[Marxism] William Blum correspondence with The Committee to Protect Journalists

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Mar 22 13:17:03 MST 2006

Counterpunch, March 22, 2006

Anti-Empire Notes

The Cuban Punching Bag


The Committee to Protect Journalists, located in New York, calls itself "An 
Independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to defending press freedom 
worldwide". In December it issued a report that said that "China, Cuba, 
Eritrea, and Ethiopia are the world's leading jailers of journalists in 2005".

On January 7 I sent them the following email:

     "Dear People,

     "I have a question concerning your report on imprisoned journalists. 
You write that you consider journalists imprisoned when governments deprive 
them of their liberty because of their work. This implies that they've been 
imprisoned because of WHAT THEY'VE WRITTEN PER SE. You show Cuba with 24. 
And I would question whether your criterion applies to the Cuban cases. The 
arrests of these persons in Cuba had nothing to do with them being 
journalists, or even being dissidents, per se, but had everything to do 
with their very close, indeed intimate, political and financial connections 
to American government officials.

     "The United States is to the Cuban government like al Qaeda is to 
Washington, only much more powerful and much closer. During the period of 
the Cuban revolution, the United States and anti-Castro Cuban exiles in the 
US have inflicted upon Cuba damage greater than what happened in New York 
and Washington on September 11, 2001. In 1999, Cuba filed a suit against 
the United States for $181.1 billion in compensation for victims of (at 
that time) forty years of aggression. The suit accused Washington policies 
of being responsible for the death of 3,478 Cubans and wounding or 
disabling 2,099 others.

     "Would the US ignore a group of Americans receiving funds from al 
Qaeda and engaging in repeated meetings with known leaders of that 
organization inside the United States? Would it matter if these American 
dissidents claimed to be journalists? In the past few years, the American 
government has arrested a great many people in the US and abroad on the 
basis of alleged ties to al Qaeda, with a lot less evidence to go by than 
Cuba had with its dissidents' ties to the United States.

     "Moreover, most of the arrested Cubans can hardly be called 
journalists. Their only published works have appeared on websites 
maintained by agencies of the United States."

On February 10, having received no reply, I sent another email referring 
them to my January 7 letter. As of March 21 I still have not received a 
reply. In the United States one does not have to defend attacking Cuba for 
any reason. You just do it, and if by some oddball chance, some oddball 
person asks you to defend what you've said ... Who cares? The sports 
section of the Washington Post today brings another mindless knee-reflex 
attack. Alfonso Soriano, the Washington National's new player, has refused 
to play left field, insisting on his regular second-base position. 
"Imagine," writes Thomas Boswell, "Soriano refusing to change positions if 
he played for the Cuban team in the WBC title game. Fidel Castro might have 
disposed of the body before game time."

Incidentally, it might also be noted that amongst America's prison 
population of more than two million, there are probably at least a few 
hundred who have practiced journalism at one time or other, in one manner 
or other.

William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA 
Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World's Only 
Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir.

He can be reached at: BBlum6 at aol.com



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