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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
By Tench Phillips, co-owner Naro Cinema
Each of the last few years I have compiled an annual list of the year's best films and divided them into fiction and non-fiction categories. Since "best of the year" lists are so prolific, my own focus is on non-fiction documentaries that don't receive as much media attention.
The PBS Nova broadcast "Rise of the Drones" was sponsored by drone manufacturer Lockheed Martin--a clear violation of PBS's underwriting guidelines.
As Kevin Gosztola reported (FireDogLake, 1/24/13), the January 23 broadcast was a mostly upbeat look at surveillance and weaponized drones. "Discover the cutting edge technologies that are propelling us toward a new chapter in aviation history," PBS urged, promising to reveal "the amazing technologies that make drones so powerful."
Some of that technology, unbeknownst to viewers, was created by the company described as giving Nova "additional funding" at the beginning of the broadcast. Lockheed Martin, a major military contractor with $46 billion in 2011 sales, is the manufacturer of drones used in warfare and intelligence, including the Desert Hawk, the Falcon, the Stalker and the Tracer. In December 2012, Lockheed bought AME Unmanned Air Systems, maker of the Fury drone (New Times, 12/19/12).
Nova's history of unmanned flight technology included comments from Abe Karem, dubbed the "father of the Predator" drone. His current company, FireDogLake's Gosztola noted, has a business relationship with Lockheed Martin.
The show did not entirely skirt the controversies over drones. A section of the broadcast dealt with drone pilots firing on targets in countries like Afghanistan or Pakistan. Viewers, though, are told that drone pilots have distinct advantage over conventional pilots. One drone operator talks about how, after a strike, a drone can "stick around for another few hours to watch what happens afterwards." A more critical look at drone wars might have mentioned these are the same circumstances under which U.S. drones have attacked rescue workers and funeral processions (Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 6/4/12).
The show does not ignore the question of civilian deaths--though it says "the facts are hard to come by" and that "there are not fully reliable counts of civilian deaths." Nova does mention that some estimates are that 30 percent of those killed are civilians, and talks about one attack that killed 23 civilians in Pakistan.
But, in keeping with the generally upbeat tone, Nova tells viewers that technology will help turn things around. "Drones can strike with pinpoint precision," the programs explains, "but their visual sensors are limited in ways that can lead pilots to make mistakes." Not to worry, though; "engineers are working to create new sensors that can see more in greater detail than ever before."
The program's sponsorship tie to the drone industry were never mentioned--though there were opportunities to disclose that relationship. In addition to Lockheed Martin's connection to one of the interview subjects, the show discussed a U.S. drone that was captured by Iran--without mentioning that it was manufactured by Nova's underwriter. And when Nova discusses the drones of the future, it's talking about the kind of miniature drones Lockheed Martin is developing to provide "constant surveillance capabilities" (TPM IdeaLab, 7/4/12).
Though the broadcast included an underwriting announcement at the beginning ("Additional funding from Lockheed Martin: Inspiring tomorrow's engineers and technologists"), that credit was removed from the webcast, and the company is not credited on the Nova website for the episode.
So can a corporation really provide "additional funding" for public TV journalism that discusses its own interests? PBS rules would seem to say no. The network has three tests that "are applied to every proposed funding arrangement in order to determine its acceptability":
* Editorial Control Test: Has the underwriter exercised editorial control? Could it?
* Perception Test: Might the public perceive that the underwriter has exercised editorial control?
* Commercialism Test: Might the public conclude the program is on PBS principally because it promotes the underwriter’s products, services or other business interests?
On the perception test, PBS explains:
When there exists a clear and direct connection between the interests or products or services of a proposed funder and the subject matter of the program, the proposed funding will be deemed unacceptable regardless of the funder's actual compliance with the editorial control provisions of this policy.
The policy is intended to prohibit any funding arrangement where the primary emphasis of the program is on products or services that are identical or similar to those of the underwriter.
It is difficult to see how PBS could argue that the Nova special does not violate these rules. And PBS wants you the believe they take such matters seriously:
Should a significant number of reasonable viewers conclude that PBS has sold its professionalism and independence to its program funders, whether or not their conclusions are justified, then the entire program service of public television will be suspect and the goal of serving the public will be unachievable.
If PBS really believe these words, why did they allow the Lockheed-funded "Rise of the Drones" to air?
Ask PBS ombud Michael Getler to investigate whether Nova's "Rise of the Drones" violates PBS underwriting guidelines.
Phone: 703 739 5290
By Dave Lindorff
I personally found the president’s inaugural speech not just insipid, but disgusting. It reached its gut-churning nadir near the end where he said:
By Michael Uhl
Jonathan Schell‘s probing review of Nick Turse’s new book Kill Anything That Moves originated on Tom Dispatch and migrated to Salon, where it appeared under the head “Vietnam was even more horrific than we thought.”
By Linn Washington, Jr.
America’s corporate news media love highlighting David-besting-Goliath stories…except apparently, when the fallen Goliath is major media mogul Rupert Murdoch – the billionaire owner of America’s caustic FOX News and other entities.
Open Letter to New York Times Editors
by Stephen Lendman
A personal note: I'm one of your fiercest critics. I'm certainly one of the most outspoken. My critiques are justified. I don't prepare them lightly.
I scrupulously strive for truth and full disclosure. If only Times writers, contributors and editors maintained similar standards.
By Dave Lindorff
The all-out assault on Social Security has begun.
The set-up for the big battle was the Fiscal Cliff charade. That hyped drama in the last days of December was a moment of truth for the Democratic Party and for President Barack Obama to make it clear whether they were still defenders of the New Deal legacy, or whether they were ready to toss Social Security overboard on behalf of the party’s new constituency: the Wall Street gang.
By David Rovics
By Dave Lindorff
Most Americans, their minds focused at the moment on the tragic slaughter of 20 young children aged 5-10, along with five teachers and a school principal in Connecticut by a heavily-armed psychotic 21-year-old, are blissfully unaware that their last president, George W. Bush, along with five key members of his administration, were convicted in absentia of war crimes earlier this month at a tribunal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
By Dave Lindorff
I’ll be brief here. Let’s just note that the heroic teachers who died while courageously trying to protect their kids at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, and the others who survived but stayed to protect the kids, were all part of a school system where the employees are members of the American Federation of Teachers.
By Dan DeWalt
Thank God for the fiscal cliff. With the election over, the media needed something upon which they could incessantly fixate, and our daily updates on the fate of the cliff-hanger negotiations are plenty of fodder to hold us until we have the final Christmas sales figures to talk about.
From Crooks and Liars:
The fiscal cliff once again dominated the Sunday morning talk shows (which isn't a surprise), and entitlement cuts were indeed a focal point by the lead bobblehead of each show. But what I found most offensive was that not one Villager or politician discussed cuts to defense spending as a solution for the Mayan Apocalypse of the federal deficit. In part, the reason the fiscal cliff is coming is because the sequester deal has massive cuts to defense spending, 2013 which is freaking out Republicans.
Defense Spending: This is an area where Republicans are likely to launch a major opposition campaign because defense programs would receive a 9.4 to 10 percent reduction from its 2013 budget of $580 billion, or about $55 billion. Although the president exempted military personnel pay and benefits, defense programs, including weapons and procurement programs, are subject to half of the automatic budget cuts, even though defense programs are about one-fifth of the federal budget. States that have a very large defense presence have been very vocal about opposing these cuts.
The fact that entitlement benefits aren't part of the sequester probably has Republicans really angry since they can't use that as leverage in this debate. But if pols and pinheads are so worried about the federal deficit, then why aren't defense cuts a top priority? What we hear instead is that severe cuts to federal spending, coupled with bad job growth and raised taxes, will result in a deep financial recession. While the president won on raising tax rates, that isn't the manna from heaven that will fix our economic problems if Obama includes benefit cuts to Medicare and Medicaid for a small raise in rates. Raising the retirement age doesn't do a thing to help lower federal deficits, so why exactly are Republicans asking for it -- and why does it appear that the president is willing to acquiesce to those demands? Since 'defense" makes up over almost 20% of the federal budget expenditures, why is it off limits in this discussion?
On Face The Nation, Bob Shieffer didn't bring up cuts in defense spending once and the only mention I see of it was by cranky ex-Sen. Simpson calling earned benefits/entitlements a 'destructive force" which would hurt defense spending
SCHIEFFER: So you think they've got to do that. But also, don't you think that the Democrats are going to have to agree to some entitlement reforms?
SIMPSON: ...But, yes, I mean, the bizarre thing, not touching the entitlements. The entitlements are the engine on the train driving us to the cliff. They were on automatic pilot. Health care, it doesn't matter what you call it, is on automatic pilot. And it's going to squeeze out all the discretionary budget -- defense, R&D research, all the things you love. Erskine and I always say, what do you love? And they'll name something and we say forget it because this is wiping everything. It's just a destructive force. And no cost containment till down the road..
What's destructive, Mr. Simpson, are austerity measures being forced upon the people during a recession and after an economic downturn.
On Meet The Press, defense spending was not mentioned once, but cuts to entitlements was at center stage, with the host of MTP seemingly negotiating with Republicans for 'big cuts" to entitlements
GREGORY: All right. Well, senator, let me just-- I want to pin you down on one point about Medicare. You say you want to basically put off this discussion until later. But bottom line, should the Medicare eligibility age go up? Should there be means testing to really get at the benefits side, if you’re going to shore this program up, because as you say, 12 years before it runs out of money?
The segment on the fiscal cliff went mostly like that and again, no mention if Republicans would accept big cuts in defense to fight off rate hikes.
On Fox News Sunday, neither Chris Wallace, Senators Corker or Schumer mentioned cutting defense spending when talking about a fiscal deal. They did, however, go large on entitlement cuts with Sen.Schumer actually agreeing that Corker's proposal was good for America.
Corker; So, and a lot of people are putting forth a theory and I actually think it has merit where you go ahead and give the president the 2 percent increase that he is talking about, the rate increase on the top 2 percent. And all of a sudden, the shift goes back to entitlements, and all of a sudden, once you give him the right on the top 2 percent, it's actually much lesser tax increase than what he has been talking about, the focus then shifts to entitlements and maybe it puts us in a place where we actually can do something that really saves the nation.
SCHUMER: Well, bottom line is, if Speaker Boehner ends up where Senator Corker has just said he is, we will get a large agreement. And -- but, Speaker Boehner has not said that. And so, we Democrats realize that there have to be two sides to this bargain.
Corker: The shift in focus and entitlements is where we need to go and, again, it is a shame that we're not just sitting down and solving this. But Republicans know that they have the debt ceiling that's coming up right around the corner, and, the leverage is going to shift, as soon as we get beyond this issue.
Wow. And finally ABC's THIS WEEK with George Stephanopoulos. And the guest stars were Senators Tom Coburn and Debbie Stabenow along with Congressman (D) Raul Grijalva and (R) Jeb Hensarling. How did they do with cuts to defense spending? Nada, nothing, zilch. Only three mentions of the word defense. Once when George set up what would happen if the sequester kicks in and twice more while talking about DOMA.
Coburn was in rare form by saying we don't really need Medicare or Social Security, anyway.
"The fact is we are spending money we don't have on things we don't absolutely need," he concluded. "And there's no grownups in Washington that will say, 'Time out, stop the politics, let's have a compromise rather than play the game through the press and hurt the country.' We're already going to get another debt downgrade just from what's happening now because nobody in positions of power are willing to do what's important and necessary for our country."
Why do people even vote for these Republicans who want to take so much away from them for a crisis caused by crimes the people who will suffer most didn't commit?
How did right-wing politics in the United States survive the 1960s and 1970s and thrive beyond? Not only did the wealthy invest in the corruption of politics, but the politicians invested in the normalization of treason.
When presidential candidate Richard Nixon sabotaged the peace process in Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson privately called it treason and publicly kept his mouth shut.
By the time Bush the Elder, also involved in that earlier treason, worked with Robert Gates and William Casey to sabotage President Carter's efforts to free hostages in Iran, the normalization was well underway.
The corruption of Watergate involved not only no-holds-barred political thievery, but also Nixon's fear that Daniel Ellsberg or the Brookings Institution or someone else had possession of a file detailing Nixon's successful 1968 efforts to prevent the war on Vietnam from ending.
The Iran-Contra scandal that grew out of the U.S.-Israeli-Iranian plot to replace Carter with Reagan, and the Iraq-gate scandal that followed, witnessed a last fling of half-hearted pushback in Congress and the corporate media. Today such non-sexual scandals no longer end in -gate. In fact, they are no longer scandals.
Piling George W. Bush's blatantly stolen elections onto the history of recent U.S. politics calls into question the ability of Republicans to get elected to national office without cheating. But the normalization of treason has been very much a bi-partisan affair.
Robert Parry, who runs the invaluable website ConsortiumNews.com, has a new book out called "America's Stolen Narrative." My recommendation is to immediately read this book from Chapter 2 through to the end. The introduction and chapter 1 depict President Barack Obama as having nothing but the best intentions, glorify the American Revolution, argue in favor of a strong federal government, and defend the practice of requiring people to purchase private health insurance (a Republican idea in its origins, of course, although Parry has adopted it as Democratic and good). Also, Chapter 3 takes a detour into arguing unpersuasively for lesser-evilism. If you're into that sort of thing, knock yourselves out. But in my view such discussions muddle and belittle the significance of the rest of this tremendously important book.
The "stolen narratives" referred to in the title are the accurate accounts that Parry presents of the treasonous acts I've mentioned above. Parry is an investigative journalist who has unearthed powerful evidence of the crimes of Nixon, Reagan, and others. Parry not only details the evidence but recounts the processes of coverup and distortion that the U.S. media has made its second nature. The result of this history is, I'm afraid, far worse than Parry's opening pages let on. Not only do Americans imagine that their politicians mean well when they do not, particularly in the area of foreign policy, but the United States has fundamentally accepted unlimited presidential powers. Nixon's crimes during his famous coverup, and the far worse underlying crimes as well, have now been legalized and accepted. Presidents do not answer to Congress or the public or the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. To a great extent, the people of our country have accepted temporary despots, and to a great extent our people falsely believe themselves powerless to act. They imagine the left did something wrong through acting. This is part of how history must be explained when leaving out the fact that the right has been cheating.
Parry's account of Nixon's undoing of peace in Vietnam, allowing for another four years of slaughter in Southeast Asia, is the best I've seen and alone worth the purchase of "America's Stolen Narrative." Parry imagines what it might have meant, not only for peace in the world, but also for social justice and the "war on poverty" in the United States had Hubert Humphrey defeated Nixon. To the extent that Nixon's successful electoral sabotage in 1968 opened the door to dirtier politics ever since, the damage can be multiplied.
Needless to say, that door was always somewhat opened. The Business Plot of 1933 was hardly less treasonous than anything Nixon did. Nixon's go-between with the Vietnamese in 1968 was the widow of Claire Lee Chennault who had worked to provide China with U.S. planes, pilots, and training, to plan the firebombing of Japan and provoke Japan into the attack on Pearl Harbor. Our false narratives still require the acceptance or glorification of all things related to World War II, but in fact one can see a bit of the husband in the widow Chennault. And then there's the assassination of President Kennedy, which evidence suggests George H.W. Bush played a role in as in most of Parry's post-1960's narrative.
But Parry's case that we turned a corner toward a nastier political world with the Nixon presidency is a strong one.
The account of the Carter-Reagan October Surprise is also the best I've seen, in terms of the evidence presented and the background provided, including on the central role of the Israeli government. The same gang that hung President Carter out to dry for failing to free the hostages had earlier pressured him to bring the Shah of Iran to the United States, thereby provoking the fears of Iranians and the seizure of the U.S. Embassy. The weapons shipments to Iran later grew into the Iran-Contra scandal, but common understanding of that scandal fails to trace it to its roots in the treasonous bargain that kept the hostages prisoners until the day of Reagan's inauguration.
Parry devotes whole chapters to the history of corrupt manipulation by a couple of the dirtiest individuals in Washington: Colin Powell and Robert Gates. These two manage their heights of corruption and influence, in part, through their cross-partisanship. Democrats in Parry's worldview seem to be largely battered wives failing to push back, failing to speak out, refusing to investigate or prosecute or impeach. True enough, as far as it goes. But I think there is a great measure of complicity and outright expansion of bipartisan abuses that must be credited to the Democrats as well. An accurate understanding of exactly how evil some of our Republicans have been need not turn us into cheerleaders for the party of the current president, his record classifications, his groundbreaking secrecy claims, his record whistleblower prosecutions, his record levels of warrantless spying, his imprisonments without trial, his wars without Congress, his war-making CIA, or his "kill list" murder program. Instead, an accurate understanding of how evil some of our politicians have been should move us to become, like Robert Parry, dogged pursuers of the facts that those in power seek to bury or beautify.
The message could hardly be clearer: According to U.S. intelligence, Syrian government could very well be preparing to use chemical weapons to put down the long and bloody rebellion against ruler Bashar al-Assad. That was the signal from the TV networks and other major media. Should anyone believe they're right?
"Chemicals so deadly one drop can kill within minutes," explained ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer (12/3/12), adding that one question on the table was "whether it means the U.S. may be forced to take action." Correspondent Martha Raddatz explained:
The latest intelligence is alarming. Officials telling ABC News the U.S. is now seeing specific signs that the Syrian regime may be preparing to use the chemical Sarin against opposition forces.
On CBS Evening News (12/3/12), anchor Scott Pelley explained:
Assad has not used his chemical weapons, including nerve gas, but the possibility that he might threatens to pull the United States into that Middle East conflict.
Pelley added that Pentagon correspondent David Martin "has been talking to his sources," and indeed he had. Martin explained:
This is a commercial satellite photo of a Syrian chemical weapons base. U.S. monitoring of roughly two dozen bases like this indicates the Assad regime has begun preparing its chemical weapons for use. Orders have been issued to bring together chemical ingredients, which are normally stored separately for safety, but when combined form the deadly nerve agent Sarin.
On the NBC Nightly News (12/5/12), anchor Brian Williams led the newscast:
Chemical weapons in Syria. Suddenly, the world has an urgent situation on its hands. The fear is Syria is preparing to use them against its own people.
NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski went on:
U.S. officials tell us that the Syrian military is poised tonight to use chemical weapons against its own people. And all it would take is the final order from Syrian President Assad.
He added that "this week, U.S. intelligence detected a flurry of activity at chemical weapons sites…the alarming developments shook the world."
By John Grant
Jennifer Foster, a tourist from Florence, Arizona, was walking in Times Square on a cold night in November and came across a New York City police officer giving a barefoot homeless man a pair of all-weather boots he had purchased out of his own pocket. Moved, she took out her cell phone and snapped a picture.
By Dave Lindorff
It is amazing to watch politicians trying to weasel their way around their promises. President Obama is providing us with a good illustration of the art.
By Dave Lindorff
Run a google search of “World Bank” and “climate change” and you’ll discover that this month the World Bank released a major study predicting a global “cataclysm” if world-wide temperatures increase by a predicted four degrees celsius (that’s roughly 8 degrees fahrenheit).
By John Grant
Using one of those overarching dramatic titles we have come to expect in mainstream media news coverage, John Stewart summed up the Petraeus story as “Band of Boners.” It's the sort of thing that may be inevitable when so much power is given so much free reign by so much secrecy.
Witch Hunting in Kansas: Anti-Abortion Pols Pile on to Attack Doctor Who Aided Tiller in Keeping Abortion Available
By Michael Caddell
… [Dr. Ann Kristin] Neuhaus wishes that she'd skipped the hearing.
In the November issue of COLDTYPE MAGAZINE
STILL WAITIN': a Short Film on Who Owns the Vietnam War, by TCBH!'s John Grant and the Viet War Commemoration Correction Project
A short film produced by
The Vietnam War Commemoration CORRECTION Project
To see the film, please go to: www.ThisCantBeHappening.net
I'd like to quote for you some of the very best bits of William Blum's new book, "America's Deadliest Export: Democracy," but I'd end up quoting most of the book and the entire chapter on capitalism. So you're just going to have to get your own copy.
But let me quote one little section for you here. Blum reviews state laws requiring that women considering abortions be told that they are about to end a human life. Regardless of your view of such laws, Blum thinks it is worth noting that no such information is provided to women or men when they sign up to join the U.S. military. So, he proposes requiring that each would-be recruit be read this statement:
"The United States is at war [this statement is always factually correct]. You will likely be sent to a battlefield where you will be expected to do your best to terminate the lives of whole, separate, unique, living human beings you know nothing about and who have never done you or your country any harm. You may in the process lose an arm or a leg. Or your life. If you come home alive and with all your body parts intact, there's a good chance you will be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Do not expect the government to provide you particularly good care for that, or any care at all. In any case, you may wind up physically abusing your spouse and children and/or others, killing various individuals, abusing drugs and/or alcohol, and having an increased risk of suicide ideation or suicide. No matter how bad a condition you may be in, the government may send you back to the battlefield for another tour of duty. They call this 'stop-loss.' And don't ever ask any of your officers what we're fighting for. Even the generals don't know. In fact, the generals especially don't know. They would never have reached their high position if they had been able to go beyond the propaganda we're all fed, the same propaganda that has influenced you to come to this office."
A while back I made a video along these same lines:
Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan are touring the country with a new book that everyone should have and read. "The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings, Occupations, Resistance, and Hope" is a history of the Obama Years in the form of a thematically organized collection of columns -- columns that grew out of the reporting done by the most useful show on our airwaves: Democracy Now!
How quickly we forget, or even never knew, this recent history -- history that will never make it into school-approved history books. Reading this book, I was reminded of watching, for the first time, the movie Fahrenheit 911 by Michael Moore who wrote this book's introduction. That movie recounted basic facts about recent years, many of them familiar to anyone who'd been paying attention, and yet the information came as a shock to most moviegoers. This book would come as a shock to most readers.
A column from November 10, 2010, included in the book, begins, "If a volcano kills civilians in Indonesia, it's news. When the government does the killing, sadly, it's just business as usual, especially if an American president tacitly endorses the killing, as President Barack Obama just did with his visit to Indonesia." Who recalls that episode now? Who remembers the crises that jump in and out of our media: the cruelties imposed on Honduras or Haiti? This book brings together a full four years and moves us to ask where each story has now gone.
Here we read a history of teasing: There's going to be accountability for foreclosure fraud very soon. No, really. Any day now. Any month now. We've launched a new study into, um, an investigation of a review procedure capability program. No, seriously. Investigations are underway into the crimes of Rupert Murdoch. Really, we mean it.
Too many of these columns end with references to pretended federal efforts of law enforcement that were never heard from again. There is no doubt an office somewhere in the FBI in which people are paid to calculate the ideal timing for pretending to pursue justice in one cause or another, and the ideal timing for switching over to silence and forgetting. But it all looks laughable and offensive if you read four years' worth of it all strung together.
This book encourages placing events in context and practices that habit. "Just before this Sunday's election in Haiti," Goodman and Moynihan wrote on March 23, 2011, "President Rene Preval gave Aristide the diplomatic passport he had long promised him. Earlier, on January 19, then U.S. State Department spokesman PJ Crowley tweeted, referring to Aristide: 'today Haiti needs to focus on its future, not its past.' [Aristide's wife] Mildred was incensed. She said the U.S. had been saying that since they forced him out of the country. Sitting in a plane a few minutes before landing in Haiti, she repeated the words of an African leader who criticized abuses of colonial powers by saying, 'I would stop talking about the past, if it weren't so present.'"
Part of the recent history reviewed here is the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement. As our government/media work to rewrite those stories, Goodman and Moynihan remind us of the days when people in Cairo held up a sign that read "To: America. From: the Egyptian People. Stop supporting Mubarak. It's over!" This collection takes us through the occupy movement and numerous other stories that are ongoing and developing, serving as an ideal primer for those now getting or staying involved.
The current crisis in Syria, for its coverage of which Democracy Now has been criticized, is too new and does not appear in the book.
Enough is included in this book for disturbing patterns to emerge without comment from the authors. Here, for example, are four years of empty threats to our government from our people. Many have probably forgotten Bill McKibben's statement in August 2001: "Our hope is to send a Richter 8 tremor through the political system on the day Barack Obama says no to Big Oil and reminds us all why we were so happy when he got elected. The tar sands pipeline is his test." Apparently there was no plan for what to do on the day (after day after day) on which Obama did not remind them why they were so happy. There was no contingency plan for his failing the test. There was no comprehension of how this guaranteed that he would choose to fail the test. And there is now forgetfulness of the growing ludicrousness of past promises and past pseudo-threats to power. Move the goal posts. Declare a new showdown. Avoid reading this book.
The themes of the book include many that never entered the recent Obama-Romney debates. Among them: race, and the death penalty. The themes of the book are not presented in isolation, but in interconnectedness. A Chicago police officer, Jon Burge, goes on a torture spree. "Where did it all begin?" ask Goodman and Moynihan. "One thing is clear: In 1968-69, Burge was an MP at the U.S. Army's Dong Tam camp in Vietnam's Mekong Delta, where captured suspected Viet Cong soldiers were allegedly interrogated with electric, hand-cranked field telephones supplying shocks. Torture techniques similar to this were rampant under Burge's command in Chicago." On October 6, 2010, Goodman and Moynihan wrote:
"News broke last week that the U.S. government purposely exposed hundreds of men in Guatemala to syphilis in ghoulish medical experiments conducted during the late 1940s. As soon as the story got out, President Barack Obama phoned President Alvaro Colom of Guatemala to apologize. Colom called the experiments 'an incredible violation of human rights.' Colom also says his government is studying whether it can bring the case to international court. … Ironically, the Guatemala study began in 1946, the same year as the Nuremberg tribunals, the first of which tried Nazi doctors accused of conducting heinous experiments on concentration-camp prisoners. Half of those accused were put to death."
Numerous such connections are pointed out in the book or inevitably arise in the reader's mind. The U.S. Supreme Court in the Troy Davis case finds it constitutional to kill an innocent person. President Obama creates a drone program the serves primarily to do that very thing on a large scale.
While the Occupy movement would not have existed as a national phenomenon without the corporate media, Democracy Now was there first and stayed with it longer. Getting more people to watch Democracy Now must be an easier thing that getting the corporate media to favor the dismantling of corporate power. Goodman and Moynihan, who barely sleep, and who are driven by the urgent moral need to confront the horrors the corporate media rarely notices, are on their way to a town near you. Welcome them.