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Let down and hanging around

The Christmas period seems a good time of year to ponder how hard some old traditions can die, even when they cease to be particularly representative or functional or connected to contemporary reality. At the same time, we can see new ones developing, which might tell us something about changing times.

I heard it suggested recently that the ‘traditional’ (for northern Europe) attachment to a ‘white Christmas’ is a hangup from the odd climatic blip that was the Little Ice Age. Beginning any time between the thirteenth and the seventeenth centuries, much of the world, but particularly the northern hemisphere, grew noticeably colder. Pack ice advanced, temperatures went down  and winters were colder and harder. It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that the world warmed again – possibly due to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere as a result of industrialisation.

The impacts of the Little Ice Age were felt all over the world. Here in Europe, it coincided with the development of mass communication. Industrial society spawned newspapers, novels (along with societies literate enough to read them in numbers), telegrams: the beginnings of a self-conscious mass culture – the beginnings, indeed, of a concept of ‘the mass’. Marx and Engels wrote their manifesto in 1848, five years after Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol, which has done perhaps more than anything else to cement our current sentimental and nostalgic view of what Christmas should be – a vision which commercial globalisation has now multiplied all around the world.

Snow on the cobbled streets; robins freezing in the icy wind; prize turkeys in the butcher’s window;  spruce trees twinkling behind lighted windows; toboggans; men in top hats. This is the cultural mythology that encrusts Christmas in my country, and it’s how commerce has manufactured and sold Christmas all over the world – so successfully that in Australia this weekend they will be eating roast turkey in thirty degree heat with artificial snow on their windowsills and pictures on their Christmas cards of a Greek saint dressed up for a trip to Finland.

It is an appealing image, to me anyway, but it appears to be one that has been frozen in time due to a strange confluence of factors, not the least of them being a bestselling book which caught the public imagination. In essence, a passing climatic phenomenon was presented as an unchanging seasonal reality through the medium of popular literature.

Until recently, this was not the kind of Christmas many people experienced, at least here in Britain. For the last couple of years, however, our traditional grey Christmas has been replaced in many parts of the country by a white one. We’ve had snow all over the ground on Christmas day, logs on the fire, sweet coal smoke belching from cottage chimneys (confession: I love the smell of coal smoke) and other such Dickensian things. Ironically, it could be that this apparent return to form is itself a sign of climatic variation, this one related to all that sweet-smelling smoke.

I wonder how the media reacted to the cold winters in the age of Dickens and Marx? Can the reaction have been as asinine, cynical and heartless as it is now? Here’s half the country, blanketed in beautiful, silent snow, and we are being treated to a raging torrent of headlines about ‘chaos’ ‘disgrace’ and ‘horror’ The story currently playing out in the media here is one of ‘travel chaos’ – and it’s fascinating to me that travel is the central focus.. People can’t drive everywhere they would like to as quickly as they want. Heathrow airport – horror of horrors – is shut. People are waiting around, missing flights, sleeping on benches. This, I heard one angry passenger say on the radio today, has rendered the place ‘like a warzone’.

No. No, it is not like a warzone. It is not even like a conflict zone, or even like a fight in a pub car park, and if you can use language like that to describe your inconvenience and irritation you have lost all sense of perspective. But this is how people react in this country now when their travel plans are inconvenienced. I see this when I walk down the street. Men in cars angrily revving and swearing when the tyres skid. People moaning about the ice on the pavements. Everypone gearing up to blame somebody – the council, the airport authority, the government – for the fact that we live in a world we do not control and whose natural impacts we cannot be sheltered from every minute of every day. Is this a new Christmas tradition – raging at Nature when it doesn’t play ball?

Perhaps, but it highlights one genuinely new Christmas tradition – the getaway. In the last few decades, Christmas in Britain and across the overdeveloped world has been primarily a celebration of movement. Everybody goes somewhere. And they don’t just go down the road to granny’s. They don’t even just go across the country to granny’s. They go all over the world. Or they try to, and when it doesn’t work they sleep in the airport, refuse to go home, and rage and spit so violently about Nature’s inability to fit into their timetables that the government institutes an inquiry into why the weather isn’t behaving itself.

Unlike the robins and the cobbles, this is very new. It’s only in the last couple of decades at most that international and continental travel of the kind we now expect and demand has even been possible. In a fascinating article in the New Internationalist this month, George Marshall wonders what Britain would look like if the radical cuts in carbon emissions we apparently need were actually put in place. The answer, it turns out, is that it would look like 1972. That’s when we last emitted 80% of the carbon we do now. That was only two years after the first commercial jumbo jet flight landed at Heathrow. It wasn’t so long ago – it was the year of my birth, in fact, and I’m not 40 yet. A lot of things were very different then, but it’s hardly an alien or an impossible way to live.

How did we get from there to here? How did we become a nation of demanding narcissists, raging at the snow instead of marvelling in its beauty? How did we become unable to look at the sky and the frozen ground and say ‘ah well, I’ll change my plans. I’ll stay at home. I’ll mull some wine and go skating.’

I imagine the answer is fairly simple: we were spoilt. Cheap flights, cheap roads, cheap stuff, cheap debt. Borrow now, pay later, and not just financially. One of the losses from this process has been any sense of acceptance  we may once have had as a culture; any sense of stoicism, of the kind the British were supposedly once famous for. I have seen this fall away in my lifetime, and I think it has happened because we have been both spoilt and propagandised in tandem. We have been exhorted to think and act like consumers rather than citizens. We must demand, haggle, scream and fight for our rights and for bargains, and whenever we are traduced, we must threaten legal action. Our reliance on the state-corporate Machine has rendered us like teenagers: dependent on authority figures for our succour; raging against them because we know this.

I wonder how we will grow out of this. I wonder, when it sinks in that it’s never going to be as easy and cheap as it once was to fly abroad – or indeed to buy a house, fill the petrol tank, go to Tesco, get a degree … I wonder where that leaves us. I wonder what Christmas looks like in the future. Hopefully there will still be snow. And robins. Who knows, perhaps we will learn again how to stand still and look at them, and to see that itself as a gift rather than a distraction.

Posted by Paul. Monday, December 20th, 2010 at 11:09 pm.


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Who is behind Wikileaks?

“World bankers, by pulling a few simple levers that control the flow of money, can make or break entire economies. By controlling press releases of economic strategies that shape national trends, the power elite are able to not only tighten their stranglehold on this nation’s economic structure, but can extend that control world wide. Those possessing such power would logically want to remain in the background, invisible to the average citizen.” (Aldous Huxley)

Wikleaks is upheld as a breakthrough in the battle against media disinformation and the lies of the US government.

Unquestionably, the released documents constitute an important and valuable data bank. The documents have been used by critical researchers since the outset of the Wikileaks project. Wikileaks earlier revelations have focussed on US war crimes in Afghanistan (July 2010) as well as issues pertaining to civil liberties and the “militarization of the Homeland” (see Tom Burghardt, Militarizing the “Homeland” in Response to the Economic and Political Crisis, Global Research, October 11, 2008)

In October 2010, WikiLeaks was reported to have released some 400,000 classified Iraq war documents, covering events from 2004 to 2009 (Tom Burghardt, The WikiLeaks Release: U.S. Complicity and Cover-Up of Iraq Torture Exposed, Global Research, October 24, 2010). These revelations contained in the Wikileaks Iraq War Logs provide “further evidence of the Pentagon’s role in the systematic torture of Iraqi citizens by the U.S.-installed post-Saddam regime.” (Ibid)

Progressive organizations have praised the Wikileaks endeavor. Our own website Global Research has provided extensive coverage of the Wikileaks project.

The leaks are heralded as an immeasurable victory against corporate media censorship.

But there is more than meets the eye.

Even prior to the launching of the project, the mainstream media had contacted Wikileaks.

There are also reports from published email exchanges (unconfirmed) that Wikileaks had, at the outset of the project in January 2007, contacted and sought the advice of Freedom House. This included an invitation to Freedom House (FH) to participate in the Wikileaks advisory board:

“We are looking for one or two initial advisory board member from FH who may advise on the following:

1. the needs of FH as consumer of leaks exposing business and political corruption
2. the needs for sources of leaks as experienced by FH
3. FH recommendations for other advisory board members
4. general advice on funding, coallition [sic] building and decentralised operations and political framing” (Wikileaks Leak email exchanges, January 2007).

There is no evidence of FH followup support to the Wikileaks project. Freedom House is a Washington based “watchdog organization that supports the expansion of freedom around the world”. It is chaired by William H. Taft IV who was legal adviser to the State Department under G. W. Bush and Deputy Secretary of Defense under the Reagan administration.

Wikileaks had also entered into negotiations with several corporate foundations with a view to securing funding. (Wikileaks Leak email exchanges, January 2007):

The linchpin of WikiLeaks’s financial network is Germany’s Wau Holland Foundation. … “We’re registered as a library in Australia, we’re registered as a foundation in France, we’re registered as a newspaper in Sweden,” Mr. Assange said. WikiLeaks has two tax-exempt charitable organizations in the U.S., known as 501C3s, that “act as a front” for the website, he said. He declined to give their names, saying they could “lose some of their grant money because of political sensitivities.”

Mr. Assange said WikiLeaks gets about half its money from modest donations processed by its website, and the other half from “personal contacts,” including “people with some millions who approach us….” (WikiLeaks Keeps Funding Secret,, August 23, 2010)

Acquiring covert funding from intelligence agencies was, according to the email exchanges, also contemplated. (See Wikileaks Leak email exchanges, January 2007)

At the outset in early 2007, Wikileaks acknowledged that the project had been “founded by Chinese dissidents, mathematicians and startup company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa…. [Its advisory board]  includes representatives from expat Russian and Tibetan refugee communities, reporters, a former US intelligence analyst and cryptographers.” (Wikileaks Leak email exchanges, January 2007).

Wikileaks formulated its mandate on its website as follows: “[Wikileaks will be] an uncensorable version of Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis. Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the west who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations,” CBC News – Website wants to take whistleblowing online, January 11, 2007, emphasis added).

This mandate was confirmed by Julian Assange in a June 2010 interview in The New Yorker:

“Our primary targets are those highly oppressive regimes in China, Russia and Central Eurasia, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the West who wish to reveal illegal or immoral behavior in their own governments and corporations. (quoted in  WikiLeaks and Julian Paul Assange : The New Yorker, June 7, 2010, emphasis added)

Assange also intimated that “exposing secrets” “could potentially bring down many administrations that rely on concealing reality—including the US administration.” (Ibid)

From the outset, Wikileaks’ geopolitical focus on “oppressive regimes” in Eurasia and the Middle East was “appealing” to America’s elites, i.e. it seemingly matched stated US foreign policy objectives. Moreover, the composition of the Wikileaks team (which included Chinese dissidents), not to mention the methodology of “exposing secrets” of foreign governments, were in tune with the practices of US covert operations geared towards triggering “regime change” and fostering “color revolutions” in different parts of the World.

The Role of the Corporate Media: The Central Role of the New York Times

Wikileaks is not a typical alternative media initiative. The New York Times, the Guardian and Der Spiegel are directly involved in the editing and selection of leaked documents. The London Economist has also played an important role.

While the project and its editor Julian Assange reveal a commitment and concern for truth in media, the recent Wikileaks releases of embassy cables have been carefully “redacted” by the mainstream media in liaison with the US government. (See Interview with David E. Sanger, Fresh Air, PBS, December 8, 2010)

This collaboration between Wikileaks and selected mainstream media is not fortuitous; it was part of an agreement between several major US and European newspapers and Wikileaks’ editor Julian Assange.

The important question is who controls and oversees the selection, distribution and editing of released documents to the broader public?

What US foreign policy objectives are being served through this redacting process?

Is Wikileaks part of an awakening of public opinion, of a battle against the lies and fabrications which appear daily in the print media and on network TV?

If so, how can this battle against media disinformation be waged with the participation and collaboration of the corporate architects of media disinformation?

Wikileaks has enlisted the architects of media disinformation to fight media disinformation: An incongruous and self-defeating procedure.

America’s corporate media and more specifically The New York Times are an integral part of the economic establishment, with links to Wall Street, the Washington think tanks and the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Moreover, the US corporate media has developed a longstanding relationship to the US intelligence apparatus, going back to “Operation Mocking Bird”, an initiative of the CIA’s Office of Special Projects (OSP), established in the early 1950s.

Even before the Wikileaks project got off the ground, the mainstream media was implicated. A role was defined and agreed upon for the corporate media not only in the release, but also in the selection and editing of the leaks. In a bitter irony, the “professional media”, to use Julian Assange’s words in an interview with The Economist, have been partners in the Wikileaks project from the outset.

Moreover, key journalists with links to the US foreign policy-national security intelligence establishment have worked closely with Wikileaks, in the distribution and dissemination of the leaked documents.

In a bitter irony, Wikileaks partner The New York Times, which has consistently promoted media disinformation is now being accused of conspiracy. For what? For revealing the truth? Or for manipulating the truth? In the words of Senator Joseph L. Lieberman:

“I certainly believe that WikiLleaks has violated the Espionage Act, but then what about the news organizations — including The Times — that accepted it and distributed it?” Mr. Lieberman said, adding: “To me, The New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship, and whether they have committed a crime, I think that bears a very intensive inquiry by the Justice Department.” (WikiLeaks Prosecution Studied by Justice Department –, December 7, 2010)

This “redacting” role of The New York Times is candidly acknowledged by David E Sanger, Chief Washington correspondent of the NYT:

“[W]e went through [the cables] so carefully to try to redact material that we thought could be damaging to individuals or undercut ongoing operations. And we even took the very unusual step of showing the 100 cables or so that we were writing from to the U.S. government and asking them if they had additional redactions to suggest.” (See PBS Interview; The Redacting and Selection of Wikileaks documents by the Corporate Media, PBS interview on “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross: December 8, 2010, emphasis added).

Yet Sanger also says later in the interview:

“It is the responsibility of American journalism, back to the founding of this country, to get out and try to grapple with the hardest issues of the day and to do it independently of the government.” (ibid)

“Do it independently of the government” while at the same time “asking them [the US government] if they had additional redactions to suggest”?

David  E. Sanger cannot be described as a model independent journalist. He is member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Aspen Institute’s Strategy Group which regroups the likes of Madeleine K. Albright, Condoleeza Rice, former Defense Secretary William Perry, former CIA head John Deutch, the president of the World Bank, Robert. B. Zoellick and Philip Zelikow, former executive director of the 9/11 Commission, among other prominent establishment figures. (See also F. William Engdahl, Wikileaks: A Big Dangerous US Government Con Job,  Global Research, December 10, 2010).

It is worth noting that several American journalists, members of the Council on Foreign Relations have interviewed Wikileaks, including Time Magazine’s Richard Stengel (November 30, 2010) and The New Yorker’s Raffi Khatchadurian. (WikiLeaks and Julian Paul Assange : The New Yorker, June 11, 2007)

Historically, The New York Times has served the interests of the Rockefeller family in the context of a longstanding relationship. The current New York Times chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, son of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger and grandson of Arthur Hays Sulzberger who served as a Trustee for the Rockefeller Foundation. Ethan Bronner, deputy foreign editor of The New York Times as well as Thomas Friedman among others are also members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). (Membership Roster – Council on Foreign Relations)

In turn, the Rockefellers have an important stake as shareholders of several US corporate media.

The Embassy and State Department Cables

It should come as no surprise that David E. Sanger and his colleagues at the NYT centered their attention on a highly “selective” dissemination of the Wikileaks cables, focussing on areas which would support US foreign policy interests: Iran’s nuclear program, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan’s support of Al Qaeda, China’s relations with North Korea, etc. These releases were then used as source material in NYT articles and commentary.

The Embassy and State Department cables released by Wikileaks were redacted and filtered. They were used for propaganda purposes. They do not constitute a complete and continuous set of memoranda.

From a selected list of cables, the leaks are being used to justify a foreign policy agenda. A case in point is Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, which is the object of numerous State Department memos, as well as Saudi Arabia’s support of Islamic terrorism.

Iran’s Nuclear Program

The leaked cables are used to feed the disinformation campaign concerning Iran’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. While the leaked cables are heralded as “evidence” that Iran constitutes a threat, the lies and fabrications of the corporate media concerning Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program are not mentioned, nor is there any mention of them in the leaked cables.

The leaks, once they are funnelled into the corporate news chain, edited and redacted by the New York Times, indelibly serve the broader interests of US foreign policy, including US-NATO-Israel war preparations directed against Iran.

With regard to “leaked intelligence” and the coverage of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program, David E. Sanger has played a crucial role. In November 2005, The New York Times published a report co-authored by David E. Sanger and William J. Broad entitled “Relying on Computer, U.S. Seeks to Prove Iran’s Nuclear Aims”.

The article refers to mysterious documents on a stolen Iranian laptop computer which included  “a series of drawings of a missile re-entry vehicle” which allegedly could accommodate an Iranian produced nuclear weapon:

“In mid-July, senior American intelligence officials called the leaders of the international atomic inspection agency to the top of a skyscraper overlooking the Danube in Vienna and unveiled the contents of what they said was a stolen Iranian laptop computer.

The Americans flashed on a screen and spread over a conference table selections from more than a thousand pages of Iranian computer simulations and accounts of experiments, saying they showed a long effort to design a nuclear warhead, according to a half-dozen European and American participants in the meeting.

The documents, the Americans acknowledged from the start, do not prove that Iran has an atomic bomb. They presented them as the strongest evidence yet that, despite Iran’s insistence that its nuclear program is peaceful, the country is trying to develop a compact warhead to fit atop its Shahab missile, which can reach Israel and other countries in the Middle East.”(William J. Broad and David E. Sanger Relying on Computer, U.S. Seeks to Prove Iran’s Nuclear Aims – New York Times, November 13, 2005, emphasis added)

These “secret documents” were subsequently submitted by the US State Department to the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA, with a view to demonstrating that Iran was developing a nuclear weapons program. They were also used as a pretext to enforce the economic sanctions regime directed against Iran, adopted by the UN Security Council.

While their authenticity has been questioned, a recent article by investigative reporter Gareth Porter confirms unequivocally that the mysterious laptop documents are fake. (See Gareth Porter, Exclusive Report: Evidence of Iran Nuclear Weapons Program May Be Fraudulent, Global Research, November 18, 2010).

The drawings contained in the documents leaked by William J. Broad and David E. Sanger do not pertain to the Shahab missile but to an obsolete North Korean missile system which was decommissioned by Iran in the mid-1990s. The drawings presented by US State Department officials pertained to the “Wrong Missile Warhead”:

In July 2005, … Robert Joseph, US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, made a formal presentation on the purported Iranian nuclear weapons program documents to the agency’s leading officials in Vienna. Joseph flashed excerpts from the documents on the screen, giving special attention to the series of technical drawings or “schematics” showing 18 different ways of fitting an unidentified payload into the re-entry vehicle or “warhead” of Iran’s medium-range ballistic missile, the Shahab-3. When IAEA analysts were allowed to study the documents, however, they discovered that those schematics were based on a re-entry vehicle that the analysts knew had already been abandoned by the Iranian military in favor of a new, improved design. The warhead shown in the schematics had the familiar “dunce cap” shape of the original North Korean No Dong missile, which Iran had acquired in the mid-1990s. … The laptop documents had depicted the wrong re-entry vehicle being redesigned. … (Gareth Porter, op cit, emphasis added)

David E, Sanger, who worked diligently with Wikileaks under the banner of truth and transparency was also instrumental in the New York Times “leak” of what Gareth Porter describes as fake intelligence. (Ibid)

While this issue of fake intelligence received virtually no media coverage, it invalidates outright Washington’s assertions regarding Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons. It also questions the legitimacy of the UN Security Council Sancions regime directed against Iran.

Moreover, in a bitter irony, the selective redacting of the Wikileaks embassy cables by the NYT has usefully served not only to dismiss the central issue of fake intelligence but also to reinforce, through media disinformation, Washington’s claim that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. A case in point is a November 2010 article co-authored by David E. Sanger, which quotes the Wikileaks cables as a source:

“Iran obtained 19 of the missiles from North Korea, according to a [Wikileaks] cable dated Feb. 24 of this year…. (WikiLeaks Archive — Iran Armed by North Korea –, November 28, 2010).

These missiles are said to have the “capacity to strike at capitals in Western Europe or easily reach Moscow, and American officials warned that their advanced propulsion could speed Iran’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles.” (Ibid, emphasis added).

Wikileaks, Iran and the Arab World

The released wikileaks cables have also being used to create divisions between Iran on the one hand and Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States on the other:

“After WikiLeaks claimed that certain Arab states are concerned about Iran’s nuclear program and have urged the U.S. to take [military] action to contain Iran, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took advantage of the issue and said that the released cables showed U.S. concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program are shared by the international community.” Tehran Times : WikiLeaks promoting Iranophobia, December 5, 2010)

The Western media has jumped on this opportunity and has quoted the State Department memoranda released by Wikleaks with a view to upholding Iran as a threat to global security as well as fostering divisions between Iran and the Arab world.

“The Global War on Terrorism”

The leaks quoted by the Western media reveal the support of the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia to several Islamic terrorist organizations, a fact which is known and amply documented.

What the reports fail to mention, however, which is crucial in an understanding of the “Global War on Terrorism”, is that US intelligence historically has channelled its support to terrorist organizations via Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism”, Global Research, Montreal, 2005). These are US sponsored covert intelligence operations using Saudi and Pakistani intelligence as intermediaries.

In this regard, the use of the Wikleaks documents by the media tends to sustain the illusion that the CIA has nothing to do with the terror network and that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are “providing the lion’s share of funding” to Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Lashkar-e-Taiba, among others, when in fact this financing is undertaken in liaison and consultation with their US intelligence counterparts:

“The information came to light in the latest round of documents released Sunday by Wikileaks. In their communiques to the State Department, U.S. embassies in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states describe a situation in which wealthy private donors, often openly, lavishly support the same groups against whom Saudi Arabia claims to be fighting.” ( Wikileaks: Saudis, Gulf States Big Funders of Terror Groups – Defense/Middle East – Israel News – Israel National News)

Similarly, with regard to Pakistan:

The cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to a number of news organizations, make it clear that underneath public reassurances lie deep clashes [between the U.S. and Pakistan] over strategic goals on issues like Pakistan’s support for the Afghan Taliban and tolerance of Al Qaeda,…” (Wary Dance With Pakistan in Nuclear World, The New York Times December 1, 2010)

Reports of this nature serve to provide legitimacy to US drone attacks against alleged terrorist targets inside Pakistan.

The corporate media’s use and interpretation of the Wikileaks cables serves to uphold two related myths:

1) Iran has nuclear weapons program and constitutes a threat to global security.

2) Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are state sponsors of Al Qaeda. They are financing Islamic terrorist organizations which are intent upon attacking the US and its NATO allies.

The CIA and the Corporate Media

The CIA’s relationship to the US media is amply documented. The New York Times continues to entertain a close relationship not only with US intelligence, but also with the Pentagon and more recently with the Department of Homeland Security.

“Operation Mocking Bird” was an initiative of the CIA’s Office of Special Projects (OSP), established in the early 1950s. Its objective was to exert influence on both the US as well as the foreign media. From the 1950s, members of the US media were routinely enlisted by the CIA.

The inner workings of the CIA’s relationship to the US media are described in Carl Bernstein’s 1977 article in Rolling Stone entitled The CIA and the Media:

“[M]ore than 400 American journalists who [had] secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency, according to documents on file at CIA headquarters. [1950-1977]Some of these journalists’ relationships with the Agency were tacit; some were explicit. … Reporters shared their notebooks with the CIA. Editors shared their staffs. Some of the journalists were Pulitzer Prize winners,… Most were less exalted: foreign correspondents who found that their association with the Agency helped their work….;

Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the Agency were Williarn Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Tirne Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the LouisviIle Courier‑Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune. (The CIA and the Media by Carl Bernstein)

Bernstein suggests, in this regard, that “the CIA’s use of the American news media has been much more extensive than Agency officials have acknowledged publicly or in closed sessions with members of Congress” (Ibid).

In recent years, the CIA’s relationship to the media has become increasingly complex and sophisticated. We are dealing with a mammoth propaganda network involving a number of agencies of government.

Media disinformation has become institutionalized. The lies and fabrications have become increasingly blatant when compared to the 1970s. The US media has become the mouthpiece of US foreign policy. Disinformation is routinely “planted” by CIA operatives in the newsroom of major dailies, magazines and TV channels: “A relatively few well-connected correspondents provide the scoops, that get the coverage in the relatively few mainstream news sources, where the parameters of debate are set and the “official reality” is consecrated for the bottom feeders in the news chain.”(Chaim Kupferberg, The Propaganda Preparation of 9/11, Global Research, September 19, 2002).

Since 2001, the US media has assumed a new role in sustaining the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) and camouflaging US sponsored war crimes. In the wake of 9/11, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld created the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI), or “Office of Disinformation” as it was labeled by its critics: “The Department of Defense said they needed to do this, and they were going to actually plant stories that were false in foreign countries — as an effort to influence public opinion across the world.'” (Interview with Steve Adubato, Fox News, 26 December 2002, see also Michel Chossudovsky, War Propaganda, Global Research, January 3, 2003).

Today’s corporate media is an instrument of war propaganda, which begs the question:  why would the NYT all of a sudden promote transparency and truth in media, by assisting Wikileaks in “spreading the word”; and that people around the World would not pause for one moment and question the basis of this incongruous relationship.

On the surface, nothing proves that Wikileaks is a CIA covert operation. However, given the corporate media’s cohesive and structured relationship to US intelligence, not to mention the links of individual journalists to the military-national security establishment, the issue of a CIA sponsored PsyOp must necessarily be addressed.

Wikileaks Social and Corporate Entourage

Wikileaks and The Economist have also entered into what seems to be a contradictory relationship. Wikileaks founder and editor Julian Assange was granted in 2008 The Economist’s New Media Award.

The Economist has a close relationship to Britain’s financial elites. It is an establishment news outlet, which has, on balance, supported Britain’s involvement in the Iraq war. It bears the stamp of the Rothschild family. Sir Evelyn Robert Adrian de Rothschild was chairman of The Economist from 1972 to 1989. His wife Lynn Forester de Rothschild currently sits on The Economist’s board. The Rothschild family also has a sizeable shareholder interest in The Economist.

The broader question is why would Julian Assange receive the support from Britain’s foremost establishment news outfit which has consistently been involved in media disinformation?

Are we not dealing with a case of “manufactured dissent”, whereby the process of supporting and rewarding Wikileaks for its endeavors, becomes a means of controlling and manipulating the Wikileaks project, while at the same time embedding it into the mainstream media.

It is also worth mentioning another important link. Julian Assange’s lawyer Mark Stephens of Finers Stephens Innocent (FSI), a major London elite law firm, happens to be the legal adviser to the Rothschild Waddesdon Trust. While this in itself does prove anything, it should nonetheless be examined in the broader context of Wikileaks’ social and corporate entourage: the NYT, the CFR, The Economist, Time Magazine, Forbes, Finers Stephens Innocent (FSI), etc.

Manufacturing Dissent

Wikileaks has the essential features of a process of “manufactured dissent”. It seeks to expose government lies. It has released important information on US war crimes. But once the project becomes embedded in the mould of mainstream journalism, it is used as an instrument of media disinformation:

“It is in the interest of the corporate elites to accept dissent and protest as a feature of the system inasmuch as they do not threaten the established social order. The purpose is not to repress dissent, but, on the contrary, to shape and mould the protest movement, to set the outer limits of dissent. To maintain their legitimacy, the economic elites favor limited and controlled forms of opposition…  To be effective, however, the process of “manufacturing dissent” must be carefully regulated and monitored by those who are the object of the protest movement ” (See Michel Chossudovsky,  “Manufacturing Dissent”: the Anti-globalization Movement is Funded by the Corporate Elites, September 2010)

What this examination of the Wikileaks project also suggests is that the mechanics of New World Order propaganda, particularly with regard to its military agenda, has become increasingly sophisticated.

It no longer relies on the outright suppression of the facts regarding US-NATO war crimes. Nor does it require that the reputation of government officials at the highest levels, including the Secretary of State, be protected. New World Order politicians are in a sense “disposable”. They can be replaced. What must be protected and sustained are the interests of the economic elites, which control the political apparatus from behind the scenes.

In the case of Wikileaks, the facts are contained in a data bank; many of those facts, particularly those pertaining to foreign governments serve US foreign policy interests. Other facts tend, on the other hand to discredit the US administration. With regard to financial information, the release of data pertaining to a particular bank instigated via Wikileaks by a rival financial institution, could potentially be used to trigger the collapse or bankrutpcy of the targeted financial institution.

All the Wiki-facts are selectively redacted, they are then “analyzed” and interpreted by a media which serves the economic elites.

While the numerous pieces of information contained in the Wikileaks data bank are accessible, the broader public will not normally take the trouble to consult and scan through the Wikileaks data bank. The public will read the redacted selections and interpretations presented in major news outlets.

A partial and biased picture is presented. The redacted version is accepted by public opinion because it is based on what is heralded as a “reliable source”, when in fact what is presented in the pages of major newspapers and on network TV is a carefully crafted and convoluted distortion of the truth.

Limited forms of critical debate and “transparency” are tolerated while also enforcing broad public acceptance of the basic premises of US foreign policy, including its “Global War on Terrorism”. With regard to a large segment of the US antiwar movement, this strategy seems to have succeeded: “We are against war but we support the ‘war on terrorism'”.

What this means is that truth in media can only be reached by dismantling the propaganda apparatus, –i.e. breaking the legitimacy of the corporate media which sustains the broad interests of the economic elites as well America’s global military design.

In turn, we must ensure that the campaign against Wikileaks in the U.S., using the 1917 Espionage Act, will not be utilized as a means to wage a campaign to control the internet. In this regard, we should also stand firm in preventing the prosecution of Julian Assange in the US.


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Bradley Manning is being tortured..

Allegations are flying around on Twitter that Bradley Manning, the incarcerated whistleblower accused of leaking material showing the USA’s wrongdoings in the Middle East, is being tortured.’s Glenn Greenwald twittered “a major story brewing is the cruel, inhumane treatment – torture – to which Bradley Manning is being subjected”. According to Greenwald, more is to be revealed later.

Manning is currently holed up in a military prison where conditions are bound to be very harsh. His superiors might see view his actions as treason, giving him an especially rough time.

Nonetheless, any unjust and unfair treatment of Bradley Manning will cause an outcry around the world and damage the image of the USA even further. An interesting question is whether the treatment of Manning might jeopardise a case the US brings against him.

Bradley E. Manning

Private First Class (PFC) Bradley E. Manning (born 17 December 1987) is a United States Army soldier who was arrested and charged with the unauthorized use and disclosure of U.S. classified information. He has been held in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps Brig, Quantico since sometime in May 2010.

Manning was an intelligence analyst assigned to a support battalion with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Contingency Operating Station Hammer, Iraq. Agents of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command arrested Manning based on information received from federal authorities provided by an American informant, Adrian Lamo, in whom Manning had previously confided.

Lamo said that Manning claimed, via instant messaging, to be the person who had leaked the Collateral Murder video of a helicopter airstrike on July 12, 2007, in Baghdad. Additionally, a video of the Granai airstrike and around 260,000 diplomatic cables were released to Wikileaks.

Manning was charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) with violations of UCMJ Articles 92 and 134 for “transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system,” and “communicating, transmitting and delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source”.


Bradley Manning was born in Crescent, Oklahoma to an American father and a Welsh mother. His parents had met when his father was stationed at Cawdor Barracks in Wales. Manning spent his early childhood in Oklahoma. When he was thirteen, following his parents’ divorce, he moved with his mother to Haverfordwest, Wales. He had trouble fitting in at school in what former acquaintances have described as a troubled childhood. According to some childhood friends, he first expressed interest in joining the U.S. military while he was in elementary school.

Manning dropped out of school at 16, returned to the United States, and worked at a pizza parlor. He enlisted in the Army at 18, becoming an intelligence analyst deployed in support of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division at Contingency Operating Station Hammer in Iraq.

Manning felt isolated in the army, reportedly based on the difficulties of being homosexual under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Before being arrested, Manning had been twice reprimanded, once for assaulting a fellow soldier, and was demoted from Specialist to Private First Class.

Acquisition and leak of classified material:

While stationed in Iraq, Manning had access to SIPRNET from his workstation, from where it is alleged the leaked documents originated.

According to chat logs, Manning brought in CD-RWs containing music, which were subsequently erased and rewritten with the leaked documents. In online discussions with Adrian Lamo, Manning claimed responsibility for leaking the “Collateral Murder” video, a video of the Granai airstrike and approximately 250,000 individual cables, to the whistleblower website Wikileaks.

Manning expressed disillusionment with American foreign policy, opining that the diplomatic documents expose “almost criminal political back dealings” and expressed a wish that the release of the videos would cause large-scale scandals and lead to “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.”

Manning has been considered a “person of interest” in the Army’s criminal investigation into the leak of over 90,000 documents to Wikileaks pertaining to the War in Afghanistan as well.

Arrest and criminal charges

Manning was arrested by agents of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command in May 2010 and held in pre-trial confinement in a military jail at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.On 5 July 2010, two misconduct charges were brought against him for “transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system” and “communicating, transmitting and delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source”.

The charges included unauthorized access to Secret Internet Protocol Router Network computers, download of more than 150,000 United States Department of State diplomatic cables, download of a classified PowerPoint presentation, and downloading a classified video of a military operation in Baghdad on July 12, 2007. Manning is also charged with forwarding the video and at least one of the cables to an unauthorized person. The maximum jail sentence is 52 years.

Manning faces a pretrial hearing under Article 32 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, following which his lawyer expects a court-martial in the spring of 2011.

Wikileaks have refused to identify Manning as the source of the leaks, but claim that their effort to arrange for Manning’s legal defense was rebuffed, a claim the military has denied. As of 8 December 2010, Wikileaks had not yet followed through on a pledge to contribute to Manning’s legal defense.

Manning has selected former military attorney David Coombs to lead his defense team. Manning has been held at the Marine Corps Brig, Quantico in solitary confinement since sometime in May 2010. It has been reported by friends and supporters that he is not permitted to exercise and that his mental and physical health are deteriorating and that the suicide watch on him has been lifted.

A Typical Day for PFC Bradley Manning

PFC Manning is currently being held in maximum custody. Since arriving at the Quantico Confinement Facility in July of 2010, he has been held under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch.

His cell is approximately six feet wide and twelve feet in length.

The cell has a bed, a drinking fountain, and a toilet.

The guards at the confinement facility are professional. At no time have they tried to bully, harass, or embarrass PFC Manning. Given the nature of their job, however, they do not engage in conversation with PFC Manning.

At 5:00 a.m. he is woken up (on weekends, he is allowed to sleep until 7:00 a.m.). Under the rules for the confinement facility, he is not allowed to sleep at anytime between 5:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. If he attempts to sleep during those hours, he will be made to sit up or stand by the guards.

He is allowed to watch television during the day. The television stations are limited to the basic local stations. His access to the television ranges from 1 to 3 hours on weekdays to 3 to 6 hours on weekends.

He cannot see other inmates from his cell. He can occasionally hear other inmates talk. Due to being a pretrial confinement facility, inmates rarely stay at the facility for any length of time. Currently, there are no other inmates near his cell.

From 7:00 p.m. to 9:20 p.m., he is given correspondence time. He is given access to a pen and paper. He is allowed to write letters to family, friends, and his attorneys.

Each night, during his correspondence time, he is allowed to take a 15 to 20 minute shower.

On weekends and holidays, he is allowed to have approved visitors see him from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m.

He is allowed to receive letters from those on his approved list and from his legal counsel. If he receives a letter from someone not on his approved list, he must sign a rejection form. The letter is then either returned to the sender or destroyed.

He is allowed to have any combination of up to 15 books or magazines. He must request the book or magazine by name. Once the book or magazine has been reviewed by the literary board at the confinement facility, and approved, he is allowed to have someone on his approved list send it to him. The person sending the book or magazine to him must do so through a publisher or an approved distributor such as Amazon. They are not allowed to mail the book or magazine directly to PFC Manning.

Due to being held on Prevention of Injury (POI) watch:

PFC Manning is held in his cell for approximately 23 hours a day.

The guards are required to check on PFC Manning every five minutes by asking him if he is okay. PFC Manning is required to respond in some affirmative manner. At night, if the guards cannot see PFC Manning clearly, because he has a blanket over his head or is curled up towards the wall, they will wake him in order to ensure he is okay.

He receives each of his meals in his cell.

He is not allowed to have a pillow or sheets. However, he is given access to two blankets and has recently been given a new mattress that has a built-in pillow.

He is not allowed to have any personal items in his cell.

He is only allowed to have one book or one magazine at any given time to read in his cell. The book or magazine is taken away from him at the end of the day before he goes to sleep.

He is prevented from exercising in his cell. If he attempts to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he will be forced to stop.

He does receive one hour of “exercise” outside of his cell daily. He is taken to an empty room and only allowed to walk. PFC Manning normally just walks figure eights in the room for the entire hour. If he indicates that he no long feels like walking, he is immediately returned to his cell.

When PFC Manning goes to sleep, he is required to strip down to his boxer shorts and surrender his clothing to the guards. His clothing is returned to him the next morning.

Info from:

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Captain Ska on “Liar Liar”

Captain Ska is a musician from Camberwell in London whose anti-cuts single “Liar Liar”, which launched on Monday, is a contender for this year’s Christmas No. 1. Since the video went online at the beginning of October it has run up over 128,000 youtube hits and attracted comment from the Observer and the BBC.

Is the “Liar Liar” refrain in your song directed at Nick Clegg?

The song is anti-coalition and anti-cuts. Clegg is dreadful but likewise so are Cameron and Osborne. The whole idea of the cuts is totally wrong.

Is making political music a new thing for you?

It’s new. I’m a freelance musician and have been writing songs with a slight political edge for awhile but this is the first time I felt really angry and that’s why I decided to get involved.

Have you thought about the effect you want to have with the song or is it just an outlet for your frustrations?

I’m really angry and think that other people should be too. My initial thought was to have an outlet for some of my frustrations but now the song seems to have taken a life of its own. I wasn’t at the protest on Thursday but my song was.

What do you think about what Nick Clegg’s comments referring to opponents of raised tuition fees as “dreamers”?

That’s outrageous, absolutely outrageous. Clegg is a liar. He’s obviously been waiting for a bit of power for awhile. He’s got his place in the government. That he can say what he said is outrageous. This is the end of Clegg. It’s probably the end of the Liberal Democrats. It will be a very long time before people vote for them ever again.

Do you think the protests will change the political landscape of this country?

They will make a difference, yes. I spoke to someone the other day who was my age in the eighties when the poll tax riots were happening. It wasn’t the violence that made a difference; it was the mass mobilisation and general feeling that something was wrong. When you had 5,000 people marching in small provincial towns and local MPs seeing it, that’s what made a difference.

It feels to me like nobody is behind these cuts, no one thinks they’re being done in the best way, even people on the right seem to think it’s being done too quickly. I know there were a couple of Tory abstainers in the vote.

So you’re optimistic about the future?

Last week’s vote on tuition fees was a disaster but I don’t see this government lasting much longer. At some point in the next few months the Liberal Democrats will realise that unless they start to vote against things they’re not happy with then they’re going to be political history. I don’t think the government’s going to last much longer and it’s really important that we keep up the pressure, especially on Liberal Democrat MPs. They are in a difficult situation and we can put pressure on them to make them think about what they’re doing.

You talk a lot about your anger but seem very calm in person.

Well, I think the anger I’ve got is similar to a lot of people’s. You don’t have to be screaming and shouting to think that things are wrong. Outlets for anger can come through a lot of things and for me it’s through my song writing. Last night, when I saw the vote come in that’s possibility the most angry I’ve felt. I thought “wow this is really happening. We really are ruining the country. It is just happening.” I had hoped that more Mps would abstain but they didn’t and the vote was passed. So what started as medium amounts of anger, enough to make a track and put together a video has now risen.

I also think that more important than being overtly angry is having your point of view out there. If you can enter the general subconscious with your point of view that this is wrong then you’re going to reach more people. You can shout and shout and be heard by 100 people or you can talk moderately and thousands of people will listen and that’s what the anti-cuts movement needs.

Proceeds from “Liar Liar” will go to False Economy, Crisis, Disability Alliance and Women’s Health Matters

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The Fight For Parliament (A Personal Recap of the 9th Dec)

From the position of a protester as opposed to the police force or the media-Note – I am not the original author, the original author has agreed for me to post this to help spread alternative views. Although he has been cited in the link approve, he would probably appreciate it if you didn’t contact him.

As I start writing this down, I am not sure what form it will take. Perhaps a time-line of yesterday’s events, or a brief overview of what I saw going on around me, or something more in-depth with background and details as I remember them.

I have been experiencing great difficulty putting the situations I went through into words, so I do hope that this writing process will be able to draw out a coherent picture from this overwhelming jumble of images and emotions in my head.

Yesterday, on the 9th December 2010, I attended a protest in London, UK. This was the day of the parliamentary vote on whether to cut higher education funding by 80% and force a further reorganization of higher education towards marketization and away from the final residues of free and emancipatory learning left in these lumbering corporate institutions.

Attendees ranged from secondary school students to university lecturers, from the unemployed to unionised workers, from parents to friends to members of communities so diverse and special that it felt quite ridiculous to even entertain the notion that they could be even partially represented by a handful of upper-class white men arguing over how best to efficiently subjugate that aforementioned community.

I knew enough about protests to feel it wise to prepare for any eventuality, and I couldn’t sleep the night before anyway, claustrophobic of the nervousness pervading the cool air. Of these preparations, some now feel to have been very useful and others not so much. Though I had not attended previous student protests in London, I remembered the threat of being trapped for a few hours and so packed some food; this was a useful idea.

I had heard that over on the Continent student protests had been met with copious amounts of tear gas, so packed a pair of goggles; this was.. not so useful.

The police’s Forwards Intelligence Teams have been taking high quality photographs of anyone attending protests, rallies, or political meetings for quite a while now, assembling a government database of possible dissidents. I hope you can understand how this makes me feel extremely uncomfortable.

For this reason, and because of the chilly temperatures forecast, I covered the lower portion of my face, as did many others. I did not plan on breaking any laws, nor did I, though the fact that the laws that I didn’t break are already strongly slewed in favour of the state and corporate interests makes me think after writing this that maybe I shouldn’t try and excuse myself.

People break laws all the time; last night in fighting for our future, and for many people every day fighting for our lives. There is no inherent moral negativity in breaking a law set by those self-interested and authoritarian upper-class men. I suppose this self-correction goes towards illustrating the relatively privileged position I come from and the apathetic conditioning forced on me that I still have to struggle against.

The start of the protest went slowly, annoyingly cliché slogans being belted out while standing around waiting for the labour hacks at the front to finish trying to convince everyone that they aren’t the same as the liberal democrats, that they didn’t bring in tuition fees in the first place, that the last decade didn’t happen.

The oppositional role in parliament is great for voting against unpopular legislation that you want to pass, because it’ll pass anyway and you get to look all nice and democratic. What a farce. A nearby courtyard was occupied and a music system brought out for an impromptu dance while placards were handed out by the big organisations hoping for new recruits to their coffers as they played their even more fake and opportunistic oppositional role.

The march through town itself was uneventful. For those who have never marched – it is exactly how it sounds. A lot of walking, some people occasionally stopping for a photo-op with the press, and a lot of noise. We were stopped by the immobility of those in front of us a short distance after Trafalgar Square.

Reports came back that the police had blocked off the roads ahead. A splinter group started off swiftly through the park towards Buckingham Palace, ominously followed from a side-street by a column of riot police and an empty bus – a symbol of mass arrests.

The shout “we’re through!” echoed from ahead and the crowd started moving, arriving in Parliament Square to find the green already occupied and fences harmlessly cast aside.

In front of the caricature of British Democracy were tens of police vans, solid metal barriers, and deep lines of police. Some people occasionally lobbed paint, goaded on quite explicitly by television crews, giving the front police line a colourful effect that almost made their appearance less intimidating.

A march of police behind their lines were met with a loud sing-along in the crowd of the stormtrooper theme from Star Wars, a sentiment that felt quite appropriate at the time and even more so in the coming hours.

Music was playing, people were dancing, others were warming up around a bonfire of placards in the middle of the square. I stared at the scene in front of me, police in front of parliament, until it was burned into my eyes.

Then I heard a lot of shouting coming from the west side of the square, where apparently people had been told was the exit as the other roads were completely blocked off.

After rushing over, it appeared that a police line had formed and was not letting anyone past. Aware that the exit had been closed, the people in the crowd were starting to get anxious, and others angry.

Pushing from the back started, forcing the police and protesters into close proximity. Those at the front, their arms up shouting “we can’t move back, people are pushing”, were summarily crushed by police shields and batons.

I saw someone going back through the crowd, blood streaming down from their hair and a blank look on their face.

Chants of “Let us go!” went unanswered, and panic started, pushing the line further forward. This advance was met by an unexpected charge of mounted police officers. People scattered and fell over one another to escape, some receiving painful injuries to their legs from sociopathically directed hooves.

Firecrackers and placards were thrown in response, hoping to rout them. Asking why animals had to be brought into this, a protester was told to “fuck off” and scared back by one mounted officer. A renewed assault of foot police, now all with shields, surged in the horses wake and met resistance in an increasingly pissed-off crowd.

The front rows of protesters seemed to take the hits to the head in stride, linking arms and allowing their bodies to be used as shields for the others. A squad of other police burst through the line and attempted to drag someone out.

When they were retrieved and helped away by other protesters, one of these police officers started indiscriminately hitting everyone in front of him before walking back behind the line.

Another mounted officer charge was this time met with a stoic few protesters, though still ones who did not try and push forwards, allowing the police lines to reform and be reinforced. High-vis police uniforms were replaced at the front by black-clad riot police, equipped with the same batons, shields, and full helmets as their predecessors, and a seemingly increased persuasion to use them offensively.

Protesters tried to use part of a fence to defend themselves, but the police pushed it down and moved back, forcing the front few rows of protesters to fall to the floor. The call went to stop pushing, which after a moment the protesters at the back heeded as those at the front tried to get up. Unfortunately, the situation was ignored by the police who pushed forwards (all this pushing is starting to sound the opposite of a tug-of-war) against those on the floor, piling people on top of people and forcing them down.

At this point, I was incredibly terrified. It seemed inevitable that I was about to be crushed to death. Instead of using my last breath to curse the inhumanity of those trying to kill us, I shouted an apology to those caught even lower on the pile – who for all I knew did not even have a last breath to give.

A hand came from nowhere and grabbed my shoulder, pulling me up, and before becoming aware of the situation immediately turned round and pulled up others. Actually, quite surprisingly, two lines of protesters had gone around those on the floor and pushed in front of the police, holding them back while others helped us up.

Many had to leave after this, a few in tears, others clutching injuries. Everyone was asking each other whether they were okay, and I suddenly felt a rush of happiness – both at not dying (that’s always nice) and at the compassion and thought in these absolute strangers which seemed to be so sadly and sorely lacking in the police.

The crowd felt angry, at being caged in and at the collective injuries sustained, but still not overly aggressive. However whenever an explicit baton came down on someone, as it regularly did, there was always a quick reaction, often forcing the officer to retreat to the chants of “shame on you” and boos. At one point I saw someone shouting sternly at the police and went over to hear.

They pointed to a a bald spot among otherwise lengthy hair and explained how an officer who they knew by number (Hurrah, an officer not hiding their numbers! (Although how you’re supposed to see these numbers, only ever visible on the epaulettes of these towering men, while they are attacking you, boggles me)) had grabbed their hair and quite literally ripped it out.

Tears and shouting were endemic among those protesters still left – the police’s orders to go to the opposite side of the square in order to leave finally convincing the tiring mass.

A wave of boos echoed out at the inevitable passing of the parliamentary vote. I entered into brief discussion with various officers on the state of things, though their ‘sympathetic’ responses felt unsettlingly forced.

I have heard afterwards that their instructions were to appear sympathetic and blame the upper management in any conversations in order to dissuade the crowd from retaliating the only way they could, which sounds creepily accurate.

However those same officers who were in such agreement one moment were the same ones readily hitting those they supposedly agreed with in the next, one of them (who was so jovial and happily noted his opposition to the cuts) screaming “Fuck, off! Fuck, off!” as they kicked my shins and attempted to knee me in the groin after I politely declined to move back without hearing a valid reason.

Unfortunately, it seems that the crowd shouting “Your jobs are next!” (Police budget is being slashed and tens of thousands of job losses are expected) has significantly less impact than their bosses saying the same thing.

A large proportion of the officers at the protest took visible pleasure in physically hurting the public, laughing at people who came to them in tears asking whether they could go home.

The cops are not our friends while they are doing their job, as the state’s private army. I honestly did not think this way before this protest. I idealistically hoped their humanity meant something.

Following orders is not an excuse, the Nuremberg defence was never valid, these ‘people’ have a choice whether or not to cause this pain and suffering and protect institutions causing it on a systematic level.

Spontaneous chants of “Who are you protecting!?” and “We are human; What are you?” after baton charges felt weirdly poignant, even the rarer “No Justice; No Peace; Fuck The Police” gaining a bit of perspective.

I started trekking optimistically across to the other side of Parliament Square, stopping to share food with people in the middle who were sitting around looking quite ill and scared. Some were moving in the opposite direction, telling us not to bother because that side was also blocked. It was now completely dark, save for the police helicopter shining down its camera light over us like some perverse imitation moon.

Some folks had started burning plastic after running out of placards; a security camera was hurled on the bonfire to a massive plume of smoke and flame.

The smells in the air were noxious and I moved on anyway, with nothing else to do. When I was crossing the other side towards where the crowd was being blocked in, I heard shouts from my left and turned to see a squad of fifteen or so riot police charging through the crowd, knocking people over and hitting anyone who got too close, shouting sentences mostly consisting of the word “Fuck” with optional attachments of “X off” or “Get the X away. They split the crowd and surged through to the other side.

We followed to see what was happening, and as we came through the crowd ourselves saw the riot officers beating anyone and everyone too close to the main police line with direct and forceful baton swings.

Many people were slumped against the wall bleeding from head wounds; others were clutching their arms into their bodies and trying to move back; someone was shouting that they had lost a shoe.

I felt like I was in a war zone. No protesters seemed to know what was going on, and ran back away from the police, still being pursued. Some at the back had managed to get a fence, passing it forwards to the sweeping cry of “Watch your heads!” and it was swiftly put to use to blocking the baton attacks and associated police surge. Further fences came forward and were used to create an intuitive wall blocking the pavement to a host of cheers.

Projectiles ranging from rocks to plants were flying over it but all bounced harmlessly off police shields, and officers with cameras were readily taking photographs of everyone in the front row who were holding up the wall. Someone shouted that penning us in was what the police wanted, but most people seemed to just appreciate the slight protection and rest allowed by this resourceful response.

They were tired, and desperate; it was uncomfortably often that an individual would scream “Let us out..” or “I want to go home” hopelessly towards ears too far off to hear, and too uncaring to do anything were they closer. It was about half past six, we had been kettled in Parliament Square for hours without food, water, or toilets.

Round the corner, a small section of a bulletproof window to the treasury building was being lazily broken by a seemingly endless collective of people who tended to each give it one or two whacks before declaring it impossible and leaving the job to the next curious onlooker who found the treasury building offensive.

A quiet but noticeable smash, followed by a short beeping alarm, sounded unexpected success, although someone had noticed that the lights had come on in the building and to get away before the police got to the windows, and part of the crowd moved down the side of the building while the rest held up the line and makeshift wall.

Another rampaging squad of riot cops ran down the breakaway group but were surprised by the people who had been sitting in the centre of the square playing music and chatting rushing to their aide and briefly blocking the squad in against the wall to shouts of “Who’s kettled now?”, though they still lashed out at anyone who got too close.

Screams came from behind; The police line we’d just left had bypassed the wall on the pavement and come through the road, forcing protesters back suddenly with batons and full length riot shields.

Some protesters staged a sit-down protest in front of the advancing line, and a cheer went out from down the side of the building: Somehow, the door to the treasury had been breached.

The entrance was still blockaded from the inside, but it seemed to be seen as a victory nonetheless, and a curtain from inside was being held up as a trophy. Someone came up to me and leaned on my arm as they adjusted bloody jeans and told the story of being attacked three times by police just for standing in their way with their arms up in the air, then showed off a nasty cut to their leg.

The blood was drained from their face, the paleness and confusion in their face balanced with the determination in their eyes. I saw them later on and they still looked alive, but I still worry deeply for some of the people I’ve seen attacked.

The big state and corporate news organisations going into great detail about the cop that fell off his horse during a charge against protesters but largely ignoring the people actually attacked and injured by the police officers, except for the mention of someone who actually needed brain surgery in order to save their life after being repeatedly hit with a police baton. I wondered when hearing this which one of the people with bloody heads I had seen it had been, if any.

People were routinely refused medical assistance, and someone using a wheelchair was torn from it, in discrimination and targeted violence I’ve been told is typical against people with disabilities who attend protests.

Police photographers were leaning out of windows taking pictures of the crowd below gathered around the treasury, who were then charged by the riot police who had thrown those sitting down (including one person in a santa outfit with both hands constantly up in peace signs, who was treated more forcefully than the others) to the side. What was left of the group was becoming increasingly surrounded.

A large metal pole was handed to the front but immediately confiscated and thrown aside – quite thankfully for everyone involved. I wondered where the others had gone, and went to the nearest police line blocking a small side-street and asked the most common question of the day, “where do we get out?” to which the first response from an officer in a high-vis outfit was “I don’t know.” and the response from the riot cops in the line was “The exit is on the other side”, pointing there, and I bet you can guess which side that was! Yes.

The side we had come from before being told the exit was on the ooother side. Predictably, this was another complete lie, so I started to wander around what was left of the occupied portion of the square. The graffiti was in some parts nuanced and poignant, some parts explicit and to-the-point, with the usual circle A symbols dotted around. The statue of Churchill had “Education for the masses” on one side, and on another “Racist” was quite appropriately scrawled next to his name.

Later on there was an argument between a police officer and a protester arguing over this, with the protester defending this text that the officer took issue with using staggeringly numerous examples and articulate argument given the situation. Quite inevitably, but just as surprisingly, he was roughly moved on.

Fires were dimming. The samba drum band was tiring. Energy was at an absolute low, and the last of it was used by an especially desperate few to try to find a way out through the Supreme Court’s basement level. This failed, but a spade was found and used to break its windows. A well dressed person came over and decried the vandalism (See that? Vandalism.

Not violence. It is impossible to be legally violent towards inanimate objects. If someone breaks a window and a cop breaks their nose, the cop is the only violent one in the equation. People are worth more than property, as much as this system would have us think otherwise) but was argued down by someone explaining their anger at being trapped here and about the vote’s result and about everything the government that owns the building was doing and what evil is there in them breaking a window after being backed into such a corner by such force?

So they left, and the window was half broken through before two police lines came and formed up in front of it. At this point, the entirety of protesters were kettled between police officer and police officer, not just police officer and wall. The lines moved forward pushing people together, and there was no energy left to resist, until everyone was tightly encircled. We were told we would be allowed to go “in a bit” and so people milled around and chatted, occasionally someone bringing what a cop described as “sob stories” to the front about asthma, injuries, last trains home, or very young people being there.

It was about 8pm. Nothing happened for an hour despite us being told we were always on the cusp of being let out of the kettle. I overheard a senior officer tell the footsoldiers they were about to begin “shit dispersal” (I’m assuming shit refers to the public) and they told us to stay where they were and the police line moved one yard back and then stopped. This was both a test of compliance and passivity as well as training to obey authorities orders and lies as truths and obligations.

People wanted to leave so badly, for home, food, water, warmth, toilets, or just to sit-down they were ready to listen to anything. I felt sick as I stood there unmoving. One brave protester took one step forward and was pushed back. I was concerned some in the crowd might turn on him, though this fear was not necessary, and started to seriously consider the whole protest pointless and a failure and the police had won and there’s no point protesting. I suppose, I started to think exactly what they wanted me to think.

And I knew it, as well, but in that position.. When you’ve been kettled for six hours, beaten, abused, ignored, refused basic human rights, seen the farce of democracy this totalitarian tyranny operates under.. I guess that’s normal. And I could see the same on others’ faces. It was heartbreaking.

After another twenty minutes they told us to follow them slowly, leading past parliament and endless lines of police officers towards the river. As we started to cross the bridge, something definitely felt wrong. Someone part of a pair walking in the opposite direction grabbed my shoulders and told me “They’re not gonna let us off this bridge, there’s no side routes, we have to go back!” [paraphrased] But it seems both my intuition and and other people’s explicit prophetic vision were not enough to lull me out of the drone of following the crowd and police instructions. I hated myself for not going with them, for not shouting it at everyone and trying to turn the group around.

I hated that I thought they would tell me to “shut up otherwise the police won’t let us go” and the part of me that wanted to agree with that as if they were going to anyway.

We moved on, a couple of thousand people squeezed onto the bridge.. and then we stopped. My gut sank. Don’t trust the cops. Anxiety set in en masse. As time went by, and there was no movement, people started crying.

There were reports of people passing out towards the back. There was no room to move or even sit down. Some people who were shorter occasionally shouting that they couldn’t breathe. The police told those at the front they would be allowed to leave in ten minutes. An hour went by, I shared out the last of my food amongst those nearby who claimed they needed it the most.. I wasn’t hungry. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to throw up out of anger.

Without noticing when it had started, out of nowhere, the quiet isolated shouts became more unified. There was a feeling in the air. You couldn’t help but join in; even the people who had seemed on the doors of sleep were suddenly chanting with energy thought lost. “Let us go. Let us go. Let us go. Let us go.” and then “woooooooOOOOOAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH” and everyone moved together as if it had been planned (I assure you, it most definitely was not. We’re really not that organised!) forwards, forwards, forwards, taking the police line completely by surprise.

They were literally overrun, I actually passed by a few of them myself while being pushed forwards by the crowd. We made a good twenty yards before hitting the next police line and more swarmed from behind the rows of vans up ahead. The head of the push was cut off by a line breaking and reforming, and the officers became extremely violent. Protesters at the front of both sections put their hands up in the air, alternately pleading “We’re being pushed, don’t hit us” and “Please just let us out” but to little response.

The police plan for stopping those at the back from pushing forwards seemed to be hitting those at the front with batons while shouting “Fuck off! Get the fuck back!” and this didn’t go very well until the main police force arrived and reinforced the front line to about six rows thick. This, combined with the separation of the front portion of the group, was enough to stop the movement. Freedom snatched away at the last moment.

The collective groan was painful to hear, but there was a definite energy still buzzing from such a successful move. I suddenly felt a lot more optimistic. That if we try, together, we can achieve something, and that this was not the end nor could it be.

They would let us go eventually, even if it was when people started dropping dead, and we would be back and know what to expect. Someone from overseas was commenting on how screwed up a country is where police can act like this. Someone else was sharing their phone with people who needed to make calls or check the internet.

We made room for people to sit who needed it most. My favourite two chants of the day originated here, kettled on the bridge alongside a thousand+ other people with a seed of hope where by all calculation there should have been no hope. The first was a take on the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine chorus to the lyrics of “We all live in a fascist regime, a fascist regime, a fascist regime.

We all live in a fascist regime, a fascist regime, a fascist regime” and the other was Monty Python’s “Always look on the bright siiiide of life! Dee do, dee do dee do deee do. Always look on the bright siiiide of life! Dee do, dee do dee do deee do” – I don’t know how, but they made me feel warm through the cold of the night.

At something past 11, people started to be let out from the front, one by one, down between two columns of police officers. I overheard a conversation between cop and protester on the way towards this mythical but seemingly real exit, which ended with “How could you do all this to human beings?” “I didn’t, it’s the chiefs orders” “So you have no responsibility over your own actions?” to which there was no response. And there is no response. As I was walking down between the columns, I was stopped by a hand clutching my coat, and told to remove my hood and the mask covering the lower portion of my face. I calmly enquired “Under what law am I required to do this?” (Section 60, apparently, which is searching for offensive weapons though that was obviously not at all what they were doing) and I was then immediately set upon by a group of officers.

My arms were held back and I was pushed violently to the floor and pinned down, my head pulled painfully back by my hair. I don’t remember this, as it was quite a blur, but I was told afterwards by another protesters that they took pictures of everyone passing through.

So much for avoiding that government database. I was then chucked out on the street, and I staggered over to the wall where I stood for a moment, before the realisation of what had just happened – not just the last assault, but the whole day, not just to me, but everyone around me – hit me. And it hit me hard. It forced its way out of my eyes, tears streaming down my face.

My lungs couldn’t cope and panted for air that just wouldn’t come. My limbs went numb and my eyes wouldn’t open. I cried, and screamed, and felt like the last pretence of a fair society had been ripped away from my desperate grasp. I know that most people worst off because of this system of enforced inequality don’t tend to have the privilege of these pretences; that people of colour, previous generations of the working class, women, people who refuse to be mis-gendered or submit to heteronormativity, people from countries physically or economically occupied by Empire, people with disabilities, people the whole world over who manage to put some thought into their position and the hegemony of the system above it, whether by choice or not, knew this or at least knew that something goddamn serious was wrong.

I’m not sure what was more painful, this or the cognitive dissonance leading up to it. Whatever. I cried. For what felt like forever. A group of police came over, including a police medic, and when I could not coherently articulate what had happened (How could I?) they declared “There’s nothing wrong with him. He’s just being a dick” ignoring someone (I have no idea who) saying “He’s in shock, we need to get him to an ambulance” with a “That’s not helpful, go away”, took me down to the end of the bridge and threw me back down against the floor. Curled up, panting for something more than just air, crying out something more than just tears, shivering with something far beyond cold, confused and alone, feeling the anger and trauma from having been violated. Lightweight, right? .. It was the whole day finally revealing its culmination of effects on me all at once.

I couldn’t have known.  Another (and admittedly kinder) police medic had come over to tell me to move on, but when I managed to explain through choked words what had most recently happened he tried to check me for injuries, but I couldn’t let him touch me. I couldn’t tell him my name. I couldn’t take down my mask again. I screamed “No!” “Don’t touch me!” and (rather unfairly, but still accurately) “You did this!” to whatever platitudes he gave, and desperately tried to will him away in my head.

I heard another voice, who’s owner introduced themself as a press photographer (who had been injured themselves, and who’s equipment had been destroyed by the police (I heard a lot of first-hand accounts of photographers not from the big state/corporate media organisations being targeted)), and they offered to take me away from the police, an offer which I took. Against my protestations, they took me to the hospital nearby to get checked out, as my head had hit the floor pretty hard at least once. On the way a fast moving high-vis jacked caused me to jump to the side and almost fall over in fear, my mind interpreting it as a police officer.

Initially I couldn’t even answer my name at the hospital, but they (very nicely) checked me anyway and said there was nothing visibly wrong but to get someone to take me back if I blacked out.

It was about 1am when I left the hospital, and the last protesters were leaving the bridge. They had been kettled in Parliament Square and on the bridge near it for over 8 hours, again. I had missed my coach home by about 7 hours and the last train by 1, so had to stay at a friend’s place in London.

As nice as their house was, I’m just glad to be back now, and sorting through these thoughts as I type. This is still probably missing a lot, and I’m probably not writing very well, the tone changes completely every so often, and I haven’t read into the events at all beyond the surface and what springs to mind, so there’s a lack of context and useful politics in this text.

And I suppose an experienced protester could say it was all foreseeable and not actually ‘that bad’ or that it was pointless, but this meant something to me, and hopefully writing this has been useful for me and whoever I show this to, in some way. I am glad I was there, that I stayed with everyone till the end, and I have no regrets.

I want to say “What’s next?” but right now, I’m just struggling with “What”

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Wikileaks and media disinformation: North Korea, Iran and Belarus

Much is being written in the mainstream press about the internet whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.

But the interpretation and significance of those Wikileaks stories disseminated throughout the corporate media must be subjected to careful and critical analysis.

As readers of Global Research and other alternative media outlets know, there is little that is particularly shocking about the recent Wikileaks. What is striking about many of the latest leaks is their conformity to the lies and disinformation regularly diffused by the mainstream media.

The upshot of this is that, while exposés of American war crimes should damage America’s imperial ambitions, other ‘leaks’ could actually serve the opposite purpose, especially when they are uncritically reported as ‘revelations’. In this article we are going to look at two examples of how Wikileaks stories could be used to further a US imperialist agenda.

Wikileaks on Belarus

The first example concerns the Republic of Belarus. In a Wikileaks document released on December 1 and reported in The Messenger Georgia’s English language newspaper. The Wikileak reports the statement of the Spanish prosecutor José Gonzalez who accuses Russia, Belarus and Chechnya of being ‘mafioso’ states. According to The Messenger ‘The statement was made by Gonzalez on January 13 this year during a session of the Spanish-American working group on combating terrorism and organised crime.

Wikileaks reports that the information was sent by the US embassy in Madrid to the US government with the comment that the remarks were deep and valuable since the author had knowledge of the Euro-Asian mafia.’ (1)

What is interesting here is the suggestion that the remarks are deep and valuable due to the author’s so-called ‘knowledge’ of the Euro-Asian mafia. The inclusion of Belarus in this ‘leak’ is particularly puzzling. Belarus has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe. The President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has been continuously re-elected since 1994, due to his progressive social policies and no one denies his obvious popularity.

Yet he is consistently slandered as a ‘dictator’. While Belarus does have close connections with Russia, relations between the two countries have soured recently over energy disputes, geopolitical differences and Belarus’s refusal to pursue free-market policies.

Belarus and Alexander Lukashenko in particular, has been indefatigably demonised in the international press for his refusal to privatise the Belarusian economy, opening up publicly owned industries to international, finance capital mafia.

President Lukashenko’s refusal to indebt his country through IMF loans together with the robust performance of the Belarusian economy since the outbreak of the global economic crisis, have won the Belarusian leader the praise and close friendship of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who has described Belarus as model socialist economy.

Yet Wikileaks considers a flippant and mendacious comment by a Spanish prosecutor to be ‘deep and valuable’? Here we can see ideology masquerading as objective truth. A flippant opinion by a Spanish prosecutor is considered ‘deep and valuable’ because he should know such things.

The Wikileak is in reality not a revelation at all. It is simply the publication of a highly dubious statement with an ideological assumption appended. Here the Wikileak serves to bolster the negative view of the country engineered by the acolytes of the corporate media to demonise a respectable socialist democracy. Far from undermining US imperialism, this Wikileaks ‘revelation’ slanders a law-abiding country by associating it with criminality and terrorism.

Since the election of Alexander Lukashenko in 1994 the demonization of Belarus has taken the familiar route of ‘human rights’ violations and lack of ‘liberal democracy’, this in spite of the fact that Belarus has held more referenda in the last decade than any other country in Europe, and the so called Human rights violations are minimal in comparison to countries praised by the ‘international community’ such as Latvia, Lithuania, The Czech Republic, Romania, Britain, Poland and other countries praised by the EU and the US, that is to say ‘the international community’.

Belarus has been called an ‘authoritarian’ regime by left liberals with a less than realistic understanding of socialism, and an outright ‘dictatorship’ by the corporate press, who view any regime that controls the excesses of individual greed a ‘violator of human rights’. The problem with Belarus for the ‘international community’ is that it has not embraced capitalism and has some of the highest levels of social equality of any country in the world.

Belarus sets a bad example and that is why one never reads any articles in the bourgeois press that tell the truth about this country.

In a hostile policy paper the Polish academic Antoni Kaminski bluntly states international finance capital’s principal problem with Belarus.

‘The liberal-democratic transition in the post-communist world has, however, proven to be difficult because it embodies a social revolution: it is a move from one type of social order to its logical contradiction. The more successful a country had been in building its communist regime, the more difficult it is for it to carry out the liberal-democratic transformation.’ (2)

The problem with Belarus, then, is that communism has been a success and the Belarusian people are not interested in opting for ‘its logical contradiction’ of mass unemployment, poverty, criminality and misery, unlike their Eastern European neighbours.

Belarus is anything but a Mafia state. If there is Mafia activity in Belarus, it is, to a large extent, emanating from countries attempting to destabilise its socialist economy. That is to say, youth groups financed by the National Endowment for Democracy in the USA or other crime gangs from Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

It is indeed surprising that Wikileaks has not yet revealed much about the CIA torture chambers in the US client-states surrounding Belarus. If such stories are leaked, they are unlikely to find their way on to the pages of the liberal bourgeois media.

This slanderous accusation released by Wikileaks against Belarus is a cogent example of how mass disseminated Wikileaks reports could operate in the coming months. The point here is not that the statement was manufactured by Wikileaks in order to demonise Belarus. Rather a statement published by Wikileaks is being used by the mainstream press to corroborate the lies which it itself has been spreading about the Republic of Belarus.

Wikileaks on the North Korean and Iranian Threat.

Another notable example of dubious wikileaking concerns North Korea. On the website, Zcommunications, journalist Christopher Hope in an article entitled ‘ Wikileaks sparks world diplomatic crisis’ writes:

‘One report said that Wikileaks had 251,287 cables from 270 US embassies and consulates from a single computer server.

The leaked documents went on to make further allegations. They claimed that Iran had obtained missiles from North Korea to give it the capacity to launch strikes on capitals in Western Europe for the first time.

According to a cable dated last Feb 24, North Korea sent to Iran 19 of the missiles, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Intelligence agencies believe Tehran is some way from developing a nuclear warhead. The officials said the deal had significantly advanced Iran’s development of intercontinental ballistic missiles’ (3)

This ‘leak’ (a US State Department cable) is simply reported here but there is no comment on the veracity of this allegation by the US state department. Is this Wikileak likely to be true?

The same report was carried by the Jerusalem Post on 29th of November with the headline:

‘Iran obtained 19 advanced North Korean missiles’. Again, we are told that ‘capable of hitting major cities in Western Europe and Russia, according to documents in the latest release by Wikileaks on Monday’.

Neither of the two articles questions the veracity of these Wikileaks.

Does any of this sound familiar? Have we forgotten the media hysteria about weapons of mass destruction during the run-up to the Iraq war? Saddam’s WMDs, we were told, could target cities in Western Europe and Britain in 40 minutes!

Now similar claims are being made in the Israeli press, the Western media and several alternative media outlets. The veracity of the leaks is not questioned., with the mainstream press giving full coverage to Assange.

North Korea has never had any intentions of attacking other countries with nuclear weapons.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has been defending itself against US aggression for over 60 years. It has been the longest anti-imperialist resistance in modern history. North Korea might seem strange to outside observers but they are not crazy.

The American historian Bruce Cummings in his revealing book North Korea quotes an American official who met the DPRK leader Kim Jong Il in 2000 who had this to say about the North Korean leader “ he’s amazingly well-informed and extremely well-read.. he is practical, thoughtful, listened very hard. He has a sense of humour. He’s not the madman many people portrayed him as.” This is a far cry from the psychotic, Charles Manson-like madman universally propagated by the mainstream media. The DPRK has never been a threat to international security. It is simply a country that has refused to be colonised by the United States. (4)

The same corporate media outlets that lied about WMDs and much else, the media of embedded journalists, think tank hacks, and career swindlers has now suddenly became a radical debunker of US imperialist lies, and yet this debunker of US lies is also corroborating US claims about the grave danger presented to civilisation from North Korea and Iran, two states from Bush’s Axis of Evil. How should we interpret this?

All the cables prove is that US state department officials ‘believe’ North Korea and Iran are a threat. It is highly likely that they do believe such things. But this does not mean that their beliefs correspond to reality. US officials also believe that America wants to spread democracy. It is highly likely that most US officials believe their own lies.

Such reported beliefs can be manipulated by real rogue states such as the United States and Israel for their own political purposes.

Israel and Wikileaks

Israel has been pushing the supposed connection between North Korea and Iran for some time. In 2006 the Israeli columnist with the Jerusalem Post, right-wing extremist Caroline Glick wrote an article calling for the bombing of Iran on the pretext that North Korea was supplying the Islamic Republic with long-range nuclear weapons. None of these claims have ever been independently verified.

The latest Wikileak has added grist to Glick’s belligerent mill. In an article on her blog entitled ‘The Wikileaks Challenge’ she writes

‘In spite of proof that North Korea is transferring advanced ballistic missiles to Iran through China, again confirmed by the illegally released documents, the US continues to push a policy of engagement based on a belief that there is value to China’s vote for sanctions against Iran in the UN Security Council. It continues to push a policy predicated on its unfounded faith that China is interested in restraining North Korea.’ (5)

Here the Wikileaks reports are accepted as constituting ‘proof’ that North Korea has long-range nuclear missiles capable of targeting European cities and that those missiles have been supplied to the Islamic Republic of Iran. While Miss Glick huffs and puffs about the ‘attack on America’ initiated by Assange, the real point of her article is that the US must crack down on dissident media at home and bomb Iran.

Glick summarises the Wikileaks problem thus:

‘THE MOST important question that arises from the entire WikiLeaks disaster is why the US refuses to defend itself and its interests. What is wrong with Washington? Why is it allowing WikiLeaks to destroy its international reputation, credibility and ability to conduct international relations and military operations? And why has it refused to contend with the dangers it faces from the likes of Iran and North Korea, Turkey, Venezuela and the rest of the members of the axis of evil that even State Department officers recognize are colluding to undermine and destroy US superpower status? ‘(6)

Glick calls Juan Cole, professor of history at the University of Michigan, a ‘conspiracy theorist’ for daring to claim in a recent article for the Guardian Newspaper that Israel was responsible for Saudi Arabia’s desire to have Iran bombed! This would be funny were it not from a writer who is the Deputy Managing Editor of the Jerusalem Post and Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Centre for Security Policy in Washington DC.

It is well known that Saudi Arabia and Iran are enemies. Saudi Arabia fears the Iranian model of “Islamic democracy”. It also fears Iran’s growing economic and political power in the region. The Saudi oligarchy is propped up by Israel and the United States. These are well documented facts. But well documented facts must be denounced as ‘conspiracy theories’, the post-modern term for heresies.

One could argue that Wikileaks has, in fact, done Israel and US imperialism a favour. He has highlighted the problem of internet control and has also provided ‘proof’ that North Korea and Iran are a threat to the world. I am not claiming that Assange has done this deliberately to deceive the public. But the Israeli press is pushing the idea that these ‘revelations’ of US policy maker’s opinions constitute ‘proof’ of Iran’s threat to the world and internet censorship could soon become a reality.

Cables supposedly ‘leaked’ by an internet website containing such dangerous allegations that could serve as a pretext for a global nuclear war should be subjected to the most stringent expert analysis. This will be the job of the alternative media in the coming months as the corporate media is likely to prevent such ‘revelations’ as facts in an effort to drum up support for the annihilation of Iran and North Korea.

Spurious claims about connections between North Korea and the Islamic world have been made before. In 2009, the French journalist Guillaume Dasquié published an article in Intelligence Online, claiming that Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah had been trained in North Korea. The article, widely distributed throughout the US Congress, was later proved to be a hoax. (7)

In 2002, Dasquié and Jean Charles Brisard admitted having invented allegations implicating certain individuals from Saudi Arabia in the 911 terrorist attacks on New York. (8)

Professor Noam Chomsky of MIT has written an article for Znet with the heading ‘ Why Wikileaks won’t stop the war’(9). But his approach assumes that Wikileaks serves the function of stopping the war. While Wikileaks has revealed many US war crimes, the possibility of covert intelligence penetration of the whistle-blowing site cannot be overlooked.

The question that needs to be asked now is: whose interests does Wikileaks really serve? Wikileaks can be made serve the cause of peace if a full and critical analysis is carried out every time the corporate press misuses it to trick the public into supporting an imperialist agenda.

The three ‘enemies’ of America mentioned in this article Belarus, North Korea and Iran, all have one thing in common. They have largely state-owned economies. This is what makes them a ‘threat to international security’. The final phase in the War on Terrorism will be to destroy the last obstacles to total US economic and political control of the planet.

Wikileaks could yet become the disinformation tool used by Israel and the United States to justify a nuclear war, finally bringing about what the pentagon has referred to as ‘full spectrum dominance’. But it could also be a tool to undermine this project provided people read and analyse its so-called revelations with extreme caution, exposing their mass disseminated misuse.

* Gearóid Ó Colmáin is a columnist in English and Gaelic with Metro Éireann, Ireland’s multicultural newspaper. His blog is at




2. Belarus as an object of Polish Security Concerns in Belarus at the Crossroads (Washington DC.Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.1999) p.41


4 North Korea (London/New York: The New Press,2004) p.47






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Israel has been forced to reveal what Palestinians and other observers on the ground have known for a long time: that the blockade of Gaza is state policy intended to inflict collective punishment, not to bolster Israeli “security”.

An Israeli human rights group has won a legal battle to compel the Israeli government to release three important documents. These outline state policy for permitting the transfer of goods into Gaza prior to the May 31 attack on the peace flotilla in which nine people were killed by Israeli forces. The group, Gisha – Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, is demanding Israeli transparency. Meanwhile, Israel refuses to release documents on the current version of blockade policy which was “eased” after international condemnation following the flotilla attack.

The released documents, whose existence Israel had denied for eighteen months, reveal that the state approved “a policy of deliberate reduction” of basic goods, including food and fuel, in the Gaza Strip. Gisha Director Sari Bashi explains:

“Instead of considering security concerns, on the one hand, and the rights and needs of civilians living in Gaza, on the other, Israel banned glucose for biscuits and the fuel needed for regular supply of electricity – paralyzing normal life in Gaza and impairing the moral character of the State of Israel. I am sorry to say that major elements of this policy are still in place.” (Gisha: Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, ‘Due to Gisha’s Petition: Israel Reveals Documents related to the Gaza Closure Policy’, October 21, 2010; ?intLanguage=2&intItemId=1904&intSiteSN=113)

As Saeed Bannoura of the International Middle East Media Center reports, the Israeli government imposed a deliberate policy:

“in which the dietary needs for the population of Gaza are chillingly calculated, and the amounts of food let in by the Israeli government measured to remain just enough to keep the population alive at a near-starvation level. This documents the statement made by a number of Israeli officials that they are ‘putting the people of Gaza on a diet’.” (Saeed Bannoura, ‘Israeli government documents show deliberate policy to keep Gazans at near-starvation levels’, International Middle East Media Center, November 6, 2010 21:32;

Bannoura adds:

“This release of documents also severely undermines Israel’s oft-made claim that the siege is ‘for security reasons’, as it documents a deliberate and systematic policy of collective punishment of the entire population of Gaza.”

When Israel and the United States were reacting to Hamas’s election victory in Gaza in January 2006, long-time Israeli government adviser Dov Weisglass stated:

“The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” (‘Hamas readies for government, Israel prepares sanctions’, Agence France Presse, February 16, 2006)

The released documents contain actual equations used by the Israeli government to calculate the exact amounts of food, fuel and other necessities needed to do exactly that. (‘Submitted to Gisha in the framework of a Freedom of Information Act Petition, AP 2744/09 Gisha v. Defense Ministry’, Appendices B, C and D; DefenseMinistryDocumentsRevealedFOIAPetition.pdf)

The policy is all the more disturbing, indeed repellent, given that almost half the people of Gaza are children under the age of eighteen. One might reasonably conclude that Israel has deliberately forced the undernourishment of hundreds of thousands of children in direct violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Media Response? A Polite Silence

Our searches of the Nexis newspaper database show that, as far as we could determine, not a single UK newspaper has reported the release of these damning Israeli documents. We widened our searches to include all English-language publications covered worldwide by Nexis. We found just two: one from the Palestine News Network on October 21 and one in Palestine Chronicle on November 6.

We were so surprised by the uniform silence across the English-language press that we asked US-based media analyst David Peterson to check our findings. He was able to do so, spelling out his search results as follows (email to Media Lens, November 11, 2010):

Major World Publications: zero

All News (English): two (the same two that we found, as mentioned above)

Broadcast Transcripts: zero

A search of the Factiva database (covering all major English-language newspapers and wire services) found the same results. Peterson commented:

“No mentions in any of the major English-language newspapers or wire services of the fact that someone had revealed the actual Israeli government policy towards the Gaza Palestinians is to force a ‘deliberate reduction’ in their access to the necessities of everyday survival.”

It takes a peculiar form of social malaise for this astonishing media silence to be maintained in ostensibly free societies.

The Fiercely “Independent” BBC

On November 11, an online BBC article reported on the Gaza blockade but made no mention of the released documents. (Jon Donnison, ‘UN: No change in Gaza despite easing of Israel blockade’ BBC news online, November 11, 2010 Last updated at 00:25;

Reporter Jon Donnison wrote:

“The UN says there has been ‘no material change” for people in Gaza since Israel announced it was ‘easing’ its economic blockade of the Palestinian territory.”

Jon Ging, the head of UN operations in Gaza, said few people had noticed any difference:

“There’s been no material change for the people on the ground here in terms of their status, the aid dependency, the absence of any recovery or reconstruction, no economy.”

Ging continued:

“The easing, as it was described, has been nothing more than a political easing of the pressure on Israel and Egypt.”

The BBC gave the final word to Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry:

“Why is the border blockaded? Because the territory has been overtaken by a declared terror movement.”

This assertion that the Gaza blockade is motivated by security concerns went unchallenged.

World News Today, presented by Zeinab Badawi on BBC4, broadcast a piece by Donnison along similar lines to his article. (BBC World News Today, BBC4, Thursday, November 11, 2010, 7pm;

We wrote to Jon Donnison and asked whether he was aware that the Israeli human rights group Gisha had obtained Israeli government documents confirming that the collective punishment of Gaza is based on politics, not security. We asked him:

“Have you reported the release of these documents?

“Will you be pursuing it in a new article?” (Email, November 11, 2010)

We emailed again on November 16 but have received no response to date.

Compare and contrast the BBC’s performance on this story with a new Foreign Office-sponsored piece on the BBC by news presenter Zeinab Badawi:

“Transparency, accountability of government actions is absolutely crucial. And frankly that’s the role of the media. You know, shining a harsh spotlight on truths and sunlight, after all, is a very strong antiseptic, isn’t it?” (‘Zeinab Badawi says freedom of expression is cornerstone of democracy in Britain’, November 5, 2010;

Badawi added that “the BBC’s constitution means that we absolutely, +absolutely+ cherish and protect and fight for our independence. We don’t even have an arm’s length relationship with the government, we just don’t deal with the government at all.”

Badawi continued the self-adulation:

“It [the BBC] really is a vital, vital tool for the dissemination of information in all sorts of ways. All these things have really served to underscore that freedom of speech that we have in this country. And I suppose the BBC best epitomises that tradition.”

She concluded:

“I’m very proud to be an employee of the BBC.”


The goal of Media Lens is to promote rationality, compassion and respect for others. If you do write to journalists, we strongly urge you to maintain a polite, non-aggressive and non-abusive tone.

Write to Jon Donnison of the BBC

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Spontaneous, massive and militant

This is the striking thing. 24 11 2010 protest had almost no significant institutional backing whatsoever. It’s been said, not quite accurately, that there was no left-wing organisation involved. I did see socialists, trade unionists and trade union banners present. To wit, I saw a Unison banner, I saw Billy Hayes of the CWU (looking a bit worried), I saw Right to Work and SWSS placards and stickers, and a few Socialist Worker paper sellers. I saw Socialist Students (that’ll be the Socialist Party), and a few ‘Revolution’ flags. I saw people with loudspeakers who I’d seen at protests before, leading chants and so on. However, the majority of these protesters weren’t actually mobilised by any union or party.

Most of the basic work of making people aware and getting them there happened through social media sites, and across the country it is estimated that 130,000 people turned out. I also heard a statistic which suggested that one in ten students were actually participating in the protests, but I can’t vouch for its accuracy, and I don’t know what its implications would be. In addition, 18 universities went into occupation yesterday. The point is that it was an almost spontaneous eruption of anger against the government. Watch this video to get a sense of the vibrancy, the joyful energy, the sense of purpose – all those qualities that normally seem redundant or perhaps over-stated when ascribed to a protest, but which capture yesterday perfectly.
“But surely,” you’re saying, “the NUS supported this?” No, it didn’t. I regret to say that the NUS played no part in yesterday’s action. Indeed, I understand that they had ‘distanced’ themselves from it. Aaron Porter’s response when asked for his view was apparently to reflexively denounce “violence”, blaming a handful of “professional troublemakers”, while saying absolutely nothing about the police’s violence. This latter included, for example, kicking a fifteen year old girl – that was Officer UC2128’s contribution to state-sponsored child abuse, if you want to complain – and kneeing a boy in the groin before dragging him along by his hair. The police repeatedly baton-charged the young people, showing little concern for their age and vulnerability. This sort of thing happened all over the country.

And the kettling, clearly planned by the Metropolitan Police in order to make nice to the Tory bosses after their little embarrassment last time, involved keeping thousands of people, mainly young people, in the freezing cold for hours and hours without food, without toilets and largely without water. In fairness to the Met’s PR department, they did give out a few bottles of water at the perimeter toward Parliament Square, but most people didn’t see a drop. Finally, in the late evening (I was released at close to 10pm), people were filtered out in ones and twos, very slowly, and with prolonged pauses in between. Every now and again, as the pauses built up, the temperature dropped another degree, and the music got just a little bit shitter, the chant went up again: “Let us out! Let us out! Let us out!” People tried to debate the rows of jutting jawlines holding back the crowd, tried to engage them, make them see how irrational and cruel they were being. No dice. The cops have their schtick worked out for situations like this. They calmly explain that you’re being held to prevent a breach of the peace, and then they go back to sniggering with the other filth. There’s really nothing to debate with such people. The police also arbitrarily switched the exit point several times, adding to the frustration. Two teenage blokes were talking next to me as this was going on. One said, “there’ll be a lot of fucking hatred of the police after this.” The other, “I’ve never had a reason to hate the police until now”. Similar sentiments were expressed over and over. And there was a particular passion when people sang along with NWA’s “Fuck the police”, and Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the name”. The chorus building up to “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!” was vented with real gusto and vim.

So if people want to talk about ‘violence’, by which they mean vandalism, it’s worth saying that most such small-scale acts took place inside a kettle, which the police controlled like an experiment with fucking lab rats. We expect the media to be hostile, but the NUS is supposed to represent students, present and future. Porter’s crawlingly servile attitude doesn’t reflect this mandate. It just shows that he’s another careerist creep, probably the next Phil Woolas. But given the scale of what happened yesterday outwith the NUS’ organisation, the latter now have to make themselves relevant to the fightback against the cuts. It’s obvious that hacks like Aaron Porter have nothing sensible to say or do on this front.

Speaking of ‘violence’, the Daily Mail is leading the chorus of execration (I think they’ll know the phrase and like it) regarding young girls being the new face of ‘violent’ protest. Now, of course there were loads and loads of young girls out there yesterday. They make up at least half the population of school students after all – the smarter half according to those tests the Mail is so fond of. But they weren’t remotely ‘violent’, and the majority were too clued up to attack the ‘bait van’ – the police van left unattended in the middle of the crowd, apparently to get people to attack it and provide a pretext for the police’s kettling operation. Most people knew perfectly well why the van was left there. And among these secondary school and higher education students, there was a serious, open air debate about how to handle situations like this. There were arguments about strategy, and most people concluded that the police had deliberately created a situation designed to provoke petty vandalism and then cite that as justification for kettling. The impromptu speeches, the small debating circles, the gathered crowds, all more or less repeated this verbatim.

I mention this because the news has focused on one young student who they say ‘fearlessly’ faced down the ‘angry mob’ and protected police property from vandalism. I suppose this sort of thing feeds their fantasy of good breeding facing down the oiks, and in fairness I don’t suppose the student in question will be happy to have been used that way. What they don’t say is that the vast majority of students were making similar arguments. The majority of people therefore deliberately neglected to break glass or even spray paint buildings. They sat down and strummed out songs by The Libertines, or danced to Rage Against the Machine, or argued politics, or rationed out rolling tobacco and bottles of water. Some couples engaged in longing embraces and snogged. Some kids had apparently heated arguments, shoved one another. Some were a bit silly. And since the media is depicting these kids as mindless hooligans, it’s worth saying that the political arguments were wide-ranging and sophisticated. It wasn’t just about fees, it was about the future – war, global warming, everything that concerns us as a species. It’s not that everyone sounded off like a right-on socialist. No such thing. Some of the arguments were baffling, some naive, some perverse, but most of it was thoughtful, sensible, and streets ahead of what is offered as serious discussion in the news.

And that’s what yesterday was mostly about – thoughtful, intelligent people, pushed to the brink, forced to take some sort of militant action, and by doing so providing an example to the rest of us. It’s obviously time to make haste with the student-worker coalition that was vaunted at the last protest. The energy behind this will be squandered if the protesters are left alone to the tender mercies of the police

posted by lenin

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Aki from Fun Da Mental reports from Pakistan

As we traveled towards Noshera again, I reflected what I had seen on the previous visit to villages around Ahmanabad a few days before, it was about the worst the floods could get really, what else could water destroy?

The villages had been totally flattened and as we gave money out “cash in hand” once again the same predictable anger, “NO GOVT HELP, NO MONEY. NOTHING”.

We had driven to some camps and it was really complete sadness to see people reduced to this kind of life. We talk about poverty but seeing poverty, is the real test. The POOR always pay a heavy price, they never had anything in the first place, but they pay with their souls when these disasters come.

“I REALLY HATE MONEY,” I think as I walk through the camp and see elders dressed in an “undignified manner” in an air of stench. These noble human beings born into this world with exactly the same ingredients, which brought me into this world, have lived a life of improvised opportunities, many of them wasted into a life and cycle of “begging politics”.

Shameless words and sound-bite expectations from the political elites have always somehow kept these people praying for the day that their hardened lives will take “the promised turn” as they wait for the false promises, politicians get fat and fatter.

These people are the cause of this very profitable business of charity, a successful disaster economy and here in Pakistan it is the exposed, the poor are the perfect visuals to earn money from and they THEMSELVES receive hardly anything.

I love Pakistan but I hate this aspect with such venom I would think that a suicide mission would be absolutely justified against the people and institutes that benefit, maybe I get too emotional and that is supposedly a unprofessional weakness or is it really?

I have to hold my soul steady as I see old women, frail, worn out, the lines on her thin features smile slyly, she wants that paper in my hand- I feel like a piece of shit –why should she even have to attempt to ask me? – We/I have no right to even expect her to live another night in this urine stinking camp on the roadside.

“Here mother” I say to her, how dare I call her “mother” AND then leave her to the open elements of a cold night underneath a dirty 8 by 8 cloth?

The children run around barefooted, beautiful technicolour of eyes and natural kaleidoscope of coloured hair, they smile and laugh as they collect cow dung and other tasteless stuff on their feet, parasites find nice homes in their skin, lucky parasites. Yes parasites is probably the correct word for those that sit on that money donated by millions as a sign of goodwill whilst mum and the old man worry that God may just send them to the other side for been poor.

“Lets Make Poverty History”, they f****** said a few years ago, I just heard that another Hellfire Missiles had killed a bunch of people, another 80,000 dollars per missile –

“They can deliver bombs but they cannot deliver aid”.

The one exposing aspect of this natural disaster very rarely, in fact never talked about is the obscene racism against these Pathaan/Pushtaan people from many quarters- someone said to me “they are like leeches when you show them the money” they obviously forget many instances of looting etc in parts of the civilized parts of the world when disasters occur and they do not consider for a moment that they too would do the same if they were in this predicament.

We do what we are here to do, give money in hand and see some smiles and pat ourselves on the back and drive to the next town with the same stories been repeated, not been depressed but angry because I ask them do they know the GOVT has “their” money and is sitting on it- they all know – do they know its “their” money not the GOVTs –yes they know-

“We are living worse than animals because we are waiting for that money, if we begin to re-build then when they come to look at the buildings they will say that they cannot see any damage so the money is not warranted, they will pocket the money, so we live in this misery”

But the NGOs and Govt are using the “blockbuster disaster” to collect money but none of the actors are getting paid!!!

I pray that this country can pick up the courage to run down that hill with a Molotov cocktail aimed at Zardari and those Parasites.

Wasim and his mother are absolutely impeccable, they have created these avenues for me to see the disaster in its true light and alongside the small contingent of volunteers who have relentlessly helped people even to the embarrassment of the UN i.e. they helped them too –the Khidmet guys are there in the thick mud, alongside the elderly, the women, the widows, the children, the young and the middle aged – they are all human and they are not holding guns to peoples heads and chopping off hands, they are in real time helping people- BLESS THEM WHILST THEY CONTINUE THEIR WORK WITH DIGNITY.

I arrive in a place called Pir SABAQ – a town not a village and I am just speechless, honestly this place is the worst it could get, there is nothing to see but destruction, it was as if there was barbaric conflict here- no NGOs visual, No Govt Visual- it is horrendous. This town was completely submerged in water, a small hill saved the people or there could have been a natural genocide here. I stand about 60 foot high from the river; the house behind me is completely destroyed,

“The water came around the town and back down here and took everything with it”.

Some say the houses were poorly constructed but when I point to the local school and the elegant villas, a silence falls. We sometimes want to blame the poor for their cheap houses yet the rich got this also; some of the rich are now back WITH THE  POOR.

The waterline is invisible on the walls for some of the houses, they must have been saved I thought, but they were actually completely submerged, opening the gates to the entrance shows the evidence as thick mud once again is happily occupying every inch- it conquered as it sits there proud reminding us all that however powerful we think we are, nature has no match.

The usual simple questions are asked, “Who has helped, has anyone been given money etc?” the usual answers – NO NO NO !!!!!.

This PLACE reminds me of the car scrap yards in Bradford but this is humanity and how it looks, is repulsive-thankfully they still have their own pride and are keeping themselves fed and clothed but they cannot rebuild until the officials come and they can get money to begin again.

I do not hold too much hope for those officials arriving.

The local mosque has got things under control and the imam is making good progress at attempting to look after the widows and women who really have suffered. These imams are usually displayed as “macho etc” and not caring about women but once again we see that generalizing is a dangerous occupation.

Small houses are been constructed for the women firstly, cheap but it will be welcome as winter is only a few weeks away.

People really lost everything here as time goes on the breadwinners have nothing to work for, they too need help.

There is too much to see and too much pain to write about, Pakistan’s people have helped these people amazingly but Pakistan’s Govt, as they do in everything have let them down.

As I get back to Rawalpindi, heavy on thoughts, I experience an earthquake, switch the TV on and it says the disaster areas visited that day were also affected but thankfully it was not a full on attack. What is happening to Pakistan?

I go out to clear my head-its 3.30 am and I can hear some people playing cricket and then I hear someone shout “NO BALL!!!!!!!!”



Words by Aki Nawaz.

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Guantánamo detainee, acquitted on 284 of 285 charges, faces 20 years

In a blow to the Obama administration’s effort to manipulate the civilian justice system to achieve guilty verdicts for alleged terrorists, a New York City jury on Wednesday unexpectedly acquitted a Guantánamo detainee, Ahmed Khaifan Ghailani, on 284 of 285 charges. The case was related to the 1998 terrorist attacks on US Embassy in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, which killed at least 11 people and injured another 85.

Ghailani, 36, was convicted of only one charge, conspiring to destroy government buildings. The 12-member jury was unconvinced by government charges related to allegations of murder. Ghailani nonetheless faces a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.

Ghailani, who is Tanzanian, was abducted from Pakistan in 2004 along with his wife and children. He was then turned over to the Central Intelligence Agency, which transported him to “black site” prisons, including one in Poland, and then ultimately to Guantánamo Bay in Cuba in 2006. Like most prisoners caught up in the global dragnet known as the war on terror, Ghailani was repeatedly tortured by US intelligence personnel during his imprisonment.

From any ethical and rational legal standpoint, this makes information extracted from Ghailani by his interrogators inadmissible in court, and, indeed, all of the proceedings against him illegitimate. However, the presiding Federal District Court judge in the case, Lewis A. Kaplan, earlier in the year overruled defense requests that the trial be dismissed because Ghailani had been tortured. Kaplan also quashed another motion requesting dismissal because the court proceedings, taking place six years after his arrest, violated Ghailani’s right to a speedy trial.

The Ghailani case was handpicked by the Obama administration to test whether or not the civilian court system could be entrusted to produce guilty verdicts in terrorism cases, with Attorney General Eric Holder all but guaranteeing it would be prosecuted to a successful conclusion. It was to serve as a trial run for the prosecution in federal court of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged ringleader of the 9/11 terror attacks. Mohammed was extensively tortured―it is documented that he was waterboarded at least 183 times. The Ghailani verdict now makes it more likely that Mohammed will face a military tribunal.

While the one count against Ghailani may well result in a life sentence, the government’s failure to convince jurors of the other 284 charges was quickly seized on by the media and both Republicans to assert that alleged terrorists should be processed at drumhead military tribunals such as the one at Guantánamo Bay.

As always, this was dressed up in the hysterical language of “national security.” Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a speech from the floor of the Senate that the verdict is “all the proof we need that the administration’s approach to prosecuting terrorists has been deeply misguided and indeed potentially harmful as a matter of national security.”

“The Obama administration recklessly insisted on a civilian trial for Ahmed Ghailani, and rolled the dice in a time of war,” said Liz Cheney of the pro-torture group Keep America Safe (and the daughter of the former vice president Dick Cheney.) “It’s dangerous. It signals weakness in a time of war.”

The verdict was also criticized among Obama’s Democratic and liberal allies. Virginia Senator Jim Webb said in a statement that the case shows that “those charged with crimes of war and those who have been determined to be dangerous law-of-war detainees do not belong in our courts, our prisons or our country.”

The New York Times struck at the same theme, asserting that “the result may again fuel debate over whether civilian courts are appropriate for trying terrorists.” For the “newspaper of record,” decisions that do not realize the pre-designed aims of the state are illegitimate.

The Times blamed the result on Judge Kaplan’s refusal to hear testimony from Hussein Abebe, who the government claims was prepared to tell the court he had sold large quantities of the TNT used to blow up the embassy at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Ghailani revealed Abebe’s name while he was tortured at Guantánamo.

There were also those who celebrated the case as an example of the effectiveness of the US justice system. Ghailani’s lawyer, Peter Quijano, called Wednesday’s verdict “a reaffirmation that this nation’s judicial system is the greatest ever devised [and] is truly a system of laws and not men,” he said.

This is absurd. Had Ghailani been convicted on all counts, the celebration of the supposed greatness of the US judicial system would have been trumpeted even more. In fact, the court case was largely pro forma. As Judge Kaplan himself declared, the defendant’s status as an “illegal enemy combatant”―a legal chimera invoked by the US under both Bush and Obama―meant that whatever happened in federal court, Ghailani would remain “a prisoner of war until hostilities between the United States and Al Qaeda and the Taliban end, even if he were found not guilty.”

Obama ran for office on the promise to quickly close down the Guantánamo prison camp, and soon after his inauguration he issued an executive order that it be closed within one year. The Obama campaign articulated concerns among elements in the US foreign policy establishment that America’s standing abroad was threatened by the Guantánamo prison camp, which will be forever associated in the popular consciousness with torture, men bound hand and foot on their knees wearing orange jumpsuits, unsheltered from the sun. Obama and his powerful backers hoped to effect a change in appearance, while continuing nearly all of the Bush administration’s “war on terror” policies.

Even this symbolic change has proven impossible, however. Guantánamo remains open with 170 prisoners, and the Obama administration appears set to end the civilian judicial system’s role in the prosecution of alleged terrorists, with Attorney General Holder earlier this year suspending civilian trials for 9/11 suspects that were scheduled to take place in Manhattan. It is noteworthy that the White House has so far been silent in the face of the criticism of its handling of the Ghailani case.

If ruling circles find even heavily rigged civilian trials for alleged terrorists intolerable, it is not because of the supposed dangers they pose to the population.

A separate system of justice is being constructed under the control and discipline of the military, immune to the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Geneva Conventions, in which hearsay evidence and evidence solicited through torture will be admissible. The president and the executive branch arrogate to themselves the right to declare anyone in the world, even US citizens, enemy combatants and subject to arrest, rendition, torture and indefinite detention without trial―that is, if the president does not order summary assassination instead, a right the Obama administration has also proclaimed.

There is no room in this setup for the vestiges of an independent judiciary or the rule of law. What is being built, in short, is the judicial machinery of a military dictatorship. This will inevitably be deployed against those in the US and abroad who resist the policies of the American ruling class.

Tom Eley

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