21 September 2002
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Below are two articles recently sent to us by two research associates
our Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social
Movements : Professors Richard DuBoff (Bryn Mawr College) and Edward
Herman (University of Pennsylvania).
By the accounts in these two articles, social control mechanisms in
U.S. --including police repression and press self-censorship-- have not
abated since the crimes of September 11.
In the coming weeks, we shall see how the November elections offer radical
Americans an opportunity to mobilize groups around the question of
Republican Party opportunism and corporate control of the US government.
At the end of this page are several important internet web sites, which
Research Center recommends to scholars interested in following American
policy in the making....
Director of Research
From: "Richard B. Du Boff" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: War on Terrism--defending The Homeland
We need a new national
medal, "Congressional Medal of Honor in the
War, under God, against Terrism" perhaps, to bestow upon Great Terrist
Fighters. To think that this country can produce such souls--like these
two, or the Georgia woman seated next to three Muslim men at a Shoney's
restaurant in Calhoun, GA, heard only "bits and pieces" of their
conversation, and quickly concluded that she had uncovered a terrist plot.
She jotted down a license plate number and reported what she heard to the
Georgia State Police. A nationwide alert was then issued, with over 100
officers and a dozen agencies becoming involved in the hunt. A major
highway in South Florida was closed down for more than 17 hours. Finally
the men, medical students, were released, with no charges of any kind filed
against them ... although the hospital in Florida where they were working
fired them (some talk now that they may be rehired...)
Philadelphia Inquirer Sept. 19, 2002
Profiling charged on 'nightmare' flight A doctor on Delta Flight 442
detained by U.S. marshals. By Thomas Ginsberg Inquirer Staff Writer
The incident on Delta
Flight 442 was scary enough last month: U.S.
marshals seized an unruly passenger, then one aimed a pistol at other
passengers for a half hour and shouted at them to stay seated.
The event, however,
didn't end there. Unknown to most passengers
on the Atlanta-to-Philadelphia flight, the marshals upon landing also
seized an Indian passenger from first class and silently whisked him away
Far from being a terror
suspect, the second detainee turned out to
be a former U.S. Army major and military doctor from Lake Worth, Fla.,
where he has had a family practice for two decades. Both detainees later
were released without charge, and the physician's angry account of his
ordeal offers a glimpse at the dark side of America's war on terrorism.
that the line between security and
civil-rights violations is blurring, the physician, Bob Rajcoomar, filed
notice in U.S. District Court that he may sue the U.S. government for
illegal detention and emotional distress. His wife had been left to wander
the Philadelphia airport for three hours during his detention, never told
of his whereabouts.
"This is blatant racial
profiling," Rajcoomar, a naturalized
citizen since 1985, said by telephone from Florida. "They think they can
pick up anybody, willy-nilly... . It's not in keeping with traditions of
the United States."
David Steigman, a spokesmen
for the newly created U.S.
Transportation Safety Administration, which oversees the air marshals, gave
few details about the detentions or the marshals' actions and declined to
discuss the potential lawsuit. Atlanta-based Delta did not comment on the
Rajcoomar, "to the
best of our knowledge, had been observing too
closely. When the aircraft landed, the airline declined to press charges"
against either man, Steigman said.
Stefan Presser, legal
director of the American Civil Liberties
Union of Pennsylvania, which filed the lawsuit notice, called the detention
a civil-rights violation that should "send a wake-up call to Americans
before it's too late... . In our haste to protect ourselves, we are
literally turning on each other."
The dramatic hours on Aug. 31 aboard Delta Flight 442 started when a
passenger from Philadelphia - described as waiflike and disturbed - caused
alarm when he began looking at other passengers' luggage. Two U.S. air
marshals rushed back from their first-class seats to investigate. The
marshals were later identified by police as Shawn B. McCullers and Samuel
Mumma, assigned to the regional Transportation Safety Administration office
in Atlantic City, which declined to discuss the case.
"Air marshals issued
a series of warnings to passengers to stay in
their seats. The unruly gentleman didn't stay in his seat, so they took
action to restrain him," Steigman said.
in window seat 1-D, reading a book and sipping
a beer, said he knew nothing until the marshals showed up and began pushing
the unruly man into seat 1-C, adjacent to his.
said he stood up and asked to be moved. A
flight attendant told him to take one of the first-class seats vacated by
the marshals. "One [marshal] sat on the guy in the first seat; he was
groaning, and the more he groaned, the more they twisted the handcuffs,"
Then, in coach class,
a woman rose to switch seats with her child,
who was sitting in an aisle seat, according to Rajcoomar's wife, Dorothy,
who was sitting in coach class because the couple could not get seats together.
"That's when they started
hollering," Dorothy Rajcoomar said of
the marshals. One of them rushed to the divider between the first-class and
coach sections and leveled his pistol at the coach-class passengers.
"He took control as
if he was a terrorist himself," said Bob
Rajcoomar, who was then sitting in a first-class aisle seat directly in
front of the marshal. "He says, 'Nobody move, nobody look down the aisle,
nobody take pictures or you will go to jail, nobody do anything.' He
basically hijacked everybody."
One passenger, Philadelphia
Common Pleas Court Judge James
Lineberger, said marshals "were yelling at passengers to keep their heads
and hands out of the aisle... . I couldn't believe they would do such a thing."
Bob Rajcoomar said
he, like every other passenger, was watching
the marshal but never spoke to him.
About 30 minutes later,
the plane landed and Philadelphia police
officers came aboard to help take away the unruly man. Thinking the
incident was over, passengers began standing up, Rajcoomar said.
"Then out of nowhere,
hell broke loose," Rajcoomar said. "One of
these marshals came down to me and said, 'Head down, hands over your head!'
They pushed my head down, told me to bend down... . I just couldn't believe
it. I was speechless, in shock."
Unseen by his wife
30 rows back, Rajcoomar was whisked off the
plane, taken to an airport police station, and locked in a cell he called
so filthy "I wouldn't even put my dog in it."
During detention, Rajcoomar
said, he was never asked anything
except his name, address and Social Security number. He asked why he was
being held. "One of the marshals said something like, 'We didn't like the
way you looked,' " Rajcoomar recalled. "They also said something like, 'We
didn't like the way you looked at us.' "
Finally, after about three hours, Rajcoomar was released without
explanation. "It was like a nightmare," Rajcoomar said. "The marshals were
completely out of control... . If they had pulled the trigger, we'd all be
dead. I don't feel safe knowing they're there, not with this kind of behavior."
Forwarded be Professor Edward Herman:
September 21, 2002
Worthy and Unworthy Victims Munich Matters, Sabra and Shatila Don't
by TOM GORMAN
Between August 27 and September 10, 2002, the Los Angeles Times ran
well-written series of articles on the anniversary of the 1972 Munich
Olympics. Entitled "Munich Olympics: Thirty Years Later," the series
contained twenty articles totaling over 18,000 words, the equivalent of
almost 500 column inches, or 41 column feet of text. At least eight
articles dealt specifically with the event for which the 1972 Games are
most remembered, the brutal kidnapping and murder of eleven Israeli
athletes by Palestinian terrorists.
On the anniversary of the attacks, September 5, a 6352-word article
appeared. Titled "Black September; Long Before The Twin Towers Fell, Dream
Of Security At Games Toppled When Arabs Murdered 11 Israelis," the article
was accompanied by a gruesome photograph of Yoseph Gutfreund, the Israeli
wrestling referee, sitting in the helicopter seat at the airport where he
was murdered by the terrorists. The image of Gutfreund's slumped,
manacled, and lifeless body is juxtaposed with a current photo of his two
daughters, each standing with one of their daughters, the granddaughters
that Gutfreund never knew. The article described at length the sorrow
experienced by the Gutfreunds, and their struggle to carry on after their
father's ghastly murder.
To its credit the LA Times gave an account of the Israeli reaction to
terrorist attack, however brief. A 543-word article on September 6
described the tragedy of Mossad agents hunting down and executing the
wrong man. Ahmed Bouchiki was gunned down on the street in Lillehammer,
Norway on July 21, 1973 while waiting for a bus with his pregnant wife.
The Israeli agents had mistaken him for one of the Munich terrorists.
Given this exhaustive (and entirely proper) coverage of the thirtieth
anniversary of the terrorist crimes in Munich in 1972, a fair-minded
observer would expect the anniversary of a terrorist crime with perhaps a
hundredfold (if not more) of the deaths at the Olympics to receive at
least equal coverage. Referred to here are not the horrific crimes of
September 11, 2001; an enormous amount of (again, entirely proper)
coverage of the first anniversary of those atrocities was featured in the
Los Angeles Times. It is the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist
killings at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps that one would think
worthy of at least equal, if not significantly greater, coverage in the LA
Times. The details of these attacks are easily available.
In a fair media culture, one would expect to see:
* Lengthy and detailed descriptions of the events of September 16-18,
1982, including the tacit (or even overt) permission given by the Israeli
Defense Force (IDF) to the Christian Phalange and Haddad militia to move
into the camps.
* Statements that the Haddad militia (followers of a defector from the
Lebanese Army who was set up as a puppet in the southern area of Lebanon
occupied by Israel) was essentially an arm of the IDF.
* Reports of IDF flares lighting the camps on the night of the 16th,
to help the militia complete its "mopping up" of "terrorist nests," as
then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon described their mission.
* Accounts of the brutal slaughter continuing until the 18th, with
Israeli forces watching the carnage from a promontory that provided a
clear view inside the camps.
* Interviews with the survivors of the horrible acts of September
* Pictures showing the slaughtered corpses of the victims of these
terrorist attacks, including photos of the living descendants of these
victims, as well as an accompanying article talking of the emotional
suffering of these descendants.
* Given that the current leader of Israel was one of the principal
actors in this pogrom, a detailed account of the Kahan Commission
investigation, wherein the Israeli government declared then-Defense
Minister Ariel Sharon indirectly guilty of war crimes for the deaths of
anywhere between several hundred to several thousand Palestinian men,
women, and children.
Yes, one would expect. But what is found when we search the Los Angeles
Times for the days surrounding the twentieth anniversary of the Sabra and
A deafening silence.
Indeed, a researcher has to go back to June 27 of this year to find the
most recent reference to the attacks on Sabra and Shatila in the LA Times,
and then it is a report about a Belgian court dismissing a war crimes case
against Ariel Sharon. The court argued that since Sharon was not
physically in Belgium, he could not be prosecuted for war crimes in
connection with the Sabra and Shatila massacres. A recent Belgian law
allowed for the prosecution of any person for war crimes, regardless of
the nationality of the accused or the place of the alleged crime. Thus,
the only reference to the Sabra and Shatila massacre in the Los Angeles
Times over the last three months has been a story describing how Ariel
Sharon will escape prosecution.
Lest anyone believe the lack of coverage in the LA Times an anomaly,
as practically no coverage of the Sabra and Shatila massacre in any
mainstream American press. Aside from an account on the Associated Press
and UPI wires of Palestinian marking the anniversaries (rather than these
media outlets providing detailed retrospectives on the crimes), the only
ention of the anniversary in the mainstream press was put at the end of a
September 18 article in The New York Times which first discussed the
bombing of a Palestinian school by Israeli settlers (occupiers), and then
the fact that, "For the Israelis, it was the 29th anniversary of the 1973
Middle East war, also known as the Yom Kippur war, in which Israel came
under surprise attack from Egypt and Syria, assisted by other Arab
nations." Mention of atrocities against Palestinians, assuming they are
mentioned at all, must always be prefaced with an allegation of Arab
reachery, namely a "surprise att! ack" in 1973.
Why this disparity in coverage? The answer is all-too simple. The crimes
of Palestinian terrorists committed against Israelis will always be
portrayed as more egregious than anything of which Israel may be guilty,
even if those Israeli crimes result in a body count that is one hundred
What would be surprising is if the US media gave anything approaching
equal coverage of the 1982 massacre. If the "propaganda model" (see Edward
S. Herman and Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent) of the media is
accurate, this disparity in coverage is wholly predictable. A reader would
not expect the US media, if it were a propaganda device of the government
and elite interests, to show a balance. An observer should not expect the
media to argue that the conduct of the very political and corporate
interests they serve (and in many cases the media and these elite
interests are one and the same), is in any way comparable to the
comparatively minor actions of official enemies. People, whether at the
individual or corporate and state level, are always more willing to point
fingers at an agreed-upon "evildoer" than to look in the mirror. Hypocrisy
is perhaps the most devious human vice.
In an open society such as the US, the propaganda function of the media
serves a dual purpose; not only are the atrocities committed by official
allies not deemed newsworthy, but the media is also characterized as a
"free press." Therefore, it seems illogical for someone to point out that
the media might be biased in its coverage of official allies versus that
of official enemies. The discussion of press bias in a case such as that
of Munich versus Sabra a Shatila cannot even begin because people are
indoctrinated from a very early age to believe that the ideal of a free
press espoused by their leaders, parents, and other authority figures
Unfortunately for the victims and survivors of Sabra and Shatila, there
no such reality.
(Many thanks to Ed Herman for the thesis of this essay).
Tom Gorman lives in Pasadena, California. He welcomes comments at
"The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but
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Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research at CIESIMSA
Center for the Advanced Study of American
Institutions and Social Movements
University of Grenoble-3