The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

White House screened speakers for 'wrong thoughts'

Maybe that guy from Massachusetts is dominating the news cycle for whatever it was that he did because stories like this just don't have the power to shock audiences anymore. "White House subverts democracy, flouts rule of law? Seeeeen iiiiiiit."

An internal State Department review has found that U.S. officials screened the public statements and writings of private citizens for criticism of the Bush administration before deciding whether to send them on foreign speaking assignments.

The screenings amounted to "virtual censorship" in the State Department's selection of speakers, said a report by the department's Inspector General's Office. McClatchy Newspapers obtained a copy of the 22-page report, which was completed in September.

The vetting practice appears to have been part of the Bush administration's efforts to control information, muffle dissenting views and promote positive assessments of its policies to foreign audiences.

It also appears to be contrary to the guidelines of the U.S. Speaker and Specialist Program, which taps U.S. experts to deliver lectures, serve as consultants and conduct seminars overseas or from the United States via teleconferences. The guidelines call for the State Department to provide speakers "who represent a broad range of responsible and informed opinion in the United States" and are "not limited to the expression of U.S. government policies."