Saturday, January 5, 2013


The proposed sale of CURRENT MEDIA LLC (CURRENT TV network) to Qatar's Al-Jazeera raises serious policy questions about foreign government control of U.S. media and wealth transfer from an autocratic foreign monarchical government to our former Vice President.

I am troubled by the fact that one of my longtime environmental heroes (since 1983), our former VP, Al Gore, Jr., is taking money from a foreign power, the government of Qatar. This is an appearance of impropriety. While several ex-Presidents have given speeches, for big money, at home and abroad, I disapprove of that, too.

At age 26, I testified before then-Rep. Al Gore's House Science and Technology Committee investigations subcommittee on July 11, 1983 re: Oak Ridge Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Plant mercury pollution (biggest mercury pollution event in world history, a classified national security secret made public only after our Appalachian Observer newspaper requested DOE “declassify” its mercury documents). At my request to Gore's staff, the two subcommittees swore in all the witnesses: that was the first time that had ever occurred in the history of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. Thirty years of environmental cleanups followed in eleven states with DOE weapons manufacturing sites, at a cost of more than $200 billion, with completion projected by 2043 -- sixty (60) years after our FOIA requests and Al Gore's hearing first exposed pandemic pollution by our Nation's nuclear weapons plant contractors. I was proud to be a part of it ab initio and to have been the "crowbar" (in the words of then-DOE Oak Ridge Manager Joe Ben LaGrone) -- the "crowbar" who persuaded DOE to release the truth about Oak Ridge mercury pollution.

Al Gore is a national treasure who sounded the alarm on Climate Change since he first held House hearings in 1978. 

Sadly, Gore did not work hard enough to make his network prosper -- so he threw in the towel and sells to a foreign government. That is wrong and his proposed Al-Jazeera sale is a big mistake.  Another Nobel Peace Prize winner, Elihu Root. once said the best advice one can often give the officers of a corporation is "You're damned fools and you should stop."  Gore & Co. must heed Elihu Root's advice and “stop.” Now.

Tom Wicker warned in his book, On Press (1977), that journalism is besieged by economic pressures and that too often, journalists kowtow to government and corporate interests. Much of what he warned about is happening now.
Qatar's government owns Al-Jazeera, an instrument of Qatar's foreign policy.
The emirate of Qatar imprisons citizens for exercising free speech rights. It is allied with the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (of which fifteen of nineteen 9/11 hijackers were citizens, and whose Ambassador's wife was involved in giving them support, as documented by former Senator Bob Graham's book, Intelligence Matters).
Qatar is a U.S. client-state and OPEC member, one of the richest countries in the world, and a notorious human rights violator. Qatar was long reportedly weak on counter-terrorism, but is home of large U.S. military bases.

Check out our State Department's 2011 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Qatar (May 24, 2012)(below). Are you comfortable with our former VP taking $100 million from these dodgy despots?

How does it appear to you? Bill Clinton once said, “Al Gore is wiser than a tree of owls.” Upon agonizing reconsideration, Al Gore must “drop the oyster and leave the wharf,” as my Irish grandmother would say.

Enough! Do we want our U.S. television networks being gobbled up by foreign governments and their “news” shills?  I vote no.  Chinese and Russian government-funded propaganda “news” channels are looking to buy U.S. cable TV channels. I vote no.  

Al Gore, Jr.: please don't sell CURRENT TV to Qatar's Al-Jazeera TV.

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