Although I normally waste little attention on the partisan, ill-informed, mean-spirited apologists for President Bush's illegal, immoral invasion and now incompetent, terrorist-incubating occupation of Iraq -- such as Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and most of our now discredited neocons -- I never question their right to air their often venomous propaganda. After all, I've accepted John Stuart Mill's arguments about the value of even bad ideas in the open marketplace of ideas.
However, following Mill, I must object whenever these right-wing extremists attempt to stifle open debate by resorting to the tactics so accurately described above by Hermann Goering. Unfortunately, a few days ago my attention was drawn to just such tactics spewing from the word processors at "Accuracy in Media" (AIM).
"Accuracy in Media" is anything but; something I learned after the editor of Uruknet inadvertently vented frustrations to me about an egregiously erroneous and hypocritical AIM report - "Terrorists Target and Intimidate U.S. Media."
You see, I was attempting to discover why Uruknet had delayed publishing my latest article ("More Proof of Prewar Intelligence Manipulation by the Bush Administration). What I inadvertently learned was this: Not only was Uruknet once again being subjected to assaults by malevolent hackers who, apparently, disdain freedom of speech, but it also had suffered slander from Accuracy in Media, whose writers appear to share the hackers' illiberal disdain.
Although ostensibly an analysis of the media response to the bomb "that almost took the lives of ABC World News Tonight co-anchor Bob Woodruff and ABC cameraman Doug Vogt," AIM's report was little more than a deliberate attempt to stifle free speech.
Consider AIM's erroneous assertion: "A website devoted to the 'Iraqi resistance,' www.uruknet.info, openly declared in a matter of fact manner that 'An Iraqi resistance bomb exploded by an Iraqi puppet army column in the area of the northern Baghdad suburb of at-Taji, severely wounding American ABC TV news anchor Bob Woodruff and cameraman Doug Vogt who were traveling with puppet troops.'"
AIM also objected to the fact that, "Absolutely no remorse was expressed for the injuries to Woodruff and Vogt."
Now, I must admit that the phrase "puppet army," rang discordantly in my ear and certainly implied "no remorse" -- until I recalled the words of renowned conservative scholar, Zbigniew Brzezinski. Talking about the so-called transfer of sovereignty to an Iraqi government, Brzezinski asserted: "I think it's a good step in the right direction. But I would avoid using Orwellian language in describing it. This is not a transfer of power, a handover to a sovereign government. We are transferring limited authority to a satellite government [like the former East European satellites of the Soviet Union?], a satellite government that is still to establish its legitimacy and the longer we stay, the more difficult it will be before it to [sic] gain legitimacy."
Thus, "puppet army" might be the appropriate phrase after all.
In fact, however, AIM's assertion was wrong on two counts. First, as the editor of Uruknet wrote, "we declared nothing." The sentence in question was "from the IRR, published by many websites and that we reported from Iraq.war.ru website." The editor also wrote that Uruknet had posted President Bush's State of the Union Address. Second, because, as the editor added, "We never add our own comment to the articles or document [sic] we publish," Uruknet couldn't possibly express remorse about the injuries to Woodruff and Vogt.
Thus, the intrepid writers at AIM were well into their hatchet job when they resurrected memories of "Tailgunner Joe" McCarthy - especially his infamous question, "Have you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?" - by claiming that, "this 'Iraqi resistance' website has established links to organizations based in the U.S." that "constitute the main forces behind the various 'anti-war' demonstrations held in the U.S." To such obnoxious McCarthyite allusions, Uruknet's editor gave a direct answer: "Uruknet has no links to the organizations."
Yet, even after three self-serving errors, AIM boldly jumped into the slime of slander when it called Uruknet a "pro-terrorist website." But, that's a game that anybody can play, especially if they're willing to take a page from Herr Goering's playbook.
To throw such slander back at AIM, simply cite the numerous patriotic Americans, from the renowned (Ret.) Gen. Odom and Congressman Murtha to this writer, who have concluded that the Bush administration's invasion and incompetent occupation of Iraq have sparked the proliferation of terrorists and terrorist attacks around the world. Then add the CIA's latest intelligence reports on terrorism, which support such conclusions. Finally, lower yourself to AIM's Goering-based level of journalism. The result? An objective conclusion that the Bush administration and its supporters - including AIM -- are "pro-terrorist."
Unfortunately AIM's Goering-based calumny had yet to complete its course. Having tarred Uruknet with slander, hoping to make it stick, AIM then attempted to spread it around -- across "a leftist fifth column in the U.S." that includes the following websites: "buzzflash, common dreams, Counterpunch, Daily Kos, Democracy Now, Pacifica Radio, truthout and The Nation."
A "leftist fifth column?" Imagine how gratified Goering would be to learn that AIM had once again validated his political axiom. .
But, "wow!" Whereas, naïve little ol' me thought that these websites were correcting the misinformation supplied by the New York Times (which published Judith Miller's stenographic reports of Ahmad Chalabi's lies and withheld it scoop about NSA's illegal eavesdropping until after Bush was safely reelected) or a Philadelphia Inquirer (the ever shrinking and increasingly stinking Inky appears "hooked" on conservative columnists, especially neoconservatives already discredited by their support for the illegal, immoral invasion), AIM saw a "fifth column" devoted to handing Osama bin Laden "a victory on the battlefield."
As if al Qaeda's terrorists had anything to do with Iraq until our fool of a President allowed the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal to cultivate their worldwide proliferation and incite them to pay a visit!
(Want a reality check? For two consecutive years, Moscow's prominent political commentator, Vyacheslav Nikonov, has informed me that, although Russia has a long-term interest in stability in the Middle East, in the short term, America's debacle in Iraq benefits Russia in three ways: (1) it causes the price of oil to rise, and Russia exports much oil, (2) it draws terrorists away from Chechnya, so fewer Russians are killed by terrorists, and (3) it ties down America and, thus, prevents it from making further mischief around the world.)
Before closing, one more crucial point needs to be made about the some of the reporters at AIM. They are hypocrites.
For proof, simply read their "patriotic" gore of the Clinton administration's "illegal war" against Yugoslavia. On May 5, 1999, for example, AIM's two main McCarthyites, Reed Irvine and Cliff Kincaid, wrote about Clinton's "no-win war in Yugoslavia." Questioning reports in the New York Times and Washington Post about an "alleged Serb massacre of Albanians," Irvine and Kincaid asserted: "In other words, the Clinton Administration may have gotten the U.S. involved through an incident that was manipulated and staged for propaganda value." Then, they added, "this isn't the only dubious report or claim that has come out of the White House, NATO or the American media during this war."
Yet, Mr. Kincaid voiced no such suspicions about the Bush administration's prewar intelligence manipulations "staged for propaganda value." In fact, sixteen months after its invasion of Iraq -- and still finding no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) -- Kincaid made the following astounding assertion: "Saddam had a nuclear weapons program. He was seeking uranium from Africa. And he was trying to reconstitute this program. The President had that information. He provided that information to the American people and the Congress. And it has stood the test of time" (my emphasis). Oh, really?
Was Kincaid ignorant of the CIA's briefing of Bush, on 21 December 2002, about Iraq's WMD? During that briefing, the only evidence presented "on nuclear weapons," concerned the convening of "a group of Iraq's main atomic scientists, dubbed the 'nuclear mafia,'" which, according to the CIA "'implied' preparations to resume nuclear weapons research." [Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack, p. 249] Frustrated by the entire briefing, "Bush turned to [CIA Director, George] Tenet: 'I've been told all this intelligence about having WMD and this is the best we've got?'" [Woodward, p. 249]
But let us return to AIM's reporting on Clinton's "illegal war" against Yugoslavia. Its May 21, 1999, article cast doubt on Secretary of State, Madeline Albright's indictment of Serbian forces: "Horrific patterns of war crimes…are emerging in Kosovo: systemic executions, organized rape and a well-planned program of terror and expulsions." Now I ask you: "Do AIM's doubts mean that Irvine and Kincaid were 'pro-terrorist?'"
Check it all out. In AIM's critique of Clinton's "illegal war," you'll find much of the same rhetoric that they today hypocritically label "pro-terrorist," and "fifth-column," when applied to Bush's illegal war by Uruknet, buzzflash, common dreams, Counterpunch, Daily Kos, Democracy Now, Pacifica Radio, truthout and The Nation.
Finally, you simply must read AIM's "Media Monitor" of May 26, 1999. Irvine and Kincaid were a riot. First, they reminded readers that the Clinton administration approved "the ethnic cleansing of perhaps a half million Serbs from Croatia in 1995." Then they approvingly cited a recent editorial by Joseph Baldacchino titled, "Can a Decadent Nation Impose International Peace?"
Although it's a great question and even more appropriate for present day America under George W. Bush's lawless regime, Messrs. Irvine and Kincaid limited its use to "the decadent qualities of Clinton personally."
But notice the irony: Baldacchino called for "revitalizing the institutions and customs of justice and the kind of restraint that is the highest achievement of civilization…It will require increased respect for the spirit of constitutionalism at home and the history, customs, and sovereign immunities of other nations."
"Restraint -- the highest achievement of civilization?" "Increased respect for the spirit of constitutionalism at home?" "Sovereign immunities of other nations?" The Bush regime craps on these virtues, virtually every day!
But, hold on! For the moment, let's put aside the mountains of evidence indicting the Bush administration for lack of restraint - its tax cuts for the rich, energy policy designed by and for energy industry, political manipulation of scientific findings, unconstitutional authorization of NSA eavesdropping on American citizens, political manipulation of prewar intelligence about Iraq, lies about Iraq's WMD and ties to al Qaeda and, most egregious, a war of choice rather than necessity - let's, instead, simply ask whether the good folks at AIM exercised "restraint" when they borrowed from Hermann Goering's playbook to unjustifiably besmirch as "pro-terrorist" and "fifth column" the liberal websites which decry the Bush administration's reckless violation of the "sovereign immunities of other nations."
Doesn't such a failure of restraint justifiably earn AIM the title "Hypocritical Brownshirts." And doesn't their McCarthyite reporting validate Hermann Goering's axiom?