Wednesday, October 31, 2007

REAL Scary stuff

Want to hear something really scary? Story by Sheila Coronel, reporting by Elisabeth Witchel:

On March 24, 2005, as [Marlene] Garcia-Esperat was having dinner with her two sons, a man walked into her dining room, greeted her with a “Good evening, ma’am,” and pulled out a .45-caliber pistol. He shot her once in the head. She was 45.

At least 32 Philippine journalists, including Garcia-Esperat, have been killed in direct relation to their work since 1992, the year CPJ [Committee to Protect Journalists] began compiling detailed research on journalist deaths worldwide. While the country has a vibrant press that takes its watchdog role seriously, it is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a reporter. In Manila and other big cities, the media are able to work freely, but in out-of-the-way places like Tacurong, lawlessness and a culture of impunity mean that journalists put their lives on the line.

Garcia-Esperat’s case could have been like so many of the others in the Philippines, unsolved and ultimately forgotten. But her killing outraged local and international journalists, who launched intensive campaigns to bring attention to the case. The government, facing rising criticism for ignoring violence against the press, devoted national resources to ensure a thorough investigation. A gutsy private lawyer agreed to help prosecute, witnesses were given some protection, and the trial was moved to an impartial venue.

In October 2006, the gunman and his two lookouts were sentenced to life terms—making the Garcia-Esperat case, according to CPJ research, one of only two in the Philippines since 1992 in which the murderers of journalists have been convicted.

Now, the two officials said to have ordered the killing may also face trial. Incredibly, in the 15-year period analyzed by CPJ, no mastermind has been convicted in the slaying of a Philippine journalist. The Garcia-Esperat case, advocates believe, may serve as a map for justice in even the most intractable of places.

Read the rest here (link)

There are many methods to intimidate people, some don't go as far as killing them, but when someone doesn't want investigations to proceed or tough questions to be asked they use lots of tricks. Financial attacks, name calling, character assassination, calling the other person liars. But here is something most people don't know because they aren't exposed to the whole gamut of experiences, just what they see on tv or read about if they are interested.

The tricks used to intimidate at the highest levels aren't the same as the tricks used at the lower levels. As just one example, "some people say*" you can't look at certain procedures because "you will threaten National Security!" whenever they want to stop an investigation. Even if it isn't true, even if what they are trying to hide has NOTHING TO DO WITH NATIONAL SECURITY. They can ALSO use that excuse if, for example, they are hiding two things. Maybe one does have to do with national security, but the other has nothing to do with national security and has everything to do with gathering information that will be used to attack their critics. Of COURSE they will scream national security. And they could even be right, but only for SOME of the information. But it also is a very effective way to cover up the information that IS NOT related to national security and can only be related to national security in the fever pitched mind of someone who believes that everything and everyone critical of them is out to undermine national security.

* the phrase "some people say" is a registered service mark of Fox News and right wing pundits everywhere. I use it to refer to right wing pundits in this instance and if you want I could provide you with some actual examples.