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October 5th, 2011 12:01 am REBECCA BOWE | Cover Story

Project Censored: The Year’s Most Ignored News

The “sock puppets” the Pentagon doesn’t want you to know about—and 9 other stories you didn’t hear from the mainstream media.

On Sept. 30, drones flown by the Central Intelligence Agency launched Hellfire missiles at a convoy in Yemen, killing Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who had become one of the most visible radical Muslim clerics. He was prominent in al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen and had been linked to the planning of terrorist attacks. The missiles also killed another U.S. citizen, Samir Khan, 25, an editor of Inspire, an English language news site supported by al Qaeda.

Al-Awlaki, 40, was on the Obama administration’s hit list of this country’s own citizens and had survived a U.S. missile strike in May.

In 2010, Obama gave the CIA and U.S. military authorization to hunt down and kill al-Awlaki without the due process Obama himself championed while running for president in 2008.

The CIA and U.S. military have the authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad, outside war zones, if strong evidence exists that they’re involved in terrorist activity, The Washington Post reported in a front-page story in January of 2010.

Despite this prominent media treatment of targeted assassinations under the Obama administration, Project Censored deems this an underreported news story because “a moral, ethical and legal analysis of the assassinations seems to be significantly lacking inside the corporate media.”

The authors instead point us to coverage in Salon, the Inter Press Service, Common Dreams and several other sources that sharply question the president’s authority to license extrajudicial executions of individuals. In December of 2010, Human Rights Watch asked for clarification of the legal rationale behind this practice after a judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the notion.

Columnist Glenn Greenwald blasts the practice in Salon: “Bush merely imprisoned [Jose Padilla] for years without a trial. If that’s a vicious, tyrannical assault on the Constitution—and it was—what should they be saying about the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s assassination of American citizens without any due process?”

David Moberg offers an in-depth breakdown of the global food crisis for In These Times in an article highlighted by Project Censored, touching on the environmental context of worsening droughts and flooding, as well as the economic ramifications of a system in which free-market speculators stand to profit from volatile food prices.

Beyond crop reductions resulting from irregular weather patterns, Moberg places the blame for rising food prices and increasing malnutrition on flawed economic policies. “Hunger is currently a result of poverty and inequality, not lack of food,” he concludes.

The food price index rose to its highest level since 1990 in February 2011, according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “Since 2010 began, roughly another 44 million people have quietly crossed the threshold into malnutrition, joining 925 million already suffering from lack of food,” Moberg writes. “If prices continue to rise, this food crisis will push the ranks of the hungry toward a billion people.”

When Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer ran for re-election in 2010, her greatest out-of-state campaign contributions came from high-ranking executives of Corrections Corporation of America, one of the nation’s largest prison companies. Brewer gained notoriety among immigrant-rights advocates after championing SB 1070, strict anti-illegal immigration legislation that drew criticism for legitimizing racial profiling.

SB 1070 established new crimes and corresponding prison sentences relating to illegal immigration; CCA profits directly from building and operating prisons and detention centers. Bringing it closer to home, CCA previously employed two of Brewer’s legislative aides as lobbyists.

In a Counterpunch article entitled “Wall Street and the Criminalization of Immigrants” that is spotlighted by Project Censored, Peter Cervantes-Gautschi illuminates Brewer’s links to CCA. It also goes deeper, offering an historic account of how investors in CCA and prison giant Geo Group have for years actively pushed for legislation that would result in the widespread incarceration of undocumented immigrants.

A flurry of stories aired in the spring of 2010 when it became apparent that Google Street View vehicles, in the process of collecting data for its mapping service, also picked up consumer “payload” data on Wi-Fi networks, including email messages, website data, user names and passwords.

The tech giant publicly apologized for what it characterized as a mistake, saying it had “failed badly.” The Federal Trade Commission admonished Google in a letter, but declined to pursue it further. From there, Project Censored authors make the leap that the FTC abandoned its inquiry because a week earlier, Obama attended a Democratic Party fundraiser at the Palo Alto home of Google executive Marissa Mayer, citing a San Francisco Chronicle article about the $30,000-per-person affair.

Project Censored authors also point to an article by Eric Sommer titled “Google’s Deep CIA Connections,” appearing on Pravda.ru (a website whose most-read article was “Bermuda Triangle: New Anomalous Phenomenon Discovered”). Sommer claims that “Google is, in fact, a key participant in U.S. military and CIA intelligence operations,” basing his argument on a perplexing set of links between investors in Google and CIA technologies.

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