A Note From the Author: Well, I was going to write an original Thanksgiving column, but my Significant Other has other plans. And so below I present you with a Thanksgiving column from ten years ago – just to give you some historical perspectve. And while I’m on the subject of history: yes, it’s Antiwar.com’s 20th anniversary next month. We’ve seen it all and then some – and we’ll be around for another 20 years. With your help, that is: please donate to our fundraising drive to make sure that the next 20 years is as good as the last.
Originally published on November 25, 2005
A Feast of Scandal
We have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving
I’m thankful for so many things this Thanksgiving that it’s going to take me an entire column just to adequately describe them. Indeed, I’m already so loaded down with gifts that I don’t need Christmas. My cup runneth over! For an old libertarian “isolationist” like me this holiday season is a bountiful time, one that yields so much that it seems like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and my birthday all rolled into one. Take a gander at this wonderful cornucopia of plenty:
The indictment of Scooter Libby: After what seems like years of waiting, Patrick J. Fitzgerald – our Santa Claus – finally came down the chimney with a well-crafted indictment [.pdf] that will put one of the chief architects of the War Party behind bars. Let them grumble and cavil about the supposed lack of a reference to the “underlying crime,” let them raise millions for the Neocon Defense Fund, let them delay, divert, and deny all they want – it’ll all be to no avail, and for two very good reasons: (1) Libby is a liar, as the indictment indubitably and irrefutably proves, and (2) there are more indictments where that came from.
The indictment of Lord Conrad Black: Just like Santa and his elves this holiday season, Fitzgerald is busy, busy, busy, and he’s come down with yet another indictment [.pdf] of a prominent neocon: press magnate Conrad Black, whose company, Hollinger, at one time owned the Chicago Sun-Times, the Jerusalem Post, the Daily Telegraph, and 60 percent of Canada’s dailies. The charge: stealing $58.1 million from investors.
It is a well-deserved comeuppance. While the pro-war Hollinger newspaper chain achieved new heights of reportorial mendacity in the run-up to and aftermath of the Iraq war – feeding the public a steady diet of lies, libels, and outright fabrications – Black, and his wife, columnist Barbara Amiel, climbed to new heights of ostentatious vulgarity, pouring millions into such necessities of life as mansions in Toronto, London, and Palm Beach, Fla., as well as a luxurious Manhattan condo. In one fashion magazine account of Lady Black’s wardrobe, she confided that “my extravagance knows no bounds.” According to documents Fitzgerald pried out of Black, among the list of personal items charged to Hollinger were the lease of a corporate jet ($3 million per year), and $42,870 for Her Ladyship’s birthday bash at a trendy-wendy New York restaurant. Her bill for handbags, alone, came to $2,463 – and naturally, Hollinger’s long-oppressed investors had to pony up.
The massive theft, which I wrote about here, epitomizes the operating strategy of the neoconservative gang that Black did so much to promote and propagandize for: like Richard Perle, another Hollinger executive who pillaged the company, Black fattened his bank balance even as the public purse was drained on the War Party’s behalf.
The veritable avalanche of secret memos, and the outpouring of revelations by government insider-whistleblowers: Now that the American (and British) people have turned against the war, the war-makers, government officials, and other whistleblowers who witnessed the War Party’s prevaricating tactics on the inside are dropping a dime or two on the culprits. We have a flurry of secret memos revealed to the light of day, one of the most delightful being the five-page transcript of a conversation between Tony Blair and George W. Bush, recording the British prime minister’s effort to talk Bush out of bombing al-Jazeera TV, in Qatar and elsewhere.
Of course, bombing television stations and other media outlets is nothing new for the U.S. hegemon. During the Kosovo war, the Clinton administration made no bones about the fact that the Yugoslav media were in their sights, and NATO defended the bombing of Serbian state television on the grounds that it was a “ministry of lies” – a description that, when one considers how most of the English-speaking media have reported their governments’ lies uncritically, seems like a clear case of pot-kettle-black.
And then we have the latest scoop by National Journal reporter Murray Waas, who reveals:
“Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with al-Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter.”
Now that is a stocking stuffer to beat all stocking stuffers – the central lie in the administration’s elaborate mythology of 9/11 is effectively debunked! And, what’s more, the president of the United States knew the truth all along, even as he railed against the 9/11 hijackers and Saddam as if they were joined at the hip. For years, Americans were led to believe that Saddam Hussein and the Iraqis had been the evil motivating force behind the worst terrorist attack in American history – to the point where many thought it was Iraqis who hijacked those planes and drove them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Yet another gift from the gods is the testimony of Col. Lawrence B. Wilkerson, former top aide to Colin Powell, exposing the machinations of what he calls “the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal.” For years, we at Antiwar.com have been carrying on about the Cabal That Lied Us Into War – only to be excoriated as “conspiracy theorists” and worse by the self-appointed forces of “moderation” and political correctness. Now, at last, we have independent confirmation of what we’ve been saying all along: that a camarilla of neocons, centered in Vice President Cheney’s office as well as in key positions at the Pentagon, doctored and massaged prewar intelligence until it had only the most superficial resemblance to the truth.
The neocons pulled off what was in effect a coup d’etat, doing an end-run around the CIA and the State Department and funneling their fabricated “intelligence” to Congress, the White House, and the American people. So how did they do it? How did they pull off creating what Colin Powell – cited in Bob Woodward’s Plan of Attack – called “a separate government“? We know some of the story, due to the investigative reporting of writers like Seymour Hersh, Julian Borger, Jason Vest, Robert Dreyfuss, Karen Kwiatkowski, and others – but it now looks like we’re about to learn more. The Pentagon’s acting deputy inspector general for intelligence, Shelton R. Young, is investigating whether the Office of Special Plans, under former Deputy Defense Secretary for Policy Douglas Feith, “conducted unauthorized, unlawful, or inappropriate intelligence activities.”
The goodies accumulating under the Christmas tree are yet more evidence that the holiday season is coming earlier than ever – and may prove to be the jolliest yet. Our journalists seem to have awakened from their prewar slumber and are now busier than Santa’s elves, and none are more active than the Italians: La Repubblica has been all over the Niger uranium forgery story, and RAI-TV exposed the use of phosphorus bombs on Iraqi civilians by U.S. forces – a war crime if ever there was one. We have Murtha’s rebellion and Chuck Hagel’s call for a realistic foreign policy – two items that were near the top of our holiday wish list, appearing as if by magic! And the topper, the gift we’ve been waiting for and hoping for in vain all these years, with our noses pressed up against the store window pane and our longing an aching emptiness in our hearts: the news that the American people are going “isolationist“! The clearly irritated New York Times reports the results of a recent Pew Center poll:
“The survey, conducted this fall and released today, found a revival of isolationist feelings among the public similar to the sentiment that followed the Vietnam War in the 1970’s and the end of the Cold War in the 1990’s. …
“Forty-two percent of Americans think that the United States should ‘mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own,’ according to the survey, which was conducted by the Pew Research Center in association with the Council on Foreign Relations.”
Hip, hip, hooray!
You can tell that the Times is annoyed by the Pew poll, because they use the “isolationist” smear word to describe its results. However, the i-word is an ancient epithet, used to describe anyone who questions the Establishment dogma that the U.S. must lord it over other nations and peoples, and that it has a natural right to do so – even an obligation. If you oppose war, you’re an “isolationist” – and so the word, originally intended as a derisive description of the traditional American reluctance to get hornswoggled into foreign conflicts, has become a badge of honor. Yes, it’s true – we’re “isolationists” because we want to isolate the U.S. from death, destruction, and the blowback from a foreign policy of relentless aggression. If this be “isolationism,” then let the War Party try to make the most of it.
Not that they’ll get very far. Thanks to the neocons and their unfolding disaster in Iraq, the American people have had it up to here with fomenters of overseas adventures: they don’t give a hoot for, say, the Bosnians, who have been embroiled in a vicious religious-ethnic war for hundreds of years. They don’t know or care about the alleged lack of “democracy” in Russia, where President Vladimir Putin rides herd on gangs of oligarchs, “former” Communists turned “liberals,” and Chechen terrorists and their Western-funded-and-sponsored apologists.
Americans would just as soon eat their Thanksgiving turkey and go shopping without giving a thought to the administration’s neo-Trotskyite drive to export “democracy” to “the darkest corners of our world.” They are much more interested in penetrating the darkest corners of this administration, and unearthing the corruption, illegality, and outright treason that has permeated official Washington during Bush’s reign.
Okay, so I’ve gotten much more this holiday season than I ever dreamed was possible, except, perhaps, in my more optimistic moments. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want more. After all, this season only comes once a year, and why not go for it while we’re on a roll? So, here goes:
The extradition of Conrad Black: A warrant for Lord Black’s arrest has been issued, and Fitzgerald is saying he’ll ask Canada to begin extradition proceedings. Black’s whereabouts, however, are currently unknown. Whether or not he has fled to a country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the U.S. – say, North Korea, or Israel – isn’t exactly clear. I have faith, however, that Fitzgerald will get his man – after all, they don’t call him “Bulldog” for nothing.
More indictments in Plamegate: Okay, so getting Scooter was a lot of fun, but we yearn for more. Whatever happened to all those promising rumors about the imminent indictment of David Wurmser, Stephen Hadley, and others in the vice president’s neocon inner circle? C’mon, you little elves, let’s get cracking!
Some action in the AIPAC spy case: The indictments of Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin, AIPAC chief lobbyist Steve Rosen, and Keith Weissman, the pro-Israel group’s top Iran analyst, exposed Israel’s fifth column in Washington as a deadly danger to American national security. However, since the indictments came down, we have heard next to nothing in the mainstream media. Why the silence? Here we have a case with enormous implications, in which top-secret information relating to al-Qaeda as well as our operations in Iraq, was stolen by American spies for Israel – and we hear nothing, nada, zilch about it. What’s up with that? C’mon, you elves – get busy!
An investigation into the Niger uranium forgeries: This is the icing on top of the “they lied us into war” cake. If anything underscores the fact that this administration literally created evidence of Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction,” it is the forgery that gave rise to the claims of Bush–Cheney–Rice that Saddam was on the verge of developing nuclear weapons. These crudely faked documents – purporting to be correspondence between Iraqi officials and the government of the uranium-producing country of Niger – were such obvious frauds that the War Party had to funnel them to the White House and the media without filtering them through the official vetting process, so that when they were finally exposed as forgeries, the revelation came only after the president had echoed their claims in his 2003 State of the Union address. Oops!
Whoever is behind those forgeries – and we’ve helpfully named the culprits in this space – was at the core of the effort to lie us into war. The campaign of deception was carried out by officials in our own government, but they had plenty of overseas help. This has all the hallmarks of a classic disinformation campaign, but who carried it out, and to what purpose?
I’ve got more on my wish list, of course, but I’ll stop here: I don’t want to get too greedy. The point, however, is this: we have a lot to be grateful for this year. We’re grateful for and to Patrick J. Fitzgerald, whose existence proves that the old America yet lives. We’re grateful for the news that the administration is so spooked by rising antiwar sentiment that they’re willing to float the idea of withdrawing troops – as many as 60,000 over the next year. Not that they’ll actually do it, but it’s the thought – and the fear that motivated it – that counts. We’re grateful for our reawakened media, which seems to have rediscovered the nearly lost art of investigative journalism: let’s hope they keep it up. We’re grateful to the American people, in whom we always had faith – and who now seem to be light-years ahead of the politicians in pushing for a rational foreign policy based on our genuine interests – as opposed to the crazed ideology of our hubris-afflicted neocons. And, not least of all, we’re grateful for the generosity of Antiwar.com’s readers and supporters, who gave enough to get us through our last fundraising drive – and even exceeded our expectations.
Life is good – and, not only that, but the forces of life and goodness seem to be winning, for once. And for that gift I am most grateful of all.
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.