By Brad Friedman on 1/29/2005, 11:17pm PT  

(Blogged by Brad from Park City, UT)

Today's event with Clint Curtis and myself at the Freedom Cinema Festival in Park City (at the Sundance Festival) went very well. Were I not still as sick as I am, and exhausted to boot, I might have more details to share.

For now, suffice to say, the event was a blast and there were a few folks there who seemed to take great interest in the story, touched base with both myself and Clint after the event, and may help move things forward in various ways in the near future. The interview was covered with a three-camera video shoot. So if the FCF folks are able to get it edited and posted in the next week or so, I'll be sure to link to it, of course. More on all of that as things develop, and as I get both my brain and body back.

So the long (and hopefully slow) trek back to L.A. begins tomorrow. We hope it will take quite a while. We need it. For the duration then, Winter Patriot and Fin are still on active guest-blogger duties here at The BRAD BLOG. We continue to appreciate their efforts in my "absence" as I slowly amble back to Hollywood and stay away from the net as much as humanly possible.

Until then, for those who may be interested, here are my opening remarks from today's event/interview which helped tee up the festivities and which also serve nicely as a several-days-late milestone marker for The BRAD BLOG's First Anniversary year-in-review...

Opening Remarks by Brad Friedman
Prior to the Live Clint Curtis Interview
Freedom Cinema Festival, Park City, UT
January 29, 2005

I want to thank everyone here at the Freedom Cinema Festival for inviting both myself and Clint Curtis to take part in what has been a tremendous week of events. I've been able to catch just a portion of the impressive array of films and speakers that they've assembled. The tireless efforts of everyone here who has given so much of themselves to give voice to so many whose voices are too rarely heard these days is greatly appreciated and I believe I speak on behalf of America's rapidly growing Pro-Democracy movement --- or as the Associated Press has recently labeled us --- Dissidents.

One year ago this past week, I made a decision that seems to have ended up changing my life in ways that I would never have imagined. I started a blog.

It was called The BRAD BLOG in lieu of any better title or any real idea of what my focus would be other than items that were on my mind at whatever time for whatever reason.

Over the course of this last year, I started speaking up about what I was seeing. On the News. In the Whitehouse. In Iraq. On the internet.

During the Vice Presidential debates, I noticed that Dick Cheney had accused John Edwards of being insensitive to our allies in the “Coalition of the Willing” by not including the injuries sustained by Iraqis when Edwards had said that 90% of the Coalition Casualties had been taken by American Troops. This caught my ear, since I had never heard the Administration prior to that including Iraq as part of their “Coalition of the Willing”.

So I went to the White House website, found that the list of the “Coalition of the Willing” countries that they had previously been making available was suddenly gone from the site. The link to the list was still there, but clicking on it brought up a “Page Not Found” error.

I wrote about that on my blog. People noticed. They linked to my story on their blogs. The word spread around. Quickly.

People began sending me Email telling me about other stuff that they had found missing from the White House website. Loads and loads of Audio and Video from George W. Bush's speeches was suddenly no longer there. His press conference where he famously said he “was not all that concerned” about Osama Bin Laden was suddenly gone. The text of the press conference was still there, but the audio and video – the audio and video that jerks like me might have used to make an embarrassing anti-Bush video and place it out on the Internet for all to see – was suddenly no longer available.

I reported what I was finding on my blog. The series of stories on this became known as the “White House Website Scrubbing” incident.

That phrase was chosen very carefully.

Words have meaning.

Those words caught a lot of people's attention.

They were meant to.

When apologists for the White House suggested that old media files were routinely removed from the site after a period of time, I investigated and was able to report that they were wrong. That, in fact, there was much audio and video still on the White House website from as far back as 2001; Audio and video of Bush talking about his concerns for Minorities and Civil Rights, about the importance of Homeland Security and the brave measures his administration had taken to keep us all safe
after 9/11.

The Washington Post ended up picking up on the story that I ran on my little blog not long after I had pointed out that removing such information was most likely a violation of “The Presidential Records Act of 1978”. Presidential records, whether they are hand-written, typed, or posted on the web, are official pieces of American History as it turns out. They are the property of the American People and – like Nixon's famously missing 18 minutes of Oval Office recordings – may not be tampered with for any reason, particularly for potential political gamesmanship.

Yes, the use of the invocation of the name Nixon just now, was also chosen very much on purpose. Words matter.

In the final week prior to the Election, due to pressure after The Washington Post covered my story, the Bush Administration webmasters were forced to spend hours and hours restoring gigabytes of audio and video to the website.

That they had to spend their time doing this in the final week of one of the most contentious elections in American history was no small satisfaction to me.

The American people once again had access to official information collected and posted by the White House, although the “Coalition of the Willing” list would never be returned to the website. In fact, that list of countries was only last week reported by Reuters as having been abandoned by the Bush Administration. That, some three months after The BRAD BLOG – run by some untrained, unpaid, regular citizen --- had originally reported the matter. Reuters reported that they had no idea when or why the list of countries had been abandoned. BRAD BLOG readers had known both when and why for months.

The incident taught me very clearly that one voice can make a difference.

In the ensuing weeks, original reporting, noise-making and muckraking on The BRAD BLOG has,amongst other things...

  • Helped force the Fox “News” Channel to add a margin of balance to their wholly unbalanced Election Eve Hannity & Colmes program.
  • Revealed countless irregularities and potential fraud in the November 2004 election at a time when even most of the so-called Liberal bloggers had become frightened about reporting such matters.
  • Became a favorite leaking ground for Democratic members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee who included several items originally reported by BRAD BLOG in the report used to justify a historic Constitutional challenge of Ohio's Electoral College votes.
  • And very recently has led Congressman John Conyers and other Judiciary Committee members to request a Special Prosecutor from the Dept. of Justice to investigate potential criminal wrongdoing by Ohio Sec. of State and Co-Chair of the Bush/Cheney Re-Elect Committee, J. Kenneth Blackwell in the recent Ohio Presidential election.
  • All of this in less than a year from a guy who had started out – and might still prefer to have been – reposting Doonesbury cartoons because he found them funny.

    One voice does make a difference.

    It was, however, the story of another single voice, Clint Curtis', that succeeded in drawing so much attention to my blog that I was unable to even access it myself for a full four days after reporting my original story on his sworn affidavit. I had to open up a temporary secondary blog to handle all of the interest in the story until I could move the original BRAD BLOG to a server that could handle the explosion of visitors who were starving for news that couldn't be found elsewhere.

    Clint Curtis' story is that of another individual who realized that one person could make a difference, and whose dogged determination to get his story told to the American people against all odds and countless acts of intimidation – both insidiously covert and tragically violent --- has been a four-year odyssey of law enforcement investigations and political cover-ups, convicted Chinese spies, several intimidation lawsuits, a loss of employment, a highly suspicious suicide, potential vote-rigging by a corrupt public official whose work on behalf of the Republicans has since been rewarded with a U.S. Congressional seat and – ironically enough – a coveted chair on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.

    The mainstream media continues to be delinquent in investigating and reporting on the explosive charges that Mr. Curtis has made despite so many of his past allegations having been eventually proven true.

    Indeed, one of the characters in his tale, who Curtis had claimed three years ago was spying on the United States, recently plead guilty on charges related to illegally shipping Hellfire Anti-Tank missile chips to China. For that he was sentenced to just three-years probation and a $100 fine.

    Something is clearly going on.

    The American people are not being served by either our mainstream corporate media or our justice system. And yet, due to the efforts of people like Clint Curtis who are willing to continue to speak up and make noise despite threats, intimidation and physical acts of violence, the ball continues to move forward and the bad guys are increasingly forced to watch their step and/or cover their asses.

    It took Woodward and Bernstein some three years before their Watergate investigation yielded tangible results. In the age of the Internet and with the ability for the people to report on what the corporate media is frightened to touch, emocracy – at its most fundamental level – is alive and still kicking despite all appearances to the contrary.

    That democracy is increasingly threatened, however, by a cabal of power-brokers and corporate tycoons whose bottom line is a profit margin where it once might have been a responsibility to keep the citizenry informed.

    The citizenry needs to fight back. The Internet makes that easier than ever. And it's the responsibility of all citizens to now do what they can to fight to restore the elements of our democracy which are being insidiously taken from the people while too many are either criminally under-informed by the corporate media or are otherwise looking the other way.

    It's not enough to talk, worry and whine about these problems. You – yes you who may be listening or reading these remarks (I will be posting them on The BRAD BLOG) need to do something about it.

    Start a blog. You can do so for free at Blogger.com. Share the information you find on websites like BradBlog.com with every friend and relative you know. Participate in protests. Stop by FreewayBlogger.com and learn how you can get a message to thousands or even millions in a single morning with one sign posted on a freeway overpass. (The secret, as the Freeway Blogger will tell you, is cardboard and duct-tape). Stop by the new site I've recently established with a number of other pro-democracy groups called VelvetRevolution.us. Sign-up, spread the word, and help make noise.

    One person does make a difference. Trust me. I've found that out in no uncertain terms. And so has Clint Curtis. If the two of us can create as much noise as we have, imagine what will happen if just two more of you out there join the fight and do the same. Imagine if ten of you do it. Imagine if all of you do it.

    Your democracy may well depend on your courage to speak up and take action.

    Be the media.

    Somebody has to.