Apr
01
1991

(Self-)Censored Stories

Eight Stories National Media Ignored

1. Secret U.S. Arms Shipments to Iraq (Murray Waas, Village Voice, 12/18/90): The Reagan administration reportedly sent sophisticated weaponry to Iraq through third-country cut-outs. Waas indicated that the secret policy violated U.S. arms export laws.

2. The Diplomatic Scandal (Murray Waas, Village Voice, 1/22/91): U.S. ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie now claims that her assurance to Saddam Hussein, days before the Kuwait invasion, "We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreements with Kuwait," was taken out of context. But Waas showed that Glaspie's statement was part of a concerted effort by the Bush administration to signal that the U.S. would wink at an Iraqi invasion.

3. The Kuwait Connection (Bob Feldman, Downtown, 1/23/91): Feldman detailed Kuwait's financial clout in the U.S. and the conflict of interest of National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, who was on the board of Santa Fe International, a subsidiary of the Kuwait Petroleum Company, from 1984 to 1986. (When the New York Times profiled Scowcroft on Feb. 21, a chronology of his career skipped over his years in the private sector.)

4. Racism and Bigotry in the U.S. Military (Salim Muwakkil, In These Times, 2/20/91): Muwakkil reported on military racism, including the charge that white soldiers routinely referred to Arabs as "sand niggers." One African-American Muslim serving in Saudi Arabia reported being harassed for his religion, including having his Koran "mutilated and thrown in the trash."

5. Slave Labor in the Gulf (Denis MacShane, The Nation, 3/18/91): MacShane did a rare analysis of labor conditions for foreign workers in Gulf states, where many are not allowed to leave their employers and receive wages as low as $30 a month. "Wanted" notices frequently appear in Saudi newspapers seeking the return of escaped employees.

6. The True Cost of War (Amsterdam News, 2/9/91; L.A. Times op-ed, 2/10/91): According to a report by the Institute for Policy Studies, Pentagon cost estimates omit the costly items of veterans' benefits and interest on war debt. Veterans will be owed approximately $125 billion for the first month of war; with debt figured in, the cost could be more than 10 times the official estimate.

7. The Army That Wasn't There (Jean Heller, St. Petersburg Times, 1/6/91; In These Times, 2/27/91): When the St. Petersburg Times had former government image analysts examine commercially available satellite photos of Kuwait taken in September, they failed to find any sign of the massive Iraqi force the Bush administration claimed was poised to invade Saudi Arabia. Was the White House issuing false intelligence estimates? When AP refused to pick upthis provocative story, In These Times reprinted it.

8. Bush's Family Ties in the Gulf (Pete Brewton, Houston Post,10/7/90): President Bush's eldest son, George Bush Jr., is the director of an oil company that controls the off-shore drilling rights to Bahrain, the oil-rich island nation near Kuwait. The stake of the president's son in the defense of Gulf oil fields was not discussed in most media, nor was the role of Bush Jr.'s political connections in getting a deal with Bahrain that Forbes reported as "unbelievable for this small company."