Saturday, November 18, 2006

Welcome to the New American Populists homepage!

Welcome, and thanks for visiting the homepage of "The New American Populists and the Progressive Prescription for America", the new book by first-time author Jeffrey Richardson. Here you can learn more about the book, as well as find links to sites about the individuals profiled within.

Feel free to look around, and let us know what you think by emailing your thoughts to

Jeff also writes on a variety of social issues and items in the news at his blog, The Tahoma Activist. Check it out and, if you're interested, send him your ideas for stories - he may just print what you send! The Tahoma Activist is designed to be a portal for thought-provoking content from around Pierce County, Jeff's original stomping grounds.

Learn more about the author by reading his bio, here.

Inside the Book:

Book Jacket
Chapter One - The Commentators
Chapter Two - The Investigators
Chapter Three - The Agitators

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Chapter One - The Commentators

Every team needs its cheerleaders. And every movement needs its intellectuals, to weed through the misinformation and cull the most important bits of knowledge and analyze it for the good of the whole.

The Commentators serve that purpose, by writing, doing talk radio, appearing on TV, and generally making themselves useful by framing the debate in a forward-thinking, progressive direction.

These individuals are extremely important, not least because most of the commentators in our lives are either blatant corporatists like Chris Matthews or right-wing bloviators like George Will. It's good to have folks like Thom Hartmann and Glen Ford in our corner, clearing the way so we can see the forest for the trees.

The following are just a few of the commentators serving the progressive movement admirably in multiple forms of media.

Glen Ford
Thom Hartmann
David Sirota

Inside the Book:

Book Jacket
Chapter Two - The Investigators
Chapter Three - The Agitators

Glen Ford

Here's my interview with Black Agenda Report's Glen Ford, who has been active in progressive politics for decades:

Before I get into my questions, can you tell me a bit about your background, what got you interested in politics, and how you ended up being the director of

"My father was a very successful disk jockey, and became the first Black to have his own television show in the Deep South (Rudy Rutherford, “Rockin’ with The Deuce,” 1958, Columbus, GA). I was reading (and editing) UPI wire copy on the air long before my voice changed. (“Deuce, you’re daughter sure can read that news!”) In my teens, I did “record hops” in clubs and juke-joints all over southwest Georgia and eastern Alabama, and occasionally did a weekend radio show.

When I emerged from a three year stint in the Army in January, 1970 (Sgt., 82nd Airborne Division), I got a job as newsman at James Brown’s Augusta, Georgia radio station, WEDOW-AM. Discovering that the “list” of all the “important” Black folks in town – people who were to be contacted for comment on local political developments – was comprised almost entirely of Reverends of Bishops, I immediately tore the list down and created my own. Informally, I called it my Committee of Ten: grassroots folk who were actually active in issues of housing, education, social welfare, criminal justice, business development, voting rights, etc. As a result of my putting these people “on the air” every day in hourly newscast – and my exclusion of most of the old clerical crowd – a new Black “leadership” arose in Augusta, within the space of weeks. After all, they were “on the radio.” They must be leaders!

This experience was a kind of revelation for me. Just after turning 20, I had discovered in practice the dramatic effect that media could have on “leadership” structures and perceptions – a fantastic arena for political activism. Despite the horribly low wages, I was hooked.

I applied the same formula for leadership-creation at local stations in Columbus, Georgia, Baltimore, Maryland, Washington, DC (where I created my first six-station syndication, “Black World Report” in 1972), the Mutual Black Network (86 stations, as Capitol Hill, State Department and White House correspondent, and Washington Bureau Chief, 1974 – 77).

In January, 1977, I co-founded and hosted “America’s Black Forum,” the first nationally syndicated Black news interview program on commercial television. We were the first Black entity to consistently generate news, picked up by UPI, AP, Reuters, Agence France Press, Tass (!) nearly every week. No other Black news organization has even come close, since my four-year stewardship of ABF.

(Soon after selling my stock in ABF, I founded a short-lived magazine called “The Black Commentator” – but could not sustain the costs of print.)

In 1979, while still operating ABF, I founded “Black Agenda Reports,” five daily short-form programs on Black Women, Sports, Business, Entertainment and History (66 stations). Our features programming output exceeded both then-existing Black radio networks, combined.

After the Reagan administration gutted the budget of our major sponsor, AMTRAK (1981), I traveled and freelanced and engaged in more grassroots activities (by then I lived on the Upper West Side, Manhattan) and wrote a book, “The Big Lie: An Analysis of U.S. Media Coverage of the Grenada Invasion” (1985, International Organization of Journalists).

During the “America’s Black Forum” and “Black Agenda Report” period, I was also the National Columnist for Encore, the African American news and political analysis magazine.

In the summer of 1987, I created and hosted the first nationally syndicated Hip Hop music program, “Rap It Up” (65 stations). The show lasted until January 1994, brought down by the advent of Gangsta’ Rap.

With my contacts in the recording and advertising industry, I then earned a modest living doing radio commercials and TV voice-overs, and continued freelancing. (Also did a one-year bit editing a small northern New Jersey Black weekly newspaper.)

The Internet was nearing maturity, and in April, 2002, I hooked up with my old partner in “America’s Black Forum,” Peter Gamble, to found Our objective was to fill the gaping whole in Black political analysis and commentary. In our first two weeks of operations, we made the front page of the New York Times. We also take credit for Cory Booker’s defeat in his first run for mayor of Newark, as the only media to expose his intimate associations with the Bradley Foundation, Manhattan Institute, and other Hard Right outfits. By the last weeks of the campaign, incumbent Sharpe James’ street workers were handing out copies of BC article – their only effective offensive campaign literature – and visitors to the Mayor’s website had to first click to BC’s site, before they even saw a picture of the Mayor!

More than twenty years after Augusta, I was still doing “leadership creation-removal.”

In October of this year, the entire crew of BC regulars (Bruce Dixon, Margaret Kimberley, Leutisha Stills, of the Congressional Black Caucus Monitor) and I left to found BAR’s mission is to expand upon what was begun at BC, only bigger and better, and to introduce new platforms for social change, on and off the Internet.

A lot out has been left out of this chronicle, but I think you have enough."

When I first came across your work, you were over at BlackCommentator - the first piece of yours I read was about the importance of organized labor to the economic status of black folks and the importance of black trade unionists to the Labor Movement as a whole. As I remember, this was just before the breakup of the AFL-CIO and Andy Stern of the SEIU was calling for consolidation that would have made it harder for black trade unionists to have fair representation. Can you talk about the relationship between African Americans and organized labor, and where you think the labor movement should be going?

"The problem with Blacks and labor has always been white racism. It is the central contradiction in the American labor “movement” – the overarching source of U.S. labor’s historical weakness and, therefore, the pygmyfication of the American Left, which is also saturated with Eurocentricism (another way to say racism). White workers cut off their own noses to spite Black faces. The historical failure to effectively organize in the South was almost entirely rooted in white labor leaders’ racial attitudes – a betrayal that later came back to haunt them, although too late for significant correction.

Yet African Americans have long been known by white employers as “joiners” – meaning, they are the first to attempt to form and join unions. Numerous studies have consistently shown that group enthusiasm for unions is as follows, in descending order:

Black women
Black men
Hispanic women
Hispanic men
White women
White men

The SEIU, AFSCME, the UFCW and a few other unions have in recent years attempted to revive the labor movement by “organizing the unorganized” – and we give them their due. And despite racism at the top and on the shop floor, Blacks are – or at least were – over-represented in the manufacturing industries of the Northeast and Midwest. However, deindustrialization has devastated this sector, and especially Black workers. In 2004, 55% of the union manufacturing jobs lost were Black jobs!

Yet during this same period of cruel attrition, the SEIU’s leadership along with others made their move to split the labor movement, and to gut the race-gender inclusion reforms that had been instituted at the AFL-CIO only a few years earlier – symptomatic of the abiding racism in white labor and what passes for the white Left. The racial aspect of “reform” was hardly discussed, even in left- and labor-oriented publications.

The idiot deed has been done. But we are pleased to report that Black labor, whether their unions are affiliated with the shrunken AFL-CIO or SEIU chief Andy Stern’s new outfit, is united. Cadre from both federations work together without friction through the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists – the best example of labor solidarity in the US of A."

Bush's policies and conservative policies in general leading back to Ronald Reagan have had a major impact on manufacturing in this country. How has that affected Black America?

"It must be noted that the disinvestment in the northern cities and factories began long before wholesale exportation of jobs beyond the nation’s borders. The Seventies and Eighties rush to the Sunbelt – where the imposition of right-to-work laws was historically inseparable from racial subjugation – should have been a last minute warning for white-led labor. But racism is a mental illness, and they could not read the proverbial handwriting. As usual, Black workers suffered disproportionately in the relocation of jobs to the South and, later, overseas."

How do you define the term "progressive"? What does it mean to be a progressive in today's political environment?

"Good question, since the Right has usurped the English language, destroying the meaning of terms like “reform.” The corporatist Democratic Leadership Council has the gall to front a think tank called the Progressive Policy Institute. And we all know that Democracy = laissez fair Capitalism.

“Progressive” has always been linked to anti-corporate, anti-rule-of-the-rich politics – although not necessarily to anti-racist politics. Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressives led the charge against the Trusts, the corporate cartels – but Teddy and most of the rest were racists. The “progressive” income tax had a double meaning: the rich would pay progressively more of their income in taxes, plus it was designed to keep the rich from replicating themselves on the backs of the rest of us, and was therefore “progressive” in the political sense. The Communist Party USA deployed the term in the Thirties as a kind of code word to designate those non-communist organizations and tendencies that were, nevertheless, on the “correct” side of most issues, and could be worked with.

Since the Black Freedom Movement of the Sixties, no organization or tendency that is not actively anti-racist can be deemed “progressive,” no matter how hard they fight against massed capital. We at BAR use the term much as the CPUSA did, to identify those who are on the correct side of most issues. We are much more careful than many other African Americans to differentiate between “progressive” Black organizations and tendencies, and those that are eager to collaborate with the Powers-That-Are.

It’s not a science, much less rocket science, and the term must always be understood in a political and historical context."

You've written a lot lately about the failure of the CBC under the leadership of chairman Mel Watt. What do you think should be the highest priorities of the CBC, and what factors do you see as keeping those priorities from being achieved?

"During most of the CBC’s existence since 1969, it operated on the basis of consensus. That was easy, since virtually all members voted generally along the lines of the (still) existing Black Political Consensus on social and economic justice, peace, racial equality, and fairness in the marketplace. The Caucus could take a stand as a body based on these consensus positions and, therefore, could credibly claim to be “the conscience of the Congress.”

Beginning in the mid-Nineties, however, the Corporate Right finally realized that Black Republicanism was a dead end (no Black Republican has served in House from a majority Black district since 1935). The post-Sixties strategy of subsidizing rightwing Black educators as spokespersons for “Black conservatism” had made no impact on the Black polity. Beginning with initiatives by the Bradley Foundation, the Right began to woo Black Democrats in earnest; for the first time, they sought to directly subvert Black leadership structures, including the CBC.

New York Rep. Floyd Flake was their first big catch; he now is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Harold Ford, Jr. (TN) made his move to the right in his 1998-2000 terms, abandoning his own and his father’s progressive voting record. The DLC jumped into the task of CBC subversion with both feet, capturing Ford, Reps. Gregory Meeks (NY), Al Wynn (MD) and Sanford Bishop (GA). Later, the DLC’s corporate money and corporate media succeeded in electing Denise Majette (GA) and Artur Davis (AL) at the expense of progressives Cynthia McKinney and Earl Hilliard, respectively.

The CBC consensus was broken. Four Caucus members voted for Bush’s war in 2002. By 2005, ten would vote for the Republicans’ infamous Bankruptcy Act. This year, two-thirds of the CBC caved in to the Telecom’s hideous Cable and Internet legislation. As a body, the CBC can no longer be called progressive. The CBC has no priorities other than the standard civil-rights fare that many Republicans will also support, such as extension of the Voting Rights Act. Nothing will save it but a purge of members, district by district – a monumental undertaking that will require a wholesale reevaluation of Black politics."

You have a lot of negative things to say about the Chairman. What has he done to undermine the situation for African Americans, and what would you do if you were in his position to turn that situation around?

"Mel Watt votes progressive almost all of the time, yet shudders at the thought of confronting the critical mass of corporate-bought members of the CBC – which shows him to be a true wimp. He has punked out repeatedly under the slightest pressure from House Leader Nancy Pelosi, whose pre-2004 mid-term elections project was to smother the Left, especially the Caucus, so as to upset as few white voters as possible. There is no reason to believe that she won’t do the same in the run-up to 2008, although thankfully Mel Watt will no longer be her Black Whip as CBC chairman. Watts bullying and isolation of Rep. Cynthia McKinney was despicable (and sexist) in the extreme.

Regarding the second part of your query: I don’t answer questions that place me in positions I don’t covet, since such questions presume I would be willing to do all the things that those who hold those positions have done to get there. Black elected officials, like other elected officials, only do the right thing when the people forcefully make their wishes known, and when the immediate political environment favors it. Our job is to change the environment in Black America.

While there is still time, progressives in the Caucus must act on their own to endorse progressive positions. Despite the disastrous, money-fueled Telecom vote, I believe there still exists a clear progressive majority in the Caucus, probably amounting to more than two-thirds of members. In the absence of a consensus, progressives must push for majority (or two-thirds) Sense of the Caucus resolutions on critical issues, so that the 6 to 8 bought-off members become isolated and exposed, no longer able to paralyze the workings of the CBC as a whole."

For me, Hurricane Katrina was a huge wake-up call to White America - an event that showed clearly the inherent racism built into our society. And yet, now that the event is over a year behind us, it seems that American politics have shifted away from trying to solve the problems Katrina showed us. Why do you think the plight of African Americans specifically is given so little attention by the corporate media? Is there anything African Americans can do to change that?

"The corporate media follow the corporate line: race is no longer a major factor in American life. Even dramatic visual proof to the contrary, as with Katrina, does not alter the line for long. How can that be changed? I’ll give you the same answer that is applicable to most questions of that kind: we must rebuild, reinvent, a mass movement of Blacks and whatever allies are worthy to stand with us. There is no other solution. In the process, African Americans must dislodge the opportunists who shut down the mass movement three-and-a-half decades ago, in order to pursue their own interests while still clinging to the mantle of leadership. New leadership emerges from struggle, and there is no struggle without youth. The issues of mass incarceration, gentrification and jobs (not petty entrepreneurship – jobs) are what motivates Black youth.

Katrina was a fast-forward of capitalist intentions for urban America: gentrification and Black expulsion from the cities, the destruction of Black political power centers, and total corporate control of “development.” The response of Black “leadership” has been totally inadequate, as should have been expected, since they have not tackled the same, slower-moving processes that are underway in their own cities."

You operate an organization that publishes information for citizens online. And yet, a small group of African Americans relative to the population have access to high-speed internet. Indeed, many families of color don't even have computers. How relevant can BAR be without a change in this situation? What can be done to increase internet access to people that don't now have it?

"BAR, like its predecessor Black Commentator, targets Black leadership, in the broadest sense of the term. It is not designed for the street corner, but to influence those who help shape the opinions of others. (The term “influencers” is well known in the media trades.) Most of these influencers are wired. They are politicians and their staffs, political activists from the grassroots to the suites of the Urban League, opinionated academics and conscientious public school teachers, labor cadre, journalists, the most aggressive and effective leaders of tenant and block associations – the broadest swath of Black opinion molders, and those non-Black activists whose work is important to African Americans.

If I were to give an example of a publication with a similar targeting strategy – and this will surprise you – it would be the troglodyte Weekly Standard. This rightwing rag’s circulation is probably one-third that of The Nation, but when it speaks, the entire rightwing power structure listens. The White House takes heed.

This is not a numbers game, although one must reach a critical mass of one’s target audience. The time is long past when Black publications can be all things to all African Americans. Blacks are a distinct polity (what we used to call a “nation”) within the United States. We need both mass organs (which should be the mission of Black-oriented radio, but that’s another subject) and organs that influence the influencers – just like everybody else in the larger USA."

If you could change one thing in government, and it could not be overturned, what would it be, and why?

"Whatever laws and precedents that make corporations the equal of citizens. THAT would be the greatest sea change I can imagine within the parameters of bourgeois democracy."

Are there any things ordinary citizens can do to help African Americans achieve equality in America? What are you doing that you think other people should be doing more of, and what should we be doing less of as a society to get there?

"Once we get a movement going that is worthy of popular participation, people should join, shape, and lead it. Simple, huh? More immediately, folks must organize on the ground in their own neighborhoods, affinity groups and workplaces. Popular power is not a commodity, which can be bought. It must be wrestled from the few who hold power and use it against the rest of us. There is great satisfaction and dignity in resistance – in the act of taking responsibility for the destiny of others, and your own."

Glen, thank so much for taking the time to chat with me. I guess we have time for one last question, regarding corporate personhood:

If corporations are to be considered as persons, shouldn't they have to pay the same percentage of their income we'd have to pay if we make over fifty thousand bucks a year?

"For just one small example of what stripping corporations of "personhood" would mean: Corportions would no longer have their own "free speech" rights. That's at the heart of the struggle to control campaign spending, or better put, to roll back corporate domination of the entire electoral process, which has nullified "democracy" in even the weak "American" sense of the term.

Regarding the white Left: It is they who have no real solidarity with the other groups, primarily Blacks, who make up the majority of what is "left" in the United States. I told the board and staff of The Nation as much, when I spoke before them in early 2005. Solidarity means, at the very least, sharing resources. Because of historical white privilege, even the white Left has vastly more resources than African Americans, whose politics are the most consistently progressive of any group in the nation. That's why the white Left have The Nation, In These Times, Mother Jones, The Progressive, and lots of other political publications, and Blacks have...none. This extreme dispartiy weakens the "left" as a whole, creating vast imbalances. We, Blacks, vote "left" in concentrated numbers that equal or surpass the white Left's scattered electoral presence. Yet the white Left actually believes that they are at the center of the action. What Eurocentric madness!!

More than a decade ago, The Nation did a cover story purporting to show a political "map" of the U.S. Left. There were all kinds of "alternative" white tendencies, from organic food boosters to open-source computer tinkerers to gender groups of all kinds...the whole counterculture. But no Blacks. I knew then that whoever commissioned the cover story was out of his/her mind, hopelessly caught up in alternative Whiteness, and not a progressive at all."

Inside the Book:

Book Jacket
Chapter One - The Commentators


Prescription for Change

America is one sick country. So many of our so-called "leaders" claim to want to fix her up, but they've got their pockets stuffed so full with corporate cash that they can't figure out the safest way to make it happen and still retain their power and influence.

When Congress has six corporate lobbyists for every single legislator, something is rotten in the state of Denmark*. And that's why America needs YOU, to help her shake off the sickness of corporate corruption and right-wing disease.

Me? What can I do to fix America? I haven't been elected to anything!

Pretty much everybody says that at first. Let me dispel a couple rumors about our government right here:

Number One, we don't elect "leaders" in this country. We elect representatives. Which means that anyone, even you, could represent your district's interests in Washington. There's no rule that says our representatives have to be high-powered lawyers or wealthy businessmen. A legislator in Nevada is a Las Vegas waitress. Patty Murray was a "mom in tennis shoes" before she got into politics. This is our country, so we ought to believe that we can govern it!

Number Two, we are the natural sovereigns of this country, not the rich multinationals, and we decide what happens in government. We elect the representatives, we pass the ballot initiatives, we determine the course of democracy in this country. Why do you think Bush and the neocons had to spread their lies all over the corporate media to fool us into going to war in Iraq? If they were really our "leaders" they could have done whatever they wanted and we would have just had to accept it. But because We the People decide what happens in this country, it's up to We the People to defend it from those who would attempt to destroy it for their own personal gain.

It's up to all of us to get involved and innoculate* our government against the selfish agents of destruction,

like Presidents who lie to get us into war;

like Vice Presidents who collude with energy companies to rip off US taxpayers;

like Supreme Court Justices who use their constitutional powers to get their friends installed in the White House;

like members of Congress who abuse their powers to feather their nests and push through legislation that serves the top 2 percent at the expense of all of us;

and like all those greedy corporations and industry associations that use their vast wealth to influence Congress and rake in billions of undeserved public subsidies, to the detriment of all tax-paying Americans.

If We the People are going to have half a chance at rebuilding our democracy, two things have to happen:

Number One, we have to get active in greater number than we've ever ammassed before;

and Number Two, we're gonna have to fight for a set of Progressive* changes to government that take our country out of the abyss of corporate selfishness and into a new age of wealth and prosperity for all Americans.

So how the heck dow we accomplish that?

First off, we have to decide that this step is actually necessary. Look around you. Is your house bigger, and your mortgage payment smaller, than it was 6 years ago? Are your out-of-pocket medical expenses smaller than they were 6 years ago? Is the air cleaner or the water purer than when Bush and his neocons came into office? Is the climate more stable and less prone to sudden catastrophic weather events?

It's time we accept the fact that We the People have been working harder than ever before and getting nowhere, not because our effort is inferior to those of the wealthy corporate bosses, but rather it's because we've been spending all our time working than engaging in the day-to-day struggle of rebuilding our democracy.

Civil society demands that the people who voice their opinion the loudest see the greatest eventual changes on their behalf. Care for an example? Look no further than Enron and the for-profit utility companies. They wanted the government to loosen their controls over how energy was traded, stored and marketed in this country, and because they had paid out millions in lobbying and public relations costs, they eventually got their wish. Deregulation made a few rich scumbags a whole lot richer, created a massive speculation bubble led by Enron and Kenny Boy Lay, and the People - that's you and me - ended up staring at our utility bills in horror. And those poor unfortunate souls who happened to have their retirement tied up in Enron stock?

They got Screwed.

So what do we do about it?

Look no further than the example of the Civil Rights Movement. There you had a few small groups - SNCC (The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee), The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led my Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a few others working to give black people access to the same rights we should all enjoy. But the effort wasn't successful on a wide scale until it really kicked up into a huge, nationwide, rolling grassroots Movement. That's how you effect change in this country for ordinary working and middle-class citizens. We don't have all the money that George Bush and Ken Lay can gain access to, but we have something that all the corporate cash in the world can buy - the People.

You want to get something done in this country, you've got to influence the People. It takes hard-core citizen-led activism - phone calls, emails, letters to the editor, websites, monthly meetings, direct actions, coalitions - all the things people have been doing to move progressive causes forward all around you for all this time, and yet it hasn't quite kicked into full swing, because you haven't lent your energy and your expertise to the cause.

Reading this book, you will no doubt come across some familiar faces, individuals who've distinguished themselves over the last twenty years by being out-and-out populist progressives with a desire to see this country live up to its highest ideals. But along the way, you're sure to come across some individuals you've never heard of. And it's these folks I want you to get to know.

There's Todd Iverson, the Longshoreman who created a new way for working families to get involved in politics. There's Arthur Miller, who parlayed his passion for activism into an annual march that honors unjustly imprisoned Native American activist Leonard Peltier. There's Amy Goodman, whose internationally renowned news program Democracy Now! airs in hundreds of markets nationwide and which delivers hard-hitting, progressive news to a world hungry for honest reporting.

Each of the individuals profiled in this book took the skills they had and their natural talent for activism into a world that seemed to be only interested in power and profit, and they changed the way we think and live. These individuals are my personal heroes because they put it all on the line, for something bigger than themselves. From Cindy Sheehan, whose son Casey's death inspired a movement to end the war in Iraq, to Ralph Nader, whose efforts on behalf of consumers have saved countless lives, to the story of my friend Marilyn Kimmerling, who has fought for human rights and economic justice for over forty years, all of these individuals took the path least traveled, the path of compassionate concern for our fellow human beings.

This is the path I'd like you to take, if you have the courage. So read on, my friends, and learn just how easy it can be to change the world.

Chapter One - The Commentators

Book Jacket

Here's my planned copy for the inside jacket:

In the New American Populists and the Progressive Prescription for America, first time author Jeffrey Richardson delivers a powerful argument for how We the People can once again have a proud and prosperous country, with justice and security for all. His approach is unique: he starts each chapter with a short bio of one of his personal heroes, an interview with the individual, and the insights he's gained from studying their activism.

Every man, woman and child in America who's ever asked the question "What can I do?" will surely learn something valuable from reading this book. Organizers, activists, history professors and politicians should have this book on their office bookshelf, or better yet, sitting open on their bedside table.

The stories in this book will inspire you and motivate you to get involved and stay active no matter what happens in Washington D.C. Because, in the words of the acclaimed progressive talk show host, Thom Hartmann:

"Democracy begins with you. Tag, you're it!"

Read on:

Chapter One - The Commentators
Chapter Two - The Investigators

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Chapter Three - The Agitators

Every movement has its firebrands. The Labor Movement had Joe Hill and Emma Goldman. The Civil Rights Movement had Stokely Carmichael and Robert Williams. The Black Power Movement had Huey Newton and Malcolm X. The Progressive Movement of the Twenty-First Century is no different, offering us plenty of rowdies to emulate and stand beside in their efforts to improve America.

Each of these individuals has taken on the powers-that-be without recoiling, raising as much hell as possible for their particular causes despite enormous resistance from the forces of the established power elite. We can learn a lot from these individuals, who exemplify the spirit of the progressive movement in everything they do.

Kevin Barrett
Jim Hightower
Aaron Dixon
Ralph Nader

Inside the Book:

Book Jacket
Chapter One - The Commentators
Chapter Two- The Investigators

Kevin Barrett

Kevin Barrett is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who's achieved notoriety recently for his statements regarding 9/11 and the Bush administration in various media outlets, including Fox News' Hannity and Colmes.

Kevin is also the author of a great new autobiography entitled "Truth Jihad: My Epic Struggle Against the 9/11 Big Lie", coming soon to a bookstore near you!


"Currently 84% of the American people do not believe the official story -- but only 36% realize it was mass murder and high treason by their own leaders. Once that 36% rises to over 50% the Big Lie will come crashing down, and the genocide plans will grind to a halt."

Okay, Kevin Barrett, author of "Truth Jihad: My Epic Struggle Against the 9/11 Big Lie", what is the 9/11 Big Lie and why should my readers care?

In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote:

"All this was inspired by the principle - which is quite true in itself - that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation."

The story that "19 extremist Muslim hijackers" committed the crimes of 9/11 is the biggest Big Lie in history--and probably the most obvious one as well. Those crimes were in fact committed by elements of the US national security community who wanted the "New Pearl Harbor" that the Project for a New American Century called for in a position paper issued in September, 2000 called Rebuilding America's Defenses. If you don't care that your own President, Vice President, Secretary of Defense and National Security Advisor, among others, conspired to launch a false-flag attack in which the World Trade Center was demolished while thousands of people were inside, in order to promote an outrageous, racist, genocidal Big Lie, and destroy American Constitutional democracy, you're either an enlightened being or a subhuman idiot. In fact, if you thought that there were even a ten percent chance that this was true, yet did not devote all of your energies to determining whether in fact it was true, and if so what could be done about it, you would be living not much above the animal level.

You claim to be an objective university professor, yet, by reading your book I see that the fair and balanced news anchor Sean Hannity feels that you are a corrosive influence. What do you say to those folks who feel that you are a dangerous individual, and shouldn't be allowed to teach our children?

Even more fair-and-balanced O'Reilly thinks Hannity is too easy on me--Hannity just thinks I should be fired, O'Reilly wants me taken out in a mob hit!

For those who want to protect the youth of Athens from the likes of me, I would say: If they're old enough to die for a lie, they're old enough to face the truth.

If these people really want to protect their children from evil, dangerous professors, they should hunt down and kill every last disciple of the neoconservative cult leader Leo Strauss. The Straussians are working overtime for the destruction of American liberal democracy and the installation of a fascist regime: "For Strauss, American liberal democracy, Weimar revived, is an evil threatening all truly human existence."

Most of Bush's 9/11 cabinet--Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Fleischer etc. etc. -- are Straussians. They are on a mission to destroy American democracy and turn the US into a presidential dictatorship. They believe that politics is war, that everyone but themselves is "the enemy," and that manipulating the masses with unending lies, stealing elections, murdering political opponents, killing people randomly in false flag attacks, and so on is not just justifiable, but highly recommended.

I hear all the time that Islam is a religion of peace, but isn't every terrorist in the world a Muslim? Shouldn't we be freaking out every time some foreigner prays in public in a language we can't understand? To follow up, isn't racial profiling the best way to ensure safety on international flights?

There are Muslims who are struggling to free their lands from foreign occupation, just as Buddhists did in Vietnam, Catholics did in Latin America, Christians like Mandela did in Africa, and so on. But the idea that anti-imperialist Muslims would carry out the 9/11 attacks is far more preposterous than the idea that Vietnamese Buddhists would have done so during that war. Use some common sense, people! Anybody smart enough to successfully carry out 9/11 would be smart enough to see how strategically stupid it would be. That's why Buddhists didn't do it during Vietnam, Nicaraguans didn't do it during the Contra wars, and so on. You don't attack a massive military power in its homeland to get that power out of your country! You attack its forces IN your country! Or to put it another way: "If you attack the king, you have to kill him." Launching a Pearl Harbor style attack doesn't kill the king, doesn't diminish his military power -- it puts it on steroids. That's why the neocons were yearning for a "New Pearl Harbor" -- because it would rally the people, juice up military budgets, trigger wars of aggression, and roll back the Constitution.

The idea that "fanatical Muslims" are such logistical geniuses they could pull it off, yet such strategic morons they would want to, is profoundly irrational. It is based on the massive unconscious racism that colors Americans' attitude toward Muslims. Many leftists are such fanatical anti-religion fundamentalists, and unconscious racists, that they easily accept the ludicrous picture of Muslims as "idiot geniuses" who would do 9/11 for no reason, while making no demands, claiming no responsibility, gaining no benefit, etc.

In short, unless you're part of an occupation, the only Arab-Muslim types you need to worry out are the CIA-MI6-Mossad stooges -- easily-manipulable morons like the shoe bomber, guys who can't even get a match lit, who are recruited by Western intelligence to serve as patsies in false-flag attacks aimed at smearing Muslims and legitimizing anti-Muslim genocide.

The last two questions were sort of tongue-in-cheek, designed to approximate the kind of questions you get all the time from right-wing bloviators. But speaking honestly now, I'd like to relate a story from my life. I got into it a few months back with a coworker who claimed that what we need to do is nuke every Muslim country, and that would stop all this violence. I got really upset and raged on him for several minutes until the boss had to step in and resolve the conflict. This coworker was a sniper in the Kosovo conflict. He told me during another conversation that after some time in that war he started to see all the Muslims as the enemy, even though they were the people he was supposed to be protecting.

It brought home to me that the worst part about this kind of war is the brutalizing effect it has on our soldiers and their supporters, by stripping away their ability to see the essential humanity in our brothers and sisters of other races and cultures. To me, this is the worst part of the 9/11 mess, that we have been forced to accept this story that Muslims attacked us on 9/11, and therefore we are compelled to wage war on Muslims worldwide. In a world where over a billion people profess to be Muslims, isn't this battle totally counterproductive, and doomed to self-destruction? And if so, how should we go about ending terrorism and stopping this terrible war?

The only hope is 9/11 truth. All this hatred and murder is the product of the 9/11 smear job. Currently 84% of the American people do not believe the official story -- but only 36% realize it was mass murder and high treason by their own leaders. Once that 36% rises to over 50% the Big Lie will come crashing down, and the genocide plans will grind to a halt.

What if you were successful, and people started debating the 9/11 false flag terror attacks on national television? Wouldn't the right-wing corporate media still find a way to get it wrong? I'm reminded of the flap when CNN Headline News had Charlie Sheen on to discuss the controversy and it quickly faded as fast as it appeared.

Of course they'll get it wrong. But they'll soon be held accountable for getting it wrong. Network owners and executives will be among the first to be hanged after the new Nuremburg trials, and the monopoly media will be trust-busted up forever.

Bill O'Reilly totally went off on a young man named Jeremy Glick, whose father was killed in the World Trade Center. He basically claimed that Glick was suggesting that "we" caused the 9/11 attacks. And yet, if you read the transcript, he said nothing of the kind. Given this kind of treatment by the national media, isn't it sort of understandable that people have been reluctant to discuss 9/11 truth? And on that same subject, isn't it hard to get people to believe you when prominent liberals won't even dicuss the issue? I got all upset over this latest crisis in Oaxaca and couldn't believe that not even liberal talk radio would go near it. It's as if the clearest examples of fascist repression are off limits even for real progressives.

You touched on this a little in your book about Left gatekeepers and the blowback theory, but can you go a little deeper? Why do folks like Amy Goodman and Thom Hartmann keep refusing to discuss this totally obvious reality?

They're cowards. They're complicit. They suck foundation money. They're Goebbels-lite. They need to be tried at the new Nuremburg alongside the likes of O'Reilly.


Strong words from an American original, a man who says what he means and means what he says. As progressives, we may not always agree with everything our friends and neighbors say, but when we see an injustice, we are required to speak out. And when our friends in the public eye are unwilling to air this truth, it can be extremely frustrating. Hopefully, the two individuals I mentioned to Kevin will have the courage to change their tune on this issue soon enough. But even if they don't, this movement will continue no matter what. Because when our own government has the power to rewrite history as it's being written, it is extremely difficult to mount an effective resistance unless all of us pitch in.

For those of you who'd like to learn more about the 9/11 myth, and Kevin Barrett's attempts to expose them as such, purchase his book, "Truth Jihad: My Epic Struggle Against the 9/11 Big Lie" today!

Inside the Book:

Book Jacket
Chapter One - The Commentators
Chapter Two - The Investigators
Chapter Three - The Agitators

Sander Hicks

Sander Hicks is a fixture in the world of alternative media. He's appeared on Link TV and Democracy Now! and been profiled in a feature-length documentary, Horns and Halos, about the publication of the controversial George W. Bush biography, Fortunate Son. His most recent book is "The Big Wedding: 9/11, the Whistle-Blowers and the Cover-Up". Sander is also the co-owner of the indie bookstore and venue, Vox Pop, in Brooklyn.

TA: Sander, you're a publisher, a journalist, an entrepreneur, a working-class rocker with an eye for interesting subjects. What made you decide to write about the 9/11 Truth Movement?

SH: The Spirit of History. I was on a leave of absence from Soft Skull, I had just moved out of Manhattan, to Huntington Station, Long Island. I set up an office in the basement of my Aunt's low little ranch suburban house and went to work. You're never alone when you have high speed internet.

I think people are inherently good, and that they eventually come around, and want to do the right thing, no matter what.

: You spent a long time researching the men you describe in the book, Randy Glass, Mohammed Atta, Delmart Vreeland. What sort of person goes into the intelligence and black ops field? What makes a person like that turn away from their criminal associations and decide to blow the whistle?

SH: I think people are inherently good, and that they eventually come around, and want to do the right thing, no matter what. Even Atta was a man of political passions, he was just so badly manipulated by his higher-ups, some of whom were almost certainly Americans. Did Atta have criminal behavior patterns and a record like Glass/Vreeland? Almost certainly, this is a guy who, by hand, killed a litter of kittens in his blonde American ex-girlfriend's pad in Venice, Florida. The kind of far-right pseudo Islamic politics that Atta got into, with the CIA-penetrated Muslim Brotherhood, sort of consumed him, just immolated him, in the end.

Glass is a different bird altogether. This is a guy who honestly does not give a f___ about bourgeois propriety, and realizes that there is a FBI hierarchy that does. That hierarchy has been threatening his life since he turned whistle-blower. Glass is strong-the kind of man who, under oath, tells the Senate/Congressional Joint Inquiry on 9/11 "go f___ yourself. I came here to tell you the truth, but you're only here to watch over the truth."

Vreeland I'm still trying to figure out, ex-crack head pedophile with Opus Dei/Reagan White House/Naval intel connections. He was fun to drink with. That I know for certain. No, Vreeland errs on the side of goodness, too, he too tried to stop 9/11 from happening, and of course he got in his own way the most. Being in jail didn't help.

Glass was in jail on 9/11 as well. Both guys wept that morning. Both had written notes, by hand, trying to warn the Feds, in desperate language. But evidence points to the Feds being closer to Atta, the man of a many languages, the man with multiple credentials, pilot licenses, and IDs, the man able to pass through US Customs on an expired Visa.

Bush has done EVERYTHING while invoking 9/11.

TA: No subject reaches into so many different avenues of our life more than September Eleventh. The events of that day have spawned countless adverse effects, from the impacts on our relationships with Muslim countries, to the effect of Bush's policies on our society, policies that likely could never have been put in place otherwise. What do you feel is the single most disturbing thing this President has done using September Eleventh as an excuse?

SH: It's a good question, but it's difficult to separate out one subject. Bush has done EVERYTHING while invoking 9/11. The invasion of Iraq probably uses it most often since that has been the longest-running embarrassment for the administration. Guantanamo, domestic spying on US Citizens, invasion of Afghanistan. The carte blanche that CIA was given to murder US Citizens abroad for suspicion of having "Al Qaeda" ties. Gee, that one is right up there. But I think the most disturbing thing about the post-9/11 world is the torture. It's Abu Ghraib. And the fact that Cheney still fetishizes the use of torture, and wants it approved. Did you see that? It just failed, post-NSA. This means that Gandhi's old law, that the enemy is still human, might be challenged by the form of Cheney.

TA: You think Cheney might not be human?

SH: No, he is human. To assert he's a lizard or an alien would be to mystify a man who is all too human: greedy, venal, short-sighted, and violent.

To build on Gandhi, we have a tendency to idealize our enemies. We resort to violence out of desperation. We think the enemy of imperialism is impregnable.

TA: Do you see any similiarities between Dick Cheney and other dangerous men in history?

SH: The answer is obvious. He's like every oligarch in history. Again, this should de-mystify him. Re-humanize him. To build on Gandhi, we have a tendency to idealize our enemies. We resort to violence out of desperation. We think the enemy of imperialism is impregnable. But somewhere deep inside Cheney there's still a shred of humanity left. I know that's hard to believe. And that his behavior spawns crazy theories about lizard people running the world. But that sort of stuff is ahistorical.

TA: The 9/11 Commission made many recomendations following their so-called investigation. Which of their recommendations do you think are sensible and should have been applied? Are there any that you disagreed with that have been implemented?

SH: They actually called for the protection of Civil Liberties, knowing full well what was going to be coming down, and then they sat backed and watched it go down. Who on the 9/11 Commission has spoken up and condemned the illegal, FISA-court ignoring NSA wiretaps on domestic US citizens? Not one. Meanwhile, you have Richard Ben-Veniste speaking on colleges and hawking books.

The really dangerous recommendations were lapped up by the neo-cons-the centralization of intelligence. Making intel a cabinet level position necessarily "politicizes" it and all the best CIA vets like Ray McGovern, very sensibly point out that this is suicide for the objectivity of intelligence. The neo-cons, of course, don't care. These very men (Cheney & Rumsfeld & Bush Sr.) have been twisting intelligence since the Ford Admin in 76. Go google Team B.

On tour, one very wise woman taught me to "manifest" a kind of "shield of white light" around myself and my family. It seems to work.

TA: Jim Hatfield [the author of "Fortunate Son"] was hounded into poverty and suicide by a system that didn't seem to care whether his story was true or not. Most mainstream commentators had no concern for the damning assertions raised in his book. Knowing what you know now about the mainstream media and the way that powerful media conglomerates have silenced critical voices in this country, are you at all worried about your own safety or financial well-being? Do you ever think you might become a casualty of the present global shift towards violent corporatism?

SH: On tour, one very wise woman taught me to "manifest" a kind of "shield of white light" around myself and my family. It seems to work. I pray a lot, have a pretty OK spiritual practice, and I know that I'm protected by the souls of the dead. The prophets, the saints. There's a ton of powerful energy out there if you know how to access it.

Regarding the neo-cons, their violence makes them weak. It surrounds them with enemies. I don't have to worry about them, THEY have to worry about me. I recently infiltrated the Republican National Congressional Committee and got to shake hands with Dick Cheney. Of course, I asked him about 9/11. Posing as a young GOP dude, I asked him about the massive allegations of an "inside job" I told him I had been hearing. He said "Just look at the evidence, it's not true!" But he was right there, right away with the answer. He seemed to be used to the question, not surprised, just trying really hard to seem sensitive to the seriousness of the question. Earnest. What a stretch.

TA: It reminds me of the time I asked Dennis Kucinich about the massive electronic election fraud in the 2004 election. I got the same sense - that he had heard it a thousand times and was just saying something to get me to go away.

SH: Right. There are some problems, like electronic voting, that are the 500 lb. gorilla in the living room: very ugly, everyone smells it, but no one in power will lower themselves to comment on it. John Kerry talked to author Mark Crispin Miller about how he did acknowledge that his 2004 election was stolen, blatantly. The next day Kerry's people denied that Kerry ever met Miller. This is the perfect example of what "bourgeois consciousness" is. When you care more about your reputation, in the eyes your fellow elitists, than you do about the health of the country, the mass population. Kerry is a shrill bourgeois. My source on this Kerry/Miller meeting is Miller himself-he was just here at Vox Pop.

I do think controlled demolition is more logical than the official story.

TA: You make a point in your book of breaking with the general consensus of 9/11 researchers around the issue of "plane sight" manipulations by the conspirators. You seem to be saying that worrying about whether planes actually hit the buildings is less important than dealing squarely with the issues of global corporate fascism. I would argue, however, that the precise details of the case are extremely important, given that a detailed investigation of the facts tends to lead toward a conclusion that can only be described as cooperative complicity in the attacks by the Bush administration. When you consider that no metal-framed structure had ever collapsed due to fire before or since 9/11, and given that on that day three metal structures collapsed in exactly the same way in exactly the same fashion, you begin to wonder if perhaps the "controlled demolitions" crowd could be right. Is there any way that you might be wrong on this, that maybe, just maybe, the administration did assist the attackers in prosecuting this attack?

SH: I do think controlled demolition is more logical than the official story. That's a whole different topic than the "blurry JPeg school" of the In Plane Sight video. On the Controlled Demoliton side you have serious scientists, people published in Scientific American, and Nature, i.e. Jim Hoffman, on the In Plane Sight side you have a kooky failure of logic. Very slick packaging, and some kind of financial energy is definitely putting the In Plane Sight video EVERYWHERE. This is not the actions of a free market. Someone is funding a major flow of this really poor, distracting, sugar-water dreck.

I am also interested in Controlled Demolition theories. I lead a group of public citizen researchers here at Vox Pop. We're currently following up leads. There's a lot of meat on the bone here, especially WTC #7. This is the building that collapsed at 5:30 PM that day, destroying lots of government and intelligence records, despite the fact that it had not been hit by a plane, and only had a minor fire inside, which was under control. Owner Larry Silverstein is the guy who blundered on Frontline, PBS, and told the cameras, that on 9/11, he made this decision about his World Trade Center building #7. He reported saying to the Fire Chief: "We've had such terrible loss of life. Maybe the smartest thing to do is to pull it."

"Pull it" in building construction terms means set off demolition charges. There's enough critical mass on this issue, that Silverstein this past September was forced to dig his hole deeper. He issued a statement through his PR hack that by "pull it" he actually meant pull the firefighters out of the building. But at that point, the firefighters were already out of the building. No one died when the building collapsed.

What's really hot is that, a couple weeks ago, I found a connection between Larry Silverstein and Kenneth Feinberg. Feinberg was the combative "Special Master" of the 9/11 victim's compensation fund. He's in my book, where he blows a gasket yelling at me on the phone. They both used the same PR wiz-kid, Dara McQuillan, to issue cover-up statements and lies.

TA: Several recent stories have highlighted the five or six different training exercises by FAA and NORAD that day.

SH: I JUST saw Webster Tarpley speak for 3.5 hours tonight, it was riveting. It's no longer six exercises, it was seven in his book, but he has know found an additional 8. So, with Tarpley, its a total of 15. AND he's got the historical chops to tell you what that means. Many times, drills have turned into the real thing, in order to fool an institution into having all the right parts in place for an operation. The operation was supposed to be a drill but a few people at the top know that it's real. This happened, for instance, during the assassination attempt on Reagan. Hinckley, the mental patient whose family is friends with Bush, was the patsy. Students of the incident later learned that there had been a "Presidential Succession" exercise planned for the day after Reagan happened to have gotten shot.

The "drill" always turns deadly. Otherwise, NORAD would have worked. NORAD worked 67 times in the 9 months before 9/11. There was a massive distraction effort, and the 15 drills explain why NORAD and all the other air-defense systems were inoperable, or under-staffed. You also had a lot of fake radar screen blips, because of these drills, so planes that were scrambled went after thin air. There are actual references to drills even in the 9/11 Commission Report.

HELEX 75 was a drill that the UK and USA ran in 1975 to pretend "what if" the fall of Saigon sparks a global revolution against the brittle power structure. "What if" we have a go into a nuclear war against the USSR? I.e. it was the kind of drill that might have acted as a real excuse to actually start nuclear war, but anti-war groups got wind of it via a leak to Die Spiegel, and citizen outrage in the US and Europe called it off.

The National Security State pigs who pulled off 9/11 also shot Reagan, hoping that he would die and that Bush would take power.

TA: Isn't that pretty much what they thought would happen here? That if all the planes had hit their intended targets, they could have claimed that Bush had been killed (or even that he had) and then moved to institute martial law with Darth Cheney at the helm?

SH: Yeah, and it seems that Bush was NOT running the show on 9/11. That would be Cheney/Rumsfeld/miscellaneous black operatives.

TA: When I think of prominent figures in the 9/11 truth movement, three names stand out: Alex Jones, editor of Prison Planet and; David Icke, author of "Alice in Wonderland and the World Trade Center Disaster", among other disturbing titles; and David Ray Griffin, professor at Claremont School of Theology and author of one of the seminal works on 9/11, "The New Pearl Harbor" . Of the three, I think that Griffin's work is the most readable and easy to understand. How do think you compare to these men, and how are you different?

SH: Griffin is the only one with the possibility to reach a massive amount of people.

TA: I like the idea for a Peoples' Intelligence Network, an idea you discuss in the last chapter of your book. Something like that would be very useful to those of us on the front lines of Bush's war on the working poor, who often wonder if they themselves are being spied upon by the FBI or other agencies. In addition to the PIN, what other bright ideas do you have for improving our democracy?

We need to YANK advertising, and military recruiters, out of our public schools!

SH: Well, I'm running for Governor, of New York State. It's tough to do with everything else I've got going on, but it's also a lot of fun, to be able to actually write a platform on how I'd change things in this state. Like, the Excelsior Venture Fund. New York State needs a state-owned venture capital fund to develop jobs, alternative energy, and light industry, especially in the de-industrialized areas of the land.

TA: Imagine you're talking to a potential New York voter. In 100 words or less, explain to me how you're going to make New York a better state to live in.

SH: You need health care. New York State will provide it under my administration. We've got cancer clusters around the state because of lax environmental enforcement. I will attack toxic polluters and put them in jail. 11 states have legalized marijuana for cancer and HIV patients. I will make NY the 12th. We need to YANK advertising, and military recruiters, out of our public schools! We need to cut down on wasteful SUVs, on junk mail, on bureaucracy. We need to make the State government a democratic, self-refining apparatus.

TA: Some folks have commented that a 9/11 coverup is not a serious issue. They feel that all that ground has been covered and now we know terrorists from Al Qaeda did it. Therefore, all we have to do is hunt 'em down and kill 'em, or throw 'em in a hole somewhere. What do you say to your critics, to people who might take an opposing view regarding the official story of 9/11?

SH: Well, if that's the opposing view, it sounds like you're talking about people who don't want a discussion, they just want to kill and throw people in holes.

Similarly, my "critics" don't really take on my research on its own terms. Case in point, Andrea Peyser of the New York Post came to Vox Pop, seemed really curious, and asked a few mild questions. Her article had all of this rancor and piss, but she wasn't really all that combative when she was here. It takes honesty to really debate.

TA: Is that the only negative experience you've had with the mainstream press?

SH: No, but that was the most prominent attack piece against the book. I've been ignored by most other papers. Except the Long Island Press, where I've worked as a freelancer, did publish a short and sweet review.

: Many prominent commentators are describing this period as a time of transition, from a badly-run war in Iraq to a time of great political upheaval here at home. What sort of political activities do you suggest people engage in, to take back this country and return power to the people?

SH: Boycott the Dems/Repubs and start new parties. Support Third Parties. Open your mind and hybridize the ideas around you, pull in different "best practices" from what's working in different areas. Be multi-disciplinary.

'by their fruits you shall know them.'

TA: I'm convinced that elements of a deep government conspiracy were deployed to assassinate John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Paul Wellstone, and John Lennon, among others. Such a conspiracy would require enormous powers of persuasion and intimidation to go unchecked in the mainstream media and in government. If such a cabal were to exist, I believe that it could manipulate independent journalists to create a false schism where none exists. Do you worry about the possibility of yourself being pegged as someone who might mislead the public to throw researchers off the scent? Has anyone confronted you about this issue?

SH: Yeah, I get that all the time. It's like this: if someone says "I'm not crazy" they sound crazy. Likewise, you can't say "I'm not a CIA agent!" because it sounds suspect. I like the way Ruppert is always quoting a certain section of the New Testament: "by their fruits you shall know them." If anyone calls me a "limited hangout" or a "left gatekeeper" it's usually people who haven't read my book. Eat the fruit!

: "Horns and Halos" introduced you to the world as the punk-rock manager of an apartment building in the Big City who spent all his free time pushing a book that no one knew existed that everyone who cared about democracy should have read. Did you feel betrayed by the mainstream media, or did you simply understand it to be a product of the so-called pack mentality, in which media types follow the PR dollars and run from dangerous controversy?

: Yes and yes. Both. And I name the names of the big media people who have ducked the story (about Bush and about 9/11) in my book. Rather than spend too much finite energy right now on this, I urge people to dis-engage, de-consume, and start anew. Start new independent media projects, or support the ones that are out there, today, now.

TA: So many terrible crimes committed by this President have gone underreported in the mainstream press, many that would have surely influenced the outcome of the election had they come out ahead of time. Do you think this country would have been better off had John Kerry won his campaign for President? Why or why not?

SH: Not too much. That guy cares more about his reputation than about principle. He too chickened out and ducked the story with his half-hearted Senate investigations of Iran/Contra and BCCI.

TA: Are there any groundbreaking innovations in democracy you think the rest of the country should try out? What are they?

SH: A lot of us Greens talk about run-off voting, which means that instead of one vote-one person, you can get 10 votes, so if you're a libertarian socialist you could spread your vote more accurately to promote your views. That way, there would be more libertarians, and more socialists, in a representative political body, and less boring corporate politicos.

: Are there any books you recommend to the 9/11 researcher or media critic out there?

SH: A lot of people have questions, because this guy used to be with LaRouche, but he broke with them, I'm talking about Webster Tarpley. He wrote "9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA" I learned a lot from this book. I highly recommend it. Tarpley's only major flaw is that he never saw a 9/11 conspiracy theory he didn't like, so he embraces all of them.

TA: What do you think of Air America?

SH: I think it's interesting to try to have left/liberal media supported by the free market, and the free market is obviously responding. But I also hate to have to listen to all the ads. There's got to be a way to reform the way that advertising saturates daily life. (go see, there's a great issue there: "adbusting.")

TA: Do any of their hosts impress you as honest investigators of truth, or are they just more Left-wingy versions of the same old predictable political chatterboxes we were used to before? Do you have a favorite talk radio personality?

SH: I want to say Randi Rhodes, or Mike Malloy, but despite all of their anger, they leave me longing for someone who has both passion AND some vision for the future. Both are so angry, they seem to lose focus.

TA: Okay, last question: Who do you think is more dangerous to our democracy, Karl Rove or Dick Cheney?

: Cheney. He's bloodthirsty and loves torture and is beyond caring who knows it. I met him, he seemed puffy and his skin was translucent. Like he was on heavy meds and had had heart attacks and strokes that hadn't leaked.

TA: Yuck. Well, on that note, Sander, I'd like to thank you for welcoming us into your world and the world of the 9/11 Truth Movement, as described in your book, "The Big Wedding: 9/11, the Whistle-Blowers and the Cover-Up", Vox Pop Publishing, 2005. We'd like to encourage all our readers to read the book and also they can check out your website, to learn more about you, your book, and your campaign for Governor of New York State.

[editor's note: Please buy Sander's book, for yourself or your neighborhood peace group. It's a great read, and the author is a creative small businessman trying to make a better world through peaceful means. Support your independent publishers and booksellers, and never stop seeking the truth!]

Yes, and for peace groups that want to buy the book as a fundraiser, we'll sell at 45% off for quantities of 10 or more! Contact the publisher directly at

Hicks sells "The Big Wedding", as well as Webster Tarpley's book, "9/11: Synthetic Terror", at prices that beat Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can find them at

Inside the Book:

Book Jacket
Chapter One - The Commentators
Chapter Two - The Investigators

Chapter Two - The Investigators

Every movement needs its truthseekers: individuals with courage to spare and an intense desire to see justice be done. These folks are the kind of journalists and investigators that the mainstream media should cultivate and immortalize, but because of the need to push official reality and sell consumer products, they are pushed to the bottom of any media stable and driven to alternative media outlets.

These individuals have risked their lives and their reputations to bring the truth to Americans on a variety of different issues, from the war in Iraq to 9/11 Truth and more.

Sander Hicks

Dahr Jamail
Gary Webb (deceased)

Inside the Book:

Book Jacket
Chapter One - The Commentators
Chapter Three - The Agitators

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Dahr Jamail

Dahr Jamail is one of the most courageous journalists working today. He's gone to Iraq personally several times and now works mostly from his home computer, relying on sources deep inside Iraq to put out top-quality journalism that directly exposes the lies and manipulations of the US Military Media Complex. I spoke with him last year and recorded this hour-long interview, covering subjects from depleted uranium to torture to Negroponte's implementation of the "Salvador Option".


Dahr, thanks for talking with me today. You were a climber and a volunteer for the US Parks Service in Alaska, until the coup in 2000 and the invasion of Iraq compelled you to take action, and you chose to go to Iraq to provide a different perspective than what we were getting via the mainstream Western media. Once in Iraq, you covered nearly every subject the corporate media wouldn't touch: white phosphorus, US snipers targeting civilians, the specific targeting of unembedded journalists, to name a few. You were honored by Project Censored in October of 2005 for your work in Fallujah ("Fallujah refugees tell of life and death in the kill zone" and "Unusual weapons used in Fallujah") as well as on the subject of journalists being targeted by US troops (“Media Repression in ‘Liberated’ Land”). You've recently returned from Iraq. How long were you there?

DJ: Well, I spent a total of 8 months there on four different trips, which averaged out to roughly two months per trip, and I actually haven't been there for about a year now. The last time was there was in February of last year.

Okay, so, I guess because I was getting your Iraq War Dispatches in my inbox, I thought you were still there.

DJ: Right, no, I still of course am writing stories on it, and then covering it via my sources in Baghdad and other cities there, still writing stories in that way, co-bylining it with people in Iraq and writing those for InterPress Service and doing a weekly column for truthout.

That's right, that's a great column. So you have journalists you've been working with who are still inside Iraq.

Yeah, well the same Iraqi fixers and translators that I worked with when I was in there, of course I stay in touch with them and we're still able to do stories, except instead of them having to tote a Westerner around with them and raise the risk factor about a thousand percent. They just basically go around and get the information and then I basically write it up and then we co-author the piece.

That sounds like a good working model for journalism, given the situation at this point.

Well, it's great because, you know, if the security situation has been reduced to the point where Iraqis are really obviously the best people to get the information, and, it's good also as far an independent media type of project because, it's, you know, I've been encouraging anyone I know in there to really just start doing this, to start reporting it themselves, because the Western press just can't get the job done anymore in there right now.

TA: Yeah, it seems like with the ability of the Internet and phone calls and satellites to do journalism that's centralized locally but also transmitted internationally, it seems like that would be an effective way to work in this situation.

DJ: Yeah, it really is, thanks to technology it makes all that possible.

TA: But the mainstream media's got better ideas, I guess?

DJ: Well no, ironically, for example, the New York Times covers it the way that I am right now, which, basically is that I'm in the States and they're hunkered down in their house in the middle of Baghdad. They don't leave, instead they send out Iraqi stringers to go get the information for them, and they bring it back to the house, their journalists write it up and send it back to the US with their name attached to the story. If you look at the bottom of those New York Times pieces, there's usually one to three different Iraqi names listed as contributors. Well I'm basically covering it the same way except I'm over here, relying on Iraqis for the information and basically being the writer for the story, for the information, when actually it's the Iraqis who are doing all the work.

TA: Well it's good of you to give folks the credit they deserve. You provided some of the only independent coverage I can find of the US siege of Fallujah. Can you take us back there and describe for our readers what you saw?

DJ: The first siege?

TA: Yeah.

DJ: Yeah I think it's important, whenever I'm asked about Fallujah, I think it's important to contextualize it, because that's something that our media never does. I think we have to start with the fact that, Fallujah, really there was no fighting there during the invasion. Most people welcomed the occu-, not the occupation but they welcomed the US in because they were happy to have Saddam gone. Most people there were opposed to his regime, despite what you might read in the corporate media. The problems began less than a month after Baghdad fell, when US troops were occupying a secondary school there. People demonstrated to have the troops leave, so they would have the school available for the kids. They didn't disperse when soldiers ordered them to disperse, and so troops ended up killing seventeen people who were demonstrating. Hence the resistance was born in Fallujah.

There's numerous things that led to the siege of Fallujah. The most obvious thing that we can cite is that four Blackwater USA mercenaries were killed there on March 31st, O4, and then essentially the siege was a revenge attack, but we have to look also at the entire region, the fact that March 22nd, just nine days before those mercenaries were killed, Sheikh Yassin was assassinated by the Israeli military in Gaza, and the blowback from that in Iraq was immediate. All of the Shia and Sunni clerics staunchly denounced it. At the time, Sadr's uprising was about to begin as well in Iraq, and all of this started kicking off at the same time, so those four Blackwater USA guys that were murdered in Fallujah, they were murdered because they were carrying out atrocities inside the city, the mercenaries were, but also it was revenge for what the Israelis did to Sheikh Yassin, so that essentially then set the stage for the April siege.

I went into Fallujah about six days into that siege to cover it. I went in on a bus that was carrying in humanitarian supplies. That's how I was able to get through the checkpoints, the mujahadeen checkpoints. Anyway, it was supposed to be a ceasefire, if you read the corporate media on April 9th, people were saying "yes, it's a ceasefire, we're trying to have negotiations", but when I went in what I saw was US warplanes dropping bombs in the city, and there was sporadic fighting all over the place. I went into a small clinic, and I was watching women and children, mostly women and children, being brought into this clinic from different parts of the city at different times, and they were all saying the same thing. They were all saying, the families I should say, were saying that these people were being shot by US snipers. This was a very disturbing thing that we would see repeated over and over and over, and it's going on to this day right now even, when it's become Standard Operating Procedure when the US military doesn't have total control over a city, they'll just set up snipers and start shooting people, and that's what they were doing in Fallujah.

At the end of the April siege, where cluster bombs were used for sure, and depleted uranium was used for sure the general manager of Fallujah General Hospital said that 736 people were killed, and, by his most conservative estimate, 50 percent of those were women, children and elderly.

I went back in May on three different occasions to document what happened and the sniping was so bad that people buried bodies of their relatives in their gardens, because they couldn't go any farther outside of their homes than that, and then when the siege ended, they they unburied, they dug them up, and then theybrought them to a soccer stadium which had been turned into a mass graveyard right in the middle of the city. So that gives you an idea of what happened in the April siege. That was really the warmup for what was to come later - the November siege, which was exponentially worse on basically every level.

TA: Had you ever been to Iraq before the war started?

DJ: Not before the invasion. I wish I had. The first time I went in there was November 03, so it was a good wait, about seven months after Baghdad fell on April 9th.

TA: While I was researching today and I was looking at reports, sort of side by side, your reports as well as the AP and other wire services, and I was struck by the simple humanity in your work. You seem to bring a level of human understanding into the war that other reporters don't. Is it simply a function of your independence or is there something else at work here?

DL: Well, I think that, really, it's, it's, it's just that I basically went in there, it was kind of grasssroots journalism at it's, in it's rawest form because I really just decided I would go in there and cover specifically how this was affecting the people, the Iraqi people and then soldiers whenever I ran into them. But specifically Iraqi people. That's how I went into it. I don't have a professional background in journalism or any formal journalism training, I just went in to right about what I saw. And then I learned as I went along, you know ethics, you know the things, the dos and donts of journalism, which is pretty basic as far as "tell the truth" and "be honest" and "be fair" and that's what I try to do, and I think learned by working with other people, other independent journalists that I respect a lot, what I was doing, um, it was just, that's I think what journalism is. It's basically, it's very simple, it's not rocket science, and it's basically that I want to report on people who are being hit. I want to report on the people that are on the other side of those bombs, not the people that are dropping the bombs. And that is what I really still focus on today, and that's what I did in Iraq, is I wanted to go into Fallujah and report on how are people, how are civilians in the city surviving through this? How are doctors dealing with this? Not the people who were pulling the trigger, because the corporate media certainly have that covered.

TA: Most Americans see this war through a very heavy filter. Corporate media tends to gloss over the daily struggle of the Iraqi people and focuses nearly exclusively on official pronouncements and gory video clips. Your reports, by contrast, have touched on other subjects that most Americans have no understanding about, or at least they didn't before they read your work. Some examples I found: the US military's use of chemical weapons on civilians, the effects of depleted uranium, we talked about the siege of Fallujah, there's Shia death squads, and recently even, if possible, more disturbing, operations by Coalition forces that seem to suggest complicity in certain attacks against high-value targets. These type of operations are referred to in some circles as "false-flag" operations, and while some fans of news programs like Democracy Now! or other programs you might find on Link TV, might be more familiar with these stories, their ability to pierce the veil of the mainstream consciousness just hasn't happened yet. Is the media just hopelessly corrupt, or do you think there's a shift taking place?

DJ: I think corporate media is hopelessly corrupt. I think it's akin to our entire political system, where I think placing any hope in the corporate media would be similar to placing hope in the DC Democrats at this point. It's just a total waste of time. That's barking up the wrong tree, and you know, there is no opposition, you know, there is no reform there. There's no one there because they're all being bought and sold by the same interests. I think that what we have to focus on now is independent media, and supporting independent media. And when I supporting it, I don't mean reading it or donating to it, but I mean creating it. Basically, if you don't like the coverage in your town go do something about it. Go cover that city council meeting yourself. Start writing about it. Post it on independent media websites. More people are reading them today than ever, and it's because the need is greater than ever. Corporate media will only consistently get worse, and that's all I've seen it do, just regarding Iraq, and everything else for that matter, but just focusing on Iraq, I went to Iraq to cover it because the media coverage was so bad. And I've seen it not just stay the same, but dramatically worsen. I mean, if you look at the coverage today, there's people who still talk about it as if it's some, "oh it's this little technical blunder, there were some miscalculations made", no one is holding this administration to the fire for the lies that were told, for the atrocities that are being carried out, all the violations of international law that are happening every single day. The coverage is horrendous, it's despicable. And I think it's, the need, this just really highlights the need for independent media, it's glaring today more than ever before.

TA: I think the corporate media is sort of a theme for our talk today. (Dahr laughs) It's, you know, I mean I don't want to beat up on anybody, but it seems like people we would look to for trust and authority, to deliver the message, they've got other things in mind.

DJ: Well I think they deserve to be beat up on. I don't think we should waste too much on it, I think we should of course spend energy on, you know, creating a new media, which I think there is media reform happening, in that independent media is getting stronger and more the attention that it deserves. But I think, without a doubt, the corporate media, they're aiding and abetting in war crimes by not reporting the truth about any of this, and I think if it's a just world they'll be held to account.

I mean after the fall of Hitler, during the Nuremburg trials, they realized that the main problem, one of the things that enabled Hitler to get away with what he did in his regime was the media, the propaganda. And so, during the Nuremburg trials, they set up a Nuremburg Charter for journalism, and the primary facet of that Charter said that the main responsibility for media during a time of war is to not incite the public to violence. And that is exactly what the corporate media in the US did, prior to, during, and after the invasion of Iraq, is they incited the public to violence. I mean, can journalism, quote-unquote journalism, that people like Judith Miller did, and Thomas Friedman, if you read what they were writing where they were specifically inciting the public to violence, of specifically drumming up support for this illegal invasion, which we now see was based on nothing but lies and misrepresentation, and I think they should be held to account just like people during the Nuremburg Trials were held to account. Hitler's propagandists who were still alive were brought to account, and I think something like that, if it were a just world, would happen to some of these leading media figures here in the US.

They were laying the ground work for all of this to happen. If we had an honest media, I like to believe that none of this would have happened.

TA: And yet, the President and his allies in the corporate media are flogging this meme that says "the media aren't showing all the good things in Iraq". Can you help us out? Can you tell us about some good things that are happening there?

DJ: You know, I really, I don't really see - there's just nothing good to report. What good can you report where, you know, over a hundred thousand people are dead, probably ten times that number wounded, the average house has about three hours of electricity a day and potable water, if you're really, really lucky, but most people are suffering through cholera and dysentery and nausea and kidney stones. The World Health Organization declared that it would be a health emergency in Iraq if things didn't change drastically and this was over a year ago and things have changed drastically.

They've gotten worse. Child malnutrition is now twice what it was during the sanctions when over half a million kids died from malnutrition and disease. You tell me where the good news is. The fact that Bush is going around telling, you know, harping on the media to report this, well, you know, they need to get a "Wag the Dog" thing going and go start, you know, they need a couple of more Fox outlets that can go generate this so-called "good news" for them. Because the reality on the ground is that this doesn't exist, and that includes in the Northern regions of Kurdistan.

TA: Every journalist claims to be working the right angle, and seems to blame other folks when they get it wrong. I've surprised whenever I get a report on Iraq from one of the mainstream outlets it seems that they're covering a totally different war than the one I've read about on the Internet. Where's the carnage? Where are the children with the missing skin and missing limbs? Do you think that public opinion would be swayed if the media was obligated to paint a fuller picture of the effects of the war?

DJ: Without a doubt, I mean, that's what we saw in Vietnam, and that's the same reason why networks that do show that stuff, like Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya catch so much hell from people like Rumsfeld and Bush, and other cronies of the administration, because they show what war looks like, and I think that's the duty of a journalist, to show, if you want to do truthful reporting, if you want to be an honest journalist, you show "what's the meat of this story?" Well, in war, you need to show war. What it looks like, what it smells like, what it tastes like, what happens when bombs hit human beings, what happens when people are exposed to deadly chemicals and heavy metals, depleted uranium and what that does to babies that are gonna be born down the road. If people really saw that on a daily basis here - this is what it looks like in Iraq when a car bomb goes off and kills a hundred people, splattered brains everywhere. I mean, if you compare some of the journalism that you would see on Al-Jazeera's Arabic channel, for example, can you imagine if any of that were ever shown, and I'm assuming that you've seen some of that, can you imagine if any of that was ever show on NBC, it's just unimaginable. You just know that they would'nt touch it.

TA: The first video I ever saw, in fact, on the Internet, just after the Occupation got ugly, was a destroyed car and the person explains that this tank over here blew it up, and it turns out it was three guys about my age driving a car exactly like the one I drive, you know that's the kind of thing that drives public consciousness because they feel something.

DJ: Yep.

TA: And yet, Brian Williams or whoever delivers the pablum and people don't experience that connection with another people.

DJ: Right, which I think is the goal, I mean, there's no way that the corporate media is gonna show what the reality is. They're bought and paid for, you look at who owns them. You look at GE owning NBC, you know, it's the classic example, right? GE, one of the biggest weapons manufacturers on the plant, it doesn't behoove them to have a nationally broadcast television network showing images of what happens when their bombs hit people, it's just bad for business.

TA: Yeah, that's real money.

DJ: Right.

TA: Well, are there any stories from Iraq that affected you, that are particularly heart-wrenching, in terms of the impact on the civilian population?

DJ: Oh man, that's every day there. I think Fallujah's of course a biggie, where an entire city's been destroyed. 150,000 people, minimum, have been totally displaced to this day, and yet they're still fighting, and people dying every single day. I think, God, there's so many. I know that there was one point, it was in January of 04, I went to Al Tuesa, which is where Iraq was building a nuclear reactor before the Israeli military bombed in the early 80's. There was a village nearby there, and the people went in after, when the looting was rampant, because it's right on the outskirts of Baghdad, and when the looting happened in Baghdad and there was no law and no security, the people went in and took these drums and rinsed them out in the stream that runs right by the river so they could use them for water containers and food containers. They didn't know, they were totally ignorant of what was in those drums, they just thought it was dirt or something, you know, and it was actually low-grade radioactive waste. They basically nuked their own village by doing that.

I remember I went there with some friends and interviewed this guy, this beekeeper. He showed us, there were no other jobs, it was all he had, he couldn't afford to move. He was still tending his bees, and like, 70 percent of them had died since that happened, because of the radiation. He had cancer, and he knew it, and he was dying, and there was nothing he could do about it. It was just almost surreal to go talk to this person, he knew what was happening, he was watching it, his bees were kind of like his litmus test, kind of his canary if you will, and he was dying, you know, and the bees were all dying off. And he's like, but well, this is our life, this is all we can do, we don't have any choice, we're not getting any help, we're not getting any of the promises that were made to us, and this is what we're left with. In a lot of ways, that kind of symbolized the Occupation to me, because so many people, particularly Shia people, really had their hopes up. They really, you know, they knew that this wasn't just about liberating them, or you know, the benevolence of the US was going to be showered on them, they knew what it was about, they knew it was about oil, and it was about the US coming there to stay, but they still expected at least a little bit of positive fallout, you know, they expected a third of those promises to come true, and across the board they haven't come true. That's why latest polls show 87 percent of Iraqis want an immediate timetable for withdrawal. That's why, because this Occupation has done nothing but bring death and suffering across the whole country.

TA: 87 percent?

DJ: Yes.

TA: Wow. Sort of makes you wonder about those thirteen percent, huh?

DJ: Yeah, they're probably the exiles who are in the Green Zone that came back in on the heels of the occupiers. (laughter)

TA: Well, and when you talk about people looting drums and emptying them out because they need something to hold water, I mean, you know, that's what a government is for, right? I mean, a government steps in and makes sure people don't do things that are dangerous. Why seize a country if you're not gonna give them a government?

DJ: Well, you know, that's an important question. I'd like to answer that in this way. Look at Afghanistan. Afghanistan happened a couple of years before Iraq, and look at Afghanistan today. You've got Hamid Karzai, he used to be been on the board of Chevron. He was the, basically appointed, Prime Minister. So you've got this pro-US puppet government in there, the whole country, well it was destroyed, now it's even more destroyed. There's four giant US bases there, right along the route of the pipeline. The rest of the country, the hell with it, you know, the puppet government, they don't even have country over Kabul, the capital city.

Now look at Iraq, it's basically the same thing and it's getting worse. It's starting to look more and more like Afghanistan, where bits and pieces of the country are divided up and they're in control of warlords and militias, whatever you want to call it. It's got a puppet, quasi pro-US regime, I wouldn't say they're pro-US but the US basically still has enough control over them where they're not letting ask for a withdrawal, which is what everyone in the country wants. They've got their bases there, they've got at least six permanent bases there, they're constructing an embassy two-thirds the size of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., with twenty-one buildings. It's gonna be the largest embassy built by any country anywhere on the globe ever, and they're there to stay, and to hell with the rest of the country. I think that it's about being in there, having control of the oil, and having a military presence, and, so in that way, it is "Mission Accomplished".

TA: Recently I heard, well I had an opportunity to speak to a soldier returned from Iraq, and I was shocked to hear him say that it had become common practice to assassinate women and children to try to extract intelligence from men in the villages they came to. From your vantage point, given what you've seen, do you think that could have been an isolated aberration or is that standard military practice?

DJ: No, that's standard military practice. I, well let me correct myself, I don't know about the assassinating part, but without a doubt the US military has been detaining the women of children of suspected resistance fighters from almost the very beginning. I've actually got a piece coming out tomorrow on truthout about the massacres that have been ongoing in Iraq. There's been some attention lately about some Marines here being investigated, some there being investigated for going in there and massacring families, there's been two incidents that have been in the news lately, and I wrote a piece basically showing, no this has pretty much been happening from the very beginning of the Occupation.

TA: - just like in Vietnam -

DJ: Just like in Vietnam, and that's exactly the parallel that I draw in this piece, because, you know, people, it's one of my points that I try to make is why do people in this country think that if you take the US military where there's a low-grade but very effective guerilla war being waged against them in a population that is by the day becoming increasingly more sympathetic to the resistance. As I said, at least 87 percent of the population wants them the Hell out of their country, and atrocities are occuring. But why do people understand now that, of course that happened in Vietnam, but that couldn't happen in Iraq today? I just don't understand that disconnect, because all the other variables are the same. Only this time it's happening in a desert and not in a jungle.

TA: I know it's different, because I work at the Post Office with a lot of guys who were in Vietnam. And these are people who served their country honorably and went through Hell, but if they are conservatives, if they listen to right-wing talk radio, they firmly believe that a) the Phoenix Program was totally hyped and overblown, and b) they had a reason to be in that country, other than, I don't know, imperialism, greed, oil, whatever. You know, so I really thing media has a lot to do with what shapes peoples' opinions of things that should be totally obvious.

DJ: Well without a doubt, and I think the same could be said for the fact that there's a decent percentage of US soldiers in Iraq that would say the same thing, "we're here for national security, we're here because Saddam Hussein attacked the World Trade Center" (my laughter) No, I'm not making this up, there is a significant percentage of troops in Iraq today that believe they're there because of 9/11. That's what they were told, that's what they were instructed with, that's what they were told going over there. I know for a fact that the US military, when they were flying troop transport planes off the East Coast over to Iraq, that there were several of them, one route that they would regularly take a troop transport plane full of soldiers and do semi-circles around, do circles around Ground Zero at the World Trade Center, so these guys could see it before they ship em off over to Iraq. I don't know how much more blatant it could be than that.

TA: In a story you wrote recently, "Who Benefits?" you outlined the controversy surrounding the destruction of the Golden Mosque in Samarra. In that piece, you quote Shia cleric, Moqtada Al-Sadr, who had this to say about the attack.
"It was not the Sunnis who attacked the shrine of Imam Al-Hadi, God's peace be upon him, but rather the Occupation forces and Baathists, God damn them, we should not attack Sunni mosques. I ordered Al Mehdi army to protect the Shia and Sunni shrines."
Do you think this statement reflects the general attitude of people in Iraq, and if so, what does this mean for the possibility of peace in that country?

DJ: It does reflect most peoples' opinion. Most people are very clear there that it wasn't some resistance fighter that blew up that mosque, or anything like that. Most people are claiming the Occupation forces, even though they may believe that someone other than Occupation forces carried out that operation, they still blame, as they have from almost the beginning of the Occupation whenever Iraqis are killed, they blame the Occupation forces because they understand the Geneva Conventions. They understand that the primary responsibility of Occupation forces is to protect the civilians of that country. Any time there's violence they know, and they're correct to blame the Occupation for not doing their job. But that is certainly the sentiment in the country, that most people there do blame Occupation forces for virtually everything that's going wrong there, but for as far as peace, I really have my doubts, unfortunately, I have to say, because without a doubt we have a sort of undeclared civil war going on right now. Primarily due to the death squads that were set up while Negroponte was the ambassador there.

TA: Your piece about that was truly shocking. Where you mention Negroponte - his work in Honduras...

DJ: Yeah, I mean, it's, Bush has basically just restocked his cabinet with all these old cold warriors. People like Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney and Negroponte come in and basically start recycling these old agendas that they carried out back then, and what Negroponte did in Honduras by setting up the death squads that were responsible for killing tens of thousands of civilians, they brought him in, put him in Baghdad, he took over for Bremer during the so-called "transfer of sovereignty" on June 28th, 04, and then did his stint in there, and he just so happened to be the ambassador there in Baghdad in January 05 when Rumsfeld made the public slip and mentioned using the "Salvador Option", while that was already in place for at least a couple of months, cause I was in Baghdad at that time, and I was in Baghdad before that for a couple of months, and we already knew that the death squads were operating, and then fast-forward about fifteen months later to today, and this is the end result of that. You've got death squads running around rampant, forty people turning up dead.

TA: According to Al Franken, under the aegis of the Interior Ministry.

DJ: Who of course we're funding. So there you have it. I mean, it's pretty simple. So, there's total chaos in Iraq. If these trends all continue, which I see no reason for them to not continue, I think overt civil war is coming. (Now nearly everyone probably agrees with Dahr on this point)

TA: Yeah, I mean it's, when all your political cartoonists are acting like it's right around the corner, maybe it is, if it's not already here.

DJ: I think it is already here, for sure. I think the question is when does it spread, you know, when does it become, when does it really broaden and deepen. It is hard to predict though, I don't want to make it sound inevitable, because, you know, everything's so tied together in the Middle East, and when the bombs start falling in Iran, I think all bets are off what happens in Iraq then. I think then you're gonna see it go into an era that's gonna make this one look good. For as far as the Iraqi people are concerned, but also for U.S. troops. Because it's gonna be open season there, because the Shia right now, who are primarily the people that are in the Iraqi security forces, that are doing all the dirty work for the Americans there, well, the Americans are gonna be fighting those people once they decide to attack Iran.

TA: As far as I can tell, even commentators on the so-called "Left" aren't really reading the same news I am. It seems like even our liberals becoming more prominent today are getting most of their knowledge by watching "Meet the Press" and Media Matters instead of actually finding out what's really going on there.

DJ: That's a huge problem. The same can be said in the government. For whatever reason, I naively believed that just because people were in Congress or the Senate, that they had access to all this great, high-quality information and they were gonna use it, they were just making bad decisions. The reality is that these people are still victims of the same propaganda that most U.S. citizens are. You know, these people, people like Dick Cheney, their sole source of information is, aside from cherry-picking what they want from the intel, is Fox News. I think that can be said for a lot of politicians -

TA: Wait, you think Fox is educating Dick, and not the other way around?

DJ: I think it's a two-way street. I know for sure that one of his requirements when he goes and stays in a hotel, he wants every TV turned to Fox.

TA: See, I thought that it was just that he was so egotistical that he wanted to see his own talking points parroted back at him.

DJ: Well, this probably, it's a two-way street. (laughs)

TA: Well, I referenced Al Franken a minute ago, and it bothers me that people with that kind of caliber, in just terms of their national credibility, they have an opportunity to really say something and, because they don't, some of the most heinous crimes against humanity are going under the radar.

DJ: We have to be real clear that things like Air America, at least on the national level, I think it's different when we get down to local level, because I've seen very, very good local-level programs on Air America stations, but nationally, at least in regards to THAT program, from what I understand, it's essentially a tool of the mainstream Democratic party, except Air America's a place where they can get a little bit more radical than what they can do on the hill, and I think it's important that people understand that. This is not a really good, legitimate source of information. It's good for entertainment, but for good hard news information that's accurate, no way. Same with NPR, I like to call NPR National Pentagon Radio. The Bush administration, and this is all well documented, they replaced, now the overwhelming majority of the board of NPR, they're allegiance is to Bush. And listening to the programming on NPR is horrendous.

TA: Oh I stopped. I mean I went to Air America and then whenever I 'm at my computer it's something else, so I can make sure what I'm getting is credible. That's why it pisses me off that I'm wanting them to be credible, and then I know they're dropping things. The same thing with Fahrenheit 9/11, you know, I'm watching the film and I'm going "Yes, yes, yes!" but yet, "why'd you leave all this stuff on the cutting room floor?"

DJ: Exactly.

TA: And there's something in an article I referenced earlier, you mention the strange case of two British men, who were arrested by Iraqi officials in suspicion of committing or planning acts of terrorism.

DJ: Mm-hmm.

TA: Later that day, the two men were freed from their jail cells by a full-scale military assault, which led to several prisoners escaping and the deaths of five Iraqi civilians, as far as I can tell. And the British government claims that these two guys were captured by a Shia militia and they were being held against their will due to infiltration of police forces by insurgents, but the fact of the story that I gathered painted a much weirder picture. Both were members of the SAS, Britain's answer to the Green Berets, and they were dressed up as ARABS. The Iraqi police forces claimed that when they were stopped they shot and killed a policeman before being detained, but we can't corroborate that story. Why on Earth are two British special forces soldiers driving around in a normal car in Iraq in Arab costume anyway?

DJ: Yeah, and why was it full of explosives with remote detonators? I mean, the facts speak for themselves. Just two weeks ago in Tikrit, there was a Western mercenary caught and again, trying to dress local in an unmarked car full of explosives, and he too was caught by Iraqi security forces, but none of this is getting reported. And again if we look back...

TA: Tikrit, that's Saddam's hometown?

DJ: (inaudible) and false-flag operations happening there, look at the atrocities being carried out there. People think that's not happening now? They think there aren't black operations happening every single day in Iraq? And assassinations and rapes and pillages and massacres? Well it is. It's the same thing, it's a no-win situation. It's a horrible guerilla war, and uh, the only...

TA: That goes beyond guerilla war though, I mean, that's, that's inflaming racial tensions. That's playing right into what al-Sadr's trying to tell his people that we're doing.

DJ: That's right, because what Sadr's saying about that is correct. It is deliberately trying to implement the strategy of divide and conquer.

TA: That's sick.

DJ: It is, and they're having some success.

TA: What does this mean for our nation's claim to some sort of higher moral authority?

DJ: Well most people that read this or listen to this will, I'm sure they are aware of the fact that this country hasn't had a legitimate Presidential election since '96. It's been ten years, you know? It's not a democracy, we're not a democracy, we haven't been a democracy for a long time. It's wordplay here almost as bad as trying to call Iraq a democracy.

TA: Some members of the independent press have posited that everything the Bush administration does is based on lies, that in fact this war in Iraq and even the war in Afghanistan, they weren't really designed to root out the evils of Radical Fundamentalist Islam, but rather were designed to fuel the geopolitical aims of a hard right-wing cabal known as the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), an organization that included such luminaries as Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney, and even George W's younger brother Jeb, the current governor of Florida. Is it possible that the ENTIRE so-called "War on Terror" was manufactured simply to give these men greater power over our military and political machine and in fact, not concerned with ending terrorism whatsoever?

DJ: The short answer is yes. I do, I believe that, regarding 9/11, at the very least, this administration did not do everything in their power to stop an attack that they knew was coming. At the very least, that's what happened, so certainly they may have, as they described in the PNAC that they would need something like "a new Pearl Harbor" to implement this policy at a much more rabid pace than what it was gonna take without that new Pearl Harbor. And that's essentially what we've seen. You know there's no way they could have gotten away with Afghanistan and Iraq without something, you know, some sort of attack happening here in the US to drum up, to fly the flag and make the eagle scream, and march us off to war. Because if you look at Afghanistan and Iraq, it's all about controlling natural resources and having the US military in Asia. We have now both Iran and China surrounded by military bases on just about every front. And I think that's been the policy, and that's why Iran has said it's not about trying to bring democracy there or help the Iranian people, it's about where those pipelines go, the Caspian Sea reserves, and you know, geostrategic positioning around China.

TA: It's the modern version of the Great Game, you might say?

DJ: I think so. Yeah, I think you could say that.

TA: Do you think the 9/11 Commission did an effective job at uncovering what happened on that day?

DJ: (laughs)

TA: Any questions stick out in your mind?

DJ: (laughs again) Well, I think that's, you know, one of the bigger farces to come down the pike in a while.

TA: It's quoted a lot by a lot of you know, fairly mainstream people.

DJ: No, I think that was a very well financed smokescreen that, at the end of the day, was very effective.

TA: So you were in Iraq for...

DJ: Eight months.

TA: Eight months. So you probably made some friends over there? Could you give us any insight into how they feel about the war, or its effects on their daily lives?

DJ: Well of course, you know, everyone I know over there is vehemently opposed to the occupation, and it's affected their lives, in ways I've just described. Everyone. There's no electricity, there's no water, there's no jobs. There's absolutely no security. You know, Iraq's being turned into a fundamentalist state where, you know, religion is everything and there's no room for anyone who's secular. Their lives are being made horrible. It's difficult to describe what it's like over there, where imagine living where, if you leave your house, you know you may well not come back that night. That you might, at any time, someone might break into your house and loot you and just take everything you've got, or kill you, or take someone in your family and hold them for twenty thousand dollars ransom and, maybe if you pay, you still won't get them back alive. That's everyday life now in Iraq, I mean, there's really nowhere in that country now where anyone can have anything resembling a normal life.

TA: It's like a gang war, kind of. I mean, one really big gang and a lot of little -

DJ: Pretty much, that's right. You know, I described it too as, it's like the Lebanese War, only that it's in a country that's enormously larger than Lebanon, and at the height of the Lebanese War there were about twenty-three different warring parties and in this one, there's upwards of a hundred different, even just resistance groups. Not even going into the militias or how many different foreign countries have troops there, or covert ops, or any of that. It's like the Lebanese War times three hundred, I mean it's just off the charts.

TA: This is why I think it's stupid when comedians trash Bush and try to make Cheney seem stupid, because if a national figure like a President is gonna commit war crimes, he's gonna want to do it in a sophisticated way, it's gonna be smarter than it's ever been done before, right? To get away with it.

DJ: Well I think, one thing that I've thought all along is that these people's arrogance will be their own undoing. They're not even trying to hide what they're doing anymore, they're just doing it, and why bother? They own the media, they own all the politicians, they, they can do that. And they are getting away with it, and I think that's why. You know, they put a nice little puppet up like Bush to have everyone hate, when the reality is that this guy can't even tie his shoes on his own, I mean let's not even waste our time talking about him. The people running it are the people you described earlier: Perle, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, all these individuals are very smart, very cunning, very calculating. They've been very successful in what they're trying to do.

TA: Not too long ago, a group of Iraqi oil workers were traveling the United States trying to raise awareness of their efforts to secure better working conditions. I have seen almost nothing about this in either the mainstream or independent media. What's the situation for workers in Iraq? Are workers there able to organize in any concerted way?

DJ: No, I mean for starters, there's well over fifty percent unemployment. So, there's not enough jobs. One of the things, there's a couple of things that they wanted to maintain. The US has rewritten so many of Iraq's laws, and they heavily influenced it's constitution. But a couple of the things they decided that Saddam did were good enough to keep, and one of those was making unions illegal.

TA: Wow.

DJ: So, they're not legal there. Anytime that there's a union protest, these people are putting their lives on the line, because they might be detained, they might be killed, and they are. Several of those have gone that way, so yeah, it's a huge plight that anyone in a union there is up against.

TA: Are there any specific obstacles that workers organizing might face?

DJ: Well, the primary obstacle is that there's just no state. Let me give you an example of what that looked like on the ground, I remember there was a guy, a hotel clerk at one of the hotels I was staying at in Baghdad, I got to know him pretty well, and he said "If I don't come to work tomorrow, my boss doesn't pay me for four days, not just the one that I don't come to work."

TA: Oh my god.

DJ: And I said, "really?" Naively I said "how do they do that?" and he just told us, he said "well look, you know, we know there's no jobs, and that's how it's gonna be here, if you don't like it you can leave."

TA: So his mom gets sick, tough luck, he's out on his butt.

DJ: Tough luck.

TA: Wow...well is there anything else our readers should be concerned about?

DJ: I think, just the fact that there's permanent bases there, and this administration or any of the mainstream Democrats have no intention of leaving. I think the only way this country that this country is gonna pull out of Iraq is if the people force em to.

TA: How are we gonna do that?

DJ: (laughs) Well, my short answer to that is, realistic or not, I think the only thing that really we have left at this point is a national campaign of massive, ongoing civil disobedience, just start shutting stuff down. Just start making this country dysfunctional, like what happened in Vietnam, where trains can't run, where ships going over there can't go, or they're slowed down. Until dissent hits that level, I really don't see how anything could change.

TA: People would have to defy the common meme that says "Protest isn't Patriotic".

DJ: Right.

TA: Well, it's been really great talking to you, Dahr.

DJ: Oh, my pleasure man.

TA: Thank you very much. Have a good evening.

DJ: You too.

Inside the Book:

Book Jacket
Chapter One - The Commentators
Chapter Two- The Investigators
Chapter Three- The Agitators