“nothing shall be printed which might, directly or by inference, disturb public tranquility”

November 16, 2008 at 6:24 pm | Posted in Office of the President | Leave a comment
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Eight years ago Don Levy was out walking his dog in Watertown, Massachusetts and found a suitcase full of photographs on the sidewalk. Inside were photographs of “devastated buildings, twisted girders, broken bridges — snapshots from an annihilated city” — Hiroshima. By calling a list of people who had lived at the address where he found the suitcase, he was able to locate the man the photographs belonged to, Marc Levitt. Mr. Levitt had more.

The photographs were taken during late October and through November 1945 by members of the US War Department’s Physical Damage Division as part of their “task of tracing blast paths, calibrating bomb damage and analyzing the physical destruction of the city.” But after the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Japan surrendered, “the U.S. Government imposed a strict code of censorship on the newly defeated nation [which] read, in part: ‘nothing shall be printed which might, directly or by inference, disturb public tranquility’.” And it worked. Despite the enormous damage and loss of life that followed, “The media and the public as a whole approved of the bombing of Japan.”

The Bush administration ban on media coverage of returning coffins or the funerals of dead American troops and the media ban on reporting what is in fact happening to the Iraqi and Afghani people has served to protect not the American people or its military but those responsible for this disaster — George W. Bush and “Dick” Cheney (and Rumsfeld and Rice and Powell and Feith, et al).

“Let it go” is the kind of thinking that got us where we find ourselves, again, with our foundational beliefs undermined by politicians and their cohorts abusing the Constitution. Has anyone else noticed that many of the actors in our current debacle were members of the Nixon, Bush I and/or Reagan administrations, participants in those earlier incidents from which we all just “moved on”?

When are we going to start disturbing some of that “public tranquility” and treat criminals at the top of the food chain as harshly as we treat those at the bottom?


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