Al Jazeera recently asked me to make a viewer contribution to its thought provoking media analysis show The Listening Post which you can watch above. This week it looked at the mainstream media’s reaction to the release of the Iraq War Logs by WikiLeaks. The point I make is:
The constant media reporting of the Pentagon claim that the War Logs have put lives in danger is not only untrue but monstrously hypocritical. Even NATO have confirmed that none of the Afghan leaks have led to reprisals in Afghanistan but more importantly, since the invasion of Iraq was illegal under international law, it is the Pentagon – not WikiLeaks – that has illegally continued to put lives on both sides in danger since 2003.
I added at the end: “This glaring war crime is almost completely overlooked by the corporate, mainstream media” although they didn’t use that bit along with some more general commentary about the way the War Logs had exposed the impotence of the media.
It’s refreshing to see a mainstream media organization like Al Jazeera taking a critical look at media coverage. It’s very rare that the media actually take a long hard look at themselves because it reveals far too much about how complicit they are in state-corporate crimes. A prime example is the way the liberal media have scrambled in recent weeks to smear both Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, deflect attention onto Iran (as a recent article in The Australian did which appears to have been deleted from their website) or dismiss them, as Obama has, saying that “there’s nothing new” in the revelations.
This New York Times pieces by Robert Burns (which requires you to register for free access to the NYT) is a prime example on smearing Assange and WikiLeaks. Check out the comments on this article (which don’t require registration to view) to see just how out of touch the NYT is with its readers on WikiLeaks. Also do not miss this piece in Salon by Glenn Greenwald which is a brilliant expose of both Burns and the liberal media’s Nixon-esque reaction to the War Logs.
Posted in Blog, Sweden, Wikileaks | Tagged 2003 invasion of Iraq, Afghan War Diary, Aljazeera, Glenn Greenwald, Julian Assange, NATO, New York Times, WikiLeaks | 9 Comments »
Statue of Saddam Hussein being toppled in Baghdad's Firdos Square on April 9, 2003. Image via Wikipedia.
One frequent justification liberal apologists give for the illegal invasion of Iraq is that for all its failings, at least it removed Saddam Hussein. WikiLeaks latest release has dealt a major blow to this tepid liberal justification for the crippling of an entire nation. The on-going torture by Iraqi Security Forces that the documents reveal, prove that the sadistic spirit of terror that Saddam Hussein unleashed is still very much alive and well.
Much is being made of the fact that American forces knowingly stood aside and knowing let Iraqi Security Forces torture their fellow Iraqis. However, as Al Jazeera point out, while this is morally reprehensible, legally American forces did nothing wrong:
International law did not require the US to investigate these allegations of Iraqi-on-Iraqi detainee abuse, because all of them were reported after June 30, 2004 – when Iraq once again became a “sovereign country”, according to the United Nations resolution 1546. The United States no longer directly controlled Iraq’s security services, and thus, it was no longer legally obligated to police them.
In reality, this caveat is of little relevance either. As is amply clear throughout history, the US Government has little concern for international law. However, even if American forces had been legally bound to intervene in Iraqi-on-Iraqi torture, it should have been no surprise if they hadn’t since the US Military has routinely used torture to “interrogate” detainees in Guantanamo Bay. The fact that they stood by – whether legally or immorally – should be no real surprise.
The biggest scandal here is that one of the supposed main aims of the illegal invasion of Iraq – to remove the tyranny of Saddam Hussein – has merely removed the man, not the brutality of the regime. Perhaps even more scandalous, is that the invasion has left Iraq in an even more desperate state than before troops arrived. One of the most disturbing facts to have emerged prior to WikiLeaks latest release is that due to the invasion, Iraq City now has a higher cancer rate than Hiroshima. It’s a damning indictment of the invasion that many Iraqis feel compelled into the perverse situation of longing for a return to life under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein than face the one they now have in the aftermath of the US led invasion and occupation.
In view of this, the on-going torture revealed by WikiLeaks, and the scandalous revelation that of 109,000 people killed in Iraq, a staggering 66,081 were civilians, there are no liberal excuses left for one the 21st Century’s most shocking war crimes.
Posted in Blog, Sweden, Wikileaks | Tagged 2003 invasion of Iraq, Aljazeera, Iraq, Iraqi Security Forces, Saddam Hussein, United States, United States armed forces, WikiLeaks | 342 Comments »
Image by New Media Days via Flickr
How do you discredit someone who undermines systems of power? In the old days, the CIA would just assassinate and murder them (they’ve tried 638 times to get Castro), even topple entire governments if need be. However, since the world is now much more aware of the dirty tricks or “Black Ops” that they use, powerful interests have had to find other ways of “subtly” smearing them in the public eye. Calling them a rapist is one way of doing it which is what has happened today to Julian Assange founder of WikiLeaks.
Firstly, let’s get the rather flimsy circumstances straight. Assange is accused of prancing around the Greater Stockholm area like a crazed animal between 15th to 17th August. According to center-right wing newspaper Expressen, last weekend, he sexually harassed a woman in Södermalm, Stockholm. Two or three days later, he traveled 20km to the quiet nearby town of Enköping where he supposedly raped another woman. The two women – aged “between 20-30″ according to Expressen and by an astonishing coincidence, friends also – decided a week later to go to a police station and said that “Julian Assange has raped and harassed us” and that they “didn’t want to press charges but just wanted some advice”. The first Assange knew of these allegations were when he saw the front on Expressen this morning. He denied it in an e-mail to Dagens Nyheter newspaper saying:
Why these accusations are coming at this point in time is an interesting question. I haven’t been contacted by the police. The allegations are false.
Assange is now understood to be making his way to a police station.
Secondly, let’s get the context clear to recent events in Assange’s life. The Pirate Party – a political party in Sweden dedicated to freedom of information – have this week agreed to host WikiLeaks documents on their servers since the organization is banned from publishing in many other countries. Assange has been in Sweden to arrange this deal and also agreed to write a column for centre-left Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet (the main rival to Expressen who “broke” this “story”), the first of which was due to be released today. Incidentally, Aftonbladet have decided to postpone publication in the light of the rape allegations.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, let’s get the wider context clear. Assange and his team at WikiLeaks are on the verge of publishing 15,000 more Afghan war documents which the US Government and Pentagon are desperate to suppress. Whether orchestrating a smear campaign against Assange would even stop that, I very much doubt it. And even if Assange were a rapist – or even worshiped Beelzebub and Hitler – it takes nothing away from the incriminating Collateral Murder video and Afghan war documents that WikiLeaks have already released.
Whether this is an orchestrated smear campaign, just two very silly girls, or a genuine case of rape and harassment, the fact is that WikiLeaks is bigger than Assange as he I’m sure would be the first to admit. It, and other projects like it, cannot be stopped. It’s like Chavez in Venezuela – even if the CIA assassinated him now, it’s too late to stop the popular revolution he’s unleashed and the same goes for the spirit of exposing abuses of power that WikiLeaks has ushered in since the corporate mainstream media are utterly impotent and unwilling to do so.
Unfortunately for the powerful, dirty tricks, black-ops and even assassinations simply can’t stop the tide of change and revolutions once they’ve begun in an inter-connected globalized age.
Posted in Blog, Sweden, Wikileaks | Tagged Aftonbladet, Collateral Murder, Julian Assange, List of newspapers in Sweden, Rape, Smear campaign, Stockholm, Sweden, US Government, WikiLeaks | 1,249 Comments »
Couldn’t help but re-post this great comment by a former Wall Street insider on a recent interview with Naomi Klein by OnPoint Radio. Sometimes, only an honest insider can say it best.
I was a senior, high profile stock/company analyst in a major global (and still extant) Wall Street firm and witnessed firsthand the greed-driven, destructive policies pursued by the executive management teams of the many companies I followed for institutional clients during my career. The cynicism of these ‘managers’ with their huge self-dealing stock options grants (some offered at a discount to the company’s stock price only days before the business announced positive “news”) can’t be overstated. They orchestrated massive layoff schemes in which tens of millions of their colleagues lost their livelihoods, benefits & pensions to global offshoring centers while they simultaneously presided over insider-stuffed corporate boards that rewarded them with ridiculous and ever-escalating salary, benefits and options packages, private planes, ultra exclusive golf and country club memberships, private staffs, 8-figure office decorating budgets and many other excesses, all under the chimera of “adding value”. I voluntarily left my position because these practices were repugnant to the Midwestern, middle class values of hard work, fairness and community I’d been raised to believe mattered. The few journalists, politicians, intellectuals and others who openly questioned these policies were branded as ‘losers’, ’socialists’ and ‘radicals’ who were presumed to lack the intelligence, Ivy League education and/or connections to become highly paid corporate managers, consultants, investment bankers, hedge fund managers themselves, rather than the white, pink and blue-collar schmucks who worked for shrinkng pay, benefits and job security – that is if they were fortunate enough to have a job.
If anyone believes this era is over, ask yourselves who received the massive no-strings-attached, taxpayer (and Chinese) funded bailout packages (Wall Street & other finacial elites) and who didn’t (most taxpayers & the economically dispossessed). Yup – the same small, elite group who made billions of dollars in bonuses before they engineered the near- catastrophic collapse of our economic and financial system, are once again making record bonuses when our true national unemployment rate (e.g., the short- and long-term unemployment rate plus those who’ve given up looking for work) is nearly 20%. And in January 2010, the US Supreme Court overruled two important precedents by banning the government from limiting corporate spending on political campaigns as if the business lobby doesn’t already have enough influence on our political process. Where is the outrage? Unfortunately, many Americans are either too busy working (many have 2 or 3 jobs and dependent children and/or parents), too afraid or both, to protest a system some barely comprehend. And the nation’s traditional watchdog – the media – is either too hallowed out and/or owned by huge, rich global conglomerates which are too invested in the system to investigate the architects of the problems, or even register discontent. Even the much-lauded ‘Tea Party’ movement is largely populated by older, right wing, economically and financially privileged white men and wealthy PACs who want US tax dollars to be spent on programs that enrich their personal and business priorities rather than the needs of the majority of U.S. citizens. However, the Pied Pipers of this elitist system are mostly Baby Boomers – the infamous “Me Generation” – so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.
Ms. Klein was spot on ten years ago with “No Logo” and her thesis on “disaster capitalism” is just as prescient. It’s truly disturbing to realize that after the shattering natural, economic and military developments of the last decade, crony capitalism is still alive and thriving. But there are small cracks, and I hope readers of this book realize that we have the power to influencee and change this corrupt and corrosive system in a democratically-elected government despite its flaws. When a former Wall Streeter feels like a radical for having progressive views, the system well and truly needs reform.
The interview incidentally is also well worth listening to for an insight into “Brand Obama” and how branding has evolved since Klein wrote No Logo. Someone actually tried to copyright the logo of her book after it came-out and then sue her for using it!
That’s just twisted.
Posted in Blog, USA | 10 Comments »
Great interview here with John Pilger on Russia Today (Pilger is not particularly welcome in the mainstream media nowadays because he’s a bit too honest about the crimes of the West). Pilger highlights the fact that since journalists are now “embedded” in warzones, have had their budgets cut or simply spout the same garbage that come out of the mouths of the Pentagon or Ministry of “Defence”, they are not investigating what’s really going on.
WikiLeaks has done the job that Pilger, and other crusading journalists did in years gone by such as his reports from Vietnam that made the West realize the full horror of the crimes that we’re being done in their name and helped turn public opinion against the tide of the war.
It’s inspiring to see that where the powerful try to suppress information in subtle ways in liberal democracies, technology and the internet is finding new ways to expose the truth.
An excerpt from the 12 minute interview:
Recent sanctions against Iran are an attempt by the US to return the country to its sphere of influence, claims veteran journalist John Pilger.
”Iran was a pillar of the American empire in the Middle East. That was swept away in 1979 when there was an Islamic revolution, and it has been American foreign policy to get that back,” he said.
“It has absolutely nothing to do with so-called nuclear weapons. The nuclear power in the Middle East is the fourth biggest military power in the world and that is Israel. It has something like 500 or more nuclear warheads. It is never discussed.”
Pilger added that Barack Obama has failed to change the trajectory of US foreign policy, which dates back to as early as 1945 and follows George W. Bush’s line.
“For the first time in US presidential history – it has not happened before – a president has taken the entire defense department bureaucracy, and the Secretary of State for Defense, from a previous administration, a discredited one,” he said. “We have basically Robert Gates and the same generals running American foreign policy with a lot of help from people of like mind.”
Posted in Blog, Sweden, Wikileaks | 1 Comment »
Noam Chomsky’s latest article “Why WikiLeaks Won’t Stop the War” highlights perhaps the most important part of the WikiLeaks disclosures (largely overlooked by the mainstream media for obvious reasons). They are internal CIA memos that express huge concern that popular opposition in France and Germany to Obama’s war may make it increasingly difficult for the US Government to pressure their governments into sending more troops to the region.
In May, WikiLeaks released a March CIA memorandum about how to sustain Western Europe’s support for the war. The memorandum’s subtitle: “Why Counting on Apathy Might Not Be Enough.”
“The Afghanistan mission’s low public salience has allowed French and German leaders to disregard popular opposition and steadily increase their troop contributions to the International Security Assistance Force,” the memorandum states.
“Berlin and Paris currently maintain the third and fourth highest ISAF troop levels, despite the opposition of 80 percent of German and French respondents to increased ISAF deployments.” It is therefore necessary to “tailor messaging” to “forestall or at least contain backlash.”
The CIA memorandum should remind us that states have an internal enemy: their own population, which must be controlled when state policy is opposed by the public.
Democratic societies rely not on force but on propaganda, engineering consent by “necessary illusion” and “emotionally potent oversimplication,” to quote Obama’s favorite philosopher, Reinhold Niebuhr.
The clear lessons of these memos are that powerful interests are terrified of democracy and popular resistance in the West still remains the most effective way of stopping Obama’s war.
Posted in Blog, USA | Leave a Comment »