Wednesday, March 09, 2011

How The So-Called Guardians Of Free Speech Are Silencing The Messenger

By John Pilger

As the United States and Britain look for an excuse to invade another oil-rich Arab country, the hypocrisy is familiar. Colonel Gaddafi is “delusional” and “blood-drenched” while the authors of an invasion that killed a million Iraqis, who have kidnapped and tortured in our name, are entirely sane, never blood-drenched and once again the arbiters of “stability”.

But something has changed. Reality is no longer what the powerful say it is. Of all the spectacular revolts across the world, the most exciting is the insurrection of knowledge sparked by WikiLeaks.


This is not a new idea. In 1792, the revolutionary Tom Paine warned his readers in England that their government believed that “people must be hoodwinked and held in superstitious ignorance by some bugbear or other”. Paine’s The Rights of Man was considered such a threat to elite control that a secret grand jury was ordered to charge him with “a dangerous and treasonable conspiracy”. Wisely, he sought refuge in France.


The ordeal and courage of Tom Paine is cited by the Sydney Peace Foundation in its award of Australia’s human rights Gold Medal to Julian Assange.


Like Paine, Assange is a maverick who serves no system and is threatened by a secret grand jury, a malicious device long abandoned in England but not in the United States. If extradited to the US, he is likely to disappear into the Kafkaesque world that produced the Guantanamo Bay nightmare and now accuses Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks’ alleged whistleblower, of a capital crime....


Greg Barns, director of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, says the fears that Julian Assange will “end up being tortured in a high security American prison” are justified. Who will share responsibility for such a crime?


www.johnpilger.com

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Word Games
An American Atrocity in Afghanistan

By Dave Lindorff

"How can Americans reach proper conclusions about this obscene war against one of the poorest peoples in the world if our supposedly “fair and balanced” media simply perform the role of Pentagon propagandist."


The people of Afghanistan know who was flying the two helicopter gunships that brutally hunted down and slaughtered, one by one, nine boys apparently as young as seven years old, as they gathered firewood on a hillside March 1.

In angry demonstrations after the incident, they were shouting “Death to America.”

Americans are still blissfully unaware that their “heroes” in uniform are guilty of this obscene massacre. The ursine US corporate media has been reporting on this story based upon a gutless press release from the Pentagon which attributes the “mistake” to “NATO” helicopters.

The thing is, this terrible incident occurred in the Pech Valley in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, where US forces have for several years been battling Taliban forces, and from which region they are now in the process of withdrawing.

Clearly then, it is US, and not “NATO” helicopters which have been responding to calls to attack “suspected Taliban forces.”

So why can’t the Pentagon say that? And if they won’t say that, why won’t American reporters either demand that they clearly state the nationality of whatever troops commit an atrocity, or exercise due diligence themselves and figure it out?....

There is a second issue too....No way could they have mistaken a 7-year-old for an adult.

No wonder the even the famously corrupt Afghan President Hamid Karzai refused to accept an apology proffered for this killing by Afghan War commander Gen. David Petraeus.

Calls by this reporter to the Pentagon for an accurate report on whose troops were flying those two helicopters, and for an accurate accounting of the ages of the nine victims, have thus far gone unanswered. This, I have discovered, is fairly standard for the Defense Department.....

So let’s give an honest report here. Two US helicopter gunships, allegedly responding to a report of “insurgent” activity on a hillside in Kunar Province, came upon the scene of 10 young Afghan boys who were collecting brush for fuel for their families.

The gunships, according to the account of a lone 11-year-old surviver who was hidden by a tree, systematically hunted down the other nine boys, hitting them with machine gun and rocket fire and killing them all--their bodies so badly damaged that their families had to hunt for the pieces in order to bury them.

This atrocity is being described as a “mistake,” but it was no mistake, clearly.

The crews of the helicopters were shooting at fleeing human beings who made no attempt to return fire (obviously, because all the boys had were sticks, which they surely dropped when the first shots were fired).

They almost certainly saw that they were dealing with kids, because it would be hard to mistake even a nine year old for an adult, particularly in a country where young kids go around with their heads uncovered, and don’t have beards, while adult males generally wear head coverings, and have full beards.

But killing kids is part of the deal in America’s war in Afghanistan. Even in Iraq, 12 year olds were being classified by the US military (in contravention of the Geneva Conventions) as being “combat age,” for example in the assault on the city of Fallujah.....

Let’s also be clear that this slaughter of nine Afghan children is the ugly reality behind Gen. Petraeus’s supposed policy of “protecting civilians.”

Here’s a number that tells the true story about that policy: since Gen. Petraeus assumed command after the ousting of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, US airstrikes in Afghanistan have gone up by 172%.

That’s not counting attacks by remote-controlled, missile-firing drone aircraft, which are also up by a huge amount. Those airstrikes and drone attacks are notoriously deadly for civilians--far more so than ground attacks, but of course they have the advantage for our “heroes” in uniform of reducing the number of US casualties in this hugely one-sided conflict.

There are so many aspects to this story that are disturbing, it’s hard to know what’s worse. Clearly we are deliberately murdering kids in Afghanistan, and this particular incident is just an example we know about.

The men who did this will hopefully pay for their crimes by living with their guilt, but hopefully there will be an honest investigation and proper punishment too by military authorities (I’m not holding my breath).

Petraeus and his boss, Commander in Chief Obama, should also be called to account and punished for implementing a war plan that calls for this kind of brutal slaughter of civilians.

But the US media are also guilty here. How can Americans reach proper conclusions about this obscene war against one of the poorest peoples in the world if our supposedly “fair and balanced” media simply perform the role of Pentagon propagandist, running Defense Department press releases as if they were news reports?

The blood of these poor Afghan kids is smeared not just on the hands of Obama and the generals, and the soldiers who pull the triggers and push the buttons that unleash death, but on the desks and keyboards of American newsrooms that cover up their crimes.

http://www.thiscantbehappening.net

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Imprisoned For Life Without Trial
Obama's New Gitmo Policy Is A Lot Like Bush's Old Policy

By Dana Milbank

With Monday's announcement that the Obama administration will resume military tribunals at Gitmo, conservatives rushed out triumphant I-told-you-sos. Liberal supporters were again feeling betrayed.

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Where Were The Calls For A No-fly zone When Israel Attacked Gaza
Must Listen Interview By BBC

As Western powers look for an excuse to intervene in Libya, George Galloway, interviewed by the BBC, asks where were the calls for a no-fly zone when Israel attacked Gaza.

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Stealing from Social Security to Pay for Wars and Bailouts

By Paul Craig Roberts

The American Empire is failing. A number of its puppet rulers are being overthrown by popular protests, and the almighty dollar will not even buy one Swiss franc, one Canadian dollar, or one Australian dollar.

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The Grievous Return of Henry Kissinger

By Professor Lawrence Davidson

President Obama would be a fool to listen to a man whose blood stained career should have long ago come to an ignoble end.

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