Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Those Other Terrorists

While the professional purveyors of paranoia are raking in the bucks and salivating over the Belgium terrorist attack and bitching about the president's failure to properly render his thoughts, prayers and revenge, Those Other Terrorists have received a silent slap on the wrist.

If outrage has not ensued, it is because Those Other Terrorists are American troops. And as we all know, America does not do terror. It only fights terror.

The American terrorism that shall not be named is of the state-sponsored variety. I am talking about the dozen or so unnamed pilots and military bureaucrats who unleashed a brutal wave of destruction last fall against a charity hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. Although they terrorized, killed and injured scores of innocent people, they won't be facing any criminal charges, civil charges, or be faced with military courts martial.  They are receiving little to no TV coverage. They have only been given administrative letters of reprimand which will, the Pentagon boasts, severely endanger their future chances for promotion through the ranks. Their individual roles in the Kunduz terror attack will merely be appended as a blot on their permanent records.

Their careers might be stalled, but their lives will go on. They will continue to get their paychecks. They won't be demoted. If they fly, their pilots' licenses won't be revoked. They were only following orders. Mistakes were made. They will be shielded from accountability,because that is what American Exceptionalism is all about.

A full six months after the air attack that killed 42 and injured 37 at the Médecins Sans Frontières hospital, the new commander of U.S, and NATO forces finally visited the site of the devastation to personally express his condolences.
 As commander, I wanted to come to Kunduz personally and stand before the families, and people of Kunduz, to deeply apologize for the events which destroyed the hospital and caused the deaths of the hospital staff, patients and family members,” said General John W. Nicholson. “I grieve with you for your loss and suffering; and humbly and respectfully ask for your forgiveness.”
This apology is the latest official statement about the "tragedy" in which victims were decapitated, disemboweled, dismembered, and literally incinerated in their beds. First, American officials insisted they didn't know they were attacking a hospital. Then they claimed that American troops were being attacked in the vicinity of the hospital. Then they changed their story again, asserting that Afghan troops had lied to them about the hospital being used as a headquarters for the Taliban, and that it was the Afghans who'd requested the bombardment.

Nicholson was accompanied in his visit to Kunduz by his wife, security analyst Norine MacDonald, who reportedly met with some survivors for about five minutes.  Her husband issued his formal apology in a closed session with Afghan officials, and did not meet personally with victims' families to ask their forgiveness. As the New York Times reports, the people were not placated:
They hit us six months ago and are apologizing now?” said Zabiullah Niazi, an operating room nurse at the hospital who lost an eye, a finger and the ability to use one hand. He also suffered other wounds. “The head of the provincial council and other officials who said we accept the apology, they wouldn’t have said it if they had lost their own son and eaten ashes, as we did.”
Mr. Niazi said about 18 male members of victims’ families and two survivors had been called to the governor’s office for a meeting with General Nicholson. But the general himself did not show up, instead making a speech in a packed auditorium where family members and survivors did not get a chance to speak.
MSF still maintains that the attack was deliberate and has demanded an independent war crimes inquiry. A final "report" on the terrorist attack by the American military will be issued soon... by the Pentagon itself. Names will be redacted, reputations saved, crocodile tears shed. Call it the Bush Trickle-Down Method for the Protection of War Criminals. If President Obama can blithely admit that "we tortured some folks" and then call the torturers patriots, then he and the brass can blithely excuse anything. Even the deliberate bombing of a hospital.

Meanwhile, the media-political complex wants all you citizens to perform your patriotic duty of staying very afraid of the Terrorists Over There. And while you're shivering and shaking over the All Terrorism All the Time show, they want you to join them in sanctimoniously condemning the awful Trumpian Islamophobia which they also broadcast for great profit at Donald's Fight Club political rallies. Because as you should all know by now, that is not Who We Are.

America is better than that.

* Update: Neil deMeuse has other examples of how not all terrorist deaths are treated equally. The mainstream media devoted little attention to a very similar attack by a Kurdish group in Ankara,Turkey a few weeks ago, which actually killed and injured more people than the one in Belgium. Of course, one attack killed mainly Western Europeans and the other killed Eastern Europeans and Asians (including, as in Kunduz, people of the Muslim faith.)  The disparity between coverage of the Brussels and Ankara bombings parallels that of the disparity between the other similar attacks in Paris and Beirut.

The coverage of the Belgian atrocity is so wall-to-wall that it
 even included a story in the New York Times about all the Starbucks restaurants closing down in Brussels. DeMeuse observes
The usual defense of US outlets that offer lesser coverage of deaths in other parts of the world cites readers’ and viewers’ increased interest when Americans are somehow involved — at its most base, the principle expressed in McLurg’s Law that a death in one’s home country is worth 1,000 deaths on the other side of the world. (This was on full display in the Chicago Tribune’s lead story on the Brussels bombings, which was headlined “Brussels Attacks: 3rd Bomb Found; Americans Hurt.”) But while US citizens were injured in Brussels — three Mormon missionaries caught in the airport blast received widespread coverage, including in USA Today (3/22/16) and on (3/22/16) and (3/22/16) — and none in Ankara, another Turkish bombing this month did have American casualties: Two Israeli-Americans, Yonathan Suher and Avraham Goldman, were killed along with two others in an ISIS suicide bombing in Istanbul on March 20. Their deaths earned brief stories in the New York Times (3/19/16) and Bloomberg News (3/19/16), but no mention elsewhere in the US news media.
He added that coverage of terrorism depends on what region of the world is terrorized. If you reside in a Muslim area, for example, bombings are just shit that you expect to happen. But in the West, terrorism is considered so outside the norm that it merits the wall to wall coverage. This is despite the fact that the United States has more gun deaths than any other "civilized" nation on earth. When it comes to terror, killings perpetrated by "insiders" are less interesting to the media than killings committed by The Other. 


Meredith NYC said...

Karen....Off topic—but I just read this:

Were Changes to Sanders Article ‘Stealth Editing’?
By Margaret Sullivan March 17, 2016
Read some comments to get the full strength of reader disgust.

The Times has let us down badly. The downgrading and disrespect throughout the paper of Sanders candidacy is not haphazard. It must come from the top—a conscious decision.

It’s not just about Sanders. Probably any true progressive would be labeled a radical left winger, just for proposing to restore traditional US policies that once expanded our middle class, not weakened it.

The Times has completely identified with the corporate powers that be, while pretending to be rational and humanitarian. It’s good on crusading editorials about our atrocious criminal justice and policing abuses.

But when it comes to standing up to vs cooperating with economic corporate power—it seems the Times is repeating its acceptance of the Bush govt’s line on WMD in Iraq. That was a journalistic scandal and the Times later apologized if I recall. But it’s obvious the Times wants to identify with power and prestige, while asking for a little more for the peasant masses, please.

Dean Baquet must be responsible. He should go. Seems new op ed page editor will replace Rosenthal who is stepping down and will write columns I think. Let’s hope they expand the range of opinion on the page from its appallingly narrow range.

Instead of being a role model for standards in coverage of Der Trumpf, it’s lowered itself to the lowest with excessive articles/columns and an avalanche of daily photos, sometimes 2 in the same column.

As the younger generation gets more progressive how will the Times keep a readership? Young people don’t read it.

Karen also, did you read obit of 96 year old journalist Ben Bagdikian, who did exemplify standards?

Ken Wallace said...

In the realm of politics and economics where nothing seems final or fixed, there is an immutable almost axiomatic truth, an emergent reality denied by the establishment, and it is this. When large populations are marginalized and exploited by predatory capitalism, when they are reduced to desperation to the point they have nothing to lose, and they have access to weapons, be they guns or bombs, there will be continued terrorism. We can pretend religious extremism is the single root cause but we know it's not. The lack of economic opportunity is the fuel that feeds terrorism, religious extremism is just the false remedy. Thus all the cries to crush ISIS or terrorism in general without considering the real root cause is just so much hot air. Buckle up, folks, it going to be with us from now on.

annenigma said...

The NSA is going to flag me for saying this, but it's worth reading Osama Bin Laden's own words about the purpose of Al Qaeda's terrorist attacks as well as ISIS's recent claim about the purpose of the Brussels terrorist attacks.

'Bin Laden: Goal is to Bankrupt U.S.'
(to force withdrawal from the Middle East)


'Islamic State Bragged That its Attacks Would Break Up the European Union'
(to weaken unity on the continent, exhaust European states economically, and end support for Middle East wars)

Al Qaeda leader OBL was a millionaire and his #2 man is physician Aymen al-Zawahiri who appears to be still alive. Neither or them lacked economic opportunity and neither do many of their followers. Ditto ISIS.

What they claim to oppose is U.S. imperialism which invades and imposes itself everywhere in order to exploit and create economic opportunities for the plutocracy. It destroys cultures, families, communities, nations, and religions. Imperial corporate capitalism is in conflict with the tenets of Islam just as much as it is to the tenets of Christianity, but you'll find few who even acknowledge that. It's sad that Pope Francis addressed children to warn that many adults didn't want peace because their wealth depends on war and killing. The media of course mostly ignored that message.

Obviously, this needs to end because it will be the death of all of us. If the corporate media would stop aiding and abetting the forces of destruction by intentionally keeping people fat, stupid, and happy on behalf of profits and power, people might wake up to what is really the threat to their health, well-being, and security.

I blame the media. They undermine our democracy, our elections, and our national security by failing to report the real news. The Powers-That-Be could not function without a compliant media to protect and promote their interests via propaganda and news blackouts. Media-Political Complex indeed.

Kat said...

Turkey: Turkey has a longstanding history of Kurdish repression. Erdogan is our buddy-- a good neoliberal. Kurds in Iraq our deserving of our support. Kurds in Turkey are out of luck.
We can whip up sympathy for Muslims-- look at the the KLA and the claims of genocide. It just depends on who goes along with the Washington consensus.

Neil said...

@ Ken Wallace

The cause of terrorism, and revolution, is a lack of effective redress of grievances. Even our own First Amendment is missing the word "effective" from the right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances"

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Without a right to an "effective" redress of grievances, you end up with kangaroo courts, corrupt courts, racketeering activity instead of justice, a RICO enterprise, not a court of law. The illusion of justice but not actual justice. Are there exceptions? Yes, but you don’t have a credible justice system built on exceptions.

Right to petition

"The right to petition government for redress of grievances is the right to make a complaint to, or seek the assistance of, one's government, without fear of punishment or reprisals. The Article 44 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union ensures the right to petition to the European Parliament.[1] The right can be traced back to the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany,[2] the Bill of Rights 1689, the Petition of Right (1628), and Magna Carta (1215)."

It all goes back to Magna Carta, a document benefiting the One Percent of 1215.

"Magna Carta... is a charter agreed by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, on 15 June 1215.[a] First drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury to make peace between the unpopular King and a group of rebel barons,..." [barons with sword in hand, Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 84]

Magna Carta benefited "rebel barons" not peasants, not workers, not the proletariat.

See Jill Lepore, New Yorker Magazine, "The Rule of History" Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, and the hold of time, April 20, 2015.

"Magna Carta’s importance has often been overstated, and its meaning distorted. "The significance of King John’s promise has been anything but constant," U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens aptly wrote, in 1992. It also has a very different legacy in the United States than it does in the United Kingdom, where only four of its original sixty-some provisions are still on the books."

As for our own U.S. Constitution, at the time of enactment, 1789, "We The People" factually meant "We The Wealthy White Men Slave and Property Owning People".

The U.S. Constitution of 1789 ought to be called the "Slavery Constitution" to distinguish it from the "Lincoln Constitution" of 1865 and beyond.

From the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies

"It comes as a shock to most Americans’ sensibilities that more than one in four U.S. presidents were slaveholder: 12 owned slaves at some point in their lives. Significantly, 8 presidents owned slaves while living in the Executive Mansion. Put another way, for 50 of the first 60 years of the new republic, the president was a slaveholder."

The entire system of Western jurisprudence supports the One Percent. Are there exceptions? Yes, but too few to matter. Justice For All cannot rely on exceptions to the One Percent rule.

Pearl said...

A Dozen Reasons Sanders Voters Are Justifiably Angry at the Media Right Now via @HuffPostPol

Kat said...

Those other terrorists:
see this laughable headline in the NYT
"House Republicans advance plan to save Puerto Rico". Yes, that is what they wrote.

Neil said...

Karen, you have shown why the United States declared it will not ratify the Rome Statute treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). The United States signed the Rome Statute treaty, but declared on May 6, 2002 that it no longer intended to ratify the treaty and therefore no longer bears any legal obligation arising from its signature.

Link to the ICC homepage

Link to the Rome Statute in English (PDF)

Ben Ferencz, the last living U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials of nazis after WWII, helped create the ICC.

"Benjamin Ferencz, the only surviving member of the prosecution team at Nuremberg, is a fierce critic of illegal U.S. war-making. In response to U.S. war crimes in Vietnam, he dedicated the rest of his life to establishing an International Criminal Court (ICC) that could prosecute senior officials of any government who commit aggression and other war crimes.

Ferencz is hailed as the founding father of the ICC, but his vision of "Law Not War" remains unfulfilled as long as his own country, the United States, refuses to recognize the jurisdiction of either the ICC or the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The Atlantic profiled Ben Ferencz last year, see The Last Man at Nuremberg, The life of 95-year-old Benjamin Ferencz, the only living prosecutor from the war-crime trials that followed the Holocaust

From Wikipedia,

"The International Criminal Court (ICC or ICCt)[2] is an intergovernmental organization and international tribunal that sits in The Hague in the Netherlands. The ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The ICC is intended to complement existing national judicial systems and it may therefore only exercise its jurisdiction when certain conditions are met, such as when national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute criminals or when the United Nations Security Council or individual states refer investigations to the Court. The ICC began functioning on 1 July 2002, the date that the Rome Statute entered into force."

States parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

"There is presently bipartisan consensus that the United States does not intend to ratify the Rome Statute.[43] Some US Senators have suggested that the treaty could not be ratified without a constitutional amendment.[44] Therefore, US opponents of the ICC argue that the US Constitution in its present form does not allow a cession of judicial authority to any body other than the Supreme Court. In the view of proponents of the ICC there is no inconsistency with the US Constitution, arguing that the role of the US Supreme Court as final arbiter of US law would not be disturbed. Before the Rome Statute, opposition to the ICC was largely headed by Republican Senator Jesse Helms.[45] Other objections to ratification have included that it violates international law, is a political court without appeal, denies fundamental American human rights, denies the authority of the United Nations, and would violate US national sovereignty."

Jay–Ottawa said...

Here, to save everyone the trouble of actually reading it, I'll boil down Chris Hedges' Monday morning screed to a simple formula.

I believe it echoes the same point of Karen's essay written earlier.

Western Terrorism = Islamic Terrorism

Simple enough. And the engine that keeps the action fluid and constant in motion is Revenge––not economics, resource envy or cultural differences––but revenge in an endless "ring of sorrow."

Ring of sorrow. I got that from T. E. Lawrence (via Hedges). The task ahead for people who are sick of extending these "rings of sorrow" is to convince every adult in one's circle of the truth of the above formula and the need to snap out of the circle. Until enough people do so, the crusades and the jihads will continue to have at it in ever wider circles.

How many of us will have to speak up, and for how long? A few months ago, Ralph Nader gave a talk at the University of Toronto. It summarized the message of his life: research, organize, persist. At one point he noted that it takes less than 1% of a nation's adult population to turn a given policy completely around. Less than 1%, provided they organize. Examples provided in the talk.

Surprisingly, Nader let slip a few mild street terms in his talk, a note of impatience I had never heard from him before. And his body language is taking on the look of a typical octogenarian. At the end of his talk he paraphrased Eugene V. Debs to the effect that the enlightened––that's us, right?––have to fail, fail and fail, until we succeed.

Turning from the marketplace to foreign policy, I think we have to admit that unless we become annoying missionaries against the idolatry of war in our own country, we can't escape being counted among the terrorists and supporters of terrorism. Or, as Hedges said in the title of this morning's essay, that is how we here become the equivalent of the Islamic State over there.

Good luck (those of you who chose to be among Nader's 1% organized change agents) with chats at work around the water cooler and Sunday dinners at grandma's.

Neil said...

Thank you Kat for the story on Puerto Rico, which is a United States territory. The concern is the impending default by Puerto Rico on $72 billion in debt. The Times has a follow-up story, with a link to the 115 page Republican draft bill.

There is also a Wikipedia article, "Puerto Rican government-debt crisis". One problem appears to be the Jones Act, which "imposes a significant cost to Puerto Rico" and shipping of goods.

"In terms of monetary policy, Puerto Rico does not control its money supply, nor its coinage, nor its interest rates as it uses the U.S. dollar for currency and is subject to the Federal Reserve as its central bank even though it is not a state of the United States."

"Puerto Rico or any of its political subdivisions and agencies cannot file for debt relief under chapter 9 of the federal Bankruptcy Code because it applies only to municipalities on the mainland"

Reading between the lines, if Puerto Rico defaults, it could set in motion unintended defaults elsewhere that might affect the U.S. economy. On the other hand, this may be Republican pimping for vulture funds to have a big payday.

"Latest Plan to Rescue Puerto Rico Is Met With Disdain on Island" by Mary Williams Walsh, March 29, 2016.

"House Republicans released a draft of a rescue plan for Puerto Rico on Tuesday that they hoped could quickly garner bipartisan support and win over skeptics on the island, on Wall Street and in Congress."

"The plan, being drafted by Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee, in consultation with Democrats in Congress and the Treasury Department, calls for putting Puerto Rico’s finances under a presidentially appointed oversight board — a bitter pill to many on the island."

Here is a link to the 115 page Republican draft bill.

"Plan to Rescue Puerto Rico Advances, Led by House Republicans" by Mary Williams Walsh, March 24, 2016.

"Politicians in Washington are coalescing around a financial plan to rescue Puerto Rico, just weeks before an expected major default on bond payments that would spread more turmoil through the island’s shaky economy."

"The plan, being drafted as legislation by House Republicans, would not grant Puerto Rico’s most fervent request: permission to restructure its entire $72 billion debt in bankruptcy. It would, however, give the island certain crucial tools that bankruptcy proceedings can offer — but only if it first comes under close federal oversight and meets other conditions."