Those who know me know my views on media complicity regarding the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. The NY Times and its willingness to publish White House stenographer and Allawi spokesperson Judy Miller is one of the most culpable news organizations of all. Yesterday, they published an editorial Squelching the Citizenry’s Back Talk criticizing the Bush administration for stifling dissent.

The chamois-tight precautions of the White House’s presidential visit manual surfaced in The Washington Post because of a First Amendment lawsuit involving two people who refused to cover up the message of their T-shirts at a Fourth of July presidential event. “Regime change begins at home,” was the familiar shirt message of one protestor who was handcuffed and taken to jail.

The manual magnanimously advises local police to tolerate dissenters — providing they are barred from the event through an ultra-loyalist ticketing process and then cordoned well off from earshot and sight of the president and his passing motorcade.

Every White House stage-manages presidential events, but this level of obsession with silencing the vox pop is a symptom of this administration’s broader problem honoring Americans’ constitutional freedoms.

Despite the expression of concern expressed above mainstream media will not publish pictures of flag draped coffins or graphic footage from a war zone like the pictures you will find here !WARNING: Very graphic photos! While foreign news agencies are less inclined to whitewash news coverage are we to assume that the American people need to be sheltered from the news? Are we of such delicate constitution as to be unable to stomach the carnage we have wrought? Are we being protected or deceived?

Meanwhile the Associated Press reports that whistleblowers reporting wide spread abuse of funds and illegal arms sales in Iraq have been harassed, demoted and even imprisoned for revealing rampant corruption. The government is ignoring whistleblower protection laws and thereby sanctioning the rip off of the American people.

So these are things to think about when citizens try to speak out at the local level as well. Some of us have been the subject of vicious ad hominem attacks but we know it is important to bring the truth to the surface.