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By John Grant
“The elite always has a Plan B, while people have no escape.”
- Ahmad Saadawi
By Linn Washington, Jr.
The HISTORY channel is catching righteous hell for crafting the character of Satan in its miniseries “The Bible” to bear an uncanny likeness to U.S. President Barak Obama.
Is it just coincidence that the dark-skinned Satan in this HISTORY channel miniseries looks hauntingly similar to the first black man to occupy the Oval Office seat in America’s White House?
Just a US Citizen, No Big Deal: Obama Doesn’t Demand Israeli Apology for Killing of an American Youth
By Dave Lindorff
The American media is full of praise for President Obama for “brokering” a detente between Israel and Turkey, two former allies who have been at loggerheads since May 31, 2010 when heavily armed Israeli Defense Force fighters boarded the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish-flagged vessel seeking to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza with non-military supplies, and killed nine unarmed peace flotilla activists.
The National Museum of American History, and a billionaire who has funded a new exhibit there, would like you to know that we're going to need more wars if we want to have freedom. Never mind that we seem to lose so many freedoms whenever we have wars. Never mind that so many nations have created more freedoms than we enjoy and done so without wars. In our case, war is the price of freedom. Hence the new exhibit: "The Price of Freedom: Americans at War."
The exhibit opens with these words: "Americans have gone to war to win their independence, expand their national boundaries, define their freedoms, and defend their interests around the globe." Those foolish, foolish Canadians: why, oh, why did they win their independence without a war? Think of all the people they might have killed! The exhibit is surprisingly, if minimally, honest about imperialism, at least in the early wars. The aim of conquering Canada is included, along with bogus excuses, as one of the motivations for the War of 1812.
The most outrageous part of the opening lines of the exhibition, however, may be the second half: ". . . define their freedoms, and defend their interests around the globe." The exhibition, to the extent that I've surveyed it online, provides absolutely no indication of what in the world can be meant by a war being launched in order to "define our freedoms." And, needless to say, it is the U.S. government, not "Americans," that imagines it has "interests around the globe" that can and should be "defended" by launching wars.
The exhibit is an extravaganza of lies and deceptions. The U.S. Civil War is presented as "America's bloodiest conflict." Really? Because Filipinos don't bleed? Vietnamese don't bleed? Iraqis don't bleed? We should not imagine that our children don't learn exactly that lesson. The Spanish American War is presented as an effort to "free Cuba," and so forth. But overwhelmingly the lying is done in this exhibit by omission. Bad past excuses for wars are ignored, the death and destruction is ignored or falsely reduced. Wars that are too recent for many of us to swallow too much B.S. about are quickly passed over.
The exhibit helpfully provides a teacher's manual (PDF), and its entire coverage of the past 12 years of warmaking (which has involved the killing of some 1.4 million people in Iraq alone) consists of the events of 9/11/2001, beginning with this:
"September 11 was a modern-day tragedy of immense proportions. The devastating attacks by al Qaeda terrorists inside the United States killed some 3,000 people and sparked an American-led war on terrorism. The repercussions of that day will impact domestic and international political decisions for many years to come. At 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, a passenger jet flew into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York. Fire and rescue crews rushed to the scene. As live TV coverage began, horrified viewers watched as a second plane slammed into the south tower at 9:03 a.m. Thirty-five minutes later a third airliner crashed into the Pentagon. Another jet bound for Washington, D.C., crashed in Pennsylvania after its passengers challenged the hijackers. The nation reeled. But Americans resolved to fight back, inspired by the words of a passenger who helped foil the last attack: 'Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.'"
If you talk to non-sociopathic teachers, you discover that the sort of "teaching" engaged in by our museums has a horrible impact on students' understanding. A new book called Teaching About the Wars is a great place to start. It's written by teachers who try to present their students with a more complete and honest understanding of war than what's expected by common text books, many of which are far worse than the museum exhibit described above. These teachers / authors argue that when a teacher pretends to have no point of view, he or she teaches their students moral apathy. Pretending not to care about the world teaches children not to care about the world. Teachers should have a point of view but teach more than one, teach critical thinking and analysis, teach skepticism, and teach respect for the opinions of others.
Students should not be taught, these teachers suggest, to reject all public claims as falsehoods and the truth as absolutely unknowable. Rather, they should be taught to critically evaluate claims and develop informed opinions. Jessica Klonsky writes:
"One of the most successful media-related lessons involved an exercise comparing two media viewpoints. First I showed the first 20 minutes of Control Room, a documentary about Al Jazeera, the international Arabic-language television network headquartered in Doha, Qatar. Students were shocked by the dead bodies and destruction shown on Al Jazeera. For many it was the first time they realized that it wasn't just soldiers who died in war."
U.S. soldiers were 0.3% of the dead in the 2003-2011 war on Iraq. These students had been unaware of the other 99.7% of the dead. Learning what war really looks like is perhaps the most important lesson missing from our usual education system.
Another important lesson is who engages in war and why. Bill Bigelow presents a model lesson through which teachers can present students with true situations, but with the names of the nations changed. They can discuss what the nations ought to have done, before learning that one of the nations was their own, and before learning what it actually did. Then they can discuss that reality. Bigelow also begins his teaching about the "war on terrorism" by asking students to work on defining "terrorism" (and not by attacking each other, which is presumably how the National Museum of American History would recommend "defining" such a term).
One teacher ends such a lesson by asking "What difference do you think it would make if students all over the country were having the discussion we're having today?" Clearly, that question moves students toward becoming potential teachers wanting to share their knowledge to a far greater extent than, say, teaching them the dates of battles and suggesting they try to impress others with their memorization.
Can good teaching compete with the Lockheed Martin-sponsored Air and Space Museum, the U.S. Army's video games, Argo, Zero Dark 30, the slick lies of the recruiters, the Vietnam Commemoration Project, the flag waving of the television networks, the fascistic pledges of allegiance every morning, and the lack of good alternative life prospects? Sometime, yes. And more often the more it spreads and the better it is done.
One chapter in Teaching About the Wars describes a project that connects students in the United States with students in Western Asia via live video discussions. That experience should be required in any young person's education. I guarantee you that our government employs drone "pilots" to connect with foreign countries via live video in a more destructive manner who never spoke with foreign children when they were growing up.
Holding Harvard's Crimson Accountable
by Stephen Lendman
Harvard's motto is "VERITAS." It's shield and class rings display it. At issue is anti-Palestinian bias.
Wrongheaded NYT Views When They're Right
by Stephen Lendman
On March 9, a Times editorial headlined "Repeal the Military Force Law." Reasons given omitted what's most important. More on that below.
By John Grant
Sean Hannity grinned and seemed to bounce up and down like he was plugged into an electric socket as he ripped into Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president who had just succumbed to cancer. Hannity was joined in his death gloat by Michelle Malkin, one of the more delightfully odious voices on the far right.
Turkey Targets Press Freedom
by Stephen Lendman
No country imprisons more journalists than Turkey. Ragip Zarakolu understands well. He's a prominent human rights activist/publisher. He's a former Nobel Peace Prize nominee. He's been maliciously targeted for years.
New York Times v. Hugo Chavez
by Stephen Lendman
The Paper of Record's history is longstanding and unprincipled. It supports corporate and imperial interests. It deplores populist ones. It features managed news misinformation. It betrays its readers doing so.
When America goes to war or plans one, it marches in lockstep. It's comfortable with neoliberal harshness. It abhors progressive politics. It supports wrong over right.
By Ron Ridenour
Yes, I mean it: the worst ever!
We’ve had James Monroe and his doctrine of supremacy over Latin America. We’ve had Theodore Roosevelt and his invasion of Cuba; Nixon, Reagan, Bush-Bush and their mass murder, and all the war crimes and genocide committed by most presidents. Yes, but we never had a black man sit on the white throne of imperialism committing war crimes.
By Dave Lindorff
Thanks to the courageous action of Private Bradley Manning, the young soldier who has been held for over two years by the US military on trumped-up charges including espionage and aiding the enemy, we now have solid evidence that the country’s two leading news organizations, the Washington Post and the New York Times, are not interesting in serious reporting critical of the government.
By Alfredo Lopez
The recent order by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, forbidding Yahoo employees from doing their Yahoo work at home, might seem justified. After all, companies tell their employees what to do and Mayer might have good reasons for this edict. But the memo and its fallout raise serious and significant questions about technology, culture and women's role in both.
ITHACA, NY – March 7, 2013 – The nonprofit news organization Mother Jones has been named winner of the fifth annual Izzy Award, presented by the Park Center for Independent Media (PCIM) at Ithaca College. The outlet was honored for publishing “major, timely stories and investigations throughout 2012 that had significant public impact.”
Known for investigative journalism since its founding in 1976, Mother Jones — currently coedited by Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery — used its website and bimonthly print magazine to break national stories last year on issues ranging from the presidential election to mass shootings. The news outlet is named for Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, a prominent labor and community organizer at the turn of the 20th century who was once labeled “the most dangerous woman in America.”
The Izzy Award is named after a legendary dissident as well, the muckraking journalist I.F. “Izzy” Stone, who launched his I.F. Stone’s Weekly newsletter in 1953 during the height of the McCarthy witch hunts. Stone, who died in 1989, exposed government deceit while championing civil liberties, racial justice and international diplomacy.
Mother Jones journalists will be on campus in April to accept the award at a public ceremony, at a date and time to be announced.
Citing its “persistence in bringing clarity to complex subjects and in shining light into the dark corners of American politics and society,” the Izzy Award judges honored Mother Jones for “continuing the legacy of Izzy Stone.”
Among the outlet’s achievements in 2012:
· In September, Washington bureau chief David Corn rocked the presidential campaign by releasing an undercover video of candidate Mitt Romney at a fundraising event describing 47% of the electorate as people “who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims.” Corn’s extensive prior reporting on Romney had led him to the video.
· In the wake of the Colorado movie theater mass shooting in July, senior editor Mark Follman and a reporting team compiled the definitive (and interactive) database on U.S. mass shootings over the last 30 years — with supplementary articles exploring mental illness issues and NRA-backed state laws furthering gun proliferation. After the Connecticut school shooting in December, this extensive database and background helped inform the national debate over gun control.
· Throughout the year, reporter Andy Kroll and colleagues offered some of the best and most accessible coverage of “dark money,” the funding of candidates by secretive super-PACs and nonprofits. The reporting included crucial history from Watergate through Clinton-era soft-money scandals to today’s billionaire bankrollers — and pointed toward reform.
Judges of the Izzy Award are PCIM director Jeff Cohen; University of Illinois communications professor and author Robert W. McChesney; and Linda Jue, executive director and editor of the San Francisco-based G.W. Williams Center for Independent Journalism.
“In a competitive field this year, the judges were bowled over by Mother Jones and its accessible reporting on tough issues, with journalism that affected and informed national debates,” said Cohen. “That there were many strong candidates this year — including reporters, bloggers and video journalists who examined such topics as labor rights, voting rights, inequality, civil liberties, militarism and the ‘War on Terror’ — demonstrates the strength of independent media today.”
The previous winners of the Izzy Award are journalist Sharif Abdel Kouddous; the Center for Media and Democracy/“ALEC Exposed”; author/columnist Robert Scheer; New York City’s in-depth outlet City Limits; investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill; blogger Glenn Greenwald; and Democracy Now! host/executive producer Amy Goodman.
Based in the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College, the Park Center for Independent Media was launched in 2008 as a national center for the study of media outlets that create and distribute content outside traditional corporate systems.
Media Scoundrels Pillory Chavez Before He's Buried
by Stephen Lendman
His passing made no difference. Media scoundrels don't quit. They spent 14 years vilifying him. They did it unfairly. They haven't stopped.
They're called scoundrels for good reason. They violate fundamental journalistic ethics. They lie for power. They turn truth on its head.
Norman Solomon discusses his recent debate with former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson on the lies that took the United States into war 10 years ago, as well as Solomon's cofounding of online activist force RootsAction.org.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
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By John Grant
"The experience we have of our lives from within, the story we tell ourselves about ourselves in order to account for what we are doing, is thus a lie -- the truth lies rather outside, in what we do."
-- Slavoj Zizek
By Linn Washington, Jr.
The controversial acquittal of a Philadelphia policeman caught on video violently punching a woman at a Puerto Rican Day parade last fall quickly produced a second stink bomb.
The Philadelphia judge who freed fired Lt. Jonathan Josey during a non-jury trial where that jurist brushed aside compelling evidence recorded on that video is married to a Philadelphia policeman.
By Dan DeWalt
‘If the President Does It, It Isn’t Illegal’
-- Richard M. Nixon
By Alfredo Lopez
In the madness of our media-fed consciousness, the greatest threat to an informative news story is time. Given enough time, and the dysfunctional and disinformative way the mainstream media cover news, even the most important and revealing story quickly dies out.
That is, unless we who use alternative media keep that story alive.
Albany The writer is a member of Veterans For Peace.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
On September 10, 2012 the Los Angeles Times published an article with the headline: “LAPD to hold meetings on use of force policies.”
Top Los Angeles police officials announced those community meetings to counter growing criticism about videoed brutality incidents involving LA police officers in the preceding months, that article noted.
By Norman Solomon
With the tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion coming up next month, we can expect a surge of explanations for what made that catastrophe possible. An axiom from Orwell -- “who controls the past controls the future” -- underscores the importance of such narratives.
I encountered a disturbing version last week while debating Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Largely, Wilkerson blamed deplorable war policies on a “bubble” that surrounds top officials. That’s not just faulty history; it also offers us very misleading guidance in the present day.
By Dave Lindorff
The US government doesn't like Iran. I get that. It claims, on pretty dubious grounds, that Iran might be planning, at some point down the road, to take some of the uranium it is processing into nuclear fuel to a higher level of purity and make it into an atomic bomb.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Cory Booker, the charismatic Democratic mayor of Newark, NJ currently considering a campaign for the U.S. Senate, enjoys extraordinary media exposure -- exposure that exceeds that of many top-tier entertainers and professional athletes. However, that fawning media coverage from CNN to Vogue Magazine of this mayor rarely reports facts like the increasing ire among Newark residents over Booker’s practices and the right-wing political roots of this politician who is generally portrayed as possessing solid center-left credentials.
Ten years ago yesterday, Colin Powell made the Bush administration's case for going to war against Iraq. Much of what he said about Iraq's threats to the United States was false. But the media coverage gave the opposite impression, and most of the pundits and journalists who promoted the justifications for the war paid no price for their failures.
As FAIR reported at the time, even before the Powell address there were reasons to be skeptical of the administration's claims. On February 4, 2003, FAIR published "Iraq's Hidden Weapons: From Allegation to Fact," which made the point that "it has not been demonstrated that Iraq continues to hold unconventional weapons." FAIR criticized coverage like that of the New York Times (2/2/03), which asserted that "nobody seriously expected Mr. Hussein to lead inspectors to his stash of illegal poisons or rockets, or to let his scientists tell all."
As the FAIR release concluded:
The media convey to the public the impression that the alleged banned weapons on which the Bush administration rests its case for war are known to exist, and that the question is simply whether inspectors are skillful enough to find them.
Powell's address was instrumental in pushing a faulty media line on Iraq's WMDs further. That much was clear in the coverage right after his appearance at the United Nations, as FAIR documented on February 10 in "A Failure of Skepticism in Powell Coverage."
In Andrea Mitchell's report on NBC Nightly News (2/5/03), Powell's allegations became actual capabilities of the Iraqi military: "Powell played a tape of a Mirage jet retrofitted to spray simulated anthrax, and a model of Iraq's unmanned drones, capable of spraying chemical or germ weapons within a radius of at least 550 miles."
By John Grant
In The New York Times February 6th on pages 20 and 21, across from each other, there were two tragic stories centered around the themes of sex, race and power. You might call them love stories, though they were definitely not Hallmark card or Harlequin romances.
John Brennan's performance at his Rejection Hearing in the Senate Lack of Intelligence Committee on Thursday will likely be a contender for this year's Colin Powell Memorial Bullshit Award.
Colin Powell set the standard on Feb. 5, 2003, at the United Nations.
Powell relied on the testimony of Saddam Hussein's son-in-law to persuade us of the supposed need to attack Iraq. Powell recited his claims about weapons of mass destruction but carefully left out the part where that same gentleman had testified that all of Iraq's WMDs had been destroyed.
Think of that. Someone tells you about a bunch of old weapons and at the same time tells you they've been destroyed, and you choose to repeat the part about the weapons and censor the part about their destruction. How would you explain that?
Well, it's a sin of omission, so ultimately Powell could claim he forgot. "Oh yeah, I meant to say that, but it slipped my mind."
But how would he explain this:
During his presentation at the United Nations, Powell provided this translation of an intercepted conversation between Iraqi army officers:
"They're inspecting the ammunition you have, yes.
"For the possibility there are forbidden ammo.
"For the possibility there is by chance forbidden ammo?
"And we sent you a message yesterday to clean out all of the areas, the scrap areas, the abandoned areas. Make sure there is nothing there."
The incriminating phrases "clean all of the areas" and "make sure there is nothing there" do not appear in the official State Department translation of the exchange:
"Lt. Colonel: They are inspecting the ammunition you have.
"Lt. Col: For the possibility there are forbidden ammo.
"Lt. Colonel: For the possibility there is by chance, forbidden ammo.
"Lt. Colonel: And we sent you a message to inspect the scrap areas and the abandoned areas.
Powell was writing fictional dialogue. He put those extra lines in there and pretended somebody had said them. Here's what Bob Woodward said about this in his book, Plan of Attack.
"[Powell] had decided to add his personal interpretation of the intercepts to rehearsed script, taking them substantially further and casting them in the most negative light. Concerning the intercept about inspecting for the possibility of 'forbidden ammo,' Powell took the interpretation further: 'Clean out all of the areas. . . . Make sure there is nothing there.' None of this was in the intercept."
For most of his presentation, Powell wasn't inventing dialogue, but he was presenting as facts numerous claims that his own staff had warned him were weak and indefensible.
Powell told the UN and the world: "We know that Saddam’s son, Qusay, ordered the removal of all prohibited weapons from Saddam's numerous palace complexes." The Jan. 31, 2003, evaluation of Powell's draft remarks prepared for him by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research ("INR") flagged this claim as "WEAK."
Regarding alleged Iraqi concealment of key files, Powell said: "key files from military and scientific establishments have been placed in cars that are being driven around the countryside by Iraqi intelligence agents to avoid detection."
The Jan. 31, 2003, INR evaluation flagged this claim as "WEAK" and added "Plausibility open to question." A Feb. 3, 2003, INR evaluation of a subsequent draft of Powell's remarks noted:
"Page 4, last bullet, re key files being driven around in cars to avoid inspectors. This claim is highly questionable and promises to be targeted by critics and possibly UN inspection officials as well."
That didn't stop Colin from stating it as fact and apparently hoping that, even if UN inspectors thought he was a brazen liar, U.S. media outlets wouldn't tell anyone.
On the issue of biological weapons and dispersal equipment, Powell said: "we know from sources that a missile brigade outside Baghdad was disbursing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agents to various locations, distributing them to various locations in western Iraq."
The Jan. 31, 2003, INR evaluation flagged this claim as "WEAK":
"WEAK. Missiles with biological warheads reportedly dispersed. This would be somewhat true in terms of short-range missiles with conventional warheads, but is questionable in terms of longer-range missiles or biological warheads."
This claim was again flagged in the Feb. 3, 2003, evaluation of a subsequent draft of Powell's presentation: "Page 5. first para, claim re missile brigade dispersing rocket launchers and BW warheads. This claim too is highly questionable and might be subjected to criticism by UN inspection officials."
That didn't stop Colin. In fact, he brought out visual aids to help with his lying
Powell showed a slide of a satellite photograph of an Iraqi munitions bunker, and lied:
"The two arrows indicate the presence of sure signs that the bunkers are storing chemical munitions . . . [t]he truck you [...] see is a signature item. It's a decontamination vehicle in case something goes wrong."
The Jan. 31, 2003, INR evaluation flagged this claim as "WEAK" and added: "We support much of this discussion, but we note that decontamination vehicles – cited several times in the text – are water trucks that can have legitimate uses... Iraq has given UNMOVIC what may be a plausible account for this activity – that this was an exercise involving the movement of conventional explosives; presence of a fire safety truck (water truck, which could also be used as a decontamination vehicle) is common in such an event."
Powell's own staff had told him the thing was a water truck, but he told the UN it was "a signature item…a decontamination vehicle." The UN was going to need a decontamination vehicle itself by the time Powell finished spewing his lies and disgracing his country.
He just kept piling it on: "UAVs outfitted with spray tanks constitute an ideal method for launching a terrorist attack using biological weapons," he said.
The Jan. 31, 2003, INR evaluation flagged this statement as "WEAK" and added: "the claim that experts agree UAVs fitted with spray tanks are ‘an ideal method for launching a terrorist attack using biological weapons’ is WEAK."
In other words, experts did NOT agree with that claim.
Powell kept going, announcing "in mid-December weapons experts at one facility were replaced by Iraqi intelligence agents who were to deceive inspectors about the work that was being done there."
The Jan. 31, 2003, INR evaluation flagged this claim as "WEAK" and "not credible" and "open to criticism, particularly by the UN inspectorates."
His staff was warning him that what he planned to say would not be believed by his audience, which would include the people with actual knowledge of the matter.
To Powell that was no matter.
Powell, no doubt figuring he was in deep already, so what did he have to lose, went on to tell the UN: "On orders from Saddam Hussein, Iraqi officials issued a false death certificate for one scientist, and he was sent into hiding."
The Jan. 31, 2003, INR evaluation flagged this claim as "WEAK" and called it "Not implausible, but UN inspectors might question it. (Note: Draft states it as fact.)"
And Powell stated it as fact. Notice that his staff was not able to say there was any evidence for the claim, but rather that it was "not implausible." That was the best they could come up with. In other words: "They might buy this one, Sir, but don't count on it."
Powell, however, wasn't satisfied lying about one scientist. He had to have a dozen. He told the United Nations: "A dozen [WMD] experts have been placed under house arrest, not in their own houses, but as a group at one of Saddam Hussein's guest houses."
The Jan. 31, 2003, INR evaluation flagged this claim as "WEAK" and "Highly questionable." This one didn't even merit a "Not implausible."
Powell also said: "In the middle of January, experts at one facility that was related to weapons of mass destruction, those experts had been ordered to stay home from work to avoid the inspectors. Workers from other Iraqi military facilities not engaged in elicit weapons projects were to replace the workers who’d been sent home."
Powell's staff called this "WEAK," with "Plausibility open to question."
All of this stuff sounded plausible enough to viewers of Fox, CNN, and MSNBC. And that, we can see now, was what interested Colin. But it must have sounded highly implausible to the UN inspectors. Here was a guy who had not been with them on any of their inspections coming in to tell them what had happened.
We know from Scott Ritter, who led many UNSCOM inspections in Iraq, that U.S. inspectors had used the access that the inspection process afforded them to spy for, and to set up means of data collection for, the CIA. So there was some plausibility to the idea that an American could come back to the UN and inform the UN what had really happened on its inspections.
Yet, repeatedly, Powell's staff warned him that the specific claims he wanted to make were not going to even sound plausible. They will be recorded by history more simply as blatant lies.
The examples of Powell's lying listed above are taken from an extensive report released by Congressman John Conyers: "The Constitution in Crisis; The Downing Street Minutes and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Coverups in the Iraq War."
David Swanson is the author of War Is A Lie at http://warisalie.org