Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Things We Need To Keep An Eye On and Things
MASTERS OF WAR: CHER BONO
Come you masters of war
You that build all the guns
You that build the death planes
You that build the big bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks
You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly
Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain
You fasten the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud
You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins
How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
Even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do
Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul
And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand o'er your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Impeach, Bush, Cheney | There Is Nothing As Powerful As An Idea Whose Time Has Come. | The Idea Stands Before Us And The Time Is Now!
I am not even going to question the assertion that my personal comments as regards the nature and necessity for a National Strike to end the war and bring down this administration in a combination of Indictments and Impeachments, was buried in the post (linked), and that it should be posted separately. I am all to happy to, and quite willing to honor the deluge of requests to do so.
I will also, as suggested, blog roll and have blog rolled, this post through every group and alliance with which I am affiliated. Thank for all the encouragement and compliments. We can do this if we put our minds and bodies to the task.
I have long held that the day of polite protest, the barrage of words, and the relentless petition signings would come to an end as this nation, like an alcoholic, hit the bottom.
The bottom of the bottle is in clear view. I know many do not like to be reminded that not every battle can be won with words and public protest gathering. Those who would resort me with the words of Ghandi, and plead for “peaceful protest” find in me now profound deafness. “The Pen is Mightier than The Sword” is nice altruistic expression that does not account for the reality of the human experience and human nature.
This nation was born in a Revolutionary War fashioned of “The Word and the Sword”! We were once a nation when the unity and solidarity of the voice of the people meant something because it was fortified by the willingness to ACT! When John L. Lewis said: STRIKE! ... The shovels were heard hitting the bottom of the mine pits and grim, determined faced American workers marched to the picket line and there was going to be hell to pay if someone confronted that line.
I dare say anyone reading this would have fool enough to do so to suggest to those workers that, they should be patient and passive. Sam Adams. “The Grand Incendiary”, Father of the Revolution was no pacifist, not Henry and not Jefferson who declared that:
“Every generation needs a new revolution”; “The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive.”
“When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”
“Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”
“I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”,
“"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these, are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." --Declaration of Independence as originally written by Thomas Jefferson, 1776.’
“God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.... And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”
and “The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government”.
"I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." --Thomas Jefferson—
We are again at the point in our history where a paradigm shift is demanded to merely preserve the foundation of the nation, that is; we are on the verge of revolution, the only question remaining to be answered is whether it shall take the form of blood, fire and steel in the streets or massive upheaval in such a way as this government cannot continue to function in the corrupt fashion of the moment, a massive upheaval that demands that criminally guilty be driven from, resign from power and or to be prosecuted by every applicable law of this land and international law.
Let us assume that you wish the transformation to be accomplished without massive violence and conflagration. Your answer is a national strike of such proportions that this administration cannot survive nor its supporters and collaborators.
What is be offered. Proposed for May 1 is indeed only the first step to such an action. All other avenues have failed and while I will not suggest that anyone abandon their personal and local efforts it is time for a serious change in direction.
It is time to call together the leaders of all activist organizations: peace, impeachment and immigration, all American Labor Unions in marshalling a comprehensive national strike on heretofore unheard of proportions. Failure to do so and to execute such an approach will leave no other course of action but that thought of a traditional revolutionary approach.
The ports and harbors must be closed. Trucks must be parked, there rotor removed blocking thorough fares and bridges across the land. Railroad traffic must cease. Unions must strike and workers disbursed to other meaningful tasks of shutting the nation down. The streets must be filled with the masses so traffic and commerce cannot flow. Those who are now working should surround the offices of every major media outlet in America so that cannot ignore the people. The management and workers of those “institutions” should have to attempt to wade through a sea of humanity to get to their desks and microphones, and they will try as they have the consciences of scabs and the integrity of Judas.
The police powers should be reminded that they are Americans first before they are the Blue Line of puppets, and if they insist on macho enforcement of silly proportions they can expect that they will never see another voter levy to support their salaries for the next twenty years at least. Yes, that is a call to leave their posts and join the masses!
Mall parking lots should be empty, stores, hotels and theaters empty and silent. The teachers of America, public private and collegiate should leave their classrooms and students should join with adults in the demand to restore this land to the people.
The Halls of the Senate and House should bulge with Americans swarming into elected leaders offices delivering a few simple messages. The message: “Shut up and bring our men and women home from the Middle East; plan and execute now…no more talk and excuses about staying another 20, 50 or 100 years until we are satisfied and they are pacified. That is an illusion, a delusion, a lie and a formula for raging terrorism and warfare that must end in a nuclear confrontation sooner or later, a formula for insanity.
They should get the message that if they are not going to abide by and uphold and enforce The Constitution and International Law by bring Bush, Cheney and all other guilty parties to justice, that they will never see another red cent in campaign contribution and will never enjoy your vote again because they will be removed from office. Say it; mean it; do it. Finish them off. Bring the work of the House and Senate to a stop until they are ready to Impeach!
We have seen in recent days that actions in DC which disrupt everyday business and traffic get attention, so swarm on DC and bring it to a standstill. Work to get every Metro employee in every major city to strike. Shut down the trains and buses. Enlist taxi drivers to strike. Get to the pilot’s union and airline employees union and get them to strike. Silence the air, silence the roads, silence the rail lines…shut it all down.
While you’re not working swarm on the nearest defense contractor’s office and manufacturing sites; Blockade them. If you have a major store Wal-Mart, Penny’s, Sears. K Mart, Target whatever… that attempts to stay open swarm pickets on and block the parking lots….shut them down.
Resistance, Rebellion, Revolt and ………….. There Is Nothing As Powerful As An Idea Whose Time Has Come.
Impeach, Bush, Cheney, Political News Views and Issues: Featuring Sunsara Taylor.
This will be most interesting and constructive given the Prince William County Xenophobic plans of local Politico Corey Stewrat are falling apart in the face of reality!
May Day 2008
A Day of Action for Immigrant Rights
Thursday, May 1
in Washington, D.C.
Pickets at the RNC and DNC offices
Gather at 12:30 pm
Meet at the Capitol South Metro. The RNC is located at 310 1st St. SE and the DNC is located at 430 S. Capitol St. SE.
Mass Rally in Malcolm X Park
Gather at 4:00 pm
March begins at 6:00 pm
16th and Euclid Sts. NW
Metro to Columbia Heights
The May 1 events will demand:
- Immigration Reform with Justice and Dignity for All
- Stop the Raids, Deportations, and Use of No-Match Letters
- Rescind the Anti-Immigrant Resolution in Prince William County
- Declare the District of Columbia a Sanctuary City for Immigrants
- Establish and Support Workers Centers in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia
Sponsored By The May 1st 2008 Coalition. Participating Organizations include All Souls Church Social Justice Ministries, ANSWER Coalition, Barrios Unidos, CASA of Maryland, CISPES, CPUSA, D.C. Alliance for Immigrant Justice, D.C. Jobs with Justice, Fellowship of Reconciliation-D.C., FMLN-DC, Free the Cuban Five Committee-D.C., Gray Panthers, Hip Hop Caucus, International Socialist Organization, Latin American Youth Center, Latino Media Collective, Metro D.C. Interfaith Sanctuary Network, Mexicanos Sin Fronteras, National Capital Immigration Coalition, ONE-D.C., Party for Socialism and Liberation, Richmond Defenders of Justice and Peace, Socialist Workers Party, 31-45 Mt. Pleasant St. Tenants Association, Union de Trabajadores de D.C., Virginia Immigrant People's Coalition, Virginia Justice Center/Immigrant Advocacy Program, Virginia People United, Washington Peace Center, Woodbridge Workers Committee, and more.
FROM THE LIBERTY TREE OF ALEXANDRIA VIRGINIA
THE WORDS OF TACITUS RING TRUE:
A shocking crime was committed on the unscrupulous initiative of few individuals, with the blessing of more, and amid the passive acquiescence of all.
“When monarchs through their bloodthirsty commanders lay waste a country, they dignify their atrocity by calling it "Making Peace”
“So, as you go into battle, remember your ancestors and remember your descendants”
“Fear is not in the habit of speaking truth…”
-Publius Cornelius Tacitus-
ALEXANDER HAMILTON ON IMPEACHMENT:
"The President of the United States would be liable to be impeached, tried, and upon conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors, removed from office; and would afterwards be liable to prosecution and punishment in the ordinary course of law.
The person of the King of Great Britain is sacred and inviolable: There is no constitutional tribunal to which he is amenable, no punishment to which he can be subjected without involving the crisis of a national revolution."
"[Impeachable conduct is] misconduct by public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust."
"The prosecution [of impeachments], will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties more or less friendly or inimical to the accused. The subjects of its jurisdiction are those offenses which proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust, and they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself."
As for the war, the police-state spying, and the widespread networks of torture, Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Dodd put it well when he described the Democrats' strategy not to run "to the left of President Bush on national security but to the right." Of course, Hillary Clinton leads the pack with her refusal to rule out nuking Iran: "We cannot take any option off the table in sending a clear message to the current leadership of Iran."
This says it all and poses the right question in the end, the question we all need to answer. Ed. Dickau –Precinct Master-
This is not a story about a woman who raised four children, sent one off to war, and collapsed one day in a fit of screaming at the news that he was dead.
This is not a piece to describe how that woman tried to stay awake for the next three days so as not to have to scream like that again after waking and then remembering that news.
There will be no attempt in this piece to comprehend the maddening indecency of the overgrown frat-boy president who sent her son to kill and die for lies and still had the gall to call her “Mom” and sits day after day-- to this day --as the self-appointed, unrestrained king of the world.
This is not a piece about a woman who exposed her grief and her rawest nerves, who sacrificed a twenty-nine year marriage and time with her remaining children, to a country calloused to the daily loss of life and succeeded in stirring many to their feet, into the streets, and to the tops of their lungs.
This is not a piece about how this woman parked herself in the dusty heat of a ditch in Texas and said yes to enough speaking engagements and phone calls from soldiers and late nights with grieving parents to send her own life teetering near its edge because she couldn’t live with herself if she didn’t give everything she could to prevent another mother from having to experience the loss that she knew.
This piece is not even about how her loss and her grief were not confined to her son, but extended each day further, to include the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, and further yet, to those cast in the impoverished margins of our planet--including the thousands of children dying each day from starvation--as the U.S. obscenely spends hundreds of billions on constructing and deploying the machinery of mass death.
Nor is this about the millions who learned this woman’s name, whose hearts broke with hers, but whose spirits were lifted and consciences were challenged by the way she seized the moral high ground and much of the spotlight from the world’s biggest liars and most pitiless killers because she was right and she was fearless--to hell with the odds.
This piece isn’t even simply about a culture that demonizes and attacks such a person, that makes their every word or slightest gesture grist for the dishonest mill of the small-minded bloggers, the Jones for cruelty of the war-planners, and fascist propagandizing of the major media mouthpieces.
Nor is this about a society that props up mothers as “keepers of the flame,” a counter-balance meant to excuse the war-makers, only to turn on them and call them “whores,” should they dare to do more than weep silently.
This is not merely about this woman’s refusal to be corralled into “realistic” and empire-bound strategies like timetables or phased-redeployment, about her righteous refusal to excuse the funding of the war, about her simple and righteous insistence that the slaughter and torture of human beings stop right now.
And, no, this is not mainly about the many questions that she herself ran up against and has put straight up in front of the movement and that all too many don’t want to speak to.
Like why the Democrats won’t bend to the will of the people, or what kind of system only allows for two sides of the pro-war position, or what to do about an American people who are well on their way to becoming Good Germans.
Those questions are crucial and agonizing and there are answers to them that can be found or forged. And there is a need for a movement that encourages the debate to rage around these questions and insists on honestly and unsparingly confronting reality. A movement that insists on getting to, and telling the people, the truth.
No, throwing up your hands is never the right response. But to be perfectly honest, this piece is not about what Cindy Sheehan should be doing. Not when really there are 300 million other people in this country who each morning wake up with profound choices to make--and who make them every day, whether they know it or not.
So, no, this article is not about Cindy Sheehan.
This article is about you.
Reading on your computer screen.
Smudging black ink off the newsprint in your hands.
Breathing in and out, your chest rising even as the chests of other human beings who happen to have been born atop huge reservoirs of oil fall still, as their breath is stolen, as their land is ravaged, as their girls learn to fear their budding breasts and widening hips under the leer of the occupier’s eye, as their fathers lose their minds trying to comprehend the life-danger they’ve become to their own children for being of a different religion than their mother, as the psyche and politics and view of what kind of world is possible, as a whole country and region is forever marked by the apparent indifference of way too many Americans to their sustained destruction… as millions who are also heart-sick flirt with the devastating and impermissible comfort of throwing up their own hands and looking away from the war zone…
This article is about you--because frankly, there is not enough space and not enough time and not enough ink and not enough trees to make enough paper to hold all the ways that the roadblocks hit by a woman like Cindy are a sign of failure.
Not of the failure of the possibility for change, nor the failure of those who put everything on the line to make all this stop, but the failure of a society that does not cherish and have room for a woman like her.
And the failure of continuing on a course that does not fundamentally challenge the killing confines of the choices this system puts before us.
So, again, this is about you--whether you will hide behind and resign yourself because of the faltering of another or whether you will step into the breech.
This article is about what you think about and do when you wake up each morning. About whose lives you value and prioritize.
About whether it is sufficient to register disapproval or whether you are responsible for stretching your limits, risking friendships and family if you must, confronting discomforting truths about this political system, and whether you will dare to inspire and challenge and set an example of living for and impacting something bigger than yourself.
This is about whether you know enough and have seen enough of other people’s sons and daughters dying in the service of empire to say without equivocation that all this must halt.
This is about whether you will plunge into and confront the dead-ends that have led so many to disorientation--whether you will look deeper, consider radical solutions, even ones you might once have dismissed.
And, yes, it can seem at times like we are hurling our soft bodies and our embattled dreams up against cold rock, and like the forces aligned against us are made of impenetrable marble.
But marble has fissures and faultlines and cracks deep beneath the surface and these can be located and the marble itself can be pried apart by the determined action of millions who dare.
So I am struck again with the truth and the enormity of our choices captured in the final words of the World Can’t Wait Call: “History is full of examples where people who had right on their side fought against tremendous odds and were victorious.
And it is also full of examples of people passively hoping to wait it out, only to get swallowed up by a horror beyond what they ever imagined. The future is unwritten.
WHICH ONE WE GET IS UP TO US.”
The war is still wrong.
What are you going to do?
Satire With A Point->
Bush's Resignation Speech
Now before anyone gets all in lather about me quitting to avoid impeachment, or to avoid prosecution, let me assure you: There's been no breaking of laws or impeachable offenses in this office. The reason I'm quitting is simple. ...
America Matters - http://americamatters.org
Text of New Hampshire's Historic Impeachment Resolution of Bush + Cheney Revised
Submitted by Chip on Mon, 2008-04-28 19:55.
Petition to Commence Impeachment Procedures in the United States Congress
Whereas, the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the people a right to petition the government for a redress of grievances; and,
Whereas, the New Hampshire State Constitution Article 4 provides for "Rights of Conscience"; and,
Whereas, members of the New Hampshire State Legislature and the United States Congress take an oath to support the Constitution; and,
Whereas, the United States Constitution provides a system of checks and balances that is designed to prevent the abuse of power by government and to preserve the power and freedom of the people; and,
Whereas, there is evidence in the public record that suggests President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney may have abused their executive power by deliberately providing misleading information to Congress and the public about the threat from Iraq in order to induce Congress to approve the use of military force; and,
Whereas, there is evidence in the public record that President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney may have improperly obstructed Congressional oversight investigations related to the politicization of the Department of Justice; and,
Whereas, on December 17th, 2005, President George W. Bush publicly admitted to ordering the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance and information gathering on American citizens in a manner that may have violated the Constitution's 4th Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures; and,
Whereas, the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives has the power to investigate these, or any other charges of Executive misconduct, for which there is sufficient cause; and,
Whereas, the United States Congress has the sole power to determine guilt or innocence, and whether these crimes rise to the level of High Crimes and Misdemeanors, through the Constitutional process of impeachment and a subsequent trial; and,
Whereas, future Presidents will effectively inherit any expanded powers of the current Presidency unless those powers are removed by the process of impeachment before leaving office; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Representatives:
That the House of Representatives of the State of New Hampshire hereby requests that the United States House of Representatives investigate these charges and if their findings so warrant, to proceed with the impeachment of President George Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney; and,
That a copy of this resolution with the original authorizing signature of the Secretary of State of New Hampshire be sent to the Office of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and that copies of the signed resolution be sent to each member of the United States Senate and House of Representatives.
Truth or Neo-Consequences (The Pursuit Of The Truth Must Always Be The Goal Of The Scholar Ed.)
By Morgan Strong
April 29, 2008
An obscure academic dispute – over whether Israeli archeology sought to obscure the land’s last two millennia of history and promote a continual Jewish claim of ownership – has shown again how tensions in the Middle East can reverberate in unlikely ways in the United States.
The dispute centered on whether Barnard College should grant tenure to Nadia Abu El-Haj, an American-born scholar of anthropology who, in the 1990s, challenged the scientific integrity of what she saw as the Israeli use of archeology in a politically motivated way to justify Jewish settlements on territory that had belonged to Palestinians.
Although the controversy wasn’t new – it had been argued out within archeological circles in Israel for years – El-Haj became a lightning rod because she was the first academic of Palestinian descent to publicize the debate in a 2001 book, Facts on the Ground: Archeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society.
This academic debate boiled over the past two years when El-Haj – who had been a professor at Barnard College since 2002 – applied for tenure in 2006 and became a target of neoconservative attack groups determined to punish her for undermining Israel’s claims to the Holy Land.
On Aug. 7, 2007, a petition entitled “Deny Nadia Abu El-Haj Tenure” was posted on petitionline.com, describing her as a scholar of “demonstrably inferior caliber” who had unfairly assailed the methodology of Israeli archeological digs.
The petition – prepared by Paula Stern, a 1982 graduate of Barnard and a resident of the occupied West Bank – also accused El-Haj of calling the ancient Israelite kingdoms a “pure political fabrication” and of lacking basic skills to undertake her studies, including an ability to “speak or read Hebrew.” The petition said, “We fail to understand how a scholar can pretend to study the attitudes of a people whose language she does not know.”
The petition became a hot topic among American neoconservatives.
Campus Watch, a right-wing organization that monitors the teaching of Middle Eastern studies in the United States, joined in the attacks on El-Haj. Campus Watch was founded in 2002 by Daniel Pipes, a prominent neoconservative and son of Richard Pipes, a key figure in the Cold War-era Committee on the Present Danger.
A blog of pro-Israeli professors known as Scholars for Peace in the Middle East also joined in the anti-tenure campaign. Stern’s petition eventually attracted about 2,500 signatures including many alumni from Barnard and its affiliate, Columbia University in New York City.
However, two months after Stern posted the petition, she acknowledged to The Jewish Week that some of the petition’s criticisms of El-Haj and her book were inaccurate.
Stern “incorrectly quotes from Abu El-Haj’s book in charging she is grossly ignorant of Jerusalem geography,” according to The Jewish Week article by Larry Cohler-Esses. “Stern also conceded attributing to Abu El-Haj a viewpoint that Abu El-Haj does not voice as her own in her book. The petition does so by taking a quote fragment from a section in which Abu El-Haj describes others as having the opposite viewpoint.”
The article also noted that the petition ignored references in El-Haj’s book to Hebrew language sources and an acknowledgement to her Hebrew tutor. [The Jewish Week, Oct. 25, 2007]
Despite its inaccuracies, the petition – and the anti-tenure campaign – threatened to exact a price from Barnard and Columbia for granting tenure to El-Haj; the schools would stand to suffer financial harm from offended alumni withholding contributions.
This pattern of ugly controversies whenever a Muslim or an Arab-American criticizes Israel or is seen as promoting some Islamic agenda has become more and more common, with influential neoconservative groups now operating in a concerted way to destroy careers and livelihoods.
Often the strategy succeeds, as the New York Times reported on April 28 in connection with the forced resignation of Debbie Almontaser, the founder of New York’s Khalil Gibran International Academy, which had a goal of teaching Arabic to children of various ethnicities, including Arab-Americans.
Almontaser, who had a reputation as a Muslim moderate, stepped down after confronting a campaign that labeled her a “radical,” a “jihadist” and a “9/11 denier.” The Times reported that the campaign was part of “a growing and organized movement to stop Muslim citizens who are seeking an expanded role in American public life.”
Some of the leaders of the battle against Almontaser – such as Daniel Pipes – also participated in the anti-tenure campaign at Barnard against El-Haj, reflecting how these activists view the marginalizing of Muslims as a coordinated national struggle.
“It’s a battle that’s really just begun,” Pipes told the Times, claiming that this new enemy – “lawful Islamists” – must be stopped before they made enough inroads to enable them to impose sharia law from the Koran on Americans.
“It is hard to see how violence, how terrorism will lead to the implementation of sharia,” Pipes said. “It is much easier to see how, working through the system – the school system, the media, the religious organizations, the government, businesses and the like – you can promote radical Islam.” [NYT, April 28, 2008]
So, this strategy holds that Muslims and their non-Muslim allies especially in academia must be marginalized and denied legitimacy. To achieve these ends, neoconservatives and sympathetic media outlets often turn small issues into huge controversies that create enormous pressure on mainstream politicians to distance themselves from the targets.
That was the case with Almontaser when Rupert Murdoch’s neoconservative New York Post linked the school principal to a group that lent office space to an Arab-American organization that promoted t-shirts reading “Intifada NYC.” Amid the furor, the mayor’s office of New York City pushed Almontaser into resigning, although federal judges have since agreed that the Post “inaccurately reported” her words.
Barnard’s El-Haj tenure struggle followed a similar pattern, with key roles played by some of the same activists. In both cases, the battle involved neoconservatives who distorted the words of their targets in order to build a public hysteria strong enough to overwhelm the principle of academic freedom.
The Barnard Battle
El-Haj was born in New York, the daughter of a mother of French-Norwegian descent and a Palestinian father, who had received his Doctorate in Economics from Columbia in the late 1950s.
In 1975, her family lived in Teheran, where her father was employed by the United Nations and where she learned Farsi. A few years later, the family moved to Lebanon where she became fluent in Arabic. Her family frequently visited her father’s relatives in East Jerusalem.
In 1980, she undertook her undergraduate education at Bryn Mawr. In 1990, as a graduate student at Duke University, she decided on a project in epistemology, “to examine knowledge in a social context, connected to time, place, politics and identity.”
Wanting to find a place where that identity was in dispute, she chose Israel/Palestine. She then spent months in Israel learning Hebrew and examining Israeli archeology’s role in the creation of, and establishment of, the State of Israel.
Israeli archeology, from the founding of Israel in 1948, claimed to have uncovered evidence supporting an ancient and continuous Hebrew presence, which in turn provided legitimacy to Israeli government claims that Palestinian land should be part of the modern state of Israel.
After achieving her Doctorate in 1995, she adapted her doctoral thesis into a book, Facts on the Ground, published by the University of Chicago Press in 2001.
The book examined the role of Israeli archeology in what was essentially a political context. El-Haj traced the history of how archeological discoveries – pottery, ancient stones, even human remains – were used in a manipulative way to establish the legitimacy of Israeli claims to Palestinian land.
El-Haj questioned the veracity of some Israeli claims, saying the science of archeology had been exploited in the "formation and enactment of [Israel’s] colonial-national historical imagination and ... the substantiation of its territorial claims."
Her book cites the example of an archeological dig in Jezreel, in the Galilee region. El-Haj said British and Israeli archeologists used bulldozers “to get down to the earlier strata, which are saturated with national significance, as quickly as possible."
Bulldozing a site – or using large shovels – to a specific depth of an archaeological dig, where one could expect to find remnants of an ancient Hebrew settlement, or not excavating to lower levels eliminates the possibility of finding evidence that other civilizations preceded or followed the Hebrews.
Israeli archeologist David Ussiskin of the University of Tel Aviv denied that bulldozers at the site were used in the fashion alleged by El-Haj’s book or that evidence of more recent strata had been damaged.
Despite a spirited debate about her book, El-Haj’s academic career continued to advance. She taught at the University of Chicago before moving to Barnard College in 2002 and sought tenure in April 2006.
That’s when El-Haj was caught up in the surging neoconservative campaign to keep Islam – and criticism of Israel – as far out of mainstream American thought as possible.
In this case, however, the neocons did not prevail. El-Haj was awarded tenure on Nov. 1, 2007, representing at least one moment when free speech and academic freedom won out over the sophisticated political pressure that neoconservatives have made their hallmark.
[For more on the El-Haj controversy, see The New Yorker's edition of April 14, 2008.]
TV Networks Silenced Anti-War Voices
By Jeff Cohen
April 28, 2008
In the fall of 2002, week after week, I argued vigorously against invading Iraq in debates televised on MSNBC. I used every possible argument that might sway mainstream viewers – no real threat, cost, instability. But as the war neared, my debates were terminated.
In my 2006 book Cable News Confidential, I explained why I lost my airtime:
“There was no room for me after MSNBC launched Countdown: Iraq – a daily one-hour show that seemed more keen on glamorizing a potential war than scrutinizing or debating it. Countdown: Iraq featured retired colonels and generals, sometimes resembling boys with war toys as they used props, maps and glitzy graphics to spin invasion scenarios.
“They reminded me of pumped-up ex-football players doing pre-game analysis and diagramming plays. It was excruciating to be sidelined at MSNBC, watching so many non-debates in which myth and misinformation were served up unchallenged.”
It was bad enough to be silenced. Much worse to see that these ex-generals – many working for military corporations – were never in debates, nor asked a tough question by an anchor. (I wasn’t allowed on MSNBC unless balanced by at least one truculent right-winger.)
Except for the brazenness and scope of the Pentagon spin program, I wasn’t shocked by the recent New York Times report exposing how the Pentagon junketed and coached the retired military brass into being “message-force multipliers” and “surrogates” for Donald Rumsfeld’s lethal propaganda.
The biggest villain here is not Rumsfeld nor the Pentagon. It’s the TV networks. In the land of the First Amendment, it was their choice to shut down debate and journalism.
No government agency forced MSNBC to repeatedly feature the hawkish generals unopposed. Or fire Phil Donahue. Or smear weapons expert Scott Ritter. Or blacklist former attorney general Ramsey Clark.
It was top NBC/MSNBC execs, not the Feds, who imposed a quota system on the Donahue staff requiring two pro-war guests if we booked one anti-war advocate – affirmative action for hawks.
I’m all for a Congressional investigation into the Pentagon’s Iraq propaganda operation – which included an active-duty general exhorting ex-military-turned-paid-pundits that “the strategic target remains our population.”
But I’m also for keeping the focus and onus on CNN, FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, even NPR – who were partners in the Pentagon’s mission of “information dominance.”
And for us to see that American TV news remains so corrupt today that it has hardly mentioned the Times story on the Pentagon’s pundits, which was based on 8,000 pages of internal Pentagon documents acquired by a successful Times lawsuit.
It’s important to remember that at the same time corporate TV outlets voluntarily abandoned journalistic ethics in the run-up to Iraq, independent media boomed in audience by making totally different journalistic choices.
Programs like Democracy Now! featured genuine experts on Iraq who – what a shock! – got the facts right. Independent blogs and Web sites, propelled by war skepticism, began to soar.
As for the major TV networks, they were not hoodwinked by a Pentagon propaganda scheme. They were willingly complicit, and have been for decades.
As FAIR’s director, I began questioning top news executives years ago about their over-reliance on non-debate segments featuring former military brass. After the 1991 Gulf war, CNN and other networks realized that their use of ex-generals had helped the Pentagon dazzle and disinform the public about the conduct of the war.
CNN actually had me debate the issue of ex-military on TV with a retired U.S. Army colonel. Military analysts aren’t used to debates, and this one got heated:
Cohen: “You would never dream of covering the environment by bringing on expert after expert after expert who had all retired from environmental organizations after 20 or 30 years and were still loyal to those groups. You would never discuss the workplace or workers by bringing on expert after expert after expert who’d been in the labor movement and retired in good standing after 30 years. . . . When it comes to war and foreign policy, you bring on all the retired generals, retired secretaries of state.”
The Colonel (irritably): “What do you want, a tax auditor to come in and talk about military strategy?”
Cohen: “You hit it on the nail, Colonel. What you need besides the generals and the admirals who can talk about how missiles and bombs are dispatched, you need other experts. You need experts in human rights, you need medical experts, you need relief experts who know what it’s like to talk about bombs falling on people.”
Before the debate ended, I expressed my doubts that corporate media would ever quit their addiction to unreliable military sources:
“There’s this ritual, it’s a familiar pattern, a routine, where mainstream journalists, after the last war or intervention, say, ‘Boy, we got manipulated. We were taken. But next time, we’re going to be more skeptical.’ And then when the next time comes, it’s the same reporters interviewing the same experts, who buy the distortions from the Pentagon.”
Experts, Not Advocates?
A few years later, during the brutal U.S.-NATO bombing of Serbia, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviewed CNN vice-president and anchor Frank Sesno:
Goodman: “If you support the practice of putting ex-military men, generals, on the payroll to share their opinion during a time of war, would you also support putting peace activists on the payroll to give a different opinion in times of war, to be sitting there with the military generals, talking about why they feel that war is not appropriate?”
Sesno: “We bring the generals in because of their expertise in a particular area. We call them analysts. We don’t bring them in as advocates.”
It’s clear: War experts are neutral analysts; peace experts are advocates. Even when the Pentagon helps select and prep the network’s military analysts.
Shortly after the Iraq invasion, CNN’s news chief Eason Jordan acknowledged on-air that he’d run the names of potential analysts by the Pentagon: “We got a big thumbs-up on all of them. That was important.”
Of all the excruciating moments for me – after having been terminated by MSNBC along with Phil Donahue and others – the worst was watching retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, NBC’s top military analyst, repeatedly blustering for war on Iraq.
Undisclosed to viewers, the general was a member (along with Lieberman, McCain, Kristol and Perle) of the pro-invasion “Committee for the Liberation of Iraq.”
A leading figure in the Pentagon’s pundit corps, no one spewed more nonsense in such an authoritative voice than McCaffrey – for example, on the top-notch advanced planning for securing Iraq:
“I just got an update briefing from Secretary Rumsfeld and his team on what’s the aftermath of the fighting. And I was astonished at the complexity and dedication with which they’ve gone about thinking through this.”
After the invasion began, McCaffrey crowed on MSNBC: “Thank God for the Abrams tank and the Bradley fighting vehicle.”
No federal agency forced NBC and MSNBC to put McCaffrey on the air unopposed. No federal agency prevented those networks from telling viewers that the general sat on the boards of several military contactors, including one that made millions for doing God’s work on the Abrams and Bradley.
Genuine separation of press and state is one reason growing numbers of Americans are choosing independent media over corporate media.
And independent media don’t run embarrassing promos of the kind NBC was proudly airing in 2003:
“Showdown Iraq, and only NBC News has the experts. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, allied commander during the Gulf War. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, he was the most decorated four-star general in the Army. Gen. Wayne Downing, former special operations commander and White House advisor. Ambassador Richard Butler and former UN weapons inspector David Kay. Nobody has seen Iraq like they have. The experts. The best information from America's most watched news organization, NBC News?"
Jeff Cohen is the founding director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College. His latest book is Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. He founded the media watch group FAIR in 1986.
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Justice has told Congress that U.S. intel operatives attempting to thwart terror attacks can legally use interrogation methods that might otherwise be prohibited under international law, The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti mentions — while The Wall Street Journal’s Evan Perez andSiobhan Gorman suggests Justice has “muddied the public understanding of what is torture.” At a House hearing last week, the FBI director and a GOP congressman “sketched out a far-reaching plan for warrantless surveillance of the Internet,” CNET News’ Declan McCullagh recounts.
Feds: DHS wants to enlist the country’s 80 million recreational boaters to help reduce the chances that a small boat could deliver a nuclear or dirty bomb somewhere along 95,000 miles of waterways, The Associated Press’ Eileen Sullivan and Scott Lindlaw report. DHS’s Mike Chertoff is expected to announce a new security initiative for the nation’s airports at BWI airport today, The Baltimore Sun’s Nicole Fuller informs. By failing to modernize the law that governs the surveillance of terrorists overseas, House Democratic leaders are playing Russian roulette with our security, New York Reps. Pete King and Vito Fossella rumble in Human Events.
Mud wresting: The Clinton campaign “now operates in a fashion reminiscent of the Fedayeen Saddam . . . who in the aftermath of Baghdad’s liberation [slipped] into plainclothes to take on the infidel,” Brett Winterble contends in Human Events. “As indicated by the public support that his candidacy has received by accused terrorist fundraiser Hatem El-Hady, Barack Obama’s version of change [is one] that terrorists and their U.S. supporters can believe in,” Patrick Poole pounds on FrontPage. “Obama, like Nixon, in fact has a secret plan not to end the war . . . What he is offering is a basic vision of withdrawal with muddy particulars,” The New Republic’s Michael Crowley comments. “Clinton’s intemperate remarks about ‘obliterating’ Iran cloud her primary win with questions about her judgment,” Robert Scheer suggests in The Nation. (“This is the foreign politics of the madhouse,” her pledge makes Arab News gasp — and see The Boston Globe on “Hillary Strangelove.”)
The bigger picture: Concord (N.H.) Monitor editorialists would like the Dem contenders to put down the cudgels and address matters like: “What changes would you make to protect America from terrorism without sacrificing civil liberties?” The “beguiling Democratic version of the global war on terrorism: Get out of Iraq and put more U.S. forces into Afghanistan” rests on “campaign-fostered illusions that troop numbers and money alone can turn the tide against terrorists,” The Washington Post’s Jim Hoagland argues. “A presidential transition is a unique time in America and holds the promise of opportunity, as well as a possible risk to the nation’s security interests,” a CRS Report judges — while James Jay Carafano states in a FOX News essay that “DHS isn’t the only place where homeland security transitions are critical. What happens in White House policy shops is just as important.”
State and local: Boston subway police checked passengers’ bags last Thursday in a routine terror alert exercise, The Boston Herald relays — while The Press of Atlantic City has the convention center there hosting “what is being billed as the largest homeland security drill in southern New Jersey history,” and Newsday has hundreds of Long Island responders rehearsing against a supposedly biker-gang-detonated dirty bomb. Arizona’s U.S. Attorney’s Office is getting 21 additional prosecutors as part of Justice’s mounting campaign against border-related crime, The Arizona Daily Star says. Missouri pols are wrestling with “a question: Is Gov. Matt Blunt’s proposal to build a statewide wireless radio network vital to public safety or a blank check for high-tech vendors?” The St. Louis Post-Dispatch spotlights — while The Shreveport Times focuses on how Louisiana’s new homeland chief is confronting the same comm issues.
Chasing the dime: Industry groups spent some $12.5 million on 238 lobbyists last year to weaken DHS chemical security regs, Politico has Greenpeace reporting. The thesis of “McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld” (Random House) “is clear, compelling, and scary: the West may have declared war on terrorism, but organized crime is by far the more serious threat,” The Christian Science Monitor reviews. Radical Islamists not only want to destroy America with bombs, they also are infiltrating U.S. financial markets and influencing the flow of credit and capital, Cybercast News Service finds the Center for Security Policy alleging. A Georgia munitions maker was indicted last week for allegedly selling faulty “stun” grenades to the FBI, CNN notes.
Bugs ‘n bombs: Ohio authorities have arrested a man they say e-mailed an Indiana teenager about doing a Columbine on two schools this Sept. 11, The Toledo Blade relays — as 1011 News has an Omaha man arrested for repeatedly calling 911 and “threatening to kill President Bush, blow up downtown Omaha and the world.” Grand Forks Air Force Base suffered a false alert when a piece of scanned mail set of an explosives sensor, KFYR-TV 5 relates, while NBC 10 has Philly police seeking a stolen portable nuclear gauge. The “overpowering bad odor” that prompted a hazmat response to and evacuation of a Connecticut bank branch was traced to a literally “bad check” that reeked, The Danbury News-Times says. “The next time Islamist terrorists attack us it could be with a nuclear weapon. Am I ‘fear mongering’ by saying that? If so, I’m in good company,” a National Review columnist contends. The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday urging, sensibly, that WMDs be kept out of the hands of terrorists and black marketeers, The Seattle Times relays.
Coming and going: A pending new hydraulic barrier security system could have prevented Friday’s breach when an elderly man drove onto the Miami airport runway, the Tribune tells — while The Bakersfield Californian has Hong Kong-L.A. passengers duct-taping a man to his seat after he attacked a United attendant. In one of a series of routine sweeps, TSA officers and bomb-sniffing dogs descended on Providence’s rail station Friday, WPRI reports. Houston’s transit system police chief urged Congress on Friday to help cities avoid transportation system terror strikes, the Chronicle recounts. Seven captured pirates face the death penalty in Somalia, The New York Times blogs — while Reuters has France and the United States drafting a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing countries to fight piracy, and The Sun tabloid bleats that “Britain’s 18,000 merchant sailors face a growing danger from pirates with links to al Qaeda.”
Border wars: As DHS finalizes its crackdown on employers of illegal immigrants, business groups and rights advocates hammer at what they term “an ill-conceived attack on legitimate workers and their employers,” The San Francisco Chronicle recounts — while AP has a Chamber of Commerce-commissioned study pegging the cost to employers at more than $1 billion a year, plus billions in lost wages for legal workers. A planned new version of the just-installed, just-junked virtual fence “will have improved technology and infrastructure and is expected to perform better,” Federal Times is told.
Courts and rights: An ex-Muslim school teacher was resentenced in Virginia to 15 years for abetting a Pakistani terror group, despite an appeals court’s directive to reconsider the original sentence, The Newport News Daily Press relays. A defense attorney met last Thursday with confessed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed for the first time at Guantanamo, AP reports. Defense counsels are charging that Gitmo’s “climate-controlled isolation is a breeding ground for madness,” hampering their clients’ ability to assist in their own defense, The New York Times spotlights. “When military prosecutors enter Guantanamo’s heavily guarded courtroom Monday, they can expect to face a spectacle: their former boss, in uniform, testifying against them,” The Wall Street Journal leads.
Qaeda Qorner: An al Qaeda-linked Web site has posted a 10-minute film showing civilians killed or maimed in U.S. and Israeli air strikes as an answer to a Dutch anti-Koran film last month, Reuters reports — while another Reuters item has new book examining Osama bin Laden through the prism of his family suggesting that the 1988 plane-crash death of a playboy brother was an important factor in his radicalization. A man suspected of al Qaeda links managed last year to secure a visa to live in Canada, CBC learns. “Bands of Islamist fighters, terrorist trainers and arms suppliers roaming the mountainous southern Sahara Desert are new targets in the U.S. war against al Qaeda, Bloomberg leads — as AP has Algerian soldiers killing 10 armed Islamists allegedly planning a “spectacular operation” in the name of al Qaeda.
Over there: The United States and Britain issued new travel alerts warning of an increased terrorist threat in China, as Interpol forecast a possible al Qaeda attack at the Olympics, The Australian informs.British cops were given extra time to question three men arrested last week under the Terrorism Act in East London, Sky News notes. “The State Department plans to double student visas issued to young Saudi men. This time, it says, they’ll all be vetted for terror ties. Uh-huh,” Investor’s Business Daily snarks. In Pakistan, Islamic militants have spread beyond their tribal bases, and now “have the run of an unstable, nuclear-armed nation,” Time Magazine monitors.
Slumping Jack Flash: “Calling it the most effective tool to date in the War on Terror, the Pentagon announced Monday that it had developed a new chemical weapon called ‘ennui gas,’ a nerve agent that overwhelms its victims with sudden philosophical distress over the meaningless tedium of human life and a sinking sense that everything they have ever accomplished ultimately amounts to dust,” The Onion reports. “’When the enemy inhales the gas, he will immediately retreat to his bedroom, lock the door, stare at the ceiling, pick idly at his fingernails, and muse upon the similarities between fingernails and the fragility of life,’ Defense Secretary Robert Gates said. Recently disclosed Pentagon documents indicate that the gas has a dissemination radius of four to eight miles, and that neither protective masks nor a positive outlook on life can prevent infection. Symptoms include uncontrollable sighing, repeated utterances of the phrase ‘What’s the use?’ a confusion and bitterness regarding one’s place in the universe, and an increased proclivity to listen to Lou Reed records.”