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What Passes for Journalism and Opinion in America

September 11, 2011 Leave a comment

By Steve Lendman

What Passes for Journalism and Opinion in America

On the 10th 9/11 anniversary, a September 9 Washington Post editorial highlights what readers hungry for news and information face. Titled, “Ten years after Sept. 11: The gains outweigh the mistakes,” it says:

“(C)onventional wisdom (suggests) “We will be hit again” to “Osama bin Laden won by provoking us into a decade of overreaction.”

Fact check

Bin Laden had nothing to do with a US state-sponsored attack. Criminal militarists, in fact, planned permanent war on humanity “overreaction.”

America “made big mistakes over the past decade…But the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon alerted Americans to genuine dangers that only a relative few had previously noticed.”

Fact check

Americans only are endangered by rogue government elements, not “crazed Arabs” wanting to harm them.

“The overreaction argument holds that al Qaeda goaded the nation to curtail civil liberties and construct a monstrous homeland security apparatus while bungling into adventures abroad that birthed new enemies….”

Fact check

Clinton’s 1996 Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act followed the 1995 false flag Oklahoma City bombing.

Air Force General Benton K Partin (a noted explosives and ordnance expert) revealed that high-grade military explosives, detonators, and proper internal placements heavily damaged the Murrah building and 300 others within a sixteen-block radius.

The 300 + page USA Patriot Act was written well in advance of 9/11 as were plans to establish a “monstrous homeland security apparatus” now in place.

Moreover, “adventures abroad” weren’t “bungl(ed) into.” They were planned months or years in advance, ready to be launched at a chosen moment.

“The United States went to war in Iraq on the basis of faulty intelligence.”

Fact check

US lies became pretexts for wars on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and other nonbelligerent states. Lies launch all wars, not “faulty intelligence.”

With America at war, “(t)here’s a danger that the nation will, once again, withdraw too soon from the challenges. Al Qaeda (is) a well-organized, capable organization intent on causing America mortal harm.”

Fact check

America’s wars create problems. They never solve them.

In the 1980s, Al Qaeda was a US creation to fight Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Ronald Reagan called them “freedom fighters.” Today they’re “terrorists.”

“Confronted with those realities, (Bush and Obama) accepted the same strategic truths: the United States must protect itself at home as much as it sensibly can while taking the fight to its enemies overseas….”

Fact check

America’s had no enemies since Japan surrendered in August 1945, except manufactured ones to justify permanent wars, because the business of America is war.

“Given the scope of the challenge, the country should give itself some credit for what it has achieved.”

Fact check

America’s “achieve(ments)” can be simply explained. They’re lawless, preemptive, permanent imperial wars on humanity, causing millions of deaths and injuries, as well as vast destruction.

On this 9/11 day or any other, it’s hardly a legacy to exude pride. It’s far worse than shame. It monstrously describes the rotting stench of out-of-control imperialism, ravaging planet earth to achieve hegemony.

“There was in fact no large-scale assault on personal freedoms – no equivalent to the Supreme Court-sanctioned roundup of Japanese Americans, no repeat of the Red Scare infringements on freedom of speech and association.”

Fact check

A monstrous police state apparatus followed 9/11, including repressive legislation, presidential directives and executive orders, a total surveillance society, and virtual war on democratic freedoms.

Muslims and so-called undocumented immigrants (mainly Latinos) are today’s Japanese!

Latinos are persecuted, detained, then deported for needing work to support their families back home because NAFTA destroyed their livelihoods.

Muslims have been targeted, hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted in their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence, and convicted on bogus charges.

Afterwards they’ve been incarcerated for extra harsh treatment as political prisoners in segregated Communication Management Units (CMUs), in violation of US Prison Bureau regulations and the Supreme Court’s February 2005 Johnson v. California decision.

That’s police state harshness, also unleashed ruthlessly against other designated domestic and foreign targets.

“The Patriot Act enabled a modest, mostly court-supervised expansion of law enforcement vigilance.”

Both Bush and Obama administrations insisted “that the US war (is) not against Islam.

And though it took too long, (political Washington) eventually made clear that torture is not acceptable.”

The editorial’s concluding comment praised those “who have fought and worked to keep the country safe.”

Fact check

The Patriot Act eroded four Bill of Rights Freedoms, including due process; free expression, association and assembly; legal representation; and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Moreover, state-sponsored Islamophobia rages, and torture is official US policy. It continues out of sight and mind in numerous prison hellholes, including in America.

That’s today’s state of the nation, but it didn’t happen by chance. It was well-planned long in advance and carefully implemented. As a result, in America’s post-911 world, no one anywhere is safe, including at home.

Fundamental international and constitutional laws are in tatters, replaced by out-of-control rampaging to advance America’s imperium.

As a result, the nation never has been less safe or free, and the worst is yet to come.

The Post editorial can be summarized in two words – disgraceful and scandalous.

But what else could be expected from a leading US broadsheet, infamous for publishing managed news, commentaries and opinions, especially about what’s most important.

A September 9 New York Times editorial matched the Post’s reinterpretation of hard truths neither paper will address. Headlined “A New Start for Libya,” it says:

It “would be unrealistic to expect a smooth transition in the early days of Libya’s post-Qaddafi era.” However, “(t)here are also signs of progress on military, diplomatic, economic and political fronts.”

Fact check

Dozens of previous articles explained reality on the ground in Libya, described as:

— a Nuremberg level crime;

— US/NATO state terror on a ferocious scale;

— NATO called a killing machine;

— initiated was months of planned bloodbath;

— the genocidal rape of Libya;

— NATO’s latest charnel house;

— besieging and terror bombing cities;

— carving up the Libya corpse for profit;

— Libya, Inc.: coming waste, fraud and other forms of plunder on a grand scale; and

— American and Western media cheerleading war and its fallout, inflicting daily crimes and atrocities on a massive still ongoing scale.

Libya pre-March 19 no longer exists. It’s been laid waste by US-led NATO terror bombing and paramilitary killers on the ground.

They were enlisted, armed, funded, and licensed to slaughter, maim, terrorize and loot. They’ve taken full advantage.

As a result, minimally over 100,000 Libyans were killed, multiples that number injured, and many more aggrieved family members affected.

Moreover, war keeps ravaging Libya, inflicting many more daily casualties.

With a population 50 times Libya’s, if America experienced a similar catastrophe, the toll would be five million dead, perhaps another 25 million injured, and multiple numbers of aggrieved family members.

It would be an unprecedented disaster.

Imagine if a foreign journalist or opinion writer called it “a new start.”

The Times said “there is reason to be encouraged,” despite migrant African workers being terrorized and slaughtered, while admitting “(m)uch hard work remains.”

Two late August Times op-eds were just as disgraceful. On August 29, Roger Cohen headlined, “Score One for Intervention.” He compared Libya’s “successful Western invention” with its 1990s Balkan wars and 1999 Serbia/Kosovo terror bombing.

From March 24 – June 10, NATO’s “success” included around 600 aircraft flying about 3,000 sorties. They dropped thousands of tons of ordnance plus hundreds of ground-launched cruise missiles. To that time, the attack’s ferocity was unprecedented, given the destructiveness of modern weapons and technology.

Nearly everything was struck, causing massive destruction and disruption. Included were known or suspected military sites and targets; power plants; factories; transportation; telecommunications facilities; roads, bridges, rail lines, and other infrastructure; fuel depots; schools; a TV station; China’s Belgrade Embassy; hospitals; government offices; churches; historical landmarks; and more in cities and villages throughout the country.

An estimated $100 billion in damage was inflicted. The humanitarian disaster was horrific. Environmental contamination was extensive. Large numbers were killed, injured or displaced. Two million people lost their livelihoods. Many their homes and communities, and for most their futures from what America planned and implemented jointly with NATO.

They replicated it in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.

“Score One for Intervention.”

For years, Cohen’s produced numerous pro-war trash pieces like other corporate media scoundrels, selling their souls for a buck.

On August 31, so did Nicholas Kristof in his op-ed titled, “Thank You, America!” claiming fake Tripoli celebrations portray Americans and NATO partners as “heros.”

He, in fact, was there and knows, but lied, calling it “a historic moment….a rare military intervention for humanitarian reasons….a model (for future) intervention(s).”

Ignoring reality on the ground, he claimed “no looting (and) little apparent retaliation,” despite Tripoli streets strewn with corpses and its residents cowering inside homes in fear.

Instead, he hailed “great progress in the last few days. Tripoli now feels reasonably safe….Pro-Americanism now is ubiquitous.”

His contempt for civil values and intellectual dishonesty didn’t even match the level of a B horror movie script.

A previous article said corporate media scoundrels like him prostitute themselves daily, making street whores, pimps, and dope peddlers look respectable by comparison.

They indeed reveal the shocking state of America’s journalism and opinion.

Another article imagined freedom from all managed news and commentaries. Avoid them and make it happen.

Final 9/11 Comments

On September 9, a Washington Blog.com posting headlined:

“High-Level Officials Eager to Spill the Beans About What REALLY Happened on 9/11….But No One in Washington or the Media Want to Hear”

“9/11 Commission Admits it Never Got the Facts….But No One Wants to Hear From the People Who Know What Happened”

9/11 Commission co-chairman Lee Hamilton said:

“I don’t believe for a minute we got everything right,” adding that the commission was set up to fail.

Commission member Bob Kerrey said:

“There are ample reasons to suspect that there may be some alternative to what we outlined in our version,” adding commission members didn’t have access to important information.

Other commission members also expressed frustration because key facts were suppressed, misrepresented, and military officials lied.

Commission member Max Cleland resigned in disgust, calling the inquiry “a national scandal.”

Senior Commission counsel John Farmer said “At some level of the government, at some point in time….there was an agreement not to tell the truth about what happened,” adding:

“I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described.” A “culture of concealment” describes the spin that became the official story.

All Commission members and various other present and past government officials knew that 9/11 mythology substituted for full disclosure.

To this day, nothing changed as Americans commemorate what’s best described as “The Big Lie of Our Time.”

As a result, the price they keep paying is incalculable.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Wikileaks and the War for your Mind

By Joe Quinn

Wikileaks and the War for your Mind

In November 2008, current advisor to President Obama, Zbigniew Brzezinski, described to a group of British political and corporate elite two very basic transforming developments that he believes are occurring on the world scene:

“The first change concerns the surfacing of global issues pertaining to human well being as critical international issues such as climate, environment, starvation, health and social inequality. The second change concerns a global political awakening.”

Brezezinski described this second change as “a truly transformative event on the global scene”. He said that: “for the first time in all of human history, almost all of mankind is politically awake, activated, politically conscious and interactive. There are only a few pockets of humanity here or there in the remotest corners of the world which are not politically alert and interacted with the political turmoil and stirrings and aspirations around the world. And all of that is creating a world wide surge for the worldwide surge for personal dignity and cultural respect in a diversified world.”

To an audience in the US he described the global ‘terror threat’ in this way:

“I’m deeply troubled that a very vague emotionally stated semi-theologically defined diagnosis of the central global menace is obscuring our national ability to comprehend the historically unprecedented challenge which is being posed in our time”

The historically unprecedented challenge is:

“A massive global political awakening and this is obstructing our ability to deal effectively with the global political turmoil that this awakening is generating.”

Brzezinski went on to describe another new reality that global powers such as the US must face: “”while the lethality of [our] power is greater than ever, [our] capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at an historical low”. He further noted that:

“In earlier times, it was easier to control a million people than physically to kill a million people. Today it is infinitely easier to kill a million people than to control a million people.”

Brzezinski is no political light-weight. He has been on the Washington scene for 40 years and served as Jimmy Carter’s National Security Adviser not to mention his long-term membership of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg group. As such, his opinions hold significant weight, not so much as an indicator of how things are on our planet, but rather how the US government and the global corporate elites would like things to be. It is clear from Brzezinski’s comments therefore that a potential global political awakening is of great concern to the elite of this world and it would be naive of us to think that they are not taking steps to confront this ‘unprecedented challenge’.

Historically, governments have relied on control of information to control the people. In the last 100 years, that control has been effected largely by control of the media. From government officials as ‘experts’ on the evening news or columnists in newspapers to media representatives ’embedded’ with troops overseas at war, it was a relatively easy task for the government to present a very one-sided picture of world events. With the dawn of the internet age however, and particularly in the first ten years of the 21st century, came the ability for the ordinary person to provide news and analysis to a wide audience and effectively challenge the monopoly of the mainstream media and government control of information.

With the launch of the illegal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003, the need for the US government to control information reached new heights. In response to the threat posed by a virtual army of amateur journalist bloggers and web-site owners, the US government has not been idle.

In 2006 a US military document obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gave a fascinating insight into the US government’s plans for ‘information operations’. Written in 2003, the document, entitled ‘Information Operations Roadmap‘, describes the new methods that were being used to fight what the White House understood as an electronic information war. Signed by then Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, the ‘roadmap’ called for military and government public affairs officers to brief journalists and admitted that information put out as part of the US military’s psychological operations would be directed also at the computer and television screens of ordinary Americans and, as a result, English-speaking people the world over.

Psyops messages will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public,” the document reads. The term “fight the net” appears several times in the document and makes clear that the US government views the internet, and the information available thereon, as an enemy.

In a 2007 book entitled Information Strategy and Warfare: A Guide to Theory and Practice, Professor of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, John Arquilla, and Douglas A. Borer, Associate Professor in the Department of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, assert that US government information strategists could “consider clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers or other person of prominence […] to pass the US message. Sometimes specific numbers can be effective; hiring a block of bloggers to verbally attack a specific person or promote a specific message, for example, may be worth considering. An alternative strategy is to ‘make’ a blog or blogger […] if a [covert] military blog offers valuable information that is not available from other sources it could rise in ranking fairly rapidly.”

As regards blogs or web sites that speak too much truth to the people, the strategy outlined involves: “hacking the site and subtly changing the messages and data – merely a few words or phrases – may be sufficient to being destroying the bloggers credibility with the audience. […] There may also be times when it is necessary to pass false or erroneous information through the media. […] In these cases, extra care must be taken to ensure plausible deniability and nonattribution and to employ a well thought out deception operation that minimizes the risk of exposure.”

The Israeli government too has recruited an ‘army of bloggers’ to combat anti-Zionist web sites according to an article in the Israeli Haaretz newspaper in January 2009.

Recent polls suggest that the US and Israeli government’s fears in this regard are well-founded. A 2008 Pew Research Center poll for example found that 40% of people in the USA get most of their news about national and international issues from the internet, compared to 35% who say they use newspapers. While 70% of all respondents said they used television as their main source of news, almost 60% of people under 30 years old reported using the internet rather than television as a main source of national and international news.

So the question is, if the US and Israeli governments view the internet as the ‘fifth battlefield’ (behind, land sea, air and space), to what lengths are they likely to go to win the ‘war’? More to the point, does winning this ‘war’ ultimately involve shutting down internet freedom of speech and all dissent against the government?

Today it is public knowledge that, in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion, the mainstream media acted as a mouth-piece for government in unquestioningly spreading the lies and propaganda of the Bush administration and the Washington Israeli lobby far and wide. The effect was to generate public support for what were clearly imperial wars of conquest. Independent news sources sprang up in response to this utter failure on the part of the mainstream media corporations to fulfill their supposed role of holding government officials to account.

Confronting government lies with truth then has been the means through which truth-tellers on blogs and web sites the world over have gained public attention and respect. It would make sense therefore that, to effectively counter or neutralize this ‘threat’, the US and Israeli governments would have to come up with something rather special as a replacement. They would have to produce a convincing facsimile that appeared to be a genuine ‘whistle-blower’ operation capable of re-directing public attention away from the independent media and monopolizing the market for truth in an age of deception. At the same time however, any such operation would have to remain under the control of the same governments. Subtle deception with “plausible deniability and nonattribution” would be the name of the game.

Enter Wikileaks

Wikileaks is officially an international non-profit organisation that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources and news leaks. Its first document was published in December 2006. The site claims to have been “founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and start-up company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa”. WikiLeaks started out with the aim of “exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.” Interestingly, these are very same areas that are primary geo-strategic and political interest to the US and Israeli governments.

Julian Assange is generally described as the director of Wikileaks. In September 2010 Herbert Snorrason, a 25-year-old political activist in Iceland, questioned Mr. Assange’s judgment over a number of issues in an online exchange in 2010. In response, Assange told him: “I am the heart and soul of this organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organizer, financier, and all the rest. I don’t like your tone, if it continues, you’re out. If you have a problem with me, you can f**king quit.” In a July 2010 interview with Belfast Telegraph reporter Matthew Bell, Assange had this to say about “conspiracy theories”

“Any time people with power plan in secret, they are conducting a conspiracy. So there are conspiracies everywhere. There are also crazed conspiracy theories. It’s important not to confuse these two. Generally, when there’s enough facts about a conspiracy we simply call this news. I’m constantly annoyed that people are distracted by false conspiracies such as 9/11, when all around we provide evidence of real conspiracies, for war or mass financial fraud.”

Assange appears to be unaware of the fact that the US wars crimes that he is allegedly so eager to expose were only possible because of the 9/11 attacks and that the official US government story about how the attacks occurred is so full of contradictions and omissions that it is safe to conclude that it is a complete fabrication.

As of June 2009, the Wikileaks site had over 1,200 registered volunteers and listed an advisory board comprising Assange and eight other people. One such board member, Tashi Namgyal Khamsitsang, said that while he received an e-mail from WikiLeaks, he had never agreed to be an adviser. Phillip Adams, another putative board member, said he’d never met Assange or been asked for any advice and suggested that the board was just “window dressing”.

For the first few years, Wikileaks was a relatively unknown to the general public. It wasn’t until March 2010 when the organisation acquired and released a video from a 2007 incident in which Iraqi civilians and journalists were killed by US forces that Wikileaks’ true rise to global fame began. In July of the same year, WikiLeaks began what has turned out to be a sort of ‘strip tease’ for the politically awakened when it released the ‘Afghan War Diary’, a compilation of 92,201 records of individual events or intelligence reports from US troops and agents in Afghanistan. In October 2010, the group released a package of almost 400,000 US military field reports from the US invasion of Iraq called the ‘Iraq War Logs’. In November 2010, WikiLeaks began releasing U.S. State department diplomatic cables.

Beginning with the Afghan War Diary, Wikileaks teamed up, bizarrely, with three mainstream media ‘partners’ – the UK Guardian, Germany’s Der Spiegel, France’s Le Monde and The New York Times – ostensibly to facilitate the organisation and dissemination of the documents. Few Wikileaks enthusiasts seem to have considered the problems with the very idea of such a partnership. It was, after all, the mainstream media who were largely responsible for selling the lies that led to the illegal Iraq and Afghan invasions and the massive suffering and deaths that have resulted. The New York Times for example on September 8, 2002, led with a front-page story by Judith Miller and Michael Gordon, which falsely claimed that Saddam Hussein was seeking to buy aluminum tubes as part of its ‘worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb.’ As contributing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, Michael Massing later wrote, “In the following months, the tubes would become a key prop in the administration’s case for war, and the Times played a critical part in legitimizing it”. Despite this, Assange himself stated that he chose the NY Times because it is “one of the best newspapers in the world for investigative research“. How could Assange and Wikileaks possibly expect that ‘secret documents’ exposing US government war crimes would be delivered uncensored to the public by media corporations with such a track record?

Indeed, the first raft of documents concerning the US presence in Afghanistan were transformed into headlines that did more to support the US government’s position on the Afghan conflict than to expose any grand lies. Via Wikileaks mainstream media ‘partners’, the public was regaled with stories of Iran’s ties to al-Qaeda, Iran’s development of suicide bombs in Iraq, Pakistan’s aid to the Taliban, Iran’s growing nuclear threat etc. Subsequent document releases have followed suit with the most recent ‘Cablegate’ documents supposedly revealing that several Middle Eastern governments secretly wanted the US and Israel to ‘deal with’ Iran. There were, of course, a few crumbs thrown to the anti-war community in the form of rather benign ‘leaks’ about US spying at the U.N. and already publicly known details of the US military killing civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan and condoning torture, but overall there was little in the documents to cause more than temporary embarrassment to big government and much to support their war-mongering policies.

But perhaps the most worrying result of the Wikileaks documents release is the reaction of US and other government officials in calling for changes to laws designed to protect freedom of speech. For example US Senator Mitch McConnell called Wikileaks founder Julian Assange a “high-tech terrorist” on NBC’s Meet the Press and said, “if it’s found that Assange hasn’t violated the law, then the law should be changed.” On December 3rd 2010, Sens. John Ensign, Joe Lieberman and Scott Brown introduced the Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination Act (SHIELD) which would give the government the flexibility to pursue Assange for allegedly outing confidential U.S. informants. Brown said the law would prevent anyone from compromising national security in a similar manner. While Wikileaks supporters have denounced such moves and claim them as evidence that Wikileaks constitutes a real threat to government secrecy and lies, given that the Wikileaks documents themselves have so far proven ineffective in reigning in government corruption, it is difficult to see the entire Wikileaks fiasco as anything other than a cunning set-up.

Israeli Fingerprints

Further suspicion has been cast on the integrity of the Wikileaks operation due to the fact that, despite the large number and the wide array of political and military subjects that the documents detail, not one of them portray either the Israeli government or military in a negative light. Indeed, only a handful of documents make reference to the Israeli government in any way. Given the well-known close relationship between the US and Israeli governments and the close involvement of the Israelis in Middle Eastern affairs in general, this fact is rather astonishing and has given rise to further suspicions about the source and integrity of Wikileaks as an organisation.

Suspicions of ties to the Israeli government were partly confirmed when, in December 2010, Julian Assange admitted in an interview with Al-Jazeerah TV that only a meager number of files related to Israel had been published so far because ‘Western’ newspapers that were given exclusive rights to publish the secret documents were reluctant to publish “sensitive information about Israel“. “The Guardian, El-Pais and Le Monde have published only two percent of the files related to Israel due to the sensitive relations between Germany, France and Israel. Even the New York Times could not publish more due to the sensitivities related to the Jewish community in the US,” he added. In the same interview, Assange said: “We were the biggest institution receiving official funding from the US but after we released a video tape about killing people in cold blood in Iraq in 2007, the funding stopped and we had to depend on individuals for finance.” Assange also appears to hold Israeli Prime Minister and accused war criminal, Benjamin Netanyahu, in high regard calling him a “sophisticated politician“. Writing in the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, Aluf Benn wrote, “Thanks to Wikileaks, there is now no fear Washington will exert heavy pressure on Israel to freeze settlement construction or to accelerate negotiations on a withdrawal from the territories.”

What this amounts to is a tacit admission by Assange that the mainstream media had indeed been censoring documents, that Wikileaks was, at least in the beginning, funded by the US government and that the Israeli government has been afforded special treatment by Assange and Wikileaks. This last revelation came hot on the heels of the allegation in November 2010 by a Syrian newspaper reporter that Assange had met with Israeli officials and agreed to not release documents that were critical of Israel. In late December 2010, and apparently in response to the allegations of ties with Israel, Assange claimed that he would “release 3,700 files related to Israel over the next six months, depending on our sources.” Several questions arise as a result of Assange’s remarks: Why wait 6 months? Isn’t Wikileaks fundamentally about speaking truth to power and informing the public of facts that government’s would rather keep secret? Why withhold information about an Israeli government and military that has already been proven guilty of war crimes and opt instead for spreading US and Israeli government lies and disinformation about Iran?

When taken with other aspects of the overall Wikileaks phenomenon, Assange’s comment that the Israel documents would be released “depending on our sources” is highly suggestive of the fact that the Israeli government itself could be the source of these documents. Indeed, when viewed from a broad perspective, the Wikileaks organisation fits the profile of an Israeli operation designed to manipulate both the global public and the US government. After all, Israel excels at manipulating the world’s only super-power and has done so very effectively for many decades via its firmly entrenched US spy network. In truth, the Wikileaks operation affords the Israelis a wonderful new tool with which to subtly pressure and threaten US officials into playing the game the way Israel wants. If Obama comes on a little too strong in his condemnation of Israeli expropriation of Palestinian land, there are undoubtedly as yet unreleased documents that would make US spying at the UN look like a misdemeanor offense. And then of course there is the claim by Assange that he has received documents that relate to that mystery of mysteries: UFOs. If those behind the Wikileaks documents desired to truly throw the cat among the pigeons and radically transform human society and perhaps carry out the greatest deception of all, a ‘smoking gun’ disclosure on the ‘reality’ of extra-terrestrials would be the way to go.

I should make it clear that, when I speak of ‘Israel’, I am not simply referring to the public face of the Israeli government but more specifically to a small group of global ‘financiers’ who have adopted the Israeli national and Jewish religious ideology. To these individuals, both the geographic position of the gerrymandered state of Israel (a wedge and source of division between East and West, old and new), and the religious position of Judaism (a wedge and source of division between Christianity and Islam) is essential to achieving their aims of complete control of the global population.

In summation: based on the available data (past and present) we can reasonably conclude that, through the media hype afforded to the Wikileaks documents and the side show of Assange’s alleged rape charges, a concerted effort is being made to distract public attention from the efforts of genuine anti-war and truth-teller bloggers and web sites to expose the true crimes of the US government and the hidden hand behind global affairs; at the same time, the US government is given an excuse to clamp down on internet freedom of speech and prepare the way for an eventual terminal shut-down of the world wide web.

9/11 and the Orwellian Redefinition of “Conspiracy Theory”

© Global Research

By Paul Craig Roberts

9/11 and the Orwellian Redefinition of “Conspiracy Theory”

While we were not watching, conspiracy theory has undergone Orwellian redefinition.

A “conspiracy theory” no longer means an event explained by a conspiracy. Instead, it now means any explanation, or even a fact, that is out of step with the government’s explanation and that of its media pimps.

For example, online news broadcasts of RT have been equated with conspiracy theories by the New York Times simply because RT reports news and opinions that the New York Times does not report and the US government does not endorse.

In other words, as truth becomes uncomfortable for government and its Ministry of Propaganda, truth is redefined as conspiracy theory, by which is meant an absurd and laughable explanation that we should ignore.

When piles of carefully researched books, released government documents, and testimony of eye witnesses made it clear that Oswald was not President John F. Kennedy’s assassin, the voluminous research, government documents, and verified testimony was dismissed as “conspiracy theory.”

In other words, the truth of the event was unacceptable to the authorities and to the Ministry of Propaganda that represents the interests of authorities.

The purest example of how Americans are shielded from truth is the media’s (including many Internet sites’) response to the large number of professionals who find the official explanation of September 11, 2001, inconsistent with everything they, as experts, know about physics, chemistry, structural engineering, architecture, fires, structural damage, the piloting of airplanes, the security procedures of the United States, NORAD’s capabilities, air traffic control, airport security, and other matters. These experts, numbering in the thousands, have been shouted down by know-nothings in the media who brand the experts as “conspiracy theorists.”

This despite the fact that the official explanation endorsed by the official media is the most extravagant conspiracy theory in human history.

Let’s take a minute to re-acquaint ourselves with the official explanation, which is not regarded as a conspiracy theory despite the fact that it comprises an amazing conspiracy. The official truth is that a handful of young Muslim Arabs who could not fly airplanes, mainly Saudi Arabians who came neither from Iraq nor from Afghanistan, outwitted not only the CIA and the FBI, but also all 16 US intelligence agencies and all intelligence agencies of US allies including Israel’s Mossad, which is believed to have penetrated every terrorist organization and which carries out assassinations of those whom Mossad marks as terrorists.

In addition to outwitting every intelligence agency of the United States and its allies, the handful of young Saudi Arabians outwitted the National Security Council, the State Department, NORAD, airport security four times in the same hour on the same morning, air traffic control, caused the US Air Force to be unable to launch interceptor aircraft, and caused three well-built steel-structured buildings, including one not hit by an airplane, to fail suddenly in a few seconds as a result of limited structural damage and small, short-lived, low-temperature fires that burned on a few floors.

The Saudi terrorists were even able to confound the laws of physics and cause WTC building seven to collapse at free fall speed for several seconds, a physical impossibility in the absence of explosives used in controlled demolition.

The story that the government and the media have told us amounts to a gigantic conspiracy, really a script for a James Bond film. Yet, anyone who doubts this improbable conspiracy theory is defined into irrelevance by the obedient media.

Anyone who believes an architect, structural engineer, or demolition expert who says that the videos show that the buildings are blowing up, not falling down, anyone who believes a Ph.D. physicist who says that the official explanation is inconsistent with known laws of physics, anyone who believes expert pilots who testify that non-pilots or poorly-qualified pilots cannot fly airplanes in such maneuvers, anyone who believes the 100 or more first responders who testify that they not only heard explosions in the towers but personally experienced explosions, anyone who believes University of Copenhagen nano-chemist Niels Harrit who reports finding unreacted nano-thermite in dust samples from the WTC towers, anyone who is convinced by experts instead of by propaganda is dismissed as a kook.

In America today, and increasingly throughout the Western world, actual facts and true explanations have been relegated to the realm of kookiness. Only people who believe lies are socially approved and accepted as patriotic citizens.

Indeed, a writer or newscaster is not even permitted to report the findings of 9/11 skeptics. In other words, simply to report Professor Harrit’s findings now means that you endorse them or agree with them. Everyone in the US print and TV media knows that he/she will be instantly fired if they report Harrit’s findings, even with a laugh. Thus, although Harrit has reported his findings on European television and has lectured widely on his findings in Canadian universities, the fact that he and the international scientific research team that he led found unreacted nano-thermite in the WTC dust and have offered samples to other scientists to examine has to my knowledge never been reported in the American media.

Even Internet sites on which I am among the readers’ favorites will not allow me to report on Harrit’s findings.

As I reported earlier, I myself had experience with a Huffington Post reporter who was keen to interview a Reagan presidential appointee who was in disagreement with the Republican wars in the Middle East. After he published the interview that I provided at his request, he was terrified to learn that I had reported findings of 9/11 investigators. To protect his career, he quickly inserted on the online interview that my views on the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions could be dismissed as I had reported unacceptable findings about 9/11.

The unwillingness or inability to entertain any view of 9/11 different from the official view dooms to impotence many Internet sites that are opposed to the wars and to the rise of the domestic US police state. These sites, for whatever the reasons, accept the government’s explanation of 9/11; yet, they try to oppose the “war on terror” and the police state which are the consequences of accepting the government’s explanation. Trying to oppose the consequences of an event whose explanation you accept is an impossible task.

If you believe that America was attacked by Muslim terrorists and is susceptible to future attacks, then a “war on terror” and a domestic police state to root out terrorists become necessary to make Americans safe. The idea that a domestic police state and open-ended war might be more dangerous threats to Americans than terrorists is an impermissible thought.

A country whose population has been trained to accept the government’s word and to shun those who question it is a country without liberty in its future.

The Corporate State Wins Again

By Chris Hedges

The Corporate State Wins Again

When did our democracy die? When did it irrevocably transform itself into a lifeless farce and absurd political theater? When did the press, labor, universities and the Democratic Party—which once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible—wither and atrophy? When did reform through electoral politics become a form of magical thinking? When did the dead hand of the corporate state become unassailable?

The body politic was mortally wounded during the long, slow strangulation of ideas and priorities during the Red Scare and the Cold War. Its bastard child, the war on terror, inherited the iconography and language of permanent war and fear. The battle against internal and external enemies became the excuse to funnel trillions in taxpayer funds and government resources to the war industry, curtail civil liberties and abandon social welfare. Skeptics, critics and dissenters were ridiculed and ignored. The FBI, Homeland Security and the CIA enforced ideological conformity. Debate over the expansion of empire became taboo. Secrecy, the anointing of specialized elites to run our affairs and the steady intrusion of the state into the private lives of citizens conditioned us to totalitarian practices. Sheldon Wolin points out in “Democracy Incorporated” that this configuration of corporate power, which he calls “inverted totalitarianism,” is not like “Mein Kampf” or “The Communist Manifesto,” the result of a premeditated plot. It grew, Wolin writes, from “a set of effects produced by actions or practices undertaken in ignorance of their lasting consequences.”

Corporate capitalism—because it was trumpeted throughout the Cold War as a bulwark against communism—expanded with fewer and fewer government regulations and legal impediments. Capitalism was seen as an unalloyed good. It was not required to be socially responsible. Any impediment to its growth, whether in the form of trust-busting, union activity or regulation, was condemned as a step toward socialism and capitulation. Every corporation is a despotic fiefdom, a mini-dictatorship. And by the end Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil and Goldman Sachs had grafted their totalitarian structures onto the state.

The Cold War also bequeathed to us the species of the neoliberal. The neoliberal enthusiastically embraces “national security” as the highest good.  The neoliberal—composed of the gullible and cynical careerists—parrots back the mantra of endless war and corporate capitalism as an inevitable form of human progress. Globalization, the neoliberal assures us, is the route to a worldwide utopia. Empire and war are vehicles for lofty human values. Greg Mortenson, the disgraced author of “Three Cups of Tea,” tapped into this formula. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq or Afghanistan are ignored or dismissed as the cost of progress. We are bringing democracy to Iraq, liberating and educating the women of Afghanistan, defying the evil clerics in Iran, ridding the world of terrorists and protecting Israel. Those who oppose us do not have legitimate grievances. They need to be educated. It is a fantasy. But to name our own evil is to be banished.

We continue to talk about personalities—Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama—although the heads of state or elected officials in Congress have become largely irrelevant. Lobbyists write the bills. Lobbyists get them passed. Lobbyists make sure you get the money to be elected. And lobbyists employ you when you get out of office. Those who hold actual power are the tiny elite who manage the corporations. Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, in their book “Winner-Take-All Politics,” point out that the share of national income of the top 0.1 percent of Americans since 1974 has grown from 2.7 to 12.3 percent. One in six American workers may be without a job. Some 40 million Americans may live in poverty, with tens of millions more living in a category called “near poverty.” Six million people may be forced from their homes because of foreclosures and bank repossessions. But while the masses suffer, Goldman Sachs, one of the financial firms most responsible for the evaporation of $17 trillion in wages, savings and wealth of small investors and shareholders, is giddily handing out $17.5 billion in compensation to its managers, including $12.6 million to its CEO, Lloyd Blankfein.

The massive redistribution of wealth, as Hacker and Pierson write, happened because lawmakers and public officials were, in essence, hired to permit it to happen. It was not a conspiracy. The process was transparent. It did not require the formation of a new political party or movement. It was the result of inertia by our political and intellectual class, which in the face of expanding corporate power found it personally profitable to facilitate it or look the other way. The armies of lobbyists, who write the legislation, bankroll political campaigns and disseminate propaganda, have been able to short-circuit the electorate. Hacker and Pierson pinpoint the administration of Jimmy Carter as the start of our descent, but I think it began long before with Woodrow Wilson, the ideology of permanent war and the capacity by public relations to manufacture consent. Empires die over such long stretches of time that the exact moment when terminal decline becomes irreversible is probably impossible to document. That we are at the end, however, is beyond dispute.

The rhetoric of the Democratic Party and the neoliberals sustains the illusion of participatory democracy. The Democrats and their liberal apologists offer minor palliatives and a feel-your-pain language to mask the cruelty and goals of the corporate state. The reconfiguration of American society into a form of neofeudalism will be cemented into place whether it is delivered by Democrats, who are pushing us there at 60 miles an hour, or Republicans, who are barreling toward it at 100 miles an hour. Wolin writes, “By fostering an illusion among the powerless classes” that it can make their interests a priority, the Democratic Party “pacifies and thereby defines the style of an opposition party in an inverted totalitarian system.” The Democrats are always able to offer up a least-worst alternative while, in fact, doing little or nothing to thwart the march toward corporate collectivism.

The systems of information, owned or dominated by corporations, keep the public entranced with celebrity meltdowns, gossip, trivia and entertainment. There are no national news or intellectual forums for genuine political discussion and debate. The talking heads on Fox or MSNBC or CNN spin and riff on the same inane statements by Sarah Palin or Donald Trump. They give us lavish updates on the foibles of a Mel Gibson or Charlie Sheen. And they provide venues for the powerful to speak directly to the masses. It is burlesque.

It is not that the public does not want a good health care system, programs that provide employment, quality public education or an end to Wall Street’s looting of the U.S. Treasury. Most polls suggest Americans do. But it has become impossible for most citizens to find out what is happening in the centers of power. Television news celebrities dutifully present two opposing sides to every issue, although each side is usually lying. The viewer can believe whatever he or she wants to believe. Nothing is actually elucidated or explained. The sound bites by Republicans or Democrats are accepted at face value. And once the television lights are turned off, the politicians go back to the business of serving business.

We live in a fragmented society. We are ignorant of what is being done to us. We are diverted by the absurd and political theater. We are afraid of terrorism, of losing our job and of carrying out acts of dissent. We are politically demobilized and paralyzed. We do not question the state religion of patriotic virtue, the war on terror or the military and security state. We are herded like sheep through airports by Homeland Security and, once we get through the metal detectors and body scanners, spontaneously applaud our men and women in uniform. As we become more insecure and afraid, we become more anxious. We are driven by fiercer and fiercer competition. We yearn for stability and protection. This is the genius of all systems of totalitarianism. The citizen’s highest hope finally becomes to be secure and left alone.

Human history, rather than a chronicle of freedom and democracy, is characterized by ruthless domination. Our elites have done what all elites do. They have found sophisticated mechanisms to thwart popular aspirations, disenfranchise the working and increasingly the middle class, keep us passive and make us serve their interests. The brief democratic opening in our society in the early 20th century, made possible by radical movements, unions and a vigorous press, has again been shut tight. We were mesmerized by political charades, cheap consumerism and virtual hallucinations as we were ruthlessly stripped of power.

The game is over. We lost. The corporate state will continue its inexorable advance until two-thirds of the nation is locked into a desperate, permanent underclass. Most Americans will struggle to make a living while the Blankfeins and our political elites wallow in the decadence and greed of the Forbidden City and Versailles. These elites do not have a vision. They know only one word—more.  They will continue to exploit the nation, the global economy and the ecosystem. And they will use their money to hide in gated compounds when it all implodes. Do not expect them to take care of us when it starts to unravel. We will have to take care of ourselves. We will have to create small, monastic communities where we can sustain and feed ourselves. It will be up to us to keep alive the intellectual, moral and culture values the corporate state has attempted to snuff out. It is either that or become drones and serfs in a global, corporate dystopia. It is not much of a choice. But at least we still have one.

Recognizing the Language of Tyranny

February 7, 2011 1 comment

AP

February 6, 2011: By Chris Hedges
 
Recognizing the Language of Tyranny

Empires communicate in two languages. One language is expressed in imperatives. It is the language of command and force. This militarized language disdains human life and celebrates hypermasculinity. It demands. It makes no attempt to justify the flagrant theft of natural resources and wealth or the use of indiscriminate violence. When families are gunned down at a checkpoint in Iraq they are referred to as having been “lit up.” So it goes. The other language of empire is softer. It employs the vocabulary of ideals and lofty goals and insists that the power of empire is noble and benevolent. The language of beneficence is used to speak to those outside the centers of death and pillage, those who have not yet been totally broken, those who still must be seduced to hand over power to predators. The road traveled to total disempowerment, however, ends at the same place. It is the language used to get there that is different.

This language of blind obedience and retribution is used by authority in our inner cities, from Detroit to Oakland, as well as our prison systems. It is a language Iraqis and Afghans know intimately. But to the members of our dwindling middle class—as well as those in the working class who have yet to confront our new political and economic configuration—the powerful use phrases like the consent of the governed and democracy that help lull us into complacency. The longer we believe in the fiction that we are included in the corporate power structure, the more easily corporations pillage the country without the threat of rebellion. Those who know the truth are crushed. Those who do not are lied to. Those who consume and perpetuate the lies—including the liberal institutions of the press, the church, education, culture, labor and the Democratic Party—abet our disempowerment. No system of total control, including corporate control, exhibits its extreme forms at the beginning. These forms expand as they fail to encounter resistance.

The tactic of speaking in two languages is as old as empire itself. The ancient Greeks and the Romans did it. So did the Spanish conquistadors, the Ottomans, the French and later the British. Those who inhabit exploited zones on the peripheries of empire see and hear the truth. But the cries of those who are exploited are ignored or demonized. The rage they express does not resonate with those trapped in self-delusion, those who continue to trust in the ultimate goodness of empire. This is the truth articulated in Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” and E.M. Forster’s “A Passage to India.” These writers understood that empire is about violence and theft. And the longer the theft continues, the more brutal empire becomes. The tyranny empire imposes on others it finally imposes on itself. The predatory forces unleashed by empire consume the host. Look around you.

The narratives we hear are those fabricated for us by the state, Hollywood and the press. These narratives are taught in our schools, preached in our pulpits and celebrated in war documentaries such as “Restrepo.” These narratives humanize and ennoble the enforcers of empire. The government, the military, the police and our intelligence agents are lionized. These control groups, we are assured, are the guardians of our virtues and our protectors. They produce our heroes. And those who challenge this narrative—who denounce the lies—become the enemy.

Those who administer empire—elected officials, corporate managers, generals and the celebrity courtiers who disseminate the propaganda—become very wealthy. They make immense fortunes whether they deliver the nightly news, sit on the boards of corporations, or rise, lavished with corporate endorsements, within the vast industry of spectacle and entertainment. They all pay homage, even in moments defined as criticism, to the essential goodness of corporate power. They shut out all real debate. They ignore flagrant injustices and abuse. They peddle the illusions that keep us passive and amused. But as our society is reconfigured into an oligarchic system, with a permanent and vast underclass, along with a shrinking and unstable middle class, these illusions lose their power. The language of pleasant deception must be replaced with the overt language of force. It is hard to continue to live in a state of self-delusion once unemployment benefits run out, once the only job available comes without benefits or a living wage, once the future no longer conforms to the happy talk that saturates our airwaves. At this point rage becomes the engine of response, and whoever can channel that rage inherits power. The manipulation of that rage has become the newest task of the corporate propagandists, and the failure of the liberal class to defend core liberal values has left its members with nothing to contribute to the debate.

The Belgian King Leopold, promising to abolish slavery and usher the Congolese into the “modern” era, was permitted by his European allies to form the Congo Free State in 1885. It was touted as a humanitarian gesture, as was the Spanish conquest of the Americas, as was our own occupation of Iraq. Leopold organized a ruthless force of native and foreign overseers—not unlike our own mercenary armies—to loot the Congo of ivory and rubber. By the time the Belgian monarch was done, some 5 million to 8 million Congolese had been slaughtered. It was the largest act of genocide in the modern era until the Nazi Holocaust. Leopold, even in the midst of his rampage, was lionized in Europe for his virtue. He was loathed in the periphery—as we are in Iraq and Afghanistan—where the Congolese and others understood what he was about. But these voices, like the voices of those we oppress, were almost never heard.

The Nazis, for whom the Holocaust was as much a campaign of plunder as it was a campaign to rid Europe of Jews, had two methods for greeting arrivals at their four extermination camps. If the transports came from Western Europe, the savage Ukrainian and Lithuanian guards, with their whips, dogs and clubs, were kept out of sight. The wealthier European Jews were politely ushered into an elaborate ruse, including fake railway stations complete with flower beds, until once stripped naked they became incapable of resistance and could be herded in rows of five under whips into the gas chambers. The Nazis knew that those who had not been broken, those who possessed a belief in their own personal empowerment, would fight back. When the transports came from the east, where Jews had long lived in fear, tremendous poverty and terror, there was no need for such theatrics. Mothers, fathers, the elderly and children, accustomed to overt repression and the language of command and retribution, were brutally driven from the transports by sadistic guards. The object was to create mass hysteria. The fate of the two groups was the same. It was the tactic that differed.

All centralized power, once restraints and regulations are abolished, once it is no longer accountable to citizens, knows no limit to internal and external plunder. The corporate state, which has emasculated our government, is creating a new form of feudalism, a world of masters and serfs. It speaks to those who remain in a state of self-delusion in the comforting and familiar language of liberty, freedom, prosperity and electoral democracy. It speaks to the poor and the oppressed in the language of naked coercion. But, here too, all will end up in the same place.

Those trapped in the blighted inner cities that are our internal colonies or brutalized in our prison system, especially African-Americans, see what awaits us all. So do the inhabitants in southern West Virginia, where coal companies have turned hundreds of thousands of acres into uninhabitable and poisoned wastelands. Poverty, repression and despair in these peripheral parts of empire are as common as drug addiction and cancer. Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis and Palestinians can also tell us who we are. They know that once self-delusion no longer works it is the iron fist that speaks. The solitary and courageous voices that rise up from these internal and external colonies of devastation are silenced or discredited by the courtiers who serve corporate power. And even those who do hear these voices of dissent often cannot handle the truth. They prefer the Potemkin facade. They recoil at the “negativity.” Reality, especially when you grasp what corporations are doing in the name of profit to the planet’s ecosystem, is terrifying.

All tyrannies come endowed with their own peculiarities. This makes it hard to say one form of totalitarianism is like another. There are always enough differences to make us unsure that history is repeating itself. The corporate state does not have a Politburo. It does not dress its Homeland Security agents in jackboots. There is no raving dictator. American democracy—like the garishly painted train station at the Nazi extermination camp Treblinka—looks real even as the levers of power are in the hands of corporations. But there is one aspect the corporate state shares with despotic regimes and the collapsed empires that have plagued human history. It too communicates in two distinct languages, that is until it does not have to, at which point it will be too late.

Chris Hedges is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and a weekly columnist for Truthdig. His latest book is “Death of the Liberal Class.”.

Copyright © 2011 Truthdig, L.L.C. All rights reserved.

What Corruption and Force Have Wrought in Egypt

AP / Ben Curtis

January 30, 2011: By Chris Hedges

What Corruption and Force Have Wrought In Egypt

The uprising in Egypt, although united around the nearly universal desire to rid the country of the military dictator Hosni Mubarak, also presages the inevitable shift within the Arab world away from secular regimes toward an embrace of Islamic rule. Don’t be fooled by the glib sloganeering about democracy or the facile reporting by Western reporters—few of whom speak Arabic or have experience in the region. Egyptians are not Americans. They have their own culture, their own sets of grievances and their own history. And it is not ours. They want, as we do, to have a say in their own governance, but that say will include widespread support—especially among Egypt’s poor, who make up more than half the country and live on about two dollars a day—for the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic parties. Any real opening of the political system in the Arab world’s most populated nation will see an empowering of these Islamic movements. And any attempt to close the system further—say a replacement of Mubarak with another military dictator—will ensure a deeper radicalization in Egypt and the wider Arab world.

The only way opposition to the U.S.-backed regime of Mubarak could be expressed for the past three decades was through Islamic movements, from the Muslim Brotherhood to more radical Islamic groups, some of which embrace violence. And any replacement of Mubarak (which now seems almost certain) while it may initially be dominated by moderate, secular leaders will, once elections are held and popular will is expressed, have an Islamic coloring. A new government, to maintain credibility with the Egyptian population, will have to more actively defy demands from Washington and be more openly antagonistic to Israel. What is happening in Egypt, like what happened in Tunisia, tightens the noose that will—unless Israel and Washington radically change their policies toward the Palestinians and the Muslim world—threaten to strangle the Jewish state as well as dramatically curtail American influence in the Middle East.

The failure of the United States to halt the slow-motion ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by Israel has consequences. The failure to acknowledge the collective humiliation and anger felt by most Arabs because of the presence of U.S. troops on Muslim soil, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan but in the staging bases set up in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, has consequences. The failure to denounce the repression, including the widespread use of torture, censorship and rigged elections, wielded by our allies against their citizens in the Middle East has consequences. We are soaked with the stench of these regimes. Mubarak, who reportedly is suffering from cancer, is seen as our puppet, a man who betrayed his own people and the Palestinians for money and power.

The Muslim world does not see us as we see ourselves. Muslims are aware, while we are not, that we have murdered tens of thousands of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We have terrorized families, villages and nations. We enable and defend the Israeli war crimes carried out against Palestinians and the Lebanese—indeed we give the Israelis the weapons and military aid to carry out the slaughter. We dismiss the thousands of dead as “collateral damage.” And when those who are fighting against occupation kill us or Israelis we condemn them, regardless of context, as terrorists. Our hypocrisy is recognized on the Arab street. Most Arabs see bloody and disturbing images every day from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, images that are censored on our television screens. They have grown sick of us. They have grown sick of the Arab regimes that pay lip service to the suffering of Palestinians but do nothing to intervene. They have grown sick of being ruled by tyrants who are funded and supported by Washington. Arabs understand that we, like the Israelis, primarily speak to the Muslim world in the crude language of power and violence. And because of our entrancement with our own power and ability to project force, we are woefully out of touch. Israeli and American intelligence services did not foresee the popular uprising in Tunisia or Egypt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Israel’s new intelligence chief, told Knesset members last Tuesday that “there is no concern at the moment about the stability of the Egyptian government.” Tuesday, it turned out, was the day hundreds of thousands of Egyptians poured into the streets to begin their nationwide protests.

[Read more]

Why Are Wars Not Being Reported Honestly?

By John Pilger

Why Are Wars Not Being Reported Honestly?

The public needs to know the truth about wars. So why have journalists colluded with governments to hoodwink us?

In the US Army manual on counterinsurgency, the American commander General David Petraeus describes Afghanistan as a “war of perception . . . conducted continuously using the news media”. What really matters is not so much the day-to-day battles against the Taliban as the way the adventure is sold in America where “the media directly influence the attitude of key audiences”. Reading this, I was reminded of the Venezuelan general who led a coup against the democratic government in 2002. “We had a secret weapon,” he boasted. “We had the media, especially TV. You got to have the media.”

Never has so much official energy been expended in ensuring journalists collude with the makers of rapacious wars which, say the media-friendly generals, are now “perpetual”. In echoing the west’s more verbose warlords, such as the waterboarding former US vice-president Dick Cheney, who predicated “50 years of war”, they plan a state of permanent conflict wholly dependent on keeping at bay an enemy whose name they dare not speak: the public.

At Chicksands in Bedfordshire, the Ministry of Defence’s psychological warfare (Psyops) establishment, media trainers devote themselves to the task, immersed in a jargon world of “information dominance”, “asymmetric threats” and “cyberthreats”. They share premises with those who teach the interrogation methods that have led to a public inquiry into British military torture in Iraq. Disinformation and the barbarity of colonial war have much in common.

Of course, only the jargon is new. In the opening sequence of my film, The War You Don’t See, there is reference to a pre-WikiLeaks private conversation in December 1917 between David Lloyd George, Britain’s prime minister during much of the first world war, and CP Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian. “If people really knew the truth,” the prime minister said, “the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don’t know, and can’t know.”

In the wake of this “war to end all wars”, Edward Bernays, a confidante of President Woodrow Wilson, coined the term “public relations” as a euphemism for propaganda “which was given a bad name in the war”. In his book, Propaganda (1928), Bernays described PR as “an invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country” thanks to “the intelligent manipulation of the masses”. This was achieved by “false realities” and their adoption by the media. (One of Bernays’s early successes was persuading women to smoke in public. By associating smoking with women’s liberation, he achieved headlines that lauded cigarettes as “torches of freedom”.)

I began to understand this as a young reporter during the American war in Vietnam. During my first assignment, I saw the results of the bombing of two villages and the use of Napalm B, which continues to burn beneath the skin; many of the victims were children; trees were festooned with body parts. The lament that “these unavoidable tragedies happen in wars” did not explain why virtually the entire population of South Vietnam was at grave risk from the forces of their declared “ally”, the United States. PR terms like “pacification” and “collateral damage” became our currency. Almost no reporter used the word “invasion”. “Involvement” and later “quagmire” became staples of a news vocabulary that recognised the killing of civilians merely as tragic mistakes and seldom questioned the good intentions of the invaders.

On the walls of the Saigon bureaus of major American news organisations were often displayed horrific photographs that were never published and rarely sent because it was said they were would “sensationalise” the war by upsetting readers and viewers and therefore were not “objective”. The My Lai massacre in 1968 was not reported from Vietnam, even though a number of reporters knew about it (and other atrocities like it), but by a freelance in the US, Seymour Hersh. The cover of Newsweek magazine called it an “American tragedy”, implying that the invaders were the victims: a purging theme enthusiastically taken up by Hollywood in movies such as The Deer Hunter and Platoon. The war was flawed and tragic, but the cause was essentially noble. Moreover, it was “lost” thanks to the irresponsibility of a hostile, uncensored media.

Although the opposite of the truth, such false realties became the “lessons” learned by the makers of present-day wars and by much of the media. Following Vietnam, “embedding” journalists became central to war policy on both sides of the Atlantic. With honourable exceptions, this succeeded, especially in the US. In March 2003, some 700 embedded reporters and camera crews accompanied the invading American forces in Iraq. Watch their excited reports, and it is the liberation of Europe all over again. The Iraqi people are distant, fleeting bit players; John Wayne had risen again.

A statue of Saddam Hussein is pulled down in Baghdad on 9 April 2003. Photograph: Jerome Delay/AP

The apogee was the victorious entry into Baghdad, and the TV pictures of crowds cheering the felling of a statue of Saddam Hussein. Behind this façade, an American Psyops team successfully manipulated what an ignored US army report describes as a “media circus [with] almost as many reporters as Iraqis”. Rageh Omaar, who was there for the BBC, reported on the main evening news: “People have come out welcoming [the Americans], holding up V-signs. This is an image taking place across the whole of the Iraqi capital.” In fact, across most of Iraq, largely unreported, the bloody conquest and destruction of a whole society was well under way.

In The War You Don’t See, Omaar speaks with admirable frankness. “I didn’t really do my job properly,” he says. “I’d hold my hand up and say that one didn’t press the most uncomfortable buttons hard enough.” He describes how British military propaganda successfully manipulated coverage of the fall of Basra, which BBC News 24 reported as having fallen “17 times”. This coverage, he says, was “a giant echo chamber”.

The sheer magnitude of Iraqi suffering in the onslaught had little place in the news. Standing outside 10 Downing St, on the night of the invasion, Andrew Marr, then the BBC’s political editor, declared, “[Tony Blair] said that they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath and that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating, and on both of those points he has been proved conclusively right . . .” I asked Marr for an interview, but received no reply. In studies of the television coverage by the University of Wales, Cardiff, and Media Tenor, the BBC’s coverage was found to reflect overwhelmingly the government line and that reports of civilian suffering were relegated. Media Tenor places the BBC and America’s CBS at the bottom of a league of western broadcasters in the time they allotted to opposition to the invasion. “I am perfectly open to the accusation that we were hoodwinked,” said Jeremy Paxman, talking about Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction to a group of students last year. “Clearly we were.” As a highly paid professional broadcaster, he omitted to say why he was hoodwinked.

Dan Rather, who was the CBS news anchor for 24 years, was less reticent. “There was a fear in every newsroom in America,” he told me, “a fear of losing your job . . . the fear of being stuck with some label, unpatriotic or otherwise.” Rather says war has made “stenographers out of us” and that had journalists questioned the deceptions that led to the Iraq war, instead of amplifying them, the invasion would not have happened. This is a view now shared by a number of senior journalists I interviewed in the US.

In Britain, David Rose, whose Observer articles played a major part in falsely linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaida and 9/11, gave me a courageous interview in which he said, “I can make no excuses . . . What happened [in Iraq] was a crime, a crime on a very large scale . . .”

“Does that make journalists accomplices?” I asked him.

“Yes . . . unwitting perhaps, but yes.”

What is the value of journalists speaking like this? The answer is provided by the great reporter James Cameron, whose brave and revealing filmed report, made with Malcolm Aird, of the bombing of civilians in North Vietnam was banned by the BBC. “If we who are meant to find out what the bastards are up to, if we don’t report what we find, if we don’t speak up,” he told me, “who’s going to stop the whole bloody business happening again?”

Cameron could not have imagined a modern phenomenon such as WikiLeaks but he would have surely approved. In the current avalanche of official documents, especially those that describe the secret machinations that lead to war – such as the American mania over Iran – the failure of journalism is rarely noted. And perhaps the reason Julian Assange seems to excite such hostility among journalists serving a variety of “lobbies”, those whom George Bush’s press spokesman once called “complicit enablers”, is that WikiLeaks and its truth-telling shames them. Why has the public had to wait for WikiLeaks to find out how great power really operates? As a leaked 2,000-page Ministry of Defence document reveals, the most effective journalists are those who are regarded in places of power not as embedded or clubbable, but as a “threat”. This is the threat of real democracy, whose “currency”, said Thomas Jefferson, is “free flowing information”.

In my film, I asked Assange how WikiLeaks dealt with the draconian secrecy laws for which Britain is famous. “Well,” he said, “when we look at the Official Secrets Act labelled documents, we see a statement that it is an offence to retain the information and it is an offence to destroy the information, so the only possible outcome is that we have to publish the information.” These are extraordinary times.

www.johnpilger.com

• The War You Don’t See is in cinemas and on DVD from 13 December, and is broadcast on ITV on 14 December at 10.35pm

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