Are the GOP Justices Political Hacks?

How Crucial Is Media?
Perhaps the Right’s biggest advantage in U.S. politics is its advanced media
infrastructure built over several decades and designed to reach the entire
country on a variety of levels especially when it’s compared to the Left’s
general neglect of a messaging system, an imbalance that Danny Schechter
By Danny Schechter
When do you feel like you are over the hill?
When you get letters like this one from Jose Hevia after writing an op-ed
featuring an essay from your recent book Blogothon, recounting your experiences
as a network-TV-insider-turned-independent-media-outsider. The essay offered a
case study of how the nominally non-commercial network, PBS, turned its back on
a human rights TV series I co-produced. It is about the challenges progressives
face in offering a counter-narrative to parochial mainstream thinking.
My critical correspondent wondered what I was whining about: “Complaining that
the old media is getting more and more monopolized Is … who cares about old
media? Nobody is my inner circle under 30 watches old media any more. Bye.”
Take that, old man. Hahaha!.
I am not sure his view is totally true, what with the Comedy Channel, movie
channels galore and unlimited sports coverage. The New York Times reports
“Television is America’s No. 1 pastime, with an average of four hours and 39
minutes consumed by every person every day.”At the same time, Jose is right that
Americans ages 12 to 34 are spending less time in front of TV sets. And, what
they are not watching is traditional TV news, maybe because it is so
uninteresting and disconnected from their lives.
One problem is that we live in a country where there’s plenty of news but little
diverse interpretation, context and background. Viewers are interested when it
is presented interestingly, not in canned infotainment-oriented formats. When
it’s not, they’re not. Breaking news is everywhere only to be replaced by more
breaking news that distracts your attention from what broke before.
It’s odd but almost all the most active and militant youth activists who
disagree on so much agree that an 80-plus-year-old named Noam Chomsky is one of
their heroes. Punk groups write songs praising him. His books are passed from
hand to hand. They are the most popular titles in the Occupy Wall Street Peoples
Library. Chomsky just released a pamphlet about Occupy.
A few years back, Chomsky got a rare long interview on cable TV. No, it wasn’t
MSNBC or Fox or the Comedy Channel the networks that are widely watched but
CSPAN’s Book TV. I stared at the screen for what seemed like forever to watch a
scroll listing some 80 books he’s written go by ever so slowly. I am not sure
how many people watched but it was fascinating.
I am nowhere near Chomsky’s prodigious output. I have ONLY written14 books not
to mention essays published in scores of others. I am not sure it matters but I
do what I can. And, yet, yes, as a journalist I am still a book guy because of
my years as a student and immersion in a political culture that reveres ideas
and intellectual thought.
At the same time I have also spent years inside the mainstream media machine
where my work reached many more millions, even when I felt I was pumping it out
into the maw where shows whiz by and are rarely remembered.
When I worked at ABC News, there was an expression that counseled producers not
to get too detailed. The instruction was to avoid “MEGO” standing for “My Eyes
Glaze Over.” That’s how they believe the audience reacts when exposed to too
much analysis. They tune out!
So it’s not surprising that online media like You Tube, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
are so popular. They are personal, quick, easy to upload to and snappy. The
Occupy Movement has taken advantage of this technology, too, with websites and
twitter feeds but to their credit, also longer-form outlets.
Old-time activists like one of my mentors as an organizer, Stanley Aronowitz,
now a social theorist, believes many in this generation don’t understand the
importance of reaching beyond their Facebook Friends and digital communities. He
told me for a TV series I am doing about “Who Rules America”:
“We don’t have a Left that really continually, in an effective way, talks about
who has power in America. The Occupy movement talked about ninety-nine percent
being deprived of economic power and about inequality, but it is not even close
to being an analysis that can be disseminated throughout the entire society.
“We don’t have a system of daily newspapers. We don’t have a weekly newspaper.
We have Twitter. We have, you know, various other kinds of social media that we
have access to, but it does not replace the kind of systematic analysis that can
take place as a result of having our own media.”
Maybe that’s why I write a daily 3,000-word blog every day at
and churn out books even though I know it’s a kind of Neanderthal pursuit in an
age when even popular magazines and newspapers are facing enormous obstacles in
reaching audiences. The book business seems to be barely limping along as a
transition continues to heavily hyped digital nirvana.
At the same time, along with my younger critic, I do use and believe in the
power of social media. I have had a computer since l981, and been online since
’86. I tweet (Dissector Events), have a Facebook page, use a smart phone, watch
videos and relish the power of interactivity. I think we need to be involved in
as many media outlets as we can be.
The journalist I co-founded Globalvision Inc. with, Rory O Connor, has a
brilliant must-read book out on social media, Friends, Followers and The Future;
How Social Media are Changing Politics, Threatening Big Brands, and Killing
Traditional Media. (City Lights)
Yes, he’s right this “new” media is transforming our world and providing key
tools that help organize revolts and even revolutions. It’s all very exciting,
but also potentially dangerous as governments create cyber-war commands to use
the Internet as a tool for aggressive intervention, spying, surveillance,
information collection, and social control. Social Media also addicts us to big
corporate brands with questionable commitments to change and democracy.
I am reminded of a poster I saw that was created by the students at the Beaux
Arts College in Paris during the May-June 1968 uprising. The slogan was more of
a mocking warning than a celebration. It read, “I Participate, You Participate.
We Participate. They Profit!”
Democracy should not be about enriching a techno elite, giving us more toys and
apps and devices to distract us from becoming the change makers we should be.
(How much is Apple or Google giving back?) That’s why I wrote Blogothon with the
title inspired by old TV telethons that once ran around the clock. I have been
blogging almost every day since Sept. 11, 2001. I believe you need to have a
regular presence to win influence.
If the progressive movement is to build support, it needs to be present in all
media in an effort to reach and persuade the mainstream about why change is
needed and how to go about it. It needs to critique old media and vitalize new
Media. We have to build a mass audience for our ideas, not just focus on
chatting with so-called friends. Outreach is essential without being
condescending. We must influence the mainstream.
Then, we have to also go beyond media and get actively involved in the struggle
to transform the status quo in an America of growing economic inequality,
poverty and war. My Blogothon essays treat all of these issues with perspectives
rooted in my long “career” in media and activism.
Have a read, and you tell me if they can contribute to the movement we need to
build? Bye.
News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at In addition to
Blogothon, Cosimo Books has also just published his Occupy: Dissecting Occupy
Wall Street. His latest film is Plunder the Crime of our Time on the financial
crisis as a crime story. ( He hosts News Dissector
Radio Hour on Progrsssive Radio Network (, Comments to
[email protected]
Contemplating the Abyss
The urgent question facing the planet is whether today’s late-capitalist era,
possessed of unbridled greed at the top, can be turned to meet the needs of the
world’s people or will hurtle onward to a global abyss, disrupting age-old
patterns of life and bringing mass destruction, a crisis pondered by Phil
By Phil Rockstroh
On May 1, after a day of May Day activities on the streets and avenues of
Manhattan, my wife and I and a troop of other OWS celebrants marched into
Zuccotti Park to jubilant exhortations of “welcome home” from a throng of fellow
occupiers. The next day, my wife and I boarded a southbound Amtrak train to join
family gathered at my dying father’s bedside to bid him farewell.
May in Georgia In this age of climate chaos, the local flora comes to bloom a
full month earlier than in decades past. This season, magnolias and hydrangeas
blossomed in early May. Their petals opened to the world as my father’s life is
fading. The magnolia petals have grown heavy; his body is shrinking. Soon he
will drift from this world carried by the scent of late spring blossoms.
In our once laboring class neighborhood, McMansions blot out the late spring
sun. In the arrogant shadow of these shoddily constructed, bloated emblems of
late capitalism, the neighborhood’s remaining 1950’s single level, brick homes
seem to recede fading like memory before the hurtling indifference of passing
In late spring, veils of pollen merge with shrouds of Atlanta traffic exhaust.
Timeless nature has awakened as the noxious capitalist certainties underpinning
the aberration known as the New South are dying.
Hospice has arrived in the home of my father. A death vigil has begun, as well,
for our culture.
Lost, starving, wailing into a void of paternal abandonment, my father, left on
the doorstep of a Baptist church adjacent to an Indian Reservation in rural
Missouri, arrived into this keening world. Now, he is refusing to eat and is
wailing, once again, into an abyss of helplessness His bones, eaten by cancer,
and his bowels seized up by the side effects of opiates, he is starving himself
to death.
He now lies in his bedroom; his sight set on the undiscovered realm of death.
This world denied him succor; now Death offers the embrace that he was denied
(and later) refused, as he proceeded through this life in a resentful fury. His
wounds cauterized by rage-lit flames.
Now, I must comfort him as he did me, when I was a child, seized by night
terrors that he both placated and caused. He whimpers into the air of the small
home that he once shook with rage. Now, betrayed by his body, and again orphaned
by fate, he will soon leave this world — a place from which he was perpetually
I hope the womb of night will bestow a peace upon him that was denied to him by
this world. I hope whatever dawn he meets will hold him in an embrace so all
encompassing and gentle that he will shed his compulsion to bristle and retreat.
I hope he will, at long last, know he was loved.
My father was born on an Indian reservation and abandoned on the doorsteps of a
Baptist church in rural Missouri in the early years of the Great Depression. A
Jewish mother and Protestant father adopted him. In those days, it was a
standard practice of adoption agencies to offer up for adoption children of socalled mixed ancestry to interdenominational couples. Caucasian babies, the
conventional wisdom of the time presumed, would carry a stigma for life from
being raised in a home headed by such social deviants.
My mother escaped Hitler’s Germany (barely) on a Kindertransport. My wife is
from the rural South Carolina Low Country. She’s a flat-lander, a swamp bunny.
As for myself, I was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in the foothills of the
Appalachian Mountains. I’m an accidental Hillbilly The lay of the land endowed
me with a hill country perception of existence, yet I appreciate the mode of
being evinced in places like Charleston and New Orleans … the humidity slowing
down the pace of life … the mind as a gnat flurry.
My blood, as is the case with all of us, is composed of ancient oceans that long
to know land and sky. On a personal basis, my atavistic blood is a sea of
diverse ethnic consanguinity that meets the shore of a global polis. The waves
of this body of water are changeable sometimes, caressing the shoreline
at ease in the world; sometimes, agitated and enraged by what I witness becoming
a series of antagonistic waves crashing against the insensate rocks of the
mindless social circumstances that damaged my father so.
Soon, my father will return to the vast ocean of eternity. I consider it my duty
to sing the song of my blood to compose and give voice to sacred hymns, both of
the personal and the collective.
This is my poet’s prayer: Life rose from ancient oceans so that mollusks could
gaze upon the evening sky. Likewise, we emerged from the cosmic brine to know
physical embrace made resonate because of its finite nature — the loving limits
imposed by Time. Accordingly, the immaterial longs for the caress of the summer
breeze and to rage into a winter wind. Spiritus Mundi is dependent on us to
cultivate our individual souls to have our blood sing biographical ballads to
audiences gathered in Eternity.
My father’s song is almost at its end. The endless song continues.
A song of tribute to the life of my father (or, for that matter, any human life)
must combine elements of a fight song and a love song. One must love life enough
to take a stand in its behalf.
During the Great Depression, my father was (again) left fatherless when his
adopted father suffered a debilitating stroke, resulting in a protracted decline
that left their small family penniless and homeless. Consequently, my father,
along with his nearly incapacitated father and his mother managed to make their
way from rural Missouri to Cleveland, Ohio, and then went on to find lodging
with members of his mother’s family who had settled in Birmingham, Alabama,
where shortly thereafter his father died.
In the Deep South, the dark hue of my father’s Native American skin marked him
for abuse by belligerent locals. Although he had been deprived of detailed
knowledge of his ancestry, his Comanche blood resisted intimidation. His
tormentors wounded him deeply, but they also succeeded in opening deep
reservoirs of ancestral rage.
My father harbored an abiding animus to bullies — a trait he bequeathed to me by
both blood and circumstance.
Apropos: At the foot of Broadway, on May Day, I stood near a bristling array of
NYPD officers who were tasked with the crucial mission of protecting the statue
of Wall Street’s iconic “Charging Bull” —
where I heard one of the witless,
uniformed thugs, through a smirk, opine, “These rich, lazy bums go to college
and study women’s studies and the history of Negroes — then come out here in the
real world and whine that they can’t get a job These brats should have thought
about what they’re going to do in life when they were in school?”
I turned to face him and averred, “I guess they could follow your example and
they could stand here on Wall Street stroking a billy club protecting ultrawealthy criminals and their ill-gotten riches.” Of course, he responded by
calling me a socialist.
Even though that was, most likely, the first accurate statement he posited all
day, I replied, “As opposed to following your noble example: choosing to spend
your days as a mindless fascist bully?” His smirk still in place, he spat, “As
if you even know what a fascist is!”
I replied, “As a matter of fact, I do, and you, being posed as you are in front
of that bull [with its bronze form cast to crouch in a stance of impending
aggression; its form, permanently locked in a position of myopic fury] will
serve as a perfect backdrop for me to illustrate the situation. Mussolini, who
knew a bit about the subject, proclaimed fascism to be the merger of the
corporation and the state. Therefore, since it follows that the state pays your
salary, and you spend your days protecting the corporate order that you, to a
jackboot, fit the profile of a fascist Don’t you now?”
At that, his smirk solidified into a mask of belligerent stupid. He slapped his
truncheon into his meaty palm, and told me that if I knew what was good for me I
better move along. I told him that he was probably right, due to the fact, I
suspect, he could very accurately and with much relish impart to me the true
nature of fascism with that nightstick of his.
His lipless, reptilian grin indicated he would be more than happy to take a
personal interest in tutoring me on the subject.
“The ghetto that you built for me is the one you’re living in.” — Bob Dylan,
Dead Man, Dead Man
But the fight is not with this individual enforcer of the present, doomed order.
The encounter is emblematic of what those who devote themselves to the unfolding
struggle are up against: an armed and fortified wall of sneering arrogance — a
violent, human torrent of surging ignorance.
For us, the living, breaching Death’s wall, possessed of the intention of
changing its implacable order, is, of course, impossible — but challenging the
present, calcified order — a death-addicted arrangement, created and maintained
by mortal men that has existed well past its given and rightful time — has
become imperative.
For my father, the struggle is nearly at its end; for those of us who remain in
this breathing world, the struggle has just begun.
Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City.
He may be contacted at: [email protected] . Visit Phil’s
website / And at
Applying the Six-Day War to Iran
Exclusive: America’s neocons continue to beat the drums for war with Iran,
brushing aside warnings even from Israeli intelligence veterans. Another part of
the propaganda is to merge a future war against Iran with the heroic memories of
the Six-Day War nearly 45 years ago, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern notes.
By Ray McGovern
With the 45th anniversary of the Six-Day War of June 1967 coming early next
month, pro-Israel pundits like syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer are
again promoting Israel’s faux-narrative on the reasons behind Israel’s decision
to attack its neighbors.
The Krauthammers of our domesticated, corporate media seem bent on waging preemptive war against an accurate historical rendering of the actual objectives
behind that Israeli offensive that overwhelmed Arab armies and seized large
swaths of Arab territory, land that hard-line Zionists refer to as “Greater
Israel,” i.e. rightly theirs.
With its surprise attacks on June 5, 1967, Israel rapidly defeated the armies of
its Arab neighbors. It gained control of the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula
from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights
from Syria.
The Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1979 as a result of the Camp David peace
accord, a land-for-peace swap that U.S. President Jimmy Carter demanded and that
then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin deeply resented.
Jewish settlement has proceeded apace on other territories conquered in the SixDay War, particularly in the Palestinian West Bank, which Israel’s ruling Likud
Party refers to by its Biblical names Judea and Samaria.
Likud’s charter declares that “the Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza
are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear
expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.
The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will
prevent their uprooting.”
In other words, in the Six-Day War, Israel seized land that hard-line Zionists
consider to be part of their ancestral legacy. The surprise attack in 1967 was
the means to that end. The Likud Party emerged several years later with the
explicit intent of consolidating that control through a settlement policy called
“changing the facts on the ground.”
Time to Worry
Yet, despite Israel’s continued expansion into those Palestinian lands, proIsrael pundits are in a defensive mood these days, and with good reason. They
see a particular need this year to whitewash Israel’s surprise attack on its
Arab neighbors 45 years ago not only because the anniversary is likely to draw
more than the usual attention but also because Israel’s strategic position has
deteriorated markedly in the past year.
For instance, the 80 million-plus Egyptians are no longer neutered by the joint
Mubarak-Israel-U.S. effort to repress them and co-opt them into passivity visà -vis the Palestinians. Serious contenders in the upcoming Egyptian election
have said they would reconsider the Egypt-Israel Treaty of 1979.
Some leading Egyptian politicians have added that they would fling wide open
Egypt’s border with Gaza, where about 1.5 million Palestinians live in what
amounts to an open-air prison. These Egyptians also are saying strongly
sympathetic things about the widespread suffering in Gaza and the West Bank.
Equally important, Egypt’s present government has already nullified the
sweetheart arrangement under which Egypt was providing natural gas to Israel at
bargain basement prices.
(That alone is a very big deal.)
And, in sad contrast to the deafening silence of senior American officials
regarding Israel’s reckless killing of U.S. citizens, such as Rachel Corrie in
2003, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan continues to demand an apology
for Israel’s killing of Turkish citizens aboard the Mavi Marmara on May 31,
The result of that dispute is a sharp diminution in what used to be very close
military ties between Turkey and Israel, not to mention a lot of ill will, which
can be very corrosive over the longer run.
Misinformed Americans
Regarding the events of 1967, America’s pro-Israel pundit class knows only too
well that Egyptians, Turks, Syrians, Jordanians and other audiences in the
Middle East will not buy Israel’s faux-history of the Six-Day War, many having
been on the receiving end of it.
Thus, it is abundantly clear that the primary targets of the disinformation are
Americans like those who subscribe to the neoconservative Washington Post, whose
editors in recent decades have been careful to keep their readers malnourished
on the thin gruel of watered-down (or unreliable) facts about the Middle East
(think, Iraq’s WMDs).
So, it would be simply too much to acknowledge, as former Israeli Prime Minister
Begin did 30 years ago, in an uncommon burst of hubris-tinged honesty, that
Israel’s attack on its neighbors in 1967 was in no way a defensive war, or even
a “pre-emptive” war (there being no really dangerous Egyptian or other threat to
While Prime Minister in 1982, Begin declared: “In June 1967, we had a choice.
The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches (did) not prove that
Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We
decided to attack him.”
Such real history would lift the veil now shrouding Israel’s version that plays
up the “threat” posed by Egypt and disguises the grand enterprise to expand
Israel’s borders and, in double-contravention of international law, to colonize
the occupied territories.
To bolster Israel’s heroic rendition of the Six-Day War and to apply its
supposed lessons to Israel’s current plans to bomb Iran Krauthammer reprised
that triumphal version of Israel masterfully defending itself against imminent
destruction by the Arabs.
“On June 5 (1967), Israel launched a preemptive strike on the Egyptian air
force, then proceeded to lightning victories on three fronts,” Krauthammer
wrote, cooing: “The Six-Day War is legend.”
He then overlaid that gauzy history onto today’s confrontation with Iran:
“Israelis today face the greatest threat to their existence, nuclear weapons in
the hands of apocalyptic mullahs publicly pledged to Israel’s annihilation,
since May ’67. The world is again telling Israelis to do nothing as it looks for
a way out. But if such a way is not found, as in ’67, Israelis know that they
will once again have to defend themselves, by themselves.”
Noting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent coalition with the rival
Kadima Party, Krauthammer also mocked the importance of former Israeli
intelligence chiefs cautioning against a rush to war with Iran.
He wrote: “So much for the recent media hype about some great domestic
resistance to Netanyahu’s hard line on Iran. Two notable retired intelligence
figures were widely covered here for coming out against him. Little noted was
that one had been passed over by Netanyahu to be the head of Mossad, while the
other had been fired by Netanyahu as Mossad chief (hence the job opening).
“The [new] wall-to-wall coalition demonstrates Israel’s political readiness to
attack, if necessary. (Its military readiness is not in doubt.) Those counseling
Israeli submission, resignation or just endless patience can no longer dismiss
Israel’s tough stance as the work of irredeemable right-wingers.”
After reading this Krauthammer op-ed in the May 10 Washington Post, I decided,
against my better judgment, to invest a half-hour writing a letter to the
editor, trying to make it as factual as possible. Several days after its
submission, I have given up any meager hope I may have harbored that the Post
would actually print it.
Perhaps that half-hour investment will not have been a complete waste of time if
I can share the result with you:
Letter to the Editor, Washington Post, May 13, 2012
In his May 10 op-ed column, “Echoes of ’67: Israel unites,” Charles Krauthammer
refers to May 1967 as “Israel’s most fearful, desperate month” and compares it
to today, claiming that Iran poses “the greatest threat” to Israel’s existence.
It ain’t necessarily so. In August 1982, then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin
admitted publicly: “In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian Army
concentrations in the Sinai approaches (did) not prove that Nasser was really
about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”
Today’s “threat” from Iran is equally ephemeral. Krauthammer, though, warns
ominously about “nuclear weapons in the hands of apocalyptic mullahs publicly
pledged to Israel’s annihilation.”
The allusion is to an illusion, the alleged threat by Iranian President
Ahmadinejad to “wipe Israel off the map.”
But he never said that, an
inconvenient reality reluctantly acknowledged by Israeli Deputy Prime Minister
Dan Meridor early last month. And in January, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and
his Israeli counterpart both publicly affirmed the unanimous assessment of U.S.
intelligence that Iran is not working on a nuclear weapon.
Who, then, is being apocalyptic? Krauthammer’s agenda is so transparent that a
rigorous Fact Check should be de rigueur.
Ray McGovern, Arlington
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church
of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served for 30 years as an Army and
CIA intelligence analyst, and in January 2003 co-founded Veteran Intelligence
Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
Death of a Two-State Solution
Israeli hardliners continue to block the compromises for a two-state solution
with the Palestinians, while Jewish settlements keep expanding into land that
would be part of a possible deal. Thus, the prospect for a meaningful two-state
solution is dying, with dire consequences for both Arabs and Jews, writes
Lawrence Davidson.
By Lawrence Davidson
Over the past month, Palestinian leaders have begun to publicly acknowledge that
continuing actions by the Israeli government, and corresponding inaction by the
“international community,” have destroyed any reasonable hope of a viable and
independent Palestinian state.
Listen to Ahmed Qurei, who held high office in the Palestinian Authority under
Yasser Arafat: “It is probably no longer possible to create the kind of state
that we want. Now we must choose between two stark choices: either we settle for
a worthless state made of hapless ghettoes and miserable slums … or struggle for
one unitary and democratic state where Jews and Arabs can live equally in all of
Mandate Palestine.”
Among many Palestinian Islamic leaders, hope for the future now exists only in
the form of a Quranic prophecy, which tells of Islam’s divinely inspired victory
over the Jews in Palestine as punishment for the unholy behavior of the Israeli
state. This might be compared to the Christian Zionist’s prophecy of the triumph
of Israel presaging the second coming of Christ followed by God’s Judgment Day.
With either of those options — creation of a unitary secular and democratic
state or God’s intervention making civil governments irrelevant — Israel as a
“Jewish State” is seen as terminal. Of course, that is not how the politically
minded Zionists, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party,
see it.
Netanyahu has recently formed a “unity” government with the major opposition
party, Kadima, and by doing so appears to have secured his political leadership
for some time to come. So, what sort of scenario do these Zionists seek to
realize now and in the future? How do Zionist leaders see the future?
As far as I understand the situation, here is their projected scenario:
1. The Zionist leadership sees victory (Israel’s sovereign possession of all the
land of Palestine from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River some even covet
Jordan) as inevitable. It is just a matter of time. This assessment is based on
power relations. On the one hand, the Israelis have vast military superiority
over the Palestinians and have defeated all the Arab forces sent against them.
On the other, they have the United States and a good portion of Europe in their
political pockets. So how can they lose?
2. Victory means ethnically cleansing the land of most of the Palestinians — a
process that is ongoing. Every effort is being made to force as many as possible
into exile. This is being done by an ongoing policy of making life as miserable
as possible for all non-Jewish natives of Israeli-controlled territory.
For instance, it is public knowledge in Israel (if not the U.S.) that “police
brutality against Palestinians has been routine for decades.” Those who, despite
all, refuse to leave, are being territorially restricted and economically
marginalized. It is often speculated that the model for the latter situation is
the Indian reservations in the U.S. as they existed circa 1870. And indeed, for
Zionists this model can be more easily rationalized than the ghettos of old
In the process of this ethnic cleansing, the number of Palestinians who die is
irrelevant to the Zionist leadership. The Palestinians, like the American
Indians, are seen as hardly human. If the Zionists could make them all disappear
without serious international repercussions they would do so.
3. All this having been accomplished, Zionist leaders plan to simply maintain
the status quo and wait. They believe that, just as was the case of the American
Indians, the world will eventually forget the fate of the Palestinians, and this
forgetting will seal Israel’s dominion over the land. At least from the Zionist
point of view, that is the end of the story.
By the way, Zionists are not the only ones betting on this sort of scenario. The
Chinese in Tibet, and the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka, are also counting on the world
forgetting their victims. And, in each case they might be right. However, it is
the Zionists who are running the greatest risks pursuing this strategy of
conquest. Why is that the case?
Problems for the Zionist Scenario
1. Israel is not a great power like China, and does not occupy a half-forgotten
spot on the globe like Sri Lanka. It is very much on the map as far as vast
numbers of people are concerned, both supporters and opponents. Of course,
Israel continues to enjoy the patronage and protection of a great power, the
U.S. But, as unlikely as it might seem at present, this can change.
2. It is not the 18th and 19th centuries anymore and outright colonial domination
is no longer in favor. The only way Israel can commit crimes with impunity is
by: (a) playing the Holocaust card and (b) sustaining the political clout of its
The first practice is rapidly wearing thin almost everywhere one looks. The
second, on the other hand, is the key to their patronage and protection. Yet
counter-lobbies are even now evolving, and an increasingly vocal international
Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is emerging. The past 95 years of
solid Western backing of Zionist political goals (counting from the Balfour
Declaration) does not make the future a sure thing for the Israelis and their
ideological supporters.
3. As the Zionists conquer Palestine, they destroy Judaism. Here is the greatest
irony: ultimate success of the Zionist strategy marks the ultimate corruption of
official, organized Judaism. This is so because such success seals the devil’s
bargain that ties the organized aspect of this religion to the racist and antihuman goals of Zionist ideology. With the death knell of what could be a viable
Palestinian state comes the death knell of official Judaism.
Do you want to know why anti-Semitism appears to be on the rise? Because the
Zionists have changed the definition of the term. The traditional definition
tells us that anti-Semitism is hatred for Jews as Jews. The new, Zionistinspired definition, includes opposition to anything that the “Jewish state” of
Israel does. Oppose the political goals of Zionism and you allegedly oppose Jews
and Judaism. Ergo, you’re an anti-Semite.
This assertion on the part of Zionists is, of course, a modern innovation. Yet
it gains popularity based on the premise laid down by Joseph Goebbels that “if
you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to
believe it.”
Nonetheless, the truth is that Zionism and Israel have never been synonymous
with Judaism. All Jews are not and never have been Zionists and all Zionists
have never been just Jews. That being the case, the claim by Zionists that
Israel and its government represent Jewry en masse is false. Yet the lie is
stated over and again. The Jews who object to this false claim are now labeled
“self-hating Jews.” This too is nonsense.
The most striking thing about the list of obstacles given above is that
Palestinian resistance — in places like the West Bank, Gaza and Israel proper —
is not on it. Why? Again, it has to do with power relations.
When, during the Second World War, local resistance manifested itself against
Nazi occupation, the retaliation was disproportionately severe. Partisans might
shoot a German soldier, but then the German Army would shoot 50 civilians as
punishment. Nonetheless, the Germans lost the war and most of the Nazis from
that time have been hunted down and given their own punishment.
The Israelis have employed the Nazi strategy of disproportionate revenge and
collective punishment from the very inception of the Israeli state. If anything,
the kill ratio they exact from the Palestinians is even higher than the Nazi
average. But the same powers that once brought low the Nazis now either support
or turn a blind eye to the savagery of the Israelis.
Under these circumstances the Palestinians have indeed been worn down. In Gaza,
they are confined to the world’s largest open-air prison and in the West Bank
most of their leaders are either in prison or have been turned into
collaborators. It has gotten to the point where the most effective act of
resistance they can muster is the threat that over a thousand of them, locked
away in Israeli prisons without charge or trial, will starve themselves to
The death knell of the two-state solution and its corresponding corruption of
official Judaism is not the end of the story. But the final chapter can no
longer be written by the Palestinians alone. The West began the present horror
in the “Holy Land” when it sought to pay for the sin of European anti-Semitism
by allowing the destruction of the Palestinian people.
Ultimately, it is only with help from the West that the situation can be put
right. However, as long as Western nations are under the corrupting influence of
Zionism, most governments will not seek to do so. So this corrective effort has
to be undertaken by a movement of civil society Boycott, Divestment and
Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in
Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s
National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from
Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.
War’s Secondary Casualties
The horrible toll of war is not only inflicted on soldiers and their families
but on the doctors and nurses who care for the wounded. For the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, many of the injured are flown to Landstuhl in Germany, where the
medical personnel suffer from seeing the consequences of combat, writes Michael
By Michael Winship
The weather’s getting warmer in Afghanistan and the war there is heating up
again. That means as it has meant every year for more than a decade that the
pace will quicken at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
More casualties will be brought to this largest American military hospital
outside the United States. The Critical Care Air Transport teams and their C-17
Globemasters will fly in from “downrange,” as they call the Afghan battleground,
and the injured will be brought by ambulance bus from nearby Ramstein Air Force
Base to the hospital front door.
I spent a few days at Landstuhl recently, one of a group of writers from the
Writers Guild Initiative, part of the Writers Guild of America, East Foundation
(Full disclosure and just to add to the confusion: I’m president of the Writers
Guild, East, the union with which the foundation’s affiliated).
For the last four years, the foundation has been conducting writing workshops.
The project began with professional writers from stage, TV and movies mentoring
veterans from the Iraq and Afghan wars, working with them on writing exercises
and projects ranging from memoirs and blogs to children’s books, screenplays and
sci-fi novels.
Recently, in collaboration with the Wounded Warrior Project, the foundation
started similar workshops with caregivers, the loved ones of veterans helping
them through the aftermath of catastrophic injuries.
Now, Wounded Warrior had asked some of us to come to Landstuhl to meet with the
medical staff there. Some 3,000 strong, military and civilian, they work
ceaselessly in what has become one of the busiest trauma centers in the world,
helping between 20,000 and 30,000 patients a year (not just from the
battlefield, but also military and their dependents from all over Europe, Africa
and much of Asia).
Landstuhl is where the victims of the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marines Corps
barracks in Beirut were brought; Bosnian refugees from the Sarajevo marketplace
bombing in 1994, too, wounded from the American embassy bombing in Kenya in 1998
and the 2000 attack on USS Cole.
During the first Gulf War, more than 4,000 service members were treated at
Landstuhl, as have been men and women fighting in the Balkans and Somalia. Since
9/11, the hospital has treated coalition troops from 44 different countries.
They compare this hospital to the center of an hourglass; it’s the midpoint
between a combat injury and treatment in the field and then subsequent care back
in the States or other home country. Or it’s where a service member is treated
and then sent back into battle.
The staff at Landstuhl sees the wounded at their worst. Many who arrive suffer
from multiple injuries “polytrauma” so extensive that several teams of surgeons
with different specialties neurological, thoracic, ear and eye, facial
reconstruction, and orthopedic, among others may work on an individual patient,
often simultaneously.
Bodies are blown apart or crushed by IEDs, grenades and suicide bombs, but so
skillful are the medical teams there, so advanced the techniques and technology,
Landstuhl’s survival rate runs as high as 99.5 percent. (The survival rate among
American wounded in World War II was 70 percent.)
But all that success takes a toll. One of the little discussed but potent side
effects of war is what’s called Combat and Occupational Stress Reaction or
Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder. Compassion fatigue.
After all the years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, many of the doctors,
nurses, and other staff at Landstuhl are exhausted or worse. Given what they’ve
seen the horrific wounds and amputations, the infection, agony and grief some
walk around “like zombies,” one therapist said. Feelings of empathy and kindness
yield to loneliness, despair and burnout.
Many of the compassion fatigue symptoms are similar to Post-Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD) physical effects like headaches, gastrointestinal problems,
reproductive troubles as well as mental nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety,
emotional distance, isolation and more.
Working with physically damaged men and women who are so deeply traumatized rubs
off. The emotional rawness is contagious. A hospital handout on PTSD
understatedly reads, “When life-changing events occur, perceptions about the
world may change. For example, before soldiers experience combat trauma, they
may think the world is safe. Following combat, a soldier’s perceptions may
change a majority of the world may now seem unsafe.”
That’s why returning vets may reflexively search alongside a U.S. interstate
highway for roadside bombs, only shop at Walmart at 3 in the morning, or worry
to excess that their children’s school will be attacked by terrorists.
And it’s why after hearing the stories of their patients, reliving the horrors
of war, watching them endure pain and sometimes countless operations, medical
practitioners can suffer from the same fears whether it’s the surgeon who heals
the wounds, the psychiatrist who probes the mind for the source of anguish or
even the clean-up staff decontaminating and removing the blood from surgical
Combine that with homesickness, the high operational tempo of Landstuhl, the low
tolerance for mistakes, the downtime when the mind takes over and remembers
every awful experience. It’s a dangerous, often unhealthy mix.
And so, on a Saturday morning, we writers sat down with a bunch of men and women
who work at Landstuhl and other nearby medical facilities. There were 14 of us
and 32 or so of them. We broke into small groups two writers working with a
group of two to four hospital staff.
My colleague Susanna and I mentored four a male Army nurse and a female Navy
nurse, a physical therapist and a developmental pediatric psychiatrist. We
weren’t there to interview or pry; they would tell us what they wanted us to
know when they wished, their stories slowly emerging from conversation and the
brief writing exercises we gave them.
The male nurse had been in Special Ops, the Navy, Marines and Army; he was
reluctant to talk of what he had experienced but wanted to examine themes of
good and evil in an epic novel.
The physical therapist told us she wanted to explore the mind-body connection,
perhaps with a blog; the Navy nurse spoke of her feelings for the soldiers she
took care of from the Republic of Georgia, the former Soviet state, now
independent. (By the end of the year, Georgia, aiming at membership in NATO,
will have some 1,500 troops in Afghanistan.) She had learned how to bake for
them the Georgian national dish, khachapuri, a cheese filled bread; now she
wants to write a cookbook.
For two days, we talked and they wrote, we recommended books and movies, they
told us about the ones they loved. Tears were shed as stories and memories came
to the surface, many too private to relate here. Over the coming weeks and
months, we’ll stay in touch via e-mail and meet again; trying to be of
assistance as they write to express their thoughts and feelings, to tell their
Do the workshops help? Hard to measure, but intuitively it feels as if they do,
that in the talking and writing comes self-awareness and some measure of
equanimity. And selfishly, for those of us who serve as writer-mentors, the
benefits are enormous and fulfilling.
But the statistics are alarming. According to NBC News, “The Pentagon counts
more than 6,300 American dead and 33,000 wounded in action in Iraq and
Afghanistan. A Rand Corp study estimates that as many as 300,000 post-9/11
veterans suffer from PTSD or major depression, and about 320,000 may have
experienced traumatic brain injuries, mainly from bombs.”
The number of civilian fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan remains uncertain but
a Brown University study last year reported at least 132,000. Meanwhile, there
are still nearly 90,000 American troops in Afghanistan.
More will die and be
wounded. President Obama has pledged their complete departure in 2014.
But even after that, the work at Landstuhl will go on. There are still nearly
300,000 American military personnel overseas, plus family members. Landstuhl
will take care of many of them. And, says one of the hospital’s surgeons, with a
sigh of resignation, “There will always be the Middle East.”
Michael Winship, senior writing fellow at the think tank Demos, is senior writer
of the weekly public affairs program, Moyers & Company, airing on public
television. Check local airtimes or comment at
How the US Press Lost Its Way
Exclusive: People often wonder what happened to the American press after it
distinguished itself in the 1970s by exposing the Pentagon Papers and Watergate.
How did the U.S. news media lose its way over the past four decades, a question
addressed by Robert Parry at a conference on information and secrecy.
By Robert Parry
Editor’s Note: From May 10 to May 12, journalist Robert Parry participated in a
conference entitled, “From the Pentagon Papers to WikiLeaks: A Transatlantic
Conversation on the Public’s Right to Know,” sponsored by the Heidelberg Center
for American Studies in Heidelberg, Germany.
The conference consisted of media figures, legal scholars and freedom-ofinformation advocates and included Neil Sheehan, the New York Times
correspondent who got the Pentagon Papers from Daniel Ellsberg, and Barry
Sussman, the Washington Post editor who oversaw the newspaper’s coverage of the
Watergate scandal.
Parry spoke on the last day and offered the following observations:
Much of this conference has focused on the glory days of American journalism in
the 1970s. And rightly so. My talk, however, will deal with the more depressing
question of why things then went so terribly wrong.
First, let me say it’s been an honor to be at this conference, especially with
Neil Sheehan and Barry Sussman, who played such important roles exposing serious
crimes of state in the early to mid-1970s. That was a time when U.S. journalism
perhaps was at its best, far from perfect, but doing what the Founders had in
mind when they afforded special protections to the American press.
In the 1970s, besides the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, there were other
important press disclosures, like the My Lai massacre story and the CIA abuses —
from Iran to Guatemala, from Cuba to Chile. For people around the world,
American journalism was the gold standard.
Granted, that was never the full picture. There were shortcomings even in the
1970s. You also could argue that the U.S. news media’s performance then was
exceptional mostly in contrast to its failures during the Cold War, when
reporters tended to be stenographers to power, going along to get along,
including early in the Vietnam War.
Even the much-admired Walter Cronkite flacked for the early U.S. bombing raids
over Vietnam. But the press of the Seventies seemed to have learned lessons from
its earlier gullibility. And, with Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974, it could
be said that America’s checks and balances were alive and well. In newsrooms
around Washington, there was reason to be proud.
More broadly, the United States had reason to be proud. The American
constitutional Republic had shown its capacity for self-correction. Not only had
brave individuals done their jobs as professionals both in media and in
government but the nation’s institutions had worked.
The press, the Congress, the courts along with an informed public had demanded
and gotten accountability and reform. Not only were Nixon and many of his
henchmen gone but Congress enacted legal changes designed to prevent the
excessive influence of political donors, to open up government secrets to public
scrutiny, to protect whistleblowers.
Again, things weren’t perfect and the nation faced many challenges in the 1970s,
but one could say that democracy had been strengthened. As painful as the
process was, the system had worked.
However, the success of democracy, this victory of the rule of law, was fragile.
The struggle between dishonest pols and honest reporters between an engaged
people and behind-the-scenes powerbrokers was far from over. Indeed, a new
battle was just beginning.
After Nixon’s resignation, his embittered allies didn’t simply run up the white
flag. They got to work ensuring that they would never experience “another
Watergate.” And it wasn’t just a struggle that pitted the press against the
You could say that much of the U.S. Establishment had been unnerved by the surge
of democracy that had arisen to challenge longstanding traditions and injustices
— the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement, the environmental
movement, the anti-war movement. There also were cultural upheavals, with the
hippies and the drug culture. It was an unsettling time for the rich white men
who held most of the levers of power.
And these folks were not about to cede power easily. They made adjustments, yes;
they gave some ground. But many were determined to fight back and some had
experience in defusing and dismantling social movements around the world.
Indeed, the CIA’s decades of political and media manipulation in the Third World
and even Europe gave Nixon’s allies a playbook for how to neutralize opponents
and steer a population here at home.
So, they set out to do just that. America, which had often targeted other
countries for manipulation, was about to get a taste of the same medicine. It
may seem odd to explain what has happened over the past three-plus decades as
the result of a well-orchestrated intelligence operation. But step back for a
moment and take the name United States out of the equation. Think of it as
“Nation X” or as, say, Chile in the 1970s.
Think how the CIA would target a country with the goal of shoring up a wealthy
oligarchy. The Agency might begin by taking over influential media outlets or
starting its own. It would identify useful friends and isolate troublesome
It would organize pro-oligarchy political groups. It would finance agit-prop
specialists skilled at undermining and discrediting perceived enemies. If the
project were successful, you would expect the oligarchy to consolidate its
power, to get laws written in its favor. And eventually the winners would take a
larger share of the nation’s wealth.
And what we saw in the late 1970s and early 1980s in the United States was
something like the behavior of an embattled oligarchy. Nixon’s embittered allies
and the Right behaved as if they were following a CIA script. They built fronts;
they took over and opened new media outlets; they spread propaganda; they
discredited people who got in the way; ultimately, they consolidated power; they
changed laws in their favor; and over the course of several decades they made
themselves even richer, indeed a lot richer, and that, in turn, has translated
into even more power.
Getting Things Started
One key early figure in this operation was Nixon’s Treasury Secretary Bill
Simon, a Wall Street investment banker who also ran the Olin Foundation. Simon
used that perch to begin lining up right-wing foundations and getting them to
pool their money. The likes of Richard Mellon Scaife and the Koch Brothers began
investing in right-wing media, in right-wing think tanks, and in right-wing
attack groups. Some of these attack groups were set up to go after troublesome
Ironically, given our comparison of this effort to CIA covert operations
interfering in foreign countries, this time money flowed in from foreign sources
to help fund propaganda inside the United States. The Rev. Sun Myung Moon, a
South Korean cult leader who fancies himself the Messiah, invested tens of
millions of dollars of his mysterious money in right-wing political and media
organizations, including the Washington Times. Australian Rupert Murdoch showed
up with millions more to buy up news media properties and give them a right-wing
American neocons also emerged in this time frame. They became the intellectual
shock troops for the Right’s counteroffensive. They also focused much of their
attention on the media. In the late 1970s, for instance, neocon Marty Peretz
took over the formerly liberal New Republic and turned it into the incubator
that gave us right-wing columnists like Charles Krauthammer and Fred Barnes.
Arriving in DC
I had arrived in Washington in 1977, as a correspondent for the Associated
Press. So I saw the end of that brief golden era of journalism. Jimmy Carter was
president at the time. His administration was itself a reaction to the lies of
the Vietnam War and Watergate. One of Carter’s campaign promises was never to
lie to the American people. I recall AP ‘s White House correspondent, Michael
Putzel, taking it on as a personal challenge to catch Carter in at least one
lie. It sounds almost quaint today.
Then, came Ronald Reagan. He was the perfect pitchman for this pushback, the
ideal front man for rallying average Americans to betray their own interests. A
former movie star, Reagan could sell you anything, even Chesterfield cigarettes.
He also could sell nostalgia for a mythical better day, a time before all those
jarring social changes of the 1960s and all those national humiliations of the
After defeating Jimmy Carter in 1980, Reagan brought with him a gifted team of
P.R. and ad men. And, partly through the connection of Reagan’s Vice President
(and former CIA director) George H.W. Bush, Reagan’s team also hooked up with
CIA professionals, experts in the dark arts of political and media manipulation.
The CIA’s Old Boys had suffered their own pain in the 1970s. Many got fired and
their proud agency became the butt of national jokes.
Reagan also put one of Richard Nixon’s most cynical and unscrupulous allies,
Bill Casey, in charge of CIA. Casey was a former intelligence officer from the
OSS in World War II. He obsessed over the importance of deception and
propaganda, what he viewed as key elements in defeating the Nazis and later
containing the Communists. Casey understood that he who controlled the flow of
information had a decisive advantage in any conflict.
Coordinated Assault
So, what we saw in the early to mid-1980s was an assault on the two key sources
of information in Official Washington. One was inside the CIA itself, the
analytical division. These fiercely independent CIA analysts had been a thorn in
the side of the war machine for some time.
As Neil Sheehan (who wrote the Pentagon Papers stories for the New York Times)
recalled in his keynote speech to the conference, it was a CIA analyst, Sam
Adams, who had leaked evidence that the Vietnam War was unwinnable.
In the early 1980s, other CIA analysts were seeing signs that the Soviet Union
was in rapid decline. But that was not the answer the Reagan administration
wanted, since its policy centered around scaring the American people about the
Soviet menace and financing a massive U.S. military buildup to counter Moscow’s
supposed bid for worldwide conquest.
Reagan also wanted to assist right-wing dictatorships in Central America as they
put down uprisings by peasants, students, even priests and nuns. Fear of an
ever-expanding Soviet Union was to be the key motivator to separate the American
people from their money and their common sense. They had to believe that a
dangerous bear was on the loose and on the prowl in Central America.
In other words, the CIA analysts had to be brought into line. Rather than talk
about the Soviet Union in decline and eager for accommodation with the West, the
analysts had to get cracking, exaggerating the Soviet threat. And Casey had just
the guy to do it, an ambitious, well-regarded young bureaucrat named Robert
Casey put Gates in charge of the analytical division and soon his reorganization
of the directorate had sent some key analysts out to pasture and brought in a
new more flexible cadre of careerists. They agreed that the Soviets were indeed
10 feet tall, the source of all evil in the world, and plotting to attack the
U.S. through the soft underbelly of Texas.
The Troublesome Press Corps
But the problem wasn’t just getting control of the information inside the U.S.
government. It also was to get control of the unruly Washington press corps.
Casey had a hand in this, too. He moved one of his most experienced
disinformation specialists, Walter Raymond Jr., from the CIA to the National
Security Council.
The reason for Raymond’s shift was that the CIA was legally barred from
influencing U.S. policy and politics. But the thinking was that if you
externalized Raymond to the NSC then he wasn’t technically in the CIA. Casey
used a similar subterfuge when he ran the contra war in Nicaragua through NSC
official Oliver North — after Congress had banned the CIA and the Pentagon from
giving the contras military support.
At the NSC, Raymond was put in charge of a special interagency task force for
coordinating what was called “public diplomacy,” or how to sell U.S. policies
around the world. But the office had a more secret and more sensitive domestic
function. It was targeting members of Congress and the U.S. press corps and
through them, the American people.
Secret government documents that later emerged in the Iran-Contra scandal
revealed that Raymond’s team worked aggressively and systematically to lobby
news executives and turn them against their reporters when the reporters dug up
information that clashed with Reagan’s propaganda, especially in hot spots like
Central America. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Lost History.]
Sometimes the techniques were crude. For instance, a favorite tactic to
discredit women reporters in Central America was to start whispering campaigns
about them sleeping with Sandinistas. Other troublesome journalists were simply
labeled “liberal,” a curse word in that period.
You might want to believe that the news executives stood up for their reporters.
But that usually was not what happened.
The smear techniques proved remarkably successful, in part, because many of the
news executives were already inclined to support Reagan’s muscular foreign
policy and his resistance to the popular movements that had rocked America in
the 1960s and 1970s, opening doors to minorities and women and lessening bigotry
against gays.
Many senior editors shared a Cold War point-of-view and were unnerved by those
political and cultural changes. At the AP, where I was, general manager Keith
Fuller made no secret of his admiration for Reagan in having rescued America
from the supposedly shameful days of the 1960s and 1970s. In one speech, Fuller
talked about those days ripping at the “sinews” of American authority and saying
that Americans wanted to get back to “the union of Adam and Eve,” not “the union
of Adam and Bruce.”
Perception Management
Privately, the Reagan team had a name for what they were up to in their domestic
propaganda schemes. They called it “perception management.” The idea was that if
you could manage how the American people perceived events abroad, you could not
only insure their continued support of the foreign policy, but in making the
people more compliant domestically. A frightened population is much easier to
Thus, if you could manage the information flows inside the government and inside
the Washington press corps, you could be more confident that there would be no
more Vietnam-style protests. No more Pentagon Papers. No more My Lai massacre
disclosures. No more Watergates.
Sure, there would be the occasional reporter who would fight a story through to
publication but he or she could be neutralized. And most significantly, in the
face of this well-organized pressure, the nation’s two preeminent papers where
the likes of Neil Sheehan and Barry Sussman had starred the New York Times and
the Washington Post largely moved to the sidelines when it came to Reagan-era
In the 1980s, the two influential papers became more solicitous to the
Establishment than they were committed to the quality journalism that had
contributed to the upheavals of the 1960s and 1970s.
Investigating Reagan
All this became a factor in my journalism career. In late 1980, I had been put
on the AP special assignment team and had begun investigating the secret side of
the Reagan administration’s policies in Central America. My work wasn’t much
appreciated by Keith Fuller and the AP brass, but I pressed on and broke a
number of important stories about the CIA’s operations.
We won some journalism awards and that gave me a little protection. But it was
always touch and go. When one of Reagan’s public diplomacy guys realized that I
wasn’t going to back down, he looked me in the eye and said, in all seriousness,
“we will controversialize you.”
That notion of controversializing reporters may sound silly, but it was a real
strategy. By the mid-1980s, America’s Right had built up an imposing media
infrastructure of its own with many newspapers and magazines.
The Right also controlled specialized attack groups that targeted journalists by
name and were dedicated to making individual reporters the issue. Antijournalism activists, the likes of Reed Irvine and Brent Bozell, coordinated
their attacks with Reagan’s allies and operatives.
Still at AP we persisted in the Central America investigations. Essentially, I
was trying to follow the advice of Watergate’s Deep Throat — to “follow the
money.” Specifically, I wanted to know how the Nicaraguan contra rebels were
getting funded after Congress cut off their financial support.
That work led me the secret operations of Oliver North and to the first story in
June 1985 about his role funneling off-the-books money to the contras. Later,
with my AP colleague Brian Barger, we discovered that many of the contra units
had gotten involved in cocaine smuggling to help pay the bills.
On the Sidelines
Yet, as we pressed our investigation, we found ourselves remarkably alone, with
the occasional exception of some left-of-center magazine or the Miami Herald.
The AP editors took note that the Washington Post and the New York Times were
staying mostly on the sidelines.
And, by summer 1986, Congress had buckled under Reagan’s pressure and agreed to
resume contra funding. Barger quit the AP around that time and I was somewhat in
the doghouse for having led the wire service off on this wild goose chase.
However, then fate conspired to get the truth out.
On Oct. 5, 1986, on one of the last flights of Oliver North’s secret air force
to dump weapons to the contras inside Nicaragua, a teen-age Sandinista draftee
fired a SAM missile that brought down the cargo plane. One of the Americans
onboard, Eugene Hasenfus, parachuted to safety and was captured. Suddenly our
crazy AP stories didn’t seem so crazy after all.
The crashed plane and later disclosures about Reagan’s arms-for-hostage deals
with Iran (from a Beirut newspaper) led to congressional investigations. And
this brief vindication led me to a new job offer from Newsweek, which I took in
early 1987.
In a way, the Iran-Contra Affair marked an opportunity to not only bring
important facts to the American people but to revive that independent spirit of
the U.S. press. And there were a few months of good reporting as the Big Papers
scrambled to catch up.
Losing Momentum
But the dynamic had shifted too much. Or, you might say, the CIA-style
political/media operation had advanced too far. There were too many forces
supporting containment of the scandal and too few committed to its full
In that sense, Iran-Contra became a test of the new paradigm: an aggressive
right-wing apparatus doing damage control, determined to prevent another
Watergate, up against a weakened force favoring accountability and truth.
At Newsweek which was part of the Washington Post company at the time there
simply wasn’t the stomach for another Watergate anyway. Some senior editors even
considered it a sign of their patriotism not to take part in the destruction of
another Republican presidency.
So, there was little pushback when President Reagan and Vice President George
Bush were largely spared and a few lower-ranking officials, like Oliver North,
were thrown under the bus.
However, it wasn’t fine with me. From my sources, it was clear that a cover-up
was underway to protect Reagan and his heir apparent Bush. And, I pushed through
some stories at Newsweek along those lines. But the top brass, particularly
executive editor Maynard Parker, had different ideas. He didn’t like Iran-Contra
as a story and wanted it wrapped up quickly.
At one famous point in the hearings, the well-liked Secretary of State George
Shultz declared that in Washington, “trust is the coin of the realm.” After
that, he proceeded to lie though his teeth (a reality he later admitted to IranContra special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh).
But in 1987, Shultz’s assurance was good enough for my Newsweek editors who
essentially told me that any further reporting about a cover-up was unwelcome.
Newsweek bureau chief Evan Thomas specifically ordered me not to even read the
congressional Iran-Contra report when it came out in fall 1987. I was reassigned
to work on the Gary Hart sex scandal.
I hung on at Newsweek until 1990 and kept an eye on the Iran-Contra scandal as
some of the secrets continued to dribble out. But my situation was untenable and
I agreed to leave in June 1990. What was clear to me at that point was that the
concept of “perception management” had carried the day in Washington, with
remarkably little resistance from the Washington press corps.
Reverting to Form
While still living on the reputation of those golden days of the 1970s,
Washington journalists had reverted to their pre-Vietnam, pre-Watergate
inability to penetrate important government secrets in a significant way.
Yes, the press corps could get fierce about Bill Clinton’s sex life or Al Gore’s
supposed exaggerations. But when it came to national security secrets especially
with a Republican in the White House the American people and the world were in
much greater danger than they knew.
For me, I did some documentaries for PBS Frontline and kept digging up material
that shed new light on the dark secrets of the 1980s. But no one seemed
interested. So, at the advice of my oldest son Sam, I turned to what was then
the new media frontier, the Internet, and started what was the first
investigative news Web site.
The site is called, and over the past 16-plus years we have
published hundreds of investigative news articles, including many from
historical records that are now available but are of little interest to the
major U.S. news outlets. Interestingly, a number of former CIA analysts also
submit articles to us.
Yet, despite the Internet’s promise for circumventing the obstacles that I faced
at AP and Newsweek, the Internet also has many shortcomings, including a
shortage of good editing, too little fact-checking, too many crazy conspiracy
theories, and perhaps most important of all, too little money.
The readership also is fragmented, making it impossible to have the impact that
the New York Times had in the Pentagon Papers or the Washington Post had during
Sadly, too, my fears about the dangers from a Washington press corps that had
stopped asking the tough questions on issues of war and peace also proved
prescient. After George W. Bush seized the White House — and especially after
the 9/11 attacks — many journalists reverted back their earlier roles as
stenographers to power. They also became cheerleaders for a misguided war in
Indeed, you can track the arc of modern American journalism from its apex at the
Pentagon Papers and Watergate curving downward to that center point of IranContra before reaching the nadir of Bush’s war in Iraq.
Journalists found it hard even to challenge Bush when he was telling obvious
lies. For instance, in June 2003, as the search for WMD came up empty, Bush
began to tell reporters that he had no choice but to invade because Saddam
Hussein had refused to let UN inspectors in.
Though everyone knew that Hussein had let the inspectors in and that it was Bush
who had forced them to leave in March 2003, not a single reporter confronted
Bush on this lie, which he repeated again and again right through his exit
interviews in 2008.
The WikiLeaks Era
The failures of the U.S. news media over Iraq set the stage for what one might
call the era of WikiLeaks. The absence of accountability and transparency over
the last decade gave impetus to another evolution in how news can reach the
people, by circumventing or coopting the traditional media.
In the era of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers, the system had worked, with
individuals and institutions upholding their constitutional duties to inform the
public and punish corrupt officials. By the era of Iran-Contra, some individuals
within the system continued to do their jobs, but the institutions had stopped
working. Almost no one was held accountable and the cover-up was largely
By the era of WikiLeaks, people around the world had come to view the system and
its functionaries as corrupt and untrustworthy. The tough-minded press corps of
the Pentagon Papers and Watergate was a distant memory, replaced by what former
CIA analyst Ray McGovern calls the “Fawning Corporate Media.”
Facing that reality, some individuals usually from outside the traditional news
media have created new (and fragile) media institutions on the Internet, seeking
transparency against government secrecy and fighting for at least some measure
of accountability.
This has been a far-from-ideal solution. Web sites, even ones like WikiLeaks
which gained worldwide notoriety, have been unable to demonstrate the staying
power and the influence of news outlets like the New York Times and the
Washington Post. But the fact that millions of people now look to Internet sites
(or cable-TV comedy shows) for information they can trust speaks volumes about
how far the U.S. news media has slid over the past four decades.
So, if we were assessing how well the post-Watergate CIA-style covert operation
worked, we’d have to conclude that it was remarkably successful. Even after
George W. Bush took the United States to war in Iraq under false pretenses and
even after he authorized the torture of detainees in the “war on terror,” no one
involved in those decisions has faced any accountability at all.
When high-flying Wall Street bankers brought the world’s economy to its knees
with risky gambles in 2008, Western governments used trillions of dollars in
public moneys to bail the bankers out. But not one senior banker faced
Upon taking office in 2009, President Obama saw little choice but to “look
forward, not backward.” And, in all honesty, given the state of the American
political/media process, it is hard to envision how he would have proceeded
against what would have been a powerful phalanx of Establishment forces opposed
to prosecuting Bush, Wall Street CEOs and their underlings.
Another measure of how the post-Watergate counteroffensive succeeded would be to
note how very well America’s oligarchy had done financially in the past few
decades. Not only has political power been concentrated in their hands, but the
country’s wealth, too.
One can argue that there have been some bright spots in recent years. There has
been some improvement in the U.S. press corps since its humiliation over the
Iraq War. For instance, there was some good work done exposing the Bush
administration’s torture policies and the CIA’s secret prisons. The emergence of
independent Internet sites also has forced the mainstream media to compete for a
share of credibility.
However, it’s also true that the U.S. press corps is making some of the same
mistakes regarding the confrontation with Iran that were made over Iraq. And,
many of the key journalists from 2003 remain in place in 2012. The absence of
accountability has spread from government to the media itself. The makings are
there for yet another catastrophe.
So, a sad but I think fair conclusion would be that at least for the time being,
perception management has won out over truth. But the struggle over information
and democracy has entered another new and unpredictable phase.
[To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books,
Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both.
For details on the special offer, click here.]
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the
Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous
Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and
can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege:
The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras,
Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.
Misdefined ‘Terrorism’ Hurts US POW
By definition, “terrorism” applies to attacks on civilians for political ends.
But the U.S. government has revised the term to cover any attack on Americans,
including soldiers fighting anywhere in the world, a misuse of the concept that
is hampering a deal to free a U.S. POW, writes ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.
By Paul R. Pillar
The only current American prisoner of war, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, remains in
captivity largely because of the mistaken equating of war fighting with
counterterrorism. That false equation has contributed to the suffering of many
other Americans in uniform and their loved ones.
It lent believability to the Bush administration’s rationale to launch the Iraq
War, and it has underlain continuation of the Afghanistan War for a decade after
Operation Enduring Freedom achieved its immediate counterterrorist objectives.
The hardship of Sergeant Bergdahl and his family simply adds to that toll.
The exact circumstances of Bergdahl’s capture in Paktika Province in Afghanistan
in June 2009 are somewhat in doubt, but not in doubt is that he was a combat
soldier in a military unit conducting counterinsurgency operations. His capture
was not some block-the-street-with-a-car terrorist kidnapping in a city. His
captors were insurgents against whom NATO is waging its counterinsurgency
Secret talks reportedly have pointed to a possible deal under which Bergdahl
would be released in return for transferring five Taliban prisoners now at
Guantanamo to the custody of the government of Qatar.
Such a deal would have multiple advantages for the United States. It would free
Bergdahl. It would help build mutual trust with the Taliban and thereby aid the
negotiation of further agreements, which are essential if Afghanistan ever is to
have even a modicum of stability. And it would mean five fewer Guantanamo
prisoners the United States would have to find a way of disposing of.
The talks have snagged over the conditions under which the Taliban prisoners
would be held in Qatar. The Obama administration evidently is taking a hard line
to ensure that the Taliban involved do not return to militant activity. It is
almost certainly taking that hard line not because of whatever difference five
guys from Guantanamo could make but instead because of the reception any such
deal would get back in the United States.
That reception would be based on a loose and unbounded use of the term
“terrorist.” It would be based on the notion that continued counterinsurgency in
Afghanistan is somehow safeguarding Americans from terrorism, whereas it instead
has become a nation-building effort.
It would be based on the tendency to label the Afghan Taliban as terrorists,
even though they are not an international terrorist group and instead are
interested in the distribution of power in Afghanistan. Because of such
confusion, the kind of deal that has been discussed mistakenly would be seen as
violating the longstanding U.S. policy of not making concessions to terrorists.
That policy has been observed fairly consistently (except in the Iran-Contra
affair, which is remembered as ignominy). The policy has a sound basis in not
encouraging more terrorist kidnappings. But the principle doesn’t really apply
to the military foe in Afghanistan, the Taliban, who do not have some wider
terrorist agenda and have no interest in taking captives except insofar as it
might help to get foreign forces out of Afghanistan.
With these conflations, Democrats and Republicans alike, anxious to maintain
tough antiterrorist credentials, are poised to denounce any deal that contains
even a whiff of unfettered freedom for prisoners now at Guantanamo. The U.S.
election campaign only worsens the situation. Mitt Romney has opposed the
proposed transfer, saying “we do not negotiate with terrorists.”
Amid the politicking and the conceptual and terminological confusion, Sergeant
Bergdahl remains indefinitely in captivity.
A postscript for those who are guided by asking themselves, “What would the
Israelis do?”: We should recall that last year the Israeli government released
1,027 Palestinian prisoners, many of whom the Israelis very much consider
terrorists, in return for the release by Hamas of a single Israeli soldier,
Sergeant Gilad Shalit.
Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be
one of the agency’s top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown
University for security studies. (This article first appeared as a blog post at
The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)
Mitt Romney, the Bully
As a privileged preppy, Mitt Romney enjoyed humiliating suspected gays and other
vulnerable people. But his bullying didn’t stop when he grew older. Instead, he
applied similar tactics to make a fortune as a corporate raider, writes Marjorie
By Marjorie Cohn
Last week, I was invited to speak to 40 high school freshman about human rights.
When we discussed the right to be free from torture, I asked the students if
they could think of an example of torture. They said, “bullying.”
A major problem among teens, bullying can lead to depression, and even suicide.
When most people list the qualities they want to see in their President, “bully”
is not one of them.
Yet evidence continues to emerge that Mitt Romney is a bully. When he was a high
school senior at the prestigious Cranbrook School, Romney orchestrated and
played the primary role in forcibly pinning fellow student John Lauber to the
ground and clipping the terrified Lauber’s hair.
The soft-spoken Lauber, it seemed, had returned from spring break with bleachedblond hair draped over one eye. Romney, infuriated, declared, “He can’t look
like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!”
Lauber eyes filled with tears as he screamed for help. One of the other students
in the dorm at the time, said, “It was a hack job. . . . It was vicious.”
But instead of owning up to his stupidity and expressing regret at his bullying
attack on Lauber, Romney told Fox News that he didn’t remember the incident,
although he apologized for his pranks that “might have gone too far.”
It’s hard to believe that Romney cannot recall an incident that others who
assisted in the attack have regretted for years. Or perhaps there were so many
more that he doesn’t recall this one.
Lauber wasn’t the only student Romney harassed. Gary Hummel, a gay student who
had not yet come out, says Romney shouted, “Atta girl!” when Hummel spoke out in
English class. Once again, Romney claims he doesn’t remember that insult.
In still another high school incident, Romney caused English teacher Carl
Wonnberger, who had severe vision problems, to smack into a closed door, after
which Romney laughed hysterically.
While these episodes demonstrate cruelty, one might dismiss them as the work of
an immature high school prankster. But, unfortunately, Romney’s bullying didn’t
end in high school. Romney is now famous for driving to Canada with the family
dog caged and strapped to the roof of his car.
Moreover, Romney made a career of bullying when he was head of private equity
firm Bain Capital. Bain would invest in companies, load them up with debt, and
then sell them for huge profits. The companies often had to lay off workers and
sometimes were forced into bankruptcy.
The Wall Street Journal found that of the 77 companies in which Bain invested
while Romney headed it from 1984 to 1999, 22 percent filed for bankruptcy or
went out of business. In addition, Bain hid its profits in tax havens.
William D. Cohan, a Wall Street deal-adviser for 17 years, wrote in the
Washington Post: “Seemingly alone among private-equity firms,” Bain Capital
under Romney’s leadership “was a master at bait-and-switching Wall Street
bankers to get its hands on the companies that provided the raw material for its
financial alchemy.” Cohan said Bain “did all that it could to game the system.”
For 28 years, Joe Soptic was a steelworker at Worldwide Grinding Systems. Soptic
told Amy Goodman that after the company was bought out in 1993, his wife had to
quit working, she didn’t have health insurance, and he couldn’t afford to buy it
after his salary was reduced from $59,000 to $24,800 annually.
When his wife became ill with cancer, she went to a county hospital. When she
died, he said, “I had this big bill.” Soptic was forced to liquidate his
401(k)s, which are now gone. He lost his job after the company declared
bankruptcy under the control of Bain.
While 750 workers lost their jobs, Bain made billions of dollars in profit. Bain
denied workers the severance pay and health insurance they had been promised,
and their retirement benefits were reduced by as much as $400 a month.
Randy Johnson had worked for nine years at an office supply factory in Marion,
Indiana, when American Pad and Paper, which had been acquired by Bain, bought
out the factory in 1994. Johnson was hired back, but without a union contract.
He lost his pension plan, and his wages and benefits were reduced.
After an unsuccessful effort to negotiate a contract, the plant closed. Johnson
and more than 250 of his fellow workers were fired. Johnson, who had tried to
get Romney’s attention during the labor dispute, said, “I really think [Romney]
didn’t care about the workers. It was all about profit over people.”
A bully does not care whom he may hurt by his tormenting behavior. He
intimidates the vulnerable for his own benefit, or amusement. He lacks
compassion. Romney fits this profile.
Marjorie Cohn is a professor of law at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past
president of the National Lawyers Guild. Her most recent book is The United
States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse.
Reflecting on Mother’s Day and War
The original idea of Mother’s Day was to promote peace so mothers would not have
to suffer the grief that many American moms faced after the slaughter of the
Civil War. But some of today’s most powerful women, including moms, are war
advocates, writes ex-FBI agent Coleen Rowley.
By Coleen Rowley
Recall that Mother’s Day was originated by Julia Ward Howe not to fill
restaurants or boost the stock of Hallmark cards but as an anti-militarism
effort, to further the cause of peace.
In her 1870 Proclamation, Howe, after witnessing the suffering and horrors of
the Civil War, laid the foundation for the theory that women as the more
“tender” sex and better teachers of charity, mercy and patience, would
naturally, if they gained power, put an end to the senselessness of wars.
However 142 years later, we see that the five most powerful women thus far in
U.S. history, at a time when the United States has climbed to “military
superpower” status in the world, are: Madeleine Albright, Condi Rice, Hillary
Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power. All are mothers (except Condi Rice), and
all are proving Howe’s theory completely wrong with their pronounced attitudes,
actions and instigation of wars during the last two decades.
The war-hawkishness (and some would add ruthless cruelty) of the first three
female Secretaries of State and the two on Obama’s short list to become next
Secretary of State (but who are already powerful, as advisors on Obama’s
National Security Council, his UN Ambassador and chair of his new “humanitarian
war” program) would probably make the founder of “Mothers Day for Peace” turn
over in her grave.
In fact, defining aspects of these five most powerful women’s career stances and
orientation towards military power jump out of their Wikipedia bios to vie with
Henry Kissinger’s cold calculated Machiavellianism.(If you already know their
backgrounds, you can skip the following brief highlights.)
Madeleine Albright: Although Albright would probably prefer to be remembered for
her grandiose plan and statements about bringing democracy to other countries,
her real legacy will probably lie in her unguarded 1996 response as U.S.
Ambassador to the United Nations made on “60 Minutes” when she defended UN
sanctions against Iraq after Lesley Stahl asked her, “We have heard that half a
million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima.
And, you know, is the price worth it?”
Albright replied, “we think the price is worth it.” Albright later criticized
Stahl’s segment as “amount[ing] to Iraqi propaganda”; complained it was a loaded
question; wrote “I had fallen into a trap and said something I did not mean”;
and regretted coming “across as cold-blooded and cruel.” But the “60 Minutes”
interview won an Emmy.
Albright later took office in 1997 as the first female U.S. Secretary of State
and the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government where she
supported the U.S.-NATO bombing campaign in the Balkans. According to Albright’s
memoirs, she once argued with Colin Powell for the use of military force by
asking, “What’s the point of you saving this superb military for, Colin, if we
can’t use it?”
Condoleezza Rice: A much better summary of Condi’s life and career can be gained
— thanks to the first-hand accounts of people who knew her and through her many
well-known, solid biographers in this fascinating (87 minute) documentary,
“American Faust: From Condi to Neo Condi” by Sebastian Doggart.
What will people remember most about Condi Rice? If it’s not the visual of the
impeccably coiffed and tailored business suit sinisterly threatening a “mushroom
cloud” which she used to help George Bush “catapult the propaganda” for war on
Iraq, it may be the key role she played in ordering torture even before John Yoo
attempted to fully “legalize” it.
There is probably some psychological significance in the fact that Condi Rice,
the woman who gave up marriage and children to climb the ladder, reportedly used
the words: “It’s your baby, go do it” to convey approval to CIA Director George
Tenet in July 2002 from the Bush White House Principals (the group that
formulated and authorized torture tactics) to go ahead and conduct waterboarding on certain captured suspects. Condi’s “baby” thus became torture.
Hillary Rodham Clinton: Among her consistently pro-war stances, Sen. Hillary
Clinton voted to give George Bush the power to launch war on Iraq when she knew
that country posed no threat to the U.S. and had no tie to 9/11 or WMD.
As Obama’s Secretary of State, Clinton jumped into the formidable task of using
the “Arab Spring” to back some U.S.-friendly dictators while supporting
protesters against other regimes the U.S. did not like.
She joined Samantha Power and Susan Rice and pulled off an amazing power play.
The “three harpies” (as one commentator named them) overcame internal opposition
to U.S. military intervention in Libya from three higher positioned men: Defense
Secretary Robert Gates, security advisor Thomas Donilon, and counterterrorism
advisor John Brennan, and ended up playing key roles in support of the U.S.-NATO
massive bombing of Libya in 2011. Hillary Clinton used U.S. allies as “convening
power” to strengthen the Libyan rebels as they eventually overturned the Gaddafi
After Gaddafi was brutally tortured, killed and his body put on display, Hillary
laughed in triumph, “We came, we saw, he died.”
Susan Rice: As Wikipedia states, “(In her first year serving as Director for
International Organizations and Peacekeeping on Clinton’s National Security
Council), at the time of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, Susan Rice reportedly said,
‘If we use the word “genocide” and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the
effect on the November [congressional] election?’ …
“Rice supported the multinational force that invaded Zaire from Rwanda in 1996
and overthrew dictator Mobutu Sese Seko, saying privately that ‘Anything’s
better than Mobutu.’ Others criticized the U.S. complicity in the violation of
the Congo’s borders as destabilizing and dangerous. …
“On December 1, 2008, Rice was nominated by President-elect Obama to be the U.S.
Ambassador to the United Nations, a position which he also upgraded to cabinet
level. Rice is the second youngest and first African American woman U.S.
Representative to the UN.
“In light of the 2011 Libyan civil war, Ambassador Rice gave a statement
following a White House meeting with President Obama and U.N. Secretary General
Ban Ki-moon as the United States increased pressure on the Libyan leader to give
up power. Rice made clear that the United States and the international community
saw only one choice for Gaddafi and his aides: step down from power or face
significant consequences. …
“On 17 March 2011 Rice voted for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973
which sanctioned a Libyan no-fly zone. … Rice and Clinton played major roles in
getting the Security Council to approve this resolution; Clinton said that same
day that establishing a no-fly zone over Libya would require the bombing of air
defenses. …
“On March 29, 2011, Rice said that the Obama administration had not ruled out
arming the rebels fighting to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. In an
interview on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ program, Rice said there was no
indication that Gaddafi was prepared to leave power without continued pressure
from the International community.
“Referring to reports that members of Gaddafi’s inner circle were reaching out
to the West, she said: ‘We will be more persuaded by actions rather than
prospects or feelers. … The message for Gaddafi and those closest to him is that
history is not on their side. Time is not on their side. The pressure is
“In January 2012 after the Russian and Chinese veto of a UNSC resolution, Rice
strongly condemned both countries for vetoing a resolution calling on (Syria’s
ruler) Bashar al-Assad to step down. ‘They put a stake in the heart of efforts
to resolve this conflict peacefully,’ Rice said on CNN. ‘The tragedy is for the
people of Syria. We the United States are standing with the people of Syria.
Russia and China are obviously with Assad.’ She added that ‘Russia and China
will, I think, come to regret this action.’ ‘They have … by their veto
dramatically increased the risk of greater violence, and you’ve seen
manifestations of that.’
“In her words, ‘the United States is disgusted that a couple of members of this
Council continue to prevent us from fulfilling our sole purpose.’”
Samantha Power: Samantha Power is aptly named. As Special Assistant to President
Obama running the Office of Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on the
President’s National Security Council, she is the architect of the concept of
“humanitarian war” and of the “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” which she
recently parlayed into being named the new chair of Obama’s “Atrocity Prevention
Power got her start as a journalist in the Yugoslav Wars, lamenting that U.S.NATO bombing did not begin sooner. She became a fan of General Wesley Clark and
worked on his subsequent presidential bid.
Afterward she became a “foreign policy fellow” for Sen. Obama and continued to
work for his presidential campaign for a time as his senior foreign policy
Power is a fan of U.S. military intervention and General David Petraeus’
counter-insurgency manual. [See Chase Madar’s prescient (2009) description in
“Samantha Power and the Weaponization of Human Rights“:
“Power’s faith in the therapeutic possibilities of military force was formed by
her experience as a correspondent in the Balkans, whose wars throughout the ’90s
she seems to view as the alpha and omega of ethnic conflict, indeed of all
genocide. For her, NATO’s bombing of Belgrade in 1999 was a stunning success
that ‘likely saved hundreds of thousands of lives’ in Kosovo.
“Yet this assertion seems to crumble a little more each year: estimates of the
number of Kosovars slain by the province’s Serb minority have shrunk from
100,000 to at most 5,000. And it is far from clear whether NATO’s air strikes
prevented more killing or intensified the bloodshed.
“Even so, it is the NATO attack on Belgrade — including civilian targets, which
Amnesty International has recently, belatedly, deemed a war crime — that informs
Power’s belief that the U.S. military possesses nearly unlimited capability to
save civilians by means of aerial bombardment, and all we need is the courage to
launch the sorties.”
Samantha Power is widely reported to “have Obama’s ear” and be the key figure
(who along with Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton) overcame the objections of
Defense Secretary Gates and other national security men, persuading
Obama to
intervene militarily in Libya. For critiques at the time from the far left AND
from the far right, see: Tom Hayden’s “Samantha Power Goes to War” and “Samantha
Power’s Power” by Stanley Kurtz in the National
Most Powerful Women Club
Just coincidentally (but it’s a whole ‘nother story), the only time I came close
to rubbing elbows with some of these women, was when the three of us Time
Magazine “whistleblowers” spoke at the (decadently lavish) “Most Powerful Women
Conference” (now called the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit).
Just as good ole boys networks always played their role for men gaining and
wielding power, it’s definitely a small world for these five most powerful women
who all have significant ties to each other, beyond their State Department and
foreign policy advisor status.
Condi Rice and Susan Rice only happen to share the same last name but are
otherwise not related. But Madeleine Albright’s father, international relations
Professor Josef Korbel, was Condi Rice’s academic mentor. Albright is a longstanding close friend of Clinton, endorsed her in her 2008 campaign for U.S.
President and now serves as Clinton’s top informal advisor on foreign policy
Albright has also been a longtime mentor and family friend to Susan Rice.
Although Susan Rice was not the first choice of Congressional Black Caucus
leaders, who considered her a member of “Washington’s assimilationist black
elite,” Albright urged Clinton to appoint her as Assistant Secretary of State
for African Affairs in 1997.
In 2007, Albright declared in a press conference that she and former Clinton
Defense Secretary William Cohen would co-chair a new “Genocide Prevention Task
Force” created by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American
Academy of Diplomacy, and the United States Institute for Peace. Albright’s Task
Force was what apparently led to the recent 2012 creation of the “Atrocity
Prevention Board” now chaired by Samantha Power.
Feminizing War Does Work!
To sell it. Feminine faces and talk of noble humanitarian intentions prove
useful as they serve to effectively soften and cover up the brutal bloodshed of
U.S. wars and indiscriminate aerial and drone bombing that have killed countless
But this is not “soft power” or use of brains over brawn. The feminist war hawks
don’t want to talk about the women and children victims of war — or even count
them — any more than their male counterparts.
Perhaps due to naiveté or the sentiment expressed in Howe’s Peace Proclamation,
many progressives and “liberal human rights” groups unfortunately are blindly
swallowing, for instance, Power’s insidious but seductive “humanitarian war”
theory which relies on sleight of hand utilitarianism and the concocting of a
happy (but false or unprovable) outcome to divert attention away from unlawful,
immoral, brutal means.
The female “humanitarian” warhawks’ insistence that NATO bombing of Libya
“prevented another Rwandan massacre” works in much the same way as “ticking time
bomb” utilitarians like Dick Cheney dupe their own base by claiming to have
prevented another terrorist attack through water-boarding.
People generally so want to believe in happy endings that they don’t carefully
look at the (wrongful) means being used.
In actuality, the U.S.-NATO bombing for regime change killed tens of thousands
of Libyans and installed a puppet government that is still reportedly committing
human rights abuses.
For a comprehensive refutation of “humanitarian military
intervention” see “‘Responsibility to Protect” as Imperial Tool: the Case for a
Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy” by Jean Bricmont (Feb, 2012) for an expose
of how instituting harsh economic sanctions on Syria, said to be for
“humanitarian purposes” actually encourage the very violence – if starvation and
disease constitute violence – that their proponents claim to oppose.
Senator Jim Webb and Congressman Walter Jones have concerns about the ease of
“humanitarian war” and are not so easily charmed or misled. They are to be
praised for having introduced legislation to make it impossible for Obama to
launch preventive military actions based merely on findings by Samantha Power’s
Board without congressional approval per the Constitution.
Unfortunately, the
Obama Administration has previously claimed this power.
When Mothers Need to Prove Their Toughness
Getting back to the issue of Mothers Day for Peace, were Julia Ward Howe’s
notions (or hopes) about women just over-romantic? Or is there another
explanation for why and how liberal expectations could be so off-base vis a vis
the reality of the current crop of increasingly powerful feminist war
hawks? (Feminist war-hawks who have overcome their male military colleagues’
reluctance to wage preventive war?!)
One possible explanation might lie in the kind of “Napoleonic Complex” that
tends to force the first women pioneers entering a previously male-dominated
profession or area to prove themselves as tough or tougher than the men. A
broader expose of the “Hollow Women of the Hegemon” including those on the
international scene (i.e.Thatcher, Bhutto, Golda Meir, and Aquino) was written
in 2008 by Dr. June Scorza Terpstra.
I can anecdotally verify this pressure from my own experience in joining the FBI
when there were few female FBI agents in the ranks.
One part of our new agents training at Quantico in early 1981 required us to box
each other. If I remember right, we had to wear real boxing gloves and line up
to spar with a classmate. The first round, I was really scared because my
opponent was a guy several inches taller than myself who had actual boxing
experience; but he didn’t try to hit me that hard. The FBI instructor blew a
whistle after a few minutes for us to change opponents.
The second round, I got paired against an even bigger guy who had played college
football but he also just kind of tapped me. I breathed a sigh of relief when
the third and final round came and I finally found myself facing another female
who was smaller and shorter than myself. (She was sweating but still quite
pretty as she had worked as a stewardess before joining the FBI.)
But I’ll never forget what happened when they blew the whistle the third time
and that former stewardess just started punching me in the head, non-stop as
hard as she could and landing every punch, almost knocking me out.
Theoretically, Julia Ward Howe could still be right about the potential of a new
women-inspired/initiated era for peace down the road. The need to prove
“toughness” might lead the “weaker gender” to over-compensate for a time, but
only until there are equal or greater numbers of women at the highest levels of
governmental command. At the present time, sadly enough, I see only more female
war-hawks knocking on the gates of power.
But let’s not give up hope this Mothers Day 2012! It might be worth the effort
to look up their addresses and e-mails and send authentic Mother’s Day cards
containing Juliet’s Peace Proclamation to all the current women in positions of
military power.
Coleen Rowley, a FBI special agent for almost 24 years, was legal counsel to the
FBI Field Office in Minneapolis from 1990 to 2003. She wrote a “whistleblower”
memo in May 2002 and testified to the Senate Judiciary on some of the FBI’s pre
9-11 failures. She retired at the end of 2004, and now writes and speaks on
ethical decision-making and balancing civil liberties with the need for
effective investigation.
Adding Hurdles for Iran to Clear
The current head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who was essentially
installed by Western powers, is adding new hurdles for Iran to clear before an
agreement can be reached on its nuclear program, a standoff addressed by Gareth
Porter for Inter Press Service.
By Gareth Porter (Updated and corrected on May 15, 2012)
In meetings with Iranian officials in Vienna this week, the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) apparently intends to hold up agreement on a plan for
Iran’s full cooperation in clarifying allegations of covert nuclear weapons work
by insisting that it must first let the nuclear agency visit Parchin military
That demand, coupled with the IAEA’s insistence in the talks on being able to
prolong the inquiry on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons work indefinitely, make
the failure of the current talks very likely. Iran has made it clear that it
wants assurances that the IAEA inquiry on the allegations will allow it to
achieve closure on an agreed timetable by responding fully to IAEA questions.
That intention was signaled by IAEA Director General Yukia Amano’s handling of
the previous round of negotiations in February in an interview with Michael
Adler in The Daily Beast on March 11. Amano told Adler that what he called the
“standoff” over access to Parchin “has become like a symbol” and vowed to
“pursue this objective until there’s a concrete result.”
But the “standoff” was not over access to Parchin itself but whether the IAEA
would insist that the cooperation plan be held hostage to such a visit. Adler
cited an “informed source” as saying that the IAEA rejects any linkage between a
visit to Parchin and the rest of the plan for cooperation being negotiated and
insists that a visit to Parchin must come first before any agreement.
Iran had implicitly been using the IAEA’s desire for the Parchin visit as a
bargaining chip in negotiations over the terms of their cooperation and
especially the question of whether the process is to have an agreed
endpoint. Amano and Western officials have justified the insistence on immediate
access to the Parchin site to investigate an alleged explosive containment
vessel for testing related to a nuclear weapon by suggesting that satellite
photographs show Iran may be trying to “clean up” the site.
David Albright, who has frequently passed on information and arguments
originating with the IAEA on the website of the Institute for Science and
International Security, was quoted by the Associated Press on Sunday as arguing
that a clean-up of the Parchin site “could involve grinding down the surfaces
inside the building, collecting the dust and then washing the area thoroughly.”
Albright further suggested that Iran could remove “any dirt around the building
thought to contain contaminants”.
But former senior IAEA nuclear inspector Robert Kelley told IPS that IAEA
inspectors “will find uranium particles at a site like this if they ever were
there.” Kelley, who worked in U.S. nuclear weapons programs at Livermore and Los
Alamos national laboratories and was director of the Remote Sensing Laboratory
in Las Vegas, recalled that Syria had been sent to the U.N. Security Council “on
the basis of tiny miscroscopic particles found at a site that had been bulldozed
a year after the event.”
Access to Parchin has not been the issue in Iran’s negotiations with the IAEA.
Iran’s permanent representative to the IAEA, Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh,
has said that Iran is willing to grant access to Parchin as part of an agreed
plan for Iranian cooperation with the IAEA.
The unfinished text of the agreement as of the end of February round of talks
reveals that the real conflict is over whether the IAEA can prolong the process
of questioning Iran about allegations of covert nuclear weapons work
On March 8, in response to a presentation by Soltanieh to the IAEA Board of
Governors detailing the negotiations, Amano confirmed, in effect, that the
agency was insisting on being able to extend the process by coming up with more
questions, regardless of Iran’s responses to the IAEA’s questions on the agreed
list of topics. He complained that Iran had sought to force the agency to
“present a definitive list of questions” and to deny the agency “the right to
revisit issues.”
Amano’s demands for immediate access to Parchin and for a process without any
clear endpoint appear to be aimed at allowing the United States and its allies
to continue accusing Iran of refusing cooperation with the IAEA during
negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group scheduled to resume in Baghdad May
Amano was elected to replace the more independent Mohamed ElBaradei in 2009 with
U.S. assistance and pledged to align the agency with U.S. policy on Iran as well
as other issues, as revealed by WikiLeaks cables dated July and October
2009. [See’s “Slanting the Case on Iran’s Nukes.”]
The draft negotiating text as of Feb. 21, which has been posted on the website
of the Arms Control Association, shows Iran seeking a final resolution of the
issues within a matter of weeks but the IAEA insisting on an open-ended process
with no promise of such an early resolution.
The unfinished negotiating draft explains why Iran is holding on to Parchin
access as a bargaining chip to get an agreement that will give Iran some
tangible political benefit in return for information responding to a series of
IAEA allegations. The still unfinished draft represents the original draft from
the IAEA, as modified by Iran during the last round of talks, according to
Soltanieh in an interview with IPS on March 15.
The negotiating draft shows that Iran and the IAEA had proposed and Iran agreed
that the very first issues on which Iran would respond were “Parchin” and the
“foreign expert.” The issue of whether or not the plan would provide for a
clear-cut closure if Iran provided satisfactory answers comes up repeatedly in
the draft. The IAEA draft refers to “a number of actions that are to be
undertaken before the June 2012 meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors, if
But the draft appears to anticipate a process without any specific terminal
point. “Follow up actions that are required of Iran,” it says, “to facilitate
the Agency’s conclusions regarding the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear
programme will be identified as this process continues.”
Iran amended that paragraph so that the process would be completed by the June
2012 IAEA board meeting. The entire sentence providing for identification of
further actions required of Iran during the process is struck out in the
text. Iran agreed in the draft agreement to “facilitate a conclusive technical
assessment of all issues of concern to the Agency.” But Iran inserted the
sentence, “There exist no issues other than those reflected in the said annex.”
A crucial element of the plan presented by the IAEA is a provision under which
the agency “may adjust the order in which issues and topics are discussed, and
return to those that have been discussed earlier, given that the issues and
topics are interrelated.” In other words, there would be no promise of closure
on an issue, regardless of what information Iran provides on the topic or
Iran deleted the language allowing the return to issues that had been discussed
earlier. The IAEA draft envisions a process that would begin with an Iranian
“initial declaration,” after which the IAEA would “provide initial questions and
a detailed explain of its concerns.” But the draft shows an Iranian
strikethrough on the word “initial,” rejecting the IAEA’s right to come up with
more questions even after the initial questions were answered.
The IAEA draft provided that, after Iran had responded to questions and
requests, and the IAEA had analyzed the responses, “the Agency will discuss with
Iran any further actions to be taken.” But Iran rewrote the sentence to read
“(T)he agency will discuss and agree with Iran on actions to be taken on each
topic. After implementation of action on each topic, it will be considered
concluded and then the work on the next topic will start.”
Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in U.S.
national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, Perils of
Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in
2006. [This article originally appeared at Inter Press Service. It updates a
previous version of the story with a correction for the date of Amano’s
interview with the Daily Beast.]