Posted 22 July 2010 - 03:15 PM
John Pilger: The charge of the media brigade
Sunday, July 18, 2010 By John Pilger
The commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus (pictured centre), wrote that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were really ‘wars of perception’, in which the media popularises the terms and conditions.
Photo: Defense.gov The TV anchorwoman was conducting a split screen interview with a journalist who had volunteered to be a witness at the execution of a man on death row in Utah for 25 years.
“He had a choice”, said the journalist, “lethal injection or firing squad”. “Wow!” said the anchorwoman.
Cue a blizzard of commercials for fast food, teeth whitener, stomach stapling, the new Cadillac. This was followed by the war in Afghanistan, presented by a correspondent sweating in a flak jacket.
“Hey, it’s hot”, he said on the split screen. “Take care”, said the anchorwoman. “Coming up” was a reality show in which the camera watched a man serving solitary confinement in a prison’s “hell hole”.
The next morning, I arrived at the Pentagon for an interview with one of President Barack Obama’s senior war-making officials.
There was a long walk along shiny corridors hung with pictures of generals and admirals festooned in ribbons.
The interview room was purpose-built. It was blue and arctic cold, and windowless and featureless except for a flag and two chairs: props to create the illusion of a place of authority.
The last time I was in a room like this in the Pentagon, a colonel called Hum stopped my interview with another war-making official when I asked why so many innocent civilians were being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Then it was in the thousands; now it is more than a million.
“Stop tape!”, he ordered.
This time there was no Colonel Hum, merely a polite dismissal of soldiers’ testimony that it was a “common occurrence” that troops were ordered to “kill every mother fucker”.
The Pentagon, the Associated Press said on July 5, spends US$4.7 billion on public relations: that is, winning the hearts and minds not of recalcitrant Afghan tribespeople but of the US people.
This is known as “information dominance” and PR people are “information warriors”.
US imperial power flows through a media culture to which the word “imperial” is anathema. To broach it is heresy.
Colonial campaigns are really “wars of perception”, wrote the commander of US forces in Afghanistan General David Petraeus, in which the media popularises the terms and conditions.
“Narrative” is the accredited word because it is “post-modern” and bereft of context and truth. The narrative of Iraq is that the war is won, and the narrative of Afghanistan is that it is a “good war”.
That neither is true is beside the point.
They promote a “grand narrative” of a constant threat and the need for permanent war. “We are living in a world of cascading and intertwined threats”, the celebrated New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote on June 11, “that have the potential to turn our country upside down at any moment”.
Friedman supports an attack on Iran, whose independence is intolerable. This is the psychopathic vanity of great power that Martin Luther King described as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world”.
King was shot dead exactly one year later.
The psychopathic is applauded across popular, corporate culture, from the TV death watch of a man choosing a firing squad over lethal injection to the Oscar winning Hurt Locker and a new acclaimed war documentary Restrepo.
Directors of both films deny and dignify the violence of invasion as “apolitical”.
And yet behind the cartoon facade is serious purpose. The US is engaged militarily in 75 countries. There are about 900 US military bases across the world, many at the gateways to the sources of fossil fuels.
But there is a problem. Most US people are opposed to these wars and to the billions of dollars spent on them.
That their brainwashing so often fails is the US’s greatest virtue. This is frequently due to courageous mavericks, especially those who emerge from the centrifuge of power.
In 1971, military analyst Daniel Ellsberg leaked documents known as the Pentagon Papers, which put the lie to almost everything two presidents had claimed about Vietnam.
Many of these insiders are not even renegades. I have a section in my address book filled with the names of former officers of the CIA who have spoken out.
They have no equivalent in Britain.
In 1993, C. Philip Liechty, the CIA operations officer in Jakarta at the time of Indonesia’s murderous invasion of East Timor in 1975, described to me how then US president Gerald Ford and secretary of state Henry Kissinger had given Indonesian dictator Suharto “a green light” and secretly supplied the arms and logistics he needed.
As the first reports of massacres arrived at his desk, he began to turn. “It was wrong”, he said. “I felt badly.”
Melvin Goodman is now a scholar at Johns Hopkins University in Washington. He was in the CIA more than 40 years and rose to be a senior Soviet analyst.
When we met the other day, he described the conduct of the Cold War as a series of gross exaggerations of Soviet “aggressiveness” that wilfully ignored the intelligence that the Soviets were committed to avoid nuclear war at all costs.
Declassified official files on both sides of the Atlantic support this view.
“What mattered to the hardliners in Washington”, he said, “was how a perceived threat could be exploited”.
The present secretary of defence, Robert Gates, as deputy director of the CIA in the 1980s, had constantly hyped the “Soviet menace” . He is, says Goodman, doing the same today “on Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran”.
Little has changed. In the US in 1939, the poet W.H. Auden wrote:
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives […]
Out of the mirror they stare,
And the international wrong
[Reprinted from JohnPilger.com.]
Posted 18 August 2010 - 05:48 AM
Sunday, August 15, 2010 By John Pilger
Tony Blair conspired in and executed an unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq. Photo: Thethirdestate.net Tony Blair must be prosecuted, not indulged like his mentor Peter Mandelson. Both have produced self-serving memoirs for which they have been paid fortunes. Blair's will appear next month and earn him £4.6 million.
Now consider Britain's Proceeds of Crime Act. Blair conspired in and executed an unprovoked war of aggression against a defenceless country, which the Nuremberg judges in 1946 described as the "paramount war crime". This has caused, according to scholarly studies, the deaths of more than a million people, a figure that exceeds the Fordham University estimate of deaths in the Rwandan genocide.
In addition, four million Iraqis have been forced to flee their homes and a majority of children have descended into malnutrition and trauma. Cancer rates near the cities of Fallujah, Najaf and Basra (the latter "liberated" by the British) are now revealed as higher than those at Hiroshima.
"UK forces used about 1.9 metric tons of depleted uranium ammunition in the Iraq war in 2003", the defence secretary Liam Fox told parliament on July 22. A range of toxic "anti-personnel" weapons, such as cluster bombs, was employed by British and US forces.
Such carnage was justified with lies that have been repeatedly exposed. On January 29, 2003, Blair told parliament: "We do know of links between al-Qaeda and Iraq."
Last month, the former head of the British intelligence service, MI5, Eliza Manningham-Buller, told the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war, "There is no credible intelligence to suggest that connection. [It was the invasion] that gave Osama bin Laden his Iraqi jihad."
Asked to what extent the invasion exacerbated the threat to Britain from terrorism, she replied, "Substantially".
The bombings in London on July 7, 2005 were a direct consequence of Blair's actions.
Documents released by the High Court show that Blair allowed British citizens to be abducted and tortured. The then foreign secretary, Jack Straw, decided in January 2002 that Guantanamo was the "best way" to ensure British nationals were "securely held".
Instead of remorse, Blair has demonstrated a voracious and secretive greed. Since stepping down as prime minister in 2007, he has accumulated an estimated £20 million, much of it as a result of his ties with the Bush administration.
The House of Commons Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, which vets jobs taken by former ministers, was pressured not to make public Blair's "consultancy" deals with the Kuwaiti royal family and the South Korean oil giant UI Energy Corporation.
He gets £2 million a year "advising" the US investment bank JP Morgan and undisclosed sums from financial services companies. He makes millions from speeches, including reportedly £200,000 for one speech in China.
In his unpaid but expenses-rich role as the West's "peace envoy" in the Middle East, Blair is, in effect, a voice of Israel, which awarded him a $1 million "peace prize". In other words, his wealth has grown rapidly since he launched, with George W. Bush, the bloodbath in Iraq.
His collaborators are numerous.
The Cabinet in March 2003 knew a great deal about the conspiracy to attack Iraq. Jack Straw, later appointed "justice secretary", suppressed the relevant Cabinet minutes in defiance of an order by the Information Commissioner to release them.
Most of those now running for the Labour Party leadership supported Blair's epic crime, rising as one to salute his final appearance in the Commons.
As foreign secretary, David Miliband, sought to cover Britain's complicity in torture, and promoted Iran as the next "threat".
Journalists who once fawned on Blair as "mystical" and amplified his vainglorious bids now pretend they were his critics all along. As for the media's gulling of the public, only the Observer's David Rose, to his great credit, has apologised.
The Wikileaks exposes, released with a moral objective of truth with justice, have been bracing for a public force-fed on complicit, lobby journalism.
Verbose celebrity historians like Niall Ferguson, who rejoiced in Blair's rejuvenation of "enlightened" imperialism, remain silent on the "moral truancy", as Pankaj Mishra wrote, "of [those] paid to intelligently interpret the contemporary world".
Is it wishful thinking that Blair will be collared? Just as the Cameron government understands the "threat" of a law that makes Britain a risky stopover for Israeli war criminals, a similar risk awaits Blair in a number of countries and jurisdictions, at least of being apprehended and questioned.
He is now Britain's Kissinger, who has long planned his travel outside the United States with the care of a fugitive.
Two recent events add weight to this. On June 15, the International Criminal Court made the landmark decision of adding aggression to its list of war crimes to be prosecuted. This is defined as a "crime committed by a political or military leader which by its character, gravity and scale constituted a manifest violation of the [United Nations] Charter".
International lawyers described this as a "giant leap". Britain is a signatory to the Rome statute that created the court and is bound by its decisions.
On July 21, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, standing at the Commons despatch box, declared the invasion of Iraq illegal. For all the later "clarification" that he was speaking personally, he had made "a statement that the international court would be interested in", said Philippe Sands, professor of international law at University College London.
Tony Blair came from Britain's upper middle classes who, having rejoiced in his unctuous ascendancy, might now reflect on the principles of right and wrong they require of their own children. The suffering of the children of Iraq will remain a spectre haunting Britain while Blair remains free to profit.
[Reprinted from www.johnpilger.com.]
Posted 20 August 2010 - 07:15 AM
''John Richard Pilger (born 9 October 1939) is an Australian Journalist and Documentary maker, based in London He has twice won Britain's Journalist of the Year Award, and his documentaries have received academy awards in Britain and the US. Naom Chomsky said of Pilger: "John Pilger's work has been a beacon of light in often dark times. The realities he has brought to light have been a revelation, over and over again, and his courage and insight a constant inspiration."
In Breaking the Silence: The Television Reporting of John Pilger, his appraisal of the journalist's documentaries, Anthony Howard wrote, "For more than a generation, he has been an ever stronger voice for those without a voice and a thorn in the side of authority, the Establishment. His work, particularly his television documentaries, has also made him rare in being a journalist who is universally known, a champion of those for whom he fights and the scourge of politicians and others whose actions he exposes.''
In Australia he is highly regarded.
I wonder if he would accept an invitation to join the Forum?
Posted 04 October 2010 - 07:57 AM
Britain: BBC echoes Rupert Murdoch's lies
Saturday, October 2, 2010 By John Pilger
Britain is said to be approaching its Berlusconi Moment. That is to say, if Rupert Murdoch wins control of Sky, he will command half Britain’s television and newspaper market and threaten what is known as public service broadcasting.
Although the alarm is ringing, it is unlikely that any government will stop him while his court is packed with politicians of all parties.
The problem with this and other Murdoch scares is that, while one cannot doubt their gravity, they deflect from an unrecognised and more insidious threat to honest information.
For all his power, Murdoch’s media is not respectable.
Take the current colonial wars. In the United States, Murdoch’s Fox Television is almost cartoon-like in its warmongering. It is the august, tombstone New York Times, “the greatest newspaper in the world”, and others such as the once-celebrated Washington Post, that have given respectability to the lies and moral contortions of the “war on terror”, now recast as “perpetual war”.
In Britain, the liberal Observer performed this task in making respectable then-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s deceptions on Iraq. More importantly, so did the BBC, whose reputation is its power.
In spite of one maverick reporter’s attempt to expose the so-called dodgy dossier, the BBC took Blair’s sophistry and lies on Iraq at face value.
This was made clear in studies by Cardiff University and the German-based Media Tenor. The BBC’s coverage, said the Cardiff study, was overwhelmingly “sympathetic to the government’s case”. According to Media Tenor, a mere 2% of BBC news in the build-up to the invasion permitted anti-war voices to be heard. Compared with the main American networks, only CBS was more pro-war.
So when BBC director-general Mark Thompson used the recent Edinburgh Television Festival to attack Murdoch, his hypocrisy was like a presence. Thompson is the embodiment of a taxpayer-funded managerial elite, for whom political reaction has long replaced public service.
He has even laid into his own corporation, Murdoch-style, as “massively left-wing”. He was referring to the era of his 1960s predecessor Hugh Greene, who allowed artistic and journalistic freedom to flower at the BBC.
Thompson is the opposite of Greene; and his aspersion on the past is in keeping with the BBC’s modern corporate role, reflected in the rewards demanded by those at the top.
Thompson was paid £834,000 last year out of public funds and his 50 senior executives earn more than the prime minister, along with enriched journalists like Jeremy Paxman and Fiona Bruce.
Murdoch and the BBC share this corporatism. Blair, for example, was their quintessential politician.
Prior to his election in 1997, Blair and his wife were flown first-class by Murdoch to Hayman Island in Australia where he stood at the Newscorp lectern and, in effect, pledged an obedient Labour administration. His coded message on media cross-ownership and de-regulation was that a way would be found for Murdoch to achieve the supremacy that now beckons.
Blair was embraced by the new BBC corporate class, which regards itself as meritorious and non-ideological: the natural leaders in a managerial Britain in which class is unspoken.
Few did more to enunciate Blair’s “vision” than Andrew Marr, then a leading newspaper journalist and today the BBC’s ubiquitous voice of middle-class Britain.
Just as Murdoch’s Sun declared in 1995 it shared the rising Blair’s “high moral values”, so Marr, writing in the Observer in 1999, lauded the new prime minister’s “substantial moral courage” and the “clear distinction in his mind between prudently protecting his power base and rashly using his power for high moral purpose”.
What impressed Marr was Blair’s “utter lack of cynicism” along with his bombing of Yugoslavia, which would “save lives”.
By March 2003, Marr was the BBC’s political editor. Standing in Downing Street on the night of the “shock and awe” assault on Iraq, he rejoiced at the vindication of Blair who, he said, had promised “to take Baghdad without a bloodbath, and that in end the Iraqis would be celebrating. And on both of those points he has been proved conclusively right”. As a result “tonight he stands as a larger man”.
In fact, the criminal conquest of Iraq smashed a society, killing up to a million people, driving four million from their homes, contaminating cities like Fallujah with cancer-causing poisons and leaving a majority of young children malnourished in a country once described by Unicef as a “model”.
So it was entirely appropriate that Blair, in hawking his self-serving book, should select Marr for his “exclusive TV interview” on the BBC. The headline across the Observer’s review of the interview read, “Look who’s having the last laugh”. Beneath this was a picture of a beaming Blair sharing a laugh with Marr.
The interview produced not a single challenge that stopped Blair in his precocious, mendacious tracks. He was allowed to say that “absolutely clearly and unequivocally, the reason for toppling [Saddam Hussein] was his breach of resolutions over WMD, right?”
A wealth of evidence, not least the infamous Downing Street memo, makes clear that Blair secretly colluded with then-US President George W Bush to attack Iraq. This was not mentioned. At no point did Marr say to him, “You failed to persuade the UN Security Council to go along with the invasion. You and Bush went alone. Most of the world was outraged. Weren’t you aware that you were about to commit a monumental war crime?”
Instead, Blair used the convivial encounter to deceive, yet again, even to promote an attack on Iran, an outrage. Murdoch’s Fox would have differed in style only. The British public deserves better.
[Reprinted from www.Johnpilger.com .]
Posted 18 October 2010 - 09:39 AM
John Pilger: Chile’s ghosts won’t be rescued
Sunday, October 17, 2010 By John Pilger
Villa Grimaldi was a torture centre under the Pinochet dictatorship. It is now a museum. Pictured is a monument with the names of hundreds of the torture victims. Photo: Wikipedia Commons The rescue of 33 miners in Chile on October 14 is an extraordinary drama filled with pathos and heroism. It is also a media windfall for the Chilean government, whose every beneficence is recorded by a forest of cameras.
One cannot fail to be impressed. However, like all great media events, it is a facade.
The accident that trapped the miners is not unusual in Chile and the inevitable consequence of a ruthless economic system that has barely changed since the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet.
Copper is Chile’s gold, and the frequency of mining disasters keeps pace with prices and profits. There are, on average, 39 fatal accidents every year in Chile’s privatised mines.
The San Jose mine, where the men work, became so unsafe in 2007 it had to be closed — but not for long. On July 30, a labour department report warned again of “serious safety deficiencies”, but the minister took no action.
Six days later, the men were entombed.
For all the media circus at the rescue site, contemporary Chile is a country of the unspoken.
At the Villa Grimaldi, in the suburbs of the capital Santiago, a sign says: “The forgotten past is full of memory.” This was the torture centre where hundreds of people were murdered and disappeared for opposing the fascism that Pinochet and his business allies brought to Chile.
Its ghostly presence is overseen by the beauty of the Andes, and the man who unlocks the gate used to live nearby and remembers the screams.
I was taken there one wintry morning in 2006 by Sara De Witt, who was imprisoned as a student activist and now lives in London. She was electrocuted and beaten, yet survived.
Later, we drove to the home of former president Salvador Allende, the great democrat and reformer who perished when Pinochet seized power on 11 September 1973 — Latin America’s own 9/11.
His house is a silent white building without a sign or a plaque.
Everywhere, it seems, Allende’s name has been eliminated. Only in the lone memorial in the cemetery are the words engraved “Presidente de la Republica” as part of a remembrance of the “ejecutados politicos”: those “executed for political reasons”.
Allende died by his own hand as Pinochet bombed the presidential palace with British planes as the US ambassador watched.
Today, Chile is a democracy, though many would dispute that, notably those in the barrios forced to scavenge for food and steal electricity.
In 1990, Pinochet bequeathed a constitutionally compromised system as a condition of his retirement and the military’s withdrawal to the political shadows.
This ensures that the broadly reformist parties, known as Concertacion, are permanently divided or drawn into legitimising the economic designs of the heirs of the dictator.
At the last election, the right-wing Coalition for Change, the creation of Pinochet’s ideologue Jaime Guzman, took power under President Sebastian Pinera. The bloody extinction of true democracy that began with the death of Allende was, by stealth, complete.
Pinera is a billionaire who controls a slice of the mining, energy and retail industries. He made his fortune in the aftermath of Pinochet’s coup and during the free-market “experiments” of the zealots from the University of Chicago, known as the Chicago Boys.
His brother and former business partner, Jose Pinera, a labour minister under Pinochet, privatised mining and state pensions and all but destroyed the trade unions.
This was applauded in Washington as an “economic miracle”, a model of the new cult of neo-liberalism that would sweep the continent and ensure control from the north.
Today, Chile is critical to US President Barack Obama’s rollback of the independent democracies in Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela.
Pinera’s closest ally is Washington’s main man, Juan Manuel Santos, the new president of Colombia, which has signed an agreement for seven new US bases and has an infamous human rights record familiar to Chileans who suffered under Pinochet’s terror.
Post-Pinochet Chile has kept its own enduring abuses in shadow. The families still trying to recover from the torture or disappearance of a loved one must bear the prejudice of the state and employers.
Those not silent are the Mapuche people, the only indigenous nation the Spanish conquistadors could not defeat.
In the late 19th century, the European settlers of an independent Chile waged their racist War of Extermination against the Mapuche who were left as impoverished outsiders.
During Allende’s 1000 days in power, this began to change. Some Mapuche lands were returned and a debt of justice was recognised.
Since then, a vicious, largely unreported war has been waged against the Mapuche. Forestry corporations have been allowed to take their land, and their resistance has been met with murders, disappearances and arbitrary prosecutions under “anti-terrorism” laws enacted by the dictatorship.
In their campaigns of civil disobedience, none of the Mapuche has harmed anyone.
The mere accusation of a landowner or businessperson that the Mapuche “might” trespass on their own ancestral lands is often enough for the police to charge them with offences that lead to Kafkaesque trials with faceless witnesses and prison sentences of up to 20 years.
They are, in effect, political prisoners.
While the world rejoices at the spectacle of the miners’ rescue, 38 Mapuche hunger strikers have not been news. They are demanding an end to the Pinochet laws used against them, such as “terrorist arson”, and the justice of a real democracy.
On October 9, all but one of the hunger strikers ended their protest after 90 days without food. A young Mapuche, Luis Marileo, says he will go on.
On October 18, Pinera was due to give a lecture on “current events” at the London School of Economics. He should be reminded of their ordeal and why.
[Reprinted from www.johnpilger.com .]
Posted 19 November 2010 - 04:55 PM
Sunday, November 14, 2010 By John Pilger, London
Tens of thousands of students protested in London on November 10. Photo: coalitionofresistance/Flickr
"Rise like lions after slumber/In unvanquishable number!/Shake your chains to earth, like dew/Which in sleep had fall'n on you/Ye are many —they are few."
These days, the stirring lines of Percy Shelley's "Mask of Anarchy" from 1819 may seem unattainable. I don't think so.
Shelley was both a Romantic and political truth-teller. His words resonate now because only one political course is left to those who are disenfranchised and whose ruin is announced on a British government spreadsheet.
Born of the "never again" spirit of 1945, British social democracy has surrendered to an extreme political cult of money worship. This reached its apogee when £1 trillion of public money was handed unconditionally to corrupt banks by a Labour government whose leader, Gordon Brown, had previously described "financiers" as the nation's "great example" and his personal "inspiration".
This is not to say parliamentary politics is meaningless. It has one meaning now: the replacement of democracy with a business plan for every human activity, every dream, every decency, every hope, every child born.
The old myths of British rectitude, imperial in origin, provided false comfort while the Blair gang built the foundation of the present Conservative-Liberal Democrat "coalition".
This is led by a former PR man for an asset stripper and by a bagman who will inherit his knighthood and the tax-shielded fortune of his father, the 17th Baronet of Ballintaylor. Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne are essentially fossilised spivs who, in colonial times, would have been sent by their daddies to claim foreign terrain and plunder.
Today, they are claiming 21st-century Britain and imposing their vicious, antique ideology, albeit served as economic snake oil. Their designs have nothing to do with a "deficit crisis".
A deficit of 10% is not remotely a crisis. When Britain was officially bankrupt at the end of World War II, the government built its greatest public institutions, such as the National Health Service and the arts edifices of London's South Bank.
There is no economic rationale for the assault described cravenly by the BBC as a "public spending review". The debt is exclusively the responsibility of those who incurred it, the super-rich and the gamblers.
However, that's beside the point. What is happening in Britain is the seizure of an opportunity to destroy the tenuous humanity of the modern state.
It is a coup, a "shock doctrine" as applied to Pinochet's Chile in the 1970s and Boris Yeltsin's Russia in the 1990s.
In Britain, there is no need for tanks in the streets. In its managerial indifference to the freedoms it is said to hold dear, bourgeois Britain has allowed parliament to create a surveillance state with 3000 new criminal offences and laws: more than for the whole of the previous century.
Powers of arrest and detention have never been greater. The police have the impunity to kill; and asylum-seekers can be "restrained" to death on commercial flights.
With playwright Harold Pinter gone, no acclaimed writer or artist dare depart from their well-remunerated vanity. With so much in need of saying, they have nothing to say.
Liberalism, the vainest ideology, has hauled up its ladder. The chief opportunist, Nick Clegg, gave no electoral hint of his odious faction's compliance with the dismantling of much of British postwar society.
The announced theft of £83 billion in jobs and services matches almost exactly the amount of tax legally avoided by piratical corporations. Without fanfare, the super-rich have been assured they can dodge up to £40 billion in tax payments in the secrecy of Swiss banks.
The day this was sewn up, Osborne attacked those who "cheat" the welfare system. He omitted the real amount lost, a minuscule £500 million, and that £10.5 billion in benefit payments was not claimed at all. Labour is his silent partner.
The propaganda arm in the press and broadcasting dutifully presents this as unfortunate but necessary. Mark how the firefighters' strike is "covered".
On October 26 on Channel 4 News, following an item that portrayed modest, courageous people as basically reckless, presenter Jon Snow demanded the leaders of the London Fire Authority and the Fire Brigades Union go straight from the studio and "mediate" now, this minute.
"I'll get the taxis!" he declared. Forget the thousands of jobs that are to be eliminated from the fire service and the public danger beyond Bonfire Night; knock their jolly heads together.
"Good stuff!" said the presenter.
British filmmaker Ken Loach's 1983 documentary series Questions of Leadership opens with a sequence of earnest young trade unionists on platforms, exhorting the masses. They are then shown older, florid, self-satisfied and finally adorned in the ermine of the House of Lords.
Once, at a Durham Miners' Gala, I asked Tony Woodley, now joint general secretary of Unite, "Isn't the problem the clockwork collaboration of the union leadership?"
He almost agreed, implying that the rise of bloods like himself would change that. The British Airways cabin crew strike, over which Woodley presides, is said to have made gains.
Has it? And why haven't the unions risen against totalitarian laws that place free trade unionism in a vice?
The BA workers, the firefighters, the council workers, the post office workers, the National Health Service workers, the London Underground staff, the teachers, the lecturers, the students can more than match the French if they are resolute and imaginative, forging, with the wider social justice movement — potentially the greatest popular resistance ever.
Look at the web; listen to the public's support at fire stations. There is no other way now.
Direct action. Civil disobedience. Unerring. Read Shelley and do it.
[John Pilger's articles can be read at johnpilger.com]
From GLW issue 861
Edited by John Dolva, 19 November 2010 - 04:56 PM.
Posted 08 December 2010 - 05:31 AM
John Pilger: Australians must defend Julian Assange [audio]
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
John Pilger John Pilger was interviewed by ABC Radio Australia on December 3 & 6.
December 3 interview
December 6 interview
Pilger’s latest documentary The War You Don’T See, on the role of the media to be released soon, will also feature an interview with Assange. Visit www.johnpilger.com for more information.
Posted 14 December 2010 - 11:42 AM
Monday, December 13, 2010
By John Pilger
In the US Army manual on counterinsurgency, the American commander General David Petraeus describes Afghanistan as a "war of perception... conducted continuously using the news media". What really matters is not so much the day-to-day battles against the Taliban as the way the adventure is sold in America where "the media directly influence the attitude of key audiences".
Reading this, I was reminded of the Venezuelan general who led a coup against the democratic government in 2002. "We had a secret weapon," he boasted. "We had the media, especially TV. You got to have the media."
Never has so much official energy been expended in ensuring journalists collude with the makers of rapacious wars which, say the media-friendly generals, are now "perpetual".
In echoing the West's more verbose warlords, such as the waterboarding former US vice-president Dick Cheney, who predicated "50 years of war", they plan a state of permanent conflict wholly dependent on keeping at bay an enemy whose name they dare not speak: the public.
At Chicksands in Bedfordshire, the British Ministry of Defence's psychological warfare (Psyops) establishment, media trainers devote themselves to the task, immersed in a jargon world of "information dominance", "asymmetric threats" and "cyberthreats".
They share premises with those who teach the interrogation methods that have led to a public inquiry into British military torture in Iraq. Disinformation and the barbarity of colonial war have much in common.
Of course, only the jargon is new. In the opening sequence of my new film, The War You Don't See, there is reference to a pre-WikiLeaks private conversation in December 1917 between David Lloyd George, Britain's prime minister during much of the First World War, and CP Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian.
"If people really knew the truth," the prime minister said, "the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know."
In the wake of this "war to end all wars", Edward Bernays, a confidante of President Woodrow Wilson, coined the term "public relations" as a euphemism for propaganda "which was given a bad name in the war".
In his 1928 book Propaganda, Bernays described PR as "an invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country" thanks to "the intelligent manipulation of the masses".
This was achieved by "false realities" and their adoption by the media. (One of Bernays' early successes was persuading women to smoke in public. By associating smoking with women's liberation, he achieved headlines that lauded cigarettes as "torches of freedom".)
I began to understand this as a young reporter during the American war in Vietnam. During my first assignment, I saw the results of the bombing of two villages and the use of Napalm B, which continues to burn beneath the skin; many of the victims were children; trees were festooned with body parts.
The lament that "these unavoidable tragedies happen in wars" did not explain why virtually the entire population of South Vietnam was at grave risk from the forces of their declared "ally", the United States.
PR terms such as "pacification" and "collateral damage" became our currency. Almost no reporter used the word "invasion".
"Involvement" and later "quagmire" became staples of a news vocabulary that recognised the killing of civilians merely as tragic mistakes and seldom questioned the good intentions of the invaders.
On the walls of the Saigon bureaus of major American news organisations were often displayed horrific photographs that were never published and rarely sent because it was said they were would "sensationalise" the war by upsetting readers and viewers and therefore were not "objective".
The My Lai massacre in 1968 was not reported from Vietnam, even though a number of reporters knew about it (and other atrocities like it), but by a freelance in the US, Seymour Hersh. The cover of Newsweek magazine called it an "American tragedy", implying that the invaders were the victims: a purging theme enthusiastically taken up by Hollywood in movies such as The Deer Hunter and Platoon.
The war was flawed and tragic, the message does, but the cause was essentially noble. Moreover, it was "lost" thanks to the irresponsibility of a hostile, uncensored media.
Although the opposite of the truth, such false realties became the "lessons" learned by the makers of present-day wars and by much of the media. Following Vietnam, "embedding" journalists became central to war policy on both sides of the Atlantic.
With honourable exceptions, this succeeded, especially in the US. In March 2003, some 700 embedded reporters and camera crews accompanied the invading American forces in Iraq. Watch their excited reports, and it is the liberation of Europe all over again.
The Iraqi people are distant, fleeting bit players; John Wayne had risen again.
The apogee was the victorious entry into Baghdad, and the TV pictures of crowds cheering the felling of a statue of Saddam Hussein. Behind this façade, an American Psyops team successfully manipulated what an ignored US army report describes as a "media circus [with] almost as many reporters as Iraqis".
Rageh Omaar, who was there for the BBC, reported on the main evening news: "People have come out welcoming [the Americans], holding up V-signs. This is an image taking place across the whole of the Iraqi capital."
In fact, across most of Iraq, largely unreported, the bloody conquest and destruction of a whole society was well under way.
In The War You Don't See, Omaar speaks with admirable frankness. "I didn't really do my job properly," he says. "I'd hold my hand up and say that one didn't press the most uncomfortable buttons hard enough."
He describes how British military propaganda successfully manipulated coverage of the fall of Basra, which BBC News 24 reported as having fallen "17 times". This coverage, he says, was "a giant echo chamber".
The sheer magnitude of Iraqi suffering in the onslaught had little place in the news. Standing outside 10 Downing St, on the night of the invasion, Andrew Marr, then the BBC's political editor, declared: "[Tony Blair] said that they would be able to take Baghdad without a bloodbath and that in the end the Iraqis would be celebrating, and on both of those points he has been proved conclusively right... "
I asked Marr for an interview, but received no reply.
In studies of the television coverage by the University of Wales, Cardiff, and Media Tenor, the BBC's coverage was found to reflect overwhelmingly the government line and that reports of civilian suffering were relegated. Media Tenor places the BBC and America's CBS at the bottom of a league of western broadcasters in the time they allotted to opposition to the invasion.
"I am perfectly open to the accusation that we were hoodwinked," said BBC presenter Jeremy Paxman, talking about Iraq's non-existent weapons of mass destruction to a group of students last year. "Clearly we were."
As a highly paid professional broadcaster, he omitted to say why he was hoodwinked.
Dan Rather, who was the CBS news anchor for 24 years, was less reticent. "There was a fear in every newsroom in America," he told me, "a fear of losing your job... the fear of being stuck with some label, unpatriotic or otherwise."
Rather says war has made "stenographers out of us" and that had journalists questioned the deceptions that led to the Iraq war, instead of amplifying them, the invasion would not have happened.
This is a view now shared by a number of senior journalists I interviewed in the US.
In Britain, David Rose, whose Observer articles played a major part in falsely linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaida and 9/11, gave me a courageous interview in which he said: "I can make no excuses ... What happened [in Iraq] was a crime, a crime on a very large scale."
"Does that make journalists accomplices?" I asked him.
"Yes ... unwitting perhaps, but yes."
What is the value of journalists speaking like this? The answer is provided by the great British reporter James Cameron, whose brave and revealing filmed report, made with Malcolm Aird, of the bombing of civilians in North Vietnam was banned by the BBC.
"If we who are meant to find out what the bastards are up to, if we don't report what we find, if we don't speak up," he told me, "who's going to stop the whole bloody business happening again?"
Cameron (who died in 1985) could not have imagined a modern phenomenon such as WikiLeaks, but he would have surely approved.
In the current avalanche of official documents, especially those that describe the secret machinations that lead to war — such as the American mania over Iran — the failure of journalism is rarely noted.
And perhaps the reason Julian Assange seems to excite such hostility among journalists serving a variety of "lobbies", those whom George W. Bush's press spokesman once called "complicit enablers", is that WikiLeaks and its truth-telling shames them.
Why has the public had to wait for WikiLeaks to find out how great power really operates? As a leaked 2000-page British Ministry of Defence document reveals, the most effective journalists are those who are regarded in places of power not as embedded or clubbable, but as a "threat".
This is the threat of real democracy, whose "currency", said Thomas Jefferson, is "free flowing information".
In my film, I asked Assange how WikiLeaks dealt with the draconian secrecy laws for which Britain is famous. "Well," he said, "when we look at the Official Secrets Act labelled documents, we see a statement that it is an offence to retain the information and it is an offence to destroy the information, so the only possible outcome is that we have to publish the information".
These are extraordinary times.
[Originally published at www.johnpilger.com . Below: clips from The War You Don't See.]
Edited by John Dolva, 14 December 2010 - 11:44 AM.
Posted 26 January 2011 - 05:58 PM
The war on Wikileaks: John Pilger interviews Julian Assange
Tuesday, January 25, 2011 By John Pilger
Renowned investigative journalist and film maker John Pilger interviewed Wikileaks editor-in chief on January 13. For more information on Pilger's work, visit www.johnpilger.com .
More Wikileaks coverage:
Bradley Manning should be free
Critics failing to silence Wikileaks
Wikileaks case studies: US cynical complicity with killers revealed
Wikileaks: Lies and secrets shows our power
Phillip Adams: Resist attempts to silence Wikileaks
Wikileaks exposes secret diplomace
Israel: Wikileaks reveals US, Arab elite complicity
Hundreds rally for Wikileaks
Resistance defends Wikileaks
* * *
The attacks on WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, are a response to an information revolution that threatens old power orders, in politics and journalism. The incitement to murder trumpeted by public figures in the United States, together with attempts by the Obama administration to corrupt the law and send Assange to a hell hole prison for the rest of his life, are the reactions of a rapacious system exposed as never before.
In recent weeks, the US Justice Department has established a secret grand jury just across the river from Washington in the eastern district of the state of Virginia. The object is to indict Julian Assange under a discredited espionage act used to arrest peace activists during the first world war, or one of the “war on terror” conspiracy statutes that have degraded American justice.
Judicial experts describe the jury as a “deliberate set up”, pointing out that this corner of Virginia is home to the employees and families of the Pentagon, CIA, Department of Homeland Security and other pillars of American power.
“This is not good news,” Assange told me when we spoke this past week, his voice dark and concerned. He says he can have “bad days – but I recover”. When we met in London last year, I said, “You are making some very serious enemies, not least of all the most powerful government engaged in two wars. How do you deal with that sense of danger?” His reply was characteristically analytical. “It’s not that fear is absent. But courage is really the intellectual mastery over fear – by an understanding of what the risks are, and how to navigate a path through them.”
Regardless of the threats to his freedom and safety, he says the US is not WikiLeaks’ main “technological enemy”. “China is the worst offender. China has aggressive, sophisticated interception technology that places itself between every reader inside China and every information source outside China. We’ve been fighting a running battle to make sure we can get information through, and there are now all sorts of ways Chinese readers can get on to our site.”
It was in this spirit of “getting information through” that WikiLeaks was founded in 2006, but with a moral dimension. “The goal is justice,” wrote Assange on the homepage, “the method is transparency.” Contrary to a current media mantra, WikiLeaks material is not “dumped”.
Less than one per cent of the 251,000 US embassy cables have been released. As Assange points out, the task of interpreting material and editing that which might harm innocent individuals demands “standards [befitting] higher levels of information and primary sources”. To secretive power, this is journalism at its most dangerous.
On 18 March 2008, a war on WikiLeaks was foretold in a secret Pentagon document prepared by the “Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch”. US intelligence, it said, intended to destroy the feeling of “trust” which is WikiLeaks’ “centre of gravity”. It planned to do this with threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution”. Silencing and criminalising this rare source of independent journalism was the aim, smear the method. Hell hath no fury like imperial mafiosi scorned.
Others, also scorned, have lately played a supporting part, intentionally or not, in the hounding of Assange, some for reasons of petty jealousy. Sordid and shabby describe their behaviour, which serves only to highlight the injustice against a man who has courageously revealed what we have a right to know.
As the US Justice Department, in its hunt for Assange, subpoenas the Twitter and email accounts, banking and credit card records of people around the world – as if we are all subjects of the United States – much of the “free” media on both sides of the Atlantic direct their indignation at the hunted.
“So, Julian, why won’t you go back to Sweden now?” demanded the headline over Catherine Bennett’s Observer column on 19 December, which questioned Assange’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct with two women in Stockholm last August.
“To keep delaying the moment of truth, for this champion of fearless disclosure and total openness,” wrote Bennett, “could soon begin to look pretty dishonest, as well as inconsistent.” Not a word in Bennett’s vitriol considered the looming threats to Assange’s basic human rights and his physical safety, as described by Geoffrey Robertson QC, in the extradition hearing in London on 11 January.
In response to Bennett, the editor of the online Nordic News Network in Sweden, Al Burke, wrote to the Observer explaining that “plausible answers to Catherine Bennett’s tendentious question” were both critically important and freely available.
Assange had remained in Sweden for more than five weeks after the rape allegation was made -- and subsequently dismissed by the chief prosecutor in Stockholm – and that repeated attempts by him and his Swedish lawyer to meet a second prosecutor, who re-opened the case following the intervention of a government politician, had failed.
And yet, as Burke pointed out, this prosecutor had granted him permission to fly to London where “he also offered to be interviewed – a normal practice in such cases”. So it seems odd, at the very least, that the prosecutor then issued a European Arrest Warrant. The Observer did not publish Burke’s letter.
This record-straightening is crucial because it describes the perfidious behaviour of the Swedish authorities – a bizarre sequence confirmed to me by other journalists in Stockholm and by Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig.
Not only that; Burke catalogued the unforeseen danger Assange faces should he be extradited to Sweden. “Documents released by Wikileaks since Assange moved to England,” he wrote, “clearly indicate that Sweden has consistently submitted to pressure from the United States in matters relating to civil rights. There is ample reason for concern that if Assange were to be taken into custody by Swedish authorities, he could be turned over to the United States without due consideration of his legal rights.”
These documents have been virtually ignored in Britain. They show that the Swedish political class has moved far from the perceived neutrality of a generation ago and that the country’s military and intelligence apparatus is all but absorbed into Washington’s matrix around NATO.
In a 2007 cable, the US embassy in Stockholm lauds the Swedish government dominated by the conservative Moderate Party of prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt as coming “from a new political generation and not bound by [anti-US] traditions [and] in practice a pragmatic and strong partner with NATO, having troops under NATO command in Kosovo and Afghanistan”.
The cable reveals how foreign policy is largely controlled by Carl Bildt, the current foreign minister, whose career has been based on a loyalty to the United States that goes back to the Vietnam war when he attacked Swedish public television for broadcasting evidence that the US was bombing civilian targets.
Bildt played a leading role in the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a lobby group with close ties to the White House of George W. Bush, the CIA and the far right of the Republican Party.
“The significance of all this for the Assange case,” notes Burke in a recent study, “is that it will be Carl Bildt and perhaps other members of the Reinfeldt government who will decide – openly or, more likely, furtively behind a façade of legal formality – on whether or not to approve the anticipated US request for extradition. Everything in their past clearly indicates that such a request will be granted.”
For example, in December 2001, with the “war on terror” under way, the Swedish government abruptly revoked the political refugee status of two Egyptians, Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed al-Zari. They were handed to a CIA kidnap squad at Stockholm airport and “rendered” to Egypt, where they were tortured. When the Swedish Ombudsman for Justice investigated and found that their human rights had been “seriously violated”, it was too late.
The implications for the Assange case are clear. Both men were removed without due process of law and before their lawyers could file appeals to the European Human Rights Court, and in response to a US threat to impose a trade embargo on Sweden. Last year, Assange applied for residency in Sweden, hoping to base Wikileaks there.
It is widely believed that Washington warned Sweden through mutual intelligence contacts of the potential consequences. In December, Prosecutor Marianne Ny, who re-activated the Assange case, discussed the possibility of Assange’s extradition to the US on her website.
Almost six months after the sex allegations were first made public, Julian Assange has been charged with no crime, but his right to a presumption of innocence has been wilfully denied. The unfolding events in Sweden have been farcical, at best.
The Australian barrister James Catlin, who acted for Assange in October, describes the Swedish justice system as “a laughing stock… There is no precedent for it. The Swedes are making it up as they go along”. He says that Assange, apart from noting contradictions in the case, has not publicly criticised the women who made the allegations against him. It was the police who tipped off the Swedish equivalent of the Sun, Expressen, with defamatory material about them, initiating a trial by media across the world.
In Britain, this trial has welcomed yet more eager prosecutors, with the BBC to the fore. There was no presumption of innocence in Kirsty Wark’s Newsnight court in December. “Why don’t you just apologise to the women?” she demanded of Assange, followed by: “Do we have your word of honour that you won’t abscond?” On Radio 4’s Today programme, John Humphrys, the partner of Catherine Bennett, told Assange that he was obliged to go back to Sweden “because the law says you must”.
The hectoring Humphrys, however, had more pressing interests. “Are you a sexual predator?” he asked. Assange replied that the suggestion was ridiculous, to which Humphrys demanded to know how many women he had slept with.
“Would even Fox News have descended to that level?” wondered the American historian William Blum. “I wish Assange had been raised in the streets of Brooklyn, as I was. He then would have known precisely how to reply to such a question: ‘You mean including your mother?’”
What is most striking about these “interviews” is not so much their arrogance and lack of intellectual and moral humility; it is their indifference to fundamental issues of justice and freedom and their imposition of narrow, prurient terms of reference.
Fixing these boundaries allows the interviewer to diminish the journalistic credibility of Assange and WikliLeaks, whose remarkable achievements stand in vivid contrast to their own. It is like watching the old and stale, guardians of the status quo, struggling to prevent the emergence of the new.
In this media trial, there is a tragic dimension, obviously for Assange, but also for the best of mainstream journalism. Having published a slew of professionally brilliant editions with the WikiLeaks disclosures, feted all over the world, the Guardian recovered its establishment propriety on 17 December by turning on its besieged source.
A major article by the paper’s senior correspondent Nick Davies claimed that he had been given the “complete” Swedish police file with its “new” and “revealing” salacious morsels.
Assange’s Swedish lawyer Bjorn Hurtig says that crucial evidence is missing from the file given to Davies, including “the fact that the women were re-interviewed and given an opportunity to change their stories” and the tweets and SMS messages between them, which are “critical to bringing justice in this case”.
Vital exculpatory evidence is also omitted, such as the statement by the original prosecutor, Eva Finne, that “Julian Assange is not suspected of rape”.
Having reviewed the Davies article, Assange’s former barrister James Catlin wrote to me: “The complete absence of due process is the story and Davies ignores it. Why does due process matter? Because the massive powers of two arms of government are being brought to bear against the individual whose liberty and reputation are at stake.” I would add: so is his life.
The Guardian has profited hugely from the Wikileaks disclosures, in many ways. On the other hand, WikiLeaks, which survives on mostly small donations and can no longer receive funds through many banks and credit companies thanks to the bullying of Washington, has received nothing from the paper.
In February, Random House will publish a Guardian book that is sure to be a lucrative best-seller, which Amazon is advertising as The End of Secrecy: the Rise and Fall of WikiLeaks.
When I asked David Leigh, the Guardian executive in charge of the book, what was meant by “fall”, he replied that Amazon was wrong and that the working title had been The Rise (and Fall?) of WikiLeaks.
“Note parenthesis and query,” he wrote, “Not meant for publication anyway.” (The book is now described on the Guardian website as WikiLeaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy).
Still, with all that duly noted, the sense is that “real” journalists are back in the saddle. Too bad about the new boy, who never really belonged.
On January 11, Assange’s first extradition hearing was held at Belmarsh Magistrates Court, an infamous address because it is here that people were, before the advent of control orders, consigned to Britain’s own Guantanamo, Belmarsh prison. The change from ordinary Westminster magistrates’ court was due to a lack of press facilities, according to the authorities. That they announced this on the day US Vice President Joe Biden declared Assange a “high tech terrorist” was no doubt coincidental, though the message was not.
For his part, Julian Assange is just as worried about what will happen to Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower, being held in horrific conditions which the US National Commission on Prisons calls “tortuous”.
At 23, Private Manning is the world’s pre-eminent prisoner of conscience, having remained true to the Nuremberg Principle that every soldier has the right to “a moral choice”. His suffering mocks the notion of the land of the free.
“Government whistleblowers”, said Barack Obama, running for president in 2008, “are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal.” Obama has since pursued and prosecuted more whistleblowers than any other president in American history.
“Cracking Bradley Manning is the first step,” Assange told me. “The aim clearly is to break him and force a confession that he somehow conspired with me to harm the national security of the United States. In fact, I’d never heard his name before it was published in the press. WikiLeaks technology was designed from the very beginning to make sure that we never knew the identities or names of people submitting material. We are as untraceable as we are uncensorable. That’s the only way to assure sources they are protected.”
He adds: “I think what’s emerging in the mainstream media is the awareness that if I can be indicted, other journalists can, too. Even the New York Times is worried. This used not to be the case. If a whistleblower was prosecuted, publishers and reporters were protected by the First Amendment that journalists took for granted. That’s being lost. The release of the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, with their evidence of the killing of civilians, hasn’t caused this – it’s the exposure and embarrassment of the political class: the truth of what governments say in secret, how they lie in public; how wars are started. They don’t want the public to know these things and scapegoats must be found.”
What about the allusions to the “fall” of Wikileaks?
“There is no fall,” he said. “We have never published as much as we are now. WikiLeaks is now mirrored on more than 2,000 websites. I can’t keep track of the of the spin-off sites: those who are doing their own WikiLeaks... If something happens to me or to WikiLeaks, ‘insurance’ files will be released. They speak more of the same truth to power, including the media. There are 504 US embassy cables on one broadcasting organisation and there are cables on Murdoch and Newscorp.”
The latest propaganda about the “damage” caused by WikiLeaks is a warning by the US State Department to “hundreds of human rights activists, foreign government officials and business people identified in leaked diplomatic cables of possible threats to their safety”.
This was how the New York Times dutifully relayed it on January 8, and it is bogus. In a letter to Congress, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates has admitted that no sensitive intelligence sources have been compromised. On 28 November, McClatchy Newspapers reported that “US officials conceded they have no evidence to date that the [prior] release of documents led to anyone’s death.” NATO in Kabul told CNN it could not find a single person who needed protecting.
The great American playwright Arthur Miller wrote: “The thought that the state… is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied.”
What WikiLeaks has given us is truth, including rare and precious insight into how and why so many innocent people have suffered in reigns of terror disguised as wars, and executed in our name; and how the United States has secretly and wantonly intervened in democratic governments from Latin America to its most loyal ally in Britain.
Javier Moreno, the editor of El Pais, which published the WikiLeaks logs in Spain, wrote, “I believe that the global interest sparked by the WikiLeaks papers is mainly due to the simple fact that they conclusively reveal the extent to which politicians in the West have been lying to their citizens.”
Crushing individuals like Julian Assange and Bradley Manning is not difficult for a great power, however craven. The point is, we should not allow it to happen, which means those of us meant to keep the record straight should not collaborate in any way.
Transparency and information, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, are the “currency” of democratic freedom. “Every news organisation,” a leading American constitutional lawyer told me, “should recognise that Julian Assange is one of them, and that his prosecution will have a huge and chilling effect on journalism”.
My favourite secret document -- leaked by WikiLeaks, of course – is from the Ministry of Defence in London. It describes journalists who serve the public without fear or favour as “subversive” and “threats”.
Such a badge of honour.
Posted 28 June 2011 - 04:58 PM
John Pilger's new film 'The War You Don't See' is released online for the first time. You can watch the film online (worldwide excluding Australia) for $4.99
On 7 June 2011, the Lannan Foundation in the United States banned the film and cancelled a visit by John Pilger without explanation. Read John Pilger's response to Patrick Lannan's subsequent statement about the cancellation.
'The War You Don't See' premiered at the Barbican in London on Tuesday 7 December 2010 and on British television on Tuesday 14 December 2010. It is also available to buy on DVD in the UK and in Australia.
John Pilger will be speaking about 'The War You Don't See' on 10 July at Duke of York's Picturehouse, Brighton.
Reviews: The Guardian | Total Film | Time Out | Little White Lies | The Quietus | Cine Vue | ABC News
Watch the trailer | John Pilger - Why are wars not being reported honestly? | Watch Democracy Now! interview with John Pilger about the film | Read New Internationalist interview with John Pilger about the film | Listen to a BBC Radio 4 interview with John Pilger about the film
More info about the film.
Posted 13 July 2011 - 02:24 PM
12 May 2011
The illegal eavesdropping on famous people by the News of the World is said to be Rupert Murdoch’s Watergate. But is it the crime by which Murdoch ought to be known? In his native land, Australia, Murdoch controls 70 per cent of the capital city press. Australia is the world’s first murdochracy, in which smear by media is power.
The most enduring and insidious Murdoch campaign has been against the Aboriginal people, who were dispossessed by the arrival of the British in the late 18th century and have never been allowed to recover. “Nigger hunts” continued into the 1960s and beyond. The officially-inspired theft of children from Aboriginal families, justified by the racist theories of the eugenics movement, produced those known as the Stolen Generation and in 1997 was identified as genocide. Today, the first Australians have the shortest life expectancy of any of the world’s 90 indigenous peoples. Australia imprisons Aborigines at five times the rate South Africa during the apartheid years. In the state of Western Australia, the figure is eight times the apartheid rate.
Political power in Australia often rests in the control of resource-rich land. Most of the uranium, iron ore, gold, oil and natural gas is in Western Australia and Northern Territory – on Aboriginal land. Indeed, Aboriginal “progress” is all but defined by the mining industry and its political guardians in both Labor and coalition (conservative) governments. Their faithful, strident voice is the Murdoch press. The exceptional, reformist Labor government of Gough Whitlam in the 1970s set up a royal commission that made clear that social justice for Australia’s first people would only be achieved with universal land rights and a share the national wealth with dignity. In 1975, Whitlam was sacked by the governor-general in a “constitutional coup”. The Murdoch press had turned on Whitlam with such venom that rebellious journalists on The Australian burned their newspaper in the street.
In 1984, the Labor Party “solemnly pledged” to finish what Whitlam had begun and legislate Aboriginal land rights. This was opposed by the then Labor prime minister, Bob Hawke, a “mate” of Rupert Murdoch. Hawke blamed the public for being “less compassionate”; but a secret 64-page report to the party revealed that most Australians supported land rights. This was leaked to The Australian, whose front page declared, “Few support Aboriginal land rights”, the opposite of the truth, thus feeding an atmosphere of self-fulfilling distrust, “backlash” and rejection of rights that would distinguish Australia from South Africa. In 1988, an editorial in Murdoch’s London tabloid, the Sun, described “the Abos” as “treacherous and brutal”. This was condemned by the UK Press Council as “unacceptably racist”.
The Australian publishes long articles that present Aboriginal people not unsympathetically but as perennial victims of each other, “an entire culture committing suicide”, or as noble primitives requiring firm direction: the eugenicist’s view. It promotes Aboriginal “leaders” who, by blaming their own people for their poverty, tell the white elite what it wants to hear. The writer Michael Brull parodied this: “Oh White man, please save us. Take away our rights because we are so backward.”
This is also the government’s view. In railing against what it called the “black armband view” of Australia’s past, the conservative government of John Howard encouraged and absorbed the views of white supremacists -- that there was no genocide, no Stolen Generation, no racism; indeed, whites are the victims of “liberal racism”. A collection of far-right journalists, minor academics and hangers-on became the antipodean equivalent of David Irving Holocaust deniers. Their platform has been the Murdoch press.
Andrew Bolt, columnist on Murdoch’s Melbourne Herald-Sun tabloid, is currently the defendant in a racial vilification case brought by nine prominent Aborigines, including Larissa Behrendt, a professor of law and indigenous studies in Sydney. Behrendt has been an authoritative and outspoken opponent of Howard’s 2007 “emergency intervention” in the Northern Territory, which the Labor government of Julia Gillard has reinforced. The rationale to “intervene” was that child abuse among Aborigines was in “unthinkable numbers”. This was a fraud. Out of 7,433 Aboriginal children examined by doctors, four possible cases were identified – about the rate of child abuse in white Australia. What this covered was an old-fashioned colonial grab of mineral-rich land in the Northern Territory where Aboriginal land rights were granted in 1976.
The Murdoch press has been the most lurid and vociferous in its promotion of the “intervention”, which a United Nations special rapporteur has condemned for its racial discrimination. Once again, Australian politicians are dispossessing the first inhabitants, demanding leasehold of land in return for health and education rights that whites take for granted and driving them into “economically viable hubs” where they will be effectively detained -- a form of apartheid.
The outrage and despair of most Aboriginal people is not heard. For using her institutional voice and exposing the government’s black supporters, Larissa Behrendt has been subjected to a vicious campaign of innuendo in the Murdoch press, including the implication that she is not a “real” Aborigine. Using the language of its soulmate the London Sun, the Australian derides the “abstract debate” of “land rights, apologies, treaties” as a “moralizing mumbo-jumbo spreading like a virus”. The aim is to silence those who dare tell Australia’s dirty secret.
Posted 30 September 2011 - 10:51 PM
Welcome to the new John Pilger website
Welcome to the new John Pilger website, a remarkable resource and historical record and now arguably the most comprehensive online collection of the work of a leading journalist. For the first time, the majority of John Pilger's 58 films for television and cinema can be viewed online. New features include a video and article search, a newsletter, social media tools and an RSS feed. The site's relaunch has been made possible by the University of Lincoln, which is preparing a complete digital archive of John Pilger's work.
Posted 03 November 2011 - 04:07 PM
- Grierson 2011: The British Documentary Awards
Established in 1972, the Grierson Awards recognise and celebrate documentaries from Britain and abroad that have made a significant contribution to the genre and that demonstrate quality, integrity, creativity, originality and overall excellence.
Awards are given in a number of categories, including Arts, History, Science and Contemporary Theme, as well as to first time and student filmmakers.
The Grierson Trust
Registered Charity Nº: 1100784
Company Registration Nº: 485517
JOHN PILGER HONOURED IN TOP DOCUMENTARY AWARDS The Grierson Trustees in London have announced that its top award for 2011 has been won by John Pilger for his "outstanding contribution to the art or craft of documentary making". Given in memory of the pioneer of the documentary, John Grierson, this is "the most coveted prize of the British Documentary Awards".
Dawn Airey, Chair of the Grierson Trust, said: "John Pilger is one of the world's great documentary producers. His work has uncovered atrocity, probled the underbelly of society, sparked controversy and challenged the heart of democracy. The Grierson Trust is proud and thrilled to honour John with its most prestigious award."
Posted 17 January 2012 - 02:45 PM
The party game is over. Stand and fight
4 November 2010
"Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth, like dew
Which in sleep had fall'n on you:
Ye are many - they are few."
These days, the stirring lines of Percy Shelley's "Mask of Anarchy" may seem unattainable. I don't think so. Shelley was both a Romantic and political truth-teller. His words resonate now because only one political course is left to those who are disenfranchised and whose ruin is announced on a government spreadsheet.
Born of the "never again" spirit of 1945, social democracy has surrendered to an extreme political cult of money worship. This reached its apogee when £1trn of public money was handed unconditionally to corrupt banks by a Labour government whose leader, Gordon Brown, had previously described "financiers" as the nation's "great example" and his personal "inspiration".
This is not to say parliamentary politics is meaningless. It has one meaning now: the replacement of democracy with a business plan for every human activity, every dream, every decency, every hope, every child born.
The old myths of British rectitude, imperial in origin, provided false comfort while the Blair gang built the foundation of the present "coalition". This is led by a former PR man for an asset stripper and by a bagman who will inherit his knighthood and the tax-shielded fortune of his father, the 17th Baronet of Ballintaylor. David Cameron and George Osborne are essentially fossilised spivs who, in colonial times, would have been sent by their daddies to claim foreign terrain and plunder.
Today, they are claiming 21st-century Britain and imposing their vicious, antique ideology, albeit served as economic snake oil. Their designs have nothing to do with a "deficit crisis". A deficit of 10 per cent is not remotely a crisis. When Britain was officially bankrupt at the end of the Second World War, the government built its greatest public institutions, such as the National Health Service and the arts edifices of London's South Bank.
There is no economic rationale for the assault described cravenly by the BBC as a "public spending review". The debt is exclusively the responsibility of those who incurred it, the super-rich and the gamblers. However, that's beside the point. What is happening in Britain is the seizure of an opportunity to destroy the tenuous humanity of the modern state. It is a coup, a "shock doctrine" as applied to Pinochet's Chile and Yeltsin's Russia.
In Britain, there is no need for tanks in the streets. In its managerial indifference to the freedoms it is said to hold dear, bourgeois Britain has allowed parliament to create a surveillance state with 3,000 new criminal offences and laws: more than for the whole of the previous century. Powers of arrest and detention have never been greater. The police have the impunity to kill; and asylum-seekers can be "restrained" to death on commercial flights.
Athol Fugard is right. With Harold Pinter gone, no acclaimed writer or artist dare depart from their well-remunerated vanity. With so much in need of saying, they have nothing to say. Liberalism, the vainest ideology, has hauled up its ladder. The chief opportunist, Nick Clegg, gave no electoral hint of his odious faction's compliance with the dismantling of much of British postwar society. The theft of £83bn in jobs and services matches almost exactly the amount of tax legally avoided by piratical corporations. Without fanfare, the super-rich have been assured they can dodge up to £40bn in tax payments in the secrecy of Swiss banks. The day this was sewn up, Osborne attacked those who "cheat" the welfare system. He omitted the real amount lost, a minuscule £0.5bn, and that £10.5bn in benefit payments was not claimed at all. Labour is his silent partner.
The propaganda arm in the press and broadcasting dutifully presents this as unfortunate but necessary. Mark how the firefighters' action is "covered". On Channel 4 News, following an item that portrayed modest, courageous people as basically reckless, Jon Snow demanded that the leaders of the London Fire Authority and the Fire Brigades Union go straight from the studio and "mediate" now, this minute. "I'll get the taxis!" he declared. Forget the thousands of jobs that are to be eliminated from the fire service and the public danger beyond Bonfire Night; knock their jolly heads together. "Good stuff!" said the presenter.
Ken Loach's 1983 documentary series Questions of Leadership opens with a sequence of earnest young trade unionists on platforms, exhorting the masses. They are then shown older, florid, self-satisfied and finally adorned in the ermine of the House of Lords. Once, at a Durham Miners' Gala, I asked Tony Woodley, now joint general secretary of Unite, "Isn't the problem the clockwork collaboration of the union leadership?" He almost agreed, implying that the rise of bloods like himself would change that. The British Airways cabin crew strike, over which Woodley presides, is said to have made gains. Has it? And why haven't the unions risen against totalitarian laws that place free trade unionism in a vice?
The BA workers, the firefighters, the council workers, the post office workers, the NHS workers, the London Underground staff, the teachers, the lecturers, the students can more than match the French if they are resolute and imaginative, forging, with the wider social justice movement, potentially the greatest popular resistance ever. Look at the web; listen to the public's support at fire stations. There is no other way now. Direct action. Civil disobedience. Unerring. Read Shelley and do it.
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