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Max Blumenthal on the isolation of Netanyahu and fortress Israel

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking recently before the U.N. General Assembly, claimed that although “Ahmadinejad was a wolf in wolf’s clothing; Rouhani [the new Iranian Prime Minister] is a wolf in sheep’s clothing; a wolf who thinks he can pull the wool over the eyes of the international community.”

On October 4th, Democracy Now! interviewed journalist Max Blumenthal, author of a new book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, which is the culmination of four years of reporting from inside Israel-Palestine. They began by asking him to respond to Netanyahu’s latest statement:

[Netanyahu] came to power in 2009 at the helm of the most right-wing government in Israeli history. And he’s kind of occupying the centre in Israel. He markets himself to Israelis as—you know, he appears in my book as the salesman, and he markets himself as a man who can go to the U.S. and market a lemon, who can sell a lemon to the American public, because he speaks English perfectly, he was educated at MIT, he worked at Boston Consulting with Mitt Romney.

And here he’s returned to the U.S. to sell the Israeli position to an American public that wants diplomacy, that welcomed Barack Obama’s historic phone call with Hassan Rouhani. And Obama has been forced to sit with Netanyahu for two and a half hours in the White House, during a government shutdown, to hear Netanyahu’s complaints and lecturing. He’s effectively become the Bibi-sitter1, meeting with Netanyahu more times than any foreign leader, the head of this country the size of New Jersey. And so, Netanyahu really looks kind of desperate and diminished at the U.N., and he’s—but, I mean, he loves these animal metaphors. And he has concocted this very belligerent and stentorian speech that really would maybe appeal to elderly evangelicals or an AIPAC crowd, but it’s not resonating with the American public.

Click here to read a full transcript or watch the interview at the Democracy Now! website.

Blumenthal goes on to speak about the isolation both of Netanyahu, with the right wing views of his Likud party falling out of favour with Democratic voters, and also the State of Israel itself, which, due in large part to its expansionist policy of building illegal settlements, feels a growing need to strengthen its borders, surrounding all of its territories (legally recognised and not) with walls to the extent that it is becoming a fortress – not that security alone is the reason for the walls:

I was dying to see the Syria vote take place, because Obama had compelled AIPAC, the central arm of the Israel lobby, to actually come out in favor of this war that was overwhelmingly unpopular with Americans. And it exposed the Israel lobby as acting sort of on behalf of Netanyahu against the will of the American public. And, of course, the vote was canceled, so this rift wasn’t exposed. But we see—we can see the Republicanization of pro-Israel support in the recent Pew poll of Jewish attitudes, where 82 percent of evangelicals believe that Israel is the promised land, that it was given to the Jews by God. Only 16 percent of secular Jews believe this. And so there’s—so the future base of Israel, as long as it’s under the control of people like Netanyahu and those to his right, like Naftali Bennett, is the Bible Belt. That’s Israel’s safety belt, Christian Zionism. And so, this is a dynamic that’s really going to develop in American foreign policy and play out in the next presidential campaign.

The wall is the separation wall, which has expropriated over 100,000 acres of Palestinian land and really serves as sort of a demographic wall. It actually has no real security value. And so, the point of it is to accomplish what Netanyahu warned would be—to prevent what Netanyahu warned would be demographic spillover. It’s an incredibly racist and bizarre concept that is sort of unfamiliar, I think, to real democracies. […]

It’s enormously tall, and it extends for hundreds of kilometers across the West Bank. I think anyone who visits Israel-Palestine has to see it. But there’s not just that wall. The entire Gaza Strip is surrounded by walls and electric fencing. Netanyahu has authorized $360 million, cutting social spending, to build a wall against the border of Jordan. The entire border between Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and Syria is mined. Netanyahu has just built a wall against the Sinai desert to prevent African migrants and asylum seekers, who are fleeing genocide, from getting to Israel. So almost all of the state of Israel, the Jewish state, is surrounded by walls. And one of Netanyahu’s advisers, Arnon Soffer, has proposed sea walls. They are covered by an iron dome, an anti-missile system provided by the U.S., by U.S. taxpayers. It sounds—it’s an absolute dystopian situation that fulfills the prophecy in the Book of Numbers, that the people of Israel will stand alone and not be reckoned among the nations.

With regards to the Biblical reference in the title of his book, Blumenthal says:

Well, I chose it because of the biblical tale of David and Goliath, and also because my editors forced me to choose it. And I think it’s a good title, especially because my last book, Republican Gomorrah, has, you know, biblical resonances and begins with the letter G. But there’s an interesting quote in my book. There’s a person I quote in my book who is the first Jewish ambassador of the United Kingdom to Israel, Matthew Gould. And he went on Israeli TV, and he said, “You’re obsessed with these hasbara, or propaganda, efforts to explain your position to the world and to cover everything up. You have to recognize that Israel is now seen as the Goliath, and Palestinians are seen as the David. Cut the hasbara, the propaganda, out, and end the occupation. Maybe then you won’t be seen that way.” And that’s the problem. That’s the problem with Netanyahu. It’s the problem in Israeli society. This occupation will not end as long as this current system is intact. And so, I think Goliath is the perfect title.

Click here to read a full transcript or watch the interview at the Democracy Now! website.

1 Bibi is an affectionate nickname given to Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Watford, June 6–9: here are ten good reasons to be there…

1. Be witness to the world summit that dare not speak its name

If more than a hundred of the highest ranking politicians, financiers and other major corporate leaders from across Europe and North America were meeting for a conference near London then you might naively suppose that the world’s media would be interested to hear about it. If additionally, it transpired that such meeting was not only to be held behind closed doors and patrolled by armed guards, but also conducted under such strict secrecy that attendees were prohibited from speaking about whatever had been discussed or even disclosing the names of other attendees, you would be forgiven for supposing that the press would be swarming outside the gates and banging on the doors to find out more. But, and in the words of the song, it ain’t necessarily so…

As this year’s Bilderberg meeting approaches, the press and the rest of the mainstream media is instead maintaining its commitment to silence. Indeed, there has barely been a single column inch devoted to the surprise appearance of Bilderberg on our shores, although here is a local exception:

Hertfordshire taxpayers will foot the bill for a major police security operation to protect a shadowy summit of world leaders taking place in Watford next month.

The Bilderberg Group of around 140 influential figures including royalty, politicians and business leaders will meet at The Grove from June 6 to June 9.1

So begins what ought to be regarded as a world press exclusive but published not by Reuters or AP or the BBC, but in the Watford Observer, suddenly finding themselves forced into the vanguard. Well, not quite. The story that this year’s Bilderberg chinwag is coming to Watford having first broken more than a month earlier and being soon after confirmed (as initial rumours of Bilderberg appearances have reliably been) by many in the alternative media:

The 2013 Bilderberg conference is now confirmed at the Grove hotel, Watford. A spokesman for Herts Constabulary said:

“I can confirm that the Bilderberg group meeting is taking place at The Grove hotel, Watford, between 6th-9th June 2013″

Watford’s finest hotel, playing host to the world’s most powerful political summit. A bright day indeed for the Grove.

That was taken from bilderberg2013 and published the day before the more official story was released by the Watford Observer. Those at protest group bilderberg2013 having posted as early as April 12th the notice that:

There is growing evidence that this year’s Bilderberg conference will take place in the UK, at the luxury Grove Hotel, Hertfordshire, just north of Watford.

Whilst urging:

“citizen journalists, concerned citizens and interested parties to come along and witness a major international summit taking place.”

2. What’s to lose by going along?

I consider myself both a “concerned citizen and interested party”, and must confess to finding it odd to think there are many who still don’t. But then, for some reason (we all know the reason, but I’ll let it pass for a moment) Bilderberg has a way of putting blinkers on the public as well as the press – even the minority who have actually heard of the event, perhaps justifiably wary of too much speculation, but also uncharacteristically reticent when it comes to freely expressing their own concerns and objections to this secret elitist get-together.

So I find that many of the kinds of people who are deeply concerned and sick to the teeth with the state of the politics and world affairs, including friends who have previously travelled as far as Edinburgh to voice dissent at a G8 summit, or who regularly take to the streets of London to rage against Westminster, will prefer to turn a blind eye to the annual Bilderberg event.

Incuriously dismissing Bilderberg as insignificant or simply irrelevant is the surprisingly common response I get when I raise the subject. Without presenting a single shred of evidence to support such a contention, they tell me that Bilderberg is just a big talking shop. A place for glad-handing, patting one another on the backs and saying what jolly good chaps they all are…. yes, very probably, but patting one another on the backs about what exactly? Well, about being a part of a damned big exclusive club, they’ll insist, and that’s all you need to know. This lack of curiosity from those who more generally wish to get to the bottom of things being curious in itself, and also to my mind a little alarming…

For why dismiss something merely on the grounds of its (partial) invisibility? Obviously, the physicist in me protests – most of the really interesting and important areas of physics being ordinarily out of sight, and yet nonetheless driving the rest of the visible universe.

However, I think what the Bildersceptics (to coin a necessary term) are implicitly acknowledging is that “this is just the way the world works”, which is almost precisely how the Bilderbergers themselves have tended to justify their “private” gatherings. So to such a response I can only really say: well, didn’t you make the great effort to protest against G8 or outside Westminster precisely because “this is the way the world works”? Added to which, what has become of your usually excellent sense of political smell…?

For Bilderberg simply reeks to high heaven, and though special interest deals are, of course, brokered in a great many places, including no doubt behind the scenes at the G8 and the corridors of Westminster, the whiff of that stale, smoky air of corruption appears so much the thicker at Bilderberg. Following a few rounds of golf and a splendid five-star luncheon just what else is there to do stuck together inside a five-star hotel for three days and nights besides sealing deals of one kind or another; the glad-handing and the back-patting all part of the crony favour system.

And beyond the corporate hobnobbing, which is surely smelly enough, might our politicians not indeed be conspiring in a different way? Aligning themselves with some kind of an overarching agenda that very deliberately chooses to remain “private” – although actually ‘clandestine’ is a word that better serves the purpose; more appropriate because until very recently Bilderberg didn’t exist at all supposedly, being merely the paranoid fiction of a few overheated imaginations.

And here is the reason that the pointed finger often becomes unsheathed. Wait for it: I can hear the C-word coming. Oh dear! “You don’t believe in any conspiracy theories, do you?” My abrupt reply: “well, what constitutes a conspiracy…?”

And it’s funny to think how the pointy finger is so casually aimed towards the very people who sought the truth and found it. Those who insisted that Bilderberg was real when commonsense and logic appeared to be against them. Having been proved correct, they might have expected to hear a few more apologies from those who’d dismissed them as mad. But apparently the pointy finger is harder to shift. There are a thousand ways to kill the messenger.

3. Bilderberg only pretends to be an irrelevant talking shop

Bilderberg is far from irrelevant. To judge better for yourself, however, I recommend downloading a surprising and very much one-off BBC Radio 4 broadcast called “Club Class” from 2003, which is available online: http://wikileaks.org/w/images/5/5d/BBC-bilderberg-2003.mp3

On top of which there are plenty of other clues that have slowly come to light. Such evidence being limited and fragmentary for obvious and unavoidable reasons given the sustained and almost blanket media blackout on Bilderberg. And it really goes without saying that we would know so much more already if the media had probed and investigated as it should. Yet what is already known is surely incriminating enough.

For instance, we can say with certainty and no hesitation that the goal of forming a single world government is one very much desired by Bilderberg’s most significant members (and for further details I recommend my first post about the group when it was meeting at St Moritz in 2011 – although these days, Bilderberg’s globalist agenda isn’t really a secret at all).

Now saying this, I also realise that such plans for global governance may sound attractive to some readers, and especially to those who see themselves on the left of the political spectrum. I too would love to live in a world of ethical international collaboration and global justice. But it is wise to always be careful what we wish for, and so let’s not be soft-headed here: the mainstay of Bilderberg Group (head honchos such as David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, and our own British contingent being spearheaded by Ken Clarke and dear old “Prince of Darkness” Peter Mandelson) obviously not remotely interested in expanding internationalism in any traditional socialist sense. Their less stated though transparently clear objective – if we judge by actions rather than words – being to consolidate and expand the established corporatocracy.

4. This is a protest that might conceivably achieve its main goal

As you may have gathered, I certainly intend to trundle down to Watford to stand outside the cordons at this year’s Bilderberg meeting and I am hoping that not hundreds, or even thousands, as have attended previous meetings (the protests continuing to grow over recent years), but that hopefully and potentially hundreds of thousands might decide to join us. My fingers are crossed.

Ordinarily, when we venture out to protest, we do so with the near certain foreknowledge that our protest will have been in vain. None of the real objectives having been achieved. We most probably tune in to watch the TV news highlights later, but it is only really to see how extreme the mismatch was between the official police estimate and the number determined by the march organisers. But protesting Bilderberg will be different and for one perfectly straightforward reason: that between June 6th and 9th we’re not supposed to be there at all – and just imagine that! Being involved in a protest that hasn’t already been officially sanctioned by Ed Miliband, or led from the front by the last leader of the Lib Dems, or else entirely pushed aside from the headline news by another of Bob Geldolf’s giant celebrity gigs.

And suppose there are a hundred thousand or more who do steadily gather outside the gates of The Grove in a three weeks time, then the BBC, C4, ITV, Sky and the rest must finally be forced to follow us there, whereas, and without such a determined mass protest, the meeting will again pass off barely reported upon and completely unnoticed by the majority of the world’s population. So why hesitate to go when numbers alone might be enough to tear down this veil of secrecy. Isn’t this how a free people begins to make itself heard?

We should not allow this excellent opportunity pass. For when Bilderberg are at last forced out into the light of day we will have achieved something – if nothing else, we will have forced the world’s media to do its proper job.

5. It’s okay to have fun

Unlike the Bilderbergers themselves, I am inclined to believe that as a rule it is better not to mix business and pleasure. But if none of the above has helped in persuading you to join us, then here’s an alternative pitch – everything else besides, this is very likely to be the most interesting protest you’ve ever been involved with – so why not just roll up and:

Enjoy the spectacle, meet new friends, and secure your souvenir picture of a Bilderberg participant gliding into the Grove’s grounds in a tinted limo. [also from the bilderberg2013 website]

Protesting, in my humble opinion, ought to be a serious business. When out in opposition against the latest war, or the imposition of further “austerity measures”, partying doesn’t really help. It is in my view (and apologies for seeming such an old curmudgeon) an unnecessary and unwanted distraction. However, any protest against Bilderberg is significantly different from most other protests. For once, sheer publicity being our overriding aim.

Entertainment, therefore, is all to the better. So here is a little more encouragement to come along offered by the bilderberg2013 protest group, who are also planning to launch their own “Bilderberg Fringe Festival” outside the main event:

The Bilderberg Fringe Festival is a platform for conscious citizens from all over the world to join together at the Grove Hotel, Watford and positively influence global powerbrokers to make the right decisions for our future….. and have a fantastic party.

If you are a musician, poet, artist, speaker, performer, workshop host or have a soundsystem, tent or anything else you would like to bring to the party, get in touch at bilderbergfringe [at] yahoo.co.uk. We would love marvellous art to be created around the perimeters of the Grove hotel to drench the area in joy and creativity!

We will be providing the infrastructure for any individual or group wanting to get involved, plus a media tent and press centre to facilitate much-needed coverage of the Bilderberg conference itself.

Together let us make this a historic occasion for freedom and democracy.

6. Henry Kissinger and his partners in (war) crime

This is what Watford’s elected mayor, Dorothy Thornhill had to say about the staging of this year’s Bilderberg conference on her doorstep (from the same article in the Watford Observer):

“I have my concerns about it because it does attract people who can and do cause violence and disturbance.”

How very well said Mayor Thornhill; never a truer word spoken…just scan your eyes down the guest lists of previous Bilderberg meetings and you’ll see exactly what she means:

Blair, Anthony (1993)

Powell, Colin (1997)

Rice, Condoleezza (2008)

Perle, Richard (2011)

Kissinger, Henry (1957, 1964, 1966, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1977, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)

Indeed, Henry Kissinger, who is one of the grandees of Bilderberg, has alone been responsible for more “violence and disturbance” than just about anyone else alive on the planet today. Responsible for the overthrow and murder of elected leaders like Salvador Allende in Chile, as well as the instigator of more widespread murder and mayhem, for example, with the formation of Operation Condor which directly led to millions of people being tortured and “disappeared” across much of Latin America. Then there is Kissinger’s role in the war crimes carried out in Indochina; his commitment to covertly spreading the ‘scorched earth’ tactics of the Vietnam War with the carpet bombing of Cambodia and Laos under Operation Menu. And that barely scratches the surface of all of Kissinger’s crimes and misdemeanours, so here are a few lesser known instances:

Take, for example, the case of former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and East Timor. Declassified documents reveal that after the Timorese declaration of independence from Portugal in 1975, Kissinger and President Gerald Ford, fearing that the new country would become a communist outpost, gave Indonesian President Suharto the green light to invade the island in a Jakarta meeting the day before the invasion.

The United States was then supplying Indonesia’s military with 90 percent of its arms, and Kissinger himself described their relationship as that of “donor-client.” As the civilian death toll from the invasion climbed into the tens of thousands and the reports of atrocities mounted, Kissinger ensured that US arms continued to flow to the invading forces despite Congressional strictures. Estimates of those who died from military action, starvation or disease range from 100,000 to 180,000—roughly one-seventh to one-fourth of the entire population of East Timor.2

But then, as Henry Kissinger once candidly explained [from wikileaks]:

“The illegal we do immediately; the unconstitutional takes a little longer.”

Speaking at this year’s World Economic Forum – that more public globalist confab at Davos in Switzerland – Kissinger also chillingly warned that a crisis involving a nuclear Iran in the “foreseeable future” could lead to a nuclear war and “a turning point in human history”. And with Kissinger still so close to the strategic helm, there’s good reason to pay heed to his words – especially when he also adds so grimly and predictably that “no option is off the table”:

Well, it is very possible that we will see Kissinger in Watford all too soon. So maybe we can arrest him for his many crimes, and before it’s too late. Certainly on the occasion that he does attend, the many charges laid against him might reasonably be brought to the attention of senior officers of the Hertfordshire Constabulary who will otherwise be inadvertently protecting a wanted man. As a matter of fact, there is a rather interesting precedent here:

The latest move to question Kissinger was by Peter Tatchell, a British human rights activist. While Kissinger was speaking in Britain at the UK’s Institute of Directors annual conference on April 24, Tatchell attempted to have him arrested for committing war crimes under the Geneva Conventions Act.

Judge Nicholas Evans at the Bow Street magistrates’ court rejected Tatchell’s request because Tatchell did not present enough evidence implicating Kissinger to war crimes. However, according to Tatchell, the judge left the door open for future attempts to arrest the former U.S. official if suitable evidence is presented.

According to Tatchell’s recent contribution to London’s The Guardian, if he is able to “produce stronger evidence of Kissinger’s culpability in the killing, maiming, torture and forced relocation of civilian populations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the late 60s and early 70s,” then there is a possibility an arrest warrant for Kissinger may be issued in the future.3

Click here to read more in an article entitled “Henry Kissinger, Wanted Man” written by Christopher Reilly, and published in counterpunch more than a decade ago.

7. You never know who might turn up as a surprise guest

Incidentally, the names of Bilderberg attendees I have picked out above were all drawn from what is only a partial and a highly abbreviated list provided by wikipedia. A list that surprisingly fails to record even the name of Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser, and another serial warmonger I have featured many times before on this blog. The funny thing is that although Brzezinski’s name is missing from the main list, it is nevertheless registered in one of the many footnotes. A footnote (currently number 68) which reads:

“Western Issues Aired”. The Washington Post. 24 April 1978. “The three-day 26th Bilderberg Meeting concluded at a secluded cluster of shingled buildings in what was once a farmer’s field. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national security adviser, Swedish Prime Minister Thorbjorrn Falldin, former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and NATO Commander Alexander M. Haig Jr. were among 104 North American and European leaders at the conference.”

Alternatively, and if you decide to visit the main wikipedia page about Zbigniew Brzezinski you’ll see there is a direct link back to Bilderberg. The same goes for Donald Rumsfeld and also Paul Wolfowitz 4, who though missing from the main list of attendees is actually described on his own page as a former steering committee member of the Bilderberg group. But then the main wikipedia entry for Bill Clinton fails to record his ties to the group and the same goes for Margaret Thatcher – both invited to Bilderberg gatherings prior to becoming national leaders (there is more about this again in my earlier post).

And then there was last year’s do in Chantilly, Virginia: “were Mitt Romney and Bill Gates there?” Here’s Charlie Skelton (a journalist and also one of the campaigners behind bilderberg2013) writing on his Guardian Bilderblog and answering the question to the best of his ability:

Four eyewitnesses on the hotel staff told me Willard Mitt Romney was here at Bilderberg 2012. My four eyewitnesses place him inside. That’s one more than Woodward and Bernstein used. Romney’s office initially refused to confirm or deny his attendance as Bilderberg is “not public”. His people later said it wasn’t him.

So, was he being crowned, or singing for his supper? Will Mitt Romney follow in the august footsteps of Clinton, Cameron and Blair to have attended Bilderberg and then shortly become leader? Four years ago, Senator Obama shook off his press detail and nipped (many think) into Bilderberg. This exact same hotel. […]

The Washington Post saw Bill Gates come in. And I’ve got three eyewitnesses from inside who confirmed he was here. This is his ear:

You won’t see the names Mitt Romney or Bill Gates on the officially released Final List of Participants because, well, the list is a nonsense. It’s nothing like a complete list of people who attend Bilderberg. It’s a smokescreen, a bit of spin. So can we all, please, stop repeating it as gospel? 5

Click here to read Charlie Skelton’s full article.

8. This year offers two events for the price of one

Incidentally, Zbigniew Brzezinski, as I mentioned in another recent post, is also well-known in some circles as the author of what he called the Technetronic Era; a future vision featuring:

‘a society that is shaped culturally, psychologically, socially and economically by the impact of technology and electronics – particularly in the arena of computers and electronics.’ 6

So he perhaps above all others attending – presuming of course that he does attend (this year’s official guest list is yet to be leaked) – may be surprised and delighted to learn that within the secluded 300-acre grounds of the same luxury Hertfordshire hotel, there is going to be yet another “select gathering”. A meeting of minds that might also be to his taste:

of new media gurus, political pointy-heads, start-up whiz kids and pop stars awarded the post-chart career title “humanitarian” are meeting to carve up the digital future.

“To carve up the digital future”, so what does that involve exactly? Well, according to the article, which was published in last year’s Independent, The Grove annually hosts what it describes as “The great Google gathering”:

Each year, Larry Page, Google’s co-founder and Eric Schmidt, executive chairman, jet into London for the invitation-only annual gathering, at the Grove hotel, where 400 delegates, chosen from the “great minds of our time”, discuss topics ranging from technology and the media to politics and the arts.

This year’s guest list includes Goldman Sachs’s BRICs expert Jim O’Neill, singer Annie Lennox, and Bill Clinton, who will shoot the breeze with Schmidt at a panel session today.

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger and model Lily Cole (who boasts a double first from Cambridge, should anyone doubt her credentials) also made the cut at an event previously graced by Prince Charles and Sir Richard Branson.

It certainly sounds like a shindig that’s right up Brzezinski’s technetronic avenue… but what’s this? The same Independent article going on to say:

For conspiracy theorists, the conference, staged by the search engine giant, which reported a 60 per cent surge in earnings to $2.89bn this year, is a cuddlier version of the Bilderberg Group, the supposedly shadowy network of financiers that holds a private annual assembly, recast in the image of our new tech masters. 7 [my own bold highlight added]

A technetronic home from home then! And isn’t this all just a little peculiar? That this year’s Google’s annual Zeitgeist conference (we might call it ‘googleberg’), which has been based at the Grove since 2007, will be followed within days by the rather less cuddly Bilderberg proper – most likely with either Kissinger or Brzezinski in tow. Well, no, actually it isn’t…

Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, has in fact already attended Bilderberg meetings in 2008, 2010 and 2011 (according again to wikipedia). So what should one make of this improbable convergence of “private meetings”, aside from the obvious fact that it will be extremely convenient – for Eric Schmidt to name but one…

9. They don’t want us (but maybe we can change some minds)

Hold on – sorry, sorry, it would seem that when quoted above I had misunderstood and misrepresented the viewpoint of Mayor Thornhill. Allow me to correct myself.

It’s not the alleged war criminals and their hangers on that are bothering the elected mayor… no, not at all, and if only I’d read down just a far as the next line in the Watford Observer I could have presented her opinions more accurately. Now I’ll need to go back and quote what she said from the beginning again:

“I have my concerns about it because it does attract people who can and do cause violence and disturbance. [which is not a reference to Kissinger]

“But I am confident the police will be able to minimise that and give them their right to protest.

“I am ambivalent about whether this is a good thing. It’s potentially a positive thing as long as things don’t kick off.”

“I am concerned about the use of police resource but it is very good The Grove has been deemed a prestigious enough venue.”

Click here to read the full article in the Watford Observer.

In other words, it is people like me (and hopefully you) she is worrying about and encouraging to stay at home. Exercising our democratic right to free speech and assembly entirely from the comfort of our own living rooms. Not that Mayor Thornhill is alone in this regard, of course.

Perhaps Mayor Thornhill will be reassured if we point out that none of the demonstrations against Bilderberg have ever “kicked off”, as she very eloquently puts it. And would she really want Watford to miss out in sharing the proper recognition it deserves? For what’s the point in having a “prestigious enough venue” when so few will ever get to hear about it? Put this way, I feel sure Mayor Thornhill will welcome us with open arms. After all, not even Elton John and his millions of pounds was enough to put Watford on the map (even if they did make it to the FA Cup Final in 1984). Whereas just a couple of hundred thousand demonstrators could easily make all the difference…

So maybe you would like to join us, Mayor Thornhill, because please believe me when I say you’re not any part of the in-crowd, but much like the rest of us, just another insignificant peasant – in any case, the offer remains an open one.

10. Bilderberg might be even more odious than we imagined

Here’s another thing Mayor Thornhill may be interested to ponder over. I wonder if she’s heard what the Honorary President of the Supreme Court of Italy, Ferdinando Imposimato, revealed to Articolo Tre little more than a month ago on April 11th. Allegations against Bilderberg that I imagine Herts Constabulary might also be interested to learn more about:

“I found a document that left me awestruck, where when it comes to slaughter it also speaks of the Bilderberg Group. A document in the possession of a terrorist Ordine Nuovo, Ventura. I believe in this document. I made some tests and I can say that behind the strategy of tension and the massacres there is also the Bilderberg Group… ” 8

The “strategy of tension” that Judge Imposimato is referring to here, being a series of false flag terrorist attacks carried out across Europe (but especially in Italy) under CIA directions and the codename Operation Gladio.

By adding this note, I can already feel the pointy fingers unsheathed once more and jabbing in my virtual direction. But look, this idea of a “strategy of tension” is not a ‘conspiracy theory’ at all. It is no more a ‘theory’ than the lied about proof of Saddam’s WMDs or the long denied existence of Bilderberg, but simply another established yet little known historical fact – and one that once again is easily retrievable from wikipedia.

A meticulously detailed exposé of Operation Gladio has even featured as a three part “Timewatch” broadcast on BBC in 1992, and though I have embedded it in an earlier post, I see no reason not to embed it again below – after all, Operation Gladio played a very important part in shaping the destiny of post-war Europe and if we lived in a genuinely free society the truth about Gladio would be taught as part of the national curriculum in our schools:

Oddly, and almost exactly ten years earlier, the Gladio plot was also indirectly alluded to in an episode of BBC’s political sit-com Yes Minister. A military insider and whistleblower presenting cabinet minister Jim Hacker with evidence that sophisticated computerised bomb detonators manufactured by British defence contractors were getting into the hands of Italian terrorist groups. I have embedded the episode entitled “The Whisky Priest” below:

As for Ferdinando Imposimato, and aside from being a former Senior Investigative Judge, he was also a Senator who served on the Anti-Mafia Commission in three administrations, and the author or co-author of seven books on international terrorism and state corruption. Added to which, Imposimato presided over a great many terrorism-related cases, including the kidnapping and assassination of President Aldo Moro, the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II, and other political assassinations and kidnapping cases including several against the Mafia.

Judge Imposimato may be wrong about Bilderberg’s direct involvement in Gladio, but he evidently believes that the document he has seen is genuine. And Imposimato is an expert witness when it comes to state-sponsored terrorism and particularly with regards to the crimes of Operation Gladio. So with Imposimato’s latest allegation, shouldn’t we be calling for further investigation?

*

And here are two more [too late change the title now]:

11. Our time has come…

Summing up then, there will be all sorts of different people and groups gathering to protest against this year’s Bilderberg meeting, but in spite of different outlooks we all have a common cause. All equally sick and tired of the way our nations are run solely for the benefit of the one-percent, and fed up with being bullied into line. We don’t need to agree on every point to stand side-by-side.

Outside the locked gates of Bilderberg we can join in defiance against “austerity”, and against the neo-imperialist wars, and the rise of a police state, and every other assault on our civil rights, our social welfare and our democracies. Those inside Bilderberg are in part responsible, whether they purposefully deliberate on the destruction of our societies, or whether our decline and fall is an inadvertent consequence of their venality and greed. What is happening to all of us is happening under their powerful watch. So there’s no need to be a ‘conspiracy theorist’ to understand why those inside Bilderberg will once again prefer to hide their faces and names and to scurry about in tinted limos desperate to be unseen. And yes, we are going there to shine more light and to shame them all.

Bilderberg is a carbuncle. A recurring and festering sore. Symptomatic of a deep malaise, it bursts forth annually, rarely in the same place twice and hardly ever within touching distance. It comes this close about as a rarely as a new comet, and likewise portends nothing but doom and disaster. Just consider, for instance, what followed in its wake immediately after appearing in Athens (2009) and then Sitges near Barcelona (2010). The timings could hardly have been more striking given what subsequently happened to Greece and Spain. And as Bilderberg moves across to Britain, we also have the coincidence of a Goldman Sachs stooge called Mark Carney preparing to succeed Sir Mervyn King as Governor of the Bank of England. Do you think Carney might be on the guest list? Well, we shall soon see…

So I ask in a spirit of solidarity that in one way or another (and if only by spreading news of the meeting and our protest to friends and associates on facebook, twitter and by old-fashioned word of mouth) you join in our resistance to Bilderberg and everything it so evidently stands for. Lending our bankrupt ruling elites tacit permission to continue operating in the dark won’t help the greater cause in any way. For as our freedoms and rights are stolen right from under our noses, we must act with urgency and also in as many useful ways as we can. Taking our protest to the doorstep of Bilderberg being just one such very purposeful way to respond.

Finally then, and though I wouldn’t as a rule quote anything by Sebastian Coe, I happen to believe that those remarks he made at the closing ceremony of the London Olympics were never more pertinent than now – for when the limos have driven off back off into the distance, and the police helicopters have stopped whooring overhead, then I hope we might have a tremendous reason for saying:

“When our time came – Britain we did it right. Thank you!”

12. To stand and be counted

But I actually don’t wish to end there… hanging semi-ironically on the vainglory of Lord Coe, but to finish instead with a few words truly worth reflecting upon.

Martin Luther King Jr:

On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, “Is it safe?” Expediency asks the question, “Is it politic?” And Vanity comes along and asks the question, “Is it popular?” But Conscience asks the question “Is it right?” And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.9

*

Update:

Since I posted the article:

The elected mayor of Watford has written to the Prime Minister voicing concern about the potential impact the Bilderberg security operation will have on the county’s police budget.

Dorothy Thornhill penned a letter this week to David Cameron saying she found it “galling” that the Hertfordshire taxpayers could shoulder the cost of policing a meeting for some of “the wealthiest people in the world”.

The Liberal Democrat said she also wanted the Government to understand the stresses the secretive conference had placed on the town and its public services.

Click here to read more in the Watford Observer.

*

1 From an article entitled “The Grove hotel set to host Bilderberg ‘secret summit’ written by Ben Endley, published in the Watford Observer on May 10, 2013. http://www.watfordobserver.co.uk/news/10411984.Hotel_set_to_host__secret_summit_/

2 Taken from an article entitled “If Charles Taylor Can Be Tried for War Crimes, Why Not Kissinger?” written by Reed Brody, published in The Nation magazine on May 9, 2012. http://www.thenation.com/article/167809/if-charles-taylor-can-be-tried-war-crimes-why-not-kissinger#

3 From an article entitled “Henry Kissinger, Wanted Man” written by Christopher Reilly, published in counterpunch magazine on April 28—30, 2002. http://www.counterpunch.org/2002/04/28/henry-kissinger-wanted-man/

4 Another footnote (currently 110) on the List_of_Bilderberg_participants: “Why is our governor visiting this group”. The Augusta Chronicle. 19 June 2008. p.8. “Some of the names on the list are intriguing. Some of the well-known names include:Ben Bernanke – chairman, Board of Governors, Federal Reserve System; Condoleezza Rice – U.S. secretary of state; James A. Johnson – tasked with choosing U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s running mate; Paul Wolfowitz – with the Institute for Public Policy Research. The one name that stands out in my opinion this year is South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.”

5 From an article entitled “Bilderberg 2012: were Mitt Romney and Bill Gates there?” written by Charlie Skelton, published by the Guardian on June 5, 2012. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-news-blog/2012/jun/05/bilderberg-2012-chantilly-occupy

6 From Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era written by Zbigniew Brzezinski, reprinted by Greenwood Press, December 20, 1982., p. 9. You can find it quoted in a review of the book by Stephen McGlinchey, published by e-International Relations on July 22, 2011. http://www.e-ir.info/2011/07/22/review-between-two-ages-america%E2%80%99s-role-in-the-technetronic-era/

7 From an article entitled “The great Google gathering: The search engine is taking its quest for knowledge offline at a secluded British hotel” written by Adam Sherwin, published in The Independent on May 22, 2012. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/online/the-great-google-gathering-7771352.html

8 “Ho trovato un documento che mi ha lasciato sgomento, dove quando si parla di stragi si parla anche del gruppo Bilderberg. Un documento in possesso di un terrorista di Ordine Nuovo, Ventura. Io credo a questo documento. Ho fatto delle verifiche e posso dire che dietro la strategia della tensione e alle stragi c’è anche il gruppo Bilderberg, una specie di Grande Fratello che sta sopra, manovra, si serve di terroristi neri e massoni”.

Taken from “Ferdinando Imposimato: ‘C’è Bilderberg dietro alla strategia della tensione’” (which translates as “Ferdinando Imposimato: ‘there’s Bilderberg behind the strategy of tension’” published April 11, 2013. Translation from Bing Translator. Original article: http://www.articolotre.com/2013/04/ferdinando-imposimato-ce-bilderberg-dietro-alla-strategia-della-tensione/159105

9 “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution” Martin Luther King Jr. (31 March 1968)

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Filed under analysis & opinion, Britain, campaigns & events, Charlie Skelton

Remember, remember… the Occupy movement

Tonight is November 5th and in Britain that means it’s “bonfire night”, or “fireworks night”, or, perhaps more properly, “Guy Fawkes Night”. Fireworks are exploding all around me as I write, and yet strangely most people in Britain have very little idea who Guy Fawkes was, or what the so-called “Gunpowder Plot” was really all about. And I must confess that I am similarly ignorant when it comes to the important details of the case.

When younger, I even believed that Guy Fawkes was being celebrated on November 5th; the British being a people renowned (or at least believing themselves renowned) for cheering on the valiant underdog who presses forward in spite of the incredible odds stacked against them – Scott of the Antarctic’s misguided adventures making him the very model of a modern British hero – and what better underdog than Fawkes himself, taking it to the entire British establishment with just a few barrels of gunpowder and a damp tinderbox? Attempting the impossible with only the covert support of a merry band of trusty but evidently suicidal comrades!

So fireworks night, when I was a child, had naïvely appeared like a tribute to Fawkes’ audacious and so nearly successful (if we accept the propaganda) overthrow of the ruling authorities, that ended in his martyrdom. Fawkes being sentenced to be publicly hanged, drawn and quartered – which happens to be the other part of the story that just about everyone in Britain still knows. For some reason it simply didn’t occur to me that the burning of his effigy on bonfires throughout the land was actually a celebration, not of his doomed but gallant attempt, but of his capture (along with his fellow co-conspirators) just in the nick of time – the fireworks bursting not in mimicry of the gunpowder in the plot, but in mockery of Fawkes’ failure to ignite it.

Had I been born and raised in Northern Ireland, where sectarian tensions between Protestants and Catholics still persist – instead of in a sleepy Shropshire village close to the Welsh border – I would undoubtedly have understood the real significance of November 5th a good deal better and much earlier than I did. A very close friend who had lived in the province later pointing out to me that “Burning the Catholic Night”, as he preferred to call it, was something perfectly well understood by those on both sides of the religious divide.

And then there is the famous rhyme:

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot
I know of no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot

This was something I, like most Britons of my age, had once committed to memory. Learning the lines in school whilst also hearing them so often repeated outside of school. And since we are free from committing ourselves to any daily pledge of allegiance in Britain, this is just about as close as we ever collectively came to swearing any kind of national oath. A verse with an underlying message that is both stark and abundantly clear, at least when you stop to think about it: reminding us all that once upon a time, long, long ago, a few desperados attempted to overthrow the government and look where it got them.

So why mention any of this? Well, exactly twelve months ago to the day, something remarkable was happening in my home city of Sheffield. A small band of disillusioned strangers were getting ready to set up a makeshift protest camp outside the cathedral. Thus the Occupy movement that first sprang into being with the Spanish Los Indignados in Spring, re-emerging in Wall Street in mid-September, before spreading so rapidly from city to city and state to state, had suddenly sparked a response across the pond in Britain. A global protest movement was beginning to take shape, and not before time.

For some weeks, I deliberated. Keen to support those taking to the streets, but reluctant to camp down in the bitter cold and join in the overnight vigils. Instead, I visited the camp on a number of occasions, especially in the early stages, although as the weeks wore on, began to feel that my visits were more like intrusions. My lack of all-out commitment turning me into an outsider, whilst inside the canvass enclave, a shared hardihood was quickly bonding the 24/7 occupiers into what increasingly felt like a clique. Not that I blame the people living on the camp for this, since it must have been extremely hard for them dealing with the cold and discomfort whilst others like myself occasionally came by and then, just as quickly, departed again. Rushing back to the warmth and security of our homes.

But as time passed, I also wondered what it was that the mainstay of the Occupy Sheffield camp thought their continued presence on the city streets would ultimately achieve. Certainly, it showed that they had tremendous conviction and were deeply committed to the cause, proving their mettle by battling against the worsening elements day and night, but in the face of mixed public opinion was this really the best way to spread the bigger message and bring others on-board. I never really thought so.

And the message exactly? Everyone understood very well that the demand was for ‘change’ – and so probably the majority in Sheffield were already broadly sympathetic to that stated aim. Change has rarely been so urgently required and for this reason there are a great many people, especially as you move North in this country, who have long been crying out for a more radical change in political direction – but precisely what kind of change were those in the Occupy protests calling for? This was simply never made clear enough, as it so easily could have been, with no programme outlined nor strategy agreed. All of these important details being considered too much of a straight-jacket apparently. But then, as I wrote at the time, there were many problems with the whole approach taken by the Occupy movement.

The Occupy Sheffield encampment lasted little more than a couple of months, snuffed out by cold weather and, I think it is fair to conclude, a disappointing lack of progress. Which was really the way with the Occupy movement more widely: starting off as a genuine grassroots uprising, it would soon become partially co-opted (certainly this was attempted in America) but mostly, was either crushed by police assaults (again this was very evidently the case in America) or else it simply fizzled out due of its inherent looseness of structure and lack of obvious, purposeful direction. So the steady demise of Occupy has been saddening, but only what we all should have expected.

If, in future years, the Occupy movement is remembered in any popular historical context, it will only be because a far stronger movement arose from its ashes. In such an event, one feature of those future accounts, aside from descriptions of the tent cities themselves, will probably include mention of the Guy Fawkes masks. And it’s strange to think that such a quintessentially British anti-hero somehow became imported back to us from America, albeit radically shape-shifted after his silver-screen renaissance in the film “V for Vendetta”.

Already used as a disguise by hackers in the group Anonymous, the Fawkes mask was quickly adopted as representing the anonymous 99% percent and worn by many on the streets in the Occupy protests. And it lent the movement a somewhat more subversive air than it truly warranted; Fawkes, in the film, having been recast as the faceless man in the mask who, though righteous, is more or less entirely nihilistic in his comic book rampage against a despotic future government. His first act being to blow up the Old Bailey, and his last (here comes a major plot spoiler – so be warned… because you’d probably never guess!) to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Two well-aimed strikes that entirely obliterated our national emblems of Justice and Democracy, which are, after all, still the only places where those of us in the 99% get any representation at all.

Was this the kind of revolution those within Occupy were really seeking… no, of course it wasn’t! But, if not, then why adopt the masks? Symbols being of utmost importance, as those with real power understand very well – and the reason our culture is altogether saturated with flags, banners and logos of every description.

So although powerfully evocative, I regard the adoption of the Fawkes mask as a mistake, and as a mistake, one that accidentally revealed a deeper truth about the movement itself: that from the outset the Occupy movement was, like the man in the mask, suffering from an excess of anarchism. Seeking to rebuild the whole of society from the ground upwards, and yet without offering any real alternatives. That like Fawkes and his rag-tag gang of four hundred years earlier, Occupy hadn’t stood the ghost of a chance in any case. In its methods, rather than in its aims, Occupy having been poisoned by a terminal dose of utopianism. And that unlike Fawkes, the Occupy protests never properly got beyond the stage of wishful thinking.

Not that I am advocating violence of any kind, because I certainly do not – believing for both moral and also more pragmatic reasons that violence should only ever be a last resort in any situation, political or otherwise. Indeed, violence of different forms is what we are all confronted by – the direct violence of pepper spray and taser, or the more insidious violent assaults against our hard-won economic rights and individual freedoms. Our adversary (the same one that Eisenhower famously referred to as the military-industrial complex, although perhaps better renamed the financial-military-industrial complex) having armed itself to the teeth and constantly ready to resort to violence at the first hint of any trouble. So the struggle we face will become near impossible to win if it ever means trying to fight fire only with fire. Fire being the element ‘the powers that be’ always understand best.

It is, however, imperative that we directly confront the corruption we increasingly find all around us. So Occupy was important and if only because it first galvanised and then channelled our growing dissent – aiming it more precisely at the unfettered power brokers in Wall Street and the City of London. It was mistaken, however, in imagining that such widespread public outcry alone might somehow be enough. This was always the biggest fault with the original Occupy movement, and the reason I think that it never grew above a certain size, and will never, in its current form (since pockets of the movement still exist), develop into the full-blown mass movement that is required.

This November 5th happens to fall on the eve of the US elections, elections that amply illustrate not only how desperate the immediate situation is becoming, but also how badly the Occupy protests (not to mention the thoroughly co-opted Tea Party protests) have failed in the longer term. Now you may say, as many in Britain do say to me, that we should leave it to the Americans to worry about America, and trouble ourselves with what’s happening closer to home. My primary objection to such a disinterested position being straightforward: that whatever is happening today in America will come home soon enough. Britain more than any other country (Israel excepted) marching to the beat of the American drum – or more correctly the Anglo-American (aka Wall Street and the City of London) drum. Full-steam ahead and with the rest of the western world expected to follow – and destined to follow, if we all continue to allow our destiny to be decided for us.

So what can we expect this time around in the US election pageant? Well, neither Obama nor Romney are about to change anything of significance, or at least not in any helpful way. They are both well known sell-outs to the same special interest groups that have taken control our societies, and for this reason their stated policies are so inherently similar that there has been little worth debating at all – the presidential debates serving mostly to debase the proper meaning of the word ‘debate’.

Whatever happens in tomorrow’s election, those in Wall Street and the City of London will continue to be very well served because, as Nomi Prins wrote recently, “Before the Election was Over, Wall Street won”:

Before the campaign contributors lavished billions of dollars on their favorite candidate; and long after they toast their winner or drink to forget their loser, Wall Street was already primed to continue its reign over the economy.

For, after three debates (well, four), when it comes to banking, finance, and the ongoing subsidization of Wall Street, both presidential candidates and their parties’ attitudes toward the banking sector is similar – i.e. it must be preserved – as is – at all costs, rhetoric to the contrary, aside.

Obama hasn’t brought ‘sweeping reform’ upon the Establishment Banks, nor does Romney need to exude deregulatory babble, because nothing structurally substantive has been done to harness the biggest banks of the financial sector, enabled, as they are, by entities from the SEC to the Fed to the Treasury Department to the White House.1

Click here to read more of Nomi Prins thorough-going analysis.

That said, I don’t doubt that Romney, if elected, will be more dangerous than Obama, since Romney has candidly told us as much. Intent to push harder and faster in the same old directions, Romney becoming president will be much like a return to Bush, but this will be like Bush after a decade of Bush.

Coming in as a fresh face and determined to push on again with a freshly laundered neo-con offensive of more wars and less freedom. And whereas Obama was bad in pretending to be different from Bush, Romney will be worse again, and if only because he won’t be burdened by having to pretend so much: “hope and change” having ceased to be any part of the mainstream political discussion now taking place in America.

Of course, the ballot box has ultimately failed in America largely because the political system is stitched up between two parties. Third candidates being almost totally excluded from entering the debate, and not just because of the relative lack of financial backing (the big money having already been spent on the Obama–Romney spectacular), but also more directly in that access to the televised debates is tightly controlled by a non-profit organisation called the Commission on Presidential Debates:

To qualify for the debates, candidates must “have demonstrated a level of support of at least 15 percent of the national electorate, as determined by five selected national public opinion polling organizations, using the average of those organizations’ most recent publicly-reported results [as of September 21].” Of course it’s almost impossible to earn the support of 15% of the electorate if you don’t have regular access to network television or to the debates themselves.2

Click here to read more about why you probably didn’t hear anything from Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party, Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, or Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party. All three had qualified for the ballot in enough states that they could, at least technically, have won the election, but whatever alternative they may have been offering was easily suppressed by other means. And when the ordinary course of democracy has been captured so completely in this way, then mass dissent becomes the only answer.

But if we, the 99%, are to successfully resist what is happening to us then we must learn very quickly from the failures of Occupy to help us move forward to the next stage. And we have to recognise that up to now all of the major protest movements have failed, or at least stalled (I gather that Syriza may still offer some small hope of a rescue of Greece).

Iceland stands out as the only exception to the rule. In Iceland the people won the day and the banks were prosecuted, but then Iceland is such a tiny place that, at least in terms of setting any precedent, it may very easily be disregarded as a uniquely special case. We ought nonetheless to applaud their victory, rather than (as I sometimes hear) deriding their people for not settling up on their debts – the debts were never theirs in the first place – which is perhaps the most important point that many still fail to appreciate about this crisis we face.

We must endeavour to turn this tide quickly, or we will soon lose everything that we still hold precious. The screws are about to be seriously tightened, and not just economically, since the ongoing economic collapse marks (and to some extent masks) what is really the trigger for the greater oppression to come – and if you still doubt this, then please take a moment to meditate on the implications of the NDAA indefinite detention bill that Obama so deceitfully passed into law late last December.

As the people are forced ever deeper into debt by banker bailouts and QE-infinity (as QE3 is also known), we will, by degrees, also be forced into servitude by other means. Compelled in the name of national security to give up on the rest of our inalienable rights and freedoms. And if we fail to resist by peaceful means, then eventually we will be left with only gunpowder and plot (and both in rather short supply I imagine) – a very messy and unreliable means for the re-establishment of any system of fair democracy and true justice.

*

Additional:

On August 25th, James Green, a community producer for Occupy Brooklyn TV, interviewed Norman Finkelstein, political dissident and world renowned scholar on the Israeli-Palestine conflict. They discussed his new book about Gandhi, which he has dedicated to the Occupy movement, and also talked about the Occupy movement more broadly. Here is an extract from the interview as transcribed in the late September edition of CounterPunch:

Like any good movement, the Occupy movement has to conduct a serious self criticism and look at what it did right and what it did wrong. At this point it’s pretty much disappeared. And that’s just a fact. I pass Union Square nearly every day and it’s a very sad sight now. When I go to Union Square the main occupants of the square now are the Hare Krishnas again. Well with all due respect to Hare Krishnas it was much more inspiring when the center stage was occupied by the Occupy movement. And that’s no longer the case. Last night when I passed it was the Hare Krishnas on one side and it was the young fellows doing their gymnastics to music on the other side surrounded by crowds of people. Well the Occupy movement is gone. And there has to be some serious reflection on what went wrong. Serious self criticism.

I think that people like Bloomberg, they’re complete thugs. No question about it. But on the other hand it must be said that they are politically savvy. They don’t get into those positions of power, in the case of Bloomberg both economic and political power, by being anybody’s fool. And they recognized that the Occupy movement had reached a point of extreme fragility. And that you can go in with the bulldozers, knock out the whole thing, and effectively eliminate it. They recognized, which I have to say I did not, that the fruit was ripe for the picking. They could get away with it at that point. And then the question is why. What happened? What went wrong? And I think there are two things, speaking as a strict outsider – and I always have to enter that caveat, two things which seemed to be wrong.

Number one, Gandhi’s great skill was as an organizer. He dug very deep roots in the Indian masses. He was not speaking from the outside. He was among them. He lived like them. He dug deep roots and he was careful, methodical, to the point of tedium, organizer of every detail of his movement. Most of his collected works consist overwhelmingly of letters. And he’s watching where every nickel and dime goes. This is the people’s money. Nothing is going to be wasted. Nothing is going to be squandered, let alone no one is going to be cheated. No one is going to get away with thievery. So the first rule is you have to dig very deep roots in your constituency. I’m not sure how successful the Occupy movement even initially was at that. I got the impression – it’s a superficial impression but nonetheless even surfaces tell something about reality – let’s say when you were in the Boston Occupy. There seemed to be a sense of “We the encampment.” Us versus them. Namely the world outside. We were the enlightened ones and surrounded by the corrupt society. That’s not how you build a movement. It has to be among the people. The moment it becomes us versus them you then become an easy target for the bulldozers because nobody cares.

The second thing which everybody said, [former editor of CounterPunch, Alexander] Cockburn put it as the – I don’t remember the exact adjective he used – something like the incessant speechifying. That the Occupy movement never got beyond the speechifying to Where’s the Beef? The ability to not just synthesize a slogan [i.e., “We are the 99%”], which was brilliantly done. But then we have to move from synthesizing a slogan to synthesizing a demand or a series of demands with the same criteria. Where is the consciousness of people? What’s the furthest you can reach them with, or their incipient consciousness? What are their demands. Obviously a demand like, nationalize the banks, no – people were no where near there. But demands like, if you had four demands. One, a moratorium on student loans. Two, a public works program. Three, a major increase in taxes for the rich. And four, something on the mortgage crisis which is hitting so many people badly.

If they had synthesized four simple demands and worked from there I think there were prospects. But they never made the transition from the slogan, which was excellent, to the demands. OK, what do you want? And it felt like we were stalling there. Exactly why it didn’t happen I don’t know. I’m not on the inside. Exactly why it didn’t happen, I can’t say. But I think personally the least significant factor by a wide margin was the police repression. The police repression was relatively minimal. And it didn’t require more than minimal. Because they wisely assessed that now was the moment to strike. It would work, and it did. The movement vanished. It is a source of wonder how it so quickly disappeared from sight.

Click here to read the full article in CounterPunch.

1From an article entitled “Before the Election was Over, Wall Street won” written by Nomi Prins, published on her own website on October 23, 2012. http://www.nomiprins.com/thoughts/2012/10/23/before-the-election-was-over-wall-street-won.html

2From an article entitled “Why are there only 2 Candidates in the Presidential Debates?” posted on October 3, 2012 by allgov.com http://www.allgov.com/news/top-stories/why-are-there-only-2-candidates-in-the-presidential-debates-121003?news=845846

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fight over NDAA indefinite detention bill is telling

On May 16th, District Judge Katherine Forrest in Manhattan made a preliminarily ruling in favour of a group of seven civilian activists and journalists, which included Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, and perhaps most prominently, former New York Times war correspondent and Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges.

The plaintiffs had argued that a section of the NDAA 2012 bill, which had been signed into law by President Barack Obama late on New Year’s Eve, was in violation of “both their free speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First Amendment as well as due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”1

In response, the Obama administration immediately contested the judgement, asking Judge Forrest to reconsider her ruling:

… saying that the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to challenge the law and that it was “extraordinary” for her to have restrained future military operations that might be ordered by the commander in chief during wartime.2

In case you’re not sure, by the way, the US commander in chief is the President. And yes, just like Bush, Obama obviously sees himself as a “war president”. After all, he’s still fighting that preposterous “war on terror”, which rumbles mercilessly on and on, forever and ever, as it inevitably must – “terror” being such a deliberately ill-defined adversary.

Bravely, Judge Forrest stood her ground:

As part of that request, the government said in a footnote that it was interpreting her injunction narrowly as applying only to the handful of people specifically named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, including Chris Hedges, a journalist who interacts with terrorists as part of his reporting work, and several prominent supporters of WikiLeaks.

But on Wednesday [June 6th], Judge Forrest said that her order still stood — and that, contrary to the government’s narrow interpretation of it, her injunction applied broadly and not just to the named plaintiffs.

“Put more bluntly, the May 16 order enjoined enforcement of Section 1021(b)(2) against anyone until further action by this, or a higher, court — or by Congress,” she wrote. “This order should eliminate any doubt as to the May 16 order’s scope.”3

And then, on September 12th, Judge Forrest made permanent her order that blocked enforcement of the provision within NDAA 2012:

The permanent injunction prevents the U.S. government from enforcing a portion of Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act’s “Homeland Battlefield” provisions.4

However, the Obama administration came rushing back again, and on Monday [Sept 17th] won an emergency suspension of the ruling that was now blocking their indefinite detention provisions:

The Justice Department, which represents U.S. President Barack Obama, argued the judge’s September 12 injunction barring enforcement of a portion of the National Defense Authorization Act’s “Homeland Battlefield” provisions would harm U.S. war efforts abroad. […]

Monday night’s order by Circuit Judge Raymond Lohier said the district court’s order is stayed until an appeals panel considers the issue.

Carl Mayer, a lawyer for Hedges, said Tuesday that the order was procedural and “we are confident the district court opinion will be vindicated.”5

On Tuesday [Sept 18th], Democracy Now! covered the issue of the Obama administration’s appeals against Judge Forrest’s rulings on NDAA 2012, as well as Obama’s continuing use of indefinite detention at Guantánamo.

Amy Goodman spoke to Marcy Wheeler, investigative blogger who runs the website emptywheel.net. Wheeler told her:

Just last night, the Second Circuit did issue a stay in that. So, Friday night, the judge issued an injunction saying you can’t hold anybody according to this NDAA. The government immediately said they were going to appeal. There are some interesting legal issues about whether the government appeal—should have been able to appeal, but nevertheless, judges in this country continue to say, you know, “As soon as the president says ‘national security,’ we’re going to do whatever you say.” And they did that in this case. They’ve issued—they’ve issued a stay, which means they can go ahead and use the NDAA.

And what it means is this kind of vaguely defined—the government hasn’t even been able to define it—this vaguely defined category of people who substantially support al-Qaeda, Taliban, other terrorist organizations can be indefinitely detained. U.S. citizens, Obama has said, wouldn’t be held in military custody, but there’s a lot of gray area there, and I think people are right to be concerned.

Of course, Obama is far from alone in endorsing the tyrannical and unconstitutional NDAA 2012. Here’s what presidential rival Mitt Romney had to say when asked if he would have signed the act:

Yes, I would have. And I do believe that it’s appropriate to have in our nation the capacity to detain people who are threats to this country, who are members of al-Qaeda. Look, you have every right in this country to protest and to express your views on a wide range of issues, but you don’t have a right to join a group that has challenged America and has threatened killing Americans, has killed Americans and has declared war against America. That’s treason. And in this country, we have a right to take those people and put them in jail.

The highlight in bold is mine, of course, added to drew attention to what civil rights campaigners and all true constitutionalists are constantly up against – that like it or lump it, America remains at war… Romney being eager to pick up where Obama left off, as the next war president.

So these are the two guys running for office and heaven help us all! As bad as Obama has been during his four years in the White House, we can only expect Romney to be at least as bad, and judging from what we already know, a good deal worse again.

To get some measure of just how bad Romney could be, here’s Marcy Wheeler again, taking a closer look at a few of the people now installed around him:

You know, as problematic as Obama has been on things like indefinite detention, when you look at Romney’s aides, they’ve got people like Cofer Black6, who really invented the counterterrorism program that we’ve been using since 9/11. You’ve got Steven Bradbury”7, who was one of the writers of the—

Amy Goodman: Cofer Black, who used to be an official with Blackwater.

Yeah, he went from the CIA to the State Department to Blackwater. But he’s the guy who invented targeted killing, who invented torture, who invented—I mean, he’s the architect of our entire counterterrorism program—top Mitt Romney aide. You’ve got Tim Flanigan8, who’s another one of the architects of the torture program. So, if you you look at the people who are close to Mitt Romney, and if you look at what he said—he’s also said that he thinks we should bring back torture—it’s clear that, if anything, he’s going to be worse than Obama on these issues. We don’t—we don’t have a great choice on these issues at the top of the ticket in November.

Nothing can really change in America until the “war on terror” is officially ended. A ‘war’ that is without any sense or direction, although undoubtedly useful when it comes to justifying the old wars, and with the dangerous potential for sparking new ones: Iran, very evidently, now in the cross-hairs. And aside from keeping the war machine ticking over, the “war on terror” also continues to provide cover for the escalating assault against all of our individual rights and freedoms – so perfectly encapsulated in the current legal battle taking place over NDAA 2012.

“The war against terror is like the war against dandruff, I mean it’s a metaphor. It doesn’t mean anything…” said the late Gore Vidal, but in truth it’s even less meaningful than that, since when it comes to dandruff we at least know what we’re looking for.

For further information about NDAA 2012 and the Hedges vs Obama legal battle visit www.stopndaa.org

Click here to read more of the transcript or to watch the interview on the Democracy Now! website.

*

Update:

Carl Mayer, an attorney with The Mayer Law Group and legal counsel for the plaintiffs in the case, spoke with Russia Today on September 14th:

In brief, Mayer says:

“[The Obama administration] plan to appeal this to the Second Circuit and probably ultimately to the Supreme Court. We think this is ill advised because it contradicts President Obama’s campaign statements, it contradicts his criticism of his own legislation in his signing statement and he knows, as a former constitutional law professor, that this is wholly unconstitutional.” […]

“Because the language is so vague in this law,” Mr. Mayer explains, “if any journalist or activist is seen as reporting or offering opinions about groups that could somehow be linked not just to al-Qaeda but to any opponent of the United States or even opponents of our allies” they could be imprisoned indefinitely.

“I think they are ill advised to appeal this at all,” he tells Russia Today. “The Obama administration has now lost three times. They lost the temporary injunction, they lost the motion for reconsideration and they lost the hearing for permanent injunction. I say three strikes and you’re out.”

Click here to read a more complete transcript or to watch the interview on the Russia Today website.

1 From an article entitled “Federal court enjoins NDAA: An Obama-appointed judge rules its indefinite detention provisions likely to violate the 1st and 5th Amendments”, written by Glenn Greenwald, published in Salon on May 16, 2012. http://www.salon.com/2012/05/16/federal_court_enjoins_ndaa/

2 From an article entitled “Detention Provision Is Blocked”, written by Charlie Savage, published in the New York Times on June 6, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/07/us/terrorism-detention-provision-is-blocked.html

3 Ibid.

4 From an article entitled “US judge’s rule protects reporters, activists in their Middle East work”, written by Basil Katz, published by Reuters on September 12, 2012. http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/09/12/usa-security-lawsuit-idINL1E8KCI8N20120912

5 From an article entitled “Government wins temporary freeze of military detention order”, published by Reuters on September 18, 2012. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/18/us-usa-security-lawsuit-idUSBRE88H0X020120918

6 If Mitt Romney wins the presidency, his trusted man inside the intel community will almost certainly be Cofer Black, a retired CIA officer best known for running the agency’s counterterrorism center on 9/11. […] Early in his career, Black was credited with doing much of the street work that led to France’s apprehension in Khartoum, Sudan, of the master terrorist known as Carlos the Jackal. After the 9/11 attacks, according to Bob Woodward’s first book in his series about the Bush presidency, it was Black who briefed the president on the CIA’s war plan for Afghanistan. He’s also the guy who promised to leave al Qaeda’s operatives with “flies walking across their eyeballs.”

Taken from an article entitled “Meet Mitt Romney’s Trusted Envoy to the Dark Side, Cofer Black”, written by Eli Lake, published in The Daily Beast on April 11, 2012. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/04/11/meet-mitt-romney-s-trusted-envoy-to-the-dark-side-cofer-black.html

7 “Steven G. Bradbury is one of three Bush administration lawyers who signed memos enabling the Central Intelligence Agency to use harsh interrogation methods on terrorism suspects. […] The first of the memos, from August 2002, was signed by Jay S. Bybee, who oversaw the Office of Legal Counsel, and gave the C.I.A. its first detailed legal approval for waterboarding and other harsh treatment. Three others, signed by Mr. Bradbury, sought to reassure the agency in May 2005 that its methods were still legal, even when multiple methods were used in combination, and despite the prohibition in international law against “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment. Mr. Bradbury was serving as the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.”

Taken from an article published by the New York Times and updated on April 22, 2009.

http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/b/steven_g_bradbury/index.html

8 “The torture memos recently released by the Obama administration have focused interest on three of their authors: John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Steven Bradbury. However, there’s another lawyer involved in the creation of the torture memos whose name hasn’t yet come into the discussion — Timothy Flanigan.
Flanigan did not work for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel like the others. He was a deputy to then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales in 2001-02, when he helped craft some of the earliest justifications for the use of waterboarding and other forms of torture”

Taken from an article entitled “Timothy Flanigan: The torture memo lawyer no one is mentioning”, written by Muriel Kane, published in The Raw Story on April 22, 2009. http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Timothy_Flanigan_The_torture_memo_lawyer_0422.html

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