Zebra 3 Report by Joe Anybody
Monday, 4 April 2011
Flux Rostrum Foreclusure Evictions in Rochester
Mood:  irritated
Now Playing: Flux Rostrum Video - Police Evict and Arrests - April 4th 2011
Topic: HUMANITY

http://fluxview.com/USA/


Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 5 April 2011 10:59 AM PDT
Video Editing tools from YouTube
Mood:  silly
Now Playing: Brand New Tools for Video Editing
Topic: MEDIA

Xtranormal Movie Maker

Xtranormal lets you to turn anything you type into a fully-animated CG movie. Set up your scene, type in your script, and animate it instantly. Easily share something funny... by XtranormalCreate Video

Stupeflix Video Maker

Tell a story with your digital content. Mix pictures, videos, maps, text, music and watch Stupeflix produce a stunning video in a few seconds. It's fast, easy, and free to ... by stupeflixCreate Video

GoAnimate

GoAnimate is a fun app that lets you make animated videos, for free, in just 10 minutes, without having to draw. You can even create your own cast of characters. There ar... by GoAnimateCreate Video

Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Tuesday, 5 April 2011 3:17 PM PDT
Thursday, 31 March 2011
Physical searches: Effective methods of locating surveillance
Mood:  irritated
Now Playing: Locating Hidden Spy Equipment
Topic: TECHNOLOGY

 http://seussbeta.tripod.com/sweep.html

Surprised

Physical search is by far the most effective method of locating surveillance devices if properly executed. You'll need to be careful and methodical if you want to try and find surveillance devices, and have a workable plan of attack. Begin by finding a place to prepare yourself outside the area you're going to inspect

 

Physical Search

Preparation

Searching

Checklist



Telephone Search

Residential Telephone Systems

Commercial Telephone Systems

Outside Plant Searches



Specific Device Searches

                                                    Devices



Preparation


Get a roll of kraft paper, some masking tape and a fistful of Sharpie markers in different colors. Tack a good sized piece of kraft paper up on a wall and sketch a separate floor plan for every room you plan to search, noting large pieces of furniture, electrical outlets, stereo equipment, intercoms, and telephone and data jacks. Label electrical stuff in red, phone lines and jacks in orange, HVAC in blue, etc. Make a note of what kind of floor covering is in each room (carpet, tile, etc.) and what the ceiling material is (plaster, tile, paneling, etc.).


Get your equipment together and lay it out neatly. Make sure the disposable batteries are fresh out of the pack and the rechargeables fresh off the charger. Everything turns on, tunes in and does not drop out. Once you're sure all tools are ready, and have a chart of what's where and what could be hidden where, the actual search begins.

 
 


Begin by taking a flashlight and shining it at an angle across the walls. Any small holes will be immediately noticeable. If you see any small holes in the wall, jam a darning needle into it. HARD. Look for odd discolorations (caused by poorly matched paint covering fine wires or metallic paint) or bumps (from devices covered by well matched paint, or under wallpaper) too. At this point a professional team would likely use a thermography scan or X-ray to determine what is inside/behind the walls.


Once you're satisfied that there are no tiny holes in the wall that could be housing a microphone or small camera and that there is nothing lurking under the wall coverings, get on your hands and knees and direct your light at the junction between the walls and the floor looking for fine wires. Rake at the carpet edges with a dental pick.


At this point, you'll want to start looking for both wires and batteries, the other tell-tale sign of a surveillance device. Get an inspection mirror and start looking under any semi-permanent fixtures in the room. Any light fixtures in the area will need to be checked for light modulators and carrier current devices. Take them apart and look for circuit boards (lights don't need any). Face plates should come off all light switches and power outlets. The covers should be taken off all phone and data jacks. Anything that doesn't look like it belongs probably doesn't.


Have you looked everywhere? You're sure? Have you lifted the ceiling tiles and made sure there was nothing lurking on the other side? Taken the cover off the smoke detector and compared it to a detector of the same make and model that you just bought? Did you check the upholstery for signs of tampering, including underneath? Did you stand on a chair and check the top of every air core door looking for holes? You remembered to look at the bottom of the door with an inspection mirror, didn't you? Hot air registers were removed and the ducts inspected? The list could go on for pages (and does in A Beginning Sweepers Handbook); but the point is that you'll need to exercise both your paranoia and your imagination in order to root out surveillance devices.


 

Physical Search Checklist


Hardwire

[ ] Floorboards examined with pick and high-intensity light

[ ] Walls examined for fine wires

[ ] Hollow doors examined top, bottom and under hinges

Carrier Current

[ ] Covers removed from electrical outlets

[ ] Covers removed from light switches

Contact

[ ] Walls examined for small holes

[ ] Ceiling tiles lifted

Phones

[ ] Jacks disassembled

[ ] Raceways examined

[ ] Wires traced back visually

Cameras

[ ] Walls examined for small holes

Light

[ ] All lights examined for signs of tampering

RF

 



Searching residential lines:
 
By far the most productive portion of any phone sweep is the physical search. Get a mag-lite, spudger (or dental pick) and a dentist's mirror. Start at your phone and trace the wire back as far as you can.  Take the cover off every phone jack and tug at the wire regularly (look for fine wires connected to the line). If you see a 66 block , look behind it with the mirror. There should be no wiring or paint on the back.

 If you can trace your wiring back to the demark point, open the thing up and have a look around. You should see no splices attached to you pair. If the line terminates in an NID, open the side labeled "Telco Access Only" (you'll need a 3/8th nut driver). Probe around looking for splits, things that don't appear to belong, etc. The majority of a demark's parts are modular, so remove them and look inside and behind them.

 Demark Pics

 
 

Searching commercial lines:

Searching in an office environment presents a whole new universe of problems (not the least of which being "What are you doing here?"). Commercial buildings have complex phone systems and cabling; making the physical search several magnitudes more difficult, but not impossible. Trace the line back from your phone to it's jack, looking for fine wires or other things that look out of place. If your phone uses a 25 pair cable, like the ones below,  look for bits of glue or tape that might be covering up slits in the sheath or other signs of tampering. If the wiring ends in a jack, take the cover off and have a look around. Talk to a networking guy before removing the jack so you don't break it, or find out to late that fiber and telephone cabling were sharing a raceway. Next stop on the debugging will be the wiring cabinet.

Wiring cabinets are part of what make office networks unique. Wiring cabinets are the walk-in closets found on every floor of a building housing that particular floor's phone and LAN equipment. Each cabinet should be locked up tight. If it isn't, complain loudly to the networking staff. Unlocked wiring closets make transmitter placement WAY too easy. Unlock the cabinet and have a look around; there should be no signs of recent spray painting (could be used to cover fine wire leads or metallic paint leads), no wires on the back of the wiring blocks, and everything with a tag labeled "Do Not Remove" with a telco logo on it should be checked. Check again for cables with tape or paint on them that could be covering tamper marks. Pull apart Amphenol connectors and single line taps to confirm that there is nothing hidden inside. Don't get overwhelmed if there are LOTS of cables, the hellish tangle of wires
in the cabinet can be sorted through by color code. Because you're looking for devices connected to phone lines, pay particular attention to blue
(horizontal voice), orange (telco trunks) and red (key system cabling) cross connect cables.

After confirming all wiring closets are clear, check the main closet (usually in the basement). This is where telco trunks appear, and a good amount of
heavy-duty networking gear is stored. Check just like you did the wiring cabinet.

* Note: This is likely not a step that should be taken by the average person.

Now the real nightmare begins, checking inter floor cabling. Ceiling risers, elevator shafts and floor ducts are often used to run network and telephone
cable, and because of their inaccessibility, make perfect places to hide wiretaps.

Before you start disassembling your phone, it would be wise to put a frequency counter next to the phone and take it off hook. Call a number that probably won't be answered anytime soon (like your ISP or the phone company). If the counter doesn't pick anything up after a few minutes there probably nothing in your phone. Its time to start checking your phone.
 
 
Searching in the outside plant: 

 Disclaimer: Messing around in the OSP is illegal difficult and dangerous,  but so are many telephone intercepts. Visually trace your telephone's wiring from the demark to as far back as you can. Remember that wiretappers need access to your line, so look for places where it can be gotten at easily (those cables are insulated with sheets of lead by the way, and any splicer will tell you it isn't easy to cut into them subtlety). Is there anyplace where you can reach a boot or splice cabinet? How about if you had a ladder or if you were leaning out a window? If not, keep moving. If you can reach out and touch a splice enclosure or a cabinet, try and open it. Cabinets (like the one at left) are usually held closed with a 3/8th" screw. The cover on a splice enclosure is held on by a series of metal clips attached to the bottom. Look for signs of recent activity... recently stripped screw heads, new looking cable ties, etc. At some point you'll see a cable routed down a pole and into the ground. This cable is on its way to the central office through a maze of pressurized, underground ducts. There's very little need to worry about wires in the Earth. 
 

 

 

I Found a Tap!!

 Think you found something? Don't panic yet, as there are plenty of  good explanations for what you found. Does it have a row of tiny little switches on it? Its probably an RF filter to prevent noise on the line, not  a transmitter. Did you find extra wiring attached to your phone line (especially in an OSP setting)? More than likely its a bridged tap, extra  cable left over from a previous installation or provided for redundant cabling. Is your line split? It could just be a botched installation. If you're absolutely sure you've found an illegal surveillance device take several pictures of it, and arrange a meeting with a competent TSCM firm. Not a private investigator. Not someone connected to a spy shop. A reputable, professional sweep team. If you're in doubt ask what kind of equipment they use, what sorts of training they've completed, and how many years they've spent in the business. If they try and feed you some line about classified government equipment (Note: many firms use proprietary instrumentation. Just be sure that everything they'll be using on a sweep isn't proprietary) or super secret training politely tell them to go to hell. Any competent sweep technician will be able to tell you about the majority of the gear they typically use, where they were trained, and how long they've been in business.

Specific Device Searches


Contact/Spike MicrophonesTake a flashlight and shine it at an angle across the walls. Any small holes should be immediately noticeable. If you do see any small holes in the wall, jam a darning needle into it. HARD. Look  for odd discolorations (caused by poorly matched paint that could be covering fine wires or metallic paint) or bumps (from devices covered by well matched paint or under wallpaper). Lift ceiling tiles and peek into air vents, looking for telltale black boxes, wires, or anything else that seems out of place. 
Hardwire MicrophonesGet on your hands and knees and direct your light at the junction between the walls and the floor looking for fine wires. Pull up the carpet edges, too. Check all microphones in the area for additional wires. Speakers should be examined for signs of tampering.
Carrier Current DevicesAll electrical appliances, light switches and power outlets should be checked for signs of tampering. Most simple appliances (such as lamps) don't need circuit boards. Check devices against schematics if possible.
Light ModulatorsCheck all lighting for signs of tampering. Circuit boards aren't a normal component of lights. Check against device schematics or known clean sample. The circuitry needed for a light modulator can be hidden ANYWHERE inside of the power system.
Telephone TransmittersTake the cover off your phone and compare it to a schematic or known clean sample. Even this isn't foolproof, as PK Electronik makes a transmitter the size and shape of a ceramic capacitor. Start at your phone and trace the wiring back to the phone jack. Remove the cover of the phone jack and have a look around. Continue to follow the wiring back as far as you can. At no point should you see anything but wires. If the line terminates in an NID, open the side labeled "Telco Access Only" (you'll need a 3/8th nut driver). The majority of a demark's parts are modular, so remove them and look inside and behind them. Look for obvious transmitters and coils.
SplitsGo over every inch of wiring looking for overt splices, (be especially wary of splices not made with Scotchlock connectors) and fine wires attached to phone wiring (a small hooked dental pick is a godsend for this). Examine 66 blocks in wring cabinets very closely, its possible to run fine wires behind the block, or use paint traces.
Hookswitch CompromisesTake the cover off the phone in question and examine the hookswitch. There should be NOTHING connecting the two sides of the hookswitch, or contacts that are connected to them. Check the phones housing for signs of tampering.

* Signs of tampering include stripped screws, fresh looking paint, recently chipped plastic, chipped paint, scrape marks.

Index


Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:01 AM PDT
Updated: Friday, 1 April 2011 9:37 AM PDT
Sunday, 27 March 2011
Just The Facts 702 in 130 + 6,ooo
Mood:  not sure
Now Playing: Military Economy - The Rich Get Cake The Poor Starve
Topic: WAR

Hows the War Economy Working For You

 

 From the open publishing
Portland Indymedia newswire:
"According to the Defense Department's annual "Base Structure Report" for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate,

"The military high command deploys to our overseas bases some 253,288 uniformed personnel, plus an equal number of dependents and Department of Defense civilian officials, and employs an additional 44,446 locally hired foreigners.
The Pentagon claims that these bases contain 44,870 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and that it leases 4,844 more." Common Dreams

These are just examples of the War Economy of the United States. It reaches into the very heart of our country and exudes from every pore. In order to dominate the planet and insure our security, the U.S. allocates 59% of it's discretionary budget to the Military(Department of Defense, War, Veterans Affairs and Nuclear Weapons Programs.
Such expenditures constantly demand cuts in funding for education, health care and other social service programs, as evidenced, for example, by recent Republican attempted cuts to Planned Parenthood and National Public Radio.

Portland March 19 protest videos from Peace Rally 

Posted by Joe Anybody at 11:55 AM PDT
Updated: Sunday, 27 March 2011 11:57 AM PDT
Sunday, 13 March 2011
Rich Folks & War and Yoru Tax Dollars - Chart -
Mood:  bright
Now Playing: The Must See Chart (This Is What Class War Looks Like)
Topic: CORPORATE CRAP

This will be a very short diary.  I just wanted to get this chart out there.  I originally received it as a post by the Facebook group "The Christian Left."  This chart puts the class war in simple, visual terms.  On the left you have the "shared sacrifices" and "painful cuts" that the Republicans claim we must make to get our fiscal house in order.  On the right, you can plainly see WHY these cuts are "necessary."  The reason?  Because we already gave away all that money to America's wealthiest individuals and corporations.

This just mirrors what we're seeing in Wisconsin, where Governor Walker (R-Koch) claims that ordinary public sector workers need to fork over at least $137 million to save the budget.  Problem is, he just gave away $117 million in tax breaks for his corporate pals.  This is out and out class warfare.  The big corporations in America have decided that they can get even richer by raiding the public treasury.  It's time for the middle class to stand up and defend itself!

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/09/954301/-The-Must-See-Chart-%28This-Is-What-Class-War-Looks-Like%29



 


Posted by Joe Anybody at 9:44 AM PST
Updated: Sunday, 13 March 2011 9:44 AM PST
Saturday, 5 March 2011
Are you Empath?
Now Playing: Empathy and some anaylisis on Empath

http://empathic.net/ 


Laughing

Are You an Empath?

Some people believe that because they are highly sensitive to the needs and feelings of others that they are an empath. However, there is more to being an empath than simply knowing and being able to imagine what others are feeling. An empath will actually experience the same emotions as those around them, whether that ...
[read more]

How to Develop Empathic Skills

People often feel as though they are particularly sensitive to other’s needs, emotions and pain but it can be difficult to differentiate between good intuition and being an empath if one doesn’t know what to look for. For this reason, a person must first identify what it means to be an empath and then learn ...
[read more]

How to Shield Empathic Energy

Empaths have the ability to not only feel what others are feeling around them but to actually take those emotions and make them their own. That is that they will feel exactly what others are feeling, whether it is emotional or physical. While this is very good for the people around them, it can become ...
[read more]

Empathic Residue

Emapths have the ability to read people and know what they are feeling and why they are feeling it simply by seeing them. They don’t need to have a conversation with the person and they don’t need to touch them. They don’t even need to be extremely close to them. An empath for instance, will ...
[read more]


 

Empathic

An empathic, or empath, is someone who is extremely in tune to the emotions of those surrounding them. Because they are so sensitive, they are very creative and imaginative people. They usually have an interest in a wide range of topics and because of this they are often very skilled at several different things. Because they are always thinking about other people, they are generally very interested in other cultures and wondering how other people live. They view these ideas with a very open mind and rather than thinking about how living such a way would be different than their way of living, they imagine what it’s like for the people of that culture.

One of the most important things to understand about empaths is that they are extremely good listeners. This is due to the fact that they have a genuine desire to help other people in any way that they can. They are so dedicated to helping others that they will put their own needs aside so they are better able to help someone else. However, they can often be depressed, choosing to life a solitary life, even if just for a day, and can become extremely quiet. This is because taking on so many emotions that aren’t even theirs can be very emotionally draining so empaths often need some time to recharge.

Empaths are so extremely sensitive that they will often feel what is happening to other people more so than they will feel it if it were happening to them. Because of this they will ignore their own needs. They will often find it hard to process when someone thanks them or gives them a compliment. They don’t understand gratitude because they don’t understand any other way of thinking and they are much more likely to pay someone else a compliment than to take one themselves.

Empaths will also be extremely sensitive to those that they don’t know, they aren’t close to, or that they can’t even see in the three-dimensional world. This means that after seeing violence on television especially to children or animals, it may be too hard for them to take and they may easily cry over it and seem to have a very hard time getting over it. Empaths also despise confrontation and if someone becomes angry with them, they will do all they can to make sure that the dispute is resolved very quickly and in the most peaceful manner possible. If possible, they will avoid confrontation altogether.

Empaths draw people to them because other people can sense how sensitive empaths are, whether they realize they are being drawn to them or not. This applies even to strangers because empaths have a certain glow about them that although they may not show it outwardly, the glow comes from inside and others can see it.


Posted by Joe Anybody at 11:43 AM PST
Tuesday, 1 March 2011
The CIA and the Western Media - Can you say "Curveball in Iraq"
Mood:  loud
Now Playing: Iraq war liar - informant named and the media "curveball"
Topic: WAR
 
An Empire of Lies: The CIA and the Western Media


Global Research, February 28, 2011

Last week the Guardian, Britain’s main liberal newspaper, ran an exclusive report on the belated confessions of an Iraqi exile, Rafeed al-Janabi, codenamed “Curveball” by the CIA. Eight years ago, Janabi played a key behind-the-scenes role -- if an inadvertent one -- in making possible the US invasion of Iraq. His testimony bolstered claims by the Bush administration that Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, had developed an advanced programme producing weapons of mass destruction.
Curveball’s account included the details of mobile biological weapons trucks presented by Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, to the United Nations in early 2003. Powell’s apparently compelling case on WMD was used to justify the US attack on Iraq a few weeks later.
Eight years on, Curveball revealed to the Guardian that he had fabricated the story of Saddam’s WMD back in 2000, shortly after his arrival in Germany seeking asylum. He told the paper he had lied to German intelligence in the hope his testimony might help topple Saddam, though it seems more likely he simply wanted to ensure his asylum case was taken more seriously.
For the careful reader -- and I stress the word careful -- several disturbing facts emerged from the report.
One was that the German authorities had quickly proven his account of Iraq’s WMD to be false. Both German and British intelligence had travelled to Dubai to meet Bassil Latif, his former boss at Iraq’s Military Industries Commission. Dr Latif had proven that Curveball’s claims could not be true. The German authorities quickly lost interest in Janabi and he was not interviewed again until late 2002, when it became more pressing for the US to make a convincing case for an attack on Iraq.
Another interesting disclosure was that, despite the vital need to get straight all the facts about Curveball’s testimony -- given the stakes involved in launching a pre-emptive strike against another sovereign state -- the Americans never bothered to interview Curveball themselves.
A third revelation was that the CIA’s head of operations in Europe, Tyler Drumheller, passed on warnings from German intelligence that they considered Curveball’s testimony to be highly dubious. The head of the CIA, George Tenet, simply ignored the advice.
With Curveball’s admission in mind, as well as these other facts from the story, we can draw some obvious conclusions -- conclusions confirmed by subsequent developments.
Lacking both grounds in international law and the backing of major allies, the Bush administration desperately needed Janabi’s story about WMD, however discredited it was, to justify its military plans for Iraq. The White House did not interview Curveball because they knew his account of Saddam’s WMD programme was made up. His story would unravel under scrutiny; better to leave Washington with the option of “plausible deniability”.
Nonetheless, Janabi’s falsified account was vitally useful: for much of the American public, it added a veneer of credibility to the implausible case that Saddam was a danger to the world; it helped fortify wavering allies facing their own doubting publics; and it brought on board Colin Powell, a former general seen as the main voice of reason in the administration.
In other words, Bush’s White House used Curveball to breathe life into its mythological story about Saddam’s threat to world peace.
So how did the Guardian, a bastion of liberal journalism, present its exclusive on the most controversial episode in recent American foreign policy?
Here is its headline: “How US was duped by Iraqi fantasist looking to topple Saddam”.

Did the headline-writer misunderstand the story as written by the paper’s reporters? No, the headline neatly encapsulated its message. In the text, we are told Powell's presentation to the UN “revealed that the Bush administration's hawkish decisionmakers had swallowed” Curveball’s account. At another point, we are told Janabi “pulled off one of the greatest confidence tricks in the history of modern intelligence”. And that: “His critics -- who are many and powerful -- say the cost of his deception is too difficult to estimate.”

In other words, the Guardian assumed, despite all the evidence uncovered in its own research, that Curveball misled the Bush administration into making a disastrous miscalculation. On this view, the White House was the real victim of Curveball’s lies, not the Iraqi people -- more than a million of whom are dead as a result of the invasion, according to the best available figures, and four million of whom have been forced into exile.
There is nothing exceptional about this example. I chose it because it relates to an event of continuing and momentous significance.
Unfortunately, there is something depressingly familiar about this kind of reporting, even in the West’s main liberal publications. Contrary to its avowed aim, mainstream journalism invariably diminishes the impact of new events when they threaten powerful elites.
We will examine why in a minute. But first let us consider what, or who, constitutes “empire” today? Certainly, in its most symbolic form, it can be identified as the US government and its army, comprising the world’s sole superpower.
Traditionally, empires have been defined narrowly, in terms of a strong nation-state that successfully expands its sphere of influence and power to other territories. Empire’s aim is to make those territories dependent, and then either exploit their resources in the case of poorly developed countries, or, with more developed countries, turn them into new markets for its surplus goods. It is in this latter sense that the American empire has often been able to claim that it is a force for global good, helping to spread freedom and the benefits of consumer culture.
Empire achieves its aims in different ways: through force, such as conquest, when dealing with populations resistant to the theft of their resources; and more subtly through political and economic interference, persuasion and mind-control when it wants to create new markets. However it works, the aim is to create a sense in the dependent territories that their interests and fates are bound to those of empire.
In our globalised world, the question of who is at the centre of empire is much less clear than it once was. The US government is today less the heart of empire than its enabler. What were until recently the arms of empire, especially the financial and military industries, have become a transnational imperial elite whose interests are not bound by borders and whose powers largely evade legislative and moral controls.
Israel’s leadership, we should note, as well its elite supporters around the world -- including the Zionist lobbies, the arms manufacturers and Western militaries, and to a degree even the crumbling Arab tyrannies of the Middle East -- are an integral element in that transnational elite.
The imperial elites’ success depends to a large extent on a shared belief among the western public both that “we” need them to secure our livelihoods and security and that at the same time we are really their masters. Some of the necessary illusions perpetuated by the transnational elites include:
-- That we elect governments whose job is to restrain the corporations;
-- That we, in particular, and the global workforce in general are the chief beneficiaries of the corporations’ wealth creation;
-- That the corporations and the ideology that underpins them, global capitalism, are the only hope for freedom;
-- That consumption is not only an expression of our freedom but also a major source of our happiness;
-- That economic growth can be maintained indefinitely and at no long-term cost to the health of the planet;
-- And that there are groups, called terrorists, who want to destroy this benevolent system of wealth creation and personal improvement.
These assumptions, however fanciful they may appear when subjected to scrutiny, are the ideological bedrock on which the narratives of our societies in the West are constructed and from which ultimately our sense of identity derives. This ideological system appears to us -- and I am using “we” and “us” to refer to western publics only -- to describe the natural order.
The job of sanctifying these assumptions -- and ensuring they are not scrutinised -- falls to our mainstream media. Western corporations own the media, and their advertising makes the industry profitable. In this sense, the media cannot fulfil the function of watchdog of power, because in fact it is power. It is the power of the globalised elite to control and limit the ideological and imaginative horizons of the media’s readers and viewers. It does so to ensure that imperial interests, which are synonymous with those of the corporations, are not threatened.
The Curveball story neatly illustrates the media’s role.
His confession has come too late -- eight years too late, to be precise -- to have any impact on the events that matter. As happens so often with important stories that challenge elite interests, the facts vitally needed to allow western publics to reach informed conclusions were not available when they were needed. In this case, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are gone, as are their neoconservative advisers. Curveball’s story is now chiefly of interest to historians.
That last point is quite literally true. The Guardian’s revelations were of almost no concern to the US media, the supposed watchdog at the heart of the US empire. A search of the Lexis Nexis media database shows that Curveball’s admissions featured only in the New York Times, in a brief report on page 7, as well as in a news round-up in the Washington Times. The dozens of other major US newspapers, including the Washington Post, made no mention of it at all.
Instead, the main audience for the story outside the UK was the readers of India’s Hindu newspaper and the Khaleej Times.
But even the Guardian, often regarded as fearless in taking on powerful interests, packaged its report in such a way as to deprive Curveball’s confession of its true value. The facts were bled of their real significance. The presentation ensured that only the most aware readers would have understood that the US had not been duped by Curveball, but rather that the White House had exploited a “fantasist” -- or desperate exile from a brutal regime, depending on how one looks at it -- for its own illegal and immoral ends.
Why did the Guardian miss the main point in its own exclusive? The reason is that all our mainstream media, however liberal, take as their starting point the idea both that the West’s political culture is inherently benevolent and that it is morally superior to all existing, or conceivable, alternative systems.
In reporting and commentary, this is demonstrated most clearly in the idea that “our” leaders always act in good faith, whereas “their” leaders -- those opposed to empire or its interests -- are driven by base or evil motives.
It is in this way that official enemies, such as Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic, can be singled out as personifying the crazed or evil dictator -- while other equally rogue regimes such as Saudi Arabia’s are described as “moderate” -- opening the way for their countries to become targets of our own imperial strategies.
States selected for the “embrace” of empire are left with a stark choice: accept our terms of surrender and become an ally; or defy empire and face our wrath.
When the corporate elites trample on other peoples and states to advance their own selfish interests, such as in the invasion of Iraq to control its resources, our dominant media cannot allow its reporting to frame the events honestly. The continuing assumption in liberal commentary about the US attack on Iraq, for example, is that, once no WMD were found, the Bush administration remained to pursue a misguided effort to root out the terrorists, restore law and order, and spread democracy.
For the western media, our leaders make mistakes, they are naïve or even stupid, but they are never bad or evil. Our media do not call for Bush or Blair to be tried at the Hague as war criminals.
This, of course, does not mean that the western media is Pravda, the propaganda mouthpiece of the old Soviet empire. There are differences. Dissent is possible, though it must remain within the relatively narrow confines of “reasonable” debate, a spectrum of possible thought that accepts unreservedly the presumption that we are better, more moral, than them.
Similarly, journalists are rarely told -- at least, not directly -- what to write. The media have developed careful selection processes and hierarchies among their editorial staff -- termed “filters” by media critics Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky -- to ensure that dissenting or truly independent journalists do not reach positions of real influence.
There is, in other words, no simple party line. There are competing elites and corporations, and their voices are reflected in the narrow range of what we term commentary and opinion. Rather than being dictated to by party officials, as happened under the Soviet system, our journalists scramble for access, to be admitted into the ante-chambers of power. These privileges make careers but they come at a huge cost to the reporters’ independence.
Nonetheless, the range of what is permissible is slowly expanding -- over the opposition of the elites and our mainstream TV and press. The reason is to be found in the new media, which is gradually eroding the monopoly long enjoyed by the corporate media to control the spread of information and popular ideas. Wikileaks is so far the most obvious, and impressive, outcome of that trend.
The consequences are already tangible across the Middle East, which has suffered disproportionately under the oppressive rule of empire. The upheavals as Arab publics struggle to shake off their tyrants are also stripping bare some of the illusions the western media have peddled to us. Empire, we have been told, wants democracy and freedom around the globe. And yet it is caught mute and impassive as the henchmen of empire unleash US-made weapons against their peoples who are demanding western-style freedoms.
An important question is: how will our media respond to this exposure, not just of our politicians’ hypocrisy but also of their own? They are already trying to co-opt the new media, including Wikileaks, but without real success. They are also starting to allow a wider range of debate, though still heavily constrained, than had been possible before.
The West’s version of glasnost is particularly obvious in the coverage of the problem closest to our hearts here in Palestine. What Israel terms a delegitimisation campaign is really the opening up -- slightly -- of the media landscape, to allow a little light where until recently darkness reigned.
This is an opportunity and one that we must nurture. We must demand of the corporate media more honesty; we must shame them by being better-informed than the hacks who recycle official press releases and clamour for access; and we must desert them, as is already happening, for better sources of information.
We have a window. And we must force it open before the elites of empire try to slam it shut.
This is the text of a talk entitled “Media as a Tool of Empire” delivered to Sabeel, the Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre, at its eighth international conference in Bethlehem on Friday February 25.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.


 
An Empire of Lies: The CIA and the Western Media


Global Research, February 28, 2011

Last week the Guardian, Britain’s main liberal newspaper, ran an exclusive report on the belated confessions of an Iraqi exile, Rafeed al-Janabi, codenamed “Curveball” by the CIA. Eight years ago, Janabi played a key behind-the-scenes role -- if an inadvertent one -- in making possible the US invasion of Iraq. His testimony bolstered claims by the Bush administration that Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, had developed an advanced programme producing weapons of mass destruction.
Curveball’s account included the details of mobile biological weapons trucks presented by Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, to the United Nations in early 2003. Powell’s apparently compelling case on WMD was used to justify the US attack on Iraq a few weeks later.
Eight years on, Curveball revealed to the Guardian that he had fabricated the story of Saddam’s WMD back in 2000, shortly after his arrival in Germany seeking asylum. He told the paper he had lied to German intelligence in the hope his testimony might help topple Saddam, though it seems more likely he simply wanted to ensure his asylum case was taken more seriously.
For the careful reader -- and I stress the word careful -- several disturbing facts emerged from the report.
One was that the German authorities had quickly proven his account of Iraq’s WMD to be false. Both German and British intelligence had travelled to Dubai to meet Bassil Latif, his former boss at Iraq’s Military Industries Commission. Dr Latif had proven that Curveball’s claims could not be true. The German authorities quickly lost interest in Janabi and he was not interviewed again until late 2002, when it became more pressing for the US to make a convincing case for an attack on Iraq.
Another interesting disclosure was that, despite the vital need to get straight all the facts about Curveball’s testimony -- given the stakes involved in launching a pre-emptive strike against another sovereign state -- the Americans never bothered to interview Curveball themselves.
A third revelation was that the CIA’s head of operations in Europe, Tyler Drumheller, passed on warnings from German intelligence that they considered Curveball’s testimony to be highly dubious. The head of the CIA, George Tenet, simply ignored the advice.
With Curveball’s admission in mind, as well as these other facts from the story, we can draw some obvious conclusions -- conclusions confirmed by subsequent developments.
Lacking both grounds in international law and the backing of major allies, the Bush administration desperately needed Janabi’s story about WMD, however discredited it was, to justify its military plans for Iraq. The White House did not interview Curveball because they knew his account of Saddam’s WMD programme was made up. His story would unravel under scrutiny; better to leave Washington with the option of “plausible deniability”.
Nonetheless, Janabi’s falsified account was vitally useful: for much of the American public, it added a veneer of credibility to the implausible case that Saddam was a danger to the world; it helped fortify wavering allies facing their own doubting publics; and it brought on board Colin Powell, a former general seen as the main voice of reason in the administration.
In other words, Bush’s White House used Curveball to breathe life into its mythological story about Saddam’s threat to world peace.
So how did the Guardian, a bastion of liberal journalism, present its exclusive on the most controversial episode in recent American foreign policy?
Here is its headline: “How US was duped by Iraqi fantasist looking to topple Saddam”.

Did the headline-writer misunderstand the story as written by the paper’s reporters? No, the headline neatly encapsulated its message. In the text, we are told Powell's presentation to the UN “revealed that the Bush administration's hawkish decisionmakers had swallowed” Curveball’s account. At another point, we are told Janabi “pulled off one of the greatest confidence tricks in the history of modern intelligence”. And that: “His critics -- who are many and powerful -- say the cost of his deception is too difficult to estimate.”

In other words, the Guardian assumed, despite all the evidence uncovered in its own research, that Curveball misled the Bush administration into making a disastrous miscalculation. On this view, the White House was the real victim of Curveball’s lies, not the Iraqi people -- more than a million of whom are dead as a result of the invasion, according to the best available figures, and four million of whom have been forced into exile.
There is nothing exceptional about this example. I chose it because it relates to an event of continuing and momentous significance.
Unfortunately, there is something depressingly familiar about this kind of reporting, even in the West’s main liberal publications. Contrary to its avowed aim, mainstream journalism invariably diminishes the impact of new events when they threaten powerful elites.
We will examine why in a minute. But first let us consider what, or who, constitutes “empire” today? Certainly, in its most symbolic form, it can be identified as the US government and its army, comprising the world’s sole superpower.
Traditionally, empires have been defined narrowly, in terms of a strong nation-state that successfully expands its sphere of influence and power to other territories. Empire’s aim is to make those territories dependent, and then either exploit their resources in the case of poorly developed countries, or, with more developed countries, turn them into new markets for its surplus goods. It is in this latter sense that the American empire has often been able to claim that it is a force for global good, helping to spread freedom and the benefits of consumer culture.
Empire achieves its aims in different ways: through force, such as conquest, when dealing with populations resistant to the theft of their resources; and more subtly through political and economic interference, persuasion and mind-control when it wants to create new markets. However it works, the aim is to create a sense in the dependent territories that their interests and fates are bound to those of empire.
In our globalised world, the question of who is at the centre of empire is much less clear than it once was. The US government is today less the heart of empire than its enabler. What were until recently the arms of empire, especially the financial and military industries, have become a transnational imperial elite whose interests are not bound by borders and whose powers largely evade legislative and moral controls.
Israel’s leadership, we should note, as well its elite supporters around the world -- including the Zionist lobbies, the arms manufacturers and Western militaries, and to a degree even the crumbling Arab tyrannies of the Middle East -- are an integral element in that transnational elite.
The imperial elites’ success depends to a large extent on a shared belief among the western public both that “we” need them to secure our livelihoods and security and that at the same time we are really their masters. Some of the necessary illusions perpetuated by the transnational elites include:
-- That we elect governments whose job is to restrain the corporations;
-- That we, in particular, and the global workforce in general are the chief beneficiaries of the corporations’ wealth creation;
-- That the corporations and the ideology that underpins them, global capitalism, are the only hope for freedom;
-- That consumption is not only an expression of our freedom but also a major source of our happiness;
-- That economic growth can be maintained indefinitely and at no long-term cost to the health of the planet;
-- And that there are groups, called terrorists, who want to destroy this benevolent system of wealth creation and personal improvement.
These assumptions, however fanciful they may appear when subjected to scrutiny, are the ideological bedrock on which the narratives of our societies in the West are constructed and from which ultimately our sense of identity derives. This ideological system appears to us -- and I am using “we” and “us” to refer to western publics only -- to describe the natural order.
The job of sanctifying these assumptions -- and ensuring they are not scrutinised -- falls to our mainstream media. Western corporations own the media, and their advertising makes the industry profitable. In this sense, the media cannot fulfil the function of watchdog of power, because in fact it is power. It is the power of the globalised elite to control and limit the ideological and imaginative horizons of the media’s readers and viewers. It does so to ensure that imperial interests, which are synonymous with those of the corporations, are not threatened.
The Curveball story neatly illustrates the media’s role.
His confession has come too late -- eight years too late, to be precise -- to have any impact on the events that matter. As happens so often with important stories that challenge elite interests, the facts vitally needed to allow western publics to reach informed conclusions were not available when they were needed. In this case, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are gone, as are their neoconservative advisers. Curveball’s story is now chiefly of interest to historians.
That last point is quite literally true. The Guardian’s revelations were of almost no concern to the US media, the supposed watchdog at the heart of the US empire. A search of the Lexis Nexis media database shows that Curveball’s admissions featured only in the New York Times, in a brief report on page 7, as well as in a news round-up in the Washington Times. The dozens of other major US newspapers, including the Washington Post, made no mention of it at all.
Instead, the main audience for the story outside the UK was the readers of India’s Hindu newspaper and the Khaleej Times.
But even the Guardian, often regarded as fearless in taking on powerful interests, packaged its report in such a way as to deprive Curveball’s confession of its true value. The facts were bled of their real significance. The presentation ensured that only the most aware readers would have understood that the US had not been duped by Curveball, but rather that the White House had exploited a “fantasist” -- or desperate exile from a brutal regime, depending on how one looks at it -- for its own illegal and immoral ends.
Why did the Guardian miss the main point in its own exclusive? The reason is that all our mainstream media, however liberal, take as their starting point the idea both that the West’s political culture is inherently benevolent and that it is morally superior to all existing, or conceivable, alternative systems.
In reporting and commentary, this is demonstrated most clearly in the idea that “our” leaders always act in good faith, whereas “their” leaders -- those opposed to empire or its interests -- are driven by base or evil motives.
It is in this way that official enemies, such as Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic, can be singled out as personifying the crazed or evil dictator -- while other equally rogue regimes such as Saudi Arabia’s are described as “moderate” -- opening the way for their countries to become targets of our own imperial strategies.
States selected for the “embrace” of empire are left with a stark choice: accept our terms of surrender and become an ally; or defy empire and face our wrath.
When the corporate elites trample on other peoples and states to advance their own selfish interests, such as in the invasion of Iraq to control its resources, our dominant media cannot allow its reporting to frame the events honestly. The continuing assumption in liberal commentary about the US attack on Iraq, for example, is that, once no WMD were found, the Bush administration remained to pursue a misguided effort to root out the terrorists, restore law and order, and spread democracy.
For the western media, our leaders make mistakes, they are naïve or even stupid, but they are never bad or evil. Our media do not call for Bush or Blair to be tried at the Hague as war criminals.
This, of course, does not mean that the western media is Pravda, the propaganda mouthpiece of the old Soviet empire. There are differences. Dissent is possible, though it must remain within the relatively narrow confines of “reasonable” debate, a spectrum of possible thought that accepts unreservedly the presumption that we are better, more moral, than them.
Similarly, journalists are rarely told -- at least, not directly -- what to write. The media have developed careful selection processes and hierarchies among their editorial staff -- termed “filters” by media critics Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky -- to ensure that dissenting or truly independent journalists do not reach positions of real influence.
There is, in other words, no simple party line. There are competing elites and corporations, and their voices are reflected in the narrow range of what we term commentary and opinion. Rather than being dictated to by party officials, as happened under the Soviet system, our journalists scramble for access, to be admitted into the ante-chambers of power. These privileges make careers but they come at a huge cost to the reporters’ independence.
Nonetheless, the range of what is permissible is slowly expanding -- over the opposition of the elites and our mainstream TV and press. The reason is to be found in the new media, which is gradually eroding the monopoly long enjoyed by the corporate media to control the spread of information and popular ideas. Wikileaks is so far the most obvious, and impressive, outcome of that trend.
The consequences are already tangible across the Middle East, which has suffered disproportionately under the oppressive rule of empire. The upheavals as Arab publics struggle to shake off their tyrants are also stripping bare some of the illusions the western media have peddled to us. Empire, we have been told, wants democracy and freedom around the globe. And yet it is caught mute and impassive as the henchmen of empire unleash US-made weapons against their peoples who are demanding western-style freedoms.
An important question is: how will our media respond to this exposure, not just of our politicians’ hypocrisy but also of their own? They are already trying to co-opt the new media, including Wikileaks, but without real success. They are also starting to allow a wider range of debate, though still heavily constrained, than had been possible before.
The West’s version of glasnost is particularly obvious in the coverage of the problem closest to our hearts here in Palestine. What Israel terms a delegitimisation campaign is really the opening up -- slightly -- of the media landscape, to allow a little light where until recently darkness reigned.
This is an opportunity and one that we must nurture. We must demand of the corporate media more honesty; we must shame them by being better-informed than the hacks who recycle official press releases and clamour for access; and we must desert them, as is already happening, for better sources of information.
We have a window. And we must force it open before the elites of empire try to slam it shut.
This is the text of a talk entitled “Media as a Tool of Empire” delivered to Sabeel, the Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre, at its eighth international conference in Bethlehem on Friday February 25.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.


 
An Empire of Lies: The CIA and the Western Media


Global Research, February 28, 2011

Last week the Guardian, Britain’s main liberal newspaper, ran an exclusive report on the belated confessions of an Iraqi exile, Rafeed al-Janabi, codenamed “Curveball” by the CIA. Eight years ago, Janabi played a key behind-the-scenes role -- if an inadvertent one -- in making possible the US invasion of Iraq. His testimony bolstered claims by the Bush administration that Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, had developed an advanced programme producing weapons of mass destruction.
Curveball’s account included the details of mobile biological weapons trucks presented by Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, to the United Nations in early 2003. Powell’s apparently compelling case on WMD was used to justify the US attack on Iraq a few weeks later.
Eight years on, Curveball revealed to the Guardian that he had fabricated the story of Saddam’s WMD back in 2000, shortly after his arrival in Germany seeking asylum. He told the paper he had lied to German intelligence in the hope his testimony might help topple Saddam, though it seems more likely he simply wanted to ensure his asylum case was taken more seriously.
For the careful reader -- and I stress the word careful -- several disturbing facts emerged from the report.
One was that the German authorities had quickly proven his account of Iraq’s WMD to be false. Both German and British intelligence had travelled to Dubai to meet Bassil Latif, his former boss at Iraq’s Military Industries Commission. Dr Latif had proven that Curveball’s claims could not be true. The German authorities quickly lost interest in Janabi and he was not interviewed again until late 2002, when it became more pressing for the US to make a convincing case for an attack on Iraq.
Another interesting disclosure was that, despite the vital need to get straight all the facts about Curveball’s testimony -- given the stakes involved in launching a pre-emptive strike against another sovereign state -- the Americans never bothered to interview Curveball themselves.
A third revelation was that the CIA’s head of operations in Europe, Tyler Drumheller, passed on warnings from German intelligence that they considered Curveball’s testimony to be highly dubious. The head of the CIA, George Tenet, simply ignored the advice.
With Curveball’s admission in mind, as well as these other facts from the story, we can draw some obvious conclusions -- conclusions confirmed by subsequent developments.
Lacking both grounds in international law and the backing of major allies, the Bush administration desperately needed Janabi’s story about WMD, however discredited it was, to justify its military plans for Iraq. The White House did not interview Curveball because they knew his account of Saddam’s WMD programme was made up. His story would unravel under scrutiny; better to leave Washington with the option of “plausible deniability”.
Nonetheless, Janabi’s falsified account was vitally useful: for much of the American public, it added a veneer of credibility to the implausible case that Saddam was a danger to the world; it helped fortify wavering allies facing their own doubting publics; and it brought on board Colin Powell, a former general seen as the main voice of reason in the administration.
In other words, Bush’s White House used Curveball to breathe life into its mythological story about Saddam’s threat to world peace.
So how did the Guardian, a bastion of liberal journalism, present its exclusive on the most controversial episode in recent American foreign policy?
Here is its headline: “How US was duped by Iraqi fantasist looking to topple Saddam”.

Did the headline-writer misunderstand the story as written by the paper’s reporters? No, the headline neatly encapsulated its message. In the text, we are told Powell's presentation to the UN “revealed that the Bush administration's hawkish decisionmakers had swallowed” Curveball’s account. At another point, we are told Janabi “pulled off one of the greatest confidence tricks in the history of modern intelligence”. And that: “His critics -- who are many and powerful -- say the cost of his deception is too difficult to estimate.”

In other words, the Guardian assumed, despite all the evidence uncovered in its own research, that Curveball misled the Bush administration into making a disastrous miscalculation. On this view, the White House was the real victim of Curveball’s lies, not the Iraqi people -- more than a million of whom are dead as a result of the invasion, according to the best available figures, and four million of whom have been forced into exile.
There is nothing exceptional about this example. I chose it because it relates to an event of continuing and momentous significance.
Unfortunately, there is something depressingly familiar about this kind of reporting, even in the West’s main liberal publications. Contrary to its avowed aim, mainstream journalism invariably diminishes the impact of new events when they threaten powerful elites.
We will examine why in a minute. But first let us consider what, or who, constitutes “empire” today? Certainly, in its most symbolic form, it can be identified as the US government and its army, comprising the world’s sole superpower.
Traditionally, empires have been defined narrowly, in terms of a strong nation-state that successfully expands its sphere of influence and power to other territories. Empire’s aim is to make those territories dependent, and then either exploit their resources in the case of poorly developed countries, or, with more developed countries, turn them into new markets for its surplus goods. It is in this latter sense that the American empire has often been able to claim that it is a force for global good, helping to spread freedom and the benefits of consumer culture.
Empire achieves its aims in different ways: through force, such as conquest, when dealing with populations resistant to the theft of their resources; and more subtly through political and economic interference, persuasion and mind-control when it wants to create new markets. However it works, the aim is to create a sense in the dependent territories that their interests and fates are bound to those of empire.
In our globalised world, the question of who is at the centre of empire is much less clear than it once was. The US government is today less the heart of empire than its enabler. What were until recently the arms of empire, especially the financial and military industries, have become a transnational imperial elite whose interests are not bound by borders and whose powers largely evade legislative and moral controls.
Israel’s leadership, we should note, as well its elite supporters around the world -- including the Zionist lobbies, the arms manufacturers and Western militaries, and to a degree even the crumbling Arab tyrannies of the Middle East -- are an integral element in that transnational elite.
The imperial elites’ success depends to a large extent on a shared belief among the western public both that “we” need them to secure our livelihoods and security and that at the same time we are really their masters. Some of the necessary illusions perpetuated by the transnational elites include:
-- That we elect governments whose job is to restrain the corporations;
-- That we, in particular, and the global workforce in general are the chief beneficiaries of the corporations’ wealth creation;
-- That the corporations and the ideology that underpins them, global capitalism, are the only hope for freedom;
-- That consumption is not only an expression of our freedom but also a major source of our happiness;
-- That economic growth can be maintained indefinitely and at no long-term cost to the health of the planet;
-- And that there are groups, called terrorists, who want to destroy this benevolent system of wealth creation and personal improvement.
These assumptions, however fanciful they may appear when subjected to scrutiny, are the ideological bedrock on which the narratives of our societies in the West are constructed and from which ultimately our sense of identity derives. This ideological system appears to us -- and I am using “we” and “us” to refer to western publics only -- to describe the natural order.
The job of sanctifying these assumptions -- and ensuring they are not scrutinised -- falls to our mainstream media. Western corporations own the media, and their advertising makes the industry profitable. In this sense, the media cannot fulfil the function of watchdog of power, because in fact it is power. It is the power of the globalised elite to control and limit the ideological and imaginative horizons of the media’s readers and viewers. It does so to ensure that imperial interests, which are synonymous with those of the corporations, are not threatened.
The Curveball story neatly illustrates the media’s role.
His confession has come too late -- eight years too late, to be precise -- to have any impact on the events that matter. As happens so often with important stories that challenge elite interests, the facts vitally needed to allow western publics to reach informed conclusions were not available when they were needed. In this case, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are gone, as are their neoconservative advisers. Curveball’s story is now chiefly of interest to historians.
That last point is quite literally true. The Guardian’s revelations were of almost no concern to the US media, the supposed watchdog at the heart of the US empire. A search of the Lexis Nexis media database shows that Curveball’s admissions featured only in the New York Times, in a brief report on page 7, as well as in a news round-up in the Washington Times. The dozens of other major US newspapers, including the Washington Post, made no mention of it at all.
Instead, the main audience for the story outside the UK was the readers of India’s Hindu newspaper and the Khaleej Times.
But even the Guardian, often regarded as fearless in taking on powerful interests, packaged its report in such a way as to deprive Curveball’s confession of its true value. The facts were bled of their real significance. The presentation ensured that only the most aware readers would have understood that the US had not been duped by Curveball, but rather that the White House had exploited a “fantasist” -- or desperate exile from a brutal regime, depending on how one looks at it -- for its own illegal and immoral ends.
Why did the Guardian miss the main point in its own exclusive? The reason is that all our mainstream media, however liberal, take as their starting point the idea both that the West’s political culture is inherently benevolent and that it is morally superior to all existing, or conceivable, alternative systems.
In reporting and commentary, this is demonstrated most clearly in the idea that “our” leaders always act in good faith, whereas “their” leaders -- those opposed to empire or its interests -- are driven by base or evil motives.
It is in this way that official enemies, such as Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic, can be singled out as personifying the crazed or evil dictator -- while other equally rogue regimes such as Saudi Arabia’s are described as “moderate” -- opening the way for their countries to become targets of our own imperial strategies.
States selected for the “embrace” of empire are left with a stark choice: accept our terms of surrender and become an ally; or defy empire and face our wrath.
When the corporate elites trample on other peoples and states to advance their own selfish interests, such as in the invasion of Iraq to control its resources, our dominant media cannot allow its reporting to frame the events honestly. The continuing assumption in liberal commentary about the US attack on Iraq, for example, is that, once no WMD were found, the Bush administration remained to pursue a misguided effort to root out the terrorists, restore law and order, and spread democracy.
For the western media, our leaders make mistakes, they are naïve or even stupid, but they are never bad or evil. Our media do not call for Bush or Blair to be tried at the Hague as war criminals.
This, of course, does not mean that the western media is Pravda, the propaganda mouthpiece of the old Soviet empire. There are differences. Dissent is possible, though it must remain within the relatively narrow confines of “reasonable” debate, a spectrum of possible thought that accepts unreservedly the presumption that we are better, more moral, than them.
Similarly, journalists are rarely told -- at least, not directly -- what to write. The media have developed careful selection processes and hierarchies among their editorial staff -- termed “filters” by media critics Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky -- to ensure that dissenting or truly independent journalists do not reach positions of real influence.
There is, in other words, no simple party line. There are competing elites and corporations, and their voices are reflected in the narrow range of what we term commentary and opinion. Rather than being dictated to by party officials, as happened under the Soviet system, our journalists scramble for access, to be admitted into the ante-chambers of power. These privileges make careers but they come at a huge cost to the reporters’ independence.
Nonetheless, the range of what is permissible is slowly expanding -- over the opposition of the elites and our mainstream TV and press. The reason is to be found in the new media, which is gradually eroding the monopoly long enjoyed by the corporate media to control the spread of information and popular ideas. Wikileaks is so far the most obvious, and impressive, outcome of that trend.
The consequences are already tangible across the Middle East, which has suffered disproportionately under the oppressive rule of empire. The upheavals as Arab publics struggle to shake off their tyrants are also stripping bare some of the illusions the western media have peddled to us. Empire, we have been told, wants democracy and freedom around the globe. And yet it is caught mute and impassive as the henchmen of empire unleash US-made weapons against their peoples who are demanding western-style freedoms.
An important question is: how will our media respond to this exposure, not just of our politicians’ hypocrisy but also of their own? They are already trying to co-opt the new media, including Wikileaks, but without real success. They are also starting to allow a wider range of debate, though still heavily constrained, than had been possible before.
The West’s version of glasnost is particularly obvious in the coverage of the problem closest to our hearts here in Palestine. What Israel terms a delegitimisation campaign is really the opening up -- slightly -- of the media landscape, to allow a little light where until recently darkness reigned.
This is an opportunity and one that we must nurture. We must demand of the corporate media more honesty; we must shame them by being better-informed than the hacks who recycle official press releases and clamour for access; and we must desert them, as is already happening, for better sources of information.
We have a window. And we must force it open before the elites of empire try to slam it shut.
This is the text of a talk entitled “Media as a Tool of Empire” delivered to Sabeel, the Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre, at its eighth international conference in Bethlehem on Friday February 25.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.


 
An Empire of Lies: The CIA and the Western Media


Global Research, February 28, 2011

Last week the Guardian, Britain’s main liberal newspaper, ran an exclusive report on the belated confessions of an Iraqi exile, Rafeed al-Janabi, codenamed “Curveball” by the CIA. Eight years ago, Janabi played a key behind-the-scenes role -- if an inadvertent one -- in making possible the US invasion of Iraq. His testimony bolstered claims by the Bush administration that Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, had developed an advanced programme producing weapons of mass destruction.
Curveball’s account included the details of mobile biological weapons trucks presented by Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, to the United Nations in early 2003. Powell’s apparently compelling case on WMD was used to justify the US attack on Iraq a few weeks later.
Eight years on, Curveball revealed to the Guardian that he had fabricated the story of Saddam’s WMD back in 2000, shortly after his arrival in Germany seeking asylum. He told the paper he had lied to German intelligence in the hope his testimony might help topple Saddam, though it seems more likely he simply wanted to ensure his asylum case was taken more seriously.
For the careful reader -- and I stress the word careful -- several disturbing facts emerged from the report.
One was that the German authorities had quickly proven his account of Iraq’s WMD to be false. Both German and British intelligence had travelled to Dubai to meet Bassil Latif, his former boss at Iraq’s Military Industries Commission. Dr Latif had proven that Curveball’s claims could not be true. The German authorities quickly lost interest in Janabi and he was not interviewed again until late 2002, when it became more pressing for the US to make a convincing case for an attack on Iraq.
Another interesting disclosure was that, despite the vital need to get straight all the facts about Curveball’s testimony -- given the stakes involved in launching a pre-emptive strike against another sovereign state -- the Americans never bothered to interview Curveball themselves.
A third revelation was that the CIA’s head of operations in Europe, Tyler Drumheller, passed on warnings from German intelligence that they considered Curveball’s testimony to be highly dubious. The head of the CIA, George Tenet, simply ignored the advice.
With Curveball’s admission in mind, as well as these other facts from the story, we can draw some obvious conclusions -- conclusions confirmed by subsequent developments.
Lacking both grounds in international law and the backing of major allies, the Bush administration desperately needed Janabi’s story about WMD, however discredited it was, to justify its military plans for Iraq. The White House did not interview Curveball because they knew his account of Saddam’s WMD programme was made up. His story would unravel under scrutiny; better to leave Washington with the option of “plausible deniability”.
Nonetheless, Janabi’s falsified account was vitally useful: for much of the American public, it added a veneer of credibility to the implausible case that Saddam was a danger to the world; it helped fortify wavering allies facing their own doubting publics; and it brought on board Colin Powell, a former general seen as the main voice of reason in the administration.
In other words, Bush’s White House used Curveball to breathe life into its mythological story about Saddam’s threat to world peace.
So how did the Guardian, a bastion of liberal journalism, present its exclusive on the most controversial episode in recent American foreign policy?
Here is its headline: “How US was duped by Iraqi fantasist looking to topple Saddam”.

Did the headline-writer misunderstand the story as written by the paper’s reporters? No, the headline neatly encapsulated its message. In the text, we are told Powell's presentation to the UN “revealed that the Bush administration's hawkish decisionmakers had swallowed” Curveball’s account. At another point, we are told Janabi “pulled off one of the greatest confidence tricks in the history of modern intelligence”. And that: “His critics -- who are many and powerful -- say the cost of his deception is too difficult to estimate.”

In other words, the Guardian assumed, despite all the evidence uncovered in its own research, that Curveball misled the Bush administration into making a disastrous miscalculation. On this view, the White House was the real victim of Curveball’s lies, not the Iraqi people -- more than a million of whom are dead as a result of the invasion, according to the best available figures, and four million of whom have been forced into exile.
There is nothing exceptional about this example. I chose it because it relates to an event of continuing and momentous significance.
Unfortunately, there is something depressingly familiar about this kind of reporting, even in the West’s main liberal publications. Contrary to its avowed aim, mainstream journalism invariably diminishes the impact of new events when they threaten powerful elites.
We will examine why in a minute. But first let us consider what, or who, constitutes “empire” today? Certainly, in its most symbolic form, it can be identified as the US government and its army, comprising the world’s sole superpower.
Traditionally, empires have been defined narrowly, in terms of a strong nation-state that successfully expands its sphere of influence and power to other territories. Empire’s aim is to make those territories dependent, and then either exploit their resources in the case of poorly developed countries, or, with more developed countries, turn them into new markets for its surplus goods. It is in this latter sense that the American empire has often been able to claim that it is a force for global good, helping to spread freedom and the benefits of consumer culture.
Empire achieves its aims in different ways: through force, such as conquest, when dealing with populations resistant to the theft of their resources; and more subtly through political and economic interference, persuasion and mind-control when it wants to create new markets. However it works, the aim is to create a sense in the dependent territories that their interests and fates are bound to those of empire.
In our globalised world, the question of who is at the centre of empire is much less clear than it once was. The US government is today less the heart of empire than its enabler. What were until recently the arms of empire, especially the financial and military industries, have become a transnational imperial elite whose interests are not bound by borders and whose powers largely evade legislative and moral controls.
Israel’s leadership, we should note, as well its elite supporters around the world -- including the Zionist lobbies, the arms manufacturers and Western militaries, and to a degree even the crumbling Arab tyrannies of the Middle East -- are an integral element in that transnational elite.
The imperial elites’ success depends to a large extent on a shared belief among the western public both that “we” need them to secure our livelihoods and security and that at the same time we are really their masters. Some of the necessary illusions perpetuated by the transnational elites include:
-- That we elect governments whose job is to restrain the corporations;
-- That we, in particular, and the global workforce in general are the chief beneficiaries of the corporations’ wealth creation;
-- That the corporations and the ideology that underpins them, global capitalism, are the only hope for freedom;
-- That consumption is not only an expression of our freedom but also a major source of our happiness;
-- That economic growth can be maintained indefinitely and at no long-term cost to the health of the planet;
-- And that there are groups, called terrorists, who want to destroy this benevolent system of wealth creation and personal improvement.
These assumptions, however fanciful they may appear when subjected to scrutiny, are the ideological bedrock on which the narratives of our societies in the West are constructed and from which ultimately our sense of identity derives. This ideological system appears to us -- and I am using “we” and “us” to refer to western publics only -- to describe the natural order.
The job of sanctifying these assumptions -- and ensuring they are not scrutinised -- falls to our mainstream media. Western corporations own the media, and their advertising makes the industry profitable. In this sense, the media cannot fulfil the function of watchdog of power, because in fact it is power. It is the power of the globalised elite to control and limit the ideological and imaginative horizons of the media’s readers and viewers. It does so to ensure that imperial interests, which are synonymous with those of the corporations, are not threatened.
The Curveball story neatly illustrates the media’s role.
His confession has come too late -- eight years too late, to be precise -- to have any impact on the events that matter. As happens so often with important stories that challenge elite interests, the facts vitally needed to allow western publics to reach informed conclusions were not available when they were needed. In this case, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are gone, as are their neoconservative advisers. Curveball’s story is now chiefly of interest to historians.
That last point is quite literally true. The Guardian’s revelations were of almost no concern to the US media, the supposed watchdog at the heart of the US empire. A search of the Lexis Nexis media database shows that Curveball’s admissions featured only in the New York Times, in a brief report on page 7, as well as in a news round-up in the Washington Times. The dozens of other major US newspapers, including the Washington Post, made no mention of it at all.
Instead, the main audience for the story outside the UK was the readers of India’s Hindu newspaper and the Khaleej Times.
But even the Guardian, often regarded as fearless in taking on powerful interests, packaged its report in such a way as to deprive Curveball’s confession of its true value. The facts were bled of their real significance. The presentation ensured that only the most aware readers would have understood that the US had not been duped by Curveball, but rather that the White House had exploited a “fantasist” -- or desperate exile from a brutal regime, depending on how one looks at it -- for its own illegal and immoral ends.
Why did the Guardian miss the main point in its own exclusive? The reason is that all our mainstream media, however liberal, take as their starting point the idea both that the West’s political culture is inherently benevolent and that it is morally superior to all existing, or conceivable, alternative systems.
In reporting and commentary, this is demonstrated most clearly in the idea that “our” leaders always act in good faith, whereas “their” leaders -- those opposed to empire or its interests -- are driven by base or evil motives.
It is in this way that official enemies, such as Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic, can be singled out as personifying the crazed or evil dictator -- while other equally rogue regimes such as Saudi Arabia’s are described as “moderate” -- opening the way for their countries to become targets of our own imperial strategies.
States selected for the “embrace” of empire are left with a stark choice: accept our terms of surrender and become an ally; or defy empire and face our wrath.
When the corporate elites trample on other peoples and states to advance their own selfish interests, such as in the invasion of Iraq to control its resources, our dominant media cannot allow its reporting to frame the events honestly. The continuing assumption in liberal commentary about the US attack on Iraq, for example, is that, once no WMD were found, the Bush administration remained to pursue a misguided effort to root out the terrorists, restore law and order, and spread democracy.
For the western media, our leaders make mistakes, they are naïve or even stupid, but they are never bad or evil. Our media do not call for Bush or Blair to be tried at the Hague as war criminals.
This, of course, does not mean that the western media is Pravda, the propaganda mouthpiece of the old Soviet empire. There are differences. Dissent is possible, though it must remain within the relatively narrow confines of “reasonable” debate, a spectrum of possible thought that accepts unreservedly the presumption that we are better, more moral, than them.
Similarly, journalists are rarely told -- at least, not directly -- what to write. The media have developed careful selection processes and hierarchies among their editorial staff -- termed “filters” by media critics Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky -- to ensure that dissenting or truly independent journalists do not reach positions of real influence.
There is, in other words, no simple party line. There are competing elites and corporations, and their voices are reflected in the narrow range of what we term commentary and opinion. Rather than being dictated to by party officials, as happened under the Soviet system, our journalists scramble for access, to be admitted into the ante-chambers of power. These privileges make careers but they come at a huge cost to the reporters’ independence.
Nonetheless, the range of what is permissible is slowly expanding -- over the opposition of the elites and our mainstream TV and press. The reason is to be found in the new media, which is gradually eroding the monopoly long enjoyed by the corporate media to control the spread of information and popular ideas. Wikileaks is so far the most obvious, and impressive, outcome of that trend.
The consequences are already tangible across the Middle East, which has suffered disproportionately under the oppressive rule of empire. The upheavals as Arab publics struggle to shake off their tyrants are also stripping bare some of the illusions the western media have peddled to us. Empire, we have been told, wants democracy and freedom around the globe. And yet it is caught mute and impassive as the henchmen of empire unleash US-made weapons against their peoples who are demanding western-style freedoms.
An important question is: how will our media respond to this exposure, not just of our politicians’ hypocrisy but also of their own? They are already trying to co-opt the new media, including Wikileaks, but without real success. They are also starting to allow a wider range of debate, though still heavily constrained, than had been possible before.
The West’s version of glasnost is particularly obvious in the coverage of the problem closest to our hearts here in Palestine. What Israel terms a delegitimisation campaign is really the opening up -- slightly -- of the media landscape, to allow a little light where until recently darkness reigned.
This is an opportunity and one that we must nurture. We must demand of the corporate media more honesty; we must shame them by being better-informed than the hacks who recycle official press releases and clamour for access; and we must desert them, as is already happening, for better sources of information.
We have a window. And we must force it open before the elites of empire try to slam it shut.
This is the text of a talk entitled “Media as a Tool of Empire” delivered to Sabeel, the Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre, at its eighth international conference in Bethlehem on Friday February 25.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.


An Empire of Lies: The CIA and the Western Media
Last week the Guardian, Britain’s main liberal newspaper, ran an exclusive report on the belated confessions of an Iraqi exile, Rafeed al-Janabi, codenamed “Curveball” by the CIA. Eight years ago, Janabi played a key behind-the-scenes role -- if an inadvertent one -- in making possible the US invasion of Iraq. His testimony bolstered claims by the Bush administration that Iraq’s president, Saddam Hussein, had developed an advanced programme producing weapons of mass destruction.
Curveball’s account included the details of mobile biological weapons trucks presented by Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State, to the United Nations in early 2003. Powell’s apparently compelling case on WMD was used to justify the US attack on Iraq a few weeks later.
Eight years on, Curveball revealed to the Guardian that he had fabricated the story of Saddam’s WMD back in 2000, shortly after his arrival in Germany seeking asylum. He told the paper he had lied to German intelligence in the hope his testimony might help topple Saddam, though it seems more likely he simply wanted to ensure his asylum case was taken more seriously.
For the careful reader -- and I stress the word careful -- several disturbing facts emerged from the report.
One was that the German authorities had quickly proven his account of Iraq’s WMD to be false. Both German and British intelligence had travelled to Dubai to meet Bassil Latif, his former boss at Iraq’s Military Industries Commission. Dr Latif had proven that Curveball’s claims could not be true. The German authorities quickly lost interest in Janabi and he was not interviewed again until late 2002, when it became more pressing for the US to make a convincing case for an attack on Iraq.
Another interesting disclosure was that, despite the vital need to get straight all the facts about Curveball’s testimony -- given the stakes involved in launching a pre-emptive strike against another sovereign state -- the Americans never bothered to interview Curveball themselves.
A third revelation was that the CIA’s head of operations in Europe, Tyler Drumheller, passed on warnings from German intelligence that they considered Curveball’s testimony to be highly dubious. The head of the CIA, George Tenet, simply ignored the advice.
With Curveball’s admission in mind, as well as these other facts from the story, we can draw some obvious conclusions -- conclusions confirmed by subsequent developments.
Lacking both grounds in international law and the backing of major allies, the Bush administration desperately needed Janabi’s story about WMD, however discredited it was, to justify its military plans for Iraq. The White House did not interview Curveball because they knew his account of Saddam’s WMD programme was made up. His story would unravel under scrutiny; better to leave Washington with the option of “plausible deniability”.
Nonetheless, Janabi’s falsified account was vitally useful: for much of the American public, it added a veneer of credibility to the implausible case that Saddam was a danger to the world; it helped fortify wavering allies facing their own doubting publics; and it brought on board Colin Powell, a former general seen as the main voice of reason in the administration.
In other words, Bush’s White House used Curveball to breathe life into its mythological story about Saddam’s threat to world peace.
So how did the Guardian, a bastion of liberal journalism, present its exclusive on the most controversial episode in recent American foreign policy?
Here is its headline: “How US was duped by Iraqi fantasist looking to topple Saddam”.

Did the headline-writer misunderstand the story as written by the paper’s reporters? No, the headline neatly encapsulated its message. In the text, we are told Powell's presentation to the UN “revealed that the Bush administration's hawkish decisionmakers had swallowed” Curveball’s account. At another point, we are told Janabi “pulled off one of the greatest confidence tricks in the history of modern intelligence”. And that: “His critics -- who are many and powerful -- say the cost of his deception is too difficult to estimate.”

In other words, the Guardian assumed, despite all the evidence uncovered in its own research, that Curveball misled the Bush administration into making a disastrous miscalculation. On this view, the White House was the real victim of Curveball’s lies, not the Iraqi people -- more than a million of whom are dead as a result of the invasion, according to the best available figures, and four million of whom have been forced into exile.
There is nothing exceptional about this example. I chose it because it relates to an event of continuing and momentous significance.
Unfortunately, there is something depressingly familiar about this kind of reporting, even in the West’s main liberal publications. Contrary to its avowed aim, mainstream journalism invariably diminishes the impact of new events when they threaten powerful elites.
We will examine why in a minute. But first let us consider what, or who, constitutes “empire” today? Certainly, in its most symbolic form, it can be identified as the US government and its army, comprising the world’s sole superpower.
Traditionally, empires have been defined narrowly, in terms of a strong nation-state that successfully expands its sphere of influence and power to other territories. Empire’s aim is to make those territories dependent, and then either exploit their resources in the case of poorly developed countries, or, with more developed countries, turn them into new markets for its surplus goods. It is in this latter sense that the American empire has often been able to claim that it is a force for global good, helping to spread freedom and the benefits of consumer culture.
Empire achieves its aims in different ways: through force, such as conquest, when dealing with populations resistant to the theft of their resources; and more subtly through political and economic interference, persuasion and mind-control when it wants to create new markets. However it works, the aim is to create a sense in the dependent territories that their interests and fates are bound to those of empire.
In our globalised world, the question of who is at the centre of empire is much less clear than it once was. The US government is today less the heart of empire than its enabler. What were until recently the arms of empire, especially the financial and military industries, have become a transnational imperial elite whose interests are not bound by borders and whose powers largely evade legislative and moral controls.
Israel’s leadership, we should note, as well its elite supporters around the world -- including the Zionist lobbies, the arms manufacturers and Western militaries, and to a degree even the crumbling Arab tyrannies of the Middle East -- are an integral element in that transnational elite.
The imperial elites’ success depends to a large extent on a shared belief among the western public both that “we” need them to secure our livelihoods and security and that at the same time we are really their masters. Some of the necessary illusions perpetuated by the transnational elites include:
-- That we elect governments whose job is to restrain the corporations;
-- That we, in particular, and the global workforce in general are the chief beneficiaries of the corporations’ wealth creation;
-- That the corporations and the ideology that underpins them, global capitalism, are the only hope for freedom;
-- That consumption is not only an expression of our freedom but also a major source of our happiness;
-- That economic growth can be maintained indefinitely and at no long-term cost to the health of the planet;
-- And that there are groups, called terrorists, who want to destroy this benevolent system of wealth creation and personal improvement.
These assumptions, however fanciful they may appear when subjected to scrutiny, are the ideological bedrock on which the narratives of our societies in the West are constructed and from which ultimately our sense of identity derives. This ideological system appears to us -- and I am using “we” and “us” to refer to western publics only -- to describe the natural order.
The job of sanctifying these assumptions -- and ensuring they are not scrutinised -- falls to our mainstream media. Western corporations own the media, and their advertising makes the industry profitable. In this sense, the media cannot fulfil the function of watchdog of power, because in fact it is power. It is the power of the globalised elite to control and limit the ideological and imaginative horizons of the media’s readers and viewers. It does so to ensure that imperial interests, which are synonymous with those of the corporations, are not threatened.
The Curveball story neatly illustrates the media’s role.
His confession has come too late -- eight years too late, to be precise -- to have any impact on the events that matter. As happens so often with important stories that challenge elite interests, the facts vitally needed to allow western publics to reach informed conclusions were not available when they were needed. In this case, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are gone, as are their neoconservative advisers. Curveball’s story is now chiefly of interest to historians.
That last point is quite literally true. The Guardian’s revelations were of almost no concern to the US media, the supposed watchdog at the heart of the US empire. A search of the Lexis Nexis media database shows that Curveball’s admissions featured only in the New York Times, in a brief report on page 7, as well as in a news round-up in the Washington Times. The dozens of other major US newspapers, including the Washington Post, made no mention of it at all.
Instead, the main audience for the story outside the UK was the readers of India’s Hindu newspaper and the Khaleej Times.
But even the Guardian, often regarded as fearless in taking on powerful interests, packaged its report in such a way as to deprive Curveball’s confession of its true value. The facts were bled of their real significance. The presentation ensured that only the most aware readers would have understood that the US had not been duped by Curveball, but rather that the White House had exploited a “fantasist” -- or desperate exile from a brutal regime, depending on how one looks at it -- for its own illegal and immoral ends.
Why did the Guardian miss the main point in its own exclusive? The reason is that all our mainstream media, however liberal, take as their starting point the idea both that the West’s political culture is inherently benevolent and that it is morally superior to all existing, or conceivable, alternative systems.
In reporting and commentary, this is demonstrated most clearly in the idea that “our” leaders always act in good faith, whereas “their” leaders -- those opposed to empire or its interests -- are driven by base or evil motives.
It is in this way that official enemies, such as Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic, can be singled out as personifying the crazed or evil dictator -- while other equally rogue regimes such as Saudi Arabia’s are described as “moderate” -- opening the way for their countries to become targets of our own imperial strategies.
States selected for the “embrace” of empire are left with a stark choice: accept our terms of surrender and become an ally; or defy empire and face our wrath.
When the corporate elites trample on other peoples and states to advance their own selfish interests, such as in the invasion of Iraq to control its resources, our dominant media cannot allow its reporting to frame the events honestly. The continuing assumption in liberal commentary about the US attack on Iraq, for example, is that, once no WMD were found, the Bush administration remained to pursue a misguided effort to root out the terrorists, restore law and order, and spread democracy.
For the western media, our leaders make mistakes, they are naïve or even stupid, but they are never bad or evil. Our media do not call for Bush or Blair to be tried at the Hague as war criminals.
This, of course, does not mean that the western media is Pravda, the propaganda mouthpiece of the old Soviet empire. There are differences. Dissent is possible, though it must remain within the relatively narrow confines of “reasonable” debate, a spectrum of possible thought that accepts unreservedly the presumption that we are better, more moral, than them.
Similarly, journalists are rarely told -- at least, not directly -- what to write. The media have developed careful selection processes and hierarchies among their editorial staff -- termed “filters” by media critics Ed Herman and Noam Chomsky -- to ensure that dissenting or truly independent journalists do not reach positions of real influence.
There is, in other words, no simple party line. There are competing elites and corporations, and their voices are reflected in the narrow range of what we term commentary and opinion. Rather than being dictated to by party officials, as happened under the Soviet system, our journalists scramble for access, to be admitted into the ante-chambers of power. These privileges make careers but they come at a huge cost to the reporters’ independence.
Nonetheless, the range of what is permissible is slowly expanding -- over the opposition of the elites and our mainstream TV and press. The reason is to be found in the new media, which is gradually eroding the monopoly long enjoyed by the corporate media to control the spread of information and popular ideas. Wikileaks is so far the most obvious, and impressive, outcome of that trend.
The consequences are already tangible across the Middle East, which has suffered disproportionately under the oppressive rule of empire. The upheavals as Arab publics struggle to shake off their tyrants are also stripping bare some of the illusions the western media have peddled to us. Empire, we have been told, wants democracy and freedom around the globe. And yet it is caught mute and impassive as the henchmen of empire unleash US-made weapons against their peoples who are demanding western-style freedoms.
An important question is: how will our media respond to this exposure, not just of our politicians’ hypocrisy but also of their own? They are already trying to co-opt the new media, including Wikileaks, but without real success. They are also starting to allow a wider range of debate, though still heavily constrained, than had been possible before.
The West’s version of glasnost is particularly obvious in the coverage of the problem closest to our hearts here in Palestine. What Israel terms a delegitimisation campaign is really the opening up -- slightly -- of the media landscape, to allow a little light where until recently darkness reigned.
This is an opportunity and one that we must nurture. We must demand of the corporate media more honesty; we must shame them by being better-informed than the hacks who recycle official press releases and clamour for access; and we must desert them, as is already happening, for better sources of information.
We have a window. And we must force it open before the elites of empire try to slam it shut.
This is the text of a talk entitled “Media as a Tool of Empire” delivered to Sabeel, the Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre, at its eighth international conference in Bethlehem on Friday February 25.
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

Jonathan Cook is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Jonathan Cook

Posted by Joe Anybody at 12:01 AM PST
Sunday, 20 February 2011
Dont talk about human rights and Pallestine at FIU
Mood:  energetic
Now Playing: FIU (Florida International University) activist faces harassment
Topic: HUMANITY

FIU activist faces harassment

Florida International University needs to issue an apology to a Palestine solidarity activist who faced intimidation for speaking up, writes Victor Agosto Brizuela.

February 16, 2011

Original Article was found here: http://socialistworker.org/2011/02/16/fiu-activist-faces-harassment 

Israeli ambassador Danny Biran giving a presentation about his government's aid to Haiti
Israeli ambassador Danny Biran giving a presentation about his government's aid to Haiti

 

WHEN CAN asking a question at a public forum at a university get you in trouble? When you're a Palestinian student, the speaker is an Israeli official, and the university is Florida International University (FIU).

"Mnar has the strength of 10 men," said an Egyptian-American demonstrator at a recent south Florida Egyptian solidarity rally. She was talking about Mnar Muhareb, a 22-year-old senior at FIU in Miami.

Mnar, a Palestinian-American, has been a relentless fighter for Palestine since she began attending pro-Palestine rallies at the age of nine. If she's not busy organizing events as president of Students for Justice in Palestine at FIU, she's leading chants at demonstrations.

Last November, FIU and the consulate general of Israel co-sponsored a campus event entitled "Mission to Haiti: Israel's Relief Efforts After the Earthquake." The event was open to the public, so Mnar decided to attend. She wanted to hear what Israeli Ambassador Danny Biran had to say regarding Israel's humanitarian efforts in Haiti.

 

What you can do

Email FIU president Mark Rosenberg to tell him that FIU should not allow politically motivated intimidation of its students on campus, that FIU owes Mnar an apology for the mistreatment she endured at the hands of FIU security, and that FIU should launch an investigation into this incident.

 

No one could be faulted for believing that Muhareb, who stands exactly five feet tall, literally has the "strength of 10 men" after witnessing the conduct of Ambassador Biran and Mnar's treatment by FIU campus security after she arrived at the lecture.

As soon as Mnar and her sister (who was wearing a hijab) sat down, security officers immediately flanked them on both sides. Two more officers positioned themselves directly behind the sisters. "Every time we bent down, the officers watched any movement...which was amusing for a while because it was unusual, and we were not doing anything," Mnar recalls.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

AFTER THE lecture ended and the question-and-answer session began, Mnar patiently waited in line for her turn. Once she reached the front of the line, she introduced herself as the "president of Students for Justice in Palestine." Almost immediately, "it was like the room took a breath," she says.

Suddenly, all of the people behind her in line were gone and replaced by security officers. A then-nervous Mnar proceeded to commend Israel's humanitarian efforts in Haiti before moving on to Israeli domestic policy. "I also like the sayings you used--'Do unto others as you would want done unto you' and 'Love thy neighbor'--and with that in mind, I would like to ask you when you will put forth the effort you have in Haiti into Palestine?" she asked.

In response, Biran began hurling abusive language at her. Mnar, meanwhile, was terrified at the sound of a Taser repeatedly buzzing behind her. "Oh my God, I'm going to get Tased, and no one is going to care," she recounted thinking to herself.

Muhareb was once shot at by IDF soldiers as she helped a young boy get through a hole in the separation wall between the West Bank and Israel. The boy needed vital medical attention after being badly beaten by IDF soldiers the day before. However, she says, this experience at FIU made her "the most afraid" she has ever been in her life, and she is still visibly shaken whenever she talks about the incident.

"We help the Palestinians as much as we can, but they don't want aid, they want weapons," is the last thing she heard Biran say.

"So Operation Cast Lead was aid?" replied Mnar.

Apparently, that was the last straw. Campus security "escorted" Mnar out of the event. Mnar's sister was also kicked out. She told Mnar that a member of FIU Shalom (the pro-Israel organization on campus) called her a "terrorist" and a "Hamas supporter." "I don't even like Hamas," she told Mnar.

Still shocked by what had just happened, Mnar began handing out fliers to people standing outside of the auditorium. Soon after, the same campus security that removed her from the event watched as an Israeli government supporter ripped up SJP fliers and threw the pieces at Mnar's face. Clearly, FIU security is more concerned with the safety of the Israeli government's image than it is with the safety of its own students.

Several students, confused about what they had just seen, asked Mnar about Operation Cast Lead and took fliers. "I'm glad at least some curiosity sparked for the audience," she says.

Last week, after several attempts to seek redress for what happened, Mnar was told by the chief of campus security that she could not file a complaint because she had "no witnesses," in spite of the fact that this was a public event featuring a high-profile Israeli public official and that it was attended by members of FIU's administration and faculty. She was also told that FIU campus security does not carry Tasers--but that if they did, they would not be used on students.

FIU President Mark Rosenberg, FIU campus security and Ambassador Biran should publicly apologize to Mnar for violating her right to free speech, for violating her right to attend the event and for creating a hostile learning environment. She should also be allowed to press charges, and FIU should launch a full investigation into this incident. Students at FIU should feel safe to ask any questions they want to ask at FIU-sponsored political events.


Email FIU president Mark Rosenberg to tell him that FIU should not allow politically motivated intimidation of its students on campus, that FIU owes Mnar an apology for the mistreatment she endured at the hands of FIU security, and that FIU should launch an investigation into this incident.

Original Article was found here: http://socialistworker.org/2011/02/16/fiu-activist-faces-harassment 


Posted by Joe Anybody at 9:50 AM PST
Saturday, 19 February 2011
Torture - Who was in charge of this? Oh Rumsfield... Im not suprised
Mood:  irritated
Now Playing: Old Rummy note I found on my desk in the bak covered in dust
Topic: TORTURE

Found this old coffee stained reminder note aboutthe torture provockaturer Donald Rumsfield



 


Posted by Joe Anybody at 6:47 PM PST
Updated: Saturday, 19 February 2011 6:49 PM PST
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
COPWATCH in Atlanta - $40,000 dollaras and OK to fil the police
Mood:  happy
Now Playing: Copwatchers sue city for taking camera phone - and win case in courts!
Topic: POLICE

 


 http://m.ajc.com/news/atlanta/apd-wont-hinder-citizens-834521.html


Atlanta News

7:32 p.m.

Thursday,

February 10, 2011


APD won't hinder citizens who videotape cops
By Bill Rankin The Atlanta Journal-Constitution



 
Faced with complaints from a citizen watchdog group, Atlanta police
will stop interfering with people who videotape officers performing
their duties in public, an agreement reached with the city Thursday
says.

The settlement, which also calls for the city to pay $40,000 in
damages, requires city council approval.

The agreement resolves a complaint filed by Marlon Kautz and Copwatch
of East Atlanta, a group that films police activity with cell phones
and hand-held cameras. The group has volunteers who go out on patrols
and begin videotaping police activity when they come across it.

Last April, Kautz said, he pulled out his camera phone and began
recording Atlanta police who were arresting a suspect in Little Five
Points. Two officers approached him and said he had no right to be
filming them, Kautz said. When Kautz refused to stop, one officer
wrenched Kautz's arm behind his back and yanked the camera out of his
hands, he said.

"I was definitely scared," Kautz, 27, said.

Kautz said that when he asked to get his phone back, another officer
said he'd return it only after Kautz gave him the password to the
phone so he could delete the footage. When Kautz refused, police
confiscated the phone, he said. When police returned it, Kautz said,
the video images had been deleted, altered or damaged.

As part of Thursday's settlement, reached before a civil rights
lawsuit was filed, the city will pay Kautz and Copwatch of East
Atlanta $40,000 in damages. APD will also adopt an operating procedure
that prohibits officers from interfering with citizens who are taping
police activity, provided individuals recording the activity do not
physically interfere with what the officers are doing. The policy is
to be adopted within 30 days after the Atlanta city council approves
the settlement, and training is to be carried out during police roll
calls.

"We commend the city for resolving a long-standing problem of police
interfering with citizens who monitor police activity," the group's
lawyers, Gerry Weber and Dan Grossman, said.

APD spokesman Carlos Campos said the matter had been referred to the
Office of Professional Standards, and three officers were disciplined.
The two officers who confronted Kautz -- Mark Taylor and Anthony
Kirkman -- received oral admonishments for failing to take appropriate
action. Sgt. Stephen Zygai was admonished for failure to supervise.

"Commanders have made it clear that Atlanta police officers in the
field should not interfere with a citizen's right to film them while
they work in public areas," Campos said.

Also Thursday, the Atlanta Citizen Review Board sustained allegations
of excessive force against Kirkman, who took the phone out of Kautz's
hand. The board recommended to Police Chief George Turner that Kirkman
be suspended without pay for four days. It also recommended that APD
adopt the new standard operating procedure.

Copwatch began in 1990 in Berkeley, Calif., and other chapters have
since been organized in cities across the country. Its goal is to
protect citizens from being mistreated by holding police accountable.
With the ubiquity of small hand-held cameras and cell phones, Copwatch
members can begin videotaping a police scene at a moment's notice.

"There shouldn't be anything wrong with these constitutional watchdogs
keeping an eye on the police," said Emory University law professor Kay
Levine. "Just about anything the police are doing out in the public,
in performance of their duties, members of the public can see -- and
therefore film."

Citizens should not interfere with police activity, however, and
should be wary about compromising an undercover investigation, she
said.

"Just about anything the police are doing out in the public, they
should be comfortable being videotaped because they're simply
performing their duties," Levine said. "If some aren't comfortable
with it, it makes you wonder why."

Kautz started Copwatch of East Atlanta after he moved here about two
years ago.

"We landed right smack dab in a situation where we saw police behavior
was unacceptable," Kautz said, citing the controversial APD raid of
the Atlanta Eagle gay bar. "We saw Copwatch as direct action we could
take to increase police accountability in the city."

Copwatch members are trained how to behave when videotaping a scene,
Kautz said. "It's important for us when we're out there to keep it
together. We try to stay professional, as we expect the police to be."

Copwatch members get varying responses from police, Vincent
Castillenti, 24, said. Some officers become hostile because they don't
like the scrutiny, while others begin behaving less aggressively when
they realize they're being filmed, he said.

Kautz said the intent of Copwatch is not to get police officers in
trouble. "The hope," he said, "is that our presence will remind police
the community is watching what they're doing and wants them to be on
their best behavior."
 


Posted by Joe Anybody at 10:45 AM PST

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