“Behavior-Detection” Graduates from Airports to Bus and Train Stations by Kurt Nimmo

“Behavior-Detection” Graduates from Airports to Bus and Train Stations

Thursday July 05th 2007, 5:31 am
by Kurt Nimmo

In celebration of Independence Day commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, the feds have increased the visibility of armed goons at train stations and bus terminals across the country. “Officials from the Transportation Security Administration, formed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said the additional security is not a response to any specific threat to any of the regions,” reports the Examiner. In other words, there are no terrorists and you are not in danger. Since the Constitution is nothing more than a “goddamned piece of paper,” according to the decider-commander guy, it makes sense the government has decided to roll out this in-your-face escalation—from airports to bus stations—on the same day baby-kissing politicians blabber on about liberty, freedom, equality under the law, inalienable rights, and representative government, blah, blah, blah.

“The federal security officers are part of the TSA’s Visual Intermodal Protection and Response teams, which consist of behavior-detection officers, federal air marshals not scheduled for flights, and rail, security and aviation inspectors,” the Examiner continues. “The VIPR (pronounced ‘viper’) program has conducted 84 targeted security assignments in the last 18 months.”

Behavior-detection officers. How perfectly Orwell. These guys are trained to detect “micro-expressions,” that is to say “a sign of an emotion being concealed,” as Paul Ekman, writing for the CIA’s favorite newspaper describes it. Had a fight with your wife, or experienced the death of a relative? Don’t show your emotions in public, bub, not unless you want three or four goons to “pull you aside,” that is to say interrogate you for the crime of inappropriate behavior in a public place. Not long ago, especially on the day we supposedly celebrate our freedom, this would have outraged most Americans. Now we thank the automatic weapon-toting goons and behavior-detection officers for treating us like criminals and slaves.

TSA spokeswoman Ellen Howe told KWTX the VIPER goons are intended to provide “a visible deterrent,” whatever that means. Maybe she means we will be deterred from showing emotion in public, lest we be pegged as a terrorist, never mind there is “no credible, specific threat for the Fourth,” according to Howe. Of course, there was two incidents of patently absurd “foiled terrorist attempts” in London and Glasgow, nicely timed to coincide with the Fourth, when we are busy with fireworks, parades, barbecues, picnics, baseball games, etc., all supposedly commemorating our freedom. In fact, we have very little freedom and the Fourth is a day we celebrate our enslavement to government. In the not too distant past, it was enough to be fleeced by the government and follow a dizzy array of meaningless laws, but now we being conditioned to accept the police state personal and right up close like they do in other totalitarian countries.

Obviously, the plan is to expand the Gestapo zones from airports to bus terminals and train stations and eventually down to the highways and the intersection at the end of your neighborhood block. Of course, at present there are not enough cops, VIPER goons, and behavior-detection officers to do this effectively. “In this post-9/11 world, our state and local officers need more help, not less; and they need our assistance with both areas of their job: helping fight terrorism and protecting our communities from crime,” declared senator Joe Biden in 2005. “It’s these officers who not only deter and prevent crime, but also they likely will be the ones finding the bomb under the trash can or the ones to notice a terrorist cell moving in to an apartment building,” or detect and punish inappropriate behavior in the hood.

Naturally, hiring more cops, “federal security officers,” and behavior-detection goons will be expensive, as the Ministry of Homeland Security readily admits, so get ready to fork over more cash. “Homeland security is expensive. It can’t be accomplished on the cheap. And because the war against terrorism is a national fight, a substantial portion of the responsibility falls to the federal government. It takes serious money to make the necessary changes to our services and infrastructure,” notes a Ministry press release. “In transportation, we must move beyond aviation and also secure mass transit, rails, air cargo, pipelines, tunnels, and bridges. These tough jobs and countless others can’t be accomplished with wishful thinking or a magic wand. And they cannot be accomplished by placing an unfair share of the burden on state and local governments who are already facing the worst fiscal crises in decades.”

In other words, the local cop shop will be federalized. Of course, there are not enough bodies to protect us from “al-Qaeda,” and that’s why the city of Santa Fe “is looking at the possibility of recruiting Mexican nationals to fill vacancies on the city police force,” according to the New Mexican. In addition to recruiting Mexicans, Gillian Alessio of the Santa Fe police department “said the Santa Fe police force, like others around the country, has found itself vying to recruit the same 21- to 30-year-olds as the U.S. military,” and thus looked to Mexico.

It makes you wonder if Mexican cops will have the same response to “micro-expressions” as American cops or if they will engage in the sort of shake-down the federales in Mexico are famous or rather infamous for.

h/t: Speaking Truth to Power

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

John Perkins: Jerk, Con Man, Shill by Greg Palast

Dandelion Salad

by Greg Palast
5 July 2007

I remember John Perkins. He was a real jerk. A gold-plated, super-slick lying little butthole shill for corporate gangsters; a snake-oil salesman with a movie-star grin, shiny loafers, a crooked calculator and a tooled leather briefcase full of high-blown bullshit.

This was two decades ago. The early 1980s. I wore sandals, uncombed hair down to my cheap collar and carried a busted ring-binder filled with honest calculations and sincere analysis. It was Economic Hit Man Perkins vs. Economic Long-Hair Palast. I didn’t stand a chance. The EHM was about to put a political bullet hole through me wider than a silver dollar. Continue reading

Al-Qaeda In Iraq Bush’s Creation By Bill Gallagher

Al-Qaeda In Iraq Bush’s Creation

By Bill Gallagher

07/05/07 “
Niagara Falls Reporter

DETROIT — President George W. Bush’s political capital is about as low as it can go, with only dead-end Bushists clinging to his failed regime. The erosion of support, however, can actually make the madman even more isolated from reality, arrogant and impetuous.

The final 18 months of his presidency will be an increasingly dangerous time for the world. Bush is wrapping himself in his messianic blanket, still bound to convince the infidels at home and abroad that he is a gifted visionary who can reshape the Middle East.

Vice President Dick Cheney makes Dr. Strangelove seem like Gandhi. Cheney operates above the Congress, the Constitution, the law and human decency — at times, above the presidency. He does as he pleases and is answerable to no one.

Bush is not nearly clever enough to sort through or keep up with Cheney’s Machiavellian machinations. The president is so lazy and incurious, he’s more than willing to let Cheney do his dirty work. Whether it is approving torture, illegal wiretapping, concentration camps and kidnappings, or coddling corporate polluters, Cheney is ready to nod OK.

The poll numbers are encouraging, as Americans see through the lies and conclude — tragically, too late — what a mess we are in. The percentage of Americans who believe the war in Iraq was a mistake is at an all-time high, as is the percentage of those who say continued U.S. military action there is not morally justified.

A CBS/New York Times poll shows 23 percent of Americans believe the war is going well, 76 percent say the war is going “badly.” The critical question politicians carefully watch: “Do you believe the country is heading in the right direction?” The nation is on the wrong track, according to 72 percent of respondents. That’s the highest number since the poll started asking that question in 1983.

The numbers show people are generally gaining a better understanding of the disastrous course our nation is on and the serial failures of the Bush administration. There are exceptions, which seem baffling at first but find explanation in the administration’s talking points — invariably lies and distortions — dutifully echoed in the mainstream media.

A “Newsweek” magazine poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International posed the question, “Do you think Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq was directly involved in planning, financing, or carrying out the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001?”

A staggering 41 percent answered yes. That’s actually a 5 percentage point increase over the same question asked in 2004. It’s hard to image that 4 out of 10 Americans could be that uninformed or flat-out stupid. Another poll shows 3 out of 10 Americans still approve of Bush’s job performance and his handling of the war in Iraq.

The growth in the number of sorry souls buying the Saddam-Sept. 11 lie may be the result of the word games the White House and Pentagon use to sell the failed surge and the futile occupation of Iraq.

When people hear “al-Qaeda,” it’s natural that they think of Osama bin Laden and the Sept. 11 attacks. The insurgency, sectarian violence and opposition to the U.S. occupation in Iraq are not about fighting al-Qaeda, but that’s how Bush’s fiasco there is being branded.

McClatchy Newspapers’ Baghdad correspondent Mike Drummond exposed the sinister rhetorical shift, noting in a recent report, “U.S. forces continue to battle Shiite militia in the south, as well as Shiite militia and Sunni insurgents in Baghdad. Yet America’s most wanted enemy at the moment is Sunni al-Qaeda in Iraq. The Bush administration’s recent shift toward calling the enemy in Iraq ‘al-Qaeda’ rather than an insurgency may reflect the difficulty in maintaining support for the war at home more than it does the nature of the enemy in Iraq.”

In a major speech at the National War College last week, Bush mentioned al-Qaeda 27 times. McClatchy’s Jonathan Landley reports, “Bush called al-Qaeda in Iraq the perpetrator of the worst violence racking that country and said it was the same group that carried out the 9/11 attacks.”

Pure crap. Al-Qaeda has become a generic name, in many cases a self-proclaimed label for foes of the U.S. invasion. Since some of the Iraqi Sunnis started calling themselves “al-Qaeda in Iraq” or “al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia,” the Bush propaganda ministry saw an opportunity to conflate the invasion of Iraq with the Sept. 11 attacks.

Bush went on to claim, “Al-Qaeda is the main enemy for Shia, Sunni and Kurds alike. Al-Qaeda is responsible for the most sensational killings in Iraq. They’re responsible for the sensational killings on U.S. soil.” Those are demonstrable lies. Bush hardly mentioned sectarian violence. U.S. military intelligence even disputes Bush’s wild claims. All of this is intentional and meant to deceive and distort.

The Iraq Study Group and intelligence estimates placed the number of Iraqi insurgent forces at approximately 20,000 combatants. At most, 5 percent of that number are foreigners fighting in Iraq, nearly all going there in response to the U.S. invasion. Some are Iranians supporting Shiites; others Sunnis from Syria and Saudi Arabia supporting Iraqi Sunnis. Nearly all come from nations with strategic interests in the region and want to help their ethnic or religious comrades.

The lightning rod for these expeditionary forces is the presence of U.S. forces in the heart of Islam. Bin Laden, hiding in the mountains of northern Pakistan, just sits back and relaxes, enjoying the bloody spectacle and the gift to radical Islam Bush brought him.

The true ties involving Iraq, deadly chemical weapons and the United States rarely get a mention. Saddam’s allies in killings tens of thousands of Kurds included Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Robert Gates and others. Reagan as president, Bush as vice president, Rumsfeld as special envoy to the Middle East and Gates as a senior CIA officer all provided help and support for Saddam’s murderous assaults on his own people.

The Iraqi Special Tribunal has sentenced Saddam’s cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid to death. Known as “Chemical Ali,” he was the point-man in using chemical weapons first on Iranian troops during the Iraq-Iran war, and then later on Iraqi Kurds supporting the Iranians.

On the Smirking Chimp Web site, Barry Lando described how, when Ali’s sentence was read on June 24, “all the key players in the media were there to capture the dramatic courtroom scene. What none of the reporters mentioned, however, was that when Saddam and Chemical Ali and the rest of the Saddam killers were doing their worst, the U.S. governments of Ronald Reagan and later George Bush Senior were their de facto allies, providing them with vital satellite intelligence, weapons and financing, while shielding them from U.N. investigations or efforts by the U.S. Congress to impose trade sanctions for their depredations.”

Robert Parry, who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for AP, wrote, “Hussein’s silence was golden for the international arms dealers who supplied his regime and the foreign officials who facilitated the shipments.” So when the “brutal dictator” — as George W. liked to call him — was sent to the gallows, Bush the Elder, Rumsfeld and Gates “were among those who could breathe a little easier after the hangman’s noose had choked the life out of Hussein,” Parry concluded.

Bin Laden never had any kind of relationship with Saddam, but many intimates of our president did. So far, they have been able to choke the life out of that truth.

Bill Gallagher, a Peabody Award winner, is a former Niagara Falls city councilman who now covers Detroit for Fox2 News. His e-mail address is gallaghernewsman@sbcglobal.net

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Gilad Atzmon Interviewed by Mary Rizzo

Gilad Atzmon Interviewed

The word Zionism is almost meaningless in Israel and within the Israeli discourse it is actually non-existent. Zionism may mean something to the American settlers in the West Bank or the new wave of French immigrants to Israel, but not much more than that, says Gilad Atzmon.

Interviewed by Mary Rizzo

07/05/07 “ICH’

Interviewing Gilad Atzmon is never easy, but always interesting. It’s challenging because when it comes down to it, there is so much material, it has to be drastically reduced to make an interview fill an acceptable, customary length that is palatable to the average reader. It is interesting because he is able to effortlessly and authoritatively address a wide range of topics in an entertaining way. Although a frequent participant on the Peacepalestine blog and regularly published there, the last formal interview I did with him was in April of 2005. A lot has changed since then, both in the world Atzmon comments about, Israel-Palestine (and the activism movements that are born of this issue), and in his own career. Since then, he has released a CD under a pseudonym, recorded his soon-to-be released album with The Orient House Ensemble, composed theatre music and embarked on a multi-media project. As much as I would have liked to share that side of the discussion, this interview doesn’t address the artistic aspects of Gilad Atzmon, but sheds more light on his thoughts about the events that take place in the world we live in.

Mary: For years, regarding Israel-Palestine we’ve heard, One State, Two State, now even Three State Solution. What kind of perspective do you see?

Gilad: It should be clear by now that any discourse of resolution may have very limited relevance with the reality on the ground. Thus, we better leave this issue behind.

Mary: You’ve expressed on many occasions that your primary concern is supporting the liberation of the Palestinian people. The question at this time might get confusing for the public who see Palestinians of the two principle parties of the Unity Government involved in armed clashes of the militia. How can anyone effectively support a group that is itself divided into factions?

Gilad: It’s true that they seem divided and for more than a while we’ve been witnessing an emerging crisis within the Palestinian society as a whole. But, for some time, it’s been clear to me that this very conflict, this factionalism, is something we shouldn’t interfere with. At any rate, it’s nothing that is new. Palestinians are divided by circumstances that are created by a Jewish State and its continuous abuse of human rights and its genocidal approach.

Mary: So Palestinian division is something that we need to view as a more or less ordinary and established condition?

Gilad: It is symptomatic to societies under oppression and the Israeli abuse of human rights is no doubt exceeding anything we may be familiar with. However, first we have to recognise where these divisions are. There are 3 separate and distinct and opposing discourses. We have the Palestinians who possess Israeli citizenship, they fight for equal rights. But then, as soon as they express their totally legitimate demands, they are called traitors and have to run for their lives from the Israelis like in the case of the adorable Knesset Member Azmi Bishara.

The second discourse is formed in the Occupied Territories, with the starved Palestinians in Gaza and those in the West Bank who are slightly better off, demanding an end to occupation. They all are calling for that, and it’s been recently that we on the outside can see that the Palestinians in the OT have been largely divided not about the goal, but about the tactic to be employed achieving the withdrawal of Israel. While the Fatah is willing to negotiate its way through, Hamas leaders largely believe in defiance.

The third group is obviously the Diaspora Palestinians, they demand to return to their lands and homes. Many of them live in refugee camps and we can see that their living conditions are often inhumane.

All three groups have totally legitimate demands, this is clear. Yet, Every Western Palestinian solidarity campaigner who tries to offer help runs into severe danger of supporting one cause but dismissing the two others, that is, if he is even aware of the seriousness of the situation of the others. While fighting for the right of return, which is no doubt the backbone of the Palestinian cause, one may end up dismissing the urgency of worsening starvation in Gaza. Those who fight against occupation and those who are determined to break the siege are at a danger of ignoring the millions of Palestinians who are stranded in camps all over the Middle East. Clearly, the majority of solidarity activists can see truth and urgency in the 3 apparent Palestinian causes. Yet, engagement in one front usually leads to dismissal of the 2 others.

This is why I’ve been suggesting that we divert the focus. Rather than interfering with Palestinian internal debate we have to diagnose the root of the problem. My take on the subject is simple and clear. We have to be in the struggle against their oppressors. It is the Jewish State that has created and maintains the Palestinians in a condition of suffering. It is the Jewish State that employs tactics of divide and rule. It is Israel’s supportive lobbies around the world which we must critically confront. It is Israel and its astonishingly powerful lobbies in Washington and in Europe that are behind the misery in Gaza, rather than inter-Palestinian clashes. There’s no other way around this. You can’t bring about an end to the oppression if you refuse to tangle with the oppressor.

Mary: So what is your role? Is it possible that you do not regard yourself as activist, not even a political artist anymore?

Gilad: When it comes to me, I am engaged in scrutiny of the complexity of the Jewish world. I aim towards understanding the notion of Jewish racial brotherhood. I want to understand the relationships between the Jewish State and the Jewish world, between Israel and Jewry, between Jewishness and Zionism. I want to find out whether there is any real categorical difference between Zionists and ‘Jews Against Zionism’ because as far as I can see, both are racially orientated activities.

Mary: Is the Jewish world directly implicated in the oppression? Wouldn’t it be more direct to deal exclusively with Israel and its supporting States? We all know that sometimes the citizens of a State don’t fully support their leaders, and this is true in the West and elsewhere. Why is Israel different?

Gilad: This is indeed a set of crucial questions. The first question to be asked is what is this thing called ‘Jewish World’? Is it the world of all the living Jews? Is there such a world? Is there such a collective entity? The answer is NO, yet it is symptomatic to Jewish ethnic politicians to talk in a collective manner, whether it is in the name of the holocaust, or its victims, the sufferers. As we know, Sharon informed us after the Jenin massacre that it was done in the name of the Jews. Did he have the mandate to say it? Not really. As it seems there is a fairly organised set of Jewish bodies who are supporting the Jewish State in the name of the Jews, and we also see far less organised miniature groups who oppose Israel in the name of the Jews. These two opposing political identities teach us nothing about the Jewish world, but rather about a Jewish political tendency to talk in the name of the Jewish people. This probably is one of the manifestations of Jewish political management within a liberal democratic environment.

I wouldn’t be able to assure you that Moshe Cohen from Golders Green London is supporting the Israeli oppression, yet I can tell you categorically that Israeli oppression is conducted on behalf of Moshe Cohen. This leaves us in a very complicated situation. Now, let’s assume that Mr Cohen doesn’t agree with Israel. He can then try to react politically as a Jew, he could easily shout ‘not in MY Jewish name’, but this would mean blaming all his brothers for supporting Israel. This would indeed approve the Israeli claim for acting in the name of the Jews. The Israeli foreign minister will be able to claim after the next massacre that it was done in the name of world Jewry except Mr Cohen from Golders Green. Alternatively, Cohen can as well shout ‘not in OUR Jewish names’ but then he would be as guilty, as much as Israel is guilty, of assuming a Jewish intellectual, ethical and ideological collective. Thus, I believe that only two possibilities are left a Jew to oppose Israel politically, either to act as an ordinary human being rather than as a chosen one, or alternatively to oppose the Jewish State in the name of Jewish values and that would mean to suggest a humanist interpretation of Judaism. This is what Torah Jews manage to do to a certain success.

However, I do believe that since Israel insists upon regarding itself as the Jewish State, we are entitled to tackle it as a Jewish State. I believe that if there is a lesson to be learned from the Holocaust, it is the devastating impact of racism and political racism. We have to fight racism. As it seems there is not a single legitimate racially exclusive political movement in the West except the Jewish ones, whether we speak about Zionism or ‘Jews against Zionism’. We have to stand up against any form of a racial segregative formula.

Mary: But if an activist group is organised by race, and here we could get into a debate as to whether or not Jewishness is a race or if it is something else, that doesn’t mean that it is racist, does it? That would make all groups that organise on behalf of their race into racist entities. The civil rights group the NAACP, which represents American Blacks would get this same label if I’m following your logic.

Gilad: Let’s divide the answer into two parts. The first question is whether Jews form a race. The answer is NO, yet Jewish political activism is by definition racially orientated. Bizarrely enough, it may be possible that Israel is more open to the idea of Jews being multi-racial than London Jewish Socialists who celebrate their Yiddish culture but may have far less in common with an Iraqi Jewish socialist. The second question is slightly more complicated. Is a racially orientated liberating activity necessarily a racist cause? I would say that we should never pass judgment on the oppressed. However as far as I am aware, not a single liberation and civil rights movement stopped other ethnic or racial identities from joining in. We know of many white Americans (many of them Jews) who joined the civil rights movement. We know of Jews who were active in the PLO over the years. Yet, I am not aware of many Goyim who joined the Bund.

Mary: Getting back to the initial part of our discussion, your policy is to never take sides if the debate or the clash involves only Palestinians?

Gilad: Recognising the historical injustice against the Palestinian people and watching the escalating Israeli barbarism my moral duty is clear to me. I just support the Palestinian people and their different choices even if those are contradicting. Rather than trying to fit the Palestinian struggle into a decaying 19th century working class philosophy or any other ideology, I fit myself to their call. I do regard Palestine and the Palestinians as the avant garde and the forefront of the battle against modern evil.

Mary: What is modern evil?

Gilad: It is clearly Zionism and the current Zionised Anglo-Americanism colonialism.

Mary: So you don’t classify Abbas or Dahlan as traitors of their people, opportunists or even politically mislead? You abstain from criticising them?

Gilad: I have seen people within our camp who happen to be judgmental of Abbas for his recent moves and I can see where they come from. I can understand the frustration. I myself happen to be angry rather often, yet, I am the last to be judgemental about any Palestinian act. My job, or may I suggest, our job is to understand different modes of thinking amongst those who’ve been living under occupation for four decades, those have been dispossessed for sixty years, those who face the most brutal interpretation of the notion of the Jewish secular supremacist world view.

My task is to throw light on the situation, to understand the justifications of various acts, to give reasons, to let reason be. I am there to remind whoever wants to listen that the Hamas was democratically elected by the vast majority of the Palestinian people in the PA, and that means the West Bank as well as Gaza. I am there to remind my Western listeners that there has never been a Palestinian dream of two states: CNN is still talking about the shattered Palestinian dream of the 2 states solution. I am there to alert my Western listeners that Shalom is not peace and in fact there is hardly any voice for peace within the Jewish world.

Mary: Would you say that Israelis start to understand that solution to the conflict may be beyond reach?

Gilad: Israelis do anticipate their doomsday, they are now surrounded with total defiance. Israel comes to realise its temporality and Avrum Burg’s invaluable interview with Ari Shavit exposes it (link). Clearly, there is no room to talk about solutions anymore, the conflict will mature into a single Palestinian State. And I am rather delighted about that.

Mary: We’ll get back to the implications of Burg in a few minutes, but you are stating that the Palestinians never had a dream, as the CNN is putting it, of a Palestinian State alongside an Israeli one, even though the PLO had endorsed this.

Gilad: First, let’s be accurate here, What CNN is referring to is a dream of a unified Palestinian State of the lands beyond Israel’s 1967 borders, yet, looking at the map reveals that there is no such State, as far as we can see, it is Gaza and the West Bank with a huge Jewish ghetto in the middle. This is not a unified State. Moreover, the two State solution has never been a Palestinian dream and will never be one. It was maybe a possible vision of a settlement, nothing more than that. And as many of us have been predicting for more than a decade, it would never work out because it dismisses the Palestinian cause.

Mary: I imagine that now, after the formation of a “technical government” headed by Fatah, many activists are relieved that the economic strangulation against parts of what would be the future Palestine is being lifted by the unfreezing of some funds. But in similar way, they are glad Hamas is out of the official picture, that their warnings against Hamas being in government were fulfilled. Maybe some think of saving the saveable and letting things in Gaza run whatever course they may. The West Bank for “Palestine” and Gaza for “Hamas”.

Gilad: It is rather obvious that many Palestinian solidarity campaigners happen to associate themselves with the Fatah, with Abbas and his emergency government. We are living in a world that seemed to be free at one point. I believe that people should follow their heart. Yet, I believe that to support Palestine is to respect the choice of the Palestinian people. That means to congratulate the Hamas and the people of Gaza for their defiance. The Hamas had eventually to take position by force. This is really amazing when you think about it. I am not surprised that Tony Blair, once a war criminal and now a peace envoy, sanctioned the Hamas, but then, we better ask ourselves, what did we do to support the legitimate choice of the Palestinian people?

Mary: Do you think then that this moment is they eye of a hurricane, or is the division going to take even more dramatic turns?

Gilad: I want to believe that civil war in Gaza is over.

Mary: Hardly a civil war, it can be classified as a preventive military or paramilitary action that is popular these days in the Middle East. Hamas took control of the situation before a Fatah coup that they feared was in the air.

Gilad: But we have to look at it in a bigger picture. We have to remember that Hamas won the election both in Gaza and the West Bank. Practically speaking, the current Emergency Government in Ramallah is actually the one that is involved in an act that is forcefully moving an elected Government. They do it with the support of the West and Israel. The current Emergency Government will be operating with Israeli backing and with the support of the Israeli occupation forces. In the long run, this may be a kiss of death to the Fatah movement, a secular agenda that had been leading the Palestinian struggle for many years. This is a big shame.

Mary: Obviously, you want to combat Israel as it is the cause of the suffering of so many people. For a while, it seems as if there were no concrete efforts around to combat Israel, but recently there has been a growing movement to make a boycott of some sort against Israel as a means of protest. Do you think it’s a good and effective tool for change?

Gilad: Boycott is a real complicated issue. For years we’ve been arguing in favour of divestment and boycott. At the time I supported any form of boycott in Israel, its products and its culture.

There are some elements in the boycott that are obviously very welcome. For instance, the fact that UK unions are standing up against Zionist evil is a major shift in the very right direction. The Boycott is certainly bad news for Israel and this is wonderful news in itself. Yesterday, I went to a reading of a play, it was actually a theatrical adaptation my latest book. The producer is Jewish, and at a certain stage when we were discussing the meaning of the play he stood up and said. “You see, we had a Jewish State, it is now sixty years later, and it is a very horrible place, it is so horrible that it has now been boycotted. And this is there to make us think, where did it go wrong?” This is the most positive impact of the boycott. It makes people reflect.

Yet, I have some serious reservations, which I am inclined to mention.

One, I see a tremendous difference between banning an avocado and a book. I would welcome any form of financial restrictions on Israel and its supportive bodies yet, I truly believe in freedom of speech and oppose any form of Maccarthyism or intellectual censorship of any sort. Thus, interfering with academic freedom isn’t exactly something I can blindly advocate. Unlike some of my best enlightened friends, I am against any form of gatekeeping or book burning. But it goes further, I actually want to hear what Israelis and Zionists have to say. I want to read their books. I want to confront their academics. If justice is on our side we should be able to confront them.

Mary: Of course, they won’t stop writing or proposing their ideas, and actually, they might become more reactionary in the process.

Gilad: Actually, I do not think that they can become any more reactionary. The second point is, to impose a boycott is to employ a boycotter. When it comes to an academic boycott I would expect the inquisitor in charge to be a scholar of great esteem. This isn’t the case obviously. The reason is simple. As it naturally happens, major intellectuals are engaged in scholarship rather than in union politics, working class and proletarian activity. Seemingly, it isn’t the leading minds in British academic life and ethical thinking who are leading the Boycott. In fact it is the other way around, the boycott is led by some minor academics with very little to say about ethics and even less to say about the specific conflict. This fact is actually repeatedly exposed in televised debates. The anti-Zionist movement in Britain has yet to find the appropriate eloquent answer to the Dershowitzes of this world.

Three, when it comes to the Palestinian solidarity discourse I can identify two modes of discussion: the ethical and political. The ethical mode is obviously evoked by a natural humanist reaction to the endless flood of images of Israeli criminal activity. The political discourse, on the other hand, is pretty much autonomous and detached from the conflict. It has a lot to do with maintenance of some particular decaying old-school socialists within the fading progressive Western discourse. It has very little to do with Palestine and the transitions within the Palestinian struggle. When it comes to the current boycott we are unfortunately operating within a political mode rather than an ethical one. I say unfortunately, because Palestinian reality is neither an isolated event in history nor it is isolated in the region. Had the academics been ethically orientated, they would have to ask themselves what they, their unions and Universities have been doing to stop the ongoing slaughter in Iraq. What do they do to oppose the British Government that is engaged in crimes not different from Israel’s? What are the British academics doing now to stop the British value system from a total collapse? I am very sad and ashamed to say that as far as State terrorism is concerned Blair and Olmert are pretty much an equal match. If this isn’t enough, Brown Launch is not very promising either. Yet, British academics expect the Israelis to do something they fail to do.

However, as I said before, I am in favour of any form of restrictions on Israel, on its financial sectors, yet, by behaving politically while avoiding an ethical debate we are actually losing to the Israelis and to their lobbies.

Most importantly, if we decide to go for an academic Boycott, if we decide to burn books or to silence other people’s thoughts, then I really want to know why do we stop with Israeli academics or institutes? Shouldn’t we really ban any possible contact with any Zionists, people and institutes who openly support the idea of a racist State? As you certainly realise, unlike South Africa, Zionism, the ideological core behind Israel, is a global movement. Shouldn’t we ban as well any form of racially orientated activity? Shouldn’t we stop academic as well as smear campaigner David Hirsh and his racially orientated cohorts and then later continue with Jewish Socialists (being a racially oriented ‘progressive’ group)? Where do we draw the line? I do not know the answers, instead I believe that the best way around it is to support freedom of speech categorically, whether it is David Irving, David Hirsh or even Tony Greenstein.

Mary: OK, so you fully support any kind of instrument that puts pressure and pulls the economic rug out from under Israel, but you have some reservations about the academic boycott against Israeli universities, because of the nature of the boycott being restricting academic freedom.

Gilad: I would even just call it intellectual freedom. I do love diversity. To impose a single narrative is in itself a Talmudic approach and I have to resist it. Being trained as a continental philosopher, I know very well that the proponents of the most enlightening ideas in the late 19th century and pre WWII 20th century were not exactly progressive. How to say it, Heidegger was a Nazi at least for a while and as it seems, both Levinas and Leo Strauss were courageous enough to admit that the man may be the greatest thinker of our millennium.

Mary: Well, there will always be individuals who express their thoughts in one way or another, and in the case of Israel, they could even seek employment abroad, so intellectual freedom doesn’t seem to be at risk here. But were a boycott of Israeli universities to be implemented, wouldn’t academic freedom in Israel be a small price to pay if it will be an effective tool to fight Israeli practices? Isn’t there a lot of research and development going on that harms Palestinians, and wouldn’t it be worthwhile to cut the funding off of this as well?

Gilad: Maybe, I do not know, this is why I kept quiet about the issue. I do not know the answers and I do not even try to search for them. I am not a politician nor am I an activist, it isn’t my duty to say, “what next?” I am sharing my concerns with those amongst us who are willing and capable of free thinking. However, if you ask me for my final word about boycotts and other revolutionary progressive initiatives, I would then adopt Ben-Gurion’s take on the subject: ‘It doesn’t really matter what some British Unionists Say, what really matters is what Palestinians Do’! I am far more interested in Hamas’s belligerence.

Mary: On the subject of academic freedom, Norman Finkelstein has been denied tenure at his University, probably for political reasons, and this might be an argument against mixing politics and scholarship. What is your view on this?

Gilad: Why do you say ‘probably’? Certainly for political reasons. More than once I have praised Finkelstein and his work for Palestinian people. I do believe that his contribution is indeed invaluable. I would even say that Palestinian solidarity would look very different without him. I try to keep up with Finkelstein and to read everything he publishes. In most cases I totally agree with him, in some my disagreement is rather marginal.

Yet, I have a single minor criticism of Finkelstein’s attitude rather than his academic work. If his work has as much academic value as we all believe it has, then his personal history may not be relevant to the validity of his argument. Of course, I have no intention of telling Finkelstein what to do or what to say. Finkelstein, as much as anyone else, is entitled to argue: “I have the right to speak out because my parents are survivors,” but we have to accept that there is a down side to it. It simply excludes those who were fortunate enough not to be sons and daughters of Jewish Holocaust survivors.

Similarly, two months ago I saw Ilan Pappe, whom I highly regard as a pillar of academic resistance to Zionism, presenting his argument for the One State Solution. He started his argument by saying: “As a son of German Holocaust survivors…” Again Pappe, whom I view as a very important voice, mistakenly and most likely unconsciously, excluded anyone who failed to be a holocaust victim. I am most certainly sure that both Finkelstein and Pappe are not intending to exclude anyone, I just believe that they should be rather careful and avoid using such argumentation. I am totally convinced that their arguments are strong enough without bringing their personal history into discussion.

Mary: Some people don’t see it that way, some see it as giving more emotional impact to the message, and therefore, making people more open to accepting it. They might think, “If sons of Holocaust survivors are fighting Israel, then it’s okay for anyone to do it.” It might open up a gate that was previously considered shut.

Gilad: I totally accept it. I do not dismiss the emotional value as well as the impact of personal history, but I think that since the crime is so obvious, it is time to open the discourse and to welcome any form of ethical and intellectual intervention.

Anyhow, we were talking about academic argumentation. And I believe that at least academically such tactic is counter-effective. Let’s, for the course of discussion, say that I am unfortunate enough to suffer of impotency. Clearly, it is beyond doubt that such a psychological and physical condition would affect or even shape my vision of reality. Every time I fail in bed, my realisation of the notion of human suffering may get one step further. I for instance could legitimately start my next talk about the Israeli Palestinian conflict by saying: “As an impotent, I can understand Palestinian suffering, as an impotent I can feel the pain, I can understand what hope is all about.” Clearly, it is my impotence that sets me in an empathic journey towards others’ pain. Yet, in spite of the legitimacy, in spite of the fact that I evidently celebrate my symptoms, I fail to establish an academic argument. I reduce ethics into mere sympathy.

Mary: However, sympathy can lead to empathy and that is a necessary quality for an activist. He or she has to identify with suffering and bear witness to it.

Gilad: I accept it, yet I expose its down sides academically and exclusively.

Mary: But I think that another crucial matter is, one can indeed refer to a specific personal experience, but in this instance, quite unlike a personal experience such as impotency, we are dealing with a vicarious experience, someone else’s. It might actually be misleading, promoting the idea that victimhood gets passed from generation to generation, and that those who were survivors of the holocaust survived the worst possible event, making any other experience pale in comparison. In a way, it discounts the enormity of human suffering that we know is not limited to the Holocaust alone.

Gilad: In fact, regarding the argument of a vicarious experience, second-hand trauma, we could easily refine the impotency model. Let us assume for a second that my sexual performance is actually absolutely perfect but it was really my grandfather who was impotent. I can always argue that it was my grandfather’s misery and my grandmother’s frustration that shaped my father’s reality. It is my father’s fears that made me sleepless, and it is these fears that made me into a victim that should receive a constant free supply of Viagra and beyond. I am sorry to say it, listening to people who are my generation talking to me about themselves being Holocaust victims sounds sick and pathetic to me. I feel sorry for them and sorry for those who take them seriously.

And regarding the personal testimony matter, we have to remember that a rational argument should be applicable and valid regardless of the origin or the personal circumstances of its proponent. Newton’s Physics goes beyond gender, race or ethnicity. Scientific laws are supposed to be intelligible regardless of the family history of the ones who bring it to the world. Objects are falling at a certain speed whether your parents were in Auschwitz or in Deir Yassin. This quality of free rational thinking is something we have managed to lose as far as the academic world is concerned. We are witnessing a rapid deterioration in Western reasoning capacity. We are subject to this immense political correcting of the academic world. My advice to academic contributors to the solidarity discourse is to stand out and speak their hearts. To operate as genuine human beings, as proper authentic ethical thinkers rather than corrected politicians who need to send their ancestors back to Auschwitz in order to secure a green light to say what they believe in.

Mary: Back in 2005, you seemed to believe that Amir Peretz’s victory as leader of Israel’s Labor Party was nothing short of a revolution. Yet, he has turned out to be, at least when one thinks about the bloodbaths endured by Palestinians and Lebanese residents and citizens, a major disaster. Why did he fail so miserably?

Gilad: There was good reason to believe in Peretz, that he was different. He was neither part of the Military Junta nor a member of the Ashkenazi elite. Peretz’s election slogan was very simple: ‘once we address our social problems we will be ready to talk peace with our neighbors’. Indeed, Israeli isn’t ready to discuss peace, neither to its neighbour nor to itself. Peretz was sincere enough to admit it. Yet, he wasn’t modest enough to insist upon taking a socially orientated ministry. He insisted upon becoming the security minister, something that would qualify him as the future Prime Minister. The end of the story is known. Lacking the necessary military background, the man and his PM over-reacted to a simple kidnap operation and ended up in a total military defeat to a miniature paramilitary organisation. It is beyond doubt that once Peretz took his seat at the defense ministry, he refrained from acting as an Arab Jew, instead he followed the Zionist traditional Ashkeno-Centric world view of the Iron Wall. He let the Army escalate a minor border event into a war. However, I still want to believe that eventually, after all the belligerent Baraks and Netanyahus, a true and genuine second or even third generation Arab Jew Israeli may come to reflect about the peaceful conditions Jews enjoyed in Arab countries. At the end of the day, anti-Semitism and endless conflicts belong to the history of European Jews, it is something European Jews brought to the region. It has nothing to do with Arab Jews and their history.

Moreover, I still want to believe that if there is chance of a true willingness for peace within Israeli society, it will have something to do with the realisation of the largely oppressed Arab Jews in Israel that their true brothers in the region are the oppressed Palestinians. Such an act would shatter once and for all the Ashkenazi political hegemony in the Israeli realm.

Mary: You’re very heavily involved with “political scuffles”, people who attack you politically as well as insisting that your influence could damage “honest and principled activists”, just to take a recent quote by a blogger who focuses on Jewish identity issues and ties that in to his protest against Zionism. It’s normal and natural to be attacked by Zionists, but why are attacks from these anti-Zionist quarters so virulent?

Gilad: Let us first try to be precise, as it seems now, those who indeed attack me are five Bundists, socialist Jews, people who may have been an important voice at a certain stage but had gradually become a burden or even white noise. They indeed exhaust all their energy fighting me and other free thinkers, they run motions, dedicate blogs but they had been defeated time after time. But I cannot complain, their attack contributed a lot to the circulation of my thoughts. They as well helped me refine my view of Zionism and Jewish modern identity.

As you know, I am not a politician, I have never been one and I do not have any plans to become one. Being involved with Palestinian discourse for a decade I have come across the most enlightening people. None of them were politicians or politically orientated activists. In fact they were always attacked by politicians and largely by this miniature group of people who for some odd reason regard themselves as ‘Progressive’ Jews. It took me some time before I realised that Progressive Jews are manifestly seeking hegemony within the Palestinian solidarity discourse. They insist that the case of Israel must be realised solely via the very limited materialist spectrum. They love working class politics.

Mary: Well, you will have to admit, in the West, most of the supporters of Palestinians approach it from a leftist point of view, just as in the Arab world it would be an issue of Arab liberation. It might be unavoidable to treat it in the ways we do, we can’t create activists from a vacuum.

Gilad: I do not agree. It is rather obvious to me and I see it in my concerts night after night all over the world. The vast majority of Western people are devastated by Israeli brutality. The support of Palestine is a natural ethical reaction. Yet, when ordinary people follow their hearts and join the solidarity movement, this is where rather often they meet a bunch of decaying non dialectical socialists who insist upon telling them how to think and what to say according to some pre-WWII text books. This fact alone explains why there are hardly any Palestinians in the Solidarity movement and why this movement doesn’t expand into a mass movement.

Mary: Would you argue that socialist thinking is dead?

Gilad: Not at all, I am in total favour of a dynamic dialectical socialist worldview. A week ago I played in huge solidarity event in Germany put together by the Communist party. It was a gathering event of artists from all over the world. It was a solidarity event with refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Kurds, Iranians. In a few days I will perform at Marxism 2007, again as far as I can tell, the Socialist Worker’s Party in the UK tries to move forward with the flood of events. They understand that Working Class is a dynamic notion. They understand that if there is a working class in Britain, this notion has changed radically in the last 30 years.

However, we can’t choose who is claiming to be on the side of the Palestinians, and if people whose interpretation of reality is only understood from the viewpoint of working class politics, I am obviously convinced that they are totally deluded as to the interpretation of the Middle East problem. They make the reality fit the worldview they have rather than adapting their view to reality. They are entitled to do so as long as they do not try to silence other people’s views. Israel regards itself as a Jewish State and in order to understand the scope of its activity we have to understand what Jewishness stands for. What racial brotherhood is all about. Moreover, the industrial revolution is yet to make it to Gaza, hence, Marxist ideas have never become overwhelmingly popular amongst the Palestinian people. However, I wouldn’t resist a limited colonial interpretation of the conflict but the insistence to limit the discourse to working class interpretation is moronic and somehow emblematic to these five ‘Progressive’ Jewish activists.

Mary: But basically you disagree with their view that bringing about a kind of secular socialism for Palestinians and Israelis will resolve the problem of oppression.

Gilad: Have you ever tried to talk ‘socialism’ to a Palestinian? I actually tried. They usually tend to laugh or just lose interest. Marx, or shall we rather say Marxism, has nothing to do with their reality. However, I believe that by now, after 110 years of Zionism, 60 years of the Nakba, 40 years of occupation, our beloved Socialists, Marxists, Mazpenists, Bundist ‘Progressive Jews’ and the Jewish Socialists had enough time to resolve the conflict and liberate us all by turning the entire region into a red haven. May I reveal for the first time that as an 18-year-old red activist, while being an IDF soldier, I was affiliated with some radical anarchist groups in Israel. Like the rest of my comrades, I was convinced that sooner or later ‘Arab and Israeli working class would unite against the bourgeoisie Zionist colonial evil’. It took a few years before I opened my eyes to the astonishing fact that there was no ‘Jewish working class’ and Palestinians refused to fit into the Eurocentric class model. That was when I realised that I was left with no other option but shelving my red shirt at least momentarily.

Mary: That’s pretty interesting, both the fact of the activism of your youth and that you claim that there is no Jewish working class. But, as to socialist ideas having no truck with Palestinians, I would think that the case of the FPLP in some small way contradicts this, even though, they are a different breed of socialists, basically a nationalist movement with progressive ideas.

Gilad: Indeed, and even they disappeared. Moreover, from time to time I meet the odd Palestinian Matzpenists, mainly in Europe. I do not try to argue that Palestinian Marxists are non-existent, I just come to acknowledge the clear fact that their voice is as less than marginal. This is not a criticism but rather an observation.

Mary: But, back to where we were, you are saying that the Western progressives’ activism is stuck in a vision of reality that never was: the belief that if class issues are addressed, the rest will be resolvable, but the reason of oppression in Israel has never been class, but rather a question of race, is it not?

Gilad: Race may sound a bit abstract. Let’s call it racial brotherhood, cultural supremacist views, blood orientation and so on. Anyhow, the problem with the Jewish activists who attack me is actually centred on the fact that my views sit outside their narrow political thinking. I am focused on ethical thinking. My criticism of Israel as a racially orientated paradigm actually exposes as well the sickening aspect of Jewish socialism. The argument is so easy. If you are a socialist, you are my comrade and I do not care whether you are a Jew, a Muslim, Black or Buddhist. Yet, our progressive Jews insist to import their exclusive blood system into the progressive discourse. By doing so they located themselves within the Zionist discourse, like Zionists, they say we are ‘people like other people’ yet we are ‘slightly different’.

I will admit that I initially I took these people seriously, these progressive Jewish left activists, but then I have learned that when it comes to being morally pure, the most vocal protester against me, the one who was obsessively trying to teach me ethics, actually has a list of acts of petty criminal activity under his belt. I wouldn’t hold his past against him, yet, I cannot let a shoplifter teach me or anyone else morality. As if this is not enough, he and his friends were banned from different academic institutes for being anti-Semitic. With all due respect, I cannot let such a person call me an anti Semite. Another anti-Atzmon ‘progressive’ smear activist happened to run a Jews only blog where attacks against me are pretty constant. He can make any kind of blog he wants, but it’s pretty clear that progressive Jews are always operating in racially orientated cells, and I am free to feel that his blog is exclusivist and will remain that way. It’s the nature of the club. Not ‘many’ Abeds and Mohammeds are registered with the Jews against Zionism group, and I don’t see any articles about Palestinians on that blog either. It’s obviously a second-rate issue to the Jewish progressive identity.

Mary: Well, two little-known activists in Great Britain shouldn’t be such a threat. Why do you respond to their provocations and why not simply just ignore them?

Gilad: Actually, I wouldn’t necessarily blame them for provoking me, it is more likely that I actually provoke them, I expose their fallacy. At a certain stage, and not that long ago, I realised that these Bundists embody the essence of the Jewish secular tragedy. They are the epitome of the emancipated Jewish emptiness. On the one hand they failed to make it into the universalist discourse. On the other hand they are left detached from their own cultural heritage. In their misery they praise their Yiddish culture without understanding the role of this language and without even speaking the language. These Bundists embody the collapse of Jewish progressive cosmopolitanism. It would be impossible to understand where Zionism came from without confronting this unique bizarre identity. For me, monitoring them is no different from visiting the safari of rare animals.

As we know, the Bund doesn’t exist anymore, it was actually defeated in WWII. As far as Jewish people are concerned, Zionism won the Jewish street. Monitoring the UK cell and their activity explains to me what Zionism was there to repair. They are microcosms of Jewish extreme wrong thinking. In my eyes they are actually far worse than proper Zionists.

Mary: Don’t you think that this is an exaggeration?

Gilad: Actually, I am totally convinced about that. One of the most decent beings amongst them is the award-winning poet Michael Rosen. Rosen publicly defines himself as: a ‘Socialist’, a ‘secular Jew’, a ‘progressive man’. Recently I found out that Rosen has been expressing himself pretty eloquently in support of the Boycott. Nothing is obviously wrong with that, but then to my great astonishment, I found out that the same Rosen, the one who calls to Boycott Israel, was as well taking part in a notorious right wing London Jewish Book Week as a family entertainer. For those who do not understand yet, the Jewish Book Week is supported by the Israeli Embassy and the rabid Zionist organisation UJIA, an organisation that currently sets gala tours for the 60th anniversary of the Israeli State. Looking at it from a progressive point of view, I cannot make up my mind whether Rosen’s behaviour is treason or just total hypocrisy. When we asked Rosen how come, how is it that he, of all people, a boycott enthusiast, ended up participating in a Zionist event, he was stupid enough to admit that he gave it some real thought, “I had my doubts about appearing at JBW and so I asked all sorts of people whose opinions I trust whether they thought it was a good idea or not.” Rosen, the one who calls to boycott Israeli academics ended up in bed with the Israeli Embassy.

Mary: Not that I’m familiar with Rosen’s writing…

Gilad: Good point, there is no writing. There is no contemporary body of work, no critical or political body of writing. Along with him, there are just some forum comments, really only concerned with stopping the Palestinian discourse becoming what he and his friends call anti-Semitic. To a certain extent they operate as an ADL mole within the Palestinian solidarity discourse. In short we are facing here an unacceptable level of hypocrisy and ignorance on the verge of complete betrayal.

Mary: In some of your writings you defined these folks as crypto-Zionists and Third Category Jews.

Gilad: I am afraid that my argument is now even more conclusive. When a Marxist politician is found lying, we are entitled to call him a Marxist liar. When a Republican politician is found spying for the enemy we are entitled to call him a `Republican spy’. Yet, when a Boycott campaigner who insists to act politically under the ‘Jewish’ banner (as a Jewish Socialist, or a Jew against Zionism, etc.) is found in bed with some ultra-Zionist institutes, we must refrain from calling him a Jewish hypocrite. Here is the trick. Jewish progressive ethnic campaigners are interested in a singular one-sided discourse. They are happy to act as ‘Jews’ but refuse to be criticised as Jews. When they act politically they say we are ‘people like other people’ but when you criticise them politically they hide behind their racial identity. Whether this is funny or revolting is a matter of taste. However, this is a complete repetition of the Zionist tactic. In other words, we are entitled to conclude that Jewish Socialists and any form of Jewish exclusive activism is nothing but another form of Zionism.

Thanks to these so-called ‘Progressive Jews’ I have understood the validity of the criticism of Jewish cosmopolitanism, the bizarre notion of peoplehood devoid of soil. I realised why these few Bundists could never establish a true authentic solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. The Palestinian cause is primarily about soil. Cosmopolitans may be able to recognise Palestinian misery, yet they cannot identify with the yearning to their land. While Bundists talk about their peoplehood, Palestinians do not need to talk about peoplehood, they do not have to invent or reinvent their culture. Like Germans, French and Albanians, they simply live through their culture. Unlike Zionists and Bundists included, who aim to be ‘people like other people’, Palestinians are there to start with. They are ‘people like other people’. They do not have to aim towards cultural renaissance. People who are culturally orientated can simply transcend themselves beyond the awareness of their culture. They are moulded and transfixed by their by their own soil, cuisine, language and landscape. They live their culture and move it forwards by the means of creation.

This is why Zionism with its Hebrew revival may have been more successful than the Bund. Rosen and his ilk are telling us about their unique Jewish culture, about their Yiddish, yet, they don’t even speak the language. Their creativity within their own culture is zilch. They don’t write Yiddish books, they don’t read Yiddish papers, they don’t have Yiddish Rock & Roll they do not translate anything into Yiddish. And there is very little to translate from Yiddish anyway. They are basically spreading some ghetto nostalgic nonsense, they basically bullshit for the sake of bullshitting. And as I said many times before, they have the full right to do so, yet, I am there to remind them that chicken soup is neither a political argument, nor it is a moral stand.

Mary: So, as long as you continue to criticise your detractors and present the inconsistencies of their reasoning, they will continue to run smear campaigns against you, call you an anti-Semite and try persuade people from hosting you at political and public events. As long as they keep doing that, you will continue to have reason to criticise their logic. Kind of a vicious circle. Is there going to be an end to it?

Gilad: Seemingly, in spite of all the smears, I survive. In fact I won in every battle I decided to take on. As it seems, by fighting me they have managed to annihilate themselves. Every time, they raise their head I learn more about the level of Jewish ideological secular delusion. It will be very boring when they raise their white flag, but this will never happen. In spite of them being humiliated at the PSC AGM recently, in spite of bandleader being exposed as a convicted criminal, in spite of Rosen’s shameful crypto-Zionist behaviour, they never surrender. Only people with dignity can admit defeat, and dignity is exactly what they lack. People who lie to themselves so extensively find it far easier to lie to others.

Though they have managed to silence some of the most important contributor to the Israeli Palestinian discourse they have totally failed with me. There are two secrets here, which I am happy to share.

One: Rather than talking to Jews, I am talking about Jews and the subject I am interested in is basically Jewishness. Many of my readers and supporters are actually orthodox Jews, assimilated Jews and ex-Jews. But it obviously goes far beyond Jews. Since more than a few scholars identify the current emerging global conflict with some extensive Zionist lobbying in America, the questions to do with the Jewish issue are becoming more and more relevant and popular. A while ago I have taken the risk of saying what I believe to be the truth and as it seems, people around do appreciate my truth-seeking endeavour. Some Jews called me an anti-Semite, some Elder Londoners picketed my readings, it didn’t stop me and it didn’t stop anyone from booking me again. Quite the opposite, it made me far more popular than I have ever wanted to be.

Two: I do not join any organisation or organised religion. I do not let politicians into my world. Generally speaking, I despise any form of political activity and activism in general. I believe in ethical orientation. I keep independent. At the end of the day I am primarily an artist and light cultural terrorist.

Mary: A recent interview with Avrum Burg has caused a great amount of interest. I know you were particularly surprised by it, and said it contained “cosmic changes”. At the risk of having to revise your views once time has passed and things turn out to be less cosmic than we hope, could you elaborate on how this interview affected you?

Gilad: To a certain extent, Burg didn’t come with a major intellectual or ideological revelation. Yet, Avrum Burg, isn’t really an ordinary man, he isn’t exactly a Palestinian solidarity campaigner. Quite the opposite, Burg has been for years the ultimate epitome of Israeliness and the mainstream Israeli political establishment. He was the great hope of the Labor Party’s Young Guard. After that the chairman of the Jewish Agency, Speaker of the Knesset, a candidate for the Labor leadership.

We must remember that as the chairman of the Jewish Agency, Burg was Mr Aliyah (Jews moving to Israel). Now he changed his mind, he is Mr Yerida (Jews moving out of Israel). When a man with such a political history stands up and suggests Israelis to apply for foreign passports and leave the country ASAP, when a man of such an intellectual capacity admits that “Israel is Fascist” we must confess that a change of spirit is noticed in the air.

For us, the fact that Israel is indeed Fascist may not be such a revelation, we know for years that Israeli legislation is racially orientated. We know that Burg’s old Israeli Labor Party has always been dedicated to the belief in socialism of one race (National Socialism). However, Burg was the one who stood up and confronted the Israelis with their bitter reality. He basically tells the Israelis, ‘We aren’t any better than Hitler’. And this is a revelation!!!

But it gets deeper, Burg is there to say: “Of the three identities that form me – human, Jewish and Israeli – I feel that the Israeli element deprives the other two.” As an observant Jew, Burg actually admits that Israeliness opposes humanism and Judaism. This may not be new to many of us, but no one has ever had the guts to say just that to the Israelis (maybe except me but I am just a saxophonist).

However, Burg manages to throw some interesting light onto the notion of Zionism and Israeliness. In the interview he says “I am a human being, I am a Jew and I am an Israeli. Zionism was an instrument to move me from the Jewish state of being to the Israeli state of being. I think it was Ben-Gurion who said that the Zionist movement was the scaffolding to build the home, and that after the State’s establishment, it should be dismantled.”

This is certainly a major and crucial point. As it seems, Zionism doesn’t mean a thing for the contemporary Jew born in Israel. Zionism is a Diaspora-orientated notion. Zionism is there to differentiate between Abe Foxman and Roland Rance. Both are Jews, both operate in racially segregated political cells, yet, one is a Zionist the other is a Jewish Anti-Zionist (big deal). When it comes to Israelis who were born in Israel, the idea of a Jewish State isn’t something to celebrate. For Israelis, a Jewish State it isn’t something you have to aim towards or ideologically endorse. Being an Israeli means being a Jew and living in a Jews-only State. When I joined the IDF 25 years ago, I did it because this was the only available interpretation of my Jewishness. I was a Jew living in the Jewish State and joining the Jews’ army was the natural outcome.

The word Zionism is almost meaningless in Israel and within the Israeli discourse it is actually non-existent. Zionism may mean something to the American settlers in the West Bank or the new wave of French immigrants to Israel, but not much more than that. If this indeed the case, we may as well internalise the fact that anti-Zionist campaigning is hardly affective in the case of Israel. As much as Israelis do not regard themselves as Zionists, they are hardly affected by anti-Zionism.

Mary: Although if this is the state of affairs, is Burg really addressing people outside of Israel, in his urging that the Zionist structure be dismantled? Are we again at a Nemo propheta in patria situation?

Gilad: I don’t know the answer. I was pretty surprised that Burg’s ideas were not highly circulated. I do not know a thing about circulation of thought in Jewish circles. I can see that even in Israel his ideas were attracting some attention but not enough. At the end of the day, in order to maintain the Israeli murderous policies, a collective blindness is elementary. My interest in Burg is totally intellectual, I do not know if he has any significant political power anymore, I guess he doesn’t. Yet his ideas will echo for a while and even more than a while.

Gilad Atzmon is a musician-composer. He is particularly well-known both for his fiction and his political analysis which is widely published. His sites are Gilad.co.uk and ArtieFishel.com.

Mary Rizzo is a translator, art restorer and especially Pro-Palestinian activist who runs the blog PeacePalestine (where this interview was originally published). She is a founding member of Tlaxcala, a vibrant network of activist translators that publishes a wide range of articles by anti-imperialist writers and thinkers from around the world in a dozen languages. Visit her blog at http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Al Jazeera: Witness – Gaza Special (videos)

Witness – Gaza Special – 04 July 02 – Part 1

Rageh Omaar returns to Gaza to investigate the kidnapping of BBC journalist Alan Johnston and many others plus an exclusive interview with Sheikh Salah Dughmush who criticised the coverage given to the kidnapping of the correspondent when thousands of Palestinians are detained by the Israelis.


Witness – Gaza Special – 04 July 02 – Part 2



Al Jezeera: Israeli raids on Gaza (video; over 18 only)


Al Jazeera: Israeli raids on Gaza (video; over 18 only)

Israeli raids on Gaza – 05 Jul 07

A new Israeli push into Gaza has left at least seven Palestinians dead and seen a journalist shot as he tried to cover the story. Soldiers went into the east of Gaza City, backed up by tanks. Israeli forces crossed the border into Gaza early on Thursday and as night falls over the strip, the operation is continuing. This report by our Gaza correspondent Nour Odeh contains pictures which some viewers may find disturbing.



This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.




The Militarization of American Youth by Bryn Lloyd-Bollard

Dandelion Salad

by Bryn Lloyd-Bollard
July 5, 2007


Across the country, the U.S. military is failing to meet its recruitment goals. To address this problem, the Pentagon has been rapidly expanding its programs designed to entice young people to enlist. It is now spending $3.4 billion dollars annually, an average of $14,000 per new recruit. Using flashy marketing campaigns, television spots, and even developing its own videogames, the Army is bombarding young people with images that glorify guns and violence. Recruiters use elaborate PR strategies: they set up shop at malls, movie theaters, sporting events, and concerts, and they cruise around town in decked-out Humvees that blast music popular among teenagers.

The military presence in our nation’s public schools is growing at an alarming rate. Educational institutions in working-class areas are prime targets of military recruiters, who particularly stalk the corridors of vocational schools. The military considers students to be easy targets who can be manipulated into signing up by promising them career training, money for college, free travel, and adventure. Recruiters are PR experts; like drug dealers and tobacco company representatives, they market a dangerous product with side effects they don’t want their potential customers to know about.

While recruiters tell students that they can receive $70,000 for college through the Montgomery GI Bill, the average payout to veterans is only $2,151. To be eligible for educational benefits, soldiers must commit to serving three years on active duty and must also pay a nonrefundable “deposit” to the military of $100 a month for a year. Considering that only 43% of the soldiers who sign up for the program receive any money, the majority who seek financial assistance through the GI Bill actually end up paying the military $1,200 and get nothing in return. And a soldier who does get the average payment of $2,151 actually receives only $951 beyond his or her own contribution. Only 15% of all recruits graduate with a four-year degree.

The skills learned in the military are often nontransferable to civilian employment, and many people find themselves in need of retraining after leaving the armed services. Veterans in the 20-34 age bracket have a higher unemployment rate than non-veterans and those who are employed typically earn 12% to 15% less. Most people would be surprised to learn that veterans make up one-third of all homeless people and half of all homeless men. While in the military, 65% of enlistees state that they are not satisfied with their current jobs.

There is a variety of other less-than-flattering statistics about the military that recruiters fail to mention. People of color represent 1/3 of all enlisted personnel but only 1/8 of the officers. Nearly 90% of women in the military report being sexually harassed, and 1/3 report being raped. In addition to the more than 3,500 US men and women who have died in the current war in Iraq, tens of thousands have been wounded and are returning home with traumatic brain injuries, loss of limbs, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other serious illnesses related to exposure to the depleted uranium used in US munitions.

Recruiters are under enormous pressure to meet their quota of two recruits a month, which requires them to contact an average of 120 potential enlistees over that time. Since fewer than 10% of all recruits seek out military employment on their own, recruiters face the daunting task of finding the large majority of new military recruits. Thus it’s no surprise that a central recruiting tactic is a combination of deception and omission. One recruiter recently interviewed in The Boston Globe characterized his work: “You have to convince those little punks to do something…I figure if I can sell this, I can sell anything.” By the Army’s own count, there were 320 substantiated cases of what it calls recruitment improprieties in 2004, up from 199 in 1999, and 213 in 2002. The offenses varied from threats and coercion to false promises that applicants would not be sent to Iraq. The number of those investigated rose to 1,118 in 2004, or nearly one in five of all recruiters, up from 913 in 2002, or one in eight. A recruiter interviewed by the New York Times said it best, “The problem is that no one wants to join [and] we have to play fast and loose with the rules to get by.”




Before You Enlist

The freeing of Lewis Libby: Government criminality and the class nature of American “justice” by Bill Van Auken

Dandelion Salad

by Bill Van Auken

Global Research, July 5, 2007

World Socialist Web Site – 2007-07-04

The decision of the Bush White House to commute the jail sentence of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby is a telling demonstration of both the criminal character of the US government and the inequality that pervades American society.

Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison on felony counts of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying to FBI agents and a federal grand jury in an attempt to derail their investigation into the leaking of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. Now he will go scot-free, his sentence rescinded before he served a single day in jail.

While the commutation left in place the conviction, as well as a $250,000 fine and two years of probation, Bush refused on Tuesday to rule out granting Libby of a full pardon before he leaves the White House. “I rule nothing in or nothing out,” Bush said when asked about a potential pardon.

So much for Bush’s solemn declaration the previous day that he “respected” the jury’s verdict and his talk of the serious nature of the crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice.

As for the fine, there is no doubt that it will be more than repaid by Libby’s wealthy backers, who have already raised $5 million for his defense fund and mobilized a small army of ex-officials, lawyers, wealthy developers and the leading figures of the Republican right on his behalf.

The reason Libby’s prosecution has turned into a cause célèbre for this socio-political layer is that the lies he told federal investigators were part of a conspiracy to cover up far bigger lies that were used to drag the American people into a criminal war launched to further the profit interests of the corporate elite.

Plame’s identity was leaked to the right-wing columnist Robert Novak and other members of the media in an attempt punish and intimidate her husband, Joseph Wilson, the former ambassador who exposed some of the phony evidence about weapons of mass destruction that was used to justify the Iraq war.

The investigation that culminated in Libby’s conviction was launched by the Justice Department, which, at the urging of the CIA, appointed Patrick Fitzgerald, the US attorney in Chicago, as a special counsel. The leaking of Plame’s identity angered CIA officials, who said it was a potential violation of a 1982 law making it a felony to reveal the name of a covert agent.

It was clear from the outset that the drive to silence Wilson came from Cheney and the White House itself. In the opening stages of the trial, Libby’s lawyer portrayed his client as a “fall guy” for higher-ups, a characterization the jury apparently found apt. It was revealed after the trial that while convicting Libby, jurors openly questioned why others—including key Bush aide Karl Rove—were not also on trial.

Then, in an unanticipated turn of events, the defense abruptly rested its case without calling Cheney, Rove or Libby himself to the witness stand. It was clear that Libby and his lawyers had decided virtually to concede guilt rather than pursue the line of defense they had laid out at the trial’s opening.

It was more than an educated guess, widely discussed in the media at the time, that Libby had been given assurances that Bush would intervene to prevent him spending any time in prison. The decision to issue a presidential order wiping out Libby’s jail term was the legal equivalent of hush money, designed to buy Libby’s silence on the crimes of the Bush White House and Cheney’s office, in which Libby himself played a central role.

Bush’s decision to commute the sentence was portrayed by the White House as an act of mercy, aimed at ameliorating an “excessive” penalty while upholding the sanctity of the jury’s verdict. It was nothing of the kind. Like everything else done by this administration, it was an act of lawlessness aimed at covering up crimes and defending unfettered executive power.

As the Washington Post pointed out Tuesday, the sentence was anything but excessive. “Three of every four people convicted of obstruction of justice have been sent to prison over the past two years, a total of 283 people, according to federal judiciary data,” the Post reported. “The average term was more than five years. The largest group of defendants were sentenced to between 13 and 31 months in prison, exactly where Libby would have fallen on the charts.”

The decision to grant clemency—taken without any consultation with either Fitzgerald or the Justice Department’s pardon attorney—was aimed at assuring maximum secrecy, since such decisions are subject to no review and even documents relating to them are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.

The commutation of Libby’s sentence provides one more confirmation that this government considers itself entirely above the law and operates more along the lines of a crime family than a democratic and constitutional administration.

The response to the White House’s freeing of Libby by both the media and the ostensible political opposition in the Democratic Party has been notably muted.

The various Democratic presidential candidates issued sound bytes for the occasion. Hillary Clinton said that the commutation showed that in the Bush administration “cronyism and ideology trump competence and justice,” while Barack Obama said it “cements the legacy of an administration characterized by a politics of cynicism and division.” The issue has presented some political problems for the latter candidate, as the Obama campaign’s general counsel Robert Bauer came out in Libby’s defense, drafting an article entitled, “Progressive Case for a Libby Pardon.”

In contrast to the response of the politicians, Joseph Wilson delivered a more forthright and angry condemnation of Bush’s actions, calling them representative of a government that is “corrupt from top to bottom.”

“The fact that the president short-circuited our system of justice by giving Scooter Libby a get-out-of-jail-free card, thereby eliminating any incentive that he would tell the truth to the prosecutor, guarantees that there is a cloud of suspicion put over the office of the president and makes him potentially a suspect in an ongoing obstruction of justice case,” declared Wilson, adding, “This was a coverup.”

As for the media, the most strident note was sounded by the Wall Street Journal, which published an editorial describing Libby’s predicament as a “personal tragedy” and declaring Bush’s failure to issue an outright pardon “a dark moment in this administration’s history.”

The Washington Post, which had been highly critical of the prosecution of Libby, agreed with a commutation of Libby’s sentence, but said Bush had gone a bit far in relieving the former aide of all jail time. The Post echoed the argument of the Republican right, comparing Libby’s case to that of President Bill Clinton, “who lied under oath but was not removed from office or put in jail.”

That Clinton was essentially entrapped into lying about an entirely personal matter which had no intrinsic significance for anyone outside of himself and his family, while Libby’s lies were part of a political conspiracy to carry out an illegal war of aggression that has claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and killed or maimed tens of thousands of US troops, was apparently lost on the newspaper’s editors.

The New York Times went so far as to suggest that the commutation was aimed at buying Libby’s silence. “Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons,” the Times noted. “But in this case, Mr. Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell.” Yet, having suggested that Bush himself is guilty of obstruction of justice, the newspaper did not even broach the question of Bush or anyone else being held accountable.

There can be little doubt that Bush took into account this tepid response from the media and the Democrats—compared with the fulminations of the Republican right—in determining that, a day after commuting Libby’s sentence, he could get away with suggesting that he may yet grant him a blanket pardon.

What is to account for the lack of genuine outrage within what once passed for the liberal establishment centered in the Democratic Party and sections of the press? It is all the more striking given the overwhelming popular hostility to Bush’s commutation, with polls showing at least 70 percent disapproval.

In the final analysis, Libby’s real crime is not that he lied about matters related to the exposure of a single CIA operative, though leading Democrats have welcomed this issue as a chance to portray Republicans as “traitors” and enemies of national security. Rather, the crime Libby, Cheney and the rest committed and then sought to defend in the Plame-Wilson matter was the promotion of an illegal war based upon lies.

Behind the muted response is undoubtedly an element of “there but for the grace of God go I” from co-participants in the corrupt and criminal activities of the US government. They, after all, work in the same protected and privileged bubble as Libby and his associates.

While a few Democratic members of the House have suggested hearings on the commutation, even if they are held they will inevitably become an exercise in damage control, under conditions in which the entire political establishment is up to its necks in deceit and corruption.

There is an additional social and political dynamic at work here. Within the entire political and media establishment there is a firm conviction that the savage “criminal justice” system in the US is not meant for possessors of wealth and purveyors of power such as Libby. Prisons and harsh sentences are in place to suppress and control the masses of poor and working people.

The number of prisoners in America has reached a record 2,245,000, the largest for any nation on earth and nearly 40 percent higher than its closest competitor, China. Last year, the US prison system recorded the biggest increase in the number of inmates since 2000, the Justice Department reported last week. The rise was attributed largely to mandatory sentencing laws, which the administration has sought to toughen still further, while overriding just such a statute in the Libby case.

In a statement defending his decision to commute Libby’s sentence, Bush lamented the fact that the vice presidential aide’s “wife and young children have also suffered immensely” and that “the consequences of his felony conviction on his former life… will be long-lasting.”

No such consideration is given to the millions who are forced into American jails—many on minor offenses, some who are mentally incompetent to stand trial, others who are juveniles but tried as adults. Without the money and power of a Libby, they are caught up in a merciless legal system that continues to send people to their deaths.

In his previous political capacity as governor of Texas, Bush showed none of those on the state’s death row the compassion reserved for Cheney’s underling. He sent to their deaths 150 men and two women—executing the first female in Texas in 100 years, Karla Faye Tucker, and publicly mocking her plea that he spare her life.

This ruthless legal system is a reflection of the brutality visited upon working people in general. Millions are deprived of jobs and pensions, have their wages cut or lose their homes through foreclosures, without an ounce of compassion from the government or the corporate elite that it represents.

The crime of which Libby is guilty—as are Bush, Cheney and others in the military and political establishment—is the same one which formed the principal charge against the Nazi defendants at Nuremberg 60 years ago: conspiracy to wage a war of aggression.

That Libby cannot be punished, even for the tangential offenses of obstructing justice and lying under oath, demonstrates that the entire political establishment, including the Democrats and the media, is implicated in the same underlying crime.

Bill Van Auken is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Bill Van Auken


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The Libby Cover-up Completed By Robert Parry

Call Out The Instigator By Cindy Sheehan

The High Cost of Libby’s Silence By Amy Goodman

Bush Screws Up Clemency Like Everything Else He Touches By Indigent A-hole

Iran has No Nuclear Weapons Capabilities By Scott Ritter (video)

Dandelion Salad

By Scott Ritter
Global Research, July 5, 2007

Ritter, a former UNSCOM weapons inspector, was the single individual who, before the war, stuck his neck out stated that Iraq did NOT possess WMD. He was all over national TV with this message but was dismissed as heretic.

via http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=30b_1176244190

Mind Wars-Brain Research, Nanotech and the Military by Richard Thieme (Jonathan D. Moreno)

Dandelion Salad

by Richard Thieme
Global Research, July 5, 2007
Counterpunch.org and National Catholic Reporter

“What we don’t know is so much bigger than we are.” Haitian Proverb

Oh, how I wish that reviewing a book like this were simple and straightforward! That would mean we live in a world of transparency, government accountability to citizens, easy access to sources, primary sources willing to go on the record, and data trails that lead readers to those same sources so everyone can see for themselves.

Continue reading

Stubborn Independence: Hanging on at the End of the Internet Holocene by Chris Floyd (site hacked again)

Stubborn Independence: Hanging on at the End of the Internet Holocene

Written by Chris Floyd
Thursday, 05 July 2007

As you may know, Empire Burlesque was hit by a major hack last night. The culprits were the usual broken, twisted spirits, a gang of what seem to be some kind of Turkish militarists — at least that’s their cover. Their own postings to hacker bulletin boards indicate their intent in wrecking EB is “political.” Whether they are operating on their own, or are just thugs for hire, whoring for other entities who might not wish to leave fingerprints, I can’t say. Whatever their ultimate provenance, their intention is clear: to shut down political viewpoints they don’t like and impose their own, by force. Thus they are the perfect little Terror War minions of the Bush-bin Laden Imperium, having fully imbibed the ethos of this corrupted age.

This hack was probably the worst one yet. They got into the very guts of the blog, and began taking over individual posts, stripping out the original content and replacing it with their incoherent bluster. They were stopped by our intrepid webmaster, Rich Kastelein, who waded in and flayed about him, seizing back control of the site. In the end, they completely destroyed four posts, the last four that I put up. So if you see links to them somewhere out there, they won’t work anymore. My apologies for this. I think I can reconstruct some if not all of the posts, and will be doing so throughout the day. [NOTE: The reconstituted posts will appear below this one.]

So that’s how we spent Independence Day here at Empire Burlesque. And such attacks are indeed the price of independence — independence of mind, freedom of thought, the expression of human liberty. Independence disturbs all those of narrow mind and twisted spirit, all those who seek to hold their fragile, frightened, stunted psyches together with a frenzied adherence to some rigid orthodoxy or another, or to the cult of force and brutality. They will always seek to slap down, shut up or simply destroy the liberty of the questing human mind, because this freedom scares and offends them so. They are too weak and too cowardly to bear the existential burden of independence. Some of these pathetic wretches are on the commanding heights of power, waging war and subverting nations; others are hunkered down in fetid basements, tapping out bits of malicious code. All of them are threats to the freedom of the human spirit — threats to be resisted with all our strength, even as we pity them for their tragic degradation.

As we noted after a previous incident, these hacks on our rather obscure site presage a new, darker age for the blogosphere as a whole. The end of the Internet Holocene is upon us — that period of clement weather which allowed a whole new culture to flourish, relatively unimpeded. Governments, and their corporate paymasters, are moving relentlessly to seize control of the internet, either by outright censorship, as in China or Iran, or through the heavy hand of Big Money, trying to ghettoize the internet into masses of slow-moving, hard-to-reach backwaters and a few easy-access cash cows, as Vnunet.com reports (via Avedon Carol).

Meanwhile, thuggish bands of cyber-terrorists like our Turkish friends are spreading, their technical acumen every bit as great as their moral idiocy. Criminal gangs too are increasingly sophisticated — and destructive — in their internet operations. As in other areas of life, we will see a merging of these upperworld and underworld elements, as the former call upon the latter to do their dirty work, leaving “deniability” intact. Big Money too has little use for independence, idiosyncrasy, the endless variety of human liberty. (For proof, just take a drive across America, and see the numbing sameness imposed on its once-varied and unique regions by corporate culture, and the ubiquitous media echo chamber.)

But liberty is a hardy thing, a stubborn thing, a thorny weed that insists on pushing up through the thickest concrete sidewalk, or the bleakest desert floor. So we’ll keep on keeping on, no matter what ghetto they try to herd us into, or how many thugs come around to smash up the place.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Chris Floyd’s website:

While you are there, please donate to his paypal account, on the upper right hand corner of the page. ~ Lo


Heart of Darkness: The Deepest Secret of the CIA by Chris Floyd

News Flash: Chemical Weapon Terrorist Plot Thwarted in the UK! by Chris Floyd

Nuclear Exchange: Scooter Goes Free, World Gets Screwed by Chris Floyd

Liberate With Extreme Prejudice: Another Civilian Slaughter in Afghanistan by Chris Floyd (updated)

The Libby Cover-up Completed By Robert Parry

The Libby Cover-up Completed

By Robert Parry
July 3, 2007

President George W. Bush’s decision to spare former White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby from jail marks the final act of a crime and cover-up that began four years ago when Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other top officials launched a campaign to discredit a critic of the Iraq War.

That campaign started with the leaking of sensitive classified information, the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, destroying her career and jeopardizing the lives of her agents in other countries. That was followed by White House lies being told to both investigators and the public in order to shield the President from dangerous political fallout.

By commuting Libby’s 30-month jail sentence on July 2 – and dangling the possibility of a full pardon later – Bush has moved to ensure that Cheney’s former chief of staff keeps his mouth shut and that the full story is never told.

The Plame/Libby cover-up also demonstrates the modern techniques available at least to a Republican president who wants to minimize damage from embarrassing or incriminating information. Bush was able to tap into the ideologically committed right-wing news media to confuse the issue and create political space for his final decision.

Ever since July 2003 – when Plame’s husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, revealed that he had conducted a fact-finding trip for the CIA which helped debunk allegations that Iraq had been seeking uranium from Africa – the right-wing media has kept up a steady assault on Wilson.

Wilson received this treatment because his findings contradicted Bush’s claim in his 2003 State of the Union Address that Iraq’s supposed search for uranium suggested that Saddam Hussein was trying to build a nuclear bomb, a key argument for invading Iraq.

Wilson’s public statements – in a New York Times op-ed and later on TV news shows – represented the first challenge to Bush’s case for war from a government insider. At the time, with Bush near the peak of his popularity, Wilson looked like easy prey.

So, instead of showing gratitude to an American citizen who undertook a difficult assignment at no pay, the Bush administration – aided by congressional Republicans, the right-wing media and some pro-war mainstream pundits – sought to tear down Wilson’s reputation and mislead the public on the facts of the case.

Talking Points

The original White House talking points – given to about a half dozen journalists – included that Wilson’s wife, Plame, worked in the CIA office that sent Wilson to Africa, thus suggesting that the trip was a case of nepotism.

One White House official later told a Washington Post reporter that the administration had informed at least six reporters about Plame “purely and simply out of revenge” against Wilson.

Libby was one of the leakers, briefing two journalists – Judith Miller of the New York Times and Matthew Cooper of Time – but neither ran with Plame’s identity. Libby also brought White House press secretary Ari Fleischer in on the leak operation.

Two other leakers, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and his friend, White House political adviser Karl Rove, finally managed to get right-wing columnist Robert Novak to run a story about Plame’s identity.

Novak’s column destroyed Plame’s career and put at risk the lives of her overseas contacts who had helped the United States keep on an eye on proliferation of dangerous weapons in the Middle East.

But the Plame leak backfired on the White House when the CIA sought a criminal investigation into the illegal disclosure of a covert officer’s identity.

In September and October 2003, the Bush administration’s next line of defense was simply to lie. For his part, Bush pretended that he knew nothing about the anti-Wilson leaks, even though he had authorized release of some intelligence information meant to bolster the White House position on the uranium issue and undercut Wilson.

Bush disingenuously urged his subordinates to say what they knew. “I want to know the truth,” Bush said on Sept. 30, 2003. “If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true.”

However, since the various conspirators knew that Bush already was in the know, they would have read his comments as a signal to lie, which is what they did. Rove issued a false statement through the White House press office denying any involvement.

That prompted Libby to seek help from Cheney. As Libby’s lawyer Theodore Wells disclosed at his client’s trial, Libby’s complaint was that “they’re trying to set me up; they want me to be the sacrificial lamb.”

In response to Libby’s complaint, Cheney penned a message to the press secretary demanding equal treatment for Libby. “Not going to protect one staffer + sacrifice the guy the Pres that was asked to stick his head in the meat grinder because of incompetence of others,” Cheney wrote to press secretary Scott McClellan.

In the note, Cheney initially ascribed Libby’s sacrifice to Bush but apparently thought better of it, crossing out “the Pres” and putting the clause in a passive tense. Complying with Cheney’s wishes on Oct. 4, 2003, McClellan added Libby to the list of officials who have “assured me that they were not involved in this.”

Twin Conspiracies

So, the evidence is that not only was there a high-level administration conspiracy to leak Plame’s identity but there was an equally high-level conspiracy to cover up the truth.

Libby got nailed because he failed to shift away from the cover stories when the investigation grew serious following the appointment of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as a special prosecutor in December 2003.

But the cover-up never ended. Republican senators and the Republican National Committee issued harsh attacks on Wilson, making him out to be a liar when the reality was that his fact-finding trip had helped the U.S. intelligence community correctly raise pre-war doubts about Iraq’s supposed pursuit of uranium for nuclear weapons.

As Libby faced trial in early 2007, other right-wingers, such as attorney Victoria Toensing, released other red herrings to confuse the public. Toensing, for instance, began insisting that Plame was not a “covert” officer because she was “stationed” at CIA headquarters in Langley, Viriginia.

Toensing’s argument was based on her assertion that a 25-year-old law protecting the identities of U.S. intelligence officers from exposure required that the person “reside” or be “stationed” overseas in the previous five years.

However, Toensing misstated the law, which actually refers to intelligence officers having “served” abroad in the previous five years, which Plame later testified that she had done by traveling on overseas assignments for the CIA.

In other words, the law would protect the identity of a CIA officer based at Langley who went on missions overseas or, say, a special operations officer who was stationed at Ft. Bragg and resided in Fayetteville, N.C., but who still “served” on dangerous missions overseas.

But many in the right-wing news media and even at prestige newspapers like the Washington Post have adopted Toensing’s word games as reality. It’s now an article of faith in some political circles that Plame was not a “covert” officer and that therefore there was “no underlying crime.”

After Libby was found guilty for perjury and obstruction of justice and received a 30-month jail sentence, the cover-up entered a new phase with a new ferocity. His neoconservative allies, the right-wing press and some mainstream pundits joined in a clamor for his pardon.

This phase of the cover-up created political space for Bush to commute Libby’s sentence and to hold open the possibility of a full pardon.

So, rather than Libby cooperating with prosecutor Fitzgerald and laying out the full story, Cheney’s former chief of staff has a very strong incentive to stay mum. Not only won’t he go to jail, but he has reason to hope that Bush will eventually wipe out the felony convictions with a full pardon.

Barring some unforeseen development, the Libby cover-up appears to have succeeded.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It’s also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth.’

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.