War gag order, a failure of imagination, and the Gallagher Ranch plaintiffs
Soldier decries war gag order
In February 2004, Marine Captain Josh Rushing received an obscure phone message complimenting his performance in the documentary Control Room, which concerned Al-Jazeera's media coverage in Iraq. The military-press liaison knew nothing about the film, nor his role in it, until he Googled the information. As Rushing quickly learned, the source material for the film was an interview in which he discussed his reaction to the brutal images of captured and killed American soldiers broadcast by Al-Jazeera.
Rushing's lecture last week at Trinity University was part of the National Teach-In on the Wars in Iraq and against Terror, taking place at campuses nationwide in April. The events at Trinity kicked off with a screening of Control Room on March 21. Professor Mary Ann Tetreault organizes events and lectures at Trinity in an effort to raise campus awareness of the complexities in both the war in Iraq and the broader "war against terrorism."
Partisan media coverage was the primary focus of Rushing's lecture. He commented about the extent to which media shapes the messages, public views, and opinions during wartime. "Sometimes, the first question I would be asked before an interview was the kind of message I wanted to get across," said Rushing, describing a Fox News interview. "This just shows how scripted it is. It becomes less a debate about the issues and more projecting this support of our troops."
After the documentary's release last year, Rushing was silenced by the Pentagon, which ordered him not to comment on the film. Soon after, he chose to leave the Marines and is now speaking about his experiences across the nation. In one controversial remark to a New York newspaper, Rushing commented on the images seen, and not seen, in America. He said, "In America, war has its own branding. When we say 'war' we think of patriotism, we support our troops, our flag ... these images are all very positive and have little to do with the actual cost of war."
He goes on to explain that, though many of these images are terribly disturbing, citizens will be much better informed by seeing them - which, of course, remains to be seen.
— Nicole Chavez
Anorexia of the imagination
| Thomas Kean
"This is a very, very important part of history and we've got to tell it right," CBS News quoted 9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean last year. "As you read the report, you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done. This was not something that had to happen."
Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey and pointman on the 9/11 Commission, will speak on "Lessons Learned: 9/11 and the War on Terrorism," March 31 at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity University's Laurie Auditorium.
The 570-page report revealed that the Bush Administration, including President Bush, Cabinet members, the CIA, FBI, and the Federal Aviation Administration, knew that a terrorist attack using commercial airliners was possible, even likely.
As CNN reported, Kean and his fellow panelists cited a "failure of imagination" that they said kept U.S. officials from understanding the al Qaeda threat before the attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000.
Although CIA Director George Tenet was among the highest-ranking resignations as a result of the Commission's report, the findings apparently weren't damning enough to cost President Bush the 2004 election.
Gallagher Ranch plaintiffs lose court fight
Attorneys for the plaintiffs in District Judge David Berchelmann Jr.'s court last Tuesday seemed to anticipate his decision on City Public Service's high-voltage transmission lines that will run through the San Geronimo Creek watershed. `See "Party Lines," Feb. 3-9, 2005`.
On Thursday, Berchelmann ruled that the governing board of CPS, now CPS Energy, was legally seated despite a conflict between the Texas Constitution and a City Charter clause that confuses the term limits for CPS board members. The decision allows the Cagnon-to-Kendall power transmission line to proceed.
Berchelmann left the courtroom immediately after Tuesday's hearing. The words "appeals court" popped up as attorneys consulted with developer Chris Hill in the case of Gallagher Headquarters Ranch Development LTD vs. the City of San Antonio.
Attorneys David Earl and John Furrh also had argued that the City did not properly advertise a January 20 public hearing at which City Council voted to allow the power lines to traverse a portion of Proposition 3 parklands in northwest Bexar County.
Earl claimed that the public notice merely mentioned "certain city property," and not public parkland, when it advertised the hearing. "There was no mention of Prop 3 property. It does not put citizens on notice of the issue at hand," Earl told the judge.
Attorney Ricardo Cedillo said 56 people, including the plaintiffs, signed up to speak at the hearing, insinuating that residents already knew what would be discussed at the hearing.
Earl also had argued that the Texas Constitution established two-year term limits for certain boards such as that of the reborn CPS Energy. Earl said the City Charter overstepped its bounds when it set up five-year terms, and claimed that the board members' terms have expired, therefore nullifying any CPS Energy vote.
But it was all for naught. Berchelmann said he had an appointment with his mother and was in a hurry. San Antonio voters can wait, as they have for decades for local government to get the idea that promoting untrammeled growth in the Hill Country will eventually kill the City's main source of clean drinking water.