This week on CounterSpin: December 2008 marks not just the conclusion of another calendar year, but the end of eight years of the George W. Bush administration—an era notable for, among other things, particular predations on civil liberties, the free flow of information and the public’s right to know. Other administrations have been wary of the press corps, to be sure. But it was the Bush White House whose first attorney general instructed federal agencies to drag their feet on FOIA requests; whose Defense Department orchestrated the pulling down of a statue of Saddam Hussein—supposedly by joyous Iraqis—as part of a disinformation campaign on the war. Who pressured EPA officials to “clean up” public statements on air quality at Ground Zero after September 11, 2001. Whatever one thinks of the incoming administration, it’s fair to say the departing one has left a very high hole to dig out of a number of fronts. On this special edition of CounterSpin, we’re going to look back at just a very few of the stories that defined the Bush era, and that posed particular challenges for journalists. The ongoing disaster of Hurricane Katrina—a story the press had at one time pledged to get to the bottom of, confronting powers that be and asking hard questions about structural inequalities.
Guantánamo Bay, where the Bush administration has created a kind of “non-place” beyond the reach of international law and serious press scrutiny. And finally the field of science, where some fear this White House’s hostility and agenda-driven policy may have set research back decades. We’ll hear again from CounterSpin guests working on these stories that, though they may be largely products of the last eight years, will need to be addressed for years to come. Call them the lingering legacies of the Bush era.
— Kali Akuno’s U.S. Human Rights Network
Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison, by Andy Worthington
— Francesca Grifo at the Union of Concerned Scientists