Saturday, February 25, 2006
02/24/06 "ICH" -- -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was warmly greeted at the recent meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations. The CFR is the hand-picked assemblage of western elites from big-energy, corporate media, high-finance and the weapons industry. These are the 4,000 or so members of the American ruling class who determine the shape of policy and ensure that the management of the global economic system remains in the hands of U.S. bluebloods.
As the Pentagon’s chief-coordinator, Rumsfeld enjoys a prominent place among American mandarins. He is the caretaker of their most prized possession; the high-tech, taxpayer-funded, laser-guided war machine. The US Military is the crown-jewel of the American empire; a fully-operational security apparatus for the protection of pilfered resources and the ongoing subjugation of the developing world.
Rumsfeld’s speech alerted his audience to the threats facing America in the new century.
He opined: “We meet today in the 6th year in what promises to be a long struggle against an enemy that in many ways is unlike any our country has ever faced. And, in this war, some of the most critical battles may not be in the mountains in Afghanistan or in the streets of Iraq, but in newsrooms—in places like New York, London, Cairo, and elsewhere.”
“Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today’s media age, but for the most part our country has not”.
Huh? Does Rummy mean those grainy, poorly-produced videos of Bin Laden and co.?
“Consider that the violent extremists have established ‘media relations committees’—and have proven to be highly-successful at manipulating opinion-elites. They plan to design their headline-grabbing attacks using every means of communications to intimidate and break the collective will of free people”.
It’s foolish to mention “intimidating and breaking the collective will of free people” without entering Abu Ghraib, Guantanomo and Falluja into the discussion. Rumsfeld is just griping about the disgrace he’s heaped on America’s reputation by his refusal to conform to even minimal standards of decency. Instead, he insists that America’s declining stature in the world is the result of a hostile media and “skillful enemies”; in other words, anyone with a computer keyboard and a rudimentary sense of moral judgment.
(Our enemies) “know that communications transcend borders…and that a single news story , handled skillfully, can be as damaging to our cause and as helpful to theirs, as any other method of military attack”.
If the Pentagon is really so worried about “bad press coverage” why not close down the torture-chambers and withdrawal from Iraq? Instead, Rumsfeld is making the case for a preemptive-assault on free speech.
“The growing number of media outlets in many parts of the world….too often serve to inflame and distort, rather than explain and inform. And while Al Qaida and extremist movements have utilized this forum for many years, and have successfully poisoned the Muslim public’s view of the West, we have barely even begun to compete in reaching their audiences.”
“Inflame and distort”?
What distortion? Do cameras distort the photos of abused prisoners, desperate people, or decimated cities?
Rumsfeld’s analysis borders on the delusional. Al Qaida doesn’t have a well-oiled propaganda mechanism that provides a steady stream of fabrications to whip the public into a frenzy. That’s the American media’s assignment. And, they haven’t “poisoned Muslim public opinion” against us. That has been entirely the doing of the Pentagon warlords and their White House compatriots.
“The standard US government public affairs operation was designed primarily …to be reactive rather than proactive…Government, however, is beginning to adapt”
“Proactive news”? In other words, propaganda.
Rumsfeld confirms his dedication to propaganda by defending the bogus stories that were printed in Iraqi newspapers by Pentagon contractors. (We) “sought non-traditional means to provide accurate information to the Iraqi people in the face of an aggressive campaign of disinformation….This has been deemed inappropriate—for examples the allegations of ‘buying news’”.
A brazen defense of intentionally planted lies; how low can we sink?
This has had a “chilling effect for those who are asked to serve in the military public affairs field.”
Is it really that difficult to print the truth?
Rumsfeld boasts of the vast changes in “communications planning” taking place at the Pentagon.
A “public affairs” strategy is at the heart of the new paradigm, replete with “rapid response” teams to address the nagging issues of bombed-out wedding parties, starving prisoners, and devastated cities. No problem is so great that it can’t be papered-over by a public relations team trained in the black-art of deception, obfuscation, and slight-of-hand. Trickery now tops the list of military priorities.
“US Central Command has launched an online communications effort that includes electronic news updates and a links campaign that has resulted in several hundred blogs receiving and publishing CENTCOM content.”
The military plans to develop the “institutional capability” to respond to critical news coverage within the same news cycle and to develop a comprehensive scheme for infiltrating the internet.
The Pentagon’s strategy for taking over the internet and controlling the free flow of information has already been chronicled in a recently declassified report, “The Information Operations Roadmap”; is a window into the minds of those who see free speech as dangerous as an “enemy weapons-system”.
The Pentagon is aiming for “full spectrum dominance” of the Internet. Their objective is to manipulate public perceptions, quash competing points of view, and perpetuate a narrative of American generosity and good-will.
Rumsfeld’s comments are intended to awaken his constituents to the massive information war that is being waged to transform the Internet into the progeny of the MSM; a reliable partner for the dissemination of establishment-friendly news.
The Associated Press reported recently that the US government conducted a massive simulated attack on the Internet called “Cyber-Storm”. The wargame was designed, among other things, to “respond to misinformation campaigns and activist calls by internet bloggers, online diarists whose ‘Web logs” include political rantings and musings about current events”.
Before Bush took office, “political rantings and musings about current events” were protected under the 1st amendment.
The War Department is planning to insert itself into every area of the Internet from blogs to chat rooms, from leftist web sites to editorial commentary. Their rapid response team will be on hair-trigger alert to dispute any tidbit of information that challenges the official storyline.
We can expect to encounter, as the BBC notes, “psychological operations (that) try to manipulate the thoughts and the beliefs of the enemy (as well as) computer network specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks.”
The enemy, of course, is anyone who refuses to accept their servile role in the new world order or who disrupts the smooth-operation of the Bush police-state.
The resolve to foreclose on free speech has never been greater.
As for Rumsfeld’s devotees at the CFR, the problem of savaging civil liberties is never seriously raised. After all, these are the primary beneficiaries of Washington’s global resource-war; should it matter that other people’s freedom is sacrificed to perpetuate the fundamental institutions of class and privilege?
Rumsfeld is right. The only way to prevail on the information-battlefield is to “take no prisoners”; police the Internet, uproot the troublemakers and activists who provide the truth, and “catapult the propaganda” (Bush) from every bullhorn and web site across the virtual-universe. Free speech is a luxury we cannot afford if it threatens to undermine the basic platforms of western white rule.
As Rumsfeld said, “We are fighting a battle where the survival of our free way of life is at stake.”
Indeed, it is.
"The population out there doesn't really understand right now why we're there and what we're doing. You have to say the thing five, six, seven, eight times before it really gets through to a large number of people." - Defence Minister, O'Connor instructs the foreign press.
Canadians Too Thick to Support Afghanistan Mission:
C. L. Cook
February 25, 2006
A Globe and Mail/ Strategic Counsel poll published yesterday (G&B, Fri. Feb. 24, 2006) pronounced, 'Majority Opposed to Afghan Mission.' As the Canadian Forces prepare to pick up the mantle of the NATO mission in-country this week, and as the nation expands its fifth year of picket duty of Afghanistan's effective occupation, a bewildered Defence Minister can merely shake his head. Or, so Gordon O'Connor would have it.
With his bum barely in the chair at the head of Canada's armed forces, rookie Cabinet Minister O'Connor is holding forth to the world's press, complaining of the dumb-asses, in the form of the majority of Canadians polled, he has to deal with. More amazing perhaps to O'Connor is the desire of an even greater number of Canadians asked that demands be made of Parliament to debate war issues before committing troops, a novel notion not sure to please the Freshman Tories. But, put on the spot, O'Connor bleats:
"Our policy is that, in future, if we're committing troops somewhere in substantial numbers
we would go to Parliament and we'd basically seek the support of Parliament."
But, that future is happening fast. It's a miracle more than eight unfortunate Canadians have seen their futures end so far in Afghanistan to date. If not for the professionalism of the Canadian military, and a deployment in the relatively calmer capital region, the only place effectively ruled by the Karzai government put into power, it would be much worse. But, it's about to get worse. And, Saturday's wounding of a Canadian in a grenade attack near Kandahar is evidence of that.
For those Canucks too stupid to fail to support Minister O'Connor, or to see the gathering cloud, and what it is likely to mean for Canadian families from Victoria to Saint John, prepare for terrible news: Canada is taking over in the heart of the Taliban-led resistance.
"Many Canadians do not know or understand the complexities of what the Afghan mission is about, why we are there, and its importance, its critical importance to Canada."
So, what makes Afghanistan worth it? Yes, Gordon do tell we, your dimmer fellow citizens: Why is Canada occupying a nation shattered in an illegal blitzkrieg, employing nuclear weapons of mass destruction, all carried out in the name of avenging the alleged perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks of 2001. Explain now please, what your party failed as the official opposition to do.
Why Gordie, after four and more years of trying to teach the Afghans the glory of our superior ways, are the locals lobbing grenades and firing AKs' at "our" boys and girls? And what about the suicide bombers?
Are they ingrates? Or maybe too dumb to know what's good for them, too? Tell us do, Mr. Minister. But, speak slowly please, we're Canadians.
O'Connor's dismissive opinion of the mental alacrity of the citizenry is an attitude shared by Canada's number one military man, General Rick Hillier, as witnessed by his gape-jawed statement of wonderment:
"Many Canadians do not know or understand the complexities of what the Afghan mission is about, why we are there, and its importance, its critical importance to Canada."
Hillier, those not yet brain-dead denizens of the Great White North may recall Hillier as the author of Canada's answer to George W. Bush's famous "Bring 'em on" performance regarding that other bunch of recalcitrant converts in Iraq. Clever tactical move, General. Original too.
With the exception of some sorrowfully late complaint by the NDP regarding the need to hold open parliamentary debate concerning matters of war in Canada, the house has sat largely silent on the Afghanistan "mission" through two elections. Despite wide-spread rejection of the official line doled over by the Liberals and now reiterated by their superior heirs, Canada and Canadians are being frog marched into George Bush's vision of global militarism.
Maybe O'Connor is right, Canadians just don't understand.
Chris Cook is a contributing editor to PEJ News, and hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.
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The Neo-Conquistadors: Glamis Gold, Guatemalan Blood
by C. L. Cook
Object of conquest itself just a year past, Glamis Gold of Vancouver recently announced its take-over bid for Western Silver for a paltry 1.04 billion (US) dollars. So, how did the struggling mining company turn its fortunes around? It starts with the World Bank, and the sacrifice of Mayan villagers on the alter of corporate greed and government malfeasance.
The troubles for the locals began in 1998 when discovery of gold in the Guatemalan highlands. What most would believe a boon was immediately suspect to the Maya who have suffered dislocation, assimilation, and murder by successive oppressors since the first days of contact with European Conquistadors. They wanted environmental, cultural, and labour oversight of the proposed project in their ancestral lands, as was guaranteed in Guatemala's 1996 Peace Accords. The Accords were initiated as part of a national reconciliation effort following the decades-long terror campaign waged against the indigenous Maya by a series of U.S.-supported dictatorships.
As part of the Accords, the government of the day signed on to International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169 which commits government to consultations with local indigenous populations regarding natural resources found on their lands. It also provided that communities have the right to decide "development priorities" and the right to participate in any "use, management, and conservation" of those resources. But, the Guatemalan government side-stepped this legislated mandate and granted rights of sub-surface development to "Canadian" mining giant, Glamis Gold and their so-called 'Marlin Project.' The Reno, Nevada-based Glamis, [NYSE:GLG; TSX:GLG] through subsidiary, Montana Exploradora also ignored the tenets of Convention 169 exacerbating an already tense situation.
Though consultation meetings were held with locals, the Maya contend Glamis didn't listen to their concerns about the impact of the project, and say they doubt Glamis' claims of economic benefits for their community. Resistance to the project was wide-spread, but despite the popular rejection, the World Bank in 2004, through its International Finance Corporation (IFC), secured a 45 million dollar loan guarantee for Glamis to push the project ahead. This in clear contradiction to both the ILO's Convention 169, and the World Bank's Extractive Industries Review (EIR).
When questioned about Glamis and the Marlin Project, the Canadian Ambassador to Guatemala said only: "Permits have been granted according to national and international regulations." This despite the clear violations of both by the World Bank and Guatemalan government.
Environmental concerns about the benignly named, Marlin Project have too, the Maya contend, been downplayed, or ignored completely. Glamis' operation is an open pit, cyanide leaching process outlawed by both the European Union and State of Montana in the United States.
To date, protests have been met with harassment, intimidation, beatings, and murder at the hands of the "authorities." All presumably with the express approval of the Canadian Embassy in Guatemala City. The Canadians have been one of the biggest supporters of the project, though Glamis is merely a "Canadian-licensed" operation.
But, not all Canadians are happy about their government's support of Glamis and the Marlin Project. Grahame Russell, a coordinator with the Canadian organization, Rights Action says of the deaths of Maya opposing the Marlin:
"This repression was waiting to happen. The red flags were there since the beginning, but the company, the Canadian government, and the World Bank have been content to let it happen. The communities and the Guatemalan organisations have always said they needed to be consulted." adding, "There needs to be a full investigation into how this happened, who gave the orders, and who knew what was going on."
That was more than a year ago, when Glamis was fighting for its corporate life. Today, the Marlin Project swims on and Glamis is looking to expand its industry profile.
Chris Cook is a contributing editor to PEJ News. He also hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Rollins Criminalized for Reading
Another Day in the Empire
February 18th 2006
As well, he would do good to never visit Australia again and urge his family, friends, and fans of his music and stand-up comedy routine to do likewise. If more people did this, the fascist state of Australia and the neocon government of John Howard would get the message—in a particularly hurtful economic way.
I don’t know if it makes a difference, but I have not entered an airport (fascist zones) or boarded a commercial airplane since 2002. I recently drove 2,600 miles round-trip to visit an ill relative.
Of course, if Bush and the Straussian neocons have their way, all freeways will soon become fascist zones as well and you will need a passport to travel from one state to another (we already have worthless ICE checkpoints here in New Mexico) and the trip will cost a small fortune, thanks to the imposition of toll roads everywhere (I was forced to use one in Oklahoma as I traveled to Indiana, a state that will soon have its own toll roads). Neoliberalism is making its mark in a big way here in the heartland.
For now, however, there are few jackbooted thugs on the interstate freeways and I can avoid the sort of abuse Rollins endured.
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Stephen Andrew and Sandbagging the News
C . L. CookPEJ News
February 17, 2006
It's not often one gets the chance to see the raw truth behind the manipulation of what passes for news in the corporate media but last night, I was so favoured. Local filmmaker, Andrew Ainsley, an acquaintance of a friend, came around, fresh from his "interview" with crack reporter, Stephen Andrew. At issue, Ainsley's latest documentation of the treatment meted out to the poor and homeless by the authorities here in the Garden City.
The day before, Victoria publication, Monday Magazine featured a story on Ainsley's footage of the arrest of two friends caught searching for food in a local grocer's dumpster, (Trash, Security and Videotape, Andrew MacLeod, Monday Magazine, Feb. 16-22, 2006). The "divers" had been harassed by the store's security personnel a couple of days previous, and told by the security guards food in the dumpster was routinely poisoned. Unbelieving, Ainsley set out to capture those claims on tape. What happened next led to his fateful meeting with Stephen Andrew.
Ainsley's video, surreptitiously shot from the window of a van parked across the bare construction site abutting Food Country, in the heart of the tony Cook Street Village, documents a Victoria City Police take-down of his two friends, complete with audio recorded by a hidden microphone worn by one. What the film revealed is no secret to any of the burgeoning homeless population in this, one of Canada's most expensive cities, but the footage may shock those sheltered citizens in Victoria who assume the police here follow their pledge to honour both the law, and the rights of the people that law is designed to protect.
But, Victorians watching A - Channel's ace reporter, Stephen Andrew didn't see the unedited version of events.
The video, in its unedited form, clearly reveals the private security guards, while police stand by, take it upon themselves to interrogate, berate, and on more than one occasion lay hands on the men in custody. It reveals: Besides ignoring their responsibilities to the law and Charter of Rights, Victoria City Police, through the thuggish attitude displayed toward the entirely peaceable subjects under their control, abandoned too, in this instance at least, their duty as the sole arbiters of the law.
It is not legal for private security guards to lay hands on people, let alone push them around while handcuffed and in police custody. But, this breach seemed fine to the several police officers dispatched, lights a-flash to the scene of the dumpster caper.
The video also records the arrest of the filmmaker, Andrew Ainsley, spotted by the intrepid security guards filming from across street. Ainsley faces a "mischief" charge, and had one of his cameras and a tape seized by police. These are as yet to be returned.
The day after the Monday Magazine story hit the streets, A - Channel secured a copy of Ainsley's video. Seeing the video, Victoria City Police Chief Paul Battershill gave a press conference in which he made the unsubstantiated charge of a "set-up" carried out by the filmmaker to make the police look bad. It was a theme eagerly picked up by reporter, Stephen Andrew.
In a classic "ambush" interview (this is the form made famous by that other paragon of good journalism, Geraldo Rivera), Andrew approached Ainsley, who had already declined an interview with him, lights on and camera rolling. A true stenographer to power, Andrew repeated the Chief's points, clearly attempting to lead his subject to reiterate his predetermined conclusions, if only superficially. But Stephen does Geraldo one better, including grisly photographs, provided presumably by the police, of an American police colleague wounded by a small knife. This apparently to make the peaceful arrestees, who knew they were on camera, seem dangerous. The slasher pic preceded Ainsley on camera in Andrew's edited version of reality.
Nice touch, Stepho!
This coercive approach may not be evident to those gentle viewers used to assuming those passing themselves off as "journalists" adhere to a professional code of conduct. They likely rely on Stephen Andrew, and his editors at A - Channel, to present unbiased reports that cover more than one side of an issue. Stephen Andrew gives proof to that lie.
But, Stephen never said he was a journalist. Despite his position as President of the nascent Victoria Press Club (bio. pending), what little is published about Stephen's background omits mention of his journalistic schooling. Presumably, if one never swears the oath, one isn't bound by the code of conduct.
I don't know if Stephen is an accredited journalist. He presumably holds press credentials credible enough to gain entrance to the Legislature, but even if he's not a REAL journalist, or never sat through those tedious Journalism 101 classes where ethics and so forth were instructed and debated, common decency should dictate what even FOX News recognizes as an important element in reportage: Fairness and Balance.
It may not be rare to see skewed news, but it's less common to see the raw abandonment of any semblance of truth or fairness in a story less covered than created. You see Stephen, I've seen the raw footage of Andrew Ainsley's film. And, I've also seen the video shot of you interviewing Ainsley and know, in your case, A stands for more than Ambush.
Andrew Ainsley's "mischief" charge is scheduled to be heard in provincial court March 15th, 2006
You can check out Andrew Ainsley's films at: www.loveandfearlessness.com
President Stephen Andrew's Victoria Press Club is: www.victoriapressclub.com
A -Channel can be found at: www.achannel.ca
Chris Cook is not an accredited journalist either, but he serves as a contributing editor to PEJ News anyway. He also hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria. And, he knows fair and balanced reporting from skewed, agenda-filling propaganda when he sees it.
You can check out the GR Blog here.