Top 10 Censored Stories of 2003

The Bush administration’s plans for global domination top this year’s list of stories overlooked or under-reported by the major media outlets. The Top 10 Censored Stories, compiled each year by faculty members and students at Sonoma State University in California, features plenty of Bush-related horrors but also highlights union-busting efforts, increasing corporate control of the Internet, and new colonialism in Africa.

1 Bush Insiders Plan for a New American Empire
An obscure think tank called the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), founded in the early ’90s by Reagan-era hawks such as William Kristol, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle, served as the incubator for George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq, according to reports by Harper’s, Mother Jones, and British journalist John Pilger. Among the goals of the PNAC are permanent U.S. military dominance in the world and control of world markets — particularly the oil market. To this end, the hawks had targeted oil-rich Iraq for “regime change” long before last year’s debate on Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.

2 Homeland Security Threatens our Civil Liberties
Not since the dark days of COINTELPRO in the late ’60s has the government so determinedly sought to quash political dissent in the United States. Among the greatest threats to civil liberties, according to Global Outlook,, and the Center for Public Integrity, came in the form of the Northern Command, a U.S. military force created to help domestic law enforcement agencies deal with “homeland security” and disaster scenarios, including civil unrest. Meanwhile, the Justice Department is working to strengthen the already draconian measures of the PATRIOT Act.

3 U.S. illegally Removes Pages from Iraq U.N. Report
The Bush administration removed some 8,000 pages from the 11,800-page weapons declaration submitted by the Iraqi government to the United Nations Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency on the eve of the U.S. invasion last year, reported ArtVoice and The Humanist. The reason had less to do with top-secret military intelligence than with erasing references to the role U.S. corporations like Honeywell, Eastman Kodak, and Bechtel played in the creation of Saddam Hussein’s chemical, biological, and nuclear capabilities.

4 Rumsfeld’s Plan to Provoke Terrorists
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld created a new Pentagon organization, the Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group, to incite terrorist groups to commit acts of violence against innocent civilians as a way to expose them to U.S. military retaliation, according to the Los Angeles Times and CounterPunch.

5 Unions Under Siege
It was a bad year for unions, reported Z Magazine, War Times, The Progressive, and The American Prospect, as the Bush administration pressured West Coast longshoremen off the picket lines and lobbied to strip 180,000 federal workers of their collective bargaining rights in the new Department of Homeland Security.

6 FCC Hands Corporations More Control Over Internet
The Federal Communications Commission voted to give cable companies, which provide new high-speed broadband Internet hookups, complete control over who can access their networks, essentially allowing them to control what content appears, what sites are allowed to exist, and which Internet service providers (ISPs) will be allowed to operate. Dollars and Sense noted that the move could severely limit the number of ISPs in any given region while raising the cost of Internet access.

7 The U.S. Defies Nine International Treaties
While justifying, in part, its invasion of Iraq on Saddam Hussein’s refusal to honor U.N. resolutions and other international agreements, the Bush administration last year ignored or subverted at least nine multilateral treaties that the U.S. had signed. Connections, The Nation, Asheville Global Report, and Global Outlook also noted that Bush had revived the Reagan-era ABM missile defense program, pursued the development of small-scale nuclear weapons, and supported a resolution that would allow military action against the International Criminal Court in The Hague if the ICC decided to bring any Americans before the court for war crimes.

8 Uranium Weapons Used in Iraq Despite Known Risk to Soldiers and Civilians
More than six months before the first Gulf War, U.S. Army research indicated that shells made with depleted uranium (DU) could have adverse effects on the health of soldiers. DU is a radioactive waste product of the process that produces fissionable uranium suitable for nuclear weapons. This byproduct is “ideal” for weapons because of its heat-creating properties; a DU shell literally burns through its target. It’s also 60 percent as radioactive as “pure” uranium and gives out breathable particles as it burns. According to articles in Children of War and Hustler, U.S. and British forces launched as much as 800 tons of the stuff during the first Gulf War. Since then, more than 236,000 veterans of the war have filed disability claims connected with Gulf War syndrome, and the incidence of leukemia and birth defects have increased dramatically in Iraq. None of this evidence has deterred the U.S. military from using depleted-uranium ammunition in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and, most recently, in last spring’s invasion of Iraq.

9 Afghanistan Sees No Relief from Poverty, Sexual Inequality, and Civil Disruption
More than a year after U.S. forces “liberated” the Afghan people, the country’s economy is in trouble, women’s rights are under attack, and the pre-invasion system of regional warlords has returned with a vengeance. Articles in The Nation, Left Turn, and Mother Jones reported that American intervention has done little to advance democratic institutions or generate hope among Afghanis.

10 New Threat of Colonization in Africa
The New Partnership for Africa’s Development, a scheme cooked up by the world’s most powerful industrial nations in June 2002, is ostensibly designed to encourage outside investment in Africa. But according to Left Turn, Briarpatch, and New Internationalist, the plan was initiated by a triumvirate of African leaders — Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, and Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika, without consulting any other representatives of African countries. It was first presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 2001. Critics fear it may be another ploy to exploit the continent’s natural resources.

Censored: The News That Didn’t Make the News is published each year by Project Censored, a media research group at Sonoma State University in California created in 1976 by communications studies professor Carl Jensen. The book, twice awarded the Firecracker Alternative Book Award, is produced with the help of more than 200 Sonoma State faculty members, students, and community members, who each year review as many as 1,000 submitted stories for coverage, content, reliability of sources, and national significance. For more information, visit

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