State of the Matrix - End of October 2007
October 26, 2007
Labeling Iranian government groups "terrorist," the Bush administration
Thursday placed a new set of sanctions on Iran.
Available for a very limited number of interviews, Chomsky is author most
recently of Interventions. He said today: "When we or our allies and
clients carry out terror (or aggression), it's the justified use of force
(for stability, self-defense, etc.). When some official enemy does the
same thing, it's terror (or aggression). It's independent of the form of
government. Nicaragua in the 1980s had an elected government (free
election, closely monitored and approved by international observers,
etc.), but the U.S. opposed the election and wanted to overthrow the
government, so it was supporting or carrying out terrorism; the U.S. had
an elected government and was condemned by the World Court, but it was not
"Palestinians have a free elected government (monitored elections,
endorsed by international observers, etc.), but they voted 'the wrong
way,' and the governing party is on the official terrorism list. When the
Reaganites decided that Saddam Hussein would be their close friend and
ally in 1982, they removed Iraq from the list of states supporting terror
(and sent Rumsfeld to firm up deals on supplying aid, including means to
develop WMD); there was an empty spot on the list, so they added Cuba,
perhaps because U.S.-backed terror against Cuba had peaked in the
preceding years. And so it continues, without end."
Journalism and its discontents
Editor's note: The following is the author's afterword for a reissue of
Walter Lippman's "Liberty and the News," to be published this month by
Princeton University Press.
By Sidney Blumenthal
Oct. 25, 2007 | Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) was the most influential
American journalist of the 20th century. Born into one of the
German-Jewish "Our Crowd" families of New York City, he began his career
as a cub reporter for Lincoln Steffens, the crusading investigative
journalist, then became one of the original editors of the New Republic,
and was recruited to write speeches for President Woodrow Wilson and help
formulate his plan to make the world "safe for democracy," the Fourteen
Points. In the 1920s, Lippmann became editorial director of the New York
World, then a major daily newspaper with a Democratic orientation. When it
folded, the New York Herald Tribune offered him a column, which, with the
Washington Post, served as his journalistic base for almost 50 years.
Lippmann wrote books on philosophy, politics, foreign policy and
economics. In one of them, "The Cold War," he early defined the struggle
between the United States and the Soviet Union while offering penetrating
criticism of U.S. policy as a "strategic monstrosity" that would lead to
"recruiting, subsidizing and supporting a heterogeneous array of
satellites, clients, dependents and puppets," inevitably forcing poor
choices of having to either "disown our puppets, which would be tantamount
to appeasement and defeat and the loss of face," or else back them "at an
incalculable cost on an unintended, unforeseen and perhaps undesirable
issue." Lippmann's prophetic warning was realized in the Vietnam War,
which he opposed at considerable cost to his personal and political
relationships. (Anyone interested in Lippmann, or American politics,
should read Ronald Steel's magisterial biography, "Walter Lippmann and the
Among his varied roles, Lippmann was the original and most prescient
analyst of the modern media. His disillusioning experience in World War I
prompted the first of three books on the subject, "Liberty and the News,"
followed in rapid succession by "Public Opinion" and "The Phantom Public."
In them Lippmann deconstructed the distortions and lies of government
propaganda eagerly transmitted by a jingoist press corps, the "manufacture
of consent" and the creation of "stereotypes" projected as false reality.
"Liberty and the News," first published in 1920, is being reissued by
Princeton University Press, and its insights into the "error, illusion,
and misinterpretation" in wartime of the "news-structure" remain as fresh
as ever. For this volume, I have written an afterword, using Lippmann's
ideas as a prism to illuminate the current crisis of the press and its
From the moment he entered onto the public scene as a writer for the new
journal of opinion, The New Republic, established in 1914, Walter
Lippmann's precocity was apparent. He made his way almost effortlessly
into the highest levels of society and politics, his uninterrupted
elevation almost proof in itself of the progressive view of history. Yet
his thinking, particularly about the craft of journalism, derived chiefly
from experience with the curdling of American Progressivism and the end of
its innocence after World War I.
Lippmann sharpened his early disillusionment into a perfectly pitched tone
of omniscience. He descended from his lofty peak as a wise man with an
Olympian air of detachment, permitting mere mortals to benefit from his
counsel. Oracle to the powers that be, he was also the father of modern
objectivity. He never saw any contradiction between his deeds and words or
felt any need to pause over any supposed conflict. Nor did any public
figure suggest that there was anything untoward or unseemly in his
alliances or aversions. Instead, they sought his approbation and
cordiality. His immersion in politics while holding forth as a
disinterested observer did not taint him as hypocritical or false.
Everyone understood that he was Walter Lippmann. If there were a
prevailing prejudice about him, it was a tendency to judge him by his
cogency and influence.
The standards of objective journalism Lippmann painstakingly advocated in
the early twentieth century, and which were adopted as ideal goals by
major news organizations in midcentury, have long since been traduced,
trampled, and trashed. The journalistic world before the Vietnam War was,
to be sure, hardly a golden age. The pliability of much of the national
press in the face of Senator Joseph McCarthy's red-baiting smear campaigns
occurred in the middle of those happy days. Golden ages glitter only in
retrospect as viewed from the junkyard of the present. Nonetheless, there
has been a steady degeneration of the press over the past few decades,
involving both the willful self-destruction of hard-won credibility and
the rationalization of dull incomprehension as invulnerable
self-importance. The gap between Lippmann's ideals and present realities
is one of the major reasons why Liberty and the News remains so pertinent
— and so troubling — nearly ninety years after its publication.
"For in an exact sense the present crisis of western democracy is a crisis
of journalism," Lippmann wrote. That sentence was distilled from years of
hope turned to despair. Lippmann had ferried from the offices of The New
Republic, located in New York, to the White House, where he helped work on
speeches for Woodrow Wilson. After the entry of the United States in the
world war in 1917, Lippmann enthusiastically accepted an appointment as
the U.S. representative on the Inter-Allied Propaganda Board, with the
rank of captain. But Captain Lippmann soon crossed swords with George
Creel, chief of the Committee on Public Information, an official federal
government agency that whipped up war support through jingoism. When
Lippmann submitted a blistering report in 1918 on how the committee
manipulated news to foster national hysteria, Creel sought his dismissal —
and Lippmann quit his post to assist the U.S. delegation at the Versailles
peace conference. The year following the war, 1919, began with Wilson
greeted as a messiah and ended with him politically broken and physically
paralyzed. His collapse personified the wreckage of Progressive idealism.
Lippmann focused his attention on the part played by the press.
"Everywhere today," Lippmann wrote in Liberty and the News, "men are
conscious that somehow they must deal with questions more intricate than
any that church or school had prepared them to understand. Increasingly
they know that they cannot understand them if the facts are not quickly
and steadily available. Increasingly they are baffled because the facts
are not available; and they are wondering whether government by consent
can survive in a time when the manufacture of consent is an unregulated
Lippmann had witnessed firsthand how the "manufacture of consent" had
deranged democracy. But he did not hold those in government solely
responsible. He also described how the press corps was carried away on the
wave of patriotism and became self-censors, enforcers, and sheer
propagandists. Their careerism, cynicism, and error made them destroyers
of "liberty of opinion" and agents of intolerance, who subverted the
American constitutional system of self-government. Even the great
newspaper owners, he wrote, "believe that edification is more important
than veracity. They believe it profoundly, violently, relentlessly. They
preen themselves upon it. To patriotism, as they define it from day to
day, all other considerations must yield. That is their pride. And yet
what is this but one more among myriad examples of the doctrine that the
end justifies the means? A more insidiously misleading rule of conduct
was, I believe, never devised among men."
Public opinion was not a free marketplace of ideas, but was channeled and
polluted by the managers of news. They concentrated their power at the
expense of accurately informing the public, whose fears and hatreds they
exploited. Reason was impossible to sustain in the whirlwind. Lippmann
Just as the most poisonous form of disorder is the mob incited from high
places, the most immoral act the immorality of a government, so the most
destructive form of untruth is sophistry and propaganda by those whose
profession it is to report the news. The news columns are common carriers.
When those who control them arrogate to themselves the right to determine
by their own consciences what shall be reported and for what purpose,
democracy is unworkable. Public opinion is blockaded. For when a people
can no longer confidently repair "to the best foundations for their
information," then anyone's guess and anyone's rumor, each man's hope and
each man's whim becomes the basis of government. All that the sharpest
critics of democracy have alleged is true, if there is no steady supply of
trustworthy and relevant news. Incompetence and aimlessness, corruption
and disloyalty, panic and ultimate disaster, must come to any people which
is denied an assured access to the facts. No one can manage anything on
pap. Neither can a people.
A year before Liberty and the News appeared, the famous muckraking
journalist and novelist Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle, published
The Brass Check, the first contemporary exposé of the press as a corrupt
special interest. Sinclair asserted that the press simply reflected its
big business ownership and did its bidding. Lippmann's analysis, though,
was at once more subtle and more penetrating, elucidating a form of
corruption that ran to the foundations of the nation's politics.
By substituting propaganda for truth, brandishing jingoism to enforce
conformity, and asserting arrogance and certainty over skepticism and
humility, Lippmann contended, the manufacturers of consent confounded
democracy. "In so far as those who purvey the news make of their own
beliefs a higher law than truth, they are attacking the foundations of our
constitutional system. There can be no higher law in journalism than to
tell the truth and shame the devil."
Woodrow Wilson waged war to make the world "safe for democracy" and to
establish an international order based on collective security. Nearly a
century later, President George W. Bush appropriated Wilson's rhetoric as
a gloss on preemptive war and unilateralism. Neoconservatism stood
Wilsonianism on its head, and, had he lived to see the day, Lippmann might
have rubbed his eyes like Rip van Winkle at how much had changed. Yet
Lippmann also would have discovered a depressingly familiar press corps on
a bandwagon of jingoism, disseminating falsehoods leaked by government
officials, engaging in ruthless self-censorship, and preening in careerist
The behavior of the press corps under Bush revealed a corruption more in
line with Lippmann's analysis than Sinclair's, although Sinclair's stress
on the primacy of vulgar economics had its play, too. Indeed, Bush
administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, complained
to the chief executive officers of major media corporations about reports
and reporters, and the pressure fell down the chain of command like an
anvil. Nearly every correspondent, producer, and commentator on every
broadcast and cable network outlet was keenly aware of such interventions
and adjusted accordingly. The cable network MSNBC's dismissal in February
2003, one month before the invasion of Iraq, of the popular Phil Donahue
as host of a public affairs program that had raised skeptical questions
about the rationale for the war was cautionary and symptomatic. An
internal memo claimed that Donahue presented "a difficult public face for
NBC in a time of war" while "at the same time our competitors are waving
the flag at every opportunity." For crass reasons, jingoism became a
criterion for presentation of news.
But economics did not explain everything. In 2002, the conservative Fox
News anchor Brit Hume, well aware of the scent of fear in the air,
declared ABC News unpatriotic: "Over at ABC News, where the wearing of
American flag lapel pins is banned, Peter Jennings [the news anchor] and
his team have devoted far more time to the coverage of civilian casualties
in Afghanistan than either of their broadcast network competitors."
Hume's attack reflected the general conservative argument that the press
was a bastion of "liberal bias," and was thus untrustworthy and even
potentially perfidious in the war on terror. A conservative columnist,
Andrew Sullivan, who later became a disillusioned administration critic,
articulated most clearly the right-wing dichotomy of domestic
good-and-evil in the immediate aftermath of September 11. "The middle part
of the country — the great red zone that voted for Bush — is clearly ready
for war," he wrote. "The decadent Left in its enclaves on the coasts is
not dead — and may well mount what amounts to a fifth column."
In an atmosphere rife with intimidation, key reporters and editorial
writers for major newspapers, including the New York Times and the
Washington Post, also became cheerleaders for the neoconservative project.
In the case of the Times, the editors' avid desire for scoops initially
overwhelmed all else — and put the newspaper in the forefront in
publishing falsehoods, on its front page, about Iraq's supposed stockpiles
of weapons of mass destruction. In May 2004, the Times, its false reports
now exposed, issued an extraordinary "Editors' Note": "Information that
was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently
qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had
been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged —
or failed to emerge." Thereafter, though, the Times' reckless search for
scoops gave way to the suppression of news that might damage the Bush
White House. For more than a year after its apology over its WMD coverage
— and throughout the 2004 election campaign — the paper refused to publish
its reporters' accounts of how the Bush administration was engaged in
domestic spying by evading the legal court established by the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Act.
In the rush to war, from September 2002 through February 2003, the
Washington Post editorialized in favor of an invasion twenty-six times.
Every single editorial contained disinformation, some of it directly
leaked by administration officials. On February 6, 2003, the day after
Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations Security
Council presenting supposed evidence of WMD, the Post ran an editorial
headline, "Irrefutable," and said "it is hard to imagine how anyone could
doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction." (Two years later,
Powell described his speech, which had been revealed as a string of
disinformation, as a "blot" on his record, "terrible," and "painful.")
Afterward, the Post's editorial board issued no "Editors' Note" or
clarification like the one that had appeared in the New York Times.
Factual reporting that suggested doubt about the existence of Saddam
Hussein's weapons of mass destruction had been either buried or suppressed
by the Post's editors. And, with the notable exception of the Knight
Ridder news service, the Post's coverage was typical of the supposedly
"liberal" press corps.
In the heady days before, during, and long after the press embedded with
military units invading Iraq, making them feel close to the action, Bush
was presented as decisive, commanding, and knowledgeable; National
Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was brilliant; Vice President Cheney
wise; Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld savvy; and Karl Rove a genius.
In the fall of 2002, as the administration ratcheted up its propaganda
offensive before the Iraq war, Bob Woodward, the renowned investigative
reporter of Watergate, published a book, Bush at War — based on leaks of
select national security documents and interviews with officials up to and
including President Bush. Senior officials, in fact, were ordered to grant
Woodward his access. George Tenet, then the CIA director, later wrote in
his memoir: "[W]e kept getting calls from the White House saying, 'We're
cooperating fully with Woodward, and we would like CIA to do so, too.'"
Through administration packaging of high-level contacts and carefully
chosen classified material, the imprimatur of the famous and trusted
journalist was stamped on stereotypes favorable to the administration.
In early 2004, after receiving a call from the chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers, CBS News withheld its own
reporting on torture at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. (Only when CBS
news executives learned that The New Yorker was about to break the story
did they permit 60 Minutes II to report it, but without any publicity or
rebroadcast.) In May of that year, Senator Mark Dayton, Democrat of
Minnesota, questioned Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and General Myers
about the incident. The transcript of the Senate Armed Services Committee
Dayton: Mr. Secretary, were you aware or did you authorize General Myers
to call CBS to suppress their news report?
Rumsfeld: I don't have any idea if he discussed it with me. I was — I
don't know. I don't think he did.
Dayton: So over the last two weeks, calling CBS to suppress the news
report. You don't —
Rumsfeld: "Suppress" is not the right word at all.
Dayton: I'm sorry, sir, but I —
Rumsfeld: And it's an inaccurate word, I should say.
Dayton: General Myers, did you discuss it with the secretary?
Myers: This had been worked at lower levels with the secretary's staff and
my staff for some time, and —
Dayton: That you would call CBS to suppress their news report?
Myers: I called CBS to ask them to delay the pictures showing on CBS' "60
Minutes" because I thought it would result in direct harm to our troops.
Dayton: … Mr. Secretary, is that standard procedure for the military
command of this country to try to suppress a news report at the highest
Myers: It didn't — let me just — Senator Dayton, this is a serious
Dayton: It sure is.
Myers: — and it's absolutely — the context of your question I believe is
In March 2004, more than 1,500 members and guests of the Radio and
Television Correspondents Association attended its annual black-tie
dinner, where President Bush entertained the throng with White House
photographs showing him searching the nooks and crannies of the Oval
Office for WMD and saying, "Nope, no weapons over there! Maybe under
here?" The crowd roared with riotous laughter.
In the months before the 2004 election, CBS News' 60 Minutes produced but
declined to air its investigation into the Niger forgeries claiming Saddam
was seeking yellow uranium for nuclear weapons, a fabrication used as a
central justification for war. Two years later, on the revamped CBS
Evening News, the vituperative right-wing talk show host Rush Limbaugh,
who had been fired from ESPN for inflammatory racial remarks, was invited
to inaugurate its regular commentary on "civil discourse" (a segment the
network soon canceled). And during the run-up to the 2006 midterm
elections, ABC aired a two-part dramatization, supplied by right-wing
partisans, of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The shows
fabricated events and dialogue in order to cast blame on the Clinton
administration and exonerate President Bush. Even though ABC executives
were alerted beforehand to the falsified history, they chose to broadcast
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting,
overseeing the Public Broadcasting System, Kenneth Tomlinson, contracted a
right-wing activist to investigate "liberal bias" at PBS. The CPB
inspector general, however, reported that Tomlinson had imposed a
"political test" on employees and hired favored consultants without
properly informing the board. Tomlinson's crusade ended with his
resignation in 2005.
The transactional nature of the Bush-era press corps surfaced in the 2007
trial of the vice president's chief of staff, United States v. I. Lewis
Libby, when evidence of the administration's extensive manipulation of
journalists was adjudicated under oath. The scandal began with a campaign
ordered by Vice President Cheney to attempt to discredit former ambassador
Joseph Wilson. After undertaking a mission for the CIA to ascertain
whether Saddam Hussein was seeking yellowcake uranium in Niger, Wilson had
found an utter absence of proof. In an op-ed article published in the New
York Times in July 2003, he exposed as false President Bush's claim to
that effect made in his 2003 State of the Union address — the president's
most urgent reason for going to war. The White House tried to besmirch
Wilson by prodding journalists to publish that his wife, Valerie Plame
Wilson, an undercover CIA operative working on WMD, was responsible for
sending him to Niger (a falsehood debunked in the trial).
Libby sought out Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who the
administration had used to plant the original disinformation about WMD,
but, unbeknownst to Libby, Miller's editors had taken her off the beat.
Karl Rove, the president's chief political adviser, spreading the smear,
told a TV talk show host, "Wilson's wife is fair game." Finally,
conservative columnist Robert Novak exposed Plame's identity, despite
having been warned against doing so by the CIA's public affairs officer.
Novak sent a copy of his prepublication column to Rove through a
Republican lobbyist to let him know the hit was made.
More than a few members of the press had been recipients of the Plame leak
from various White House aides, but they refused to disclose their
sources, citing journalistic privilege. Miller went to jail for
eighty-five days until she said her source, "Scooter" Libby, had released
her from confidentiality. The court ruled against those journalists
refusing to offer their testimony as witnesses to a crime, demolishing the
customary journalistic privilege that actually had no standing in law but
had received deference from government authorities until then. Libby
claimed he had not been the source of the leak and repeatedly lied to the
grand jury, saying that he had learned about Plame from journalists. After
a trial featuring testimony from White House officials describing their
techniques for exploiting the press, Libby was convicted on four counts of
perjury and obstruction of justice.
As Lippmann observed almost ninety years ago, the crisis of journalism
cannot be disentangled from the crisis of national government. Government
and journalism now share a crisis of credibility, trust, and competence.
At the least, the crisis of journalism reveals a changing standard for and
definition of "objectivity." Journalism, or more precisely, freedom of
expression and freedom of the press, has been plunged, as a result of
casual, callow, craven, or simply career-minded attitudes, into
complicity, tacit and active, with a harsh and secretive administration
that seeks to concentrate unaccountable power in the executive and sees
itself as above the law and above reproach.
Only incidentally does the crisis of journalism involve the conflict
between impartiality of judgment on the one hand and advocacy on the
other. This might be a salient question under other circumstances, but it
is peripheral here. Neither is the problem caused by slight
inattentiveness; nor can it be solved by minor adjustments. The failure of
most of the press for most of the Bush era to cover most of the basic
reality was because to do so was too radical and threatening, not only to
the administration but also to the news organizations themselves. Their
dismal behavior goes to the root of a professional collapse. The press
fiasco under Bush marks the culminating contradiction, if not repudiation,
of Lippmann's original ideas about shaping journalistic standards for a
modern age. It is not sheer happenstance, but the outcome of a long
history that was by no means inevitable.
Two years after writing Liberty and the News, Lippmann published Public
Opinion, perhaps the most important book on American journalism in the
twentieth century. It opened with an invocation, a long quotation from
Plato's Republic, of the famous scene of cave dwellers who discern reality
only as shadows dancing on the walls. Americans, Lippmann wrote, inhabited
a cave of media misrepresentations of "the world outside," stereotypes,
distortions of distortions — "not a mirror of social conditions, but the
report of an aspect that has obtruded itself." Journalism became a media
phantasmagoria, he wrote: "There are no objective standards here. There
are conventions." He argued that a professional "intelligence bureau" of
"expert reporters" that would present "a valid picture" of "the relevant
environment" should be created, "interposing some form of expertness
between the private citizen and the vast environment in which he is
entangled." Disillusioned with politics, Lippmann turned to experts to act
as arbiters of reality. He hoped that these antipolitical engineers would
"disintegrate partisanship," establishing "footholds of reason." With
that, Lippmann composed a Magna Carta for professional journalistic
Gradually and imperceptibly, after taking decades to establish, the
standard of objectivity shifted to become the opposite of what it had once
been. Rather than serving as a method of describing the object,
objectivity became an artificial balancing act of presenting competing
claims about it. Objectivity turned into finding one hand and then the
other hand, "fair and balanced," as the mocking slogan of Fox News put it.
Editors, publishers, and other news executives often came to consider
establishing the facts as untoward activism and advocacy. Fear of being
accused of lacking "objectivity" drove them to bend over backward to
demonstrate lack of bias by refusing to declare the facts themselves.
Fairness was equated with lack of controversy. Objectivity became
transformed from reporting into rationalizing the act of avoiding
reporting. Professionalism, or expertise, as Lippmann understood it, was
caricatured as a "liberal" ideological point of view — on the one hand —
that must be balanced by another "conservative" ideological point of view
— on the other hand. To the degree that this polarization became the
standard, it successfully altered and neutered journalism. Professionalism
receded in the name of professionalism.
Just as Lippmann's sense of objectivity took hold within the major news
organizations by midcentury, the conservative movement began a counter
trend. Objectivity was assailed as subjective, facts treated as opinion,
reality as wholly ideological. Of course, during the New Deal and through
the 1950s, most newspaper publishers were Republican, as they are today.
But conservatives believed, nevertheless, that the new encroaching
standards of objectivity in the major metropolitan press and national
broadcast media reflected the power of a monolithic liberal establishment.
Richard Nixon turned his simmering resentment against "the establishment"
into a focused strategy against the press. In November 1969, Vice
President Spiro Agnew delivered a speech denouncing it as a "small [and]
unelected elite." He warned, "The views of the majority of this fraternity
do not — and I repeat, not — represent the views of America." And he even
cited Walter Lippmann as an authority against "monopoly" over public
After his landslide victory in 1972, Nixon urged the eccentric right-wing
billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife to buy the Washington Post. Nixon's ploy
launched Scaife on his subsequent crusade against "liberal media." In
1985, Scaife spent millions subsidizing a failed lawsuit by former general
William Westmoreland against CBS News, trying to prove it had defamed him.
(The same Scaife agents involved in that foray turned up later at the
center of the $2.4 million Scaife-funded Arkansas Project of dirty tricks
against President Clinton.)
As the Watergate scandal proved, Nixon's effort to demonize and isolate
the press was part of his larger plan to formalize and institutionalize an
imperial presidency. He sought an inherent power for the president to make
war, declare national emergencies, nullify checks and balances by
impounding funds at the president's discretion, create a system of
secrecy, all rationalized by claims of national security. Checks and
balances, oversight and accountability, exemplified by a rigorous press,
were cast, following Agnew, as a fundamental threat to the country. From
Nixon to George W. Bush, the impulse to build an unfettered executive has
driven the essential struggle between the press and the presidency. The
conservative movement's relentless campaign against "liberal bias" has
been a lever to remove this check and balance.
The growth of a countervailing conservative media machine has also been a
decisive political factor in mobilizing public opinion and insulating a
part of it from contamination of "liberal bias." In October 2004, the
University of Maryland Program on International Policy Attitudes conducted
a study, "The Separate Realities of Bush and Kerry Supporters," revealing
that 72 percent of Bush supporters believed that Saddam Hussein had WMD
and that it had been proven, even though there had been extensive news
reports from the Iraq Survey Group that it had found no WMD. Furthermore,
75 percent of Bush supporters believed that Saddam was substantially
helping al Qaeda, 63 percent believed that that evidence had been found,
60 percent believed that experts agreed with that conclusion, and 55
percent believed that the 9/11 Commission had proven the point, even
though it proved exactly the opposite. Bush supporters did not hold these
misperceptions because of inattention to the news. Another University of
Maryland study, "Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War," revealed
that misperceptions varied significantly according to news sources and
that higher levels of exposure to Fox News in particular compounded
factual misperceptions and approval of Bush. Eighty percent of those who
cited Fox News as a major source of their information suffered serious
misperceptions, according to the study, compared to 23 percent citing
National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System.
"Without protection against propaganda, without standards of evidence,
without criteria of emphasis, the living substance of all popular decision
is exposed to every prejudice and to infinite exploitation," Lippmann
wrote in Liberty and the News. "The quack, the charlatan, the jingo, and
the terrorist, can flourish only where the audience is deprived of
independent access to information." Yet Lippmann assumed that the people
were passive, acted upon by politically motivated elites. Today, about
one-third of the public actively chooses sources of information that play
to their prejudices. The readers, listeners, and viewers of the Drudge
Report, the Rush Limbaugh show, and Fox News have consciously selected
"the quack, the charlatan, the jingo" to seal themselves from objective
information. The "breakdown of the means of public knowledge," as Lippmann
called it, rests on a carefully cultivated preference for crank opinion
over unsettling fact. The more reality defies this public's understanding,
the more fervently it redoubles its resistance to it, embracing the
distorted stereotype as the only true account.
The entrenchment and exploitation of this segment of public opinion has
become big business and political necessity on the right. In May 2003,
Matt Labash, a writer for the neoconservative journal The Weekly Standard
(published by Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News), explained how the
conservative attack on "liberal bias" operated as a profitable game.
"While all these hand-wringing Freedom Forum types talk about objectivity,
the conservative media likes to rap the liberal media on the knuckles for
not being objective," he said. "We've created this cottage industry in
which it pays to be un-objective. It pays to be subjective as much as
possible. It's a great way to have your cake and eat it too. Criticize
other people for not being objective. Be as subjective as you want. It's a
great little racket. I'm glad we found it actually."
The degree to which this "great little racket" has been accepted and
assimilated by members of the press was expressed by Mark Halperin, then
political editor of ABC News, in an appearance on a right-wing radio talk
show in October 2006:
Many people I work with in ABC, and other old media organizations, are
liberal on a range of issues. And I think the ability of that, the reality
of how that affects media coverage, is outrageous, and that conservatives
in this country for forty years have felt that, and that it's something
that must change … And news organizations putting their heads in the sand
for forty years, and not caring that half the country thought we were too
liberal and biased against them, was an insane business decision. But it
was also insane to do from the point of view of what we're supposed to do
as our core mission … I don't know if it's 95 percent [the percentage of
people with whom he works who are liberals], and unfortunately, they're
not all old. There are a lot of young liberals here, too. But certainly,
there are enough in the old media, not just in ABC, but in old media
generally, that it tilts the coverage quite frequently, in many issues, in
a liberal direction, which is completely improper.
"From our recent experience," wrote Lippmann, "it is clear that the
traditional liberties of speech and opinion rest on no solid foundation."
Journalism must reconstruct itself for a new age, at least as urgently as
in Lippmann's time. So far it has failed the tests of the new century.
Nearly ninety years after Lippmann first assayed the crisis of journalism,
it finds itself back at ground zero — or in Lippmann's cave. Even some of
the impassioned amateurs of the Internet have been more factually reliable
on central issues than the most august news organizations. Their fear — as
readers, viewers, and influence seep away in the face of new technology —
has provoked more anxiety than self-examination. But journalism may yet be
revitalized, as part of a general reawakening of American democracy that
discovers new forms of expression and forces new debate to achieve its
The filigree of wire, cathode-ray tubes, woofers and tweeters, satellite
dishes, and printing presses are the same everywhere in a flat world. But
Americans are wired differently. The freedom of the press is part of our
Constitution, the first right, the First Amendment; and our democracy —
public policy, politics, commerce, and nation — has been shaped by its
exercise, its use, and its abuse.
In 1822, in a placid time, an "Era of Good Feelings," as it was called,
James Madison was nonetheless eternally vigilant about liberty and the
news. "A popular Government without popular information, or the means of
acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy, or perhaps both,"
he wrote. "Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean
to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which
====== CIA murder boss receives love and money
by jewish (zionist?) liar spindoctor deception mafia ====
October 15, 2007 10:10 AM Eastern Daylight Time
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to Receive Henry M. Jackson Award From
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates will be
honored at a dinner event at on Monday, October 15 at the Crystal Gateway
Marriott Hotel, Arlington, Virginia. Gates will receive the Jewish
Institute for National Security Affairs' (JINSA) Henry M. Jackson
Distinguished Service Award.
Dr. Robert M. Gates was sworn in on December 18, 2006, as the 22nd
Secretary of Defense. Before entering his present post, he was the
President of Texas A&M University, the nation's seventh largest
university. Prior to assuming the presidency of Texas A&M on August 1,
2002, he served as Interim Dean of the George Bush School of Government
and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999 to 2001.
Secretary Gates served as Director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until
1993. He is the only career officer in the CIA's history to rise from
entry-level employee to Director. He served as Deputy Director of Central
Intelligence from 1986 until 1989 and as Assistant to the President and
Deputy National Security Adviser at the White House from January 20, 1989,
until November 6, 1991, for President George H.W. Bush.
Secretary Gates joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 and spent
nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional, serving six presidents.
During that period, he spent nearly nine years at the National Security
Council, The White House, serving four presidents of both political
Each year, JINSA honors leaders who, throughout their careers, have
honored the tradition of the late Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson. JINSA was
formed in part to perpetuate Senator Jackson's legacy. He inspired
Americans with his dedication to a strong U.S. defense posture and his
abiding interest in helping oppressed peoples. Most recent recipients of
the organization's highest honor include Senator John McCain in 2006 and
Gen. Peter Pace, USMC, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in 2005.
The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs is an independent,
non-profit, non-partisan, non-sectarian educational organization
established in 1976 to educate the public on national and international
security issues, including the importance of an effective U.S. defense
capability and the key role of strategic allies, including Israel, to
promote democratic values in the Middle East.
The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs
Jim Colbert, 202-667-3900
POLITICS: Desmond Tutu Likens Israeli Actions to Apartheid
By Adrianne Appel
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
BOSTON, Oct 28 (IPS) - South African Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
compared conditions in Palestine to those of South Africa under apartheid,
and called on Israelis to try and change them, while speaking in Boston
Saturday at historic Old South Church.
"We hope the occupation of the Palestinian territory by Israel will end,"
"There is a cry of anguish from the depth of my heart, to my spiritual
relatives. Please, please hear the call, the noble call of our scripture,"
Tutu said of Israelis.
"Don't be found fighting against this god, your god, our god, who hears
the cry of the oppressed," Tutu said.
Tutu spoke with political activist and lecturer Noam Chomsky and others to
a largely religious audience about "The Apartheid Paradigm in
Palestine-Israel," a conference sponsored by Friends of Sabeel North
America, a Christian Palestinian group.
Israeli policy toward Palestine is an inflammatory topic in the U.S. and
is not commonly discussed in large, public forums.
In Boston, complaints were lodged with Old South Church in the weeks prior
to the event, in an effort to halt the conference. The Committee for
Accuracy in Middle East Reporting complained that Sabeel is "an
anti-Zionist organisation that traffics in anti-Judaic themes," according
to press reports.
Outside the church Saturday, Christians and Jews United for Israel
demonstrated against Tutu and the conference.
"Sabeel is an organisation that seeks to demonise Israel. Tutu several
years ago made anti-Semitic comments," May Long, president of the group,
told IPS. Long did not hear Tutu's speech, she said.
Tutu was an inspirational leader in the South African fight against
apartheid, which officially ended 13 years ago. He was awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1984 and today continues to speak around the globe for
peace and justice, and to call for Palestinian rights.
The 76-year-old Tutu also appears to have won a battle against prostate
cancer, which he was last treated for in 2000.
"Because of what I experienced in South Africa, I harbour hope for Israel
and the Palestinian territories," said Tutu, who invoked passages from the
Christian bible throughout his talk.
Tutu drew parallels between the apartheid of South Africa and occupied
Palestine of today, including demolitions of Palestinian homes by the
Israeli government and the inability of Palestinians to travel freely
within and out of Palestine.
"I experienced a déjà vu when I encountered a security checkpoint that
Palestinians must negotiate every day and be demeaned, all their lives,"
Tutu said that Palestinian homes are being bulldozed, and new, illegal
homes for Israeli's built in their place.
"When I hear, 'that used to be my home,' it is painfully similar to the
treatment in South Africa when coloureds had no rights," Tutu said.
Tutu is a pacifist and he said only non-violent means should be used to
confront the oppression at play in Palestine.
"Palestinians ought to try themselves to restrain those who fire the
rockets into Israeli territory," Tutu said.
Tutu said that while fighting apartheid in South Africa he drew
inspiration from the Jewish struggle as the bible describes it.
"Spiritually I am of Hebrew decent. When apartheid oppression was at its
most vicious, and all but knocked the stuffing out of those of us who
opposed it, we turned to the Hebrew tradition of resistance," and the
belief that good will triumph over evil, and that a day of freedom from
oppression will come, he said.
"The well-to-do and powerful complain that we are mixing religion with
politics. I've never heard the poor complain that 'Tutu, you are being too
political,"' he said.
"I am not playing politics when it involves children who suffer," Tutu
said. "A human rights violation is a human rights violation is a human
rights violation, wherever it occurs."
Tutu recently bumped up against U.S. discomfort with discourse about
Palestine, when a Minnesota university president yanked an invitation to
Tutu that had been extended by a youth group.
Rev. Dennis Dease, president of the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul
Minnesota, said he did not want Tutu to speak because the Nobel Laureate's
position on Palestine was viewed by some as anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic.
Dease also fired Cris Toffolo as head of the university's peace and
justice programme, who had supported the invitation to Tutu.
Dease apologised to Tutu three weeks ago.
Tutu said Saturday that he accepted Dease's "handsome apology", but that
he will not consider speaking at the school until Toffolo is reinstated
and her record cleared.
At the conference, Chomsky said the U.S. provides heavy financial support
to Israel and has a profound influence on Israeli policies, including
those toward Palestine and foreign trade.
"If the U.S. doesn't like what Israel is doing, it just kicks Israel in
the face," Chomsky said. In 2005, Israel wanted to sell improved missiles
to China. The Bush administration halted the sale, Chomsky said.
"It blocked them and refused to allow Israeli officials to come to the
U.S. The U.S. demanded an apology from Israel. It dragged Israel through
the mud," Chomsky said.
The U.S. began its close relationship with Israel after the Israeli
victory in the 1967 "Six Day War" against Egypt, Syria and
Khaleej Times Online >> News >> OPINION
Derailing a deal
BY NOAM CHOMSKY
7 October 2007
NUCLEAR-armed states are criminal states. They have a legal obligation,
confirmed by the World Court, to live up to Article 6 of the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty, which calls on them to carry out good-faith
negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons entirely. None of the nuclear
states has lived up to it.
The United States is a leading violator, especially the Bush
administration, which even has stated that it isn't subject to Article 6.
On July 27, Washington entered into an agreement with India that guts the
central part of the NPT, though there remains substantial opposition in
both countries. India, like Israel and Pakistan (but unlike Iran), is not
an NPT signatory, and has developed nuclear weapons outside the treaty.
With this new agreement, the Bush administration effectively endorses and
facilitates this outlaw behaviour. The agreement violates US law, and
bypasses the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the 45 nations that have established
strict rules to lessen the danger of proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association,
observes that the agreement doesn't bar further Indian nuclear testing
and, "incredibly, ... commits Washington to help New Delhi secure fuel
supplies from other countries even if India resumes testing." It also
permits India to "free up its limited domestic supplies for bomb
production." All these steps are in direct violation of international
The Indo-US agreement is likely to prompt others to break the rules as
well. Pakistan is reported to be building a plutonium production reactor
for nuclear weapons, apparently beginning a more advanced phase of weapons
design. Israel, the regional nuclear superpower, has been lobbying
Congress for privileges similar to India's, and has approached the Nuclear
Suppliers Group with requests for exemption from its rules. Now France,
Russia and Australia have moved to pursue nuclear deals with India, as
China has with Pakistan — hardly a surprise, once the global superpower
has opened the door.
The Indo-US deal mixes military and commercial motives. Nuclear weapons
specialist Gary Milhollin noted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's
testimony to Congress that the agreement was "crafted with the private
sector firmly in mind," particularly aircraft and reactors and, Milhollin
stresses, military aircraft. By undermining the barriers against nuclear
war, he adds, the agreement not only increases regional tensions but also
"may hasten the day when a nuclear explosion destroys an American city."
Washington's message is that "export controls are less important to the
United States than money" — that is, profits for US corporations —
whatever the potential threat. Kimball points out that the United States
is granting India "terms of nuclear trade more favourable than those for
states that have assumed all the obligations and responsibilities" of the
NPT. In most of the world, few can fail to see the cynicism. Washington
rewards allies and clients that ignore the NPT rules entirely, while
threatening war against Iran, which is not known to have violated the NPT,
despite extreme provocation: The United States has occupied two of Iran's
neighbours and openly sought to overthrow the Iranian regime since it
broke free of US control in 1979.
Over the past few years, India and Pakistan have made strides towards
easing the tensions between the two countries. People-to-people contacts
have increased and the governments are in discussion over the many
outstanding issues that divide the two states. Those promising
developments may well be reversed by the Indo-US nuclear deal. One of the
means to build confidence throughout the region was the creation of a
natural gas pipeline from Iran through Pakistan into India. The "peace
pipeline" would have tied the region together and opened the possibilities
for further peaceful integration.
The pipeline, and the hope it offers, might become a casualty of the
Indo-US agreement, which Washington sees as a measure to isolate its
Iranian enemy by offering India nuclear power in exchange for Iranian gas
— though in fact India would gain only a fraction of what Iran could
The Indo-US deal continues the pattern of Washington's taking every
measure to isolate Iran. In 2006, the US Congress passed the Hyde Act,
which specifically demanded that the US government "secure India's full
and active participation in United States efforts to dissuade, isolate,
and if necessary, sanction and contain Iran for its efforts to acquire
weapons of mass destruction."
It is noteworthy that the great majority of Americans — and Iranians —
favour converting the entire region to a nuclear-weapons free zone,
including Iran and Israel. One may also recall that UN Security Council
Resolution 687 of April 3, 1991, to which Washington regularly appealed
when seeking justification for its invasion of Iraq, calls for
"establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass
destruction and all missiles for their delivery."
Clearly, ways to mitigate current crises aren't lacking.
This Indo-US agreement richly deserves to be derailed. The threat of
nuclear war is extremely serious, and growing, and part of the reason is
that the nuclear states — led by the United States — simply refuse to live
up to their obligations or are significantly violating them, this latest
effort being another step toward disaster.
The US Congress gets a chance to weigh in on this deal after the
International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group vet it.
Perhaps Congress, reflecting a citizenry fed up with nuclear gamesmanship,
can reject the agreement. A better way to go forward is to pursue the need
for global nuclear disarmament, recognising that the very survival of the
species is at stake.
Chomsky about Grillo: why a law of popular intiative alarms Power
Figli di V-Day
di Barbara D'Amico
When asked to give his opinion about Grillo's phenomenon (the Italian
controversial stand-up comedian) the answer given by the Boston MIT
Professor Noam Chomsky is lucid and firm: "It's not at all unusual for
comedians, satirists, cartoonists to have more freedom than those who put
on an aura of seriousness. That's commonly be true in totalitarian states
as well as western democracies, and I suppose it goes back to the
tradition of the Court jester, and similar characters in opera and folk
literature. I met him briefly when I was last in Italy, and was
impressed", while referring to the news editorial made by Tv journalist
and Tg2 director Mauro Mazza (the Italian national broadcast system) he
adds: "Shocking to hear that he's being accused of terrorism -- but these
days, that's become a cover term for whatever offends the powerful". Noam
Chomsky, leading voice of US progressive movement and main detractor of
Bush administration, is considered one of the most word-renowned
intellectuals. His voice joined the wide chorus of thousand opinions
coming from national and international media and talk shows at the time of
the V-Day held on 8th September 2007 in 200 cities. Considering Mr Grillo
as the new terrorist of the Italian political establishment has actually
become a master of fact. In a sense, he represents the weaknesses of the
system, now become self-evident, whose reasons and cultural background are
generally analysed with inaccuracy. It seems to be necessary, thus, to
take a backwards look in order to understand the reasons why the famous
comedian is currently at the centre of such negative criticism.
We all know as Italian citizens the troubles affecting our country: the
temporary jobs, economic instability and mafia groups. Some time ago Mr
Grillo started to denounce on his blog page several inconsistencies,
truths and illegal facts which rarely make the Italian headlines (or in
case they do, they are generally treated with lack of care): from the
collapse of Parmalat to the looming one of Telecom, from the sentence
against Rete4 ruled by Eu Court of Justice to information given to
consumers about how to get redress for the purchase of Argentinean bonds.
A wide set of information which are - as Gherard Mumelter, the Austrian
journalist put on national review Internazionale - "commonly ignored by
the 95% of national press, but not by Mr Grillo. His blog page informs
about a portion of Italy often neglected by national media, all devoted to
speculations about Garlasco's criminal case and reports on the amazing
debate between Nando Dalla Chiesa and Adriano Sofri on mosquitoes in
Finland". Some time ago, however, nothing was said by national press about
Mr Grillo's phenomenon. But at that time he seemed not to bother the
ruling institutions too much, as his reports filled the gap that
journalists - expect for few brave cases - have started to refuse to deal
with in recent years. But what happens when accusations turn to positive
After the launch of few successful initiatives implemented through the
power of the Net and the dormant response by government and institutions
confronted with serious episodes (which were always "discussed" but never
solved), Mr Grillo finally decided to export the virtual apprehension of
the net into the streets. While the majority of his supporters were
positively impressed by the initiative, the rest of national recipients -
basically the political institutions - feel threatened by popular
reaction. The aim of the V-Day initiative was to propose, through a public
referendum, a national bill to be submitted in Parliament whose content
equally matches the troubles affecting our country (or at least that's
what it intends to be). The "Clean Up Parliament" proposal gathered 300
thousand signatures (compared with the 50 thousand required by law)
through a demonstration who literally swept the whole Peninsula, with a
peaceful demonstration while making use of an instrument of direct
democracy for the first time in Italian history since the drafting of its
Constitution. Let's now take a look to the three proposals which will
eventually integrate the future law:
Ban candidates convicted of crimes from seeking public office even if
convicted of first degree sentence . As minister Mussi recently pointed
out, it's important to differentiate distinctive type of sentences;
preventing the parliamentary candidacy to a person who was arrested in the
course of a human rights demonstration will be, indeed, a contradiction.
Mr Grillo's supporters and enthusiasts, however, perfectly know that the
reason of the proposal refers to peculiar Italian phenomenon such as
politicians collusion with mafia. People familiar with politics and
mechanism of laws approval in Parliament perfectly know that it is a
lengthy and perilous process, characterized with amendments, debates and
analysis. The group of lawyers responsible of having drafted the bill on
Mr Grillo account, had a simple and clever idea: people with a first
degree sentence shall not, under any circumstances, represent citizens in
Parliament. Peculiar cases will be later included. Let's try to put it in
this way: if definitely convicted, they are not eligible for the post. The
average time for judiciary to issue a definite sentence in Italy is so
long - a sentence rule can also takes 20 years before being issued - that
there are several sentences by European Court of Human Rights whic are
still pending, with an high risk to procrastinate the decision and to
apply the status of limitation in a criminal case. Why should
parliamentarians, many of whom under pending sentence on charge of
collusion with mafia, approve the clause regarding the "first degree
sentence"? As consequence, it would be surely better to include the
clause, since it is known that it's easier to rephrase a law rather than
add amendments to it.
Limit politicians to two terms . The proposal rises from considerations of
Italian social and historic background: in Parliaments there are
parliamentarians whose country's genuine commitment have been seriously
questioned in the past 30 years. The 10 years proposed legislature
limitation can contribute to renew Italian political establishment. This
proposal is connected to the third one: introduce the direct election of
legislators . What's the reason of this wide spread taste for direct
elections? The answer is that indirect representation in Italy represents
rather a failed system. Mr Grillo's detractors, however, maintain that
direct election will increase nepotism. As Eric Jozsef, journalist of
Libération, pointed out "It's undeniable that a Genoese comedian cannot
represent the solution to Italian political unrest, (as Mr Grillo himself
admitted) but his blog page shall be considered a modern, younger
instrument of taking part to political debate".
Translation from original article into English by Ilaria Maccaroni
Did two hired assassins snatch weapons inspector David Kelly?
By Norman Baker
Global Research, October 22, 2007
Weapons inspector David Kelly was the decent man apparently hounded to
suicide after exposing Tony Blair's lies on Iraq.
But the crusading MP Norman Baker felt sure there was something more to
his death - and gave up his front-bench role to investigate the case.
In the Mail he revealed extraordinary evidence that he believes proves
Kelly did not take his own life and was instead murdered by Iraqi
dissidents. Here, he reveals how the murder may have been carried out...
While investigating the death of Dr David Kelly I have made many strange
discoveries, not least some disturbing parallels with the case of a young
American journalist named Danny Casolaro.
Mr Casolaro made himself deeply unpopular with elements in the murky world
of U.S. defence by probing too deeply into their activities.
One morning in August 1991, he was found dead in a hotel room near Harpers
Ferry in Virginia. He was in the bath, naked, with his wrist slashed.
There were no signs of bruising or other marks on the body and the police
concluded that he had committed suicide.
But this was totally false according to Dr Christopher Green, who was the
CIA's chief forensic pathologist for decades.
Dr Green participated in Casolaro's autopsy and last year he told veteran
White House reporter Sterling Seagrave that the young journalist had been
killed before being stripped, put in a full bath, and his left wrist cut
in precisely the same manner as Dr Kelly's.
And as with Dr Kelly, there was remarkably little blood, bar a small
amount smeared on the edge of the tub, suggesting that the wrist wound had
been inflicted after the heart had stopped pumping.
This compelling demonstration of how effectively a murder can be disguised
as suicide drove me on in my search for the truth about Dr Kelly, who was
found dead in an Oxfordshire wood on July 18, 2003, having apparently
taken his own life.
Before Danny Casolaro died, the journalist had been investigating the
activities of America's private security companies which, according to
Sterling Seagrave, are linked to the 'Grey Ghosts' - an army of
professional killers commissioned by the Pentagon to carry out
Scroll down for more...
Norman Baker at the spot where David Kelly was found dead
The similarities between the two men's deaths led Seagrave to suggest that
Dr Kelly might also have fallen victim to these shadowy figures.
After all, he was the source behind a BBC report that the British
government had 'sexed up' intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons of
mass destruction in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. This can hardly
have been well received by the White House.
As I explained in Saturday's Mail, my own information strongly suggests
that those behind Dr Kelly's death were Iraqi dissidents opposed to Saddam
Hussein's regime and angry at Dr Kelly for undermining the case for
A well-placed source also told me that the British police or security
services had been warned of a likely assassination attempt but were not in
time to stop it.
Did they then try to disguise the murder as suicide for reasons of
To understand what may have happened, we must return to Thursday, July 17,
Dr Kelly disappeared. That morning he was at home with his wife Janice in
the village of Southmoor and it must be said that none of his behaviour
fits the profile of a man about to commit suicide.
In her evidence to the Hutton inquiry into Dr Kelly's death, his wife said
he was 'tired, subdued, but not depressed'. Indeed, it seems it was Janice
Kelly, not her husband, who was more seriously under par.
During phone calls that morning, Dr Kelly told a colleague that he was
basically 'holding up all right', but that his wife was having a difficult
time, both physically and mentally, under the pressure of long-standing
ill health and the political storm that had engulfed them.
At lunchtime she went to bed with a nauseous headache and arthritis pains.
He, on the other hand, appears to have carried on working normally, eaten
some lunch and taken the trouble to go upstairs to check on his wife,
shortly before 2pm, to see how she was feeling.
Given his obvious concern, it hardly seems likely that he would want to
exacerbate matters for her by committing suicide that day.
Dr Kelly told his wife he would be going out for one of the regular walks
he took to help his bad back. These were normally short affairs lasting no
more than 25 minutes.
Mrs Kelly estimates that her husband left the house shortly after 3pm.
With him, we are led to believe, he had the knife later found by his
corpse and three packets of the painkillers his wife took for arthritis.
These would later be discovered in his jacket pocket - empty but for one
of the 30 tablets.
According to the Hutton inquiry, Dr Kelly set out on that walk intent on
But, if so, why does he appear to have waited so long before doing it?
Since the pathologist inexplicably failed to take Dr Kelly's body
temperature when he first arrived on the scene the following day - a
standard procedure which would have helped give an accurate time of death
- we have to make our own deductions about when he died.
The pathologist offered a wide window of between 4.15pm on Thursday and
1.15am on Friday. But there is every reason to think this window is far
The Hutton inquiry heard that after Dr Kelly's body was found on Friday
morning, two paramedics moved his arm away from his chest at about 10am so
that they could attach electrodes and confirm that he was dead.
Clearly, rigor mortis - the stiffening of the body - had not yet fully set
in. Since it is generally accepted that it reaches its peak after 12
hours, we can assume that Dr Kelly most likely died at some time after
10pm on the Thursday night, and quite possibly much later.
What then happened to him in the missing hours - at least seven of them -
between leaving home and supposedly killing himself?
The last person known to have seen Dr Kelly alive was his neighbour, Ruth
Absalom, who met him about three-quarters-of-a-mile from his home.
They passed the time of day briefly before going their separate ways. Dr
Kelly's parting words were: "See you again then, Ruth."
According to Ms Absalom, he was heading towards the nearby village of
That would be consistent with a circular half-hour walk back to his house
- but in quite the wrong direction to reach Harrowrecords-down Hill, the
lonely area of woodland where his body was discovered.
One of the few clues to what happened next is that Dr Kelly's phone was
switched off when a colleague from the Ministry of Defence tried to call
him between 5pm and 6pm.
This was odd. Dr Kelly himself would tell friends that his mobile was
always on and, given that he had been in regular contact with the MoD that
morning, and that the furore surrounding him was developing from hour to
hour, it seems unlikely that he would have turned it off or let the
battery run down.
If he did indeed intend to commit suicide, turning off his phone could be
seen as a preliminary step. But for reasons I have made clear, I do not
believe suicide is a credible explanation for his death.
This leaves us with an alternative possibility. Did someone else turn Dr
Kelly's phone off so that his movements could not be traced via signal
kept by the phone company? In other words, was he forcibly abducted?
If he headed in the direction Ms Absalom described, his walk would
probably have taken him along Appleton Road, a quiet and rather empty
stretch with only sporadic development alongside.
From there he is likely to have turned right into Draycott Road, which is
even more deserted. A no-through road with some derelict buildings
part-way down, it peters out into a footpath at the end.
On either of these roads it would certainly have been relatively easy for
determined abductors to have forced the 59-year-old weapons inspector into
a van without anyone seeing.
According to the information I have been given, the murder itself was
carried out by a couple of not very well-paid hired hands.
As to the method used, I am told that they gave Dr Kelly an injection in
his backside, which perhaps points to the use of succinylcholine, a white
crystalline substance that acts as a muscle relaxant.
For less beneficent purposes, it can be used to induce paralysis and
cardiac arrest and frequently goes undetected in post-mortems.
I asked Thames Valley Police whether the body had been checked for the
presence of this or a similar substance. They told me that they did not
If this was not the substance used then, alarmingly, there appear to be a
large number of other ways in which Dr Kelly might have been killed that
would be difficult or even impossible to trace.
For this we can no doubt partly thank the work of Project Coast - a highly
unpleasant chemical and biological warfare programme run by the South
African government from 1981 onwards to develop exactly such capabilities.
With aims including the creation of a biological weapon designed to attack
the black population while leaving whites unscathed, its prime mover was
Dr Wouter Basson, variously described as 'the South African Mengele' and
Ironically, in the week before Dr Kelly died, it is alleged he was due to
be interviewed by MI5 about his links with Dr Basson, who in 1985 had
visited the Porton Down research centre, where Dr Kelly was then head of
the Chemical Defence Establishment.
This visit had happened at a time when Mrs Thatcher's government claimed
that the South Africans were developing biological and chemical weapons
solely for defensive purposes.
Only later was it revealed that they were working on chemicals such as
parathion, an organophosphate that can be introduced into the body through
hair follicles, perhaps under the arm or around the crutch.
This causes vomiting - evidence of which could be seen on Dr Kelly's body
- and leads to a respiratory attack. It is extremely difficult to detect
traces of such a chemical in the body, unless you know what you are
When I tracked down Wouter Basson at his home in the Western Cape earlier
this year, I asked him if he thought Dr Kelly had been murdered.
He paused, as if choosing his words carefully, then replied that Dr Kelly
'didn't seem the sort to commit suicide'.
He was also in no doubt that the UK, and indeed other Western countries,
have a capacity for assassination.
Other possible methods of killing Dr Kelly included the use of saxotoxin,
found in some shellfish and known as the CIA Shellfish Toxin, after its
alleged use by that agency to kill one of their targets. Even a tiny
amount is effective seconds after injection and is completely untraceable
One private detective even suggested to me that Dr Kelly's killers might
have made gruesome misuse of the equipment employed by undertakers in
embalming, placing a tube into an artery and forcibly pumping the blood
out of the body.
This would cause unconsciousness and then death, and reinforce the
assumption that the victim had lost a lot of blood through a cut - the
conclusion reached by Lord Hutton in Dr Kelly's case.
The detective told me that this process did not need access to a main
artery like the jugular, but could be achieved through, say, the ulnar
This was the one slashed with a knife in Dr Kelly's wrist. Was that
incision an attempt to cover up the artery's previous use?
Another ghastly suggestion came to me from someone who signed themselves
only as 'Nemesis'. Their letter alleged that he or she had been told by a
'member of the non-English diplomatic corps' that air had been introduced
into Dr Kelly's bloodstream through a needle in a vein.
Apparently, if present in sufficient quantities, air in the major organs
will kill and leave no scar. 'Nemesis' was in no doubt that this was how
Dr Kelly's life had ended. "His heart and lungs were full of air," the
We know that the pathologist did retain one of Dr Kelly's lungs and some
blood to test for substances such as chloroform but Assistant Chief
Constable Michael Page, who gave evidence at the Hutton inquiry, revealed
that the tests to the lung had not actually been carried out.
This was, he said, because no suspicious substances had shown up in the
Whatever method might have been used to murder Dr Kelly, we have to wonder
why those responsible did not kill him immediately. There would have been
no insurmountable obstacles to doing so, after all.
Perhaps his kidnappers wanted an opportunity to take him into the woods at
Harrowdown Hill under cover of darkness to minimise the chances of being
spotted or disturbed.
It certainly would not have been difficult to have given him a shot to
render him temporarily unconscious until his assailants forced him to walk
to the spot where he would be killed and found the next day.
If they drove him there, the closest they could have got by road was about
half a mile from where his body was found.
That walk is rather a public one, but there is another route and one
seemingly not investigated by the police.
This path runs from a remote reach of the River Thames, about 500 yards
away, up through a field and into the woods. With no houses or other
dwellings nearby, anybody walking here is unlikely to be seen,
particularly in the dead of night.
Intriguingly, this area was searched the following morning by Louise
Holmes and Paul Chapman, the two volunteers who eventually found Dr
They told the Hutton inquiry that some time after beginning their search
at 8am they came across a group of three or four people in a boat and had
a brief conversation with them.
Who they were, and what they were doing on the river at that time of the
morning, has never been established. They could, of course, have been
holidaymakers. But was the truth more sinister?
EXTRACTED from The Strange Death Of David Kelly by Norman Baker, published
by Methuen on November 12 at £9.99, copyright Norman Baker 2007. To order
a copy (p&p free), call 0845 606 4206.
Imperium Watch 10.3.07
By Valley Advocate Editorial
Michael B. Mukasey, President Bush's choice to replace outgoing Attorney
General Alberto Gonzales, was the judge presiding over the terrorism trial
of blind Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman in 1995. The New York Times lauded
Mukasey for sentencing the sheikh to life in prison; what's less well
known is that Mukasey let a top al Qaeda organizer who should have served
as a witness in that trial off the hook, according to Peter Lance, author
of Triple Cross: How bin Laden's Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green
Berets, and the FBI.
The missing witness, Ali A. Mohamed, was a double agent, working for the
FBI and al Qaeda at the same time but with a primary loyalty to al Qaeda.
Mohamed set up al Qaeda training camps in the Sudan and brought bin Laden
lieutenant Ayman al Zawahiri on a fundraising tour of American mosques in
1992. Remember how the Bush administration has scolded Canada for not
doing more to stop terrorism? In 1993 the Mounties arrested Mohamed for
trying to help an al Qaeda activist gain entry to the U.S., but the FBI
got him released.
After that he went to Kenya and took photos of the U.S. embassy, photos
believed to have been used to plan the bombings of that embassy in 1998.
Later, while serving with the military at Fort Bragg, N.C., Mohamed stole
intelligence documents, including secret memos from the Joint Chiefs of
Lance explains convincingly that the FBI didn't want Mohamed at the blind
sheikh's trial because his testimony might have given away the fact that
he was working as an FBI informant and planning terrorist actions
simultaneously in the '90s. Then-Judge Mukasey refused to issue a bench
warrant to force Mohamed to testify, or even to give the jury a so-called
"missing witness charge," which means telling the jury that a certain
witness would not be called and allowing them to infer that that witness'
testimony would be damaging to the party (the federal government in this
case) that could produce him, but refuses. That part of the process might
have opened up information about Mohamed that government agencies could
have shared, giving them a wider information base that might even have
helped prevent the 9/11 attacks.
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