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Vile, Filthy, Bloody, Dirty Wars

Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, has a new book that should be required reading for Congress members, journalists, war supporters, war opponents, Americans, non-Americans -- really, pretty much everybody.  The new book is called Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield.

Of course, Scahill is not suggesting that the world should be a battlefield.  He's reporting on how the Bush and Obama White Houses have defined and treated it as such. 

The phrase "dirty wars" is a little less clear in meaning.  Scahill is a reporter whose chronological narrative is gripping and revealing but virtually commentary-free.  Any observations on the facts related tend to come in the form of quotations from experts and those involved.  So, there isn't anywhere in the book that explicitly explains what a dirty war is. 

The focus of the book is on operations that were once more secretive than they are today: kidnapping, rendition, secret-imprisonment, torture, and assassination.  "This is a story," reads the first sentence of the book, "about how the United States came to embrace assassination as a central part of its national security policy."  It's a story about special, elite, and mercenary forces operating under even less Congressional or public oversight than the rest of the U.S. military, a story about the Joint Special Operations Command and the CIA, and not about the "shock and awe" bombing of Baghdad or the activities of tens of thousands of soldiers occupying Iraq or Afghanistan.

The type of war recounted is variously identified in the book as dirty, dark, black, dark-side, small, covert, black-ops, asymmetric, secret, twilight, and -- in quotation marks -- "smart."  At one point, Scahill describes the White House, along with General Stanley McChrystal, as beginning to "apply its emerging global kill list doctrine inside Afghanistan, buried within the larger, public war involving conventional U.S. forces."  But part of Scahill's story is how, in recent years, something that had been considered special, secretive, and relatively unimportant has come to occupy the focus of the U.S. military.  In the process, it has lost some of its stigma as well as its secretiveness.  Scahill refers to some operations as "not so covert."  It's hard to hide a drone war that is killing people by the thousands.  Secret death squad night raids that are bragged about in front of the White House Press Corps are not so secret.

The Orwellian Warfare State of Carnage and Doublethink

By Norman Solomon

After the bombings that killed and maimed so horribly at the Boston Marathon, our country’s politics and mass media are awash in heartfelt compassion -- and reflexive “doublethink,” which George Orwell described as willingness “to forget any fact that has become inconvenient.”

In sync with media outlets across the country, the New York Times put a chilling headline on Wednesday’s front page: “Boston Bombs Were Loaded to Maim, Officials Say.” The story reported that nails and ball bearings were stuffed into pressure cookers, “rigged to shoot sharp bits of shrapnel into anyone within reach of their blast.”

Much less crude and weighing in at 1,000 pounds, CBU-87/B warheads were in the category of “combined effects munitions” when put to use 14 years ago by a bomber named Uncle Sam. The U.S. media coverage was brief and fleeting.

Manning's Co-Defendant is the Internet Itself Bradley Manning Update: How to Commit Espionage Without Trying!

 

By Dave Lindorff


If it wasn't clear up to now, it was made crystal clear last week. The co-defendent in the Bradley Manning trial is the Internet itself.

Venezuela: Post-Election Sour Grapes

 

Venezuela: Post-Election Sour Grapes

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Throughout his tenure, America's scoundrel media vilified Chavez relentlessly. They did so straightaway. 

 

After his December 1998 election, New York Times Latin American correspondent Larry Roher, called him a "populist demagogue, an authoritarian….caudillo (strongman)." He lied saying so.

New York Times v. North Korea

 

New York Times v. North Korea

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

The Times is America's unofficial ministry of information and propaganda. Daily managed news misinformation is featured. 

 

Articles, commentaries and editorials are brazenly one-sided. Readers are systematically lied to. Fiction substitutes for facts. Information is carefully filtered. Dissent is marginalized.

Money for Militarism, not for People: Obama’s Betrayal of Social Security

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

What’s wrong with the Obama administration’s proposal to change the way Social Security checks are adjusted for inflation from using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to instead using something called a “chained” CPI?

Let’s start with the fundamental problem: Social Security is not a cause of the federal budget deficit, and will not be for years, even if nothing is done to raise more revenue for the program.

NO CUTS! NO TAX INCREASES ON ORDINARY PEOPLE! Chase Down Mega-Rich Tax Cheats and Recover the Offshore Trillion$

 

By Dave Lindorff


Hold everything!


I mean it. Stop talking about cutting school budgets, Social Security benefits, Medicare, Veteran’s pensions. Stop cutting subsidies to transit systems, to foreign aid. Stop cutting unemployment benefits. Stop it all.

The Future's So Much More Fun than the Past: How to Avoid the Bummer Myth

 

By John Grant


“The elite always has a Plan B, while people have no escape.”
            - Ahmad Saadawi


The Real Obama? The Devil...is in The Details

 

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.


Teach the Children War

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.

David Swanson's books include War Is A Lie and When the World Outlawed War.

Holding Harvard's Crimson Accountable

 

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

 

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.

 

A Great American In History Hugo Chavez and the Knuckleheads

 

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

 

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

 

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.

Fortunes of War

True, He’s the First Black President But Obama’s the Worst President Ever

 

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.


Journalistic Malpractice at the Post and the Times Rejecting the Offer of Evidence of US 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.

Pulling up the Ladder at Yahoo: Marissa Mayer's Faustian Bargain

 

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.


Mother Jones Wins Izzy Award for Independent Media

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.

For more information, visit www.ithaca.edu/indy/izzy  or contact Jeff Cohen at jcohen@ithaca.edu.

 

Media Scoundrels Pillory Chavez Before He's Buried

 

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. 

 

Talk Nation Radio: Norman Solomon on Iraq War Lies and New Online Activism

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.

 

Download or get embed code from Archive or  AudioPort or LetsTryDemocracy.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Embed on your own site with this code:

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Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Individual Honor versus Unpleasant History The Battle Still Rages Over What Vietnam Means

 

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

Did Judicial 'Pillow Talk' Decide this Case: Philadelphia Judge Covered Up a Bedroom Connection

 

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.

Droning On: The US and the M Word

 

By Dan DeWalt


‘If the President Does It, It Isn’t Illegal’

             -- Richard M. Nixon



Aaron Schwartz and the Fight for Information Freedom

 

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.


Women killing on the field of battle no cause for rejoicing

HTTP://WWW.DAILYGAZETTE.NET/STANDARD/SHOWSTORYTEMPLATE.ASP?PATH=SCH/2013/02/17&ID=AR02605&SECTION=OPINION

OPINION

Love and pain compels this letter.
   
Several weeks ago women [were fully cleared] for frontline combat. As a former Marine taught how to kill, there is little doubt in my mind that women will be highly effective in combat. I am sure they will participate with the same esprit de corps as men. The psychological techniques of conditioning now thoroughly developed and highly refined turn all but the best of us into programmed killers.
   
And, yes, feminism works for gender equality, and a new gender equality has been achieved. “You’ve come a long way, baby,” as the expression goes. Yet author and poet Sharon Doubiago expresses a jaw-dropping and pivotal insight: “Men create war to compete with women who create life.” As a man, I doubt I can completely understand the depth of this statement. If you are a woman, I am praying that you can.
   
This is breaking my heart. Please forgive me, but I don’t want you to have the same opportunity to participate fully in the murderous conduct of our species. I don’t want you to kill women, children, and men who are noncombatants and return home only to wake up to a new nightmare far worse than the nightmare of combat. I don’t want you to be part of the suicide epidemic and receive the same neglect and mistreatment as your male counterparts. And most emphatically, I don’t want you to believe you have to kill to be equal.
  
 JOHN AMIDON
Albany The writer is a member of Veterans For Peace.

Throwing Light on the Dark Side of Dorner's Rampage

 

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.

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