News Release

· Attacks on Journalists in Iraq · Bush “Democracy” Speech

This morning, President Bush gave a speech at the National Endowment for Democracy. He said that “we stand for democracy and peace” and that Syria and Iran “share the goal of hurting America.” The following analysts are available for interviews about U.S. government policy:

TALA DOWLATSHAHI
Dowlatshahi is a spokesperson for Reporters Without Borders. The group marked the beginning of Ramadan this week with a call for the U.S. government to release five journalists being held by the U.S. military in Iraq. The organization’s statement read: “These journalists, who are all foreign press correspondents and include an American media correspondent, have been denied access to a lawyer and the right to receive a visit from their families or their employers. In all five cases, the American forces have presented no proof that would substantiate their involvement in any illegal activity.”
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JOEL CAMPAGNA
Program coordinator on the Middle East and North Africa for the Committee to Protect Journalists, Campagna said today: “The U.S. military has failed to fully investigate the killing of journalists by its forces in Iraq and to implement its own recommendations to improve media safety. … U.S. troops have killed 15 journalists and media workers since the U.S.-led war began in March 2003. At least 40 other journalists have been killed covering the conflict.

“These open-ended, unsubstantiated detentions are an unacceptable interference in the work of the press. They threaten to undermine the ability of the media to report on events in Iraq, especially as international news organizations rely heavily on Iraqi journalists to work in frontline newsgathering. Moreover, by holding journalists for weeks or months without charges and on the basis of secret ‘evidence,’ the United States, which has publicly committed its support for democracy and human rights in Iraq, sends a troubling message to Iraqis that it is not accountable for its actions. It is noteworthy that even Iraqi officials have taken exception to the detentions.”
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JAMES E. JENNINGS
President of Conscience International and executive director of U.S. Academics Against the War, Jennings recently returned from leading a delegation of U.S. professors to Damascus and Tehran for dialogue sessions with university colleagues. He said today: “The contrast between George W. Bush’s rhetoric and the reality on the ground our delegation observed in the region makes one wonder if he’s living in never-never land. Are things really going well in Iraq? Are Iran and Syria genuine threats to the United States? This is the same tired old neo-conservative agenda that led us into Iraq and could not be further from the truth. Ominously, Bush’s speech today signals a dangerous expansion of the so-called ‘War on Terror’ to those two countries.” The group also met for three hours with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his wife.
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WILLIAM BLUM
Blum’s book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower contains a chapter titled “Trojan Horse: The National Endowment for Democracy.” He said today: “The NED claims it works for democracy in various countries; governments which are its targets say it works for destabilization.” Blum is also author of the book Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167