Caught Red-Handed: Media Backtracks on Iran’s Anti-Israel “Threat” by Arash Norouzi

Dandelion Salad

by Arash Norouzi
July 17th, 2007

For close to two years, the media has stubbornly clung to a long discredited story about the Iranian President’s alleged threat to “destroy Israel” with nuclear weapons Iran doesn’t have and denies any intent to acquire. ‘Wiped off the map, wiped off the map,’ they bleat incessantly, even though his actual words, “The Imam [Khomenei] said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,” were paralleled with the fall of regimes like the Soviet Union and Iran’s former U.S.-installed monarchy [see: “WIPED OFF THE MAP” — The Rumor of the Century for a thorough disassembly of this claim]. From the start of his Presidency, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has rhapsodized regularly about the demise of the ‘Zionist regime’ in various metaphorical terms. He and his associates in the Iranian government have compared its fate to the Pharaohs of Egypt and the former apartheid regime in South Africa (which they also did not recognize), but never have they threatened to start a war with any country.

Yet the rumor persists. Top respected journalists, advocates for peace and dialogue with Iran, and individual Iranians themselves bring up the misquote regularly, as do noted Iranian-American scholars. The media’s constant drumbeat has even duped top world leaders into believing the myth. On October 29, 2005, the false quote was officially condemned by all 15 Security Council members in a United Nations statement, just following Israel’s prior demand that the Security Council expel Iran from the UN due to the remark.

The effect this misquote has had on American policy towards Iran is undeniable. The majority of 2008 Presidential candidates in both parties have repeatedly mentioned the alleged threat in speeches and interviews, obviously influenced by media reports.

And yet suddenly, after all this hoopla, at least two of the biggest media titans, the BBC and the Associated Press, appear to be backing away from the incorrect “wiped off the map” quotation they’ve been drilling into people’s minds for so long. It’s happening quietly and undemonstratively, but some recent subtle changes in their presentation indicate a tacit acknowledgement of their previous misreporting.

The details of how this reversal came to be, their curious handling of the subject in some of their recent news items, and contradictory arguments defending their work, is a story in itself. Let’s begin with the legendary British Broadcasting Company.


Ahmadinejad: “I am not anti-Semitic” by Juan Cole (Iran; Gaza)


From My Lai to Mesopotamia: When Atrocities become an “Accepted Technique” by Felicity Arbuthnot

Dandelion Salad

by Felicity Arbuthnot
Global Research, July 17, 2007

In his introduction to Robert Jungk’s wake up call, ‘Children of the Ashes’, on the survivors of Hiroshima, the late, great James Cameron writes of what the American military psychiatrist, Robert Jay Lifton called ‘the immersion into death’. Lifton went on to ‘describe how his feelings about Hiroshima were multiplied later by the appalling US atrocity in My Lai, Vietnam.’

Another kind of horror, writes Cameron, is that such atrocities have become ‘an accepted technique …’ There you have it. The deviant, unhinged, criminal sadism, from My Lai to Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib and the litany of inhuman, near unimaginable atrocities in America and Britain’s invasions, are not ‘isolated incidents’, the deranged acts of the occasional ‘bad apple’. The whole barrel needs decontaminating for the salvation of the odd good apple.

This month’s Nation made it clear (again) how short the forty year road is from My Lai to Iraq. What was as shocking as the horrific acts perpetrated by U.S., servicemen (and women) described, was that it was impossible to find anyone who was surprised. Revolted, appalled, deeply shamed, but not surprised. Fairly or not, the perception of America’s armed forces (with Britain not excluded either) is largely that of purveyors of lawless depravity.

The acts described by soldiers included shooting a two year old because of random firing after an explosive device went off, shooting a family dog, shooting a family in a car, where the bodies ‘literally sat in the car for the next three days while we drove by them’. Specialist John Middleton explained a prevalent concept that ‘if they don’t speak English and have a darker skin, they’re not as human as us, so we can do what we want’. Goodness, to think that there are those who believed the western troops were the foreigners in a far away place. ‘A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi – you know, so what?’, said Specialist Jeff Englehart, admitting that ‘guilt … takes root’, on returning home. No doubt, unlike the families of the dead Iraqis, he and his ilk will be sympathized with and treated for post traumatic stress disorder.

What of the: ‘…fourteen year old kid with an AK47 (who) decided he’s going to start shooting at this convoy’? He would have been just nine or ten at the time of ‘shock and awe’ – and utter pant wetting terror. He would have spent between birth and nine or ten under an embargo which denied children even childhood, with ongoing illegal U.S., and U.K., bombings. ‘Every person got out and opened fire on this kid. Using the biggest weapons we could find, we ripped him to bits.’

House raids, said Sgt John Burns, involved ‘.. catching them in their sleep’, ripping the man of the house out of bed ‘in front of his wife, tearing the room to shreds … you’ll throw all the clothes on the floor … dump the sofa cushions and basically leave his house looking like a hurricane just hit it.’ Hearts and minds, eh? One squad leader’s mentality was described as to regard every Iraqi as a potential terrorist and ‘ … kill them over here so we don’t have to kill them back in Colorado.’ One has to wonder what threat the ten year old with his three donkeys, all run over by the military, posed to Colorado. And where the seriously psychologically challenged soldier who posed with a spoon reaching to ‘scoop out some … brain’, from a dead Iraqi in a body bag, was recruited? Brain matter, transported in jar, to ‘fridge, it has long been reported, is the new ‘trophy’. In Vietnam it was ears, heads, testicles.

Paul Rieckhoff, Executive Director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, is incensed at the Nation’s revelations. Iraqis are tragically ‘caught in conflict’s crossfire’, bad decisions are sometimes made in ‘the fog of war’. It was the reporting that was ‘sensationalist and unethical’, he wrote in a letter to The Independent. ‘Readers, veterans and the Iraqi people deserve better.’ Readers deserve the truth, the veterans told the stories – and the Iraqi people indeed deserve much better : to see many, many of the illegally invading army in the dock, tried with crimes against humanity.

Rieckhoff’s letter rang a My Lai bell. Here again from Michael Bilton and Kevin Sim’s meticulously researched ‘Four Hours in My Lai.

‘Lt. William Calley was the only serviceman to be charged for part in the massacre of 16th March 1968. He had thrown a defenseless old man down a well and shot him and: ‘seeing a baby crawling away from a ditch filled with the dead and dying villagers, threw it back in the pit and shot it.’ Sentenced to life imprisonment, President Nixon ordered he should be released from jail pending appeal. The Rieckhoff of the day, Judge Robert Elliot, releasing Calley on parole explained: ‘War is war, it is not unusual for innocent civilians … to be killed.’ Massacred? Forget it. The Judge helpfully explained that: ‘when Joshua took the city of Jericho in biblical times, no charges had been brought against him for the slaughter of the civilian population.’

‘I think there is a good deal of evidence that we thought all along we were a redeemer nation’, wrote the distinguished theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, of Vietnam in general and My Lai in particular: ‘ There was a lot of illusion in our national history. Now it is about to be shattered.’ The mirror images could not be starker. The killings in My Lai: ‘.. took place part maniacally, part methodically … they were accompanied by rape, sodomy, mutilations and unimaginable random cruelties … it was a Nazi kind of thing …’, Bilton and Sim say they were told again and again and: ‘Festering sores disfiguring the face of American society (erupted) in all their horror.’

To the army, My Lai was, of course, an aberration: ‘… wholly unrepresentative of the manner in which our forces conduct military operations.’ Seventy percent of villages in one province alone, Quang Ngai, had been destroyed by aerial bombardment or artillery, a full two years before My Lai. ‘We are here to kill dinks … that’s our job’, commented one soldier. As in Iraq, there to kill ‘Hajis’, ‘Sand niggers’, ‘Camel jockeys’. And as Vietnam’s decimation, to kill from Al Qaem to Fallujah, to northern Tel Afar, to Baquba, Baghdad and across the nation. To rape, degrade, thieve, defile. These are not ‘isolated incidents’, but numerous documented and first hand reports.

Can it get worse? Oh yes. As Elana Schor and Roxana Tiron report: ‘At the Pentagon’s request, Senate Defense authorizers, tucked deep within the Defense BIll, a repeal of the Department’s restriction on granting security clearances to ex-convicts, drug addicts and the mentally incompetent.’

There are brave U.S., Iraq and Afghanistan veterans crossing the U.S., going to bases, risking imprisonment, attempting to persuade their colleagues to longer participate in these invasions. Two days ago when the vast US Kitty Hawk docked in Australia, colleagues there distributed fact filled leaflets as sailors disembarked. Two uniformed personnel hid many amongst a pile of pizzas they had come to collect and asked that copies of two searing films on Vietnam and Iraq be slipped in their pockets to show back on the ship. Good apples, but back in occupied lands, numerous bad ones, commit atrocities with impunity and having lost ‘imagination … laugh among the dying, unconcerned’. (Wilfred Owen: Insensibility).

Felicity Arbuthnot is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Felicity Arbuthnot

Marine says beatings urged in Iraq By Tony PerrySurge on Baghdad (video link; over 18 only)

‘A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi… You know, so what?’ By Leonard Doyle

Dahr Jamail, Iraq Reporter Schizophrenic in Disneyland By Tom Engelhardt

The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness by Chris Hedges & Laila Al-Arian

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Bush’s assertion of executive power: The logic of presidential-military dictatorship by Joe Kay

Dandelion Salad

by Joe Kay

Global Research, July 17, 2007

World Socialist Web Site – 2007-07-16

At President Bush’s July 11 press conference a significant exchange took place that has received very little media attention. Edwin Chen, who writes for, asked Bush, “How hard is it for you to conduct the war without popular support? Do you ever have trouble balancing between doing what you think is the right thing and following the will of the majority of the public, which is the essence of democracy?”

Bush’s response was to emphasize the role of the military as a counterweight to public opinion. He outlined a concept of presidential power that upholds the military as a critical “constituency” rising above, and placed in opposition to, the American people. On this basis, Bush sought to justify a policy that has been clearly repudiated by the general population—not only in opinion polls, but also in the November 2006 midterm elections.

Bush began by attributing public opposition to the war to concerns that the US cannot succeed. “I can fully understand why people are tired of the war,” he said. “The question they have is, can we win it? And, of course, I’m concerned about whether or not the American people are in this fight.”

This was an attempt to dismiss and delegitimize the widespread opposition to the militarism, aggression and wanton destruction of human life that define not only the war in Iraq, but US foreign policy more broadly. There are millions of Americans who hate the war not because it has been mismanaged and may not “succeed,” but because it is a barbaric and criminal enterprise.

He then declared that the occupation of Iraq will continue regardless, and attempted to defend this policy by appealing to the military as against the general population. “If our troops thought that I was taking a poll to decide how to conduct this war, they would be very concerned about the mission,” he said. “If our troops said, well, here we are in combat, and we’ve got a commander-in-chief who is running a focus group—in other words, politics is more important to him than our safety and/or our strategy—that would dispirit our troops.”

To underline the point, Bush then declared that there are “a lot of constituencies in this fight.” In the list that followed, the American people figured as only one constituency. A strategy of withdrawing troops “may sound simple, and it may affect polls,” Bush said, “but it would have long-term, serious security consequences for the United States.”

He continued with the assertion that “sometimes you just have to make the decisions based on what you think is right. My most important job is to help secure this country, and therefore the decisions in Iraq are all aimed at helping do that job.”

Plainly put, this means that the “security” interests of the US take precedence over the will of the American people, which Bush disparagingly and contemptuously equates with a “focus group.”

When Bush speaks about the security interests of the US, he is not speaking about the safety and well being of the American people. He is speaking of the geo-strategic interests of the American ruling elite, which considers the establishment of a hegemonic position in the oil-rich Middle East to be central to those interests.

Moreover, every would-be dictator claims that his authoritarian measures are taken to ensure national security. Everything else must be sacrificed, including democratic rights. This is the basic line that has been utilized by the government since 9/11 to lay siege to constitutionally protected democratic rights, in the name of the “war on terror.”

Having thus dealt with the “constituency” of the American people, which he acknowledged was broadly opposed to his war policy, Bush moved on to that constituency on which he would rely to continue the policy. “A second constituency is the military,” he said, adding, “I’m pretty confident our military do not want their commander-in-chief making political decisions about their future.”

The “third constituency” Bush cited was “military families,” in regard to whom he said, “I don’t think they want their commander-in-chief making decisions based upon popularity.”

Thus, Bush advanced a conception that defines the “military” as a separate constituency which is more important than the American people as a whole.

When Bush speaks of the military, he is not referring to ordinary soldiers or their families, who are seen as little more than cannon fodder by the ruling establishment. In fact, US soldiers are generally no more supportive of the war in Iraq than the American population as a whole.

It is worth recalling one of the central grievances against King George III set down by the leaders of the American Revolution in the Declaration of Independence: “He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to the civil power.” Indeed, in the political and constitutional debates that ensued, figures such as Thomas Jefferson issued strong warnings of the dangers of a standing army, declaring that a permanent military presence that would pose a constant danger to the democratic rights of the American people.

Bush’s invocation of the military as a force to be invoked against the will of the American people was quite deliberate, and it should be taken very seriously. He made essentially the same argument at several other points in the course of the press conference.

He insisted, for example, that it was not possible to “let the Gallup poll or whatever polls there are decide the fate of the country.” After refusing to rule out the possibility of a further troop escalation, he said, “I just ask the American people to understand that the commander-in-chief must rely upon the wisdom and judgment of the military thinkers and planners.”

The content of this statement is a threat that the president will use his control over the military to impose the policies of the faction of the ruling elite that the administration represents—potentially including a further escalation of the war or its spread to other countries such as Iran—in the face of whatever popular opposition may arise.

Bush is explicit in declaring as a fundamental principle that politicians cannot be allowed to determine military policy—only generals can. This argument is as absurd as it is reactionary. First, Bush himself is a politician, and the top generals in charge of the military have been selected to carry out administration policy. Bush has repeatedly replaced or dismissed military officials when they came into conflict with certain aspects of administration policy.

Second, the argument overturns the basic principle of civilian control of the military. According to Bush, the president is “their [that is, the military’s] commander-in-chief,” in the sense that he must do what the military wants. If the president determines, therefore, that the military does not want to obey the results of an election, then there is nothing that can be done.

It is remarkable, though not surprising, that Bush’s statements elicited hardly a word of opposition from the Democratic Party or the media. The major newspapers did not report this portion of the press conference, and no prominent politician denounced the extraordinary attack on basic constitutional principles embodied in Bush’s remarks.

The silence of the political establishment in the face of the Bush administration’s appeals to the military as an independent force in American politics is hardly new. In fact, Bush came to power in 2000 based upon a stolen election in which the counting of invalid military ballots played an important role. Democratic Party candidate Al Gore responded at the time by saying he could not become president without the support of the military.

Since that time, the military has played an ever more prominent role in American political life. The Bush administration has asserted the right to hold US citizens and non-citizens in military custody indefinitely and without charges. It has created the Northern Command (Northcom), which, for the first time, coordinates military actions within the United States.

The administration has systematically sought to expand the power of the military to intervene in domestic affairs. In the National Defense Authorization Act passed last year to provide military funding, the administration had a section inserted that amends the Posse Comitatus Act to allow for the domestic use of the military in case of natural disaster, terrorist attack, or “other conditions in which the president determines that domestic violence has occurred to the extent that state officials cannot maintain public order.”

Top Bush administration officials only rarely speak before civilian audiences. Almost every major speech given by Bush or Cheney is before a military audience.

The silence of the nominal political opposition to these dangers is all the more remarkable given the fact that the threat is directed not only against public opinion, but also against the administration’s critics within the political establishment. There are escalating policy differences within the ruling elite, and support for the administration is hemorrhaging within Congress itself. No faction in the official debate in Washington opposes the war, but there are deep divisions over the policy required to uphold the interests of American imperialism.

All of the factions within the political establishment, whatever their tactical differences, are, in fact, united in their fear of the “constituency” of American public opinion. Under these conditions, the threat of a more open turn toward presidential-military dictatorship is very real.

If an election can have no effect on policy, and the power of the military is raised as a counterweight to any attempt to shift government policy, what alternative presents itself to the population? Here it is worth citing another passage from the Declaration of Independence:

“Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these [the rights of the population], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness… [W]hen a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.”

See Also:
White House press conference
Bush rejects any US military pullback in Iraq

Global Research Articles by Joe Kay



Bush Press Conference (if you can stomach it) (5 videos; propaganda)


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Partition Fears Begin to Rise By Ali al-Fadhily

Dandelion Salad

Inter Press Service
By Ali al-Fadhily*


Many Iraqis are now beginning to see the rising sectarian violence as part of a larger plan to partition the country.

“Americans want to alter the shape of our cities, dividing Iraqis into ethnic and sectarian groups living separately from each other,” Khali Sadiq, a researcher in statistics at Baghdad University told IPS.

“They are not doing this directly, but they have obviously given room to militias and Iraqi forces to do the job,” he said. “We are more than halfway towards a sectarian Iraq.”

A recent report has raised further suspicions that there is a U.S.-backed plan to partition the capital city, and possibly the country along sectarian and ethnic lines.

According to the Initial Benchmark Assessment Report issued by the White House Jul. 12, “the government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress towards enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions.”

The report also states that the U.S.-backed Iraqi government formulates “target lists” of Sunni Arabs. These lists are compiled by the Office of the Commander-in-Chief, which reports directly to U.S.-backed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The report says fabricated charges are brught to purge Sunnis from the Iraqi security forces.

Samara city, 100 km north of Baghdad, seems to be one of the current targets of this demographic change. The bombing of the shrine of al-Askari in February 2006 ignited a sectarian wave of violence that swept Iraq. Shia clerics in Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces who are supportive of the occupation began to speak of a need to change the city from predominantly Sunni to predominantly Shia.

Shula and Hurriya in western Baghdad, and most areas on the eastern bank of Tigris River are now purely Shia after years of killings by death squads. It has been known for over a year now that Shia death squads have been operating out of the U.S.-backed Ministry of Interior, often in the guise of the Facilities Protection Service (FPS).

The FPS was created under extraordinary circumstances. The U.S. occupation authorities and the Iraqi leaders working with them set up several new army and police forces under the supervision of the Multi National Forces (MNF). It was decided that each ministry could establish its own protection force away from the control of the ministries of interior and defence.

The FPS was established Apr. 10, 2003, the day after the fall of Baghdad, under Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) order 27.

This document states: “The FPS may also consist of employees of private security firms who are engaged to perform services for the ministries or governorates through contracts, provided such private security firms and employees are licensed and authorised by the Ministry of Interior.”

Global Security.Org, a U.S.-based security research group, says: “The Facilities Protection Service works for all ministries and governmental agencies, but its standards are set and enforced by the Ministry of the Interior. It can also be privately hired. The FPS is tasked with the fixed site protection of ministerial, governmental, or private buildings, facilities and personnel.”

But evidence has emerged that this and other police forces have been taken over by Shia militia.

Capt. Alexander Shaw, head of the police transition team of the 372nd Military Police Battalion, a Washington-based unit charged with overseeing training of all Iraqi police in western Baghdad, has said: “To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure we’re ever going to have police here that are free of the militia influence.”

Shaw said about 70 percent of the Iraqi police force had been infiltrated, and that police officers are too afraid to patrol many areas of the capital.

Many Iraqis today believe this is part of an intentional plan to divide Iraq along sectarian lines.

“They (death squads) evicted many of our good Sunni neighbours and killed many others,” Abu Riyad of the predominantly Shia Shula area told IPS. “We protected them for a while, but then we could not face the militias with all the support they had from the Iraqi government and the Americans. It is a terrible shame that we have to live with, but what can we do?”

On the other hand, many Sunni Iraqis seemed unwilling to evict their Shia countrymen — for a while. But people in one mixed area of Baghdad described strange developments.

“It is true that our neighbours did not evict us, but then the Americans swept the area and local fighters had to disappear from the streets,” Hussein Allawi, a Shia who lived in a predominantly Sunni neighbourhood told IPS. “A group of masked strangers then entered the town right under American soldiers’ eyes. Only then did we realise that we must leave, and that our good neighbours could not help us any more.”

Many such stories are told around Baghdad.

“We had to leave our house in Isskan in the western part of Baghdad,” Dr. Fadhil Mahmood, a Sunni, told IPS. “A Shia friend of mine telephoned me to leave the house instantly because he heard some people were heading there to kill me and evict my family.”

Mahmood said that his neighbours later told him that death squads arrived half an hour after he left his home.

(*Ali, our correspondent in Baghdad, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who travels extensively in the region)

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