Subject: ON THE ECOLOGY OF MIND AND THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF REDUCTIVE THINKING.
The 9 items below should help us recognize President Obama for what he is, that child we sat next to in elementary school, who always listened and raised his hand to answer the teachers' questions. He is a most successful product of our culture, now working for the corporate elite and still providing brilliant answers to bad questions. . . .
Item A. is an article by New York City New School for Social Research Professor Richard Wolff, first published in the UK Gardian, on today's "implosion" of the myth of 'American exceptionalism.'
Item B., from Reader Supported News, is a report on the recent House Vote to Repeal the Obama Healthcare Law, by David M. Herszenhorn of The New York Times.
Item C., from University of Pennsylvania Professor Edward S. Herman, is an article by University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole on the unholy (and anti-Semitic) alliance between US Christian Zionists and Israeli nationalists.
Item D., from NYU Professor Mark Crispin Miller, is an article by independent reporter John Pilger on the persecution of Wikileaks founder Julien Assange and its significance in the global context of the capitalist crises and the permanent war economy.
Item E., from Francis Feeley, is an Internet link to the unrehearsed first response to the political assassinations which occurred in Tuscon, Arizona on Saturday morning, January 8 : The politics of violence, both psychological and material, in the USA.
Item F. is an update on "the cult of violence" sent by Francis Feeley to European members of the Société des Anglicistes de L'Enseignement Supérieur.
Item G. is an article, sent to us by Professor Mark Crispin Miller, written by Nancy A. Youssef, who criticizes US journalists for shunning Wikileaks founder, Julien Assange, while showing themsleves more than willing to advance their careers by exploiting the information he has provided.
Item H., sent to us by Professor Miller, is the report on "THE BIG LIE," in which Glenn Greenwald writes of the blatent misconduct and unethical management of the UK Guardian in its hypocritical coverage of Wikileaks founder, Julien Assange.
Item I. is an article from Diana Johnstone on "Criminal Kosovo: America's Gift to Europe," first published in Counter Punch.
And finally, we invite CEIMSA readers to commemorate with us one Palestinian family who was victimized two years ago by Israeli forces who were in the process of murdering in cold blood over fourteen hundred unarmed civilizians (mostly children) living in Gaza:
Gaza Doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish: Two Years After Israeli Attack that Killed 3 Daughters & Niece: "As Long as I am Breathing, They are with Me. I Will Never Forget"
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
from Richard Wolff
Date: 19 January 2011
Subject: The Myth of 'American Exceptionalism' Implodes.
The Myth of 'American Exceptionalism' Implodes
by Richard Wolff
"Until the 1970s, US capitalism shared its spoils with American workers. But since 2008, it has made them pay for its failures."
from Reader Supported News :
Date: 20 January 2011
Subject: US House of Representatives vote against Obama's healthcare reform.
by David M. Herszenhorn, The New York Times
from Edward S. Herman :
Date: 13 January 2011
Subject: Dersh Defends Palin on Fox: Palin Borrows Blood Libel from Israeli Far Right.
Very good article by Juan Cole on Netanyahu, Palin and the use of "blood libel"
The attacks on WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, are a response to an information revolution that threatens old power orders in politics and journalism. The incitement to murder trumpeted by public figures in the United States, together with attempts by the Obama administration to corrupt the law and send Assange to a hell-hole prison for the rest of his life, are the reactions of a rapacious system exposed as never before. TRNN speaks to people attending memorial service in Tucson cordially, Until February 1999, Hashim Thaci’s only claim to fame was in Serbian police records, where he was wanted for various violent crimes. Then suddenly, at a French chateau called Rambouillet, he was thrust into the world spotlight by his American handlers. It is one of the most bizarre twists to the whole tragi-comic Kosovo saga. EULEX versus Clan Loyalty
by Juan Cole
[Note: At UMichigan, Cole is one of the top Middle East experts in the country. When Yale was going to make him an offer, the Israel Lobby knocked him off there their standard operating procedure. Just like Dersh and his Buddies denied tenure to Norman Finkelstein at DePaul.]
Sarah Palin in her response to the controversy over her violent political imagery and that of the US right wing in general in the wake of the Tucson massacre, provoked a new controversy when she said,
Journalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.
The blood libel was the false and outrageous accusation launched against Jews in medieval and early modern Europe by Christians that they stole Christian babies and used their blood in secret rituals. This bizarre obsession of European Christians resulted in attacks on and pogroms against the poor Jews on many occasions.
So why would a leader of white Christian populists (the kind of people who in previous eras have often been prejudiced against Jews) deploy the language of blood libel to make her and her movement seem as though it were a persecuted minority?
I believe that the phrase was taken over by Palins speech writers from right wing Israeli discourse. Historian Melani McAlister argued in her book Epic Encounters that the US white right wing began using the Israelis in the late 1970s as a kind of collective Rambo figure to make themselves feel better about their declining power in world affairs. With the loss of the Vietnam War, the oil price spike, the Islamic Revolution in Iran and the hostage crisis, the US went through what Jimmy Carter called a malaise and was threatened with loss of control over the Third World.
Israel also seemed besieged by Third World enemies, especially the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and so forth. Thus, a successful Israeli operation such as the rescue of hostages at Entebbe Airport in Uganda in 1976 gave the American right wing heart. Israelis were promoted into the ranks of white people (whiteness, which began by implying a northern European Protestant ethnicity, can be gained or lost over time by ethnic groups in the United States). The Israelis victories over brown peoples were psychological palliatives for the raw feelings of declining American white populists. This surrogacy, Rambo function of Israel for the American right wing was reinforced by September 11 and by the reconfiguration of the Palestinians, among the more secular people in the Middle East, as wild-eyed Muslim fanatics (an image that rather erases the Christian Palestinians from the scene).
In the past ten years both the American right wing and the Israeli right wing have suffered the humiliations of victory. The invasion and occupation of Iraq produced US torture, atrocities, and local civil war, a refutation by reality of the Rights hopes of restoring the tarnished reputation of war and empire. The Israeli right, which is anyway not a self-reflective set of political traditions, increasingly did not know its own strength. Its wars on little Lebanon and littler Gaza did not look to the world like a David and Goliath story a la the Six Dar War with Egypt and Jordan. Those wars looked like a world class military and a high-tech society beating up on small, less developed neighbors. The Israeli disregard for Arab civilian life, moreover, appalled all close observers who cared about human rights and the international law of war. At the same time, the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank brought increasing misery to stateless, helpless Palestinians.
The Goldstone Report for the United Nations was among the first major extended critiques of Israeli crimes against civilian Palestinians to gain international credibility. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of the Likud Party pushed back against it last November in New Orleans. The Jerusalem Post reported of Netanyahu that he denounced the delegitimization of Israel by documents such as the Goldstone report on civilian casualties and called it a modern day blood libel.
Psychiatrist Alfred Adler argued that the central human neurosis is an inferiority complex deriving from feelings of inadequacies in childhood, and that some people deal with it by over-compensating and developing a superiority complex, leading them to denigrate and put down others on the basis of ethnicity, for instance. That is, some people deal with their feelings of inadequacy by becoming competent and confident and positive toward their neighbors. Others deal with them by becoming bullies. Netanyahu is a classic of the latter sort, as his rhetoric demonstrates. The Gaza War cannot be criticized because that would make Netanyahu face the inadequacies he has suppressed through his bullying demeanor. To protect himself from critique he must make himself an innocent victim, attacked by the irrational hatreds of others.
In this way, the Goldstone Report, headed by a prominent Jewish jurist, becomes equivalent to the medieval persecution of Jews by fanatical and bigoted Christians.
For the Israeli far right wing, a peace process with Palestinians and the prospect of living with them is itself a blood libel. The USG Open Source Center translated the following:
Washington Talks New Blood Libel Against Jews
In a commentary entitled Who Needs the Palestinian People? published 23 August on the Aveterra LiveJournal blog, Mikhael Goldenberg writes: In light of the upcoming talks at the White House and Arab ultimatums, I will venture to declare this meeting the new blood libel of the US Administration and its accessories with the aim of destroying the Jewish people under the pretext of peace. The Arabs of Gaza need to be resettled (according to the old 1943 US plan, which the UK opposed) to the territory of Iraq. The Arabs of Judea and Samaria should follow them. The Arabs of Israel must swear loyalty to the State of Israel, or else they can leave to the four winds. Otherwise, their very existence here is a pretext for all wars. No Arab state on historic Jewish land, on the biblical land of the Jewish people. If the United States, Russia, and Europe do not recognize this, then as traitors of their ancestors, who prayed according to the Holy Scriptures, they are unworthy to live on the earth. (Aveterra LiveJournal in Russian Israeli Agency for Political and Politological Information blog of anonymous writer )
In this anonymous pro-squatter screed, opposition to the ethnic cleansing of millions of innocent Palestinians is equivalent to pogroms against Jewry.
The misuse of the blood libel defense reached a crescendo of absurdity in early 2010, when a rabbi accused of sexual indiscretions dismissed the charges as you guessed it a blood libel.
Palin took the long-standing American right wing populist use of the Israelis as a symbol of white biblical riposte to the siege of pagan brown peoples a step further on Wednesday. She actually identified her followers as themselves a sort of tribe of Israel, and thus open to the same kind of persecution that the children of Israel have long suffered from. This extreme identification with the themes of the Likud and Shas Parties in Israel is an extension of the long-standing tradition of Christian Zionism. Whether Palins diction goes beyond that movement to suggest a strain of British Israelism is unclear.
The parallels to the right wing in Israel are exact. Just as its leaders complain that restraints on Israeli freedom of action in killing civilians during wars, or pressure on Israel to accept peaceful co-existence with the Palestinians, are a blood libel, so any criticism of Palin for deploying a rhetoric of violence and warfare in civilian politics is likewise a blood libel.
The bully, afflicted by an inferiority complex, sees all opposition as unfair persecution.
from News From Underground :
Date: 15 January 2011
Subject: The filthy war on WikiLeaks.
by John Pilger
In recent weeks, the US Justice Department has established a secret grand jury just across the river from Washington in the eastern district of the state of Virginia. The object is to indict Assange under a discredited espionage act used to arrest peace activists during the First World War, or one of the "war on terror" conspiracy statutes that have degraded American justice. Judicial experts describe the jury as a "deliberate set up," pointing out that this corner of Virginia is home to the employees and families of the Pentagon, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, and other pillars of American power.
"This is not good news," Assange told me when we spoke this past week, his voice dark and concerned. He says he can have "bad days - but I recover." When we met in London last year,
I said, "You are making some very serious enemies, not least of all the most powerful
government engaged in two wars. How do you deal with that sense of danger?" His reply was characteristically analytical. "It's not that fear is absent. But courage is really the intellectual mastery over fear - by an understanding of what the risks are and how to navigate a path through them."
Regardless of the threats to his freedom and safety, he says the US is not WikiLeaks' main "technological enemy." "China is the worst offender. China has aggressive, sophisticated interception technology that places itself between every reader inside China and every information source outside China. We've been fighting a running battle to make sure we can et information through, and there are now all sorts of ways Chinese readers can get on to ur site."
It was in this spirit of "getting information through" that WikiLeaks was founded in 2006, but with a moral dimension. "The goal is justice," wrote Assange on the homepage, "the method is transparency." Contrary to a current media mantra, WikiLeaks material is not "dumped." Less than one percent of the 251,000 US embassy cables have been released. As Assange points out, the task of interpreting material and editing that which might harm innocent individuals demands "standards [befitting] higher levels of information and primary sources." To secretive power, this is journalism at its most dangerous. On 18 March 2008, a war on WikiLeaks was foretold in a secret Pentagon document prepared by the "Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch." US intelligence, it said, intended to destroy the feeling of "trust," which is WikiLeaks' "center of gravity." It planned to do this with threats to "exposure [and] criminal prosecution." Silencing and criminalizing this rare source of independent journalism was the aim: smear the method. Hell hath no fury like imperial Mafiosi scorned. Others, also scorned, have lately played a supporting part, intentionally or not, in the hounding of Assange, some for reasons of petty jealousy. Sordid and shabby describe their behavior, which serves only to highlight the injustice against a man who has courageously revealed what we have a right to know.As the US Justice Department, in its hunt for Assange, subpoenas the Twitter and email accounts, banking and credit card records of people around the world - as if we are all subjects of the United States - much of the "free" media on both sides of the Atlantic direct their indignation at the hunted.
"So, Julian, why won't you go back to Sweden now?" demanded the headline over Catherine Bennett's Observer column on 19 December, which questioned Assange's response to allegations of sexual misconduct with two women in Stockholm last August. "To keep delaying the moment of truth, for this champion of fearless disclosure and total openness," wrote Bennett, "could soon begin to look pretty dishonest, as well as inconsistent." Not a word in Bennett's vitriol considered the looming threats to Assange's basic human rights and his physical safety, as described by Geoffrey Robertson QC, in the extradition hearing in London on 11 January.
In response to Bennett, the editor of the online Nordic News Network in Sweden, Al Burke, wrote to the Observer explaining, "plausible answers to Catherine Bennett's tendentious question" were both critically important and freely available. Assange had remained in Sweden for more than five weeks after the rape allegation was made - and subsequently dismissed by the chief prosecutor in Stockholm - and that repeated attempts by him and his Swedish lawyer to meet a second prosecutor, who reopened the case following the intervention of a government politician, had failed. And yet, as Burke pointed out, this prosecutor had granted him permission to fly to London where "he also offered to be interviewed - a normal practice in such cases." So, it seems odd, at the very least, that the prosecutor then issued a European arrest warrant. The Observer did not publish Burke's letter.
This record straightening is crucial because it describes the perfidious behavior of the Swedish authorities - a bizarre sequence confirmed to me by other journalists in Stockholm and by Assange's Swedish lawyer Bjorn Hurtig. Not only that, Burke cataloged the unforeseen danger Assange faces should he be extradited to Sweden. "Documents released by WikiLeaks since Assange moved to England," he wrote, "clearly indicate that Sweden has consistently submitted to pressure from the United States in matters relating to civil rights. There is ample reason for concern that if Assange were to be taken into custody by Swedish authorities, he could be turned over to the United States without due consideration of his legal rights."
These documents have been virtually ignored in Britain. They show that the Swedish political class has moved far from the perceived neutrality of a generation ago and that the country's military and intelligence apparatus is all but absorbed into Washington's matrix around NATO. In a 2007 cable, the US Embassy in Stockholm lauds the Swedish government dominated by the conservative Moderate Party of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt as coming "from a new political generation and not bound by [anti-US] traditions [and] in practice a pragmatic and strong partner with NATO, having troops under NATO command in Kosovo and Afghanistan."
The cable reveals how foreign policy is largely controlled by Carl Bildt, the current foreign minister, whose career has been based on a loyalty to the United States that goes back to the Vietnam War when he attacked Swedish public television for broadcasting evidence that the US was bombing civilian targets. Bildt played a leading role in the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a lobby group with close ties to the White House of George W. Bush, the CIA and the far right of the Republican Party.
"The significance of all this for the Assange case," notes Burke in a recent study, "is that it will be Carl Bildt and perhaps other members of the Reinfeldt government who will decide - openly or, more likely, furtively behind a façade of legal formality - on whether or not to approve the anticipated US request for extradition. Everything in their past clearly indicates that such a request will be granted."
For example, in December 2001, with the "war on terror" under way, the Swedish government abruptly revoked the political refugee status of two Egyptians, Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed al-Zari. They were handed to a CIA kidnap squad at Stockholm airport and "rendered" to Egypt, where they were tortured. When the Swedish ombudsman for justice investigated and found that their human rights had been "seriously violated," it was too late.
The implications for the Assange case are clear. Both men were removed without due process of law and before their lawyers could file appeals to the European Human Rights Court and in response to a US threat to impose a trade embargo on Sweden. Last year, Assange applied for residency in Sweden, hoping to base WikiLeaks there. It is widely believed that Washington warned Sweden through mutual intelligence contacts of the potential consequences. In December, prosecutor Marianne Ny, who reactivated the Assange case, discussed the possibility of Assange's extradition to the US on her web site.
Almost six months after the sex allegations were first made public, Assange has been charged with no crime, but his right to a presumption of innocence has been willfully denied. The unfolding events in Sweden have been farcical, at best. The Australian barrister James Catlin, who acted for Assange in October, describes the Swedish justice system as "a laughing stock ...
There is no precedent for it. The Swedes are making it up as they go along." He says that Assange, apart from noting contradictions in the case, has not publicly criticized the women who made the allegations against him. It was the police who tipped off the Swedish equivalent of the Sun, Expressen, with defamatory material about them, initiating a trial by media across the world.
In Britain, this trial has welcomed yet more eager prosecutors, with the BBC to the fore. There was no presumption of innocence in Kirsty Wark's "Newsnight" court in December. "Why don't you just apologise to the women?" she demanded of Assange, followed by: "Do we have your word of honour that you won't abscond?" On Radio 4's "Today" program, John Humphrys, the partner of Bennett, told Assange that he was obliged to go back to Sweden "because the law says you must." The hectoring Humphrys, however, had more pressing interests. "Are you a sexual predator?" he asked. Assange replied that the suggestion was ridiculous, to which Humphrys demanded to know how many women he had slept with.
"Would even Fox News have descended to that level?" wondered the American historian William Blum. "I wish Assange had been raised in the streets of Brooklyn, as I was. He then would have known precisely how to reply to such a question: 'You mean including your mother?'"
What is most striking about these "interviews" is not so much their arrogance and lack of intellectual and moral humility; it is their indifference to fundamental issues of justice and freedom and their imposition of narrow, prurient terms of reference. Fixing these boundaries allows the interviewer to diminish the journalistic credibility of Assange and WikiLeaks, whose remarkable achievements stand in vivid contrast to their own. It is like watching the old and stale, guardians of the status quo, struggling to prevent the emergence of the new.
In this media trial, there is a tragic dimension, obviously for Assange, but also for the best of mainstream journalism. Having published a slew of professionally brilliant editions with the WikiLeaks disclosures, feted all over the world, The Guardian recovered its establishment propriety on 17 December by turning on its besieged source. A major article by the paper's senior correspondent Nick Davies claimed that he had been given the "complete" Swedish police file with its "new" and "revealing" salacious morsels.
Assange's Swedish lawyer Hurtig says that crucial evidence is missing from the file given to Davies, including "the fact that the women were re-interviewed and given an opportunity to change their stories" and the tweets and SMS messages between them, which are "critical to bringing justice in this case." Vital exculpatory evidence is also omitted, such as the statement by the original prosecutor, Eva Finne, that "Julian Assange is not suspected of rape."
Having reviewed the Davies article, Assange's former barrister James Catlin wrote to me: "The complete absence of due process is the story and Davies ignores it. Why does due process matter? Because the massive powers of two arms of government are being brought to bear against the individual whose liberty and reputation are at stake." I would add: so is his life.
The Guardian has profited hugely from the WikiLeaks disclosures, in many ways. On the other hand, WikiLeaks, which survives on mostly small donations and can no longer receive funds through many banks and credit companies thanks to the bullying of Washington, has received nothing from the paper. In February, Random House will publish a Guardian book that is sure to be a lucrative best seller, which Amazon is advertising as "The End of Secrecy: the Rise and Fall of WikiLeaks." When I asked David Leigh, the Guardian executive in charge of the book, what was meant by "fall," he replied that Amazon was wrong and that the working title had been "The Rise (and Fall?) of WikiLeaks." "Note parenthesis and query," he wrote, "Not meant for publication anyway." (The book is now described on the Guardian web site as "WikiLeaks:
Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy.") Still, with all that duly noted, the sense is that "real" journalists are back in the saddle. Too bad about the new boy, who never really belonged.
On 11 January, Assange's first extradition hearing was held at Belmarsh Magistrates Court, an infamous address because it is here that people were, before the advent of control orders, consigned to Britain's own Guantanamo, Belmarsh prison. The change from ordinary Westminster magistrates' court was due to a lack of press facilities, according to the authorities. That they announced this on the day Vice President Joe Biden declared Assange a "high tech terrorist" was no doubt coincidental, though the message was not.
For his part, Assange is just as worried about what will happen to Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower, being held in horrific conditions which the US National Commission on Prisons calls "tortuous." At 23, Private Manning is the world's pre-eminent prisoner of conscience, having remained true to the Nuremberg principle that every soldier has the right to "a moral choice." His suffering mocks the notion of the land of the free.
"Government whistleblowers," said Barack Obama, running for president in 2008, "are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal." Obama has since pursued and prosecuted more whistleblowers than any other president in American history.
"Cracking Bradley Manning is the first step," Assange told me. "The aim clearly is to break him and force a confession that he somehow conspired with me to harm the national security of the United States. In fact, I'd never heard his name before it was published in the press. WikiLeaks technology was designed from the very beginning to make sure that we never knew the identities or names of people submitting material. We are as untraceable as we are uncensorable. That's the only way to assure sources they are protected."
He adds: "I think what's emerging in the mainstream media is the awareness that if I can be indicted, other journalists can, too. Even the New York Times is worried. This used not to be the case. If a whistleblower was prosecuted, publishers and reporters were protected by the First Amendment that journalists took for granted. That's being lost. The release of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, with their evidence of the killing of civilians, hasn't caused this - it's the exposure and embarrassment of the political class: the truth of what governments say in secret, how they lie in public; how wars are started. They don't want the public to know these things and scapegoats must be found."
What about the allusions to the "fall" of WikiLeaks? "There is no fall," he said. "We have never published as much as we are now. WikiLeaks is now mirrored on more than 2,000 websites. I can't keep track of the of the spin-off sites: those who are doing their own WikiLeaks ... If something happens to me or to WikiLeaks, 'insurance' files will be released. They speak more of the same truth to power, including the media. There are 504 US embassy cables on one broadcasting organisation and there are cables on Murdoch and Newscorp."
The latest propaganda about the "damage" caused by WikiLeaks is a warning by the US State Department to "hundreds of human rights activists, foreign government officials and business people identified in leaked diplomatic cables of possible threats to their safety." This was how The New York Times dutifully relayed it on 8 January, and it is bogus. In a letter to Congress, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has admitted that no sensitive intelligence sources have been compromised. On 28 November, McClatchy Newspapers reported, "US officials conceded they have no evidence to date that the [prior] release of documents led to anyone's death." NATO in Kabul told CNN it could not find a single person who needed protecting.
The great American playwright Arthur Miller wrote: "The thought that the state ... is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied." What WikiLeaks has given us is truth, including rare and precious insight into how and why so many innocent people have suffered in reigns of terror disguised as wars and executed in our name; and how the United States has secretly and wantonly intervened in democratic governments from Latin America to its most loyal ally in Britain.
Javier Moreno, the editor of El Pais, which published the WikiLeaks logs in Spain, wrote, "I believe that the global interest sparked by the WikiLeaks papers is mainly due to the simple fact that they conclusively reveal the extent to which politicians in the West have been lying to their citizens."
Crushing individuals like Assange and Manning is not difficult for a great power, however craven. The point is, we should not allow it to happen, which means those of us meant to keep the record straight should not collaborate in any way. Transparency and information, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, are the "currency" of democratic freedom. "Every news organisation," a leading American constitutional lawyer told me, "should recognize that Julian Assange is one of them and that his prosecution will have a huge and chilling effect on journalism."
My favorite secret document - leaked by WikiLeaks, of course - is from the Ministry of Defense in London. It describes journalists who serve the public without fear or favor as "subversive" and "threats." Such a badge of honor.
from Francis Feeley:
Date 12 January 2011
Subject: The politics of violence, both psychological and material, in the USA.
For those of you who are interested in US political culture, a link
to the unrehearsed first response to the political assassinations
which occurred in Tuscon, Arizona on Saturday morning, January 8,
when 22-year-old Jared Loughner shot 20 people attending a
"town meeting" organized at a local grocery store parking lot,
by US Representative Ms. Gabrielle Giffords, a progressive Democrat
recently re-elected to Congress from District 8 of Arizona. She was among
the 20 people shot, six of whom where killed, and she remains in critical condition.
Below we see the first press conference held that Saturday evening, where
Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik explains that: "It's not unusual
for all public officials to get [death] threats. . . . And that's the sad thing
of what's going on in America. ... Pretty soon, we're not going to be able to
find reasonable, decent people who are willing to subject themselves to
serve in public office."
from Francis Feeley :
Date: 15 January 2011
Subject: American political culture & the cult of violence.
Below are two Internet links discussing
the right-wing violence in the USA today.
(Les chiens de garde for corporate America never sleep.)
Voices From Arizona:
from Mark Crispin Miller :
Date: 15 January 2011
Subject: U.S. journalistic community shuns Assange.
In that great collectivist tradition of shunning, US lemmings find the side their bread is buttered on and act accordingly, to the last individual...
by Nancy A. Youssef
from Mark Crispin Miller :
Date: 15 January 2011
Subject: Hypocrisy and Opportunism in the editorial office at the UK Guardian.
More on the unethical conduct within "the Fourth Estate". How will they be held accountable?
by Glenn Greenwald
from Diana Johnstone :
Date: 17 January 2011
Subject: Criminal Kosovo: America's Gift to Europe.
Criminal Kosovo: America’s Gift to Europe
by Diana Johnstone
The report by Swiss liberal Dick Marty was mandated two years ago by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Not to be confused with the European Union, the Council of Europe was founded in 1949 to promote human rights, the rule of law and democracy and has 47 member states (compared to 27 in the EU).
While U.S. legal experts feverishly try to trump up charges they can use to demand extradition of Assange to the United States, to be duly punished for discomfiting the empire, U.S. State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley piously reacted to the Council of Europe allegations by declaring that the United States will continue to work with Thaci since “any individual anywhere in the world is innocent until proven otherwise”.
Everyone, that is, except, among others, Bradley Manning who is in solitary confinement although he has not been found guilty of anything. All the Guantanamo prisoners have been considered guilty, period. The United States is applying the death penalty on a daily basis to men, women and children in Afghanistan and Pakistan who are innocent until proven dead.
Embarrassed supporters of Thaci’s little self-proclaimed state dismiss the accusations by saying that the Marty Report does not prove Thaci’s guilt.
Of course it doesn’t. It can’t. It is a report, not a trial. The report was mandated by the PACE precisely because judicial authorities were ignoring evidence of serious crimes. In her 2008 memoir in Italian La caccia. Io e i criminali di guerra (The Hunt. Me and the War Criminals), the former prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague, Carla del Ponte, complained that she had been prevented from carrying out a thorough investigation of reports of organ extraction from Serb and other prisoners carried out by the “Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)” in Albania. Indeed, rumors and reports of those atrocities, carried out in the months following the occupation of Kosovo by NATO-led occupation forces, have been studiously ignored by all relevant judicial authorities.
The Marty report claims to have uncovered corroborating evidence, including testimony by witnesses whose lives would be in danger if their names were revealed. The conclusion of the report is not and could not be a verdict, but a demand to competent authorities to undertake judicial proceedings capable of hearing all the evidence and issuing a verdict.
Skepticism about atrocities
However, the Marty report goes beyond vague rumors to make specific allegations against the KLA’s “Drenica group” led by Hashim Thaci. Despite refusal of Albanian authorities to cooperate, there is ample proof that the KLA operated a chain of “safe houses” on Albanian territory during and after the 1999 NATO war against Serbia, using them to hold, interrogate, torture and sometimes murder prisoners. One of these safe houses, belonging to a family identified by the initial “K”, was cited by Carla del Ponte and media reports as “the yellow house” (since painted white). To quote the Marty Report (paragraph 147):
“There are substantial elements of proof that a small number of KLA captives, including some of the abducted ethnic Serbs, met their death in Rripe, at or in the vicinity of the K. house. We have learned about these deaths not only through the testimonies of former KLA soldiers who said they had participated in detaining and transporting the captives while they were alive, but also through the testimonies of persons who independently witnessed the burial, disinterment, movement and reburial of the captives’ corpses (…)”
An undetermined but apparently small number of prisoners were transferred in vans and trucks to an operating site near Tirana international airport, from which fresh organs could be flown rapidly to recipients.
“The drivers of these vans and trucks – several of whom would become crucial witnesses to the patterns of abuse described – saw and heard captives suffering greatly during the transports, notably due to the lack of a proper air supply in their compartment of the vehicle, or due to the psychological torment of the fate that they supposed awaited them” (paragraph 155).
Captives described in the report as “victims of organised crime” included “persons whom we found were taken into central Albania to be murdered immediately before having their kidneys removed in a makeshift operating clinic” (paragraph 156).
These captives “undoubtedly endured a most horrifying ordeal in the custody of their KLA captors. According to source testimonies, the captives ‘filtered’ into this final subset were initially kept alive, fed well and allowed to sleep, and treated with relative restraint by KLA guards and henchmen who would otherwise have beaten them up indiscriminately” (paragraph 157).
“The testimonies on which we based our findings spoke credibly and consistently of a methodology by which all of the captives were killed, usually by a gunshot to the head, before being operated on to remove one or more of their organs. We learned that this was principally a trade in ‘cadaver kidneys’, i.e. the kidneys were extracted posthumously; it was not a set of advanced surgical procedures requiring controlled clinical conditions and, for example, the extensive use of anaesthetic” (paragraph 162).
Skepticism about “liberation”
“Notably, in confidential reports spanning more than a decade, agencies dedicated to combating drug smuggling in at least five countries have named Hashim Thaci and other members of his “Drenica Group” as having exerted violent control over the trade in heroin and other narcotics” (paragraph 66).
“Similarly, intelligence analysts working for NATO, as well as those in the service of at least four independent foreign Governments, made compelling findings through their intelligence-gathering related to the immediate aftermath of the conflict in 1999. Thaci was commonly identified, and cited in secret intelligence reports, as the most dangerous of the KLA’s ‘criminal bosses’” (paragraph 67).
The leftists who fell hook, line and sinker for the “war to rescue the Kosovars from genocide” propaganda that justified NATO’s debut as aggressive bomber/invader in 1999 readily accepted the identification of the “Kosovo Liberation Army” as a national liberation movement deserving their support. Isn’t it part of romantic legend for revolutionaries to rob banks for their cause? Leftists assume such criminal activities are merely a means to the end of political independence. But what if political independence is in reality the means to sanctuarize criminal activities?
Assassinating policemen, the KLA specialty prior to being given Kosovo by NATO, is an ambiguous activity. Is the target “political oppression”, as claimed, or simply law enforcement?
What have Thaci and company done with their “liberation”? First of all, they allowed their American sponsors to build a huge military base, Camp Bondsteel, on Kosovo territory, without asking permission from anyone. Then, behind a smokescreen of talk of building democracy, they have terrorized ethnic minorities, eliminated their political rivals, fostered rampant crime and corruption, engaged in electoral fraud, and ostentatiously enriched themselves thanks to the criminal activities that constitute the real economy.
The Marty Report recalls what happened when Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic, under NATO threat of wiping out his country, agreed to withdraw from Kosovo and allow a U.N. force called KFOR (quickly taken over by NATO) to occupy Kosovo.
“First, the withdrawal of the Serb security forces from Kosovo had ceded into the hands of various KLA splinter groups, including Thaci’s “Drenica Group”, effectively unfettered control of an expanded territorial area in which to carry out various forms of smuggling and trafficking” (paragraph 84).
“KFOR and UNMIK were incapable of administering Kosovo’s law enforcement, movement of peoples, or border control, in the aftermath of the NATO bombardment in 1999. KLA factions and splinter groups that had control of distinct areas of Kosovo (villages, stretches of road, sometimes even individual buildings) were able to run organised criminal enterprises almost at will, including in disposing of the trophies of their perceived victory over the Serbs” (paragraph 85).
“Second, Thaci’s acquisition of a greater degree of political authority (Thaci having appointed himself Prime Minister of the Provisional Government of Kosovo) had seemingly emboldened the “Drenica Group” to strike out all the more aggressively at perceived rivals, traitors, and persons suspected of being “collaborators” with the Serbs” (paragraph 86).
In short, NATO drove out the existing police, turning the province of Kosovo over to violent gangsters. But this was not an accident. Hashim Thaci was not just a gangster who took advantage of the situation. He had been hand-picked by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her right-hand man, James Rubin, for the job.
“You ought to be in movies…”
Ms Albright was eager to use the ethnic conflict in Kosovo to make a display of U.S. military might by bombing the Serbs, in order to reassert U.S. dominance of Europe via NATO. But some European NATO country leaders thought it politically necessary to make at least a pretense of seeking a negotiated solution to the Kosovo problem before bombing. And so a fake “negotiation” was staged at Rambouillet, designed by the United States to get the Serbs to say no to an impossible ultimatum, in order to claim that the humanitarian West had no choice but to bomb.
For that, they needed a Kosovo Albanian who would play their game.
Belgrade sent a large multi-ethnic delegation to Rambouillet, ready to propose a settlement giving Kosovo broad autonomy. On the other side was a purely ethnic Albanian delegation from Kosovo including several leading local intellectuals experienced in such negotiations, including the internationally recognized leader of the Albanian separatist movement in Kosovo, Ibrahim Rugova who, it was assumed, would lead the “Kosovar” delgation.
But to the general surprise of observers, the seasoned intellectuals were shoved aside, and leadership of the delegation was taken over by a young man, Hashim Thaci, known in law-enforcement circles as “the Snake”.
The American stage-managers chose Thaci for obvious reasons. While the older Kosovo Albanians risked actually negotiating with the Serbs, and thus reaching an agreement that would prevent war, Thaci owed everything to the United States, and would do as he was told. Moreover, putting a “wanted” criminal at the top of the delegation was an affront to the Serbs that would help scuttle negotiations. And finally, the Thaci image appealed to the Americans’ idea of what a “freedom fighter” should look like.
Albright’s closest aide, James Rubin, acted as talent scout, gushing over Thaci’s good looks, telling him he was so handsome he should be in Hollywood. Indeed, Thaci did not look like a Hollywood gangster, Edward G. Robinson style, but a clean-cut hero with a vague resemblance to the actor Robert Stack. Joe Biden is said to have complained that Madeleine Albright was “in love” with Thaci. Image is everything, after all, especially when the United States is casting its own Pentagon superproduction, “Saving the Kosovars”, in order to redesign the Balkans, with its own “independent” satellite states.
The pretext for the 1999 war was to “save the Kosovars” (the name assumed by the Albanian population of that Serbian province, to give the impression that it was a country and that they were the rightful inhabitants) from an imaginary threat of “genocide”. The official U.S. position was to respect the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia. But it was always quite obvious that behind the scenes, the United States had made a deal with Thaci to give him Kosovo as part of the destruction of Yugoslavia and the crippling of Serbia. The chaos that followed the withdrawal of Yugoslav security forces enabled the KLA gangs to take over and the United States to build Camp Bondsteel.
Cheered on by a virulent Albanian lobby in the United States, Washington has defied international law, violated its own commitments (the agreement ending the 1999 war called for Serbia to police Kosovo’s borders, which was never allowed), and ignored muted objections from European allies to sponsor the transformation of the poor Serbian province into an ethnic Albanian “independent state”. Since unilaterally declaring independence in February 2008, the failed statelet has been recognized only by 72 out of 192 U.N. members, including 22 of the European Union’s 27 members.
A few months later, the European Union set up a “European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo” (EULEX) intended to take over judicial authority in the province from the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) that had ostensibly exercised such functions after NATO drove out the Serbs. The very establishment of EULEX was proof that the EU’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence was unjustified and dishonest. It was an admission that Kosovo, after being delivered to KLA bands (some in war against each other), was unable to provide even a semblance of law and order, and thus in no way prepared to be “an independent state”.
Of course the West will never admit this, but it was the complaints of the Serb minority in the 1980s that they could not count on protection by police or law courts, then run by the majority ethnic Albanian communist party, that led to the Serbian government’s limitation of Kosovo’s autonomy, portrayed in the West as a gratuitous persecution motivated by racial hatred of Hitlerian proportions.
The difficulties of obtaining justice in Kosovo are basically the same now as they were then – with the difference that the Serbian police understood the Albanian language, whereas the UNMIK and EULEX internationals are almost entirely dependent on local Albanian interpreters, whose veracity they are unable to check.
The Marty Report describes the difficulties of crime investigation in Kosovo:
“The structure of Kosovar Albanian society, still very much clan orientated, and the absence of a true civil society have made it extremely difficult to set up contacts with local sources. This is compounded by fear, often to the point of genuine terror, which we have observed in some of our informants immediately upon broaching the subject of our inquiry.
“The entrenched sense of loyalty to one’s clansmen, and the concept of honour … rendered most ethnic Albanian witnesses unreachable for us. Having seen two prominent prosecutions undertaken by the ICTY leading to the deaths of so many witnesses, and ultimately a failure to deliver justice, a Parliamentary Assembly Rapporteur with only paltry resources in comparison was hardly likely to overturn the odds of such witnesses speaking to us directly.
“Numerous persons who have worked for many years in Kosovo, and who have become among the most respected commentators on justice in the region, counseled us that organized criminal networks of Albanians (‘the Albanian mafia’) in Albania itself, in neighbouring territories including Kosovo and ‘the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’, and in the Diaspora, were probably more difficult to penetrate than the Cosa Nostra; even low-level operatives would rather take a jail term of decades, or a conviction for contempt, than turn in their clansmen.”
A second report submitted this month to the Council of Europe by rapporteur Jean-Charles Gardetto on witness protection in war crimes trials for former Yugoslavia notes that there is no witness protection law in Kosovo and, more seriously, no way to protect witnesses that might testify against fellow ethnic Albanians.
“In the most serious cases, witnesses are able to testify anonymously. However, it was made clear to the rapporteur that these measures are useless as long as the witness is physically in Kosovo, where everybody knows everybody else. Most witnesses are immediately recognised by the defence when they deliver their testimony, despite all the anonymity measures.”
“There are many limitations to the protection arrangements currently available, not least because Kosovo has a population of less than two million with very tight-knit communities. Witnesses are often perceived as betraying their community when they give evidence, which inhibits possible witnesses from coming forward. Furthermore, many people do not believe that they have a moral or legal duty to testify as a witness in criminal cases.
“Moreover, when a witness does come forward, there is a real threat of retaliation. This may not necessarily put them in direct danger, losing their job for example, but there are also examples of key witnesses being murdered. The trial of Ramush Haradinaj, the former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, well illustrates this. Mr. Haradinaj was indicted by the ICTY for crimes committed during the war in Kosovo but was subsequently acquitted. In its judgment, the Tribunal highlighted the difficulties that it had had in obtaining evidence from the 100 prosecution witnesses. Thirty-four of them were granted protection measures and 18 had to be issued with summonses. A number of witnesses who were going to give evidence at the trial were murdered. These included Sadik and Vesel Muriqi, both of whom had been placed under a protection program by the ICTY.”
One of the most prominent Europeans to hope that the Marty report will disappear is the French media humanitarian Bernard Kouchner, until recently Sarkozy’s foreign minister, who officially ran Kosovo as the first head of UNMIK after the NATO occupation. Contrary to Kouchner’s protests of ignorance, the UNMIK police chief in 2000 and 2001, Canadian Captain Stu Kellock, has called it “impossible” that Kouchner was not aware of organized crime in Kosovo. The first time a reporter queried Kouchner about the organ transplant accusations, a few months ago, Kouchner responded with a loud horse laugh, before telling the reporter to go have his head examined. After the Marty report, Kouchner merely repeated his “skepticism”, and called for an investigation… by EULEX.
Other NATO defenders have taken the same line. One investigation calls for another, and so on. Investigating the charges against the KLA is beginning to look like the Middle East peace process.
The Marty Report itself concludes with a clear call on EULEX to “to persevere with its investigative work, without taking any account of the offices held by possible suspects or of the origin of the victims, doing everything to cast light on the criminal disappearances, the indications of organ trafficking, corruption and the collusion so often complained of between organized criminal groups and political circles” and “to take every measure necessary to ensure effective protection for witnesses and to gain their trust”.
This is a tall order, considering that EULEX is ultimately dependent on EU governments deeply involved in ignoring Kosovo Albanian crime for over a decade. Still, some of the most implicated personalities, such as Kouchner, are nearing the end of their careers, and there are many Europeans who consider that things have gone much too far, and that the Kosovo cesspool must be cleaned up.
EULEX is already prosecuting an organ trafficking ring in Kosovo. In November 2008, a young Turkish man who had just had a kidney removed collapsed at Pristina airport, which led police to raid the nearby Medicus clinic where a 74-year-old Israeli was convalescing from implantation of the young man’s kidney. The Israeli had allegedly paid 90,000 euros for the illegal implant, while the young Turk, like other desperately poor foreigners lured to Pristina by false promises, was cheated of the money promised. The trial is currently underway in Pristina of seven defendants charged with involvement in the illegal Medicus organ trafficking racket, including top members of the Kosovo Albanian medical profession. Still at large are Dr. Yusuf Sonmez, a notorious international organ trafficker, and Moshe Harel, an Israeli of Turkish origin accused of organizing the illicit international organ trade. Israel is known to be a prime market for organs because of Jewish religious restrictions that severely limit the number of Israeli donors.
The Marty Report notes that the information it has obtained “appears to depict a broader, more complex organized criminal conspiracy to source human organs for illicit transplant, involving co-conspirators in at least three different foreign countries besides Kosovo, enduring over more than a decade. In particular, we found a number of credible, convergent indications that the organ-trafficking component of the post-conflict detentions described in our report is closely related to the contemporary case of the Medicus Clinic, not least through prominent Kosovar Albanian and international personalities who feature as co-conspirators in both.”
But EULEX prosecution of the Medicus case does not automatically mean that the European judicial authorities in Kosovo will pursue the even more criminal organ trafficking denounced in the Marty Report. One obstacle is that the alleged crimes took place on the territory of Albania, and so far Albanian authorities have been uncooperative, to say the least. A second inhibition is fear that the attempt to prosecute leading KLA figures would lead to unrest. Indeed, on January 9, several hundred Albanians carrying Albanian flags (not the Western-imposed flag of Kosovo) demonstrated in Mitrovica against the Marty report shouting “UCK, UCK” (KLA in Albanian). Still, EULEX has indicted two former KLA commanders for war crimes committed on Albanian territory in 1999 when they allegedly tortured prisoners, ethnic Albanians from Kosovo either suspected of “collaborating” with legal Serb authorities or because they were political opponents of the KLA.
A striking and significant political fact that emerges from the Marty report is that:
“The reality is that the most significant operational activities undertaken by members of the KLA – prior to, during, and in the immediate aftermath of the conflict – took place on the territory of Albania, where the Serb security forces were never deployed” (paragraph 36).
Thus, to a very large extent, the Serbian province of Kosovo was the object of a foreign invasion from across its border, by Albanian nationalists keen on creating “Greater Albania”, and aided in this endeavor by diaspora lobbies and, decisively, NATO bombing. Far from being an “aggressor” in its own historic province, Serbia was the victim of a major two-pronged foreign invasion.
America’s disposable puppets
The United States provided KLA fighters on the ground with GPS devices and satellite telephones to enable them to spot Serb targets for bombing (very inefficiently, as the NATO bombs missed almost all their military targets). The KLA in some places ordered Kosovo Albanian civilians to flee across the border to Albania or to ethnic Albanian parts of Macedonia, where photographers were waiting to enrich the imagery of a population persecuted by Serb “ethnic cleansing” – an enormous propaganda success. And crucially, before the NATO bombing, the KLA pursued a strategy of provocation, murdering policemen and civilians, including disobedient Albanians, designed to commit acts of repression that could be used as a pretext for NATO intervention. Thaci even boasted subsequently of the success of this strategy.
Thaci has played the role assigned to him by the empire. Still, considering the history of American disposal of collaborators who have outlived their usefulness (Ngo Dinh Diem, Noriega, Saddam Hussein…), he has reasons to be uneasy.
Thaci’s uneasiness could be sharpened by a recent trip to the region by William Walker, the U.S. agent who in 1999 created the main pretext for the NATO bombing campaign by inflating casualties from a battle between Serb police and KLA fighters in the village of Racak into a massacre of civilians, “a crime against humanity” perpetrated by “people with no value for human life”. Walker, whose main professional experience was in Central America during the Reagan administration’s bloody fight against revolutionary movements in Nicaragua and El Salvador, had been imposed by the United States as head of a European mission ostensibly mandated to monitor a cease-fire between Serb forces and the KLA. But in fact, he and his British deputy used the mission to establish close contacts with the KLA in preparation for joint war against the Serbs. The grateful gangster regime has named a street in Pristina after him;
In between receiving a decoration in Kosovo and honorary citizenship in Albania, Walker took political positions that could make both Thaci and EULEX nervous. Walker expressed support for Albin Kurti, the young leader of the radical nationalist “Self-Determination” movement (Vetëvendosje), which is gaining support with its advocacy of independence from EU governance as well as in favor of “natural Albania”, meaning a Greater Albania composed of Albania, Kosovo and parts of southern Serbia, much of Macedonia, a piece of Montenegro and even northern Greece. Was Walker on a talent-scouting mission in view of replacing the increasingly disgraced Thaci? If Kurti is the new favorite, a U.S.-chosen replacement could cause even more trouble in the troubled Balkans.
The West, that is, the United States, the European Union and NATO may be able to agree on a “curse on both their houses” approach, concluding that the Serbs they persecuted and the Albanians they helped are all barbarians, unworthy of their benevolent intervention. What they will never admit is that they chose, and to a large extent created, the wrong side in a war for which they bear criminal responsibility. And whose devastating consequences continue to be borne by the unfortunate inhabitants of the region, whatever their linguistic and cultural identity.
Diana Johnstone is author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions.
The attacks on WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, are a response to an information revolution that threatens old power orders in politics and journalism. The incitement to murder trumpeted by public figures in the United States, together with attempts by the Obama administration to corrupt the law and send Assange to a hell-hole prison for the rest of his life, are the reactions of a rapacious system exposed as never before.
TRNN speaks to people attending memorial service in Tucson
Until February 1999, Hashim Thaci’s only claim to fame was in Serbian police records, where he was wanted for various violent crimes. Then suddenly, at a French chateau called Rambouillet, he was thrust into the world spotlight by his American handlers. It is one of the most bizarre twists to the whole tragi-comic Kosovo saga.
EULEX versus Clan Loyalty