August article

Chapter 8: Weapons of Mass Destruction

We have just passed the 66th anniversary of the United States atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Whenever weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) are mentioned, most people understandably think of atomic weapons. But on the website of a group I’ve been associated with for over 15 years, our opening sentence is this:

“Sanctions are the economic nuclear bomb.”
– Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate, returning from a March 1999 visit to Iraq.

This is not simply poetic metaphor! In 1999 UNICEF estimated that 500,000 Iraqi kids would have been alive if the declining mortality conditions in 1990 had continued. That does not count the sick, the elderly, and children over five, who also suffered excess deaths. That makes the number of civilian deaths from U.S. policy on Iraq at least twice all the civilian deaths from the atomic bombings at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Clearly bombing a country’s civilian infrastructure and then imposing and continuing economic sanctions for a period of years can become a weapon of mass destruction.

But there are other telling similarities with the deaths in Iraq and those in Japan in 1945.

To justify these respective policies, myths were perpetuated which sound plausible at first hearing. But these are myths which cannot stand much comparison with a factual or historical analysis. I have already discussed five common myths which are often repeated to justify or explain the deaths of Iraqi civilians – and why they were “not our fault.”

I repeat one of the most common myths here:

Children die because Saddam Hussein built palaces.” From Madeleine Albright’s 1996 interview on CBS‘ 60 Minutes — when she infamously said the deaths of half a million Iraqi children were “worth the price” — she claimed that Saddam Hussein spent an enormous amount of money building his palaces while Iraqi children were malnourished and dying.  In her statement she implied that the reason Iraqi children are dying is because Saddam Hussein spent $2 billion on his palaces.  But simple arithmetic shows this comes to 4 cents per Iraqi per day.  Is that why they died?

Now I can sadly add to Ms. Albright’s record, one further misrepresentation about the Iraq sanctions. On a Democracy Now! program she said, “there never were sanctions against food and medicine. And you people need to know there never were sanctions against food and medicine ….” To which I replied, “I have long wanted to get this into a court of law, where rules of evidence govern, and so you can ask somebody: well, if there never were sanctions on medicine, why is there a fine on Mr. Sacks and other people?”

In 2004, federal Judge James L. Robart ruled “the Medicine Restriction is Valid and Enforceable.” And in 1993, when the Office of Foreign Assets Control did grant a license to export medicine to Iraq, it imposed the condition that “All fees and other payments must come from a source not currently within the United States or within the possession or control of a United States person, including overseas branches.” That is, not only was medicine sanctioned – contrary to Ms. Albright’s claim – but even when a license was granted, an American was not allowed to help buy any of it for the sick and dying Iraqis.

How does this compare with myths about the atomic bombing of Japan in 1945?

I think the most common myth – repeated often as if it were an unquestioned fact of history – is that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was necessary to end the war, to avoid an American invasion, and to save between 500,000 and a million American lives.

I recently listened to an exceptional talk by Gar Alperovitz, “one of the most highly regarded experts on Hiroshima and U.S. policy.” The talk was from Alternative Radio (celebrating 25 years of remarkable audio with a $1 mp3 download of this and other talks!). I was aware of some myths about our atomic bombing of Japan, but this hour-long presentation was really eye-opening. Here is one paragraph from that talk:

The then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the 1945 structure was slightly different. He was a conservative admiral, Admiral Leahy. He was also Chief of Staff to the President of the U.S. He wore two hats: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, conservative admiral, and Chief of Staff to the President. This is what he had to say publicly after the war. Think of Colin Powell after the bombings in the Iraq war publicly saying something like this about his friend the President. This man was a friend, not a critic of the President, a very good friend. Admiral William D. Leahy said, “The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender. The use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan at all. In being the first to use it, we adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion. Wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.

I’ve added my emphasis several times in that quote. The middle one echoes all of the historical military and intelligence documents which Gar Alperovitz cites: our military and the President knew, before we chose to drop the atomic bombs, that they were not necessary to end the war or save American lives. (I highly recommend you pay your $1 and download an mp3 of the talk. You’ll almost certainly learn a great deal more! Educate others about the myths that Gar Alperovitz demolishes. Listen to a brief snippet here.)

But my first emphasis is about Colin Powell, President George H.W. Bush, and the first Gulf War in 1991. Can we imagine Colin Powell objecting to the massive destruction of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure, especially the electrical grid, under the apparent belief that we could “win” the Gulf War and replace Saddam Hussein by “destroying women and children” in Iraq? I’m not aware of any major statement made by Colin Powell – as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff or in any subsequent public statement – that begins to compare with the ethical and practical viewpoint stated by Admiral Leahy.

The other similarity between the bombing of Japan and the sanctions on Iraq – along with the great number of civilians who died in both wars – is why we’ve been kept in the dark for so long about the real consequences and reasons of these two wars.

That’s a matter of the reporting by our media.

Amy Goodman on a recent broadcast of Democracy Now! discussed the censored reporting about – and the deliberate misrepresentations of – the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One of the books discussed is Hiroshima in America: A Half Century of Denial. Whether you choose to listen to Gar Alperovitz’s talk or not, listening to that segment about Hiroshima (or reading the transcript) is in itself very enlightening.

My February posting on this site dealt specifically with the media. My January posting dealt with the background to the story of Iraq sanctions. My March posting dealt with nonviolence and ways it might relate to the media, to discussions with anyone on this issue, and on what it requires of us as individuals and activists.

The question then becomes how can we respond.

Frankly, I am still looking to find the best ways to respond. With a trial seeming to be less likely now then only a few days ago – and the “news hook” I felt it represented for this issue – I continue to look for alternative ways to “get the word out.” If any readers would like to offer suggestions, please do so at the Contact page.

I just received a gift in the mail. It’s a scarf with this quote from Gandhi: “We must never lose our faith in humanity.” I think Mahatma Gandhi is right. It would be bad for the world – and especially for ourselves – if we were to lose our faith in humanity … no matter what is going on.

July article

Chapter 7: the U.S. and September 11th

July will be a one-of-a-kind posting. This site is dedicated to presenting information about the U.S. government and terrorism which is missing from most U.S. media.

In January, February, and March, I wrote about the U.S. bombing of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure and the effort to use economic sanctions to coerce the overthrow of Saddam Hussein: an act of terrorism leading to the deaths of 100,000s of Iraqi children.

In April, May, and June, I wrote about the U.S. support of Israel’s blockade of Gaza, an act ostensibly to prevent weapons smuggling, but from much public evidence really an act of collective punishment against Gazans to undermine the Hamas government: it too is dangerous to human life, so it too is an act of terrorism which the U.S. sadly supports.

This month I need to begin by explaining why I want to write about the U.S. and events of September 11, 2001 – knowing that what I have to say will be controversial for some.

I have appreciated the commitment to speaking the truth as shown by Frank Blethen, Mindy Cameron and Bruce Ramsey of the Seattle Times when they took on the issue of the lethal nature of sanctions on Iraq in the editorial pages of the paper. I have regretted the unwillingness of Rob McKenna to admit his error and to speak the truth on the Gaza blockade, as it must be apparent to him now. Given this appreciation and regret, I can now hardly fail to speak what I see is an important truth, even if it may be unpopular.

However before I begin, I have three requests of you, gentle reader: (1) that you do not conflate what I’ve written earlier about U.S. policy on Iraq – and U.S. support for Israel’s blockade of Gaza – with what I have to say here; each issue stands alone as true or not; (2) that before you decide on the truth or not of what I discuss here, you look at the website to which I’ll point you in this posting; and (3) that after you look at the few seconds of video on that website, you ask yourself to be honest in your own response to a single question which I’ll ask. (This really takes effort but I think it’s a very important practice.)

The website which I am asking you to turn to is this: ae911truth.org – the site of 1,518 verified architectural and engineering professionals (as of today) and 12,423 other supporters, who are petitioning Congress for a truly independent investigation of 9/11.

Signed by these professionals, it says: “We believe there is sufficient doubt about the official story to justify re-opening the 9/11 investigation. The new investigation must include a full inquiry into the possible use of explosives that might have been the actual cause of the destruction of the World Trade Center Twin Towers and Building 7.”

You might ask, Didn’t we already have that? Wasn’t there an official 9/11 Commission Report? And what’s Building 7 (not in the Report) and what’s it got to do with anything?

Here are 25 seconds of video from CBS and Dan Rather showing the collapse of Building 7. Here are 3 minutes of video of a Dutch demolition expert seeing it for the first time. And here are 9 minutes of a video analysis of the free-fall collapse of Building 7.

Yes, Building 7 (also called WTC 7) collapsed at 5:20 pm on 9/11 in lower Manhattan.

Please watch at least the 25 seconds of video from CBS. The 3 minutes of video of the Dutch demolition expert’s candid appraisal is powerful. But my favorite is the 9 minutes of video from a high-school science teacher – pointing out the errors in the government NIST report: “This is high-school physics. If they can’t get the high-school physics right, what confidence can we have [in the rest of their work]?” David Chandler asks.

But for those who didn’t take (or like) high-school physics, here is a short version: The last 2 minutes of this video state, “The rate of fall of the building is an embarrassment to the official theory. Free-fall is … not a minor issue. Buildings can not fall at free-fall through themselves. Even a weakened building requires energy to break up the pieces, crush the concrete, and push things around. The falling building pushes things … the things push back, and the reaction forces will noticeably slow the fall of the building. … In short, we are witnessing not the collapse of a building but its demolition. … We’ve received [not a scientific report but] a cover-up by a government agency.”

What does all this mean? Simply put, to believe the government’s official theory you must believe that a steel-framed skyscraper collapsed because of office fires. This has never happened before or since. And this happened in a symmetric free-fall fashion: to believe the official theory you must accept that all the supporting beams to resist the fall were simultaneously collapsed by fire across the entire width and depth of the building.

Now even if you don’t understand the physics, I have asked you to honestly report to yourself your own conclusion after watching these videos. I have asked that because this is an issue of the laws of physics, independent of whether you can articulate those laws or not. Everyone – including Dan Rather – intuitively understands the principles.

I hold the laws of physics must be given precedence over how we think men have acted. That is, if well-accepted laws of physics say something cannot happen, we must accept that as a fact, however challenging and difficult the implications of accepting it may be.

In 1963, when I was 21, I watched the Zapruder film of the shooting of President John Kennedy. I did not believe my own eyes. Instead I accepted what everyone in the mass media told me: Lee Harvey Oswald shot the President alone and from behind.

Since then I have become a bit more critical and have read several thoughtful books. The best is by Jim Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why he died and why it matters. I no longer doubt my eyes: in the movie “JFK” I see JFK’s head being shot backwards.

In conversations about WTC 7, my own experience is that intelligent people reject the evidence of their own eyes not because they do not understand what they are seeing. But because the immediate implications of what they see are too disconcerting to accept.

I certainly grant that one needs to consider all the implications of any theory. And one should compare all the facts and implications of the official conspiracy theory of 19 hijackers with alternative conspiracy theories to judge which one best explains the facts.

But in a conflict between the laws of physics and the behavior of men, physics must take precedence. If it would be an utter miracle for a steel-framed skyscraper to collapse as WTC 7 did because of office fires – a ‘miracle’ with essentially zero chance of happening – then logic must lead us to face up to the likelihood of controlled demolition.

And to face up to the implications of what that might mean.

One might ask why have I chosen to comment on the September 11th terrorist attack. I do not pretend to know what happened on 9/11. That is why I signed the ae911truth petition calling for a truly independent investigation. But I am increasingly accepting that I must speak the truth, as best I see it, even if it is unpopular or unpleasant.

Naming U.S. policy on Iraq as genocide and terrorism can be unpopular and unpleasant.

I have read Professor David Ray Griffin’s books on 9/11, starting with The New Pearl Harbor and ending with The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7. His writings are the most credible I know dealing with 9/11. I suggest that they are an excellent place to start to look at the many other problems with the official U.S. conspiracy theory.

But be prepared to look honestly. Pay attention to what you are concluding before you reject anything. And be willing to introspect and watch how challenging possibilities can actually feel like stretching the mind the way muscles feel stretched after exercise.

I think it is almost impossible to overestimate the impact of the “fight against terrorism” on our national priorities and policies. That is why I hope to be going to trial where I can remind people we have a legal definition of terrorism and showing where we’ve violated it: Iraq is a terrible example. But the major shift in our country’s justifications for actions we’d have been appalled at previously took place on 9/11, the day of a “new Pearl Harbor.”

So the urgency of determining what actually happened cannot be overestimated either.

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