Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

“Democracy Now!” Gets Nuclear Ban Vote Totally Wrong

By Sam Husseini | October 28, 2016

“Democracy Now” sadly continues its descent, which I’ve alluded to occasionally on twitter. To fully tell this story would require a very long and detailed piece, but the latest chapter of this is worth noting in more than a tweet as it happens. On this morning’s headlines, Amy Goodman claimed:

The United Nations on Thursday voted overwhelmingly to start talks aimed at abolishing all nuclear weapons. The landmark resolution will see the U.N. convene a conference next year to negotiate a legally binding instrument for worldwide nuclear prohibition. The vote was 123-38, with 16 countries abstaining. Voting against were all nine known nuclear states: China, Russia, France, Britain, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea as well as the United States. [Note, this is wording as broadcast, the transcript is minorly different.]

In fact, China, India and Pakistan abstained. North Korea actually voted for the resolution. As even the AP correctly reported: “The United States, Russia, Israel, France and the United Kingdom were among the countries voting against the measure.” See country by country breakdown results from International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. See excellent map from ILPI. If you’re still skeptical, see actual pic of vote board.

As Ira Helfand — past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility and currently co-president of that group’s global federation, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War — noted in Nukes and the U.N.: a Historic Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons:

The ‘No’ votes came from the nuclear weapons states, and U.S. allies in NATO, plus Japan, South Korea and Australia, which have treaty ties to the U.S., and consider themselves to be under the protection of the ‘U.S. nuclear umbrella.’

But four nuclear weapons states broke ranks, with China, India and Pakistan abstaining, and North Korea voting in favor of the treaty negotiations. In addition, the Netherlands defied intense pressure from the rest of NATO and abstained, as did Finland, which is not a member of NATO but has close ties with the alliance.

So, what actually happened is that the U.S. and various client states — especially, but not limited to, NATO members — voted against the nuclear weapons ban. China, India and Pakistan abstained — not voted against as “Democracy Now!” claimed. And North Korea actually voted for the resolution — U.S. client state South Korea voted with the U.S. against.

It would be interesting to see how a mistake like this could possibly happen. Icing on the cake is the way it was phrased, even above and beyond the outright falsehoods about China, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Goodman claimed “as well as the United States” — as if the U.S. were an afterthought when it’s obvious that the U.S. government has been leading the effort against the vote. As the German Press Agency reported: “Due to U.S. pressure, 27 of the 28 NATO member states voted against the resolution with the Netherlands abstaining.”

Such errors are likely a consequences of a world view that seems to not fully grasp, or perhaps not want to grasp or communicate, the threat the U.S. government poses to much of humanity in terms of the actual nature of U.S. foreign policy.

October 28, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

Democracy Now?

By Richard Hugus | Aletho News | October 3, 2016

When it comes to Syria, the supposedly “alternative” media outlet, “Democracy Now!” promotes a line no different from the US State Department. In its September 29, 2016 broadcast, “Democracy Now!” co-host Narmine Shaikh describes a “devastating bombing campaign by the Syrian government and Russia in the city of Aleppo” three days earlier, saying that “the two largest hospitals in Aleppo were forced to close after being hit by airstrikes.”

The broadcast implies that, for no reason, public hospitals in Aleppo were intentionally bombed by Syria and Russia. There is no explanation of why they would do this. No proof is given that the hospitals were operational, whether they were in fact bombed, who bombed them, or who controlled them. Instead, in the background, we see videos of blasted buildings and innocent people, including a small child, apparently being rescued from the rubble of collapsed buildings. The video implies that this was done by the Syrian government and Russia, but the time and place of the footage is not provided. The footage of the rescue of the small child carries the logo of the western propaganda NGO, the White Helmets, and has no credibility. Amy Goodman describes this group as “Syria civil defense forces” but Vanessa Beeley has reported that Syria has a real civil defense organization, which the White Helmets are not a part of; the White Helmets are USAID-funded impostors making propaganda videos to demonize Russia and Assad. Beeley also reports:

“Western media infers that those being targeted are civilians, not members of the Nusra Front and other foreign-funded terrorist brigades, and that all these “civilians” are being mercilessly bombed by Russian and Syrian air strikes.

All three main hospitals are fully occupied by the various armed insurgencies led by the Nusra Front, according to Dr. Hayak [a doctor in non-occupied Aleppo], who said they use the top floors as sniper towers.”

Without comment, “Democracy Now!” plays a clip in which President Obama says, “the key in Syria now is that, unless we can get the parties involved to realize they are just burning their country to the ground . . . there’s going to be a limit to what we can do.” Obama promotes the idea that Syria is in the midst of a terrible civil war and that the most the US can do there is “to mitigate the pain and suffering those folks are undergoing.” How generous of the US! Why doesn’t it just end its massive support for the killers that are attacking and occupying Syria? The question would not be raised by “Democracy Now!”.

By showing dramatic footage of bombed buildings and injured civilians and blaming it on the Syrian government and Russia, “Democracy Now!” is providing everything the US needs to finally claim that it must carry out another “humanitarian war,” this time against Syria. A key promoter of this Orwellian concept is Samantha Power, who, as US ambassador to the UN, barely conceals the contempt she and her fellow neocons have for the rest of the world. In an insulting an officious tone, this instigator of war called Russia “barbaric” for its alleged bombing of Aleppo. “Democracy Now!” airs a clip showing Ban Ki Moon saying the same thing. Though he does not name Russia or Syria, we are led to believe that Russia and the Syrian government were the perpetrators of killing worse than what takes place in “a slaughterhouse.” Of course, when the US kills people, it is always done humanely. Humanitarian killing has been Samantha Power’s specialty since the war on Yugoslavia, where the US and NATO dropped humanitarian bombs on Serbia for 79 straight days.

Two guests appear on the September 29 program, both introduced as grassroots Syrian human rights activists. The first, Osama Nasser, seems to be stumbling over a script he was given to read while Amy Goodman struggles not to look annoyed. Nasser says that Aleppo is being attacked by Russia and Syrian regime forces and that the US is doing nothing to help, as if the US were not already there in any other capacity. For instance, he does not mention the ongoing occupation of Aleppo by US forces cloned from al-Qaeda, and the “Democracy Now!” hosts do nothing to raise this obvious point. Al-Qaeda foreign mercenaries are supposed to be the arch-enemy of the US, so mentioning them would only confuse people. Thanks to other news sources, we know that the Syrian army and Russia are fighting to force al-Qaeda out of Aleppo.

When Osama Nasser gets through his talking points, on comes the more polished Yasser Munif, speaking from Emerson College in Boston. Munif pushes an idea designed to appeal to western leftists, that since 2011 Syria has been experiencing a domestic grassroots revolution, the main enemy of which is President Assad, who came down on the revolution with brutal repression. Munif does not mention that the 2011 protests were likely orchestrated by Israel and the West in the first place to destabilize Syria. But one would think, if they didn’t get this in 2011, that when they saw their cause being taken over by thousands of mercenaries from other countries, these grassroots revolutionaries would perhaps take a break from the “revolution” to get rid of the invaders. But Munif and other proponents of the so-called grassroots movement insist that all along there has been only one problem – the Syrian government. The US State Department and the Syrian Revolution are, conveniently, in full agreement: Bashar al-Assad is the root of all evil. “Assad must go” is at the top of the list of propaganda points.

In his commentary, Munif says that the Syrian government has used the media “to create a parallel reality” – a phrase taken from whoever creates buzzwords for John Kerry, who said in the same week that Russian-Syrian assertions of the US responsibility for sabotaging a ceasefire made him feel like he was living in “a parallel world.” The world that most other people live in could see that the US was clearly guilty of sabotage.

The propaganda we are seeing in the world today relies on a full 180º overturning of reality. The horrendous crimes being committed by the US, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and others in Syria, as they are carried out, are immediately blamed on the victims of those crimes – the people of Syria — and on Russia, the one nation which has stood up in Syria’s defense. “Democracy Now!” is doing its part in this subterfuge by making sure that liberals and leftists who follow the show are properly misled. It does this by devoting a lot of its program space to good causes, like exposing the epidemic (surely a policy by now) of police murders of blacks on US streets. Indeed, most of the September 29 program was devoted to the then latest murder of Ugandan refugee, Alfred Olango.

But “Democracy Now!” is no different than any of the mainstream media news programs – it omits any analysis of Israel’s role in instigating a war against Arab and Muslim nations, it omits any critique of the power of the Israel lobby, it omits any examination of the neocons and their agenda for Israel, and it omits any coverage of the fact that the September 11, 2001 attacks were planned and carried out by the neocons and others in order to begin the succession of wars that followed. This is by no means a complete list of the services rendered by “Democracy Now!”.  The program would not be on the air, getting generous funding and wide exposure, if it were not doing some heavy lifting. The self-righteousness coming off the screen of this supposedly radical left news program makes it even more offensive than Fox News.

More articles by Richard Hugus

October 3, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Gurus of the progressive community . . . Chomsky and Goodman

By Dave Alpert | Intrepid Report | May 23, 2016

There was a time when I, like tens of thousands of my progressive partners, held Noam Chomsky and Amy Goodman in awe. After all, Amy informed us and Noam spoke for us, coherently explaining the issues. However, as I became more aware and more informed, I realized that there were great differences between their thinking and mine.

In many instances, our gurus spoke with forked tongue. Although Amy’s program Democracy Now! was informative, there were many areas of reporting that were out of bounds and were not reported on.

One could legitimately claim that reporters cannot report on everything and they would be right. But let us be honest. When 9/11 occurred, it was an historical event and an event that changed the course of history. Where was Amy? Relatively silent. She invited David Ray Griffin, who has written several books illustrating the lies and misdirections of the government’s narrative about that day, to Democracy Now! which one could claim was a significant journalistic move.

However, instead of interviewing him so that he could reveal to her listening audience the facts that he had accumulated that put into question the government’s explanations of that day, she paired him with a pro-government guest who spent the hour attacking Griffin personally and ignoring any of the data Griffin produced. It became a three-ring circus and helped sabotage any impetus the Truth Movement might have gained within the progressive community. Was that her goal? I’m not sure I can answer that but it was a successful strategy, progressives seemed reluctant to support the Truth Movement. The Movement was being portrayed as one in which there were marginal “conspiracy nuts” leading the charge and should be avoided.

Where was Noam Chomsky on this issue? Despite the significance of 9/11, Chomsky has remained relatively passive concerning this event.

During an interview on Democracy Now!, Noam Chomsky stated that he believes Osama bin Laden was probably behind the attacks of September 11, 2001. The statement was curious because in earlier interviews Chomsky described the evidence against bin Laden as thin to nonexistent, which was accurate and, no doubt, explains why the US Department of Justice never indicted bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks.

In two peer-reviewed papers published in 2008–2009, independent scientists reported finding residues of nanothermite, an incendiary, military level explosive which is capable of cutting through steel, in dust samples from the collapsed World Trade Center. The scientists also found tiny flakes of unexploded nanothermite.

How did this explosive material get into the dust at the WTC? Certainly, one could conclude that the explosives were used to bring down all three towers (WTC #7 collapsed later that day in free fall time despite the fact a plane never touched it).

This evidence of explosives coupled with the testimony of many New York City firemen, who claimed they heard a continuing series of explosions before the towers collapsed, and the testimony of Willie Rodriquez, a maintenance worker in the towers, who stated that there was an explosion in the sub-basement before any planes flew into the towers, make it clear that it was the explosives, not the planes that brought the towers down. The question now is, who planted these explosives in the three buildings that collapsed? It takes time to set up a controlled demolition which means the explosives had been placed in the buildings prior to 9/11. Does this sound like a conspiracy to anyone?

In response to a question at the University of Florida recently, Noam Chomsky claimed that there were only “a minuscule number of architects and engineers” who felt that the official account of WTC Building 7 should be treated with skepticism. Chomsky followed-up by saying, “a tiny number—a couple of them—are perfectly serious.” The reality is that close to 2,500 architects and engineers have expressed their doubts about the government’s explanation of how and why the towers fell. It doesn’t matter how many professionals or intellectuals are willing to admit it. The facts remain that the U.S. government’s account for the destruction of the WTC on 9/11 is purely false. There is no science behind the government’s explanation for WTC 7 or for the Twin Towers and everyone, including the government, admits that WTC Building 7 experienced free fall on 9/11. There is no explanation for that other than the use of explosives.

Also, Chomsky’s assumption that only a small number of architects and engineers have expressed support for the notion that the towers fell because of explosives planted in the buildings and that a much larger majority of architects and engineers have remained silent, is the argument of the absurd. It is equivalent to implying that if 10,000 New Yorkers claim the schools are substandard, because the rest of New Yorkers remain silent, the schools cannot be considered substandard.

Chomsky and Goodman are bright, knowledgeable, intelligent people. What has influenced them to avoid confronting the government regarding the events of 9/11?

The fact that 9/11 investigators had already presented substantial documented evidence for: prior warnings, Air Force stand-down, anomalous insider trading connected to the CIA, withdrawal of most of the U.S. fighter planes from the east coast to participate in military exercises on that particular day, cover-up of the domestic anthrax attacks, inconsistencies in identities and timelines of “hijackers” did not appear to influence either Amy or Noam.

Their influence on people who view themselves as progressive cannot be over estimated. When I began questioning the government’s role regarding 9/11, several of my friends responded to me negatively and said specifically that if my suspicions had any legitimacy, Chomsky and Goodman would be speaking out.

Ever since the events of 9/11, the American Left and even ultra-Left have been downright fanatical in combating notions that the U.S. government was complicit in the attacks or at least had foreknowledge of the events.

This kind of response from Chomsky regarding possible government conspiracies is not new. He still insists that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman in Dallas. Anyone who still supports the Warren Commission hoax after 50 years of countering proofs is either ill-informed, dumb, gullible, afraid to speak truths to power or a disinformation agent.

Michael Morrissey stated, in one of his articles, “Rethinking Chomsky,” in 1994, “we should be clear about the stand that ‘America’s leading intellectual dissident,’ as he is often called, has taken on the assassination. It is not significantly different from that of the Warren Commission or the majority of Establishment journalists and government apologists, and diametrically opposed to the view ‘widely held in the grassroots movements and among left intellectuals’ and in fact to the view of the majority of the population.”

Michael Parenti states, “Conspiracy is a legitimate concept in law: the collusion of two or more people pursuing illegal means to effect some illegal or immoral end. People go to jail for committing conspiratorial acts. Conspiracies are a matter of public record, and some are of real political significance. The Watergate break-in was a conspiracy, as was the Watergate cover-up, which led to Nixon’s downfall. Iran-contra was a conspiracy of immense scope, much of it still uncovered. The savings and loan scandal was described by the Justice Department as “a thousand conspiracies of fraud, theft, and bribery,” the greatest financial crime in history.”

However, the word conspiracy is often used by those in power, who have participated in a conspiracy to advance their own power and/or wealth, as a label to marginalize and neutralize those who seek to reveal the conspiracy. Thus we, as a society, have developed what Parenti calls conspiracy phobia.

The behavior of both Chomsky and Goodman have led me to conclude that they hesitate to see the conspiracies for fear that such acknowledgment would compromise their reputations. Either that or they are controlled by powerful people who censor their behavior. We cannot afford to accept what they say at face value.

Chomsky’s questionable political positioning is still evident today. On May 17, Chomsky appeared on Democracy Now! and was asked by Amy Goodman to speak on the Syrian crisis. Chomsky is a linguist and words are very meaningful to him. So what he said and how he said it is significant.

“It’s necessary to cut off the flow of arms, as much as possible, to everyone. That means to the vicious and brutal Assad regime, primarily Russia and Iran, to the monstrous ISIS, which has been getting support tacitly through Turkey, through—to the al-Nusra Front, which is hardly different, has just the—the al-Qaeda affiliate, technically broke from it, but actually the al-Qaeda affiliate, which is now planning its own—some sort of emirate, getting arms from our allies, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Our own—the CIA is arming them.”

I found it particularly informative that he describes Assad’s regime as vicious and brutal and places Russia and Iran right alongside ISIS.

If Assad’s government is really brutal and vicious, why did 86% of the Syrian people vote for him in the last election. Also, let it be clear that it was Russia’s entrance into the conflict last September that led to the retreat of ISIS from many cities and villages, a success that the U.S. had avoided for a year. Syrians who were freed from ISIS rule were openly happy to welcome Assad’s “brutal” army into their villages. Many Syrian refugees began returning to their homes.

Chomsky also managed to portray the Irish Republican Army (IRA) as terrorists in their conflict with Britain. He conveniently omitted the context for their behavior . . . the brutality of British rule against the Irish Catholics for hundreds of years.

Both Amy and Noam are extremely influential and have attained a degree of power amongst progressives. It is crucial that we remain aware of what they are telling us, how they are framing it, and what it is they are not telling us. Both seem to have provided, and continue to provide today, a cover from the left for the U.S.’s imperialist agenda.

Chomsky is called upon to address various issues periodically. Amy, on the other hand, is viewed every week, Monday through Friday. It is easy to identify her evolution into someone slightly to the left of MSNBC.

With the world collapsing around her, she offers relative silence on issues such as the U.S. supported takeover of the Ukrainian government by neo-Nazis, the surrounding of Russia by U.S. and NATO military forces, the threat of WW3 which would likely be a nuclear war, the Syrian crisis and the U.S. desire to overthrow Assad’s government, the humanitarian crisis in Libya, the coup to oust Dilma Rousseff from office in Brazil, the ongoing collapse of the Venezuelan economy and the threat to the Maduro government (please note: both Rousseff and Maduro are progressive thinkers—is the U.S. behind the collapse of their governments?). She does not address the continuous wars sponsored by the U.S. and NATO countries in their imperialistic ventures.

Instead, most of her time is spent covering the election and interviewing guests who have recently published books. Her program has mellowed. Most of her guests are establishment people, people MSNBC would not hesitate to have on. The radical view, the view that challenges the establishment, is no longer part of her coverage.

Amy’s audience expects to get the news coverage and the variety of views the MSM does not provide. Today’s Democracy Now! no longer provides that.

Dave Alpert has masters degrees in social work, educational administration, and psychology.

August 30, 2016 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Noam Chomsky and Zionism

The Kevin Barrett-Chomsky Dispute in Historical Perspective – Seventh part of the series titled “9/11 and the Zionist Question” – Read the sixth part here.

Noam Chomsky Zionism ee22b

By Prof. Tony Hall | American Herald Tribune | July 30, 2016

Understanding of the nature of the lies and crimes of 9/11 has moved quite far in the decade between the publication of Barrie Zwicker’s Towers of Deception in 2006 and Kevin Barrett’s 2016 presentation at the Left Forum. Where Zwicker emphasized Chomsky’s connection to the US deep state, Kevin Barrett views Chomsky as a Zionist with deep attachments to Israel where he lived and worked on a kibbutz in the early 1950s.

Chomsky’s relationship with Israel is outlined in flattering terms in a fluff piece in a publication entitled Tablet, a heavily pro-Zionist venue featuring other interviews with the likes of Elliot Abrams. Abrams was an influential member of the Project for the New American Century, the neocon lobby group that in 2000 notoriously signaled the forthcoming 9/11 strikes by calling for “something like a new Pearl Harbor.”

In the Tablet interview, Noam Chomsky explained the attachments and preoccupations of his Jewish orthodox parents. In his seminal years, Hebrew was the main language of the Chomsky family, a linguistic asset that the younger Chomsky would later call upon in his career as a student of linguistics.

Noam Chomsky’s father pointed his son towards the writings of Jewish philosopher Ahad Ha’am. Chomsky looked back fondly on his father’s account of Ha’am’s advocacy of “a Zionist revival in Israel, in Palestine.” The aim of this revival would be to create “a cultural center for the Jewish people.” Chomsky elaborates, explaining Ha’am’s view that “Jews as primarily a Diaspora community needed a cultural center that has a physical presence. Ha’am was said to be very sympathetic to the Palestinians.” Ha’am wanted kindly treatment of the Palestinians but he left no doubt that they should move aside to make room for what Chomsky refers to again and again as a “Jewish cultural center.”

In the Tablet article Chomsky’s orientation towards Israel is publicly portrayed as that of a loyalist calling for a kinder gentler form of Zionism. As Kevin Barrett sees it, however, Chomsky’s willingness to criticize the Israeli state, but especially its abuses and assaults directed at the Palestinian people, should not be allowed to take away from understanding that he is a committed Zionist intent on protecting and advancing Israel’s interests.

Chomsky’s position on 9/11 has been replicated throughout much of the Left where well-funded gatekeeping, sponsored by the likes of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, is indeed rife. There is a conspicuous absence of leading Jewish intellectuals that have publicly attempted to decipher what actually transpired in New York, Washington and the air lanes of the northeastern United States during the transformative day of September 11, 2001. Consider, for instance, the relationship of Miko Peled, Medea Benjamin, Michael Albert, David Corn, Amy Goodman, George Monbiot, Cy Gonick, Judy Rebick to the enterprise of exposing the lies and crimes of 9/11. Their evasiveness or outright hostility to the 9/11 skeptics is shared by many non-Jewish public intellectuals including Chris Hedges, John Pilger, and Tariq Ali.

Some, but especially Chomsky, have gone beyond maintaining a strategic silence to incite smear campaigns against those that have displayed skepticism towards the official narrative of 9/11. Chomsky sets the bar low in portraying the demeaned “truthers” as an undifferentiated collection of stupid, backward and decrepit souls. “Their lives are no good… Their lives are collapsing… They are people at a loss… Nothing makes any sense… They don’t understand what an explanation is… They think they are experts in physics and civil engineering on the basis of one hour on the Internet.”

These comments reflect the shockingly low level of Chomsky’s near hysterical effort to divert attention away from evidence of what really transpired on 9/11. This type of personalized attack, as if the 9/11 Truth Movement is collectively guilty of some sort of horrific thought crime, replicates on ideological grounds some of the worst attributes of racism and bigotry.

Unfortunately Chomsky’s interventions are fairly representative of the overall quality of many Zionist attacks on the 9/11 Truth Movement.  As is especially clear in the writings of Jonathan Kay, for instance, Zionist smear tactics directed at 9/11 “truthers” extend many of the same themes of induced hatred directed at Muslims by the Zionist propagandists in charge of the Islamophobia Industry.

Chomsky’s critical orientation to the actions and power structure of the Israeli government is similar to his critical orientation to the actions and power structure of the United States. Chomsky’s bottom line, however, is his attachment to the Jewish state as the site of a Jewish cultural renaissance that he seeks to advance and protect.

Chomsky refuses to accept that US foreign policy and the foreign policies of the former dependencies of Anglo-American empire have become subordinate to the imperatives of Zionist lobbies as well as to the networks of media, banking and corporate power that serve them. These lobbies figure prominently in the formulation and execution of the Israeli government’s foreign policies. Organizations like the B’nai Brith or Abe Foxman’s thuggish Anti-Defamation League are in reality ideological and political proxy armies. Their role is to silence critics of the Israeli government, to brand as anti-semitic any efforts to identify fundamental disparities in access to power.

All these factors converge to expose Chomsky’s role in serving the dominant clique that emerged from the global coup d’état of September 11, 2001. Chomsky’s power-serving misrepresentations on this subject present an important window into the study of the relationship between 9/11 and the structuring of national and global hierarchies of power. What is the role of universities and the media in the connections linking 9/11 to the Zionist Question, a contemporary extension of what Karl Marx and others used to refer to frequently in European literature as the Jewish Question?

You will read “A Public Intellectual Outside the Protections of the Academy” in the next part.

August 12, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism, Islamophobia | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lesser Evil Politics: Really, Noam? Hubert Humphrey?

By David McDonald | CounterPunch | July 8, 2016

Is no one else tired of alternate history politics? You know, how you caused the Iraq War because you voted for Nader in 2000? I would rather jump into a pool of sludge than read more on that one. The entire enterprise is suspect because it involves just making stuff up and once you go there the sky’s the limit so you can blame anyone for anything. That’s why this tactic never dies. We are spared Al Gore in the present instance, but the price is steep.

Now Noam Chomsky has brought a cudgel to this fight. Trust me, it’s a blunt instrument.

Back in ’68, Chomsky says, “the ultraleft faction of the peace movement” caused the election of Richard Nixon by “minimizing the comparative danger” of a Nixon presidency, thereby making the huge strategic mistake of foisting Nixon on the world, prolonging the Vietnam War by “six years” and causing senseless deaths and untold suffering because we voted our hearts, not our minds.

Fortunately for those of us who were running around doing stuff in the antiwar movement and not voting Democrat, not a word of this is true.

The first fail is this: Nixon could not have been defeated even if every last member of “the ultraleft faction of the peace movement” had voted for the Democrat Humphrey, along with all their friends and relations. The devil is in those pesky electoral votes. The difference of .7% in popular vote ballooned to an electoral defeat of 301 to 191 to 46 (George Wallace), so Humphrey would have needed to pick up a bunch of states with 79 electoral votes to get to 270.

Let’s look at one of them: California. This state has a lot of data, a lot of 3rd party candidates and is favorable for Chomsky’s argument since Nixon’s victory margin there was only three percentage points. (His margin was closer in only 5 states totaling 84 electoral votes but greater in 26 others.) Nevertheless, Humphrey came up short by 223,346 votes. Now, if all the votes for all 3rd party candidates are thrown in with an equal number for their friends and family, and if this total is doubled again to account for ultraleft abstentions, Humphrey still loses California by over 10,000 votes. Chomsky’s LEV argument fails the test of arithmetic.

Really? How was it that the combined antiwar forces of 1968 could not marshal another couple hundred thousand votes (if they got their heads on straight) and could only muster 52,000 votes for all the third parties in a very contested election? Well, we didn’t have the vote. The voting age was 21. If you graduated high school after 1965 you were too young to vote in 1968. That was almost everybody in the movement. Repeat: the antiwar movement could not have saved Humphrey if it wanted to, because we didn’t have the vote. Fail.

The second fail is the preposterous charge of extending the war by 6 years. The war only lasted 6 more years under Nixon/Ford, so the Democrat, if elected, would have had to declare not just immediate but instant withdrawal. As we shall see, that is an otherworldly conjecture. Why not just claim to shorten the war by several years? This is not the only time this brief reads like a really sloppy first draft and makes an unforced error.

Chomsky himself has noted elsewhere the manner in which the decision to withdraw from Vietnam was actually made by the rulers of America. Sorry, but background. The single most important event of the Vietnam War occurred on January 31, 1968: the Tet Offensive. An armed insurrection broke out in every major town and every provincial capital and in Saigon itself, where the US Embassy was breached and partly overrun. Though this insurrection was short-lived and massively attacked with the full might of the assembled US military; although the insurrectionary forces were at least savagely repressed if not obliterated almost everywhere, and though it took years to rebuild the networks that were sacrificed in those few days; and notwithstanding the fact that the “insurrection” failed to mobilize any segment of the South Vietnamese society in noticeable let alone decisive numbers and relied instead of members of the NLF; nevertheless, the Tet Offensive is widely understood as one of the greatest military victories of history because it destroyed the will of the American people to pursue the war.

Many colonial powers have endured uprisings by subject peoples and continued more or less unfazed, like the British in India and the French in Algeria, at least for a while. But in America we were fed, for years, the lie that the war was being won and pacification of local hamlets and villages was happily proceeding. The end was in sight. So the shock of Tet in America was total. Suddenly a lot of people stopped believing anything the government said about Vietnam.

President Lyndon Johnson also stopped believing what he heard about Vietnam and in the wake of Tet instructed his new Secretary of Defense, an old pal and Democratic Party fixer going back to Truman, to assess the government’s ability to field the 205,000 more troops requested by Gen. Westmoreland as the way to put Tet behind them and go on winning the war. That was the official task but Johnson was tired of hearing totally different stories from different parts of his government and wanted to put the entire security cabinet, as the Israelis would call it, in the same room where they would be forced to arrive at an agreed assessment with no chance of weaseling out later. After three days the new Secretary of Defense concluded there was no way whatsoever to win the war and the US should adopt the strategy called “Vietnamization,” the effort to turn over fighting to the armed forces of the puppet government Washington had been propping up for over a decade. Everyone understood this could not be an overnight affair like evacuating Dunkirk, for dozens of reasons. Everyone also knew Vietnamization would never work and the real point was to disguise defeat. Whole books have been written about this. Allies had to be placated and lies prepared not just for our own but also the people of the unfortunate countries who followed the US down this rabbit hole and provided troops, like Australia and South Korea, the latter providing 50,000. Withdrawal was never going to happen in less than years, on purpose. Total fail #2.

Oddly, Chomsky’s brief never mentions by name the person we should have voted for back when we doomed the Vietnamese to six more years of war in our ultra-left fever. This is at least consistent with Chomsky’s past practice regarding Humphrey. Between when he started writing on social and political issues in February of 1967 with the explosive publication of “The Responsibility of Intellectuals” and the 1968 election Chomsky penned five important essays that established him forever as a leading American intellectual, scourge of the Vietnam War, and a man who names names. A man who would out the head of his own department in writing as no more than an academic war profiteer.

In those essays he mentions Humphrey twice, both times in passing. First:

[T]he Vice President tells us that we are fighting “militant Asian Communism” with “its headquarters in Peking” and adds that a Viet Cong victory would directly threaten the United States[.]

This is so beyond stupid that the old Chomsky, who knew when a thing spoke for itself, made no comment. Walter Lippmann, a right-wing commentator, did point out that this bespoke an unseemly lack of confidence in the US Navy. In the second mention in this blistering political year, discussing moral choices, Chomsky puts Humphrey in some spotty company thinking very bad thoughts, but also in passing, like Dante might mention some subsidiary clod shivering in a corner of some circle of hell:

Suppose that it were in the American “national interest” to pound into rubble a small nation that refuses to submit to our will. Would it then be legitimate and proper for us to act “in this national interest”? The Rusks and the Humphreys and the Citizens Committee say “Yes”. Nothing could show more clearly how we are taking the road of the fascist aggressors of a generation ago.

Is this really everything Chomsky wrote about the Man who Might Have Stopped the War? When an endorsement, in Chomsky’s mind at least, might have mattered ? Yes. That is all.

We have seen that it was mathematically impossible for Humphrey to win California, one of his better states. We have seen that the decision to exit Vietnam was taken at the level of the deep state with not an elected official in the room. Further, that the necessity to mask defeat birthed Vietnamization, which allowed for blaming everything on the hapless South Vietnamese Army as it visibly disintegrated. All this would take time. Nobody cared.

It is clear that for something other than the slow-assed withdrawal outlined above to occur Humphrey would have had to take on the entire establishment. The final fail is that Chomsky does not argue what he must: that there was something known about Humphrey’s character at the time that might make such a head-on challenge to his own administration plausible. Who, then, was Hubert Humphrey?

First, as Chomsky notes above, Humphrey was first and foremost an anti-Communist. And not just in words: He made his bones in Minnesota politics by helping to destroy the Farmer-Labor Party and fold it into the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. This meant wiping out pockets of radicalism left over from the titanic victory of the Teamsters Strike of 1934, often with the use of thugs. In national politics he sponsored a bill to make membership in the Communist Party illegal, sponsored other outlandish pieces of anti-communist legislation, voted to establish detention camps for people like us, was a founder of the anti-communist Americans for Democratic Action and was at least as full-throated an anti-communist with credentials rivaling Nixon’s.

Second, he was an order-taking schnook, and everybody knew it. It is said he advised LBJ early on that Vietnam was a loser but lost his taste for that truth when LBJ froze him out for a couple of months. Since Humphrey considered Johnson’s favor his only possible road into the White House, in the time-honored way of American politicians he proceeded to say exactly what he was told to say for the next four years, never mind that he didn’t believe it. He thus became the Administration’s foremost spokesperson on the war and gave an astonishing 400 speeches defending the Administration’s Vietnam policy.

Robert Kennedy, smelling blood because Clean Gene McCarthy almost handed Johnson his ass in the 1968 New Hampshire primary, entered the race and chased Johnson out within weeks. Before the public announcement that he would not run Johnson coldly told an ashen-faced Humphrey he would have to run against Kennedy and Humphrey, knowing he was dead meat, obeyed. Only Kennedy’s assassination saved him from utter humiliation. He took not one step to distinguish himself from Johnson’s Vietnam position during the entire campaign.

By the record, no one (except his lawyer) ever considered him a man whose thoughts or actions on the war need be discussed. Everything Chomsky himself said about Humphrey during these tumultuous times is quoted in full above. Gabriel Kolko in Anatomy of a War mentions only “Hubert Humphrey’s faltering campaign for the presidency.” In Fred Halstead’s highly detailed history of the antiwar movement Out Now he is again mentioned only once, in passing, as the evident choice of the Democratic Party machine while Jerry Rubin’s index citations run to half a column.

It is not real to think that such a man might impose his will on the machinery of state and speed up the withdrawal from Vietnam. If Chomsky has reasons to believe this, he has kept them to himself. Nothing in history and nothing in Humphrey’s character bears him out. Third and final fail.

Do you still think I have missed the boat? Let’s finally then let the candidates speak for themselves on Vietnam. Here are their respective positions as delivered from the podium during their acceptance speeches.

Humphrey:

“Let those who believe that our cause in Vietnam has been right — and those who believe it has been wrong — agree here and now: Neither vindication nor repudiation will bring peace or be worthy of our country.

The question is: What do we do now?

No one knows what the situation in Vietnam will be on January 20, 1969.

Every heart in America prays that, by then, we shall have reached a cease-fire in all Vietnam, and be in serious negotiation toward a durable peace.

Meanwhile, as a citizen, a candidate, and Vice President, I pledge to you and to my fellow Americans, that I shall do everything within my power to aid the negotiations and to bring a prompt end to this war.”

Nixon:

“We shall begin with Vietnam.

We all hope in this room that there is a chance that current negotiations may bring an honorable end to that war. And we will say nothing during this campaign that might destroy that chance.

But if the war is not ended when the people choose in November, the choice will be clear. Here it is.

For four years this Administration has had at its disposal the greatest military and economic advantage that one nation has ever had over another in any war in history.

For four years, America’s fighting men have set a record for courage and sacrifice unsurpassed in our history.

For four years, this Administration has had the support of the Loyal Opposition for the objective of seeking an honorable end to the struggle.

Never has so much military and economic and diplomatic power been used so ineffectively.

And if after all of this time and all of this sacrifice and all of this support there is still no end in sight, then I say the time has come for the American people to turn to new leadership — not tied to the mistakes and the policies of the past. That is what we offer to America.

And I pledge to you tonight that the first priority foreign policy objective of our next Administration will be to bring an honorable end to the war in Vietnam. We shall not stop there — we need a policy to prevent more Vietnams.”

Can’t tell the difference? Neither could we.

The paucity of effort Chomsky expends on this surreal exercise in alternate history politics is notable. He isn’t really trying. He never mentions Humphrey by name. He fact-checks nothing. He does not even appear to know what a Hobson’s Choice is. That’s because all the thinking, if you want to call it that, was done long ago when Chomsky joined the Democrat’s team and stopped thinking about how to actually forge political independence.

The genius of the Democrats is that they will cheerfully allow you to say anything at all, as a Democrat, so long as you toe the line on election day. No harm, no foul. Hence the livelihoods of predictable shills like Rachel Maddow, Thom Hartmann, Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzales.

It is slightly different with Chomsky because he has maintained the step of organizational independence from the Democrats, does not suggest that the Democrats can be reformed or taken over, and yet still demands we vote for them if a vote against them might actually hurt. He has, by his own admission, voted in this manner for the last 17 presidential elections. In practice he is a Democratic Party dues cheater pretending a political independence he has never demonstrated.

July 9, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Left Forum Conference Ignores US-NATO Genocide

By Jay Janson | Dissident Voice | June 3, 2014

The Left Forum’s tenth annual conference was held this year at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, part of the City University of New York. Left Forum describes itself as “convening “the largest annual conference of a broad spectrum of left and progressive intellectuals, activists, academics, organizations and the interested public.”

The rather enigmatic theme for Left Forum 2014 was “Reform and/or Revolution: Imagining a World of Transformative Justice,” but one heard no mention of justice for the victims of sixty-nine years of US-NATO genocide presently ongoing in a dozen Muslim nations in the Middle-East and Africa as being a reason for either “reform” or “revolution.” The entire focus of the three day event, save in a a very small number of the three-hundred-and-eighty panel/workshops, was on “reform and/or revolution” to benefit Americans in America.

For this writer, the actual theme of Left Forum 2014 seems to have been: Martin Luther King was Wrong!: Americans CAN make a better America WHILE still continuing to kill the poor overseas in spite of the cost in human and financial resources that SHALL NOT stop Americans from making progress on social and justice issues at home.

Martin Luther King Jr. said:

I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So, I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such. “I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly … for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence. … Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. … I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak … for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and … in sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportion relative to the rest of the population.

A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor — both black and white — through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then … I watched this program broken and eviscerated, as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war.

Martin Luther King cried out, “For the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence I cannot be silent!”

But Cornel West, now of New York Theological Seminary, the keynote speaker at Left Forum 2014’s Opening Plenary, and Harry Belafonte and Angela Davis, who spoke at its Feature Event, were silent on the sixty-seven years of US-NATO genocide overseas, the ongoing US-NATO slaughter of Muslims in a dozen nations in the Middle East and Africa and the covert violence around the world for “unjust predatory investments” that Rev. King condemned. Amazingly, their cries and exhortations were to fight for justice for Americans at home. Left Forum 2014 was a truly an ‘America First’ proposition.

All three most beloved African American celebrities of the Left railed against the injustices suffered by African Americans, Native Turtle Islanders, Latin Americans, and non-heterosexuals (including one supposes those returning from military duty in one or the more of the nations under military occupation or attack, and from US military bases in more than a hundred and fifty nations.)

The shouting was mainly about getting a better deal for Americans in America, Americans who King had held responsible for atrocity wars and covert genocide on three continents since 1945. Yours truly was uncomfortably aware that he sat in a college gymnasium filled with knowledgeable people, who, by virtue of their anti-government stance and protests, felt themselves innocent of the massive atrocities that King held himself responsible for, along with his fellow Americans.

Perhaps the most galling pill to swallow was the presence on stage of progressive media Democracy Now director Amy Goodman, long committed to false reporting to destroy the government and the population that supports it in Syria, having had a dedication to the destruction of beautiful, democratic and prosperous Libya and third world hero Muammar Gaddafi, and to dutiful backing of the Orange, Green and now Ukrainian “revolutions” sponsored by CNN and arranged by CIA and its many foreign branches.

I was gratified to find that quite a few panel facilitators and speakers at the three day conference were very knowledgeable and outspoken about the perfidy and treachery of Amy Goodman — and just as angry about her role in contributing to the death and maiming of so many innocent citizens by disseminating false propaganda in support of US-NATO bombings and funding of terror.

In fact, the panels I sought out were run and attended by dedicated scholars well aware of the traitorous nature of so many of those who pride themselves in being leftists and progressives critical, or even damning, of their government without realizing that not working firstly to stop the carnage of US-NATO deadly military operations and CIA’s equally deadly covert activities makes Leftists and Progressives more responsible for the genocide continuing than anyone else. For as the segment of society most informed about the horror of American actions overseas, yet refraining from referring to them as prosecutable crimes against humanity, not calling for their prosecution, and not seeking justice for America’s victims, makes such intellectuals, professors, historians and journalists accessories after the fact, even in some cases before the fact, for backhandedly protecting criminals in hindering the arrest and bringing to justice of all fellow Americans responsible. … Full article

June 4, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , | Comments Off on Left Forum Conference Ignores US-NATO Genocide

Dirty Wars and Self-Indulgence

By Douglas Valentine | Dissident Voice | June 7, 2013

Let me begin with some background not covered in the film.  Dirty War derives from “La Salle Guerre”, the term the French applied to their counter-terror campaign in Algeria, circa 1954-1961. Algeria wanted independence, and France resisted.

Like subject people everywhere, the Algerians were badly outgunned and resorted to guerrilla tactics including “selective terrorism,” a hallmark of the Viet Minh, who fought the French until 1954, when America claimed Vietnam as its rightful property. Viet Minh tactics were derived largely from Mao’s precepts for fighting a People’s War.

Selective terrorism meant the murder of low-ranking officials – collaborators – who worked closely with the people; policemen, mailmen, teachers, etc. The murders were gruesome – a bullet in the belly or a grenade lobbed into a café – designed to achieve maximum publicity and demonstrate to the people the power of the nationalists to strike crippling blows against their oppressors.

Whether the Great White Fathers are French or American or English, they agree that putting down a People’s War means torturing and slaughtering the people – despite the fact that most people are not engaged in terrorism or guerrilla action and have no blood on their hands.

As John Stockwell taught us years ago, Dirty War means destabilizing a targeted nation through covert methods, the type the CIA has practiced around the world for 66 years.  Destabilizing means “hiring agents to tear apart the social and economic fabric of the country.

“What we’re talking about is going in and deliberately creating conditions where the farmer can’t get his produce to market; where children can’t go to school; where women are terrified inside their homes as well as outside; where government administered programs grind to a complete halt; where the hospitals are treating wounded people instead of sick people; where international capital is scared away and the country goes bankrupt.”

Economic warfare – strangling nations like Cuba, Iraq and Iran in Medieval fashion – is a type of Dirty Warfare beloved by the Great White Fathers who control the world’s finances. Though no less deadly than atomic bombs, or firebombing Dresden, it is easier to sell to the bourgeoisie.

You’ll hear no mention of this in Scahill’s film, nor will you hear any references to Phil Agee, or the countless others who have explained Dirty War to each generation of Americans since World War Two.

You will not hear about psychological warfare, the essence of Dirty War.

America’s first was terror guru was Ed Lansdale, the advertising executive who made Levi’s blue jeans a national craze in the 1930’s.   He applied his sales skills to propaganda in the OSS and after WW II, concocted a new generation of psywar tactics as an agent of the Office of Policy Coordination assigned to the Philippines under military cover.  Lansdale’s bottomless black bag of dirty tricks included a “skull squadron” death squad that roamed the countryside, torturing and murdering Communist terrorists.

One of Lansdale’s counter-terror “psywar” tactics was to string a captured Communist guerrilla upside down from a tree, stab him in the neck with a stiletto, and drain his blood. The terrorized Commies fled the area and the terrified villagers, who believed in vampires, begged the government for protection.

Lansdale referred to his sadism as “low humor,” an excuse borrowed liberally by American officialdom during the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Lansdale formalized “black propaganda” practices to vilify the Communists: one of his Filipino commando units would dress as rebels and commit atrocities, and then another unit would arrive with cameras to record the staged scenes and chase the “terrorists” away.

Lansdale brought his black propaganda and passion for atrocity to Saigon in 1954, along with a goon squad of Filipino mercenaries packaged as “Freedom Company.”

Under Lansdale’s guidance, Freedom Company sent Vietnamese commandoes into North Vietnam, under cover as relief workers, to activate stay-behind agent nets and conduct all manner of sabotage and subversion.  Disinformation was a Lansdale specialty, and his agents spread lurid tales of Vietminh soldiers’ disemboweling pregnant Catholic women, castrating priests, and sticking bamboo slivers in the ears of children so they could not hear the Word of God.

In the South, with the help of the American media, Lansdale re-branded the heroic Vietminh as the beastly Viet Cong.

Lansdale’s greatest innovation, still used today, was to conduct all manner of espionage and terror under cover of “civic action.”  As a way of attacking Viet Minh agents in the South, Lansdale launched “Operation Brotherhood,” a Filipino paramedical team patterned on the typical Special Forces A team. With CIA money, Operation Brotherhood built medical dispensaries that the CIA used as cover for terror operations, as depicted in the book and movie The Quiet American.

Levis never went out of fashion, nor did Lansdale’s dirty tricks. Think Saddam Hussein killing babies in their incubators. Such disinformation invariably works on an American public looking for any excuse to rationalize its urge for racist genocide.

Think Argo and Zero Dark Thirty and every Rambo and Bruce Willis films.

Only Americans were fooled by the propaganda, and the Vietnamese quickly caught on.  So the CIA in 1956 launched the Denunciation of Communists campaign, which compelled the Vietnamese people to inform on Commies or get tortured and murdered.  The campaign was managed by CIA agents who could arrest, confiscate land from, and execute Communists and their sympathizers on the CIA’s master list. In determining who was a Communist, the CIA used a three-part classification system: A for dangerous party members, B for less dangerous party members, and C for loyal citizens.

As happened later in the Phoenix program, the threat of an A or B classification was used to extort innocent civilians, while category A and B offenders were put to work building houses and offices for CIA officers and their lackeys. And, of course, the puppet Vietnamese President used his CIA created, funded and trained security forces to eliminate his political rivals.

As Lansdale confessed, “it became a repressive tool to liquidate any opponent.”

“This development was political,” Lansdale observes. “My first inkling came when several families appeared at my house one morning to tell me about the arrest at midnight of their men-folk, all of whom were political figures. The arrests had a strange aspect to them, having come when the city was asleep and being made by heavily armed men who were identified as ‘special police’.”

Lansdale complained, but he was told that a “U.S. policy decision had been made. We Americans were to give what assistance we could to the building of a strong nationalistic party that would support Diem. Since Diem was now the elected president, he needed to have his own party.”

How We Got To Scahill’s Dirty War

By 1962, as the US expanded its Dirty Wars in the Far East and South America, the military replaced its Office of Special Operations with an up-dated Special Assistant for Counter-insurgency and Special Activities (SACSA).  SACSA assigned unconventional warfare forces to the CIA and regular army commanders, who initially resisted.

The development of psychological warfare and special operations is explained in Michael McClintock’s Instruments of Statecraft. For the CIA politics behind it, see Burton Hersh’s The Old Boys.

In 1965 Lansdale went back to Vietnam to run the Revolutionary Development Cadre Program as the CIA’s “second station” with a staff of CIA officers, Green Beanies, and Daniel Ellsberg. Vietnam was a laboratory and the CIA was experimenting with Pacification, aka “the Other War.”

In 1967, the CIA created the Phoenix program to coordinate everyone in its Dirty War.  Phoenix combined existing counterinsurgency programs in a concerted effort to neutralize the civilians running the shadow government.  Neutralize means to kill, capture, or make to defect.  Central to Phoenix was that it targeted civilians. “By analogy,” said Ogden Reid, a member of a congressional committee investigating Phoenix in 1971, “if the Union had had a Phoenix program during the Civil War, its targets would have been civilians like Jefferson Davis or the mayor of Macon, Georgia.”

Under Phoenix, due process was nonexistent.  South Vietnamese civilians whose names appeared on CIA blacklists were kidnapped, tortured, detained without trial, or murdered on the word of an informer. Phoenix managers imposed a quota of 1,800 neutralizations per month on the saps running the program in the field, opening it up to abuses by corrupt security officers, policemen, politicians, and racketeers. One CIA officer described Phoenix as, “A very good blackmail scheme for the central government. `If you don’t do what I want, you’re VC.”‘

Because Phoenix assassinations (totaling 25,000+) were often conducted at night while its victims were home sleeping, Phoenix proponents describe the program as a “scalpel” designed to replace the “bludgeon” of My Lai-style search and destroy operations, air strikes, and artillery barrages that indiscriminately wiped out entire villages and did little to “win the hearts and minds” of the people.  But that was just propaganda and Phoenix was, among other things, an instrument of counter-terror – the psywar tactic in which enemy agents were brutally murdered along with their families and neighbors as a means of terrorizing the people into a state of submission. Such horrendous acts were, for propaganda purposes, often made to look as if they had been committed by the enemy.

This practice is at the heart of the film I will be reviewing.

As noted, conventional soldiers hated Phoenix. General Bruce Palmer, commander of the U.S. Ninth Infantry Division in 1968, objected to the “involuntary assignment of U.S. Army officers to the program. I don’t believe that people in uniform,” he said, “who are pledged to abide by the Geneva Conventions, should be put in the position of having to break those laws of warfare.”

Palmer’s was such a charming sentiment.  By 2004, Obama advisor Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, in an article for Small Wars Journal, was calling for a “global Phoenix Program.”  Tom Hayden wrote an article for The Nation about Kilcullen in 2008 titled “Reviving Vietnam War Tactics”.

Fact is, Phoenix never went out of fashion.  As McClintock notes, “Counterinsurgency and indeed all aspects of special warfare doctrine had developed a reasonable level of political sophistication by the mid-1970s, acknowledging the necessity of combining military and civil initiatives.”

By 1975 SACSA had expired, the nation had internalized its humiliating defeat in Vietnam, and the CIA, wounded by the Church Committee hearings, went underground. The age of counter-terror began.  Central and South America were the new laboratories.   The CIA forged secret alliances with proxy nations like Israel and Taiwan, whose agents taught Latin American landowners how to organize criminals into death squads which murdered and terrorized labor leaders, Human Rights activists, and all other enemies of the Great White Fathers.

To compensate for the reduction in size of its paramilitary Special Operations Division, the CIA formed its Office of Terrorism. Meanwhile, the military branches beefed up their terror capabilities, all of which glommed together in December 1980 in the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).  Steve Emerson chronicles this development in detail in Secret Warriors (1988).

JSOC’s mission, conducted on the Phoenix model with the CIA, is identifying and destroying terrorists and terror cells worldwide. Paramilitary personnel are often exchanged between JSOC and CIA.

By the early 1980s, CIA and military veterans of the Phoenix program were running counter-insurgency and counter-terror ops worldwide.

General Paul Gorman, who commanded U.S. forces in Central America in the mid-1980′s, defined this advanced form of Dirty War as “a form of warfare repugnant to Americans, a conflict which involves innocents, in which non-combatant casualties may be an explicit object.”  (Toledo Blade 1 Jan 1987)

All of which brings me to my review.

Dirty Wars

Dirty Wars is a post-modern film by Jeremy Scahill, about himself, starring himself in many poses.

The film owes more to Sergio Leone and Kathryn Bigelow than Constantinos Gavras. Scahill certainly is no Leslie Cockburn: there is no Tony Poe telling how the CIA facilitates heroin shipments; no Richard Secord suing him for unraveling the financial intrigues of the CIA’s secret operators. The CIA is rarely mentioned.

There is no reference to the Guerra Sucia in Argentina.

Scahill is no Franz Fallon documenting the devastating psychological effects of racism on society. There are no cameos by Jean-Paul Sartre advocating violent retribution on Hollywood, no mingling with the Taliban in their caves as they conspire against their Yankee oppressors at the Sundance Film Festival.

We get the first taste of his self-indulgent idiocy when he says it is “hard to tell” when the Dirty War began. He does tell us, however, that he is on the “front lines” of the war on terror.

Scahill (hereafter JS) brags that he wasn’t going to find the front lines in Kabul, although he could have, if he knew where to look. Instead he just looks around furtively on his way to the scene of a war crime. We see a close-up of his face.

The endless close-ups artfully convey the feeling that our hero is utterly alone, on some mythic journey of self-discovery, without a film crew or interpreters. There is no evidence that anyone went to Gardez to make sure everyone was waiting and not toiling in the fields or tending the flocks, or whatever they do. And we’ll never find out what the victims do. The stage isn’t big enough for JS and anyone else.

This is a major theme throughout the story – JS is doing all this alone and the isolation preys on him. He bears this heavy burden alone, with many soulless looks.

Initially, there is no mention that journalist Jerome Starkey reported what happened in Gardez. JS is too busy establishing himself as the courageous super-sleuth. As we drive along the road, he reminds us how much danger he is in.  Two journalists were kidnapped here, he says. This area is “beyond” NATO control. He must get in and out before nightfall or the Taliban will surely kill him like the Capitalist dog he is.

In my drinking days, we referred to this type of behavior as grandiosity. Telling everyone how you defied death, so the guys would talk about your exploits in the bars, and the girls would fall at your feet. For JS, this formula is working – a visit to his Facebook page reveals scores of “Millennial girls” wringing their hands and fretting for his safety as he strides across America’s secret battlefields in search of the truth. His carefully crafted Wiki bio furthers the legend.

Using the material gathered by Starkey (whom he eventually acknowledges), JS shows that in February 2010, American soldiers murdered five people in Gardez, including two pregnant women, and tried to cover it up by digging the bullets out of the targeted man’s body. He interviews the surviving family members. They weep. Violin music plays.  They seem more like props than human beings.

JS ingenuously asks various Afghan and American officials, why the cover-up? The officials suggest that the targeted man was working for the Taliban – and if you play that double-game, you risk your family and friends. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tells JS they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. He says there will be no investigation.

Cut to Capitol Hill where, by his own account, JS has greatness thrust upon him. “It is imperative,” he tells Chairman John Conyers, “that Congress investigates this shadow war to examine its legality.”

What, one wonders, was Conyers thinking? Forty-two years earlier, after hearing testimony from Bart Osborn and Michael Uhl about the Phoenix program, Conyers and three other U.S. representatives stated their belief that “The people of these United States … have deliberately imposed on the Vietnamese people a system of justice which admittedly denies due process of law …. In so doing, we appear to have violated the 1949 Geneva Convention for the protection of civilian peoples.”

His testimony, JS tells us, “throws him into the public arena,” ever so reluctantly. He revisits his Blackwater testimony and shows pictures of himself with numerous celebrities on TV.

B-takes of Scahill walking among the common folk in Brooklyn, plotting his next move.  Haunted by the horror of Gardez, he files FOIA requests and discovers that William McRaven is head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). He’s stunned. He’s been a national security reporter for over a decade, and he’s never heard of JSOC before.  It’s covert. The story has been hidden in the shadows, he says.

This was the turning point of the film for me. For a National Security correspondent, this is an admission akin to a botanist saying he’d never heard of flowers. It’s an admission that fairly sums up the sorry state of reporting in America today. Has JS ever read a book?

JS discovers that Gardez is not an isolated incident, and that JSOC rampages across Afghanistan with “unprecedented authority.” He talks to a former JSOC soldier about its activities in Iraq, where it had hit lists and conducted night raids. This revelation, and the fact that McRaven took responsibility for Gardez, leads JS to conclude that JSOC is responsible for Gardez. It certainly wasn’t Congress, which according to JS, has no control over JSOC. JSOC money comes from rich donors.

JS learns that JSOC is not only in Afghanistan, but that it operates worldwide, and that its hit lists get bigger all the time. And we hear, for the first time, the catchy phrase, “the world is a battlefield.”

At this point JS decides, with the help of The Nation brain trust, to investigate JSOC in Yemen where CIA drones are wiping out people by the score.

B-take of JS sipping tea thoughtfully. He’s going to talk to the most powerful man in South Yemen. We view the scene of a drone strike: 46 killed, including five pregnant women. A woman in a black veil says her entire family, save one daughter, were wiped out. Violin music. But there’s no cover-up here. In fact, Obama personally kept the journalist in prison who reported the strike.

What will Obama do to JS?

Once again, we fear for JS. Luckily he lives to talk to Rachel Maddow and Morning Joe. The greatness thrust upon him forces him onto TV shows everywhere. There he is with Amy Goodman!

More close-ups. We count the pores on his nose, the hairs in his eyebrows. We feel the fear. He gets a strange call. Someone tells him JSOC tortures people without telling the CIA or regular army, which are too busy torturing people to care.

As he studies the hit lists, he comes across radical America Muslim, Anwar al-Awlaki. After talking to Tony Schaffer, he realizes JSOC targets Muslims and that is why, along with the US invasion of Iraq, Awlaki is pissed off. Awlaki is an American but is inciting people to revolution in Yemen, so Yemen allows the CIA to kill him.

Note – the CIA is mentioned maybe twice in the film. Apparently it is so covert it escaped his notice.

We see JS in an exotic location. An airplane lands. JS is back in the USA. He’s been traumatized by what he’s seen. He tells anyone who will listen that the US cannot kill its way to peace, as if peace is the objective. The war on terror, he concludes, is creating enemies, which of course is the objective.

Before the American people can rally to JS’s clarion call, Obama sends some guys to kill Osama bin Laden. This is too much of a coincidence to ignore. Was it done to subvert his investigation? In any event, McRaven and JSOC are now heroes. He meets a knowledgeable person who tells him the Dirty War will go on forever. He tells us about signature strikes that kill people randomly (but not that the CIA conducts them) and that the war on terror is out of control.

Pictures of JS pointing to countries on a map where JSOC operates. He decides to visit Somalia, where JSOC is snatching bodies and taking them to ships in the Arabian Sea, and outsourcing its Dirty War to mercenaries. He visits mercenaries wearing camo fatigues. There are no other journalists here, it is too dangerous. Someone hands JS a flak jacket.  Someone tells him they bury traitors alive. The tension soars. He’s surrounded by armed men. There’s a gunshot. He ducks behind sandbags.

We wonder who arranged for JS to meet these guys? Where did he get an interpreter? What’s the quid pro quo?

JS goes to a hospital morgue and look at a mutilated body. After which he wants to go home. But he learns that Awlaki’s son has been killed and reluctantly he returns to Yemen.

I liked this part of the film. It seemed genuine. We see home videos of Awlaki’s son doing youthful happy things. JS tries to understand why the US would deliberately kill a 16 year old kid? Which is a good question. Perhaps America is ruled by a murderous Cult of Death.

We see pictures of young girls smiling, and we revert back to the contrived scenes and monologue that drag the documentary down into gratuitous self-promotion. JS says he never had any idea where the story would lead, as if all this happened magically, like a rabbit pulled out of a hat.

The film ends and I wonder what he could have produced if he hadn’t melodramatized and spent so much time and film on close-ups. I wonder what he could have done if he’d read a few history books.

Ultimately, the film is so devoid of historical context, and so contrived, as to render it a work of art, rather than political commentary. And as art, it is pure self-indulgence.

And in this sense, it is a perfect slice of modern American life.

Douglas Valentine can be reached at dougvalentine77@gmail.com

June 8, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Democracy Now” and the “Progressive” Alternative Media: Valued Cheerleaders For Imperialism and War

By Finian Cunningham | Global Research | July 15, 2012

The major Western mainstream media outlets have been running a “shock and awe” propaganda offensive against the Syrian government of President Bashar Al Assad for nearly 16 months. The misinformation has been unrelenting, monolithic, unverified, one-sided and, frankly, increasingly preposterous.

With the suppression of mounting facts that Western governments are waging a covert war of aggression in Syria, the Western public is right to treat the conventional media sources with skepticism and outright contempt. Such media are seen as “politicized” and “unreliable”, serving a naked imperialist agenda for Western regime change. In a word, they are damaged goods.

This is where a segment of the so-called alternative media can play a valuable propaganda function for Western powers. Because such media are supposed to be independent, critical, non-corporate, the public tends to consider their reports as objective and unbiased.  One such “alternative” news service is “Democracy Now” hosted by Amy Goodman. Goodman is seen as something of a campaigning critical journalist shedding the light of truth on the depredations of the US government, corporations and the Pentagon. But a closer look at what Goodman’s “Democracy Now” is reporting on Syria shows that the purported critical broadcaster has become a purveyor of Western government propaganda. While the mainstream media’s propaganda function is obvious to the informed public, Goodman’s “Democracy Now” plays a more subtle role. Camouflaged with the trappings of critical, independent journalism, “Democracy Now” serves to sow powerful seeds of misinformation in a way that the “compromised” mainstream media cannot.

This misinformation from “Democracy Now” is valuable to the ruling elite because to many of its readers it is not seen as misinformation.

Rather, the “news” on “Democracy Now” is viewed as reliable and representing the views of the anti-war, anti-imperialist constituency. In this way, Goodman is a valuable asset to Washington and Wall Street because her broadcasts can serve to disorient and undermine a constituency that is normally opposed to Western warmongering and imperialism. Many of the subscribers to “Democracy Now” may see through the misinformation. Many, though, may not, and therefore will become embedded with the imperialist agenda. The fact that Democracy Now ratings appear to be holding up would indicate that a lot of its followers are oblivious to the insidious effect of such misinformation. As such, Democracy Now is more valuable to the powers-that-be than, say, the New York Times or the Financial Times. “Democracy Now” ensures that the agenda of the powerful becomes infiltrated in a constituency that would otherwise be opposed to that agenda.

First, let’s recap on the mainstream propaganda offensive against Syria.

Since mid-March 2011, when violence was initially reported in that country, the Western mainstream television, radio and press studiously ignored the evidence of covert foreign-backed subversion and terrorism. Instead these outlets have sought to portray the protests as part of the pro-democracy Arab Spring popular movements that were seen in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Bahrain. The mainstream media have run saturation coverage to demonise the government in Damascus as a “brutal, authoritarian regime” that is cracking down mercilessly on its civilian population demanding democratic reforms. The narrative is monolithic in the major media outlets on both sides of the Atlantic. Whether the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, or the Financial Times, Guardian, Independent, Le Monde, BBC, ITN, the Irish national broadcaster RTE or the Middle East’s much-vaunted Al Jazeera – the “story” on Syria is uncannily uniform. A noble, civilian mass-based movement is being savagely crushed by a tin-eared dictator, so the story goes.

Every possible smear campaign against the Assad government has been indulged in and indeed fabricated. From the alleged killing of innocent civilians by the national armed forces, to the perpetration of massacres by pro-government militias, to self-inflicted car bombs in urban centres by Assad secret services, to the feckless shopping habits of the president’s wife. Russia Today, Press TV, Der Spiegel, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Vatican News Service (Agenzia Fides), to name a few, have been honorable exceptions in mainstream media journalism for conveying a more accurate picture of what is really happening inside Syria – showing that “protesters” are far from peaceful civilians, and much of the violence is actually stemming from Western, Turkish and Arab-backed mercenaries that have infiltrated the country. As the facts of US and NATO-backed violence in Syria become more transparent and harder to conceal owing to the sheer volume of covert involvement, the Western public has rightly become more skeptical about what the mainstream media outlets are telling them. Indeed, the blatant misinformation and lies that are being sold as journalism is increasingly seen as contemptible.

The Houla massacre on 24 May is a case in point. The BBC and other mainstream media outlets have been shown to be outrageously wrong in their initial rush to blame the atrocity on Syrian government forces when the evidence has slowly emerged that it was most likely the grisly work of Western-backed mercenaries.

It is all the more disquieting when a supposedly informed, alternative news service, Democracy Now, peddles such blatant misinformation – more than six weeks after the massacre occurred and after evidence has been reported that points convincingly to Western-backed perpetrators. On 9 July, Goodman broadcast an interview with Rafif Jouejati, a spokesperson for a Syrian opposition group called the Syrian Local Coordination Committees, based in Washington DC. Despite the mounting evidence of Western, Turkish and Saudi/Qatari covert operations, Goodman gave her guest a free rein to regurgitate the litany of mainstream media calumnies on Syria. Without a hint of scepticism from Goodman, her guest said:

“The bottom line is that the majority of the country is engaged in a popular revolution for freedom, for democracy, for dignity… We have mountains of evidence indicating that [Assad’s] armed forces have been engaged in systematic torture, rampant detentions, massacres across the country.”

Really? The majority of the country engaged in a popular revolution for freedom, democracy and dignity? That sounds more like the fanciful imagination of someone safely based in Washington DC. By contrast, sources in Syria have confirmed that people are terrified by Western-armed gangs running amok in their communities, kidnapping, murdering, evicting families from their homes and burning down business premises. According to the leaked Arab League Observer Mission Report, which had initially been commissioned by the Arab League at Washington’s request:

“In Homs, Idlib and Hama, the Observer Mission witnessed acts of violence being committed against Government forces and civilians that resulted in several deaths and injuries. Examples of those acts include the bombing of a civilian bus, killing eight persons and injuring others, including women and children, and the bombing of a train carrying diesel oil. In another incident in Homs, a police bus was blown up, killing two police officers. A fuel pipeline and some small bridges were also bombed.”

“Such incidents include the bombing of buildings, trains carrying fuel, vehicles carrying diesel oil and explosions targeting the police, members of the media and fuel pipelines. Some of those attacks have been carried out by the Free Syrian Army and some by other armed opposition groups.” (League of Arab States Observer Mission to Syria, Report of the Head of the League of Arab States Observer Mission to Syria for the period from 24 December 2011 to 18 January 2012,  Ironically, these fact-finding observations of the AL Observer Mission , went against the interests of its Western sponsors. It was barely reported by the mainstream media)

According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ):

“Those killed were almost exclusively from families belonging to Houla’s Alawi and Shia minorities. Over 90% of Houla’s population are Sunnis. Several dozen members of a family were slaughtered, which had converted from Sunni to Shia Islam. Members of the Shomaliya, an Alawi family, were also killed, as was the family of a Sunni member of the Syrian parliament who is regarded as a collaborator. Immediately following the massacre, the perpetrators are supposed to have filmed their victims and then presented them as Sunni victims in videos posted on the internet.” (Neue Erkenntnisse zu Getöteten von Hula.Abermals Massaker in SyrienFrankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 7, 2012 translated from the German)

The FAZ report quoted above echoes eyewitness accounts collected from refugees from the Houla region by members of the Monastery of St. James in Qara, Syria. According to monastery sources cited by the Dutch Middle East expert Martin Janssen, armed rebels murdered “entire Alawi families” in the village of Taldo in the Houla region.

Also of significance is the report of Der Spiegel (March 29, 2012) entitled “An Executioner for Syria’s Rebels Tells His Story”. A system of “burial brigades” for those executed confirms an organized process of mass-murder and extra-judicial killings. This single “burial brigade”, according  to the executioner’s testimony, was responsible for the arbitrary execution of 350-400 people including “prisoners” and “traitors”.  The “traitors” are Sunni civilians within the occupied urban and rural areas, who express their opposition to the rule of terror of the Free Syrian Army (FSA):

“Since last summer, we have executed slightly fewer than 150 men, which represents about 20 percent of our prisoners,” says Abu Rami. … But the executioners of Homs have been busier with traitors within their own ranks than with prisoners of war. “If we catch a Sunni spying, or if a citizen betrays the revolution, we make it quick,” says the fighter. According to Abu Rami, Hussein’s burial brigade has put between 200 and 250 traitors to death since the beginning of the uprising.” (Der SpiegelMarch 29, 2012)

The Vatican News Service Agenzia Fides largely confirms that the Western backed  “opposition forces” rather than the Al Assad government were responsible for countless atrocities:

“In Homs, called the “martyred city”, “opposition forces have occupied two areas, Diwan Al Bustan and Hamidieh, where there are all the churches and bishoprics,” the Archimandrite told Fides. “The picture for us – he continues – is utter desolation: the church of Mar Elian is half destroyed and that of Our Lady of Peace is still occupied by the rebels. Christian homes are severely damaged due to the fighting and completely emptied of their inhabitants, who fled without taking anything. The area of Hamidieh is still shelter to armed groups independent of each other, heavily armed and bankrolled by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. All Christians (138,000) have fled to Damascus and Lebanon, while others took refuge in the surrounding countryside.

The Syrian soldiers in fact, continue to face foreign fighters, mercenaries Libyans, Lebanese militants from the Gulf, Afghans, Turks. “The Sunni Salafist militants – says the Bishop – continue to commit crimes against civilians, or to recruit fighters with force. The fanatical Sunni extremists are fighting a holy war proudly, especially against the Alawites. When terrorists seek to control the religious identity of a suspect, they ask him to cite the genealogies dating back to Moses. And they ask to recite a prayer that the Alawites removed. The Alawites have no chance to get out alive.” (Agenzia Fides, Vatican News Service, 4 June 2012)

These reports were known to the alternative media. “Democracy Now” chose to ignore them.

Overblown Casualty Figures, Blamed on the Government

Goodman also indulged in the overblown casualty figures from dubious Syrian opposition sources as if they were verifiable accurate data. She even sounded like Hillary Clinton in talking up the “defection” of the hapless former Syrian Brigadier General Manaf Tlass as “significant” when informed sources discount that news as a minor irrelevance.

In the interview between Goodman and her guest (whom sources describe as belonging to a family formerly aligned with the Syrian government), Bashar Al Assad was portrayed as an unhinged leader who is in denial over massacres – massacres, as we have noted, that have most likely been carried out by Western-backed death squads as confirmed by numerous reports.

Preposterously, Assad was described as guilty of much worse crimes than former Egyptian and Libyan rulers Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi. Then the “alternative” Democracy Now broadcast this statement from the supposed opposition spokesperson as if it were normal discourse:

“I would like to think that we will proceed with full prosecution in the International Criminal Court. I think the longer this issue goes on and the more violence he [Assad] commits, the more likely he will wish to have a fate such as Gaddafi’s.”

Recall that the Libyan leader was lynched on a roadside by a NATO-directed mob, and sodomised with a knife before being shot dead. It may also be recalled that “Democracy Now” gave prominent broadcasts supporting NATO’s intervention in Libya and justifying the criminal subversion of that country. Going by the latest coverage on Syria, Democracy Now is acting once again under a “progressive” cloak as a propaganda tool for US-led imperialist intervention. Given the misplaced respect among many of the public seeking independent, alternative, accurate news and analysis, this insidious role of Democracy Now is reprehensible. May it be suggested, in the name of media transparency, that the programme be aptly renamed “Imperialism Now”.

Finian Cunningham can be contacted at cunninghamfinian@gmail.com

August 25, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | 4 Comments

“Progressive” Journalism’s Legacy of Deceit

By Prof. James F. Tracy | Global Research | July 20, 2012

Progressive-left media persist in acting as propaganda outlets for the US-NATO destabilization of Syria, thus placating a politically conscious audience that might otherwise be mobilized against acts of imperialism and violence. The historical record suggests how this is not the first time “Progressive publicists” were used to sell a war.

A recent report in the UK Guardian by Charlie Skelton explains that Western news outlets remain willing victims (or accomplices) in a propaganda campaign for US -NATO led Syrian intervention being carried out by skilled and well-financed public relations practitioners. According to Skelton, “the spokespeople, the ‘experts on Syria’, the ‘democracy activists’ … The people who ‘urge’ and ‘warn’ and ‘call for action’” against the Assad regime are themselves part of a sophisticated and well-heeled public relations effort to allow NATO forces to give Syria the same medicine administered to Libya in 2011. “They’re selling the idea of military intervention and regime change,” Skelton reports,

“and the mainstream news is hungry to buy. Many of the “activists” and spokespeople representing the Syrian opposition are closely (and in many cases financially) interlinked with the US and London – the very people who would be doing the intervening. Which means information and statistics from these sources isn’t necessarily pure news – it’s a sales pitch, a PR campaign.”[1]

If one thinks that a revelation of this magnitude would be cause for other major Western news media to reassess their reportage of the Syrian situation they would be greatly mistaken. Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now is a case in point. Since the beginning of the “Arab Spring” color revolutions the foremost broadcast venue of “independent” progressive-Left journalism in the United States has used its reportage to obfuscate and thereby advance the campaign for regime change in Egypt, Libya, and now Syria. The tactics of disinformation and death squads employed in Libya and Syria should be easily recognizable since they were refined against popular Central American moves toward popular enfranchisement by the Reagan administration during the 1980s.

As Finian Cunningham recently observed [2] Democracy Now’s adherents look to Goodman on a regular basis because of her perceived credibility; she is the self-avowed “ exception to the rulers”—a tireless crusader against the restrictive corporate media where there remains a “deafening silence … around the issues—and people—that matter most.”[3] Today Goodman’s vaunted program is contributing to the very violence being committed by Western-backed mercenaries against the Syrian people.

Goodman and similar Left media are engaging and convincing precisely because of their posturing against corporate media control, economic exploitation and war mongering. Occupying the outer contours of National Public Radio’s milquetoast programming, Democracy Now’s self-described “independent” reportage takes on a certain aura of authenticity among its supporters—mainly progressives with concerns for social justice and human rights.

Such characteristics make Goodman and Democracy Now among the most effective sowers of disinformation. Further, their role in assuaging an educated and otherwise outspoken audience serves only to aid and abet the wanton military aggression Goodman and her cohorts claim to decry. In light of the program’s broader coverage of the “Arab Spring,” such reporting must be recognized and condemned as sheer public relations for NATO and the Obama administration’s campaign of perpetual terrorism and war on humanitarian grounds.[4]

On July 19, shortly after interviewing a mysterious “Syrian activist” who allegedly participated only with the assurance of anonymity, Democracy Now brought on McClatchy’s Beirut correspondent David Enders, who presented the US-NATO-backed mercenary army’s actions that resulted in the deaths of high-level Syrian government officials as part of a spontaneous popular revolution that was gaining momentum.

“We’ve seen the rebellion grow in numbers and as far as its organizational capability. And they’ve attempted to strike at Assad and his inner circle multiple times … I think what we’re seeing is just the government crumbling under the weight of a massive rebellion. It simply can’t put it down.”[5]

Goodman and Democracy Now are in fact upholding progressive journalism’s greatest perversion: consciously using the public’s faith in its performance and moral rectitude to promote the latest war—a tradition that dates back almost one hundred years. At that time journalists with public personae remarkably similar to Goodman’s were employed to persuade the American public on US entry into World War One. This was done with the government’s careful consideration of how ostensibly liberal crusaders were held in high regard by the broader public.

In April 1917, when Democratic President Woodrow Wilson led America into the war that he promised would “make the world safe for democracy,” he called on some of America’s foremost progressive journalists to “sell” the war to a reluctant American population through the greatest propaganda campaign ever put together. Wilson’s anxiety over securing liberal support for the war effort brought him to recognize how well known “Progressive publicists” exercised credibility in the public mind through their previous work in exposing government and corporate corruption. One such journalist was George Creel, who Wilson tapped to lead the newly formed Committee on Public Information (CPI). New Republic editor Walter Lippmann and “father of public relations” Edward Bernays were also brought on board the elaborate domestic and international campaign to “advertise America.”

Because of Creel’s wide-ranging connections to Progressive writers throughout the US, Wilson was confident that Creel would be successful in getting such intellectual workers on board the war effort, “to establish a visible link between liberal ideals and pursuit of the war,” Stuart Ewen observes. “On the whole, Wilson’s assumption was justified. When the war was declared, an impassioned generation of Progressive publicists fell into line, surrounding the war effort with a veil of much-needed liberal-democratic rhetoric.”

Well known for his derisive critiques of big business interests, such as the Rockefellers and their infamous role in the Ludlow massacre, Creel was the perfect candidate to lead a propaganda apparatus at a time when suspicion toward “a ‘capitalists’ war’” was prevalent. “When the moment to lead the public mind into war arrived, the disorder threatened by antiwar sentiments—particularly among the lower classes—was seen as an occasion that demanded what Lippmann would call the ‘manufacture of consent.’” [6]

The sales effort was unparalleled in its scale and sophistication. The CPI was not only able to officially censor news and information, but to manufacture it. Acting in the role of an advanced and multifaceted advertising agency, Creel’s operation “examined the different ways that information flowed to the population and flooded these channels with pro-war material.”

The Committee’s domestic organ was comprised of 19 subdivisions, each devoted to a specific type of propaganda, one of which was a Division of News that distributed over 6,000 press releases and acted as the chief avenue for war-related information. On an average week, more than 20,000 newspaper columns carried data provided through CPI propaganda. The Division of Syndicated Features enlisted the help of popular novelists, short story writers, and essayists. These mainstream American authors presented the official line in a readily accessible form reaching twelve million people every month. Similar endeavors existed for cinema, impromptu soapbox oratory (Four Minute Men), and outright advertising. [7]

Creel himself recalls the unparalleled efforts of the thought control apparatus he oversaw to sell the war to a skeptical American public

”It is a matter of pride to the Committee on Public Information, as it should be to America, that the directors of English, French, and Italian propaganda were a unit in agreeing that our literature was remarkable above all others for its brilliant and concentrated effectiveness.”[8]

Alongside Creel’s recollections, out of their experiences in the CPI the liberal-minded Lippmann and Bernays wrote of their overall contempt for what they understood as a malleable and hopelessly ill-informed public that could not be trusted with serious decision-making. In their view, public opinion had to be created by an “organized intelligence” of technocrats (Lippmann) or “engineered” by “an invisible government” (Bernays), with the average citizen relegated to the role of idle spectator.[9]

Given the backdrop of progressive-left journalists’ lengthy and ardent opposition to the Bush-Cheney policies of Nazi-like atrocities and plunder, venues such as Democracy Now are poised to serve as platforms for disseminating the necessary disinformation to make the Obama administration’s color revolutions and “humanitarian” policy of military interventions seem palatable to the very audiences whose sensibilities are most opposed to violence and imperialism.

The phenomenon attests to the sophistication and efficiency of modern publicity efforts that genuinely alternative news outlets have long pointed to, the gullibility of many on the Left, and the extent to which vintage propaganda techniques never truly die. Rather, they are consistently refined and expanded in anticipation of shifting public sentiment and rationales for deception.

Notes

[1] Charlie Skelton, “The Syrian Opposition: Who’s Doing the Talking?” Guardian, July 12, 2012, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/12/syrian-opposition-doing-the-talking

[2] Finian Cunningham, “’Democracy Now’ and the ‘Progressive’ Alternative Media: Valued Cheerleaders for Imperialism and War,” July 13, 2012, GlobalResearch.ca, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=31874

[3] Amy Goodman with David Goodman, The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media that Love Them, New York: Hyperion, 2004, 7.

[4] Fact Sheet: A Comprehensive Strategy and New Tools to Prevent and Respond to Atrocities, White House Press Release, August 4, 2011, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/04/23/fact-sheet-comprehensive-strategy-and-new-tools-prevent-and-respond-atro

[5] Democracy Now! “Back From Syria Reporter David Enders Says Assad Regime Crumbling to ‘Grassroots Rebellion,’” July 19, 2012, http://www.democracynow.org/2012/7/19/back_from_syria_reporter_david_enders. The observation, emblematic of Democracy Now’s overall Libyan and Syrian coverage, stands in stark contrast to the stories from genuine alternative news outlets providing important reports and analyses explaining the root causes of the Syrian unrest. For example, see Thierry Meyssan, “How Al Qaeda Men Came to Power in Libya,” Voltairenet.org, 7 September 2011; Tony Cartalucci, A Timeline & History: One Year Into the Engineered ‘Arab Spring,’ One Step Closer to Global Hegemony,” December 24, 2011, Land Destroyer Report, http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/2011-year-of-dupe.html; Webster Tarpley, “NATO-Backed Death Squads Basic Cause of Syria Unrest,” PressTV, May 10, 2012; Stephen Lendman, “Syria at the Crossroads: Is US-NATO Contemplating a Plan B? GlobalResearch.ca, April 2, 2012,

[6] Stuart Ewen, PR! A Social History of Spin, New York: Basic Books, 1996, 109-110.

[7] Aaron Delwiche, Propaganda: Wartime Propaganda: World War I, The Committee on Public Information, Accessed July 20, 2012 at http://www.propagandacritic.com/articles/ww1.cpi.html; George Creel, “How We Advertised America, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1920. Available at http://archive.org/details/howweadvertameri00creerich

[8] Creel, 113.

[9] Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion, New York: Free Press, 1997 (1922); Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda, New York: Ig Publishing, 2005 (1928); See also Lippmann, The Phantom Public, New York: Transaction Publishers, 1927, and Crystallizing Public Opinion, New York: Bonni and Liveright, 1929.

James Tracy is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University. He is an associate of Project Censored and blogs at memorygap.org.

July 31, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Progressives Embrace Humanitarian Imperialism – Again!

DemocracyNow! Hosts a Non-debate on Syria

By John V. Walsh | Dissident Voice | February 25th, 2012

“Foreign Intervention in Syria? A Debate with Joshua Landis and Karam Nachar” promised the headline on DemocracyNow! on 22 February. Eagerly I tuned in, hoping to hear a thorough exposé of the machinations of the US Empire in Syria on its march to Iran.

But this was neither exposé nor debate. Both sides, Landis and Nachar, were pro-intervention for “humanitarian” reasons. Nor did the host Amy Goodman or her co-host take these worthies to task for their retrograde views on imperial military action against a sovereign nation that had made no attack on the US. It was yet one more sign that the “progressive” movement in the West has largely abandoned its antiwar, anti-intervention stance.

The segment began with a clip of John McCain advocating yet another war, for the good of the Syrians of course, bombing them to save them. The first guest was Joshua Landis, a prof in Oklahoma whose bio tells us that he “regularly travels to Washington DC to consult with the State Department and other government agencies.” The other agencies are not specified, but he speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations and similar venues. Professor Landis represents the anti-intervention voice in the universe of Amy Goodman, but his opening words manifested the limits of that universe: “Well, I’m not opposed to helping the (Syrian) opposition.” He continued, “The problem right now, the dangers right now with arming the opposition, is that we’re not sure who to arm.”

Confused, I thought surely the next guest would be the anti-interventionist. He was Karam Nachar “cyber-activist” and Princeton Ph.D. candidate, working with Syrian “protesters” via “social media platforms.” That means he is safely ensconced in New Jersey far from where U.S. bombs would fall. Perhaps this fellow would say loud and clear the Syrians did not need the interference of the West, did not need sanctions to starve them nor bombs to pulverize their cities. Perhaps he would laud the Chinese-Russian proposal for both sides to stop firing and to negotiate a solution.

But he did not. He also was for intervention by the West. And he did not think the disorganization of the opposition, cited by Landis, justified hesitation or delay in arming that opposition. That and not any principled anti-interventionism distinguished the two sides in this “debate.” Said the cyber-activist: “Well, to start with, I disagree with Professor Landis’s portrayal of the situation with the Syrian opposition. It is true that, for instance, in the Syrian National Council, there are a lot of disagreements. But (the opposition is) still frustrated with the leadership of the Syrian National Council because of its inability to solicit more international support…. And I believe that the State Department, Secretary Clinton and the American administration is heading towards that. … It’s going to require a lot of money and a lot of courage and a lot of involvement on the part of the international community.” [Emphasis added]

And then the boy cyber-activist got nasty: “I am just a little wary that this overemphasis on how leaderless the Syrian opposition is actually a tactic being used of people who actually do not want the regime to be overthrown and who have always actually defended the legitimacy of the Syrian regime, and especially of Bashar al-Assad.” There it is. Even if one is for intervention in principle, no delay is to be countenanced. Such people are surely on the side of Bashar Al-Assad.

This is the kind of “debate” we get on “progressive” media outlets. It is not even a debate about whether there should be imperial intervention, once completely verboten on the Left, but when and under what circumstances military intervention should occur. This phony debate should simply be ignored whether it appears on DemocracyNow! or on NPR, increasingly indistinguishable in content and outlook or anywhere else. In fairness to Amy Goodman, just a few weeks back on February 7, she hosted the British writer and long time student of Syria, Patrick Seale. Said Seale: “I believe dialogue is the only way out of this. And indeed, the Russians have suggested to both sides to come to Moscow and start a dialogue. But the opposition says, ‘No, we can’t dialogue with Bashar al-Assad. He must be toppled first.’ Well, that’s a dangerous—a dangerous position to adopt.” That interview is well worth reading. And Goodman would do well to stick with that instead of shifting over to empty debates between interventionism now versus interventionism later. After repeatedly hosting the CIA consultant Juan Cole to cheer the cruel war on Libya, Goodman now seems to be going down the same path with Syria. It is a sad spectacle and one more indication of how little the “progressives” in the West understand the nature of Humanitarian Imperialism which uses human rights to sell war. It looks like it’s time to abandon Goodman and switch to Alyona.

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar@gmail.com.

February 25, 2012 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Meet Professor Juan Cole, Consultant to the CIA

By JOHN WALSH | August 30, 2011

Juan Cole is a brand name that is no longer trusted.  And that has been the case for some time for the Professor from Michigan.  After warning of the “difficulties” with the Iraq War, Cole swung over to ply it with burning kisses on the day of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.  His fervor was not based on Saddam Hussein’s fictional possession of weapons of mass destruction but on the virtues of “humanitarian imperialism.”

Thus on March 19, 2003, as the imperial invasion commenced, Cole enthused on his blog: “I remain (Emphasis mine.) convinced that, for all the concerns one might have about the aftermath, the removal of Saddam Hussein and the murderous Baath regime from power will be worth the sacrifices that are about to be made on all sides.”  Now, with over 1 million Iraqis dead, 4 million displaced and the country’s infrastructure destroyed, might Cole still echo Madeline Albright that the price was “worth it”?  Cole has called the Afghan War “the right war at the right time” and has emerged as a cheerleader for Obama’s unconstitutional war on Libya and for Obama himself.

Cole claims to be a man of the left and he appears with painful frequency on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now as the reigning “expert” on the war on Libya.  This is deeply troubling – on at least two counts. First, can one be a member of the “left” and also an advocate for the brutal intervention by the Great Western Powers in the affairs of a small, relatively poor country?  Apparently so, at least in Democracy Now’s version of the “left.”  Second, it appears that Cole’s essential function these days is to convince wavering progressives that the war on Libya has been  fine and dandy.  But how can such damaged goods as Cole credibly perform this marketing mission so vital to Obama’s war?

Miraculously, Cole got just the rehabilitation he needed to continue with this vital propaganda function when it was disclosed by the New York Times on June 15 that he was the object of a White House inquiry way back in 2005 in Bush time.   The source and reason for this leak and the publication of it by the NYT at this time, so many years later, should be of great interest, but they are unknown.   Within a week of the Times piece Cole was accorded a hero’s welcome on Democracy Now, as he appeared with retired CIA agent Glenn Carle who had served 23 years in the clandestine services of the CIA in part as an “interrogator.”   Carl had just retired from the CIA at the time of the White House request and was at the time employed at the National Intelligence Council, which authors the National Intelligence Estimate.

It hit this listener like a ton of bricks when it was disclosed in Goodman’s interview that Cole was a long time “consultant” for the CIA, the National Intelligence Council and other agencies.  Here is what nearly caused me to keel over when I heard it (From the Democracy Now transcript.):

AMY GOODMAN: So, did you know Professor Cole or know of him at the time you were asked? And can you go on from there? What happened when you said you wouldn’t do this? And who was it who demanded this information from you, said that you should get information?

GLENN CARLE: Well, I did know Professor Cole. He was one of a large number of experts of diverse views that the National Intelligence Council and my office and the CIA respectively consult with to challenge our assumptions and understand the trends and issues on our various portfolios. So I knew him that way. And it was sensible, in that sense, that the White House turned to my office to inquire about him, because we were the ones, at least one of the ones—I don’t know all of Mr. Cole’s work—who had consulted with him. (Emphases mine.)

That seems like strange toil for a man of the “left.”  But were the consultations long drawn out and the association with the CIA a deep one?   It would appear so.  Again from the transcript:

AMY GOODMAN: Well, the way James Risen (the NYT reporter) writes it, he says, “Mr. Carle said [that] sometime that year, he was approached by his supervisor, David Low, about Professor Cole. [Mr.] Low and [Mr.] Carle have starkly different recollections of what happened. According to Mr. Carle, [Mr.] Low returned from a White House meeting one day and inquired who Juan Cole was, making clear [that] he wanted [Mr.] Carle to gather information on him. Mr. Carle recalled [his] boss saying, ‘The White House wants to get him.’”

GLENN CARLE: Well, that’s substantially correct. The one nuance, perhaps, I would point out is there’s a difference between collecting information actively, going out and running an operation, say, to find out things about Mr. Cole, or providing information known through interactions.  (Emphasis mine.)  I would characterize it more as the latter.

And later in the interview Carle continues:

On the whole, Professor Cole and I are in agreement. The distinction I make is it wasn’t publicly known information that was requested; it was information that officers knew of a personal nature about Professor Cole, which is much more disturbing. There was no direct request that I’m aware, in the two instances of which I have knowledge, for the officers actively to seek and obtain, to conduct—for me to go out and follow Professor Cole. But if I knew lifestyle questions or so on, to pass those along. (Emphasis mine.)That’s how I—which is totally unacceptable.

It would seem then that the interaction between the CIA operatives and Cole was long standing and sufficiently intimate that the CIA spooks could be expected to know things about Cole’s lifestyle and personal life.  It is not that anyone should give two figs about Cole’s personal life which more than likely is every bit as boring as he claims.  But his relationship with the CIA is of interest since he is an unreconstructed hawk.  What was remarkable to me at the time is that Goodman did not pick up on any of this. Did she know before of Cole’s connections?  Was not this the wrong man to have as a “frequent guest,” in Goodman’s words, on the situation in the Middle East?

This is not to claim that Cole is on a mission for the CIA to convince the left to support the imperial wars, most notably at the moment the war on Libya.  Nor is this a claim that the revelation about the White House seeking information on Cole was a contrived psy-ops effort to rehabilitate Cole so that he could continue such a mission.  That cannot be claimed, because there is as yet no evidence for it.  But information flows two ways in any consultation, and it is even possible that Cole was being loaded with war-friendly information in hopes he would transmit it.

Cole is anxious to promote himself as a man of the left as he spins out his rationale for the war on Libya.  At one point he says to Goodman (3/29), “We are people of the left. We care about the ordinary people. We care about workers.”  It is strange that a man who claims such views dismisses as irrelevant the progress that has come to the people of Libya under Gaddafi, dictator or not.  (Indeed what brought Gaddafi down was not that he was a dictator but that he was not our dictator.)  In fact Libya has the highest score of all African countries on the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) and with Tunisia and Morocco the second highest level of literacy.  The HDI is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living for countries worldwide.

Whither the Left on the Question of Intervention? 

None of this is all too surprising given Cole’s status as a “humanitarian” hawk.  But it is outrageous that he is so often called on by Democracy Now for his opinion.  One of his appearances there was in a debate on the unconstitutional war in Libya, with CounterPunch’s estimable Vijay Prashad taking the antiwar side and Cole pro-war.  It would seem strange for the left to have to debate the worth of an imperial intervention.  Certainly if one goes back to the days of the Vietnam War there were teach-ins to inform the public of the lies of the U.S. government and the truth about what was going on in Vietnam.  But let us give Democracy Now the benefit of the doubt and say that the debate was some sort of consciousness raising effort.  Why later on invite as a frequent guest a man who was the pro-war voice in the debate?  That is a strange choice indeed.

This writer does not get to listen to Democracy Now every day.  But I have not heard a full-throated denunciation of the war on Libya from host or guests.  Certainly according to a search on the DN web site, Cynthia McKinney did not appear as a guest nor Ramsey Clark after their courageous fact finding tour to Libya.  There was only one all out denunciation of the war – on the day when the guests were Rev. Jesse Jackson and Vincent Harding who was King’s speechwriter on the famous speech “Beyond Vietnam” in 1967 in which King condemned the U.S. war on Vietnam.  Jackson and the wise and keenly intelligent Harding were there not to discuss Libya but to discuss the MLK Jr. monument.  Nonetheless Jackson and Harding made clear that they did not like the U.S. war in Libya one bit, nor the militarism it entails.

If one reads CounterPunch.org, Antiwar.com or The American Conservative, one knows that one is reading those who are anti-interventionist on the basis of principle.  With Democracy Now and kindred progressive outlets, it’s all too clear where a big chunk of the so-called “left” stands, especially since the advent of Obama.   In his superb little book Humanitarian Imperialism Jean Bricmont criticizes much of the left for falling prey to advocacy of wars, supposedly based on good intentions.  And Alexander Cockburn has often pointed out that  many progressives are actually quite fond of “humanitarian” interventionism.   Both here and in Europe this fondness seems to be especially true of Obama’s latest war, the war on Libya .  It is little wonder that the “progressives” are losing their antiwar following to Ron Paul and the Libertarians who are consistent and principled on the issue of anti-interventionism.

Democracy Now, quo vadis?  Wherever you are heading, you would do well to travel without Juan Cole and his friends.

John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com

After wading through Cole’s loose prose and dubious logic to write this essay, the author suspects that the rejection of Cole by the Yale faculty was the result of considerations that had little to do with neocon Bush/Cheney operatives.

Source

August 30, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment