LexisNexis and Mubarak
By Joel Chaffee at Feb 28, 2011
I took the use of Lexis Nexis in this article as a challenge.
Edwards writes that, "Our search of the LexisNexis database found that [Human Rights Watch's report on Egyptian torture, Work On Him Until He Confesses] report has so far received three mentions in the national UK press."
Using LexisNexis, I found two mentions of it in the United States, although Z magazine/net is, apparently, not part of the Nexis.
The other two were Antiwar.com, and CNN. com.
I also came across (not through the Nexis) a blog on the LATimes website about the HRW report, by Carol J. Williams.
A Google search for the HRW report finds mostly activist sites, and some Twitter feeds from same. Nothing from the mainstream, really, unless the Huffington Post counts?
I think the difference between the point of a LexisNexis search and the point of a Google search is that LexisNexis is giving a sampling of what the decision makers are thinking. That the HRW report was on the wire services but not in the U.S. press is significant.
The Google search, on the other hand, is giving us a sampling of what the average internet user is going to see - if they somehow are alert enough to search for a report that nobody and their mother is talking about.
I, too, found three mentions in the UK. Five wire services. And also the Palestine News Network.
The other challenge was, "According to LexisNexis, over the last month, the word 'Mubarak' has appeared in 1,652 UK press articles. The words 'Mubarak' and 'military aid' have appeared in 11 national UK articles."
I only found one UK article (Morning Star, February 25, 2011) in LexisNexis for "Mubarak" and "military aid" - aside from Edwards' own article in Pacific Free Press.
Two finds in the US: 1) CNN.com again! 2) And the St. Petersburg Times.
To skip ahead for a moment, the second find leads to a third not in the LexisNexis search: The Devil We Know, an editorial in the New York Times printed at the middle of the Tahrir protests, January 31. (LexisNexis did not find this NYTimes article because writer Ross Douthat uses the term "American dollars" instead of "American aid.")
David Berman (of the Silver Jews? does anyone know?) did us all the favor of writing a letter to the Times editor about Douthat's attitude of throwing his hands up in the air, never knowing what the right thing to do is because "history makes fools of us all."
Berman responded: "'History makes fools of us all.' Indeed. But not because our 'theories always fail,' or because 'the world is too complicated,' but because we keep making the same shortsighted and self-interested mistakes over and over again."
So, finally, the third LexisNexis find in the US for "Mubarak" and "military aid" was a response to the Douthat article in Florida's St. Petersburg Times. The headline: Egypt Got More Foreign Aid Than Anyone Besides Israel, Says New York Times Columnist Ross Douthat. What is surprising is that it is news. This is where our money goes.
Of interest in the "Mubarak" "military aid" search was an AP article released November 6, 2007: Egypt Resists Linking US Aid To Rights, which stated, "Egypt received $1.3 billion a year in U.S. military aid along with other assistance that makes it the second-largest recipient of American foreign aid after Israel."
The AP article must have come across all the newsroom wires in 2007. Why, then, are the good folks in St. Petersburg so incredulous at the reports of how much aid Egypt received from the US that the claim is qualified in the headline as "Says New York Times Columnist Ross Douthat"?
In addition to the previous search, I also tried "Mubarak" and "aid," with results going back to 1982. There were 23 results, most of which were trivial, as in Mubarak was referencing his aids, as in his helpers. One of which is a hilarious transcript from the BBC from December 2007. Mubarak and Nicolas Sarkozy are giving a press conference and talking very nice.
[Reporter, speaking in Arabic] Sir, may I ask the French president on the possibility of a French cooperation in ...
[Mubarak, interrupting] Who are you?
[Reporter] I am from Middle East News Agency, [MENA].
[Mubarak] You just stood up suddenly.
[Reporter] The French president allowed me, sir.
The "Mubarak" "aid" searches provided four surprises. The first, The Economist, in their frank, Can nothing be done? Egypt and Gaza.
It reads: '"Egypt and its Arab allies have their reasons for keeping Gaza isolated. Their policy began under American pressure soon after Hamas won a Palestinian general election in 2006. Egypt has kept the border closed partly to please America, which props up Mr Mubarak with aid, partly because his government loathes Hamas as a branch of its own Muslim Brotherhood, and partly in the hope of forcing Hamas to cede legitimacy to the PA, thereby keeping prospects for Palestinian unity and future peace dealings with Israel alive."
The second surprise was The Houston Chronicle, in an article from 2002, reporting that "tens of thousands of protesters marched in a handful of Egyptian cities Sunday, calling to President Hosni Mubarak to aid the Palestinians."
Pair this with the third find, Mr. Peres Steps Down, from a 1986 Washington Post.
It reads: "The Israelis like to think of themselves as running a light-handed occupation, but a rare poll of East Jerusalem and the West Bank indicates that 93 percent of the resident Palestinians favor the PLO, 78 percent approve of 'acts of force'' against the occupation, and 71 percent favor the PLO's Yasser Arafat as their leader. King Hussein's rating was 3.4."
The fourth find was from Irna, Iran's official news media. It is from March 27, 2003. It only came up in the LexisNexis search because "Mubarak" must be like "Smith" over there (as the joke goes), and "said" is misspelled as "aid." As in, "Iraqi Health Minister Umeed Madhat Mubarak said in Baghdad Thursday that 215 Iraqi civilians had been killed or wounded during the US and British air raids on Wednesday. Addressing a press conference, he said that all the casualties are civilians and the bombarded areas were mostly residential areas. The war victims are mostly children, women and elderly people, he added. ... Expressing his concern over water pollution in several Iraqi cities, he said the water of these cities has been polluted as a result of the US and British bombardments and there is fear of different diseases breaking out among the citizens of those cities. Mubarak further accused the US and Britain of making use of the banned weapons of mass destruction."
The earliest article from this search that was of interest was from AP. March 8, 1985, Egyptian President Seeking $870 Million Aid Hike.
It reads: "The Egyptian request also comes at a time when Egypt is $285 million behind in repaying loans to buy U.S. arms ... a situation the Reagan administration says could lead to a total aid cutoff in four to five months."
But I had a date stuck in my mind. March 27, 2003. Was the Iraqi Health Minister just making shit up? Is it in the public record? What else happened on March 26, 2007, that such things were said by the Iraqi Health Minister on March 27th?
For one thing, March 27th was the day that the Nasdaq Stock Market "denied Al Jazeera's request to broadcast from its trading floor," according to PBS; and this "just one day after the New York Stock Exchange informed the Arabic-language network that it was no longer permitted to broadcast live reports from its trading floor."
According to the BBC, on March 26, 2003, "Three huge explosions rock[ed] the centre of Baghdad as the Iraqi capital comes under renewed aerial bombardment."
According to Reuters, on March 26, 2003, "A few hours and a simple internet search was all it took for U.N. inspectors to realize documents U.S. and British claims proved that Iraq had revived its nuclear weapons program were crude fakes, a U.N. official said."
According to President Bush's address at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, on March 26, 2003, "Our pilots and cruise missiles have struck vital military targets with lethal precision. ... Day by day, the Iraqi people are closer to freedom."
I was reminded of Poe's story, The Masque of the Red Death. "The 'Red Death' had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal - the redness and the horror of blood. ... But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends ... The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think."
In an article from The Detroit News, printed March 26, 2003, we find that Saddam received key to city of Detroit in 1980. A mildly nostalgic priest who presented the key is quoted as saying, "Now, you remember that in those days, Saddam Hussein was a puppet. He was an American puppet." Saddam brought gifts, of course, to the Motor City. "A check for $200,000 that paid of the church's debt, with enough left over to build a parish center. 'Today we use the center to teach American citizenship classes,' [the priest] said.'"
My searches culminated in the Chicago Tribune's March 26, 2007 issue, at once brazenly violent and wonderfully sane. Of the latter is Clarence Page's Shocking and awesome euphimisms, in which he writes of the heinous language of war like "collateral damage" (pointing out that Timothy McVeigh used that term about the Oklahoma City bombing victims), "friendly fire," "search-and-clear," and finally "shock and awe."
Although defensive of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings because, "Such are the judgment calls one must make in real-world war," Page said what remains mostly unsayable even today in the world where the Afghan war is "The Good War": "In fact, once you take away the spin, shock and awe is nothing new. When our enemies do it, we call it by its original name: terrorism."