In George W's Glorious New People's Democracy of Iraq, journalists don't strive to win a Pulitzer Prize – they strive to stay out of jail... and stay alive.

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Jim Hightower's Radio Lowdown
Jim Hightower's Radio Lowdown

In George W’s Glorious New People’s Democracy of Iraq, journalists don’t strive to win a Pulitzer Prize – they strive to stay out of jail… and stay alive.

In Iraq, reporting what you see and hear (which after all, is what a reporter does) gives you an awfully good chance of getting – not a prize – but a bullet in the head. Since the Bush occupation began, more than 130 Iraqi reporters have gone to their final reward, violently.

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Now, however, a new job hazard confronts journalists: jail. Iraq’s new leaders, while purporting to be governing a budding democracy, have not quite grasped the fundamental democratic concept of freedom of expression, instead revealing themselves to be remarkably touchy despots. The parliament has enacted a sweeping set of laws to criminalize criticism of… well, of themselves, and of other government officials.

In the past year, about a dozen journalists have been charged with “offending” public officials. Three reporters, for examples are standing trial in Baghdad for violating section 226 of the Iraqi penal code, which outlaws public “insults” to the government or its officials, punishable by up to seven years in prison. The “crime” of these three is that they wrote articles about the governor, some local judges, and police officials engaged in corruption.

In an ironic twist, some of these new, repressive laws were lifted verbatim from the penal code of Saddam Hussein! Old Saddam would also smile on the repressive move of the Prime Minister Maliki, who has compelled some 70 Iraqi news organizations to sign a nine-point pledge not to report in ways that the government considers “inflammatory” and to disseminate news in a way that “harmonizes” with the government’s goals.

This is Jim Hightower saying… Something tells me that George W himself would really like to import some of this Iraqi-style “democracy” back to the U.S.

“Iraqi Journalists Add Laws to List Of War Dangers,” September 29, 2006.
“Nine staffers slain at TV station in Baghdad,” USA Today, October 13, 2006.

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