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The ‘Caesar Report’ conundrum and the increasing weaponisation of “international justice”

Moaz Moustafa (on right) facilitates John McCain’s illegal entry into Syria to meet with extremist group leaders and known kidnappers. (Photo: Antiwar)
By Tim Hayward | 21st Century Wire | April 6, 2019

The photos brought to public attention in January 2014 by the anonymous witness codenamed ‘Caesar’ show corpses, thousands in number, deceased from violent causes, some bearing signs of torture and many having suffered starvation and neglect.[1] The dead are said to be victims of Syrian state detention facilities, but it is now known that many were not, and it is still not known for sure how many of them were.[2]

If the atrocity of the crimes to which the photos attest is in no doubt, the question of who perpetrated them is less clear-cut. Yet Western reports have unequivocally blamed the ‘Assad regime’. A counter-hypothesis, hardly considered in public discussions, is that many of the bodies were of civilians captured by Jaish al-Islam (JAI) after taking control of Douma in December 2012. JAI are known to have starved their captives while using them as slave labourers, which they did on a scale monumental enough to create the extraordinary network of deep and impressively engineered tunnels that we now see had been built across the area under their control.[3]

Nevertheless, a Qatari-sponsored prosecution team vouched for the Caesar evidence as being ‘capable of being believed’ – in a court of law – to show ‘systematic torture and killing of detained persons by the agents of the Syrian government.’[4] The Western media’s subsequent dissemination of the prosecutors’ interpretation of the images – unchallenged – caused it to be widely believed in the ‘court of public opinion’. Despite significant unsettled and unsettling questions, then, a particular account of what the images show has exercised considerable influence over people’s default assumptions about accountability for atrocities in Syria.

It is the influence of this specific interpretation of evidence that will be reflected on here, and without prejudice as to what may be established about occurrences in Syrian detention on other bases.[5] Questions about the Caesar evidence point up concerns about the extent to which the dissemination of inaccurate information might have distorted the written historical record of our times and how it may have practically influenced real decisions and events.

It matters to get at the truth about the photos for those reasons, as well as for the sake of families whose loved ones have disappeared, but there is also a further reason. This concerns a use made of Caesar’s testimony that may affect the future course of history too. It is the promotion by Western prosecutors of judicial innovation in the pursuit of accountability for atrocity crimes. The purpose of this article is to set out how and why that is a concern, and fundamentally one about justice.

To situate the discussion it will be worth briefly outlining the contrasting kinds of reception the Caesar testimony has received – affirmative versus sceptical – and then also pointing to a much less noticed reception, one of significant silence. For there is an identifiable group of usually vocal critics of the Syrian president and government that has refrained from mentioning the name Caesar. This in itself could be somewhat revealing about what intelligence that group accepts as authoritative. But it also throws into relief the distinctive commitments of another group who, by contrast, have made considerable use of the Caesar name.

It is they who have, for instance, provided the impetus behind successful lobbying for the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act in the United States. Less spectacular, but of potentially more enduring international significance, is dissemination of Caesar’s narrative in a wider campaign aimed at creating increasingly flexible mechanisms for international criminal prosecutions.[6]

Billed by some as a progressive and cosmopolitan approach to ‘global justice’ that sets human rights above the prerogative of despots, this movement might more cautiously be assessed as legitimising ‘regime change’ by means of judicial innovation. Such use of the Caesar testimony could serve not only to delegitimise the current president of Syria but also to enhance the possibility of delegitimising any head of state.

This would be at the initiative of prosecution teams who themselves are accountable to their clients and sponsors rather than to the victims of conflict or to principles of humanitarian justice. The argument thus to be developed in this article commends caution about both the evidentiary value of the Caesar testimony and the intentions of those who have most vocally asserted it.

Caesar, his story and the questions raised.

The basic outline of Caesar’s story can be sketched quite succinctly. According to the testimony attributed to Caesar, he had been working as a military photographer in Damascus, where his job was to photograph the dead for purposes of state record keeping. In 2011, concerned at the number of deceased, and the visible indications of torture and starvation, he started smuggling digital files of the images to a contact, now referred to as Sami, who passed them to the Syrian National Movement (SNM). In August 2013, the SNM facilitated Caesar’s extrication from Syria, to be followed shortly after by his immediate family members.

The SNM, although based in Turkey, was backed by Qatar, and the Qatari government hired a team of lawyers and forensic specialists to assess the credibility of the witness and his evidence as a basis for potential prosecutions. In a matter of days the team pronounced Caesar’s evidence ‘capable of being believed’ in a court.[7]

Caesar was then taken to Washington on a visit facilitated by Mouaz Moustafa, director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a US State Department sponsored organisation representing some of the anti-government forces in Syria. When giving testimony there, Caesar’s face was concealed and his words were whispered to Moustafa, who acted as translator. After appearing in several other high profile venues with similar arrangements for anonymity, Caesar withdrew from the limelight.

Caesar testimony fed through Moaz Moustafa, facilitator of McCain’s trip to meet “rebels” in Syria. (Photo: Tim Hayward blog)

Meanwhile, an influential section of United States political opinion has pronounced itself confident enough in the witness Caesar to enact legislation in his name – the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act – aimed at enforcing ‘accountability’ measures on Syria. The lead author of the Caesar Report, David Crane, has spoken of the photographic evidence as a ‘smoking gun’, words echoed by Keith Harper, US Ambassador to the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC). Stephen Rapp, the former US Ambassador At Large for War Crimes, has stated that the photos help to provide ‘much better evidence than has been available to prosecutors anywhere since Nuremberg’.[8]

Prosecution teams in Europe have also attributed great value to the photos as evidence of atrocity crimes.[9] Among the lawyers prominent in promoting the prosecutorial value of the Caesar evidence are Toby Cadman,[10] Wolfgang Kaleck[11] and Patrick Kroker.[12] Meanwhile, the NGO Human Rights Watch produced its own report claiming to validate some of the Caesar evidence.[13] A number of journalists have also expressed themselves convinced, including Richard Engel, who has met ‘Caesar’, and Josh Rogin, Ben Taub, Susie Linfield,[14] Nick Robins-Early,[15] Adam Ciralsky,[16] Jim Muir for the BBC,[17] as well as many more contributors to news outlets including Spiegel,[18] Daily Mail,[19] CNN.[20]

Garance le Caisne wrote a book on Operation Caesar, and documentary films featuring it include Sara Afshar’s Syria’s Disappeared. Affirmation of the evidence has made its way into academic publications too. Some of this has come from people involved in organisations campaigning for an approach to justice and accountability for atrocity crimes that allows implementation of a ‘responsibility to prosecute’.

Those with this interest include prosecution lawyers and advisors like Stephen Rapp, David Crane, Wolfgang Kaleck, Patrick Kroker, and Beth Van Schaack. Other academics who have cited the Caesar evidence uncritically, treating it as part of an established factual record, include: Noha Aboueldahab;[21] Jamie Allinson;[22] Adam Bazco, Gilles Dorronsoro and Arthur Quesnay;[23] Nader Hashemi;[24] Bessma Momani and Tanzeel Hazak;[25] Chris Tenove;[26] and Thomas Weiss.[27]

Some academics have cited the HRW report rather than the original Caesar Report, even if, like Van Schaack,[28] they apparently did not notice how HRW had significantly modified some of the original report’s claims, such as the 11,000 victims figure that HRW corrected down. In all, it can certainly be said that Operation Caesar has made its way into publications that will be regarded as laying down the historical record.

Not everyone is convinced, however. Even the initial reception was cautious in some quarters. One reason was the revelation that Operation Caesar had been initiated by Qatar, a country that had been providing funds – now known to be in the billions of dollars – to opposition fighters aiming to bring down the government of Bashar al-Assad.

There were also the questions, flagged at the start of this article, that are simply begged by appeals – of Rapp and others – to the confirmation by the FBI that the photos showed real dead people.[29] Other serious concerns have been set out in detail by Rick Sterling[30] and Adam Larson[31], but an elementary and conspicuous one is the unconvincing justification for Caesar’s anonymity, which serves to prevent any rigorous independent questioning of his story.

The rationale given for secrecy appears to depend on the implausible proposition that a photographer in the state’s employ could go missing and yet not be missed. A result of the anonymity is that the public ultimately has to place a lot of trust in the competence, integrity and good faith of the people translating and relaying the story. Given that these are people pressing a case for the prosecution, it would be only proper to allow a full examination of the methods they have deployed in presenting their case.

From a defence perspective, it would be hard to ignore facts like prime mover Rapp and the fixer and translator Moustafa having been among the most persistent lobbyists on Capitol Hill for regime change – previously in Libya and then in Syria. Rapp, furthermore, has been campaigning for changes in international criminal law that would lower the barriers to prosecution for atrocity crimes. Even their allies in the quest to prosecute Assad have expressed reservations.

Notably, the directors of the organisations gathering the documentary evidence that Rapp finds the necessary complement of Caesar’s evidence have been quite clear on the point. Thus Bill Wiley, director of the Europe-based Commission for International Justice and Accountability (CIJA) has said ‘would it make a case against Assad? No, not at all, not at all.’[32] Wiley’s counterpart in America, Mohammad al-Abdallah – director of the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre – is also deeply sceptical of the photos’ evidentiary value.[33]

Who dares to cite Caesar?

The central concern of this study can now be further delineated by reference to a group of social media commentators who, to my initial surprise, have appeared to accept that point. This is a group of people who are generally vocal in matters relating to the war in Syria and would not typically pass up an opportunity to highlight crimes alleged of the Syrian president and government.

This group would include Idrees Ahmad, Eliot Higgins, Oz Katerji, Scott Lucas, George Monbiot,[34] Thomas Pierret and Robin Yassin-Kassab. None of them – as far as I can discern – has ever referred to Caesar.[35] The most natural explanation would be that each has individually examined the Caesar Report and decided it did indeed give rise to the critical concerns that sceptics have identified.

However, the same people have been prepared to refer to the HRW report that validates the Caesar evidence, even though it does not address the critical questions. It is as if they are aware that particulars of the Caesar story may be vulnerable to being discredited but they are satisfied that the reputation of the NGO makes it safe to cite as an authority.

What makes this anomalous is that similar caution does not come into play for members of the group with regard to other operations that are no less controversial. A notable example would be the White Helmets. The idea that the White Helmets organisation consists of unarmed humanitarian volunteers devoted to altruistic and impartial service of their home communities is demonstrably misleading in that the funding, coordination and training comes from abroad, its recruits are paid, and they do not represent or serve all sections of Syrian society.

If some of the men may simply be carrying out the tasks they are ostensibly paid to, others have appeared to bear arms and to collaborate with militant extremists. Some have been accused of crimes, including serious ones, and there are even questions about whether some may have been involved in committing atrocities. In short, if one sees reason to be cautious about the credibility of Caesar it would be consistent and reasonable to be cautious about the White Helmets too.

In order to try and resolve the anomaly, it is worth considering another feature of the White Helmets operation that invites comparison with the Caesar narrative:

‘Like Caesar, the White Helmets—also known as the Syrian Civil Defense forces—have become inadvertent documentarians. … White Helmet volunteers have testified before the Security Council, in capitals, and elsewhere and provided photographs and videos of the aftermath of attacks that have helped to shed light on chemical weapon use.’[36]

This documentary role – ‘inadvertent’ or otherwise – has not been lost on promoters of the two operations. Of the Caesar exhibition, Van Schaack observes ‘Such displays respond to the behavioral psychology research on the “picture superiority effect,” which teaches that humans respond to photos more viscerally than to text.’

Of the White Helmets, James Le Mesurier has explained how, in 2012, the security firm he then co-directed, ARK FZC, consulted global market research showing that military and security actors were least likely to win public trust whereas first responders are the most trusted.[37] Thereupon ARK created the White Helmets, and Le Mesurier subsequently formed the Netherlands-registered non-profit Mayday Rescue to manage them (although he was funded from sources like the UK FCO through his company Mayday Rescue FZ-LLC based in a UAE tax haven). As documentarians, the White Helmets have had a much more widespread and sustained impact than Operation Caesar.

So there are some differences worth reflecting on. First, the publicity value of the Caesar images needs no narrative or naming, no due process or due diligence to underwrite, since it is immediate and visceral.

The name that needs to be tagged to those images, moreover, is not Caesar but Assad.[38] People don’t need to be kept in mind of the codename for an operation but they do need to have in mind a constant association of those terrible images with the name of Assad. Seen in this light, therefore, silence about Caesar is an entirely consistent element of an anti-Assadist strategy to influence public opinion.

By contrast, although the White Helmets also make considerable use of imagery,[39] their narrative and their projected identity are necessary for situating and making sense of the images. Moreover, they are protagonists of their own narrative and have remained in situ to cover continuing developments on the ground (even if they have had to move towns as battle lines have shifted).

Their trustworthiness being necessary for the effect of their message, it has been vigorously defended even in the face of serious criticisms. So it is not so surprising, after all, that activists and publicists who have avoided getting drawn into discussion of the Caesar narrative stand firm in defence of the White Helmets narrative.

But if the preference for the White Helmets over Caesar is explicable in those terms, what then needs to be understood is why some other people have nevertheless so actively promoted the Caesar narrative. If the initial purpose of promoting it was to press President Obama’s administration to take a more active interventionist approach to Syria, then it had already failed, and Caesar was not in a position to produce any new evidence. In seeking an explanation it is worth reflecting on who has been most active and consistent in promoting Operation Caesar – from its inception to this day.

The Caesar promoters 

The lead author of the Qatari-commissioned Caesar report is David Crane, and he also leads the Syrian Accountability Project (SAP), which he founded some time prior to Caesar’s defection.[40] SAP is said to be student-run and its clients include the Syrian National Council and US State Department.[41] It also ‘works very closely with’ the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre, which in turn is a conduit of US funding to CIJA.

Incidentally, Rapp, Crane, and fellow Caesar Report author Desmond De Silva, were all previously successive holders of the same job, namely, chief prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.[42] The man who brought Caesar from his Qatari handlers to the West, and accompanied him on tour, even providing his voice, is Mouaz Moustafa.

Moustafa’s constant companion on the tour – which has included visits to the UK Foreign Office – is Rapp. Rapp was also involved in founding the organisation supplying the documentary evidence that is a sine qua non for the legal effect of Caesar materials. Now known as CIJA, that organisation grew out of Wiley’s collaboration at ARK FZC with the UK FCO’s go-to contractor, the former diplomat Alistair Harris, who through his ARK business also founded the White Helmets and other Syria security and ‘stabilisation’ projects.

Harris, a man of ideas and advocacy as well as action, was co-author with Cadman and Moustafa of a 2013 paper for RUSI urging that it was not too soon to start implementing transitional justice in Syria; and Harris’s ARK has been a conduit of funding – received from US as well as UK – for Moustafa’s organization SETF. As for the European prosecutions, and related initiatives pressing for ‘universal jurisdiction,’ Rapp is there too a constant and inspirational presence.

Stephen Rapp with Moaz Moustafa in New Hampshire. (Photo: New Hampshire Gazette)

Rapp’s core ambition is not focused exclusively on President Assad. He advocates in more general terms a principle of ‘no peace without justice’, which he interprets as implying a ‘responsibility to prosecute’ whose ultimate implications would be to enhance the legitimacy of externally imposed regime change operations on any nation – not just Syria – whose leadership is deemed to be oppressing its people and standing in the way of democracy and freedom.

It may be noted that Rapp has been part of on-going high level US deliberations about how to finesse that nation’s awkward situation of wanting to see other countries’ leaders prosecuted while not itself even signing up to the existing procedures that are provided by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

This conundrum has exercised the American elite for some years, and Rapp appears committed to a solution that lies in promoting innovative jurisprudence and hybrid courts. It would be facilitated by the emergence of a principle of ‘universal jurisdiction’, a principle that has gained particular traction in Germany, and some in other European countries too, like Spain, France and Sweden,[43] where the Caesar materials have apparently been deployed in courts.

In short, there is a discernible aim here of redefining the rules of the ‘rules-based international order’, with particular relevance to who shall be permitted to govern a country.[44] This is to press for global rules that override the powers of nation-states – a development whose effects are akin to what is already being accomplished through trade and investment agreements like TTP and TTIP by imposing rules of corporate globalism on nations with compliant governments.

Thus, from the standpoint of concern to serve US-based corporate interests, there is more at stake than the matter of who should be president of Syria.

The purpose of Caesar

Viewed from that perspective, Operation Caesar appears as a particular expedient in relation to a particular recalcitrant nation-state. The Caesar materials are likely to have little or no direct legal effect to that end, however, according to Wiley, and will not make a case against Assad in courts.

What the images do is harness powerful human emotion to the case. And it is entirely fitting that great human emotion should be stirred by images of human atrocities, as it may also be fitting that justice and accountability should be sought. If war crimes are committed, justice arguably requires accountability for them,[45] and so the value of evidence has to be assessed on its merits, and that means creating opportunities for such an assessment – even, conceivably, by deploying innovative judicial means.

I would just add that there are also other important considerations to keep in mind.

First, justice has to be assiduously sought by means that are rigorously directed to the pursuit of truth. This would be a sine qua non for just retribution. The pursuit of justice requires great scrupulousness of method and honesty of intent; it entails respecting the presumption of innocence, ensuring procedures are impartial and consistent, with due transparency and openness. These are qualities that need ensuring and cannot be assumed to follow from initiatives of ‘innovation’ that are pursued by special interest groups as is a concern about Operation Caesar.

Second is the need in due process to reserve judgement as to the honesty and intentions of witnesses to any alleged crime, pending their evidence being put to the test in a properly constituted hearing.

For the purposes of justice it is never to be assumed that all people at all times act honestly and in good faith, for it is precisely because they do not that institutions of justice are required to provide a remedy.

Thus a requisite degree of realism in retributive justice has always to attend to motivations, including thoughts about deterrents and incentives. As well as this general concern there is in the present context also a more specific kind of concern. It is a fact that deceptive events are sometimes staged, including by way of what are referred to as false flag operations.

Regarding many of the various accusations of atrocity crimes levelled against the Syrian government there are reasonable grounds for doubt, and justice certainly requires that no blanket presumption be made about the dependability of testimony from witnesses like the White Helmets or Caesar.

Third, although the Caesar evidence, like that of the White Helmets, has never been tested in a properly constituted court of law, it has sounded very loudly in the media and has thus exercised a determinate influence on the ‘court of public opinion’.

The media reports that shape public opinion, however, often appear to have scant regard for truth or accuracy, let alone justice. Insofar as promoters of prosecutions against state leaders are also seeking to use ‘innovative’ forms of justice effectively to lower the barrier to effective prosecutions, it could be perceived as extremely prejudicial that they are able to make their case so unrestrainedly to the wider public ahead of any properly constituted hearing.

Fourth, there is the distinct possibility that under circumstances where not only is public opinion manipulated but also political agendas are promoted, the communications can even provide incentives to stage harmful acts as false flag operations.

Specifically, the pronouncement of red lines can favour this effect. There are strong grounds for suspicion that in practice this effect has operated from time to time in Syria, as elsewhere, and a simple logic of incentives does nothing to assuage such suspicions.

It is therefore a matter of serious concern that the informal penumbra of ‘justice and accountability’ talk that goes to support the imposition of ‘red lines’ could be not only prejudicial to the trying of crimes that have occurred but potentially be used to support incentives for crimes to be committed.

The fifth point is the most important of all. Concerns about justice and accountability for war crimes are ultimately about acting on behalf of the moral conscience of humanity.

If any given war crime shocks the human conscience, then so much more ought the very occurrence of war itself do so, especially when it is not clearly just or necessary.

If war crimes have been committed in Syria it is because there has been a war in Syria – a war that need never have been but for the provocations and facilitations of external actors.

If we truly want to hold people responsible for war crimes, then should we not attribute great responsibility to those whose actions are among the root causes of them?

Let us bear in mind, for instance, that Qatar was the biggest supplier of funds and arms to the enemies of Syria’s government, and that the United States has been a major orchestrator of international collaboration to delegitimise that government. With such facts in mind, it can be argued that for agents of those states to be producing evidence to accuse Syria of war crimes is to add moral insult to injury.

 

Had these states not promoted an armed insurgency in the first place, there would have been no war and thus no war crimes in Syria. They certainly have earned no benefit of the doubt regarding the anonymous, secretive and unverifiable testimony their agents jointly presented in Operation Caesar.

On this last point, it is further interesting to note that we in the West do not receive much unfiltered communication from the side of the defence to these attempted prosecutions. We hear that Syria, Russia, China and various non-aligned countries have forceful reservations but this is always attributed to pure political calculation on their part. ‘They’, it seems, are always subject to conflicts of interest whereas ‘we’, in the West, are concerned only with the pure pursuit of humanitarian justice.

Just how far this might be from the truth is glimpsed in the reflections of former international criminal defence lawyer Christopher Black. His considerations of the modus operandi of prominent prosecutors like those pressing the ‘responsibility to prosecute’ as part of an ‘innovative justice’ agenda are sobering, to put it mildly.[46] For present purposes, however, it suffices to have indicated the much bigger game that the Caesar testimony has played a small part in.[47]

In conclusion, I would emphasise that it behoves us to try and be clear about the effects of Operation Caesar and learn lessons from the study of it. Having noted that even vocal critics of Assad and his government avoid appeals to Caesar, and given the serious criticisms made by others, we have good reason to reserve judgement as to its credibility.

This means that those who have committed to accrediting it as wholly true have quite possibly disseminated a falsehood. With NGOs, journalists and even academics embedding in it lessons of that possible falsehood, the historical record may already have been distorted in ways that may not be undone. But a still greater concern is that further harms may be generated in the future not only as a result of misinformation but also as a result specifically of what the West’s legal innovators are seeking, which is nothing less than a change in the rules of the ‘rules-based international order’.

We already find some scholars of international law viewing such changes as positive steps towards ‘global justice’. This is a matter about which more critical concern should be in evidence than has been to date.

To put bluntly this contextualised concern about Operation Caesar: not only may it already have altered the historical record, and not only may its effects have served to alter somewhat the course of history to date, but in serving to influence decision makers, it may contribute more indelibly to shifting the baseline of normative consensus in a direction favourable to ousting non-compliant leaders of sovereign states.

That is effectively to bestow legitimacy on imperialist regime change projects.

What justice meanwhile requires with regard to the ‘Caesar’ evidence is genuine and impartial investigation into the truth about who died and at whose hands. The instrumentalisation of those terrible deaths for the purposes of further destabilizing a country ripped apart by violent forces that are aided and abetted by foreign states – including so-called liberal democracies – is itself an affront to the conscience of humankind.

***

[1] For an overview of the story at the time see Ian Black in The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/20/evidence-industrial-scale-killing-syria-war-crimes. For a later and fuller reconstruction see Adam Ciralsky in Vanity Fair: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/06/assad-war-crimes-syria-torture-caesar-hospital.

[2] See the Human Rights Watch study of the Caesar evidence: https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/12/16/if-dead-could-speak/mass-deaths-and-torture-syrias-detention-facilities. For a more detailed and critical study of the evidence see the website of Adam Larson: http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/search?q=caesar.

Drawing on Larson’s study, Paul McKeigue has summarised what is not in dispute and what other factors should be borne in mind (personal communication) and I follow his advice in the summary that follows.

Not disputed:- The photos show the bodies of at least 5000 adult men at the Damascus military hospital, many of whom have been starved, over a period of about 8 months up to August 2013. Their identities are unknown, and the bodies have been labelled with numbers.

Other factors:- Some of them may be battlefield casualties, although most have no obvious external injuries. Some of them appear to have been gassed while hung upside down. From this, and the signs of prolonged starvation it is clear that most of them were captives. What is not known for certain regarding most of them is whether they were captured and/or killed by the government or by rebel forces (since the fact of being gathered for delivery to the mortuary could apply in either event. Some victims have tattoos indicating they are Christian, Shia or Assad supporters. The picture is further complicated by the fact that there were prisoner swaps between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and JAI in 2013.

Adam Larson (personal communication) adds that there is no semblance of a prison uniform evident in the photos, the men being mainly naked or in underwear, in street clothes or, in a few cases, still in their camouflage military uniforms.

For my part, I do not have the knowledge or expertise to offer an opinion as to the relative likelihoods of the two hypotheses. Nor does my argument depend on the likelihood of the JAI hypothesis being much greater than the official Western hypothesis, as Larson and McKeigue suggest it is. (Nor can some combination of those or other possibilities be definitively ruled out.) My argument relies only on the consideration that a self-consistent and materially possible explanation has not been ruled out while the accepted Western narrative has not been sufficiently established.

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgGqwAwJL5M&feature=youtu.be

[4] https://www.carter-ruck.com/images/uploads/documents/Syria_Report-January_2014.pdf

[5] This is a point made particularly effectively by Dan Murphy in an early response to the Caesar evidence: for he declares himself convinced on the basis of reports from other sources that the Syrian security apparatus is in fact responsible for large scale and egregious violation of human rights, and yet he vigorously challenges the credibility of the Caesar Report. https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/Backchannels/2014/0121/Syria-smoking-gun-report-warrants-a-careful-read

[6] These include, most recently, creation of the International Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIIM).

[7] https://www.carter-ruck.com/images/uploads/documents/Syria_Report-January_2014.pdf

[8] Rapp in a 2016 interview with Ben Taub in the The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/04/18/bashar-al-assads-war-crimes-exposed

[9] These include ECCHR https://www.ecchr.eu/en/case/caesar-photos-document-systematic-torture/ and the Guernica teams https://www.guernicagroup.org/syria, and German Public Prosecutors in Karlsruhe https://en.qantara.de/content/assads-crimes-tried-in-german-courts-hoping-for-justice.

[10] Before setting up the Guernica teams, Cadman had been an associate at Cherie Blair’s law firm Omnia and was at the centre of a scandal: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/cherie-blairs-right-hand-man-previously-pitched-to-represent-the-other-side-in-maldives-case-a6779321.html. This is relevant to mention insofar as much of the drive for judicial innovation is based on arguments about humanitarianism and morality that sit uneasily alongside motivations of making business profits.

[11] Wolfgang Kaleck founded the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) together with other internationally renowned lawyers in Berlin in 2007. He has promoted prosecuting on the basis of Caesar evidence https://www.ecchr.eu/nc/en/press-release/torture-in-syria-investigations-in-austria-are-a-first-step-now-arrest-warrants-must-follow/

[12] Patrick Kroker is responsible for ECCHR’s work on Syria. He sets out his perspective in this interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyi3jkDCRlE&feature=youtu.be

[13] https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/12/16/if-dead-could-speak/mass-deaths-and-torture-syrias-detention-facilities.

[14] Susie Linfield in The New York Review of Books: https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/02/09/syrias-torture-photos-witness-to-atrocity/)

[15] https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/03/28/syria-war-crimes_n_6950660.html

[16] Adam Ciralsky in Vanity Fair: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/06/assad-war-crimes-syria-torture-caesar-hospital.

[17] Jim Muir for the BBC: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25822571

[18] http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/spiegel-reporting-supports-accounts-of-torture-and-execution-in-syria-a-945760.html

[19] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2544711/Starved-tortured-throttled-The-true-horror-Assads-soldiers-execute-rebel-prisoners-revealed-new-images-released-today.html

[20] https://edition.cnn.com/2014/01/20/world/syria-torture-photos-amanpour/index.html t.

[21] Noha Aboueldahab, Writing Atrocities (2018)

[22] Jamie Allinson, ‘Disaster Islamism’ (http://salvage.zone/in-print/disaster-islamism/

[23] Adam Bazco, Gilles Dorronsoro and Arthur Quesnay Civil War in Syria, Cambridge UP 2017.

[24] Nader Hashemi, ‘The ISIS Crisis and the Broken Politics of the Middle East’ http://www.bu.edu/cura/files/2016/12/hashemi-paper1.pdf

[25] Bessma Momani and Tanzeel Hazak, ‘Syria’, in The Oxford Handbook of the Responsibility to Protect Edited by: Alex Bellamy, Tim Dunne 2016 Oxford University Press.

[26] Chris Tenove (2019), ‘Networking justice: digitally-enabled engagement in transitional justice by the Syrian diaspora, Ethnic and Racial Studies’, DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2019.1569702

[27] Thomas G. Weiss (2014) ‘Military Humanitarianism: Syria Hasn’t Killed It’, The Washington Quarterly, 37:1.

[28] Beth Van Schaack (2019) ‘Innovations in International Criminal Law Documentation Methodologies and Institutions’ https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3329102

[29] Tim Anderson has commented that ‘we have no way of verifying in which year, circumstance or even which country the photos were taken. Those who finance and arm the sectarian groups have slaughtered hundreds of thousands in recent years, in the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. There is no shortage of photos of dead bodies…’ (Tim Anderson ‘The Dirty War on Syria: Barrel Bombs, Partisan Sources and War Propaganda’ Global Research 7 October 2015). However, after a very close study of the photographs, Adam Larson believes that the photos were taken in the Damascus area and that the deaths occurred within that area, mostly in the period from mid-late 2012 to August 2013. This fact, nonetheless, does not make the Syrian government a more likely suspect for their murder than Jaish al-Islam. (Adam Larson, personal communication)

[30] Rick Sterling, ‘The Caesar Photo Fraud that Undermined Syrian Negotiations’ https://dissidentvoice.org/2016/03/the-caesar-photo-fraud-that-undermined-syrian-negotiations/

[31] Adam Larson, ‘Fail Caesar’, in 10 parts: http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/search?q=caesar

[32] Wiley interviewed in the Al Jazeera documentary Syria: Witnesses for the Prosecution https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GGK4zrl7P0 ). Speaking at a conference organised by his friend David Crane at Syracuse University, Wiley is clear that for advocacy groups like Amnesty and HRW ‘the burden of proof for the sort of evidence they need for their reports, it is very, very low. … Oftentimes they do allege crimes, in my opinion, incorrectly, but they are just drawing attention to the suffering.’ (19.55) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enJvVvN8thU (Running for Cover conference, Syracuse, 2016)

[33] Mohammad al-Abdallah quoted in Enab Baladi’s Investigation Team (2018) ‘Al-Assad’s crimes in millions of documents: When will accountability start?’ https://english.enabbaladi.net/archives/2018/10/al-assads-crimes-in-millions-of-documents-when-will-accountability-start/

[34] For readers not familiar with these debates, but who know Monbiot for his interesting work on environmental issues, his inclusion in this list may be surprising. I for one was very surprised to discover the company he keeps in this matter, and after some rather disagreeable interactions with him on the subject, I did an extended study attempting to understand it: https://timhayward.wordpress.com/2018/04/11/how-we-were-misled-about-syria-george-monbiot-of-the-guardian/

[35] I stand to be corrected on this, of course, and I do note that Caesar has been referred to by Higgins, for instance, in the context of geolocating one of the photos, but without direct comment as to its significance.

[36] Beth Van Schaack (2019) ‘Innovations in International Criminal Law Documentation Methodologies and Institutions’, p.40.

[37] This information comes from an address delivered by Le Mesurier at The Performance Theatre in 2015 [links to the video recording of which appear to have been taken down].

[38] See the discussion in Lissa Johnson, ‘The Psychology of Getting Julian Assange’ Pt 5 https://newmatilda.com/2019/03/25/the-psychology-of-getting-julian-assange-part-5-war-propaganda-101/.

[39] As shown by Simone Rudolphi (2018), ‘Analysis of White Helmets’ Visual Strategy’, Masters Thesis, University of Sunderland.

[40] Already in 2013, before Caesar’s defection, Crane was ‘working with a team of lawyers and civil-society advocates to set up an archive of war crimes and atrocities committed in Syria that could be used as a basis for prosecution.’ As Crane put it, “We former chief prosecutors are like racehorses – you can put us out to pasture but we still want to run.” (https://www.newsweek.com/2013/09/27/david-cranes-prosecution-former-liberian-president-charles-taylor-238008.html)

[41] http://www.iamsyria.org/uploads/1/3/0/2/13025755/syria-sap_general_overview.pdf

[42] http://www.rscsl.org/prosecution.html

[43] Thierry Cruvellier (2019) ‘European Justice Strikes on Crimes in Syria’ https://www.justiceinfo.net/en/tribunals/national-tribunals/40383-european-justice-strikes-on-crimes-in-syria.html

[44] Ultimately, however, what is at stake affects the United States as a nation of people too, since what is driving it is a form of association that knows no national loyalties to any body politic but only to the interests of those with control of the world’s mega-corporations.

[45] I say ‘arguably’, since another view would take justice to have a more complex relationship with peace such as may find some place for the principle of amnesty – forgetting – but the present paper does not call into question the principle of punishing war crimes through due process.

[46] See Christopher Black (2014), ‘Rwanda and the Criminalisation of International Justice: Anatomy of War Crimes Trials’, Global Researchhttps://www.globalresearch.ca/rwanda-and-the-criminalisation-of-international-justice-anatomy-of-war-crimes-trials/5408604 and ‘Rwanda Confronting the 1994 Apocalypse’ https://christopher-black.com/rwanda-confronting-the-1994-apocalypse/

[47] See also the perspective offered by the historian John Laughland on the notion of International Justice, as in this video interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4_J-ZxYnMw

April 6, 2019 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout

By Chris Busby | CounterPunch | March 20, 2018

George Monbiot, who has now been diagnosed with prostate cancer at the young age of 55, was therefore born in 1963, at the peak of the atmospheric test fallout. He is thus a peak exposed (at risk) member of a cohort of those exposed in the womb to the fallout (1959-63) and currently suffering the consequences of exposure to Strontium-90 in the milk, and (measured) in the childrens’ bones.

In his article in the Guardian, he says that he has always done all the healthy things, done lots of exercise, eaten vegetables, didn’t smoke or drink, all that stuff. He is clearly puzzled about being singled out by the three ladies. But the cause was something that he had no control over, and neither had anyone else who was born in the fallout period. George writes that he is happy. This insane response to his predicament, (which I personally am not happy about despite his intemperate attacks on me in his Guardian column and blogs) must go alongside his equally insane response about the Fukushima events where he publicised his road-to-Damascus conversion to nuclear power.

The effect of the genetic damage of the fallout on babies can be seen in the graph below, Fig 1, taken from a recent paper I published (Busby C (2017) Radiochemical Genotoxicity Risk and Absorbed Dose. Res Rep Toxi. Vol.1 No.1:1.).  The babies that did not die were just those with insufficient genetic damage to kill, but this damage would have affected them in later life in various ways. The most measurable effect (apart from genetic defects and congenital diseases) is higher cancer risk which is presented as early cancer onset. The issue of the 1959-63 cancer cohort was discussed in my 1995 book Wings of Death, and a letter I published in 1994 in the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The issue is one of Absorbed Dose. If internal exposure to radionuclides like Strontium-90 and Uranium-238 and Uranium-235 bind to DNA, which is the target for genetic damage, then Dose, which is an average quantity over kilograms of tissue, is an unsafe way of quantifying genetic damage. The issue of genetic damage from radioactive pollution was first raised in 1950 by Herman Muller, the Nobel Prize winning geneticist who discovered the effects of radiation, but his warnings were ignored, though they are now found to be accurate.

The serious effects of internal radionuclide exposures on Prostate Cancer were revealed in a study of UK Atomic Energy Agency workers also published in 1993 in the BMJ (Fraser P, Carpenter L, Maconochie N, Higgins C, Booth M and Beral V (1993) Cancer mortality and morbidity in employees of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority 1946-86. Brit. J. Cancer 67 615-624.) This paper showed a 2-fold excess cancer risk in workers who had been monitored for internal radionuclides versus those who had not been. Prostate cancer mortality was significantly high. Although later cover-up studies by the nuclear industry, using a larger cohort reduced this effect for prostate cancer, the internal/ external exposure result for all cancers has not been satisfactorily followed up.

Fig 1. First day neonatal mortality USA shows the effects of the fallout. Because of advances in medicine and better social conditions, infant mortality was falling everywhere. But as soon as the atmospheric tests began, rates went up in time with the fallout. 1st day neonatal mortality is a measure of congenital damage: the baby survives in the mother by using the mothers’ oxygenation and other support but because the babies own organs are damaged and it cannot survive after birth. Strontium-90 was measured in bone where it built up to a peak in 1964. It will also have attached to chromosomes due to its affinity for DNA.

The fallout cohort is now entering the cancer bracket and these people are driving up the cancer rates in the Northern hemisphere, especially for breast cancer and prostate cancer. I have been studying this group since 1995, but now my predictions are appearing in the data.

But the true picture of the fallout effects is even more scary. Not only are the babies born over the peak fallout period, like George, at higher risk of more and earlier cancer, but it is now emerging that their children, born around 1980- 1990 are carrying the same genetic (or rather genomic) curse. I am in the process of putting together a scientific paper on this. There is a sudden increase in cancer rates in young people aged 25-35 which began after 2008. This is an extraordinary development. The finding was confirmed for colon cancer in the USA in a paper published recently in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Rebecca L. Siegel, Stacey A. Fedewa, William F. Anderson, Kimberly D. Miller, Jiemin Ma, Philip S. Rosenberg, Ahmedin Jemal Colorectal Cancer Incidence Patterns in the United States, 1974–2013 JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2017) 109(8): djw322). The authors were unable to explain their findings of increases in colon cancer in young people but decreasing colon cancer rates in older people. They were “puzzled”. The explanation is simple. These were children born to those who were themselves born during the fallout and genomically damaged at birth. The damage is passed to the children (and will be in turn passed to theirs and so on). The effect is clear also in the England and Wales data.

So, for the logical positivists, let’s have a look at the prostate cancer data in England and Wales.

In Table 1 below I show some data from the official ONS government annual reports on prostate cancer incidence in some selected years from 1974 to 2015.

 

No argument there then. The amazing thing is that there are huge amounts of money received and spent on cancer research: but no-one looks at the cause. Or rather that those who do look at the cause are attacked and marginalised and their work is not reported.

For example, and relevant here, are the serious genetic effects of small dose internal exposures in Europe after Chernobyl reviewed by Prof Inge Schmitz-Feuerhake, Dr Sebastian Pflugbeil and myself in a peer review publication in 2016 (Schmitz-Feuerhake, Busby C, Pflugbeil P  Genetic Radiation Risks-A Neglected Topic in the Low Dose Debate. Environmental Health and Toxicology.  2016. 31Article ID e2016001. .) You would think that this evidence, which was reported in the peer review literature from 20 studies from countries all over Europe, might make it into one of the newspapers. But nothing.

My attempts to draw attention to these internal genetic damage issues have also been ignored or dismissed by the British establishment. This year, in September, I was to have presented this evidence to British Government Minister Richard Harrington at a meeting of the NGOs and the government at Church House Westminster. My flight from Sweden was sabotaged but I made it to the meeting nevertheless, to find that the Minister had made some excuse, and had not come. )

At the meeting, the government radiation expert committee members (COMARE) refused to consider anything I said.

This behaviour by the British can be compared with the Swedish Environmental Court in Stockholm to which I had been presenting the same findings the previous week. In January 2018, the 8 judges of the Swedish Court told the Swedish government that they must not permit the development of the nuclear waste facility at Forsmark. This landmark decision was also omitted from any newspapers in the UK, which itself is currently busy trying to find a local council they can bribe to allow them to bury nuclear waste somewhere in England and (more probably) Wales.

When I presented the same genetic damage evidence in the nuclear test veteran case in the Royal Courts of Justice in 2016, I submitted reports by 4 eminent radiation experts, including Prof Schmitz-Feuerhake/ All gave evidence under cross examination. We filed the evidence of genetic damage in the Test Veteran children: a 10-fold excess risk for congenital malformations and in the grandchildren 8-fold. The British Judge, Sir Nicholas Blake, refused to listen to any of this evidence and dismissed our experts. Blake found for the Ministry of Defence. I am taking a new Test Veteran case this summer. We shall see what happens.

But no surprise about judge Blake. In a recent survey of judges in Europe, it was found that Britain was only exceeded by Albania in the percentage of judges (45%) who reported that their decisions had been made at the direction of the establishment. The lowest rates of interference with judges was found (1%)  in—guess where—Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

It seems that we live in a corrupt society here in Britain and I am ashamed to be part of this State which has poisoned its citizens consistently since 1945 and continues to do so, and to cover it all up, aided by dishonest scientists and celebrity reporters like George Monbiot. Those who have a magical view of events might delight in thinking that George has received his just due; for myself I just hope that this may make him look into the issue more deeply and change his mind about the effects of radioactive contamination.

Dr Chris Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Riskand the author of Uranium and Health – The Health Effects of Exposure to Uranium and Uranium Weapons Fallout (Documents of the ECRR 2010 No 2, Brussels, 2010). For details and current CV see chrisbusbyexposed.org. For accounts of his work see greenaudit.orgllrc.org and nuclearjustice.org.

March 20, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

The Authoritarians Who Silence Syria Questions

By Jonathan Cook | CounterPunch | February 28, 2018

I am loath to draw more attention to the kind of idiocy that passes for informed comment nowadays from academics and mainstream journalists. Recently I lambasted Prof Richard Carver for his arguments against BDS that should have gained him an F for logic in any high school exam.

Now we have to endure Brian Whitaker, the Guardian’s former Middle East editor, using every ploy in the misdirection and circular logic playbook to discredit those who commit thought crimes on Syria, by raising questions both about what is really happening there and about whether we can trust the corporate media consensus banging the regime-change drum.

Whitaker’s arguments and assumptions may be preposterous but sadly, like Carver’s, they are to be found everywhere in the mainstream – they have become so commonplace through repetition that they have gained a kind of implicit credibility. So let’s unpack what Whitaker and his ilk are claiming.

Whitaker’s latest outburst is directed against the impudence of a handful of British academics, including experts in the study of propaganda, in setting up a panel – the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media – to “provide a source of reliable, informed and timely analysis for journalists, publics and policymakers” on Syria. The researchers include Tim Hayward of Edinburgh University and Piers Robinson of Sheffield University.

So what are Whitaker’s objections to this working group? Let’s run through them, with my interjections.

Whitaker: They dispute almost all mainstream narratives of the Syrian conflict, especially regarding the use of chemical weapons and the role of the White Helmets search-and-rescue organisation. They are critical of western governments, western media and various humanitarian groups but show little interest in applying critical judgment to Russia’s role in the conflict or to the controversial writings of several journalists who happen to share their views.

Western governments and western corporate media have promoted a common narrative on Syria. It has been difficult for outsiders to be sure of what is going on, given that Syria has long been a closed society, a trend only reinforced by the last seven years of a vicious civil-cum-proxy war, and the presence of brutal ISIS and al Qaeda militias.

Long before the current fighting, western governments and Israel expressed a strong interest in overthrowing the government of Bashar Assad. In fact, their desire to be rid of Assad dates to at least the start of the “war on terror” they launched after 9/11, as I documented in my book Israel and the Clash of Civilisations.

Very few corporate journalists have been on the ground in Syria. (Paradoxically, those who have are effectively embedded in areas dominated by al Qaeda-type groups, which western governments are supporting directly and through Gulf intermediaries.) Most of these journalists are relying on information provided by western governments, or from groups with strong, vested interests in Assad’s overthrow.

Should we take this media coverage on trust, as many of us did the lies promoted about Iraq and later Libya by the same western governments and corporate media? Or should we be far more wary this time, especially as those earlier regime-change operations spread more chaos, suffering and weapons across the Middle East, and fuelled a migrant crisis now empowering the far-right across much of Europe?

Whitaker and his ilk are saying we should not. Or more disingenuously, Whitaker is saying that the working group, rather than invest its energies in this supremely important research, should concentrate its limited resources on studying Russian propaganda on Syria. In other words, the researchers should duplicate the sterling efforts of Whitaker’s colleagues in daily attributing the superpowers of a James Bond villain to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Here’s a counter-proposal: how about we leave well-funded western governments and media corporations to impugn Putin at every turn and on every pretext, while we allow the working group to check whether there is a large (larger?) mote in the west’s eye?

Whitaker: The worrying part, though, especially in the light of their stated intention to seek ‘research funding’, is their claim to be engaging in ‘rigorous academic analysis’ of media reporting on Syria.

Is this really so worrying? Why not allow a handful of academics to seek funds to try to untangle the highly veiled aid – money and arms – that western governments have been pumping into a war tearing apart Syria? Why not encourage the working group to discern more clearly the largely covert ties between western security services and groups like the White Helmets “search-and-rescue service”? One would think supposedly adversarial journalists would be all in favour of efforts to dig up information about western involvement and collusion in Syria.

Whitaker: But while members of the group are generally very critical of mainstream media in the west, a handful of western journalists — all of them controversial figures — escape similar scrutiny. Instead, their work is lauded and recommended.

More of Whitaker’s circular logic.

Of course, the few independent journalists (independent of corporate interests) who are on the ground in Syria are “controversial” – they are cast as “controversial” by western governments and corporate journalists precisely because they question the consensual narrative of those same governments and journalists. Duh!

Further, these “controversial” journalists are not being “lauded”. Rather, their counter-narratives are being highlighted by those with open minds, like those in the working group. Without efforts to draw attention to these independent journalists’ work, their reporting would most likely disappear without trace – precisely the outcome, one senses, Whitaker and his friends would very much prefer.

It is not the critical thinkers on Syria who are demanding that only one side of the narrative is heard; it is western governments and supposedly “liberal” journalists like Whitaker and the Guardian’s George Monbiot. They think they can divine the truth through … the corporate media, which is promoting narratives either crafted in western capitals or derived from ties to groups like the White Helmets located in jihadist-controlled areas.

Again, why should the working group waste its finite energies scrutinising these independent journalists when they are being scrutinised – and vilified – non-stop by journalists like Whitaker and by big-budget newspapers like the Guardian ?

In any case, if official western narratives truly withstand the working group’s scrutiny, then the claims and findings of these independent journalists will be discredited in the process. These two opposed narratives cannot be equally true, after all.

Whitaker: The two favourites, though, are Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley — ’independent’ journalists who are frequent contributors to the Russian propaganda channel, RT. Bartlett and Beeley also have an enthusiastic following on ‘alternative’ and conspiracy theory websites though elsewhere they are widely dismissed as propagandists.

“Widely dismissed” by … yes, that’s right, Whitaker’s friends in the corporate media! More circular logic. Independent journalists like Bartlett and Beeley are on RT because Whitaker’s chums at British propaganda outlets – like the Guardian and BBC – do not give, and have never given, them a hearing. The Guardian even denied them a right of reply after its US-based technology writer Olivia Solon (whose resume does not mention that she was ever in Syria) was awarded a prominent slot in the paper to smear them as Kremlin propagandists, without addressing their arguments or evidence.

Whitaker: [Bartlett and Beeley’s] activities are part of the overall media battle regarding Syria and any ‘rigorous academic analysis’ of the coverage should be scrutinising their work rather than promoting it unquestioningly.

There is no “media battle”. That’s like talking of a “war” between Israel, one of the most powerful armies in the world, and the lightly armed Palestinian resistance group Hamas – something the western corporate media do all the time, of course.

Instead there is an unchallenged western media narrative on Syria, one in favour of more war, and more suffering, until what seems like an unrealisable goal of overthrowing Assad is achieved. On the other side are small oases of scepticism and critical thinking, mostly on the margins of social media, Whitaker wants snuffed out.

The working group’s job is not to help him in that task. It is to test whether or how much of the official western narrative is rooted in truth.

Returning to his “concerns” about RT, Whitaker concludes that the station’s key goal:

is to cast doubt on rational but unwelcome explanations by advancing multiple alternative ‘theories’ — ideas that may be based on nothing more than speculation or green-ink articles on obscure websites.

But it precisely isn’t such “green-ink” articles that chip away at the credibility of an official western consensus. It is the transparently authoritarian instincts of a political and media elite – and of supposedly “liberal” journalists like Whitaker and Monbiot – to silence all debate, all doubt, all counter-evidence.

Because at heart he is an authoritarian courtier, Whitaker would like us to believe that only crackpots and conspiracy theorists promote these counter-narratives. He would prefer that, in the silence he hopes to impose, readers will never be exposed to the experts who raise doubts about the official western narrative on Syria.

That is, the same silence that was imposed 15 years ago, when his former newspaper the Guardian and the rest of the western corporate media ignored and dismissed United Nations weapons experts like Scott Ritter and Hans Blix. Their warnings that Iraq’s supposed WMD really were non-existent and were being used as a pretext to wage a disastrous colonial war went unheard.

Let’s not allow Whitaker and like-minded bully-boys once again to silence such critical voices.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monbiot Is a Hypocrite and a Bully

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | January 15, 2018

It is time for George Monbiot’s legion of supporters to call him out. Not only is he a hypocrite, but he is becoming an increasingly dangerous one.

Turning a blind eye to his behaviour, or worse excusing it, as too often happens, has only encouraged him to intensify his attacks on dissident writers, those who – whether right or wrong on any specific issue – are slowly helping us all to develop more critical perspectives on western foreign policy goals than has ever been possible before.

I do not lightly use such strong language against Monbiot, someone I once admired. But his column this week drips with hypocrisy as he accuses the right wing media of being the real villains when it comes to “no-platforming”. Monbiot writes:

But perhaps the real discomfort is that the worst no-platforming of all takes place within our newspapers. In the publications most obsessed with student silliness, there is no platform for socialism, no platform for environmentalism, no platform for those who might offend the interests of the proprietors. …

I believe that a healthy media organisation, like a healthy university, should admit a diversity of opinion. I want the other newspapers to keep publishing views with which I fiercely disagree. But they – and we – should also seek opposing views and publish them too, however uncomfortable this might be.

What free speech advocate would disagree with that? Except it is Monbiot himself who has been using his prominent platforms, at the Guardian and on social media, to discredit critical thinkers on the left – not with reasoned arguments, but by impugning their integrity.

Denied a platform

It started with his unsubstantiated claim that scholars like Noam Chomsky and the late Ed Herman, as well as the acclaimed journalist John Pilger, were “genocide deniers and belittlers”. It now focuses on childish insinuations that those who question the corporate media’s simplistic narrative on Syria are Assad apologists or in Vladimir Putin’s pay.

But worse than this, Monbiot is also conspiring – either actively or through his silence – to deny critics of his and the Guardian’s position on Syria the chance to set out their evidence in its pages.

The Guardian’s anti-democratic stance does not surprise me, as someone who worked there for many years. I found myself repeatedly no-platformed by the paper – even while on its staff – after I started taking an interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict and writing about the discomforting issue of what a Jewish state entails. My treatment is far from unique.

Now the paper is denying a platform to those who question simplistic and self-serving western narratives on Syria. And Monbiot is backing his employer to the hilt, even as he professes his commitment to the publication of views he fiercely disagrees with. That’s the dictionary definition of hypocrisy.

‘Selfless’ White Helmets?

The latest installment of the Guardian and Monbiot’s long-running battle to silence Syria dissidents arrived last month when Olivia Solon, the paper’s technology writer living in San Francisco, developed a sudden and unexpected expertise in a controversial Syrian group called the White Helmets.

In the western corporate media narrative, the White Helmets are a group of dedicated and selfless rescue workers. They are supposedly the humanitarians on whose behalf a western intervention in Syria would have been justified – before, that is, Syrian leader Bashar Assad queered their pitch by inviting in Russia.

However, there are problems with the White Helmets. They operate only in rebel – read: mainly al-Qaeda and ISIS-held – areas of Syria, and plenty of evidence shows that they are funded by the UK and US to advance both countries’ far-from-humanitarian policy objectives in Syria.

There are also strong indications that members of the White Helmets have been involved in war crimes, and that they have staged rescue operations as a part of a propaganda offensive designed to assist Islamic extremists trying to oust Assad. (Solon discounts this last claim. In doing so, she ignores several examples of such behaviour, concentrating instead on an improbable “mannequin challenge”, when the White Helmets supposedly froze their emergency operations, in the midst of rescue efforts, apparently as part of a peculiar publicity campaign.)

Guardian hatchet job

Whatever side one takes in this debate, one would imagine that Monbiot should have a clear agenda in support of hearing evidence from all sides. One might also imagine that he would want to distance himself from Solon’s efforts to tie criticism of the White Helmets to a supposed “fake news” crisis and paint those critical of the group as Putin-bots. According to Solon:

The way the Russian propaganda machine has targeted the White Helmets is a neat case study in the prevailing information wars. It exposes just how rumours, conspiracy theories and half-truths bubble to the top of YouTube, Google and Twitter search algorithms.

Those are the same algorithms that have been changed in recent months to make sure that prominent leftist websites are increasingly difficult to find on internet searches and their writers’ views effectively disappeared.

Yet Monbiot has been using social media to promote Solon’s cheerleading of the White Helmets and her hatchet job against on-the-ground journalists who have taken a far more critical view of the group.

As set out by Prof Tim Hayward, the Guardian’s response to criticism of Solon’s piece has been typical. The comments section below the article was hastily closed after many criticisms were voiced by readers. The journalists who were singled out for attack by Solon were denied a right of reply. A group of concerned academics led by Hayward who submitted their own article, which detailed publicly available evidence to counter Solon’s simplistic account of the White Helmets, were ignored. Meanwhile, the Guardian’s editors and the reader’s editor have ignored all efforts by these parties to contact them.

Given his claim to be an uncompromising defender of free speech and a fierce advocate of providing platforms to those who can back up their arguments with evidence, however discomforting, one might have assumed that Monbiot would at the very least have lobbied on behalf of Hayward and his fellow scholars. But not a bit of it. Yet again he has joined the dogs of the corporate media baying for blood. Instead he turned to Twitter to claim Hayward and Piers Robinson, an expert on propaganda, had “disgraced” themselves.

Undermining climate concerns

The many tens of thousands of leftists who defend Monbiot, or turn a blind eye to his hypocrisy, largely do so because of his record on the environment. But in practice they are enabling not only his increasingly overt incitement against critical thinkers, but also undermining the very cause his supporters believe he champions.

Climate breakdown is a global concern. Rewilding, bike-riding, protecting bees and polar bears, and developing new sustainable technologies are all vitally important. But such actions will amount to little if we fail to turn a highly sceptical eye on the activities of a western military-industrial complex ravaging the planet’s poorest regions.

These war industries fill their coffers by using weapons indiscriminately on “enemy” populations, spawning new and fiercer enemies – while often propping them up too – to generate endless wars. The consequences include massive displacements of these populations who then destabilise other regions, spreading the effect and creating new opportunities for the arms manufacturers, homeland security industries, and the financial industries that feed off them.

A true environmentalist has to look as critically at western policies in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela and many other areas of the globe as he does at UK policy in the Welsh hills and the Lake District.

All indications are that Monbiot lacks the experience, knowledge and skills to unravel the deceptions being perpetrated in the west’s proxy and not-so-proxy wars overseas. That is fair enough. What is not reasonable is that he should use his platforms to smear precisely those who can speak with a degree of authority and independence – and then conspire in denying them a platform to respond. That is the behaviour not only of a hypocrite, but of a bully too.

January 16, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Monbiot Still Burying his Head in Sands of Syria

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | November 21, 2017

Investigative journalist Gareth Porter has published two exclusives whose import is far greater than may be immediately apparent. They concern Israel’s bombing in 2007 of a supposed nuclear plant secretly built, according to a self-serving US and Israeli narrative, by Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

Although the attack on the “nuclear reactor” occurred a decade ago, there are pressing lessons to be learnt for those analysing current events in Syria.

Porter’s research indicates very strongly that the building that was bombed could not have been a nuclear reactor – and that was clear to experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) even as the story was being promoted uncritically across the western media.

But – and this is the critical information Porter conveys – the IAEA failed to disclose the fact that it was certain the building was not a nuclear plant, allowing the fabricated narrative to be spread unchallenged. It abandoned science to bow instead to political expediency.

The promotion of the bogus story of a nuclear reactor by Israel and key figures in the Bush administration was designed to provide the pretext for an attack on Assad. That, it was hoped, would bring an end to his presidency and drag into the fray the main target – Iran. The Syrian “nuclear reactor” was supposed to be a re-run of the WMD deception, used in 2003 to oust another enemy of the US and Israel’s – Saddam Hussein of Iraq.

It is noteworthy that the fabricated evidence for a nuclear reactor occurred in 2007, a year after Israel’s failure to defeat Hizbullah in Lebanon. The 2006 Lebanon war was itself intended to spread to Syria and lead to Assad’s overthrow, as I explained in my book Israel and the Clash of Civilisations.

It is important to remember that this Israeli-neocon plot against Syria long predated – in fact, in many ways prefigured – the civil war in 2011 that quickly morphed into a proxy war in which the US became a key, if mostly covert, actor.

The left’s Witchfinder General

The relevance of the nuclear reactor deception can be understood in relation to the latest efforts by Guardian columnist George Monbiot (and many others) to discredit prominent figures on the left, including Noam Chomsky and John Pilger, for their caution in making assessments of much more recent events in Syria. Monbiot has attacked them for not joining him in simply assuming that Assad was responsible for a sarin gas attack last April on Khan Sheikhoun, an al-Qaeda stronghold in Idlib province.

Understandably, many on the left have been instinctively wary of rushing to judgment about individual incidents in the Syrian war, and the narratives presented in the western media. The claim that Assad’s government used chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun, and earlier in Ghouta, was an obvious boon to those who have spent more than a decade trying to achieve regime change in Syria.

In what has become an ugly habit with Monbiot, and one I have noted before, he has enthusiastically adopted the role of Witchfinder General. Any questioning of evidence, scepticism or simply signs of open-mindedness are enough apparently to justify accusations that one is an Assadist or conspiracy theorist. Giving house room to the doubts of a ballistics expert like Ted Postol of MIT, or an experienced international arms expert like Scott Ritter, or a famous investigative journalist like Seymour Hersh, or a former CIA analyst like Ray McGovern, is apparently proof that one is an atrocity denier or worse.

Inconvenient facts buried

Monbiot’s latest attack was launched at a moment when he obviously felt he was on solid ground. A UN agency, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), issued a report last month concluding that the 100 people killed and 200 injured in Khan Sheikhoun last April were exposed to sarin. Monbiot argues that the proof is now incontrovertible that Assad was responsible – a position that he, of course, adopted at the outset – and that all other theories have now been decisively discounted by the OPCW.

There are reasons to think that Monbiot is seriously misrepresenting the strength of the OPCW’s findings, as several commentators have observed. Most notably, Robert Parry, another leading investigative journalist, points out that evidence in the report’s annex – the place where inconvenient facts are often buried – appears to blow a large hole in the official story.

Parry notes that the time recorded by the UN of the photo of the chemical weapons attack is more than half an hour *after* some 100 victims had already been admitted to five different hospitals, some of them lengthy drives from the alleged impact site.

But potentially more significant than such troubling inconsistencies are the conclusions of Gareth Porter’s separate investigation into Israel’s bombing of the non-existent Syrian nuclear reactor. That gets to the heart of where Monbiot and many others have gone badly wrong in their certainty about events in Syria.

Extreme naivety

Monbiot has been only too willing to promote as indisputable fact claims made both by highly compromised and unreliable western sources and by supposedly reputable and independent organisations, such as international human rights groups and UN agencies. He, like many others, assumes that the latter can always be relied upon to stand apart from western interests and can therefore be implicitly trusted.

That indicates an extreme naivety or possibly the lack of any experience covering on the ground highly charged conflicts in which western interests are paramount.

I have been based in Israel for nearly two decades and have on several occasions taken to task Human Rights Watch (HRW), one of the world’s most esteemed human rights organisations. I have shown that assessments it has made were patently not rooted in evidence or even credible interpretations of international law but in geopolitical considerations. That was especially true in the case of the month-long fighting between Israel and Hizbullah in 2006. (See here and here.) My concerns about HRW’s work, I later learnt from insiders, were shared in its New York head office, but were silenced by the organisation’s most senior staff.

Nuclear plant deception

But Porter helps shine a light on how even the most reputable international agencies can end up similarly following a script written in Washington and one that rides roughshod over evidence, especially when the interests of the world’s only superpower are at stake. In this case, the deceptions were perpetuated by one of the world’s leading scientific organisations: the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors states’ nuclear activities.

Porter reveals that Yousry Abushady, the IAEA’s foremost expert on North Korean nuclear reactors, was able immediately to discount the aerial photographic evidence that the building Israel bombed in 2007 was a nuclear reactor. (Most likely it was a disused missile storage depot.)

The Syrian “nuclear plant”, he noted, could not have been built using North Korean know-how, as was claimed by the US. It lacked all the main features of a North Korean gas-cooled reactor. The photos produced by the Israelis showed a building that, among other things, covered too small an area and was not anywhere near high enough, it had none of the necessary supporting structures, and there was no cooling tower.

Abushady’s assessment was buried by the IAEA, which preferred to let the CIA and the Israelis promote their narrative unchallenged.

Atomic agency’s silence

This was not a one-off failure. In summer 2008, the IAEA visited the area to collect samples. Had the site been a nuclear plant, they could have expected to find nuclear-grade graphite particles everywhere. They found none.

Nonetheless, the IAEA again perpetrated a deception to try to prop up the fictitious US-Israeli narrative.

As was routine, they sent the samples to a variety of laboratories for analysis. None found evidence of any nuclear contamination – apart from one. It identified particles of man-made uranium. The IAEA issued a report giving prominence to this anomalous sample, even though in doing so it violated its own protocols, reports Parry. It could draw such a conclusion only if the results of all the samples matched.

In fact, as one of the three IAEA inspectors who had been present at the site later reported, the sample of uranium did not come from the plant itself, which was clean, but from a changing room nearby. A former IAEA senior inspector, Robert Kelley, told Parry that a “very likely explanation” was that the uranium particles derived from “cross contamination” from clothing worn by the inspectors. This is a problem that had been previously noted by the IAEA in other contexts.

Meanwhile, the IAEA remained silent about its failure to find nuclear-grade graphite in a further nine reports over two years. It referred to this critical issue for the first time in 2011.

Chance for war with Iran

In other words, the IAEA knowingly conspired in a fictitious, entirely non-scientific assessment of the Syrian “nuclear reactor” story, one that neatly served US-Israeli geopolitical interests.

Porter notes that vice-president Dick Cheney “hoped to use the alleged reactor to get President George W Bush to initiate US airstrikes in Syria in the hope of shaking the Syrian-Iranian alliance”.

In fact, Cheney wanted far more sites in Syria hit than the bogus nuclear plant. In his memoirs, the then-secretary of defence, Robert Gates, observed that Cheney was “looking for an opportunity to provoke a war with Iran”.

The Bush administration wanted to find a way to unseat Assad, crush Hizbullah in Lebanon, and isolate and weaken Iran as a way to destroy the so-called “Shia crescent”.

That goal is being actively pursued again by the US today, with Israel and Saudi Arabia leading the way. A former US ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, recently warned that, after their failure to bring down Assad, the Saudis have been trying to switch battlefields to Lebanon, hoping to foment a confrontation between Israel and Hizbullah that would drag in Iran.

Abandoning science

Back in 2007, the IAEA, an agency of scientists, did its bit to assist – or at least not obstruct – US efforts to foster a political case, an entirely unjustified one, for military action against Syria and, very possibly by extension, Iran.

If the IAEA could so abandon its remit and the cause of science to help play politics on behalf of the US, what leads Monbiot to assume that the OPCW, an even more politicised body, is doing any better today?

That is not to say Assad, or at least sections of the Syrian government, could not have carried out the attack on Khan Sheikhoun. But it is to argue that in a matter like this one, where so much is at stake, the evidence must be subjected to rigorous scrutiny, and that critics, especially experts who offer counter-evidence, must be given a fair hearing by the left. It is to argue that, when the case against Assad fits so neatly a long-standing and self-serving western narrative, a default position of scepticism is fully justified. It is to argue that facts, strong as they may seem, can be manipulated even by expert bodies, and therefore due weight needs also to be given to context – including an assessment of motives.

This is not “denialism”, as Monbiot claims. It is a rational strategy adopted by those who object to being railroaded once again – as they were in Iraq and Libya – into catastrophic regime change operations.

Meanwhile, the decision by Monbiot and others to bury their heads in the sands of an official narrative, all the while denouncing anyone who seeks to lift theirs out for a better view, should be understood for what it is: an abnegation of intellectual and moral responsibility for those around the globe who continue to be the victims of western military supremacism.

November 21, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

George Monbiot, about Syria…

By Tim Hayward | April 28, 2017

I write this open letter, George, because you have been using your public platform to defend claims about Syria that I fear may be damaging for its people.

Most recently, you blogged a note about the 4th April chemical incident in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria, and you related this to the more general issue of competing narratives.

Professor Postol of MIT criticised the NATO/Gulf State account of the incident, and you say his claims ‘should be treated with great caution’. That’s fair enough. Shouldn’t we apply a similar standard of scrutiny to claims made on both sides?[1] You replied to the Media Lens article reporting Postol’s claims without acknowledging that it also mentioned that ‘former and current UN weapons inspectors Hans Blix, Scott Ritter and Jerry Smith, as well as former CIA counterterrorism official Philip Giraldi, had all questioned the official narrative of what happened on April 4.’

We can be cautious about what they all say, of course, but I hope we may avoid the hubris of just dismissing their concerns.

There are serious unsettled questions about every aspect of the incident, not only the anomalies concerning time of incident, identity of victims, causes of death, role of White Helmets, and about whose interests it served, but also concerning the forensic evidence itself. Regarding the latest claim made by France, a very elementary issue is chain of custody: with no French representatives on the ground, the test samples appear to have come from Al Qaeda by way of Turkey. Must we simply trust the testimony of a terrorist organisation in collaboration with a major conduit and supplier of anti-government forces in Syria? Do we find any corroboration? Western powers, you might be aware, have blocked the independent investigation sought by Russia.

The reported results themselves are opaque. The French reports are no clearer on the science than the earlier UK ones (and I note that the UK has since gone rather silent about those rather than address questions about them). Moreover, the French claims rely on the veracity of claims relating to a 2013 incident, which are highly questionable.[2]

Still, even aside from the facts around the Khan Sheikhoun incident, you are confident that there is a mountain of compelling evidence that is disregarded by ‘a few contrarians’. In tweets, too, you seem to be impressed by the sheer quantity of evidence purporting to establish President Assad’s complicity in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Yet you surely realise that what actually matters is the quality of evidence?

I therefore ask you: what evidence are you referring to? Whose evidence? In your note you link to a Guardian article by an Egyptian, raised in Dubai and living in Lebanon, who conveys reports from an Al Qaeda base; you also link to another Guardian article, by the same author, reporting claims from Turkey – one of the chief supporters of anti-government forces. Meanwhile, on twitter, you respond to ‘contrarians’ with the advice to read a lengthy thread authored by Kuwaiti activist Iyad El-Baghdadi who is renowned for talking up the “Arab Spring”. Based in Norway, he cites evidence from sources like the New York Times.

Why should utterances from your recommended sources inspire less caution than those of MIT professors and professional weapons inspectors? You seem to think that anyone who questions the official narrative is a conspiracy nut, or an ‘Assadist’. I personally find a little condescending your reference to ‘an element on the left that seems determined to produce a mirror image of the Washington Consensus … and denies the crimes of the West’s official enemies.’ [3]

At any rate, that begs the question: what crimes have been demonstrated? We have had mountains of allegations from organisations like Amnesty International since the “Arab Spring”, but what credible evidence have they ever produced?

I earnestly invite you to cite some. Having looked at their reports over the past ten years myself, I have not found it. Instead, I have found very clear traces of a narrative produced in Washington. And not just a narrative, but a strategy for getting the liberal intelligentsia on board with the hawks.

I think we need to look very closely at who is being misled by whom. Wouldn’t you agree?

Meanwhile, with the upcoming UK election to think about – and the imperative of removing this warmongering government – I will understand if you direct your focus and energies towards areas of public life where you have a strong intellectual and political contribution to make.

Best wishes,

Tim

In memory of all Syrian children, taken by violence.

[1] You might start by taking a more dispassionate look at the people you imagine have ‘debunked’ criticism of the mainstream narrative. Your link to Louis Proyect’s attack on Postol, for instance, betrays what I would regard as some want of judgement. In an update to your note, you add a link to further ‘debunkers’ who turn out to rely on the same Guardian evidence you are claiming they offer further support for! Incidentally, when the Guardian tells readers it is ‘the first western media organisation to visit the site of the attack’ it should really be careful what it boasts about, given that the area is controlled by Al Qaeda.

[2] I understand from scientists that the unanswered questions include these:

  1. Did the Porton Down analysis of samples collected from the alleged attacks on 19 March 2013 support the finding of the Russian Laboratory for Chemical and Analytical Control that the material contained diisopropyl fluorophosphate and that the sarin had been produced under “cottage industry” conditions?
  2.  What were the findings with respect to the synthetic pathway by which the sarin was produced? Specifically, did this synthesis start from trimethyl phosphite (which the Foreign Secretary stated had been sold to the Syrian government by UK companies) or from phosphorus trichloride or elemental phosphorus (which Turkish prosecutors stated was on the procurement list of the Nusra Front members arrested in Adana, Turkey in May 2013)?
  3. What efforts have been made by the UK government to establish whether or not the sarin used in alleged chemical attacks in Syria originated from Syrian military stocks, based on comparison of the chemical profiles of the environmental samples analysed at DSTL with the stocks of the sarin precursor methylphosphonyl difluoride that were profiled by mass spectrometry under the supervison of OPCW inspectors before they were destroyed on the MV Cape Ray in 2014?

Those of us who struggle even to understand questions like these can very easily be bamboozled by bullshit responses from government spokespersons. But when scientists put such questions, I think they merit answer rather than dismissive tweets bidding us trust the word of foreign activists.  I am grateful to Professor Paul McKeigue for the formulation of these questions.

[3] For a more considered view of disagreement on the left, see, e.g., the recent short talk by Jay Tharappel on ‘Syria and the Confusion of the Western Left’: https://www.facebook.com/Chacko.TJ/videos/10158536910055697/

April 28, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Noam Chomsky and Zionism

The Kevin Barrett-Chomsky Dispute in Historical Perspective – Seventh part of the series titled “9/11 and the Zionist Question” – Read the sixth part here.

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By Prof. Tony Hall | American Herald Tribune | July 30, 2016

Understanding of the nature of the lies and crimes of 9/11 has moved quite far in the decade between the publication of Barrie Zwicker’s Towers of Deception in 2006 and Kevin Barrett’s 2016 presentation at the Left Forum. Where Zwicker emphasized Chomsky’s connection to the US deep state, Kevin Barrett views Chomsky as a Zionist with deep attachments to Israel where he lived and worked on a kibbutz in the early 1950s.

Chomsky’s relationship with Israel is outlined in flattering terms in a fluff piece in a publication entitled Tablet, a heavily pro-Zionist venue featuring other interviews with the likes of Elliot Abrams. Abrams was an influential member of the Project for the New American Century, the neocon lobby group that in 2000 notoriously signaled the forthcoming 9/11 strikes by calling for “something like a new Pearl Harbor.”

In the Tablet interview, Noam Chomsky explained the attachments and preoccupations of his Jewish orthodox parents. In his seminal years, Hebrew was the main language of the Chomsky family, a linguistic asset that the younger Chomsky would later call upon in his career as a student of linguistics.

Noam Chomsky’s father pointed his son towards the writings of Jewish philosopher Ahad Ha’am. Chomsky looked back fondly on his father’s account of Ha’am’s advocacy of “a Zionist revival in Israel, in Palestine.” The aim of this revival would be to create “a cultural center for the Jewish people.” Chomsky elaborates, explaining Ha’am’s view that “Jews as primarily a Diaspora community needed a cultural center that has a physical presence. Ha’am was said to be very sympathetic to the Palestinians.” Ha’am wanted kindly treatment of the Palestinians but he left no doubt that they should move aside to make room for what Chomsky refers to again and again as a “Jewish cultural center.”

In the Tablet article Chomsky’s orientation towards Israel is publicly portrayed as that of a loyalist calling for a kinder gentler form of Zionism. As Kevin Barrett sees it, however, Chomsky’s willingness to criticize the Israeli state, but especially its abuses and assaults directed at the Palestinian people, should not be allowed to take away from understanding that he is a committed Zionist intent on protecting and advancing Israel’s interests.

Chomsky’s position on 9/11 has been replicated throughout much of the Left where well-funded gatekeeping, sponsored by the likes of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, is indeed rife. There is a conspicuous absence of leading Jewish intellectuals that have publicly attempted to decipher what actually transpired in New York, Washington and the air lanes of the northeastern United States during the transformative day of September 11, 2001. Consider, for instance, the relationship of Miko Peled, Medea Benjamin, Michael Albert, David Corn, Amy Goodman, George Monbiot, Cy Gonick, Judy Rebick to the enterprise of exposing the lies and crimes of 9/11. Their evasiveness or outright hostility to the 9/11 skeptics is shared by many non-Jewish public intellectuals including Chris Hedges, John Pilger, and Tariq Ali.

Some, but especially Chomsky, have gone beyond maintaining a strategic silence to incite smear campaigns against those that have displayed skepticism towards the official narrative of 9/11. Chomsky sets the bar low in portraying the demeaned “truthers” as an undifferentiated collection of stupid, backward and decrepit souls. “Their lives are no good… Their lives are collapsing… They are people at a loss… Nothing makes any sense… They don’t understand what an explanation is… They think they are experts in physics and civil engineering on the basis of one hour on the Internet.”

These comments reflect the shockingly low level of Chomsky’s near hysterical effort to divert attention away from evidence of what really transpired on 9/11. This type of personalized attack, as if the 9/11 Truth Movement is collectively guilty of some sort of horrific thought crime, replicates on ideological grounds some of the worst attributes of racism and bigotry.

Unfortunately Chomsky’s interventions are fairly representative of the overall quality of many Zionist attacks on the 9/11 Truth Movement.  As is especially clear in the writings of Jonathan Kay, for instance, Zionist smear tactics directed at 9/11 “truthers” extend many of the same themes of induced hatred directed at Muslims by the Zionist propagandists in charge of the Islamophobia Industry.

Chomsky’s critical orientation to the actions and power structure of the Israeli government is similar to his critical orientation to the actions and power structure of the United States. Chomsky’s bottom line, however, is his attachment to the Jewish state as the site of a Jewish cultural renaissance that he seeks to advance and protect.

Chomsky refuses to accept that US foreign policy and the foreign policies of the former dependencies of Anglo-American empire have become subordinate to the imperatives of Zionist lobbies as well as to the networks of media, banking and corporate power that serve them. These lobbies figure prominently in the formulation and execution of the Israeli government’s foreign policies. Organizations like the B’nai Brith or Abe Foxman’s thuggish Anti-Defamation League are in reality ideological and political proxy armies. Their role is to silence critics of the Israeli government, to brand as anti-semitic any efforts to identify fundamental disparities in access to power.

All these factors converge to expose Chomsky’s role in serving the dominant clique that emerged from the global coup d’état of September 11, 2001. Chomsky’s power-serving misrepresentations on this subject present an important window into the study of the relationship between 9/11 and the structuring of national and global hierarchies of power. What is the role of universities and the media in the connections linking 9/11 to the Zionist Question, a contemporary extension of what Karl Marx and others used to refer to frequently in European literature as the Jewish Question?

You will read “A Public Intellectual Outside the Protections of the Academy” in the next part.

August 12, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism, Islamophobia | , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is Fukushima’s nuclear nightmare over? Don’t count on it

By Christopher Busby – RT – March 12, 2016

On the 5th Anniversary of the catastrophe, Prof Geraldine Thomas, the nuclear industry’s new public relations star, walked through the abandoned town of Ohkuma inside the Fukushima exclusion zone with BBC reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes.

Thomas was described as “one of Britain’s leading experts on the health effects of radiation”. She is of the opinion that there is no danger and the Japanese refugees can come back and live there in the “zone”. Her main concern seemed to be how untidy it all was: “Left to rack and ruin,” she complained, sadly.

At one point, Rupert pulled out his Geiger counter and read the dose: 3 microSieverts per hour. “How much radiation would it give in a year to people who came back here,” he asked. Thomas replied: “About an extra milliSievert a year, which is not much considering you get 2mSv a year from natural background”.

“The long term impact on your health would be absolutely nothing.”

Now anyone with a calculator can easily multiply 3 microSieverts (3 x 10-6 Sv) by 24 hours and 365 days. The answer comes out to be 26 mSv (0.026Sv), not “about 1mSv” as the “leading expert on the health effects of radiation” reported.

I must personally ask if Gerry Thomas is a reliable expert; her CV shows she has published almost nothing in the way of original research, so we must ask how it is the BBC has taken her seriously.

This recalled the day the first reactor exploded in 2011. I was in London, and the BBC asked me to come into the studio and comment. Also present was a nuclear industry apologist, Dr Ian Fells. Like Geraldine Thomas he seemed unconcerned about the radiation: the main problem for him was that the lifts would not work. People would have to climb stairs, he complained.

I said then on that first day that this was a serious accident like Chernobyl, but he and everybody who followed him told the viewers that it was no problem, nothing like Chernobyl.

Some months later, looking back, it became clear I was correct on every point, but I never was invited back to the BBC. I visited Japan, took sophisticated measuring equipment, obtained vehicle air filters, spoke to the Japanese people and advised them to take Calcium tablets to block the Strontium-90.

My vehicle air filter measurements showed clearly that large areas of north east Japan were seriously contaminated – including Tokyo. This was too much for the nuclear industry: I was attacked in the Guardian newspaper by pro-nuclear George Monbiot in an attempt to destroy my credibility. One other attacker was Geraldine Thomas. What she said then was as madly incorrect then as what she is saying now. But the Guardian would not let me respond.

The important evidence for me in the recent BBC clip is the measurement of dose given by Rupert’s Geiger counter: 3microSieverts per hour (3Sv/h). Normal background in Japan (I know, I measured it there) is about 0.1Sv/h. So in terms of external radiation, Ruperts’s measurement gave 30 times normal background.

Is this a problem for human health? You bet it is. The question no-one asked is what is causing the excess dose? The answer is easy: radioactive contamination, principally of Caesium-137. On the basis of well-known physics relationships we can say that 3Sv/h at 1m above ground represents a surface contamination of about 900,000Bq per square metre of Cs-137. That is, 900,000 disintegrations per second in one square metre of surface: and note that they were standing on a tarmac road which appeared to be clean. And this is 5 years after the explosions. The material is everywhere, and it is in the form of dust particles which can be inhaled; invisible sparkling fairy-dust that kills hang in the air above such measurements.

The particles are not just of Caesium-137. They contain other long lived radioactivity, Strontium-90, Plutonium 239, Uranium-235, Uranium 238, Radium-226, Polonium-210, Lead-210, Tritium, isotopes of Rhodium, Ruthenium, Iodine, Cerium, Cobalt 60. The list is long.

The UN definition of ‘radioactively contaminated land’ is 37,000Bq/square meter, and so, on the basis of the measurement made by the BBC reporter, the town of Ohkuma in the Fukushima zone (and we assume everywhere else in the zone) is still, five years after the incident, more than 20 times the level where the UN would, and the Soviets did, step in and control the population.

But the Japanese government wants to send the people back there. It is bribing them with money and housing assistance. It is saying, like Gerry Thomas, there is no danger. And the BBC is giving this misdirection a credible platform. The argument is based on the current radiation risk model of the International Commission on Radiological Protection the ICRP.

Last month, my German colleagues and I published a scientific paper [2] in the peer reviewed journal Environmental Health and Toxicology. It uses real-world data from those exposed to the same substances that were released by Fukushima to show that the ICRP model is wrong by 1,000 times or more. This is a game-changing piece of research. But were we asked to appear on the BBC, or anywhere else? No. What do our findings and calculations suggest will have happened in the five years since the explosions and into the future? Let’s take a look at what has happened since 2011.

The reactors are still uncontrolled five years after the explosions and continue to release their radioactive contents to the environment despite all attempts to prevent this. Concerning the melted fuel, there is no way to assess the condition or specific whereabouts of the fuel though it is clearly out of the box and in the ground.

Meanwhile, robots fail at the extremely high radiation levels found; ground water flowing through the plant is becoming contaminated and is being pumped into storage tanks for treatment; high radiation levels and debris have delayed the removal of spent fuel from numbers 1, 2 and 3 reactor buildings. TEPCO plans to remove debris from reactor 3 and this work has begun. Then they are hoping to remove the fuel rods out of reactors 1 and 2 by 2020 and the work on removing debris from these 2 reactors has not begun yet.

Much of the radioactivity goes into the sea, where it travels several hundreds of km. up and down the coast, destroying sea life and contaminating intertidal sediment. The radionuclides bind to fine sediment and concentrate in river estuaries and tidal areas like Tokyo Bay. Here the particles are re-suspended and brought ashore to be inhaled by those living within 1km of the coast.

From work done by my group for the Irish government on the contaminated Irish Sea we know that this exposure will increase the rate of cancer in the coastal inhabitants by about 30 percent.

The releases have not been stopped despite huge amounts of work, thought and action. The treated water is still highly radioactive and cannot yet be released.

That is a real problem on site with three heavy spent fuel pools still full and largely inaccessible. Collapse of the buildings would lead to coolant loss and a fire or even an explosion releasing huge amounts of radioactivity. So this is one nightmare scenario: Son of Fukushima. A solid wall at the port side may have slowed the water down but diverting the water may cause problems with the ground water pressure on site and thus also threaten subsidence. Space for storing the radioactive water is running out and it seems likely that this will have to be eventually spilled into the Pacific.

Only 10 percent of the plant has been cleaned up although there are 8,000 workers on site at any one time, mostly dealing with the contaminated water. Run-off from storms brings more contamination down the rivers from the mountains.

There are millions of 1-ton container bags full of radioactive debris and other waste which has been collected in decontamination efforts outside the plant and many of these bags are only likely to last a handful of years before degrading and spilling their contents. Typhoons will spread this highly contaminated contents far and wide.

Let’s look at the only real health data which has emerged to see if it gives any support to my original estimate of 400,000 extra cancers in the 200km radius. Prof Tsuda has recently published a paper in the peer review literature identifying 116 thyroid cancers detected over 3 years by ultrasound scanning of 380,000 0-18 year olds.

The background rate is about 0.3 per 100,000 per year, so in three years we can expect 3.42 thyroid cancers. But 116 were found, an excess of about 112 cases. Geraldine says that these were all found because they looked: but Tsuda’s paper reports that an ultrasound study in Nagasaki (no exposures) found zero cases, and also an early ultrasound study also found zero cases. So she is wrong. The thyroid doses were reported to be about 10mSv. On the basis of the ICRP model, that gives an error of about 2000 times.

From the results of our new genetic paper we can safely predict a 100 percent increase in congenital malformations in the population up to 200km radius.

In an advanced technological country like Japan these will be picked up early by ultrasound and aborted, so we will not actually see them, even if there were data we could trust. What we will see is a fall in the birth rate and an increase in the death rate because we know what has been happening and what will happen; we have seen it before in Chernobyl. And just like Chernobyl, the (Western) authorities are influenced by or take their lead from the nuclear industry: the ICRP and the International Atomic Energy Agency, (IAEA) which since 1959 has taken over from the World Health Organization as the responsible authority for radiation and health (Yes!).

They keep the lid on the truth using ill-informed individuals like Geraldine Thomas and, by analogy with New Labour: New BBC. Increasingly I could say “New Britain” as opposed the Great Britain of my childhood, a country I was proud of where you could trust the BBC. I wonder how the reporters like Rupert can live with themselves presenting such misguided information.

Fukushima is far from being over, and the deaths have only just begun.

Reference:

1. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35761141

2. Genetic Radiation Risks-A Neglected Topic in the Low Dose …
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26791091


Christopher Busby is an expert on the health effects of ionizing radiation. He qualified in Chemical Physics at the Universities of London and Kent, and worked on the molecular physical chemistry of living cells for the Wellcome Foundation. Professor Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk based in Brussels and has edited many of its publications since its founding in 1998. He has held a number of honorary University positions, including Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Health of the University of Ulster. Busby currently lives in Riga, Latvia. See also: http://www.chrisbusbyexposed.org, http://www.greenaudit.org and http://www.llrc.org.

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

Bait and Switch: Nuclear power paves the only viable path forward on climate change

By James Hansen, Kerry Emanuel, Ken Caldeira and Tom Wigley | The Guardian | December 3, 2015

… We have become so concerned about humanity’s slow response to this challenge that we have decided we must clearly set out what we see as the only viable path forward. As scientists we do not take advocacy positions lightly, but we believe the magnitude of climate change now presents an unprecedented moral challenge that compels us to speak out.

… The voluntary measures put on the table at Paris by over 100 nations are a welcome step, but unless there are strong measures to reduce emissions beyond 2030, global emissions would remain at a high level, practically guaranteeing that young people inherit a climate running out of their control. A new and intensified approach is clearly needed.

Everyone agrees that the most urgent component of decarbonisation is a move towards clean energy, and clean electricity in particular. We need affordable, abundant clean energy, but there is no particular reason why we should favour renewable energy over other forms of abundant energy. Indeed, cutting down forests for bioenergy and damming rivers for hydropower – both commonly counted as renewable energy sources – can have terrible environmental consequences.

Nuclear power, particularly next-generation nuclear power with a closed fuel cycle (where spent fuel is reprocessed), is uniquely scalable, and environmentally advantageous. Over the past 50 years, nuclear power stations – by offsetting fossil fuel combustion – have avoided the emission of an estimated 60bn tonnes of carbon dioxide. Nuclear energy can power whole civilisations, and produce waste streams that are trivial compared to the waste produced by fossil fuel combustion. There are technical means to dispose of this small amount of waste safely. However, nuclear does pose unique safety and proliferation concerns that must be addressed with strong and binding international standards and safeguards. Most importantly for climate, nuclear produces no CO2 during power generation.

To solve the climate problem, policy must be based on facts and not on prejudice. The climate system cares about greenhouse gas emissions – not about whether energy comes from renewable power or abundant nuclear power. Some have argued that it is feasible to meet all of our energy needs with renewables. The 100% renewable scenarios downplay or ignore the intermittency issue by making unrealistic technical assumptions, and can contain high levels of biomass and hydroelectric power at the expense of true sustainability. Large amounts of nuclear power would make it much easier for solar and wind to close the energy gap.

The climate issue is too important for us to delude ourselves with wishful thinking. Throwing tools such as nuclear out of the box constrains humanity’s options and makes climate mitigation more likely to fail. We urge an all-of-the-above approach that includes increased investment in renewables combined with an accelerated deployment of new nuclear reactors.

For example, a build rate of 61 new reactors per year could entirely replace current fossil fuel electricity generation by 2050. Accounting for increased global electricity demand driven by population growth and development in poorer countries, which would add another 54 reactors per year, this makes a total requirement of 115 reactors per year to 2050 to entirely decarbonise the global electricity system in this illustrative scenario. … Full article

A New Generation of Nuclear Reactors, the logical “Solution” for the Climate Scare

Stephen Tindale

The “Switchers” and assorted prominent pro-nuclear climate activists:

George Monbiot – columnist with The Guardian newspaper in the UK, and author of Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning. “Atomic energy has just been subjected to one of the harshest of possible tests, and the impact on people and the planet has been small. The crisis at Fukushima has converted me to the cause of nuclear power.”

Tom Wigley – of Climate-Gate infamy, he’s a senior scientist in the Climate and Global Dynamics Division of the University Corporation of Atmospheric Research. “We need nuclear power to solve this problem … people don’t realise just how bad climate change is.”

James Hansen – author of Storms of My Grandchildren.

Barry W Brook – is the Director of Climate Science at Adelaide University, and Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change, is on the board of the Science Council for Global Initiatives and the International Awards Committee of the Global Energy Prize.

Gwyneth Cravens – novelist and journalist, author of Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy.

Ted Nordhaus – Chairman of the Breakthrough Institute, political strategist and author of Break Through, Why We Can’t Leave Saving The Planet To Environmentalists.

Mark Lynas – author of The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans, also a frequent speaker around the world on climate change science and policy. “Let me be very clear. Without nuclear, the battle against global warming is as good as lost.”

Tom Blees – author of Prescription for the Planet (the seemingly “intractable” problem of nuclear waste is “nothing of the kind”) has “probably done more than anybody to move people to the cause of nuclear power.” Tom also heads the Science Council for Global Initiatives.

Professor Gerry Thomas – of the Imperial College, London, “I am very pro-nuclear as I realise that we have an unwarranted fear of radiation.”

James Lovelock – celebrated father of the Gaia principle.

Fred Pearce – an environment writer with The Guardian newspaper in the UK, and author of The Last Generation: How nature will take her revenge for climate change.

Stewart Brand – a prominent pro-nuclear “environmentalist” and author of Whole Earth Discipline: Why dense cities, nuclear power, transgenic crops, restored wildlands and geoengineering are necessary.

Ken Caldiera – with the Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution, recently co-authored an open letter to the environmental movement urging them to bring their support behind the development of new nuclear power.

Kerry Emmanuel – with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is known for his work on attribution of climate change to hurricane events.

Rachel Pritzker – is the founder and president of the Pritzker Innovation Fund. Rachel currently chairs the advisory board of the Breakthrough Institute.

Suzanne Hobbs-Baker – the brain behind Pop Atomic Studios, an organisation which uses the power of visual and liberal arts to “enrich” the public discussion on atomic energy.

Ed Davey – UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, “When I have listened to the arguments of pro-nuclear Liberal Democrats in recent years, the one argument I found increasingly difficult to answer is the climate-change argument, because climate change poses a real and massive danger to our planet. Not keeping a genuinely low-carbon source of electricity as an option looks reckless when we don’t know the future.”

December 6, 2015 Posted by | Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation and Cancer: Risks of Leukemia in Nuclear Workers More Than Double Previous Estimate

By Ian Fairlie | CounterPunch | October 16, 2015

In 2013, I discussed several epidemiological studies providing good evidence of radiogenic risks at very low exposure levels.

A powerful new study has been published in Lancet Haematology [1] which adds to this evidence. However the study’s findings are more important than the previous studies, for several reasons.

First, it provides “strong evidence”, as stated by the authors, of a “dose-response relationship between cumulative, external, chronic, low-dose, exposures to radiation and leukaemia”.

Second, it finds radiogenic risks of leukemia among nuclear workers to be more than double the risk found in a previous similar study in 2005. The excess relative risk of leukaemia mortality (excluding workers exposed to neutrons) was 4.19 per Gy.

In 2005, a similar study [2] among nuclear workers (also excluding those exposed to neutrons) in 15 countries by several of the same authors found an ERR of 1·93 per Sv. In other words, the new study’s risk estimates are 117% higher than the older study. The clincher is that the new study’s estimated risks are much more precise than before.

Third, it confirms risks even at very low doses (mean = 1·1 mGy per year). Unlike the Japanese bomb survivors’ study, it observes risks at low dose rates rather than extrapolating them from high levels.

Fourth, it finds risks do not depend on dose rate thus contradicting the ICRP’s use of a Dose Rate Effectiveness Factor (DREF) which acts to reduce (by half) the ICRP’s published radiation risks.

Fifth, it finds radiogenic leukemia risks decline linearly with dose, contradicting earlier studies suggesting a lower, linear-quadratic relationship for leukemia. It strengthens the Linear No Threshold (LNT) model of radiogenic risks, as it now applies to leukemias as well as solid cancers.

Sixth, the study finds no evidence of a threshold below which no effects are seen (apart from zero dose).

Seventh, the study uses 90% confidence intervals and one-sided p-values. In the past, 95% intervals and two-sided p-values were often incorrectly used which had made it harder to establish statistical significance.

Explanation for change

In an earlier version of this blog posted on 29th June 2015, I’d written that the increase between the 2005 study and the present study was 50%, ie up from 1.93 to 2.96 per Gy. This was because the study’s ‘Discussion’ section specifically compared these two studies and their risks, stating the older study’s leukemia risk was smaller and less precise.

However a detailed examination of the report reveals the following sentence in the para immediately before the Discussion section:

“We assessed the effect of excluding people who had recorded neutron exposures; we showed a positive association for leukaemia … (ERR per Gy 4·19, 90% CI 1·42-7·80, 453 deaths)…”.

To make sure readers get the point, the risk is greater when neutron exposed workers are excluded. This is important because the 2005 study excluded workers exposed to neutrons. Therefore the correct comparison is between the risks for non-neutron workers, that is between 4.19 and 1.93 per Gy – an increase of 117%, rather than 50%.

I’ve written to the report’s authors about this but have not received any replies yet. I shall keep readers up-to-date on any progress.

Study’s credentials

The study’s credentials are pretty impeccable. It’s a huge study of over 300,000 nuclear workers adding up to over 8 million person years, thus ensuring its findings are statistically significant, ie with very low probability of occurring by chance.

Also, it’s an international study by 13 respected scientists from national health institutes in the US, UK, and France, as follows.

*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US

*National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, US

*Department of Health and Human Services, US

*University of North Carolina, US

*Drexel University School of Public Health, US

*Public Health England, UK

*Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire, France

*Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, Spain

*UN International Agency for Research on Cancer, France

Funding was provided by many institutions, including US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, US Department of Energy, US Department of Health and Human Services, Japanese Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare, French Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire, and the UK’s Public Health England.

My conclusions

This study powerfully contradicts the views of ill-informed and inexperienced journalists (including the UK writer George Monbiot) [3] and self-styled scientists who argue that radiation risks are over-estimated and even that radiation is somehow good for you.

Hormetic effects are neither found nor discussed in this study: such irrelevant effects are regarded by real scientists as beneath their consideration.

The impressive list of contributing scientists and their national institutions here should serve to make radiation risk deniers reconsider their views. This is particularly the case for US risk deniers, in view of the many US agencies and US scientists backing the study.

The study pointedly comments that:

“At present, radiation protection systems are based on a model derived from acute exposures, and assumes that the risk of leukaemia per unit dose progressively diminishes at lower doses and dose rates.”

The study shows this assumption is incorrect. The authors therefore join with WHO and UNSCEAR scientists in their views that DREFs should not be used. The question remains whether the ICRP will accept this powerful evidence and scrap their adherence to using DREFs. I advise readers not to hold their breaths.

As regards the implications of their study, the authors interestingly choose to comment – not on exposures from the nuclear industry – but from medical exposures. They state:

“Occupational and environmental sources of radiation exposure are important; however, the largest contributor to this trend is medical radiation exposure. In 1982, the average yearly dose of ionising radiation from medical exposures was about 0·5 mGy per person in the USA; by 2006, it had increased to 3·0 mGy.

“A similar pattern exists in other high-income countries: use of diagnostic procedures involving radiation in the UK more than doubled over that period and more than tripled in Australia. Because ionising radiation is a carcinogen, its use in medical practice must be balanced against the risks associated with patient exposure.

This is all correct and worrying, especially the revelation that medical radiation doses increased 6-fold in the US and doubled in the UK between 1982 and 2006. The authors add:

“This finding shows the importance of adherence to the basic principles of radiation protection – to optimise protection to reduce exposures as much as reasonably achievable and – in the case of patient exposure – to justify that the exposure does more good than harm.”

The same, of course, applies to exposures from the nuclear industry – the actual subject of their research.

Dr Ian Fairlie is an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment. He has a degree in radiation biology from Bart’s Hospital in London and his doctoral studies at Imperial College in London and Princeton University in the US concerned the radiological hazards of nuclear fuel reprocessing. Ian was formerly a DEFRA civil servant on radiation risks from nuclear power stations. From 2000 to 2004, he was head of the Secretariat to the UK Government’s CERRIE Committee on internal radiation risks. Since retiring from Government service, he has acted as consultant to the European Parliament, local and regional governments, environmental NGOs, and private individuals.

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | Leave a comment

The Kagame-Power Lobby’s Dishonest Attack on the BBC 2’s Documentary on Rwanda

By Edward S. Herman and David Peterson | Monthly Review Zine | November 1, 2014

On October 1, 2014, a remarkable event occurred in Britain.  The British Broadcasting Corporation’s BBC 2’s This World telecast Rwanda’s Untold Story, a documentary produced by Jane Corbin and John Conroy that offered a critical view of Rwandan President Paul Kagame and of his and the British and U.S. roles in the 1994 mass killings in Rwanda and beyond.1 Although the documentary adheres to some key longstanding falsehoods of the Anglo-American propaganda system’s treatment of the “Rwandan genocide,” above all the claim that in 1994 leaders of the country’s Hutu majority conspired to commit genocide against its Tutsi minority,2 nevertheless, we believe that the telecast of Rwanda’s Untold Story constituted a first of its kind in the reinterpretation of what really happened in Rwanda in 1994.  And this is true not only for the BBC, but also for the rest of the establishment English-language television news media in Britain, the United States, Canada, and elsewhere.

The BBC 2’s reinterpretation works largely by providing airtime to well-informed figures conventionally marginalized within the establishment media.  Accordingly, Rwanda’s Untold Story is the story that they tell and that they would have been telling for many years had they and their views not been systematically suppressed and even ridiculed and smeared by the establishment media, historians, and assorted political hacks from within the Kagame-Power Lobby.

Among these newly admitted storytellers are Theogene Rudasingwa and Kayumba Nyamwasa, former high-ranking Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) associates of Paul Kagame now forced to live in exile for opposing his rule and seeking his downfall.  “The price of being able to express a view that is even mildly critical or dissenting in Rwanda, the price is very high,” Rudasingwa, Kagame’s former chief-of-staff, tells Corbin.  “Those who tried, journalists, have been killed, and others imprisoned or simply banished into exile” (51:19).  When Corbin asks Nyamwasa, a former top-ranking general under Kagame, whether he was “surprised there wasn’t more protests from the international community over what was happening in the Congo and Rwanda’s part in it,” Nyamwasa replies: “No.  I wasn’t surprised.  He’s got very powerful people who protect him” (45:50).

Another critic here given a voice is Aloys Ruyenzi, a former member of Kagame’s personal guard.  Ruyenzi recounts what he heard at a meeting between Kagame and his closest staff during which Kagame gave the order to shoot down Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana’s Falcon 50 jet.  Ruyenzi also states that he was in Kagame’s company when, on April 6, 1994, the news of the shoot-down arrived at the RPF’s headquarters in Mulindi, in the far north of the country.  “Kagame was happy,” Ruyenzi tells Corbin.  “The other commanders were happy too.  From that moment, we started to move” (15:15).

Yet another critic is Carla Del Ponte, a former chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) as well as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, who recounts how she was relieved of her job at the ICTR in 2003 for having opened investigations into RPF crimes and then rebuffed overtures from the United States and Britain to terminate them.  “[T]he U.S. didn’t back me up,” she says, “the U.K. followed suit, as always, and my mandate was not renewed” (38:28).

Still another new voice is former FBI counter-terrorism agent James Lyons, who was Commander of Investigations at the ICTR.  Lyons tells Corbin that in 1996-1997 his and the late Michael Hourigan’s National Team had found three solid sources claiming knowledge that Kagame was responsible for the Habyarimana assassination.  When in early 1997 Hourigan and Lyons presented ICTR Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour with a memorandum outlining what they had learned, Arbour ordered the investigation terminated and confiscated the memorandum.  “Louise Arbour just did a 180-degrees turnaround,” Lyons says, referring to Arbour’s reaction when she learned that his group had evidence implicating Kagame.  “Someone above her was telling her this was not a good idea to be investigating Paul Kagame” (39:30).

Among the other BBC 2 guests was the Belgian scholar Filip Reyntjens, a specialist in the history of the Great Lakes region of central Africa; Reyntjens states frankly on camera that he regards Kagame as the “most important war criminal in office today” (48:31).  Also the Belgian Colonel Luc Marchal, a former high-ranking member of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR) with responsibility for the capital city, Kigali.  Marchal describes the overwhelming tension that pervaded Kigali during the months before Habyarimana’s assassination: “Every night in Kigali the background noise was of weapons and shooting and of grenades exploding” (10:16).  “In my opinion,” Marchal adds, “the attack on the president’s plane was the trigger to begin the military operation and the armed takeover by the RPF” (15:53).

Perhaps most important of all, the BBC 2 devotes a substantial segment of its documentary to the work of two American professors now at the University of Michigan, Allan Stam and Christian Davenport, who from 1998 on carried out important field research in Rwanda, and who have gone on to develop many powerful and provocative interpretations about what really happened in Rwanda in 1994.3 “What the world believes, and what really happened, are quite different,” a clip from Corbin’s interview with Stam appears twice in the documentary (0:21 and 31:19).  (We return to Davenport and Stam’s work below.)

In sum, although we take issue with the BBC 2 documentary’s very loose and inexact use of the term “genocide” when referring to the events in Rwanda in 1994, Jane Corbin and John Conroy’s Rwanda’s Untold Story marks an important, informative, and decisive break from the now-more-than 20 years of false and propagandistic storytelling in the Anglo-American world that has buried the real history of the period.  Both the BBC 2’s This World and the documentary’s production staff deserve their audience’s gratitude — not condemnation.

How Dare the BBC 2’s This World Break Ranks with the Rest of the Respectable Media and Bring All of These Ugly, Unmentionable Truths to Light?

Just as it was a remarkable event for Rwanda’s Untold Story to be telecast over the BBC 2 on October 1, so it was entirely predictable that on October 12, a response in the form of an open letter signed by 38 “scholars, scientists, researchers, journalists and historians” was sent to the BBC’s Director-General Tony Hall, taking issue with the documentary in the strongest terms possible.  And, as is the conventional practice among members of this group, their open letter features the smear that the documentary engages in “genocide denial,” a derogatory charge that in one form or another (e.g., “genocide deniers,” “deniers”) appears no fewer than 13 times in a letter only 1,266 words long.4

“Genocide denial” and the dissemination of “genocide ideology and sectarianism” are the preferred negative-attack weapons of the Kagame dictatorship, on the basis of which it has denounced, intimidated, imprisoned, driven into exile, and even assassinated many Rwandans as well as foreign nationals over the past 20 years.5 Kagame’s legal system used such charges to arrest the Hutu political figure and chair of the opposition Forces Democratiques Unifiées (FDU)-Inkingi coalition, Victoire Ingabire, in April 2010, removing her from competing against Kagame in the August presidential election, which Kagame won with an incredible 93 percent of the rigged vote.  “[I]ngabire asked why there were no memorials to the Hutus who died,” Corbin reports in the documentary.  “She got eight years in prison for ‘genocide ideology’” (51:09).  To this day, Ingabire languishes in one of Kagame’s prisons, her sentence now bumped up to 15 years; recently her attorney filed a petition with the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, asking it to demand a fair and open retrial for his client. 6  The 38 letter-signers claim to recognize the BBC’s right to “reflect on the contemporary political situation in Rwanda,” which the documentary does at length, but nowhere in their rebuttal do they themselves undertake such reflections.  Doesn’t the 38’s silence on the totalitarian nature of Kagame Power, clearly a major political issue for Rwandans both at home and living in exile, make them dictatorship defenders?

When the 38 use the word “genocide” — a term they use no fewer than 27 times in their letter — they refer to one thing specifically: the alleged planned extermination and killing of Rwanda’s minority Tutsi population by its majority Hutu conspirators.  But another, much larger area of massacres lies to the west of Rwanda in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where, from September 1996 on, many more people have been killed than in Rwanda in 1994.  These killings were carried out as an almost immediate extension of the RPF’s 46-month war in Rwanda, and in the case of the DRC there is a wide consensus among specialists that Paul Kagame and forces allied with him (especially the Ugandan People’s Defense Force and locally organized militias) have been the principal killing agents.  As Deogratias Bugera, at one time a soldier in Kagame’s RPF during its war in Rwanda, and one of the founders in October 1996 of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL), a “rebel” front-organization for the RPF in its wars in Zaire-DRC, once told Jason Stearns: “As soon as the RPF conquered Rwanda, they set their sights on invading Zaire, much sooner than most people realize.” 7 As the 38 completely ignore Kagame’s 18-year-long wars and genocide in the DRC, doesn’t their exclusive focus on Rwanda 1994 and the alleged Hutu conspiracy to exterminate the Tutsi make them apologists for the larger follow-up genocide?  To the BBC 2’s credit — and in stark contrast to the silence of the 38 who attacked the BBC — the documentary raises precisely this issue.  In fact, in a voiceover, Corbin reports: “The UN surveyed 600 alleged massacre sites [in the DRC]. …  The UN report concluded: The apparent systematic and widespread attacks on Hutu civilians, if proven, could be characterized as crimes of genocide” (44:48). 8  But the 38 aren’t interested.

Who Shot Down President Habyarimana’s Falcon 50 Jet?

Turning to the mass killings in Rwanda in 1994, the 38 cite three “untenable claims” made in the BBC 2 documentary.  The first is a “lie about the true nature of the Hutu power militia.”  The second is an “attempt to minimize the number of Tutsi murdered in the genocide.”  And the third is an “effort to place the blame for shooting down President Habyarimana’s plane on April 6, 1994 on the Rwandan Patriotic Front.”

Taking this last item first: The 38 claim that a “detailed report published in January 2012 by a French magistrate Judge Marc Trévidic . . . contains evidence from French experts, including crash investigators, who proved scientifically that the missiles that shot down the plane came from the confines of the government-run barracks in Kanombe.”

This is a blatant case of the selective use of evidence, in addition to being misleading in its own narrow framework.  First, two French investigative judges are involved in this inquiry, not one: Judge Nathalie Poux as well as Judge Trévidic.  Second, no report, preliminary or final, has ever been issued by Trévidic and Poux.  The January 2012 report to which the 38 refer, released by Trévidic and Poux, was not written by them but was compiled by five “experts” who had been hired by the investigating judges to analyze certain data from a ballistics and acoustics point of view. 9

Third, and most important, none of the contributors to this nearly 340 page report at any point claims to know the identities of who actually fired the missiles that brought down Habyarimana’s jet, and nowhere in this report does anyone conclude definitively that the “missiles that shot down the plane came from the confines of the government-run barracks in Kanombe,” or in any other government-controlled area. Instead, they calculate “probabilities” for the locus of origination of the missiles which in the aggregate covers such a large range of territory that, as of April 6, 1994, the missiles could have been fired from government-controlled territory on its western edge as well as from territory well outside of government control, in the vicinity of Masaka Hill, to the southeast of Kanombe camp and the airport’s runway, which is exactly where the former RPF figures who have testified on this matter in multiple venues over many years claim the missiles were fired from. 10  In short, the highly-touted findings of the January 2012 analysis are so inconclusive as to the sites from which the fatal missiles were fired and the identity of the shooters that they are surely not the last word on the matter. 11

Also interesting is the fact that the Trévidic-Poux investigation’s own records show that in June 2010 their investigation accepted the sworn testimony of Abdul Ruzibiza, a former lieutenant in the RPF then living in exile in Norway, and the author of the 2005 book Rwanda, L’histoire secrète12  Consistent with his earlier testimonies before the investigation led by the French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière (Trévidic’s immediate predecessor in the same office, from which Bruguière retired in June 2008), his published writings, and his testimonies in trials argued before the ICTR, Ruzibiza shared with Trévidic-Poux’s representatives in Norway his knowledge of the RPF’s reconnaissance of the best site from which to fire the missiles (i.e., the aforementioned Masaka Hill, outside the government-controlled area); who comprised the assassination team and carried out the actual shooting (Deputy-Lieutenant Frank Nziza and Corporal Eric Hakizimana are named); where the missiles that were used that night had come from (they were smuggled from Uganda, through RPF-controlled territory in northern Rwanda, and then to Kigali); where the RPF stored the missiles prior to their use (in the RPF-occupied Conseil National de Développement [CND — National Assembly] complex in Kigali, in violation of the Arusha Accords’ prohibition that weapons in Kigali were to be secured by UNAMIR); and that he was a member of the RPF’s so-called “Network,” a covert team that carried out sabotage, false-flag operations, and assassinations of political figures on all sides so as to sow distrust and heighten tensions. 13  We believe that all of this is very important because, as noted above, Trévidic’s predecessor, Judge Bruguière, also heard the same sworn testimony of Ruzibiza, as had trial chambers of the ICTR; the crucial difference here is that whereas the 2006 Bruguière report made use of Ruzibiza’s testimony, at the time of this writing, Trévidic-Poux have taken no public position on Ruzibiza’s testimony, much less have they attempted to identify who they believe the shooters were. 14

It is also important to note that the Trévidic-Poux investigation exists within a political context unique to France that is ignored by the 38.  In May 2007, the right-wing Atlanticist candidate Nicolas Sarkozy succeeded the right-wing Gaullist Jacques Chirac as the new president of France.  Chirac had served for 12 years (1995-2007), having succeeded the Socialist Party’s François Mitterrand (1981-1995) to the office.  Sarkozy immediately set out to heighten France’s Atlanticist profile among the Western capitals, particularly Washington and London.  In early 2010, Sarkozy visited Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame in Kigali, the first visit by a French president to Kigali since the 1980s.  Within days of Sarkozy’s return to Paris, French police arrested Agathe Habyarimana, the widow of Rwanda’s late President’s Habyarimana, then living in exile in Paris; she was arrested on the basis of an arrest warrant drawn up in Kigali over her role in the events of 1994.  Within weeks of this, Trévidic and Poux named the five ballistics and acoustics “experts” who were to re-examine the evidence that ultimately found its way into Bruguière’s 2006 report and the nine indictments of RPF figures.  In other words, the origins of the Trévidic-Poux investigation took place within the context of President Sarkozy’s decision to mend fences with Kagame’s regime and align French with U.S. policy on Rwanda, and this political decision required something official to offset Bruguière’s findings against the RPF.  But even now as late as November 2014, Trévidic and Poux have yet to publish a definitive conclusion, in contrast to Hourigan, Bruguière, and the Spanish National Court Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles’ February 2008 indictment of 40 members of the RPF for their alleged murder of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans after the war. 15

The 38 ignore the fact that the long and serious investigation of the shoot-down by Bruguière, which included the sworn testimonies of a number of participants in the planning for the shoot-down, concluded that it was Kagame who had given the orders for it. 16  Bruguière also made the important point that the shoot-down and military conquest of Rwanda were politically necessary for Kagame, as he and his RPF could never have won the free election called for by the 1993 Arusha Peace Accords, given an ethnic Tutsi voting block of some 10 percent of Rwanda’s population, versus an ethnic Hutu voting block closer to 90 percent.  Under these circumstances, it would have been impossible for Kagame’s RPF to take power through Rwanda’s legal political channels at any time and in any way — except by military conquest. 17  As Filip Reyntjens tells Jane Corbin in the BBC 2 documentary: “[The RPF] felt they were not going to be able to take power through the ballot, and I think by the end of 1993, the RPF had decided it was going to take power by the bullet” (9:35).

The 38 also bypass the fact that the ICTR sponsored the original investigation of the shoot-down in 1996-1997, carried out by a 20-person, multinational investigative team headed by the late Australian lawyer, Michael Hourigan.  The BBC 2 documentary returns to a discussion of this evidence more than once, in the person of James Lyons, Hourigan’s superior at the ICTR.  A memo prepared by Hourigan for delivery to ICTR Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour, based on what his team regarded as three solid RPF sources with firsthand knowledge of the shoot-down, found Paul Kagame ultimately responsible for it.  But as noted earlier, this memo was suppressed by Arbour, and no charges have ever been brought against Kagame by the ICTR. 18  Given that the ICTR has strictly observed the principle of “victor’s justice” throughout its 20 year existence, and has indicted, tried, and convicted Hutus alone with only one exception19, (the BBC 2 documentary reports 63 convictions to date [39:56]), this history of prosecutorial suppression at the ICTR strongly suggests that the evidence for a Kagame role in the shoot-down simply was too solid for the ICTR and its major U.S. and U.K. sponsors to permit any further investigation.

Here we should add that the lead signatory of the open letter to the BBC, Linda Melvern, has long claimed that there never was an investigation of the shoot-down by an international organization.  Thus in one place, Melvern has referred to the “failure to conduct an international inquiry,” 20 and elsewhere she has alleged that “[t]he international court established by the Security Council . . . is silent on the assassination of Habyarimana.” 21  Although these are outright lies and suppress both actual investigations and the evidence they’ve accumulated, they are the kind of lies that conform well with the biases and deep-seated mendacity of Melvern and her 37 fellow “scholars” (etc).

Among the Many Untold Stories about Life in Paul Kagame’s Rwanda . . .

The list of former Kagame associates who eventually testified to Kagame’s responsibility for the shoot-down is impressively large; Peter Erlinder, the U.S. defense attorney and former lead defense counsel before the ICTR, estimates that the number “now exceeds eight,” 22 but we suspect the total is considerably higher.  But any number is especially impressive, given that former members of Kagame’s inner circle who provide such testimony place themselves at great risk, as Kagame and some of his underlings have been regularly engaged in the permanent silencing of critics.  (On this, see the treatment in Rwanda’s Untold Story of the December 31, 2013 assassination of Kagame’s former intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya, then living in exile in South Africa [51:40].)  Estimates vary of the number of former allies who were later killed on orders from Kagame.  Particularly vulnerable and at highest risk are figures who possess “knowledge of the regime’s darkest secrets and had themselves been involved in its crimes,” as Reyntjens puts it.  Reyntjens quotes a former RPF member “exiled in Europe” who claims he was ordered to assassinate Kayumba Nyamwasa (who, in fact, has survived four assassination attempts) and could name 17 other former RPF officers “murdered on Kagame’s orders.”  Anyone “considered a threat, Hutu and Tutsi alike, were physically eliminated.”  Exiles from Kagame Power were eliminated either because they had knowledge of Kagame’s responsibility for the assassinations of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents in April 1994, or because Kagame suspected them of disloyalty and plotting against him, or of leaking sensitive information to the world outside his base of supporters.  According to Reyntjens, Ruzibiza claimed the “physical elimination of over twenty military, in addition to several foreigners working in Rwanda who were suspected of having leaked information on RPF abuse. . . .”  Kagame is also implicated in the January 2001 assassination of a third head of state, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, Kagame’s handpicked successor to Mobutu after Rwanda and Uganda drove Mobutu from power in May 1997. 23  In 2010, many of the most prominent surviving exiles from Kagame Power went on to found the Rwanda National Congress and called for the end of the Kagame dictatorship, once and for all.  But the establishment U.S. and U.K. media have rarely given Kagame’s regime of terror and assassination the attention that it deserves, paralleling the United States’ and Britain’s longtime support of Kagame, and, of course, the 38 slavishly follow the same apologetic silence on this matter.

The 38 attempt to support their belief in “Hutu Power” responsibility for the shoot-down by claiming that this “carefully planned genocide” was followed immediately  by “roadblocks . . . all over Kigali” and a rapid targeting of Rwanda’s political opposition, which was allegedly opposed to Habyarimana because they feared power sharing with the RPF under the Arusha Accords.24 This is what we might call streaming lies.  As we feature in our recently published book, Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System, 20 Years Later, even the U.S.- and U.K.-vetted ICTR uniformly rejects the charge that Hutu political and military figures engaged in a “conspiracy to commit genocide” against the country’s minority Tutsi population prior to the April 6, 1994 shoot-down of the Habyarimana jet. 25  But this has never prevented Linda Melvern and the open letter’s co-signers Roméo Dallaire, Gregory Stanton, Gerald Caplan, Frank Chalk, George Monbiot, Andrew Wallis, et al., from repeatedly asserting that such a conspiracy was fairly adjudicated and determined to be real by the ICTR’s trial and appeals chambers, and this repetition of the “conspiracy to commit genocide” fraud feeds into the lie stream here.

While Melvern and the other 37 claim a readiness to spring into action by the alleged “Hutu Power” conspirators as of April 6, the fact of the matter is that the Hutu military and political leadership was completely unprepared for the post-assassination crisis, the Armed Forces of Rwanda (FAR) were in immediate retreat from the advances of the vastly militarily superior RPF, and were unable to prevent Rwanda from being conquered by the RPF in less than 100 days — let alone putting a stop to localized killing sprees.  By contrast, Kagame’s RPF — including armed RPF cells in hiding across the country — was ready to initiate a military offensive at the moment that the shoot-down of Habyarimana’s jet was confirmed.  The further lie by the 38 is that the Hutu conspirators carried out their nefarious plans because they feared power-sharing with the RPF and the loss of privileges this would have entailed.  But as Bruguière and many others have pointed out, it was Kagame and his RPF that was confronted with losing everything via the free and fair elections scheduled by the Arusha Accords, given the ethnic voting blocks that had prevailed in Rwanda for decades.

The 38 contest the finding of University of Michigan academics Christian Davenport and Allan Stam that more Hutus than Tutsi were killed in Rwanda in 1994, but they refute it solely by mentioning “eye-witness testimony” and by listing the names of alleged research reports by Amnesty International, UNICEF, and others, while failing to cite any specific findings of estimated numbers killed and the ethnic composition of the deaths.  The 38 also resort to the conventional accusatory tactic of charging Davenport and Stam with “attempts to minimize the number of Tutsi murdered, a typical tactic of genocide deniers” — when the going gets tough, sling mud.

Davenport and Stam use an aggregating methodology that we find logical and plausible in dealing with a very confusing environment — working from data estimating total pre-April 6, 1994 Tutsi and Hutu members of the population, and post-July 1994 numbers of Tutsi survivors.  We use a similar method in Enduring Lies, taking Rwanda census data breakdowns of Tutsi and Hutu numbers as of August 1991, and post-July 1994 estimates of Tutsi survivors ranging from 300,000 to 400,000.  Without going into too many details here, we found that, for example, on the assumption of 800,000 total deaths for the period April through July, 1994, plausible estimates of Hutu and Tutsi deaths ranged from between 100,000 and 200,000 Tutsi deaths, and between 600,000 and 700,000 Hutu deaths. 26  We also show, again relying on the logic of Davenport and Stam’s method, the crucial lesson that (quoting from our book) “the greater the total number of deaths, the greater the number of Hutu deaths overall, and the greater the percentage comprised of Hutu.”27

Hence, the following crucial exchange between Corbin and Stam (30:31):

Allan Stam: If a million people died in Rwanda in 1994 — and that’s certainly possible — there is no way that the majority of them could be Tutsi.

Jane Corbin: How do you know that?

Allan Stam: Because there weren’t enough Tutsi in the country.

Jane Corbin: The academics calculated there had been 500,000 Tutsis before the conflict in Rwanda; 300,000 survived.  This led them to their final controversial conclusion.

Allan Stam: If a million Rwandans died, and 200,000 of them were Tutsi, that means 800,000 of them were Hutu.

Jane Corbin: That’s completely the opposite of what the world believes happened in the Rwandan genocide.

Allan Stam: What the world believes, and what actually happened, are quite different.

Notice the conditional “if” with which Stam begins his explanation.  He could have stated “If 500,000 people died,” or “If 2 million people died,” and their method would have generated different results.  It is also notable that the 38 dismiss Davenport and Stam simply as academics who “worked for a team of lawyers defending the génocidaires at the ICTR.”  In fact, Davenport and Stam started work in Rwanda under the auspices of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and at one time Stam served in the U.S. Army Special Forces.  And the defense counsels before the ICTR often were defending clients eventually found to be innocent of all charges, but here the same clients are found guilty in advance by the 38, who call all of them “génocidaires” and would presumably deny them the right to defend themselves.

The 38 are also pained by the BBC 2’s raising doubts over whether Paul Kagame’s RPF stopped the genocide.  They quote Lieut.-General Roméo Dallaire, the Canadian force commander of UNAMIR, as the “authority on this subject.”  “Dallaire is categorical,” the 38 write.  “‘The genocide was stopped because the RPF won and stopped it’, he says.” 28 This is actually a bit ambiguous because the mass killings could have stopped because the powerful army then conquering Rwanda — the RPF — had won its war and could itself stop doing the killing.  We have elsewhere cited the report by Robert Gersony to the United Nations claiming that in several of Rwanda’s southern prefectures he found an “unmistakable pattern” of “systematic and sustained killing and persecution of their civilian Hutu populations by the RPF,” with between 5,000 and 10,000 Hutu killed per month. 29 We should also note that Dallaire is hardly a neutral observer on the recent history of Rwanda, and, in fact, is one of the 38 signatories to the letter to the BBC which, as we are showing throughout, is error-laden and biased.  We may also point out that there are not one but two Dallaires — one in his term as force commander of UNAMIR (1993-1994), and the other subsequently acting as a spokesperson for the standard model of the “Rwandan genocide” and an apologist for Kagame Power (1995-).  In the earlier role, while biased in favor of the RPF, he at least could recognize and acknowledge the relative weakness and demoralization of the Forces Armées Rwandaises (FAR, the then national army of Rwanda) and the military superiority and readiness of the RPF; about the RPF, Dallaire had reported to the United Nations as early as September 1993 that it “displayed the potential to easily defeat the [FAR].” 30

The 38 devote considerable space to charging the BBC 2 documentary’s producers and guests with “genocide denial,” which they describe as the “final stage” of genocide that “ensures that the crime continues.  It incites new killing.”  Recall that, after conquering Rwanda in 1994, Kagame invaded Zaire-DRC two years later, with estimated subsequent killings there running into the millions.  This was not a result of any “genocide denial,” it was justified on the basis of the need to clean out the “génocidaires.”  That is, the new killings were built on the claim of a Hutu genocide of Tutsis that required what turned out to be large-scale massacres of an allegedly genocidal Hutu population that had fled to Zaire-DRC.  If the Hutus were the primary victims in 1994, and the April 6, 1994 assassination of President Habyarimana was attributable to Kagame, both of which we believe to be true, these extended killings in Zaire-DRC would be harder to rationalize.  By misrepresenting the reality of that history, the 38 help justify this further and larger genocide.

Concluding Note: Many Untold Stories

So, in fact, the 38’s cry of the immorality of “genocide denial” provides a dishonest cover for Paul Kagame’s crimes in 1994 and for his even larger crimes in Zaire-DRC.  The 38 thus belong to a sizable contingent of apologists for Kagame Power, who now and in years past have served as intellectual enforcers of an RPF and U.S.-U.K.-Canadian party line.  We may note here the amazing claim by the 38 that the events of 1994 “should be treated by all concerned with the utmost intellectual honesty and rigour.”  Their own violation of this appeal in their open letter is both systematic and comprehensive.

We have seen that the 38 have a penchant for slander as well as straightforward misrepresentation.  It is for committing the grave intellectual and moral crime of providing an alternative but, we believe, entirely credible and evidence-based reinterpretations of what really happened in Rwanda in 1994 that the 38 would like Rwanda’s Untold Story expunged from the BBC archives and its production team sent to the woodshed.

  1. Jane Corbin and John Conroy, Rwanda’s Untold Story, BBC 2, October 1, 2014.  Whenever we cite the time-stamp for something that we take from the documentary (e.g., 51:19), we are referring to the copy of the documentary as posted to the Vimeo website.
  2. In Rwanda’s Untold Story, the term “genocide” is used repeatedly but without hardly any definition or explanation as to what it means.  By all appearances, however, the term refers to an alleged Hutu conspiracy to commit genocide against Rwanda’s Tutsi minority 2, as well as to the execution of this alleged conspiracy during the period from April through July 1994.  Thus at one point Jane Corbin, the documentary’s presenter, describes “the genocide” as “the killing of a million people in three months” (13:59).  And immediately thereafter, she adds that once the assassination of Habyarimana had occurred, “It quickly became part of the accepted story that extremist Hutus shot down the plane.  They wanted to unleash a wave of ethnic killing and rid the country of its Tutsis” (14:09).
  3. For some of Christian Davenport and Allan Stam’s relevant work, see Rwandan Political Violence in Space and Time, unpublished manuscript, 2004, especially pp. 27-33.  Also see their website, Understanding Rwandan Political Violence in 1994, GenoDynamics.  And see their “What Really Happened in Rwanda?Miller-McCune, October 6, 2009:
  4. Linda Melvern et al., “Rwanda’s Untold Story: Letter to the Director-General of the BBC October 12, 2014″
  5. Filip Reyntjens, Political Governance in Post-Genocide Rwanda (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013), Ch. 5, “Dealing with the World and the Region,” pp. 124-162; especially the section “Dealing with Critical Voices,” pp. 127-134.
  6. Jailed Rwanda Opposition Figure Lodges Complaint with African Court,” Agence France Presse, October 24, 2014.  Also see Rwanda: Eight-Year Sentence for Opposition Leader, Human Rights Watch, October 30, 2012.
  7. Jason K. Stearns, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa (New York: Public Affairs, 2011), p. 77.
  8. Report of the Mapping Exercise  documenting the most serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed within the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo between March 1993 and June 2003, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, August. 2010, esp. para. 500-522.  Therein, we read that the RPF and its proxy forces had carried out “systematic and widespread … attacks, which targeted very large numbers of Rwandan Hutu refugees and members of the Hutu civilian population, resulting in their death.”  Such attacks, the report continues, “reveal a number of damning elements that, if they were proven before a competent court, could be classified crimes of genocide” (para. 515).
  9. Claudine Oosterlinck et al, Rapport d’Expertise: Destruction en Vol du Falcon 50 — Kigali (Rwanda), Cour d’Appel de Paris, Tribunal de Grande Instance Paris, Instruction n. 2272/00/13&1314 — Parquet n.  9729523030, January 5, 2012.
  10. Google map of the Kilagi International Airport and the territory which surrounds it.  Immediately south of the airport’s runway are the Kanombe military barracks; much farther to the southeast of the airport’s runway and the Kanombe barracks is the topographic representation of Masaka Hill.  According to the analyses of the “experts” released by Trévidic and Poux in January, 2012, all of these locations fall within the range of possible firing sites for the missiles that shot-down the presidential jet on April 6, 1994.
  11. Barrie Collins, “Shooting Down the ‘Truth’ about Rwanda,” Spiked Online, April 16, 2012.
  12. Abdul Joshua Ruzibiza, Rwanda, L’histoire secrète (Paris: Editions du Panama, 2005).
  13. Audition sur Commission Rogatoire Internationale, Joshua Ruzibiza, Devant nous, le mardi 15 juin 2010. … Commissaire de Police Havard AALMO du Kripos, en exécution d’un demande d’entraide pénale de la France en date du 15 décembre 2009 (Numéro du dossier en Norvège: 8911179) a comparu: Joshua RUZIBIZA.
  14. See the statement titled “Testimony of Abdul Ruzibiza about How Mistakes by both the Rwandan Government and the RPF Led to the Rwandan Genocide of 1994,” as posted to the Hungry for Truth, Peace, and Justice blog on January 9, 2009, specifically the section titled “LAST PHASE: The Assassination of President Habyarimana on April 6, 1994,” para. 5.
  15. Al Goodman, “Spanish Judge Indicts 40 Rwandan Military Officers for Genocide,” CNN.com/Europe,February 6, 2008
  16. Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, Request for the Issuance of International Arrest Warrants, Tribunal de Grande Instance, Paris, France, November 21, 2006, p. 11.  The nine RPF figures indicted by Bruguière were: James Kabarebe, Kayumba Nyamwasa, Charles Kayonga, Jack Nziza, Samuel Kanyemere, Rose Kabuye, Jacob Tumwine, Frank Nziza, and Eric Hakizamana (pp. 46-48).  Paul Kagame, notably absent from this list of indictees, “enjoys the immunity granted in France to incumbent Heads of State and therefore cannot be prosecuted within the framework of this proceeding” (p. 46).
  17. Ibid., p. 12.  As the Bruguière report puts it: “[D]ue to the numerical inferiority of the Tutsi electorate, the political balance of power did not allow [Kagame] to win elections on the basis of the political process set forth by the Arusha Agreements without the support of the opposition parties. … [I]n Paul Kagame’s mind, the physical elimination of President Habyarimana became imperative as early as October 1993 as the sole way of achieving his political aims.”
  18. For copies of documents related to Michael Hourigan’s experience as the head of the National Investigative Team on behalf of the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICTR, see Annexe 49 : Le rapport de Michaël Hourigan, enquêteur du TPIR, à la procureure Louise Arbour sur l’attentat du 6 avril 1994 (janvier 1997).  This PDF reproduces partially redacted copies of Hourigan’s original 1997 memorandum to Louise Arbour (pp. 2-5); an August 1, 1997 confidential note in which Hourigan assesses his experiences as the head of the National Team (pp. 6-8); a February 7, 2007 report about Michael Hourigan written by Nick McKenzie for The Age (Australia) (pp. 9-13); and the November 27, 2006 Affidavit of Michael Andrew Hourigan used by defense attorneys before the ICTR (pp. 14-20).
  19. The one exception to the Hutu-only rule at the ICTR was the December 1998 indictment of Georges Henri Yvon Joseph Ruggiu, a Belgian national who had moved to Rwanda, and later became one of Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines on-air personalities both before and during the RPF’s final offensive in 1994.  Eventually, Ruggui pled guilty to “incitement” related charges.  See Judge Navanethem Pillay et al., Judgment, The Prosecutor v. George Ruggui, Case No. ICTR-97-32-I, June 1, 2000
  20. Linda Melvern, “Expert Refutes Bruguiere Claims,” All Africa, November 27, 2006.
  21. Linda Melvern, “The Perfect Crime“, Prospect, January 31, 2008.
  22. Peter Erlinder, The Accidental . . . Genocide (St. Paul, MN: International Humanitarian Law Institute, 2013), n. 49, p. 25.
  23. Reyntjens, Political Governance in Post-Genocide Rwanda, “The RPF Challenged from Within,” pp. 85-96
  24. Here we are referring to the Peace Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and the Rwandese Patriotic Front, signed at Arusha, Tanzania, on August 4, 1993, U.N. General Assembly (A/48/824-S/26915), December 23, 1993, specifically the two Protocols of Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Rwanda and the Rwandese Patriotic Front on Power-Sharing within the Framework of a Broad-Based Transitional Government, October 30, 1992, and January 9, 1993, pp. 22-58.
  25. See Herman and Peterson, Enduring Lies, Sect. 7, “The Alleged Hutu ‘Conspiracy to Commit Genocide’ That Never Was,” pp. 43-46; and Appendix I, pp. 78-82.
  26. Ibid., Sect. 4, “The ‘Rwandan Genocide’ by the Numbers,” pp. 32-35.
  27. Ibid., p. 34. []
  28. Here we note that this quote attributed to Roméo Dallaire by the 38 does not derive from the documentary.
  29. Robert Gersony, “Summary of UNHCR Presentation Before Commission of Experts,” October 11, 1994, pp. 4-8.  Gersony had been dispatched to Rwanda on behalf of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ Emergency Repatriation Team, and he reported to the UN Commission of Experts in October 1994.
  30. Report of the Secretary-General on Rwanda (S/26488), September 24, 1993.  Dallaire’s Reconnaissance Mission Report was circulated among members of the UN Security Council as an appendix to S/26488, but since it was classified for “UN Eyes Only,” it was not made publicly available at the time.  For a copy of Dallaire’s Report, see Peter Erlinder, ed., Report of the UN Reconnaissance Mission to Rwanda — August 1993 (Saint Paul, MN: International Humanitarian Law Institute, 2011), here para. 67, p. 40.

Edward S. Herman is professor emeritus of finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and has written extensively on economics, political economy, and the media. David Peterson is an independent journalist and researcher based in Chicago.

November 4, 2014 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Now Monbiot is smearing the BBC too

By Jonathon Cook | The Blog from Nazareth | October 16, 2014

Recently I criticised Guardian columnist George Monbiot for lavishing the term “genocide denier” on anyone who disagrees with him about the events in Rwanda 20 years ago. I described Monbiot as a “McCarthy of the left”, after he waged a campaign of vilification of prominent dissident intellectuals Ed Herman and David Peterson for seeking to critically re-examine the west’s official narrative about Rwanda – that the Hutu majority alone committed a genocide against the Tutsi minority – and questioning whether Rwanda’s current Tutsi president, Paul Kagame, and his RPF forces were not also deeply complicit in the slaughter.

Monbiot’s witch-hunt has also targeted others on the left, such as Noam Chomsky, who supported Herman and Peterson’s right to engage in the critical study of what they call the “politics of genocide”.

Monbiot’s efforts to silence these critical voices on the left was thrown a curveball this month when the BBC, one of the biggest enforcers of official narratives, broadcast a programme, Rwanda’s Untold Story, raising many of the same questions as Herman and Peterson. What would Monbiot do?

Well, I have to give him credit: he is consistent. He has joined other journalists, academics and activists deeply committed to the official Rwanda narrative in accusing the BBC and its programme-makers of genocide denial too. In fact, in their letter to the BBC’s director general, Tony Hall, they accuse the BBC team of genocide denial no less than 10 times!

For those who wish to follow the details of this correspondence, the letter from Monbiot et al can be found here. A reply from David Peterson is available here. And there are a further letters to Hall from Theogene Rudasingwa, who was once in Kagame’s inner circle, and from Christopher Black, the barrister for Augustin Ndindiliyimana, a Hutu general acquitted of genocide crimes at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

In this increasingly polarised debate, I recommend reading Justin Podur’s interventions. He is a journalist with a deep interest in African politics who has been following both sides of the argument closely. He does not agree with all of Herman and Peterson’s conclusions but, importantly, he argues that the official narrative about Rwanda is inadequate and that it is vital to create space for a respectful debate about what really happened. That stands in stark contrast to Monbiot’s position, and illustrates my reasons for calling his campaign against Herman, Peterson, Chomsky and others McCarthyite.

On his blog, Podur makes the essential point that, despite the repeated smear from Monbiot and his allies in their letter to Hall, the BBC documentary does not deny Rwanda’s genocide: it simply makes the case that Kagame’s role in the genocide, entirely overlooked in the official narrative, needs reassessing and that his current regime, solidly backed by western powers, should be held to account for committing mass murder in neighbouring Congo and for its totalitarian rule inside Rwanda.

By creating a sacred narrative about Rwanda’s genocide, the BBC documentary suggests, Kagame has provided himself with the cover needed to continue with his rule of terror.

Podur quotes from Monbiot et al’s letter: “Denial… ensures the crime continues. It incites new killing. It denies the dignity of the deceased and mocks those who survived.”

Podur concludes:

And yet, the letter writers [including Monbiot] do all of those things. If the victims of the RPF don’t count, as they do not seem to to these writers, then what is this except denial? All of the victims in Central Africa – of the defeated Rwandan government, of the RPF, of the RPF’s proxies and of their opponents – all deserve to be acknowledged, not denied. The BBC documentary deserved better than shoddy arguments and mudslinging. Kagame is still in power, and the only function of this letter is to provide him with cover. Rather than a letter about ‘genocide denial’, the authors would have been more honest to write a manifesto of unconditional support for Rwanda’s dictator.

October 16, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 1 Comment