Interview with Verna Avery Brown, Pacifica Radio, Washington Bureau Chief


July 9th, 2004
Transcribed by Monish R. Chatterjee

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: Okay. Go ahead and introduce yourself, and Peacewatch and Pacifica Radio.
VERNA AVERY BROWN: My name is Verna Avery Brown. I am the Washington Bureau Chief for Pacifica Radio. I'm also the executive producer of a program that no longer airs on Pacifica called "Peacewatch," but also executive producer of a program that does air that's called "What's at Stake: Election 2004."

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: Okay, and -- Going back to the build-up to the war in Iraq, can you give me a sense of what the mainstream corporate press was covering versus what you were covering here at Pacifica?
AVERY BROWN: Well, I would have to say -- In my opinion, for the most part, the electronic mainstream media was missing in action with regards to the anti-war protest and movements. There was a growing -- a very vigorous anti-war movement just burgeoning across not only in this country, but across the world that the electronic media failed to show up and cover. We've been covering anti-war rallies since April of 2002 prior to the invasion of Iraq. Once the organizations -- the anti-war organizations started hearing the drumbeat for war from the Bush administration, they began to organize and hold rallies and marches. And Pacifica was there on the frontlines. And often times we were the only media there. Perhaps there were print reporters from time to time. But in terms of banks of television cameras or having to jockey for space with other radio media outlets, there was nothing like that. It was really the most shocking thing that I had ever experienced in my 18+ years as a journalist. I couldn't imagine why they weren't showing up for these mass rallies and protests. You had in some instances hundreds of thousands of Americans, braving bitter-cold temperatures, in some instances, heat, in other instances, to be out there simply to send a message to the Bush Administration that they did not think it was appropriate to invade Iraq particularly without the backing of the United Nations. And the TV cameras weren't there. We would go to these rallies. We'd see all these people. The organizers themselves, they would think,
"Surely, this time there'll be enough to warrant coverage by the mainstream media." Hundreds of thousands would show up -- no TV cameras. It was just -- it was simply -- You would think they would have shown up for the sheer picture of the event. One rally here in Washington actually had protesters that formed a chain around the White House, which of course is several blocks. And in order to have that many people forming a chain -- hand-holding around the White House you've got how many thousands of people you think that is going to take? But I was just waiting for the aerial shot from the helicopter on the 6 o'clock news that night. Nothing. Nothing whatsoever. So, I mean -- In terms of what they were covering, they weren't covering the anti-war movement. After the war -- And these rallies and organizations took place -- [Interruption]
ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: Hold on a second... Okay. Go ahead.
AVERY BROWN: These rallies and marches took place for the year prior to the invasion, on the day of the invasion, the day after the invasion. There were about 300 cities around this country that were holding protests. And I mean these were average citizens. These were people of religious and spiritual backgrounds. These were poets. These were military families against the war. These were -- some politicians. Some in the Congressional Black Caucus opposed the war -- others as well in the progressive caucus opposed the war. You had the US clerics that were questioning the pre-emptive strikes. There were anti-war movements all around this world -- around the globe. And the mainstream media often times refused to A.) Show up to cover the domestic protest. But they were a little more inclined to show the protest from around the world. For example, on CNN you would see where they were protesting in England, in France, in Spain -- But you wouldn't see anything about the 100,000 that turned out in New York City right under their noses. And so -- There was deliberate attempt to just completely ignore that there was a major anti-war movement in this country. I remember speaking with some of my former colleagues -- former college colleagues, actually, at an event here in Washington. I was a student at American University, and that's where I got my degree in communications. And this was an opportunity for a lot of us to come back -- what some 30 years later -- 20 years later or so -- I don't know, I'll give you the numbers later, we'll do the math -- But -- And many of my colleagues had gone into mainstream media, and they were holding a discussion. And so at the question and answer period, I asked, "Well, how is it so many of you opted not to cover the anti-war movement?" And what they said, one of them said to me, "Well, Bush had pretty much already made up his mind that, you know, he was going to invade." As though that was the reason not to cover it. As a journalist, I was just appalled. I couldn't understand. And then, you have to think back to situations, for example, what happens in these newsrooms with -- Phil Donahue, you may recall, was actually fired, the month -- February 2003 -- the month before the war began. Because they felt -- and I'm going to read from a book from one of my esteemed colleagues, Amy Goodman, "The Exception to the Rulers," where they said that Phil Donahue was actually fired because he was -- he would have come across as too liberal. And it would have provided them an opportunity for liberalism, while their competitors, would be engaged in "flag-waving activities." So this network decided that it was just far too risky to have liberal dialogue on the shows. And I mean, if you think back and think in terms of the way the networks covered, you would see a whole, steady stream of generals, or air force, or navy or army military officials speaking about the war. And they were almost all speaking in lock-step. They were just -- everything they were just -- You could just go from one channel to the other, and you would hear basically the same thing coming out of a different uniformed figure's mouth. How often did you ever hear the protesters -- or the organizers of the anti-war movements sitting at one of these anchor desks articulating their reasons for opposing a pre-emptive strike? A pre-emptive strike -- What is that? Isn't, you know -- Why wasn't there far more journalism put into preemptive strike, this policy? In other words, "We're going to attack you, because at some point you may decide to attack us, because we think you have weapons of mass destruction." It sounds like its illegal on the face of it -- to me. But there should have been vigorous reporting around this policy. People around the world were saying that "The U.S. needed to seek the backing of the UN." When Nelson Mandela spoke out against the war -- this man is a revered -- one of the most revered and honored statesmen of our time -- he had to basically come out of retirement, and make a statement about this war. He said, "The United States policies are a threat to world peace." I mean, it was just -- It's unbelievable that the main networks refused to cover this war in a more partisan -- or objective manner. But when you think about the fact that the mainstream media is basically owned by six huge corporations, then you start to connect the dots and things start to make a little more sense. ABC and Disney, ABC owns Disney. Viacom is owned by CBS -- they also own MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures. Time Warner owns AOL, CNN, Warner Brothers, Time, and 130 magazines. Fox, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation owns HarperCollins, The New York Post, Direct TV, and 34 TV stations. I mean, that is power. That is control. That is monopoly. It's mega monopoly. And there used to be -- And then CBS owns Westinghouse. And NBC owns -- is owned by -- I'm sorry -- Westinghouse owns CBS, and GE owns NBC, which means they also own MSNBC and CNBC. And so, it's no wonder that you have, this military -- pro-military position being taken. And as it's been said, "The sins are from the omission of the coverage. What's being left out of the coverage." So -- When you have something like Westinghouse -- a corporation like Westinghouse and General Electric, which are major nuclear weapons manufacturers, two of the major nuclear weapons manufacturers in this country, owning two of the major networks -- then it's not hard -- you know, the picture starts to really come into focus as to what's happening here.

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: So, and from your -- From Pacifica's standpoint, talk a little bit about how you're able to go beyond the corporate ownership in a lot of the -- You have a different revenue model -- of how you get the money. And talk about viewer supported radio, and how that changed your perspective.
AVERY BROWN: Well of course, Pacifica has a 53 -- 54-year history of being listener-supported. So we don't take money from corporations, therefore we're not beholden to corporations. Our initial mission dating back to Lou Hill, who was the founder and the creator of Pacifica -- was to cover issues of social justice, and civil rights, and human rights. He was an anti-war protestor himself. So -- These are obviously -- You know, war is an issue that Pacifica is naturally going to cover. At the same time, we attempt -- in the Washington Bureau, we attempt to try and show balance. But after a while, it gets to be pretty silly for us to be trying and show balance -- or present balance in our coverage, when there is such a preponderance of drumbeat towards the war. It's almost as if the mainstream media had become a propaganda arm for the Bush administration. You have anchors -- mainstream anchors putting on helmets and becoming embedded reporters. How is a reporter going to be objective if he's right there in the tank alongside the soldiers? I mean, come on. It's absurd on the face of it. We call them "In Bed"-ed journalists. "I" "In" -- "In Bed" with, not embedded. So -- Pacifica has of course covered these issues from Day 1, from its inception. And of course, we were there on the frontlines to cover this invasion of Iraq -- this illegal invasion of Iraq, the continued occupation of Iraq. And we will continue to cover even the events following the so-called transfer of power back to the Iraqi people.

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: When I talk to Jay Rosen, the NYU journalism chairman, he basically said that whenever you have an event that has a very high passion -- that it's almost a sort of fundamentalist type of perspective -- a lot of passion and emotion -- that the journalists will tend to cover it as a photo-op. And not really as a -- what they're actually saying. Can you speak to -- Do you see that -- And from the anti-war movement's perspective -- how can they become part of the debate more? It seems like there wasn't a very effective job -- if there needs to be changes -- Does there needs to be changes on both ends? -- in other words -- Does the anti-war movement needs to try to enter into the debate more?
AVERY BROWN: Are you saying that they need to tone down their enthusiasm? Or their disgust for the Bush administration's foreign policies in order to be allowed into the debate or the discussion? Is that the question?
ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: Well, I guess -- I mean, another way to frame it in a ways -- If you look at the platform that International ANSWER put forth, there was a lot of extra topics that went way beyond the scope of the issue. And as a journalist --
AVERY BROWN: Um-hum --
ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: -- covering on Iraq, there may not have been a lot of pertinent stuff to cover, if you were just covering the speeches
AVERY BROWN: Um-hum --
ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: I think it goes beyond that. But I think there's -- There can be criticisms on both ends. So in hindsight, when you're looking at the anti-war movement, what would you change?
AVERY BROWN: I wouldn't change a thing, since I am not a part of --
ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: Okay -- Hold on. I am not going to be including my voice in it. So --
AVERY BROWN: Okay. Okay. I wouldn't necessarily change anything that the anti-war movement is doing or not doing. I think the responsibility is incumbent upon the journalists to go there, to find the story, even if it's just a nugget -- a tiny nugget within a lot of other stuff that they just have to weed through and say, "Well, this is irrelevant. This is not pertinent." But I think that's a journalist's job -- unless you are accustomed to just being handed a press release or showing up at a press briefing and being spoon fed what your story is supposed to be for the day. If there's a lot of emotion and not enough substance, that's the journalist's job, that's a reporter's job -- find the substance. You know, interview the people that will support or refute the claims that are being made. I wouldn't dare to suggest that the movement do anything differently -- not one thing at all. It's incumbent upon the journalist to find the story, report the story, and then present it.

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: So when you look at -- You know, there were a lot of failures, and three institutions, the government -- or the White House, the Congress -- Well the government in a way, media informing society, and you have all three of those to some extent. Can you talk a little bit about the government -- the Congress' role in the build-up to war, and how they may have failed as well? And a lot of journalists I've talked to were like, "If there's no debate within Congress, they can't cover it." But then if the Congress also at the same time that they don't see the press covering it, so they don't go on the edge. So it's kind of a loop. So can you talk a little bit also about Congress' role?
AVERY BROWN: Well -- It was our opinion at Peacewatch and Pacifica that many of the Congressmen and women abdicated their authority and their responsibility in terms of giving the Bush Administration authority to go to war. So if they're not having debate about that, it's in -- Again, where's the reporter nagging the senators -- the representatives? "Why are you doing this?" You know, raising those questions at the press conferences -- dogging them. There's sort of a pack mentality among journalists -- particularly in Washington, D.C. because they want to fit in. I've been on Capitol Hill, you ask a question that's impolite, too probing a question, and you know everybody turns and looks to see, "Who asked that question?" And then it's, "Oh, it's Pacifica -- Someone from Pacifica." As though they're expected to ask off-the-wall, outrageous, radical questions of that nature. You see. And so, then -- A lot of the journalists, because they cover that beat daily -- I don't know, I guess they just don't want to be subject to being "outside of the club" so to speak. I don't know, maybe that's unfair. The question would be better asked to them, "Why weren't those hard questions asked, those impolite questions, those uncomfortable questions, the ones that prick the consciousness of the politicians?" Sure, if the politicians are not doing their job, but also are the journalists doing their jobs as well? So -- There's enough room to go -- there's enough room for finger-pointing to go around on both sides.

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: And I mean, I've heard also reports where constituent mail on this issue was overwhelmingly against the war. And they went -- And do you have a sense of any reporting that you've done of actually how much -- the quality of dissent that the Congressmen were receiving versus how much -- Did they ignore a lot of it, in other words?
AVERY BROWN: Not right off the top of my head. We did cover a number of instances where constituents were sitting in the offices of their representatives. In the office of -- There was one case where one woman actually did a prolonged presence in the office of her congressman. And he was quite uncomfortable with her being there, but nonetheless -- These were the types -- There were cases where students would come and they would confront their Congress people, and the Congress people would go ahead and vote -- as you well know, the vote for the war -- There was only one Congress person that voted against giving Bush the authority, and that was California -- US Representative Barbara Lee of California, the one --
ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: That was for Afghanistan though. For the Iraq war, that was in October. Right? There was a lot of --
AVERY BROWN: After -- After September 11th

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: Right. But in my film, my time period that I'm looking at in particular is specifically Iraq. So there was the vote in October, I think was fairly -- there was a lot of dissent, but not enough. But --
AVERY BROWN: Okay, I'm talking about when Barbara Lee, after September 11th -- the to invade --
ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: And I believe that was Afghanistan, because on October 10th and 11th, there was a lot of -- it wasn't -- there was a number of congressmen, I know my -- Elijah Cummings voted against it so this. So -- But -- Going back to the objectivity and Pacifica, in a way there seems from our perspective from the mainstream media, they have this "He Said / She Said." So in a way they're only covering topics from two points of view, what the Democrats and Republicans are saying. And anything outside of that isn't being covered. Can you speak to that? And whether or not you see that as a constraining factor for how the mainstream media journalists are covering it? And the role of Pacifica in kind of picking up the slack.
AVERY BROWN: I'm not sure I understand exactly what your question is. You mean within the context of the war, "He Said / She Said?"
ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: Well, the objectivity standard is usually to get both points of view -- for and against. But in some topics such as Iraq, there may be twenty points of view. And so they may only be covering a liberal hawk who wants to go to war versus the conservative hawk who wants to go to war -- so there's no debate.
AVERY BROWN: Um hmm. Well, what I found was missing from the debate was clearly the voice of the people and the voice of the anti-war movement. It wasn't invited into the dialogue at all -- or rarely, if ever. It was as though it didn't exist in this country. I mean, you had prominent people speaking out, many of whom could have been invited to particular -- to articulate these anti-war positions. You had people like the former President of the Pacific Stock Exchange, Warren Langley, was a protester. He actually stopped traffic in Berkeley during an anti-war protest. Why wasn't -- You know, he was a US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel who served in the military for fifteen years -- Why did -- Where was the creativity? -- Why wasn't he invited to be a part of the dialogue? If colonels and generals, or who you want to get perspective from. Danny Glover, an actor, also an activist with Transafrica, he was a major anti-war opponent. Why wasn't someone like -- Desmond Tutu appeared at an anti-war rally in New York -- Ozzie Davis. I mean, these are people that are esteemed, respected individuals in their own rights. And should've been recognized and invited into the dialogue, their perspective should have been included, but they were not, they were ignored. Even the President's own religious leader spoke out against the war. Apparently it didn't make much difference to him -- to the President-

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: Can you talk -- I know you've interviewed Scott Ritter a number of times -- Can you talk about giving voice to other skeptics such as Scott Ritter and some of his insights? Or at least to the segments that were on aired on Peacewatch.
AVERY BROWN: Um hmm. Absolutely. Scott Ritter as most people know, is a former UN weapons inspector. And he's written a book and made statements about the fact that he felt there were no weapons of mass destruction, and he's been saying this for -- now years, but in the timeframe leading up to the war. But the media -- And the print media for one, any attention that they devoted to him tended to be negative. They tried to paint him as someone who was an opportunist -- seeking press. And tried to discredit him. As opposed to really just kind of considering and analyzing what he was saying, and the work that he had done. And here now we see, years later, the war is so-called over, Scott Ritter and a lot of other people were right. They still have not found weapons of mass destruction. And even that -- Why isn't the press more often making a bigger deal of that? They did not find weapons of mass destruction. President Bush went out of his way in that speech -- that State of the Union address to say that, "We know that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction." Because he was -- And they cited a deal between Niger, the African country of Niger, where Saddam had attempted to purchase uranium -- or yellowcake as it is called, which could be used for making nuclear weapons. And it was known to be false. He had had several reports by individuals in his own administration, including a former ambassador Joe Wilson, another military personnel -- high-level military person, and another individual -- had all done thorough reports and submitted it to the Bush Administration saying, "This is an error. This is not accurate. We can't use this information." And so what the Bush Administration then did was they put it in the State of the Union address anyway and cited a British white paper knowing that the British white paper was actually based on the same shaky evidence that his own administration had already investigated and dismissed as invalid.

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: Okay. And -- One thing that I've noticed that mainstream journalists, both print and media, they cover issues day-to-day -- whatever happens new -- whatever new news happens. And Pacifica I noticed that there seems to be covering issues -- issues as opposed to the events. And can you talk to -- How the coverage differs in that way -- if you're looking over long periods of time instead of what's happening each day?
AVERY BROWN: Well -- I think that harkens back to Pacifica's early beginnings in radio. It was a very unique sort of experiment that Pacifica was doing back in the early days of radio whereby it deviated from the short news segments, and actually explored doing longer news segments and more in-depth news segments -- which is something you didn't hear on radio often. But because of those early days lengthier in-depth coverage, we still had that as part of our format. Our listeners tune into Pacifica precisely because they know they're not going to just hear sound bites -- 30-second sound bites that you're going to get in the mainstream media. You're going to have analysts and experts and artists and poets, and a more broad range of voices. We like to say that we give voice to the voiceless in society, because often times we have people on our airwaves that you're not going to hear on the mainstream airwaves. You're not going to hear Jason Halperin, who worked at a New York-based international humanitarian aid organization. He was out having dinner with a friend going to the theater one night in New York, and the New York City police department raided the restaurant that he was in. And they said they were conducting a routine raid under the provisions of the Patriot Act. And several officers identified themselves as Homeland Security. And when Halperin and his companion asked if they could leave, they said, "Oh, no. You're not going anywhere." And the agents threatened that Halperin could be held up to a month before he could even contact his attorney if they chose to do that. And he was just astounded, and he happened to look into the kitchen of the restaurant, and saw people crouching on the floor trying to escape the Homeland Security squad. And from the back of the restaurant, followed by the agents -- the agents had guns drawn, and pointed at the workers, and they were cowering out of fear. So I mean, this is an ordinary voice that you would hear on -- you'd hear his story on Pacifica. I don't know. I didn't hear it on ABC, NBC, or CBS. Did you? I mean, then there's the story of let's say, the Senior Citizens' protest that took place out at a home -- a Senior Citizens' -- The Mill Valley's Redwood Retirement Center in Marin, California. Every Friday, these Senior Citizens would get out there in their wheelchairs, and their walkers, and their canes, and they protested the war. And there were over a hundred of them. You heard us taking to Eleanor Kennedy on Peacewatch. I don't think you heard or saw that story on the mainstream media. I could be wrong. I mean, there's the story of the two young women who wanted to put a protest sign up in their in their window, and they lived in a small town -- Jenny Klotz and Michael Simon. They lived in the rural community of Mondovia, Wisconsin. And they told -- It was a population of 2,500. And they put up a protest sign against the war in the window -- in their apartment window, and they were practically run out of town. They had a very difficult time. I mean, people would harass them, heckle them. I think that in one instance, her job was even threatened. So I mean, these are stories of average Americans that were protesting this war that you were not hearing anyplace else. When we would take our microphone to them, they were just so relieved that there was somebody that even cared that they were against the war. And then they could tune into Pacifica, and they could hear other people all around the country that were also protesting this illegal invasion of Iraq. I mean, I could go on. I have a list --

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: I've got other specific questions -- Taking a step back and thinking in general terms, it seems that both at Pacifica, they do try to incorporate those diverse and other skeptical viewpoints that are mainly ignored. Can you talk about the importance, in kind of general terms, of why the mainstream media should get a cross-section of both class and race, and different points of view?
AVERY BROWN: Why the mainstream media should? Well, because that's what America is made out of -- [laughs] --

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: Okay. Sorry. Sorry. I'm not going to have my question so it just needs to be explained.
AVERY BROWN: Oh, Okay. Well -- Of course, the mainstream media should, as Pacifica does, seek a cross-section of responses -- a diversity of opinions because this is America and we are a diverse country. And to leave out the voices of mothers -- single mothers on welfare, whose kids, incidentally, may be lining up in uniforms being sent over to Iraq. To leave those voices out of the debate, and only have white men in suits ever being -- They're only the ones that have legitimate say in what goes on in -- in the policies. It's just really, almost criminal, in my opinion. Where are the microphones lined up in the communities asking the young -- the young high school and college students that may be called on to serve the country, "How they feel about the war?" When was the last time we heard interviews like that leading up to that war? Why not get the voices of the family members -- not just the ones that say -- salute and hang the flag out and say, "We love this country, and support our troops"? Why not the mothers and the families that are saying that "We're skeptical about this war"? Isn't the public entitled to hear both sides, and make up their own mind about where they weigh in on this situation?

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: I completely agree -- [laughs] -- You know, we talked to liberal hawks and people who were for the war, and they just seemed so far removed from the realities of the decisions that they're making in their offices. And can you -- There seems to be a lot of that mentality here within Washington and in New York City. They're so far removed from reality -- even the journalists in a way. So can you speak to like --
AVERY BROWN: I'm not sure I know -- I understand what you're saying -- that "liberal hawks" --
ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: Well like, for example, Michael O'Hanlon, someone who was supportive of the war, and even is still -- his only regret of going to war is that we didn't have more of our friends to share the costs. There seems to be no hindsight of like it was a bad idea, we shouldn't have done it in the first place. These people who are sitting in their suits in Washington making these decisions. And just kind of your viewpoint of that culture within Washington or these people who are privileged or in power or have money, and are sending these kids off to die.
AVERY BROWN: Um-hum. Well, you know, what I thought was striking was that I think there was only one member of Congress who actually had a child -- or not a child, but a but a young man or woman -- their child in the military -- One member of Congress.

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: Just say that one more time just to encapsulate it.
AVERY BROWN: It was really striking that there was only one member of Congress actually had a son or a daughter that was actually going to be in the military -- that was in the military. So here you have all these mostly men and a few women -- privileged, elite making the decisions to, "Yes. Go in to war. Invade Iraq. Preemptive strike." But none of them were willing -- none of them really had anything as precious as their own sons or daughters at stake. And in Michael Moore's movie, he actually did a skit where he goes up and asks them, "You want to get behind the troops? You want to get behind this war? Can we get your son -- Can we get you to sign up for your son or your daughter to go?" And here was the most hilarious thing you'd ever want to see. But it does bring the point home -- Yeah, it's easy for them to make these decisions in suites about other people's sons and daughters. And at the same time, they sort of shield themselves from hearing those voices and those opinions of the Americans that are going to be in the frontlines. Why wasn't there more journalism done around the fact that President Bush was more than likely AWOL through his National Guard experience? It's been proven that -- Now I think today, we are hearing that the Pentagon says that "Oh, those records have been destroyed inadvertently." The President was AWOL during his National Guard duty, that's a major story. Could even be some legal implication behind that, for all I know.

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: And going back to building up to the war in Iraq, from your recollection, what were some of the stories that Pacifica was doing that in your mind stick out as really big flags that something was wrong in the case for going to war?
AVERY BROWN: (pause) Let me think. Well, the whole fact that there were people like Scott Ritter, the UN weapons inspector, who said that "There were no weapons of mass destruction." The whole fact that the United Nations had to be browbeaten by the Bush Administration into to signing up on some very minimal basis of going to war against Iraq. The fact that practically every other country -- every other main -- major country in the world was opposed to going to war -- with the exception of England, and even Prime Minister Blair didn't have the full support of his government behind him. And not nearly his people as well, because there were major protests in the streets. The whole alienation -- How this administration had to alienate countries that had previously been our allies in order to just ramrod this policy -- this hegemonic foreign policy through. Those were the first red flags. I mean, there were so many along the way. But those I would say were the key reasons for me as to why this war illegal. And just the whole idea of a preemptive strike, it doesn't make sense to me. I mean, if we can now go around and attack anybody preemptively that we think might want to attack us, then where is social justice? I mean, where is -- where does that leave peace? What is the chance for peace in this world if we are allowed to do that? We are -- as Nelson Mandela said, "A threat to world peace" if we are to take this preemptive strike policy, and apply it wherever we see fit -- with or without the sanctions -- or the condoning of the major body, the United Nations that was set up for just such instances like this. So I mean, it was really -- It was very disheartening. It was scary. And it was depressing. I have an American flag that was given to my family at my grandfather's funeral, he was a serviceman. We have actually two in our family, my husband's father was a military pilot. Those flags are still folded up in my closet, where they're going to stay until I feel proud as an American to wave those flags again. The time has not yet come. To be honest, I'm not sure I'll ever get a chance. I'm not real happy about where Kerry is going with this. Kerry and Edwards both supported the war. Kerry is even suggesting that we send in more troops. I think somewhere between 20 and 40 thousand more troops. I have four sons. I don't want to see any of them in the uniform headed for Iraq. Particularly -- Well of course, now the occupation is supposedly over -- but its not. And the media is not even allowed to cover the bodies coming in from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. I think it's actually illegal -- it's against the law to do that.

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: You mentioned "the browbeating of the U.N." -- Can you talk about Bush's attitude towards diplomacy and international law? And how -- Or lack of cooperation -- or just from any kind of patterns that we see to that point.
AVERY BROWN: Let's see. Well -- The Bush Administration I think has exhibited a form of arrogance and disregard for the opinions of other national leaders with the exception of those that agree with him. France had been an ally of the United States for decades, and because they opposed him at the U.N. suddenly France and everything French is just -- it's just like they're a pariah. They wanted to stop serving French Fries at the U.S. -- in the cafeteria at the Capitol. How absurd is that? Nelson Mandela spoke out against the war -- said that the U.S.'s policies were a threat to world peace. Bush later snubbed Nelson Mandela at an event because of that. With the exception of Tony Blair, who has been, I guess, his twin on this issue from the very beginning -- has supported him. And continues to support him throughout. He's the only opinion that President Bush seems to respect. They ignored -- (pause) Well, I don't have any more say on that, really.

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: Okay, that's fine. And, let's see -- Well --
AVERY BROWN: How many more questions you got?
ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: I think it's -- it's about it. Let's see if there's any more questions about -- Well, just -- I guess, one tactic -- in a way that I saw -- that a lot of anti-war rallies were held during the weekend, which is why the audiences of television news -- or whatever -- was lower. Do you see that there needs to be like a switching of the timing? Or how can you get these voices into the news cycle more? The tactics or whatever -- that it just seems like it's a weekend event, and then they move on.
AVERY BROWN: Hmmm. Well see, I don't feel as though it's the responsibility of the anti-war movement to try and stage their rallies when it's convenient for the networks. And I don't personally think that's their job. I think their job is to hold their rally in a time when they can turn out as many people as they possibly can. And it's the responsibility -- The onus is on the networks to frame it as the major event that it is. When you have nearly a million people turning out in New York City in frigid cold temperatures, that's a major event. And it hardly gets a mention on the network news? And at the same time there seemed to be some kind of a conspiracy -- and this is -- put me in the column of the conspiracy theorists. But the New York police very begrudgingly granted the permit for the protesters -- for the organizers of the marches. It's almost as though dissent has become criminalized, "Oh, here come those anti-war protesters. Let's find ways to really make their life miserable" First of all, they're going to corral you into little -- you know, they're putting up these tents where you can only have so many protesters at a time. What that does is it diminishes the picture, and even if TV cameras show up, they're going to see a far smaller picture of who's there -- simply because they're corralled, they bring the horses out. That can be very intimidating if you're a protester just there to exercise your civil liberties. And you've got these police officers on these huge horses, which horses seem to be skittish among crowds anyway. It's very intimidating. And then you've got rows and rows of officers with billy clubs. Why is that necessary in America? How is it we got to that point? So I don't see where the organizers need to do one thing differently. I think really the onus lies on the media to cover the event -- it's basic.

ECHO CHAMBER PROJECT: The final question I have is -- Why does the United States go to war? In your sense, when you look at everything. What's are the motivations for why we had a military intervention in Iraq?
AVERY BROWN: Well I mean, there are so many different theories on that. There is a thought-out -- a well-planned project called the Century for a New America -- The Project for a New American Century, which was written by what are called neocons around the Bush Administration -- where they have a whole plan and strategy for restabilizing the Middle East, which puts the U.S. and Israel front-and-center in control in that region. And many experts that we have spoken with on our airwaves have said that is a strategic -- that going to war against Iraq was a strategic part of that whole plan and that whole project. And of course, Iraq being one of the largest oil reserves in the world. And President Bush being a -- having been a Texas oil man, it doesn't take a whole lot to connect those dots. With Halliburton -- And the Vice President Dick Cheney's connection to Halliburton, and its connection to the war and reconstruction of Iraq. I mean, I think the bottom line is money -- money, power, access, greed. That's where I would weigh in. And, I can't really point to one specific incident or fact that would sort of uphold that. But I think if we look at the whole picture, there are enough indications and facts and evidence that really support that. Many a scholar, many academics, many analysts have put together a number of books -- I have a whole shelf of books in my office devoted to people's reaction to the Bush Administration policies leading up to Iraq.