Object: ON SURVIVAL AND PSEUDO-SURVIVAL IN THE WORLD OF "ARTIFICIAL SCARCITY."
DÉBAT POLITIQUE et de la musique
le jeudi 18 mars 2010 à 20h
à la Librairie
« Obama après Bush »
Intervention sur "Obama après Bush" par Francis Feeley, avec Tatiana Baklanova Feeley au piano, pour l'anniversaire du début de la Commune de Paris (18 mars - 28 mai 1871).
À leur première rencontre après son élection en 2009, le nouveau Président Obama a été confronté
au Président Hugo Chavez du Venezuela, qui a demandé au premier président afro-américain des États-Unis : « Êtes-vous libre ? »
Une année plus tard, 30,000 soldats américains sont envoyés en Afghanistan, les plus riches banquiers privés des États-Unis se sont enrichis financièrement grâce aux subventions publiques, plus de 200.000 Haïtiens sont morts en grande partie à cause de la négligence de Washington, la proposition d'un système de santé publique a été sabotée par le congrès fédéral sous la pression des lobbys pharmaceutiques et médicaux, des millions de familles états-uniennes ont perdu leur maison, l'éducation publique aux États-Unis est en ruine à cause des « réformes » . . . .
La soire du 18 mars, nous allons essayer de répondre à la question posée par le Président Chavez :
"M. Obama, êtes-vous libre ?"
18 March 2010
AMY GOODMAN: We go now to California, where crowds of students stormed and occupied the office of a University of California, San Diego chancellor for six hours Friday after a noose was found hanging from a bookcase in the main library. The incident prompted angry protests from students across the UC-wide system and denunciations from UC President Mark Yudof and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The unidentified student who admitted to hanging the noose was suspended.
But racial tensions still run deep at UC San Diego, where the noose is only the latest in a string of incidents over the past few weeks. Protests were initially sparked by an off-campus party last month they called “Compton Cookout” that mocked Black History Month and denigrated African American women.
UC San Diego has the smallest percentage of African American students in the nine-campus UC system. The Black Student Union at UC San Diego has declared the campus climate for racial minorities to be in a, quote, “state of emergency.” The students called on the university to increase its stated commitment to diversity by recruiting more students of color and providing greater support for ethnic studies departments and resource centers for underrepresented students.
For more, I’m joined now in San Diego by the co-chair of the Black Student Union from the University of California, San Diego, Fnann Keflezighi, and Daniel Widener, associate professor of history and faculty director of the African American Studies minor at UC San Diego. He co-authored a letter from the African American faculty expressing their, quote, “disgust at the racist and misogynist events” and calling on the university administration to provide the necessary resources to improve the climate on campus.
We’re going to start with Daniel Widener, director of the African American Studies minor at UC San Diego. Just further explain these events, please.
DANIEL WIDENER: Well, good morning, Amy.
I think the most important thing for viewers and listeners to understand is that the students are battling not only a campus climate of intense hostility, that Fnann will also detail, but a tremendous amount of history. California voters have passed a series of racist initiatives, really over the last forty years, opposing fair housing, dismantling affirmative action, criminalizing youth, attempting to criminalize undocumented immigrant populations. So there’s really a social basis for an intense racism that aims to maintain black people as a surplus population to be jailed and Latino people as a disposable population to be kept as a semi-permanent socioeconomic underclass. So, education is a critical part of that. And on a campus where our numbers are almost a statistical anomaly, we face just a tremendous amount of both neglect and active hostility.
AMY GOODMAN: Fnann Keflezighi, co-chair of the UC San Diego Black Student Union, these most recent eventscan you start off by explaining what the so-called Compton Cookout was?
FNANN KEFLEZIGHI: So, the Compton Cookout, which was hosted and organized by different UCSD students, was in honor of Black History Month, and it was basically making a mockery of everything that we were celebrating for Black History Month on our campus and allowing students to experience the ghetto and different aspects of the ghetto by dressing a certain way and eating certain food and listening to certain music. But they definitely described what students should wear in a very detailed and dehumanizing and demoralizing way. We were all very shocked to read the description, as well as verya lot of other students and faculty and staff. A lot of folks thought it was a joke at first, but the party did happen that Monday.
AMY GOODMAN: I’m just amazed as I look at this Facebook invitation that urged women to dress as “ghetto chicks” who, quote, “usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes.” It said the menu would include chicken and watermelon?
FNANN KEFLEZIGHI: Mm-hmm.
AMY GOODMAN: And then you have
DANIEL WIDENER: Yeah, that’s right.
AMY GOODMAN: Professor Widener?
DANIEL WIDENER: No, no, no. I just wanted to say that that was really only the first of a string of subsequent incidents, and it’s important for people to understand that those incidents continue and that new ones are coming to light.
We had a student who had trash thrown on her in the residence hall. We’ve had students intimidated in large lecture courses, where you may have four or five hundred students and may have one or two African Americans, at most. We had, of course, the incident that people have heard about of the noose being hung in the library. And we’ve had some off-campus incidents in restaurants and other public spaces.
So, our position, our feeling, is that the climate is worsening for students and that students are expressing tremendous concern about their safety, a fear of attending classes, a fear of being on the campus. And we get word now of the beginnings of a really racist counter-mobilization aimed at repudiating the suggestions, the demands that the students have made for how to implement a better campus climate. So the situation really is polarizing between the people who see these outbreaks of racist hostility as a problem or an embarrassment and people who are prepared to defend them.
AMY GOODMAN: And the fact that UC San Diego has the smallest percentage of African American students in the nine-campus UC system, Fnann, do you think that this has anything to do with what’s going on right now?
FNANN KEFLEZIGHI: Most definitely. The UC president, Mark Yudof, addressed to the chancellor in June that she needed to fix the situation for African American students on the campus, because although the incidents are coming to light now, a lot of incidents like this have happened in the past, and it’s just a very hostile environment for African American students and underrepresented students on an everyday basis in the previous years. So I think that her lack of action to Mark Yudof telling her to take action in June is why we are in the state we are in now, as well asthe Black Student Union wrote a report called the “Do UC Us?” report in September and talked aboutthere was testimonies talking about how bad the climate was for African American students and made recommendations on how to fix that back in September.
AMY GOODMAN: And Professor Widener, what do you think of the administration’s response and what needs to be done right now?
DANIEL WIDENER: Initially, when asked, I called the administration’s response tepid. And I’d like to stand by that statement. I think that the university has recognized that there’s a problem, but it has yet to commit itself fully to implementing the kinds of solutions that have been laid out, not simply by the students in their “Do UC Us?” document, which does have testimony, which does have suggestions, but also a history of reports initiated by Latino faculty, by African American faculty, by multi-ethnic groups of faculty. There was a 2007 yield report aimed at democratizing and diversifying the campus.
So this has been a subject of study, but it’s never been a situation where the university would commit itself to allocating resources, funding students, scholarships for students, outreach and yield, and the kinds of things that would produce a student body, a population, reflective of our state, reflective of the diversity of our state, and where the students would not feel outnumbered. We should not have a situation where every student knows every other student by name. This is not a small liberal arts college. We have 24,000 undergraduates. So I think that the research has been done. The question is whether or not the university has the will to make the choices that will prevent these kinds of incidents in the future and in the present.
AMY GOODMAN: And the significance of, well, this being a decade after a California ballot proposition barred the use of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions, University of California continues to struggle to diversify its campuses. Black and Latino enrollment has plummeted.
DANIEL WIDENER: Yes, I think that it has to be said that the students have launched a battle against the resegregation of higher education. It’s a battle that’s tied to the privatization of higher education, the idea that only those who can afford a top-grade education should receive one, and that those should be the people who are the doctors, the attorneys, the chemists, and the other professional class for the future. And what the students have put on the line is the idea that a sixty- or seventy-year-old African American man could have a doctor who looks like him to talk about prostate cancer with, that a Latino who is accused of a crime could have an attorney who could communicate with her in her defense, that these students are fighting not just for the UC campuses, not just for UC San Diego, but for the future of people of color in this state.
And I think that it’s very important that people throughout the country try to do what they can to mobilize to help us, whether that’s emailing our chancellor, chancellor(at)ucsd.edu, calling her office at (858) 534-3135, or looking at a website that the students have put out called stopracismucsd.wordpress.com. These are all things that people can do immediately now to help us build pressure for change.
AMY GOODMAN: And Fnann, finally, there are major protests planned, is this right, for Thursday?
FNANN KEFLEZIGHI: Thursday is March 4th, which is actually a statewide day of action for educational justice and educational equality. It’s been planned for months now. And so, we definitely think that the situation that’s at hand right now with the campus climate at UCSD ties into March 4th and what March 4th is standing for and what it’s fighting for.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both for joining us. Professor Widener, Daniel Widener, associate professor of history and faculty director of the African American Studies minor at UC San Diego, and Fnann Keflezighi, co-chair of the UC San Diego Black Student Union, thank you for joining us.
from Information Clearing House :
Date: 1 March 2010
Subject: The Truth on Obama.
We owe Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney an apology. They were right about Barack Obama. They were right about the corporate state. They had the courage of their convictions and they stood fast despite wholesale defections and ridicule by liberals and progressives.
Obama lies as cravenly, if not as crudely, as George W. Bush. He promised us that the transfer of $12.8 trillion in taxpayer money to Wall Street would open up credit and lending to the average consumer. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC), however, admitted last week that banks have reduced lending at the sharpest pace since 1942. As a senator, Obama promised he would filibuster amendments to the FISA Reform Act that retroactively made legal the wiretapping and monitoring of millions of American citizens without warrant; instead he supported passage of the loathsome legislation. He told us he would withdraw American troops from Iraq, close the detention facility at Guantánamo, end torture, restore civil liberties such as habeas corpus and create new jobs. None of this has happened.
He is shoving a health care bill down our throats that would give hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to the private health insurance industry in the form of subsidies, and force millions of uninsured Americans to buy insurers' defective products. These policies would come with ever-rising co-pays, deductibles and premiums and see most of the seriously ill left bankrupt and unable to afford medical care. Obama did nothing to halt the collapse of the Copenhagen climate conference, after promising meaningful environmental reform, and has left us at the mercy of corporations such as ExxonMobil. He empowers Israel's brutal apartheid state. He has expanded the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where hundreds of civilians, including entire families, have been slaughtered by sophisticated weapons systems such as the Hellfire missile, which sucks the air out of victims' lungs. And he is delivering war and death to Yemen, Somalia and perhaps Iran.
The illegal wars and occupations, the largest transference of wealth upward in American history and the egregious assault on civil liberties, all begun under George W. Bush, raise only a flicker of tepid protest from liberals when propagated by the Democrats. Liberals, unlike the right wing, are emotionally disabled. They appear not to feel. The tea party protesters, the myopic supporters of Sarah Palin, the veterans signing up for Oath Keepers and the myriad of armed patriot groups have swept into their ranks legions of disenfranchised workers, angry libertarians, John Birchers and many who, until now, were never politically active. They articulate a legitimate rage. Yet liberals continue to speak in the bloodless language of issues and policies, and leave emotion and anger to the protofascists. Take a look at the 3,000-word suicide note left by Joe Stack, who flew his Piper Cherokee last month into an IRS office in Austin, Texas, murdering an IRS worker and injuring dozens. He was not alone in his rage.
"Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it's time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours?" Stack wrote. "Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country's leaders don't see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political ‘representatives' (thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the ‘terrible health care problem'. It's clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don't get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in."
The timidity of the left exposes its cowardice, lack of a moral compass and mounting political impotence. The left stands for nothing. The damage Obama and the Democrats have done is immense. But the damage liberals do the longer they beg Obama and the Democrats for a few scraps is worse. It is time to walk out on the Democrats. It is time to back alternative third-party candidates and grass-roots movements, no matter how marginal such support may be. If we do not take a stand soon we must prepare for the rise of a frightening protofascist movement, one that is already gaining huge ground among the permanently unemployed, a frightened middle class and frustrated low-wage workers. We are, even more than Glenn Beck or tea party protesters, responsible for the gusts fanning the flames of right-wing revolt because we have failed to articulate a credible alternative.
A shift to the Green Party, McKinney and Nader, along with genuine grass-roots movements, will not be a quick fix. It will require years in the wilderness. We will again be told by the Democrats that the least-worse candidate they select for office is better than the Republican troll trotted out as an alternative. We will be bombarded with slick commercials about hope and change and spoken to in a cloying feel-your-pain language. We will be made afraid. But if we again acquiesce we will be reduced to sad and pathetic footnotes in our accelerating transformation from a democracy to a totalitarian corporate state. Isolation and ridicule-ask Nader or McKinney-is the cost of defying power, speaking truth and building movements. Anger at injustice, as Martin Luther King wrote, is the political expression of love. And it is vital that this anger become our own. We have historical precedents to fall back upon.
"Here in the United States, at the beginning of the twentieth century, before there was a Soviet Union to spoil it, you see, socialism had a good name," the late historian and activist Howard Zinn said in a lecture a year ago at Binghamton University. "Millions of people in the United States read socialist newspapers. They elected socialist members of Congress and socialist members of state legislatures. You know, there were like fourteen socialist chapters in Oklahoma. Really. I mean, you know, socialism-who stood for socialism? Eugene Debs, Helen Keller, Emma Goldman, Clarence Darrow, Jack London, Upton Sinclair. Yeah, socialism had a good name. It needs to be restored."
Social change does not come through voting. It is delivered through activism, organizing and mobilization that empower groups to confront the hegemony of the corporate state and the power elite. The longer socialism is identified with the corporatist policies of the Democratic Party, the longer we allow the right wing to tag Obama as a socialist, the more absurd and ineffectual we become. The right-wing mantra of "Obama the socialist," repeated a few days ago to a room full of Georgia Republicans, by Newt Gingrich, the former U.S. speaker of the House, is discrediting socialism itself. Gingrich, who looks set to run for president, called Obama the "most radical president" the country had seen in decades. "By any standard of government control of the economy, he is a socialist," Gingrich said. If only the critique was true.
The hypocrisy and ineptitude of the Democrats become, in the eyes of the wider public, the hypocrisy and ineptitude of the liberal class. We can continue to tie our own hands and bind our own feet or we can break free, endure the inevitable opprobrium, and fight back. This means refusing to support the Democrats. It means undertaking the laborious work of building a viable socialist movement. It is the only alternative left to save our embattled open society. We can begin by sending a message to the Green Party, McKinney and Nader. Let them know they are no longer alone.
© 2010 TruthDig.com
from Michael Parenti :
Date: 3 March 2010
Subject: Empire: the Word and the Feeling.
Francis, you might find attached article to be of some interest.
What Do Empires Do?
by Michael Parenti
When I wrote my book Against Empire in 1995, as might be expected, some of my U.S. compatriots thought it was wrong of me to call the United States an empire. It was widely believed that U.S. rulers did not pursue empire; they intervened abroad only out of self-defense or for humanitarian rescue operations or to restore order in a troubled region or overthrow tyranny, fight terrorism, and propagate democracy.
But by the year 2000, everyone started talking about the United States as an empire and writing books with titles like Sorrows of Empire, Follies of Empire, Twilight of Empire, or Empire of Illusions--- all referring to the United States when they spoke of empire.
Even conservatives started using the word. Amazing. One could hear right-wing pundits announcing on U.S. television, “We’re an empire, with all the responsibilities and opportunities of empire and we better get used to it”; and “We are the strongest nation in the world and have every right to act as such”---as if having the power gives U.S. leaders an inherent entitlement to exercise it upon others as they might wish.
“What is going on here?” I asked myself at the time. How is it that so many people feel free to talk about empire when they mean a United States empire? The ideological orthodoxy had always been that, unlike other countries, the USA did not indulge in colonization and conquest.
The answer, I realized, is that the word has been divested of its full meaning. “Empire” seems nowadays to mean simply dominion and control. Empire---for most of these late-coming critics--- is concerned almost exclusively with power and prestige. What is usually missing from the public discourse is the process of empire and its politico-economic content. In other words, while we hear a lot about empire, we hear very little about imperialism.
Now that is strange, for imperialism is what empires are all about. Imperialism is what empires do. And by imperialism I do not mean the process of extending power and dominion without regard to material and financial interests. Indeed “imperialism” has been used by some authors in the same empty way that they use the word “empire,” to simply denote dominion and control with little attention given to political economic realities.
But I define imperialism as follows: the process whereby the dominant investor interests in one country bring to bear their economic and military power upon another nation or region in order to expropriate its land, labor, natural resources, capital, and marketsin such a manner as to enrich the investor interests. In a word, empires do not just pursue “power for power’s sake.” There are real and enormous material interests at stake, fortunes to be made many times over.
So for centuries the ruling interests of Western Europe and later on North America and Japan went forth with their financiers---and when necessary their armies---to lay claim to most of planet Earth, including the labor of indigenous peoples (both as workers and slaves), their markets, their incomes (through colonial taxation or debt control or other means), and the abundant treasures of their lands: their gold, silver, diamonds, copper, rum, molasses, hemp, flax, ebony, timber, sugar, tobacco, ivory, iron, tin, nickel, coal, cotton, corn, and more recently: uranium, manganese, titanium, bauxite, oil, and---say it againoil (hardly a complete listing).
Empires are enormously profitable for the dominant economic interests of the imperial nation but enormously costly to the people of the colonized country. In addition to suffering the pillage of their lands and natural resources, the people of these targeted countries are frequently killed in large numbers by the intruders.
This is another thing that empires do which too often goes unmentioned in the historical and political literature of countries like the United States, Britain, and France. Empires impoverish whole populations and kill lots and lots of innocent people. As I write this, President Obama and the national security state for which he works are waging two and a half wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, and northern Pakistan), and leveling military threats against Yemen, Iran, and, on a slow day, North Korea. Instead of sending medical and rescue aid to Haiti, Our Bomber sent in the Marines, the same Marines who engaged in years of repression and killings in Haiti decades ago and supported more recent massacres by proxy forces.
The purpose of all this killing is to prevent alternative, independent, self-defining nations from emerging. So the empire uses its state power to gather private wealth for its investor class. And it uses its public wealth to shore up its state power and prevent other nations from self-developing.
Sooner or later this arrangement begins to wilt under the weight of its own contradictions. As the empire grows more menacing and more murderous toward others, it grows sick and impoverished within itself.
From ancient times to today, empires have always been involved in the bloody accumulation of wealth. If you don’t think this is true of the United States then stop calling it “Empire.” And when you write a book about how it wraps its arms around the planet, entitle it “Global Bully” or “Bossy Busybody,” but be aware that you’re not telling us much about imperialism.
Michael Parenti's recent books include: Contrary Notions: The Michael Parenti Reader (City Lights); The Assassination of Julius Caesar (New Press), Superpatriotism (City Lights), The Culture Struggle (Seven Stories Press), and God and His Demons (Prometheus 2010). For further information, visit his website: www.michaelparenti.org.
from : Information Clearing House :
Date: 1 March 2010
Subject: U.S. Government Officials Accused of Treason Against the United States of America.
Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator, claims that the following government officials have committed what amount to acts of treason.
Sibel Edmonds Has Named Names. Why Isn't The Media Reporting The Story?
from Philip A Farruggio :
Date: 24 February 2010
Subject: The Engineering of Public Apathy.
Things are getting so bad and so quickly that even the mainstream media runs out of ‘ censorship fingers ‘ for the dike of truth. You can easily get the drift on things simply by reading the Money Section of USA Today..... No bastion of radical thought. Take today’s issue, February 24, 2010. The cover page tells us that the number of US banks considered ‘ troubled ‘ rose to more than 700 while the industry actually eked out a small profit..... You know, taxpayer bank bailout of 800 plus billion . It also reported that within the first 6 weeks of this new year, 20 banks have failed. On page 2 they tells us ‘ Consumer confidence plummets in February.... Rising job worries sent a key barometer of confidence to its lowest point in 10 months, raising concerns about the economic recovery ’. We turn to the next page and read that the average Wall Street bonus leaped 25 % in 2009 to $ 123, 850 . Wall Street firms paid out an estimated 20.3 billion ( taxpayer assisted ) in cash bonuses last year, a 17% jump over 2008 ( when there were no taxpayer handouts ) . The article also goes on to state that the median annual American wage is $ 32, 390 , causing outrage on Main Street . Gee, wonder why?
This writer asks ‘ Where’s the outrage ‘ ? One would think that after this disgrace of a bank bailout, our neighbors would finally Get It . A group of us has been standing on a local street corner advocating for key issues, each and every Tuesday during rush hour for five years. We are lucky to attract a handful, perhaps 5 or 6 folks each week. Matter of fact, the apathy level seems to be greater now than even under the Bush & Cheney Gang’s rule. Maybe that’s it. Maybe all the good folks, the ones who did not buy into the crap that the Bush & Cheney Gang was selling, maybe they are now locked into Mr. Obama and the Democrats. I guess they are waiting to be.......saved. Ain’t gonna happen folks. As long as the good folks pass us by on the street corners of America, it’ll continue to be business as usual.
In that same Feb. 24 issue of USA Today, in the Life Section, page 11, an interesting article appears, ‘ Kansas City considers closing 31 of 61 schools ‘ . They have a 50 million dollar budget shortfall, and expect 31 schools and 285 teachers, plus other employees, to get the ax. Yet, how many of those affected ( duh, like the parents, teachers, workers, kids ) ever connected the dots when our country ( illegally and immorally ) invaded Iraq? Close to one trillion dollars blown and still counting. Translated: No more block grant money from Uncle Sam to Missouri to help with education, construction and Medicaid, amongst other things. Yet, so few out there will ‘ connect the dots ‘ on our fiscal crisis. Matter of fact, last week, my homeowners Association called an emergency meeting to discuss the higher fees and taxes coming from our city. You see, our city is pretty broke ( as are most cities nowadays ) as revenues from property taxes and fees are down dramatically. Yet, how many out there realize that the housing scam bubble burst and the US economy gutted due to the excess military spending on Iraq and Afghanistan are the culprits? Factor in the tens of billions spent each year to maintain over 750 military bases in over 100 different countries. Then we have the 800 billion dollar bank bailout..... Why even go on ? You get me, right?
Imagine if all the homeowners Associations, in my town alone, got even one half their members to march on our local Congressional office, demanding an end to the phony wars & occupations and Fat Cat bailouts. What do you think that Congressperson would do when her aide calls her in Washington with a report " There are over 2,000 people outside here demanding that you .......... " ? Yet, as long as the good folks continue to remain silent, waiting for another election to create the change and hope for them......futility!
If only my Christian friends would study the things that Jesus of Nazareth said and did. It is right there to be digested and followed:
Beware you of the scribes and Pharisees who pride themselves in wearing long and richly decorated robes, and love to be saluted in the market place, and seek the highest seats at feasts, and take the hard earned wages of the poor to satisfy their carnal selves , and pray in public, long and loud. These are the wolves who clothes themselves to look like sheep......... They talk of mercy, yet they bind on human shoulders burdens too grievous to bear. They talk of helpfulness, and yet they put not forth the slightest helpful efforts for their brother man. They make a show of doing things, and yet they do not anything but show their gaudy robes, and smile when people call them honored masters of the law.
As my street corner pal Walt would say: ‘ Nuff said ! ‘
Philip A Farruggio is a free lance columnist, activist leader, and small businessman. For more info on his over 125 columns since 2001, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
from Bertell Ollman :
Date: 5 March 2010
Subject: War with Iran . . . ? : Read the IAEA Reprots on Iran with Peter Casey.
Here is a terribly important piece - which could have been entitled "Judith Miller Redux" - that Joel Kovel has just sent on to me me. It's the best evidence I've seen so far of just how close we are to the war with Iran, and also how closely the path to it resembles the one we trod to get to the war with Iraq. Something your readers should see?
While I got you both on the phone, let me introduce you to each other: Mark, Francis is an American prof. who teaches in the English Studies Program in the Univ. of Grenoble, France. Francis, Mark is a prof. in the Culture and Communications Dept. here at NYU and co-taught the "How to Steal an Election" course with me last year. Both of you send out frequent mailings of left news and analysis (Mark mostly to people in the U.S., Francis mostly to people in France and internationally - I think). Aside from me, I doubt if there is much overlap in your audiences. I have been wanting to urge each of you to put the other on your list (see email addresses above), since there is probably a lot in the packages of material that each of you distributes that the other could use to good effect as well.
On Feb. 19, /New York Times /reporters David Sanger and William Broad filed a story about the International Atomic Energy Agency’s latest report [attached*] on its inspection and monitoring work in Iran. The lead of story, "Inspectors Say Iran Worked on Warhead," announced the Feb. 18 report’s shocking discovery:
"The United Nations’ nuclear inspectors declared for the first time onThursday that they had extensive evidence of «past or current undisclosed activities» by Iran’s military to develop a nuclear warhead, an unusually strongly worded conclusion that seems certain to accelerate Iran»s confrontation with the United States and other Western countries."
If that isn’t disturbing enough, the story then revealed that the IAEA has "concluded," contrary to America’s intelligence agencies, that Iran has been working feverishly on a nuclear bomb without interruption:
"The report, the first under the new director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, also concluded that Iran’s weapons-related activity apparently continued «beyond 2004,» contradicting an American intelligence assessment published a little over two years ago that concluded that work on a bomb was suspended at the end of 2003."
If this story is true, everyone should be frightened. The IAEA has had extensive evidence that Iran was building a nuclear weapon, but it inexplicably withheld that information from the world until now. More troubling, the combined intelligence resources of the United States not only failed to discover the evidence available to the IAEA, but they also reached the erroneous conclusion that Iran had stopped all work on any nuclear weapon years ago.
The prospect is terrifying: Iran is creating a nuclear arsenal, and nobody can or will warn us in time to avert annihilation.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is that none of it is true.
The /Times /imputes to the IAEA report statements, declarations, and conclusions that just are not there. One can see this easily, just by reading the report and comparing it to the story. You do not need a degree in nuclear physics or chemical engineering to see that the /New York Times /story is, quite simply, false.
The /Times /was not alone in fabricating content for the IAEA report. The overwhelming response of American media grossly overstated its significance and rewrote it beyond recognition. The Times» story, however, is transparently dishonest, and it raises the legitimate question: Is America’s "paper of record" consciously misrepresenting facts to "accelerate confrontation" between Iran and the West?
The /Times /wasted no time with facts. It got down to the business of distorting the report right away – in the headline itself, followeed by the near-hysterical lead paragraph. Contrary to the /Times/, the IAEA inspectors /do not / "say Iran worked on warhead," nor do they for the "first time declare… that they had extensive evidence of past or current undisclosedd activities by Iran»s military to develop a nuclear warhead." Instead, the report (paragraph 41) summarizes information that the IAEA has discussed in over a /dozen reports /beginning four years ago, making no new "declarations," referring to no new circumstances. See February 2006 report [.pdf], paragraph 38. It then states:
"The information available to the Agency in connection with these outstanding issues is extensive and has been collected from a variety of sources over time. It is also broadly consistent and credible in terms of the technical detail, the time frame in which the activities were conducted and the people and organizations involved. *Altogether, this raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile*. These alleged activities consist of a number of projects and sub-projects, covering nuclear and missile related aspects, run by military related organizations." (Emphasis added.)
The /Times/» story does not quote the language of the report in bold above until
the 15th paragraph. Even then, it does not explain that this sentence is the
/sole basis /for the sensational – and sensationally false â€€“ claim that the IAEA /says, declares, and concludes /that Iran had and has a nuclear weapons program.
Two relevant points are obvious from comparing the 10-page IAEA report and the /Times/» story. First, the story»s lead attributes to the report statements of fact that the IAEA does not make – and has never made. Insteadd of stating that "Iran Worked on Warhead," the IAEA says that it is concerned about the /possible existence /of past or current activities related to the development of a nuclear payload. No matter how much spin even the masters at the /New York Times /can put on it, information giving rise to concerns about the possibility of a weapons program is not a statement," "declaration," or "conclusion" that Iran has a weapons program. To say that one is concerned about the possibility of something is not to say that the something exists. When speaking of weapons that can destroy civilization, most people would agree that the difference is important. Not so the /Times/, apparently.
Sanger, Broad, and the editors of the /New York Times /surely know the difference between the /possible /and the /actual/. Why then did they describe the IAEA’s statements of possibility as conclusions of fact?
Second, the report does not state or claim that the IAEA has any new information about the possibility of a nuclear weapons program. The report contains no relevant new or different facts, evidence, conclusions, or "declarations." On the contrary, the IAEA (at paragraph 40) is emphatic that it is summarizing information about potential military application /previously /reported in detail:
"[T]he Agency needs to have confidence in the absence of possible
military dimensions to Iran»s nuclear program. */Previous reports by
the Director General have detailed the outstanding issues and the actions
required of Iran/, /including/*, inter alia, that Iran implement the Additional
Protocol and provide the Agency with the information and access necessary to:
resolve questions related to the alleged studies; clarify the circumstances of the
acquisition of the uranium metal document; clarify procurement and R&D
activities of military related institutes and companies that could be nuclear
related; and clarify the production of nuclear related equipment and components
by companies belonging to the defense industries." (Emphasis added.)
This litany of issues and questions not only contains nothing new. It is a virtual cut-and-paste from prior IAEA reports going /back at least two years/.
See the IAEA report of May 2008 [.pdf], paragraph 14:
"In addition to the implementation of Iran»s Additional Protocol, for
the Agency to provide assurances regarding the absence of undeclared
nuclear material and activities in Iran, Iran needs to, inter alia:
resolve questions related to the alleged studies…; provide more informmation
on the circumstances of the acquisition of the uranium metal
document…; clarify procurement and R&D activities of milittary related
institutes and companies that could be nuclear related…; andd clarify
the production of nuclear equipment and components by companies
belonging to defense industries."
The /Times/» claim that the report "declares" "extensive evidence" of a nuclear weapons program for the "first time" is a crude misconstruction designed to hype the report as news that is "/certain to accelerate Iran’s confrontation /with the United States and other Western countries." The /only/ relevant differences between current and past reports are completely non-substantive. As noted, the current report paragraph 41) characterizes the IAEA»s information as "extensive," coming from multiple sources, "broadly consistent," and "credible," then states that, "[a]ltogether, this raises concerns about the possible existence in Iran of past or current undisclosed activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a
missile." The IAEA has said the same thing in substance over and over again, for years. For example, the August 2009 IAEA report [.pdf] states (paragraph 19):
"[A]s the Director General has repeatedly emphasized, the information
contained in that documentation appears to have been derived from
multiple sources over different periods of time, appears to be
generally consistent, and is sufficiently comprehensive and detailed that it
needs to be addressed by Iran with a view to */removing the doubts
which naturally arise, in light of all of the outstanding issues, about
the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran»s nuclear program/*." (Emphasis
In another context, the two statements would be close enough to give the author of the August 2009 [report] an excellent claim for copyright infringement. More importantly, there is no substantive difference between the punch line in the August 2009 report and its rephrasing in the current report. The current report, "raising concerns" about the "possible existence" of activities to develop "a nuclear payload for a missile," merely restates, in mirror image, the earlier report»s unresolved doubts …¦ about the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran»s nuclear program." Doubts about the "exclusively peaceful nature" of a nuclear program mean questions about
possible military application. In any event, the basis for both formulations, as stated explicitly in the current report, is an identical list of issues and questions discussed at length in the reports for several years.
It is difficult to believe that veteran reporters from the /New York Times /would misconstrue the IAEA»s summary of long-standing questions as an earth-shattering new "conclusion" about Iran»s development of a "nuclear payload" that seems certain" to bring the U.S. and Israel closer to war with Iran. Does the /Times /want a war?
Whatever its motives, the /Times/» distortions and misuse of the IAEA’s report look like the product of an agenda. In the second paragraph, for example, Sanger and Broad claim that the IAEA has "also concluded that Iran’s weapons-related activity apparently continued «beyond 2004,» contradicting an American intelligence assessment published a little over two years ago that concluded that work on a bomb was suspended at the end of 2003." This statement is blatantly misleading. The National Intelligence Estimate [attached*] issued in late 2007 expressed the judgment that Iran discontinued a nuclear weapons program in 2003. In other words, American intelligence concluded that Iran had conducted an undisclosed nuclear weapons program up until 2003. Since commencing work in 2003, however, the IAEA has /never expressed a conclusion /– including in the current repoort – that Iran /has ever had /a nuclear weapons program. See report GOV/2003-75 [.pdf], paragraph 52 (Nov. 10, 2003): "To date, there is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activities referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons program." Nobody – not even the IAEAA – can "contradict" a proposition without a contradiction.
In any event, the report actually states (paragraph 43): "Addressing these issues is important for clarifying the Agency»s concerns about these activities and those described above, /which seem to have continued beyond 2004/." The "activities" refer to /same /list of "alleged activities" (the existence of which Iran disputes and which the IAEA still questions) or those that Iran claims solely concern civilian application (but may have a "military dimension"), all of which have been discussed in detail in earlier reports.
Whether some activities (e.g., theoretical "dual use" material) /that raise questions or concerns /about the "exclusively peaceful nature" of Iran»s nuclear program continued "beyond 2004" does not establish that they involve efforts to develop a "nuclear payload" before, during, or after 2004.
The /Times/» agenda here is to contribute to the near-relentless public (and undoubtedly private) pressure on the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and other key intelligence agencies to scrap the 2007 NIE. The ink was not dry on that report before it came under blistering attack from every quarter in the anti-Iran camp. Since then, the "debate" over the 2007 NIE reflects a complete national amnesia over the politicization of intelligence responsible for the Iraq invasion and all the later chest-beating about "stove-piping" that consumed dozens of committees and commissions.
Quite unlike Cheney»s subterranean Office of Special Plans, the politicization of the Iran NIE has taken place in the middle of Main Street at high noon. With a new NIE reportedly in the pipeline and opponents of the 2007 estimate striving to get it changed, the /Times/» Feb.19 story does its bit by claiming falsely that even the IAEA»s "conclusions" "contradict" it.
Protect the independent judgment of intelligence services? Forget it. The rest of the /Times/» story continues in the same fashion, taking the equivalent of firecrackers in the IAEA report and converting them through the magic of journalism into 25-megaton nukes. Another of its frightening revelations is that the "report indicated that /for the first time /Iran told inspectors it was preparing to make its uranium into metallic form â€“ a step that can be explained by some civilian applications, /but is widely viewed as necessary for making the core of an atom bomb/." Near the end of the story, the authors return to this point, noting that the report "disclosed Iranian work on uranium metal at … Isfahan, where it said Iran planned too build several production lines. The Institute for Science and International Security … said in a report on Thursday that the new lines at Isfaahan «raise suspicions that Iran could use them to make metal components for weapons»" (emphasis added).
The trouble with this claim is that Sanger and Broad should have put "this decade" after "first time." That is because, as the IAEA reported /in 2003/, "the design information /provided to the Agency in July 2000 /described the purpose of [the Isfahan] facility as the conversion of uranium ore concentrate (UOC or U3O8) into natural UO2, UF6, and /uranium metal/" (emphasis added). This seven-year-old report adds that the Iranians disclosed that the facility would have "the following process lines" – and then /listts the same processing lines/, including those for /uranium metal/, that the /Times /now says the Iranians did not disclose until 2010. Compare the 2003 report [.pdf],
Annex 1, paragraphs 3 and 4, with the Feb. 18 report [.pdf], paragraph 25 (both list the same seven processing lines, including those for producing "uranium metal enriched to 19.7% U-235" from UF6 and producing "depleted uranium metal" from UF4).
For almost seven years, the IAEA has been issuing reports roughly every quarter on the findings, issues, and open items from its inspections of Iran’s nuclear activities. Three basic facts can be found in its reports.
First, all of Iran»s nuclear material has been and remains under IAEA "containment and surveillance." Second, Iran does not have nuclear weapons or the means to make them. Third, there is no definitive evidence that Iran in fact has or ever had a nuclear weapons program. For as long as the IAEA has been issuing its reports, however, the major American media have been doing their utmost to twist, torque, and torture them into a nightmarish revelation of ghoulish mullahs feverishly building a doomsday machine as they plan to create a nuclear empire, wipe Israel from the face of the map, and conquer the world.
A couple of years ago I suggested that everyone should read the IAEA reports because an educated public might help avert another unnecessary war based on lies. That, however, probably wasn»t inspiring enough. So let me suggest this: If you read the reports and then read the newspaper accounts of them, you can experience firsthand that galvanic shot of astonishment from discovering just how bad – how shamelessly badd – the American media has become.
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