US Secretary of State John Kerry has reminded American officials that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is against a nuclear deal with Iran, was also in the US in 2002 to push for the invasion of Iraq.
Netanyahu is set to use his next week’s address to a joint session of Congress to condemn a potential nuclear agreement with Iran.
During a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on Wednesday, Kerry warned Congress about the controversial speech.
“The prime minister, as you will recall, was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush, and we all know what happened with that decision,” Kerry said.
The top US diplomat was referring to testimony on the Middle East that Netanyahu delivered to Congress on Sept. 12, 2002.
During his speech, Netanyahu expressed strong support for Washington to oust former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
Six months later, the US military bombarded the country.
“I think the choice of Iraq is a good choice, it’s the right choice,” Netanyahu said in 2002. “If you take out Saddam’s regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region.”
Kerry also said on Wednesday that Netanyahu was wrong about Iran too because he had been “extremely outspoken about how bad the interim agreement was, calling it the ‘deal of the century for Iran.’”
The March 3 speech by Netanyahu has made the Obama administration furious as it comes ahead of crucial nuclear negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany that are working hard to reach a comprehensive nuclear accord.
Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice said the speech has “injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”
Netanyahu, who is trying to put pressure on US officials to stop a final deal, once again defended his trip to Washington on Tuesday, saying he would do everything to prevent the agreement.
“It is my obligation as prime minister to do everything that I can to prevent this agreement. Therefore, I will go to Washington… because the American Congress is likely to be the final brake before the agreement,” he said.
President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and John Kerry would not meet with the Israeli leader during his trip.
A number of Democrats announced that they would skip the speech.
Reprieve | February 12, 2015
Lawyers for the British Government will today argue in the Court of Appeal that a case concerning the 2004 kidnap, torture and ‘rendition’ of a man by UK and US forces should not be heard.
The case is being brought by legal charity Reprieve and solicitors Leigh Day on behalf of Yunus Rahmatullah (32), who was captured in Iraq by the UK, tortured and held in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, before being ‘rendered’ to Afghanistan by the US. He then faced a decade of detention without charge or trial in Bagram prison, before being released in 2014.
Today, Mr Rahmatullah’s lawyers are appealing a previous decision by the High Court that the Government could rely on the ‘Crown Act of State’ doctrine, which the Government argues prevents the court from intervening in executive acts abroad, even if they were unlawful. If the High Court’s judgment is allowed to stand, the ability to hold the state accountable for serious abuses abroad will be limited.
Commenting, Kat Craig, legal director at Reprieve and Mr Rahmatullah’s lawyer, said: “If Yunus’ ordeal had taken place on British soil, there is no question that the Government would have faced serious consequences. Instead of accepting responsibility for Yunus’ appalling mistreatment, the Government is now seeking to put itself above the law. It has to be hoped that the Court of Appeal rejects this shameful attempt to frustrate justice.”
Extreme right-wing Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman (C) holding the Torah stolen from Iraq on January 22, 2015
Recently, Israel stole one of the symbols of Iraqi Jewish heritage, a rare ancient copy of the Torah. The incident went smoothly and quietly, with blatant collusion between Israel, the United States, the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq, and the Jordanian authorities, amid suspicious silence from the Iraqi federal authorities and the Iraqi cultural scene, save for a few objections.
The Torah manuscript in question, known as the Iraqi Old Testament Scroll, was written using concentrated pomegranate juice on deer-skin parchments. The manuscript was seized by US forces, among other Iraqi antiquities, which survived the systematic destruction by the illegal Anglo-American invasion and occupation.At the time, it was said that many Iraqi archaeological treasures and large amounts of documents from the Iraqi state’s secret archives were transferred to Israel, ostensibly for restoration and preservation. In truth, however, this was the deliberate looting of Iraqi heritage.
At a ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israeli authorities publicly displayed that major Iraqi artifact, thus admitting that they had pirated part of Iraq’s heritage. The Israeli Foreign Minister explicitly admitted that the manuscript had been obtained from Kurdistan via Baghdad and Amman, and that it is now being used in daily prayer in the Foreign Ministry synagogue.
According to The Times of Israel, “After it was repaired and prepared for ritual use by a Jerusalem-based scribe, the scroll was placed in a case from Aleppo, Syria and brought over to the ministry.” Avigdor Lieberman, the extremist foreign minister of Israel, did not let the occasion go without repeating old Zionist cliches, saying that “the scroll’s journey from Kurdistan to Baghdad to Amman to Jerusalem was reminiscent of the destiny of the Jewish nation.”
Some like Iraqi writer Akil al-Azraki, one of the rare voices who commented on the affair, believe that the Israeli announcement exposed the lies of the Iraqi government. The Iraqi government had claimed the manuscript was sent along with other Iraqi artifacts to the United States for restoration.
Azraqi, citing information revealed by The Times of Israel, said, “The claim about the Torah scroll having been sent to the United States for restoration is a lie. The scroll was revealed not to have travelled to the United States, but to the Israeli embassy in Amman from that time until 2011. After the attack by Egyptian protesters on the Israeli embassy in Cairo, the manuscript was sent to Israel.”
After the Israelis celebrated their successful piracy, official Iraqi authorities were oddly silent. There was no immediate response to the reports, even in the Iraqi media and cultural scene, save for a few voices.
Recall here that the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities in Iraq Adel Shershab had said on January 19, 2015, “The Jewish archive should have been returned to Iraq since 2005, after it was removed on the grounds of restoring it,” stressing that this was part of Iraqi heritage and that his government would continue efforts to retrieve it.
However, the minister did not say anything in response to the Israeli theft. In turn, the Iraqi Ministry of Culture fell completely silent following the incident, although it had announced on May 13, 2010, that an agreement was conducted between Iraq and the United States, whereby the Iraqi Jewish archive and millions of documents that the US army removed from Baghdad following the US-led invasion in 2003 would be returned to Iraq. These include the archive of the dissolved Baath Party and many Iraqi historical artifacts.
A few days after the report on the Israeli theft, the media published remarks by a member of the Culture Committee in the Iraqi parliament calling on the Iraqi Foreign Ministry to issue a complaint to Washington over the matter.
The news agency that first published the remarks, which is owned by Fakhri Karim, a businessman and senior adviser to former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, tried to promote another account of what happened.
The news agency said the way the manuscript reached Israel was a “mystery,” describing what happened as “the loss of parts of the manuscript,” even though the Israeli foreign ministry had said in its ceremony that the scroll had come from Baghdad via Kurdistan, Jordan, and then Tel Aviv. Fakhri Karim, however, is known for his pro-Israel attitudes. Karim visited the headquarters of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC in Washington, as reported by renowned Iraqi poet Saadi Youssef, in a story Al-Akhbar reported in August 2013 (in Arabic).
On the day Al-Mada reported the story, one of its most famous staff writers, Sarmad al-Tai, wrote a strongly-worded criticism of those who protested the theft of the Iraqi Torah scroll, accusing them of folly. He suggested that the Jews who were expelled by the Iraqis from their country in various ways had only retrieved their Torah.
Tai’s article is often quoted by the Israeli media, though some Iraqi Jews who live in Israel and beyond dispute such analysis. Refer, for example, to what Sasson Somekh wrote in his books, and novels by Jewish Iraqi writer Samir Naqqash, who wrote all his novels in Arabic and refused to write anything in Hebrew, considering himself an Iraqi until the last day of his cruel life in Israel. The article received strong responses, though they were few in number, on social media.
The article’s absurd and sinister logic is meant to exonerate the occupation and its allies in the Iraqi federal government, the KRG, and Israel, for the crime of stealing important Iraqi artifacts, produced in Iraq hundreds of years before the creation of the Zionist entity.
Extrapolated further, the same skewed skewed logic can be used to justify an artificial entity, built on injustice, aggression, and warmongering, which has killed, maimed, and displaced people by the millions amid global silence.
The official Iraqi position was not stated publicly until days after the incident. The Iraqi minister of tourism released a statement calling on Washington to return the manuscript to Iraq, and said what happened was unlawful confiscation of a part of Iraqi heritage.
However, the minister repeated previous claims purporting the manuscript had been in Washington. These claims were invalidated by remarks made by Israeli Labor MP Mordechai Ben-Porat, who has Iraqi Jewish ancestry. Ben-Porat said that it was Iraqi government officials who gifted Israel a number of precious historical manuscripts.
Ben-Porat’s account cannot be completely dismissed. It is indeed possible that insiders colluded with this theft and piracy. Recall that Lieberman said that the manuscript was moved from Baghdad to Kurdistan, Jordan, then Tel Aviv.
The theft of Iraqi antiquities is not unprecedented. Many Western powers, led by France, Britain, Germany, and the United States, have its looted artifacts in the last century and before.
Dr Mahmoud al-Saied al-Doghim, Research Associate, Centre of Islamic Studies at the University of London, wrote a paper titled, “One Hundred and Ten Years of US Theft of Iraqi Heritage.” The paper says that entire wings of the Louvre Museum, the Berlin Museum, and the British Museum would have to close down entirely, if they returned all the artifacts stolen from Iraq (and elsewhere).
Doghim estimates the number of stolen artifacts at more than one million. A single US university, the University of Pennsylvania, as he wrote, “Acquired more than 50,000 palettes and other artifacts shedding light on the history of Mesopotamia, and discrediting many of the biblical claims promoted by the Zionists.”
The American occupation forces hit the mother-lode following the invasion of 2003. The US forces seized a large part of the contents of Iraq’s 33 museums.
In effect, the astounding rich history of Iraq and its wealth of ancient historical artifacts is not the subject of dispute. However, it might be very surprising when one examines the numbers.
According to a statement made in March 2003 by former head of Iraqi antiquities Jaber Khalil Ibrahim, archaeologists believe that there are 500,000 archaeological sites in Iraq that remain undiscovered and unstudied, along with ten thousand registered and discovered sites. The sites include at least 25,000 highly important ones.
Only 15 percent of the sites in Iraq have been excavated, most of them located between the Euphrates and the Tigris. This area is considered the cradle of humanity, and from six thousand years ago, it was home to civilizations like the Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, Babylonians, all the way to the Abbasids.
The US occupation of Iraq was a disaster for the country’s material heritage.
Despite what some people think, hero is not a synonym for competent government-hired killer.
If Clint Eastwood’s record-breaking movie, American Sniper, launches a frank public conversation about war and heroism, the great director will have performed a badly needed service for the country and the world.
This is neither a movie review nor a review of the late Chris Kyle’s autobiographical book on which the movie is based. My interest is in the popular evaluation of Kyle, America’s most prolific sniper, a title he earned through four tours in Iraq.
Let’s recall some facts, which perhaps Eastwood thought were too obvious to need mention: Kyle was part of an invasion force: Americans went to Iraq. Iraq did not invade America or attack Americans. Dictator Saddam Hussein never even threatened to attack Americans. Contrary to what the George W. Bush administration suggested, Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Before Americans invaded Iraq, al-Qaeda was not there. Nor was it in Syria, Yemen, and Libya.
The only reason Kyle went to Iraq was that Bush/Cheney & Co. launched a war of aggression against the Iraqi people. Wars of aggression, let’s remember, are illegal under international law. Nazis were executed at Nuremberg for waging wars of aggression.
With this perspective, we can ask if Kyle was a hero.
Defenders of Kyle and the Bush foreign policy will say, “Of course, he was a hero. He saved American lives.”
What American lives? The lives of American military personnel who invaded other people’s country, one that was no threat to them or their fellow Americans back home. If an invader kills someone who is trying to resist the invasion, that does not count as heroic self-defense. The invader is the aggressor. The “invadee” is the defender. If anyone’s a hero, it’s the latter.
In his book Kyle wrote he was fighting “savage, despicable evil” — and having “fun” doing it. Why did he think that about the Iraqis? Because Iraqi men — and women; his first kill was a woman — resisted the invasion and occupation he took part in.
That makes no sense. As I’ve established, resisting an invasion and occupation — yes, even when Arabs are resisting Americans — is simply not evil. If America had been invaded by Iraq (one with a powerful military, that is) would Iraqi snipers picking off American resisters be considered heroes by all those people who idolize Kyle? I don’t think so, and I don’t believe Americans would think so either. Rather, American resisters would be the heroes.
Eastwood’s movie also features an Iraqi sniper. Why isn’t he regarded as a hero for resisting an invasion of his homeland, like the Americans in my hypothetical example? (Eastwood should make a movie about the invasion from the Iraqis’ point of view, just as he made a movie about Iwo Jima from the Japanese point of view to go with his earlier movie from the American side.)
No matter how often Kyle and his admirers referred to Iraqis as “the enemy,” the basic facts did not change. They were “the enemy” — that is, they meant to do harm to Americans — only because American forces waged an unprovoked war against them. Kyle, like other Americans, never had to fear that an Iraqi sniper would kill him at home in the United States. He made the Iraqis his enemy by entering their country uninvited, armed with a sniper’s rifle. No Iraqi asked to be killed by Kyle, but it sure looks as though Kyle was asking to be killed by an Iraqi. (Instead, another American vet did the job.)
Of course, Kyle’s admirers would disagree with this analysis. Jeanine Pirro, a Fox News commentator, said, “Chris Kyle was clear as to who the enemy was. They were the ones his government sent him to kill.”
Appalling! Kyle was a hero because he eagerly and expertly killed whomever the government told him to kill? Conservatives, supposed advocates of limited government, sure have an odd notion of heroism.
Excuse me, but I have trouble seeing an essential difference between what Kyle did in Iraq and what Adam Lanza did at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It certainly was not heroism.
There must be something wrong with a nation when it has to constantly invent its heroes. As if to neutralize in the American mind any unfavorable ramifications of the US government’s summary of the CIA torture report and the growing number of suicides among its veterans, we have another war story for national consumption. This time it’s the film “American Sniper” by Clint Eastwood, one of our most acclaimed directors. His “Sniper” is yet another reminder of how noble and fierce American soldiers are, also how “we won”.
Some critics of the film have weighed in on the racist, hate-filled language used by the hero, Chris Kyle: a killer who “saves lives”. Others reveal falsifications in the film treatment of Kyle’s autobiography and raise questions about his private life.
Unfortunately, for most Americans those criticisms really don’t matter. What attracts our public, and there are tens of millions of them, women as well as men, adults as well as children, is that this is a heroic story. And sniper Chris Kyle somehow represents worthy American ideals—patriotism, saving American lives, technical skill.
What most upsets me is that this highly popular film “American Sniper” is not at all unusual in its subject and theme. By chance I found myself on the History Channel last week, viewing another ‘sniper film’— “Sniper: Inside the Crosshairs”. This film, viewed almost 800, 000 times on YouTube, is a documentary. No apologies whatsoever here; soldiers interviewed speak with great pride in the skill with which they kill. The segment I viewed focuses on the high tech nature of sniper training and weaponry. (This “Sniper” is one of dozens available for people seeking such ‘history lessons’.)
These are the latest in a flood of war films and books, among them the award- winning “Hurt Locker”, that entertain, enhance the glamour of war, present a justified and ugly enemy target and leave viewers with the clear idea that ‘America won’. (At best, Iraqis– women and children only please–are presented as people who need US protection.)
Americans are fed a steady diet of war in a multitude of forms. Amazon.com’s algorithmic calculations based on my innocent web searches, sent me an unsolicited list of books. Most are autobiographies by American veterans-turned-literary-celebrities; two were biographies of US soldiers by journalists. If I wanted to learn about Iraq, Amazon advises, I could read these heroic accounts of the patriotism and the conscience of American veterans.
Thirty years ago, a decade after the end of the Viet Nam war, I found myself in an American university seminar where war was under discussion. When a student declared that (some foreign power) “was upset because we won the war”, no one corrected him, neither fellow students nor the presiding professor. I suspect that today, a survey of college-age Americans would likely reveal how they too believe the US won that war; the same may prove true in regards to America’s memory of Iraq.
Apart from historical accuracy, these films are simply damned entertaining. Clint Eastwood is a brilliant director. And you can bet his “American Sniper” is top priority for Carl, our promising military recruit.
Barbara Nimri Aziz is a New York based anthropologist and journalist. Find her work at www.RadioTahrir.org. She was a longtime producer at Pacifica-WBAI Radio in NY.
The film American Sniper has sent the US public into raptures over the “heroic life” of its autobiographical subject Chris Kyle – who has been described as America’s “greatest warrior” soldier.
Last week, the movie premiered in cinemas to rave reviews, earning its director Clint Eastwood a box office smash-hit. Multiple Oscar awards are nominated.
Critics have quibbled about this or that aspect of the cinematography and storyline. But the prevailing impression is that Kyle – a US Marine marksman – was a tragic hero, a guy who honorably served his country during the American war in Iraq.
The film has even been described by some as an “anti-war” movie because it delves into the mental trauma of veterans and the suffering they endure after conflict.
Lost in the discussion is the central issue, which is the criminal nature of American militarism and its destructive impact on millions of innocent people. American Sniper may express certain misgivings about US foreign wars, owing to the psychological consequences on its military personnel. But in indulging “heroes” like Chris Kyle, the insidious effect is to glorify American war-making. This reinforces American narcissism about its “exceptionalism” as a nation that is intrinsically good, superior and which has the prerogative to wage wars wherever it deems necessary for its “national interests” regardless of international law or morality.
Over one million Iraqis were killed during American military occupation of that country from 2003-2011. The fraudulent pretext for that war – Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction – has been amply documented and is irrefutable. That makes US involvement in Iraq an epic crime, a war of aggression, or, to put it plainly, a state-sponsored terrorist cataclysm.
American government leaders and Pentagon commanders, including incumbent President Barack Obama, should be prosecuted for war crimes based on legal standards established at the Nuremberg Trials for the Nazi Reich.
Astoundingly, the power of American propaganda and brainwashing, facilitated by its corporate media, erases any awareness or discussion of this central issue.
Instead, American angst is consumed in sympathy for “our noble veterans” and their trauma suffered “in the line of duty.”
America’s war machine killing own society
Where are the calls for justice over America’s state-sponsored criminality and genocide of the Iraqi people? Where is there even a semblance of remorse or reparation? American politicians continue to swan around the world, sanctimoniously lecturing others as if they were the epitome of virtue.
Legal justice may be absent, but nevertheless there is a very real form of justice for America’s systematic iniquity. The American war machine may appear to trundle on untrammeled by international law, illegally occupying countries, assassinating with aerial drones on a weekly basis, and subverting foreign nations by covert proxy terrorism, as in Syria and Ukraine. But, unequivocally, this war machine is killing its own society, financially, psychologically and morally.
Chris Kyle is eulogized as “America’s deadliest sniper” having killed singlehandedly over 200 people during his four tours of duty in Iraq. It doesn’t matter if most of his victims were “terrorists” or if he was serving in good faith to protect the lives of other American soldiers. The fact is that Kyle was a cog in a criminal war machine that was engaged in destroying a whole nation. For Americans to celebrate him as a “warrior hero” is indicative of the moral corruption that US society has descended into. It shows how much that violence has become endemic in the American psyche.
Kyle was shot dead at a Texas shooting-range in 2013. His alleged killer, Eddie Ray Routh, was also a veteran, said to be suffering from post-traumatic syndrome. Kyle, who declared his own post-conflict trauma after he was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 2009, was working as a counselor for other mentally disturbed US vets. It says something about American social pathology that victims of conflict trauma are treated with “therapy” by letting them fire off assault rifles at shooting-ranges.
Every day, some 20 US military veterans commit suicide, most of them wracked by mental breakdown. That’s over 7,000 deaths every year. Tens of thousands of other veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and other overseas American killing fields are reckoned to be silent victims of post-conflict trauma, committing acts of violence and crimes against other citizens, or degenerating into self-destructive lives of alcohol and other drug abuse. Similar numbers of American families are ruined by dysfunctional veterans who can’t readjust into normal society.
The economic cost of US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone is put at $6 trillion – or a third of America’s crippling national debt pile.
But a proper accounting reveals a much greater toll when the full social damage of these wars is assimilated. Medical bills, unemployment, crime, personal breakdown, unproductive members of society are just the tip of the iceberg.
In real, but intangible magnitude, American society is sitting on a massive “dirty” time-bomb from its criminal war-mongering. This is the “justice” for US wars of apparent impunity. The violence and destruction that American leaders have unleashed – are unleashing – on countries around the world are coming back to haunt and corrode American society to its core. Killing millions of people remotely in far off villages and deserts is exacting a righteous revenge on American society.
The story of Chris Kyle is not just a story about an ill-fated American sniper. It is a metaphor for America as a whole. Part of this destruction, and what makes it so profoundly terminal, is that the American public is largely oblivious to its own collapse. When mass murder of humans is hailed by popcorn-munching morons as heroic, it is a sure sign that America is doomed. Fatally.
Legitimizing Torture, Lies and Killer Drones
The Screen Actors Guild has nominated Claire Danes of “Homeland” for its Best Actress Award. It has also nominated Danes, Mandy Patinkin and the rest of the “Homeland” cast for the Outstanding Ensemble Award.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated Danes for its Golden Globe Award. Danes did not win, but the nomination was a valuable honor for her, and for “Homeland.”
In addition, “Homeland” will be a strong candidate for Emmy nominations, in several categories (Best Drama, writer, director, etc.) in June.
“Homeland” dramatizes the actions of a fictional Central Intelligence Agency.
The CIA is pleased with the way it is portrayed on “Homeland.” The Agency invited the show’s cast and producers to come on a friendly visit to its headquarters in Virginia. CIA Director John Brennan gave actor Mandy Patinkin (Brennan’s fictional counterpart) a tour of his office. USA Today reported, “Patinkin … was struck by the CIA director’s sincerity. ‘I thought he had a wonderful heart,’ [Patinkin] said.”
Later, CIA officials attended a screening of “Homeland”‘s third season premiere at D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery of Art.
The C.I.A. likes “Homeland.”
“Homeland” likes the C.I.A.
The problem is that the C.I.A. has a long history of incompetence and, what is more disturbing, a long history of criminal activity.
I believe that most creative endeavors in film and television have a moral dimension.
Specifically, I believe there can be a powerful connection between real-world government criminality and the mass entertainment which we, the people, consume.
Well-crafted dramas can promote our tolerance of immoral behavior.
Actors physically embody the moral implications of the story they help to tell. For two years, beginning in 2001, I acted in a CBS series, “The Agency.” It showed glimpses of the darker side of the CIA, but each episode implied that the Agency’s morally questionable actions were necessary to safeguard the American people, and therefore, not immoral. Not evil. Taking money for spreading that lie plagued my conscience.
The greatest shame of my career was a fall 2002 episode which dramatized, convincingly, the proposition that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was actively engaged in the development of nuclear weapons. The Bush Administration was warning Americans that the WMD “smoking-gun” could appear in the form of “a mushroom cloud.” And on “The Agency,” we were confirming Bush’s lies in the minds of viewers in at least 13 million households. Members of Congress were nervously contemplating a resolution giving Bush the power to invade Iraq, and more than 13 million of their constituents were seeing persuasive dramatic “proof” that an invasion was indeed necessary. That hour of television drama was one effective salvo in the larger propaganda war. We all know what followed. I’ll always regret that I didn’t have the courage to quit “The Agency.”
The dismissive cliché, “It’s just a TV show,” just isn’t true.
“Homeland” is more popular and highly esteemed than “The Agency” was. “Homeland” is produced by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa. The show is a continuation of the flattering posture which they adopted toward the CIA, as producers of Fox’s “24.” Gordon and Gansa are masterful at playing on the audience’s post-9/11 paranoia. They employ outstanding skills to keep us in suspense, and our fears incline us to tolerate crimes we’d ordinarily find inexcusable.
As the recent Senate Intelligence Committee Report makes clear, one of the C.I.A.’s most atrocious crimes has been the routine torture of detainees. Kiefer Sutherland and the producers of “24” succeeded where Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld struggled: they made torture morally acceptable in Bush’s America. And, thanks to the Senate Report, we now have some idea of how wantonly the C.I.A. exploited that popular tolerance.
In Gordon and Gansa’s new show, Claire Danes follows in Sutherland’s footsteps, as C.I.A. officer Carrie Mathison, and “Homeland” is even more openly friendly to the C.I.A. than “24” was.
“Homeland” makes a hero of Mathison who orders Predator drone attacks from her new post in Pakistan. It shows that she is guilty of the murder of innocents, but, in the end, “Homeland” justifies and condones the real-life CIA practice of murder-by-drone, and its horrific “collateral damage.” Despite her crimes, Danes’s Mathison remains sympathetic and admirable.
Under Barack Obama, the CIA has dramatically expanded its drone-homicide program, the perfect expression of malice and cowardice. Obama has revealed that “Homeland” is one of his favorite television shows.
It’s troubling to me that The Hollywood Foreign Press Association nominated Danes for a Golden Globe, and that the Screen Actors Guild, has nominated her and the cast of “Homeland,” including Patinkin, for SAG Actor Awards.
I can only express the hope that SAG and Emmy voters will consider the voice of their consciences, as well as their personal artistic standards, when they cast their ballots. Whatever their final conclusions may be, I hope they will allow the moral dimension to have a place in their own, private evaluations.
I myself would expect to be judged, not only on my performance in a project, but also on the moral values of the film or TV program in which I choose to exercise my skills. I received favorable reviews for my performances on “The Agency,” but the last thing I would have expected was any kind of award for the use of my craft in a deceitful project that condoned grievous crimes, including a catastrophic war of aggression.
The goodness or evil of a fictional character is not the issue. The moral stance of the movie or TV program is what matters. “Homeland”‘s Mandy Patinkin skillfully portrays a sympathetic and upright C.I.A. chief, Saul Berenson, who tries to discourage the misdeeds of his subordinates. Unfortunately, Patinkin’s Good Guy contributes to “Homeland”‘s false portrayal of the CIA as a benevolent, self-correcting institution.
I believe that writers, directors and actors all share responsibility for the world-view and the moral values a film or TV show promotes.
In my opinion, giving members of the “Homeland” cast a Screen Actors Guild Award would be tantamount to rewarding them, and their show, for promoting the C.I.A. and its criminal practices.
I do not advocate censorship. I just don’t think the legitimization of torture, disinformation, drone-killings, and other crimes should be rewarded.
Dave Clennon is a long-time actor and political agitator, probably best known for portraying the advertising mogul Miles Drentell on ABC’s thirtysomething. His more recent projects include: Syriana, Grey’s Anatomy, Prison Break, Weeds, and The Mentalist.
The moral depravity into which the US is sinking is shown by American Sniper glorifying the exploits of a racist killer receiving six Oscar nominations, whereas ‘Selma’ depicting Martin Luther King’s struggle against racism has been largely ignored.
American Sniper is directed by Clint Eastwood, and tells the story of Chris Kyle, a US Navy Seal who served four tours of duty in Iraq as a sniper credited with 160 confirmed “kills”, and earning him the dubious honor of being lauded the most lethal sniper in US military history.
Played by Bradley Cooper, in the movie Kyle is an all-American hero, a Texas cowboy who joins the military out of a sense of patriotism and a yearning for purpose and direction in his life. Throughout the ‘uber-tough’ selection process, Kyle is a bastion of stoicism and determination, willing to bear any amount of pain and hardship for the honor of being able to serve his country as a Navy Seal – America’s equivalent of the Samurai.
The personal struggle he endures as a result of what he experiences and does in Iraq is not motivated by any regrets over the people he kills, including women and children, but on his failure to kill more and thereby save the lives of American soldiers as they go about the business of tearing the country apart, city by city, block by block, and house by house.
If American Sniper wins one Oscar, never mind the six it’s been nominated for, when this annual extravaganza of movie pomp and ceremony unfolds in Hollywood on February 22, it will not only represent an endorsement of US exceptionalism, but worse it will be an insult to the Iraqi people. In the movie they are depicted as a dehumanized mass of savages – occupying the same role as the Indians in John Wayne Western movies of old – responsible for their own suffering and the devastation of their country, which the white man is in the process of civilizing.
Anything resembling balance and perspective is sacrificed in American Sniper to the more pressing needs of US propaganda, which holds that the guys who served in Iraq were the very best of America, men who went through hell in order to protect the freedoms and way of life of their fellow countrymen at home. It is the cult of the soldier writ large, men who in the words of Kyle (Bradley Cooper) in the movie “just want to get the bad guys.”
The ”bad guys” are, as mentioned, the Iraqis. In fact if you had just arrived in the movie theatre from another planet, you would be left in no doubt from the movie’s opening scene that Iraq had invaded and occupied America rather than the other way round.
Unsurprisingly, the real Chris Kyle was not as depicted by Clint Eastwood and played by Bradley Cooper. In his autobiography, upon which the movie is supposedly based, Kyle writes, “I hate the damn savages. I couldn’t give a flying f**k about the Iraqis.”
It is clear that the movie’s director, Clint Eastwood, when faced with the choice between depicting the truth and the myth, decided to go with the myth.
But it should come as no surprise, given that the peddling of such myths is the very currency of Hollywood. Over many decades the US movie industry has proved itself one of the most potent weapons in the armory of US imperialism, helping to project a myth of an America, defined by lofty attributes of courage, freedom, and democracy.
As the myth has it, these values, and with them America itself, are continually under threat from the forces of evil and darkness that lurk outwith and often times within. The mountain of lies told in service to this myth has only been exceeded by the mountain of dead bodies on the basis of it – victims of the carnage and mayhem unleashed around the world by Washington.
Chris Kyle was not the warrior or hero portrayed in American Sniper. He was in fact a racist killer for whom the only good Iraqi was a dead Iraqi. He killed men, women, and children, just as his comrades did during the course of a brutal and barbaric war of aggression waged by the richest country in the world against one of the poorest.
They say that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. In the hands of a movie director with millions of dollars and the backing of a movie studio at its disposal, it is far more dangerous than that. It is a potent weapon deployed against its victims, denying them their right to even be considered victims, exalting in the process, when it comes to Hollywood, those who murder and massacre in the name of America.
With this in mind, it is perhaps fitting that Chris Kyle was shot and killed by a former Marine at a shooting range in Texas in 2013. “Man was born into barbarism,” Martin Luther King said, “when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence.”
24-hours after a report claiming the UK government is the most transparent in the world, the 6-year wait for The Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War to be published was extended until after the general election in May this year.
I was present for one of the eyewitness-sessions of the enquiry when former Prime Minister Tony appeared, back in 2010. Whilst he blathered on about the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran (which still hasn’t happened, even after decades of neo-con doom-mongering) I wondered how difficult it was to completely wrap yourself in an ideology to protect your being from the glaring mis-truths you have to speak and actions you carry out. It obviously takes a high degree of a certain kind-of-intelligence to do this, no-one doubts that Blair was and is an intelligent man, in this way. However, that intelligence was completely consumed by the Iraq invasion and subsequent set of disasters that have beset that country and region since. He looked like a haunted man that day, let alone today.
It wasn’t JUST Blair though. He was the prime minister at the time and he certainly set the tone and action for the UK joining the US politically and militarily on this mis-adventure. I do doubt that the ever-cautious Gordon Brown (at that time Chancellor of the Exchequer) would have been so hasty to join the lunatics in the Pentagon and Oval Office if he had been prime minister at the time. However, it was Parliament which made the final decision to join the invasion, overwhelmingly, 412-149. (This final vote took place one-day before the invasion began).
Were the Members of Parliament, who voted for the invasion, blinded by the intelligence (or lack of) coming from the UK and US security forces? Were they too busy being whipped in to frenzy by the media (Murdoch) and party whips? Was there a sense of left-over imperial pride in re-entering the scene of previous British conquests in the early 20th century in the then named Mesopotamia? I don’t know. It must have been a tricky time for many, and many still carry the scars of their terrible decision-making today, most notably Tony Blair. It is easy to conclude that it was the faulty (made-up) intelligence that fooled these members of parliament, but even if the intelligence had been 100% correct, that Saddam Hussein had a large WMD programme and was potentially looking to build nuclear weapons, were those reasons, based on old assumptions and half-truths that had been known for decades, reason-enough to commit your armed forces to a hasty assault on a sovereign nation? If so, we in the UK should prepare for invasion as our government pushes ahead in replacing our nuclear “deterrent”.
You will have heard and read a lot about how what is happening in Iraq and the wider-region has nothing to do with the US-UK led invasion. Or will you? Most reports I have seen on the likes of BBC television news offer very little context on how Islamic State (IS) came to exist and how, most importantly, they are accepted or at least tolerated as an alternative by Sunni populations in Syria and Iraq in comparison to their sectarian governments who are seen as waging war on them. In the aftermath of the invasion, the American and British systematically destroyed the Iraqi state as existed under Saddam Hussein’s Baathist and Sunni-led dictatorship and turned the country completely over the previously persecuted Shia majority of the country, without any real thought or concern for the consequences this would have on the citizens of Iraq. If the invasion was illegal under international law (which to this laymen, it clearly was) these actions were tantamount to the prolonged torture of an entire country and its people (not to mention Abu Ghraib).
When The Chilcot Inquiry is eventually published, clearly at a time which best suites those under the microscope and wider establishment and not the British public, who were, it should be remembered, overwhelmingly against the invasion, what will we discover that we do not already know? The invasion was an utter disaster for the people of Iraq, yet not one of the decision-makers has ever felt any justice for this. History books, enquiries and public anger are not enough. Where is the International Criminal Court (ICC) when you need it?
Jonathan Woodrow Martin can be reached at email@example.com
The publication of a long-awaited inquiry into the UK’s participation in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and its aftermath has once again been postponed until after the country’s general elections later this year.
On Wednesday, British media cited government sources as saying that the inquiry chairman, John Chilcot, will in an exchange of letters with Prime Minister David Cameron later in the day explain the reasons for the new postponement.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg reacted angrily to the news, saying the further delay is “incomprehensible.”
Clegg’s Liberal Democrats also suggested that the inquiry report is being “watered down” after those criticized in the report, such as then Prime Minister Tony Blair, were given the opportunity to respond to the findings.
The judge-led inquiry into how Blair led Britain into war in Iraq was ordered by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 and was expected to publish its findings within 18 months.
The Chilcot report had previously been delayed by rows over its criticism of leading figures in the Blair government. The report had also been delayed due to diplomatic negotiations between the US and the UK about what can be revealed from correspondence between Blair and former US President George W. Bush.
The report is believed to be highly critical of Blair, who is accused of misleading the British public about the reasons for joining the 2003 US-led Iraq war.
The US and Britain invaded Iraq in blatant violation of international law in 2003 over the allegation that the regime of then Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). No WMDs, however, were ever found in Iraq.
Scottish National Party (SNP) leader Nicola Sturgeon has called for a united political movement to demand the immediate publication of the Chilcot Inquiry report into the legality of the 2003 Iraq invasion.
Sturgeon has written to other Scottish party leaders, urging them to unite in favor of immediate publication.
The Chilcot Inquiry, which was set up in 2009 and is expected to cost the taxpayer over £10 million, has come under fire in recent months due to delays in its publication.
The disclosure of secret documents, and disagreements over whether private communications between former leaders Tony Blair and George W. Bush should be made public, has disrupted the progress of the inquiry.
There are now fears that unless the report is published immediately, its release could affect the results of the general election in May.
The leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Jim Murphy, and the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie, have also said they support the earliest possible release of the document.
The House of Commons will debate the release of the findings on January 29.
Last month there was speculation that Tony Blair may face prosecution for war crimes as a result of the report’s findings. Blair said he “resented” claims he was responsible for the delays.
The debate surrounding the release of classified material had presented a large obstacle to the publication of the report, but it was decided in June last year that the “gist” of conversations between Blair and Bush could be published.
Sturgeon said it would be impossible to have a national election without the report’s findings being presented.
“Surely we can’t go through a general election without people having the answers to the questions on the Iraq war that they still don’t have,” she told the BBC.
“That has to happen before some of these MPs that voted for the Iraq war are back up for election.”
Murphy responded to Sturgeon’s call for action, saying it was essential for future governments to learn from the results.
“The Chilcot Inquiry is a crucially important piece of work that must be conducted thoroughly and forensically,” he said. “The inquiry was initiated by Labour in July 2009, because it is vital to identify the lessons that can be learned from the conflict.”
“There is rightly real public interest in the findings of such an important inquiry and I think it is right that there is the earliest possible publication of the report.”
Rennie also expressed his eagerness for the report to be published, saying he agreed with the SNP’s Sturgeon.
“We agree with Nicola Sturgeon. It is important that the lessons learnt from the Chilcot report are learnt whilst there are people involved in Parliament who are in a position to answer for their actions.”
A spokeswoman for the Iraq Inquiry said: “We will not be commenting further on the process or the progress of the report.”
The Western media have proved for all to see that the Western media comprises either a collection of ignorant and incompetent fools or a brothel that sells war for money.
The Western media fell in step with Washington and blamed the downed Malaysian airliner on Russia. No evidence was provided. In its place the media used constant repetition. Washington withheld the evidence that proved that Kiev was responsible. The media’s purpose was not to tell the truth, but to demonize Russia.
Now we have the media story of the armored Russian column that allegedly crossed into Ukraine and was destroyed by Ukraine’s rag-tag forces that ISIS would eliminate in a few minutes. British reporters fabricated this story or were handed it by a CIA operative working to build a war narrative. The disreputable BBC hyped the story without investigating.
The German media, including Die Welt, blared the story throughout Germany without concern at the absence of any evidence. Reuters news agency, also with no investigation, spread the story. Readers tell me that CNN has been broadcasting the fake story 24/7. Although I cannot stand to watch it, I suspect Fox “news” has also been riding this lame horse hard. Readers tell me that my former newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, which has fallen so low as to be unreadable, also spread the false story. I hope they are wrong. One hates to see the complete despoliation of one’s former habitat.
The media story is preposterous for a number of reasons that should be obvious to a normal person.
The first reason is that the Russian government has made it completely clear that its purpose is to de-escalate the situation. When other former Russian territories that are part of present day Ukraine followed Crimea, voted their independence and requested reunification with Russia, President Putin refused.
To underline his de-escalation, President Putin asked the Russian Duma to rescind his authority to intervene militarily in Ukraine in behalf of the former Russian provinces. As the Russian government, unlike Washington or EU governments, stresses legality and the rule of law, Russian military forces would not be sent into Ukraine prior to the Duma renewing Putin’s authority so to do.
The second reason the story is obviously false is that if the Russian government decides to invade Ukraine, Russia would not send in one small armored group unprotected by air cover or other forces. If Russia invades Ukraine, it will be with a force capable of rolling up the rag-tag Ukrainian forces, most of which are semi-private militias organized by nazis. The “war” would last a few hours, after which Ukraine would be in Russia’s hands where it resided for hundreds of years prior to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Washington’s successful efforts in 1991 to take advantage of Russian weakness to break apart the constituent provinces of Russia herself.
The third reason that the story is obviously false is that not a single Western news organization hyping the story has presented a shred of evidence in its behalf.
What we witness in this fabricated story is the total lack of integrity in the entirety of the Western media.
A story totally devoid of any evidence to support it has been broadcast world wide. The White House has issued a statement saying that it cannot confirm the story, but nevertheless the White House continues to issue accusations against Russia for which the White House can supply no evidence. Consequently, Western repetition of bald-faced lies has become truth for huge numbers of peoples. As I have emphasized in my columns, these Western lies are dangerous, because they provoke war.
The same group in Washington and the same Western “media” are telling the same kind of lies that were used to justify Washington’s wars in Iraq (weapons of mass destruction), Afghanistan (Taliban = al-Qaeda), Syria (use of chemical weapons), Libya (an assortment of ridiculous charges), and the ongoing US military murders in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.
The city upon the hill, the light unto the world, the home of the exceptional, indispensable people is the home of Satan’s lies where truth is prohibited and war is the end game.