Sometimes, media bias is demonstrated by what they DON’T report. Such is the case with the passage by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the Law of the Sea Treaty, a document giving the United Nations taxing authority and jurisdiction over 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. Conservative news organizations have focused attention on the attempt to pass the treaty, but the liberal media have ignored it. Clearly, though, a document that is this far-reaching in its scope deserves critical attention. The treaty is now in the hands of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who can schedule it for a vote or decide that it needs further study.
With conservative Senator Jesse Helms gone from the committee, “moderate” Republican Senator Richard Lugar is in charge. Lugar claims that the Bush administration supports the treaty, and it’s true that some Bush officials have testified in favor of it. But the President himself, in a recent meeting with conservatives in Washington, said he wasn’t aware that the treaty was being forced through the Senate for a quick vote with administration backing.
This is why we need an adversary press. Bush doesn’t even seem to know what’s going on. Senator Richard Lugar, the chairman of the committee, held two hearings last October, but they were stacked; all of the witnesses were for the treaty.
The treaty was rejected as flawed by the Reagan administration 20 years ago. Describing the measure as “the strongest and most comprehensive environmental treaty in existence,” the Clinton administration tried to push it through the Senate but Senator Helms would not go along. While supporters claim that flaws in the treaty have been fixed, the critics disagree. To cite one example, they say that the treaty threatens the ability of the U.S., through President Bush’s new Proliferation Security Initiative, to interdict ships on the high seas carrying weapons of mass destruction to and from such nations as Iran and North Korea. Such action, without U.N. permission, might constitute a violation of the treaty.
Despite U.S. opposition, the treaty has gone into effect because enough other countries have ratified the document. An International Seabed Authority, mandated by the treaty, is now in existence in Jamaica, a nice place for U.N. bureaucrats to live and work, and its purpose is to collect a form of global taxes. The lobby group known as the U.N. Association says that the Seabed Authority is the only U.N. agency that has “the authority today to directly collect international revenues to finance its activities.” With U.S. Senate ratification of the treaty, this entity will be able to directly tax U.S. companies that want to mine the ocean floor for minerals needed for our economy and national defense.
Despite that fact, international oil and shipping industries support the treaty, along with environmentalists. The companies apparently believe that paying a form of global taxes, to be passed on to the American taxpayer and consumer, is just another cost of doing business. But the case against the treaty deserves coverage in the media. There are two sides to this important story.