Apr. 8, 2010

The media waits: four months on and still no official Nato press release on the existence of Special Forces Death Squads

This past week's Wikileaks release of footage showing the deaths of more than a dozen Iraqis in the summer of 2007 has generated a great deal of desperately needed public dialogue in regard to the reality of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as opposed to the perception of the wars presented to us by the corporate media.

For more than three months, another story has been unravelling, the implications of which are far more startling than the information uncovered by Wikileaks. True to form - the corporate media's coverage of this event has an inverse relationship to its apparent gravity, meaning the coverage has been about zero.

Since the last days of December, the details of this event have been coming into focus - and the emerging image strongly suggests that coalition death-squads have been operating in Afghanistan.

Specific to this case, a group of Special Operations Forces landed outside a village in the middle of the night after receiving reports from informants that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were being manufactured there. After finding what appeared to be two groups of unarmed fighting age males sleeping in two rooms - the reports indicate that the force summarily executed all of them using silenced weapons. Unfortunately, it appears that the Special Ops team had not entered the sleeping quarters of an IED cell, but the dormitory of a private school for boys.

On December 27, media reports began filtering out of Afghanistan's Kunar province regarding the deaths of 10 civilians, including eight schoolchildren, as a result of "Western military operations". Initially,
NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) "had no information on any operations or casualties in Kunar". However, a unnamed "senior Western military official" stated "that US special forces have been conducting operations against militants in the border regions of Kunar". These units had been operating "independently of NATO and coalition forces" and "killing a lot of Taliban and capturing a lot of Taliban".

After receiving word of the incident, Afghan President Karzai immediately dispatched a team of government investigators to Ghazi Kahn village, the site of the alleged events. The findings of the investigators were posted on President Karzai's website: "a unit of international forces descended from a plane Sunday night into Ghazi Khan village in Narang district of the eastern province of Kunar and took ten people from three homes, eight of them school students in grades six, nine and ten, one of them a guest, the rest from the same family, and shot them dead".

In response
, the ISAF declared that "the dead were all part of an Afghan terrorist cell responsible for manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have claimed the lives of countless soldiers and civilians." According to a senior Nato insider “[t]his was a joint operation that was conducted against an IED cell that Afghan and US officials had been developing information against for some time.”

Another early report from the
Sydney Morning Herald included more reactions by NATO officials in response to the reports of the Afghan investigators: "The evidence we have is that there were no civilian casualties... all the people who are claimed to be dead were all fighting-age males." The same senior officer noted that the international units involved in the incident were with US Special Forces... and did not involve NATO troops.

ISAF spokesman US Colonel Wayne Shanks indicated that the military operation involved had been a "joint operation" between Afghan and foreign forces - which, according to NATO, came under fire as they approached the village.

Capt Joe Sanfilippo, a US soldier in Asadabad, Kunar's capital "said none of the dead were 'innocents' but were armed and had been shooting at the troops - US and Afghan commandos - as they entered the district."

"These people were shooting back at us and we had to shoot back otherwise ... we would have been injured."

Both Sanfilippo and
ISAF noted that "several assault rifles, ammunition, and ammonium nitrate used in bomb-making" were found in the village. It is notable that no mention of bomb making components has ever been mentioned. AK-47s are commonly owned by Afghans, and ammonium nitrate, a fertilizer, would not be uncommon in a remote farming community. In fact, a bill to outlaw ammonium nitrate was only passed by the Afghan government at the end of January.

Early reports out of the remote mountain village were predictably sparse in the days following the incident - but most statements relayed from village witnesses echoed the report from President Karzai's Security Council: “International forces entered the area and killed ten youths, eight of them school students inside two rooms in a house, without encountering any armed resistance."

Jerome Starkey of the Times of London
spoke to a number of village residents days after the incident, including the school's headmaster, Rahman Jan Ehsas:

“A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room, and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building."
“First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them. Abdul Khaliq [the farmer] heard shooting and came outside. When they saw him they shot him as well."

"A local elder, Jan Mohammed, said that three boys were killed in one room and five were handcuffed before they were shot."

Responding to President Karzai's statements, Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, the director of communication for NATO and United States forces in Afghanistan
stated that "we’ve already talked to President Karzai and he’s agreed to a joint investigation” by an impartial panel.

After the New Year, these were virtually the final words on the incident at Ghazi Khan by NATO and the corporate media. No additional information regarding the details of the investigation, nor whether or not an investigation was even underway were released by military authorities.

The silence was broken on February 25 when two reports were released by Jerome Starkey:
"Western sources close to the case now agree that the victims were all aged 12 to 18 and were not involved in insurgent activity."

Nato sources say that the raid should never have been authorised. "Knowing what we know now, it would probably not have been a justifiable attack," an official in Kabul told The Times. "We don’t now believe that we busted a major ring."

Nato’s statement, issued four days after the event, said that troops were attacked “from several buildings” as they entered the village. Yesterday it said that “ultimately, we did determine this to be a civilian casualty incident”.

Starkey also reported on the results of his effort to bring two village elders to Kabul for interviews.

Taleb Abdul Ajan, 50, was present in the Village at the time of the raid: he "woke to the sound of dogs barking. Then he heard boots crunching on gravel and men’s voices outside his bedroom. 'Their guns killed without a sound,' he said."

On the night of the raid, Taleb came to the door of his room and was immediately ordered back inside by soldiers wearing night-vision goggles. "It was dark. I couldn’t see them, but they could see me."

Taleb's brother, Farooq, 48, relayed to Starkey that his son, Sefatullah, 19, has reported that he "was handcuffed, searched and marched around the family’s mountain compound by men he believes were Americans".
“They took Sefatullah to each room and asked him who was sleeping inside... but they didn’t show him inside. He didn’t know they were dead. He told them, ‘My brothers, my cousins, they are students’. The Americans were writing down the names and their classes.”

As soon as the troops left, Sefatullah ran to his mother’s room and she cut the plastic cuffs that had bound his hands behind his back. “Then they went into one of the rooms, where six people had been sleeping,” Farooq said. “It was dark and my wife walked on her son’s dead body. Then they brought a hurricane lamp.”

They found Taleb’s son, Rahimullah, 17, and a boy called Samar Gul, 12, dead in a guest room. Taleb said that Samar Gul was staying overnight because he needed some wheat milled and Taleb’s family own the local mill.

“He was afraid to stay on his own so Rahimullah slept in the room with him.”

Next, Taleb said, the soldiers burst into the room of his half-brother, Najibullah, 18. According to his widow, Hassina, they dragged him out of bed and searched his belongings. “All they found were books,” Taleb said. The family discovered Najibullah’s body slumped together with Farooq’s son Sebhanullah, 17, and two of Taleb’s sons, Matiullah, 16, and Attahullah, 15, in a room that led on to a second bedroom.

In the second room they found Farooq and Taleb’s half-brother Samiullah, 12, Farooq’s son Atiqullah, 15, and a nephew, Ismael, 12. All of them had been shot.

The tenth victim was a farmer, Abdul Khaliq, 18, who was shot when he ran out of a nearby house, Taleb said.

After the soldiers shot the boys they took photographs of their bloodied faces. Farooq said his daughter heard a man curse their informant in the local language, using an expression that implied that the soldiers realised they had been fed bad information.

It is notable that NATO, now retracting their earlier identification of the victims as members of a bomb making cell, also appears to be distancing itself from the event - despite the level of information it was providing about the incident in December: “incidents such as this do not reflect any conduct that Isaf [regular Nato troops] would condone and it is not the way Isaf trains any of our Afghan partners.”

And while NATO is now willing to deny their involvement, as well as apparently willing to condemn the actions of the units as inconsistent with their rules of conduct - nobody is currently willing to identify which organization or units actually carried out the actions, despite the level of detail previously provided by military information officers: "US forces based in Kunar have denied any knowledge of the raid.. [o]fficials in Kabul confirmed that 'US forces' were present but refused to say if they were military or civilian."

It is difficult to reconcile the testimony of the villagers, all of which has been remarkably consistent, and none of which provides an account of any gunfire, with that of nameless, faceless personnel that the coalition refuses to identify, much less bring forward for the purpose of clarifying the events that took place that morning.

Most of the information uncovered regarding this story, and the direct witness statements of the villagers has come as a result of the work of Jerome Starkey. His work is inspirational for many reasons, including the fact that
he manages to be a real investigative-journalist at a time when it seemed all but certain that every last one of them was extinct. On top of that, he works on behalf of the Times of London - a publication that is owned by Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp. In this case, credit needs to be given where it's due - and the Times is publishing serious and valuable journalism in Starkey's work.

Subsequent to the events at Ghazi Khan, Starkey is primarily responsible for uncovering a similar incident that occurred in the village of
Khataba in eastern Afghanistan on February 12. While this particular incident has received a relatively higher level of coverage, it has still largely been ignored in the headlines and news feeds of the corporate media. An examination of these events as they unfolded can also prove to be of assistance to those who are attempting to determine the level of credibility that should be accorded to the various military information offices working in Afghanistan.

The Khataba incident unfolded as follows:

On February 12, ISAF issued a press release entitled: Joint Force Operating in Gardez Makes Gruesome Discovery (
now rescinded). Based on the ISAF release, CNN reported that the bodies of two men and two women were discovered at a compound by a joint operation of Afghan and Nato led forces. 

"The bodies of the two women were bound and gagged, and the U.S. official said the people were shot "execution-style".

"The U.S. official said it isn't clear whether the dishonor in this case stemmed from accusations of acts such as adultery or even cooperating with NATO forces."
"It has the earmarks of a traditional honor killing," said the official, who added the Taliban could be responsible.

"The operation unfolded when Afghan and international forces went to the compound, which was thought to be a site of militant activity. A firefight ensued and several insurgents died, several people left the compound, and eight others were detained."

One month later, on March 13, after contacting "[m]ore than a dozen survivors, officials, police chiefs and a religious leader... at and around the scene of the attack", Starkey and the Times published an article which gave a very different version of the events that occurred that evening.

According to Starkey, coalition special forces entered the compound of a residence that was owned by a policeman, Commander Dawood, 43. He was "a long-serving, popular and highly-trained policeman who had recently been promoted to head of intelligence in one of Paktia’s most volatile districts."

"His brother, Saranwal Zahir, was a prosecutor in Ahmadabad district."

"That particular evening, Dawood was hosting a gathering to celebrate the naming of a newborn baby. One of the musicians went outside to use the facilities, when somebody shone a light in his face - he ran back inside yelling "Taliban".

Commander Dawood was the first to go outside, his 15 year old son was at his side. They were shot from a rooftop as they ran across the courtyard - Dawood was killed, his son survived. Shortly afterwards, Dawoods brother Zahir is reported to have stepped forward, yelling in English "don’t fire, we work for the Government", and at the same moment, he was shot. As he fell to the ground, two pregnant women, and a teenage girl standing behind him were hit - all four were killed.

Based on information obtained by individuals who were attending the gathering, and who were subsequently detained for questioning - the coalition force was looking for an individual by the name of Shamsuddin. Shamsuddin was at the compound that evening - but the coalition forces failed to apprehend him. He turned himself in days later - and was released without charge.

While it's not clear from the Times' articles if witnesses reported whether or not Dawood or Zahir were armed (ISAF claims that they were), they did report that no shots were fired beyond those of the coalition forces - contradicting ISAF's assertions of a firefight.

On March 13, ISAF issued a news release entitled ISAF Rejects Coverup Allegation (now rescinded). In the release, ISAF rejects Starkey's report of a coverup - although they fail to back this up in any coherent way, and they go on to accuse Starkey of inaccuracies. ISAF first claimed to have a recording of Starkey's interview with one of their officers to back up their claim of a misquote. Later, when Starkey requested to listen to the recording - they ignored him. When he pressed them - they informed him that there had been a misunderstanding, there was no recording - they had taken notes.

ISAF now claimed that, as a result of their investigation that had "taken weeks" to conduct, they had determined that the women had not been victims of an honour killing, but that their bodies had simply been prepared for burial - however, they still claimed that the women had been killed before the firefight.

On April 5, Starkey detailed information he had received from Afghan investigators and witnesses at the scene who reported that "US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened."

A day earlier, ISAF had issued a release outlining the results of their investigation into the incident which had determined that: 

"[I]nternational forces were responsible for the deaths of three women".

The two men "were shot and killed by the joint patrol after they showed what appeared to be hostile intent by being armed."

"[T]he releases issued shortly after the operation were based on a lack of cultural understanding by the joint force and the chain of command. The statement noted the women had been bound and gagged, but this information was taken from an initial report by the international members of the joint force who were not familiar with Islamic burial customs."

The release failed to provide any information that would explain how the "members of the joint force" would confuse the bodies of women they killed, as well as those of two men they killed, with bodies that had been murdered in a separate honour killing. Also missing from the release was any explanation regarding the origin of the initial statements regarding the "several insurgents" that died in the "firefight" - as well as any reference to the allegations of evidence tampering that was made by Afghan investigators.

On April 7, Mirza Mohammad Yarmand of the Afghan Ministry of Interior investigation reiterated their findings of "evidence of tampering at the scene by the patrol members" and added that "[i]n the end, NATO accepted our findings, and Gen. McChrystal agreed with the conclusions of our team." McChrystal's spokesperson, Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale has stated that McChrystal had been briefed by Afghan officials in "late march" - prior to the conclusion of the ISAF investigation announced on April 4.

Breasseale has indicated that McChrystal has now "ordered [a] subsequent investigation in order to reconcile certain aspects between the two investigations." As is the case with the promised joint investigation of the events at Ghazi Khan - it is not clear when, or even if the results of this investigation will be revealed.

A UK based organization, Media-Lens has provided some excellent reports on the media's lack of coverage of the Ghazi Khan incident. A BBC response to criticism by Media-Lens and its readers regarding the Corporations nearly non-existent coverage of the events at Ghazi-Khan included the following:

"It's worth noting that the circumstances of the incident are disputed, unlike some previous examples of civilians killed by coalition forces. The Afghan government and the UN believe that civilians were killed as the result of the US operation in Kunar. NATO still does not accept this and strongly argues that US forces killed insurgents." (Email from BBC complaints to Media Lens reader, February 19, 2010)

This statement was made by BBC on February 19, six days prior to NATO's admission that the boys it killed were not insurgents. To date - no significant coverage has been produced by the BBC or any other network news outlets for the purpose of uncovering the events that occurred in Ghazi Khan on December 27.

And so the BBC, and virtually all other major news organizations wait. Although it is clear that the military information officers are now providing completely unreliable, and almost certainly fabricated information as a matter of course, these organizations no longer see it as their job to challenge them. No attempts to contact witnesses, no pressing Afghan officials, no stories designed to embarrass military and political officials into action.

One wonders if those who work in these organizations can even see the reality of who they have become in relation to the myth of the fourth estate: simple administrators of information, waiting for the next scoop to be served to them in the air conditioned briefing rooms of Washington, London, Baghdad or Kabul.

Jan. 22, 2010

Truth over delusion: Hugo Chavez did not accuse the U.S. of causing the Haitian earthquake

On January 19, Spanish newspaper ABC, a newspaper of record in Spain, published a story entitled Chavez accuses US of causing earthquake in Haiti.

The story was quickly picked up by websites around the globe - most quoting Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez as saying the U.S. used a new tectonic weapon to induce the Haitian earthquake. This was, according to Chavez - "only a drill, and the final target is destroying and taking over Iran".

Within the actual story, ABC noted that the information came from an obscure opinion post on the website of a Venezuelan state television channel, VIVE Television. The post referenced a supposed Russian military report
on American seismic weapons.

All quotes subsequently attributed to Chavez regarding Haiti and earthquake weapons were in fact direct quotes from this web posting - none of which was ever uttered by Chavez.

Spurred on by the international attention being received by its first story, ABC posted a second article on January 20 under the banner The Secret Weapon to Cause Earthquakes in which it cites Chavez as having blamed the US for razing Haiti.

By the time the story had run its course, it had been covered with varying degrees of accuracy by
corporate news channels, foreign outlets eager to accuse the U.S. of another evil deed, and conspiracy websites happy to have their ideas officially validated.

In the end, it serves as one more reminder to those who prefer truth over ideological delusion: there are some subjects for which the myths of journalistic standards will still be displayed - stories about the government of Venezuela are not one of those subjects.

Jan. 15, 2010

Danny Glover did not say that the Haitian earthquake was caused by global warming.

It's quite likely that Danny Glover is currently having one of those moments that has you wishing life had a reset button.

For those that aren't aware, on January 13, Glover was being interviewed by an online news program when he attempted to make a connection between the earthquake and climate change, apparently attempting to point out that if we continue to do nothing about climate change, as was pretty much the case at Copenhagen - then we'll have to deal with natural disasters on a more frequent basis.

Unfortunately for Glover, he flubbed his lines - and even more unfortunately for him, those "news" outlets that can never get enough of having a good guffaw about anything that ridicules the "global warming hoax" ran with it. They of course were helped along by the internetz fair and balanced purveyor of climate news, Matt Drudge. In the end, they've use his in-articulated words, the actual meaning of which can likely be placed into context by most eleven year-olds, to imply that Danny Glover believes that earthquakes are caused by global-warming.

So - for those of you who are inclined towards truth, as opposed to bending reality to fit your political blinders, I have included a transcript of the relevant statements as they were conveyed by Glover's fumbling tongue (after the video).

Danny Glover on GRITtv – January 13, 2009

... This is a great moment for another type of internationalism – y'know? And I, and I hope we seize this particular moment, because the threat of what happened to Haiti is a threat that can happen anywhere in the Caribbean to these island nations, y'know? They're all in peril because of global warming. They're all in peril because of climate change, and all this – we need to (inaudible), this, this, when we back, when we did what we did at the climate summit, in Copenhagen – this is the respon..., this is what happens, y'know what I'm saying? We have to act now... (bumper music begins – end of time slot)

Jan. 15, 2009

Israeli denials and explanations can no longer stand on their own


This is now the only description that should be afforded to Israeli denials and explanations of the reported atrocities committed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) - now practically a daily occurrence in Gaza. It should no longer be acceptable for any member of the news media to include the statements of Israeli public relations personnel without including a qualifier as to the level of credibility that the statements should be afforded.

"The Israeli forces were attacked from there, and their response was severe." This was the statement made by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to United Nations (UN) chief Ban Ki Moon in response to Israel's shelling of the main UN compound in Gaza.

IDF forces had come under fire from forces inside the school. This was the original explanation given for Israel's shelling of a UN school that had been sheltering refugees - forty three people were killed. The explanation changed after the UN's relief director in Gaza denied the initial charge: now, the Israelis were returning fire on a target "in the vicinity of the school". It is not currently clear which of the two versions the Israelis will settle on.

Reports by the BBC and human rights group B'tselem describing a Palestinian woman being shot in the head while waiving a white flag: "without foundation", according to the IDF. Multiple reports that prove Israel is using white phosphorus in civilian areas in contravention of the Geneva Convention: Israel insists "we're not using any weapons that are banned under international law.”

It should now be clear to anyone who allows themselves honest and logical reflection that Israel has one automatic communications response that is to be employed when the IDF engages in activities that result in the death of civilians or non-combatants, denial. This denial can take any number of forms, usually blaming the events on "the enemy", questioning the innocence of the victims, or denying the incident outright. Should the first statement of denial fall apart under scrutiny, then a new sequence of events shall be introduced to counter the statements of the other witnesses.

Some of these events would require intricate conspiracies between seemingly unrelated parties in order for the IDF's versions to be plausible. In recent reports, it would appear that both the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) are working alongside Hamas in order to foil Israel.

For those still in denial about Israel's policy of denial - allow me to introduce you to Lasse Schmidt, a journalist, and a human rights worker with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who was working in the West Bank in 2003. On April 4th of that year, Schmidt was acting as an observer to a group of Palestinian youth who were throwing stones at Israeli armour. At one point, an Israeli armoured personnel carrier (APC) unleashed a short burst of heavy machine gun rounds at a wall three meters to Schmidt's right. The resulting pieces of stone and shrapnel caused very minor wounds to his back and legs - he required no medical attention.

The following day, Schmidt ran into a reporter for the French news agency APF, and during the course of their conversation, he related the details of the previous day's incident. About an hour after that conversation, he was shocked to hear of an APF story concerning a Danish peace activist who had been injured by Israeli fire that very morning, April 5th.

A few hours later, and Schmidt was reading an Israeli press release in response to the APF story. The Israelis confirmed that, indeed a Danish citizen had been injured earlier that very day, "but it maintained that he had been caught in crossfire between Palestinian militants and Israeli soldiers and most likely was hit by a Palestinian bullet."

In the same article, Schmidt goes on to describe the shooting of three other peace activists and / or journalists who all, the Israelis initially insisted, were caught in a crossfire and likely hit by a Palestinian bullet. In each of these cases, the Israeli denials were later shown to be questionable to the extreme (in one case), or completely false (in the other two). Schmidt's record of the events is highly recommended material for reading.

Israel's policy of denial has been in play for one reason - because it worked. By and large, the corporate media was willing to accept the offerings from Israel's spin machine with few questioning the obvious deficiencies. Now, there are hopeful signs that a public, served by alternative sources of news, and a new generation of news outlets soured by Israel's increasingly heavy hand, may be coming together to form a true conspiracy against the Israeli PR machine.

Jan. 6, 2009

More Rockets Please. Examining Israel's Ceasefire Violation

At the time of this writing, the people of Gaza are nearing the end of the second day of the Israeli ground operations. The current death toll of more than 500 Palestinians and the 2600 wounded during the previous week of bombing is sure to increase. When the inevitable objections to Israel's violence are raised, then of course we will hear about the rockets and mortars that are falling on Israel's southern border - yet very few of us will ever hear that those rockets had virtually stopped falling months before this violence erupted. We will also not hear that Israel's actions clearly indicated that they were not interested in ending the rocket attacks against their citizens in Sderot and the other towns of the Western Negev if it meant losing their ability to fully dominate a Hamas controlled Gaza.

When the ceasefire agreement was signed in June – the Israeli leadership knew very well that Hamas would not be able to end the rocket and mortar attacks with the wave of a hand. Hamas is not solely responsible for the attacks, the rockets are also being fired by rival groups such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and even Hamas’s arch rival Fatah.

So when Hamas succeeded in reducing the number of attacks after the June agreement, from 518 in April and 355 in May, to 12 in July and 11 in August, Israel should have seen this for what it was, a sign that Hamas was acting effectively, and in good faith. Instead, the Israeli government used the remaining attacks as an excuse for maintaining only sporadic shipments of humanitarian goods, never coming anywhere close to allowing for the commercial goods that the agreement called for, nor moving toward permitting the European border observers to travel to the Egypt-Gaza border to facilitate its opening.

It would appear that Israel was aiming to maintain the steady tightening of the economic stranglehold on the residents of Gaza for the purpose of achieving their stated objective of eroding support for Hamas. The ceasefire, like their well publicized border openings, only appears to have been serving the purpose of improving Israel’s image through their public relations campaigns – while they pursued their policy of crushing Hamas in Gaza.

The trend, as it appeared at the end of October, was unmistakable to anybody qualified to assess it - including Israeli policy analysts - Hamas was on the verge of bringing the rocket and mortar attacks to an end. According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel had been subject to a total of 1 rocket and 3 mortar attacks in September, and 1 rocket and 1 mortar attack in October.

So, when Israel supposedly received reports of a tunnel being built a few hundred meters from its border, it had a number of factors to consider. Chief among these should have been the safety of its citizens. The ceasefire was clearly moving toward fruition, despite Israel’s slow pace on opening the borders. It is difficult to imagine how Israeli policy makers could have come to the conclusion that the ceasefire agreement would withstand the violation of Gaza’s sovereignty by armed Israeli soldiers.

They knew the tunnel was there - and this knowledge neutralized the threat. If they were so sure of the “imminence” of this attempt to abduct a member of their armed services, they could have set up an ambush on their side of the border. They could have reinforced the ground around that area of the border wall to make tunnelling impossible. They could have made contact with Hamas in order to alert them to their knowledge of this tunnel while questioning Hamas’s commitment to the ceasefire. Instead, they invaded Gaza, and in the process, they destroyed any possibility of Hamas maintaining the support necessary for upholding the ceasefire, either inside, or outside of the organization.

Israeli policy makers knew they were retreating from the brink of peace. If they did not know, then they are guilty of gross incompetence which has resulted in the deaths of Israeli civilians, Israeli soldiers, and residents of Gaza. Israeli policy makers knew this would be the result, and they did not care - at least not enough to risk the possibility that metal would cease to fall on their towns and villages. The inevitable outcome of such a situation would have been a call from inside and outside the country for Israel to adhere to their end of the ceasefire and to end the economic stranglehold on Gaza. This in turn would have strengthened Hamas’s position within Gaza and the West Bank, putting the Israeli leadership’s objective of toppling Hamas in Gaza out of reach. The people of Gaza would have their democratically elected representatives speaking for them and acting in their interests, instead of the docile Fatah that had seized power in the West Bank along with the assistance of Israel and the West. One can hope that the people of Gaza can somehow avoid the Israeli objective of an imposed Fatah dictatorship - and at the same time, that they recognize the fear that the threat of a peaceful expression of their will posed to those who oppress them.

Jun. 10, 2008

Impeachment. We're safe... for now.

So, what's important? What do we need to know today?

Currently, some of the stories displayed on the front page of
CNN.COM include the following:

Be Cheap This Summer: Rising gas prices and a worsening economy may affect how Americans spend their leisure time this summer. We want to see how you plan to have fun -- for free.

House Democrat Won't Endorse Obama: one congressional Democrat (Rep. Dan Boren, Oklahoma) said Tuesday he will not endorse Barack Obama's bid for the White House. (Makes sense, everybody is always waiting on pins and needles to hear the next utterance from the great Dan Boren).

700-pound man dreams of walking down the aisle: Mexico (AP) -- Manuel Uribe, who once weighed a half-ton but has slimmed down to about 700 pounds, celebrates his 43rd birthday Wednesday with a simple wish for the coming year: to be able to stand on his own two feet to get married.

Man finds $250,000 lottery ticket in jacket : A Prince George's man found more than he expected when searching his pockets last week.

Important stuff - but these days, there are a few corners of the Internet where fringe groups come together and discuss issues that, unlike the stories above, aren't at all newsworthy and in reality would be offensive, and even dangerous to the average American's ear. Even so, and regrettably, some news wire services continue to cater to these extremist elements within our society by reporting on fodder such as the following:

Rep. Kucinich introduces Bush impeachment resolution: Rep. Dennis Kucinich said Monday he wants the House to consider a resolution to impeach President Bush... Kucinich, D-Ohio, read his proposed impeachment language in a floor speech. He contended Bush deceived the nation and violated his oath of office in leading the country into the Iraq war... Kucinich introduced a resolution last year to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. That resolution was killed, but only after Republicans initially voted in favor of taking up the measure to force a debate.

Apparently, this Kucinich character is a member of the U.S. Congress, I would imagine from one of the pockets of far left constituencies in Oregon, or California - they say he ran in the Democratic presidential primary. I don't recall hearing his name on CNN too much, but I'm pretty sure I remember seeing his name during the introductory credits during the first few debates - back when there were all those other people up on the stage with Hillary and Obama.

Of course, none of this has made it to the front page of CNN.COM - which means that, so far, those who fight to ensure that our airwaves only reflect respectable American values continue to prevail in their struggle. Even so, there is always the possibility that members of these extremist elements within our society could make their way into the permissive bastions of the liberal media and plant details of this sordid activity within the websites of our major news outlets.

In order to ensure that this type of propaganda is not allowed to infect those who are deficient in their ability to retain the information that is essential to their enjoyment of the American way of life, it is important that these ideas are not readily available within the media system. I am happy to report that, as of this writing, those who protect the fourth pillar of democracy from anti-American rhetoric are succeeding.

By clicking on the following link, you will find the latest results retrieved when the search term "
impeachment" is entered into the CNN.COM website. As you can see, despite the ever increasing leftward slant of this organization, the words of the dangerous classes have not surfaced. No word of the above noted activity can be found, even when the search term "Kucinich" is entered into the site. (Note: after the writing of this post, CNN finally added an article to their site - but I'm sure you still get the point).

One should not be lulled into a feeling of security based on the above noted information. I have heard reports that mention of this affair has been made during CNN broadcasts, however, if I have not seen it, I would imagine the seepage is not such that we should be overly concerned of an outbreak.

Currently, even those with the unenviable job of defending America from the scourge of the far left media that takes advantage of our freedoms are meeting with success, as the same two search terms, "
impeachment" and "Kucinich", entered into the MSNBC site fail to register the latest activities of those who would deny Americans their beliefs (although, as you can see, one article reporting on earlier activities perpetrated by this same crew has made it through - an example of the danger a weak moment permits).

While the danger can never be understated, it is comforting to know that the individuals that own these broadcasters, and those who they choose to work for them, continue to ensure that the information conveyed to the nation accurately reflects the
views and desires that they share in common with the American people.

It is imperative that we continue to understand the common good through the voices of those whose place in the order of things entitles them to the
positions of leadership they hold. For every time a citizen's mind is captured by the Kuciniches of the world - slipping outside of the wide spectrum of acceptable American values - it means that a few more of our tax dollars are diverted from growth and jobs to fund the necessary increase in policing and domestic security costs that such dangerous ideas necessitate.

May 14, 2008

Girl of 8 used as 'suicide' bomber - and other tales the corporate media wishes were true.

Girl of 8 used as 'suicide' bomber.

To the average consumer of the corporate-media's wares, headlines such as this serve to assure them of the evil nature of the forces that we are currently confronting. In spite of all our blunders, and in spite of the seemingly complicated issues that surround the War on Terror, here is a clear example of the evil that the Western forces of good are clumsily attempting to counter.

On the other hand, for those of us who have retained the lessons that the Western corporate media have so painfully bestowed on us, particularly the advanced level courses we have been forced to endure over the last seven years, the nature of the above noted headline served to alert us that it was time to carefully inspect the bottom of our shoes.

Unfortunately, the pass rate for the above noted curriculum appears to be dreadfully low, and nowhere does the failure rate seem more abysmal than among those who make up the ranks of the global media system.

The story attached to the above noted headline consists of the following: an eight year old girl was strapped with explosives, she approached an Iraqi army captain at a checkpoint, the explosives were detonated by remote control. The editors ensure that the word suicide appears in quotes, as if to sneeringly confirm to it's consumers that, "yes - you are well acquainted with the type of Islamic scum we're talking about here".

A quick glance of the article in question assures us that the stench emanating from the headline is likely an accurate indicator of the articles content - the first warning sign arises as a result of the timing between the incident and the publication of the story.

While the news is attributed to the Guardian in some articles, the
first mention of an eight year old bomber appears in the Metro UK, a free UK daily. The story was captured by Google news around four o'clock in the afternoon London time, or six o'clock in the evening Baghdad time. While there is no mention of what time the incident took place in Baghdad, it is clear that it took place on Wednesday - hours ahead of the publication.

While we can be sure that the crime scene investigators of the coalition forces are getting lots of practice when it comes to bombings - it's difficult to believe that they were really able to determine that the bomb was detonated via remote control from the small pieces of bomb, human flesh, bone, debris, etc., in time for the evening editions.

Of course, the biggest indicator that we are being offered a spoonful of the substance the corporate media has served us so often before is the sources. The sources, in no particular order, consist of the following: an Iraqi Army spokesman, US soldiers, the military, and Iraqi Army Lieutenant Ahmed Ali.

These are the same entities that provide the lions share of information on the day to day occurrences in Iraq and the greater war on terror that is reported by the ever vigilant employees of the corporate media bosses. In much the same way that these employees will drift between stints as journalists, to government PR and corporate PR - their bosses will drift between stints as VP, CEO, or Member of the board, and elected official or political advisor. You see, the employees are very aware of the types of sources that their bosses would approve of -they share an ideology that lends to this perspective - if they didn't, then they would likely never have risen to the positions they hold within the corporate media establishment.

The biggest problem that would have been noted by far too few readers of this story, is its similarity with a story that emerged from the same sources at the beginning of February. In that particular version of the how low can the Islamic scum we're fighting go genre, the media quickly informed us that the terrorists had strapped explosives to two women with Down Syndrome. While it's too early to tell exactly how far this particular tale of Islamic evil will travel, the Down Syndrome suicide bomber version had legs. ABC, MSNBC, the London Times, and thousands of other arms of the media system covered the event. In fact, a
Google search of the term will still get you a whole page of accounts describing how the forces of darkness strapped bombs to the women, and persuaded them to blow themselves and 91 to 99 other people up.

There was one small problem with the story, and the problem was apparently so small that it didn't seem to warrant much in the way of retractions - it wasn't true. The
credible information that was deemed reliable by the system's editors originally came from one Lt. Gen. Abboud Qanbar, the chief Iraqi military commander in Baghdad, who had determined that "photos of the women's heads showed they had Down syndrome".

It would appear that today's 8 year old suicide bomber story suffers from the same deficiency as its Down Syndrome kin. The details of the story have been quietly morphing as the day has progressed: the 8 year old girl
turned into a 16 year old girl whose bomb was detonated by remote control. Now it would appear that the girl is aging quickly, now between 16 and 18, and it would also appear that there was no remote control, and the stories are beginning to drop the info on the original error altogether - so just another crazy suicide bomber blowing herself up to hook up with the 72 virgins and..... hmm, that doesn't seem to work - oh well.

While a little digging at the muck that has once again been deposited at our feet reveals the truth, you can rest assured that the headlines will not scream out Suicide bomber NOT 8 year old girl - millions of corporate media consumers will never see a retraction, or make the connection when they see the revised story. They will simply go through life believing that those individuals in Iraq who resist foreign occupation, and sometimes are willing to sacrifice there own lives to that end, strap remote controlled bombs to 8 year old girls.

In ending, a response to those who would excuse stories such as those above as being understandable errors based on information from reliable sources. If the Iraqi army and government officials constitute reliable sources, then I would ask you to examine the
events that occurred in the village of Ishaqi in March 2006. These events did not scream across the pages of the corporate press, in this case the words of Iraqi police and government officials were never enough for the corporate media's consumers to hear of it - but unlike this case, questions remain, and silence persists.