Stifling the Voice of Reason
By Firas Al-Atraqchi
The campaign to stifle dissent and censor any questioning of current U.S. policies vis a vis the Middle East in general, and Iraq in particular, has reached new levels.
Websites which host alternative views, and/or views that contradict U.S. foreign policy are no longer tolerated on the Internet and are systematically coming under hacker attack and political pressures to "relocate."
YellowTimes.org (www.yellowtimes.org) has for the past six months withstood intense hacker attacks as it publishes views that directly question, criticize, and berate the U.S. official line regarding the impending invasion of Iraq.
"In addition to e-mail spoof attacks, I think they are attempting to overload our servers through denial of service attacks, forcing our website to go offline. Similar incidents happened last time we released an article from Imad Khadduri," says Erich Marquardt, YellowTimes.org publisher.
Imad Khadduri, an Iraqi former nuclear scientist who was instrumental in Iraq's nuclear weapons program in the 1980s and early 1990s, has charged that recent allegations concerning the competence and progress of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program are baseless and untrue. In an article published on YellowTimes.org before it was taken off-line by its hosting company, Khadduri painted a dismal picture of Iraq's scientific community with many out of jobs and scrounging for work after the Gulf War and subsequent allied bombing reduced any nuclear hopes to rubble.
Khadduri has also charged Khidhir Hamza, a former Iraqi scientist with whom Khadduri worked, with fabricating and exaggerating his importance in Iraq's nuclear program outlined in Hamza's book "Saddam's Bombmaker."
While several YellowTimes.org writers have been lauded for bringing previously unpublished news to its readers and informing the public of news that has been virtually "blacked out" from mainstream North American media (CNN, New York Times, etc.), a marginal number of readers have found the website to be "sick and diseased," and "unpatriotic."
Those who charge that intellectual debate is unpatriotic forget the words of John Adams, one of the forefathers of the U.S. Constitution:
"The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing. Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have â€¦ a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean the characters and conduct of their rulers."
Or perhaps they forget Thomas Jefferson: "The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure."
Are more websites about to be "shut down"?
For its part, YellowTimes.org is committed to continuing its ethos in providing its hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors with alternative news and views, and is not taking the recent shutdown lightly. "This setback is not going to stop us from speaking out against leaders and governments who commit gross injustices against humankind," said Marquardt.
"Believe me, YellowTimes.org will be back."
Firas Al-Atraqchi can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
YellowTimes.org can be contacted at: YellowTimes@hotmail.com