terrorism

Abortion Doctor Murdered, Media and Government don’t Label it “Terrorism”

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Over the weekend, an a doctor named George Tiller–who provided abortions to women who needed them–was gunned down as he entered his church. The shooting was part of a long campaign of anti-abortion violence aimed at intimidating doctors who perform abortions. Not only that, it’s part of an upsurge in harassment of clinics since President Barack Obama took office. The lead suspect in the case has long been associated with the anti-abortion movement–a movement which has successfully restricted access to abortion over the years.

While the media coverage of the shooting has been correct to put in the context of a long history of anti-abortion violence–including shootings and clinic bombings–few media outlets spoke of the attack as an act of terrorism. Almost universally the shooting was referred to as simply a “shooting” or a “murder”–not as an act of terrorism. The only newspaper that mentioned the shooting in relation to “domestic terrorism” was the Los Angeles Times. Online alternative media has been quick to call the shooting terrorism, with The Huffington Post (1, 2) and Salon.com both ran articles calling the attack an act of domestic terrorism.

I’m not a huge fan of calling every crime under the sun terrorism, as the government has been wont to do in recent years, but it’s hard to imagine calling this attack anything else. The federal government defines “domestic terrorism” as:

`(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;

`(B) appear to be intended–

`(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

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

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

Under this definition, this was clearly an act of domestic terrorism. Tiller was specifically targeted for assassination with the goal of ending his capacity to perform abortions and intimidating doctors who perform them. Tiller’s movements were tracked by the anti-abortion movement and he was hated within that movement. He had previously been the target of protests and acts of violence. In the 1980s, his clinic was regularly targeted by protestors, it was bombed, and Tiller himself was shot. Recently, his clinic had been vandalized–an act that did thousands of dollars of damage. Tiller had also just beaten trumped up charges that he violated Kansas law.

Contrast with Left-Wing Violence

I think it’s interesting to contrast the media’s coverage of this case with so-called acts of terrorism committed by the left in the United States. Crimes committed by the Animal Liberation Front and the Earth Liberation Front–groups which engage in the criminal destruction of property and economic sabotage–are routinely labeled “terrorist” and both the media and the government are quick to call those crimes “terrorism.” For example, when environmental activist Marie Mason was arrested last year for a politically motivated arson at Michigan State University (MSU), the corporate media universally called the act “terrorism,” even before she was convicted. This echoed coverage back when the arson happened in 2000. No human lives were harmed or threatened–although the government and media would later hype the fact that the resulting fire put firefighters in harm’s way.

Similarly, environmental and animal activists have been rounded up as part of the government’s “green scare” campaign and labeled “terrorists”–and even imprisoned–when they have engaged only in acts that damage property, not taken human life. Moreover, there has been a recent trend of charging animal rights activists with terrorism for undertaking acts that are otherwise protected under the First Amendment–such as protests and informational campaigns.

How do you think the media and government would respond if it was a vivisectionist that was shot? I’m willing to bet there would be allegations of “terrorism” coming from all quarters.

Headlines: Cheney: Obama Policies Endanger U.S.; Report: GM to Enter Bankruptcy

Democracy Now Headlines: Cheney: Obama Policies Endanger U.S.; Report: GM to Enter Bankruptcy

Headlines from DemocracyNow.org, a daily TV/radio news program, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 650 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the US.

Obama Backs Indefinite Jailing, Criticizes Bush Measures

President Obama has publicly acknowledged for the first time he supports the indefinite jailing of some prisoners without trial. Obama made the admission during a speech at the National Archives Thursday defending his plan to close Guantanamo.

President Obama: “Let me begin by disposing of one argument as plainly as I can: we are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security, nor will we release detainees within the United States who endanger the American people.”

Obama also went on to repudiate several Bush administration counterrorism policies and criticize the media and his own party for failing to oppose them.

President Obama: “I also believe that-too often-our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, we too often set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And in this season of fear, too many of us-Democrats and Republicans; politicians, journalists and citizens-fell silent.”

Cheney: Obama Policies Endanger U.S.

Just minutes after Obama spoke, former Vice President Dick Cheney delivered a speech at the American Enterprise Institute defending Bush administration policies. Cheney said Obama is endangering the United States.

Vice President Dick Cheney: “The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some middle ground on terrorism. They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum. If liberals are unhappy about some decisions and conservatives are unhappy about some decisions, then it may seem to them that the president is on the path of sensible compromise. Half measures keep you half exposed.”

Senate Approves War Funding

The Senate has approved a $91 billion dollar measure funding the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure passed by a vote of 86 to three.

Ex-Soldier Gets Life Sentence in Iraq Rape, Murder Case

A former U.S. soldier has been sentenced to life in prison for the 2006 rape and murder of an Iraqi teenager and the killing of her family. Steven Green was found guilty earlier this month of being the ringleader in raping and killing fourteen-year-old Abeer Kassem Hamza al-Janabi and killing her parents and five-year-old sister. Green was given the life term after jurors couldn’t come to unanimous agreement on sentencing him to death. Three other soldiers have also been sentenced to life in prison in the case.

UN Launches Appeal for Pakistan Refugees

In Pakistan, the UN is appealing for more than $500 million dollars in aid to help the hundreds of thousands displaced by clashes between government troops and Taliban fighters. Some two million people have fled their homes in the Swat valley following last month’s collapse of a government-Taliban truce. UN humanitarian coordinator Martin Mogwanja said the displacements have caused “incredible suffering.”

Adm. Mullen: Afghan Occupation Could “Further Destabilize” Pakistan

Meanwhile, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, has admitted the escalation of the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan could end up worsening Pakistan’s internal unrest. Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mullen said: “We may end up further destabilizing Pakistan without providing substantial lasting improvements in Afghanistan.” He continued*: “Can I… [be] 100% certain that won’t destabilize Pakistan? I don’t know the answer to that.”

Anti-War Protesters Disrupt Senate Hearing

The hearing was briefly interrupted by four anti-war activists protesting the occupation of Afghanistan. The protesters threw money stained with blood and shouted “stop pouring blood money into warfare.” One demonstrator stood up to repeat the words of committee chair Senator John Kerry when he testified as an anti-war veteran during the Vietnam war*: “How do you ask someone to be the last American soldier to die for a mistake?” The activists are members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.

Obama to Sign Credit Card Bill

President Obama is expected to sign a bill today imposing new regulations on the credit card industry. The final measure excludes stronger proposals that would have capped interest rates and fees. The bill has drawn criticism from gun control advocates over an amendment that would allow people to carry loaded guns in national parks.

15 Anti-Coal Activists Arrested in Sit-In

In other news from Washington, fifteen people were arrested Thursday protesting Democratic Congressmember Rick Boucher over his support for the coal industry. The activists say Boucher has led efforts to weaken the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill while inserting billions of dollars in incentives for coal companies.

Spanish Judge Reinstates Charges Against U.S. Troops in Bouso Killing

In Spain, charges have been reinstated against three U.S. soldiers in the killing of the Jose Couso. A Spanish journalist, Couso died when U.S. troops shelled Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel in April 2003. Ukrainian cameraman Taras Protsyuk also died in the attack. On Thursday, a Spanish judge revived the case against Sgt. Shawn Gibson, Capt. Philip Wolford and Lt. Col. Philip DeCamp over what he called new evidence. Initial charges were dropped after Spain’s National Court dismissed the case. Jose Couso’s brother, Javier Couso, welcomed the reinstatement.

Javier Couso: “The success of what’s happening today is thanks to a joint effort not just of the justice system but of the civil testament in our country. This case was very important here. Jose gave a face to the victims in the Iraq war. It made many very indignant and we all saw it. It was an attack against the press.”

The judge, Santiago Pedraz, says the new evidence includes eyewitness testimony contradicting U.S. claims the tank that attacked the Palestine Hotel came under fire. One year ago, former Army Sergeant Adrienne Kinne told Democracy Now! she saw the Palestine hotel on a military target list and said she frequently intercepted calls from journalists staying there.

Morales Calls for Shift in U.S.-Bolivia Ties

In Bolivia, President Evo Morales is calling for a new phase in relations with the United States. The Bush administration funneled tens of millions of dollars to Morales’ opponents in an effort to destibilize his government. Bolivia expelled the U.S. ambassador last year over allegations of conspiring with opposition groups. On Thursday, Morales held talks with Thomas Shannon, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

Bolivian President Evo Morales: “On the issue of cooperation, whatever cooperation that is undertaken must be from state to state. On the issue of investment, the investment must be orientated towards having partners, and the investment must not just made to guarantee the plunder of groups, without any benefit for the people of Bolivia.”

Netanyahu: Israel Won’t Allow Division of Jerusalem

In Israel and the Occupied Territories, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared Israel will never cede control over all of Jerusalem. Palestinians have called for sovereignty over East Jerusalem as part of any future peace deal. But on Thursday, Netanyahu said Jerusalem will remain undivided.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “A united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Jerusalem was and will always be ours. It shall never be divided and split again.”

Netanyahu’s comments come just three days after his White House meeting with President Obama where he pledged to seek peace with Palestinians.

Report: GM to Enter Bankruptcy

Back in the United States, the Washington Post is reporting the Obama administration plans to steer General Motors into bankruptcy as early as next week. The move would enable GM to take out nearly $30 billion dollars in additional government loans. Meanwhile the government has increased the bailout of GM’s financing arm, GMAC, with an additional $7.5 billion dollars in taxpayer money on top of the $5 billion it’s already poured in.

Fed Closes Florida’s BankUnited FSB

Federal regulators have shut down the Florida-based savings bank BankUnited FSB. The bank was the largest banking institution headquartered in Florida, and the 34th federally-insured financial institution shut down this year.

AIG CEO to Step Down

And the bailed-out insurance giant AIG has announced Edward Liddy will resign as chair and CEO. Liddy has led AIG since the U.S. government bailed it out last September with what’s grown to a $180 billion dollar commitment.

Supporting State Terrorism: The US Media on Israel & Palestine

The US Media Reports on Israel/Palestine from a Perspective that never Questions Israel

As I sit down to write my monthly column, it is now the third week of intensive Israeli bombing of the Gaza. A United Nations compound was recently hit, as have been a hospital, the Islamic University of Gaza and several neighborhoods. The civilian death toll in the Gaza had reached 700 by mid-January with no end in sight, as the Israeli bombing continues and Israeli tanks and troops have entered the Gaza.

Unfortunately, this is not the general picture that one would receive from the US news media. Probably more than any other foreign policy issue, the US media’s reporting on Israel/Palestine is extremely biased in favor of Israel. There are numerous reasons for this bias–reasons that I want to explore.

First, it is important to acknowledge the US government relations with Israel. Israel has been the number one recipient of US aid for nearly 30 years. On average, the US provides $3 billion annually to Israel in general aid and billions more in military aid. According to Frieda Berrigan with the New America Foundation’s Arms and Security Project, in 2008 the US provided $22 billion in arms sales to Israel. According to the DC-based End the Occupation Campaign, many of the weapons that Israel is currently using to bomb Gaza were provided by the US. Some of those weapons are F 16 fighter jets, Apache helicopters, and TOW, Hellfire, and Bunker Buster missiles. However, if one looks at the print and broadcast media they would be hard pressed to see a single word about US weapons going to Israel.

Second, the US diplomatic relationship with Israel is such that the US has been the only country in the world to consistently stand with Israel when the rest of the world condemns Israeli policy in Palestine. Whenever the United Nations passes a resolution condemning the Israeli occupation the US and maybe one other country will vote with Israel, so it is usually a vote of like 180 to 3 in the General Assembly and only the US blocks a vote against Israel in the UN Security Council. When was the last time you saw the US news media report on UN resolutions against Israel?

The US diplomatic support for Israel is so strong that is consistently receives bipartisan support. Very few politicians are willing to challenge the US support of Israel and those who have were targeted and lost re-election campaigns. Author and former Congressman Paul Findley has documented how politicians in the US are attacked for any criticism of Israel in his book They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby. Every US administration since Richard Nixon has been a staunch supporter of Israel and the new administration are not likely to change that trend. One of the first things Obama did once he sealed the Democratic nomination in June was to go to the largest Israel lobby group in the US (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee – AIPAC) and assure them that he is committed to maintaining US support of Israel.

In early January, while the international community was overwhelmingly condemning the Israeli attacks against the Gaza, US politicians were voting to support Israel. The US Senate voted 80-0 in favor of “Israel’s right to defend itself” and the US House followed suit by voting 390 – 5. Even Liberal Democrats like Senator Carl Levin voted for the resolution, which is no surprise since he has been one of the largest recipients of Israel lobby money over the past twenty years.

Since the military and diplomatic policy is aligned with Israel, it is no surprise that US media coverage of Israel/Palestine overwhelmingly favors Israel. This favorable coverage is due to the fact that most US news agencies depend upon government officials as primary sources and is not inclined to challenge those positions for fear of losing access to these same sources.

Another major reason for the news bias in favor of Israel is that many reporters and news editors know that if they take a critical position against Israel that they will be pressured and possibly attacked by the US-based Israel lobby groups. These attacks will often include accusations of anti-Semitism and possibly even being labeled as Holocaust deniers. The claims of anti-Semitism against those that are critical of Israel are generally not well founded, but who in the journalistic field wants to risk being called anti-Semitic?

This fear of being labeled anti-Semitic even impacts the general public, which is one of the reasons for people to not participate in campaigns that challenge US policy towards Israel. When activists organized rallies against the Israeli bombing of the Gaza in early January some of those activists received hate mail. I also read the comment sections of the Grand Rapids Press and WZZM 13 after they posted stories about the rallies and most of the comments were not only pro-Israel, they accused the Arabs who organized the demonstrations of being supporters of terrorism. One commentator on the WZZM 13 site compared those who condemned Israel’s bombing on Gaza to supporters of Hitler and Pol Pot. The same person said that they hoped that the organizers of the rallies would be put on the US government terrorist watch list.

One additional area of US support for Israel comes from sectors of the Christian evangelical community. Many fundamentalist churches see unconditional US support for Israel as a biblical mandate and even necessary for the Second Coming of Jesus. One of the biggest proponents of this theological interpretation is Rev. John Hagee who is based in San Antonio, Texas. Hagee calls himself a Christian Zionist and devotes a weeklong revival every year to encourage people to support Israel no matter what. Hagee even thinks that Israel should go further with its military policy and advocated in 2006, when Israel was bombing Lebanon, that Israel should have just “dropped a nuclear bomb on that country.” An excellent book that chronicles the history of Christian Zionism is Allies for Armageddon: The Rise of Christian Zionism.

Lastly, the near unanimous media support for Israel is part of a larger cultural hatred of Arabs and Muslims. I highly recommend that people read the work of the late Edward Said (particularly Orientalism) and Culture and Imperialism and Jack Sheehan’s important book Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People. The reality is that it is the norm in the US to see Arabs and Muslims in popular culture as terrorists. Whenever you see someone in the popular media wearing a kafia, a traditional scarf for Arabs, it is usually someone who is wielding a gun or burning a flag. These types of gross stereotypes and how the US news media reports on Israel/Palestine are part of what needs to be changed if the public perception of what is happening in the Middle East is ever to change.

Jeff Smith is a regular contributor to http://www.mediamouse.org and does workshops on media bias & racial stereotyping in the media.

Long After the RNC, 8 Activists Facing Terrorism Charges

The RNC 8 were indicted on terrorism charges in the wake of the RNC protests

In the months following the protests at the Republican National Convention (RNC), held in September, a group referred to as “the RNC 8″ continue to fight for their own freedom. The RNC 8, consisting of Luce Guillen Givins, Max Specktor, Nathanael Secor, Eryn Trimmer, Monica Bicking, Erik Oseland, Robert Czernik and Garrett Fitzgerald, were all arrested prior to the RNC and charged with Conspiracy to Riot in Furtherance of Terrorism under what is essentially Minnesota’s version of the PATRIOT Act for their political organizing as part of the RNC Welcoming Committee.

The basis for their arrest was founded on reports by paid, confidential informants who infiltrated the RNC-WC and claimed that members sought to kidnap RNC delegates, assault police officers with firebombs and explosives, and sabotage airports in St. Paul. Criminal complaints filed by the Ramsey County Attorney do not allege that any members of the RNC 8 engaged in any acts of violence or damage to property, but lists all violations of the law during the last few days of the RNC (not including violations of human rights committed by law enforcement officials), instead seeking to hold the RNC 8 responsible for the actions of others. When searches conducted in connection with the raids failed to turn up any evidence, police claimed that common household items such as glass bottles, charcoal lighter, nails, a rusty machete, and two hatchets supported the allegations of the informants.

As Bruce Nestor, President of the Minnesota Chapter of National Lawyers Guild, expressed, “This doesn’t amount to evidence of an organized insurrection, particularly when over 3,500 police are present in the Twin Cities, armed with assault rifles, concussion grenades, chemical weapons and full riot gear (source).”

In December, three more felony charges were added by Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner: 2nd degree conspiracy to riot (without the terrorism enhancement), 1st degree conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property in furtherance of terrorism, and 1st degree conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property (without the terrorism enhancement).

Recently, court proceedings for the RNC 8 have been delayed as in early January Judge Salvador Rosas, who was selected to hear the case, recused himself for reasons he has not made public. As a result, the motion hearing scheduled for January 26 will not be taking place, and a date has yet to be set for assigning a new judge.

A good resource for those interested in the fate of the RNC 8 is the web site www.rnc8.org, “Friends of the RNC 8.”The site includes news updates, biographies of the defendants, fundraiser information, etc.

One of the most beneficial sections on the website is the article “Top 9 RNC Myths: Anticipating the Heffelfinger-Luger Report,” as most of these myths have been applied to past demonstrations, and will no doubt be perpetrated in the future. For example, the claim that protestors threw human excrement at law enforcement was falsely used during the 1968 DNC demonstrations in Chicago, and more recently in Denver at the 2008 DNC and in 2004 at the RNC and the DNC.

Terrorizing Dissent, a documentary film, is another resource that captures footage of the RNC protests and the blatant abuse endured by those demonstrating. It includes extensive interviews with the RNC 8 as well as “first-person accounts and footage from more than forty cameras on the streets.” The film can be viewed for free on the official web site TerrorizingDissent.org.

Author Daniel Levitas Speaks at Ford Museum on Rightwing Domestic Terrorism

On Tuesday evening, reporter and author Daniel Levitas delivered a lecture at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in downtown Grand Rapids on domestic terrorism. Building off his book The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right, Levitas focused his lecture on rightwing domestic terrorism and the groups in which they are involved.

Levitas began his talk by recounting the Oklahoma City bombing 12 years ago that killed 160 people and wounded 500. Levitas reminded the audience that at the time of the attack, many commentators in the media declared that it was an act of “Mideast terrorism” despite the fact that it would later turn out to be an attack staged by domestic terrorists of the radical right. Levitas explained that the radical right movement had been building for several years without any attention from law enforcement officials and that the attack was a surprise to law enforcement officials.

Despite the fact that law enforcement officials were taken by surprise, a radical rightwing movement had been organizing for several years and had been building a movement around the idea that the government was waging war against them. The militia movement had thousands of members around the country, including some 10,000 members in Michigan, the majority of whom were stockpiling weapons and supplies for what they thought would be a future invasion of the United States by the “New World Order.” At the same time, these groups saw the actions of the United States government, including the siege at Waco, the shooting of a white supremacist’s wife at Ruby Ridge, and the passage of the Brady Bill–which they saw as an attempt to disarm America and make it vulnerable to an attack by the “New World Order”–as evidence of a war against them.

Despite some success in prosecuting militia and radical right groups in the wake of Oklahoma City by the government, these groups have continued to organize, even as many of them have given up on broad-based movements. According to Levitas, many white supremacist groups have given up on the government, essentially viewing it as “lost” to “non-whites,” Jews, and immigrants. This was clear immediately after 9/11, when many white supremacists applauded the attack on the “Zionist Occupying Government”–commonly referred to as “ZOG”–and cheered the killing of 10,000 “ZOGites.” White supremacists such as Hardy Lloyd of the World Church of the Creator, a white supremacist group, cheered the attack and talked about the need to get guns ready for the revolution. A leader of the neo-Nazi National Alliance applauded the attacks as well, stating “we may not want them marrying our daughters…but anyone who is willing to drive a plane into a building to kill Jews is alright by me.”

Levitas explained to the audience that while receiving much less attention in the media, arrests of white supremacist and radical right individuals have increased since 9/11 and have made up a significant number of those arrested on terrorism charges. He cited two examples, Eric Rudolph and William Krar, both of whom identified with the radical right. Eric Rudolph, who set off a pipe bomb at the Olympics in Atlanta and who attacked people at a family planning clinic, attacked because he believe the government had lost its authority because of abortion and tolerance of homosexuality. William Krar, a militia member from Texas, had built a chemical weapon–a sodium-cyanide bomb–like the ones the government fears may be built by Al Qaida. Yet, despite the destructive power of the bomb, the 5,000 rounds of ammunition, 100 pipe bombs, and the neo-Nazi literature that he was arrested with, the government never made Krar’s arrest a serious issue.

While it is easy to focus on a particularly violent fringe of the radical right, Levitas argued that the real problem lies where the ideologies of the radical right tap into widely held sentiments and stereotypes. To illustrate this point, Levitas explained that 14% of Americans hold anti-Semitic stereotypes, including the idea that Jews care only for themselves, that Jews control Wall Street, and that Jews killed Christ. In regards to immigration, Levitas explained that a significant portion of Americans responded to a survey stating that it “bothers” them to see immigrants succeed while native-born United States citizens are struggling. Levitas also cited two recent votes that showed widespread voter support for racist policies–a vote in 2000 in Alabama to remove an amendment from the constitution banning whites and African-Americans from marrying and a 2002 vote in Oregon to remove language in the state constitution saying that “negroes” could not enter into contracts or hold property. In both cases, a significant portion of the voters–40% and 31% respectively–voted to keep the racist language in the constitution. To seriously address the threat of radical rightwing movements, Levitas argued that people need to address the underlying ideologies rather than focusing purely on a law enforcement strategy.

Johnathan White Speaks on "the Jihad Movement"

On Wednesday, September 20 the Progressive Women’s Alliance hosted GVSU professor Jonathan White to speak on “Understanding the Jihad Movement and Homeland Security.” White spoke for about 25 minutes and didn’t address the topic until the final 5 minutes. He did give some figures on global Islam and how many Muslims support acts of terror and how many actually participate in acts of terrorism. None of this data was supported with sources. White spent most of the presentation time talking about the history of Islam.

The Q & A period clearly demonstrated that the audience wanted more information on current US policy and militant Islamic movements. Someone asked about the Christian Fundamentalists in the US, their access to government power and how to counter that. White’s response was for people to “read a book and vote.” This writer asked the question “It is my understanding that since the administration of FDR the US government has had a relationship with militant Islamic groups either by funding them, training them or using them as proxy forces that support US policy in countries like Egypt, Iran, Syria, Pakistan, Algeria, and Afghanistan. Would you say that the idea that “they hate us” is due in part to their understanding of how they have been a pawn of US policy?” White’s response was “you are probably right. Just imagine what would have happened in Afghanistan if after the Soviets left we gave people money for development so that they would not have to grow poppies for heroin.” This of course denies the fact that the Mujahadeen were trafficking in heroin while they were a CIA asset before the Soviets left Afghanistan (source).

When asked about the US occupation of Iraq, White said that there are two views, Rumsfeld’s view which is to fight with as few troops as possible and the other to have a total war view which Colin Powell supports. On the matter of government intelligence and foreign policy White said that quite often the government doesn’t know what it is doing because of the bureaucracy and even said that as of 2 years ago the FBI did not offer counter terrorism classes. Someone also asked White about the connection between oil and terrorism. He said that “if we would just let the market do what we claim it does, we wouldn’t have this mess of competing interests that lead to conflicts.”

Lastly, he was asked to make comments about Homeland Security to which he said that one of the best preventative measures would be to have police make more traffic stops. Someone in the audience mentioned that is how we caught Timothy McVeigh, which prompted White to discuss the domestic terrorist groups like the Christian Identity Movement. White also put environmental groups and animal rights groups who destroy property in the same category as “domestic terrorists.” White never defined what terrorism is and didn’t really offer up much analysis that differs from the current administration on who the terrorists are and how to deal with them. White has written a book on terrorism and several articles, one which never mentions any US government/military actions as terrorist nor those of groups or countries around the world that the US has had as allies. White was clearly not a “progressive” on this matter, no matter how one defines progressive. If you compared his analysis to that of Bill Blum, you can see how White is reflecting a Pro- US position on the matter of terrorism.

9/11: Five Years and Still Questioning the Military Response to Terrorism

While most media outlets are dedicating their programming today to re-broadcasting their coverage of 9/11 and commemorating the United States’ victims of September 11, Media Mouse would like to remind people that the “war on terror” has been a complete failure in any respect other than providing a weak ideological pretext for the continued expansion United States’ hegemony and the military-industrial complex in the absence of the Cold War. The “war on terror” has failed to lessen terrorism in the world despite the invasion and occupation of both Afghanistan and Iraq in which thousands of civilians have been killed in two colossal acts of state terrorism perpetrated by the United States. In November of 2001, scholar Noam Chomsky described the United States as “a leading terrorist state” and outlined several historical instances of state terrorism perpetrated by the United States:

The U.S. is the only country that was condemned for international terrorism by the World Court and that rejected a Security Council resolution calling on states to observe international law. It continues international terrorism. That example’s the least of it. And there are also what are in comparison, minor examples. Everybody here was quite properly outraged by the Oklahoma City bombing, and for a couple of days, the headlines all read, Oklahoma City looks like Beirut. I didn’t see anybody point out that Beirut also looks like Beirut, and part of the reason is that the Reagan Administration had set off a terrorist bombing there in 1985 that was very much like Oklahoma City, a truck bombing outside a mosque timed to kill the maximum number of people as they left. It killed eighty and wounded two hundred, aimed at a Muslim cleric whom they didn’t like and whom they missed. It was not very secret. I don’t know what name you give to the attack that’s killed maybe a million civilians in Iraq and maybe a half a million children, which is the price the Secretary of State says we’re willing to pay. Is there a name for that? Supporting Israeli atrocities is another one. Supporting Turkey’s crushing of its own Kurdish population, for which the Clinton Administration gave the decisive support, 80 percent of the arms, escalating as atrocities increased, is another. Or take the bombing of the Sudan, one little footnote, so small that it is casually mentioned in passing in reports on the background to the Sept. 11 crimes. How would the same commentators react if the bin Laden network blew up half the pharmaceutical supplies in the U.S. and the facilities for replenishing them? Or Israel? Or any country where people “matter”? Although that’s not a fair analogy, because the U.S. target is a poor country which had few enough drugs and vaccines to begin with and can’t replenish them. Nobody knows how many thousands or tens of thousands of deaths resulted from that single atrocity, and bringing up that death toll is considered scandalous. If somebody did that to the U.S. or its allies, can you imagine the reaction? In this case we say, Oh, well, too bad, minor mistake, let’s go on to the next topic. Other people in the world don’t react like that. When bin Laden brings up that bombing, he strikes a resonant chord, even with people who despise and fear him, and the same, unfortunately, is true of much of the rest of his rhetoric.

Or to return to “our own little region over here,” as Henry Stimson called it, take Cuba. After many years of terror beginning in late 1959, including very serious atrocities, Cuba should have the right to resort to violence against the U.S. according to U.S. doctrine that is scarcely questioned. It is, unfortunately, all too easy to continue, not only with regard to the U.S. but also other terrorist states.

It is from this context that shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, members of Media Mouse began actively participating in the emergent antiwar movement and have continued our involvement to this day. In a statement published online in November of 2001, Media Mouse articulated a number of concerns regarding the United States’ response to 9/11 and the media’s coverage of the United States’ policy decisions and urged people to “question the military response to terrorism” by educating themselves through independent media and acting to challenge the “war on terror.” While our words were unduly toned down in response to the stifling atmosphere of timidity that engulfed much of the left in the months after 9/11, many of our core concerns remain—that the United States military actions will primarily harm civilians and will be a catalyst for further acts of terrorism, that the United States has failed to acknowledge its past role in acts of international terrorism by trying war criminals such as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, that the security response to 9/11 has brought further repression and surveillance onto United States citizens of which people of color, particularly Arabs, will be the most immediately affected, and that the corporate media has functioned in a manner that reinforces official government positions and downplays dissent. As such, we would like to renew our call for people to resist US imperialism and to organize for a new world.

Donald Rumsfeld said that his mission in the War Against Terror was to persuade the world that Americans must be allowed to continue their way of life. When the maddened King stamps his foot, slaves tremble in their quarters. So, standing here today, it’s hard for me to say this, but ‘The American Way of Life’ is simply not sustainable. Because it doesn’t acknowledge that there is a world beyond America.

Fortunately, power has a shelf-life. When the time comes, maybe this mighty empire will, like others before it, overreach itself and implode from within. It looks as though structural cracks have already appeared. As the War Against Terror casts its net wider and wider, America’s corporate heart is haemorrhaging. For all the endless empty chatter about democracy, today the world is run by three of the most secretive institutions in the world: the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organisation, all three of which, in turn, are dominated by the U.S. Their decisions are made in secret. The people who head them are appointed behind closed doors. Nobody really knows anything about them, their politics, their beliefs, their intentions. Nobody elected them. Nobody said they could make decisions on our behalf. A world run by a handful of greedy bankers and CEOs who nobody elected can’t possibly last.

Soviet-style communism failed, not because it was intrinsically evil but because it was flawed. It allowed too few people to usurp too much power. Twenty-first century market-capitalism, American-style, will fail for the same reasons. Both are edifices constructed by human intelligence, undone by human nature.

The time has come, the Walrus said. Perhaps things will get worse and then better. Perhaps there’s a small god up in heaven readying herself for us. Another world is not only possible, she’s on her way. Maybe many of us won’t be here to greet her, but on a quiet day, if I listen very carefully, I can hear her breathing.

- Arundhati Roy, “Come September

Global Terrorism up since 9/11 Attacks

by Carl Conetta, Project on Defense Alternatives

Since the onset of the US “global war on terrorism”, the operational capacity of the original “Al Qaeda” centered around Osama bin-Laden has been significantly degraded. Hundreds of cadre formerly commanded by bin-Laden have been killed (mostly during the Afghan war). Several top leaders of the organization have been killed or captured – most notably Mohammed Atef, Abu Zubaydah, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – as have several leading regional associates, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Dozens of third tier operatives have been killed or captured. Nonetheless, the organization continues to function in a more decentralized form.

Bin-Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri continue to provide guidance and encouragement to their followers, having issued 35 video and audio recordings from their redoubt in Pakistan. Since 11 September 2001, Al Qaeda has directed, financed, or played a role in 30 fatal operations in 12 countries causing 2500 casualties including 440 deaths. These figures, from the Rand-MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base, do not include the activities of al-Zarqawi in Iraq, nor do they include the activities of independent groups friendly to al-Qaeda.

On a global scale: terrorist activity and violence has grown worse, not better since 11 September 2001. Average levels of terrorist violence that would have been considered extreme in the period prior to 9/11 have become the norm in the years since. And there is no sign that this trend is abating. This much is evident from a review of the terrorism incident database maintained by the Rand Corporation for the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT), which is funded by the US Department of Homeland Security. Surveying incidents for the period January 1998 through 11 August 2006 shows that:

 

  • The rate of terrorism fatalities for the 59 month period following 11 September 2001 is 250 percent that of the 44.5 month period preceding and including the 9/11 attacks. This figure has been adjusted to account for the different length of the two periods and it implies an increase in average monthly fatalities of 150 percent. (Only in January 1998 did the database begin to include both national and international terrorism incidents.)
  •  

  • The rate of terrorist incidents for the post-9/11 period is 268 percent that of the period prior to and including 11 September 2001. This implies a 167 percent increase in what might be called the average monthly rate of incidents.
  •  

  • A fair portion of the increased activity is related to the war in Iraq – but not all. Removing Iraq from the picture shows an increase in the average monthly rate of terrorism fatalities of more than 10 percent for the post-9/11 period. The increase in the rate of incidents not counting Iraq is 75 percent.

    Another way of analyzing the data is to treat the 9/11 attacks as a dependent variable or as a “pivot point”. This allows us to ask: “What was the baseline incidence of terror prior to 9/11 and how has it changed since?” The baseline prior to 9/11 is indicative of the level of organization, capability, and activity that eventually expressed itself in the 9/11 attacks.

  •  

  • Removing 9/11 from the picture shows a 300 percent increase in fatalities for the post-9/11 period (including Iraq) or an 80 percent increase (excluding Iraq) when compared with the pre-9/11 period. The comparable change with regard to incidents is 168 percent increase with Iraq and 76 percent increase without.

It is also worth noting, that if we divide the post-9/11 period into two equal halves (not shown in table), the number of terrorism fatalities is greater in the second half than in the first – even when Iraq is excluded: approximately 4772 fatalities in the first half versus approximately 5177 in the second. Thus: there is no support in this data for the proposition that the post-9/11 surge in terrorism fatalities is abating.

 

 

Terrorist Attack Incidents and Fatalities, 01/01/98 – 08/11/2006
01/01/98 – 09/11/2001 09/12/2001 – 08/11/2006
Fatalities per month 176 444
(minus 9/11 attacks) 109

(minus Iraq)

 

195.5

Incidents per month

106

284

(minus 9/11 attacks)

105.9

(minus Iraq)

186.5

MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base (Oklahoma City, OK: National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, 2006)

 

Superpower Principles: U.S. Terrorism Against Cuba

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So which country has endured more years of state terrorism than any other since WWII? The answer might surprise most, since the country in question in on the current US government list of countries that sponsor terrorism. The answer is Cuba. According to this new collection of essays edited by Salim Lamrani, the US government has engaged in over 40 years of terrorism against the island of Cuba and its people.

The book is divided into two sections, beginning with a series of essays that provide an overview of US policy since the first Cuban revolution at the end of the 19th century. The bulk of the terrorism against Cuba however, has been committed since the 1959 revolution. Several articles detail the kinds of terrorism employed by the US and its proxy forces; tactics like assassination, bombings, kidnapping, chemical and biological warfare. The US government has attempted to assassinate Fidel Castro, financed the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 killing Cuban athletes and infecting livestock with swine fever resulting in the slaughter of 500,000 pigs unsuitable for human consumption. Despite this well documented legacy of state terrorism you won’t find it much in official history or in current media discourse on the War on Terrorism. The fact that this history is little known in the US demonstrates how the media in this country has become little more than a cheerleader for the government.

The last half of the book looks at a more recent aspect of US terrorism against Cuba, the arrest and bogus trial of what have become known as the Cuban Five. Arrested for conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism against the US in 2001, these Cubans were actually gathering intelligence in order to alert their government of future US efforts to undermine their country. Some of those charged have a long history of heroism, particularly fighting in many of the liberation wars in Africa in the 1970’s and 1980’s. As of this writing the Cuban Five have been granted a new trial, but you are not likely to hear about it from the corporate media. Unfortunately these Cuban patriots are not Michael Jackson or Martha Stewart. To get the background on their case the last few essays include comments from the lawyers defending them and perspectives from international journalists who have been following the proceedings. A great resource for debunking the US government myth that our foreign policy is committed to preventing acts of terrorism.

Salim Lamrani, ed., Superpower Principles: U.S. Terrorism Against Cuba, (Common Courage Press, 2005).

Guantanamo: The War on Human Rights

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Guantanamo: The War on Human Rights is a product of a January 2004 article by David Rose for Vanity Fair. Following the completion of his initial article and realizing the ramifications of what was happening at the United States detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Rose decided to continue his investigation and expand it into a book length treatment of the subject. The book is based primarily on interviews with British detainees who were captured in Afghanistan and handed over to American soldiers by Afghani warlords as well as interviews with both United States government officials presiding over Camp X-Ray and non-governmental organizations that have sought to improve the treatment of detainees held at Guantanamo.

Throughout his book, Rose argues that the indefinite detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has irreparably harmed the United States so-called “war on terror” by abandoning many of the principles of human rights that the United States purports to honor and that Camp X-Ray is an absolute failure. On February 7, 2002 President Bush declared that prisoners held at Camp X-Ray had no legal status under the Geneva Conventions and that they were not prisoners of war but rather were “enemy combatants.” While many may be tempted to see this as the origin of the human rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay, Rose’s book makes it clear that this was merely the date at which official violations of the Geneva Convention became policy — the decision to hold detainees at Guantanamo Bay was made because of the base’s ambiguous legal status. For Rose, this is a logical consequence of a policy of detention that was seriously flawed to begin with as few of the detainees were involved with either al-Qaeda or the Taliban. Instead, Rose describes detainees that were rounded up in mass arrests and those who were sold to the United States in exchange for $5,000 bounties paid by the United States for “terrorists” in Afghanistan.

With a flawed detention process, Rose reveals that the intelligence coming out of Guantanamo has been of little use to the United States government in its “war on terror.” What little detention that has come out of the base has been of the most general nature, describing possible attacks such as those on shopping malls, although as Rose points out, anyone with even the most minimal knowledge of consumerism in the United States would know that malls would be good targets. Rather than acknowledge that most of the 600 detainees held at Guantanamo were not guilty of any crimes, the United States has responded by stepping up interrogations and conducting them using beatings, sleep deprivation, denial of food, and other harsh techniques that violate the Geneva Conventions in order to force detainees into confessing. Rose’s interviews with detainees reveal many abuses during the interrogation process while interviews with US officials reveal the limited value of the “intelligence” gained at Guantanamo Bay.

While making few new revelations, Rose’s book is a useful work that consolidates much of the information available on Guantanamo and directs attention towards the topic, as detentions in Guantanamo have been largely forgotten amidst the almost weekly reports of new abuses relating to the detentions of individuals held by the United States in Iraq. Since the publication of the Guantanamo in late 2004, there have been several new documents released showing that the government authorized treatment techniques that violate the Geneva Conventions as well as the government’s attempts to create a legal framework for said treatment.

David Rose, Guantanamo: The War on Human Rights, (The New Press, 2004).