Saturday, February 09, 2008

American plans for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union in 1963


By Heather A. Purcell and James K. Galbraith


Notes on National Security Council Meeting
July 20, 1961

General Hickey, Chairman of the Net Evaluation Subcommittee, presented the annual
report of his group. General Lemnitzer stated that the assumption of this year's study was a
surprise attack in late 1963, preceded by a period of heightened tensions.

After the presentation by General Hickey and by the various members of the
Subcommittee, the President asked if there had ever been made an assessment of damage results
to the U.S.S.R which would be incurred by a preemptive attack. General Lemnitzer stated that
such studies had been made and that he would bring them over and discuss them personally with
the President. In recalling General Hickey's opening statement that these studies have been made
since 1957, the President asked for an appraisal of the trend in the effectiveness of the attack.
General Lemnitzer replied that he would also discuss this with the President.

Since the basic assumption of this year's presentation was an attack in late 1963, the
President asked about probable effects in the winter of 1962. Mr. Dulles observed that the attack
would be much less effective since there would be considerably fewer missiles involved. General
Lemnitzer added a word of caution about accepting the precise findings of the Committee since
these findings were based upon certain assumptions which themselves might not be valid.

The President posed the question as to the period of time necessary for citizens to remain
in shelters following an attack. A member of the Subcommittee replied that no specific period of
time could be cited due to the variables involved, but generally speaking, a period of two weeks
should be expected.

The President directed that no member in attendance at the meeting disclose even the
subject of the meeting.

Declassified: June, 1993

During the early 1960s the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) introduced the world to the
possibility of instant total war. Thirty years later, no nation has yet fired any nuclear missile at a
real target. Orthodox history holds that a succession of defensive nuclear doctrines and strategies
-- from "massive retaliation" to "mutual assured destruction" -- worked, almost seamlessly, to
deter Soviet aggression against the United States and to prevent the use of nuclear weapons.

The possibility of U.S. aggression in nuclear conflict is seldom considered. And why should it be?
Virtually nothing in the public record suggests that high U.S. authorities ever contemplated a first
strike against the Soviet Union, except in response to a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, or
that they doubted the deterrent effect of Soviet nuclear forces. The main documented exception
was the Air Force Chief of Staff in the early 1960s, Curtis LeMay, a seemingly idiosyncratic case.

But beginning in 1957 the U.S. military did prepare plans for a preemptive nuclear strike against
the U.S.S.R, based on our growing lead in land-based missiles, And top military and intelligence
leaders presented an assessment of those plans to President John F. Kennedy in July of 1961. At
that time, some high Air Force and CIA leaders apparently believed that a window of outright
ballistic missile superiority, perhaps sufficient for a successful first strike, would be open in late

The document reproduced opposite is published here for the first time. It describes a meeting of
the National Security Council on July 20, 1961. At that meeting, the document shows, the
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the director of the CIA, and others, presented plans for a
surprise attack. They answered some questions from Kennedy about timing and effects, and
promised further information. The meeting recessed under a Presidential injunction of secrecy that
has not been broken until now.

The Real Missile Gap

In 1960, claims of a "missile gap" favoring the Soviets had given the Democrats a critical election
theme, and many millions of Americans entered the Sixties feeling intensely vulnerable to the new
Soviet ICBM threat. But as Richard Reeves has recently written, intelligence based on satellites
launched in August of 1960 soon challenged the campaign assessment and public view. (Reeves,
228) The United States had beaten the USSR to an operational ICBM and enjoyed clear, and
growing, numerical advantage. We were far ahead, and our military planners knew it.

Kennedy was quickly convinced of this truth, which was further confirmed as new satellites
brought back new information. Later in 1961, a National Intelligence Estimate came through
showing only 4 Soviet ICBMs in place, all of them on low alert at a test site called Plesetsk. By
fall, Defense Undersecretary Roswell Gilpatric was to acknowledge in a public speech that US
forces (with 185 ICBMs and over 3,400 deliverable warheads at that time) were vastly superior to
those of the Russians.

It was in this context, of an increasing nuclear edge based on a runaway lead in land-based
missiles, that Kennedy faced his first nuclear-tinged crisis, which erupted over Berlin in July of

The Berlin Crisis

The July 20th meeting took place under conditions of unusual tension. Only three months before,
Kennedy had suffered the failure of the Bay of Pigs invasion and his loss of confidence in both the
CIA and the Joint Chiefs. One month before, he had been shaken by his Vienna confrontation
with Nikita Khrushchev. Now, the Soviets were threatening to turn control of access to West
Berlin over to the East Germans, and to conclude a separate peace treaty with that satellite state.

At the crucial National Security Council discussion of the brewing Berlin crisis on July 13,
Secretary of State Dean Rusk had opposed negotiations with the Soviets until the last moment
(Newman, 115). As Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., then a special assistant, later summarized for the
President, adviser Dean Acheson had prepared a paper arguing that

we are in a fateful test of wills, that our major task is to demonstrate our
unalterable determination, and that Krushchev will be deterred only by a US
readiness to go to nuclear war rather than to abandon the status quo. On this
theory, negotiation is harmful until the crisis is well developed; then it is useful
only for propaganda purposes..." (Foreign Relations, XIV, 173)

Kennedy favored negotiations over conflict. While not directly challenging Acheson, he
encouraged Schlesinger to produce an unsigned memo critical of Acheson's stance.

Schlesinger advised caution. In a passage especially pertinent to the larger issue, he wrote:

The [Acheson] paper hinges on our willingness to face nuclear war. But this
option is undefined. Before you are asked to make the decision to go to nuclear
war, you are entitled to know what concretely what nuclear war is likely to mean.
The Pentagon should be required to make an analysis of the possible levels and
implications of nuclear warfare and the possible gradations of our own nuclear
response. (Foreign Relations XIV 173)

It is possible (though we do not know) that the decision to bring the Net Evaluation to Kennedy
occurred in response to the raising of these concerns. At any rate, the meeting occurred.

The Burris Memorandum

The memorandum reproduced here was written for Vice President Lyndon Johnson, who did not
attend the meeting, by Colonel Howard Burris, his military aide. Declassified only in June of
1993, it has not previously received any public attention so far as we have been able to determine.

The first paragraph introduces General Hickey and his group, the Net Evaluation Subcommittee.
Although the Subcommittee report is described as "annual," this would be the first one given to
President Kennedy and his advisors, and it is not clear whether President Eisenhower received
such reports in person. General Lyman Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, stepped in to
explain the "assumption" of the 1961 report: "a surprise attack in late 1963, preceded by a period
of heightened tensions." The question arises: A surprise attack by whom on whom?
The following paragraphs answer the question. The second paragraph reports that after hearing
the presentations, President Kennedy asked the presenters "if there had ever been made an
assessment of damage results to the U.S.S.R. which would be incurred by a preemptive attack."
Kennedy also asked for an effectiveness trend since "these studies have been made since 1957."
Lemnitzer responded that he would later answer both of the President's questions in private.

Paragraph three records Kennedy asking a hypothetical question: what would happen if we
launched a strike in the winter of 1962? Allen Dulles of the CIA responded that "the attack
would be much less effective since there would be considerably fewer missiles involved."
Lemnitzer then cautioned against putting too much faith in the findings since the assumptions
might be faulty. The discussion thus provides a time-frame. December of 1962 was too early for
an attack because the U.S. would have too few missiles; by December of 1963 there would likely
be sufficient numbers.

Paragraph four reports one more Kennedy question: how much time would "citizens" need to
remain in shelters following an attack? The President receives a qualified estimate of 2 weeks
from a member of the subcommittee. The group was clearly talking about U.S. citizens protecting
themselves from the globe-encircling fallout following a U.S. nuclear attack on the U.S.S.R.

Paragraph five adds to the intensity of the document with Kennedy's directive "that no member in
attendance disclose even the subject of the meeting."

Other Accounts of the Meeting

So far as we know, the official record of this meeting remains secret. The excellent Foreign
Relations of the United States, volume XIV, "Berlin Crisis 1961-1962," published in late 1993,
though replete with memoranda detailing the nuclear aspects of the Berlin confrontation, makes
no mention of it. The only official reference we know of is the agenda for the National Security
Council issued on July 18, 1961, declassified in 1977, which reads, simply "The Net Evaluation
Subcommittee (NSC 5816; N.S. Action No. 2223) ... Presentation of the report by the Chairman
of the Subcommittee." (The most detailed discussion of the Net Evaluation Subcommittee we
have found is in Desmond Ball's Politics and Force Levels (pp. 192-3), which identifies the larger
task of the Subcommittee as the preparation of revised targeting plans.)

On the other hand, the fact of a meeting, and Kennedy's personal reaction to it, has been reported.
The President was displeased. But no account yet published has told what he was displeased

For example, Arthur Schlesinger's Robert Kennedy and His Times gives this account:

...Kennedy received the Net Evaluation, an annual doomsday briefing analyzing the
chances of nuclear war. An Air Force General presented it, said Roswell Gilpatric,
the deputy secretary of defense, "as though it were for a kindergarten class..
Finally Kennedy got up and walked right out in the middle of it, and that was the
end of it. We never had another one." (p. 483)

McGeorge Bundy evidently refers to the same meeting in this passage:

In the summer of 1961 [Kennedy] went through a formal briefing on the net
assessment of a general nuclear war between the two superpowers, and he
expressed his own reaction to Dean Rusk as they walked from the cabinet room to
the Oval Office for a private meeting on other subjects: "And we call ourselves the
human race." (p. 354)

(Dean Rusk's memoirs repeat Kennedy's remark, though they place the meeting "shortly after our
assuming office." Richard Reeves, for his part, does not mention the July meeting, and attributes
Kennedy's remark to a later briefing in September, 1961.)

Numerous other apparent accounts of the meeting exist, though they do not refer to it by name or
date. All agree on Kennedy's reaction. But none reveal what was actually discussed. Theodore
Sorenson's Kennedy, published only four years later, presents an understandably benign version:

That briefing confirmed, however, the harsh facts [Kennedy] already knew: (1)
that neither the Soviet Union nor the United States could 'win' a nuclear war in any
rational sense of the word; (2) that, except to deter an all-out Soviet attack, our
threat of 'massive retaliation' to every Communist move was no longer credible,
now that it invited our own destruction; and (3) that a policy of 'pre-emptive first
strike' or 'preventive war' was no longer open to either side, inasmuch as even a
surprise missile attack would trigger, before those missiles reached their targets, a
devastating retaliation that neither country could risk or accept. (p. 513)

Unfortunately, the critical third point was not yet true. As UnderSecretary of State Roger Hilsman
wrote in 1967:

As the intelligence community looked at their estimates in 1958, 1959, and 1960,
and even through the first half of 1961, they saw a missile gap developing that
would come to a peak about 1963. (p. 162)

What Hilsman does not say explicitly is that the estimated missile gap was in America's favor. The
Soviets had virtually no operational ICBMs in 1961, a fact known to American intelligence at
least by the end of 1960. And it appears the Russians did not solve their fundamental technical
problem, namely building a hydrogen bomb small enough to be carried by a missile of manageable
size, until years later. (Sorenson, 524; Bobbitt, 61).

Dean Rusk describes the meeting as an "awesome experience" in his memoirs, As I Saw It,
published in 1990.

President Kennedy clearly understood what nuclear war meant and was appalled
by it. In our many talks together, he never worried about the threat of
assassination, but he occasionally brooded over whether it would be his fate to
push the nuclear button... If any of us had doubts, that 1961 briefing convinced us
that a nuclear war must never be fought. Consequently, throughout the Kennedy
and Johnson years we worked to establish a stable deterrent... (p. 246-7)

What Rusk does not say is that the problem of a "stable deterrent" in 1961 did not lie in an
insufficiency of American missiles. It lay, rather, in the need for the Soviets to develop sufficient
effective ICBM forces, to deter us. That is an ugly but unavoidable fact. Rusk goes on, a page
later, with comments that appear almost anguished, and for which his own account of the meeting
gives no apparent rationale:

...the United States has never renounced possible first use of nuclear weapons. I
personally think that the United States is committed to a second strike only, after
we have received nuclear weapons on our own soil. Under no circumstances
would I have participated in an order to launch a first strike, with the possible
exception of a massive conventional attack on Western Europe. (p. 248)

The July 25 Speech on Berlin

Nuclear conflict was very much in the air that week. Another document of the time indicates the
directions Kennedy's nuclear thinking was actually taking -- quite the Cold Warrior, but at the
same time far removed from pre-emptive strikes and the inflexible all-out attack envisioned by the
Joint Chiefs. This is a paper entitled "Nuclear Strategy in the Berlin Crisis," by the economist
Thomas C. Schelling, which was sent to Hyannis Port over the weekend of July 21, 1961 and
which, as Bundy noted, made a "deep impression" on the President. In it Schelling presented
arguments for a capability, which did not then exist, to wage limited nuclear war:

the role of nuclears in Europe should not be to win a grand nuclear campaign, but
to pose a higher level of risk to the enemy. The important thing in limited nuclear
war is to impress the Soviet leadership with the risk of general war - a war that
may occur whether we or they intend it or not....We should plan for a war of
nerve, of demonstration, and of bargaining, not of tactical target destruction."
(Foreign Relations, XIV, 170).

Schelling also advocated centralization of the control of weapons in the hands of the President so
as to
permit deliberate, discriminating, selective use for dangerous nuclear bargaining.
This means preventing any use, by anyone, not specifically authorized as part of
the nuclear bargaining plan...This is a controlled strategic exchange." (op. cit.,

Schelling's paper thus called attention to a key concern: the diffuse character of nuclear command
and control in 1961 did not assure that the President in fact enjoyed the full authority over the
bomb which most Americans assumed to be the case. Establishing such control became a priority
for Kennedy in the months that followed. (Desmond Ball, 193).

The cumulative impact of this diverse advice can be seen in Kennedy's televised address to the
nation on July 25, 1961. "We cannot and will not permit the Communists to drive us out of
Berlin, either gradually or by force" Yet Kennedy also stressed the dangers: "miscommunication
could rain down more devastation in several hours than has been wrought in all the wars of human
history" (Newman, 115). He asked for increased military appropriations and called out 150,000
reserve personnel. But he did not engage the Soviets. The wall was allowed to remain intact
when constructed in August of 1961, a symbolic column of soldiers was sent through to West
Berlin, and a fallout shelter program was undertaken in the United States.

With the Burris memorandum, the reasoning behind the fallout shelter program now begins to fall
into place. As a civil defense measure against a Soviet nuclear attack, the flimsy cinderblock
shelters Americans were told to build were absurd. But they could indeed protect those in them,
for a couple of weeks, from radiation drifting thousands of miles after a U.S. pre-emptive strike
on the Soviet Union. It is known that Kennedy later regretted this program.

Down the Road: 1962 and 1963

The U.S. was far ahead in the arms race. Yet the military continued to press for a rapid build-up
of strategic missiles. Curtis LeMay had asked for at least 2400 Minutemen; Thomas Powers of
the Strategic Air Command had asked for 10,000. All were to be unleashed in a single paroxysm
of mass annihilation, know as SIOP, the Single Integrated Operating Plan.

SIOP was a recipe for blowing up the world, whether in a first or a second strike. As McGeorge
Bundy wrote to the President on July 7, 1961:

...All agree that the current strategic war plan is dangerously rigid and, if continued
without amendment, may leave you with very little choice as to how you face the
moment of thermonuclear truth. We believe that you may want to raise this
question with Bob McNamara in order to have a prompt review and new orders if
necessary. In essence, the current plan calls for shooting off everything we have in
one shot, and is so constructed as to make any more flexible course very difficult.
(quoted in Kaplan, 297)

During that summer of 1961, the Defense Secretary ordered an overhaul of SIOP carried out by
RAND analysts (including Daniel Ellsberg) and quickly approved by the JCS. (Bobbitt, 48)
Kennedy and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara eventually imposed a limit of 1,000
Minuteman missiles, angering the Chiefs. Kennedy also launched efforts to gain operational
control of the nuclear force, then far from being securely concentrated in the President's hands.

The Burris memorandum may help to explain both the military's drive for a vast U.S. nuclear
build-up, despite the fact that America was already far ahead, and the resistance from JFK and
McNamara. The Net Evaluation Subcommittee had offered the Pentagon, the CIA, and President
Kennedy a glimpse of the opportunity that lay ahead in the winter of 1963: U.S. nuclear
superiority so complete that a first strike might be successful. But it also alerted Kennedy to a
danger. American nuclear superiority might then be so complete, that rogue elements from the
military and intelligence forces, seeking to precipitate an American first strike, might not feel
deterred by fear of Soviet retaliation. What was the dispute over the numbers of land-based
ICBMs really about? To be sure, at some level it involved the sufficiency of deterrence. But there
may also have been an even graver concern: the offensive capabilities of the nuclear force, at a
time when the President could not be sure of his control over the nuclear button.

By October of 1962, the U.S. nuclear lead remained strong, though perhaps not yet air-tight,
given the number of Soviet bombers and the risks to Europe. Twenty years later, Anthony
Cordesman described the picture:

During the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962, the US had approximately 1500
B-47s and 500 B-52s, and had already deployed over 200 of its first generation of
ICBMs. In marked contrast, the Soviet strategic missile threat consisted of a few
token ICBM deployments whose unreliability was so great that it was uncertain
exactly whom they threatened. Soviet long range bomber forces consisted only of
100 Tu-Bears and 35 May Bison, whose range and flight characteristics forced
them to fly at medium and high altitudes, and which made them extremely
vulnerable to US fighters and surface-to-air missiles. (p. 7, cited in Bobbitt)

Kennedy resisted strong pressures to test this advantage in October of 1962, as he might have had
to do, had he agreed to launch bombing raids on the Cuban missile installations. Nikita
Khrushchev's memoirs, published in 1970, tell of graphic fears expressed by Robert Kennedy to
the Russian ambassador, Anatoly Dobrynin at the peak of the crisis:

Even though the President himself is very much against starting a war over Cuba,
an irreversible chain of events could occur against his will... If the situation
continues for much longer, the President is not sure that the military will not
overthrow him and seize power. The American military could get out of control.
(p. 497)

Not even the American editors of Khrushchev's memoirs took these remarks seriously at the time
they were first published. A rare editorial note reads: "Obviously this is Khrushchev's own version
of what was reported to him. There is no evidence that the President was acting out of fear of a
military take- over." (Khrushchev, 498).

Looking down the road, the Net Evaluation calendar of 1961 implied that the period from Cuba
to Dallas and just after was, perhaps, critical to the survival of the world. Had tensions escalated
or been aroused in some violent way in late 1963, the President might have faced an excruciating
choice -- to strike first, or to give up "victory" during the last brief moment in all history when it
could conceivably have been won.

We cannot say whether Kennedy believed the Net Evaluation calendar, or indeed, perhaps equally
serious, whether he believed that others in the government might believe it. We do know that the
last year of his life saw repeated initiatives to settle conflicts and reduce tensions: the
normalizaton of Berlin, the withdrawal of missiles from Turkey, the no-invasion pledge on Cuba
and the effort, only partially effective, to end to the covert campaign (OP/MONGOOSE) against
Castro, the test-ban treaty, and -- though the point is disputed -- the order in October 1963 to
begin a phased withdrawal from Vietnam. By November of 1963, the potential for "heightened
tensions" leading to uncontrollable pressures to strike first had indeed been reduced. And, some
time later, the Soviet Rocket Forces did evidently shut the window, building ICBMs more rapidly
than the U.S. could target them; the Soviets also improved their submarine force. From that
point, the world probably became a good deal more secure. But exactly when this happened is not

And Lyndon Baines Johnson, the recipient of Burris's note, was still uneasy on the point when he
assumed office on November 22d, 1963, amid swirling rumors connecting Lee Harvey Oswald,
falsely as we now know, to the KGB. David Wise, then Bureau chief of the New York Herald
Tribune reports hearing Johnson tell in late 1963 of recruiting Earl Warren to head the Warren
Commission in the following terms:

...when Warren came to the White House, [LBJ] told the Chief Justice he knew he
had been a first lieutenant in World War I, and he knew Earl Warren would walk
across the Atlantic ocean to save the lives of three Americans, and possibly a
hundred million lives were at stake here... (p. 292)

Whose lives, exactly?

One meeting, even in the White House, does not establish that first-strike was in fact the nuclear
policy of the United States. Kennedy's recorded response, moreover, indicates his personal
determination, shared by his civilian advisers, that it never become so. But we do know, from
Howard Burris's notes, that a first strike plan had authors close to the decision center. Kennedy's
subsequent actions and Johnson's eerie remark are consistent with the possibility that the calendar
and risks of a first-strike window remained in the minds of both men as late as November, 1963
and possibly in Johnson's mind for a good deal longer.

In any event, the fact that first-strike planning got as far as it did raises grave questions about the
history of the Cold War. Much more needs to be known,: about nuclear decisionmaking under
Eisenhower and Nixon, about the events of late 1963, about later technical developments such as
MIRV and Star Wars. Surely it is now time to declassify all records on this and related history.


Heather A. Purcell and James K. Galbraith are at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs,
The University of Texas at Austin.


Desmond Ball, Politics and Force Levels: The Strategic Missile Program of the Kennedy
Administration, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.

John Baylis and John Garnett, eds. The Makers of Nuclear Strategy, New York: St. Martin's
Press, 1991.

Philip Bobbitt, Democracy and Deterrence, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988.

Philip Bobbitt, Lawrence Freedman and Gregory Treverton, U.S. Nuclear Strategy, New York:
New York University Press, 1989.

McGeorge Bundy, Danger and Survival: Choices About the Bomb in the First Fifty Years, New
York: Random House, 1988.

Grant Burns, The Nuclear Present, Metuchen, New Jersey: Scarecrow Press, 1992.

Anthony Cordesman, Deterrence in the '80s, London: International Institute for Strategic Studies,

Foreign Relations of the United States 1961-1963, Vol XIV, Berlin Crisis 1961-1962.
Washington: United States Department of State, 1993.

Lawrence Freedman, U.S. Intelligence and the Soviet Strategic Threat, Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1986.

David Goldfisher, The Best Defense: Policy Alternatives for Nuclear Security From the 1950's to
the 1990's, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993.

Fred M. Kaplan, The Wizards of Armageddon, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991.

Roger Hilsman, To Move a Nation: The Politics of Foreign Policy in the Administration of John
F. Kennedy, New York: Doubleday, 1967.

Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point: Perspectives of the Presidency 1963-1969, New York:
Holt, Rinehart and Winston 1971.

Nikita S. Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers, Boston: Little Brown, 1970.

John M. Newman, JFK and Vietnam, New York: Warner Books, 1992.

Richard Reeves, President Kennedy, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.

Dean Rusk, As I Saw It, New York: WW Norton, 1990.

Arthur Schlesinger, jr. Robert Kennedy and His Times, New York: Ballantine, 1978.

David Schwartzman, Games of Chicken: Four Decades of U.S. Nuclear Policy, New York:
Praeger, 1988.

Theodore C. Sorenson, Kennedy, New York: Harper and Row, 1965.

David Wise, The Politics of Lying, New York: Random House, 1973.


Read this or George W. Bush Will Be President the Rest of Your Life

The Anti-Empire Report

by William Blum / February 4th, 2008

NATO is a treaty on wheels — It can be rolled in any direction to suit Washington’s current policy

Have you by chance noticed that NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has become virtually a country? With more international rights and military power than almost any other country in the world? Yes, the same NATO that we were told was created in 1949 to defend against a Soviet attack in Western Europe, and thus should have gone out of existence in 1991 when the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact expired and explicitly invited NATO to do the same. Other reasons have been suggested for NATO’s creation: to help suppress the left in Italy and France if either country’s Communist Party came to power through an election, and/or to advance American hegemony by preventing the major European nations from pursuing independent foreign policies. This latter notion has been around a long time. In 2004, the US ambassador to NATO, Nicholas Burns, stated: “Europeans need to resist creating a united Europe in competition or as a counterweight to the United States.”1

The alliance has been kept amongst the living to serve as a very useful handmaiden of US foreign policy as well as providing American arms and airplane manufacturers with many billions of dollars of guaranteed sales due to the requirement that all NATO members meet a certain minimum warfare capability.

Here’s some of what NATO has been up to in recent years as it strives to find a new raison d’être in the post-Cold War era.

It is presently waging war in Afghanistan on behalf of the United States and its illegal 2001 bombing and invasion of that pathetic land. NATO’s forces free up US troops and assume much of the responsibility and blame, instead of Washington, for the many bombings which have caused serious civilian casualties and ruination. NATO also conducts raids into Pakistan, the legality of which is as non-existent as what they do in Afghanistan.

The alliance, which began with 15 members, now has 26, in addition to 23 “partner countries” (under the reassuring name of “Partnership for Peace”). Combined, that’s more than one-fourth of the entire United Nations membership, and there are numerous other countries bribed and pressured to work with NATO, such as Jordan which recently sent troops to Afghanistan. Jordan and Qatar have offered to host a NATO-supported regional Security Cooperation Centre. NATO has a training mission in Iraq, and Iraqi military personnel receive training in NATO members’ countries. In recent years, almost all members of the alliance and the Partnership for Peace have sent troops to Iraq or Afghanistan or the former Yugoslavia, in each case serving as proxy US-occupation forces. Israel has had talks with the alliance about the deployment of a NATO force in their country. India is scheduled to participate in upcoming NATO war games. The list goes on, as the alliance’s outreach keeps reaching out further, holding international conferences to bring together new and potential allies, under names such as the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, and the Mediterranean Dialogue (Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia), or expanding military ties with existing international organizations such as the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates).

After the September 11, 2001 attacks, NATO gave the United States carte blanche to travel throughout Europe transporting men to be tortured.2 It’s like a refined gentleman’s club with some unusual member privileges. NATO also goes around monitoring elections, the latest being in Upper Abkhazia (claimed by Georgia) in January.

The alliance has military bases in Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, and elsewhere in Europe, and regularly conducts “naval operations in the Mediterranean to actively demonstrate NATO’s resolve and solidarity”, as NATO puts it. This includes AWAC (Airborne Warning and Control) aircraft patrolling the Mediterranean from above and frequently stopping and boarding ships and boats at sea. “Since the start of the operation,” reports NATO, “nearly 79,000 merchant vessels have been monitored (as of 12 April 2006) … The surveillance operation utilizes ship, aircraft and submarine assets to build a picture of maritime activity in the Area of Operations.” The exercise includes “actions aimed at preventing or countering terrorism coming from or conducted at sea and all illegality possibly connected with terrorism, such as human trafficking and smuggling of arms and radioactive substances.” NATO is truly Lord of the Mediterranean, unelected, unauthorized, and unsupervised.

NATO, which has ready access to nuclear weapons from several of its members (only with Washington’s approval), has joined the United States in its operation to surround Russia. “Look,” said Russian president Vladimir Putin about NATO as far back as 2001, “this is a military organization. It’s moving towards our border. Why?”3 As of December 2007, Moscow’s concern had not lessened. The Russian Deputy Foreign Minister lashed out at NATO’s steady expansion into former Soviet-dominated eastern Europe, saying the policy “was a leftover from the time of the Cold War”.4 Finland — which shares a border with Russia of more than 1300 km — is now being considered for membership in NATO.

Ever since it undertook a Washington-instigated 78-day bombing of the former Yugoslavia in 1999, NATO has been operating in the Balkans like a colonial Governor-General. Along with the UN, it’s been leading a peacekeeping operation in Kosovo and takes part in the policing of Bosnia, including searching people’s homes looking for suspected war criminals wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The triumvirate of NATO, the United States, and the European Union have been supporting Kosovo’s plan to unilaterally declare independence from Serbia, thus bypassing the UN Security Council where Serbia’s ally, Russia, has a veto. We therefore have the Western powers unilaterally declaring the independence of a part of another country’s territory; this because the Kosovo ethnic Albanians are regarded as much more reliably “pro-West” than is Serbia, which has refused to look upon the free market and the privatization of the world known as “globalization” as the summum bonum, nor shown proper enthusiasm for an American or NATO military installation upon its soil. Kosovo, however, does have a large US military base on its territory. Any attempt by Serbia to militarily prevent Kosovo from seceding would in all likelihood be met by NATO/US military force. You may wonder what a United States military base is doing in Kosovo. People all over the world wonder the same about their local American bases.

You may also wonder: What force exists to slow down the growth of the Mediterranean Monster? Who can stand up to it? The military elite of the triumvirate take such a question seriously. What they apparently fear the most is nuclear weapons in the hands of the wrong people; i.e., those who don’t recognize the triumvirate’s right to dictate to the world. On January 22 the Guardian of London reported that the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands had released a manifesto which insists that a “first strike” nuclear option remains an “indispensable instrument” since there is “simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world”. The paper had earlier been presented to NATO’s secretary general and to the Pentagon. It is likely to be discussed at a NATO summit in Bucharest in April, along with the possible extension of the alliance to include five more former Soviet countries: Croatia, Georgia, Macedonia, Albania and Ukraine.

The five generals who authored the report could have advocated a serious international campaign to begin the process of actually creating a nuclear-free world. Instead, they call for an end to the European Union’s “obstruction” of and rivalry with NATO and a shift from consensus decision-taking in NATO bodies to majority voting, meaning an end to national vetoes.

So there you have it. The international military elite are demanding yet more power and autonomy for NATO. Questioning voices in the alliance, in the European Union, or anywhere else should forget their concerns about a nuclear-free world, international law, pre-emptive war, wars of aggression, national sovereignty, and all that other United Nations Charter and human-rights nonsense. We’re gonna nuke all those Arab terrorists before they have a chance to say Allah Akbar.

The arrogance continues, with the manifesto specifying “no role in decision-taking on Nato operations for alliance members who are not taking part in the operations,” calling also for the use of force without UN Security Council authorization when “immediate action is needed to protect large numbers of human beings”. Now who can argue against protecting large numbers of human beings?

The paper also declares that “Nato’s credibility is at stake in Afghanistan” and “Nato is at a juncture and runs the risk of failure.” The German general went so far as to declare that his own country, by insisting upon a non-combat role for its forces in Afghanistan, was contributing to “the dissolution of Nato”. Such immoderate language may be a reflection of the dark cloud which has hovered over the alliance since the end of the Cold War — that NATO has no legitimate reason for existence and that failure in Afghanistan would make this thought more present in the world’s mind. If NATO hadn’t begun to intervene outside of Europe it would have highlighted its uselessness and lack of mission. “Out of area or out of business” it was said.5

Democracy is a beautiful thing, except that part about letting just any old jerk vote

The people can have anything they want.
The trouble is, they do not want anything.
At least they vote that way on election day.
– Eugene Debs, American socialist leader, early 20th century

Why was the primary vote for former presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich so small when anti-Iraq war sentiment in the United States is supposedly so high, and Kucinich was easily the leading anti-war candidate in the Democratic race, indeed the only genuine one after former Senator Mike Gravel withdrew? Even allowing for his being cut out of several debates, Kucinich’s showing was remarkably poor. In Michigan, on January 15, it was only Kucinich and Clinton running. Clinton got 56% of the vote, the “uncommitted” vote (for candidates who had withdrawn but whose names were still on the ballot) was 39%, and Kucinich received but 4%. And Clinton, remember, has been the leading pro-war hawk of all the Democratic candidates.

I think much of the answer lies in the fact that the majority of the American people — like the majority of people all over the world — aren’t very sophisticated politically, and many of them aren’t against the war for very cerebral reasons. Their opposition perhaps stems mainly from the large number of American soldiers who’ve lost their lives, or because the United States is not “winning”, or because America’s reputation in the world is being soiled, or because a majority of other Americans express their opposition to the war, or because of George W.’s multiple character defects, or because of a number of other reasons you couldn’t even guess at. Not much especially perceptive or learned in this collection.

I think there are all kinds of intelligence in this world: musical, scientific, mathematical, artistic, academic, literary, mechanical, and so on. Then there’s political intelligence, which I would define as the ability to see through the bullshit which the leaders and politicians of every society, past, present and future, feed their citizens from birth on to win elections and assure continuance of the prevailing ideology.

This is why it’s so important for all of us to continue “preaching to the choir” and “preaching to the converted”. That’s what speakers and writers and other activists are often scoffed at for doing — saying the same old thing to the same old people, just spinning their wheels. But long experience as speaker, writer and activist in the area of foreign policy tells me it just ain’t so. From the questions and comments I regularly get from my audiences, via email and in person, and from other people’s audiences as well, I can plainly see that there are numerous significant information gaps and misconceptions in the choir’s thinking, often leaving them unable to see through the newest government lie or propaganda trick; they’re unknowing or forgetful of what happened in the past that illuminates the present; knowing the facts but unable to apply them at the appropriate moment; vulnerable to being led astray by the next person who offers a specious argument that opposes what they currently believe, or think they believe. The choir needs to be frequently reminded and enlightened.

As cynical as others may think they are, the choir is frequently not cynical enough about the power elite’s motivations. They underestimate the government’s capacity for deceit, clinging to the belief that their government somehow means well; they’re, moreover, insufficiently skilled at reading between the media’s lines. And this all applies to how they view political candidates as well. Try asking “anti-war” supporters of Hillary Clinton if they know what a hawk she is, that — as but one example — she’s promised that American forces will not leave Iraq while she’s president. (And Obama loves the empire as much as Clinton.) When Ronald Reagan was president, on several occasions polls revealed that many, if not most, people who supported him were actually opposed to many of his specific policies.

In sum, even when the hearts of the chorus may be in the right place, their heads still need working on, on a recurring basis. And in any event, very few people are actually born into the choir; they achieve choir membership only after being preached to, multiple times.

When I speak in public, and when I can mention it in an interview, I raise the question of the motivations of the administration. As long as people believe that our so-called leaders are well-intentioned, the leaders can, and do, get away with murder. Literally.

How to get people to vote against their interests and to really think against their interests is very clever. It’s the cleverest ruling class that I have ever come across in history. It’s been 200 years at it. It’s superb.
– Gore Vidal

Another interesting view of the American electoral system comes from Cuban leader Raúl Castro. He recently noted that the United States pits two identical parties against one another, and joked that a choice between a Republican and Democrat is like choosing between himself and his brother Fidel.

We could say in Cuba we have two parties: one led by Fidel and one led by Raúl, what would be the difference?” he asked. “That’s the same thing that happens in the United States … both are the same. Fidel is a little taller than me, he has a beard and I don’t.6

Speaking of political intelligence … take a little stroll with Alice through the American wonderland … just for laughs

This war [in Iraq] is the most important liberal, revolutionary U.S. democracy-building project since the Marshall Plan. … it is one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad.
– Thomas Friedman, much-acclaimed New York Timesforeign-affairs analyst, November 20037

President Bush has placed human rights at the center of his foreign policy agenda in unprecedented ways.
– Michael Gerson, columnist for the Washington Post, 20078

The war in Iraq “is one of the noblest endeavors the United States, or any great power, has ever undertaken.”
– David Brooks, New York Times columnist and National Public Radio (NPR) commentator (2007)9

If this is what leading American public intellectuals believe and impart to their audiences, is it any wonder that the media can short circuit people’s critical faculties altogether? It should as well be noted that these three journalists are all with “liberal” media.

And when Hillary Clinton says in the January 31 debate with Barack Obama: “We bombed them [Iraq] for days in 1998 because Saddam Hussein threw out inspectors,” and the fact is that the UN withdrew its weapons inspectors because the Clinton administration had made it clear that it was about to start bombing Iraq …

Obama didn’t correct her. Neither did any of the eminent journalists on the panel, though this particular piece of disinformation has been repeated again and again in the media, and has been corrected again and again by those on the left. Comrades, we have our work cut out for us. The chorus needs us. America needs us. Keep preaching.

Teaching political intelligence

If you’re a high school or college teacher, you might want to look here for teaching aids to impart a progressive outlook on US foreign policy and related issues to your students.

Jewish Telegraph Agency, international wire service, February 16, 2004. #
The Guardian (London), June 7, 2007, article by Stephen Grey, author of Ghost Plane: The inside story of the CIA Torture Program (2006). #
Associated Press, June 16, 2001. #
Focus News Agency (Bulgaria)/Agence France-Presse, December 26, 2007. #
Much of the NATO material can be found on NATO’s website. Also see an abundance of materialhere. #
Associated Press,, December 25, 2007. #
New York Times, November 30, 2003. #
Washington Post, September 7, 2007. #
Mary Eberstadt, ed., Why I turned Right: Leading Baby Boom Conservatives Chronicle Their Political Journeys (2007), p.73. #

William Blum is the author of: Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire. Read other articles by William, or visit William's website.

How To Create An Angry American

Connecting The Many Undersea Cut Cable Dots

by Richard Sauder

The last week has seen a spate of unexplained, cut, undersea communications cables that has severely disrupted communications in many countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. As I shall show, the total numbers of cut cables remain in question, but likely number as many as eight, and maybe nine or more.

The trouble began on 30 January 2008 with CNN reports that two cables were cut off the Egyptian Mediterranean coast, initially severely disrupting Internet and telephone traffic from Egypt to India and many points in between. According to CNN the two cut cables “account for as much as three-quarters of the international communications between Europe and the Middle East.“ CNN reported that the two cut cables off the Egyptian coast were “FLAG Telecom's FLAG Europe-Asia cable and SeaMeWe-4, a cable owned by a consortium of more than a dozen telecommunications companies”.(10) Other reports placed one of the cut cables, SeaMeWe-4, off the coast of France, near Marseille.(9)(12) However, many news organizations reported two cables cut off the Egyptian coast, including the SeaMeWe-4 cable connecting Europe with the Middle East. The possibilities are thus three, based on the reporting in the news media: 1) the SeaMeWe-4 cable was cut off the coast of France, and mistakenly reported as being cut off the coast of Egypt, because it runs from France to Egypt; 2) the SeaMeWe-4 cable was cut off the Egyptian coast and mistakenly reported as being cut off the coast of France, because it runs from France to Egypt; or 3) the SeaMeWe-4 cable was cut both off the Egyptian and the French coasts, nearly simultaneously, leading to confusion in the reporting. I am not sure what to think, because most reports, such as this one from the International Herald Tribune, refer to two cut cables off the Egyptian coast, one of the two being the SeaMeWe4 cable,(11) while other reports also refer to a cut cable off the coast of France.(9)(12) It thus appears that the same cable may have suffered two cuts, both off the French and the Egyptian coasts. So there were likely actually three undersea cables cut in the Mediterranean on 30 January 2008.

In the case of the cables cut off the Egyptian coast, the news media initially advanced the explanation that the cables had been cut by ships' anchors.(10)(13) But on 3 February the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said that a review of video footage of the coastal waters where the two cables passed revealed that the area had been devoid of ship traffic for the 12 hours preceding and the 12 hours following the time of the cable cuts.(5)(11) So the cable cuts cannot have been caused by ship anchors, in view of the fact that there were no ships there.

The cable cutting was just getting started. Two days later an undersea cable was reported cut in the Persian Gulf, 55 kilometers off of Dubai.(11) The cable off of Dubai was reported by CNN to be a FLAG Falcon cable.(10) And then on 3 February came reports of yet another damaged undersea cable, this time between Qatar and the UAE (United Arab Emirates).(6)(7)(11)

The confusion was compounded by another report on 1 February 2008 of a cut undersea cable running through the Suez to Sri Lanka.(19) If the report is accurate this would represent a sixth cut cable. The same article mentions the cut cable off of Dubai in the Persian Gulf, but seeing as the Suez is on the other side of the Arabian peninsula from the Persian Gulf, the article logically appears to be describing two separate cable cutting incidents.

These reports were followed on 4 February 2008 with a report of even more cut undersea cables. The Khaleej Times reported a total of five damaged undersea cables: two off of Egypt and the cable near Dubai, all of which have already been mentioned in this report. But then the Khaleej Times mentions two that have not been mentioned elsewhere, to my knowledge: 1) a cable in the Persian Gulf near Bandar Abbas, Iran, and 2) the SeaMeWe4 undersea cable near Penang, Malaysia.(3) The one near Penang, Malaysia appears to represent a new incident. The one near Bandar Abbas is reported separately from the one off Dubai and is evidently not the same incident, since the report says , “FLAG near the Dubai coast” and “FALCON near Bandar Abbas in Iran” were both cut. Bandar Abbas is on the other side of the Persian Gulf from Qatar and the UAE, and so presumably the cut cable near Bandar Abbas is not the one in that incident either. Interestingly, the report also states that, “The first cut in the undersea Internet cable occurred on January 23, in the Flag Telcoms FALCON submarine cable which was not reported.(3) This news article deals primarily with the outage in the UAE, so it raises the question as to whether this is a reference to yet a ninth cut cable that has not hit the mainstream news cycle in the United States.

By my count, we are probably dealing with as many as eight, maybe even nine, unexplained cut or damaged undersea cables within the last week, and not the mere three or four that most mainstream news media outlets in the United States are presently reporting. Given all this cable-cutting mayhem in the last several days, who knows but what there may possibly be other cut and/or damaged cables that have not made it into the news cycle, because they are lost in the general cable-cutting noise by this point. Nevertheless, let me enumerate what I can, and keep in mind, I am not pulling these out of a hat; all of the sources are referenced at the conclusion of the article; you can click through and look at all the evidence that I have. It's there if you care to read through it all.

1) one off of Marseille, France
2) two off of Alexandria, Egypt
3) one off of Dubai, in the Persian Gulf
4) one off of Bandar Abbas, Iran in the Persian Gulf
5) one between Qatar and the UAE, in the Persian Gulf
6) one in the Suez, Egypt
7) one near Penang, Malaysia
8) initially unreported cable cut on 23 January 2008 (Persian Gulf?)

Three things stand out about these incidents:

1) all of them, save one, have occurred in waters near predominantly Muslim nations, causing disruption in those countries;
2) all but two of the cut/damaged cables are in Middle Eastern waters;
3) so many like incidents in such a short period of time suggests that they are not accidents, but are in fact deliberate acts, i.e., sabotage.

The evidence therefore suggests that we are looking at a coordinated program of undersea cable sabotage by an actor, or actors, on the international stage with an anti-Muslim bias, as well as a proclivity for destructive violence in the Middle Eastern region.

The question then becomes: are there any actors on the international stage who exhibit a strong, anti-Muslim bias in their foreign relations, who have the technical capability to carry out clandestine sabotage operations on the sea floor, and who have exhibited a pattern of violently destructive policies towards Muslim peoples and nations, especially in the Middle East region?

The answer is yes, there are two: Israel and the United States of America.

In recent years, Israel has bombed and invaded Lebanon, bombed Syria, and placed the Palestinian Territories under a pitiless and ruthless blockade/occupation/quarantine/assault. During the same time frame the United States of America has militarily invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan, and American forces remain in both countries at present, continuing to carry out aggressive military operations. Simultaneous with these Israeli and American war crimes against countries in the region, both Israel and the United States have made many thinly veiled threats of war against Iran, and the United States openly seeks to increase its military presence in Pakistan's so-called “tribal areas”.(15) Israel and the United States both have a technically sophisticated military operations capability. Moreover, the United States Navy has a documented history of carrying out espionage activities on the sea floor. The U.S. Navy has long had special operations teams that can go out on submarines and deploy undersea, on the seabed itself, specifically for this sort of operation. This has all been thoroughly documented in the excellent book, Blind Man's Bluff: The Untold Story of American Submarine Espionage, by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew (New York: Public Affairs, 1998). The classic example is Operation Ivy Bells, which took place during the Cold War, in the waters off the Soviet Union. In a joint, U.S. Navy-NSA operation, U.S. Navy divers repeatedly tapped an underwater cable in the Kuril Islands, by swimming out undersea, to and from U.S. Navy submarines.(14)

This sort of activity is like something straight out of a spy novel thriller, but the U.S. Navy really does have special submarines and deep diving, special operations personnel who specialize in precisely this sort of operation. So cutting undersea cables is well within the operational capabilities of the United States Navy.

Couple this little known, but very important fact, with the reality that for years now we have seen more and more ham-handed interference with the global communications grid by the American alphabet soup agencies (NSA, CIA, FBI, HoSec) and major telecommunication companies. Would the telecommunication companies and the American military and alphabet soup agencies collude on an operation that had as its aim to sabotage the communications network across a wide region of the planet? Would they perhaps collude with Israeli military and intelligence agencies to do this? The honest answer has to be: sure, maybe so. The hard reality is that we are now living in a world of irrational and violent policies enacted against the civilian population by multinational corporations, and military and espionage agencies the world over. We see the evidence for this on every hand. Only the most myopic among us remain oblivious to that reality.

In light of the American Navy's demonstrated sea-floor capabilities and espionage activities, the heavy American Navy presence in the region, the many, thinly veiled threats against Iran by both the Americans and the Israelis, and their repeated, illegal, military aggression against other nations in the region, suspicion quite naturally falls on both Israel and the United States of America. It may be that this is what the beginning of a war against Iran looks like, or perhaps it is part of a more general, larger assault against Muslim and/or Arab interests across a very wide region. Whatever the case, this is no small operation, seeing as the cables that have been cut are among the largest communication pipes in the region, and clearly represent major strategic targets.

Very clearly, we are not looking at business as usual. On the contrary, it is obvious that we are looking at distinctly unusual business.

The explanations being put forth in the mainstream news media for these many cut, undersea communications cables absolutely do not pass the smell test. And by the way, the same operators who cut undersea cables in the Persian Gulf, Mediterranean Sea, Malaysia and possibly the Suez as well, presumably can also cut underwater cables in the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes, the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound. This could be a multipurpose operation, in part a test run for isolating a country or region from the international communications grid. The Middle East today, the USA tomorrow?

What's that you say? I don't understand how the world works? That kind of thing can't happen here?

In any event, if the cables have been intentionally cut, then that is an aggressive act of war. I'm sure everyone in the region has gotten that message. I'm looking at the same telegram as they are, and I know that it's clear as a “bell” to me.(14)

It is little known by the American people, but nevertheless true, that Iran intends to open its own Oil Bourse this month (February 2008) that will trade in “non-dollar currencies”.(16) This has massive geo-political-economic implications for the United States and the American economy, since the American dollar is at present still (if not for much longer) the dominant reserve currency internationally, particularly for petroleum transactions. However, due to the mind-boggling scale of the structural weaknesses in the American economy, which have been well discussed in the financial press in recent weeks and months, the American dollar is increasingly shunned by corporate, banking and governmental actors the world over. No one wants to be stuck with vaults full of rapidly depreciating dollars as the American economy hurtles towards the basement. And so an operational Iranian Oil Bourse, actively trading supertankers full of petroleum in non-dollar currencies, poses a great threat to the American dollar's continued dominance as the international reserve currency.

The American fear and unease of this development can only be increased by the knowledge that, “Oil-rich Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have set 2010 as the target date for adopting a monetary union and single currency.”(2) The American government's fear must have ratcheted up another notch when Kuwait “dropped its dollar peg” in May “and adopted a basket of currencies”, arousing “speculation that the UAE and Qatar would follow suit or revalue their currencies.”(2) Although all the GCC members, with the exception of Kuwait, agreed at their annual meeting in December 2007 to continue to peg their currencies to the American dollar,(2) the hand writing is surely on the wall. As the dollar plummets, their American currency holdings will be worth less and less. At some point, they will likely decide to cut their losses and decouple the value of their currencies from that of the dollar. That point may be in 2010, when they establish the new GCC currency, maybe even sooner than that. If Iran succeeds in opening its own Oil Bourse it is hard to imagine that the GCC would not trade on the Iranian Oil Bourse, given the extremely close geographic proximity. And it is hard to believe that they would not trade their own oil in their own currency. Otherwise, why have a currency of their own? Clearly they intend to use it. And just as clearly, the three cut or damaged undersea communications cables in the Persian Gulf over the last week deliver a clear message. The United States may be a senescent dinosaur, and it is, but it is also a violent, heavily armed, very angry senescent dinosaur. In the end, it will do what all aged dinosaurs do: perish. But not before it first does a great deal of wild roaring and violent lashing and thrashing about.

There can be no doubt that Iran, and the other Gulf States, were intended recipients of this rather pointed cable cutting telegram, for all of the reasons mentioned here; and additionally, in the case of Iran, probably also as a waning for its perceived insults of Israel and dogged pursuit of its nuclear program in contravention of NeoCon-Zionist dogma that Iran may not have a nuclear program, though other nations in the region, Pakistan and Israel, do.

I must mention that one of my e-mail correspondents has pointed out that another possibility is that once the cables are cut, special operations divers could hypothetically come in and attach surveillance devices to the cables without being detected, because the cables are inoperable until they are repaired and start functioning again. In this way, other interests who wanted to spy on Middle Eastern communications, let's say on banking and trading data going to and from the Iranian Oil Bourse, or other nations in the Middle East, could tap into the communications network under cover of an unexplained cable “break”. Who knows? -- this idea may have merit.

It is noteworthy that two of the cables that were cut lie off the Egyptian Mediterranean coast, and another passes through the Suez. During the height of the disruption, some 70 percent of the Egyptian Internet was down. (13) This is a heavy blow in a day when everything from airlines, to banks, to universities, to newspapers, to hospitals, to telephone and shipping companies, and much more, uses the Internet. So Egypt was hit very hard. An astute observer who carefully reads the international press could not fail to notice that in recent days there has been a report in the Egyptian press that “Egypt rejected an Israeli-American proposal to resettle 800,000 Palestinians in Sinai.” This has evidently greatly upset the Zionist-NeoCon power block holding sway in Tel Aviv and Washington, DC with the result that Israel has reportedly threatened to have American aid to Egypt reduced if Egypt does not consent to the resettlement of the Palestinians in Egyptian territory.(17) This NeoCon-Zionist tantrum comes hard on the heels of the Israeli desire to cut ties with Gaza, as a consequence of the massive breach of the Gaza-Egypt border by hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in January 2008. (18)

What are NeoCon-Zionist tyrants to do when their diplomatic hissy fits and anti-Arab tirades no longer carry the day in Cairo? Or in Qatar and the UAE? Maybe they get out the underwater cable cutters and deploy some special operations submarines and divers in the waters off of Alexandria and in the Suez and in the Persian Gulf.

This would be completely in line with articulated American military doctrine, which frankly views the Internet as something to be fought. American Freedom Of Information researchers at George Washington University obtained a Department of Defense (Pentagon) document in 2006, entitled “Information Operation Roadmap”, which says forthrightly and explicitly that “the Department must be prepared to 'fight the net'”.(20) This is a direct quote. It goes on to say that, “We Must Improve Network and Electro-Magnetic Attack Capability. To prevail in an information-centric fight, it is increasingly important that our forces dominate the electromagnetic spectrum with attack capabilities.“ (20) It also makes reference to the importance of employing a “robust offensive suite of capabilities to include full-range electronic and computer network attack.”(8)(20)

So now we can add to our list of data points the professed intent of the American military to “fight the net”, using a “robust offensive suite of capabilities” in a “ full-range electronic and computer network attack.”

Maybe this sudden spate of cut communications cables is what it looks like when the American military uses a “robust offensive suite of capabilities” and mounts an “electronic and computer network attack” in order to “fight the net” in one region of the world. They have the means, and the opportunity, I've amply demonstrated that in this article. And now we also have the motive, in their own words, from their own policy statement. The plain translation is that the American military now regards the Internet, that means the hardware such as computers, cables, modems, servers and routers, and presumably also the content it contains, and the people who communicate that content, as an adversary, as something to be fought.

Oh yes, just a couple of more dots to connect before you fall asleep tonight:

1) The USS San Jacinto, an anti-missile AEGIS cruiser, was scheduled to dock in Haifa, Israel on 1 February 2008. The Jerusalem Post reported that this ship's anti-missile system “could be deployed in the region in the event of an Iranian missile attack against Israel.”(1) Are we to expect another “false flag” attack, like the inside job on 9-11 perhaps? -- an attack that will be made to appear that it comes from Iran, and that is then used as a pretext to strike Iran, maybe with nuclear weapons? And when Iran retaliates with its own missiles, then the Americans and Israelis will unleash further hell on Iran? Is that the Zionist-NeoCon plan, or something generally along those lines?

2) I have to wonder because just this past Saturday, there was a report in the news that, “Retired senior officers told Israelis ... to prepare 'rocket rooms' as protection against a rain of missiles expected to be fired at the Jewish State in any future conflict.” Retired General Udi Shani reportedly said, “The next war will see a massive use of ballistic weapons against the whole of Israeli territory."(4)

Now that we know the Israeli military establishment's thinking, and now that we have a view into the American military mindset, we ought to be looking at international events across the board with a very critical, analytical eye, especially as they relate to possible events that either are playing out right now, or may potentially play out in the relatively near future, say in the time frame of the next one month to five years. These people are violent and devious; they have forewarned us, and we should take them at their word, given their murderous record on the international stage.

Contact the author at:




















Five Years for Powell -- and VIPS By Ray McGovern

Colin Powell, cover-up artist for the empire ever since Vietnam

It is a difficult anniversary to “celebrate” – Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity’s first publication, a same-day critique of Colin Powell’s Feb. 5, 2003, UN address – since what he said helped grease the skids for incalculable death and destruction in Iraq and brought shame on our country.

A handful of former CIA intelligence officers formed VIPS in January 2003, after we could no longer avoid concluding that our profession had been corrupted to “justify” what was, pure and simple, a war of aggression.

Little did we know at the time that a month later Colin Powell, with then-CIA Director George Tenet sitting conspicuously behind him, would provide the world a textbook example of careerism and cowardice in cooking intelligence to the recipe of his master.

It was hardly Powell’s first display of abject obedience.

Some biographers have traced the pattern back to his early days as an Army officer in Vietnam and later as an Iran-Contra accomplice while serving as military assistant to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger in the 1980s. [See Chapter 8 of Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush.]

A year before his UN speech, rather than confront President George W. Bush personally on White House pressure for legal wiggle-room for torture, Powell asked State Department lawyers to engage White House lawyers Alberto Gonzales and Cheney favorite David Addington, in what Powell knew would be a quixotic effort, absent his personal involvement.

Powell’s lawyers put in writing his concern that making an end-run around the Geneva protections for prisoners of war “could undermine U.S. military culture which emphasizes maintaining the highest standards of conduct in combat, and could introduce an element of uncertainty in the status of adversaries.”

But when Gonzales and Addington simply declared parts of Geneva “quaint” and “obsolete,” Powell caved, acquiescing in the corruption of the Army to which he owed so much. We know the next chapters (Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo) of that story.

Powell was right, but lacked the strength of his convictions. Turns out that key instance of obeisance – important as it was in its own right – was just practice for Powell.

VIPS’ Maiden Effort

When our fledgling VIPS learned that Powell would address the UN, we decided to do a same-day analytic assessment – the kind we used to do when someone like Khrushchev, or Gorbachev, or Gromyko, or Mao, or Castro gave a major address.

We were only too well accustomed to the imperative to beat the media with our commentary. Coordinating our Powell effort via e-mail, we issued VIPS’ first Memorandum for the President at 5:15 p.m. – “Subject: Today’s Speech by Secretary Powell at the UN.”

Our understanding at that time was far from perfect. It was not yet completely clear to us, for example, that Saddam Hussein had for the most part been abiding by, rather than flouting, UN resolutions.

We stressed, though, that the key question was whether any of this justified war:

“This is the question the world is asking. Secretary Powell’s presentation does not come close to answering it.”

And we warned the president:

“Intelligence community analysts are finding it hard to make themselves heard above the drumbeat for war.”

And we voiced our distress at “the politicization of intelligence,” as well as the deep flaws:

“Your Pentagon advisers draw a connection between war with Iraq and terrorism, but for the wrong reasons. The connection takes on much more reality in a post-US invasion scenario.” [bold in original]

“Indeed, it is our view that an invasion of Iraq would ensure overflowing recruitment centers for terrorists into the indefinite future. Far from eliminating the threat it would enhance it exponentially.”

Dissociating VIPS from Powell’s bravado rhetoric claiming that the evidence he presented was “irrefutable,” we noted, “No one has a corner on the truth,” and warned the president:

“But after watching Secretary Powell today, we are convinced you would be well served if you widened the discussion beyond violations of Resolution 1441, and beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.”

And Senator Clinton Knew

Five years later, we take no pleasure at having been right; we take considerable pain at having been ignored.

It was a no-brainer, and serious specialists like former UN inspector Scott Ritter, to his credit, were shouting it from the rooftops.

And here is more than a mere footnote. Folks should know that our Feb. 5, 2003, memorandum analyzing Powell’s speech was shared with the junior senator from New York. Thus, she still had plenty of time to raise her voice before the Bush administration launched the fateful attack on Iraq on March 19.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC. A veteran of 27 years in the analytic ranks of CIA, he is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. VIPS’ issuances are listed below; complete texts can be found at

Below is the full text of the VIPS’ first issuance, a Memorandum for the President, Feb. 5, 2003

“Secretary Powell’s Presentation to the UN Today”

Secretary Powell’s presentation at the UN today requires context. We give him an “A” for assembling and listing the charges against Iraq, but only a “C–” in providing context and perspective.

What seems clear to us is that you need an intelligence briefi ng, not grand jury testimony. Secretary Powell effectively showed that Iraq is guilty beyond reasonable doubt for not cooperating fully with UN Security Council Resolution 1441. That had already been demonstrated by the chief UN inspectors. For Powell, it was what the
Pentagon calls a “cakewalk.”

The narrow focus on Resolution 1441 has diverted attention from the wider picture. It is crucial that we not lose sight of that. Intelligence community analysts are finding it hard to make themselves heard above the drumbeat for war. Speaking both for ourselves, as veteran intelligence officers on the VIPS Steering Group with over a hundred
years of professional experience, and for colleagues within the community who are increasingly distressed at the politicization of intelligence, we feel a responsibility to help you frame the issues. For they are far more far-reaching—and complicated—than “UN v. Saddam Hussein.” And they need to be discussed dispassionately, in a setting
in which sobriquets like “sinister nexus,” “evil genius,” and “web of lies” can be more hindrance than help.

Flouting UN Resolutions

The key question is whether Iraq’s flouting of a UN resolution justifies war. This is the question the world is asking.

Secretary Powell’s presentation does not come close to answering it. One might well come away from his briefing thinking that the Iraqis are the only ones in flagrant violation of UN resolutions. Or one might argue that there is more urgency to the need to punish the violator of Resolution 1441 than, say, of Resolution 242 of 1967 requiring Israel to withdraw from Arab territories it occupied that year. More urgency? You will not find many Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims who would agree.

It is widely known that you have a uniquely close relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. This presents a strong disincentive to those who might otherwise warn you that Israel’s continuing encroachment on Arab territories, its oppression of the Palestinian people, and its pre-emptive attack on Iraq in 1981 are among the root causes not only of terrorism, but of Saddam Hussein’s felt need to develop the means to deter further Israeli attacks.

Secretary Powell dismisses this factor far too lightly with his summary judgment that Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction are “not for self-defense.”


You have dismissed containment as being irrelevant in a post 9/11 world. You should know that no one was particularly fond of containment, but that it has been effective for the last 55 years. And the concept of “material breach” is hardly anything new.

Material Breach

In the summer of 1983 we detected a huge early warning radar installation at Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. In 1984 President Reagan declared it an outright violation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty. At an ABM Treaty review in 1988, the US spoke of this continuing violation as a “material breach” of the treaty. In the fall of 1989, the Soviet Union agreed to eliminate the radar at Krasnoyarsk without preconditions.

We adduce this example simply to show that, with patient, persistent diplomacy, the worst situations can change over time.

You have said that Iraq is a “grave threat to the United States,” and many Americans think you believe it to be an imminent threat. Otherwise why would you be sending hundreds of thousands of troops to the Gulf area? In your major speech in Cincinnati on October 7, 2002, you warned that “the risk is simply too great that Saddam Hussein
will use instruments of mass death and destruction, or provide them to a terror network.”


Your intelligence agencies see it differently. On the same day you spoke in Cincinnati, a letter from the CIA to the Senate Intelligence Committee asserted that the probability is low that Iraq would initiate an attack with such weapons or give them to terrorists—UNLESS: “Should Saddam conclude that a US-led attack could no longer be deterred, he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist actions.”

For now, continued the CIA letter, “Baghdad appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks with conventional or chemical/biological warfare against the United States.” With his back against the wall, however, “Saddam might decide that the extreme step of assisting Islamist terrorists in conducting a weapons-of-mass-destruction
attack against the United States would be his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him.”

Your Pentagon advisers draw a connection between war with Iraq and terrorism, but for the wrong reasons. The connection takes on much more reality in a post-US invasion scenario.

Indeed, it is our view that an invasion of Iraq would ensure overflowing recruitment centers for terrorists into the indefinite future. Far from eliminating the threat it would enhance it exponentially.

As recent events around the world attest, terrorism is like malaria. You don’t eliminate malaria by shooting mosquitoes. Rather you must drain the swamp. With an invasion of Iraq, the world can expect to be inundated with swamps breeding terrorists. In human terms, your daughters are unlikely to be able to travel abroad in future years without a large phalanx of security personnel.

We recommend you re-read the CIA assessment of last fall that pointed out that “the forces fueling hatred of the US and fueling al Qaeda recruiting are not being addressed,” and that “the underlying causes that drive terrorists will persist.” That CIA report cited a Gallup poll last year of almost 10,000 Muslims in nine countries in which respondents
described the United States as “ruthless, aggressive, conceited, arrogant, easily provoked and biased.”

Chemical Weapons

With respect to possible Iraqi use of chemical weapons, it has been the judgment of the US intelligence community for over 12 years that the likelihood of such use would greatly increase during an offensive aimed at getting rid of Saddam Hussein.

Listing the indictment particulars, Secretary Powell said, in an oh-by-the-way tone, that sources had reported that Saddam Hussein recently authorized his field commanders to use such weapons. We find this truly alarming. We do not share the Defense Department’s optimism that radio broadcasts and leaflets would induce Iraqi commanders
not to obey orders to use such weapons, or that Iraqi generals would remove Saddam Hussein as soon as the first US soldier sets foot in Iraq. Clearly, an invasion would be no cakewalk for American troops, ill equipped as they are to operate in a chemical environment.


Reminder: The last time we sent troops to the Gulf, over 600,000 of them, one out of three came back ill—many with unexplained disorders of the nervous system. Your Secretary of Veterans Affairs recently closed the VA healthcare system to nearly 200,000 eligible veterans by administrative fiat. Thus, casualties of further war will inevitably displace other veterans who need VA services.

In his second inaugural, Abraham Lincoln appealed to his fellow citizens to care for those who “have borne the battle.” Years before you took office, our country was doing a very poor job of that for the over 200,000 servicemen and women stricken with various Gulf War illnesses. Today’s battlefield is likely to be even more sodden with chemicals and is altogether likely to yield tens of thousands more casualties. On October 1, 2002, Congress’ General Accounting Office reported “serious problems still persist” with the Pentagon’s efforts to protect servicemen and women, including shortfalls in clothing, equipment, and training. Our troops deserve more effective support than broadcasts, leaflets, and faulty equipment for protection against chemical and biological agents.

No one has a corner on the truth; nor do we harbor illusions that our analysis is irrefutable or undeniable. But after watching Secretary Powell today, we are convinced that you would be well served if you widened the discussion beyond violations of Resolution 1441, and beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic.

Richard Beske, San Diego
Kathleen McGrath Christison, Santa Fe
William Christison, Santa Fe
Patrick Eddington, Alexandria
Raymond McGovern, Arlington
Steering Group
Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Other Issuances

2 Memorandum for Confused Americans, March 12, 2003
“Cooking Intelligence for War”

3 Memorandum for the President, March 18, 2003
“Forgery, Hyperbole, Half-Truth: A Problem”

4 Memorandum, March 26, 2003
“Arafat Interviewed by the Christisons on Current Impasse”

5 Memorandum, April 24, 2003
“The Stakes in the Search for Weapons of Mass Destruction”

6 Memorandum for the President, May 1, 2003
“Intelligence Fiasco”

7 Letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, May 19, 2003
“On UN Inspectors and Weapons of Mass Destruction”

8 Memorandum for the President, July 14, 2003
“Intelligence Unglued”

9 Memorandum for Colleagues in Intelligence, August 22, 2003
“Now It’s Your Turn”

10 Memorandum for Colleagues in Intelligence, October 13, 2003
“One Person Can Make a Difference”

11 Memorandum for the President, January 13, 2004
“Your State-of-the-Union Address”

12 Memorandum for the President, August 24, 2005
“Recommendation: Try A Circle of ‘Wise Women’”

13 Memorandum for Speaker of the House, Senate Majority Leader
“Denouement on Iraq: First Stop the Bleeding, March 14, 2007

14 Memorandum, March 29, 2007
“Brinkmanship Unwise in Uncharted Waters”

15 Memorandum, June 17, 2007
“Countering Terrorism—How Not to Do It”

16 Memorandum, July 27, 2007
“Dangers of a Cornered George Bush”

Lies, Damn Lies and the Murdoch Empire - by Stephen Lendman

by Stephen Lendman

For Big Media, truth is a scare commodity and in times of war it's the first casualty, or as esteemed journalist John Pilger noted: "Journalism (not truth) is the first casualty (of war). Not only that: it('s)....a weapon of war (by its) virulent omission (and its) power....can and death for people in faraway countries, such as Iraq."

Famed journalist George Seldes put it another way by condemning the "prostitution of the press" in an earlier era when he covered WW I, the rise of fascism, and most major world and national events until his death in 1995 at age 104. He also confronted the media in books like "Lords of the Press." In it and others, he condemned their corruption, suppression of the truth, and news censorship before the television age, and said "The most sacred cow of the press is the press itself, (and the press is) the most powerful force against the general welfare of the majority of the people."

Orwell also knew a thing or two about truth and said telling it is a "revolutionary act in times of universal deceit." Much else he said applies to the man this article addresses and the state of today's media. He was at his allegorical best in "Animal Farm" where power overwhelms freedom, and "All animals are equal but some....are more equal than others." And he observed in "Nineteen Eighty-Four" that "Those who control the present control the future (and) Those who control the future control the past."

Today's media barons control the world as opinion makers. Like in Orwell's world, they're our national thought control police gatekeepers sanitizing news so only the cleansed residue portion gets through with everything people want most left out - the full truth all the time. They manipulate our minds and beliefs, program our thoughts, divert our attention, and effectively destroy the free marketplace of ideas essential to a healthy democracy they won't tolerate.

None more ruthlessly than Murdoch and the infoentertainment empire he controls. Its flagship US operation is Fox News that Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) calls "the most biased name in news....with its extraordinary right-wing tilt." In response, Murdock defiantly "challenge(s) anybody to show me an example of bias in Fox News Channel" because in his world the entire political spectrum begins and ends with his views. For him and his staff, "fair and balanced," we report, you decide" means supporting the boss. Alternative views are biased, verboten and rarely aired. But they're hammered when they are as the "liberal" mainstream that's code language for CNN and other rivals at a time all media giants match the worst of Fox and are often as crude, confrontational and unprofessional.

Distinguished Australian-raised journalist Bruce Page wrote the book on Murdoch called "The Murdoch Archigelago." It's about a man he calls "one of the world's leading villains (and) global pirate(s)" who rampages the mediasphere putting world leaders on notice what he expects from them and what he'll offer in return. It's "let's make a deal," Murdoch-style that's uncompromisingly hardball. Acquiesce or get hammered in print and on-air with scathing innuendo, misinformation and outright lies. Few politicians risk it. Others with alternative views have no choice, and world leaders like Hugo Chavez are used to this type character assassination.

He mostly worries about the other kind and with good reason as long-time Latin American expert James Petras reported November 28. Four days before a crucially important constitutional reform referendum, he published an article headlined: "Venezuela's D-Day - The December 2, 2007 Constituent Referendum: Democratic Socialism or Imperial Counter-Revolution."

In it, he reported that the Venezuelan government "broadcast and circulated a confidential (US embassy) memo to the CIA" revealing "clandestine destabilize (the referendum) and coordinate the civil military overthrow of the elected Chavez government." It's because independent polls predicted the referendum would pass even though they proved wrong. The dominant media readied to pounce on the results but instead went into gloat mode on a win Chavez called a "phyrric victory" but Murdock headlines trumpeted "Chavez's president-for-life-bid defeated." This is the type vintage copy Page covers with reams of examples in his book.

Its central theme is that the media baron wants to privatize "a state propaganda service (and manipulate it) without scruple (or) regard for the truth." In return he wants "vast government favors such as tax breaks, regulatory relief, and monopoly" market control free from competitors having too much of what he wants solely for himself and apparently feels it's owed to him.

Because of his size and media clout, he usually gets his way and mostly in places mattering most - in the biggest markets with greatest profit potential in a business where truth is off the table and partnering with government for a growing revenue stream and greater influence is all that counts.

The Murdock Empire from Inception

Murdoch's empire is vast and is part of his News Corporation that was incorporated in Australia in 1979 (Murdoch's home). It was then reincorporated in 2004 in the US in the corporate-friendly state of Delaware with its headquarters in New York. The company was huge when media experts Robert McChesney and Edward Herman wrote about it in their 1997 book, "The Global Media Giants." Back then, it ranked fifth in size among the giants (it's now third after Time Warner and Disney) with $10 billion in 1996 sales when the authors called the company "the archetype for the twenty-first century media firm....and the best case study (example) for understanding global media firm behavior."

Gross revenue today tops $28 billion, operating income is nearly $4.5 billion, the company has over 47,000 employees, it operates on six continents, 75% of its business is in the US, and one industry analyst told McChesney and Herman 10 years ago "Murdoch seems to have Washington in his back pocket" as he keeps getting favorable rulings to do what he wants. And that was under Bill Clinton who signed the outrageous 1996 Telecommunications (giveaway) Act for Big Media and Big Telecom that let them consolidate further through mergers and acquisitions and be able to squash competition and diversity.

In those days and earlier, Murdoch aimed high to control "multiple forms of programming - news, sports, films and children's shows--and beam them via satellite or TV stations to homes (around the world with) Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone (once saying) Murdock 'want(ed) to conquer the world.' " Other media chiefs said he was doing it, and he's "the one media executive they most respect and fear, and the one whose moves they study."

Murdoch inherited his father's Australian News Limited newspapers in 1952. He had no journalistic background but compensated by cultivating political influence through favorable electoral coverage. He became managing director of News Limited in 1953 and then took over running Adelaide News in 1954. He founded News Corporation in 1979 but years earlier concentrated on acquisitions and expansion to build his business. In 1964, he launched Australia's first national daily, The Australian, later acquired The Daily Telegraph in Sydney, and in the late 1960s entered the UK market by snaring The News of the World. In 1950, it was the world's most popular English language newspaper with a peak circulation of around 8.4 million. It was about six million when Murdock got it in 1968.

More acquisitions followed. They included The (London) Times and The Sunday Times in 1981, and by the 1980s he was a dominant force in the US. He bought the film studio, Twentieth Century Fox, that launched Fox Television and now notorious Fox News.

Today, the company is in everything media-related (except music) and describes itself on its web site as "Creating and distributing top-quality news, sports and entertainment around the world." That's in the eye of the beholder where there's considerable disagreement with the official company position. Nonetheless, the site lists a vast array of News Corporation operations:

-- Filmed entertainment: 20th Century Fox, 20th Century Fox Espanol, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 20th Century Fox International, 20th Century Fox Television, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox Studios Australia, Fox Studios Baja, Fox Studios LA, Fox Television Studios, and Blue Sky Studios;

-- Television: Fox Broadcasting, Fox Sports Australia, Fox Television Stations, FOXTEL, MyNeworkTV, STAR; and the newest entry, Fox Business, to compete with CNBC and Bloomberg;

-- Cable: Fox Business Network (just launched), Fox Movie Channel, Fox News Channel, Fox Sports Channel, Fox College Sports, Fox Sports Enterprises, Fox Sports En Espanol, Fox Sports Net, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Reality, Fuel TV, FX, National Geographic, Channel United States, Channel Worldwide, Speed, and Stats, Inc.;

-- Direct broadcast satellite television: BSkyB, DirectTV, and Sky Italia;

-- Magazines and Inserts: Big League, Inside Out, donna hay, ALPHA, News America Marketing, Smart Source, The Weekly Standard, and Gemstar - TV Guide International Inc.;

-- Newspapers: 21 in "Australasia" including the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph, Herald Sun and Sunday Herald Sun, Post-Currier, Sunday Mail, Sunday Times, The Australian, The Mercury, and the Weekly Times; 6 in the UK including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun, and News International; and two in the US - the New York Post (the Columbia Journalism review calls "a force for evil") and Wall Street Journal as of December 13 when News Corporation announced the completion of its acquisition of Dow Jones & Company;

-- Books: HarperCollins Publishers, Australia, Canada, Children's Books, United States, United Kingdom, Zondervan;

-- Other assets: 25 are listed including Broadsystem, Fox Interactive Media, IGN Entertainment,,, News Outdoor and others.

News Corp. even claims to be addressing climate change, says it's "committed" to "lowering the energy use of its businesses" across the globe, will "switch to renewable sources of power when economically feasible," and will "become carbon neutral by 2010." True or false, it's likely the company does address its energy consumption to cut costs as most other businesses also do, climate change or not.

Bruce Page picks up the story in "The Murdoch Archipelago" published in 2003. Even while attacking the media baron, he says he and others do some good. Murdoch, for instance, "exposes numberless sexual peccadilloes, and much lesser crime - but not dud military campaigns or Enronesque frauds." He specializes in sensationalist pseudo-journalism that distorts the truth on the news and loads it with juiced-up reports on murder, mayhem, mishaps, celebrity gossip and soft porn. Page goes on to say "the world would be better off without News Corp." and before he ever bought it "There's certainly a good case that he should not own The Wall Street Journal."

Too late, now that the Bancroft family sold it to him for the billions he offered and muscle he applied to get it like he always does. They might have considered former Chicago columnist Mike Royko's comment when he left the Sun-Times after Murdock bought it (and later sold it Hollinger, Inc.'s fraud convicted Conrad Black). Moving to the Tribune, he remarked "no self-respecting fish would (want to be) wrapped in a Murdoch paper....His goal is not quality journalism (it's) vast power, political power." Murdoch's own private joke also should have scared them off that "God doesn't trust (him) in the dark." Nor should anyone anywhere, anytime.

Page's polemic traces Murdoch's history in his lengthy book covering his rise from early beginnings to his unrivaled status in today's media world. It's the story of power and a man who wields it ruthlessly as a world class predator - with deception and chicanery, arrogance and artfulness, charm and cunning and sheer muscle, will, intimidation, poisonous influence and toadying to get his way as he generally does. Whatever Rupert wants, Rupert gets, and nothing stands in his way. That goes for governments and his editors as well as reporters in print and on-air. No one crosses Murdoch. Anyone practicing real journalism gets dispatched elsewhere to pursue it.

Page explained from firsthand accounts that Murdoch newsrooms aren't fun places to work. He upbraids editors and interferes with their work. Also, as explained above, he uses his operations for power play politics to bend governments to his will. As his influence grows, so does the bending, and along with it, fake journalism bearing no resemblance to the real kind. It's a Murdoch specialty by a world class pariah in a media world beset with them, but Murdoch's the worst. He's bereft of ethics, an authoritarian boss, and the book is full of examples of how he throws his weight around, bullies people and prevails. It also expresses particular displeasure about the way he cozied up to the Chinese in 1994 by removing BBC World News (no media paragon, just classier than Murdoch) from Satellite TV Asia Region in return for special favors he got.

Page also exposes Murdoch's absurd claim to be an enemy of the establishment, a populist, and battler for the common man. This from someone raised in privilege, courts the powerful, represents entrenched wealth, is now a billionaire, benefitted from nepotism, is passing his empire to his children, smashes print unions, runs a "bordello of papers" as the Sunday Times called it before he bought it, and has easy access to Number 10, the White House and other seats of power.

Page worries that media barons cause serious harm by undermining democracy, and Murdoch's the worst of the bunch. He targets the vulnerable, attacks disenfranchised minorities and bashes gays, Muslims, innocent victims of war and oppression, and anyone getting in his way. Page warns that unless we see his threat and confront it, all free societies are at risk.

Page also exposes the Murdoch myth of an archetypical entrepreneur whose "journalistic (and business) genius" got him where he is. Nonsense about a man, like his father, who uses press power for business favors to gain more power. Yet he audaciously told his biographer, William Shawcross, to "Give me an example. When have we ever asked for anything?" Page has reams of it exposing Murdoch's guile and mendacity about wanting a "level (media) playing-field." Just the opposite. He's obsessed with monopoly control and smashes competition for it.

He also smashes editors who disobey him. One observer called him unhinged, out of control and completely amoral while a former Sunday Times editor, Andrew Neil, describes the "terrorism" Murdoch spreads throughout his empire to get his way. Neil also wrote: "Rupert expects his papers to stand broadly for what he believes - a combination of right-wing Republicanism from America mixed with undiluted Thatcherism from Britain."

Murdoch's US Fox News Flagship

Fox News smoothes the way for him as a round-the-clock Bush administration commercial imitating real news. It debuted in 1996 and one of its on-air hosts explained the "Channel was launched (because) something was wrong with news media....somewhere bias found its way into committed to being fair and balanced (covering) stories everybody is will see only on Fox."

Later, the Columbia Journalism Review had a different view. It reported "several" former Fox employees "complained of 'management sticking their fingers' in the writing and editing of stories to cook the facts to make a story more palatable to right-of-center tastes." One of them complained about never running into that before before while FAIR reported "Fox's signature political news show, Special Report with Brit Hume, was originally created as a daily one-hour update devoted to the 1998 Clinton sex scandal." So much for "fair and balanced" real news.

This type attack never happens to a Republican and hasn't for Fox's presidential favorite, Rudy Giuliani, who was sinking fast, fared poorly in early primaries and now has withdrawn from the race. Nonetheless, his leadership failures and marital transgressions were ignored, and so were his ties to friend, business partner and former New York City Police Commissioner, Bernard Kerik. He was indicted on 16 counts of federal corruption, including bribery, conspiracy, tax fraud, and lying on his federal disclosure forms for not reporting a $250,000 "loan" (a likely payoff) from an Israeli billionaire that may have been sent to him for Giuliani for favors rendered.

An added twist is that a former Kerik lover, Judith Regan, sued Murdock's News Corp. and accused the company of pressuring her to commit perjury to protect Giuliani's presidential hopes. Fox News won't explain or cover it, but it daily airs preferential bias for Giuliani in its slanted reporting. It's a blatant example of unethical coverage to manipulate news for its own purpose.

FAIR also blasted one of Hume"s regular features - "The Political Grapevine" that's billed as "the most scintillating two minutes in television" as a sort of right-wing "hot-sheet." It features anchor Hume "reading off a series of gossipy items culled from other (generally) right-wing" sources. It's not subtle and is blatantly partisan calling Democrats, environmentalists, the liberal media, civil rights groups, anti-war activists and Hollywood and other liberals "villians" while Republicans are good guys or "heros who can do no wrong." When critics jump on Fox, it hits back claiming a responsibility to correct the "liberal media's bias" with Bill O'Reilly saying Fox "gives voice to people who can't get on other networks." What it does, of course, is slant the news its way to please the boss, and that means a distorted hard-right point of view only.

It also means the more people watch it, the less informed they are as News Dissector Danny Schechter explained about all TV news in his candid insider's book "The More You Watch, The Less You Know." That doesn't bother Murdock who spends millions for lobbying and hundreds of thousands more for political contributions - mostly to Republicans but also to friendly Democrats to buy and keep his growing influence. It pays off with senators like Trent Lott once telling the Washington Post: "If it hadn't been for Fox, I don't know what I'd have done for the news." He means a right-wing echo chamber pretending to be unbiased.

Long-time Republican operative Roger Ailes runs it for Murdoch with FAIR once quoting former senior Bush aide Lee Atwater saying he operates on "two speeds - attack and destroy." He also called Clinton a "hippie president," refers to liberals as "bigots," and assures all on-air programming conforms to his views. Only Republicans get hired to air them and those screened for jobs are asked to be sure.

As for punditry and political debate, here's how FAIR characterizes it: on shows like Hannity & Colmes, The O'Reilly Factor and The Beltway Boys it's like watching "a Harlem Globetrotters game (knowing) which side is supposed to win." Or maybe pro wrestling. The discussion is so lopsided, it's impossible hiding Fox's partisanship, and it shows with on-air hosts like Tony Snow endorsing Republican Bob Dole for President in 1996 and then seamlessly becoming White House press secretary from May, 2006 to September, 2007. Other Fox "journalists" are as bad and collect handsome fees addressing Republican gatherings and corporate interest groups with big name ones like O'Reilly reportedly charging $50,000 per engagement on the lecture circuit delivering red meat to audiences that love it.

So do hard core Fox viewers who swallow the channel's pro-Bush, pro-war, pro-occupation America uber alles type journalism combined with juiced-up infotainment reports imitating real news. It makes it hard knowing where one ends and the other begins. In the mainstream, much of it is the same, and all of it defiles what journalism should do -

-- be the principle source of political information to create an informed citizenry Jefferson said was "the bulwark of a democracy;"

-- provide a wide range of opinion and analysis of all key issues affecting everyone;

-- hold governments accountable to the public interest and not just the privileged elite part of it; and generally

-- "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."

Murdoch and the rest of the dominant media fail the test. Their concentrated power blunt democracy by destroying its essential free marketplace of ideas. Today, social control substitutes for diversity, free expression, and an informed electorate; pro-business ideology trumps the greater good; and the single-minded pursuit of profit triumphs over beneficial social change. Combatting it means confronting the media barons who are as determined as Murdoch to squash us.

Organizations like Free Press are doing it. It's a "national nonpartisan organization working to increase informed public participation in crucial media policy debates." It aims to "generate policies that will produce a more competitive and public interest-oriented media system with a strong nonprofit and noncommercial sector" promoting greater diversity. The more democratic our media, the more accountable government will be to public concerns. Free Press focuses on four broad areas to help: "media ownership" for greater competition and diversity; "independent and public media" free from the single-minded pursuit of profit; "internet freedom" from corporate control; and "media reform" of a corrupted system aided by government that must end.

To happen, public participation is essential, and for that organizations like Free Press are crucial. Corporate media control is the core issue of our time along with overall corporate dominance with governments as their handmaiden. Democracy and a free society are impossible unless that changes. It's we the people vs. the Murdochs of the world, and we've only just begun fighting back.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at