UPDATE - May 10, 2007 - I am posting at the secondary blog until further notice.
Older articles are here below and at the overflow blog.
Unlike Monday's earlier filing, there is no snark in the government's response to Brent Wilkes' motion to dismiss his indictment because of pre-indictment leaks. Instead, for the purposes of the case, there's just a simple logical argument:
Note: the timing on this is a bit fishy. The filing says only that the San Diego USA Office forwarded the Geragos' February 1 allegations to main DOJ "several weeks" before Geragos' formal complaint, which was April 23. So it's possible that SDUSAO didn't do it immediately upon receiving the letter.
That's the legal argument. But I'd like to go back and review the whole back and forth to see if we can get to what happened with the leaks (the ones from January, rather than the ones going back to 2005).
Geragos' February 1 Letter and Lam's Response
The issue started on February 1, when Wilkes lawyer Mark Geragos sent Carol Lam a letter memorializing a conversation he had with AUSA Sanjay Bhandari. Geragos quoted from two newspaper articles that, he said, showed "wholesale leaking of matters occurring before the grand jury."
The first cited two federal officials saying the SD USAO was close to seeking an indictment for Wilkes. The article described the first source this way.
The source, who has intimate knowledge of the case and spoke on condition of anonymity, said a preliminary draft indictment is under review by "many eyes on what is going to be proposed to the grand jury," the Times reported.
And it specified that the second source was from another agency.
Another official who is with a different agency but is also familiar with the case said an indictment is "imminent,"
The second article Geragos cited in his letter also relied on two government officials.
Federal prosecutors are preparing to seek indictments against a former top CIA official and a San Diego defense contractor linked to the bribery scandal that sent former U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham to prison, two government officials familiar with the investigation said Wednesday.
But the article later suggested that these government officials were not prosecutors.
Prosecutors in San Diego would not comment about an ongoing investigation.
Allison Hoffman, the author of this second article, would write a detailed description of the alleged crimes just six days later that clearly relies at least partly on CIA sources. That second Hoffman article again cited the two government officials--and others--and broadened the list of those who refused to comment on the case:
Those officials and others spoke on condition that they not be identified because the charges have not been finalized and because CIA contracting is classified. Justice Department and law enforcement officials in San Diego and Washington declined to comment.
In addition to those two articles (the second Hoffman article post-dates Geragos' letter), Geragos describes another leak.
As I told Mr. Sanjay [note Geragos may be deliberately trying to rile Bhandari, because he misspells his name elsewhere in the letter in addition to referring to him here as Mr. Sanjay] during our phone call today, it has been brought to my attention that yet another reporter who today claims to have been shown two separate indictments of Mr. Wilkes. One in the Foggo matter and one related to Thomas Kontogiannis. In addition, this reporter was apparently told prosecutors wanted to arrest Mr. Wilkes possibly as early as today on one of those indictments.
But this journalist got the story wrong--not only was Wilkes not arrested on February 2, but Kontogiannis was not indicted with Michael and Wilkes. The latter mistake--predicting an indictment for Kontogiannis--is one Hoffman's sources made too.
This was a point Carol Lam made in her response to Geragos--she requested more details about the journalist spreading leaks with wrong information.
We invited you to provide any specific information you have, including contact information for the reporter who claimed that he had seen copies of indictments, but had his facts wrong.
The March 19 Hearing
The leaks to journalists become a central issue in the March 19 hearing, which was ostensibly about arranging the sharing of classified information. Against the background of the discussion of secrecy associated with classified information, Judge Larry Burns scolds the government team about leaks (the AUSA here is Halpern).
Halpern: What I can say is it has nothing from prosecution team. There have been no leaks [of classified information]. There certainly have been no suggestions that any information that we had that we're under control of has been leaked.
The Court: I disagree, Mr. Halpern. Look at their Exhibit B to the motion.
Burns goes on to read from the first Hoffman article (though he did not read the line noting that prosecutors would not comment). Burns labels that leak as a violation of grand jury secrecy rules.
You and I both know that's a violation of Rule 6. Whoever did that shouldn't have done it.
Mr. Halpern: Clearly your honor. But I don't think there's an indication that that's a member of the prosecution team.
The Court: It's somebody associated with the government that's forecasting this for the media and telling them what's going on in front of the grand jury.
Mr. Halpern: There are many people associated with the government. I'm not going to quarrel on the Court's point. I think you're making a valid point.
Burns returns to the issue again.
The Court: Somebody ignored the conventions of federal criminal practice and Rule 6 in the two disclosures that were made. Somebody did.
Again, I'm not assuming that this has anything to do with you or Mr. Forge or Ms. Chu. I'm assuming it was somebody else who was anxious to get a headline or do something that led to this.
I take your point, Mr. Halpern, that whoever it was didn't disclose confidential secret national security information, but it was still--it's a pretty egregious violation to say, "here's what's going on in front of the grand jury, and expect an indictment in the next couple of weeks."
Mr. Halpern: Your honor, there's no way I will defend that action be whoever it was made, and I don't intend to.
All of this makes something crystal clear to the defense attorneys: Burns is pissed about the leaks, and they can use that to their advantage. Which Geragos then does.
Could I also address one other area, which is the leaks and the idea of the stand-alone order.
I had suggested in a letter prior to my client's indictment, because I was so irate at the time and I've mentioned before, that I wanted all of the people on the prosecution team, however we want to define that, to file declarations under penalty of perjury.
As this court well knows, the source privilege is not met with a whole lot of success in the federal courts anymore. Unfortunately, in the state courts it's still there. And you can't get to the bottom of this. Here we can get to the bottom of this. Clearly, as they've conceded, it did not come from the defense. I think it potentially is Brady or Giglio information as to who it is who willingly will go out and violate 6(e).
And the way to find out is to get these people to put their declarations under penalty of perjury and bring in the reporters and put them under oath and let them say who it was who disclosed the information.
Note Geragos' move here. He says that, because this is a federal case, the reporters privilege does not hold up, so the Court can order the journalists to reveal their sources.
At this, one of Foggo's lawyers, Randolph Teslik pipes up to note that he, too, learned the details of the indictment from a reporter.
Just for the record, we learned the details of the indictment from a telephone call from a reporter before the indictment was returned as well. We didn't put that in our motion. But given the nature of the representations and the Court's concerns here about 6(e), I think it's important that the record reflect that we got the same telephone call as Mr. Geragos.
The hearing as a whole served to get Burns riled up about leaks to reporters and to get Halpern to cede the seriousness of the leaks. Which Geragos then uses to set up his May 23 motion to have the entire indictment dismissed because of the leaks.
Geragos' May 23 Motion to Dismiss the Indictments
Foggo's lawyers file a motion regarding the leaks on May 23, too. But they don't ask for a dismissal. They only ask for a thorough investigation. But Geragos, as is his wont, goes big, asking to have all the charges dismissed. I don't think he really hopes this will work. But he does use it to foreground the Lam dismissal, suggesting Lam leaked the information personally to pressure main DOJ to approve the charges.
Before indictments were returned against Mr. Wilkes, news articles cited government officials as the source of secret grand-jury material. Those government leaks to reporters disclosed secret matters before the grand jury violating of Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e), including the targets of the grand jury, the nature and focus of the investigation, and the likelihood that an indictment would be returned and when.
During the grand jury proceedings, counsel for Mr. Wilkes regularly received phone calls from reporters relaying specific information about the pending indictments. The reporters had even seen drafts of the indictments weeks before the indictments were returned. The government’s illegal disclosure of secret grand jury matter to the press was not accidental or haphazard. It was part of a deliberate campaign by the former United States Attorney, Carol Lam, to use Mr. Wilkes and the other defendants here in her political squabble with the Justice Department’s main office in Washington D.C. The United States Attorney used the leaks to create a public atmosphere that compelled the grand jury to return indictments and present Main Justice with a fait accompli, a gesture of defiance by Carol Lam as she was forced out of office.
There are important points that Geragos makes in his statement supporting the motion. First, he uses Halpern's concessions from the March 19 hearing to put the blame back on the prosecution team.
As the prosecutors have conceded in open court, these leaks can only have been from members of the prosecution team.
Second (though I'm presenting this out of order), he describes hearing from six different reporters, two of whom have printed all the information shared with Geragos, his colleagues, or Wilkes. He then explains he has attached the stories representing these leaks.
At least six reporters telephoned me, my co-counsel, or my client. At least two of those reporters published all or part of the information disclosed to them by government officials in violation of Rule 6(e). Attached hereto as Exhibit 2 are true and correct copies of newspaper articles from a few of those outlets as authored by some of those reporters disclosing secret grand jury matters illegally disclosed to them by government officials.
As the government points out in its response, some of these articles could be based entirely on Wilkes' previous lawyers' own revelations coupled with reading the Cunningham indictment. Further, two of these articles are those described above in connection with the February 1 letter, which report that the prosecution team would not comment. Also, it includes the article apparently relying on CIA sources. In other words, the visible evidence Geragos supplies doesn't really prove that the prosecution team was behind the leaks--one point the government made in its response.
I'm curious, though, about the reference to Wilkes. Because I'd be deeply curious about any so-called leaks going directly to Wilkes. Was Wilkes, for example, the one who received the erroneous leak referenced in Geragos' February 1 letter?
The leaks for which Geragos provides evidence don't really support his larger argument to dismiss the case. But Geragos uses another leak--one not apparently reported--to implicate Lam in the leak.
A few days before the indictments were unsealed, I received a telephone call from a local reporter who told me that the United States Attorney would ask the Grand Jury to issue the indictments against Mr. Wilkes the following day, and described, in detail, the contents of those indictments. When I asked the reporter about the timing of the indictments, the reporter told me that United States Attorney, Carol Lam, wanted the indictments issued and announced before her departure date the following Thursday, two days later.
This is the basis, presumably, for Geragos' claim that Lam was behind the leaks.
Finally, Geragos reports another leak that also has not been reported on--and this one comes from Main DOJ.
Around the same time the print reporters were disclosing to me detailed knowledge of the draft indictments, and stating that government officials were showing them copies of draft indictments, a television reporter told me that an attorney at the Justice Department main offices in Washington D.C. (“Main Justice”) had disclosed that Main Justice believed that it could no longer exercise its normal supervisory role because the leaks of the indictment “would now make any action taken by Main Justice appear to be political”.
This is the final necessary piece for Geragos' argument, because it suggests that the leaks prevented Main DOJ from fulfilling their normal supervisory role in the case. The implicit message here is that Main DOJ would have prevented the indictments, if only someone (and Geragos alleges that someone is Lam) leaked all the details in the case. Of course, simple logic would tell you that the burgeoning USA Purge--and not the leaks in San Diego--limited Main DOJ from intervening too obviously in the case. But the leaks provided a convenient excuse--presumably for a member of the clique back in DC--to taint the indictments.
Government's May 7 Response
Which is what brings us to the real anger evident in yesterday's government response to Geragos' motion. While the rest of the response simply shows that almost all of the evidence Geragos relies on is either irrelevant or wrong, the last passage of the response makes strong insinuations that the most important pieces of Geragos' argument--those touching on Lam's involvement and Main DOJ's response to the leaks--lack corroboration.
In the weeks and months since Wilkes’s counsel sent his February 1st letter, made his representations at the March 19th hearing, and filed his April 23rd declaration, not a single article or story has been published or broadcast that corroborates his representations regarding: (1) the disclosure to the media of actual draft indictments; (2) frustration at Main Justice over a perceived inability to exercise its normal supervisory role over these cases; or (3) a reporter’s pre-indictment awareness of the detailed contents of the indictments.
Under the circumstances, Wilkes’s counsel’s declaration simply raises more questions than it answers. For example, why, in the most publicized case in this district, and one that has generated national interest, did no reporter report any of the events described in paragraphs 5 and 6 of Wilkes’s counsel’s declaration?
The insinuation is clear. The leak that implicated Lam and the one that reflect hesitation at Main DOJ were never published. They were simply shared with Geragos, and then dropped. Why would a reporter with such an incendiary story just sit on it?
While I suspect the reporter alleging that Lam had ordered indictments before her departure may have been speculating (it was a common speculation at the time), I'm most curious about the Main DOJ leak. The clique at Main DOJ had been panicking about public coverage of Lam's resignation since mid-January. In early February, Rahm Emmanuel and others requested that Lam be made a special prosecutor on the Wilkes case. Geragos' TV reporter would have you believe that it was the leaks--and not the larger USA Purge scandal--that forced Main DOJ to back off of any intervention into the Wilkes indictment.
No wonder the prosecution team sounds so skeptical.
DU is a byproduct of uranium refinement for nuclear power. It is much less radioactive than other uranium isotopes, and its high density - twice that of lead - makes it useful for armour and armour piercing shells. It has been used in conflicts including Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq and there have been increasing concerns about the health effects of DU dust left on the battlefield. In November, the Ministry of Defence was forced to counteract claims that apparent increases in cancers and birth defects among Iraqis in southern Iraq were due to DU in weapons.
The compounds caused breaks in the chromosomes within cells and stopped them from growing and dividing healthily. "These data suggest that exposure to particulate DU may pose a significant [DNA damage] risk and could possibly result in lung cancer," the team wrote in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology.
Previous studies have shown that uranium miners are at higher risk of lung cancer, but this has often been put down to the fact that miners are also exposed to radon, another cancer-causing chemical.
Prof Wise said it is too early to say whether DU causes lung cancer in people exposed on the battlefield because the disease takes several decades to develop.
"Our data suggest that it should be monitored as the potential risk is there," he said.
Prof Wise and his team believe that microscopic particles of dust created during the explosion of a DU weapon stay on the battlefield and can be breathed in by soldiers and people returning after the conflict.
Once they are lodged in the lung even low levels of radioactivity would damage DNA in cells close by. "The real question is whether the level of exposure is sufficient to cause health effects. The answer to that question is still unclear," he said, adding that there has as yet been little research on the effects of DU on civilians in combat zones. "Funding for DU studies is very sparse and so defining the disadvantages is hard," he added.
Disturbing news from the National Coalition for History. According to a protective order filed by the US District Court for DC, all classified information used at Guantanamo military tribunals by defense counsel-- namely, all papers, correspondence, memoranda, logs, photographs, and videos-- are to be physically "destroyed" after the trial ends. Further, the order states that prosecutors "may" choose to destroy all their classified materials as well.
Israel's persecution of Azmi Bishara, the prominent Palestinian scholar, head of the National Democratic Assembly and - until recently - member of the Israeli Knesset, is only the recent articulation of this reality. After all, this is not the first Israeli attempt to criminalise Bishara or other Palestinian political leaders. The state hopes that by reframing his political agenda as treason, incitement to violence and support of terrorism, his ideas will lose legitimacy, his community will be intimidated and the establishment will not need to deal with the challenge that the Palestinian citizens of Israel present to the ideology of the state through their demands for equality.
Bishara rightly claims that he will not have a fair trial. Indeed, we know from the history of the General Security Service (GSS) of a culture of lies and fabricated files (even against their own men as in the Bus 300 affair, which was hijacked by Palestinian militants in 1984). We also know that even in cases unrelated to "security", the Arab citizen is twice as likely to be indicted, convicted and imprisoned compared to his fellow Jewish citizen. Professors Aryeh Rattner and Gideon Fishman of Haifa University write: "Being an Arab may lead to a presumption of guilt without facts and the rules of evidence."
We also know that security is the sacred cow to which Israeli judges bow. Security has always been an important tool for the maintenance of the Jewish and Zionist character of the Israeli state. It was a major pretext for the confiscation of Palestinian citizens' lands. Israel's persecution of Bishara is part and parcel of this security mindset of the Israeli state vis-á-vis its Palestinian citizens. Those citizens were denied their basic rights and were subjected to a military administration for 18 years (1948-1966). Since then, the GSS has been the main state organ in charge of viewing us as a "fifth column." Bishara has already had his trial(s) without knowing. The justices of the Israeli Supreme Court have authorised more than once the wiretapping of his private conversations. "parliamentary immunity", "freedom of expression" and "democracy" are all tricks through which Big Brother comes to haunt you in the end.
Not only does the GSS closely monitor and control the Arab education system inside Israel, but it has publicly declared that the Palestinian citizens of Israel are a "strategic and demographic threat" to the state. In fact, it can be said that Big Brother is not only patrolling "thoughtcrimes" but has "telescreens" in the bedrooms of the Palestinian citizens, penetrating our private realms and controlling some of the most intimate aspects of our family and love lives. The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law forbids family unification and effectively prohibits Arab citizens from marrying citizens of more than half of the countries in the Middle East. In this dehumanising context, the law declares that marriage and children are not humanitarian affairs.
Had Israel been a democratic state, one would have expected the legal apparatus to criminalise and outlaw anti-democratic movements. Israel, however, persecutes Bishara for his democratic agenda. "State of all its citizens" and "universal equality" would be considered a trivial and possibly conservative agenda in any normal democratic state. Strangely, in Israel, such an agenda has been labelled as dangerous, subversive and extremist. The Knesset rejected several times an "equal protection" clause that Bishara had proposed. Equality remains outside Israeli legislation.
After all, these are unorthodox ideas in Israel. The Zionist "Newspeak" is supposed to turn them into unthinkable ideas. The fact that three groups of Palestinian elites inside Israel - National Committee of the Heads of the Arab Local Municipalities, Adalah and Mada al-Carmel - have recently issued "vision documents" articulating our demands for equality, expressing our grievances and presenting an alternative historical narrative meant that Bishara had risen in prominence and influence.
On the other hand, anti-democrats and racists who openly propagate violence against as well as the expulsion of Palestinians (including those who are citizens) serve in the Knesset and the government, and cabinet ministers who routinely issue racist statements against the Palestinian citizens are not held accountable. In fact, they become more popular in the Jewish community after such statements.
It is thus hard to escape understanding the Israeli irony without the Orwellian backdrop. Bishara, vocal in his opposition to Israel's brutal assault on Lebanon last summer, is accused by the Thought Police (the GSS) of helping the enemy in times of war through contact with a foreign agent. The "enemy" here stands for the Arab world to which the Palestinian citizens belong and the "foreign agent" is defined retroactively as such by the Thought Police. These alleged crimes are punishable according to Israeli law by life imprisonment or death penalty. "Thoughtcrime is death."
On the contrary, cabinet ministers who urged the Israeli military - still ironically called the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) - to wipe out dozens of Lebanese villages and not feel morally restricted during the war were heralded as patriots. Those who perpetrate war crimes are considered "men of peace". The Big Brother is persecuting Bishara because "war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength."
What might be bewildering in recent developments is Israel's disregard for the impact that these policies might have on its future. Israel has always discriminated against the Palestinian minority, isolated it from its larger Arab milieu and employed a multi-layered control system. Since October 2000, however, Israel has been moving rapidly towards a collision by continuously pushing this minority further into the corner. Most of the minority's leaders were incessantly interrogated and at times physically assaulted by the police; Ra'ed Salah, a prominent religious and political leader, was imprisoned; several laws further restricted political speech and participation; Bishara faced two political trials; and more Arab houses have been demolished. More persecution of Bishara and his party will take Israel one step closer toward collision with its Palestinian citizens.
Israel is in effect presenting Azmi Bishara with two similar "options": to end up as either a Kafkaesque or an Orwellian protagonist. The former was executed, the latter was brainwashed and forced to betray his world waiting for an impending execution.
Meanwhile Bishara, as a genuine civil rights leader, is resisting the attempt to drag him into Kafka's Trial by Big Brother and his Thought Police. He courageously holds his ground: "We will not be intimidated. We will not bow to permanent servitude in the land of our ancestors or to being severed from our natural connections to the Arab world."
Nimer Sultany is a Palestinian citizen of Israel and currently a doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School.
He has worked as a human rights lawyer in the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and as the head of the political monitoring project
at Mada al-Carmel (the Arab centre for applied social research).
May 8, 2007 -- Cheney on DC Madam's list. Yesterday, WMR reported on the DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey's list: "WMR has been informed that the CEO of a major corporation is a former CEO but, nonetheless, the aforementioned extremely high-level official of the Bush administration. The individual, who is definitely "newsworthy," reportedly engaged the services of Palfrey's escort firm while he was the CEO and maintained a residence off Chain Bridge Road in the Ballantrae neighborhood in McLean, Virginia, a few blocks from the headquarters of the CIA."
Cheney "X'd" off the DC Madam's list by ABC/Disney.
WMR has confirmed with extremely knowledgeable CIA and Pentagon sources that the former CEO who is on Deborah Jeane Palfrey's list is Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney was CEO of Halliburton during the time of his liaisons with the Pamela Martin & Associates escort firm. Palfrey's phone invoices extend back to 1996 and include calls to and from Cheney. Ironically, in 2000 Cheney was appointed by Bush to head his Vice President selection committee, a task that enabled Cheney to gather detailed personal files on a number of potential candidates, including Bill Frist, George Pataki, John Danforth, Fred Thompson, Chuck Hagel, John Kasich, Chris Cox, Frank Keating, Tom Ridge, Colin Powell, and Jim Gilmore, before he selected himself as the vice presidential candidate.
The White House saw to it that ABC/Disney killed the DC Madam's story before yet another scandal swamped the Bush administration. Cheney is departing Washington today for a trip to the Middle East, where he will visit the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, and the USS John C. Stennis in the Gulf.
One of the biggest failures of GWOT strategy is none other than Iraq, where over 150,000 U.S. troops are deployed. A country free of religious extremism and terrorism until its invasion four years ago, Iraq now reports the world's largest number of terrorist and violent incidents, week after week. Over 650,000 civilians have perished in Iraq, besides 3,000-plus U.S. troops. The occupation forces there have no grip on the fast-deteriorating situation despite the "surge" in U.S. troops.
Neither Afghanistan nor Iraq has seen any of the promised "stabilisation" or "democratisation". In Afghanistan, there is a strong resurgence of the Taliban amidst rampant warlordism, and a serious danger that President Hamid Karzai's regime may come unhinged altogether. Opium production is booming as never before and now accounts for well over one half of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
Worse, GWOT has alienated and antagonised large numbers of people in the Islamic world. The U.S. has lost all credibility in their eyes, as well as among growing numbers of people in the West. Discontent in the Islamic world, in particular West Asia, is growing along with the expanding cesspools of unaddressed grievances — further feeding violence, counter-violence and terrorism.
The U.S. is now increasingly perceived as a power in search of an Empire, to be built primarily by military means. It presents a new, ugly, aggressive and belligerent face in the post-Cold War era. New apologists have also emerged for the new imperialism of the post-Cold War era. During the Cold War, U.S. hegemonism was based on "saving the world from communism", and presenting a benevolent face to the "free world". Today's Empire needs different, if equally irrational, justifications or rationalisations.
Six of these rationalisations or banners and apologies for Empire are important: (i) the global war on terror; (ii) weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the `wrong hands'; (iii) failed states; (iv) the necessity and justice of external and forcible humanitarian intervention; (v) regime change in the name of democracy; and (vi) the war on narcotics.
The present book, an initiative of the Transnational Institute, an Amsterdam-based radical fellowship, and authored mainly by its Fellows, is a devastating critique of the U.S. Empire-building project and its principal rationalisations. Its greatest merit is that it centrally confronts the reality of post-Cold War U.S. imperialism and tries to analyse it comprehensively. It persuasively argues that each of the slogans and premises through which U.S. Empire-building is sought to be legitimised is fundamentally flawed.
The book's authors make their case on a broad canvas, which includes a discussion on the purposes of Empire (themselves related to specific regimes of economic power and to furthering inequality-enhancing neoliberal capitalism); the manufacture of intellectual opinion in favour of neoliberal ideas; and the special role played by American exceptionalism in legitimising Empire-building through its assertion that the U.S. is unique as the world's "natural" leader, in that "it is the one country whose pursuit of its national interest is, at one and the same time, the pursuit of a cosmopolitan universal interest".
These essays are followed by six chapter presentations on the six ideological banners. As important as these sections are the Introduction and Conclusion, both by Achin Vanaik, who weaves together the different themes and illuminates numerous connections between them.
To begin with, Walden Bello analyses the economics of Empire by postulating a massive crisis of over-accumulation: overproduction and building up of excess capacities, whose output the economics of the industrial North cannot absorb. He argues that recent attempts by international capital to develop new communications technologies; to colonise public spheres such as health, education, power, water supply and transport; to "financialise" itself; and to tap China's rapid growth to finance a debt-led consumption boom in the U.S. will not adequately remedy the causes of this crisis. Walden Bello presents U.S. post-Cold War belligerence as a consequence of economic weakness, not strength.
Susan George presents a critique of the neoliberal doctrine, rooted in a combination of conservative interpretation of neoclassical economic theory, and libertarian and ultra-individualist legal-political ideas. Susan George convincingly shows that the dominance of neoliberalism owes little to its intrinsic merit; nor was it a "natural" outcome of intellectual debate.
Rather, it followed a systematic and lavishly funded effort to "sell" the ideology through think tanks, select university departments, policy institutes and key individuals in the media. She explores and exposes the institutional framework through which this $1 billion enterprise was conducted.
Mike Marquesee's chapter is a searing critical analysis of American exceptionalism and its historical roots in settler colonialism. This notion sees the U.S. not just as a territorial entity, but as a "great social experiment", which must be propagated — if necessary, through colonial wars and the Monroe Doctrine. American exceptionalism sees the U.S. as the ultimate telos and goal of modernity itself.
Marquesee explains how this exceptionalism survives despite the blows delivered by the U.S.' ignominious defeat in the Vietnam war and the visible inferiority of the U.S. model of capitalism in relation to its Western European variants in respect of, say, public services.
The six chapter presentations that follow delve into the rationalising banners, by analysing their provenance and purpose, and their structural weaknesses and deceitful nature. They also suggest some alternative approaches.
Vanaik argues that the one-sided view of terrorism contained in the dominant discourse in the U.S. (which excludes state terrorism altogether), and the militarised solutions offered to it through GWOT, is an excellent "framing device" for the imperial project and "possesses the greatest capacity to mobilise domestic support for the U.S. pursuit of Empire abroad".
Vanaik, however, dissects GWOT's failure. He holds that demonisation of Islam and Muslims is "an inevitable corollary" of GWOT. Vanaik offers the International Criminal Court as an alternative framework within which to prosecute and punish terrorist acts.
Zia Mian takes apart the WMD argument as an excuse for waging war on Iraq. Washington deliberately concocted falsehoods about Saddam Hussein's pursuit of WMD and manipulated the media. The "in the wrong hands" proposition is a means of selectively rewarding friends, allies or client-states, while attacking enemies and "Axis of Evil" states.
Mian documents the U.S.' spectacular hypocrisy in developing new uses for and designs of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile defence systems, while preaching disarmament to others. He also shows how the mystique built around the bomb comes back repeatedly to haunt the U.S. through its spread to other countries. This is the inevitable consequence of the "Empire of Fear".
The U.S. claims that its wars in Central and West Asia were rationally calculated to promote regime change in the interests of "democracy"; or they were humanitarian interventions, necessitated by the failure/paralysis of the multilateral system (the United Nations, in particular). This argument has some resonance outside the U.S., especially given the context of the former Yugoslavia, Somalia and Rwanda — although the U.S. and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisaion (NATO) allies failed to act in these very cases.
But as Mariano Aguirre shows, unilateral, offensive, armed intervention mocks at international law and weakens multilateral institutions that ought logically to intervene and honour their obligation to protect threatened civilians.
Aguirre persuasively argues that the Left "should not abandon the moral imperative to protect victims, nor the principles of democracy and international law... We need to recognise that there are massive violations of human rights, that there are dysfunctional states that do not protect their people... Also, that the U.N. system lacks the administrative capacity and flexibility to respond and that power politics limit its capacities, and that, therefore, the international community has a role to play."
Phyllis Bennis writes a blisteringly critical account of how the U.S. first contemptuously bypassed the U.N. Security Council, and then cynically manipulated it to obtain a carte blanche in Afghanistan and Iraq. She criticises the U.S.' mollycoddling of regimes with dubious human rights records (for instance, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Russia), its setting up of puppet regimes in the occupied countries, and its policies of creating or widening sectarian divides and of promoting the outright loot of Iraq's wealth through corporatisation and privatisation.
Bennis presents a scathing analysis of the effects of U.S. policy in West Asia, including promoting authoritarian allies, legitimising Israel's brutal occupation of Palestine, and the negative examples all this has set for West Asia as a whole.
David Sogge exposes state weaknesses, fragility or "failure" as a dishonourable pretext for Empire-building.
Most characterisations of failing states totally ignore the causes of failure, typically rooted in the structure of the global economy, neoliberal policies imposed by international financial institutions or Western governments, and absence of democracy and accountability. Military interventions rarely offer a solution, nor does the "shell of elections".
Last but not least is a discussion by David Bewley-Taylor and Martin Jelsma of the "war on narcotics" as yet another excuse for Empire. The U.S.'s supply-side approach to the drugs problem emphasises physical interdiction, although this has proved a failure. In practice, as "Plan Colombia" shows, the "war on narcotics" provides a convenient excuse for attacking Left-wing insurgents and maintaining a heavy U.S. military presence in select Third World countries. The authors argue for an alternative "harm reduction" and "decriminalisation" approach to drugs.
Vanaik concludes with a final summing up, which takes a bird's-eye view of the six legitimising themes and their weaknesses, and argues for a comprehensive, critical, Left-wing approach to dissecting Empire.
The book is, then, a broad-horizon yet penetrating critique of the rationalisations for Empire in the post-Soviet era. One wishes it had explored some themes (for instance, the economics of Empire, the relations between the U.S. and its allies, the manufacture of domestic consent in different countries, and alternative international arrangements, and so on) in greater depth.
Above all, one wishes it had devoted some space to a discussion of the growing resistance to Empire through the anti-war and peace movements, themselves linked to the global justice agenda.
Despite these shortcomings, the book remains one of the sharpest critical analyses of contemporary imperialism published recently. It is highly recommended.
Praful Bidwai is a Fellow of the Transnational Institute. He co-authored with Achin Vanaik South Asia on a Short Fuse: Nuclear Politics and the Future of Global Disarmament, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1999.
Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, April 2007, pages 17-18
MEMRI co-founder Meyrav Wurmser (The Hudson institute)
MEYRAV WURMSER, den mother of the neoconservatives, is now head of the Center for Middle East Policy at the far-right Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. A typical institute program included a Feb. 5 lecture by the former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, American-born Dore Gold, who introduced his new book, The Fight for Jerusalem: Radical Islam, the West and the Future. Gold’s previous Arab-bashing book, published in 2004, was Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism, published by Regnery Publishers.
When I last wrote about Dr. Wurmser (April 2003 Washington Report, p. 14), she and her colleague, Col. Yigal Carmon of Israel’s Mossad, had launched the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization. Founded in February 1998, MEMRI specializes in translating and distributing articles that present Arabs in a highly negative light, and providing these articles and free Internet advisories to the media in the U.S., Britain and, presumably, to other countries as well.
According to Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA counterintelligence official, MEMRI is selective and acts as propagandists for a political point of view which follows the extreme right of Likud. “MEMRI follows a familiar pattern,” noted journalist Brian Whitaker. “Either it reflects badly on the character of Arabs or it in some way furthers the political agenda of Israel.”(See November 2002 Washington Report, p. 22.)
In recent years prominent people have quoted MEMRI translations, including, astonishingly, Richard Cohen of The Washington Post. Others, predictably, include Prof. Bernard Lewis of Princeton University; Israel-firster Charles Krauthammer of The Washington Post; Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of The New Republic; U.S. Rep. Thomas Lantos (D-CA); and former CIA Director James Woolsey.
According to the conservative National Review, 250 foundations and individuals fund MEMRI’S activities. Among these private donors is the right-wing Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which gave MEMRI $100,000 from 1999 to 2000. In 2001, the Randolph Foundation gave MEMRI $100,000, and in 2004 the John M. Olin Foundation gave $5,000, according to Media Transparency. All these donations were tax-deductible.
Prof. Halim Barakat of Georgetown University complained about MEMRI’s translations of his articles: “Every time I wrote Zionism, MEMRI replaced the word by Jew or Judaism,” he wrote. “They want to give the impression that I’m not criticizing Israeli policy, but that what I’m saying is anti-Semitic.”
Indeed, MEMRI seems bent on stigmatizing anyone who criticizes Israel and/or Zionism as being anti-Jewish.
With the exception of Meyrav Wurmser, who actually is an Israeli, neoconservatives are Americans extraordinarily sympathetic to Israel. Dr. Wurmser studied at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (SAIS). Her Ph.D. thesis was based on the Revisionist/Herut/Likud Party from Ze’ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky through Menachem Begin to Yitzhak Shamir.
Wurmser has taught political science at Johns Hopkins University and at the United States Naval Academy. She writes articles for such pro-Israel publications as William Kristol’s Weekly Standard and the extremist Middle East Quarterly.
Among the neoconservatives who have prospered—at least until recently—in the George W. Bush administration are Paul Wolfowitz, former Deputy Secretary of Defense, whose obsequiousness toward President Bush was exceeded only by his reputation for craftiness; former Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration Richard Perle, who resigned as chair, and later as a member, of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, and who has received large profits as a lobbyist; former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith; Elliott Abrams, a well-known figure from the Reagan era who was convicted and later pardoned on charges related to the Iran-Contra scandal and now is a central player as deputy national security adviser (see story p. 10); and ideologue Michael Ledeen, who basically believes that violence in the service of the spread of democracy is America’s manifest destiny.
Yet another neocon is Meyrav Wurmser’s husband, David Wurmser, an adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney on Middle East affairs.
Many of the neocons’ dreams now have turned to ashes, leaving a ruined Iraq but not yet having destroyed either Iran or Syria as most of the neocons desire. Strangely, it is Meyrav Wurmser who can’t stop talking about what might have been. In unguarded moments she clearly has no regrets about the havoc she and her fellow travellers have wrought upon the United States and its allies.
Wurmser seemingly pays little attention to non-Jewish neocons such as former Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton (or their victims). Foremost among them, of course, is Vice President Richard Cheney, who became a willing accomplice of the neocons. Cheney might end up having to resign from the vice presidency, and his former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, may end up behind bars if President Bush doesn’t pardon him before the end of his second term. Ex-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld may get off scot-free only because he seemed to be more of a blowhard than a conspirator.
Then there is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who never became a neocon, but on the other hand never fought enough against them. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who refused to be taken in by the neocons, was unceremoniously dumped at the end of Bush’s first term.
Meyrav Wurmser almost seems to look back on the neocons’ glory days as a golden time. After all, the neocons kept the United States busy and distracted from solving the Israeli-Palestinian problem.
According to Israeli writer Yitzhak Benhorin of the Israeli Web site Ynetnews.com, “Despite the fact that many neocons are no longer part of the government, it turns out that they are still one big happy family who make sure to remain in touch.” He continues, “Many are Jews who share a passionate love for Israel. Some of the accusations against the government regarding the war in Iraq is that it was undertaken primarily for Israel’s sake and that the attack on Iraq was actually an Israeli objective.”
In an interview with Ynet, Dr. Wurmser refuted the accusations and criticism. “Since I’m an Israeli in the gang, you wouldn’t believe what’s been written about me,” she said. “That I’m proof of the covert neoconservative connection with Israel and the Mossad.”
Wurmser went on to explain: “The group is comprised of academics, most of them lacking operational experience, which became part of the Bush administration but failed to get their ideas through the bureaucracy. These are intellectuals who came with great ideas, in which I still believe, but did not find a way to promote their beliefs in the complexities of bureaucracies.
“The final decisions were not in their hands,” she insisted. “In the Pentagon, the decisions were in the hands of the military, and the political leadership had a lot of clashes with the military leadership.”
Wurmser continued: “Powell curbed our ideas and they did not pass. There was a lot of frustration over the years in the administration because we didn’t feel we were succeeding.
“Now Bolton has left [the U.N.] and there are others who are about to leave. This administration is in its twilight days. Everyone is now looking for work, looking to make money…We all feel beaten after the past five years.”
Later in the interview, Wurmser stated: “Hezbollah defeated Israel in the war. This is the first war Israel lost.”
She continued: “The neocons are responsible for the fact that Israel got a lot of time and space…They believed that Israel should be allowed to win. A great part of it was the thought that Israel should fight against the real enemy, the one backing Hezbollah. It was obvious that it is impossible to fight directly against Iran, but the thought was that its strategic and important ally should be hit.
“It is difficult for Iran to export its Shi’i revolution without joining Syria, which is the last nationalistic Arab country,” Wurmser explained. “If Israel hit Syria, it would have been a harsh blow for Iran. The hit would have weakened it and changed the strategic map of the Middle East. The final outcome is that Israel did not do it. It fought the wrong war and lost.”
In an interview with a May 18, 2003 episode of the BBC program “Panorama” entitled “The War Party,” Meyrav Wurmser talked about the war in Iraq. She also referred specifically to the neocons’ real fundamental love of power and their 1996 paper written for then-incoming Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.”
“It was no more than a mental exercise in a think tank by a group of people. Yes, many of us are Jewish, there is no need to apologize for that. Most of us, all of us, in fact are pro-Israel. Some of us more fiercely so than others. But we have no problem also criticizing Israel…
“There is no dual loyalty. The people in the group are Americans first and foremost, and view themselves as American thinkers, and as people who are most interested in American policy. We see a tremendous similarity between Israel and America, and Britain for that matter, simply because these are leading democracies. In the case of Israel, it’s the only democracy in the Middle East.”
Wurmser continued, “We don’t claim credit for the activities of the group [the neocons] at all…You could say our power is a figment of our enemies’ imagination. It might be absolutely true. We are not claiming to be running the world. Our job is just to think, and if ideas get adopted, and if ideas turn into policy—wonderful. That’s what we’re here for…
When the attack on Iraq began, Wurmser said, “We actually opened a bottle of champagne. This was a moment we waited for, for many, many years. I mean we’ve been working on freedom for Iraq for the past nine years maybe. My personal feeling was that we were doing an incredibly good deed by pushing this war because, you know…people got their freedom out of it…
“Contrary to popular belief there is no conspiracy,” she insisted “and the group would not have been so powerful were it not for an administration and a president who is susceptible and was willing to adopt many of those ideas. Nobody hijacked anything. Nobody has brainwashed the American president. He’s acting according to his own convictions and beliefs.”
Richard H. Curtiss is the executive editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs magazine.
While effectively indicting the Israeli government for "sever failure" in managing Israel's barbaric war on Lebanon last summer, the Winograd Commission report utterly and outrageously ignored the ghastly war crimes the Israeli army committed against Lebanese civilians in the course of the war.
The Winograd report castigated the Israeli government and army for the indecisive end of the war notwithstanding the widespread killings and destruction inflicted on Lebanese civilians and their civilian infrastructure, including schools, ports, power and fuel stations as well as bridges, roads and homes.
In other words, the Winograd report seemed to be blaming the Israeli army and government for not killing more Lebanese and for not destroying more Lebanese homes and probably for not dropping more cluster and uranium bombs throughout Lebanon.
For those who may have forgotten, the wehrmacht-like Israeli army and air-force killed and maimed thousands of Lebanese civilians, utterly destroyed thousands of homes and public buildings, and deliberately and knowingly massacred Lebanese civilians fleeing southern towns and villages during the war.
In the first days of that barbaric war, the Israeli air-force systematically targeted helpless civilians from the villages and hamlets of the South, such as Mirwaheen and Bayada, killing and maiming dozens of children and women. The images of the wanton slaughter were too gruesome to be described by words.
Entire families were exterminated by Israel's American supplied bombs when invading Israeli forces asked civilians to flee their villages. And when the civilians heeded the warnings, Israeli warplanes went into action, bombing the buses and vehicles carrying these hapless refugees northward toward Beirut, reducing dozens to incinerated pieces of human flesh.
The Nazi-like massacres were repeated several times throughout Lebanon, especially in the South and along the coast as Israeli warplanes targeted residential homes under the pretext that a person affiliated with Hizbullah was living there.
And the result was the extermination of entire families including toddlers, children, husbands, wives, grandmothers and grandfathers.
In addition, the Israeli air-force flattened Beirut's southern Dahiya, killing and maiming hundreds, and turning the largely residential area into a huge pile of rubble.
But the most outrageous war crime Israel committed during the war occurred in the closing days of the war when the Israeli chief of staff, Dan Halutz, ordered the air force to drop as many as 3000,000 cluster bomblets in and around residential areas throughout Lebanon.
This Nazi-like carpet bombing had a holocaustic proportions since three million bombs could, theoretically, kill at least three million children. Indeed, the killing and/or maiming of that many people would be at least half a holocaust by "Jewish standards."
The genocidal danger is, of course, far from being hypothetical. Nearly every day Lebanese civilians, including peasants, farmers, shepherds and school children are maimed and killed by these unexploded Jewish presents.
Needless to say, Israeli political and military leaders knew this fact well beforehand, which makes people like Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Halutz bona fide war criminals very much like Nazis political and military leaders.
Shameless and criminal-minded Israeli leaders would never publicly admit that they committed horrible war crimes against innocent civilians.
A few moths ago, Likud leader Benyamin Netanyahu in an interview with al Jazeera English channel sought to justify the wanton bombing of Lebanon by citing the British RAF bombing of German cities in the closing months of WWII.
Unfortunately, the pornographically corrupt analogy went unanswered by al-Jazeera's David Frost who conducted the interview with Netanyahu.
The fact that the Winograd committee totally ignored this shameful aspect of the war is more than morally unconscionable. It is actually an unethical and immoral failure of criminal proportions since that committee gave the impression that the killing and maiming of thousands of innocent civilians, was a minor issue.
Which really indicts the Israeli society and mentality for its callous racism toward non-Jews.
It is true that Hizbullah fired dozens of Katyousha missiles on northern Israel, mainly to deter the Zionist state from committing a fully-fledged genocide against Lebanese civilians.
However, it was amply clear that Israel started the massive bombing and that whatever actions Hizbullah carried out were purely defensive.
In any case, the scandalously disproportionate and deliberate bombings of civilian targets, such as the Qana-2 massacre, can never be justified and may only be viewed as a war crime of Nazi-like proportions.
Thus, while the Winograd report may have the semblance of a credible and solemn probing committee, its willful failure to even allude to these grisly crimes committed knowingly and deliberately by the Israeli army should be viewed as a powerful indictment of the committee itself and its chairman, Judge Elyahu Winograd.
Which really shows that criminality and racism are not confined to the Israeli army and the Zionist political establishment, but are intrinsic traits defining and characterizing the entire Israeli society, including its so-called judicial system.