Friday, September 23, 2005


On September 23, the venerable Z-Mag published a startling bit of news by reporter and media critic Doug Ireland -- news that should be on the front pages of every U.S. newspaper and "breaking news" on network and cable TV -- U.S. immigration officials have denied Robert Fisk entry into the United States!

Ireland, who originally posted the article on his website, DIRELAND, says, "The internationally renowned correspodent for The Independent -- the great British journalist Robert Fisk -- has been banned from entering the United States. Fisk has been covering war zones for decades, but is above all known for his incisive reporting from the Middle East for more than 20 years. His critical coverage of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, and the continuing occupation that has followed it, has repeatedly exposed U.S. and British government disinformation campaigns. He also has exposed how the bulk of the press reports from Iraq have been "hotel journalism" -- a phrase Fisk coined."

When it comes to journalism -- real journalism whose goal is truth -- Robert Fisk quite simply has no peer. If we have allowed those in control of our government to travel so far down the fascist pike that an act of this shuddering magnitude either is not reported or, if it is, evokes little more than a yawn and a shrug, we're in for some rough times ahead.

I have heard many frustrated reporters explode with, "Americans just can't handle the truth! They refuse to face facts!" Actually, there's a bloody spot on my office wall where I go regularly to beat my head and scream the same thing. However, the Bush administration goes to such lengths to hide, skew, and even destroy the truth that few Americans even know what's going in this country, let alone in Iraq.

Fisk has changed his mind about American journalists practicing "hotel journalism." Last month, Fisk says he went to the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad to visit a friend from one of the largest Western news agencies. After being searched, vetted and glared at, after coming up against two vast steel walls, Fisk finally gains entry through an iron door to a room where "reporters sit in a fuggy room with a small window from which they can see the Tigris river."

Fisk's friend showed him a news release which the Coalition press office handed out to journalists to expand for U.S. consumption -- "Comics Bring Barrels of Laughs to Task Force Baghdad..." According to Fisk, he was wrong. "This is not hotel journalism, as I once described it," Fisk said. "This is prison journalism."

Fisk, in Toronto, was on his way to Santa Fe for a sold-out appearance in the Lannan Foundation's readings-and-conversations series. According to Christie Mazuera Davis, a Lannan program officer, Fisk was told that his papers were not in order. Now, Fisk is a world traveler; has been to the United States many times, and of one thing you can be sure -- his papers were in meticulous order.

Fortunately, Davis made arrangements for Amy Goodman, host of Pacifica Radio's daily news show, Democracy Now!, to interview Fisk via satellite from a television station in Toronto... A recording of this satellite interview will soon be available on the Lannan Foundation's website.

Such a brazen attempt to intimidate, or silence, a reporter of the stature of Fisk is a big mistake on the part of an administration whose own media scampers after it seeking approval and acceptance and is willing to ignore, even cover-up lies, deceit, treason, destruction -- death -- in exchange for access to the murderous tyrants it adores. Not a single one of them would dare to walk the streets of death, and emerge to tell the truth. While they are regaling us with news of comics bringing barrels of laughs to Iraqis, Fisk is reporting:

"There are now two Baghdads. One is the Green Zone, where U.S. and Iraqi officials live in a protected realm; the other is the danger zone, where everyone else lives."

"The smell of the dead pours into the street through the air-conditioning ducts. Hot, sweet, overwhelming. Inside the Baghdad morgue, there are so many corpses that the fridges are overflowing. The dead are on the floor. Dozens of them. . ."

"People torn to pieces, relatives scream -- another week in the theme park of death..."

Robert Fisk has spent the last 28 years living in, and reporting on, the Middle East. He has thrust truth in the face of power; has been relentless in exposing Bush's "war on civilization" for what it really is. Paper? Fisk has written reams upon reams of paper -- and every single sheet is in order.

And that's the truth.


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