Reed Irvine - Editor
|NOVEMBER B , 1981||X-22|
THE MANAGUA FOUR
"The Managua Four" was the headline of a Wall Street Journal editorial published November 4, 1081. It described the sentencing of four prominent Nicaraguan business leaders to seven months in prison for having signed a letter to the ruling junta in which they protested a speech delivered by the Sandinista Minister of Defense, Humberto Ortega. The Journal said, "As far as we can tell, word of the sentencing hasn't filtered out officially. But even if our sources are premature, the human rights of the four, Enrique Dreyfus, Benjamin Lanzas, Gilbert Cuadra and Enrique Bolanos, had already been damaged by their Gestapo-style arrest."
These men were leaders of COSEP, a Nicaraguan private enterprise council, which is made up of the leaders of business and professional associations. The Wall Street journal commented. "If you can imagine Ronald Reagan sending Irving Shapiro (DuPont), Reginald Jones (General Electric), David Rockefeller and Lee Iacocca (Chrysler) to the chain gang you have an idea of what's involved." The editorial added, "Yet we have heard no outcry whatsoever from the 'human rights' lobby in the U.S. We wonder why this is."
The Journal didn't say it, but it could also have noted that there had been no protest or even reporting in the major media of the conviction and sentencing of these leading private businessmen in Managua. The fact that The Journal said that word of the sentencing had not filtered out officially shows how our media had ignored this dramatic step in Nicaragua's steady slide into totalitarian communism. Actually the UPI had reported the conviction and sentencing of three of the "Managua Four" on October 30. It was just that the editors of our major papers, including the Wall Street Journal, had not bothered to tell their readers about it. The Court had freed the fourth businessman, Enrique Bolanos, finding that he had not signed the letter, according to the UPI story.
This is a dramatic demonstration of the failure of the major media in this country to report on the tragedy that is taking place in Nicaragua today, a situation that they helped bring about. The arrest of the COSEP leaders on October 21 had been reported. Both the New York Times and The Washington Post ran brief stories about it in their "Around the World" sections. The Wall Street Journal had not done quite as well. Having given it only one sentence in its "What's News" column. The story in The Washington Post had said that the reasons for the arrest had not been given but that the businessmen had distributed a communiqué criticizing the government's "undeniable Marxist- Leninist line." The New York Times, using an AP story, said the men had accused the government of leading Nicaragua to communism and "preparing a new genocide." The Journal had merely said the men had been critical of the Sandinista-led' junta. The letter which these business leaders had sent to the junta, with copies to the United Nations, the Organization of American States and the Inter- American Human Rights Commission, and others was an effort to focus international attention on the intensification of the communization of Nicaragua under the Sandinistas. The text of this letter, addressed to Daniel Ortega, the Coordinator of the Junta, was published in full in the Miami Spanish-language paper, Diario Las Americas, on October 22. It was a lengthy and eloquent summary of what is happening in Nicaragua under the Sandinistas. This is something our media have been carefully avoiding. And it is not surprising that they failed to tell the people who depend on them for news the content of the COSEP letter.
"We are at the gates of destruction of Nicaragua," COSEP warned in its letter. What follows is a summary of this historic document.
It said that during the two years it had been in power, the government had gone in a direction very different from what had been promised. The business community had warned of the dangers of this course and had seen its recommendations received coldly. A large number of foreigners, people with views quite alien to Nicaragua, had been visited upon the land. The economy was in ruins, and there were no signs of the recovery of production. There had been an endless accumulation of foreign debt, and the mixed economy that had been promised was vanishing as the nationalization of private property expanded.
It was clear from both the internal and external policies of the government, said COSEP. That the guiding ideology was Marxism-Leninism. Which had been confirmed by discussions with the country's leaders.
The actions and speeches of the government leaders revealed that they were launching an ideological struggle of an international character. This had brought about Nicaragua's isolation from almost all the countries that had supported the Nicaraguan revolution. They were aligning Nicaragua with countries such as Cuba and Libya.
The letter noted that recently the Minister of Defense, Humberto Ortega, had said it was necessary for the people to draw up a list of "potential counterrevolutionaries." He had said that those who "consciously or unconsciously (read: non-communist Nicaraguans} support the plan of imperialism" will be the first to be hanged. These words of the Minister of Defense, ratified by Sergio Ramirez of the Junta, could only be interpreted as preparation for a new genocide in Nicaragua for those who exercise the right of dissent. A radical, fanatic minority was menacing the entire nation. COSEP charged that there were many grave contradictions among the various statements of the Junta and its actions. The letter posed these questions: "What good does it do to proclaim a mixed economy and then precede to confiscate private businesses illegally? What does it serve to proclaim the freedom of the press if you continue to close down the media? What good does it do to proclaim political pluralism and then keep the political parties from holding meetings? What was the use of guaranteeing ideological pluralism if you hinder the activities of independent unions and imprison their directors?"
COSEP said those that the Junta labeled reactionary are not against the Nicaraguan people. They were against the Marxism-Leninism that the Junta was trying to force on the people. The letter concluded, "If we oppose you, that is why. We want to say to you and before history that the Nicaraguan private sector supported and will support the legitimate Nicaraguan revolution-as contemplated in the Program of the Government of National Reconstruction, but it will not support the transformation of this revolution into a Marxist adventure that will only bring more bloodshed and suffering to our people. This is reality, this is the truth--We only hope that there is still time to correct the errors and that you will understand this."
Businessmen, former Sandinista government officials, and a former Sandinista commander who have fled Nicaragua have been saying for over a year that the Junta was totally in the hands of Marxists-Leninists and was determined to turn Nicaragua into a communist country, Businessmen who stayed behind, such as the now imprisoned Enrique Dreyfus, have been arguing that pluralism still had a chance. Dreyfus is one of those who had been using his influence to persuade the U.S. to continue to give economic aid to Nicaragua. It is clear from the letter that these businessmen had finally come to realize the truth of what their colleagues in exile had been saying all along. That destroyed their value to the Junta, and it wasted no time in arresting the leaders at their homos early in the morning of October 21. They were charged with violating the Laws of Public Order and Security and Economic and Social Emergency, which prohibit virtually all criticisms of the government.
Upon their conviction, the Nicaraguan government sent an emissary to Washington to explain to the State Department and Congressional leaders that this was necessary because the letter threatened to weaken the national economy, He said that the businessmen had to prove in court that the government was following "an unmistakably Marxist-Leninist line" and was preparing for a new genocide in Nicaragua.
The defendants would not have had much trouble proving that the Junta is following the Marxist-Leninist line. They had only to present as evidence a speech delivered by Humberto Ortega, the Sandinista Minister of Defense at a "Meeting of Specialists" on August 25, 1981. AIM has obtained a copy of the text of this speech which went unnoted in' this country. The State Department confirmed that the text we have is authentic, but the Nicaragua desk officer would not say why no effort had been made to bring it to public attention. He refused to provide an English translation. Saying that none was available, This State Department official did tell us that the Junta, obviously aware that the speech might make it more difficult to get U. S, aid. had later put out a revised version that omitted all the many references to Marxism-Leninism.
Here is one of the paragraphs that prove the validity of the COSEP charges: "We say that Marxism-Leninism is the scientific doctrine that guides our revolution, the instrument of analysis of our vanguard to understand the historical process and to make the Revolution. Sandinismo is the concrete expression of the historical development of the struggle in Nicaragua. Without Sandinismo we could not be Marxist-Leninists and Sandinismo without Marxiem. Leninism would not be revolutionary. They are indissolubly united. Our moral force is Sandiniemo; our political force is Sandinismo, and our doctrine is Marxiem-Lennism."
In this speech Ortega makes it crystal clear that the enemy is the United States. That, of course, did not stop the Junta from seeking millions of dollars of aid from this country. The Senate voted aid for Nicaragua in the amount of $33 million as recently as October 20, nearly two months after this speech by Ortega. The Senate approved an amendment that limited the aid to the private sector.
The Wall Street Journal editorial said that there is plenty of reason for the Sandiniatas to believe that Washington "will swallow any kind of nonsense." Surely one of the reasons, however, lies in the failure of the media to tell the people the truth about what is happening in Nicaragua. The Journal's editorial writers are to he commended for finally bringing this before that paper's large national audience. It is unfortunate that the Journals news department cannot be similarly commended.
On October 21, The Chicago Tribune, which many people still mistakenly think of as a conservative newspaper, ran an editorial which said: "The premise of a recent best-selling novel, The Spike, is nothing less than that American government and media have been infiltrated by Soviet agents and dupes. This piece of fiction was taken seriously enough that a committee of Congress took testimony from one of the authors. A new book, Target America: The Influence of Communist Propaganda on U.S. Media, published by Regnery- Gateway in Chicago, takes the issue a step further, attempting to make a factual case that e number of prominent journalists and private organizations have at best been manipulated by the Soviet agitprop apparatus and at worst come under Soviet control."
The Tribune editorial went on to attack both of these books as "witless and unpersuasive" and concluded: "The only way foolish books like The Spike and Target America can be taken seriously, even by foolish congressional committees, is if people surrender their common sense to soothe their fears." The Tribune assured us that "the human mind is still capable of parsing the accurate from the inaccurate, especially where debate is free and no one is given a corner on the marketplace of ideas." While it conceded that the "news media here and abroad are by no means immune to scrutiny," the editorial did not give any sign that The Tribune would publicize that scrutiny. It did not address a single fact of the many put forward by the veteran journalists who wrote The Spike, Arnaud de Botchgrave and Robert Moss, or by James Tyson, author of Target America.
James Tyson, whose heavily documented work has been recommended by Accuracy in Media, has replied to the Chicago Tribune, The following is an excerpt from his letter.
"'Simple lying,' you say, 'has been around since man learned to speak. It is a tool of state, every state. And it has in this century been bureaucratized and refined to a kind of malign science.'
"Your phrase, 'every state,' must include, of course, the U.S., so you are in fact saying that our 'bureaucratized' information programs have been as villainous as the massive propaganda efforts of the Soviet Union. This is really shocking evidence of the points I attempted to make in my book, that the Soviets have succeeded in directly or indirectly influencing our media to such an extent that people will believe such a combination of illusions: (1) that Soviet propaganda consists simply of innocuous and easily detected falsehoods, and (2) that American information efforts are equally villainous so that we have no right to criticize or investigate Soviet activities. [And Congressional bodies that do so can be called 'foolish committees,' to quote your editorial).
"In fact the Soviet propaganda effort is huge, far bigger than anything ever attempted by the U.S. According to Soviet sources themselves, they have more than six million agents propagandizing their own: within Russia. Based on French and CIA estimates, they have about half million-propaganda agents around the rest of the world. A minimum of 4,000 is within the U.S., mainly: American citizens, spending more than a quarter billion dollars annually. This massive operation is based mainly' on cynical distortions of words like 'democracy' and 'human rights' and 'liberation of the workers,' plus manipulation of 'liberals.' whom they' in fact despise and consider 'useful idiots.' to quote their own phrase. On the other hand. America's much smaller information effort has been almost entirely an attempt to tell the truth in the most effective way to counter Soviet propaganda. There has been very little distortion and disinformation in the activities of our information agencies such as the Voice of America and its parent, the International Communications Agency, and the much-maligned information activities of the CIA.
"It Is unfortunate that your editorial writer should have been influenced to believe that Soviet propaganda is no more than a minor threat, easily detected and no more heinous than the activities of American agencies. You apparently believe the recent State Department report that the Soviets have been engaged in a massive disinformation campaign around the world. Why then do you not credit the evidence that this effort has been succeeding within the United States, which the former head of the KGB's Disinformation Department, General Ivan Agayants, called 'the main enemy?'"
Jack Fuller. Deputy editorial page editor of The Chicago Tribune, asked for a review copy' of Target America. In doing so, he told publisher Henry, Regnery's assistant that he was requesting it, "even though you will not like what we write." It would appear that Mr. Fuller had decided that the book was "witless and unpersuasive" even before he had seen it. It is difficult to believe that the editorial writer did more than glance at the book. Otherwise, how could he have so easily brushed aside Tyson's carefully assembled history of Soviet propaganda, the description of its present scope and his documented case histories showing its effectiveness in recent years?
The documentation of the Soviet success in infiltrating and manipulating the non-communist media is impressive. Tyson reminds us of the story of Alexander Kaznacheev, a KGB officer who defected in Burma and whose book, Inside a Soviet Embassy, tells how the embassy in Rangoon translated articles prepared in Moscow for placement in local publications under the names of Burmese writers. Translations of these "Burmese" articles were then sent back to Moscow and Soviet broadcasts then quoted them as evidence of Burmese opinion favoring the Moscow line. This technique has worked very well even when the articles have been planted in local communist or pro-communist publications. Their effectiveness is amplified by being quoted by Radio Moscow and then reported by foreign papers and wire services, which may know nothing about the nature of the publication in which the planted article first appeared.
Tyson presents such a wealth of evidence of Soviet techniques and success in manipulating journalists and other influential media personalities here and abroad that one wonders how The Tribune editorialist could have found them totally unpersuasive. Take the case of Dallon Trumbo, a screenwriter who has been accorded martyrdom by those who think that "the Hollywood Ten" were innocent victims of something called McCarthyism. Even though they were jailed for contempt of Congress long before anyone heard of Joe McCarthy. Tyson points out that Trumbo slavishly followed the Moscow line and this was reflected in his work in the movies. During the "phoney war" period of the Hitler-Stalin pact. Trumbo's "Johnny Got His Gun" served as an effective propaganda tool for those opposed to efforts to mobilize American resistance to Hitler, including, of course, the communists. When Hitler invaded Russia, Trumbo and his friends made an abrupt switch to enthusiastic support for the war. Trumbo once defended the communists in the movie industry against charges that they had not succeeded in getting enough procommunist films made. He agreed, but he pointed out that they had succeeded in keeping many outstanding, anti-communist books from being made into movies. These included Arthur Koestler's great novel, Darkness at Noon, and defector Victor Kravchenko's sensational true story, I Chose Freedom.
What about Yuri Besmenoff, a defector from the Soviet "news agency," Novostii, who now lives in Canada? Besmenoff has told of his personal experiences in "handling" foreign visitors to the Soviet Union, including journalists. He tells of having done such a good job on a photographer for Look magazine in getting him to present a favorable picture of the Soviet Union that he was rewarded with a week's vacation in Italy. Tyson quotes Besmenoff as saying: "If foreign guests showed strong sympathy for the Soviet Union our job was to prepare them psychologically and then pass them over to the KGB agents to indoctrinate and recruit them--Such foreign recruits do the dirtiest jobs of all-- The KGB trains them to destroy anti-Soviet activists in their own countries through character assassination." He says this is what is behind the vicious attacks on such damaging Soviet defectors as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.
The cry of the critics of de Borchorave and Moss is for the names of the disinformation agents. That is a clever tactic, because those who use it know very well that in the absence of confessions or privileged testimony identifying agents the names of names will not have the kind of evidence that will stand up in court in defense of libel suits. Intelligence agencies may leak information about contacts between KGB officers and their agents, but they are not going to offer such evidence in court.
Names have been driven in hearings before the Congressional committees that used to investigate such matters anti publish their findings. The last investigation of the infiltration of the media by a Congressional committee was in January 1956, over 25 years ago.
But other countries have not been so careless about protecting themselves. The French jailed a prominent journalist, Pierre Charles Pathe, on charges of acting as a disinformation agent for the KGB in 1980. Tyson points out that in June 1976, Singapore arrested the editor of the largest Malay-language paper in the country, together with his chief assistant, charging them with being communist agents. A few days later neighboring Malaysia arrested its top Journalist. The editor of The New' Straits Times, Abdul Samad Ismaii. On September I. 1976, he confessed on television that he had been a communist most of his life and had used his position as a leading journalist to advance the communist cause.
A retired journalist who had personally known both Joseph F. Barnes, the foreign editor of the New York Herald Tribune who had been identified as an agent of Soviet intelligence in the early 1950s. and Herbert L. Matthews of The New York Times has pointed out in a letter to AIM that Matthews did far more harm than Barnes. It was Matthews who built up Fidel Castro and is often credited with having made his takeover of Cuba possible, Matthews was never identified as a Soviet agent, but there is no doubt that his work was of great value to the Soviets, whether he was a dupe or an agent.
At a conference of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers in Washington in October 1981. New York Times correspondent David Binder said that he considered his former Times colleague, the famed Harrison Salisbury, to be a "dupe." Arnaud de Botchgrave had just pointed out that Salisbury had written a glowing introduction to the memoirs of Wilfred Burchett without mentioning that Burchett had been identified as a KGB agent. Binder said he was troubled by the fact that Salisbury had written the script for a Soviet propaganda film on World War II that was aired in this country under the name of "The Forgotten War." Binder pointed out that the film "forgot" some rather important facts about World War II, such as the Hitler-Stalin Pact and the Soviet massacre of over 10,000 Polish Army officers in the Katyn Forest.
Reed Irvine, AIM's chairman, immediately wrote to The Times on July 12, 1981, the day the Maslin review was run. Irvine's letter was published in The Times Book Review section three months later, on October 11. 1981. Here is the letter.
To the editor:
Target America names, but it also shows how propaganda and disinformation can be exposed even if the direct connection with the Soviets cannot be made. Tyson describes and uses two approaches: the case history method and the balance sheet method. One involves analyzing major stories that are based on false information and that follow the communist line. The other involves detailed analysis of the work of particular journalists, assembling the credits and debits.
Contrary to what The Chicago Tribune said, Target America is neither witless nor unpersuasive. It is an indispensable tool for those who don't want to be taken in. Target America is available from AIM.
AIM REPORT is published semi-monthly by Accuracy in Media, Inc. 1341 G. Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005 Second class postage paid at Washington D.C. USPS 399-790 Subscriptions: $3 a year to members of AIM (included in dues) $15 months to others. AIM dues are $15 a year and are tax-deductible except for portion covering AIM REPORT subscription.
Write Frederick Taylor, Executive Editor, The Wall Street Journal, 22 Cortlandt St., New York, N,Y. 10007. Commend him for the editorial on Nicaragua. Suggest that he review the performance of his news staff to see why they have not told the unfolding story of Nicaragua's tragedy in the news pages of the Journal. There is a serious vacuum in news coverage which a paper as widely circulated as the Wall Street Journal could do much to fill. The editorial writers alone cannot do the job.
THE MEDIA'S LOSS OF INTEREST IN EVENTS IN NICARAGUA SINCE THE SANDINISTAS TOOK over that country is quite remarkable. I was pleased to see The Wall Street Journal call attention to the absence of outrage over the jailing of four top business leaders in that country for the crime of criticizing the government. The Journal noted the lack of protest from those who are always quick to condemn human rights violations by anti-communist governments. It failed, however, to point out that there had been almost no coverage of this case by Big Media, including The Wall Street Journal. The media have been similarly tongue-tied about the severe harassment of the one remaining independent newspaper in Nicaragua, La Prensa. La Prensa, which was the leading opposition paper in the days of Somoza, has been repeatedly forced to suspend publication for periods of two days in recent months as punishment for printing stories the government didn't like. The publishers have recognized that they are on the brink of a precipice and that there is a danger that the paper could be closed down permanently at any time.
IN THE FIRST STORY IN THIS ISSUE WE QUOTE FROM A SPEECH THAT THE NICARAGAUAN Minister of Defense, Humberto Ortega, gave on August 25, 1981, in which he made it clear that Marxism-Leninism was the guiding doctrine of the Sandinistas. In this same speech, Ortega made several references to La Prensa, which probably sent shivers down the spines of the publishers. At one point he listed the external and internal enemies of the Sandinistas, beginning with "North American imperialism" and ending with "the other reactionary and counterrevolutionary forces," all of which, he said, find expression in La Prensa or the radio stations "still controlled by those sectors."
THE FAILURE OF OUR MEDIA TO RISE TO THE DEFENSE OF FREEDOM OF THE PRESS IN NICARAGUA now that the communists who control that country are menacing it tells a lot about the character of many of our reporters, editors and publishers. I recently had a long talk with a young reporter who covered Central America for the UPI for the last three or four years. He said that he had encountered only two reporters covering that area who didn't think that the Sandinistas were preferable to Somoza. He said that his own view was that the Sandinista8 were preferable, a view that he still held at the time of our conversation on November 4, 1981. This reporter, William Gentile, indicated that one thing that had convinced him that Somoza was terrible was a story published in Time magazine on March 14, 1977 about a massacre allegedly carried out by the National Guard in the Nicaraguan village of Varilla. We discussed that story in the AIM Report of October-II 1977. The story was based on hearsay, and the reporter, Bernard Diederich, had never been to Varilla. The National News Council had rejected a complaint about the story. They said that Diederich had gotten the story from a Catholic priest who claimed to be an eyewitness. Norman Isaacs of the National News Council told me that clergymen are presumed to be truthful! And, of course, governments are presumed to be untruthful, and so the denial of the Nicaraguan government that such a massacre had occurred counted for nothing. Gentile, who resigned from UPI to return to school several months ago, had not known that Diederich's story had even been questioned.
IT IS HARD TO KNOW WHETHER ONE SHOULD LAUGH OR CRY AT THE NAIVETE DISPLAYED IN that statement by Norman Isaacs, but that sort of attitude is protected by the failure of the media to report on the perversion of the clergy in Central America. The Washing- ton Inquirer has Just run a front-page story about a Jesuit priest in Guatemala, Ft. Luis Eduardo Pellecer, who recently defected from the terrorist Guerrilla Army of the Poor.
FR. PELLECER'S STORY SHOULD BE OF GREAT INTEREST TO PEOPLE SUCH AS NORMAN ISAACS, who think that the governments in Central America are lying and evil in part because there are members of the clergy down there who are saying that. When Pellecer vanished last June, the Jesuit Mission Headquarters in Washington, D.C. issued a press release saying that he had been engaged in "strictly pastoral works" with youth groups, refugees from El Salvador, the slum dwellers and the news media. "All of these works were apparent dangerous," said the release, implying that the Guatemala authorities had killed Fr. Pellecer for engaging in these Christian activities. The release said that he had been kid- napped and was not expected to be found alive.
FR. PELLECER TURNED UP ALIVE AND WELL AT THE END OF SEPTEMBER AND GAVE A NEWS CONFERENCE in Guatemala City. It turned out that he had become disillusioned with his work for the terrorists and had arranged his own kidnapping by the security forces to escape from their clutches. He revealed that he bad been working with the terrorists for 17 months. He said that he was only one of 15 or 20 Jesuit priests in Guatemala that were deeply involved with them. He said there are 43 Jesuits in Guatemala altogether, only three of which are Guatemalans. The rest are Spaniards. His Jesuit training, he said, had given him a thorough grounding in Marxism-Leninism and the new liberation theology. He described liberation theology as teaching that Jesus was a rebel and a revolutionary and an opponent of the capitalist system. They taught that Jesus was the God of the poor, not of the rich, and their plan was to introduce the Kingdom of the Poor, which Pellecer said was equivalent to socialism. Pellecer had a lot to say about how the Catholic priests, especially those of his own order, had been promoting revolution in Nicaragua, E1 Salvador and Guatemala. I will probably go into this in greater detail in the AIM Report in the future, since it is clear that the media in this country are not likely to report on Pellecer's shocking revelations. He has now given two news conferences in Guatemala, and efforts are being made to bring him to the United States. His news conferences have produced media bombshells in Central America. They have not attracted the least attention from Big Media here.
OUR SECOND STORY IN THIS ISSUE DEALS WITH JAMES TYSON'S NEW BOOK, TARGET AMERICA, and the attack on it and The Spike by The Chicago Tribune. I should mention that the publisher asked me to write a preface to the book, which I was most happy to do. We want to see it widely distributed and read, and we are offering it FREE to those AIM members who are already on our first class mailing list or who increase their contribution sufficiently to get their AIM Report by first class mail. That requires an annual donation of at least $30. You can qualify by contributing an additional amount now to bring your contribution for this year to that level, which would be a nice thing to do. Your contributions are tax-deductible. Or you can renew your membership at the $30 level. We will make copies available to other AIM members, or extra copies to the first class mailing list members, for only $7.00 plus S2.00 in postage and handling charges. That is more than a 45 percent discount from the list pricing.
IF YOU ARE THINKING ABOUT COMPLETING YOUR CHARITABLE DEDUCTIONS FOR 1981, REMEMBER Accuracy in Media. The distribution of free copies of Target America will cost us quite a lot, and you may wish to help underwrite this project. We distributed over 25,000 free copies of The Spike, and with your help we will make Target America widely read.
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