Category Archives: President Saddam Hussein

Why do they flee?

Why do they flee?

The current mass exodus of people from Central America to the United States, with the daily headline-grabbing stories of numerous children involuntarily separated from their parents, means it’s time to remind my readers once again of one of the primary causes of these periodic mass migrations.

Those in the US generally opposed to immigration make it a point to declare or imply that the United States does not have any legal or moral obligation to take in these Latinos. This is not true. The United States does indeed have the obligation because many of the immigrants, in addition to fleeing from drug violence, are escaping an economic situation in their homeland directly made hopeless by American interventionist policy.

It’s not that these people prefer to live in the United States. They’d much rather remain with their families and friends, be able to speak their native language at all times, and avoid the hardships imposed upon them by American police and other right-wingers. But whenever a progressive government comes to power in Latin America or threatens to do so, a government sincerely committed to fighting poverty, the United States helps to suppresses the movement and/or supports the country’s right-wing and military in staging a coup. This has been the case in Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Honduras.

The latest example is the June 2009 coup (championed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) ousting the moderately progressive Manuel Zelaya of Honduras. The particularly severe increase in recent years in Honduran migration to the US is a direct result of the overthrow of Zelaya, whose crime was things like raising the minimum wage, giving subsidies to small farmers, and instituting free education. It is a tale told many times in Latin America: The downtrodden masses finally put into power a leader committed to reversing the status quo, determined to try to put an end to two centuries of oppression … and before long the military overthrows the democratically-elected government, while the United States – if not the mastermind behind the coup – does nothing to prevent it or to punish the coup regime, as only the United States can punish; meanwhile Washington officials pretend to be very upset over this “affront to democracy” while giving major support to the coup regime.1 The resulting return to poverty is accompanied by government and right-wing violence against those who question the new status quo, giving further incentive to escape the country.

Talk delivered by William Blum at the Left Forum in New York, June 2, 2018

We can all agree I think that US foreign policy must be changed and that to achieve that the mind – not to mention the heart and soul – of the American public must be changed. But what do you think is the main barrier to achieving such a change in the American mind?

Each of you I’m sure has met many people who support American foreign policy, with whom you’ve argued and argued. You point out one horror after another, from Vietnam to Iraq to Libya; from bombings and invasions to torture. And nothing helps. Nothing moves these people.

Now why is that? Do these people have no social conscience? Are they just stupid? I think a better answer is that they have certain preconceptions. Consciously or unconsciously, they have certain basic beliefs about the United States and its foreign policy, and if you don’t deal with these basic beliefs you may as well be talking to a stone wall.

The most basic of these basic beliefs, I think, is a deeply-held conviction that no matter what the US does abroad, no matter how bad it may look, no matter what horror may result, the government of the United States means well. American leaders may make mistakes, they may blunder, they may lie, they may even on many occasions cause more harm than good, but they do mean well. Their intentions are always honorable, even noble. Of that the great majority of Americans are certain.

Frances Fitzgerald, in her famous study of American school textbooks, summarized the message of these books:

The United States has been a kind of Salvation Army to the rest of the world: throughout history it had done little but dispense benefits to poor, ignorant, and diseased countries. The U.S. always acted in a disinterested fashion, always from the highest of motives; it gave, never took.

And Americans genuinely wonder why the rest of the world can’t see how benevolent and self-sacrificing America has been. Even many people who take part in the anti-war movement have a hard time shaking off some of this mindset; they march to spur America – the America they love and worship and trust – they march to spur this noble America back onto its path of goodness.

Many of the citizens fall for US government propaganda justifying its military actions as often and as naively as Charlie Brown falling for Lucy’s football.

The American people are very much like the children of a Mafia boss who do not know what their father does for a living, and don’t want to know, but then they wonder why someone just threw a firebomb through the living room window.

This basic belief in America’s good intentions is often linked to “American exceptionalism”. Let’s look at just how exceptional America has been. Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:

  1. Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
  2. Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
  3. Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
  4. Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
  5. Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
  6. Led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American teachers, especially in Latin America.

This is indeed exceptional. No other country in all of history comes anywhere close to such a record. But it certainly makes it very difficult to believe that America means well.

So the next time you’re up against a stone wall … ask the person what the United States would have to do in its foreign policy to lose his or her support. What for this person would finally be TOO MUCH. Chances are the US has already done it.

Keep in mind that our precious homeland, above all, seeks to dominate the world. For economic reasons, nationalistic reasons, ideological, Christian, and for other reasons, world hegemony has long been America’s bottom line. And let’s not forget the powerful Executive Branch officials whose salaries, promotions, agency budgets and future well-paying private sector jobs depend upon perpetual war. These leaders are not especially concerned about the consequences for the world of their wars. They’re not necessarily bad people; but they’re amoral, like a sociopath is.

Take the Middle East and South Asia. The people in those areas have suffered horribly because of Islamic fundamentalism. What they desperately need are secular governments, which have respect for different religions. And such governments were actually instituted in the recent past. But what has been the fate of those governments?

Well, in the late 1970s through much of the 1980s, Afghanistan had a secular government that was relatively progressive, with full rights for women, which is hard to believe, isn’t it? But even a Pentagon report of the time testified to the actuality of women’s rights in Afghanistan. And what happened to that government? The United States overthrew it, allowing the Taliban to come to power. So keep that in mind the next time you hear an American official say that we have to remain in Afghanistan for the sake of the women.

After Afghanistan came Iraq, another secular society, under Saddam Hussein. And the United States overthrew that government as well, and now the country has its share of crazed and bloody jihadists and fundamentalists; and women who are not covered up properly are sometimes running a serious risk.

Next came Libya; again, a secular country, under Muammar Gaddafi, who, like Saddam Hussein, had a tyrant side to him but could in important ways be benevolent and do some marvelous things. Gaddafi, for example, founded the African Union and gave the Libyan people the highest standard of living in Africa. So, of course, the United States overthrew that government as well. In 2011, with the help of NATO, we bombed the people of Libya almost every day for more than six months.

Can anyone say that in all these interventions, or in any of them, the United States of America meant well?

When we attack Iran, will we mean well? Will we have the welfare of the Iranian people at heart? I suggest you keep such thoughts in mind the next time you’re having a discussion or argument with a flag-waving American.

In case you haven’t noticed

No evidence of “Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election” has yet been presented. And we still await even a believable explanation of how the supposedly advanced American nation of 138 million voters could be so crucially influenced by a bunch of simplistic, often-crude, postings on Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet.

In May, the House Intelligence Committee began releasing the text of numerous of these postings as evidence of Russian interference. The postings dealt with both sides of many issues, including football players who knelt during the national anthem to bring attention to issues of racism, and pro- and anti-Trump and Clinton messages. Most did not even mention Trump or Clinton; and many were sent out before Trump was even a candidate.

So what did any of this have to do with swaying the result of the election? The committee did not say. However, Cong. Adam Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the committee, stated: “They sought to harness Americans’ very real frustrations and anger over sensitive political matters in order to influence American thinking, voting and behavior. The only way we can begin to inoculate ourselves against a future attack is to see first-hand the types of messages, themes and imagery the Russians used to divide us.”

Aha! So that’s it, dividing us! Imagine that – the American people, whom we all know are living in blissful harmony and fraternity without any noticeable anger or hatred toward each other, would become divided! Damn those Russkis!

Many of the Facebook postings were done well after the presidential election. That alone should have made the congressmen think that perhaps the ads had nothing to do with the US election, but that is not what they wanted to think.

This all lends credence to the suggestion that what actually lay behind the events was a so-called “click-bait” scheme wherein certain individuals earned money based on the number of times a particular website is accessed. The mastermind behind this scheme is reported to be a Russian named Yevgeny Prigozhin of the Internet Research Agency of St. Petersburg, which is referred to by the House committee as “Kremlin-sponsored”, without explanation.2

The organization has been named in an indictment issued by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigating committee, but as the Washington Post reported: “The indictment does not accuse the Russian government of any involvement in the scheme, nor does it claim that it succeeded in swaying any votes.”3

In the new Cold War, as in the old one, the powers-that-be in America seldom miss an opportunity to make Russia look bad, even to the point of farce. Evidence is no longer required. Accusation is sufficient.

Another charming example of American exceptionalism

The Washington Post coverage of the football World Cup in Russia couldn’t allow all the joy and good vibes to go unchallenged, of course. So they found “a pipe worker named Alexander” who had a joke to tell: “An adviser comes to Putin and says, ‘I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you were elected president. The bad news is that no one voted for you.’”

Now let’s imagine an American adviser coming to President Trump and saying: “I have good news and bad news. The good news is that you were elected president. The bad news is that you didn’t get the most votes.”

This has now happened five times in the United States, five times that the “winner” received fewer popular votes than any of his opponents; this insult to democracy and common sense has now happened twice within the most recent five presidential elections.

And I find the worst news is that a year and a half after Trump’s election I haven’t heard or read a word of anyone in the US Congress or a state legislature who has taken the first step in the process of modifying the US Constitution to finally do away with the stupid, completely outmoded Electoral College system. If it’s such a good system, why doesn’t the United States use it for local and state elections? Why doesn’t it exist anywhere else in the world? Is it to be regarded as part of our beloved “American exceptionalism”?

The other “n” word is even more prohibited

The city of Seattle on June 12 voted to repeal a tax hike on large employers that it had instituted only weeks before. The new tax would have raised $48 million annually to combat Seattle’s homelessness and affordable-housing crisis. The Seattle area has the third-largest homeless population in the country.

The plan had passed the City Council unanimously but was fiercely opposed by Amazon.com and much of the city’s business community.

Many American cities are sincerely struggling to deal with this problem but are faced with similar insurmountable barriers. The leading causes of homelessness in the US are high rents and low salaries. A report released June 13 by the National Low Income Housing Coalition stated that there is nowhere in the country where someone working a full-time minimum-wage job could afford to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment. Not even in Arkansas, the state with the cheapest housing. More than 11.2 million families wind up spending more than half their paychecks on housing.4 How did America, “the glorious land of opportunity” wind up like this?

The cost of rent increases inexorably, year after year, regardless of tenants’ income. Any improvement in the system has to begin with a strong commitment to radically restraining, if not completely eliminating, the landlords’ profit motive. Otherwise nothing of any significance will change in society, and the capitalists who own the society – and their liberal apologists – can mouth one progressive-sounding platitude after another as their chauffeur drives them to the bank.

But to what extent can landlords be forced to accept significantly less in rents? Very little can be done. It’s the nature of the beast. Rent control in some American cities has slowed down the steady increases, but still leaving millions in constant danger of eviction or crippling deprivation. The only remaining solution is to “nationalize” real estate.

Eliminating the profit motive in various sectors, or all sectors, in American society would run into a lot less opposition than one might expect. Consciously or unconsciously it’s already looked down upon to a great extent by numerous individuals and institutions of influence. For example, judges frequently impose lighter sentences upon lawbreakers if they haven’t actually profited monetarily from their acts. And they forbid others from making a profit from their crimes by selling book or film rights, or interviews. It must further be kept in mind that the great majority of Americans, like people everywhere, do not labor for profit, but for a salary. The citizenry may have drifted even further away from the system than all this indicates, for American society seems to have more trust and respect for “non-profit” organizations than for the profit-seeking kind. Would the public be so generous with disaster relief if the Red Cross were a regular profit-making business? Would the Internal Revenue Service allow it to be tax-exempt? Why does the Post Office give cheaper rates to non-profits and lower rates for books and magazines which don’t contain advertising? For an AIDS test, do people feel more confident going to the Public Health Service or to a commercial laboratory? Why does “educational” or “public” television not have regular commercials? What would Americans think of peace-corps volunteers, elementary and high-school teachers, clergy, nurses, and social workers who demanded well in excess of $100 thousand per year? Would the public like to see churches competing with each other, complete with ad campaigns selling a New and Improved God? Why has American Airlines just declared “We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it.”

  1. See Mark Weisbrot, “Top Ten Ways You Can Tell Which Side The United States Government is On With Regard to the Military Coup in Honduras.” Also see William Blum, Killing Hope, chapters on Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
  2. Moon of Alabama, “Mueller Indictment – The ‘Russian Influence’ Is A Commercial Marketing Scheme”, February 17, 2018.
  3. Washington Post, June 23, 2018.
  4. Washington Post, June 9 and 16, 2018.

Finding Our Way Back to Truth by Following a String of Facts

If you find yourself lost and confused in a dark wood, then perhaps following this network of knots strung on a long string of dates listed below will help you find your way back home, where the bread of truth awaits you on the kitchen table.

As we know, children love to trace, to connect the dots, to make connections, but often the connections they make frighten adults who try to ignore their points or offer some ridiculous circumlocutions.  Maybe we adults are much like children in our desires to make connections, but the thought of it frightens us, even when we are already frightened by being lost amidst a forest of propaganda. Suppose we could for a while calm those fears and concentrate long enough to trace through the dim glimmerings of a faded pattern a clarifying story that would jolt us into an awareness that could change our lives and society.  I offer here an arc of history that you may consider tedious.  Try patience.  I could yell, I could scream, I could try all the classical argumentation and logic that comes “naturally” to me.  I could be a wise guy, amuse you, try to provoke you, curse, sing a song, stomp my feet – even write post-modern gibberish.  As Andre Vltchek says, it’s hard – I’m putting it nicely – to get through, to have an impact that counts. We desperately want to believe in a world where we really are children and BIG Daddy (apologies to Burl Ives) has told the truth. And yet we know that is an illusion.  Obviously I have reached some stern conclusions, but I think the conclusions follow from the facts.  See what you think.  Follow these knots.  They are a sampling. There are many more.

  • 1957 – Massachusetts Senator John Kennedy delivers a Senate speech in support of the Algerian liberation movement, in support of African liberation generally, and against colonial imperialism. The speech causes an international uproar, and Kennedy is harshly attacked by Eisenhower, Nixon, John Foster Dulles, and even liberals such as Adlai Stevenson.  He is praised in the third world.
  • 1959 – George H. W. Bush moves his oil company – Zapata Offshore – to Houston, Texas. One of Zapata’s drilling rigs, Scorpion, having been moved from the Gulf of Mexico the previous year, is now operating 54 miles north of Cuba
  • 1960 – On March 17 President Eisenhower approves the Bay of Pigs project.
  • 1961 – On January 17, in anticipation of Kennedy’s inauguration in three days, the Belgian government in complicity with the CIA assassinates Congolese nationalist leader Patrice Lumumba. On February 13th a devastated Kennedy receives a belated phone call informing him of Lumumba’s murder.
  • 1961 – April. More than a week before the CIA led Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba – code-named the Zapata Operation – the CIA discovers that the Soviets have learned the date of the invasion and informed Castro. Knowing the invasion is doomed in advance, the CIA Director Allen Dulles doesn’t tell Kennedy.  When the invasion fails, the CIA blames JFK who angrily says he wants “to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds.”  Kennedy fires Dulles.
  • 1962 – On June 13 Lee Harvey Oswald, ex-Marine and alleged traitor, returns from the Soviet Union with a loan from the State Department that also arranges for him, together with his Russian wife, to be met at the dock in Hoboken, New Jersey by Spas T. Raikin, an official of an anti-communist organization with extensive intelligence connections. Oswald soon moves to Dallas, Texas where, at the behest of the CIA, he is chaperoned around by CIA asset and George H. W. Bush’s old friend, George de Mohrenschildt.
  • 1963 – June 10. JFK delivers his famous American University address calling for an end to “a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war.”
  • 1963 – On October 11 Kennedy issues National Security Action Memorandum 263 calling for the withdrawal of 1,000 American troops from Vietnam by the end of 1963 and all of them by the end of 1965.
  • 1963 – November 2. At the last minute JFK cancels his trip to Chicago to attend the Army-Air Force football game when it is learned that a four-man rifle team has plotted to assassinate him.  The four are never charged or named, but an alienated ex-Marine scapegoat with CIA connections, Thomas Arthur Vallee, is arrested on a pretext. Vallee works in a building overlooking a dog-leg turn where JFK’s car was to pass.
  • 1963 – November 22. JFK is shot in Dallas on a dog-leg turn at 12:30 P.M. and dies at 1 P.M.  At 1:38 P.M. Walter Cronkite makes the first public announcement of the president’s death.  At 1:45 P.M. George H. W. Bush, who is in Tyler, Texas an hour and a half southeast of Dallas, telephones Houston FBI agent Graham W. Kitchel to inform him that he’s heard gossip that a Houston man, James Parrot, has been talking about killing Kennedy when he comes to Houston (JFK had been in Houston the day before).  Parrot is questioned and deemed harmless.  Bush tells the FBI agent that he’ll be going to Dallas in the evening, though he fails to mention that he was there the night before.  At 1:50 PM the Dallas police arrest Lee Harvey Oswald in the Texas Theatre and charge him with the murder of Dallas police Officer J.D. Tippett.  A few minutes after Oswald’s arrest and his exit out the front door to waiting police cars, a second Oswald is arrested in the theatre and surreptitiously taken out the back door. Later in the day Oswald is charged with also killing President Kennedy from behind from the 6th floor of the Texas School Book Depository.  But the fatal shot to Kennedy’s head comes from his right front.
  • 1963 – Two days later Jack Ruby kills Oswald, who claimed he was a patsy, in the Dallas police building. That same afternoon LBJ tells Henry Cabot Lodge that “I am not going to lose Vietnam.”
  • 1963 – November 29. LBJ announces the formation of the Warren Commission whose key member is Allen Dulles, the former CIA Director fired by Kennedy.
  • 1963 – On December 24th Johnson tells the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “Just get me elected, and then you can have your war.”
  • 1964 – August. The fraudulent Tonkin Gulf Incidents and Tonkin Gulf Resolution. The Admiral in charge of the U.S. fleet is George Stephen Morrison, the father of the singer Jim Morrison, who the following year will settle into Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles together with, among others, Frank Zappa, “Papa” John Philips, David Crosby, and Stephen Stills, all children of parents of the military/intelligence complex.  Johnson orders the bombing of North Vietnam.  The Vietnam War starts in earnest.
  • 1964 – September. The Warren Commission findings are made public. Oswald is declared the lone assassin with the magic bullet explanation being the key.
  • 1966 – The CIA’s Phoenix Program, an intelligence gathering, assassination, “pacification,” and drug running program, is organized in Vietnam. It conducts countless assassinations and tortures throughout Vietnam. Its organizational structure later becomes the structure for Homeland Security and the “war on terror,” while its drug-dealing modus operandi, joined to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), floods the United States with illegal drugs up to the present day.
  • 1967 – Martin Luther King delivers his Riverside Church speech – “A Time to Break Silence” – denouncing the Vietnam War and calling for opposition to it, while linking it to social, racial, and economic oppression at home. He says that the three linked devils of militarism, racism, and economic exploitation can only be solved together.
  • 1967 – On June 8 Israel attacks the USS Liberty in international waters, killing 34 U.S. sailors and Marines and wounding 171 others.
  • 1968 – April 4. Martin Luther King is assassinated in Memphis.  The authorities blame it on James Earl Ray, a petty criminal loner.  It is later proven that King was killed by U.S. government forces in coordination with Memphis police and local Mafia.
  • 1968 – On June 6 in Los Angeles, Senator Robert Kennedy, on the cusp of becoming the Democratic nominee for president, is assassinated. The accused lone assassin, Sirhan Sirhan, was standing in front and to the right of RFK. None of the bullets from his gun struck the Senator. The autopsy shows Kennedy was killed by a bullet from behind and below that entered his head behind his right ear.  Sirhan is subsequently convicted as the lone crazed gunman, despite many witnesses seeing a girl in a polka dot dress with a male companion, running down the back stairs of the hotel, shouting. “We shot him!  We shot him!  We shot Senator Kennedy.”
  • 1968 – November. Richard Nixon, vowing to end the Vietnam War, is elected President after secretly sabotaging the Vietnam peace talks.  He subsequently continues the war and secretly expands it to Cambodia and Laos.
  • 1972 – June 17. Five CIA employees and veterans of the Bay of Pigs operation are arrested inside the Watergate offices of the Democratic National Committee.  Together with H. Howard Hunt (CIA) and G. Gordon Liddy, they are later indicted.  The burglars are caught by a security guard who notices that these skilled undercover operatives have taped locks open from the outside so that the tape is showing.
  • The Watergate story is primarily reported by reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein who work at the Washington Post under Editor Ben Bradlee. Woodward had earlier served in Naval Intelligence, as had Bradlee, while Bradlee and the Washington Post have deep ties to the CIA and intelligence communities.
  • 1973 – September 11. A CIA organized coup overthrows the socialist government of Chilean President Salvador Allende, killing thousands.
  • 1974 – August 9. Nixon is forced to resign.  He is the second president in eleven years to be removed from office.  Gerald Ford, a former member of the Warren Commission, assumes the presidency.  Dick Cheney is named White House Chief of staff and Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense.
  • 1976 – January 30. Having been nominated by Ford, George H. W. Bush assumes the Directorship of the CIA, despite critics arguing that he has no intelligence experience.  He serves in that capacity for 365 days.
  • 1976 – George de Mohrenschildt, Oswald’s CIA handler and George H. W. Bush’s old friend, writes a letter to CIA Director Bush begging for help “we are being followed everywhere….”
  • 1977 – March 27. George de Mohrenschildt, about to be questioned by investigator Gaeton Fonzi of the House Select Committee on Assassinations, allegedly commits suicide in Florida.
  • 1979 – November 4. Fifty-two Americans are taken hostage in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
  • 1980 – Ronald Reagan is elected president and George H. W. Bush, vice-president. It is later alleged that Bush, CIA officer Robert Gates, and CIA Director William Casey met secretly with Iranian officials in Paris before the election and made a secret deal to insure Reagan/Bush an election victory by not releasing the hostages before the vote.  The hostages were subsequently released a few minutes after Reagan and Bush were sworn in on January 20, 1981.
  • 1985-88 – The Iran-Contra scandal plays out as it is discovered that the Reagan administration was secretly selling arms to Iran in exchange for hostages and using the proceeds to illegally arm the anti-Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua in violation of the Boland amendment. Oliver North becomes the public face of the secret machinations while Reagan and Bush plead ignorance.  Many are indicted, while Bush, when running for president in 1988, claims he was “out of the loop.”
  • 1988 – July 16. In the midst of the presidential campaign pitting Bush against Dukakis, the Nation magazine publishes an article by Joseph McBride, “The Man Who Wasn’t There, ‘George Bush,’ CIA Operative.”  The article centers around a newly discovered memo from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, dated November 29, 1963, concerning the JFK assassination and an oral briefing the bureau had given on November 23rd regarding the assassination to “Mr. George Bush of the Central Intelligence Agency.”  A Bush spokesman denies it was candidate Bush.
  • 1988 – July 3. The USS Vincennes shoots down in Iranian airspace civilian Iran Flight 655 killing 299, including 66 children. Vice President Bush says, “ I will never apologize for the U.S.  I don’t care what the facts are … I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.”
  • 1988 – George H. W. Bush is elected president.
  • 1990-91 – President Bush attacks Iraq, called the Gulf War, public and congressional support for which is given a huge boost on the testimony of a nurse who claims she witnessed Iraqi soldiers In Kuwait City hospital grabbing babies out of incubators and throwing them on the floor to die. It is later discovered that the “nurse” in question was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States and that she hadn’t lived in Kuwait at the time.  Her story had been hatched by the Hill and Knowlton public relations firm and was a lie – a successful lie.
  • 1991 – May 19. A few weeks after filming had begun on Oliver Stone’s movie, JFK, the Washington Post’s national security reporter George Lardner, Jr. writes a scathing review of the film based on a stolen copy of the first draft of the screenplay.
  • 1991 – December 20. Stone’s film, JFK, is released.
  • 1991 – On December 24 President Bush grants pardons to six former members of the Reagan/Bush administration facing prosecution in the Iran-Contra scandal.
  • 1993-2000 – President Bill Clinton bombs Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Sudan … killing untold numbers of people, while maintaining economic sanctions on Iraq.
  • 1995 – April 19. The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, blamed exclusively on Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Evidence pointing to others involved was dismissed, even the report of Air Force General Benton K. Partin, the U.S. Air Force’s top explosive expert, showing in detail that explosives were planted inside the building at critical structural points on the third floor.
  • 1996 – May 12.  On CBS’s Sixty Minutes Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albrecht says that the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children as a result of the sanctions are worth it.
  • 1997 – The Project for the New American Century, a neo-conservative enterprise, three of whose signees are Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Jeb Bush, is launched. Among other things, they call for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. Ten signees of the statement of principles go on to serve in the George W. Bush administration.
  • 1999 – On April 26 CIA headquarters was named the George Bush Center for Intelligence in honor of former president George H.W. Bush who served as CIA Director for 357 days.
  • 1999 – A jury in Memphis, Tennessee returns a verdict in a civil trial brought by Martin Luther King’s family concluding that King was killed, not by James Earl Ray, but by a conspiracy involving agencies of the U. S. government and the Memphis police.
  • 2000 – September. The Project for the New American Century releases a position paper, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses,” stating that the United States will not be able to enforce its will on Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Afghanistan and maintain a Pax Americana “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”  The paper introduces a new word to refer to the United States of America – “the homeland.”
  • 2000 – November. George W. Bush is elected president after a disputed ballot count and the intervention of the Supreme Court.  Dick Cheney becomes vice-president and Donald Rumsfeld is named Secretary of Defense.
  • 2001 – May 1. George W. Bush gives a major foreign policy speech at the National Defense University and says that the U.S.A. must be willing to “rethink the unthinkable,” giving public notice that the U. S. planned to withdraw from the ABM treaty. He warns against “weapons of mass destruction” and “weapons of terror” in the hands of rogue actors.  The speech closely follows the reasoning of the PNAC paper of the previous year in urging an aggressive foreign policy.  Cheney and Rumsfeld are in the audience.
  • 2001 – June 22-23 Exercise Dark Winter takes place at Andrews Air Force base. The scenario involves anonymous threatening letters sent to mainstream media.  The letters threaten more letters to come with anthrax.  Judith Miller, author of Germs, and a notoriously deceptive Iraq war hawk for The New York Times, participates, playing Judith Miller of the New York Times.
  • 2001 – September 11. The terrorist attacks in NYC and Washington, D.C. occur.  The media immediately starts referring to them as another Pearl Harbor, a new Pearl Harbor.  CBS News reports that before going to bed at night George W. Bush wrote in his diary, “The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today.”  The site of the Twin Towers is first referred to as “ground zero,” a nuclear war term, by Mark Walsh, identified as a freelancer for Fox News by the Fox News interviewer on the street of lower Manhattan.  Presciently anticipating the official explanation for the buildings collapse, Walsh adds that the towers obviously collapsed “mostly due to structural failure since the fires were too intense.”
  • 2001 – September 12. The New York Times headlines a story: “Personal Accounts of a Morning Rush that Became the Unthinkable.”  Another headline under the byline of future editor Bill Keller, Iraq war hawk, reads, “America’s Emergency Line: 9/11.”  The endless emergency and war on terror begin.  Henceforth, for the first time in American history, a very important day is referred to by numbers, not by name – an emergency phone number.
  • 2001 – September 22. Tom Ridge is named Director of the newly created Homeland Security and becomes in charge of politically motivated terror alerts.
  • 2001 – September-October. Real and fake anthrax attacks occur.  A sham investigation follows with the FBI eventually accusing government scientist Bruce Ivins on little to no evidence, resulting in Ivins’ alleged suicide.
  • 2001 – Throughout the first three weeks of October the major media use the word “unthinkable” repetitively, echoing its association with nuclear war, just as the World Trade Center site is similarly referred to as “ground zero,” another nuclear term. A phony “anthrax” letter containing a harmless white powder, postmarked in St. Petersburg, Florida on September 20, is sent to Tom Brokaw of NBC. The letter, not made public until October 22 after the media’s repeated use of the word “unthinkable,” begins: “The Unthinkabel” Sample Of How It Will Look.  Judith Miller of the New York Times receives an anthrax threat letter also sent from St. Petersburg.
  • 2001 – October 7. The U.S.A attacks Afghanistan.
  • 2001 – October 27. The Patriot Act is passed.
  • 2001 – December 4. George W. Bush says when he was outside the classroom in Florida on September 11th he “had seen this plane fly into the first building.  There was a TV set on….”  Problem: No one saw the first plane hit the North Tower since it wasn’t televised live.  Much later a tape someone had made was shown on television.
  • 2002 – October 2. At the Cincinnati Museum Center President Bush gives a speech linking Saddam Hussein to the September 11 attacks and says that “we cannot wait for the final proof – the smoking gun – that that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.”  He urges the disarming of Iraq.
  • 2002-10 – Regular color-coded terrorist alerts
  • 2003 – February. Secretary of State Colin Powell gives false testimony at the U.N., asserting that Iraq possesses chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction and must be confronted.
  • 2003 – March. The U. S. attacks Iraq based on lies.
  • 2003-8 – Bush wages war on Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Homeland “security” leads to indefinite detention, black sites, torture, spying on Americans, the loss of Constitutional rights, etc.
  • 2007 – February 10. Barack Obama, having been a U.S. Senator for 2 years 1 month announces he is running for president.
  • 2008 – September. An international financial meltdown occurs.  The government claims it was unforeseen.  The Bush administration bails out the big banks and financial institutions.
  • 2008 – November. A seriously inexperienced Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, comes out of nowhere to be elected president on a populist platform of “hope” and “change.”  He receives more backing from Wall Street than his Republican rival.  Liberals and progressives go wild for joy.  Hope and change is proclaimed.
  • 2009 – Lawrence Summers, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, takes up his position as head of Obama’s economic team. Timothy Geithner, former head of the New York Federal Reserve, whose father, Peter Geithner, oversaw the Ford Foundation’s programs in Indonesia developed by Obama’s mother (who also worked for another notorious CIA front, USAID) becomes Secretary of the Treasury.  And Robert Gates, former CIA Director and George W. Bush’s Secretary of Defense continues in that position for Obama.
  • 2009 – March. Obama meets with the CEOs of fifteen big banks and tells them that “my administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks …. I’m not out there to go after you. I’m protecting you.”
  • 2009 – Obama intensifies the war on Afghanistan.
  • 2009 – October 9. Obama is given the Nobel Peace Prize.
  • 2009 – December. Obama sends 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan, saying this “will bring this war to a successful conclusion.”
  • 2010 – Obama vows to carry forward the Bush tax cuts for the richest Americans.
  • 2010 – and ongoing. Obama chooses his drone war kill list every Tuesday; says the killing of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki “is an easy one.”
  • 2011 – Obama and partners attack Libya and brutally kill Muammar Gaddafi. Libya descends into chaos. Hilary Clinton exults.
  • 2009 – and ongoing. Obama attacks Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, etc. Does nothing to stop the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians.  Supports and arms terrorists in Syria and other countries.  Engineers a coup d’etat in Ukraine and supports neo-Nazi forces attacking eastern Ukraine.  Encircles Russia with NATO troops and military exercises.  Starts a new Cold War.  Maintains military commissions and indefinite detention.  Prosecutes more whistleblowers than all previous American presidents combined, but does not prosecute any banksters or torturers.  Charges Edward Snowden, Thomas Drake, Jeffrey Sterling, Chelsea Manning, John Kiriakou, et al of violating the 1917 Espionage Act.  Acquiesces in the military coup against the democratically elected leader of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi and his subsequent imprisonment.  Spies on Americans and other countries. Maintains a national state of emergency and the Patriot Act with minor adjustments.  Prosecutes “the war on terror” initiated by George W. Bush.  Rules over a technological, computerized war of killing all over the globe and a technological, computerized spying apparatus here at home.  Spreads USAFRICOM throughout Africa, killing black Africans and undermining governments with Special Forces.  And does all this and more with a smile.  Then, before leaving office he creates the fraudulent Russia gate story to continue the new Cold War and to undermine any possible cooling of US/Russians tensions under a possible Trump presidency.
  • 2016 – Trump is elected President to the shock and awe of the Democrats and their supporters. Immediately, the undermining of Trump begins to make sure he doesn’t follow through on his promise to reduce nuclear tensions with Russia.
  • 2017 – Donald Trump, the new reality-TV president, takes office and comes under incessant attack from the Democrats and the main stream media. He reneges on most of his campaign promises, including reconciliation with Russia, and tweets so many moronic messages that he plays into the Democrats’ hands. Propaganda expands exponentially as the game of personality politics plays on.  Meanwhile, the structures of oligarchic rule continue un-abated, both at home and abroad.  Trump continues Obama’s war policies, killing people around the world.

It should be clear from this small portion of events over the years that there is a connecting link, that there is a bloody thread running through them connecting key players and the obvious ongoing presence of a secret structure that recruits its team to maintain this oppressive system. To see it should be gutsy child’s play. It is not an issue of either/or; we can’t explain how we have come to this terrifying situation of rule by a murderous, militarized national security apparatus serving the wealthy elites by concentrating on either individuals or structures.  People such as Barack Obama, the Bushes, Trump et al don’t emerge from thin air (though in Obama’s case it seems that way, and some have speculated on his CIA links).  These people grow out of a system that has cultivated and nurtured them.  They become spokesmen for the secretive and powerful moneyed forces some call the Deep State, the shadow government, the power elite, etc.  (The scholar Peter Dale Scott sees a hidden link between the JFK assassination, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and 9/11.)  Spokesmen, yes, they are that, but executive spokesmen; they are not innocent victims; they are free executive executioners, ordering death and destruction around the world and threatening a nuclear holocaust.  People and ongoing structures are intertwined.  Individuals count, but so do structures.

We are now living within a structure of non-stop and almost total propaganda that individuals, with the help of alternative structures of communication such as alternative media, can penetrate and understand, but only if they are willing to trudge through the forest of history that will allow for context and the connecting of dots.  In the end, it takes desire and work.  There are no excuses when, at least for now, the World Wide Web makes available so many voices for truth.  Many individuals concluding alike can lead to change.  Connect and be outraged.  This is the path to true patriotism, a love of one’s home country and the world that is our home.  We are not lost children without a way out of the forest of deception and fear.  Follow the knotted string to freedom.  Add to it.

The psychiatrist Allen Wheelis once wrote a brilliant little book called, How People Change.  His “childish” conclusion was that they change because they want to.  Simple but true.

A Response To George Monbiot’s “Disavowal”

Guardian columnist George Monbiot has responded to our recent media alert on the alleged gas attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, Syria, on April 4:

‘Here’s a response to the latest attempt by @medialens to dismiss the mounting evidence on the authorship of the #KhanSheikhoun attack’

This is a very serious misrepresentation of what we have argued in two media alerts. We made our position crystal-clear in the latest alert:

We have no idea who was responsible for the mass killings in Idlib on April 4; we are not weapons experts. But it seems obvious to us that arguments and evidence offered by credible sources like Postol should at least be aired by the mass media.

To interpret this as an attempt to ‘dismiss the mounting evidence on the authorship of the #KhanSheikhoun attack’ is to exactly reverse the truth, which is frankly outrageous from a high-profile Guardian journalist. We are precisely calling for journalists to not dismiss evidence on the authorship of the alleged attack. This is why we quoted investigative reporter Robert Parry:

The role of an honest press corps should be to apply skepticism to all official stories, not carry water for “our side” and reject anything coming from the “other side,” which is what The New York Times, The Washington Post and the rest of the Western mainstream media have done, especially regarding Middle East policies and now the New Cold War with Russia.

We have most certainly not urged anyone to ‘dismiss’ the White House version of events. We have asked journalists to consider that version as well as evidence offered by credible critics like former UN weapons inspectors Hans Blix and Scott Ritter, and by investigative journalists like Parry. We are clearly arguing in favour of inclusion of evidence, not exclusion. Monbiot has simply reversed the truth. In an expanded version of his tweeted response titled, ‘Disavowal’, he writes:

There’s an element on the left that seems determined to produce a mirror image of the Washington Consensus. Just as the billionaire press and Western governments downplay and deny the crimes of their allies, so this element downplays and denies the crimes of the West’s official enemies.

We have no interest in downplaying or denying any crimes. We hold no candle whatever for Assad or Putin, as we held no candle for Milosevic, Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein. We are simply urging journalists to consider both ‘Washington Consensus’ arguments and serious counter-arguments offered by credible sources. Monbiot writes:

The pattern is always the same. They ignore a mountain of compelling evidence and latch onto one or a few contrarians who tell them what they want to hear (a similar pattern to the 9/11 conspiracy theories, and to climate change denial). The lastest [sic] example is an “alert” published by an organisation called Media Lens, in response to a tweet of mine.

Our latest alert was not ‘in response’ to Monbiot’s tweet; it was in response to Professor Postol’s analysis challenging a White House report on the alleged attacks in Idlib. We simply used Monbiot’s tweet as a typical example indicating what we described as the ‘corporate media zeitgeist’.

Is it reasonable to describe Postol, one of the world’s ‘leading weapons experts’, according to the New York Times, as a ‘contrarian’? Is Hans Blix, who led the weapons inspections team in Iraq in 2002-2003, a ‘contrarian’? How about former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who was 100% vindicated by the failure to find WMD in Iraq? Can Noam Chomsky also be dismissed as merely a ‘contrarian’ following a ‘pattern’ which is ‘always the same’? Chomsky commented recently:

Well, there are some interesting questions there — you can understand why Assad would have been pretty crazy [to provoke a US intervention] because they’re winning the war. The worst thing for him is to bring the United States in. So why would he turn to a chemical weapons attack? You can imagine that a dictator with just local interests might do it, maybe if he thought he had a green light. But why would the Russians allow it? It doesn’t make any sense. And in fact, there are some questions about what happened, but there are some pretty credible people — not conspiracy types — people with solid intelligence credentials that say it didn’t happen.

Lawrence Wilkerson said that the US intelligence picked up a plane and followed that it probably hit an Al-Qaeda warehouse which had some sort of chemical weapon stored in it and they spread. I don’t know. But it certainly calls for at least an investigation. And those are not insignificant people [challenging the official narrative].

We are saying no more or less than this – it calls for at least an investigation.

Chomsky pointed to comments made by Wilkerson, former chief of staff to General Colin Powell, in a recent interview on the Real News Network:

I personally think the provocation was a Tonkin Gulf incident….. Most of my sources are telling me, including members of the team that monitors global chemical weapons –including people in Syria, including people in the US Intelligence Community–that what most likely happened …was that they hit a warehouse that they had intended to hit…and this warehouse was alleged to have to [sic] ISIS supplies in it, and… some of those supplies were precursors for chemicals….. conventional bombs hit the warehouse, and due to a strong wind, and the explosive power of the bombs, they dispersed these ingredients and killed some people.’

There is also the collective judgment of 20 former members of the US Intelligence Community, the Steering Group of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity:

Our U.S. Army contacts in the area have told us this is not what happened. There was no Syrian “chemical weapons attack.” Instead, a Syrian aircraft bombed an al-Qaeda-in-Syria ammunition depot that turned out to be full of noxious chemicals and a strong wind blew the chemical-laden cloud over a nearby village where many consequently died…..This is what the Russians and Syrians have been saying and – more important –what they appear to believe happened.

Monbiot’s ‘one or a few contrarians’ include all of the above, plus journalists John Pilger, Jonathan Cook, Peter Hitchens, Gareth Porter, Philip Giraldi, and others. They also include Piers Robinson, Professor of Politics, Society and Political Journalism at the University of Sheffield, who responded to our request for a comment:

Monbiot supports the official narrative that the Assad regime is responsible for the April 4 event when it is alleged that Assad’s forces launched a chemical weapon attack on civilians. He is presenting this as factually correct even though some credible commentators have raised questions regarding these claims and whilst there remains a lack of compelling evidence. In a recent posting Monbiot quotes recent French intelligence service claims regarding Assad’s guilt in this matter.

The problem here is that there are substantial grounds for remaining cautious of official claims. It is no secret that Western governments and key allies of theirs (Saudi Arabia, Qatar) have been seeking the overthrow of Assad for many years now. Indeed, the recently published Chilcot Inquiry, in section 3.1, revealed discussions between Blair and Bush which indicate that Syria was considered a potential target straight after 9/11. Given these objectives it is entirely plausible that Western intelligence services might be manipulating information so as to generate the impression that the Assad regime is responsible. Indeed, this kind of propaganda was well documented in the run up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq when weak intelligence was used by US and British politicians to justify their certainty that Iraq possessed WMD. These are all very good reasons for journalists and commentators to ask challenging questions rather than to dismiss out of hand any such attempts in the way Monbiot does. (Email to Media Lens, May 3, 2017)

Tim Hayward, Professor of Environmental Political Theory at Edinburgh University, has also responded to Monbiot’s piece here:

There are serious unsettled questions about every aspect of the incident, not only the anomalies concerning time of incident, identity of victims, causes of death, role of White Helmets, and about whose interests it served, but also concerning the forensic evidence itself.

And here:

In a tweeted response, he repeated his opinion that people like me, who question it, are denying a mountain of evidence.

So to state a point that should not need stating: to question is not to deny – although nor is it to affirm. It is to seek knowledge and understanding. Being less impressed than George by the quantity of data presented as evidence, I have only ever commented on its quality.

Hayward adds that in Monbiot’s latest post: ‘he has entrenched more deeply his defence of the NATO narrative’.

Monbiot says ‘the pattern is always the same’. In fact, there is indeed a pattern of ‘mainstream’ media insisting on the need for war in response to unproven claims that are often later debunked. We gave several examples in our first alert on the alleged chemical weapons attacks in Idlib. It is absurd for Monbiot to wearily dismiss our ‘pattern’, when our scepticism over claims made on Iraq and Libya – and numerous other issues, over many years – has so obviously been justified. Again, our problem is with the refusal of ‘mainstream’ media to report or discuss the opinions of credible experts challenging government claims. Back to Monbiot:

As it happens, just as Media Lens published its article, the French intelligence agency released a new report, which adds substantially to the growing – and, you would hope, un-ignorable – weight of evidence strongly suggesting that the Assad government was responsible:

Doubtless the French government will now be added to the list of conspirators.

We have not argued for any kind of conspiracy – perhaps the US, UK and French governments all agree because they have seen the same evidence and are correct in their apportioning of blame. We don’t know; we are not weapons experts. Our point is that if journalists like Monbiot are serious about establishing the truth, they will test the French government and other claims against the arguments and evidence offered by dissidents. They will consider the different claims, and come to some kind of informed conclusion. What is not acceptable is that journalists should simply accept as Truth arguments made by Western governments openly seeking regime change in Syria and that have a spectacular track record of lying about claims supposedly justifying war.

Monbiot continues:

For the record, I oppose Western military intervention in Syria. I believe it is likely only to make a dreadful situation worse. I believe that the best foreign governments can do at the moment is to provide humanitarian relief, seek to broker negotiated settlements and accept refugees from the horrors inflicted by all sides in that nation.

I have no agenda here other than to ensure that the reality suffered by the people of Khan Sheikhoun is not denied. The survivors of the chemical weapons attack are among the key witnesses to the fact that the weapons were delivered by air – it is their testimony as well as that of investigators that is being dismissed by people who would prefer to deny that the Assad government could have been responsible.

Again, we are not arguing for any evidence or testimony to be ‘dismissed’. We are arguing for counter-arguments to be admitted and considered by a press that is supposed to be objective, neutral and fair. Monbiot adds:

When people allow geopolitical considerations to displace both a reasoned assessment of the evidence and a principled humanitarianism, they mirror the doctrines of people such as Henry Kissinger and Tony Blair. The victims become an abstraction, a political tool whose purpose is to serve an agenda. That this agenda stands in opposition to the objectives of people like Kissinger and Blair does not justify the exercise.

This is really outrageous. We are not mirroring, but exactly opposing, the positions adopted by the likes of Kissinger and Blair. They, of course, were strongly against fair consideration of all the available evidence. Blair, for example, did everything he could to manufacture a case for war on Iraq by manipulating and hyping evidence, and by keeping evidence exposing his fake case for war from public view. In responding to Monbiot, former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook is able to understand the point that somehow eludes Monbiot:

We need more debate about the evidence, not less of it. Postol, Blix and Ritter may be wrong. But they should have a fair hearing and their arguments should be fully aired in the mainstream – especially, in supposedly liberal media outlets like the Guardian. Anyone who wants to understand what happened in Idlib must also want a vigorous and open debate that most members of the public will have access to.’ (Our emphasis)

And, in fact, Postol was wrong in his April 27 misreading of the French intelligence report on the Idlib incident. He quickly issued a correction and has subsequently poured scorn on the French claims.

Monbiot concludes:

The implications should be obvious. If we deny crimes against humanity, or deny the evidence pointing to the authorship of these crimes, we deny the humanity of the victims. Aren’t we supposed to be better than this? If we do not support the principle of universalism – human rights and justice for everyone, regardless of their identity or the identity of those who oppress them – what are we for?

We agree but for reasons Monbiot would probably not understand. When we admit only the view of Western governments and agencies supporting their position, and ignore the evidence of courageous whistleblowers and dissidents, we are risking the lives of people in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. When those of us promoting inclusion of evidence are smeared as ‘deniers’, then we are in a sorry state indeed. Asking awkward questions is not a Thought Crime.

A few years ago, Monbiot had what he believed was a brilliant, revelatory insight: that the left is marred by a ‘malign intellectual subculture’, comprised of Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, John Pilger and others, including us, that is as blinkered and intellectually dishonest as the ‘libertarian right’. The left also sees only what it wants to see. Monbiot was able to grasp this because, as he says:

I’ve long prided myself on being able to handle more reality than most…

The perfect irony is that, to cling to this view of the ‘malign’ subculture, Monbiot has had to turn his own blinkered eye to the many times the left’s sceptical response to state-corporate claims justifying war has been vindicated. Saddam Hussein did not ‘expel’ weapons inspectors prior to bombing in December 1998, as claimed. He did not deliberately attempt to worsen the effects of sanctions by obstructing UN food supplies. He was not involved in the September 11 attacks and did not have links to al-Qaeda. He did not attempt to hide WMD that he did not have. Gaddafi did not fuel mass rape with Viagra, he did not use African mercenaries, and there is no evidence that he was planning a massacre in Benghazi. The ‘pattern’ of the left questioning these claims is something to celebrate, not disavow.

Westminster Attack: Courage, Cowardice and Double Standards

The attack outside and inside London’s Westminster Parliament just before 4 pm local time on Wednesday 22nd March resulted in five deaths, including the assailant and forty injured. The confirmed British-born attacker, Adrian Elms – but with a number of alias’ including the much quoted Khalid Masood – drove a grey Hyundai SUV over Westminster Bridge, which spans the River Thames as it flows past Parliament, mounting the pavement and mowing down pedestrians crossing the great span, with it’s panoramic city views.

Some forty people were injured, twenty nine treated in hospital, with seven initially in a critical condition. Speaking in Parliament the next morning Prime Minister Theresa May listed the injured including twelve Britons, three of whom were police officers returning from an Award ceremony, three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one Pole, one Irish, one Chinese, one Italian, an American and two Greeks.

Killed was American Kurt Cochran who ran a recording studio from his home in Utah who, with his wife, Melissa, had been touring Germany, Scotland and Ireland before arriving in London to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.  It was the last day of their visit. Melissa was seriously injured. Also killed was Aysha Frade, originally from the municipality of Betanzos, Spain, an administrator and Spanish teacher at a nearby College, on her way to collect her daughters, aged eight and eleven, from school. Seventy five year old Londoner, Leslie Rhodes also died from his injuries the following night.

The car turned left at the end of the bridge, driving outside the Parliament building, crashing in to the wrought iron railings. The driver then ran through gates in to the New Palace Yard entrance, just below Big Ben, reportedly armed with two knives, fatally wounding unarmed Parliamentary Protection Officer and former soldier, PC Keith Palmer who attempted to stop him.

An act of courage and compassion came from MP Tobias Ellwood, Minister for Middle East and Africa, who gave CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to PC Palmer, in spite of the chaos breaking out after the attacker was shot, ignoring possible threat to his own safety. Ellwood’s attempts failed and his bent body as he looked down at Keith Palmer, his mouth and face smeared with Palmer’s blood as the cuffs of his formerly immaculate shirt and suit are both a haunting image of grief and a tribute to one who gave no thought but to trying to save a familiar face. There was courage from countless police, paramedics, doctors and nurses who rushed unhesitatingly towards potential danger with emergency equipment from the nearby hospital to help the injured.

Ellwood himself is no stranger to violent tragedy having lost his brother Jonathan in the 2002 Bali bombing. He wrote a searing account of dealing with the seemingly endless official bureaucratic “red tape” involved in both countries in trying to bring his brother’s body home whilst stricken with grief. “I actually ended up nailing the lid of the coffin down myself,” he said. “That can’t be right.”

Not everyone showed the courage of Mr. Ellwood and others. As Parliament went in to total lockdown with MPs and all staff trapped inside for hours, The Guardian reported:

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, was rushed into a car 40 yards from the gates outside Parliament where shots were fired minutes after the incident occurred, according to footage filmed by a member of staff.

She was ushered by at least eight armed undercover police, some with their firearms drawn, into a waiting black vehicle in Speaker’s Court, the footage seen by The Guardian shows. Loud bangs can be heard in the background as she is ushered into the car, but it is unclear whether the bangs were gunshots.

Safely back in her official residence, behind Downing Street’s fortified walls and soaring iron gates, guarded by colleagues of PC Palmer, she paid tribute to the emergency services: “ … these exceptional men and women ran towards the danger even as they encouraged others to move the other way.”

She talked of terrorists targeting Parliament because they hated the “values our Parliament represents – democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law” and the “spirit of (it’s engendered) freedom that echoes in some of the furthest corners of the globe.”

It has to be wondered whether those still under bombardment from the UK or its ally the US, in Afghanistan after sixteen years, Iraq after fourteen years, in Libya, Syria, Yemen; Palestinians remembering the decimation the Balfour Declaration has wrought on them for generations – when May had declared that in this, its centenary year, it is to be remembered in special UK “celebrations” – share quite such a starry eyed view of the “values”, “human rights” and “freedoms” etc., emanating from ”the Mother of Parliaments.”

She concluded:

Any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure.

Tomorrow morning, Parliament will meet as normal. We will come together as normal.

And Londoners – and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great City – will get up and go about their day as normal.

They will board their trains, they will leave their hotels, they will walk these streets, they will live their lives.

And we will all move forward together. Never giving in to terror.

Breathtaking stuff from the woman who gave in instantly, running away, protected by eight armed guards, in a bullet proof limo, rather than remaining in solidarity with her colleagues and the extensive staff who were in lockdown, not knowing whether further unhinged potential assassins were prowling Parliament.

No doubt if challenged she would say that such an emergency demanded she convened the COBRA group – another silly acronym which refers to the crisis response committee that meets in instances of national or regional crisis. However, there are plenty of telephones in Parliament and an on line conference is not exactly rocket science.

The following morning she told MPs:

Yesterday an act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy, but today we meet as normal, as generations have done before us and as future generations will continue to do, to deliver a simple message: ‘We are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism’.

Her “resolve” it seems not so much “never wavered”. It collapsed in a pile of dust.

What a contrast to President Bashar al Assad and his wife, who with their children, have never fled in terrorist attacks on their country ongoing since March 2011, terrorist attacks which include entirely illegal, massive bombings by UK and US air power. See, for example, for just one month’s UK decimation from the UK government’s very own horse’s mouth.

A week before the Westminster attack a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Syrian capitol, Damascus, Palace of Justice killing reportedly thirty nine people. President al-Assad and his wife stayed put in their residence in the city. Their “resolve” has absolutely “never wavered in the face of terrorism”, indeed “never giving in to terror”, plotted from inside the US Embassy in Damascus in 2006 and in Washington well before.  He has been called by the US, UK and their allies a tyrant, a despot and a war criminal.

The Western backed “moderate” head choppers are now a mere several kilometres distance from Damascus, still the first family remain.

“I was born in Syria and I will die in Syria”, the President has stated. Given that Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi also refused to abandon their people in the face of Western onslaughts and remembering their terrible fates, whatever observers varying views, it is undeniable Assad shows a particular kind of towering courage seemingly rare in the West. George W. Bush, of course, on 9/11, although already over 1,000 miles away in Florida, was rushed to a top-secret military bunker in Louisiana.

Not alone the standards but the language differs in the West. Attacks in Paris, Brussels, Nice, London, are undoubtedly “terrorism.” In Syria attacks of enormity are declared “a rebel offensive” usually quotes provided by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which is allegedly funded by the EU and another government, thought to be the UK. The founder, Rami Abdulrahman, with a couple of other aliases “… has direct access to former (UK) Foreign Minister William Hague, who he has been documented meeting in person on multiple occasions at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London and shares (Abdulrahman’s) enthusiasm for removing Assad from power.”

The reaction to an attack in the West also differs. The UK Prime Minister’s office received condolences from Heads of State across the globe. The lights of the Eiffel Tower were shut off at midnight, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate was lit, in marks of sympathy. President Putin also conveyed his condolences, in spite of the street level insults he has received from the British parliamentary establishment.

The UN Security Council observed a minute’s silence in respect of a tragic, horrific incident, but nevertheless one which would be an unusually quiet day in any of the countries the UK is enjoining in occupying, bombing or has invaded.

A friend also commented succinctly: ‘If “terrorists will not succeed” in the UK and other Western countries, why should the West expect the Syrian government and its allies to allow the Western, GCC, Israeli-backed terrorists, to succeed in Syria and seize control of the country after six years of global terror?’ Terrorists from up to ninety countries gaining access via the borders left open by the occupiers of Iraq from the time of the 2003 invasion and via NATO ally Turkey’s borders and blind eyes.

Coincidentally, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said on the morning of the Westminster attack, after a series of verbal spats with European countries, that: “If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. Europe will be damaged by this.” A few hours later he stated that: “Turkey feels and shares deeply in the United Kingdom’s pain” and that it stood in “solidarity” with Britain “in the fight against terrorism.”

If “a week is a long time in politics”, so, clearly, is six hours.

In Iraq in just two “catastrophic” “liberation” assaults on Mosul’s ancient, beautiful city, US “coalition” bombings killed up to three hundred and fifty souls, wiping out entire families in the week before London’s one man attack: “Journalists saw children and a pregnant woman among at least 50 bodies recovered from the rubble, with limbs and shoes protruding from destroyed houses.” No condolences from world leaders, no Eiffel Tower or Brandenburg Gate markings for them.

A spokesman for the US led Mosul slaughter:

Operation Inherent Resolve”, responded with: “The coalition respects human life, which is why we are assisting our Iraqi partner forces in their effort to liberate their lands from ISIS brutality.

He has clearly forgotten what the US has demonstrated in Iraq – with a brief break – fourteen years of their “respect for human life” – and the comment from a bewildered senior US military man to Major General Antonio Taguba during his investigation into the horrors, torture and death inflicted by US forces at Abu Ghraib: “But they were only Iraqis.”

Another friend provided me unwittingly with the conclusion for this inadequate piece on towering double standards. Thank you:

Do we not all bleed the same?

8/3 Kabul, Afghanistan – 49 dead. Silence

9/3 Tikrit, Iraq – 30 dead. Silence

11/3 Damascus, Syria – 74 dead. Silence

15/3 Damascus, Syria – 40 dead. Silence

16/3 Al-Jineh, Syria – 46 dead. Silence

21/3 Raqqa, Syria – 33 dead. Silence

21/3 Westminster, London – 5 dead.

22/3 Mosul, Iraq – 240 dead. Silence

They say we are all born equal.

But only the (Western deemed) “worthy” die as humans.

The others are simply forgotten.

UK residents have responded with generosity to funds for Westminster’s injured and grieving families with large sums being raised including £500,000 for the family of PC Palmer. Muddassar Ahmed set up the Muslims United for London page after witnessing the attack from Parliament’s Portcullis House: “I happened to be trapped inside the building yesterday, and saw the carnage …” His appeal raised £3,000 in the first hour.

Last weekend hundreds of Muslim women joined hands along Westminster Bridge in memory and solidarity – as the UK continues to bomb or threaten many of their countries. Their gesture should both humble and shame.

And since the perpetrator of the London attack is dead, it will likely never be known whether it was a coincidence that the attack was on the first anniversary of three suicide bombers killing thirty-two people and injuring three hundred and sixteen in Brussels on 22nd March 2016.

In another coincidence, on 19th March, armed anti-terror police carried out “a terrifyingly realistic” boat drill a little further down the Thames:

A sightseeing vessel became the scene of a fierce mock-gun battle between armed officers and police volunteers posing as terrorists shortly after 11am on Sunday …

At least one “body”, played by a police volunteer, was cast overboard, and officers were deployed in an effort to assess the effectiveness of rescue operation tactics in life-like conditions.’

The multi-agency operation was carried out between the Met, the Port of London Authority, London Coastguard, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade.

Police stressed that there was no specific threat but with London on high alert for two years: “I do hope there is a deterrent effect in this when they see how effective our people are.”

After last Wednesday’s attack Romanian architect Andreea Cristea was pulled from the Thames, alive but badly injured. It is uncertain whether she jumped to escape the car or fell off in the chaos.

On the day of the 7th July 2005 London tube and bus bombings, Visor Security were running a live exercise outside every tube station affected. Managing Director Peter Power told the BBC:

At half past nine this morning we were actually running an exercise for a company of over a thousand people in London based on simultaneous bombs going off precisely at the railway stations where it happened this morning, so I still have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up right now.

Tragic fact really can truly be stranger than fiction.