Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Lies Of Hiroshima Are The Lies Of Today

By John Pilger

06/08/08 "ICH" -- - On the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, John Pilger describes the 'progression of lies' from the dust of that detonated city, to the wars of today - and the threatened attack on Iran.

When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open. At a quarter past eight on the morning of August 6, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite. I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, then walked down to the river and met a man called Yukio, whose chest was still etched with the pattern of the shirt he was wearing when the atomic bomb was dropped.

He and his family still lived in a shack thrown up in the dust of an atomic desert. He described a huge flash over the city, "a bluish light, something like an electrical short", after which wind blew like a tornado and black rain fell. "I was thrown on the ground and noticed only the stalks of my flowers were left. Everything was still and quiet, and when I got up, there were people naked, not saying anything. Some of them had no skin or hair. I was certain I was dead." Nine years later, when I returned to look for him, he was dead from leukaemia.

In the immediate aftermath of the bomb, the allied occupation authorities banned all mention of radiation poisoning and insisted that people had been killed or injured only by the bomb's blast. It was the first big lie. "No radioactivity in Hiroshima ruin" said the front page of the New York Times, a classic of disinformation and journalistic abdication, which the Australian reporter Wilfred Burchett put right with his scoop of the century. "I write this as a warning to the world," reported Burchett in the Daily Express, having reached Hiroshima after a perilous journey, the first correspondent to dare. He described hospital wards filled with people with no visible injuries but who were dying from what he called "an atomic plague". For telling this truth, his press accreditation was withdrawn, he was pilloried and smeared - and vindicated.

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a criminal act on an epic scale. It was premeditated mass murder that unleashed a weapon of intrinsic criminality. For this reason its apologists have sought refuge in the mythology of the ultimate "good war", whose "ethical bath", as Richard Drayton called it, has allowed the west not only to expiate its bloody imperial past but to promote 60 years of rapacious war, always beneath the shadow of The Bomb.

The most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and save lives. "Even without the atomic bombing attacks," concluded the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946, "air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that ... Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated."

The National Archives in Washington contain US government documents that chart Japanese peace overtures as early as 1943. None was pursued. A cable sent on May 5, 1945 by the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by the US dispels any doubt that the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace, including "capitulation even if the terms were hard". Instead, the US secretary of war, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was "fearful" that the US air force would have Japan so "bombed out" that the new weapon would not be able "to show its strength". He later admitted that "no effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the bomb". His foreign policy colleagues were eager "to browbeat the Russians with the bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip". General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the bomb, testified: "There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis." The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Truman voiced his satisfaction with the "overwhelming success" of "the experiment".

Since 1945, the United States is believed to have been on the brink of using nuclear weapons at least three times. In waging their bogus "war on terror", the present governments in Washington and London have declared they are prepared to make "pre-emptive" nuclear strikes against non-nuclear states. With each stroke toward the midnight of a nuclear Armageddon, the lies of justification grow more outrageous. Iran is the current "threat". But Iran has no nuclear weapons and the disinformation that it is planning a nuclear arsenal comes largely from a discredited CIA-sponsored Iranian opposition group, the MEK - just as the lies about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction originated with the Iraqi National Congress, set up by Washington.

The role of western journalism in erecting this straw man is critical. That America's Defence Intelligence Estimate says "with high confidence" that Iran gave up its nuclear weapons programme in 2003 has been consigned to the memory hole. That Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad never threatened to "wipe Israel off the map" is of no interest. But such has been the mantra of this media "fact" that in his recent, obsequious performance before the Israeli parliament, Gordon Brown alluded to it as he threatened Iran, yet again.

This progression of lies has brought us to one of the most dangerous nuclear crises since 1945, because the real threat remains almost unmentionable in western establishment circles and therefore in the media. There is only one rampant nuclear power in the Middle East and that is Israel. The heroic Mordechai Vanunu tried to warn the world in 1986 when he smuggled out evidence that Israel was building as many as 200 nuclear warheads. In defiance of UN resolutions, Israel is today clearly itching to attack Iran, fearful that a new American administration might, just might, conduct genuine negotiations with a nation the west has defiled since Britain and America overthrew Iranian democracy in 1953.

In the New York Times on July 18, the Israeli historian Benny Morris, once considered a liberal and now a consultant to his country's political and military establishment, threatened "an Iran turned into a nuclear wasteland". This would be mass murder. For a Jew, the irony cries out.

The question begs: are the rest of us to be mere bystanders, claiming, as good Germans did, that "we did not know"? Do we hide ever more behind what Richard Falk has called "a self-righteous, one-way, legal/moral screen [with] positive images of western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted violence"? Catching war criminals is fashionable again. Radovan Karadzic stands in the dock, but Sharon and Olmert, Bush and Blair do not. Why not? The memory of Hiroshima requires an answer.


Out of the Black Bag: Forging Ahead for Iraq War

The Forged Iraqi Letter: What Just Happened?
Ron Suskind

What just happened? Evidence. A secret that has been judiciously kept for five years just spilled out. All of what follows is new, never reported in any way:

The Iraq Intelligence Chief, Tahir Jalil Habbush -- a man still carrying a $1 million reward for capture, the Jack of Diamonds in Bush's famous deck of wanted men -- has been America's secret source on Iraq. Starting in January of 2003, with Blair and Bush watching, his secret reports began to flow to officials on both sides of the Atlantic, saying that there were no WMD and that Hussein was acting so odd because of fear that the Iranians would find out he was a toothless tiger. The U.S. deep-sixed the intelligence report in February, "resettled" Habbush to a safe house in Jordan during the invasion and then paid him $5 million in what could only be considered hush money.

In the fall of 2003, after the world learned there were no WMD -- as Habbush had foretold -- the White House ordered the CIA to carry out a deception. The mission: create a handwritten letter, dated July, 2001, from Habbush to Saddam saying that Atta trained in Iraq before the attacks and the Saddam was buying yellow cake for Niger with help from a "small team from the al Qaeda organization."

The mission was carried out, the letter was created, popped up in Baghdad, and roiled the global newcycles in December, 2003 (conning even venerable journalists like Tom Brokaw). The mission is a statutory violation of the charter of the CIA, and amendments added in 1991, prohibiting the CIA from conducting disinformation campaigns on U.S. soil.

So, here we go again: the administration is in full attack mode, calling me names, George Tenet is claiming he doesn't remember any such thing -- just like he couldn't remember "slam dunk" -- and reporters are scratching their heads. Everything in my book is on the record, with many sources. And so, we watch and wait....


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

West Bank Checkpoints

The Horror Of Israeli Occupation: West Bank Checkpoints

A video clip that dramatically portrays the meeting of Israeli solders and Palestinians at controversial West Bank security checkpoints. This clip is the second of a series taken from "Land of the Settlers", the acclaimed documentary developed by Chaim Yavin, Israel's premier news anchor.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Anthrax and the ABC's of Planting a Fake News Story

Glenn Greenwald
Monday Aug. 4, 2008 06:32 EDT
Additional key facts re: the anthrax investigation
for complete article links, please see:
(updated below - Update II - Update III)

It's perfectly possible that Bruce Ivins really is the anthrax attacker -- that he perpetrated the attacks and did so alone. Perhaps the FBI is in possession of mountains of conclusive evidence that, once revealed, will leave no doubt that Ivins is the guilty party. But no rational person could possibly assume that to be the case given the paltry amount of facts -- many of which contradict one another -- that are now known. Several points to note:

(1) Two prominent journalism professors -- Jay Rosen of NYU and Dan Gillmor, director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University and a practicing journalist for 25 years -- have added their names to the list of people calling on ABC News and Brian Ross to reveal their sources for ABC's false bentonite story that was used to link the anthrax attacks to Iraq. Rosen and Gillmor both write that ABC and Ross should answer three questions which they jointly outline, and they both set forth the reasons, grounded in widely accepted principles of journalistic ethics, as to why ABC and Ross should do so.

(2) So much of the public reporting about Ivins has been devoted to depicting him as a highly unstable psychotic who had been issuing extremely violent threats and who had a violent past. But that depiction has been based almost exclusively on the uncorroborated claims of Jean Carol Duley, a social worker (not a psychiatrist or psychologist) who, as recently as last year, was apparently still in college at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. Duley's scrawled handwritten complaint against Ivins, seeking a Protective Order, has served as the basis for much of the reporting regarding Ivins' mental state, yet it is hardly the model of a competent or authoritative professional. Quite the opposite.

Duley herself has a history that, at the very least, raises questions about her credibility. She has a rather lengthy involvement with the courts in Frederick, including two very recent convictions for driving under the influence -- one from 2007 and one from 2006 -- as well as a complaint filed against her for battery by her ex-husband. Here is Duley's record from the Maryland Judicial data base:

Just three months ago, Duley pled guilty and was sentenced to probation (and fined $1,000), as a result of having been stopped in December, while driving at 1:35 a.m., and charged with driving under the influence:

On April 21, 2006, Duley was also charged with "driving a vehicle while impaired by alcohol," driving "while impaired by drugs or alcohol," and reckless driving, and on October 13, 2006, she pled guilty to the charge of reckless driving and was fined $580. Back in 1992, Duley was criminally charged with battery against what appeared to be her now-ex-husband (and she filed a complaint against him as well). Later that same year, she was criminally charged with possession of drug paraphenalia with intent to use, charges which appear to have been ultimately dismissed.

Prior to the restraining order against Ivins which Duley obtained two weeks ago, Ivins had no criminal record at all, at least not in Frederick. A story in today's Frederick News-Post quotes Duley's fiancee as claiming: "She had to quit her job and is now unable to work, and we have spent our savings on attorneys." But she doesn't appear to have used an attorney for her complaint against Ivins. If anything, her savings were likely depleted from attorneys' fees, court costs, and fines and probation for her various criminal proceedings (Larisa Alexandrovna has more details on Duley).

None of this is to defend Ivins, nor is to suggest that this constitutes evidence that Duley is lying or is otherwise inaccurate in her claims. As I said, it's perfectly possible that Ivins is guilty of being the anthrax attacker. I have no opinion on whether he is. The point is that nobody should have any opinion on that question -- one way or the other -- until they see the FBI's evidence.

What is certain is that Jean Carol Duley is hardly some upstanding, authoritative source on Bruce Ivins' psychological state or his guilt, nor is she some accomplished and highly credible psychological professional, notwithstanding the fact that most media depictions of Ivins are based on uncritical recitations of her accusations. The fact that her depiction contradicts not only the claims of virtually everyone else who knew Ivins but also numerous facts about how Ivins was treated even by the FBI (see below), suggests that a large amount of skepticism is warranted.

(3) The initial report from The Los Angeles Times' David Willman said that Ivins committed suicide "just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him for the attacks." But an article from The New York Times' Scott Shane this morning reported that the evidence against Ivins "was largely circumstantial" and that the "grand jury in Washington was planning to hear several more weeks of testimony before issuing an indictment."

According to The Washington Post, Ivins enjoyed full-scale clearance at Fort Detrick as late as July 10 -- hardly what one would expect if the FBI were so certain that he was the anthrax attacker. And judging from an article in today's local Frederick newspaper, The Frederick-News Post Online, the FBI is still searching for evidence against Ivins, as they removed two computers from a public library there.

Members of Congress with some personal stake in this case and who have been attempting to assert some oversight on the FBI's investigation over the last six years -- Tom Daschle, Pat Leahy, Rush Holt -- have been uniformly critical of how it has been handled. Numerous experts continue to raise serious doubts about whether Ivins even had the ability to access and handle anthrax of the type that was sent to Daschle and Leahy. Maybe the FBI's evidence demonstrates that he could and did. Maybe it doesn't. But under all circumstances, it's inconceivable that anyone would be content with having the FBI simply keep its alleged evidence to itself and not have a full public airing and accounting of what has happened here, an accounting that should include the news organizations -- led by ABC -- which are in possession of vital information that they continue to conceal.

UPDATE: The Democracy Now segment I did this morning included Dr. Meryl Nass, an anthrax expert and physician (curriculum vitae is here) who knew Bruce Ivins, and is strongly skeptical of the claim that he is the anthrax attacker. Dr. Nass made several excellent points, and I will post the link to the segment once it is available. She also has been raising many insightful points questioning the accusations against Ivins on her blog, which is here. It is worthwhile to begin at the start and scroll down.

Relating to ABC, a reader exchanged emails with Brian Ross this weekend, and Ross wrote this (the email was sent from Ross' ABC address; yesterday, I emailed both him and ABC's Jeffrey Schneider to request confirmation of its authenticity, and they didn't reply):

As we reported more than six years ago our information came from current and former government scientists. The report was discointed [sic] and denied by the White House which we reported. I believe now the scientists got it wrong although they insisted they were correct long after.
Actually, this is the first time, to my knowledge, that Ross has ever acknowledged that his sources for the bentonite story were "current and former government scientists." Given that he previously described his sources as being "well-placed," that means, presumably, that they were scientists with extremely close proximity to Fort Detrick (where the anthrax tests were being conducted) if not Fort Detrick scientists themselves. That would mean, if the FBI's accusation against Ivins is true, that the same Government lab where the attacks originated was the source for falsely telling Ross that tests revealed evidence linking the attacks to Iraq. In light of that, how can Ross possibly continue to conceal which Government scientists disseminated this false story?

It is also worth noting that Ross, who was a key witness in the Steven Hatfill litigation (since he had published numerous incriminating leaks from the DOJ) badgered at least one of his government sources, FBI spokesman Edwin Cogswell, to provide Ross with a release authorizing Ross to disclose the source's identity (allowing Ross to avoid being held in contempt by the court). Has Ross sought a similar release from his bentonite sources? Clearly, at least in some instances, Ross is able to convince his sources to allow him to disclose their identity when he is properly motivated to do so. For the reasons Professors Rosen and Gillmor point out, no release should be necessary, since these sources fed him deliberate falsehoods, but one wonders if Ross has even tried to persuade them to give permission for Ross to disclose who they are.

UPDATE II: Pulitzer Prize winning reporter John McQuaid calls on ABC News and Brian Ross to provide a full account of how they ended up publishing the false bentonite story.

UPDATE III: The video for the aforementioned Democracy Now segment with me and Dr. Nass is now available here. The transcript will be posted shortly.