachment were being drafted, quotes McKinney as saying,
“We have to do this because this is simply the right thing to do. The American people do want to hold this man and his office accountable for the crimes they have committed and if no member of Congress is willing to do it, than I will.”
She goes on,
“My duty as a member of Congress is merely to uphold and preserve the constitution and to represent the will of my constituency. Ultimately, it isn’t up to me or any other member of Congress it is up to the American people to decide.”
But how likely is it that the American public will make such a decision when the media does not see fit to report that the outgoing Sec Def may have authorized the same torture that he claims was his low point or that articles of impeachment have been introduced against the President. Until the media reports the truth that these courageous women are saying, they are complicit in the erosion of our democracy and freedom.
LUCINDA MARSHALL is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network, www.feministpeacenetwork.org.