(ICC &) Virtual Truth Processes: Euphenasia?

ABSTRACT: 'Euphenasia' is my term for the obfuscation of truth through the use of euphemism. This essay sets out the construct of a virtual truth process as a viable truth-seeking forum that is potentially more promising than traditional fora, the existence-and availability of which are determined primarily by the State. By way of example, specific problems involved with Truth (and Reconciliation) Commissions are contrasted with virtual truth processes (as evidenced, for example, in the recent U.S.-lead war in Iraq) which represent the alternative of collective internet communication by oftentimes ordinary persons, cutting across traditional lines of state sovereignty, exposing the atrocities and suffering committed by persons who embody State apparatuses. Use of the Internet (such as ICC) has the potential of being a virtual truth process, yet reliance on the Internet becomes enmeshed in a process of political contention. Ultimately the question, "Whose Truth?" arises. Many cultures want a greater presence of their 'own' material, presented in the native language(s). Recent data on access, availability, and use of the Internet are presented. Other conundrums are also explored. Virtual truth processes can confront a paradox: how to decode messages that are twice scrambled-first as a coded message, second as filtered and interpreted. Objective Truth is often denied and euphenasia is a lurking possibility, especially when the 'virtual' aspect of a truth process sacrifices the ontological quality of relationship.


INTRODUCTION (THESIS & LENS[ES] OF ANALYSIS) Far from being picayune, definitional squabbles expose the very act of naming as a political act

(i.e., certain names can communicate a heightened/lessened importance to both the namers and the named).1 Priscilla B. Hayner, in Unspeakable Truths: Confronting State Terror and Atrocity, offers the following four indicia of ‘Truth Commissions’: (1) focuses on the past; (2) investigates a pattern of abuses—rather than a specific event—over a period of time; (3) exists only temporarily—usually six months to two years; (4) concludes its work by submitting a report; and (5) exists by virtue of official sanction, authorization or empowerment by the State.2 The shortened version of Hayner’s operational definition is: “an official investigation into a past pattern of abuses.”3 Some argue that the political act of naming is more akin to a name-game whereby the truth that is advertised is often not delivered to the commission’s ‘consumers’.4 Even if not an intentional sleight-of-hand, the lofty psychological expectations conveyed by the phrase ‘truth commission’ have been lamented by people who have worked for former Commissions, a generic noncommittal phrase such as ‘commission of inquiry’ being preferred.5

1 See e.g., PRISCILLA B. HAYNER, UNSPEAKABLE TRUTHS: CONFRONTING STATE TERROR AND ATROCITY 23 (Routledge 2001) (advocates in Guatemala were “initially disappointed” when its commission was “given the weaker sounding name ‘historical clarification commission.’”). 2 Id. at 14. 3 Id. at 23. 4 See e.g., id. at 22 (“. . . should be called ‘fact and fiction commissions’ or ‘some-of-the-truth-commissions[.]’”). 5 See id.


Truth and Reconciliation Commissions are commonly thought to encapsulate the following functions: (1) to clarify and acknowledge the truth; (2) to respond to the needs and interests of the victims; (3) to contribute to justice and accountability; (4) to outline institutional responsibility and recommend reforms; and (5) to promote reconciliation and reduce tensions resulting from past violence.6 The ‘Truth [and Reconciliation] Commission’ model (T[R]C), however, has its drawbacks in attaining its purported goals.7 Would a non-TRC mechanism better effect the Truth & Reconciliation goals normally sought via Truth Commissions? An alternative to the TRC model exists. Its legitimacy does not emanate via fiat of the state. In fact, this alternative is not a ‘Commission’ at all.8 Such an alternative could accurately be called a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Process’, or at a minimum a ‘Truth Process’. The alternative: internet communication by ordinary persons forming virtual communities, cutting across traditional lines of state sovereignty, exposing the atrocities and suffering committed by apparatuses of the State. My thesis starts with the ontological premise that all states, including the U.S., are transitional. Thus, while the focus of the truth-and-reconciliation commission literature is on non-hegemonic ‘transitional’ states, the complete picture is that all states—including the U.S.—can reap the potential benefits of a truth and reconciliation process: transparency; fact-finding/formation; truth; justice and reconciliation. The second prong of my thesis is that the Internet (World Wide Web) serves as a promising forum for—at a minimum—future Truth Processes, and perhaps, more robustly as a forum for the daily practice of reconciling truth-to-power. Put another way, the web may represent a forum for engaging in a collective Truth (and Reconciliation) Process that is superior to the model of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions.9 Based on the little that I know about Intercultural Communicative Competence (ICC), I would venture that ICC could be portrayed as one such Truth Process. This paper, however, does not focus on ICC per se; it explores the following processes: (1) how Truth and

6 Id. at 24-31 (Routledge 2001) (Chapter 3: “Why a Truth Commission?”). 7 I bracket reconciliation because not all truth commissions have held out ‘reconciliation’ as a goal (or even a likely end result). See generally TRUTH V. JUSTICE: THE MORALITY OF TRUTH COMMISSIONS (Robert I. Rotberg & Dennis Thompson, eds., Princeton Univ. Press 2000). I also delay discussion of the criticisms of TRCs until the ‘Analysis’ portion of this paper. 8 I would suggest three ‘elements’ of defining the term ‘Commission’ as: (1) an entity comprised of élites; (2) based within a ‘hierarchical’ state-based system; and (3) charged with a specialized/limited function. 9 Essentially, the ‘C’ in TRC drops out. The status of the ‘R’ is nebulous.


Reconciliation Commissions (TRCs) often fall short as to mining ‘truth’; (2) how Truth Processes are often filtered and muddied to varying degrees through processes of coding, obfuscation, denial, and euphenasia; (3) how the ongoing American-lead war with Iraq can serve as a backdrop for analysis and criticism of my thesis; and (4) how my thesis can be muddled by various conundrums including the global architecture of Internet access. II. HOW TRC’S OFTEN FALL SHORT AS TO MINING “TRUTH” The role of the State—no matter the definition of TRC one ultimately chooses—is paramount in effecting and creating the very existence of TRCs (i.e., TRCs are primarily defined by reference to the State). TRCs have thus been hampered by a variety of inherent structural tensions. While some structural tensions are unavoidable, it would be a mistake to assume that such structural problems arise only by reference to the means of seeking TR. Pursuing reconciliation, for example, is troubling to many in the first instance. Even if reconciliation is deemed desirable, the South African TRC, as experienced by the peoples of South Africa, again provides pause (especially given that it is considered a ‘model’ of the TRC process), for “two-thirds of the [South African] public believed that revelations resulting from the [TC] process had made South Africans angrier and led to a deterioration in relations between races.”10 Regardless of potentially quixotic targets, however, TRCs’ inherent structural flaws are ascendant. Primacy of Outsider Involvement First, there is a problem of ‘outsider’ status. The use of those ‘outside’ the relevant community can be seen as paternalistic and opportunistic. The counterpoint is that one’s ‘outsider’ status could play a valuable role in some circumstances.11 Cost and Funding Second, there is a problem of funding such bureaucracies. TRCs often require extensive funding which, even assuming successful allocation of funds, exposes the TRC to two dilemmas: (1) potentially not being able to complete its mandate; (2) reification of dependence on

10 HAYNER, supra note 1, at 156, citing a national poll conducted by Market Research Africa (MRA) that was “referred to in articles worldwide”. Pausing the ‘cause for pause’ might also be appropriate given Hayner’s striking discussion in note 5 (same page of text, footnote at 276) that “[s]ome analysts, however, noted that the poll showed that public attitudes were deeply divided along racial lines.” She quotes Drew Forrest, ‘Body Has Served National Reconciliation’ Business Day (South Africa), August 3, 1998: “The inference must be that although blacks and whites agree that the commission has made people angry, they differ profoundly on whether it has advanced the cause of reconciliation. . . .80% [of the black respondents to MRA’s survey] do not regard such disclosures [of white-on-black atrocities] as an insuperable obstacle to better racial understanding, and that half believe ‘the people in South Africa will now be able to live together more easily.’” 11 See e.g., id. at 78 (“[W]omen might be more willing to report sexual abuse to nonnationals, whom they might feel less risk of running into in their everyday lives, which may be an argument for including foreigners on the statement-taking team.”).


‘outsiders’. To some degree, the problem of funding shortfalls is a relative one. The South African TRC had a budget in excess of 35 million dollars.12 Hayner notes that it is “remarkabl[e]” that “one of the top complaints” from observers of the South African Commission was that it was “insufficiently resourced”.13 Indeed, while it is likely true that more money would have helped the South African TRC achieve its goals, the ‘complaint’ of lack of resources can always be placed into the realm of irony by comparing the ‘complaining’ Commission with a Commission that is quite literally working on a bootstrap budget. In other words, it is somewhat problematic to bemoan the need for (more!) millions when, for example, Chad’s Commission, faced a shortage of available office space and was “forced to set up its headquarters in the former secret detention center of the security forces, where some of the worst of the torture and killings had taken place, thus deterring many former victims from coming to give testimony.”14 Lack/Excess of Political Capital Third, there is the related problem of political capital (i.e., oftentimes, the TRCs do not end up coming into fruition). The other critique is that they might resemble a Nuremberg-type ‘victor’s justice’.15 Poorly Trained Personnel Fourth, there is a problem of poorly trained personnel which often leads to ad hoc processes for a TRC. Granted there can be value in flexibility and disorder, but there are substantive realms where training is particularly needed and beneficial (e.g., psychological trauma). Other times, the lack of experience has been a matter of procedural implementation, such as the Guatemalan Commission’s information management and field research methodology being conducted by people with “no experience in field research or large interviewing and data-collection projects.”16 Such lack of training can potentially lead to an inability to sift the nebulous realms of, for example, rage and prejudice.

12 Id. at 321 (App. 1, Chart 8 ‘What Works Best?’: ‘Budget’) 13 See id. at 223. 14 Id. at 58. 15 In some respects, this is a ‘neutral’ criticism, for it may well be that the ‘victor’ has much to inquire about its predecessor’s conduct. Inasmuch as the citizens (i.e., the societal component of the State) do not morph identity in such a timeframe, one is left to wonder if there is not a potential for scapegoating (i.e., the possibility of the citizens’ role as collaborators being veiled). In other words, the nature of a particular TRC’s jurisdiction is somewhat murky. For example, the victor’s titling of the Chadian Commission launched in December of 1990, ‘The Commission of Inquiry into the Crimes and Misappropriations By Presidential Decree Committed by Ex-President Habré, His Accomplices and/or Accessories’, begs the question of how far one should cast the net of who qualifies for ‘accessory’ status. (Title of Commission from HAYNER at 57). 16 See HAYNER, supra note 1, at 81.


Potential for replicating social hierarchies Fifth, TRCs have been called to task for reifying social hierarchies. Again, the notion of the South African commission as a ‘model’ is despoiled, “Despite its efforts [e.g., allowing testimony to be given behind ‘screens’] and its consciousness of the issue . . . ‘the definition of gross violation of human rights adopted by the Commission resulted in a blindness to the types of abuse predominantly experienced by women.’”17 It could be argued that it is unfair to saddle TRCs for claims of sexism when sexism is endemic in society-at-large. At a minimum it can be acknowledged that issues such as the treatment of those who commit rape against political opponents have been de-emphasized.18 It is clear, however, that the international social norms regarding rape of women have evolved.19 There have also been some TRCs that have done better at considering, on equal grounds, the atrocities experienced by women.20 Others, however, have inexplicably relegated issues of rape, quite literally to the realm of the afterthought.21 In the final analysis, experts such as Hayner conclude “Most [TCs] have not been proactive in seeking out, encouraging, or facilitating testimony from women.”22 Limited Timeframes Sixth, there is a problem of deadlines and limited timeframes (even the model South African TRC resorted to the use of addenda). From the outset, a TRC’s implementing legislation limits the inquiry to a pre-destined timeframe. Asymmetry between State and Society Seventh, there is a problem of asymmetry: it is a Stateappointed process. The word ‘Commission’ clearly connotes an asymmetrical relationship, many of which are common parlance within hierarchical systems be they commercial or military: “granting authority”;
17 Id. at 78 (quoting vol. 4, chap. 10, section 144, 316 of Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa Report). 18 HAYNER, supra note 1, at note 12 to Chapter 6 (at 266 of text), quoting Ashnie Padarath, Women and Violence in KwaZulu Natal, in WHAT WOMEN DO IN W ARTIME: GENDER AND CONFLICT IN AFRICA ##, 64 (Meredith Turshen & Clotilde Twagiramariya eds., Zed Books 1998). 19 HAYNER, supra note 1, at note 21 to Chapter 6 (at 267 of text), discussing the statute for the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), noting that 120 nations agreed to it as of 1998, “[The statute] defines rape and other forms of sexual violence of comparable gravity as a crime against humanity when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population.” (citing Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, UN Doc. A/Conf.183/9, July 17, 1998, Articles 7 and 8, available at http://www.un.org/icc/romestat.htm). 20 HAYNER, supra note 1, at 78, discussing the Haitian TC’s directive to consider “crimes of a sexual nature against female victims that were committed with political ends[.]” (citing Si M Pa Rele . . . (If I don’t Cry Out . . .), Report of the National Commission for Truth and Justice, Haiti, 1996, 40-46) (Hayner does not note the irony that it was a subchapter of the Haitian report that was dedicated to sexual crimes); HAYNER at 79, discussing the Guatemalan report and its “long and very powerful chapter that describes, with searing quotes from testimony of witnesses, incidents of gang rape and other widespread practices of extreme sexual violence against women.” 21 See, e.g., HAYNER, supra note 1, at note 20 to Chapter 6 (at 267 of text), “On the other hand, the Salvadoran report lists many incidents of rape in its appendix[.]” (discussing the omission of the fact that three U.S. nuns were raped). 22 Id. at 78.


“conferring rank”; “a command or injunction”; “the state of being in good working order and ready for operation”; the act of “committing a crime” (!); a “special” group “delegated” to “handle” an “assigned” task.23 Crux: Commissions exist only to the degree that the State is willing to cede power and allow them to exist. States, alas, have sometimes found it more convenient to deny the opportunity. III. (CODE) “Regimes of truth” have been offered as a “main feature” of postmodern thought,24 which “aims to emancipate humanity from itself by making it conscious of its shortcomings.”25 I think it appropriate to enter the maze-land of CODE at the locus of modernity: first, via Rajaee’s Aristotle redux; second via borrowed words from Peter Chroust’s deliberation over the role played by ‘modern’ media (i.e., the Internet) in disseminating ‘anti-modern’ political points of view.26 But what of the quest for the quality of (a meaningful) life? Rajaee refers to Aristotle’s polis and continues by positing that our27 quest to transcend survival status and attain ‘meaning’ has been fundamentally altered: [T]he one important component of the good life is that it is meaningful. The meaning has to be articulated in what is today referred to as the public sphere. When one has a good life, one has a strong notion of identity. Modernity constructed this meaningfulness with its three features of universal reason (rationality), national identity (the structure of the nation-state), and industry and capitalism. It was articulated through the most important means available, the print media, which gradually created an imagined community of cultured members, who read the same books, magazines, and published authorities. In the age of modernity, the “oral tradition” was replaced with “textual authority.” Authors and scholars took over the positions of orators, and the city took the form of the nationstate, comprising sovereignty, people (nation), territory, and defined boundaries. The citizens of the state were expected to pay allegiance to it in return for its guarantee of the basic rights of life, property, and freedom. Of course, the national arena provides the public sphere for the manifestation of these rights. The new global mode of civilization production, that is, the information revolution, has threatened some of the basic pillars of this constitutional arrangement. Where is the public forum today? Has the new cyberspace formed the new public sphere, which is now at the disposal of anybody who has access to a computer, itself becoming available in traditional public places, such as coffee shops? . . . . . . Accessibility to the public sphere therefore depends on how much the state tolerates and on the kinds of constitutional guarantees it offers to ensure that such a
23 Culled from OneLook® Dictionary Search, Quick Definitions (Commission), at http://www.onelook.com/? w=Commission&ls=a (last visited May 1, 2003). 24 FARHANG RAJAEE, GLOBALIZATION ON TRIAL 29 tbl.1 (International Development Research Center 2000). 25 Id. 26 See Peter Chroust, Neo-Nazis and Taliban On-Line: Anti-Modern Political Movements and Modern Media, in THE INTERNET, DEMOCRACY AND DEMOCRATIZATION 102-18 (Peter Ferdinand ed., Frank Cass Publishers 2000). 27 Query: who comprises the ‘our’?



podium remains at the disposal of citizens and civil-society groups. In other words, whereas civil society defines the sphere of its activities through the initiatives and efforts of its members, the public sphere is at the mercy of the people in authority.28

The last quoted snippet in the prior paragraph perhaps exposes my thesis as veiling the distinction between ‘civil society’ and the ‘public sphere’; yet, in addition to Rajaee’s reference to identity politics, Peter Chroust’s discussion raises veiled issues such as ‘Whose truth?’, and ‘What criteria for evaluating truth-claims?’. Chroust directs his attention to the Taliban and Neo-Nazis. He highlights the following for what he sees as “ideological similarities” between the two groups: (1) anti-liberal and anticapitalist; (2) anti-socialist and anti-communist; (3) anti-hegemonic (i.e., anti-imperialist); (4) antiparliamentarian; (5) anti-semitic; and (6) antifeminist.29 Chroust characterizes both groups as “fundamentalist movements” reacting against “the political and social crises and the deep changes of values and cultures connected with them.”30 The Taliban and Neo-Nazi movements are also characterized as ‘postmodern’ inasmuch as they occur within a framework “marked by individualization, the loss of institutional authority and the increasing significance of non-materialistic needs such as demands for political participation[.]”31 Another lens of analysis sees the rise of the Taliban as a struggle between “the traditional village” and “the modern city, [symbolizing] the ‘immoral’ [“permissiveness” as to sex and drugs] and atheistic western culture.”32 The Internet as a reifier of urban hegemony is further discussed below. Besides the intent of purposely complicating my means-focused thesis, my construct is further complicated by the heretofore ignored fact that messages—even messages seeking to offer a truthclaim—are often ‘coded’. In such cases who holds the decoder ring? Chroust cites one example of the use of ‘coding’ by Neo-Nazis, “Home pages and right-wing web texts are frequently marked with ‘88’, which is a cypher for the repeated eighth letter in the German alphabet. . .‘HH’ standing for ‘Heil Hitler’.

28 RAJAEE, supra note 24, at 84-86. 29 See Chroust, supra note 26, at 104. 30 See id. at 103. 31 See id. at 103. 32 See id. at 104.


With such cyphers individuals and groups can project ‘key-words’ into the public sphere of the Internet without infringing existing laws.”33 Is the use of coding just a means of circumventing the coercive power of the State? James C. Scott, in Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts delves into the concept of ‘hidden transcripts’ and, thus, his ideas are applicable to ‘coded’ communications.34 Several points emerge from Scott’s study. First, such ‘coding’ can blur the lines between what Scott calls “Forms of Public Declared Restraint” (i.e., “public assertion of worth by gesture, dress, speech, and/or open desecration of status symbols of the dominant”) and “Forms of Disguised, low profile, Undisclosed resistance, INFRAPOLITICS” (i.e., “hidden transcript of anger, aggression, and disguised discourses of dignity e.g., rituals of aggression, tales of revenge, use of carnival symbolism, gossip, rumor, creation of autonomous social space for assertion of dignity”).35 It is clear that ‘coded’ communication can also be a form of ‘role playing’; ideas communicated are not staking a claim to truth, but are more akin to play or fantasy. The second point from Scott’s study is that such half-hearted fantasy can even extend to those who do hold the ideas within such scripts to contain varying-sized grains of truth, and for such people Scott views such “fantasies of liberation and revenge”, as ultimately “preserv[ing] domination through dissipating collective energies in relatively harmless rhetoric and ritual.”37 Third, he points out the difficulty of constructing any accurate historical truths, given the experiences of subordinate groups: “The difficulty is . . . not merely the standard one of records of elite activities kept by elites in ways that reflect their class and status. It is the more profound difficulty presented by earnest efforts of subordinate groups to conceal their activities and opinions, which might expose them to harm.”38 I see a Virtual Truth Process as more ‘open’—even
33 See id. at 113. 34 JAMES C. SCOTT, DOMINATION AND THE ARTS OF RESISTANCE: HIDDEN TRANSCRIPTS (Yale Univ. Press 1990). 35 Id. at 198 (Table ‘Domination and Resistance’). 36 Id. at 185 (quoting BARRINGTON MOORE JR., INJUSTICE: THE SOCIAL BASES OF OBEDIENCE AND REVOLT 459n (M.E. Sharpe 1987)). 37 As an aside, a recent visit with a friend causes me to question the ‘harmless’ nature of the ‘coded’ communication/fantasy when one adds sexual(ity) taboos to the liberation/domination cocktail mix, and stirs (say in chatrooms). Certain role-playing, despite its ‘virtual’ flavor and potential consent of the ‘victim’, is downright illegal and can cause horrific consequences for anyone unlucky enough to be virtually interacting with a law enforcement officer. (I do not mean to imply that all such forays into virtual chatrooms are innocuous; the usual debates about ‘consent’ and ‘capacity’ to so consent apply in the virtual realm, too.) This friendly visit reminded me, too, of reading a couple of years ago an article about a journalist who was doing research on ‘sexual predators’ and said journalist was arrested on the basis of chatroom “research”—which may be one argument endorsing the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision approving the use of filters on library computers that filter “sexual” sites, even though arguably such filters also squelch some “legitimate” research. 38 SCOTT, supra note 34, at 87.


with coded/hidden threads of truth-telling—than the exclusive, official, and elite ontological entity that is a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Further pause is caused by the recognition that use of coded communication—even for racist ends!—is not the exclusive province of Neo-Nazis; the story of racism in the United States contains numerous anecdotes involving the use of codes.39 Thus, a central paradox of a virtual truth process emerges: how to decode messages that are twice scrambled—first as a coded message, second as filtered and interpreted—whereby one group’s racially-coded message (i.e., Neo-Nazis) is substantively ‘evil’ and ascribed to the group to prove its unworthiness while another group’s racially-coded message (i.e., U.S. Corporations/U.S. Citizens) is rarely, if ever, ascribed to the group and is often tacitly or expressly denied? The main point of this tangent, as mentioned above, is to raise the question as to ends of political dissemination of information as opposed to the focus, heretofore, on the means of such dissemination. Another purpose of the tangent is purely exploratory. One prong of my thesis is that the U.S. could benefit from a Virtual Truth (and Reconciliation) Process. For example, to what degree has the U.S.’s role vis-à-vis the Taliban (pre 9-11) and Neo-Nazis been one of minimal acquiescence or even one of tacit support? Chroust ultimately concludes that “external support” although “necessary”, was not a “sufficient cause for the Taliban success as a mass movement to emerge within only a few months[,]” although he acknowledges that some “reasons for the success of [the] Taliban movement” include “the external support by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and the complex role of the Taliban in the geo-political strategies of Pakistan, Iran and the United States.”40 While I’m not sure if I’m blurring or clarifying truth with this observation, I find our current calls for Homeland Security as eerily Nazi-esque, but I’m getting ahead of myself. If we are examining alternative paradigms for truth dissemination, then denial is an inhibitor that— regardless of technological means of communication—prohibits the free flow of exchange of truth-claims. Stanley Cohen, in his masterful book, States of Denial: Knowing About Atrocities and Suffering, attempts

39 See generally, e.g., Racism at Texaco, at http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/6174/texaco.html (last visited May 1, 2003). 40 All quotations for the footnoted sentence are from Chroust, supra note 26, at 105.


to sketch the flexible contours of the “uncharted territory between deliberate choice and unconscious defence[;]”41 he sets out three constituents of denial: (1) literal; (2) interpretive; and (3) implicatory.42 Literal denial can take many forms, ranging from “genuine ignorance” to “deliberate” lying.43 Literal denial is an abject denial and a direct negation, e.g., ‘There was no massacre’. Ironically, literal denial can be aided by rationalizations that are diametrically opposed to each other. Cohen sites one example: “[I]t couldn’t have happened without us knowing (or it could have happened without us knowing).”44 Interpretive denial is not an outright denial of the facts, rather it is a denial by virtue of one’s ‘spin’ on the issue. Killing civilians becomes ‘collateral damage’; forced expulsion becomes ‘transfer of populations’; torture becomes ‘moderate physical pressure’.45 Thus, by way of euphemism, the direct literal meaning of an action becomes obfuscated. I call such obfuscation “euphenasia”. When neither the facts nor “conventional” interpretation(s) are being denied, one moves into the realm of implicatory denial, whereby the “psychological, political, or moral implications” are denied.46 Implicatory denial can be distinguished from both literal and interpretive denial in that ‘knowledge’ itself is not the locus of denial, rather the locus of the denial becomes what the correct course of action, given particular knowledge, ought to be.47 Cohen is quick to point out that implicatory denials cover a wide gamut of cognitive processes: “Passivity and silence may look the same as obliviousness, apathy, and indifference, but may not be the same at all. We can feel and care intensely, yet remain silent.”48 Cohen thus summarizes the three types of denial: Literal denial may be a genuine and non-culpable ignorance; a deliberate aversion of your gaze from a truth too unbearable to acknowledge; a twilight state of self-deception where some of the truth is hidden from yourself; a cultural not-noticing because the reality is part of your taken-for-granted view of the world; or one of a variety of calculated forms of lying, deception or disinformation. Interpretive denial ranges from a genuine inability to grasp what the facts mean to others, to deeply cynical renamings to avoid moral censure or legal accountability. Implicatory denials come from some rather banal folk techniques for avoiding moral or psychological demands, but are invoked with mystifying degrees of sincerity.

41 STANLEY COHEN, STATES OF DENIAL: KNOWING ABOUT ATROCITIES AND SUFFERING 5 (Polity Press 2001). 42 Id. at 7-9. 43 See id. at 7. 44 See id. 45 Id. at 7-8. 46 COHEN, supra note 41, at 8. 47 See id. at 9. 48 Id.


Structurally, Cohen groups the acts of denial as occurring via three agents: (1) personal; (2) cultural; and (3) official.49 Cohen illustrates ‘personal denial’ with the example of a patient who forgets that they have been diagnosed with terminal cancer while reiterating that in the instance of ‘personal denial’ the processes of denial may “remain unconscious and inaccessible to the self” (i.e., the ‘agent’ of denial).50 Official denials are “initiated, structured, and sustained by the massive resources of the modern state. . .and [are] built into the ideological façade of the state.”51 Cohen asserts “[t]he entire rhetoric of government responses to allegations about atrocities consists of denials.”52 Cultural denials reside in a middle-ground between officially organized denials and those denials wholly encompassed in the recesses of one’s mind: “Without being told what to [(not)] think about [and] without being punished for ‘knowing’ the wrong things, societies arrive at unwritten agreements about what can be publicly remembered and acknowledged.”53 Cohen posits that democratic societies are more likely to have people “pretend[ing] to believe information that they know is false or fak[ing] their allegiance to meaningless slogans and kitsch ceremonies.”54 Cohen, I would argue, engages in a personal denial of his own when drawing a distinction between ‘democratic’ and ‘totalitarian’ societies, a distinction he drew for the purposes of ascribing ‘official’ actions that go “beyond particular incidents. . .to an entire rewriting of history and a blocking-out of the present. . . [t]he state makes it impossible or dangerous to acknowledge the existence of past and present realities[,]” to ‘totalitarian’ societies only.55 The point is made best in the following statement: The twentieth century has recorded millions of brutal deaths as well as unprecedented efforts to eradicate or hide the scenes of mass murder. In recent times, Cambodia, Srebrenica in Bosnia, Sri Lanka, Chile, Guatemala, the killing grounds in Africa and the province of Kossovo are proof that the end of Soviet and Nazi dictatorships did not put a stop to massacres and concealments.56

49 Id. at 9-11. 50 See id. at 10. 51 Id. at 10. 52 Id. 53 COHEN, supra note 41, at 11. 54 Id. 55 Id. at 10. 56 ‘Katyn Aerial Photography’ at http://members.aol.com/katynphoto, at left col. of first section (last visited May 1, 2003).


The realms of denial can be analogized to the Aristotelean triangle of pathos/logos/ethos, with the addition of a fourth element: action.57 Aristotle’s conception of the polis also comes into play in this discussion because the Internet holds the possibility of enabling a return to more direct forms of representation. Blending the two concepts of polis and praxis is what I argue is possible via Internet activism. Democracy alone is not sufficient. Even if one focuses narrowly on ‘constitutional democracies’ as a stabilizing force in the International World Order,58 the fact that a State is a constitutional democracy does not guarantee that such a State will be insulated from suffering violations of its sovereignty— violations committed by other constitutional democracies no less!59 IV. IRAQ: THE ONGOING DILEMMA

Daniel Moellendorf contextualizes both the effects of the economic embargo against Iraq during the 1990’s, as well as the corresponding debate over weapons of mass destruction (WMD): This embargo, which has slowed or stopped delivery of basic medical supplies, has, as of 1999, raised the infant mortality rate from 3.7 percent before the war to 12 percent, and causes the deaths of some 40,000 children under 5 and some 50,000 older people each year. Compare these figures with all previous deaths from weapons of mass destruction: The atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined killed 100,000 people, and no more than 80,000 people died from chemical weapons in World War I. This justifies a startling conclusion about the embargo against Iraq: If the U.N. estimates of the human damage in Iraq are even roughly correct, therefore, it would appear that–in a so far futile effort to remove Saddam from power and a somewhat more successful effort to constrain him militarily–economic sanctions may well have been a necessary cause of the deaths of more people in Iraq than have been slain by all socalled weapons of mass destruction throughout history.60

Moellendorf’s citing of the Muellers’ radical recontextualization of the WMD debate highlights another inherent problem of any Truth (and Reconciliation) Process, virtual or not: unanticipated/unexpected/unacknowledged consequences. Also revealed is the concomitant problem of how to interpret said consequences once they have been brought to the forefront of consciousness.

57 See, e.g., COHEN, supra note 41, at 9 (“Denial, then includes cognition (not acknowledging the facts); emotion (not feeling, not being disturbed); morality (not recognizing wrongness or responsibility) and action (not taking active steps in response to knowledge). 58 See e.g., DANIEL MOELLENDORF, COSMOPOLITAN JUSTICE 174 (Westview Press 2002), claiming: “[t]here is some reason to believe that constitutional democracies are less prone to go to war with one another than are other types of regimes.” (citing Michael Doyle, “Kant Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs, Part 1,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 12:3 (summer 1983): 203-265.). 59 See MOELLENDORF, supra note 58, at 174 (using the example of U.S. covert operations against democratically elected governments in Chile, Guatemala, Iran, and Nicaragua). Michael Moore’s recent movie BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, explored the legacy of U.S. covert operations in his examination of the American fascination with guns and weapons, and won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Documentary. 60 MOELLENDORF, supra note 58, at 126 (Citing John Mueller & Karl Mueller, “Sanctions of Mass Destruction,” Foreign Affairs 78:3 (May/June 1999) at 49 and 51.).


Several websites exist that could be nominated as constituent components of a Virtual Truth Process as to the relationship between the United States and Iraq. My strong contention is that the ongoing, ever-unfolding discussion and debate over U.S. policies vis-à-vis Iraq substantiates the theory that the Internet can serve as a viable Truth Process. It is happening, as shown by the following sites to be discussed below: (1) Human Rights Watch; (2) The Washington Post’s “Fog of War”; (3) United States Institute of Peace; (4) Where is Raed?; (5) Warblogging.com; (6) Mark Fiore Film “Why go to War?”; (7) International A.N.S.W.E.R; (8) The National Security Archive. The Human Rights Watch (HRW) website contains a page that is focused on current and potential U.S. human rights abuses.61 This site quite literally practices the ‘daily’ truth process formulation that I tout as the ultimate utopian possibility of the Virtual Truth Process. Two headlines on the HRW-U.S. site merit inclusion because they deal directly with instances in which the U.S. in hindering truth-processes. One issue HRW discusses is the preservation of mass grave sites. HRW reports, “In the past weeks there have been many reports of families attempting to unearth the remains of their relatives in recently discovered gravesites throughout Iraq.”62 HRW wants the coalition forces to “secure” the sites, “Mass graves are often crime scenes, and . . . as the occupying power in Iraq, [they] have a duty to secure the evidence that can bring the perpetrators of such atrocities to justice.”63 Even in the virtual realm, then, we are confronted with trade-offs between both truth and justice, and short-term and longterm needs. HRW, in this case though, is potentially an ‘outsider’ attempting to force its view of the ‘correct’ way to effect truth, justice, and ultimately that nebulous category know as ‘human rights’. I would distinguish this instance as more of a self-intentional PR-piece rather than a device that is in and of itself geared towards a Virtual Truth Process. The other HRW websites-at-issue deal with cluster munitions.64 Out-in-front is the truth-telling portion of the storyline: “U.S. claims that cluster munitions have not caused significant damage to civilians
61 http://www.hrw.org/us/index.php (last visited May 1, 2003). 62 Human Rights Watch, Iraq: Protect and preserve mass grave sites, Apr. 30, 2003 (Human Rights News), at ¶ 2 (Mass grave sites hereinafter). 63 Id. at ¶ 5 (quoting HRW general counsel Dinah PoKempner). 64 See HRW, U.S. Misleading on Cluster Munitions, Apr. 25, 2003 (Human Rights News), available at http://http://www.hrw.org/press/2003/04/us042503.htm; HRW, Iraq: Clusters Info Needed from U.S., U.K.: Ground-Launched Cluster


in Iraq are highly misleading since the Pentagon is evidently citing only figures on air-dropped cluster bombs[.]”65 The HRW claim thus provides more context to the press conference statement of General Richard B. Myers that coalition forces dropped (only) “nearly 1,500 cluster bombs of varying types” and that there was only “one recorded case of collateral damage”.66 HRW continues further in another story, “An unnamed U.S. defense official told a [Los Angeles Times] reporter that the U.S. does not keep track of ground launched cluster munitions.”67 Notwithstanding the HRW use of an Los Angeles Times report, the ‘mass media’, as discussed below, often obfuscates, obliterates, or obstinately refuses to ‘report’ certain facts, issues, and storylines. There are, however, some valuable resources provided by ‘mass media’ sources that arguably are squarely within the model of VTP. For example, the Washington Post has a detailed website focused on the 1991 airstrikes surrounding the ‘first’ U.S.-Iraq Persian Gulf conflict eloquently titled “The Fog of War”. 68 From the ‘Fog of War’ frontpage, there is a link to ‘Resources’.69 Another link is entitled ‘Collateral Damage’.70 The Collateral Damage site lists over 50 instances between January 17 through February 19, 1991 where “smart bombs . . . damaged civilian and non-military targets.”71 The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) also maintains a webpage exclusively devoted to Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRC), the ‘Truth Commissions Digital Collection’.72 My thesis for a Virtual Truth Process argues for an extension of the USIP TRC site’s concept. Quite obviously, a ‘clearing’ site facilitates research on TRCs, as well as providing a forum for a dialogic investigation from the perspective of those who have not been involved in a TRC process. This also helps ‘traditional’ TRCs determine what has worked and what has not.73
Munitions Endangering Civilians, Apr. 29, 2003 (Human Rights News), available at http://hrw.org/press/2003/04/us-uk042903.htm (Ground-Launched hereinafter). 65 See U.S. Misleading on Cluster Munitions, supra note 64, at ¶ 1 (discussing the omission of the ground-based Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). 66 See id. at ¶ 2 (quoting U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Staff General Richard B. Myers and discussing ‘eyewitness’ accounts, reported by media outlets in which children and U.S. troops have been killed and injured). 67 See Ground-Launched, supra note 64, at ¶ 7. 68 At http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/fogofwar/fogofwar.htm 69 ‘Pieces of the Puzzle’ at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/fogofwar/resources.htm 70 At http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/longterm/fogofwar/index/cdamage.htm 71 Id. 72 ‘Truth Commissions Digital Collection: Library and Links: Jeannette Rankin Library Program: U.S. Institute of Peace’ at http://www.usip.org/library/truth.html (last visited May 1, 2003). 73 I grant that there is an assumption made that retrospective analysis is a ‘commodity’ that is capable of being ‘consumed’, i.e. the ‘knowledge’ would likely have to be consumed by experts who ‘take’ the knowledge with them to the next TRC.


In terms of dialogic process as a hallmark of a Virtual Truth Process model, the relatively new phenomenon of ‘blogs’, or web journals, is apropos. Two blog sites are: (1) ‘Where is Raed?’ (Dear Raed hereinafter);74 and (2) ‘Warblogging.com’ (Warblogging hereinafter).75 The Dear Raed site is the blog of an Iraqi man who uses the pseudonym of Salam Pax. Like the stories of the women of Katyn, his journal describes the chaotic patterns of everday life in a time of war. His site also contains political commentary and truth-claims, as evidenced by the two entries below: Thursday, March 20th, 2003 4:28 PM: I watched al sahaf on al-jazeera. he said that the US has bombed the Iraqi sattelite channel, but while he was saying that the ISC was broadcasting and if it really did hit the ISC headquarters it would have been right in the middle of baghdad. what was probably hit were transmiters or something. all TV stations are still working.76 Sunday, March 16, 2003 1:37 AM: What is bringing on this rant is the question that has been bugging for days now: how could “support democracy in Iraq” become to mean “bomb the hell out of Iraq”? why did it end up that democracy won’t happen unless we go thru war? Nobody minded an un-democratic Iraq for a very long time, now people have decided to bomb us to democracy? Well, thank you! how thoughtful.77

Is Pax a hoax and just a disinformation campaign? Ubiquitous technology writer Paul Boutin’s answer is that Pax is “probably” for real.78 Others have concluded ‘yes’ based on the credibility of the journal entries. The BBC notes, “the blog . . . has regularly contradicted Western news reports about the situation in Baghdad and always been shown to be right.”79 Pax’s site is a great example of a Virtual Truth Process because his entries often contradict ‘official’ storylines. Warblogging demonstrates a truth-process in various ways. First, it has—in echoes of the Nightline day-count during the Iranian hostage crisis of 1980—a sidebar entitled ‘Dead or Alive Count’, which is the number of days since the President proclaimed that Osama bin Laden would be caught “dead or alive”. Second, it has a link entitled “War Stories”,80 which it advertises as a link to “hundreds
If the use of non-experts is desired, it may well be that TRC members would not be able to consume the information if they had not done so already. TRCs often address crises while being themselves somewhat in ‘crisis mode’ where ad hocery is the order of the day. 74 Where is Raed?, at http://www.dearraed.blogspot.com/ (last visited May 1, 2003). 75 Warblogging.com at http://www.warblogging.com/ (last visited May 1, 2003). 76 Where is Raed?, supra note 74 (time organization altered and emphasis added) (last visited May 1, 2003). 77 Id. 78 Paul Boutin, Q: Is the Baghdad Blogger for real?, at http://paulboutin.weblogger.com/2003/03/20 (last visited May 1, 2003). 79 BBC News (UK Edn.): Technology, Life in Baghdad via the web, (last updated Mar. 25, 2003) at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/2881491.stm (last visited May 1, 2003). 80 http://www.warblogging.com/warfarking.


of articles about the war and civil liberties on the Web, brought to you by Warblogging.”81 Third, it is a forum for educational truth-telling, such as its analysis of The Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 (DSEA).82 Fourth, it contains a coherent structure via a ‘Comments’ link to its postings, allowing for particularized topics to be debated and arguments regarding issues within those topics to be honed.83 Fifth, it is representative of one of the functions of a Virtual Truth Process: serving as a check on both State actors and the mass media, whose putative role it is to be the ‘check’ in the first instance.84 Thus, warblogging exhorts citizens to action regarding the DSEA, asking them to write congressional leaders and media outlets, “[D]emand prime time and front page coverage of DSEA. Tell them that you want analysis of how this law effects civil liberties in this country. Tell them that you’re an American, that you want to be free.”85 Sixth, and importantly, the site incorporates the use of humor. The staid nature of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions limits the emotional responses that could engender catharsis. Warblogging has created an “Index of Evil” that in turn mocks all Indexes while truly highlighting the relative degree of discourse that focuses on particular individuals.86 Humor, and the use of sound, is also featured in Mark Fiore’s web film, “Why we Must Invade Iraq Right Now!”,87 which contains alternating pages of cartoons which depict faux possible justifications for the war, followed by black screens with white type apologizing for the mistaken justification: Frame #1: presenting [title page] Frame #2: Because Iraq is developing Biological Weapons of Mass Destruction! Frame #3: Whoops, the preceding footage was actually taken in Iran. We apologize for the error. Frame #4: Because Iraq sentenced pro-american democracy advocate, Saad Ibrahim, to seven years hard labor. Frame #5: Whoops, the preceding actually took place in Egypt. We regret the error. Frame #6: Because Iraq has secretly developed nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Frame #7: Whoops! Again, our apologies. That particular footage was taken in Israel. Frame #8: Because Iraq contains terrorist training camps!
81 See, e.g., http://www.warblogging.com/archives/000477.php. 82 See id. 83 See, e.g., Iraqis: “Sooner of Later, US Killers, We’ll Kick You Out”, at http://www.warblogging.com/archives/000633.php (discussing a reconstruction-team warning to the Iraqi Oil Ministry leaders to “not make any changes in their hierarchy without the approval of the allied forces in control of the country”; questioning why the Oil Ministry was guarded and museums were not; containing a picture of children giving a ‘thumbs down’ to approaching tanks; discussing at length skirmishes between soldiers and Iraqi citizens) (last visited May 1, 2003). 84 See, e.g., How Many Iraqis Celebrated?, http://www.warblogging.com/archives/000620.php (suggesting that the photo of Iraqi celebration around the toppling of Hussein’s statute published in London’s Evening Standard was altered to make it appear as though more people were there than actually were) (last visited May 1, 2003). 85 See id. 86 See The Index of Evil, at http://www.warblogging.com/ioe (last visited May 1, 2003). 87 http://www.markfiore.com/animation/corrections.swf (last visited May 1, 2003).


Frame #9: Whoops! Actually, that footage was from Pakistan, not Iraq. We apologize for any confusion! Frame #10: Because Iraq sends money to support the families of suicide bombers! Frame #11: Whoops! Shoot, so sorry. The preceding was footage from Saudi Arabia. Again, we regret the error. Frame #12 [the following justifications appear one at a time below the script of the title credit]: Just because. For a variety of reasons. Axis of evil, remember? There might be nukes n’stuff. Because he’s a bad man. Just because, OK? [a barrage of justifications whirls by on the screen] Frame #13: Credit

In addition to stimulating multiple sensory inputs via visual cartoons and a cacophony of sounds including a drum war cadence, the movie uses humor to gently tweak the notion that various rationales have been offered for the war in Iraq. All of the rationales, given the ersatz-targeted evil’s existence in other States, do not dispose of the question, ‘Why “must” we invade right now?’, a point cleverly conveyed in the movie, which also serves to demonstrate the point that Virtual Truth Process is already happening! Compared to the government filmreels of yesteryear that promoted the war effort by having a newsreel run before the feature movie, I venture to say that there are not such ‘captive audiences’ today, counterprogramming, such as anti-war filmreels, can occur on the web and find a large audience. The International A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) (ANSWER hereinafter) web site shows how the Virtual Truth Process, like a non-virtual one, is always in a state of flux.88 While it is now clear that ANSWER—and other groups effecting a Virtual Truth Process—didn’t stop the war on Iraq, the goals of Truth (and Reconciliation?) are still attainable. In fact, they are advertising what one could view as a mini-truth and reconciliation commission, a national conference in May in New York City against war, colonial occupation and imperialism.89 The National Security Archive (NSA)90 is an example of the model I propose. The NSA is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that has developed expertise in handling Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The NSA serves as a catalyst in that governmental responses to FOIA requests typically take anywhere from eight months to eight years.91 The relevance of the NSA to my theory of Virtual Truth Process (VTP) is best stated by the NSA itself:

88 See http://www.internationalanswer.org (last visited May 1, 2003). 89 Id. 90 The ‘National Security Archive ’ website is available at http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv . 91 See HAYNER, supra note 1, at 241.


Since its inception in 1985, the goal of the National Security Archive has been to document recent U.S. policy and enrich research and public debate on the often hidden process of national security decision making. Scholars, journalists, present and former officials and many others have long recognized the need for a systematic approach to obtaining and providing access to declassified national security documentation. Through its collection, analysis and publication of previously classified government documents, the Archive is able to reconstruct U.S. policy making on a variety of foreign, defense and intelligence issues and capture how government decisions are made -- with important implications for ongoing policy.92

While I ultimately propose VTP as an alternative model, the TRC and VTP models can—and already do— successfully co-exist as corroborated by the use of the NSA by TRCs. Both the Guatemalan and Salvadoran Truth Commissions turned to the NSA for assistance in obtaining and processing “thousands” of documents.93 However, as discussed below, one of the weaknesses of the TRC model is its limited timeframe for action, and even with NSA assistance in expediting FOIA documents’ processing, there are undoubtedly instances in which the timeframe falls under the category of ‘too little (information) too late’. The NSA example further muddies the waters because even with delays, backlogs, and the omnipresent potential of limiting what is FOIA-qualified material, the FOIA is representative of a governmental process that is relatively transparent. So the irony of the potential U.S. benefit of a Virtual Truth Process notwithstanding occasional feints (and realities) of transparency. How, then, are truths disseminated and received? V. OPEN QUESTIONS ON SENDING«»RECEIVING TRUTH(S) WITHIN A GLOBAL

ARCHITECTURE By way of transition, the words of Farhang Rajaee are apt: In a society free of hegemony and domination, diversity of opinion and versatility are natural. Here lies the important distinction between two objectives of public life: one is jahangiri, best translated as “conquest” or “empire”; and the other is jahandari, or “statecraft, administration, and civilization.” . . . Jahandari and jahangiri are related, because a civilization needs jahangiri to establish its core state, define its own world, and make its presence known, but if it remains in that mode, it is bound to fail.94

Is the Internet an architecture that seeks, demands, or otherwise facilitates conquest? Or, is the Internet, as I claim, a mode of communication that via its architecture inherently facilitates any dialogues (global)

92 NSA, Internships on U.S. Foreign Policy, at http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nsa/archive/intern.html (last visited May 1, 2003). 93 See HAYNER, supra note 1, at 241-43. 94 RAJAEE, supra note 24, at 90.


civil society chooses to undertake? It is quite possible the two questions posed represent poles of a false dichotomy. It is my aim in this section to consider the possibility that the answer to the first question posed approaches an affirmative response to a degree that is more than which some might care to acknowledge. While the possibility of denial must always be acknowledged, a main lens of analysis in evaluating the effectiveness of alternative Truth Processes is the ability of said mechanism to effect the commission of truth. Put bluntly: ‘How good is the device at disseminating truth claims?’ Truth dissemination is closely related to the idea of transparency.95 And transparency is inversely related to friction-generating blockages to dissemination of information. Often those who are ‘committed’ to truth commissions can be labeled ‘activists’. Activism ontologically demonstrates that the interplay between state & society is active. For example, ‘43’ (U.S. President George W. Bush) can say—with a straight face—in answering American journalists’ questions regarding the planned war against Iraq—“The Debate is Over!”; activists, by actively participating in a dialectic process of truth-honing, effectively reply “The Debate is Never Over!”. To use Cohen’s model, “[t]he mutual dependency between official and cultural denial is most visible in the mass media coverage of atrocities and social suffering.”96 In an effort to avoid denial as to my thesis, some salient questions are raised below; I do not pretend to answer them. ALTERNATIVE MEDIA Structural? Is the WorldWideWeb (WWW) a portal of truth? Or, more conservatively, is it at least an alternative media channel? Inasmuch as the Web is not ‘owned’ by a multi-national media conglomerate, it can be argued that the Web is ipso facto an alternative to traditional media sources (e.g., ‘state-owned’ media; conglomerate-owned media). Even in the United States, where State ‘ownership’ of the media would be anathema, it has been argued that the media is still narrowly circumscribed in terms of the content it ‘presents’ to a consuming public, even though it is not restricted by the strictures of nominal State ownership. It has not been a matter of dispute—for some
95 As an aside, ‘transparency’ could be the catch-all rubric for criticisms of the U.S. Department of Justice in its role in the putative ‘War on Terrorism’. For a lucid article covering several points as to transparency and the privatization (read: ‘outsourcing’, ‘independent contractors’) of the American military, see generally Dan Baum, Nation Builders for Hire, N.Y. TIMES, June 22, 2003 available at http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/22/magazine/22BROWN.html?8ym (“From the public's point of view, the increasing use of contractors makes it harder to know what the military is really doing. The Pentagon has lots of maddening rules that citizens have to follow if they want information, but while the Pentagon has secrets, it also fundamentally recognizes that it is a public institution. Not so the contractors, whose first allegiance is to their shareholders and who have little incentive to share information about how they operate.”). 96 COHEN, supra note 41, at 11.


time now—that ‘control’ and ‘concentration’ of the American media, has increasingly been funneled into few(er) hands. The concentration of ownership has effected the concentration (read: narrowing) of the range of viewpoints, and the type of subject matter presented. Homogenization within the media has a spillover effect into the State-Societal relationship: “A State’s identity is made visible through its cultural expression, who control [the?] means of dissemination has substantial control over a state’s identity in the world.”97 As Marshall McLuhan famously quipped, “The medium is the message.” ALTERNATIVE MEDIA Substantive? If WWW is an ‘alternative’ source in a structural sense, it is equally true that it represents an alternative in a substantive sense, too. In other words, I think it fair to say that the ‘mass’ media in the United States, like any component of civil society, may be able to see only what it wants to see.98 It is extremely ambiguous, though, to what degree such ‘limited’ vision is ‘intentional’. The ‘presence’ of the WWW enables other possible stories and theories to emerge. For example, no ‘respectable’ traditional news outlet would, for example, regularly ‘air’ the viewpoints of ‘conspiracy theorists’. However, unpopular viewpoints are in theory ‘democratized’ as anyone can contribute their part of the truth-story to the WWW. Of course, one may reply that the WWW is thus a bastion of crap, devoid of critical substance. It can not be disputed that the WWW, like any other media source, is a potential source of misinformation (i.e., objectively untrue information). It is similarly beyond reproach, however, that the occasional truth (especially the ‘truths’ of the type which Truth and Reconciliation Commissions seek to bring to the fore) is branded as falsity in the hope of repressing its dissemination.99 By way of example, what if Rufina (the sole survivor of the El Mozote Massacre) had had access to the
97 JERRY EVERARD, VIRTUAL STATES: THE INTERNET AND THE BOUNDARIES OF THE NATION-STATE (Routledge 2000). 98 See, as empirical—albeit anecdotal—support for this point, LAWRENCE W ESCHLER, A MIRACLE, A UNIVERSE: SETTLING ACCOUNTS WITH TORTURERS, postscript 282-83 n.1 (Univ. of Chicago Press 1998) (1990), in which Weschler compares the amount of U.S. media coverage from November 6, 1989 to January 1, 1990 of “the first free presidential elections in Chile and Brazil in sixteen and twenty-five years respectively (that is, since US-inspired military coups had overthrown those countries’ previously elected governments)” with the amount of media coverage of the contemporaneous “astonishing transformations” in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Weschler tallies Newsweek’s coverage of the events in Eastern Europe as totaling ninety pages, while the coverage of the events in Latin American did not even amount to a single page. Weschler found “similar proportions” in other major media outlets as well as “all three principal American television networks.” (For more detailed information, as cited by Weschler, at 283 n.1, see Lawrence Weschler, Columbia Journalism Review “Choosing Democracy: The Half-Told Story of the Year.” March-April 1990.) I suggest that such disparity arises only by selection, and I further suggest that the selection was filtered through cohabiting lenses of victory-in-the-Cold-War and Cohenian ‘cultural’ denial of the United States’ contributory role in the time lapse of free elections in Chile and Brazil via its support of the Latin American coups. Critics such as Chomsky, Foucault, and Gramsci have expounded on this theme at some length (e.g., Foucault’s ‘discursive police’ and Chomsky’s numerous works on the media, including his seminal text MANUFACTURING CONSENT (Pantheon 1988)). 99 Such acts would be both official and literal denial in Cohen’s model. (As to conspiracy theorists, the old adage comes to mind: “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.”)


WWW to tell her story? While the notion of running to a terminal to ‘type one’s truth’ is frankly farcical in the context of a battalion beheading and bayonetting your loved ones, the tantalizing fact remains: even if Mark Danner, the reporter who had ‘discovered’ the El Mozote tragedy, had been pulled out of Central America by the NY Times before he had reported on the El Mozote story, in theory Rufina would not be dependent upon an ‘outsider’ researching, believing, and reporting her ‘truth’, but rather could’ve ‘posted’ her own story by self-reporting to a website.100 The ‘structural’ and ‘substantive’ categories outlined above could have their analog in the ideas of both greater ‘access’ and greater ‘influence’.101 Information Overload? Of course, even if one grants that a computer terminal is available and usable during a time of need, one still runs into the paradox of information overload. Too much information, too little time. The Web, it is said, annihilates truth. The fact that anything can be posted to a website (and—GASP!—believed!) by anyone so able and willing, is viewed by some not as a harbinger of the reality of the grand unified (democratic) theory, but rather as an asteroidal force of chaos—and ultimately—anarchy. Time available to seek, ruminate, filter, and digest information is a constant. The sheer amount of ‘data’ that is available for sifting has exploded. Although available processing time may not be shrinking, it is certainly not expanding, and thus we are left with less time per (potential) unit of information to weigh truth-claims. Scoring the Competition? The result of the information overload is that much of the potential ‘data’ resides in an informational purgatory—it is not hidden in a Platonic cave, but it certainly has not seen the light of day. Thus, the vast majority of websites are rarely, if ever, viewed while a slim few get most of the traffic. For this reason, there is intense competition to get one’s page ‘listed’ with a ‘high score’ so that it will more likely surface at a location more towards the top of the list generated for a particular individual’s search engine request.102 The Search Engine Score Model assumes that one is
100 The article referenced is Mark Danner, The Truth of El Mozote, THE NEW YORKER, Dec. 6, 1993 available at http://www.markdanner.com/newyorker/120693_The_Massacre8.htm. 101 See also Dana Ott & Melissa Rosser, The Electronic Republic? The Role of the Internet in Promoting Democracy in Africa, in THE INTERNET, DEMOCRACY AND DEMOCRATIZATION 139 (Peter Ferdinand ed., Frank Cass Publishers 2000) (discussing Lawrence Grossman’s ‘Electronic Republic’ (LAWRENCE K. GROSSMAN, THE ELECTRONIC REPUBLIC: RESHAPING DEMOCRACY IN THE INFORMATION AGE 6 (Penguin 1996)). 102 See, e.g., Search Engine Optimization, at http://www.seo-internet-marketing.com/search-engines/search-engineoptimization.htm (last visited May 1, 2003). The site discusses various strategies for ‘Search Engine Optimization’ gleaned from communication with Google engineers and notes (at ‘How to Cheat Honestly’, ¶ 2), “Links from popular sites can count more than


submitting one’s webpage into a grand hopper of webpages differentiated only by the virtue of what a particular searcher enters as search terms (i.e., untargeted audiences). This is rarely the case. Availability and Equality of Access? Now we may assume that information overload is somehow not a problem because the message has been funneled into a highly visible and/or routinely accessible website (i.e., the information is accessible), the question remains—will a particular individual have access to the use of the Internet in order to obtain the message that is theoretically accessible? To explore this point, we will take a brief journey to Asia and Africa. Asia: Jerry Everard discusses briefly the issue of the Internet as a bone of political contention. Specifically, the Internet was raised as a political issue at a 1997 conference on ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations)/Europe issues.103 Members of ASEAN wanted two things: (1) a greater presence of their own material; and (2) a greater presence of material in their own languages.104 Such acts would be, in the lights of ASEAN members, a force “to counter. . . a growing domination of AngloAmerican culture that spoke for them and described their countries only through culturally western eyes.” 105 Oftentimes, another methodology of ‘controling’ the content of the Internet is governmental regulation. Everard cites Vietnam and China as two ASEAN members that have effected the regulatory option.106 Africa: Dana Ott and Melissa Rosser have explored the role of the Internet in promoting democracy in Africa.107 Several salient points emerge from Ott & Rosser’s survey: first, “active use” of the Internet requires literacy, a problem when parts of Africa have illiteracy rates as high as 80 percent; 108 second, the rate of connectivity in Africa is rapidly increasing;109 third, current infrastructure (i.e.,
they should, or not enough if the link comes from an obscure page.” Further, the import of the ranking is made abundantly clear (at ‘META NAME=“Keywords”’, ¶ 5,) by citing Zipf’s Law: “. . . which predicts that traffic for any particular keyword on a search engine will be proportional to its popularity rank. That is, the number of queries (and hence potential clickthroughs to your site) for the most popular keyword will be ten times greater than that for the tenth most popular term. And traffic to term #10 will be 1,000 times higher than traffic to term number 10,000.” While it is acknowledged that the search engine logs do not exactly mirror Zip’fs predicted curve, and that there is variability, the import is still critical. 103 See EVERARD, supra note 97, at 20. 104 Id. 105 Id. 106 See id. (“Vietnam and China took tentative steps onto the Internet, imposing heavy regulation on the few trial nodes installed by their governments.”). 107 Ott & Rosser, supra note 101, at 137-155 108 Id. at 143 (citing UNESCO/USAID ‘Global Education Database’ 1999, available at http://cdie.usaid.gov/esds). 109 See Ott & Rosser, supra note 101, at 143, writing at the fin de siècle, they discuss three points: (1) “[T]oday 51 of the 54 nations in Africa have some form of Internet access in their capital cities [the Internet having “barely existed in Africa even five


telephone lines) is lacking, a problem that may become easier to overcome given the shift to new technologies (e.g., satellite, cellular, radio);110 fourth, numerous initiatives conducted by a variety of actors seek to increase African capacity for the Internet;111 fifth, a measurable—and growing—link exists in Africa between political/economic freedom and Internet access;112 sixth, given that the lingua franca of the ‘Net is English, African peoples who speak French, Portugese, and non-European languages face an additional challenge to full participation;113 seventh, there is ambiguity as to whether the purported need for Internet access is indeed representative of internal political desires at all levels of society;114 and eighth, Internet access in Africa is still divided on rural/urban lines, access accrues to urban élites.115 A smattering of turn-of-the-century statistics buttress the conclusion of asymmetrical access. In 1997, an estimated 84 percent of mobile telephone subscribers, 91 percent of all facsimile machines, and 97 percent of all Internet host computers were in developed countries.116 Data from around 1998-2000 shows the following in regard to ‘Internet users’ (IU): (1) industrialized countries, with about 15 percent of

years ago”].”; (2) “Over the past six months, the number of computers in Africa that is [sic] permanently connected to the Internet has grown at twice the average world rate.”; and (3) (quoting Mike Jensen, ‘African Internet Status’, July 1999, p.1, available at http://www3.sn.apc.org/africa/afstat.htm) “Nevertheless Internet access in Africa has been largely confined to the capital cities, although a growing number of countries (currently Angola, Benin, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe) do have points of presence (POP) in some of the secondary towns, and South Africa has POPs in about 70 locations.” 110 See Ott & Rosser, supra note 101, at 144, discussing the fact that “Africa has the lowest density of telephone lines per inhabitant in the world. Large urban areas in Africa have on average 1.6 telephone lines for every 100 inhabitants, compared with an average teledensity of 45 in Europe. In rural areas, the teledensity rate drops as low as one per every 1,000 inhabitants.” (second sentence is cited to O’Coeur de Roy, The African Challenge: Internet, Networking, and Connectivity, in INTERNET ACTIVITIES IN A DEVELOPING ENVIRONMENT, No. 5 (1997), p. 883. 111 See Ott & Rosser, supra note 101, at 145-47, discussing, for example: 14 national telecoms partnering with MCI Worldcom for construction of a coastal marine fiber optic cable; initiatives by regional cooperative agreements such as COMESA (Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) and EAC (East African Co-operation); a plan to launch a satellite by RASCOM (a pan-African satellite consortium); USAID’s Leland Initiative (5-year, $15 million project active in 22 African countries providing training to over 1,200 USAID grantees); hooking up schools (The GLOBE Program and the Education for Development and Democracy Initiative (EDDI), EDDI funds will hook up 100 African universities, 1,000 primary/secondary schools, and 100 pilot community information centers); distance education courses for Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone countries (via the InfoDev fund, primarily funded by the World Bank); numerous U.N. organizational projects; and finally, “[t]he list of projects funded by other bilateral donor organizations, multilateral development organizations and foundations is much more expansive that [sic] can be presented here.” (Acknowledging and directing readers to Mike Jenson ‘A Summary of International ICT Development Projects in Africa’ 1998 available at http://www3.wn.apc.org/africa/projects.htm). 112 See Ott & Rosser, supra note 101, at 148-52. Of course, Ott & Rosser remind us, at 152, that correlation does not equal causation, “Some would argue, in fact, that the causal arrow might point in the other direction [political/economic freedom as promoting the Internet].” 113 Id. at 143. 114 See, e.g., id. at 144, “politicians often perceive telecommunications as a trivial public utility; sometimes as a utility for ‘high officials’.” (quoting Lishan Aden, ‘Electronic Communications Technology and Development in Africa’, 1995, available at http://www.sas.upenn.edu/African_Studies/ASA/lish.html, p.5). 115 See Ott & Rosser, supra note 101, at 153-54, “At this time, access remains limited in many African countries to urban elites who gain access either through universities or [NGOs]” (at 153); “Despite the flurry of donor activity, telecommunication projects aimed at rural communities still account for a small percentage of overall networking activity. Approximately 95 per cent of internationally funded projects benefit urban areas.” (at 154, citing Mike Jenson and Don Richardson, ‘Wireless Weaves to Lessen the Gaps in Rural Telecommunication Coverage in Africa’, in UNESCO, The First Mile: Advancing Telecommunications for Rural Development through a Participatory Communication Approach (Rome: U.N. FAO 1998). 116 DAN SCHILLER, DIGITAL CAPITALISM: NETWORKING THE GLOBAL MARKET SYSTEM 53 (The MIT Press 2000 paperback edn.).


the planet’s population, accounted for 88 percent of IU; (2) only 2.4 percent of the world’s population had access to the Internet; (3) 30 percent of IU worldwide had a university degree (55 percent in Russia, 67 percent in Mexico, and 90 percent in China); (4) in Latin America, 90 percent of IU came from upper income groups; and (5) 7 percent of IU in China were women; (6)in the United States, households with income of at least $75,000 were 20 times more likely to have Internet access than those at the lowest level of income.117 Polar forces of homogenization and fragmentation? So then, even if one grants that a computer terminal is available and usable during a time of need, and that information overload is somehow not a problem because the message has been funneled into a highly visible and/or routinely accessed website, and assuming that a particular individual who desires to read such a posting resides in both a geopolitical locale and a social caste wherein such access is available, the problems still remain as to who will receive/read the message and what will that recipient do, if anything, once the message is received? This lens of analysis might be analogized to the philosophical cliché, “if the tree falls in a forest without anyone present, does it make a sound?”.118 The ‘value’ of the posting (remembering that a primary lens of evaluation is truth dissemination) would seem to be nil if there is not an action that results from said posting.119 Analogous to Cohen’s model of denial, the breakdown into suppositional segments of the potentiality of both transmitting and receiving a truth-fact about an atrocity can be described as a ‘factual’ ‘stage’ of the process (i.e., is the ‘truth-claim’ communicated?). What of the ‘interpretive’ process once the communication has been transacted? If such communications are being transmitted in the context of a citizen-constituent/political representative relationship, then the Internet provides both promise and a curse. The Internet will merely magnify the quintessential dilemma of representative democracy: how to represent the collective interest, even when such interest runs contrary to the will of the majority of the representative’s constituents? Ott
117 MANUEL CASTELLS, THE RISE OF THE NETWORK SOCIETY, 2d. edn., 377 (Blackwell Publishers 2000). 118 As to the Tree-Falling-Without-People koan-cliché, I seem to remember a recent N.Y. TIMES article about a retreat center in the hills of California where the wise words of one who had been reincarnated were invoked by a “regular” to a “visitor”, providing the answer to the koan: “Who Cares?”. Perhaps the analogy is weak . . . 119 . . . or perhaps the analogy in the previous footnote’s text referent was not so far off. Put differently, my professor reminded me that equating ‘value’ with ‘dissemination’ might be tantamount to promoting a “Western” perspective. (Or, at a minimum, his gentle question: “The ‘VTP’ benefits must first serve the immediate population(s) in need, right?” evokes a ‘selfserving’ (read: “subsidiarity”) construct versus the connotation of territorial acquisition).


& Rosser argue that with constituent’s increased access to lines of communication (i.e., “empower[ment]. . .to participate more directly”) comes a shift from representation to mere proxy-dom; they further argue that the effects of such empowerment are difficult to predict.120 Dissemination as Information Warfare? As if all of the above is not problematic enough, there is cause for further pause. Can the Internet serve as a ‘virtual’ portal of State action, thus furthering violence by states? After all, the WWW is a creation of the Department of Defense (whose minions also brought us the ultimate device for creation and justification of hierarchies—standardized testing). The possibility of the increase of “electronic struggles” (i.e., social and political conflicts on the Web) is subscribed to by Chroust, although he refutes the scenario of so-called “left-wing web terrorists” launching a cyber-war.121 Even if one views the information itself as non-combative, it can be further argued that the means of information dissemination hailed as a means of providing truth via virtual connectivity, can also be a means of disseminating information the purpose of which is not communication of truth-claims, but rather the dissemination of the tactics of war.122 Relationship? The truth is out there, the missing factor is relationship. With relationship comes knowledge, and thus less fear, and thus more trust. One way of interpreting the value of relationship is through the lens of face-to-face interaction. One potential consequence of viewing relationship as an interactive process, some of which is mundane happenstance, is to view claims of the import of technology cum political communication device as much-ado-about-nothing.123 One has even questioned the ‘decline’ of face-to-face interaction as indicative of the decline of American civil society.

120 See Ott & Rosser, supra note 101, at 140 (discussing the ambiguity of empowerment in an African context whereby “ethnic minority populations” might be “vulnerable to total political disenfranchisement under such a system. . . . Electronic access could also potentially erase disparities of distance and geography, minimizing the rural-urban distinction that has had significant political implications in Africa in the past.” I appreciate the ambiguity but wonder to what degree the Internet is responsible. Total political disenfranchisement is not an African phenomenon, one need only look to treatment of African-Americans in the United States within its dense traditions such as gerrymandering). Proxy-dom is the sense that the ‘representative’ democracy is obsolete inasmuch the democracy is now ‘direct’ via web feedback, yet inasmuch as the ‘representative’ structure still perpetuates, the state of affairs represents a proxy-type situation. 121 See Chroust, supra note 26, at 115 (refuting David Ronfeldt’s explications of the left-wing cyber-war for the RAND Corporation (citing John Arquilla and Ronfeldt, Advent of Netwar (Rand Corp. 1996); D. Ronfeldt and Ian O. Lesser (eds.), Countering the New Terrorism (Rand Corp. 1999))). 122 See e.g., EVERARD, supra note 97, at 20 (noting that VRML (Virtual Reality Markup Language) became available in October of 1995, but that “The military had been doing this since the early 1990s, using simulation technologies on high-speed dedicated lines. Using such technologies, military planners were able to rehearse some of their missions during the Gulf War. . . . In December 1995 soldiers sent to Bosnia on a UN mission could stay in touch with their families over Christmas through Operation Home Front, which connected soldiers in the field with their families via Internet.” 123 See e.g., Ott & Rosser, supra note 101, at 138 (quoting Richard R. Fagen POLITICS AND COMMUNICATION 3 (Little, Brown 1966).


124 Yet, one can surf Iraqi government’s website (assumes no tampering) or at least can undeniably ‘talk’ to a far flung state’s citizen for no immediate marginal (i.e., additional) cost. Furthermore, there are numerous testimonials to the impact of the Internet on state-societal relationships. Two examples: (1) In Liberia and Zambia, newspapers have published on-line in defiance of governmental bans;125 (2) Journalists in Nigeria have obtained information hidden from the public under military rule.126 Another aspect of viewing the notion of relationship is through the lens of the relationship between a person and a place. One typology that comes to mind is the importance of place as a memorial space. I hereby import one example of a ‘virtual’ memorial space: The Katyn Memorial Wall. 127 The Memorial Wall site contains two prominent features. First, as both the site’s sub-title (‘Never Forgotten, Never Forgiven’), and a main link on its title page (‘Face of a MURDERER’ (emphasis in original)) suggest, there is a definite sense that the South African Truth and Reconciliation model of forgiveness is not a goal of this particular process of virtual truth-telling. I actually see that as a strength, as the goal can be self-defined, rather than dictated by the political machinations of Truth Commission crystallization. I would, though, caveat my praise with the observations that forgiveness and reconciliation are higher moral ‘goods’, and that the phrase ‘never forgotten, never forgiven’ is a truism that has the potential of perpetuating a status of ‘victimhood’. Easy for me to say. Second, there are 24 links on the title page, simply marked by a letter of the alphabet. These links lead to 24 sites that each contain a long list of names in rather small font. The names represent ‘victims’ of the Katyn Massacre. Obvious parallels can be drawn between the Katyn Memorial Wall and the United States Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C., even if not absolutely congruent. Here I see the parallel purpose as

124 See Amitai Etzioni, Book Review: Community as We Know It, July 20, 2000 at http: speakout.com/activism/opinions/2865-1.html (reviewing ROBERT D. PUTNAM, BOWLING ALONE: THE COLLAPSE AND REVIVAL OF AMERICAN COMMUNITY, (Simon & Schuster 2000)) (“In the past year, several social scientists have argued that people who use the Internet, especially a cursed breed known as "heavy users," are glued to their screens and hence are missing out on social life. These lost souls are said to have less time than "normal" folks for their families, friends and communities. In contrast, other social scientists have noted that people keep in touch with their families and friends through e-mail, join thousands of clubs on Yahoo and e-Circles, and are notified about community events on screen. The debate Robert Putnam feeds into with his new book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community is along the same lines: Are we losing our social bonds, why does it matter, and what is to be done? . . . [discussing the book] The fewer our social bonds, the more likely we will suffer from depression, nervous breakdowns, ulcer or even heart attacks. We also will be more likely not to vote, not to trust our neighbors, to sue and so on[.]”) (last visited May 1, 2003). 125 Ott & Rosser, supra note 101, at 139. 126 Id. 127 Katyn 1940: Never Forgotten, Never Forgiven, at http://www.electronicmuseum.ca/WorldWarII/Katyn/Katyn.html (last visited May 1, 2003).


exposing both a drawback of the Virtual Truth (and Reconciliation) Process and a strength. The drawback lies in the adjective ‘Virtual’. The Vietnam Memorial has been noted for its aesthetic experience, its starkness—and most of all, for the tactile experience of touching the wall and rubbing a charcoal pencil over a victim’s name to create a memorial nameplate. The Katyn Memorial Wall is not nearly as moving of an experience, and you certainly can’t touch it nor can you lay flowers at the bottom of the wall—the experiential aspect is extremely limited and isolated. At the Vietnam Memorial, you ‘experience’ the wall with others who are similarly processing their experience; this in turn reinforces the ‘immensity’ of the tragedy. However, the virtual aspect does make for quick-and-easy access. I can write the names of all involved in the Katyn Massacre without the need to find the time and money to fly to Washington D.C.. Although I see affordable access as a potential benefit—albeit with its own set of costs, others might quibble and say the ‘effort’ to travel is part of the (spiritual? religious?) experience of the pilgrimage of memorialization. Even this process of memorialization, though, is less prone to be a glorification, as many memorials that are State-sponsored are.128 As compared to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, furthermore, there is a less transient acknowledgment of the dead. Continuing to acknowledge the dead is one aspect of acknowledging the existence of open questions as to individual and collective responsibility for state-sanctioned violence. As a final observation, the notions of person-to-person and person-to-place can be fused within a notion of ‘connection’. One author has commented on the modernity and identity and Internet use as a connective portal whereby “a mother in Trinidad could nag her daughter in New York on a daily basis about what she was wearing and how late she stayed out, demanding . . . frequent replies that make for a sense of everyday contact and therefore replicate a face-to-face family[,]” the author continues “Similar examples might include ways in which religious groups such as Hindus, Moslems, and Pentacostals could reconnect with the global dispersed cultures from which they had been sundered.”129

128 I’m thinking especially of statutes of fallen war heroes, or in the case of Iraq, fallen governmental leaders. 129 Don Slater, Modernity under Construction: Building the Internet in Trinidad, in MODERNITY AND TECHNOLOGY 139, 148149 (Thomas J. Misa et al. eds., The MIT Press 2003) (Slater also addresses the notion of “mundane” Internet uses).


Reconciliation? One final note, all through this paper, the letter ‘R’ (as in Reconciliation) has curiously been sidelined. If reconciliation is a ‘place’,130 it seems that the Internet, as a construct of nonspace in some senses, might be a poor host. As a final note of ambiguity, I offer the additional caution of prematurely hailing VTP without emphasizing the ‘V’ (virtual). Is there such a thing as ‘virtual reconciliation’ (VR), or is VR merely an oxymoron? Oxymorons are ambiguous yet in this instance I think the ambiguity, rather than adding richness and complexity, merely signals a potential cost. It has been said that the greatest gift we can give each other-as persons-is our presence. Ancient religions teach that one can literally be healed just by virtue of being in the presence of certain enlightened beings. Presence requires time, and the ‘virtual’ world seems hell-bent on compressing time.131 Ironically, the push for temporal ‘immediacy’ comes with an inverse relationship as to human ‘immediacy’.132 Yes, video monitors will enable one to capture subtle non-verbals; TR-type testimony can proceed all the same. But one cannot—via VTP—have a roomful of lookers-on give immediate feedback as to the events unfolding. One—even with electronic sensors—can not give a virtual ‘hugging’ of another human being without qualitatively voiding the act. Along with the alleged decline of civil society there seems to be a decline in human interaction and ‘quality’ time. Will we enter into a sci-fi realm where VTP and VR become a substitute for a reality based on human-to-human inter-active presences?133 Ambiguity? All technologies are ambiguous in their application.134 For example, aerial photography, in some senses, is the preeminent ‘spy’ technology and conjures up images of justifications

130 See JOHN PAUL LEDERACH, BUILDING PEACE: SUSTAINABLE RECONCILIATION IN DIVIDED SOCIETIES 30 fig.1 (United States Institute of Peace 1997). 131 I have recently come to the realization that I would name the compression of time as the newest nominee for the status of ‘Antichrist’, and inasmuch as ‘time is money’ such a revelation may just be a new spin on the old saw. 132 Manuel Castells, supra note 117, at 484-491, discusses the idea of “Instant Wars” and observes, at 491, “Potential nuclear, chemical, and bacteriological terrorism, in addition to indiscriminate massacres and hostage-taking, with the media as the focus of attention, are likely to become the expressions of warfare in advanced societies. Yet even these violent acts, susceptible to affecting everybody’s psyche, are experienced as discontinuous instants in the course of peaceful normality. This is in striking contrast to the pervasiveness of state-induced violence in much of the planet.” 133 I’m thinking here of David Cronenberg’s movie eXistenZ (Released in U.S. April 23, 1999; U.S. Distributor: Mirimax), in which “[a] renowned international virtual reality game designer [played by Jennifer Jason Leigh], creator of a new interactive game called eXistenZ, becomes the target of an assassination plot by a group of religious fanatics[,]” and some of the reviews regarding this movie, e.g., Robert Ebert, EXISTENZ, at ¶1, Digital Chicago, Inc. (Chicago Sun-Times) at http://www.suntimes.com/ebert/ebert_reviews/1999/04/042302.html (last visited April 02, 2003): “When you're hooked up, you can't tell the game from reality. Not even if you designed the game[;]” and eXistenZ, at ¶3, HARO, at http://www.haroonline.com/movies/existenz.html (last visited April 02, 2003): “The point of the game is unknown. You play the game, and as you progess, the story becomes more clear to you.” (Movie description quotation from “Muze Description” at http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_fullinfo.php/masterid=108704302/ut=8ce4c9b6400e3bed ). 134 I’m thinking here of Einstein and the bomb and the cliché ‘Guns don’t kill people, people do’. For an excellent philosophical discussion of the ambiguity of technology as both “problem solvers” and “problem makers”, as well as the “co-actor”


of war(-like) efforts by providing visual ‘proof’ of the targeted nemesis.135 The potential for Big Brothertype absolutist surveillance is undeniable. However, State use of such technology can be benign, or even beneficial. Polish-American historian Frank Fox has authored a book, God’s Eye: Aerial Photography and the Katyn Massacre.136 The book discusses the use of the preeminent spy technology—aerial surveillance and photography—to locate grave sites at Katyn.137 A blurb on the book sums up the notion of a Truth Process that is non-State directed: “God's Eye shows how in a struggle between the expediency of state power and moral principles, the dedication of one person can make a difference.”138 While this may go down the well-beaten postmodern path of dirt-kicking, the construct of truth process that Truth and Reconciliation Commissions seek seems—for lack of a better word—a bit hokey, and by free-association too linear/fixed/rigid/bureaucratized/four-cornered/top-down/humans as means rather than ends. I think the architecture of the Internet, where a ‘victim’ could move between roles/realms (for example) of informational gathering; informational posting; community advocacy formation; anonymous participant in a chatroom focusing on group therapy; contributor—in their words— of their story/their point of view on a particular question a ‘Commission’ seeks to answer; and commentator on what has come before. In other words, a rich ambiguity of roles allows for the potential of a more fully participatory process.139 I would argue that ICC, or indeed any educational curriculum employing virtual linkages is subject to the same questions raised above: structural ‘ownership’; content ‘ownership’ and selection of relevant information from an overabundance of possibilities; homogenization and fragmentation; impact of competing forces, limited resources and the passage of time; equity of access; and the creation of depth within relationship. VI. CONCLUSION

role of technology see Junichi Murata, Creativity of Technology: An Origin of Modernity?, in MODERNITY AND TECHNOLOGY, supra note 129, at 228-253. 135 Grenada, Bay of Pigs, Iraq, et al. 136 FRANK FOX, GOD’S EYE: AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE KATYN MASSACRE (West Chester Univ. Press 1999). 137 I wonder what technology, if any, was used to locate the mass grave sites in Iraq. 138 ‘Katyn Aerial Photography’ supra note 56. 139 I’m thinking here, of the prior reference to what ‘official’ TRC reports preemptively redact. A VTP can avoid the issue of ‘how to treat rape’; or more precisely, a VTP can’t avoid the issue: a discussion thread prominently labeled ‘RAPE’ ‘answers’ the question as ‘victims’ see fit.


While the Internet has often been hailed as a leveling mechanism which will contribute mightily to the ultimate realization of worldwide participatory democracy, its potential is far from being fully realized. 140 In fact, the Internet—in its current incarnation—arguably perpetuates a model of economic hierarchy. Access to the Internet is asymmetrical, and the likelihood of increased access is extremely low in states such as those whose infrastructure costs of creating Internet access would exceed its entire economic output. Even in states where Internet access already exists, there is a strong argument—whether viewed through lenses of race, class or gender—that the benefits of such access accrues to élites. However, as various authors have elucidated,141 technological means can be ‘leveraged’; narrow access may be less important than the ultimate broad-casting of the informational message. Use of the Internet seems to be an effective leveraging strategy when one is looking through the lens of antipodal timeframes: immediate dissemination of information and long-term archiving. Thus, the Internet as a truth and reconciliation mechanism is not a panacea, yet, it retains much promise for collective creation of a world where values such as truth, reconciliation and justice are practiced on a daily basis, rather than packaged—by fiat of the State—into a one-time short-term Commission predestined to commit errors of omission. ICC-style educational initiatives, as a particularized use of the Internet, seemingly represents an intermediate point between an archival repository and just-in-time-delivery of hyper(linked)-advocacy. In closing, I virtually return to land of my birth, a land which is esteemed in the American psyche as “rural”: the State of Iowa. Iowa Governor Thomas J. Vilsack discusses the use of the Internet and the Iowa Communications Network (ICN) as a distance learning tool enabling interactions for kids at “small rural schools” which would have heretofore been impossible, such as the Iowan students talking directly to scientists on the Galapagos Islands.142 While the ICN experience in Iowa is probably best classified as
140 See, for example, Haider A. Khan, Technology, Modernity, and Development, in MODERNITY AND TECHNOLOGY, supra note 129, at 327, 341-355, and his distinction between NIS (national innovation systems), which he deems “technocratic”, and POLIS (positive feedback loop innovation structure), in which the agency of “nonelite, ordinary people” is part of a technological system that “connects such technical progress as may occur to the normative issues of enhancing freedom in all spheres— economic, political, and cultural. . . . enhanc[ing] both economic productivity and social capabilities.” 141 See generally MARGARET E. KECK and KATHRYN SIKKINK, ACTIVISTS BEYOND BORDERS: ADVOCACY NETWORKS IN INTERNATIONAL POLITICS (Cornell Univ. Press 1998) (theoretical foundation of ‘leveraging’ with historical examples); ADVOCACY, ACTIVISM, AND THE INTERNET: COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION AND SOCIAL POLICY. (Steven F. Hick & John G. McNutt eds., Lyceum Books, Inc. 2002) (various practical examples). 142 Gov. Thomas J. Vilsack, Foreword to CONSERVATION IN THE INTERNET AGE, at xv (James N. Levitt, ed., Island Press 2002) (The Governor notes that many of the small rural schools could not “afford the cost of an environmental studies program”. Perhaps. Governor Vilsack makes the relevant point that resources are limited, though his comment begs the question as to what is considered an ‘essential’ component of an educational curriculum and what is considered to be an ‘additional’ program whose costs can not be borne.).


both a ‘leverging’ strategy commonly incorporated within ‘distance learning’ frameworks and an assymetrical transmission of knowledge143 from teacher-scientists (possessors of knowledge) to students-without-knowledge, ICC offers an alternative model of sustained interaction and co-creation of experience.144 As a means of creating reciprocal relationships, ICC can potentially be an integral part of the daily practice of truth, justice, and reconciliation.


143 For a lucid discussion of American “higher education” as a knowledge factory, see chapter four (“Networking the Higher-Learning Industry”) of SCHILLER, supra note 116, at 143-202 (of the 2000 paperback edition). 144 One could, of course, imagine a less assymetrical interaction between the Galapagos scientists and the Iowa younguns whereby, for example, the kids transmit experimental results to the scientists.