Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hell hath no fury like an empire mocked

By Pepe Escobar

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised. 
The revolution will be no rerun brothers; 
The revolution will be live. 
- Gill Scott-Heron, 1970 

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned
Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned. 
- William Congreve, The Mourning Bride, 1697 

No episode of Law and Order or The Good Wife can top this. 

It all seemed to boil down to the not-insignificant detail of finding, in a rush, a mere US$315,000 in cash. 

By 3:25 pm GMT on Tuesday, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had been granted bail by a London court. Sure, the conditions were more suitable to someone accused of being an al-Qaeda mole: bail to the amount of said $315,000 in cash only; curfew from 10am-2pm and 10pm-2am; reporting to a police station at 6pm every day; surrendering his passport; and carrying an electronic ankle bracelet. But at least he would be free. 

Well, not really. Two hours later, Assange was rerouted back to the slammer; the Swedish prosecution had appealed the ruling. For another 48 hours at least, Assange would remain in Wandsworth prison, under conditions his lawyer Mark Stephens described as "Orwellian", "Dickensian", "Victorian" or all of the above. 

The cliffhanger unraveled as in a wild and wacky Cannes Film Festival red carpet extravaganza - complete with media scrum, flash bulbs exploding, frantic straight-from-court twittering and supporting celebs from Jemima Goldsmith to Ken Loach and Benazir Bhutto's niece. And all this engendered by accusations of rape brought by erstwhile Assange groupies Anna Ardin and Miss W, the twin Scandinavian version of Congreve's "a woman scorned". That wouldn't even be considered rape under English law, according to Assange lawyer Geoffrey Robertson. Thus, if this is no rape, there's no reason for extraditing Assange to Sweden - and from Sweden to the US, as selected "patriotic" American pitchfork mobs are clamoring for. 

Saint Julian or Assange the Rapist? 
Oh, the dangerous liaisons between sex and press freedom. 

Speaking outside the court immediately after Assange was (not) freed on bail, Vaughan Smith, the founder of the FrontLine club in west London, tried hard to frame the pertinent level of the debate. He said, "This is not just about press freedom, it is about the Internet. As journalists, we should be very concerned about the possibility of legislation that would restrict our freedom. Assange has held up a very large mirror in front of journalists. Journalists are concerned by the reflection they see." 

Before all the courtly sound and fury, Assange had won the readers poll in Time magazine's person of the year for 2010, way ahead of second place, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the same Erdogan who US diplomats, in WikiLeaks' "cablegate", described as a dangerous anti-American Islamist. 

Now couple this progressive Assange/Erdogan double bill with a CNN poll where 44% of Britons declared themselves sure that the Swedish sex charges against Assange are "an excuse" to keep him in custody so he can be prosecuted by the US government. Oh, those dangerous liaisons between sex and press freedom, again. 

And all this after Assange had sent a message to the world via his mum, Christine, relayed to the Australian news site Seven News. In it, Assange didn't fail to drop a bombshell, "We now know that Visa, Mastercard and PayPal are instruments of US foreign policy. It's not something we knew before." Now that's a front page, if there ever was one. 

So who gives the chief executive officers of Amazon, Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, Facebook, Twitter and, sooner rather than later, Google - all private corporations who exercise a barely-disguised Internet monopoly - the right to act as editors of what sort of information public opinion should have access to? Mega-corporations making public-interest political decisions? World public opinion may say: "OK, you can buy the US Congress as much as you want, but don't mess with our right to choose." 

Instead of following the - granted, gripping - made-in-Scandinavia sex saga, the whole world ought to be discussing the really key issue of the times. Who is bound to benefit the most from crucial information leaks? Will it be relentlessly hegemonic hyper-capitalism and its minions? Or will it be democratic, anti-hegemonic global social movements - in sum, people power? 

Were the great Herbert Marcuse alive, he would already be warning that the empire is very quick in learning, and profiting from, the WikiLeaks lesson. 

Realists already expect fresh imperial, "anti-terrorist" legislation. It doesn't matter that former Central Intelligence Agency analyst Ray McGovern has stressed a key point to CNN: Pentagon head Robert Gates said the WikiLeaks cables do not put American lives in danger (these reports are "greatly overwrought", said Gates). The North Atlantic Treaty Organization also said: "no sources have been compromised". Even AfPak supremo General David "I'm always positioning myself to 2012" Petraeus said the same thing. But that should not be enough to appease the power elite establishment, with its slimy coterie of sycophants, ideological gangsters and assorted parasites, all frothing at the mouth and eager to take out Assange. 

They lost control, again 
Make no mistake on what the real "new world order" is all about: the battlefield reads like a resistance movement to the appropriation of information technology by the power elites. The eagerness to silence if not take out Assange by all means necessary reveals the true face of the emperor: I shall have undisputed, indivisible control over any technology. 

Naturally, even WikiLeaks itself is not immune to the battle. An apparent orgy of transparency may reveal no more than a smokescreen. Assange himself has always complained that alternative media has never been able to fully analyze and synthesize the torrents of data in WikiLeaks' massive document releases. Yet vast swathes of world public opinion are having access to "cablegate" mostly via WikiLeaks' mainstream media partners. They select, edit and find their "angle" to release the cables. That is, they manipulate them. 

There's no reason for anyone to swallow the spin applied by Le Monde, El Pais or The New York Times. There are numerous examples already of how a passing, innocuous opinion by a US diplomat becomes an indisputable fact if skillfully spun. Nothing compares to the public reading the cables themselves (WikiLeaks is already mirrored in 1,885 sites, and counting). 

On a parallel track, the net is overflowing with conspiracy theories stating that WikiLeaks is nothing but a very sophisticated psy ops – including the assertion that Assange was handsomely paid by Israel to delete any embarrassing cables (as if Israel was not embarrassed enough already for what it is perpetrating in Palestine). True, WikiLeaks should also be scrutinized for what it is not disclosing. 

But there are problems with the Israel psy-ops scenario. A writer may - or may not - have heard this from Daniel Domscheit-Berg, a former, disgruntled Assange collaborator who is now launching his own whistle-blowing site, OpenLeaks, whose main differential will be to release leaks in smaller volume, and more slowly. As it stands, the best source on all these developments is WikiRebels, an enlightening one-hour documentary by Sweden's public television SVT, which may be watched here: here

The sack of Rome 
One does not need to possess Michel Foucault's analytical powers to be extremely suspicious of how the power elites, be they in Sweden or the US, and always in the name of "freedom", "security" and a market-friendly consensus, try to impose their own hegemonic brand of transparency. 

Sweden has managed to circumscribe and frame virtually every overtone of freedom and unpredictability in the realm of sexual relations - with the extra bonus that everything can be furiously dissected/inspected. 

So beware those fornicators whose condoms malfunction in the middle of the proceedings! And be 100% sure that in each and every second of the nitty gritty there is irrefutable, foolproof mutual consent. Otherwise, you're a rapist. Once again, it sounds like a "liberal" re-run of Monty Python's Spanish Inquisition sketch. Confess! Confess! The Orgy of Transparency meets the Joy of Inquisition. 

And that's where Saint Julian the Apostle (of freedom of expression) converges with Assange the Rapist, the Martyr of Transparency. And this in a country that has one of the more advanced freedom of expression laws in the world. 

Deep down, it gets shabbier. From Naomi Klein to Naomi Wolf, it's clear to every thoughtful woman that Assange's Scandinavian groupies thought they were enraptured by "love". Well, it was just a one-night stand piled up on another - and how horrible to find out, in a "girlish" chat, that "love" was in fact "betrayal" by the usual soulless, chauvinist male. Who would have thought that Scandinavia harbors "women scorned" who believe in Hollywood fairy tales. Worse yet: cultured, fiercely independent women in both Europe and the US who take Hollywood for what it is consider it deeply humiliating for this chameleon Swedish law to infantilize women to such an extent. 

And since we're talking about sex, how not to refer to the poetic coincidence of this latest courtroom drama happening the same day when Italian Prime Minister Silvio "Il Cavaliere" Berlusconi, who Wiki cables basically depict as a greedy, irresponsible nutcase fond of cavorting with nymphs at Nero-style parties, barely survived a non-confidence vote and immediately afterwards Rome was (literally) burning in rage. Makes one think of Nero in reverse. 

Yet make no mistake: it's not only Ancient Rome that's burning. It's the whole empire. Hardcore hyper-capitalism may be simultaneously a Terminator and a giant with clay feet. Progressives must solve the riddle of how to fight this paradox. Sun Tzu's Art of War meets Gilles Deleuze and his underground war machine. Nomad information-technology guerrillas are already deployed. The US counter-insurgency is being turned upside down. Netwar is a go. And don't forget the condoms. 

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

He may be reached at

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why I'm Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange (A statement from Michael Moore)

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010


Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that I have put up $20,000 of my own money to help bail Mr. Assange out of jail.

Furthermore, I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars.

We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had had a WikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off. The only reason they thought they could get away with it was because they had a guaranteed cloak of secrecy. That guarantee has now been ripped from them, and I hope they are never able to operate in secret again.

So why is WikiLeaks, after performing such an important public service, under such vicious attack? Because they have outed and embarrassed those who have covered up the truth. The assault on them has been over the top:

**Sen. Joe Lieberman says WikiLeaks "has violated the Espionage Act."

**The New Yorker's George Packer calls Assange "super-secretive, thin-skinned, [and] megalomaniacal."

**Sarah Palin claims he's "an anti-American operative with blood on his hands" whom we should pursue "with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders."

**Democrat Bob Beckel (Walter Mondale's 1984 campaign manager) said about Assange on Fox: "A dead man can't leak stuff ... there's only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a bitch."

**Republican Mary Matalin says "he's a psychopath, a sociopath ... He's a terrorist."

**Rep. Peter A. King calls WikiLeaks a "terrorist organization."

And indeed they are! They exist to terrorize the liars and warmongers who have brought ruin to our nation and to others. Perhaps the next war won't be so easy because the tables have been turned -- and now it's Big Brother who's being watched ... by us!

WikiLeaks deserves our thanks for shining a huge spotlight on all this. But some in the corporate-owned press have dismissed the importance of WikiLeaks ("they've released little that's new!") or have painted them as simple anarchists ("WikiLeaks just releases everything without any editorial control!").

WikiLeaks exists, in part, because the mainstream media has failed to live up to its responsibility. The corporate owners have decimated newsrooms, making it impossible for good journalists to do their job. There's no time or money anymore for investigative journalism. Simply put, investors don't want those stories exposed. They like their secrets kept ... as secrets.

I ask you to imagine how much different our world would be if WikiLeaks had existed 10 years ago. Take a look at this photo. That's Mr. Bush about to be handed a "secret" document on August 6th, 2001. Its heading read: "Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US." And on those pages it said the FBI had discovered "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings." Mr. Bush decided to ignore it and went fishing for the next four weeks.

But if that document had been leaked, how would you or I have reacted? What would Congress or the FAA have done? Was there not a greater chance that someone, somewhere would have done something if all of us knew about bin Laden's impending attack using hijacked planes?

But back then only a few people had access to that document. Because the secret was kept, a flight school instructor in San Diego who noticed that two Saudi students took no interest in takeoffs or landings, did nothing. Had he read about the bin Laden threat in the paper, might he have called the FBI? (Please read this essay by former FBI Agent Coleen Rowley, Time's 2002 co-Person of the Year, about her belief that had WikiLeaks been around in 2001, 9/11 might have been prevented.)

Or what if the public in 2003 had been able to read "secret" memos from Dick Cheney as he pressured the CIA to give him the "facts" he wanted in order to build his false case for war? If a WikiLeaks had revealed at that time that there were, in fact, no weapons of mass destruction, do you think that the war would have been launched -- or rather, wouldn't there have been calls for Cheney's arrest?

Openness, transparency -- these are among the few weapons the citizenry has to protect itself from the powerful and the corrupt. What if within days of August 4th, 1964 -- after the Pentagon had made up the lie that our ship was attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin -- there had been a WikiLeaks to tell the American people that the whole thing was made up? I guess 58,000 of our soldiers (and 2 million Vietnamese) might be alive today.

Instead, secrets killed them.

For those of you who think it's wrong to support Julian Assange because of the sexual assault allegations he's being held for, all I ask is that you not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey. Please -- never, ever believe the "official story." And regardless of Assange's guilt or innocence (see the strange nature of the allegations here), this man has the right to have bail posted and to defend himself. I have joined with filmmakers Ken Loach and John Pilger and writer Jemima Khan in putting up the bail money -- and we hope the judge will accept this and grant his release today.

Might WikiLeaks cause some unintended harm to diplomatic negotiations and U.S. interests around the world? Perhaps. But that's the price you pay when you and your government take us into a war based on a lie. Your punishment for misbehaving is that someone has to turn on all the lights in the room so that we can see what you're up to. You simply can't be trusted. So every cable, every email you write is now fair game. Sorry, but you brought this upon yourself. No one can hide from the truth now. No one can plot the next Big Lie if they know that they might be exposed.

And that is the best thing that WikiLeaks has done. WikiLeaks, God bless them, will save lives as a result of their actions. And any of you who join me in supporting them are committing a true act of patriotism. Period.

I stand today in absentia with Julian Assange in London and I ask the judge to grant him his release. I am willing to guarantee his return to court with the bail money I have wired to said court. I will not allow this injustice to continue unchallenged.


Michael Moore

P.S. You can read the statement I filed today in the London court here.

P.P.S. If you're reading this in London, please go support Julian Assange and WikiLeaks at a demonstration at 1 PM today, Tuesday the 14th, in front of the Westminster court. 

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Sunday, December 12, 2010


The settlements were still being built, financed mostly by Jewish money from America, contributions from Wall Street speculators and owners of gambling dens.

By James Petras

Times were tough for Joseph and Mary.  The real estate bubble crashed.  Unemployment soared among construction workers.  There was no work, not even for a skilled carpenter.

The settlements were still being built, financed mostly by Jewish money from America, contributions from Wall Street speculators and owners of gambling dens.

“Good thing”, Joseph thought, “we have a few sheep and olive trees and Mary keeps some chickens.   But Joseph worried, “cheese and olives are not enough to feed a growing boy.  Mary is due to deliver our son any day”. His dreams foretold of a sturdy son working alongside of him…multiplying loaves and fish.

The settlers looked down on Joseph.  He rarely attended shul, and on the high holidays, he would show up late to avoid the tithe.  Their simple cottage was located in a nearby ravine with water from a stream, which flowed year round.  It was choice real estate for any settlement expansion.  So when Joseph fell behind on his property tax, the settlers took over their home, forcibly evicted Joseph and Mary and offered them a one-way bus ticket to Jerusalem.

Joseph, born and raised in the arid hills, fought back and bloodied not a few settlers with his labor-hardened fists.  But in the end he sat, battered on their bridal bed under the olive tree, in black despair.
Mary, much the younger, felt the baby’s movements.  Her time was near.

“We have to find shelter, Joseph, we have to move on …this is no time for revenge”, she pleaded.
Joseph, who believed with the Old Testament prophets in an “eye for an eye”, reluctantly agreed.
So it was that Joseph sold their sheep, chickens and other belongings to an Arab neighbor and bought a donkey and cart.  He loaded up the mattress, some clothes, cheese, olives and eggs and they set out for the Holy City.

The donkey path was rocky and full of potholes. Mary winced at every bump; she worried that it would harm the baby.  Worse, this was the road for the Palestinians with military checkpoints everywhere.  No one ever told Joseph that, as a Jew, he could have taken a smooth paved road – forbidden to the Arabs.
At the first roadblock Joseph saw a long line of Arabs waiting.  Pointing to his very pregnant wife, Joseph asked the Palestinians, half in Arabic, half in Hebrew, if they could go ahead.  A path was opened and the couple went forward.

A young soldier raised his rifle and told Mary and Joseph to get down from the cart.  Joseph descended and nodded to his wife’s stomach.  The soldier smirked and turned to his comrades, “The old Arab knocks up the girl he bought for a dozen sheep and now he wants a free pass”.

Joseph, red with anger, shouted in rough Hebrew, “I am a Jew.  But unlike you … I respect pregnant women”.

The soldier poked Joseph with his rifle and ordered him to step back:  “You are worse than an Arab – you’re an old Jew who screws Arab girls”.

Mary frightened by the exchange turned to her husband and cried, “Stop Joseph or he will shoot you and our baby will be born an orphan”.

With great difficulty Mary got down from the wagon.  An officer came out of the guard station, summoning a female soldier, “Hey Judi, go feel under her dress, she might be carrying bombs”.
“What’s the matter?  Don’t you like to feel them yourself anymore? ” Judith barked back in Brooklyn-accented Hebrew.  While the soldiers argued, Mary leaned on Joseph for support.  Finally, the soldiers came to an agreement.

“Pull-up your dress and slip”, Judith ordered.  Mary blanched in shame.  Joseph faced the gun in disgrace.  The soldiers laughed and pointed at Mary’s swollen breasts, joking about an unborn terrorist with Arab hands and a Jewish brain.

Joseph and Mary continued on the way to the Holy City.  They were frequently detained at the checkpoints along the way.  Each time they suffered another delay, another indignity and more gratuitous insults spouted by Sephardim and Ashkenazi, male and female, secular and religious – all soldiers of the Chosen people.

It was dusk when Mary and Joseph finally reached the Wall.  The gates had closed for the night.  Mary cried out in pain, “Joseph, I can feel the baby coming soon.  Please do something quickly”.

Joseph panicked.  He saw the lights of a small village nearby and, leaving Mary on the cart, Joseph ran to the nearest house and pounded on the door.  A Palestinian woman opened the door slightly and peered into the dark, agitated face of Joseph.  “Who are you?  What do you want?”

“I am Joseph, a carpenter from the hills of Hebron.  My wife is about to give birth and I need shelter to protect Mary and the baby”. Pointing to Mary on the donkey cart, Joseph pleaded in his strange mixture of Hebrew and Arabic.

“Well, you speak like a Jew but you look like an Arab,” the Palestinian woman said laughing as she walked back with him to the cart.

Mary’s face was contorted with pain and fear: her contractions were more frequent and intense.
The woman ordered Joseph to bring the cart around to a stable where the sheep and chickens were kept.  As soon as they entered, Mary cried out in pain and the Palestinian woman, who had now been joined by a neighbor midwife, swiftly helped the young mother down onto a bed of straw.

And thus the child was born, as Joseph watched in awe.

It came to pass that shepherds, returning from their fields, heard the mingled cries of birth and joy and hurried to the stable carrying both their rifles and fresh goat milk, not knowing whether it was friend or foe, Jew or Arab.  When they entered the stable and beheld the mother and infant, they put aside their weapons and offered the milk to Mary who thanked them in both Hebrew and Arabic.

And the shepherds were amazed and wondered: Who were these strange people, a poor Jewish couple, who came in peace on a donkey cart inscribed with Arabic letters?    The news quickly spread about the strange birth of a Jewish child just outside the Wall in a Palestinian’s stable.  Many neighbors entered and beheld Mary, the infant and Joseph.

Meanwhile, Israeli soldiers, equipped with night vision goggles, reported from their watchtowers overlooking the Palestinian neighborhood, “The Arabs are meeting just outside the Wall, in a stable, by candle light”.

The gates under the watchtowers flew open and armored carriers with bright lights followed by heavily armed soldiers drove out and surrounded the stable, the assembled villagers and the Palestinian woman’s house.  A loud speaker blared, “Come out with your hands up or we’ll shoot.”  They all came out from the stable together with Joseph, who stepped forward with his hands stretched out to the sky and spoke, “My wife, Mary cannot comply with your order.  She is nursing the baby Jesus”.

James Petras is a Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York. He is the author of 64 books published in 29 languages, and over 560 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, Journal of Contemporary Asia, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles. His latest book is War Crimes  in Gaza and the Zionist Fifth Column in America (Atlanta:Clarity Pres 2010)