Subject: ON THE ESSENTIAL NATURE OF FASCISM: THE SPLIT BETWEEN 'SELF-PERCEPTION' AND 'SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS' AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT, ACCORDING TO DR. WILHELM REICH.
20 October 2014
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Contrary to Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), I’ve cut no deals with French Fascists, who seem to do what they have to do and then move on, while I do what I have to do; then tend to remember…. I’ve taught in the tradition of a pedagogy of liberation for decades, and I continue to do so in a climate of increasing authoritarianism. My view is simply this: if the teachers are treated right; then the students benefit; if not, we are just reproducing fascism in the classrooms.
At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I did my graduate work, many of us came under the influence of progressive educators, such as Ivan Illich (1926-2002), Paulo Freire (1921-1997), and A. S. Neill (1883-1973). Neill was a friend of Wilhelm Reich’s (1897-1957), and the two men were much influenced by one another. In his book, Summerhill (1962), A.S. Neill describes the function of the school by the same name, which he founded in Suffolk County, England in 1921. Neill’s school is still open today, and his general orientation toward direct democracy is still alive. On the question of obedience and discipline, he had this to say in 1962: “Obedience should be a social courtesy. Adults should have no right to the obedience of children. It must come from within . . . not be imposed from without.” Then, he goes on to write:
Discipline is a means to an end. The discipline of an army is aimed at making for efficiency in fighting. All such discipline subordinates the individual to the cause. In disciplined countries life is cheap.
There is, however, another discipline. In an orchestra, the first violinist obeys the conductor because he is as keen on a good performance as the conductor is. The private who jumps to attention does not, as a rule, care about the efficiency of the army. Every army is ruled mostly by fear, and the soldier knows that if he disobeys he will be punished. School discipline can be of the orchestra type when teachers are good. Too often it is of the army type. The same applies to the home. A happy home is like an orchestra and enjoys the same kind of team spirit. A miserable home is like a barracks that is ruled by hate and discipline.
The odd thing is that homes with team-spirit discipline often tolerate a school with army discipline. Boys are beaten by teachers –boys who are never beaten at home. A visitor from an older and wiser planet would consider the parents of this country morons if he were told that in some elementary schools, even today, small children are punished for mistakes in addition or in spelling. When humane parents protest against the beating discipline of the school and go to court about it, in most cases the law takes the side of the punishing teacher.
Parents could abolish corporal punishment tomorrow –if they wanted to. Apparently the majority do not want to. The system suits them. It disciplines their boys and girls. The hate of the child is cleverly directed to the punishing teacher and not to the parents who hire him to do the dirty work. The system suits these pare3nts because they themselves were never allowed to live and love. They, too, were made slaves to group discipline, and the poor souls cannot visualize freedom.(p.144)
Wilhelm Reich, also, placed great importance in the proper education of youth. The emotional and physical abuse of children produced what he called ‘The Emotional Plague’.
The organized emotional plague relies upon and uses consistently what is worst and lowest in human nature, while it slanders, destroys, and tries to put out of function all that threatens its existence, good or bad. A fact to the emotional plague is a fact only if it can be used to certain ends. It does not count on its own behalf, and there is, accordingly, no respect for facts. Truth is used if it serves a special line of procedure or the general existence of the emotional dirtiness. It will be discarded as soon as it threatens or even contradicts such ends. Such an attitude toward fact and truth, history and human welfare is . . . typical of all politic and drives the nuisance politician to his utmost power.,(Reich Speaks of Freud, 1967, p.275)
The pestilent character is basically a coward and he has much to hide, especially sexually. The hiddenness is essential to his social and emotional existence. [Stalin] came to such power, riding on the waves of the emotional plague. He shows all the character traits which characterize the pestilent character. But the riding to power and its misuse are not his fault or accomplishment. They are truly the result of the average character structure of multitudes of similar structures who feel incapable or the slowly grinding effort of lasting accomplishment, and therefore, prefer the easy way of the politician who is obliged by nothing to prove his promises and contentions.(p.278)
Everybody has a more or less pressing bad conscience, well hidden under a mask of righteousness. Fear of getting into trouble with the law is quite general. Conformism stems from this fear and from these little secrets. And there is nothing whatsoever in the social set-up to understand, handle, or protect such innocent little secrets against invasion by dirty minds. . . . It is clear that the educator and physician instead of the politician and policeman should be in charge of these affairs of social pathology. . . . [T]he first things we do in fighting the plague is alleviate the severe pressure which is exerted upon the people by the false righteousness of politically ambitious district attorneys or senators, looking for ‘a case’ or to further a career, or of policemen or politicians who find a ladder to peaks of power by way of nuisance investigations.(p.278-279)
Reich’s claim to authority is based on his assertion that he is the true heir of Sigmund Freud’s early and most revolutionary discoveries, namely the repressed unconscious and infantile sexuality, the revolutionary discoveries which Freud had fearlessly reported at the start of the century in Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex (1904).
It was based on this important finding that Reich developed his scientific research to produce character analysis and later the scientific discovery of the measurable quality that he called orgone energy. The political pressure on Freud and on the entire psychoanalytic movement in the pre-WW II period is shown, according to Reich, by the disingenuous ad hoc inventions such as the so-called ‘death instinct’ and of the ‘discovered necessity of sexual repression’, forms of ‘cultural determinism’, which soon displaced any radical scientific discussion of the role of sexual repression in physical and mental health.
Sex-economy is being represented as one of the deviations from psychoanalysis like that of Jung (1875-1961), Adler (1870-1937) or Stekel (1868-1940). The reasons for this misrepresentation are stupidity as well as malice. He who know the history of the psychoanalytic movement can see the difference at first glance. All deviations from Freud’s theory, without exception, are characterized by the negation of sexuality. With Jung, the libido became a meaningless, mystical all-soul concept, the best possible soil for the later Gleichschaltung in the Third Reich. Adler replaced sexuality by the will to power, Rank (1884-1939) denied the existence of infantile sexuality. Sex-economy, on the other hand, took its starting point precisely from those basic elements of Freud’s theory which originally had aroused the ire of a world afraid of the truth. It developed the orgasm theory and tried in vain to incorporate it into psychoanalytic theory, where it organically belonged. It clarified the theory of the pregenital infantile sexual drives and built the basis for a characterology which has the sexual process as its core. Character-analytic technique required the full recognition of the laws of sexual economy. Many more things could be added to show why the theory of sex-economy inevitably begins to0 feel the previous fate of psychoanalysis. It it is to bake itself seriously, it must do everything possible to avoid the fate which is overcoming psychoanalysis, no matter how noisy the sham praise of the world may be.
There is, today, nowhere in the world any official institution, pedagogical, psychiatric, or otherwise, which has made Freud’s revolutionary concepts its own in a serious manner. Where is the mental hospital which systematically investigates the causation of mental diseases by the disturbance of early infantile sex life? Where is the academic institution which cultivates the rich treasure of analytic knowledge, engages in analytic research and recognizes its full value? Where is the place where Freud’s revolutionary knowledge finds its concrete expression? . . . Who believes that correct sexual theory could be taught in America today?
And what do things look like in the psychoanalytic movement itself? The English school is a sectarian circle completely divorced from life as it is. The Berlin Society attempted Gleichschaltung and thus perished. The Hungarian group consists almost exclusively of the house analysits of the rich people, without either scientific development or serious perspective. The Vienna Society is under the pressure of political reaction and ruled by some death-instinct theorists who no longer can be taken seriously from a scientific point of view. The French group looks desolate.
Has the socialist movement accepted psychoanalysis? Here and there in words, because political reaction placed Freud in the camp of Kulturbolschewismus. In the Soviet Union, psychoanalysis has been without development for years. There was ever so much talk about the significance of Freud for the workers’ movement. Where, we must ask, has this significance become socialist practice? Nowhere. Socialists recommend to the workers the writings of reactionary psychoanalysts as guidebooks in ‘socialist psychology,’ such as an article by Roheim (1891-1953) in a Hungarian socialist periodical. Revolutionary socialists publish articles on the occasion of Freud’s birthday but betray complete ignorance of the fierce struggle that has been going on for a decade within the psychoanalytic movement concerning the problem, ‘workers’ movement and psychology.’
The structure of Freudian theory contains contentions of very diverse kinds. Besides the theory of early infantile sexuality there is that of the ‘primary process’ in the Unconscious; besides the theory of repression there is that of the ‘death instinct’; besides the theory of the determination of psychic processes there is that of ‘cultural repression’, etc. The world asks for clarity. There are contentions which are indispensable, others which are non-essential, and still others which are only confusing. . . .
The decline of the psychoanalytic movement, its adaptation to existing conditions, and the resulting sterility are not a matter for personal reproach. We have learned to pay attention to the dependence of science and its development on social processes. Consequently, we profess, a socially conscious science. We may say that we have taken into our care the revolutionary findings of Freud’s theory. This makes it necessary to become clear in our minds about the existing situation and the factors which will determine the further course of our work.
The general world-political situation . . . promises worse things to come. This world cannot acknowledge the fruits of our work or make use of them. It was we who were able to show what advantages political reaction derives from the irrational feeling and thinking of the masses, from their longing for happiness and simultaneous fear of sexuality. The diverse socialist parties are so bogged down in obsolete economistic thinking and so preoccupied with the tremendous problems of everyday that they cannot react differently towards us than with amazement or enmity. . . . Apart from the social difficulties, the most important factor inhibiting our work is our own structure.(pp.263-266)
Reich was not optimistic about meaningful social change in the near future. The violent politics of repression and the self-serving politics of co-optation he thought were part of every institution and embedded in western tradition, and together they militated against true scientific work and human liberation.
The public will not act or render any help to the truth. It will remain ‘sitting’ silently and watching helplessly or even gloatingly any crucifixion of innocent souls. The public administrator will be frightened to bits and try to maintain public morals and order. The pioneer will be silenced or he may go psychotic or fall into deep depression. Nobody is served except the pathological emotions of a nuisance biopath….
It is truly as ridiculous as that. However, behind this ridiculousness there waits for us a terrific problem of human existence:
HOW COULD SUCH REDICULOUS NUISANCE GET INTO THIS WORLD IN THE FIRST POLACE, AND HOW COULD IT, UNDISTURBED, DEVASTATE HUMAN ORGANIZATIONS OF WORK AND PEACE FOR AGES?(p.282)
To answer this question, Reich warns, we must protect ourselves from the ‘pestilent character’ who threatens ‘nuisance interference’. He suggests the following nine prophylactic measures to achieve personal security in an unfriendly environment :
1) Rely on the distinction between an honest and twisted facial expression.
2) Insist on everything being aboveboard.
3) Use the weapon of truth wisely but determinedly. The pestilent character is usually a coward and has nothing constructive to offer.
4) Meet the plague head on. Do not yield or appease. Master your guilt feelings and know your weak spots.
5) If necessary, reveal frankly your weak points, even your secrets. People will understand.
6) Help alleviate the pressure of human guilt feelings whenever you can, especially in sexual matters, the main domain of abuse by the emotional plague.
7) Have your own motives, goals, methods always fully in the open, widely visible to everyone.
8) Learn continuously how to meet the underhanded lie.
9) Channel all human interest toward important problems of life, especially the upbringing of infants.(pp.282-283)
He then reminds his reader that, 'Truth is our potential ally even within the pestilent character. He, too, is somewhere decent deep down, though he may not know it.' (p.283)
Reich’s writings and his reports on his scientific research are in some ways comparable to the writings of Franz Kafka (1883-1924). He was the victim of character assassination and out-and-out lies, of this there can be no doubt. This institutionalized pressure influenced the direction of Reich’s medical research and because of his early training he went deeply into a new direction, which, despite the engineered indifference of the masses in today’s consumer society, represents an important legacy for a future generation who undoubtedly will be asking themselves the question: “What went wrong . . . ?”
The 15 items below might offer CEIMSA readers homeopathic protection from ‘The Emotional Plague’, as struggles intensify around the world and within our minds. Knowing the nature of the disease brings us one step closer to finding a preventative cure. Meanwhile we must protect ourselves, as best we can, which many believe means participating in a social movement to become ‘part of the solution’ and to cease being ‘part of the problem’.
of Fascism in Greece.
Item A., from Truth Out, is an article by Michael Nevradakis on the reemergence
of Fascism in Greece.
Item B., from Democracy Now!, is a report on the police murder of the Denver Street Preacher Marvin Booker, on July 9, 2010 in police custody before cameras.
Item C., from the Real News Network, is a report on ‘Ferguson October’ and the National Day of Civil Disobedience at the Saint Louis University campus on 12 October.
Item D., from Truth Out, is an article by Marjorie Cohn exposing the $30 million investment by the Pentagon to sanitize the history of the Vietnam War.
Item E., from NYU Professor Mark Crispin Miller, founder of News from the Underground, is an article by Dahr Jamail reporting on the social consequences of the US military use of depleted uranium in Iraq.
Item F., from The Independent, is an article by Patrick Cockburn discussing the revenge killings of Sunni civilians in response to Isis attacks.
Item G., from Information Clearing
House, is article by Tony Cartalucci,
exposing the ‘phony war’ on ISIS.
Item H., from Tom Dispatch, is an article by William Astore on the ‘Junk Armies’ created by the United States that produce high profits for US corporations.
Item I., from Russian Television, is an interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin, discussing the rise of the Neo-Nazis in Europe.
Item J., from William Blum, is the latest edition of The Empire Report.
Item K., from Peter Maybarduk, is a WikiLeaks release on revealing corporate attacks on affordable cancer treatment.
Item L., from Brook Baker, is an article on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and how it is endangering world health.
Item M., from Mark Crispin Miller, is an article by Anne Nikka first published in the Finish newspaper, Satakunnan kansa, and translated by Henrik Eiriksson, exposing the dangers of cellular telephone use by humans.
Item N., from Mark Crispin Miller, is an article by Robert Parry on the Washington Post's 'slimy assault on Gary Webb'.
Item O., from Les Mutins de Pangée, is a report on their new calendar of events (always in the face of repression).
And finally, we invite CEIMSA readers to listen to the 1962 talk at the University of California – Berkeley :
Aldous Huxley: “The Ultimate Revolution”
Professor of American Studies
University of Grenoble-3
Director of Research
University of Paris-Nanterre
Center for the Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements
The University of California-San Diego
From Truth Out :
Date: 18 October 2014
Subject: The Reemergence of Fascism in Greece.
By all international measures, Greece has seen a stunning decline in its level of press freedom: Murder and intimidation of journalists, including threats of state prosecution or private lawsuits, censorship and propaganda are rife.
In Greece, Media Censorship, Self-Censorship, Journalist Arrests and Murder
by Michael Nevradakis
From Democracy Now ! :
Date: 16 October 2014
Subject: Another Murder by Police in Denver, Colorado.
In Historic Police Brutality Case, Family of Homeless Denver Pastor Killed in Custody Awarded $4.6M
From The Real News Network :
Date: 17 October 2014
Subject : ‘Ferguson October’ at the Saint Louis University Campus Protest Police Murder.
Over 1,500 people marched on Saint Louis University's campus as a part of Ferguson October and the National Day of Civil Disobedience.
From Truth Out :
Date: 16 October 2014
Subject: Attempts at re-writing history for ‘Ruling Class Hygiene’.
US Government Sanitizes Vietnam War History
by Marjorie Cohn
From Mark Crispin Miller :
Dates: 19 October 2014
Subject : What we've done to Iraq with our DU is "genocide," their doctors rightly say.
Contamination from depleted uranium (DU) munitions is causing sharp rises in congenital birth defects, cancer cases and other illnesses throughout much of Iraq, according to numerous Iraqi doctors.
Iraqi Doctors Call Depleted Uranium Use "Genocide"
by Dahr Jamail
From The Independent :
Date: 14 October 2014
Subject: Revenge Killings Feed the Spiral for Guaranteed Military-Industrial Profits.
Iraq descends into anarchy:
Shia militias 'abducting and killing Sunni civilians in revenge for Isis attacks'
by Patrick Cockburn
From Information Clearing House :
Date: 16 September 2014
Subject: The Phony War on ISIS.
If regime change stood any chance of stopping ISIS – it should be carried out in the capitals of the nations currently arming and funding ISIS - Washington (Wall Street), London, Riyadh, Doha, Ankara, and Tel Aviv.
From Tom Dispatch :
Date: 14 October 2014
Subject: The Carlyle Group.
For a foreign occupying force to create a unified and effective army from a disunified and disaffected populace was (and remains) a fool’s errand.
America's Hollow Foreign Legions
From Russian Television :
Date: 15 October 2014
Subject: The new Nazi virus in Europe.
This is clearly demonstrated by open manifestations of neo-Nazism that have already become commonplace in Latvia and other Baltic states.
Nazi Virus ‘Vaccine’ Losing Effect in Europe
an Interview with Russian
President Vladimir Putin
From William Blum :
Date: 17 October 2014
Subject: Killing Hope.
‘Anti-Empire Report’, October 16, 2014
From Peter Maybarduk :
Date: 17 October 2014
Subject: New WikiLeaks Trade Text Reveals Attacks on Affordable Cancer Treatment.
Attack on Affordability of Cancer Treatments Revealed in New WikiLeaks
Trans-Pacific Trade Pact Text
[Obama Administration Budget Pledge to Cut Medicare, Medicaid Costs Would Be Undermined]
Oct. 16, 2014
Contact: Peter Maybarduk (202) 588-7755
Angela Bradbery (202) 588-7741
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Access to affordable cancer treatments in the U.S and 11 other countries would be delayed for years if terms revealed today in the leaked draft Intellectual Property Chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were to go into effect, Public Citizen said. The text, obtained by WikiLeaks, analyzed in collaboration with Public Citizen and released today also shows worrying developments in other patent and copyright issues and explains in part why TPP talks remain deadlocked a month before President Barack Obama’s declared deadline for a deal.
“The leak shows our government demanding rules that would lead to preventable suffering and death in Pacific Rim countries, while eliminating opportunities to ease financial hardship on American families and our health programs at home,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s Global Access to Medicines Program. Read Public Citizen’s analysis and background information.
Measures in the text, which advantage the patent-based pharmaceutical industry, face stiff opposition from most of the other TPP countries and health care advocates. Entrenched disagreements on these issues will be among the top challenges for TPP trade ministers who will be meeting in Australia at the end of October in an effort to meet Obama’s November deadline to complete negotiations.
Large brand-name drug firms want to use the TPP to impose rules throughout Asia that will raise prices on medicine purchases for consumers and governments. With billions at stake, Big Pharma wants the TPP to be a road map for rules that would govern Pacific Rim economies for the next several decades.
A U.S. proposal in the text – to provide long automatic monopolies for biotech drugs or biologics, which includes most new treatments for cancer – contradicts the policies included in recent White House budgets and if adopted would undermine key cost savings touted by the administration. The past budgets have included a specific pledge to shorten the same monopoly periods so as to reduce cost burdens on Medicare and Medicaid.
If the TPP is ratified with this U.S.-proposed provision included, Congress would be unable to reduce monopoly periods without risking significant penalties and investor-state arbitration.
“The White House undermines its pledge to cut drug costs with the harmful position it is taking in these secretive negotiations, at the behest of the major pharmaceutical companies,” said Maybarduk.
The TPP is a controversial agreement being pushed by multinational corporations and negotiated behind closed doors by officials from the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The newly leaked text is dated May 16, 2014; however, through close monitoring of negotiations, Public Citizen has been able to establish that contentious issues revealed in the text remain unresolved.
WikiLeaks obtained an earlier draft of the same chapter last year, dated Aug. 30, 2013. The measure on biotech drugs is one of several key revelations new to this leak that show how the TPP would undermine access to affordable medicines and Internet freedom. Others include:
Following years of criticism from health advocates, the leaked text shows new proposals for mitigating the pact’s harms to access to medicines in developing countries. However, these are insufficient.
Provisions in the leaked text also show where U.S. negotiators, even as they continue to pursue terms that would undermine public health and access to information, have backed down from some of their most extreme demands in the face of resistance from developing countries. The provisions include:
“Many Pacific Rim negotiators deserve great credit for standing up to one of the most powerful industries on earth,” said Burcu Kilic, a Public Citizen expert in intellectual property rules who has closely monitored the talks. “But still the text is far from being acceptable. It would hurt people and developing economies if it were implemented.”
TPP negotiators are scheduled to sit down again in Australia on Oct. 19-24 with a ministerial-level meeting following on Oct. 25-27. Obama seeks a final announcement on the TPP on Nov. 11, when he will be with other TPP country heads of state in China at the APEC summit.
From : Brook Baker :
Date: 16 October 2014
Subject: The TPP may endanger world health, newly leaked chapter shows.
The TPP may endanger world health, newly leaked chapter shows
by Dell Cameron
By Dell Cameron
October 16, 2014
WikiLeaks on Thursday published an updated version of the negotiating texts of a controversial and highly secretive trade agreement between the United States and 11 other member nations.
Critics warn that the international agreement, dubbed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), proposes sweeping changes to intellectual property norms that would stifle freedom of expression online and impose harsh monopoly rights on new drugs, vaccines and agricultural products.
While most international trade negotiations involve a good deal of secrecy, controversy enveloped the TPP when hundreds of corporate advisors were given access to the texts, even as the public and members of Congress were being kept in the dark. The negotiating texts of the TPP’s intellectual property chapter, dated August 2013, were published by WikiLeaks last fall. The updated 77-page version, now available on WikiLeak’s website, originates from the Ho Chi Minh negotiations held May 2014.
Overall, the Obama administration’s continued efforts to seemingly put first the interests of industry lobbyists, while blocking journalists and public advocates from observing the negotiations, appears immune from the widespread criticism that resulted from the initial leak last November.
Some of the most-criticized passages are, however, now absent from the leaked version of the texts. WikiLeaks notes, for example, that surgical method patents had been removed. “Doctors' groups said this was vitally important for allowing doctors to engage in medical procedures without fear of a lawsuit for providing the best care for their patients,” the organization said.
Foreseeable delays in the distribution of lifesaving medications is among the chief concerns raised by TPP’s critics. According to Public Citizen, a non-profit group that examined the texts in collaboration with WikiLeaks, “Access to affordable cancer treatments in the U.S and 11 other countries would be delayed for years if terms revealed today in the leaked [TPP draft] were to go into effect.”
Nearly all of the changes proposed by the U.S. advantage corporate entities by expanding monopolies on knowledge goods, such as drug patents, and impose restrictive copyright policies worldwide. If it came into force, TPP would even allow pharmaceutical companies to sue the U.S. whenever changes to regulatory standards or judicial decisions affected their profits.
Professor Brook K. Baker of Northeastern U. School of Law told the Daily Dot that the latest version of the TPP will do nothing less than lengthen, broaden, and strengthen patent monopolies on vital medications.
“Proposed language makes it easier to get successive, secondary patents on minor changes to or new uses of existing medicines and patent term extensions that increase pricing discretion and monopoly profits on vital medicines, but at the cost of reduced access to poor and uninsured patients,” said Baker, a senior policy analyst for Health GAP (Global Access Project).
Moreover, Baker said that while the negative effects of the IP provisions of the TPP would be most acute in poorer countries, the trade agreement would also tie the hands of policy makers in the U.S., as several of the provisions will require mandatory changes to U.S. law.
One proposal seen for the first time in the latest TPP draft concerns the use of biological medical products, or biologics, which are medicinal treatments derived from biological sources and include many new cancer treatments and vaccines.
“Public health systems in many countries cannot afford the $100k-plus price tags on most of these new cancer drugs, certainly most people worldwide cannot afford them on their own,” Public Citizen’s Peter Maybarduk, director of Global Access to Medicines Program, told the Daily Dot. “This means that people in need of treatment will suffer and, in too many cases, die, until affordable biosimilars can be brought to market.”
Additionally, rights groups such as Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have taken issue with an addendum that would impose a legal obligation on Internet service providers (ISPs) to monitor the online activities of their customers for copyright infringement. ISPs would be further required to remove from the Internet content suspected of infringing copyright and retain the information of users who post said content. According to EFF, this would require member nations to adopt criminal sanctions for infringement that is done without a commercial motivation.
“The selective secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations, which has let in a few cashed-up megacorps but excluded everyone else, reveals a telling fear of public scrutiny,” Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief, said on Thursday. “By publishing this text we allow the public to engage in issues that will have such a fundamental impact on their lives.”
Illustration by Jason Reed
From Mark Crispin Miller :
Dates: 19 October 2014
Subject : "Cellphones wrecked my health," says Nokia's former tech chief.
This is translation of the one of the articles published in the Finnish newspaper Satakunnan kansa. Translation provided generously by Henrik Eiriksson.
From Mark Crispin Miller :
Dates: 19 October 2014
Subject: [MCM] WashPost (channeling Langley) slanders Gary Webb AGAIN.
By Robert Parry
Exclusive: The movie, “Kill the Messenger,” portrays the mainstream U.S. news media as craven for destroying Gary Webb rather than expanding on his investigation of the Contra-cocaine scandal. So, now one of those “journalists” is renewing the character assassination of Webb, notes Robert Parry.
Jeff Leen, the Washington Post’s assistant managing editor for investigations, begins his
renewed attack on the late Gary Webb’s Contra-cocaine reporting with a falsehood.
Leen insists that there is a journalism dictum that “an extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof.” But Leen must know that it is not true. Many extraordinary claims, such as assertions in 2002-03 that Iraq was hiding arsenals of WMDs, were published as flat-fact without “extraordinary proof” or any real evidence at all, including by Leen’s colleagues at the Washington Post.
A different rule actually governs American journalism – that journalists need “extraordinary proof” if a story puts the U.S. government or an “ally” in a negative light but pretty much anything goes when criticizing an “enemy.”
If, for instance, the Post wanted to accuse the Syrian government of killing civilians with Sarin gas or blame Russian-backed rebels for the shoot-down of a civilian airliner over Ukraine, any scraps of proof – no matter how dubious – would be good enough (as was the actual case in 2013 and 2014, respectively).
However, if new evidence undercut those suspicions and shifted the blame to people on “the U.S. side” – say, the Syrian rebels and the Ukrainian government – then the standards of proof suddenly skyrocket beyond reach. So what you get is not “responsible” journalism – as Leen tries to suggest – but hypocrisy and propaganda. One set of rules for the goose and another set for the gander.
The Contra-Cocaine Case
Or to go back to the Contra-cocaine scandal that Brian Barger and I first exposed for the Associated Press in 1985: If we were writing that the leftist Nicaraguan Sandinista government – the then U.S. “enemy” – was shipping cocaine to the United States, any flimsy claim would have sufficed. But the standard of proof ratcheted up when the subject of our story was cocaine smuggling by President Ronald Reagan’s beloved Contras.
In other words, the real dictum is that there are two standards, double standards, something that a careerist like Leen knows in his gut but doesn’t want you to know. All the better to suggest that Gary Webb was guilty of violating some noble principle of journalism.
But Leen is wrong in another way – because there was “extraordinary proof” establishing that the Contras were implicated in drug trafficking and that the Reagan administration was looking the other way.
When Barger and I wrote the first story about Contra-cocaine trafficking almost three decades ago, we already had “extraordinary proof,” including documents from Costa Rica, statements by Contras and Contra backers, and admissions from officials in the Drug Enforcement Administration and Ronald Reagan’s National Security Council staff.
However, Leen seems to dismiss our work as nothing but getting “tips” about Contra-cocaine trafficking as if Barger and I were like the hacks at the Washington Post and the New York Times who wait around for authorized handouts from the U.S. government.
Following the Money
Barger and I actually were looking for something different when we encountered the evidence on Contra-cocaine trafficking. We were trying to figure out how the Contras were sustaining themselves in the field after Congress cut off the CIA’s financing for their war.
We were, in the old-fashioned journalistic parlance, “following the money.” The problem was the money led, in part, to the reality that all the major Contra organizations were collaborating with drug traffickers.
Besides our work in the mid-1980s, Sen. John Kerry’s follow-on Contra-cocaine investigation added substantially more evidence. Yet Leen and his cohorts apparently felt no need to pursue the case any further or even give respectful attention to Kerry’s official findings.
Indeed, when Kerry’s report was issued in April 1989, the Washington Post ran a dismissive story by Michael Isikoff buried deep inside the paper. Newsweek dubbed Kerry “a randy conspiracy buff.” In his new article attacking Gary Webb, Leen just says:
“After an exhaustive three-year investigation, the committee’s report concluded that CIA officials were aware of the smuggling activities of some of their charges who supported the contras, but it stopped short of implicating the agency directly in drug dealing. That seemed to be the final word on the matter.”
But why was it the “final word”? Why didn’t Leen and others who had missed the scandal as it was unfolding earlier in the decade at least try to build on Kerry’s findings. After all, these were now official U.S. government records. Wasn’t that “extraordinary” enough?
In this context, Leen paints himself as the true investigative journalist who knew the inside story of the Contra-cocaine tale from the beginning. He wrote: “As an investigative reporter covering the drug trade for the Miami Herald, … I wrote about the explosion of cocaine in America in the 1980s and 1990s, and the role of Colombia’s Medellin Cartel in fueling it.
“Beginning in 1985, journalists started pursuing tips about the CIA’s role in the drug trade. Was the agency allowing cocaine to flow into the United States as a means to fund its secret war supporting the contra rebels in Nicaragua? Many journalists, including me, chased that story from different angles, but the extraordinary proof was always lacking.”
Again, what Leen says is not true. Leen makes no reference to the groundbreaking AP story in 1985 or other disclosures in the ensuing years. He just insists that “the extraordinary proof” was lacking — which it may have been for him given his lackluster abilities. He then calls the final report of Kerry’s investigation the “final word.”
But Leen doesn’t explain why he and his fellow mainstream journalists were so incurious about this major scandal that they would remain passive even in the wake of a Senate investigation. It’s also not true that Kerry’s report was the “final word” prior to Webb reviving the scandal in 1996.
In 1991, during the narcotics trafficking trial of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, the U.S. government itself presented witnesses who connected the Contras to the Medellin cartel.
Indeed, after testimony by Medellin cartel kingpin Carlos Lehder about his $10 million contribution to the Contras, the Washington Post wrote in a Nov. 27, 1991 editorial that “The Kerry hearings didn’t get the attention they deserved at the time” and that “The Noriega trial brings this sordid aspect of the Nicaraguan engagement to fresh public attention.”
But the Post offered its readers no explanation for why Kerry’s hearings had been largely ignored, with the Post itself a leading culprit in this journalistic misfeasance. Nor did the Post and the other leading newspapers use the opening created by the Noriega trial to do anything to rectify their past neglect.
In other words, it didn’t seem to matter how much “extraordinary proof” the Washington Post or Jeff Leen had. Nothing would be sufficient to report seriously on the Contra-cocaine scandal, not even when the U.S. government vouched for the evidence.
So, Leen is trying to fool you when he presents himself as a “responsible journalist” weighing the difficult evidentiary choices. He’s just the latest hack to go after Gary Webb, which has become urgent again for the mainstream media in the face of “Kill the Messenger,” a new movie about Webb’s ordeal.
What Leen won’t face up to is that the tag-team destruction of Gary Webb in 1996-97 – by the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times – represented one of the most shameful episodes in the history of American journalism.
The Big Papers tore down an honest journalist to cover up their own cowardly failure to investigate and expose a grave national security crime, the Reagan administration’s tolerance for and protection of drug trafficking into the United States by the CIA’s client Contra army.
This journalistic failure occurred even though the Associated Press – far from a radical news outlet – and a Senate investigation (not to mention the Noriega trial) had charted the way.
Contrary to Leen’s column, “Kill the Messenger” is actually a fairly honest portrayal of what happened when Webb exposed the consequences of the Contra cocaine smuggling after the drugs reached the United States. One channel fed into an important Los Angeles supply chain that produced crack.
But Leen tells you that “The Hollywood version of [Webb's] story — a truth-teller persecuted by the cowardly and craven mainstream media — is pure fiction.”
He then lauds the collaboration of the Big Three newspapers in destroying Webb and creating such enormous pressure on Webb’s newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, that the executive editor Jerry Ceppos threw his own reporter under the bus. To Leen, this disgraceful behavior represented the best of American journalism.
Leen wrote: “The New York Times, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, in a rare show of unanimity, all wrote major pieces knocking the story down for its overblown claims and undernourished reporting.
“Gradually, the Mercury News backed away from Webb’s scoop. The paper transferred him to its Cupertino bureau and did an internal review of his facts and his methods. Jerry Ceppos, the Mercury News’s executive editor, wrote a piece concluding that the story did not meet the newspaper’s standards — a courageous stance, I thought.”
“Courageous”? What an astounding characterization of Ceppos’s act of career cowardice.
But Leen continues by explaining his role in the Webb takedown. After all, Leen was then the drug expert at the Miami Herald, which like the San Jose Mercury News was a Knight Ridder newspaper. Leen says his editors sought his opinion about Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series.
Though acknowledging that he was “envious” of Webb’s story when it appeared in 1996, Leen writes that he examined it and found it wanting, supposedly because of alleged overstatements. He proudly asserts that because of his critical analysis, the Miami Herald never published Webb’s series.
But Leen goes further. He falsely characterizes the U.S. government’s later admissions contained in inspector general reports by the CIA and Justice Department. If Leen had bothered to read the reports thoroughly, he would have realized that the reports actually establish that Webb – and indeed Kerry, Barger and I – grossly understated the seriousness of the Contra-cocaine problem which began at the start of the Contra movement in the early 1980s and lasted through the decade until the end of the war.
Leen apparently assumes that few Americans will take the trouble to study and understand what the reports said. That is why I published a lengthy account of the U.S. government’s admissions – both after the reports were published in 1998 and as “Kill the Messenger” was hitting the theaters in October. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Sordid Contra-Cocaine Saga.”]
Playing It Safe
Instead of diving into the reeds of the CIA and DOJ reports, Leen does what he and his mainstream colleagues have done for the past three decades, try to minimize the seriousness of the Reagan administration tolerating cocaine trafficking by its Contra clients and even obstructing official investigations that threatened to expose this crime of state.
Instead, to Leen, the only important issue is whether Gary Webb’s story was perfect. But no journalistic product is perfect. There are always more details that a reporter would like to have, not to mention compromises with editors over how a story is presented. And, on a complex story, there are always some nuances that could have been explained better. That is simply the reality of journalism, the so-called first draft of history.
But Leen pretends that it is the righteous thing to destroy a reporter who is not perfect in his execution of a difficult story – and that Gary Webb thus deserved to be banished from his profession for life, a cruel punishment that impoverished Webb and ultimately drove him to suicide in 2004.
But if Leen is correct – that a reporter who takes on a very tough story and doesn’t get every detail precisely correct should be ruined and disgraced – what does he tell his Washington Post colleague Bob Woodward, whose heroic Watergate reporting included an error about whether a claim regarding who controlled the White House slush fund was made before a grand jury.
While Woodward and his colleague Carl Bernstein were right about the substance, they were wrong about its presentation to a grand jury. Does Leen really believe that Woodward and Bernstein should have been drummed out of journalism for that mistake? Instead, they were lionized as heroes of investigative journalism despite the error – as they should have been.
Yet, when Webb exposed what was arguably an even worse crime of state – the Reagan administration turning a blind eye to the importation of tons of cocaine into the United States – Leen thinks any abuse of Webb is justified because his story wasn’t perfect.
Those two divergent judgments – on how Woodward’s mistake was understandably excused and how Webb’s imperfections were never forgiven – speak volumes about what has happened to the modern profession of journalism at least in the mainstream U.S. media. In reality, Leen’s insistence on perfection and “extraordinary proof” is just a dodge to rationalize letting well-connected criminals and their powerful accomplices off the hook.
In the old days, the journalistic goal was to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable,” but the new rule appears to be: “any standard of proof works when condemning the weak or the despised but you need unachievable ‘extraordinary evidence’ if you’re writing about the strong and the politically popular.”
Who Is Unfit?
Leen adds a personal reflection on Webb as somehow not having the proper temperament to be an investigative reporter. Leen wrote:
“After Webb was transferred to Cupertino [in disgrace], I debated him at a conference of the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization in Phoenix in June 1997. He was preternaturally calm. While investigative journalists are usually bundles of insecurities and questions and skepticism, he brushed off any criticism and admitted no error. When asked how I felt about it all, I said I felt sorry for him. I still feel that way.”
It’s interesting – and sadly typical – that while Leen chastises Webb for not admitting error, Leen offers no self-criticism of himself for missing what even the CIA has now admitted, that the Contras were tied up in the cocaine trade. Doesn’t an institutional confession by the CIA’s inspector general constitute “extraordinary evidence”?
Also, since the CIA’s inspector general’s report included substantial evidence of Contra-cocaine trafficking running through Miami, shouldn’t Leen offer some mea culpa about missing these serious crimes that were going on right under his nose – in his city and on his beat? What sort of reporter is “preternaturally calm” about failing to do his job right and letting the public suffer as Leen did?
Perhaps all one needs to know about the sorry state of today’s mainstream journalism is that Jeff Leen is the Washington Post’s assistant managing editor for investigations and Gary Webb is no longer with us.[To learn how you can hear a December 1996 joint appearance at which Robert Parry and Gary Webb discuss their reporting, click here.]
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.
From Mutins de Pangée :
Date: 17 October 2014
Subject: Démocratie année zero.