Backtalk, August 6, 2004

An Open Letter to the 9/11 Panel

There is no greater proof of’s standing as the country’s (e-)Paper of Record than this: The equivalent of Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers have just been published. Who broke the story? You. Who else has it? So far, according to Google, nobody.

Thank you for providing a forum for the truth-telling hero Sibel Edmonds. I just sent you the money I used to give NPR before they joined the media common denominator.

Now I’m going to tell everybody I can think of to do likewise. And I’m faxing Sibel’s letter to the members of the Senate Intelligence and Foreign Affairs committees, lest anyone think there’s still time to hack it out of existence.

In other words, I’m going to rouse some rabble.

~ C S Tucker

A Question of Character

In his article today, Justin Raimondo clearly gets it right all the way around this time.

As a orthodox, evangelical Lutheran pastor and a member of the Constitution Party, I will clearly deplore Mr. Raimondo’s views on homosexuality and drugs, among other things. But his clear message that those of us who oppose unconstitutional wars, the draft, and interventionism abroad must coalesce around this issue against the Republicrat War Party is the correct one.

This on-target alarm and call-to-arms has been sounded by our best Left to Right thinkers, from Cockburn/ Chomsky/ Vidal and Company on the Left to our beloved Pat Buchanan on the Right. And within the Real Right on this issue (Libertarians and Constitutionalists) we can and must work together to proclaim this message and the imminent dangers we face, while respectfully agreeing never to agree on the social issues that may have caused Mr. Raimondo to unfairly dismiss Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party previously as a real and viable alternative nationwide for the antiwar Right in 40+ states.

For the record: Mr. Raimondo gives Michael Peroutka a much better shake this time, and deserves public credit for clearing the slate. His latest article states the truth clearly:

“The Kerry-ite Popular Front is yelping that now is not the time to cast a ‘protest vote,’ but they couldn’t be more wrong. It is precisely now, when the leading – and, in an important sense, the only – issue is the war, that a protest is most crucial, and there is no better way to do that than at the ballot box this November. An unprecedented vote for third party candidates, whether Nader, Michael Badnarik (the Libertarian candidate), or Michael Peroutka (the Constitution party nominee).”

One final note: I would invite Mr. Raimondo and Eric Garris to interview Mr. Peroutka at their convenience, both to discern the level of his commitment to the issues so rightly covered by daily, and to discover him as a congenial, decent human being. Let’s coalesce where we can – while we can.

~ Pastor Mark Dankof

I disagree with you on this one Justin, whereas Kenneth Smith’s response places the question you asked in context: “which war criminal are you talking about – Bush, who started this crap in Iraq or Kerry, who behaved as many young and confused Americans did when they were placed in Vietnam?” Kerry has evolved, Bush has not.

As one of those young novitiates of war I can admit to the power and truth of Kenneth’s observation. One of the great tragedies for those who survive combat is to be unable to draw a lesson from the war experience and understand it for what it was or is. Conversely men like John Kerry, John McCain, Max Cleland, etc. have become better human beings inspite of the war experience and have gained the understanding and the wisdom which allows them to validate their experiences to us and transcend that tragic human experience.

Yes, I want the troops back right away; but the fact of the matter is that Bush and company really created a mess for us (U.S.) in Iraq. I trust Kerry more, yet I am prepared to be critical of him if and when the time comes.

It is nonsensical and pointless to support any other party’s candidate other than Kerry; otherwise I shudder at the thought and the consequences.

~ Larry F., just another ‘Nam vet

Afghan Massacre: The Convoy of Death

In your review of my film: ‘Afghan Massacre – Convoy of Death’, you appear to ponder long on the inclusion of Mr. Richard Perle and the exclusion of his record in public life. I have known Mr. Perle for some years and he is aware that I abhor much of what he and his fellow hawks stand for. However, this film was not an exercise in preaching to the converted; Mr. Perle was chosen specifically because his presence in such a film would be totally unexpected and, thus, his comments more pertinent to a wider audience. That a man such as he agreed an investigation should take place if sufficient evidence was produced holds far greater weight to a doubting public than had it come from predictable liberal quarters. Equally, Robert Fox represented the International Institute for Strategic Studies – hardly a bastion of the left.

This film has now been broadcast in 44 countries worldwide; it is an indictment of your own broadcasters and a failure on the part of pressure groups such as your own that the United States is not amongst them.

~ Jamie Doran, acftv, Berkshire, UK

Dear Mr. Doran: I am a bit taken aback by your letter, which, if one read it without consulting the review to which it refers, might assume that said review was overwhelmingly negative – when in fact quite the opposite is true.

Further, I fear that you have misunderstood my cheerful references to Mr. Perle, who is as much of an inside joke to readers of this website as anything else. At the risk of blowing an essentially unimportant detail in the greater scheme of things out of all proportion, let me comment on your statement that:

“…Mr Perle was chosen specifically because his presence in such a film would be totally unexpected and, thus, his comments more pertinent to a wider audience. That a man such as he agreed an investigation should take place if sufficient evidence was produced holds far greater weight to a doubting public than had it come from predictable liberal quarters.”

Thank you! All I had asked was why Perle was selected. Apparently this motive was self-evident to you. But when you say his presence in “such a film” would be “totally unexpected,” it seems pretty obvious that you (and presumably your anticipated audience) have a good idea in advance about both the film’s categorization and its viewers. It’s a quite gloomy view, in the end, no? Not “preaching to the choir” just becomes an exercise in that great virtue (i.e., of not preaching to the choir) – though there’s apparently no great expectation that the choir itself will actually grow (I, for one, do not consider myself a ‘liberal’, though I did enjoy your film). But your statement is a very important admission and, yes, I think the film would have benefited had you inserted it somewhere.

Further, there is a danger in neglecting to distinguish between vocal support and tangible. Of course if you confront Richard Perle (or anyone else) with such a scenario, they will agree with you re. an appropriate legal remedy! But does that mean they’re actually going to do anything about it? After all, a solemn Rumsfeld declared that he took “full responsibility” after Abu Ghraib erupted, and that hasn’t come to much either.

Finally, I was quite surprised by the rather pompous end to your letter. One wonders what more could be done to publicize an important film than, say, spending several hours to watch it twice and then writing a lengthy and favorable review about it. But I guess that’s not enough:

“…[T]his film has now been broadcast in 44 countries worldwide; it is an indictment of your own broadcasters and a failure on the part of pressure groups such as your own that the United States is not amongst them.”

In the opinion of this indicted failure, at least, a simple ‘thank you’ might have been more appropriate.

~ Christopher Deliso

Allah Is the Greatest

I have been a supporter and daily reader of for a couple of years now and I really do think that you make a difference in the case against the culture of war and towards a deeper understanding of the complexities of world politics which lead to war.

Rarely is an article posted on your website that actually detracts from your apparent mission (stated above as I understand it) and this is one of those articles.

First you present sheer speculation as undeniable fact when you state that the Egyptian pilot deliberately killed all his passengers (mostly fellow Muslims!) as an act of his Islamic faith, uttering God is the Greatest (Allahu-Akbar) as he did the dastardly deed. That is more than just a simple stretch of reasoning, it is sheer demagoguery and reflects ignorance of Islam and perhaps Islamophobia as well.

Secondly you seem to weave the thread of the most common utterance of Muslims (God is the Greatest = Allahu Akbar – strange why you translated “akbar” = greatest and not “Allah” = God?) in your murder suicide scenarios (unrelated as they were). You seem to suggest that the expression of that deeply personal Islamic belief and credo (recognition that God is the greatest of all and everything) is some sort of monopolized mantra of murderous suicidal terrorists. So the next time those of your readers who are generally ill-informed, upon hearing that statement of faith from a random Muslim, might just jump to the knee-jerk conclusion that he/she must be a suicidal terrorist and promptly report us to Tom Ridge!

This sort of ignorant and sweeping Islam/Muslim bashing is offensive, repugnant and self-defeating. Remember that when the Muslims of Iraq were being bombed to smithereens by the “shock and awe” campaign, their most frequent cry was “Allahu Akbar”. When the bodies of children were being extricated from the debris of homes struck with “precision” missile strikes, the aid workers were crying out “Allahu Akbar”. When they carried the funeral biers of the shredded bodies of Iraqi women and children, ‘collaterally’ damaged by cluster bombs, they shouted “Allahu Akbar”. And strangely enough the Iraqi flag has “Allahu Akbar” inscribed upon it, in none other than Saddam’s own handwriting! Perhaps you have just proven that elusive link between Al-Qaeda suicidal-terrorists and Saddam’s regime!

So Mr. Prather would do well to educate himself a little about the subjects that he writes about before launching into diatribes like this article. Lest he antagonizes and alienates even diehard supporters like me who are among a billion or so Muslims who proudly proclaim “Allahu Akbar” as the essence of our identity and our belief.

Allahu Akbar (God is the Greatest)!

~ Saif Hussain, California

Gordon Prather replies:

I was merely quoting from official US Government reports – based partially on cockpit voice recordings and other ‘black box” data – about what was said and done by the pilots in the final moments of EgyptAir Flight 990 and United Airlines Flight 93. “Allah is the Greatest” is the official US Government translation into English of their dying utterances. Neither report determined ‘why’ they said what they did or did what they did. The reports just reported what they said and what they did. However, one could reasonably conclude from the manner in which the UAL crash was presented in the 9/11 Commission Report that there was a cause-effect relationship between the bin Laden ‘fatwa’ and the final words and deeds of the terrorists.

Waiting So Long

I‘m sure you get a lot of mail, so why do we have to wait so long to read a new set of letters? You can’t mean that most of them are unprintable! I imagine the majority of your readers to be intelligent.

~ A Fan

Dear M. Fan: Thank you; it’s nice to know that someone wants more Backtalk.

While it’s no doubt true that the majority of our readers are intelligent, not all of our readers are letter-writers, and not all intelligent readers’ letters are interesting, amusing or informative. If you’d like more communication with readers I suggest the Antiwar Forum.

~ Sam Koritz, Backtalk editor

Vietnam’s Shadow Over Abu Ghraib is alive and well and has functioned for the past 40 years.

The American government did not learn much from Vietnam except perhaps new words to call atrocities. Collateral damage for example.

All through South America death squads have functioned long after Vietnam and those responsible learned their tools of the death trade in Georgia.

And Kerry is, as is Bush, a war criminal and should be held accountable before the world court for war crimes against humanity.

~ Rolf Krogsæther, Norway

Pledge Week

AYN RAND IS THE GREATEST AUTHOR THAT AMERICA HAS EVER PRODUCED! Ha,ha got you! You know, you are right. You have alienated a lot of readers lately. You try to justin-ify it but you can’t. IBS? For this and other reasons I will send nothing. Your web-site sucks people in with its title, but then provides no follow-up. Maybe just call it Oh well, WHO IS JOHN GALT?

~ Rick Taylor

Justin Raimondo replies:

It won’t matter who the greatest author in the world is when the War Party gets through with all of us. But then you’ll be hiding in your bunker grasping your copy of Capital to your breast. How come it’s always the Commies who are the cheapest?

Sino-Pak Policy: Carrot and the Stick

The US is on a path to competing with, or preventing competition from, the Chinese.

This is quite amusing to someone such as moi who spent half of my life in the States and half in China.

There are at least two fallacies I see in US’s blunt and childish approach:

1. Why does the collective Western mind always assume others are just like themselves and would think and act as they have been thinking and acting for centuries?

Namely, why would the US suggest to itself, without checking the reality of Chinese history and culture, that the Chinese would be bent on expansion and domination as the Western and Near Eastern Judeo/ Christian/ Islamist races and ethnicities did in the past?

Nothing in the Chinese’ history has suggested a race or nation of naked aggression, not even when it had the full power and influence to carry out such ambition.

Why would it do it now?

What is natural with a Western rising power may not be intuitive or logical at all for an Eastern nation with an entirely different societal and cultural makeup.

Maybe it is not the fear of military domination or a competition of empire. Maybe the interest is purely commercial.

But why then not compete with Japan, the second largest economy, by cutting off its resources, as the Americans are apparently trying to do in Sudan (the “Human Rights Group’s” map of “genocide” coincides with the oil concession to China)? (Incidentally, the antitrust rules apparently do not apply on the global scale.) So, the central thrust is still infatuation with subjugation and domination and the quite self-possessed belief that others are afflicted with the same infatuation.

2. I am dying to see what kind of mock confrontations will be manufactured. …

The old Capitalism vs. Socialism dichotomy is simply moot: the Chinese are die-hard capitalists now….

The Democracy vs. Totalitarianism “struggle” would be much labored: try arguing with the Singaporeans first and see if they want a democracy revolution. (Besides, the world now knows the democracy of Bush v Kerry is a sham. The Americans are just rubber-stamping the choices made by the select few in DLC who are more hanging on every edict of Sharon than that of American voters. Et Bush? he wasn’t elected. He was crowned.) …

How about a confrontation between the God-loving people and the Godless Chinese (not Godless Commies but Godless Chinese since the Chinese have been mostly god-drug-free from the start of time)?

I would love to see that one: I think it is a good take. The war hawks should start wearing this one on their sleeves. It is catchy and it fans the passion.

The Godful vs. The Godless.

I can’t wait to hear the Jiang ZeMing talk-alikes call the Americans “those who dream of erecting a fifth caliphate of Christianity in China.”

~ Karen Yan

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