Thursday, May 31, 2007

Terrorism Defined

Terrorism Defined - by Stephen Lendman

Probably no word better defines or underscores the Bush presidency than "terrorism" even though his administration wasn't the first to exploit this highly charged term. We use to explain what "they do to us" to justify what we "do to them," or plan to, always deceitfully couched in terms of humanitarian intervention, promoting democracy, or bringing other people the benefits of western civilization Gandhi thought would be a good idea when asked once what he thought about it.

Ronald Reagan exploited it in the 1980s to declare "war on international terrorism" referring to it as the "scourge of terrorism" and "the plague of the modern age." It was clear he had in mind launching his planned Contra proxy war of terrorism against the democratically elected Sandinista government in Nicaragua and FMLN opposition resistance to the US-backed El Salvador fascist regime the same way George Bush did it waging his wars of aggression post-9/11.

It's a simple scheme to pull off, and governments keep using it because it always works. Scare the public enough, and they'll go along with almost anything thinking it's to protect their safety when, in fact, waging wars of aggression and state-sponsored violence have the opposite effect. The current Bush wars united practically the entire world against us including an active resistance increasingly targeting anything American.

George Orwell knew about the power of language before the age of television and the internet enhanced it exponentially. He explained how easy "doublethink" and "newspeak" can convince us "war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength." He also wrote "All war propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from (chicken hawk) people who are not fighting (and) Big Brother is watching...." us to be sure we get the message and obey it.

In 1946, Orwell wrote about "Politics and the English Language" saying "In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible" to hide what its user has in mind. So "defenseless villages are bombarded from the air (and) this is called 'pacification'." And the president declares a "war on terrorism" that's, in fact, a "war of terrorism" against designated targets, always defenseless against it, because with adversaries able to put up a good fight, bullies, like the US, opt for diplomacy or other political and economic means, short of open conflict.

The term "terrorism" has a long history, and reference to a "war on terrorism" goes back a 100 years or more. Noted historian Howard Zinn observed how the phrase is a contradiction in terms as "How can you make war on terrorism, if war is terrorism (and if) you respond to terrorism with (more) multiply (the amount of) terrorism in the world." Zinn explains that "Governments are terrorists on an enormously large scale," and when they wage war the damage caused infinitely exceeds anything individuals or groups can inflict.

It's also clear that individual or group "terrorist" acts are crimes, not declarations or acts of war. So a proper response to the 9/11 perpetrators was a police one, not an excuse for the Pentagon to attack other nations having nothing to do with it.

George Bush's "war on terrorism" began on that fateful September day when his administration didn't miss a beat stoking the flames of fear with a nation in shock ready to believe almost anything - true, false or in between. And he did it thanks to the hyped enormity of the 9/11 event manipulated for maximum political effect for the long-planned aggressive imperial adventurism his hard line administration had in mind only needing "a catastrophic and catalyzing (enough) event - like a new Pearl Harbor" to lauch. With plans drawn and ready, the president and key administration officials terrified the public with visions of terrorism branded and rebranded as needed from the war on it, to the global war on it (GLOT), to the long war on it, to a new name coming soon to re-ignite a flagging public interest in and growing disillusionment over two foreign wars gone sour and lost.

Many writers, past and present, have written on terrorism with their definitions and analyses of it. The views of four noted political and social critics are reviewed below, but first an official definition to frame what follows.

How the US Code Defines Terrorism

Under the US Code, "international terrorism" includes activities involving:

(A) "violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State;"

(B) are intended to -

(i) "intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

(ii) influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

(iii) affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

(C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States...."

The US Army Operational Concept for Terrorism (TRADOC Pamphlet No. 525-37, 1984) shortens the above definition to be "the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature....through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear."

Eqbal Ahmad On Terrorism

Before his untimely death, Indian activist and scholar Eqbal Ahmad spoke on the subject of terrorism in one of his last public talks at the University of Colorado in October, 1998. Seven Stories Press then published his presentation in one of its Open Media Series short books titled "Terrorism, Theirs and Ours." The talk when delivered was prophetic in light of the September 11 event making his comments especially relevant.

He began quoting a 1984 Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz speech calling terrorism "modern barbarism, a form of political violence, a threat to Western civilization, a menace to Western moral values" and more, all the while never defining it because that would "involve a commitment to analysis, comprehension and adherence to some norms of consistency" not consistent with how this country exploits it for political purposes. It would also expose Washington's long record of supporting the worst kinds of terrorist regimes worldwide in Indonesia, Iran under the Shah, Central America, the South American fascist generals, Marcos in the Philippines, Pol Pot and Saddam at their worst, the current Saudi and Egyptian regimes, Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), and for the people of Greece, who paid an enormous price, the Greek colonels the US brought to power in the late 1960s for which people there now with long memories still haven't forgiven us.

Ahmad continued saying "What (then) is terrorism? Our first job is to define the damn thing, name it, give it a description of some kind, other than (the) "moral equivalent of (our) founding fathers (or) a moral outrage to Western civilization." He cited Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as a source saying "Terrorism is an intense, overpowering fear....the use of terrorizing methods of governing or resisting a government." It's simple, to the point, fair, and Ahmad calls it a definition of "great virtue. It focuses on the use of coercive violence....that is used illegally, extra-constitutionally, to coerce" saying this is true because it's what terrorism is whether committed by governments, groups, or individuals. This definition omits what Ahmad feels doesn't apply - motivation, whether or not the cause is just or not because "motives differ (yet) make no difference."

Ahmad identifies the following types of terrorism:

-- State terrorism committed by nations against anyone - other states, groups or individuals, including state-sponsored assassination targets;

-- Religious terrorism like Christians and Muslims slaughtering each other during Papal crusades; many instances of Catholics killing Protestants and the reverse like in Northern Ireland; Christians and Jews butchering each other; Sunnis killing Shiites and the reverse; and any other kind of terror violence inspired or justified by religion carrying out God's will as in the Old Testament preaching it as an ethical code for a higher purpose;

-- Crime (organized or otherwise) terrorism as "all kinds of crime commit terror."

-- Pathology terrorism by those who are sick, may "want the attention of the world (and decide to do it by) kill(ing) a president" or anyone else.

-- Political terrorism by a private group Ahmad calls "oppositional terror" explaining further that at times these five types "converge on each other starting out in one form, then converging into one or more others.

Nation states, like the US, focus only on one kind of terrorism - political terrorism that's "the least important in terms of cost to human lives and human property (with the highest cost type being) state terrorism." The current wars of aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine underscore what Ahmad means. Never mentioned, though, is that political or retail terrorism is a natural response by oppressed or desperate groups when they're victims of far more grievous acts of state terrorism. Also unmentioned is how to prevent terrorist acts Noam Chomsky explains saying the way to get "them" to stop attacking "us" is stop attacking "them."

Ahmad responded to a question in the book version of his speech with more thoughts on the subject. Asked to define terrorism the way he did in an article he wrote a year earlier titled "Comprehending Terror," he called it "the illegal use of violence for the purposes of influencing somebody's behavior, inflicting punishment, or taking revenge (adding) it has been practiced on a larger scale, globally, both by governments and by private groups." When committed against a state, never asked is what produces it.

Further, official and even academic definitions of state terrorism exclude what Ahmad calls "illegal violence:" torture, burning of villages, destruction of entire peoples, (and) genocide." These definitions are biased against individuals and groups favoring governments committing terrorist acts. Our saying it's for self-defense, protecting the "national security," or "promoting democracy" is subterfuge baloney disguising our passion for state-sponsored violence practiced like it our national pastime.

Ahmad also observed that modern-day "third-world....fascist governments (in countries like) Indonesia (under Suharto), Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo - DRC), Iran (under the Shah), South Korea (under its generals), and elsewhere - were fully supported by one or the other of the superpowers," and for all the aforementioned ones and most others that was the US.

Further, Ahmad notes "religious zealotry has been a major source of terror" but nearly always associated in the West with Islamic groups. In fact, it's a global problem with "Jewish terrorists....terrorizing an entire people in the Middle East (the Palestinians, supported by) Israel which is supported by the government of the United States." Crimes against humanity in the name of religion are also carried out by radical Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and others, not just extremist Muslims that are the only ones reported in the West.

In August, 1998 in the Dawn English-language Pakistani newspaper, Ahmad wrote about the power of the US in a unipolar world saying: "Who will define the parameters of terrorism, or decide where terrorists lurk? Why, none other than the United States, which can from the rooftops of the world set out its claim to be sheriff, judge and hangman, all at one and the same time." So while publicly supporting justice, the US spurns international law to be the sole decider acting by the rules of what we say goes, and the law is what we say it is. Further, before the age of George Bush, Ahmad sounded a note of hope saying nothing is "historically permanent (and) I don't think American power is permanent. It itself is very temporary, and therefore its excesses have to be, by definition, impermanent."

In addition, he added, "America is a troubled country" for many reasons. It's "economic capabilities do not harmonize with its military (ones and) its ruling class' will to dominate is not quite shared by" what its people want. For now, however, the struggle will continue because the US "sowed in the Middle East (after the Gulf war but before George Bush became president) and South Asia (signaling Pakistan and Afghanistan) very poisonous seeds. Some have ripened and others are ripening. An examination of why they were sown, what has grown, and how they should be reaped is needed (but isn't being done). Missiles won't solve the problem" as is plain as day in mid-2007, with the Bush administration hanging on for dear life in the face of two calamitous wars the president can't acknowledge are hopeless and already lost.

Edward S. Herman On Terrorism

Herman wrote a lot on terrorism including his important 1982 book as relevant today as it was then, "The Real Terror Network." It's comprised of US-sponsored authoritarian states following what Herman calls a free market "development model" for corporate gain gotten through a reign of terror unleashed on any homegrown resistance against it and a corrupted dominant media championing it with language Orwell would love.

Back then, justification given was the need to protect the "free world" from the evils of communism and a supposedly worldwide threat it posed. It was classic "Red Scare" baloney, but it worked to traumatize the public enough to think the Russians would come unless we headed them off, never mind, in fact, the Russians had good reason to fear we'd come because "bombing them back to the stone age" was seriously considered, might have happened, and once almost did.

Herman reviews examples of "lesser and mythical terror networks" before discussing the real ones. First though, he defines the language beginning with how Orwell characterized political speech already explained above. He then gives a dictionary definition of terrorism as "a mode of governing, or of opposing government, by intimidation" but notes right off a problem for "western propaganda." Defining terrorism this way includes repressive regimes we support, so it's necessary finding "word adaptations (redefining them to) exclude (our) state terrorism (and only) capture the petty (retail) terror of small dissident groups or individuals" or the trumped up "evil empire" kind manufactured out of whole cloth but made to seem real and threatening.

Herman then explains how the CIA finessed terrorism by referring to "Patterns of International Terrorism" defining it as follows: "Terrorism conducted with the support of a foreign government or organization and/or directed against foreign nationals, institutions, or governments." By this definition, internal death squads killing thousands are excluded because they're not "international" unless a foreign government supports them. That's easy to hide, though, when we're the government and as easy to reveal or fake when it serves our purpose saying it was communist-inspired in the 1980s or "Islamofascist al Qaeda"-conducted or supported now. Saying it makes it so even when it isn't because the power of the message can make us believe Santa Claus is the grinch who stole Christmas.

Herman also explains how harsh terms like totalitarianism and authoritarianism only apply to adversary regimes while those as bad or worse allied to us are more benignly referred to with terms like "moderate autocrats" or some other corrupted manipulation of language able to make the most beastly tyrants look like enlightened tolerant leaders.

In fact, these brutes and their governments comprise the "real terror network," and what they did and still do, with considerable US help, contributed to the rise of the "National Security State" (NSS) post-WW II and the growth of terrorism worldwide supporting it. In a word, it rules by "intimidation and violence or the threat of violence." Does the name Augusto Pinochet ring a bell? What about the repressive Shah of Iran even a harsh theocratic state brought relief from?

Herman explained "the economics of the NSS" that's just as relevant today as then with some updating of events in the age of George Bush. He notes NSS leaders imposed a free market "development model" creating a "favorable investment climate (including) subsidies and tax concessions to business (while excluding) any largess to the non-propertied classes...." It means human welfare be damned, social benefits and democracy are incompatible with the needs of business, unions aren't allowed, a large "reserve army" of workers can easily replace present ones, and those complaining get their heads knocked off with terror tactics being the weapon of choice, and woe to those on the receiving end.

The Godfather in Washington makes it work with considerable help from the corrupted dominant media selling "free market" misery like it's paradise. Their message praises the dogma, turning a blind eye to the ill effects on real people and the terror needed to keep them in line when they resist characterized as protecting "national security" and "promoting democracy," as already explained. All the while, the US is portrayed as a benevolent innocent bystander, when, if fact, behind the scenes, we pull the strings and tinpot third-world despots dance to them. But don't expect to learn that from the pages of the New York Times always in the lead supporting the worst US-directed policies characterized only as the best and most enlightened.

At the end of his account, Herman offers solutions worlds apart from the way the Bush administration rules. They include opposing "martial law governments" and demanding the US end funding, arming and training repressive regimes. Also condemned are "harsh prison sentences, internments and killings," especially against labor leaders. Finally, he cites "the right to self-determination" for all countries free from foreign interference, that usually means Washington, that must be held to account and compelled to "stop bullying and manipulating....tiny states" and end the notion they must be client ones, or else.

Referring to the Reagan administration in the 1980s, Herman says what applies even more under George Bush. If allowed to get away with it, Washington "will continue to escalate the violence (anywhere in the world it chooses) to preserve military mafia/oligarch control" meaning we're boss, and what we say goes. Leaders not getting the message will be taught the hard way, meaning state-sponsored terrorism portrayed as benign intervention.

Herman revisited terrorism with co-author Gerry O'Sullivan in 1989 in their book "The Terrorism Industry: The Experts and Institutions That Shape Our View of Terror." The authors focus on what kinds of victims are important ("worthy" ones) while others (the "unworthy") go unmentioned or are characterized as victimizers with the corrupted media playing their usual role trumpeting whatever policies serve the interests of power. The authors state "....the West's experts and media have engaged in a process of 'role reversal' in....handling....terrorism... focus(ing) on selected, relatively small-scale terrorists and rebels including....genuine national liberation movements" victimized by state-sponsored terror. Whenever they strike back in self-defense they're portrayed as victimizers. Examples, then and now, are legion, and the authors draw on them over that earlier period the book covers.

They also explain the main reason individuals and groups attack us is payback for our attacking or oppressing them far more grievously. As already noted, the very nature of wholesale state-directed terror is infinitely more harmful than the retail kind with the order of magnitude being something like comparing massive corporate fraud cheating shareholders and employees to a day's take by a local neighborhood pickpocket.

"The Terrorism Industry" shows the West needs enemies. Before 1991, the "evil empire" Soviet Union was the lead villain with others in supporting roles like Libya's Gaddafi, the PLO under Arafat (before the Oslo Accords co-opted him), the Sandinistas under Ortega laughably threatening Texas we were told, and other designees portrayed as arch enemies of freedom because they won't sell out their sovereignty to rules made in Washington. Spewing this baloney takes lots of chutzpah and manufactured demonizing generously served up by "state-sponsored propaganda campaigns" dutifully trumpeted by the dominant media stenographers for power. Their message is powerful enough to convince people western states and nuclear-powered Israel can't match ragtag marauding "terrorist" bands coming to neighborhoods near us unless we flatten countries they may be coming from. People believe it, and it's why state-sponsored terrorism can be portrayed as self-defense even though it's pure scare tactic baloney.

The authors stress the western politicization process decides who qualifies as targeted, and "The basic rule has been: if connected with leftists, violence may be called terrorist," but when it comes from rightist groups it's always self-defense. Again, it's classic Orwell who'd be smiling saying I told you so if he were still here. He also understood terrorism serves a "larger service." Overall, it's to get the public terrified enough to go along with any agenda governments have in mind like wars of aggression, huge increases in military spending at the expense of social services getting less, and the loss of civil liberties by repressive policies engineered on the phony pretext of increasing our safety, in fact, being harmed.

The authors also note different forms of "manufactured terrorism" such as inflating or inventing a menace out of whole cloth. It's also used in the private sector to weaken or destroy "union leaders, activists, and political enemies, sometimes in collusion with agents of the state."

The authors call all of the above "The Terrorism Industry of institutes and experts who formulate and channel analysis and information on terrorism in accordance with Western demands" often in cahoots with "Western governments, intelligence agencies, and corporate/conservative foundations and funders." It's a "closed system" designed to "reinforce state propaganda" to program the public mind to go along with any agenda the institutions of power have in mind, never beneficial to our own. Yet, their message is so potent they're able to convince us it is. It's an astonishing achievement going on every day able to make us believe almost anything, and the best way to beat it is don't listen.

Noam Chomsky On Terrorism

In his book "Perilous Power: The Middle East and US Foreign Policy," co-authored with Gilbert Achcar, Chomsky defines terrorism saying he's been writing about it since 1981 around the time Ronald Reagan first declared war on "international terrorism" to justify all he had in mind mentioned above. Chomsky explained "You don't declare a war on terrorism unless you're planning yourself to undertake massive international terrorism," and calling it self-defense is pure baloney.

Chomsky revisits the subject in many of his books, and in at least two earlier ones addressed terrorism or international terrorism as those volumes' core issue discussed further below. In "Perilous Power," it's the first issue discussed right out of the gate, and he starts off defining it. He does it using the official US Code definition given above calling it a commonsense one. But there's a problem in that by this definition the US qualifies as a terrorist state, and the Reagan administration in the 1980s practiced it, so it had to change it to avoid an obvious conflict.

Other problems arose as well when the UN passed resolutions on terrorism, the first major one being in December, 1987 condemning terrorism as a crime in the harshest terms. It passed in the General Assembly overwhelmingly but not unanimously, 153 - 2, with the two opposed being the US and Israel so although the US vote wasn't a veto it served as one twice over. When Washington disapproves, it's an actual veto in the Security Council or a de facto one in the General Assembly meaning it's blocked either way, and it's erased from history as well. Case closed.

Disguising what Martin Luther King called "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today," referring to this country, a new definition had to be found excluding the terror we carry out against "them," including only what they do to "us." It's not easy, but, in practical terms, this is the definition we use - what you do to "us," while what we do to you is "benign humanitarian intervention." Repeated enough in the mainstream, the message sinks in even though it's baloney.

Chomsky then explains what other honest observers understand in a post-NAFTA world US planners knew would devastate ordinary people on the receiving end of so-called free trade policies designed to throttle them for corporate gain. He cites National Intelligence Council projections that globalization "will be rocky, marked by chronic financial volatility and a widening economic divide....Regions, countries, and groups feeling left behind will face deepening economic stagnation, political instability, and cultural alienation. They will foster political, ethnic, ideological, and religious extremism, along with the violence that often accompanies it."

Pentagon projections agree with plans set to savagely suppress expected retaliatory responses. How to stop the cycle of violence? End all types of exploitation including so-called one-way "free trade," adopting instead a fair trade model like Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's government follows that's equitable to all trading partners and their people. The antidote to bad policy, brutal repression, wars and the terrorism they generate is equity and justice for all. However, the US won't adopt the one solution sure to work because it hurts profits that come ahead of people needs.

Chomsky wrote about terrorism at length much earlier as well in his 1988 book "The Culture of Terrorism." In it he cites "the Fifth Freedom" meaning "the freedom to rob, to exploit and to dominate society, to undertake any course of action to insure that existing privilege is protected and advanced." This "freedom" is incompatible with the other four Franklin Roosevelt once announced - freedom of speech, worship, want and fear all harmed by this interloper. To get the home population to go along with policies designed to hurt them, "the state must spin an elaborate web of illusion and deceit (to keep people) inert and limited in the capacity to develop independent modes of thought and perception." It's called "manufacturing consent" to keep the rabble in line, using hard line tactics when needed.

"The Cultural of Terrorism" covers the Reagan years in the 1980s and its agenda of state terror in the post-Vietnam climate of public resistance to direct intervention that didn't hamper Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. So unable to send in the Marines, Reagan resorted to state terror proxy wars with key battlegrounds being Central America and Afghanistan. The book focuses on the former, the scandals erupting from it, and damage control manipulation so this country can continue pursuing policies dedicated to rule by force whenever persuasion alone won't work.

A "new urgency" emerged in June, 1986 when the World Court condemned the US for attacking Nicaragua using the Contras in a proxy war of aggression against a democratically elected government unwilling to operate by rules made in Washington. In a post-Vietnam climate opposed to this sort of thing, policies then were made to work by making state terror look like humanitarian intervention with local proxies on the ground doing our killing for us and deceiving the public to go along by scaring it to death.

So with lots of dominant media help, Reagan pursued his terror wars in Central America with devastating results people at home heard little about if they read the New York Times or watched the evening news suppressing the toll Chomsky reveals as have others:

-- over 50,000 slaughtered in El Salvador,

-- over 100,000 corpses in Guatemala just in the 1980s and over 200,000 including those killed earlier and since,

-- a mere 11,000 in Nicaragua that got off relatively easy because the people had an army to fight back while in El Salvador and Guatemala the army was the enemy.

The tally shows Ronald Reagan gets credit for over 160,000 Central American deaths alone, but not ordinary ones. They came "Pol Pot-style....with extensive torture, rape, mutilation, disappearance," and political assassinations against members of the clergy including El Salvador's Archbishop Oscar Romero gunned down by an assassin while celebrating mass inside San Salvador's Hospital de la Divina Frovidencia. His "voice for the voiceless" concern for the poor and oppressed and courageous opposition to death squad mass-killing couldn't be tolerated in a part of the world ruled by wealthy elites getting plenty of support from some of the same names in Washington now ravaging Iraq and Afghanistan.

Chomsky cites the Reagan Doctrine's commitment to opposing leftist resistance movements throughout the 1980s, conducting state-sponsored terror to "construct an international terrorist network of impressive sophistication, without parallel in history....and used it" clandestinely fighting communism.

With lots of help from Congress and the dominant media, the administration contained the damage that erupted in late 1986 from what was known as the Iran-Contra scandal over illegally selling arms to Iran to fund the Contras. Just like the farcical Watergate investigations, the worst crimes and abuses got swept under the rug, and in the end no one in the 1980s even paid a price for the lesser ones. So a huge scandal greater than Watergate, that should have toppled a president, ended up being little more than a tempest in a teapot after the dust settled. It makes it easy understanding how George Bush gets away with mass-murder, torture and much more almost making Reagan's years seem tame by comparison.

Chomsky continued discussing our "culture of terrorism" with the Pentagon practically boasting over its Central American successes directing terrorist proxy force attacks against "soft targets" including health centers, medical workers and schools, farms and more, all considered legitimate military targets despite international law banning these actions.

Latin America is always crucial to US policy makers referring to it dismissively as "America's backyard" giving us more right to rule here than practically any place else. It's because of the region's strategic importance historian Greg Grandin recognizes calling it the "Empire's Workshop" that's the title of his 2006 book subtitled "Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism." In it, he shows how the region serves as a laboratory honing our techniques for imperial rule that worked in the 1980s but now face growing rebellion providing added incentive to people in the Middle East inspiring them to do by force what leaders like Hugo Chavez do constitutionally with great public support.

But Washington's international terror network never quits or sleeps operating freely worldwide and touching down anywhere policy makers feel they need to play global enforcer seeing to it outliers remember who's boss, and no one forgets the rules of imperial management. Things went as planned for Reagan until the 1986 scandals necessitated a heavy dose of damage control. They've now become industrial strength trying to bail George Bush out his quagmire conflagrations making Reagan's troubles seem like minor brush fires. It worked for Reagan by following "overriding principles (keeping) crucial the agenda" applicable for George Bush, including:

-- "the (ugly) historical and documentary record reveal(ing)" US policy guidelines;

-- "the international setting within which policy develops;"

-- application of similar policies in other nations in Latin America or elsewhere;

-- "the normal conditions of life (in Latin America or elsewhere long dominated by) US influence and control (and) what these teach us about the goals and character of US government policy over many years;

-- similar matters (anywhere helping explain) the origins and nature of the problems that must be addressed."

It was true in the 1980s and now so these issues "are not fit topics for reporting, commentary and debate" beyond what policy makers disagree on and are willing to discuss openly.

The book concludes considering the "perils of diplomacy" with Washington resorting to state terror enforcing its will through violence when other means don't work. But the US public has to be convinced through guile and stealth it's all being done for our own good. It never is, of course, but most people never catch on till it's too late to matter. They should read more Chomsky, Herman, Ahmad, and Michel Chossudovsky discussed below, but too few do so leaders like Reagan and Bush get away with mass-murder and much more.

Chomsky wrote another book on terrorism titled "Pirates and Emperors, Old and New: International Terrorism in the Real World." It was first published in 1986 with new material added in more recent editions up to 2001. The book begins with a memorable story St. Augustine tells about a pirate Alexander the Great captured asking him "how he dares molest the sea." Pirates aren't known to be timid, and this one responds saying "How dare you molest the whole world? ....I do it with a little ship only (and) am called a thief (while you do) it with a great navy (and) are called an Emperor." It's a wonderful way to capture the relationship between minor rogue states or resistance movements matched off against the lord and master of the universe with unchallengeable military power unleashing it freely to stay dominant.

The newest edition of "Pirates and Emperors, Old and New" explores what constitutes terrorism while mainly discussing how Washington waged it in the Middle East in the 1980s, also then in Central America, and more recently post-9/11. As he often does, Chomsky also shows how dominant media manipulation shapes public perceptions to justify our actions called defensible against states we target as enemies when they resist - meaning their wish to remain free and independent makes them a threat to western civilization.

Washington never tolerates outlier regimes placing their sovereignty above ours or internal resistance movements hitting back for what we do to them. Those doing it are called terrorists and are targeted for removal by economic, political and/or military state terror. In the case of Nicaragua, the weapon of choice was a Contra proxy force, in El Salvador, the CIA-backed fascist government did the job, and in both cases tactics used involved mass murder and incarceration, torture, and a whole further menu of repressive and economic barbarism designed to crush resistance paving the way for unchallengeable US dominance.

The centerpiece of US Middle East policy has been its full and unconditional support for Israel's quest for regional dominance by weakening or removing regimes considered hostile and its near-six decade offensive to repress and ethnically cleanse indigenous Palestinians from all land Israelis want for a greater Israel. Toward that end, Israel gets unheard of amounts of aid including billions annually in grants and loans, billions more as needed, multi-billions in debt waved, billions more in military aid, and state-of-the-art weapons and technology amounting in total to more than all other countries in the world combined for a nation of six million people with lots of important friends in Washington, on Wall Street, and in all other centers of power that count.

It all goes down smoothly at home by portraying justifiable resistance to Israeli abuse as terrorism with the dominant media playing their usual role calling US and Israeli-targeted victims the victimizers to justify the harshest state terror crackdowns against them. For Palestinians, it's meant nearly six decades of repression and 40 years of occupation by a foreign power able to reign state terror on defenseless people helpless against it. For Iraq, it meant removing a leader posing no threat to Israel or his neighbors but portrayed as a monster who did with Iranian leaders and Hugo Chavez now topping the regime change queue in that order or maybe in quick succession or tandem.

It's all about power and perception with corrupted language, as Orwell explained, able to make reality seem the way those controlling it wish. It lets power and ideology triumph over people freely using state terror as a means of social control. Chomsky quoted Churchill's notion that "the rich and powerful have every right to....enjoy what they have gained, often by violence and terror; the rest can be ignored as long as they suffer in silence, but if they interfere with....those who rule the world by right, the 'terrors of the earth' will be visited upon them with righteous wrath, unless power is constrained from within." One day, the meek may inherit the earth and Churchill's words no longer will apply, but not as long as the US rules it and media manipulation clouds reality enough to make harsh state terror look like humanitarian intervention or self-defense by helpless victims look like they're the victimizers.

Michel Chossudovsky on "The War on Terrorism"

No one has been more prominent or outspoken since the 9/11 attacks in the US than scholar/author/activist and Global Research web site editor Michel Chossudovsky. He began writing that evening publishing an article the next day titled "Who Is Osama Bin Laden," perhaps being the first Bush administration critic to courageously challenge the official account of what took place that day. He then updated his earlier account September 10, 2006 in an article titled "The Truth behind 9/11: Who is Osama Bin Ladin." Chossudovsky is a thorough, relentless researcher making an extraordinary effort to get at the truth no matter how ugly or disturbing.

Here's a summary of what he wrote that was included in his 2005 book titled "America's War on Terrorism (In the Wake of 9/11)" he calls a complete fabrication "based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden (from a cave in Afghanistan and hospital bed in Pakistan), outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus." He called it instead what it is, in fact - a pretext for permanent "New World Order" wars of conquest serving the interests of Wall Street, the US military-industrial complex, and all other corporate interests profiting hugely from a massive scheme harming the public interest in the near-term and potentially all humanity unless it's stopped in time.

On the morning of 9/11, the Bush administration didn't miss a beat telling the world Al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center (WTC) and Pentagon meaning Osama bin Laden was the main culprit - case closed without even the benefit of a forensic and intelligence analysis piecing together all potential helpful information. There was no need to because, as Chossudovsky explained, "That same (9/11) evening at 9:30 pm, a 'War Cabinet' was formed integrated by a select number of top intelligence and military advisors. At 11:00PM, at the end of that historic (White House) meeting, the 'War on Terrorism' was officially launched," and the rest is history.

Chossudovsky continued "The decision was announced (straightaway) to wage war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in retribution for the 9/11 attacks" with news headlines the next day asserting, with certainty, "state sponsorship" responsibility for the attacks connected to them. The dominant media, in lockstep, called for military retaliation against Afghanistan even though no evidence proved the Taliban government responsible, because, in fact, it was not and we knew it.

Four weeks later on October 7, a long-planned war of illegal aggression began, Afghanistan was bombed and then invaded by US forces working in partnership with their new allies - the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan or so-called Northern Alliance "warlords." Their earlier repressive rule was so extreme, it gave rise to the Taliban in the first place and has now made them resurgent.

Chossudovsky further explained that the public doesn't "realize that a large scale theater war is never planned and executed in a matter of weeks." This one, like all others, was months in the making needing only what CentCom Commander General Tommy Franks called a "terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event" to arouse enough public anger for the Bush administration to launch it after declaring their "war on terrorism." Chossudovsky, through thorough and exhausting research, exposed it as a fraud.

He's been on top of the story ever since uncovering the "myth of an 'outside enemy' and the threat of 'Islamic terrorists' (that became) the cornerstone (and core justification) of the Bush administration's military doctrine." It allowed Washington to wage permanent aggressive wars beginning with Afghanistan and Iraq, to ignore international law, and to "repeal civil liberties and constitutional government" through repression laws like the Patriot and Military Commissions Acts. A key objective throughout has, and continues to be, Washington's quest to control the world's energy supplies, primarily oil, starting in the Middle East where two-thirds of known reserves are located.

Toward that end, the Bush administration created a fictitious "outside enemy" threat without which no "war on terrorism" could exist, and no foreign wars could be waged. Chossudovsky exposed the linchpin of the whole scheme. He uncovered evidence that Al Queda "was a creation of the CIA going back to the Soviet-Afghan war" era, and that in the 1990s Washington "consciously supported Osama bin Laden, while at the same time placing him on the FBI's 'most wanted list' as the World's foremost terrorist." He explained that the CIA (since the 1980s and earlier) actively supports international terrorism covertly, and that on September 10, 2001 "Enemy Number One" bin Laden was in a Rawalpindi, Pakistan military hospital confirmed on CBS News by Dan Rather. He easily could have been arrested but wasn't because we had a "better purpose" in mind for "America's best known fugitive (to) give a (public) face to the 'war on terrorism' " that meant keeping bin Laden free to do it. If he didn't exist, we'd have had to invent him, but that could have been arranged as well.

The Bush administration's national security doctrine needs enemies, the way all empires on the march do. Today "Enemy Number One" rests on the fiction of bin Laden-led Islamic terrorists threatening the survival of western civilization. In fact, however, Washington uses Islamic organizations like Islamic jihad as a "key instrument of US military-intelligence operations in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union" while, at the same time, blaming them for the 9/11 attacks calling them "a threat to America."

September 11, 2001 was, indeed, a threat to America, but one coming from within from real enemies. They want to undermine democracy and our freedoms, not preserve them, in pursuit of their own imperial interests for world domination by force through endless foreign wars and establishment of a locked down national "Homeland Security (police) State." They're well along toward it, and if they succeed, America, as we envision it, no longer will exist. Only by exposing the truth and resisting what's planned and already happening will there be any hope once again to make this nation a "land of the free and home of the brave" with "a new birth of freedom" run by a "government of the people, by the people, for the people" the way at least one former president thought it should be.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to the Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on Saturdays at noon US central time.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Venezuela's RCTV: Sine Die and Good Riddance

Venezuela's RCTV: Sine Die and Good Riddance - by Stephen Lendman

Venezuelan TV station Radio Caracas Television's (known as RCTV) VHF Channel 2's operating license expired May 27, and it went off the air because the Chavez government, with ample justification, chose not to renew it. RCTV was the nation's oldest private broadcaster, operating since 1953. It's also had a tainted record of airing Venezuela's most hard right yellow journalism, consistently showing a lack of ethics, integrity or professional standards in how it operated as required by the law it arrogantly flaunted.

Starting May 28, a new public TV station (TVES) replaces it bringing Venezuelans a diverse range of new programming TV channel Vive president, Blanca Eckhout, says will "promot(e) the participation and involvement of all Venezuelans in the task of communication (as an alternative to) the media concentration of the radio-electric spectrum that remains in the hands of a (dominant corporate) minority sector" representing elitist business interests, not the people.

Along with the other four major corporate-owned dominant television channels (controlling 90% of the nation's TV market), RCTV played a leading role instigating and supporting the aborted April, 2002 two-day coup against President Chavez mass public opposition on the streets helped overturn restoring Chavez to office and likely saving his life. Later in the year, these stations conspired again as active participants in the economically devastating 2002-03 main trade union confederation (CTV) - chamber of commerce (Fedecameras) lockout and industry-wide oil strike including willful sabotage against state oil company PDVSA costing it an estimated $14 billion in lost revenue and damage.

This writer explained the dominant corporate media's active role in these events in an extended January, 2007 article titled "Venezuela's RCTV Acts of Sedition." It presented conclusive evidence RCTV and the other four corporate-run TV stations violated Venezuela's Law of Social Responsibility for Radio and Television (LSR). That law guarantees freedom of expression without censorship but prohibits, as it should, transmission of messages illegally promoting, apologizing for, or inciting disobedience to the law that includes enlisting public support for the overthrow of a democratically elected president and his government.

In spite of their lawlessness, the Chavez government treated all five broadcasters gently opting not to prosecute them, but merely refusing to renew one of RCTV's operating licenses (its VHF one) when it expired May 27 (its cable and satellite operations are unaffected) - a mere slap on the wrist for a media enterprise's active role in trying to overthrow the democratically elected Venezuelan president and his government. The article explained if an individual or organization of any kind incited public hostility, violence and anti-government rebellion under Section 2384 of the US code, Title 18, they would be subject to fine and/or imprisonment for up to 20 years for the crime of sedition.

They might also be subject to prosecution for treason under Article 3, Section 3 of the US Constitution stating: "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort" such as instigating an insurrection or rebellion and/or sabotage to a national defense utility that could include state oil company PDVSA's facilities vital to the operation and economic viability of the country and welfare of its people. It would be for US courts to decide if conspiring to overthrow a democratically government conformed to this definition, but it's hard imagining it would not at least convict offenders of sedition.

Opposition Response to the Chavez Government Action

So far, the dominant Venezuelan media's response to RCTV's shutdown has been relatively muted, but it remains to be seen for how long. However, for media outside the country, it's a different story with BBC one example of misreporting in its usual style of deference to power interests at home and abroad. May 28 on the World Service, it reported RCTV's license wasn't renewed because "it supported opposition candidates" in a gross perversion of the facts, but that's how BBC operates.

BBC online was more nuanced and measured, but nonetheless off the mark in key comments like reporting "Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Caracas Sunday, some to celebrate, others to protest" RCTV's shuttering. Unexplained was that Chavez supporters way outnumbered opponents who nearly always are part of rightist/corporate-led staged for the media events in contrast to spontaneous pro-government crowds assembling in huge numbers at times, especially whenever Chavez addresses them publicly.

BBC also exaggerated "skirmishes" on the streets with "Police us(ing) tear gas and water cannons to disperse (crowds) and driving through the streets on motorbikes, officers fired plastic bullets in the air." It also underplayed pro-government supportive responses while blaring opposition ones like "Chavez thinks he owns the country. Well, he doesn't." Another was "No to the closure. Freedom." And still another was "Everyone has the right to watch what they want. He can't take away this channel." BBC played it up commenting "As the afternoon drew on, the protests got louder." The atmosphere became nasty. Shots were fired in the air and people ran for cover. It was not clear who was firing" when it's nearly always clear as it's been in the past - anti-Chavistas sent to the streets to stir up trouble and blame it on Chavez.

BBC's commentary ended saying "The arguments highlight, once again, how deeply divided Venezuela is." Unmentioned was that division is about 70 - 80% pro-Chavez, around 20% opposed (the more privileged "sifrino" class), and a small percentage pro and con between them.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on Saturdays at noon US central time.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Forty Years of Occupation

Forty Years of Occupation - by Stephen Lendman

This June will mark an anniversary that will live in infamy for the people affected by the event it commemorates following a far greater one 19 years earlier on May 14, 1948. On June 5, 1967, Israel launched its so-called "Six-Day (preemptive) War" against three of its neighboring Arab states - Egypt, Jordan and Syria - claiming it was in self-defense to avoid annihilation Israeli leaders later admitted was spurious and false cover for a large-scale long-planned, calculated war of aggression it believed it could easily win and did.

The New York Times quoted Prime Minister Menachem Begin's (1977 - 83) August, 1982 speech saying: "In June, 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that (President Gamal Abdel) Nasser (1956 - 70) was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him."

Two time Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (1974 - 77 and 1992 - 95) told French newspaper Le Monde in February, 1968: "I do not believe Nasser wanted war. The two divisions which he sent into Sinai on May 14 would not have been enough to unleash an offense against Israel. He knew it and we knew it."

General Mordechai Hod, Commander of the Israeli Air Force during the Six-Day War said in 1978: "Sixteen years of planning had gone into those initial eighty minutes. We lived with the plan, we slept on the plan, we ate the plan. Constantly we perfected it."

General Haim Barlev, Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief told Ma'ariv in April, 1972: "We were not threatened with genocide on the eve of the six-day war, and we had never thought of such a possibility."

Other Israeli leaders and generals voiced the same sentiment that in June, 1967 Israel was under no threat, yet preemptively undertook a war of aggression falsely telling the world it had no other choice. It had a clear one. It could have chosen peace, but didn't and never did earlier or since to the present because discretionary aggressive wars of choice serve Israeli interests as they do its US imperial partner.

In 1967, it was the Jewish state's third major aggressive war that grew out of the founding of Zionism in 1897 by Theodor Herzl aiming to establish a permanent Jewish state. He planned the first Zionist Congress in Basle, Switzerland, became its first president, and envisioned a permanent Jewish homeland in Palestine justified by what Professor Norman Finkelstein called the "colossal hoax" Jews got there first establishing their ancestral home on "a land without people for a people without land." It became the state of Israel in May, 1948 during the new Jewish state's first preemptive aggressive so-called "War of Independence" Palestinians call "al-Nakba" - the catastrophe.

From it, Jewish forces seized 78% of British Mandatory Palestine establishing the state of Israel May 14 when the Mandate ended. It was 40% more territory than UN Resolution 181 of November, 1947 allowed with a 56 - 44% division that already gave Israel most of the fertile land, nearly all urban and rural territory, and 400 of over 1000 Palestinian villages their residents lost by UN mandate, with no right of appeal, to the Jewish population comprising one-third of the total at that time.

The 1948 negotiated cease-fire line became known as the "Green Line." Egypt occupied Gaza, and Jordan controlled the West Bank. It was Israel's moment of triumph. The war lasted six months, expelling and killing about 800,000 Palestinians. It destroyed 531 Palestinian villages, 11 urban neighborhoods, and was a clear case of ethnic cleansing international law calls a crime against humanity. Guilty Israeli leaders were never held to account for it or forced to admit what, in fact, they indisputably did according to recently declassified Israeli archival material Israeli historian Ilan Pappe used for his important new book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Noted British journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger calls him "Israel's bravest, most principled, most incisive historian."

In his book, Pappe documented Israeli crimes including cold-blooded mass-murder; destruction of homes, villages and crops; rapes; other atrocities; and massacres of defenseless men, women and children shown no mercy. It happened because British Mandate forces did nothing to stop it, and when neighboring Arab states finally intervened, they acted pathetically without conviction against a superior Israeli fighting force easily able to defeat the small, ill-equipped and unmotivated token forces matched against it.

Israel's second war of aggression was launched along with Britain and France October 29, 1956 against Egypt following President Nasser's decision to nationalize the Suez Canal. Invading forces gave in to US and Soviet pressure to cease fighting eight days later, and after the Federal Reserve began selling large amounts of British pounds undermining the dollar-pound exchange rate. It ended when Israel withdrew its last troops March 8, 1957.

On June 5, 1967, Israel launched its third major war of aggression but hardly its last with another one always planned and ready to unleash on the flimsiest pretext almost no other nation could get away with. It did it for the usual reasons nations go to war when under no external threat to do it - territory, resources (for Israel Golan's water was key), and a desire for unchallengeable regional dominance. As it always did since, Israel falsely claimed its security was threatened by creating myths Syria was shelling Israeli farmers; legitimate, non-threatening Egyptian military exercises masked a preparation for war; and that "incendiary Arab rhetoric" proved it. With plans set and a date picked, Foreign Minister Abba Eban flew to Washington May 26 to inform Lyndon Johnson of Israel's intentions and was assured the US backed them.

The war began preemptively June 5 and proved to be an impressive display of overwhelming power with Israel destroying 90% of Egypt's 300 + aircraft on the ground and two-thirds of the Syrian Air Force the first day. After 24 hours of conflict, Israeli Air Force (IAF) Commander Mordechai Hod announced the combined Arab air forces were destroyed, and the devastating toll on them proved it. Israel lost a mere 19 fighter aircraft while Egypt lost about 300, Syria 60, Jordan 35, Iraq 15, and Lebanon one or more. The Palestinians were about to lose much more - the remaining Gaza and West Bank parts of their nation leaving them stateless.

On day 2, Israel invaded Gaza and the West Bank; on day three Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) entered northern Sinai, devastated Egyptian brigades, captured Jerusalem, and got Jordan to surrender. On day four, the IDF invaded Haram Al-Sharif and central Sinai, and by day five had advanced to the Suez Canal, taking all of Sinai and the Syrian Golan Heights. The war was practically over before it began, but Israeli forces showed no mercy using their unopposed air power to massacre thousands of defenseless Egyptian troops on the ground. It was a turkey shoot made possible largely because Washington supported it providing Israel with the latest munitions including tarmac-shredding explosives preventing undamaged planes from taking off making them sitting ducks to follow-up attacks. In addition, a US carrier group provided intelligence and communications help standing ready to intervene if needed.

Though nothing like today, even then Washington showed its commitment to Israel, and ignoring and covering up the USS Liberty incident highlights it. The intelligence ship was in the Mediterranean about 13 nautical miles off the Sinai Peninsula when Israeli aircraft and torpedo boats attacked it with full knowledge it was a US vessel as the senior Israeli lead pilot later admitted. Thirty-four on-board were killed after which Johnson Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered an inquiry that concluded the incident was a case of "mistaken identity" despite knowing full well it wasn't. Later, retired Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Thomas Moorer said the incident was "one of the classic all-American cover-ups" for a close ally Washington has made excuses and allowances for ever since along with providing huge amounts of financial aid and modern weaponry and munitions in near-limitless amounts.

Israel used what it got then for its one-sided blitzkrieg ending June 10 with Israeli forces completing the job left unfinished following their 1948 "War of Independence." They took the remaining 22% of ancient Palestine comprising Gaza and the West Bank, and on June 6, 2007 will have held the territories for 40 repressive years of the longest continuous illegal occupation in the world under which Palestinians (including Israeli citizens and Palestinian Christians) lost their personal, political and economic freedoms under Israeli rule affording those rights only to Jews.

Worldwide Solidarity Actions Opposing the Illegal Occupation

To commemorate this infamous anniversary, the International Coordination Network on Palestine (ICNP) was launched at the annual UN civil society conference in 2006. It supports the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people under their banner, "The World Says No to Israeli Occupation." ICNP called for global days of protest June 9 - 10 demanding an end to the occupation; the realization of the Palestinians' inalienable rights including their right to self-determination; their Right to Return to their homeland; and to establish an independent, sovereign Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem where it rightfully belongs.

ICNP is building nonviolent global action campaigns for boycotts, divestment and economic and political sanctions. In addition, it engages in a wide range of educational and cultural activities with the same aims in mind. It insists governments across the world stop providing Israel economic, political and military support and work instead together to end an occupation that never should have been tolerated in the first place. It wants it replaced with a "just and lasting peace."

Hundreds of other organizations, networks and groups across the world are also mobilizing for a global protest day June 9. One of them is the "Occupation 40" coalition calling for "six days" of actions (from June 5 - 10) marking 40 hellish years of occupation. In addition, a Global Day of Action was called for on Saturday, June 9. The coalition is comprised of grassroots Israeli groups and organizations, peace activists, artists, student groups, internal Palestinian refugees, anarchists, animal rights activists, and leftist groups including socialists and communists. There will be a six-day convergence in Israel including demonstrations, direct actions, discussions and cultural events.

"Occupation 40" is also calling for international direct actions against the illegal occupation from June 5 - 10 including economic punishment against corporations profiting from an occupation that cost Palestinians their homeland. The planned agenda for these days is as follows:

-- June 5: An international action day against militarization, wars and occupations in advance of the June G-8 summit in Germany.

-- June 6 - 8: Protests against the G-8 by Palestinian and Israeli activists and Palestinian Solidarity groups across Europe where German authorities are already cracking down in advance of the June 6 - 8 summit of world leaders taking place at the German resort of Heiligendamm in the northern German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommen on the Baltic coast.

Wherever George Bush travels, unprecedented levels of security are needed the result of intense worldwide anger against him and his administration showing up in mass public actions justifiably protesting his presence. As a result, the Heiligendamm resort is being turned into a luxurious armed military fortress with a huge protective wall around it costing $17 million a German newspaper called "the equivalent of a maximum security prison (in reverse) to keep people out."

In addition, the Baltic Sea surrounding the resort will be patrolled by nine naval vessels supplementing 16,000 local police and 1100 soldiers guarding the area to keep protesters several miles from the meeting. Add to that the police state-style raids now ongoing targeting global justice and leftist organizations across the country on the phony pretext they're involved in the "creation of a terrorist organization."

-- June 6 - 12: Protest action days against the occupation in Palestine, Israel and internationally.

-- June 9: A mass rally in London along with a Global Day of Action Against the Occupation.

-- June 10 - 11: A protest, teach-in and lobby in Washington, DC.

All these actions across the world are intended to send Israel, G-8 governments and all nations around the world "a message they cannot ignore."

Life in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT)

IDF occupation forces continue assaulting Palestinian civilians and property daily in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), and while November 8, 2006 wasn't typical, it shows how horrific some attacks have been. It began November 1 with Operation Autumn Clouds when Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) attacked Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza launching their largest assault on the territory since the late June Operation Summer Rains deadly one killing at least 240 mostly civilian men, women and children. In one November, 2006 week, 80 innocent civilians were dead, hundreds wounded, and many bodies afflicted with terribly disfiguring cuts, burns and hard to explain loss of limbs unseen before that had to have been from experimental bombs and shells likely containing radiation or other chemical materials able to burn human flesh. More on this below.

The attack culminated November 8 when Israeli tanks shelled Palestinian homes killing at least 20 and wounding 60 more in what's now called the Beit Hanoun massacre. Ironically, or maybe intentionally, it happened the day after IDF forces withdrew following the week-long Operation Autumn Clouds operation that already devastated the town and its people. The Beit Hanoun massacre wasn't typical. But it highlights how, on any pretext at any time, Israeli forces freely attack defenseless Palestinians with unrestrained viciousness maybe just to show they can get away with almost anything.

Mel Frykberg in the April 26 - May 2 issue of Al-Ahram Weekly reports some of the worst of what Israel is doing (unreported in the West) in his article called Israel's lab in Palestine. He wrote about Gaza-based doctors recently reporting severe wounds clearly made by horrific experimental weapons inflicting shocking damage with graphic web site pictures painful to view:

-- disfiguring burns caused by intense heat requiring amputation;

-- legs sliced from victims' bodies "as if a saw was used to cut through bone;"

-- the absence of shrapnel in or near wounds but the presence of a powder-like substance on victims' bodies and internal organs identified by lab analysis as carbon and tungsten (microscopic shrapnel) with many affected patients dying several days later; and

-- internal organs severely burned in the absence of external wounds.

The article further explained Italian RAI News 24 satellite TV reported on a laboratory analysis of substances taken from victims alleging Israel used "dense inert metal explosives (DIME)" last summer in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and that a high concentration of carbon, copper, aluminum and tungsten points to a DIME weapon this time. RAI News 24 indicated military experts said DIME weapons are "carbon-encased missile(s) that shatter on impact into minuscule splinters (simultaneously exploding with) blades of energy-charged, heavy metal tungsten alloy (HMTA) powder (like) cobalt and nickel or iron, with a carbon fibre casing. It turns to dust on impact....burning and destroying....everything within a four-metre range."

In addition to causing severe disabling and dismembering injuries, DIME weapons leave carcinogenic fallout (like depleted uranium - DU - or other toxic chemical pollutants) in areas targeted by them resulting in environmental contamination with virtually certain large increases in future cancers for people living close by and exposed.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) on the ground in the territories documents it all daily, and its weekly report ending May 17 reads like all others depending on how horrific each week is with some hugely more so than others as Palestinian victims can attest. PCHR (and other groups) publish an account of daily incursions, assaults, shootings, targeted assassinations, aircraft intrusions and attacks, arrests, torture, home demolitions, restrictions on movement, crop destruction, land theft, and countless other types of harassment and humiliations making life in occupied Palestine repressive and unbearable for its residents who somehow resist and endure.

In nearly all cases, Israeli actions are unprovoked or barely so like responding with overwhelming force to children throwing rocks or Palestinians defending their homes, neighborhoods or communities from repeated IDF incursions. Palestinians only have crude and light weapons against the world's fourth most powerful military with nearly every imaginable modern weapon including sophisticated nuclear ones and delivery systems to use them effectively. Specifically during this one week, IDF ground forces killed six Palestinians in Gaza and a baby in his mother's womb in the West Bank. They also wounded 36 Palestinians and a French solidarity activist.

In Gaza on May 15, IDF border forces killed a Palestinian National Security Forces officer fleeing Fatah-Hamas armed clashes with US and Israeli fingerprints all over this renewed fighting aimed at toppling the unity government. To do it, Fatah security forces were supplied with millions of dollars in funding, weapons and Egyptian-based training for this type operation ebbing and flowing with renewed fighting erupting on any pretext when cease-fires break down.

On May 16, Israeli forces killed three Executive Force members of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior. They also wounded 27 other Palestinians (including two journalists and a civilian bystander) by Israeli air attacks on a Rafah Executive Force site. On the same day, two Hamas members were killed and three others wounded by air attacks in northern Gaza. Earlier on May 10, IDF forces near Khan Yunis burnt large areas of Palestinian agricultural land in Khuza'a village in a deliberate act of military vandalism.

Also, on May 10, the IDF attacked Israeli solidarity and Palestinian civilian and international activists' peaceful demonstration protesting the construction of the Annexation/Apartheid wall in Bal'ein village west of Ramallah wounding three Palestinian adults, one child and a Swiss solidarity activist. On May 13, an Israeli settlement guard shot from "zero range" wounding a Palestinian taxi driver.

From May 10 - 17, IDF forces conducted at least 26 military incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank arresting 41 civilians including seven children. That brings the number of Palestinians arrested in the West Bank alone this year to 1,164. Israeli forces also demolished one home and arrested two Palestinians in Gaza. Throughout this period, the IDF continued imposing a tightened siege on the OPT severely restricting movement including in occupied East Jerusalem and at border crossings through which essential humanitarian goods and services must have access but often don't when most needed.

The important Rafah International Crossing Point has been closed since June 25, 2006 except for three days. Because of this and other crossing point restrictions, markets aren't getting food, stores aren't getting goods, and hospitals don't have vital medical supplies, with most Palestinian patients unable to travel to them in Israel or the OPT anyway as needed. In addition, Palestinians have been prevented from fishing in the Mediterranean for nearly one year depriving them of their livelihood and the people of the food they harvest from the sea.

In recent days, Israel launched heavy air strikes against Hamas government Gaza targets killing 36 mostly Palestinian civilians and wounding 97 others through May 21 as well as destroying dozens of homes and parliamentary sites. This is on top of renewed Israeli-instigated Fatah-Hamas armed clashes in Gaza killing 47 and injuring scores more through May 19. On May 18, independent Palestinian writer Laila El-Haddad wrote on the Electronic Intifada web site of a recent "terrifying 24 hours (with) sporadic gunfire and ghostly streets."

She mentioned a phone call from her father describing a (US-supplied F-16-caused) "tremendous explosion (sending) intense shockwaves through our blasted off the windows from my cousin's home in the neighbourhood behind us. This attack was followed by another then another, and then another." There were six Israeli (F-16) air strikes in one morning with "Israeli tanks....amassing at Gaza's northern border, and unmanned Israeli drones whirring menacingly overhead in great numbers patrolling ghostly skies....preparing..for yet another strike against an already bleeding, burning, and battered Gaza" from Israeli terror attacks.

Tony Karon, writing in the Electronic Intifada May 15, notes the current conflict "has assumed a momentum of its own" Palestinian leaders are unable to contain because Washington and Israel want it that way in the wake of Hamas' victory in the January, 2006 elections. He then adds ominously this may end up "turning Gaza into Mogadishu" just the way the Bush administration is now "busy turning Mogadishu into Mogadishu all over again."

The "If Americans Knew" web site also publishes and keeps current shocking information on the daily toll in the OPT. Some of its disturbing figures affecting Palestinians from September 29, 2000 (the first day of the Second Intifada) to the present at the hands of Israeli forces are as follows:

-- 934 Palestinian children have been killed in most cases while engaging in normal daily activities like going to school, playing, shopping, or being in their homes. PCHR reports a total of 4284 Palestinian deaths through March 23, 2007.

-- A known total of 31,307 Palestinians have been injured, mostly civilians, and mostly under the same circumstances children were killed. The B'Tselem Israeli Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories reports these numbers are extremely conservative while the internationally respected Palestine Red Crescent Society reports much higher totals that are likely more accurate. In addition, these figures exclude large numbers of Palestinians who die when unable to reach medical care in time because of Israeli checkpoints, road closures, curfews and other restrictions on mobility in the OPT. Also, no accurate records are available on the large number of avoidable Palestinian deaths resulting from deprivation and/or disease following the first time ever imposition of sanctions on an occupied people from early 2006 to the present.

-- The cite reports US financial aid to Israel is $7,023,288 per day, but the true number is far higher including:

- around $3 billion or more annually in direct aid;

- billions more in loans as needed;

- millions annually for immigrant resettlement;

- multi-billions in waved loan repayments;

- billions more in military aid, financial help to develop Israel's defense industry, transfer of state-of-the-art technology and the latest US weapons, and US guarantees for Israel's access to oil;

- $22 billion Israel got over the past 50 years through the sale of its below-market paying bonds that have financed half its development - meaning the colonization of annexed Palestinian land; military aid for its imperial aggressive wars; and still more as needed and requested.

Tiny Israel today (with six million Jews) gets more US financial aid (in all direct and indirect forms) than all other countries in the world combined.

In addition, a 2006 "Washington Report" piece by Shirl McArthur estimated the minimal amount of US aid to Israel since 1948 in an article titled "A Conservative Estimate of Total US Aid to Israel: $108 billion." Again, the true number is far higher. Over the same period to the present, US aid to the Palestinians was "zero" except what's supplied for "security" for Israel and now to aid quisling Fatah forces fight the democratically elected Hamas government Israel, Washington and the West won't recognize.

-- Israel has been targeted by at least 65 UN resolutions ignoring them all. The Palestinians have been targeted by none.

-- One Israeli corporal is held prisoner by the Palestinians. At least 10,756 Palestinians are now imprisoned by Israel, most held on "administrative" or no charge, and according to the B'Tselem Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories the great majority of them are abused or tortured. PCHR reports from 1967 through 1994 alone, 775,000 Palestinians were imprisoned for periods ranging from one week to life.

The Israeli human rights organization HaMoked Center for the Defense of the Individual confirms this in an April, 2007 report it jointly published with B'Tselem titled "Utterly Forbidden - The Torture and Ill-Treatment of Palestinian Detainees. It's based on testimonies of dozens of Palestinians arrested, interrogated and tortured by Israel's ISA, formerly known as the General Security Service. In addition, even Israeli authorities openly admit using "exceptional" interrogation methods and "physical pressure" against Palestinian detainees that translated means "torture." However, B'Tselem reports the State Attorney's Office "covers up these illegal acts, thereby assisting in the breach of international law and of High Court of Justice's prohibitions."

It hardly needs mentioning international laws ban torture for any reason, but it never deterred Israel or the US from using it freely. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights outlawed it in 1948. The Fourth Geneva Convention banned any form of "physical or mental coercion" in 1949 requiring detainees at all times to be treated humanely. The European Convention affirmed this in 1950, and in 1984, the UN Convention Against Torture became the first binding international instrument dealing exclusively with banning torture in any form for any reason. Israel and the US both have contempt for international law mutually affirming the other's right to act as it pleases with no protests heard in the West or hardly anywhere else.

-- 4170 Palestinian homes have been demolished according to a B'Tselem November 15, 2004 report titled "Through No Fault of Their Own." The Israeli Committee Against House Demotions (ICAHD) reports a far larger number calling them "the hallmark of the Occupation." It cites the demolition of around 12,000 Palestinian homes (on their own land in their own country) since June, 1967 to the present, leaving about 70,000 Palestinians "without shelter and traumatized."

B'Tselem reports three types of demolitions:

-- 1. As "clearing operations" to meet Israeli "military needs."

-- 2. Administration demolitions of houses built "without a permit" meaning Israel won't let Palestinians build homes on their own land.

-- 3. Demolitions for punitive reasons against Palestinians "suspected" of attacking Israeli (occupying) soldiers or civilians. In many cases, adjacent homes are destroyed as well.

PCHR reports other destruction of land and property from September 29, 2000 through June, 2005 including 31,500 dunums (31.5 million square meters) of mostly agricultural land in Gaza or 10% of the territory's arable land total. Israel seized the land for illegal settlement development. In addition, 656 businesses, factories and schools were either destroyed or damaged over this period.

-- World Bank data estimates Palestinian unemployment at 40%. The true figure, however, is much higher, at least 70% and likely higher still, while available employment is grossly inadequate to meet essential human needs in most cases. It's the result of Israeli and western political and economic sanctions imposed on the democratically elected Hamas government after January, 2006. It was the first time ever an occupied people were put under a virtual midieval siege in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention obligating the international community to protect an occupied civilian population. Instead, a state of belligerency was imposed causing chaos and mass human misery, deprivation, starvation, illness and disease so far unaddressed and worsening. Almost none of this is reported in the dominant western media.

As early as June 28, 2002, PCHR reported 40 - 50% of Palestinians were living below the internationally recognized poverty line of $2 a day with the figure in Gaza 81%. Two-thirds of them were called the "new poor," having been impoverished since the outbreak of the Second Intifada September 29, 2000. Nearly five years later, the figures are far higher.

-- Israel currently has over 400,000 Jews living in 121 Jewish-only settlements and 102 "outposts" on stolen Palestinian land violating Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention stating "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population in the territory it occupies." The number continues growing with deputy Jerusalem mayor Yehoshua Pollack announcing in May 20,000 new homes will be built in Arab East Jerusalem on more land annexed from its legal residents Israel is systematically ethnically cleasning toward making the entire city 100% Jewish.

In addition, 500 more houses will be built in Abu Dis village, southeast of Jerusalem with new home construction aimed at creating territorial continuity between Jerusalem and "Gush Etzion" settlement bloc, south of Bethlehem, and between Jerusalem and "Beit Eil" settlement, north of Ramallah. Toward the same end, the Israeli government allocated $1.5 billion in US taxpayer aid May 13 to developing Jerusalem settlement neighborhoods to reduce an increasing Palestinian population in the city.

At the same time, Palestinians in Salama and Fqaiqees villages, east and south of "Noghohot" settlement, west of Hebron, were ordered to stop building 10 houses and a mosque on their own land in their own country. Then on May 11, Israeli settlers in "Sousia" setttlement, south of Hebron, attacked Palestinian farmers on their agricultural land near the settlement without provocation.

End the Illegal Occupation Now

For 40 years under occupation on one-fifth of their original land and nearly 60 years after the "Nakba," Palestinians are forced to endure the most appalling repression no one should have to face for a single day. Five million of them, including 1.4 million Israeli citizens, are denied all rights afforded Jews only and are subjected to daily abuse and neglect along with regular IDF assaults against which they're defenseless. The Palestinians suffer for it, and the world community is silent except, like Israel, to shamefully call the victims the victimizers.

Then there are the five million refugees in the Palestinian diaspora (by some estimates the number is seven million) including 260,000 internally displaced and living inside Israel. Those outside the country are denied the absolute universal "Right of Return" affirmed in UN Resolution 194 passed in December, 1948 resolving that "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property....made good by the Governments or authorities responsible."

This "Universal Right" was also established in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as various Geneva Conventions Israel won't recognize just as it ignores over five dozen UN resolutions condemning or censuring it for its actions against the Palestinians or other Arab people, deploring it for committing them, or demanding, calling on or urging the Jewish state to end them. One of them was UN Resolution 273 passed May, 1949 giving Israel UN membership conditional on its implementing Resolutions 181 of November, 1947 partitioning Palestine 56 - 44% in its favor and 194 passed December, 1948 giving Palestinians their absolute universally accepted "Right of Return."

From 1948, when Palestinians lost 78% of their homeland, to 1967 when they lost the rest to a hostile foreign occupier, to the present, life in the OPT has been oppressive, intolerable and criminally imposed on a defenseless people helpless against it and unsupported ever since in their courageous struggle for liberation one day they'll achieve because they'll never give up till they have what they rightfully and legally deserve. For 40 years under occupation they have no recognized state of their own, no right of citizenship, and no power over their daily lives.

They live in a constant state of fear in the virtual open-air prisons of Gaza and the West Bank under Israel's racist apartheid laws even the Israeli High Court shamefully upholds. They're strangled economically and politically; denied free movement in their own country from a structure of roadblocks, checkpoints, electric fences and a land-grabbing "Apartheid Separation wall" the World Court in the Hague ruled (14 - 1) is "contrary to international law" because it "destroyed and (illegally) confiscated" property, it greatly restricts Palestinian movement, and it "severely impedes the exercise by the Palestinian people of (the) right to self-determination."

For its Jewish citizens, Israel is nominally democratic, although far from perfect at the least. For its Arab Muslim and small Christian population, it's a daily struggle for survival under the harshest conditions of all kinds imaginable those outside the territories and most Jews in Israel can't possibly understand and too few even try. For 40 brutal years, Israel has illegally controlled all aspects of Palestinian life in the OPT with an iron fist it freely swings on the slightest pretext. It cantonized the indigenous population under deplorable conditions in refugee camps and bantustans surrounded and cut off from all other ones. It rules defenseless people by intimidation and repressive military might. It denies Palestinian people their right to a truly sovereign independent state and won't allow Muslims, Christians and other non-Jewish legal residents in greater Israel the same rights as Jews including the right of citizenship and safety under one sovereign nation for everyone entitled to it.

Israel claims it wants peace but never negotiated in good faith to get it. The current so-called "road map" is a cruel hoax going nowhere. It's as fraudulent as all other phony peace efforts before it. Beginning with Camp David in 1978, the US bribed Egypt with billions in "baksheesh" in return for peace with Israel leaving Palestinians out in the cold. The predictable result was festering anger that exploded in what became the First Intifada in 1987 killing hundreds of Palestinians that finally led to the Oslo Accords and their so-called Declaration of Principles in 1993. Under them, Israel got what it wanted giving back nothing more in return than the right of Palestinians to be Israeli enforcers in their own land. So highly touted and praised when signed, it offered no Right of Return, no independent Palestinian state, no portion of Jerusalem as a capital, and no Palestinian control over their own daily lives free from a foreign occupier. From then till now, things only got worse.

Oslo I led to Oslo II in 1995 that divided the West Bank into the way it exists today in Areas "A," "B," "C," and "D"; "H-1" and "H-2" in Hebron; nature reserves (in the OPT) for Jews only; closed military areas; security zones; and "open green spaces" for Jewish-only housing developments in over half of Arab East Jerusalem (slowly being stolen entirely) leaving Palestinians confined to unconnected cantons surrounded by growing Israeli settlements, restricted roads, and all kinds of impediments restricting free movement preventing any semblance of normal daily life.

So-called "permanent status" talks then began in July, 2000 at Camp David resulting in another insulting betrayal. Portrayed in the West as a generous offer in good faith, it was, in fact, just another example of US-Israeli duplicity leaving out entirely what Palestinians most want - a free and sovereign state or a single multi-ethnic one with Jews and Palestinians having equal rights, the Right of Return, a portion of Jerusalem as a capital or the entire city as capital for both, and an end to foreign occupation. All that was offered in exchange for "peace" Israeli-style is what they now have - life locked down in unconnected cantons on mostly scrub land in virtual open-air prisons surrounded by expanding Israeli settlements continuing to encroach on Palestinian lands fast disappearing as Israelis take what they want dunum by dunum.

Again justifiable festering anger erupted into the Second (al-Aqsa Mosque) Intifada in September, 2000 following former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's provocative visit to the holy al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem (the Noble Sanctuary for Muslims and Temple Mount for Jews and Christians). It became far worse following elections for Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) seats on January 25, 2006 when, fed up with years of Fatah-led corruption and betrayal, Palestinians democratically elected a Hamas government Israel, Washington and the West acted savagely against since to destroy because its leaders won't act as a quisling government the way Fatah's Yasser Arafat and current Fatah Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, and his powerful National Security Advisor and "Gaza warlord," Mohammed Dahlan (controlling Fatah security forces), were always willing to do and Abbas and especially Dahlan still are. For Hamas' courage and dedication to their people, the Palestinians have paid dearly ever since and still do. This must end.

It's long past time people of conscience everywhere take a public stand and demand 40 years of illegal repressive occupation end so Palestinians can finally have what all people have a right to expect and demand - to live freely in their own land the way international law mandates with nations supporting it accepting nothing less.

Palestinians and their legions of supporters worldwide aren't waiting for conflict resolution that won't ever come unless enough committed people everywhere demand their leaders act on it. A growing effort is building to convince them by calling for an organized global campaign for boycott, divestment and political and economic sanctions against Israel the same way they developed in the 1980s against the South African apartheid state that finally brought results.

It must include a demand that the world community of nations ends the "last taboo" of silence when it comes to Israel. It must be willing to expose and denounce what no longer can be tolerated that current South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils calls worse than apartheid saying Israel "behav(es) like fascists when they do certain things (like attacking Palestinians with helicopter gunships and tanks)." What better time to do what Kasrils is surely calling for than on the 40th anniversary of the longest continuous occupation in the world that no longer can be tolerated.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen each Saturday to the Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on at noon US central time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Review of End Times

A Review of Alexander Cockburn's and Jeffrey St. Clair's End Times - by Stephen Lendman

Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair are both veteran journalists and authors doing the kind of muckraking political and other investigative writing only found in the US online and in out-of-the-mainstream publications and political newsletters like the one they co-publish and edit - CounterPunch with its counterpart web site of the same name.

Cockburn is also a regular columnist with The Nation magazine, and his writings appear regularly in the New York Free Press and Los Angeles Times. He formerly wrote extensively for numerous other publications as well including the Wall Street Journal's far right editorial page oddly in the 1980s when its late editor Bob Bartley decided to have an alternate point of view and certainly got an exceptional one the mirror opposite of the array of extremist hard right contributors he allowed regular space to all the time as does his successor today. Cockburn's also authored, co-authored and co-edited 18 books, the latest one being "End Times - The Death of the Fourth Estate," along with co-author St. Clair, and subject of this review.

St. Clair has authored, co-authored and co-edited 10 books including his powerful and extraordinary post-9/11 2005 expose of war profiteering - Grand Theft Pentagon - Tales of Corruption and Profiteering in the War on Terror. He's also worked as an environmental organizer and activist, writes for the environmental magazine Forest Watch, the Anderson Valley Advertiser, and has written for Friends of the Earth, Clean Water Action Project and his native state Hoosier Environmental Council. In addition, he's a contributing editor of In These Times magazine and has written for The Nation, The Progressive, New Left Review and other publications.

End Times - A Collection of Essays from Cockburn and St. Clair On the Dismal State of the Dominant Print Media

"End Times - The Death of the Fourth Estate" is a collection of 50 wide-ranging essays written in recent years under six topic headings, mostly by Cockburn and St. Clair with a few by other contributors, on the dismal state of the corporate print media today. They were dominant at their zenith in the mid-1970s Pentagon Papers - Watergate era but now, the authors say, are in an inevitable state of decline agreeing with media mogul (Cockburn-labeled "WORLD-SCALE MONSTER") Rupert Murdock's characterization of a long twilight at best.

Even more, their current state is symptomatic of our overall societal decay with unprecedented wealth disparities, the nation in endless wars of illegal aggression, predatory corporate giants ruling the world, and our democracy on life support heading for the crematorium to be heralded on arrival in front page coverage of the nation's leading purveyors of "news unfit to print." This review covers the authors account of their decline at a time noted historian Gabriel Kolko calls "the most dangerous period in mankind's entire history" when the kind of news and information we most need isn't served up by the dominant fourth estate suppressing it in service to power. The essence and flavor of the book is covered with selected examples from it in an age of media concentration, deregulation and "in-bed-with" journalists posing as the real thing.

The book came out at a time public distrust for traditional print and electronic news is increasing as growing numbers of people, hungry for real information, are turning to alternate sources including a new, vibrant world of them online like CounterPunch the authors say gets around three million daily hits, 300,000 page views, and 100,000 unique visitors including 15,000 regular US military readers stationed around the world, a sign many thousands more of them visit other sites like CounterPunch and pass on what they learn to others. A hopeful, but not certain, indication of a growing trend too powerful to stop. More on that at the end.

The Fourth Estate "tremble for Power," the authors state, acting instead as "Accomplices in the great and ongoing Cover-up of Everything that Really Matters" that destroys their reliability to deliver real news and information. Still, as End Times contributor Ken Silverstein (co-founder with Alex Cockburn of CounterPunch in 1993) writes, there were moments when broadsheet papers like the Washington Post (New York Times and others) did what their readers want and expect - their job reporting the news and enough of it in depth from investigative work unimaginable today in an age of lies, cover-up and "journalism" being just another profit center. Silverstein cites late fall 1974 as the Washington Post's time of "supreme triumph" post-Watergate after reporters Woodward and Bernstein took credit toppling Richard Nixon who did a pretty good job doing it to himself the way George Bush is trying to match today.

From its brief time of triumph forward, it's been all downhill since with the corporate media now concentrated and dominant and little more than our national thought-control police gatekeepers daily serving up a full plate of pap and propaganda suppressing real news "fit to print" but hardly ever is or at least where it's easy to find. That's the dismal state of the prominent print press today End Times writes about drawing lots of blood dissecting it, example by example, showing it's doing what 1920s intellectual writer and dean of journalists in his day, Walter Lippmann, called the "manufacture of (public) consent" in a nominally democratic state where it can't be done by force.

"Manufacturing Consent" was the title used by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky for their landmark 1988 book explaining the dominant media's "propaganda model" to program the public mind to go along with whatever agenda best serves the power structure. It was also the subject noted author, academic and social critic Michael Parenti chose for his 1986 book "Inventing Reality" explaining how they "set(ting) the agenda, defining what it is we must believe or disbelieve, accept or reject (by) defining the scope of respectable political discourse, channeling public attention in directions that are essentially supportive of the existing political-economic system." In other words, the idea is to make us submissive good citizens willing to go along with whatever agenda the supreme rulers of the universe wish even if their interests harm ours.

Today, prominent broadsheets like the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and New York Times (along with publications they own) have a virtual stranglehold on mass print communication along with major publishers of large-scale circulation magazines like Time and US News and World Report. They're able to use their reach and influence (even ebbing) to destroy the free marketplace of ideas vital to a healthy democracy now on life support at best in large measure from the damage these papers and magazines inflict on the body politic.

The Washington Post's Fall from Grace

Ken Silverstein explained "The Fall of the Washington Post" when Katherine Graham ran the paper and in 1974 signaled Watergate-type exposes and similar reporting no longer were welcome in the press she felt " rather careful about its role." She called for a return to basics with journalists behaving more deferentially to the powerful figures they covered. And so they have with assistant managing editor Bob Woodward of Watergate fame now fawning over George
Bush in books like Bush at War and Plan of Attack, former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan in Maestro, and others best ignored.

Cockburn and St. Clair continue the saga in Woodward at Court saying first off "It's been a devastating fall for what are conventionally regarded as the nation's two premier newspapers, the New York Times and the Washington Post." The Times saw its "star reporter" Judith Miller fall from grace, and the Post faced the challenge of dealing with its famed staffer's multiple conflicts of interests including his formerly concealed (to the public and his bosses) role in the outing of Joe Wilson's wife Valerie Plame when she worked at CIA.

In an embarrassing climb-down, Woodward had to testify in a two-hour deposition to Special Council Patrick Fitzgerald whom he denounced on TV the night before Lewis Libby's indictment in the case as "a junkyard dog of a prosecutor" in his post-Watergate role as chief flatterer of George Bush and other powerful Washington figures. Cockburn and St. Clair speculated whether Woodward's high level (unrevealed) source for the Plame leak was Dick Cheney ending their article referring to Woodward going "From Nixon's nemesis to Cheney's savior," but the same can be said for the kind of empire-supportive "journalism" found all through the dominant press, especially on issues like war and peace.

The "Dogs of War"

The authors devote a whole section to it called "The Dogs of War." In it we learn how easily journalists are corrupted so news can be managed to deliver only favorable accounts of some of the most appalling events. Even more stunning is the authors citing a 1977 Rolling Stone Carl Bernstein story estimating more than 400 journalists were allied in some way with the CIA between 1956 and 1972 leaving readers to wonder how many do it now in the age of George Bush when anything goes and the law of the land is just an artifact.

Joe Trento's "Secret History of the CIA," published in 2001 and cited in "End Times," gave us an idea of its extent earlier naming big names involved in a CIA operation code-named "Mockingbird," not too subtlety picked using a bird known to mimic the calls of other birds. Noted syndicated columnist through the 1970s Joseph Alsop was one of them along with his brother Stewart. Other notables "willing to promote the views of the CIA" included Ben Bradlee (Newsweek and Washington Post), James "Scotty" Reston (New York Times), Charles Douglas Jackson (Time magazine), and Walter Pincus (Washington Post), among others.

The section also includes St. Clair's article How to Sell a War. It makes powerful reading, and he's right observing it'll be remembered for how it was sold, not how it was waged. It will also be remembered for portraying an illegal lost cause as a noble undertaking. St. Clair explains it was a propaganda war, designed by PR experts, promoted by spin doctors, all aimed at us as the target audience ingesting it like mother's milk - at least most of us long enough to get the war machine rolling and be too far along to be recalled - until eventually and inevitably it is because the best-laid plans turned to mush.

In charge were people like ad maven Charlotte Beers appointed Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (aka pre-war propaganda) for her known business skills as "a grand diva of spin." Fortune magazine featured her among the most powerful women in America in 1997 for her achievements advertising the merits of Uncle Ben's Rice and Head and Shoulders shampoo. The Bush administration naturally thought she could sell America to the Muslim world in her Brand America campaign as well as she could peddle over-the-counter products to gullible consumers. She fleeced the taxpayers a whopping $500 million trying, stayed on from October, 2001 till just before the March, 2003 "shock and awe" assault began mistakenly thinking the war was won before the real fireworks began.

St. Clair explained tens of millions more went into prepping the public on Saddam's danger to the free world and why he had to be removed before "the smoking gun" we saw turned out "to be a mushroom-shaped cloud" according to National Security Advisor at the time Condoleezza Rice. Topping the threat-sellers was Washington heavy-hitting hired gun and "Beltway fixer" John Rendon, head of the Rendon Group. He's been around Washington for years and earlier got the Bush administration's assignment to sell the Afghanistan bombing, following up with a host of PR schemes on Saddam and Iraq, pre and post-March, 2003. He flopped convincing the UN and NATO pre-war but had no trouble duping the US public long enough to convince them blowing up Iraq was the best way to save it and end up being be safer at home.

St. Clair also reviews the role of other players in the scheme to sell war and occupation including the one played by PR firm Hill & Knowlton's Victoria Clark in her role at DOD as PR assistant secretary to Donald Rumsfeld and other assorted players in the media like writer and accomplished liar Laurie Mylroie, the Post's Charles Krauthammer, Max Boot, and the lead role played out daily on the New York Times' front pages mainly by now discredited and fired Judith Miller.

Cockburn devoted a chapter to her deservedly. He titled it well - Judith Miller: Weapon of Mass Destruction. Indeed she was and then some, and it's arguable that without this now disgraced former Times' reporter (or someone else in her shoes) there might not have been an Iraq war. Miller was part of the scheme from the get-go serving up a daily serving of propaganda in what media critic Norman Solomon calls "the most valuable square inches of media real estate in the USA" - the Times' front page.

Miller introduced us to Khidir Hamza, Saddam's self-proclaimed bomb-maker, later outed as a fraud. She kept at it daily using as her key source leading Iraqi exile and known fraudster/schemer Ahmed Chalabi. She also was little more than a Bush administration/ Pentagon stenographer/cheerleader transmitting their lies and deceptions to the public effectively enough to sell a war based on administration lies and hers that never should have happened with many in the Washington power structure now wishing it hadn't.

Cockburn writes about her: "With Miller we sink to the level of straight press handout. Lay all Judith Miller....stories end to end, from late 2001 to June, 2003, and you get a desolate picture of a reporter with an agenda, both manipulating and being manipulated by US government officials, Iraqi exiles and defectors, an entire Noah's Ark of scam-artists." And he added most of what she wrote was "garbage, garbage that powered the Bush administration's propaganda drive toward invasion....She knew what she was doing." One thing she didn't or left out was Ben Franklin's take on wars that "There's no such thing as a good war and there is no such thing as a bad peace." Case close, and well said about a woman who disgracefully won a Pulizer Prize for her reporting Cockburn and others demand be thunderously withdrawn to complete a full defrocking.

The killing fields for unembedded independent journalists in Iraq was covered as well. It's been notorious (the worst in the world by far) with over 130 "wrongful deaths" reported since March, 2003 including those deliberately targeted for elimination by US or other forces to silence them. In times of war, the first casualty is always truth with corporate media "embeds" obliging to keep it that way, and the Pentagon ready to target anyone reporting what Washington wants suppressed. It was covered in Christopher Reed's contribution titled Have Journalists Been Deliberately Murdered by the US Military along with examples by Cockburn and St. Clair in their essays. Reed mentions Britain's Independent Television News (ITN) senior unembedded war correspondent Terry Lloyd killed near Basra on the third day of the war. A court of law ruled on his case calling it "Unlawful homicide" at the hands of US Marines, but his deliberate targeting is only one among many others.

Al-Jazeera was first targeted in November, 2001 when a US missile destroyed its Kabul offices in Afghanistan. It was no accident. The Pentagon repeatedly harasses the Arab news channel in Iraq as well, occasionally closed it down, and in 2003 attacked its Baghdad offices by air killing one of its correspondents and injuring another. One other example of willful murder was veteran camerman Mazen Dana targeted by a US tank in broad daylight while he filmed outside Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. Still another time, a US tank, with no provocation, fired point blank at the Palestine Hotel housing most unembedded international journalists killing reporters from Reuters and the Spanish network Telecino.

Thankfully, in spite of clear dangers to their safety, independent unembedded journalists (like Alex's brother Patrick Cockburn) are getting out real news on the war so others like Reed, A. Cockburn and St. Clair can help spread it to many others here at home and around the world. None of it shows up though in the "newspaper of record" the authors devote a whole section to with examples below.

The Long Ugly Record of the New York Times

The New York Times calls itself the "newspaper of record" reporting "All the News That's fit to Print." A more accurate label would be the closest thing in the commercial media to an official ministry of information and propaganda. Former longtime NYT journalist John Hess said it this way: "(I) never saw a foreign intervention that the Times did not support, never saw a utility increase that it did not endorse, never saw it take the side of labor in a strike or lockout, or advocate a raise for underpaid workers. And don't get me started on universal health care and Social Security. So why do people think the Times is liberal?"

Cockburn had plenty to say about the Times as well, and reflected in his Rosenthal's Times essay on AM Rosenthal's passing in May, 2006 saying he "saved" the Times as Executive Editor in the 1970s enhancing its coverage at the same time "sow(ing) the seeds for the Times' present difficulties" fostering the likes of Judith Miller and the rest of the paper's staff who knew what the boss wanted and dared not deliver under Rosenthal through the mid-1980s and for his successors thereafter.

The Times wanted war in Iraq and served up generous helpings of lies to get it with Michael Gordon helping Miller report phony stories like the aluminum tubes for uranium enrichment one that was pure baloney and lots of others in a daily drumbeat of scare-talk misinformation. When everything began unravelling, the best the Times could do was offer "a few strangled croaks" in an 1100 word editorial climb-down never even mentioning the lead role Miller played making the case for war that disgraced the Times and got her fired.

The Times is also notorious for rewriting history when their fraudulent "first draft" of it unravels. They did it last September claiming "the 'possibility' that Saddam Hussein 'might' develop 'weapons of mass destruction' and pass them to terrorists was the prime reason Mr. Bush gave in 2003 for ordering the invasion of Iraq." Miller's reports of clear evidence he had them pre-war is now only a "possibility" according to Times-speak. This kind of revisionism is standard practice at the NYT and one more example of its shameless deference to power.

Earlier, Cockburn and St. Clair reported an egregious example in what they called "one of the greatest humiliations of a national newspaper in the history of journalism." It was about the Times' key role framing Wen Ho Lee beginning March 6, 1999 in the James Risen/Jeff Gerth Breach at Los Alamos story claiming an unnamed lab scientist gave the Chinese People's Republic stolen nuclear secrets. It got Lee arrested, fired and held without bail in solitary confinement for 278 days ending when he pleaded guilty to the watered-down charge of improperly downloading Restricted Data with Judge James A. Parker apologizing for the government's "abuse of power" the Times could never admit responsibility for.

Then there's the Cockburn - St. Clair piece on NYT Kid Glove Journalism on the NSA's Illegal Spying without warrants violating the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) requiring them. The Times held off reporting the story for a year staying mute in deference to the Bush administration's request, then leaving out a full account of it when it finally did.

Endless examples could be given of the Times' betrayal of the public trust in service to power. A striking one goes back to the 1945 writing of science reporter William Laurence on the Manhattan Project, who along with his Times assignment was also on the War Department payroll as a PR consultant/cheerleader-propagandist writing press releases on the atomic weapons program. His job was to mislead the public initially covering-up what actually happened at the first atomic bomb Alamogordo, NM test. From there, it was to sell the program, lie about the Hiroshima/Nagasaki horror on the ground, and then deny what historian-attorney Jonathan M. Weisgall later called the "silent nuclear terror of radioactivity and radiation" and that radiation sickness killed people. He was such a good liar, he won a Pulitzer Prize for it and got to fly on the plane that bombed Nagasaki, later describing it in the Times with religious awe. But the Times duplicity didn't end there.

Beverly Ann Deepe Keever, in her 2004 book "News Zero," documented the central role the Times played for years thereafter creating false and misleading perceptions about the nature and dangers of nuclear power in any form and the deadly effects of radiation. More than any other source, the Times willfully and deceitfully misled the public, opinion leaders, production workers, uranium miners, US servicemen exposed to radiation, Pacific islanders exposed to tests, and everyone living near nuclear test sites or where nuclear materials are produced, processed or used. To this day, little has changed at the Times in how it reports on this vital issue it's complicit in keeping its readers in the dark about.

More examples of Times duplicity involve the paper's one-sided support for all things business because it's a major player itself in the corporate giant community. So it showed strong support for NAFTA even though it was clear before it passed it would cause hundreds of thousands of job losses in its three signatory countries including many high-paying US ones.

Earlier it was late on major stories like the 1980s Savings and Loan scandal and then tepid reporting how excess banking deregulation and concessions to Wall Street caused it. It was the same covering the 1991 Bank of Credit and Commerce (BCCI) $20 billion + heist scandal, and since March, 2003 it failed to report on the misuse of multi-billions of taxpayer dollars by the likes of Halliburton, Bechtel, the entire defense establishment, and other war profiteers benefitting hugely from the scheme in Afghanistan and Iraq. But readers of this review can get the whole ugly story told stunningly in St. Clair's 2005 book "Grand Theft Pentagon" that shows how profitable wars are and why we fight so many of them.

Such is the state of the leading newspaper on the planet today saying a lot about how bad the rest of the dominant media are. Cockburn explained part of the problem in his essay on the Post's Katherine Graham titled She Needed Fewer (political) Friends. They dined at her Georgetown home and turned out in force for her July, 2001 funeral because she was one of them. Long before it corrupted Graham's Post, it was how business was done at the Times best remembered during James "Scotty" Reston's prime years, the most influential, widely-read journalist of his time. He walked easily in the halls of power, befriended its denizens, and tainted his objectivity by giving them free reign to do almost anything without fear they'd be held to account for it by him.

Today, fourth estate elites' values are the same as the figures they cover because they'd paid so well for their work. It stands to reason they want to protect their high salaries and prominent positions by never biting the powerful hands feeding them. They, and their younger up-and-coming aspirants, have what Cockburn calls a built-in "compass in their heads" to know what to do and how to please the boss. Any divergence could mean "swift and disastrous retribution" with reassignment to the Siberia of obit writing or an invitation to find another line of work in an age when it's hard telling the difference between prostitution and so-called journalism corporate media-style.

More Examples of the Fourth Estate's Fall from Grace

The authors' book is wide-ranging and full of examples of fourth estate betraying the public trust precipitating its fall from grace. Rare exceptions aside, the dominant media never report what the authors published in their stunning 1998 book "Whiteout" about the CIA's long history of involvement in and profiting hugely from drugs trafficking. In his essay What You Can't Say, Cockburn explained the book "protrayed Uncle Sam's true face (that CIA was) Not a rogue agency but one always following the dictates of government, murdering, torturing, poisoning, drugging its own subjects, approving acts of monstrous cruelty" developed by Nazis recruited to America post-war.

Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Gary Webb said it too and got mainstream space in Knight Ridder's flagship San Jose Mercury News doing it for his 1996 Dark Alliance 20,000 word three-part series later expanded into his 550 page 1999 book with the same title. It involved CIA, the Nicaraguan Contras in the 1980s, and the distribution of crack cocaine in Los Angeles at the time. It got him national attention, and what the authors call "one of the most venomous and factually inane assaults on a professional journalist's competence in living memory" by his colleagues at the New York Times, Washington Post, Washington Times, LA Times, American Journalism Review with even the "progressive" Nation magazine piling on (dis)courtesy of its contributor David Corn who poses as a liberal but often doesn't act like one. It cost Webb his career and marriage and finally his life in an apparent suicide in December, 2004 the result of his depression because his career was ruined.

The authors also wrote about The History of "Black Paranoia" that's easily justified from the long history of white on black abuse. One example was the 600 poor black men recruited in 1932 in Macon County, Alabama for a US Public Health Service study for which they used as guinea pigs. Four hundred were infected with syphillis, were lied to and told they were being treated for bad blood, and only got an aspirin-iron supplement so researchers could monitor the natural progression of the disease. After penicillin was available as a cure in 1943, the study subjects never got it and 100 of them died from neglect with an overdose of racism. The authors quote Dr. Vanessa Gamble, associate professor of history of medicine at University of Wisconsin, Madison, saying these kinds of experiments go back over 100 years usually "done by whites on slaves and free blacks" than on poor whites.

Then there's the ugly history of snooping on blacks most notoriously done by the FBI against Martin Luther King and the infamous COINTELPRO program begun in 1956. J. Edgar Hoover said it was to "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize (meaning assassinate)" black organizations like the Black Panthers the FBI wanted to destroy and pretty much did.

The Nixon foray on drugs and later Reagan-Bush-Clinton one and now GW Bush all out war on them is really a war on blacks mainly. It led to the US having the largest prison population in the world at over 2.2 million with over 1000 new prisoners put in cages each week in a burgeoning prison-industrial complex that's now big business exceeding $40 billion annually and rising with blacks being the main source of revenue for it. Blacks account for half the prison population, over half of them are there for non-violent offenses, and half of those are drug-related. While inside, these and other prisoners are exploited by private contractors as de facto chattel making them the cheapest, easiest source of near-free labor this side of slavery and one more reason why "black paranoia" is real.

Other examples show it, too, with contributor Ishmael Reed writing on How the (white-controlled) Media Use Blacks to Chastise Blacks letting them say and write the kinds of things they can more easily get away with without being called racists. A lot of it is blaming the victim the way Reagan administration officials did it to impoverished single black mothers demonizing them as "welfare queens" to help justify Reagan's assault on essential social services he saw no need for.

Add to it the way elections are now held with voter roles cleansed of blacks along with their being intimidated the way they were in Florida with many prevented from getting to the polls, others turned away after arriving, and still more legitimate black voters obstructed with long lines, too few voting machines and precincts closing early to keep black people from voting "the wrong way." The fourth estate turned a blind eye, but St. Clair wrote about it in his essay What You Didn't Read About the Black Vote in Florida. He used the characterization Edward Herman chose for his 1984 book "Demonstration Elections" saying the process "demonstrated how rotten the whole system is" throughout the country.

Then there's torture the authors say is As American as Apple Pie that goes on routinely in the home-based US Gulag Prison System this reviewer wrote about in an early 2006 essay by that name calling it a crime against humanity and shame of the nation. The fourth estate never reports it and was embarrassed when they had to after the Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib scandals broke, but quickly backed off once the heat died down.

CounterPunch's Side of the Story

The final part of the book includes some of its most interesting parts that only can be touched on here. One is Cockburn's essay on The Great Communicator who needs no identifying except to point out what a dreadful job of it he did except for hard core true believers hanging on every word the way they do for GW Bush like it's gospel. In Reagan's case, Cockburn wrote some classic lines saying "Truth for him, was what he happened to be saying at the time. He went one better than George Washington in that he couldn't tell a lie and he couldn't tell the truth, since he couldn't tell the difference between the two."

Mark Hertsgaard wrote how deferentially the press treated Reagan in his 1989 book "On Bended Knee" explaining they never tried laying a glove on him till the Iran-Contra scandal broke in 1986 and then did its best to go easy. All this was for "an awful president, never as popular as the press pretended, presiding over a carnival of corruption and greed" only the Bush administration has exceeded, so far. But when he died in June, 2004, the media practically defied him for endless days of turgid eulogies suppressing his callous indifference for the needy and scorched earth legacy he left behind in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world where he won't be easily forgiven if ever.

Gore, Clinton and Kerry are then deservedly taken to the wood shed in a trio of essays. Gore is portrayed as an erstwhile opium-laced marijuana and coke user selling himself otherwise in 2000 when the authors wrote about him as a tough-on-crime law and order hard-liner supporting the death penalty that's far from the image he's now covets as a friend of the earth. Clinton, on the other hand, back then wanted an office in Harlem to shed his image as a moral reprobate and war criminal but keep the false part of it as a man of the people "feeling our pain."

Then there's John Kerry the authors give twice the space to as the former president and vice-president combined. It's to tell the story of a 1966 Skull and Bones elite secret society Yale grad who joined the Navy and shot up the world from his Swift boat patrol in Vietnam. In the process, he earned Silver and Bronze Stars, three Purple Hearts, and former CNO (chief naval officer, Vietnam) Admiral Elmo (Bud) Zumwalt's opprobrium for being a loose cannon killing too many civilian non-combatants and assaulting other non-military targets. He was so zealous and out-of-control the admiral "virtually (had) to straightjacket him" to hold him back saying Kerry even then had large ambitions his Vietnam service would haunt him pursuing if he tried doing it on a national stage.

The book ranges over much more from Billy Graham the anti-semite and supporter of mass-killing in Vietnam if the Paris peace talks failed, to the press' endorsing and covering up the Delta Force slaughter at Waco, to all the pro-war news fit to buy from willing fourth estate players and PR pros like the Lincoln Group hired to plant phony stories in Iraqi newspapers and at US-controlled al-Arabiya TV about Pentagon military successes in the country the public there could plainly see was pure baloney. Lincoln also had a near open-ended $100 million PsyOps contract to improve its creativity and foreign public opinion about the US, especially the military needing all the burnishing it can get.

The final section also covered The Row Over the (powerful) Israeli Lobby the press can't admit exists with Cockburn saying it's been a fixed part of the scene for over six decades and questioning its existence is like doubting there's a Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor or White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. Part of the Lobby's job is suppressing real news about Palestine Cockburn says he first wrote about in 1973 and continued thereafter exposing wanton Israeli acts of daily killings including targeted assassinations, land confiscations, home demolitions, torture, illegal settlement building on occupied lands and a host of other endless human degradations to ethnically cleanse all parts of Palestine Israelis want for themselves. Try finding news on that in "The Newspaper of Record" that's only possible if a publication named the Times operates on another planet and does there what journalists should be paid here to do - their job.

There's lots more this review can't include, so it will end will a final well-deserved jab at a worthy recipient before some final personal comments. It's Cockburn's article called Murdoch's Game about the venomous king of media moguls the author calls (as mentioned above) a "WORLD-SCALE MONSTER." He writes what distinguished Australian-raised journalist Bruce Page did about him in his chronicle called "The Murdock Archigelago." It has material in it Murdock supporters wouldn't want repeated in polite company about "one of the world's leading villains (and) global pirate" they support no doubt because of his rampages in the mediasphere putting world leaders on notice what he expects from them and what he's prepared to offer in return.

The essence of Page's book is that Murdock's core thesis is wanting to privatize "a state propaganda service, manipulated without scruple and with no regard for truth" in return for "vast government favors such as tax breaks, regulatory relief, and monopoly" market control as free as possible from competitors having too much of what Rupert wants for himself. The problem is he usually gets his way mostly in places that matter most with the biggest markets and greatest profit potential in a business where reporting accurate news is off the table and partnering with governments assuring a growing revenue stream is all that counts. Cockburn sums up Murdock's Game in the essay's lead-in quote from Othello: "I have done the state some service, and they know 't."

Some Final Thoughts of Hope for What's Ahead

At the top of this review, this writer noted the public's hunger for real news and information turning for it to progressive publications and online web sites providing it to growing audiences disillusioned with what they're not getting in the mainstream. Do you blame them? The above material offers plenty of examples making the case.

But as alternative news sources gain prominence and influence, the battle lines are forming to preserve and keep them free from state or corporate control. It's the battle for Net Neutrality pitting us, the public, against telecom, broadcast and cable giants, and what's at stake is the last media frontier of a free and open internet that's the best hope to revive a flagging democracy now on life support at best. The demise of HR 5252 in the Senate (the so-called "Anti-Net Neutrality Bill) in the 109th Congress means it's up to the current 110th Congress to settle the issue by either keeping the internet free and open or allowing it to be exploited by corporate predators for commercial gain and allow them to control its content to suppress material like this review.

Those concerned enough better do more than just hope for a favorable outcome from a corrupted Congress unpredictable on which way it'll go on an issue that can turn either way but is picking up positive tailwind with Democrat presidential candidate John Edwards voicing support for Net Neutrality in a recent Howard University speech. He now joins others in the field like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson plus Al Gore who may jump in later as well.

This is what's needed and more as freedoms don't protect themselves and the power lined up against them is formidable. The commercial giants are outspending public interest advocates 500 - 1, but concerned citizens fought back flooding the 109th Congress with over one million letters (and did it again to the 110th with over 1.6 million) and took to the streets in 25 cities delivering "Save the Internet" petitions to their senators last summer demanding they oppose the corporate attempt to gut Net Neutrality and instead enact a free and open internet information commons. This issue can be won, but only by lots more letters, emails, phone calls and innovative action from an aroused and mobilized public unwilling to let business or government take away what already belongs to us and that we can't afford to lose. Stay closely tuned.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen each Saturday to the Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on The at noon US central time.