Tag Archives: Propganda

If the ‘product’ is wrong, a rebrand won’t help Israel

By Jonathan Cook
July 07, 2015
Jonathan Cook: the Blog from Nazareth


War Propaganda: Western Media, Not Israeli HasbaraThe Israeli government believes it is locked in an epic struggle to save Israel from the growing movement calling for an international boycott. Benjamin Netanyahu warns that Israel must “rebrand” itself to avoid pariah status. Ordinary Israelis are therefore being conscripted into an army of spin doctors in a campaign termed “hasbara” – Hebrew for “public diplomacy” or, most literally, propaganda.

In the latest offensive, the education ministry has launched a compulsory hasbara course for students travelling abroad. All youth delegations are now required to learn how to justify Israel’s policies in the occupied territories to outsiders. According to officials, the students must challenge those who “seek to delegitimise Israel”.

It is yet more evidence that hasbara has become a national obsession in Israel – and that the line between support for one’s country and support for the subjugation of another people has been erased.

Some 85 per cent of Israelis say they are keen to become hasbara ambassadors. A hasbara ministry already targets the international media with good news, while cultural events abroad, from food fairs to Israeli entries at film festivals, are designed to prove that Israel has another side.

For years the Israeli government has relied on paid workers – and thousands of volunteers – to surf the net posting pro-Israel comments. At Israel’s international airport, Israeli holidaymakers are offered brochures explaining the importance of persuading those they meet that Israel is misunderstood.

And yet the latest hasbara drive is unlikely to reverse Israel’s slow slide into ignominy.

The hasbara industry’s chief flaw, as Israeli political scientist Neve Gordon observes, is its assumption that “the merchandise is fine, and only the packaging needs to be replaced”.

But rapid developments in information technology mean Israel has less control over manipulating its image than ever before. First it was 24-hour news, then the internet. Now, smartphones make every Palestinian a potential documentary-maker, ensuring that moments of cruelty and oppression are captured and available for anyone who cares to look.

Palestinians post online videos of their everyday abuse: from demolition of homes to stone-throwers being shot with live ammunition.

Last week, Zaki Sabah, 56, a cake vendor in Jerusalem’s Old City, starred in one such video. Bystanders filmed him being savagely beaten by Israeli police on a busy road. Denied a permit for years by the occupation authorities, Sabah has been repeatedly fined and jailed.

Meanwhile, another video exposed Israel’s deceitful account of its supposedly peaceful interception of a boat trying to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza. As more than a dozen passengers were held captive over the weekend, footage was smuggled out showing that Israeli commandos had electrocuted some of them with tasers.

Troubling imagery is not restricted to the occupied territories. Film of the charred interior of a historic church next to the Sea of Galilee highlighted last month the latest hate crime by Jewish extremists against Israel’s large Palestinian minority.

The futility of trying to stem the tide of evidence damning Israel on media old and new was exemplified last week by Moshe Yaalon, the defence minister.

“There is no humanitarian distress in Gaza,” he averred, while the media illustrated reports of his speech with pictures of mountains of rubble and children still homeless a year after Israel’s assault on the enclave.

Mr Yaalon’s sophistry may placate Israel’s supporters but the rest of us are more often incensed by such insults to our intelligence.

The hasbara offensive is doomed for another reason.

With the Palestinians’ case substantiated by evidence, rather than Israel’s, the evangelists of hasbara have only one recourse: to blame the messenger. Critics of Israel, it is implied, are either inveterate dupes or unabashed anti-semites. Either they have been deceived by the Israel-haters, or they are haters themselves.

As the hasbara industry moves into overdrive, such slurs are becoming common – including against those Israel needs to cultivate as allies.

Judith Nir Mozes, the wife of interior minister Silvan Shalom, himself a Netanyahu confidant, possibly reflected high-level thinking in Israel when she tweeted last month a racist “joke” about President Barack Obama. “Do u know what Obama Coffee is? Black and weak,” she wrote, ridiculing the leader of Israel’s most important ally.

Similarly, the Israeli foreign ministry mocked foreign journalists, even though they are hasbara’s target audience.

In a short animated video, a naive reporter is shown claiming that the people of Gaza simply want peace as militants fire rockets just behind him. Next the reporter misidentified Hamas’s tunnelling as the “first Palestinian subway system”. The video ends with a warning: “Open your eyes, terror rules Gaza.” The video has since been removed.

Michael Oren, Israel’s recently departed ambassador to the US, has joined the fray too, castigating American Jewish journalists as “self-haters”.

Hasbara’s cartoon version of reality is not only unconvincing but, in alienating friends as much as foes, self-defeating. Mr Netanyahu may hope to repackage Israel, but his product – continuing oppression of Palestinians – is one few can be persuaded to buy.

Britain Using PsyOps Domestically to Encourage “Conformity”

By Derrick Broze
June 26, 2015
The Anti-Media, June 24, 2015


ObeyCameronAccording to newly released documents published byThe Intercept, a special unit with the British spy agency is involved in psychological operations, or PsyOps, and propaganda campaigns against groups it labels “extremist.”

The documents are the latest from the trove released by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The new documents show that the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) operates an elite unit known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG). First revealed last year, JTRIG is known for using sexual “honey traps” to discredit targets, using denial-of-service attacks to shut down Internet chat rooms, and generally pushing propaganda on social media.

Despite official claims that JTRIG is focused on international targets in Iran or Afghanistan, the latest information reveals that the unit was focusing on domestic activity within the U.K.—activity typically monitored by local police or domestic law enforcement agencies.

The Intercept reports:

An August 2009 JTRIG memo entitled ‘Operational Highlights’ boasts of ‘GCHQ’s first serious crime effects operation’ against a website that was identifying police informants and members of a witness protection program. Another operation investigated an Internet forum allegedly ‘used to facilitate and execute online fraud.’ The document also describes GCHQ advice provided ‘to assist the UK negotiating team on climate change.’

Particularly revealing is a fascinating 42-page document from 2011 detailing JTRIG’s activities. It provides the most comprehensive and sweeping insight to date into the scope of this unit’s extreme methods. Entitled ‘Behavioral Science Support for JTRIG’s Effects and Online HUMINT [Human Intelligence] Operations,’ it describes the types of targets on which the unit focuses, the psychological and behavioral research it commissions and exploits, and its future organizational aspirations. It is authored by a psychologist, Mandeep K. Dhami.

The documents (Behavioural Science Support for JTRIG’S Effects and Online HUMINT Operations,U.K. Ministry Stakeholder Relationships Spreadsheets) outline tactics employed by the agency, including ways to manipulate public opinion, understand human thinking and behavior, and encourage conformity.

According to the documents, JTRIG “currently collaborates with other agencies,” including the Metropolitan police, the Security Service (MI5), the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the Border Agency, Revenue and Customs (HMRC), and the National Public Order and Intelligence Unit (NPOIU). One of JTRIG’s objectives includes “monitoring ‘domestic extremist groups such as the English Defence League by conducting online HUMINT’; ‘denying, deterring or dissuading’ criminals and ‘hacktivists’; and ‘deterring, disrupting or degrading online consumerism of stolen data or child porn.”

One of the reports from 2011 outlines JTRIG’s tactics, including uploading YouTube videos containing “persuasive communications,” starting Facebook groups and Twitter accounts, and creating fake online personalities and supporters “to discredit, promote distrust, dissuade, deter, delay or disrupt.”

JTRIG also relies on an understanding of psychology which is “critical” to operations. The unit used social media campaigns to encourage and foster “obedience” and “conformity”. Section 3.6 Obedience, says compliance can be achieved by “engendering liking (attractiveness); instilling a sense of scarcity or secrecy; getting compliance to a small request at first.”

Essentially, the U.K. government is using an elite unit of spies to launch psychological operations on “extremists” by creating fake accounts and videos to promote conformity and obedience. However, the practice is not exclusive to the U.K.. PsyOps are used by nations around the world.

The 2002 edition of the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms defines psychological operations as

integrated employment of the core capabilities of electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception, and operations security, in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own.

Since that time, PsyOp has fallen out of favor and the term is now officially known as Military Information Support Operations, or MISO. It is defined as

Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals in a manner favorable to the originator’s objectives.

The United States military was famously caught using psychological operations in 2011, when Rolling Stone reported that “the U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in ‘psychological operations’ to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war.”

Indeed, the operations seem crucial to the mission of the United States government (and totalitarian governments around the globe, for that matter). According to the leaked U.S. Special Forces counterinsurgency manual:

PSYOP [Psychological Operations] are essential to the success of PRC [Population & Resources Control]. For maximum effectiveness, a strong psychological operations effort is directed toward the families of the insurgents and their popular support base. The PSYOP aspect of the PRC program tries to make the imposition of control more palatable to the people by relating the necessity of controls to their safety and well-being. PSYOP efforts also try to create a favorable national or local government image and counter the effects of the insurgent propaganda effort.

Without a doubt, the U.S. government continues to label its own population “extremist” and is focusing its propaganda efforts domestically. The U.S. Special Forces Counterinsurgency Manual—as well as the new Snowden documents—should be required reading for all revolutionaries seeking to understand the tactics of the U.S. government. Only by educating ourselves can we hope to form a united, empowered front against government tyranny.

Derrick Broze writes for theAntiMedia.org, where this article first appeared. Tune in! Anti-Media Radioairs Monday through Friday @ 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. Help us fix our typos:edits@theantimedia.org.

Canada’s Fascist Shift

By Mark Taliano
May 1, 2015
Global Research


Bill-C51-Canada-Police-StateThe “fascist shift”, as described by author Naomi Wolf in The End Of America/ Letter Of Warning To A Young Patriot, is accelerating in Canada with the tabling of (“State Terror”) Bill C-51.

Though universally condemned by experts, and increasingly unpopular amongst Canadians, the Bill will almost certainly pass, as common sense and public opinion become the first casualties of Canada’s fascistic governance.

The following overlapping and intersecting fascistic strategies, as enumerated by Wolf, are being entrenched in Canada, all to the detriment of civil society, and to the benefit of a predatory system of top down governance and control:

Invoke an external and internal threat

The Harper government has manipulatively invoked the threat of ISIS to create unreasonable societal fear, so that it can advance an imperial agenda beneath the cover of lies and deceptions.

There are simply too many holes in the official ISIS narrative to accept it at face value.  There exists too much contradictory evidence of the West supplying ISIS with weapons and foodstuffs, and of the West not being “serious” about destroying ISIS  — in addition to the fact that the West and ISIS share common goals: namely, the conquest of Syria and further destabilization of the Middle East – to unquestionably believe the official government narrative.

As professor Michel Chossudovsky explains in, “America’s ‘Global War On Terror’, Al Qaeda And The Islamic State”:

“The Global War on Terrorism has become a consensus. It is part of war propaganda. It is also used by Western governments to justify and implement ‘anti-terrorist’ legislation. It is the cornerstone of the West’s demonization campaign directed against Muslims.

It should also be understood that the ‘Global War on Terrorism’ supports a process of ‘economic conquest’, whereby countries forego their sovereignty.”

But the unreasonable fear creates the pre-conditions for the government to impose Police State legislation on a compliant public that seeks “protection”.

Surveil ordinary citizens and target key individuals

Peaceful human rights advocates such as Drs. Pam Palmater and Cindy Blackstock are already being targeted and surveilled, at considerable expense, and for no legitimate reason, yet Bill C-51 promises to become even more intrusive and repressive.

Blackstock is an activist for child welfare as well as Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada.  Palmater is a lawyer and university professor who is an  activist for First Nations causes.

Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, for his part, argued that, Bill C-51 “would potentially lead to disproportionately large amounts of personal information of ordinary, law-abiding citizens being collected and shared,” and that, “this sets up the prospect of profiling and Big Data analytics on all Canadians.”

Surveillance of law-abiding citizens, under the watchful eye of “Thought Police” has the effect of putting a “chill” on freedoms of expression and assembly as guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights.
It is not consistent with free and democratic societies, but it is yet another hallmark of Police State repression.

Subvert Rule of law:

Bill C-51 violates Section 35 of Canada’s Constitution by negating and denying rather than recognizing and affirming aboriginal and treaty rights.  First Nations have not been adequately consulted according to Canadian law.

Additionally, Bill C-51 derogates international rights.  According to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), issues that impact First Nations (such as Bill C-51) require the Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) of the impacted communities.

Cast criticism as ‘espionage’ and dissent as ‘treason’

Bill C-51 also subverts the rule of law by using poorly defined words that could be interpreted in a myriad of ways.  Megan Drysdale explains in “The Top 6 ways You Will Be Affected By Bill C-51”  that “innocent words” could be “interpreted as terrorism”:

“Innocent words can be interpreted as terrorism
Bill C-51 broadens the scope of propagation crimes to include advocating or promoting ‘terrorism offences in general.’ The wording of the bill is broad enough that a terrorist purpose is not required. Speaking privately about solutions to controversial conflicts or debating an academic opinion that ‘may’ cause a listener to commit a terrorist offence could count as an indictable offence for you, regardless of your own intentions. ‘Being reckless,’ as the bill describes it, can lead to up to five years in prison.”

Theoretically, then, an individual who exercises his/her freedom of dissent, and freedom to resist could be falsely branded in catch-all terms such as “terrorism”, or “espionage”, or even “treason”.
Government intentions revealed themselves in November, 2011 when NDP MPs Megan Leslie and Claude Gravelle were accused of treachery for travelling to Washington to communicate the NDP position regarding the tar sands. Leslie explained that they went “to propose a sustainable jobs strategy under a long term green energy future and to let her American interlocutors know there are Canadians who want tougher regulation of the tar sands.”

Restrict The Press:

The press has long been compromised by corporate monopoly ownership, but now public media is increasingly compromised as well, so much so that media has basically become an “arm of the government”.

A December 11, 2014 article entitled “The Conservative Broadcasting Corporation” , for example, shows that membership of the government-appointed Board Of Directors for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), is dominated by people who are, or have been, financial contributors to the reigning Conservative Party of Canada.

The messaging is further compromised by the government’s restriction of information sources.  The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), yet another “arm of the government”, is being used to audit “radical” charities.  Elizabeth Renzetti explains in “Silence of the Charities” that

“If you look at the 52 groups that have been targeted for audits since the Harper government’s 2012 crackdown on political activity by charities, it’s not hard to see what joins them: advocacy of causes that the Conservative government thinks are, by its own admission, “radical.” I don’t actually know the full list, because it’s not been revealed, but last year the CBC revealed the names of seven environmental charities, including the David Suzuki Foundation and Tides Canada. The free-speech group PEN Canada and human-rights advocates Amnesty International were also targeted. Some 400 academics signed a letter denouncing the audit into the political activities of the progressive think tank Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.”

Each of these “covert” strategies pollutes the collective mindset of the population in favour of the state, and makes a mockery of the notion of “freedom of the press”.

Arbitrarily detain and release citizens

Vague definitions of “terrorism” coupled with lowered standards for legitimate detention as outlined in Bill C-51 means that seemingly “one-off” debacles such as the mass arrests of demonstrators during the G-20 protests, described by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) as “unprecedented, disproportionate, and, at times unconstitutional”, could theoretically be “normalized”.
The threat of arbitrary detention and release is an impediment to freedoms of peaceful assembly, and freedom of expression, and another sign of a closing society.

Infiltrate citizen groups

The threat of agents provocateurs who infiltrate citizen groups also serves to stifle people from exercising their rights, as it puts a chill on peaceful demonstrations.

Maude Barlow, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, explains in an Action Alert, that “three undercover police officers attempted to incite violence in 2007 at the Montebello protest against the Security and Prosperity Partnership,” and that,  “the proof of their actions was caught on film.”

Such actions, closely related to false flag operations, also serve to deny citizens of their rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly – two enemies of closing societies.

Develop a paramilitary force

Private, para-military agencies are making inroads into Canada’s military and security apparatuses. According to a National Post article, “Notorious security contractor Blackwater trained Canadian troops without U.S. permission: court documents”, dated August 8, 2012, Blackwater/Academi has had an untendered contract with Canada since 2006 for training to Special Operations troops and some police.

More recently, a Blackwater/Academi employee informed me, (in person), that his company will be providing security for the 2015 Pan Am Games in Ontario, Canada.

On the surface, what we know about the integration of para-military forces such as Academi into Canada’s military/security apparatuses seems fairly innocuous, however, para-military forces such as Blackwater/Academi have a huge presence overseas, and their covert operations, often with little oversight, and considerable immunity from prosecution, are increasingly involved in assignments that, until recently, would have fallen under the exclusive domain of the military.

Fascistic governments typically employ para military forces to create a buffer (of plausible deniability) to compromise transparency and accountability.

For example, Dawn Paley, author of Drug War Capitalism, explains in a research piece that,

“Through the 1980s, the Colombian state became increasingly paramilitarized, a process which ‘manifested itself as threats, bombings, and selective assassinations or collective massacres of government officials (principally but not exclusively from the left), and of popular political leaders, workers, peasants, professors, human rights activists, and members of nongovernmental organizations.’ “

Such is the danger when countries hire covert para-military forces, often beneath the radar, to advance their agendas.

Establish secret prisons

One final hallmark of the fascist shift as identified by Naomi Wolf, is the establishment of secret prisons.  Since the U.S has “black sites” throughout the world, Canada’s increasing “harmonization” with her ally, in terms of cross border policing and military operations abroad, raises red flags.  If our closest allies use gulags/black sites, are we not at least indirectly implicated?

Canadian diplomat Richard Colvin explains in, “Canada complicit in torture of innocent Afghans, diplomat says”, that “we detained, and handed over for severe torture, a lot of innocent people.”

While we may not yet have our own secret prisons, it would seem that we have used “secret prisons” abroad, to detain and torture innocent civilians.

Clearly, Canada’s fascist shift is in high gear, and Bill C-51, once passed, will put us in overdrive.

How will we ever be able to pull ourselves free of the mess that we’ve made?

Mark Taliano is Citizen Editor at Daily Clout.

Published first on Whatsupic

The Liberal Media and the Ideology of Black Victimhood

Black and White

By Thomas Barker
February 15, 2015
Counter Punch


As police brutality and racist violence are once again shunted to the centre stage of US politics, figures such as Michael Brown take their place in a seemingly endless string of victims. From Eric Garner in 2014, Trayvon Martin in 2012, Rodney King in 1991, back to the 1963 execution of the NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers; from the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing by members of the KKK in the same year, which resulted in the deaths of four girls aged between 11 and 14, to the brutal murder of the fourteen year old Emmett Till in 1955—the thread weaves continuously back through lynching, Jim Crow laws, forced servitude, and slavery. Perpetrators of this violence draw upon a similarly unbroken US tradition, one in which murderers are not justly held to account for their actions. Although the police force is now relied upon to do much of this work, the same narrative of murder with impunity can be located throughout.

Invariably the liberal media makes much of these deaths, connecting individual murders with the broader ‘racial problem’ in American society. The murdered are cast as victims, as the unwilling prey of systemic injustice. Yet for all their compassion, there is a subtle ideology which sours the media’s representation of this violence. Although allowing for minor transgressions, the liberal media is concerned first and foremost with the moral credentials of the victim. To be a true victim, the individual must appear nonviolent: Trayvon Martin, an ‘innocent youth’; Garner, a ‘gentle giant’ – both guilty of only minor infractions. Indeed, even in these cases the media is curiously reluctant to take sides until the innocence of the victim is beyond doubt. The same does not hold true for those who resist, however.

In cases such as the Watts Riots in 1965, the Black Panther Party, or the Attica Prison Riots in 1971, in which 43 inmates, guards, and hostages, were slaughtered by police with state-approval, the liberal media was quick to jump to the offensive. Although the individuals involved were undoubtedly victims of racist violence, by no stretch of the imagination could their behaviour be described as passive or nonviolent (though the nature of their violence was obviously defensive). The tacit ideology which lies behind this pattern of reporting is that when faced with politically motivated black aggression the liberal media is inclined to invert their analysis, from seeing racism as prior to black resistance to considering black resistance as justifying racism. Certainly, part of the reason that organisations such as the Black Panther Party provided so few victims is because of their use of defensive violence in the fight for liberation.

One of the main consequences of this misrepresentation has been that black people appear dehumanized in the media, as either helpless victims or mindless killers. Although this distortion goes back at least as far as slavery – with African-Americans frequently portrayed either as ‘Sambos’ or revolutionaries (with little room in between) – the modern form of this ideology can be situated in the political conflict of the 1960s and 1970s. Black radicalism in the twentieth-century has become a significant source of fear for the liberal establishment, representing a challenge to their class supremacy. Through a critique of The New York Times’ representation of nonviolence and defensive violence in the civil rights and black power movements, this study aims to expand the definition of victimhood to encompass those that sought to defend themselves. Only by celebrating the lives of black radicals, will a strategy for overcoming racial oppression emerge.

The Liberal View of Violence: From the Civil Rights Movement to the Black Panthers

The specific events which catalysed the period of resistance now known as the civil rights movement have been debated by a vast and conflicted scholarship. Some of the frequently cited moments are Brown vs Board of Education in 1954, in which the Supreme Court ruled against segregation in schools; the brutal killing of fourteen year old Emmet Till in 1955 and the subsequent acquittal of his murderers; the Montgomery bus boycott in the same year and the emergence of Martin Luther King – the list of possible catalysts is immense. Many writers have also pointed to some of the psychological effects that made the civil rights movement possible. Rising expectations following a succession of legal victories for black rights organisations such as the NAACP; a sense of entitlement following the African-American contribution to the Second World War; the racial empowerment following the labour struggles (particularly in the Congress of Industrial Organisations and the American Communist Party) in the wake of the Great Depression. However, one common feature shared by all studies of civil rights history is the backdrop of a virulent and often brutal racial apartheid.

Some of most enduring images of the civil rights era come from the 1963 events in Birmingham, Alabama – one of the most racially divided cities in the South. Working in collaboration with the local community, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Students Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) led groups from the 16th Street Baptist Church to City Hall, where they were to stage a sit-in outside the City Hall. Over the weeks of ensuing demonstrations, the jail cells began to fill up with black activists, until on May 3, 1963, when the local Chief of Police, Eugene ‘Bull’ Connor, turned to violent repression to disperse the mostly peaceful protesters.



The power of the Birmingham protests was largely derived from their ability to convey images of racist violence to a national audience – apparently people had no idea it was so bad. The Times, of course, lapped up these images, publishing Bill Hudson’s pictures of Parker High School student Walter Gadsden being attacked by dogs and other students being sprayed with a high pressure water canon on the front page. In the accompanying article, The Times wrote:

Although 12 blue-and-gray clad troopers refused to allow reporters to follow the demonstrators, they made no attempt to prevent the crowd from streaming over a fence and across a creek to reach the arrest scene.

… ‘Get the goddam communists!’, shouted a white as the commissioner gave the order to arrest the marchers.

‘Throw them Niggers in the river!’, yelled another.

‘Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!’, screamed a woman with plastic curlers in her hair.

The article is notable for its relatively disinterested depiction of events, free of journalistic rhetoric, grand statements, and dramatic hyperbole – an objectivity rarely found in reports of black self-defence.

The philosophy of ‘nonviolence’ achieved significant victories in dismantling the legal basis of racial discrimination in the South, i.e. the Jim Crow Segregation laws. These successes, however, came at a cost for the trajectory of the movement as a whole. It was, in a sense, very easy for the liberal media to get on board with the idea of redemptive suffering. Jim Crow was clearly racist and southern blacks were clearly the victims of this racism: black and white, so to speak. Nonviolence meant never having to pose the question of the relationship between antagonistic violence and self-defence – thus the liberal media was able to remain silent on this important issue.

Would poor blacks fighting against discrimination still have been supported if they reacted violently to racism, if they sought to defend themselves? If the treatment of militant black figures such as Robert F. Williams (who was suspended from the NAACP because of his beliefs on the right to armed self-defence) was anything to go by, then probably not. On August 29, 1961, in an article concerning Williams’ alleged kidnapping of a white couple in Monroe, North Carolina, The Times reported that ‘Williams has publicly advocated violence as a means of ending racial restrictions.’ The following day, shortly before his reappearance in Cuba, Williams is casually referred to as a ‘Negro extremist leader’. In neither article, however, is an account given of the racist violence persistently visited upon the black community in Monroe – the fact that a city with a population of 12,000 had an estimated 7,500 members of the Ku Klux Klan is given no mention. Indeed, the report also quoted local Police Chief, A. A. Mauney, a known segregationist and racist, who stated that he received a phone call from Williams confessing to the crime. When black people defend themselves, context takes a vacation.

The media’s representation of black self-defence in the South was to provide a crucial intimation of the more complex urban confrontations. After migrating to cities in the North and the West to fulfil a need for wartime labour, blacks were first to suffer the economic consequences of post-war deindustrialization. Most of the remaining jobs followed white communities into the suburbs, leaving impoverished black ghettoes in their wake. Unemployment and poverty became the rule in the urban North and West, and as political disenfranchisement increased so did crime. President Johnson’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlawed discrimination based on colour meant little to northern blacks, who were faced with de facto segregation. Rather than remedying the lack of economic opportunities which led to this state of affairs, the state responded by increasing the police presence in the ghettoes. In August 1965, inaugurating this new era of black insurgency, the Watts neighbourhood in LA exploded into six days of riots— what Huey Newton would later describe as ‘proto-political resistance’ – after an unprovoked police attack. At its end, 34 (almost all black) were dead, 1,032 injured, and over $40,000,000 of property was damaged. In the wake of the Watts Riots, black-led Community Alert Patrols (CAP) were set up across LA to observe police interactions and to dispense legal advice.

The Black Panther Party was a black nationalist-socialist organization which emerged out of this political tumult. Inspired by the CAPs and the long history of black self-defence, the Black Panthers exploited local gun laws to defend themselves from racist violence. However, unlike in the South, where the main problem was vigilante violence, the Black Panthers were faced with a threat which was cloaked in the legitimacy of state authority: the police. Thus, according to Lance Hill, whilst self-defence in the South ‘rested on a belief in constitutional rights (obedience to federal law and authority)’ in the North it rested upon ‘revolutionary rights (the right to disobey law and authority).’ Although the Black Panthers were also involved in community projects such as ‘breakfast clubs’ for children, free medical clinics, and lessons in politics and self-defence, it is in the former capacity that they are best remembered… or maybe, in lieu of The Times’ persistent misrepresentations, how they are misremembered.


Throughout the 1960s, The Times was undoubtedly one of the most important newspapers in setting the national news agenda. In spite of its links with the political establishment it also maintained a strong thread of liberalism throughout its pages. The Times was a firm supporter of the civil rights movement and, by 1969, had also come on board with the anti-war movement. However, its representations of the Panthers strongly demarcates the limits of its toleration for political resistance. From lauding the civil rights movement, or what it perceived to be the King’s ‘legitimate’ civil rights movement, the liberal media sought to quell the rising tide of active black self-defence. The Times refused to accommodate the perceived insurgent threat of black power, and thus characterized black violence as prior to police repression through much of its reporting.

In order to distort reality in this way, The Times frequently omitted important pieces of explanatory context in their articles on the Panthers. The trial of Black Panther founder Bobby Seale, as one of the Chicago 8 is a case in point. The Chicago 8 was a case in which the state tried to prosecute eight high-profile activists—including Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Tom Hayden, and Seale himself—on charges of criminal conspiracy. The trial was widely considered to be a public relations exercise following the violent repression of protesters at the 1968 Democratic Convention. In an attempt to justify the police’s actions, the state took up a lawsuit against a group of activists ostensibly involved in the clash. These individuals were tried for crossing a state line with the intention of inciting a riot, and became known as the Chicago 8 (later becoming the Chicago 7 when Seale was tried alone).

The Times provided a lot of coverage of the Chicago 8 trial, but paid particular attention to the prosecution of Seale. One incident in particular, which coloured the whole proceedings, was widely misreported by The Times—that is, Seale’s wish for self-representation. After Judge Hoffman denied Seale’s plea for a six week continuance – his lawyer, Charles R. Garry, had just undergone a gall bladder operation – Seale requested that he represent himself. This was denied by Hoffman. Seale continued to protest this decision as ‘unconstitutional’ throughout the opening weeks of the trial until, on October 29, Hoffman ordered that Seale be gagged and chained to his chair. In an article entitled ‘The Media and the Movement’, Nick Sharman has provided a trenchant criticism of The Times’ misreporting of these events. There are two points that are highly relevant for the present purposes. First, The Times persistently misrepresented the reasons for Seale’s complaint, stating on September 27, 1969:

The dispute over which lawyers should represent the eight leaders… reached an emotional peak when Bobby Seale, a defendant who is national chairman of the Black Panthers, told the Judge: “If my constitutional rights are denied, I can only say that the judge is a blatant racist.” (Lukas, 1969a, p. 1)

The real reasons were not, of course, that Seale demanded the right to be represented by his favoured lawyer, Charles Garry, but that Seale demanded the right to represent himself – a right that is protected by the Sixth Amendment. Second, Sharman observes that Seale’s highly confrontational language was given disproportionate coverage, especially as compared with Hoffman’s ‘own caustic and partisan responses’. The effect of this bias was to frame the trial in terms that presented Seale as a trouble-maker, rather than an individual with legitimate grievances – indeed, an individual whose constitutional rights were being violated.

Perhaps the worst example of The Times’ representation of black self-defence occurred in the 1971 Attica prison riots. Roughly two weeks after the murder of Black Panther member George Jackson at San Quentin State Prison by white guards, around one half of Attica’s 2,200 inmates seized control of the prison taking 42 members of staff hostage. As with most ‘correctional facilities’, African-Americans made up the majority of the prisoners and the guards were lily-white. Racism was severe in Attica, with beatings so frequent that the guards referred to their batons as ‘nigger sticks’. The prisoners had been protesting the inhuman conditions at Attica for some time – variously citing the poor food, the lack of basic educational resources, and the appalling treatment by members of staff. The requests, however, had been met with a mixture of platitudes and silence; the prisoners were forced to take action. In the struggle to take over the facility one guard and three inmates were killed, the subsequent stand-off between the prisoners and the state lasted just four days.

After successfully gaining control of the prison, the inmates invited a group of observers, including a reporter from The Times, into the prison grounds. With their video cameras and pens, the observers documented the conditions inside the prison – by most accounts the hostages were well looked after, given the circumstances. After seeking council from the Black Panther Party, the prisoners began to draft a statement of demands; however, although agreeing to 28 of the requests, the authorities refused to grant an amnesty from criminal prosecution for the prison takeover and the removal of the virulently racist superintendent. (Without an amnesty from further prosecution, those involved in the riots would be condemned to spend the rest of their life in prison, as, indeed, most did.) As negotiations broke down, on September 13 Commissioner Oswald sent in over 1000 heavily armed National Guardsmen, local police, and (controversially) former prison guards to take back control of the facility. Guards reported seeing hostages with their throats cut – a position quickly reiterated by Governor Rockefeller, who had not even bothered to visit Attica. As it turned out, all 43 of the dead, including the hostages, were killed by the police.

The following day, September 14, The Times contained no less than seven articles which directly referenced the Attica prison massacre. In examining these reports, it is not so much the fact that they reproduced Rockefeller and Oswald’s version of events that is important – many newspapers were similarly duped – but rather the spirit in which these lies were propagated. Of the seven reports, only one small quotations suggested that the state may have been responsible for the massacre, and even this came only in the form of a Bobby Seale quote – a figure that The Times had spent years trying to discredit. More typical, however, were articles which categorically denounced the prisoners. One of the most inflammatory articles was entitled ‘Massacre at Attica’, which highlighted the brutality of the prisoners and implicated Seale and the Black Panther Party in the events:

The deaths of these persons by knives . . . reflect a barbarism wholly alien to civilized society. Prisoners slashed the throats of utterly helpless, unarmed guards whom they had held captive through the around-the-clock negotiations, in which inmates held out for an increasingly revolutionary set of demands. . . . What began last Thursday as a long-foreseeable protest against inhuman prison conditions, with an initial list of grievances that many citizens could support, degenerated into a bloodbath that can only bring sorrow to all Americans. . . . The contribution of Black Panther Bobby Seale seems to have been particularly negative, that of an incendiary, not a peacemaker…. The State had responded positively to every reasonable demand put forward by the rebels.

Although The Times issued a correction in the following day’s paper, the language of the aforementioned article, as well as the unsubstantiated connection between Seale and an explosion of prisoner violence which never took place, reveals the true face of The Times. The author is unflinching in their portrayal of the prisoners as ‘barbaric’ and ‘uncivilized’ and the state as progressive and well-meaning. Indeed, in the same edition, an article by Police Commissioner Oswald was also published, in which storming the prison is rationalized by way of the inmates barbarism – their ‘behaviour was not different from their behaviour on the street, where several were convicted of serious assault, manslaughter, and murder.’ This sentiment is also echoed on the front page article of the same day which portrays the even-handedness of Oswald in the face of the most appalling prisoner violence.

A comparison with the corrective article issued the following day helps to illuminate the hypocrisy of The Times. On September 15, only four articles were published on the events. Two provided (very unforgiving) profiles of some of the prisoners, one provided an overview of the ‘powerful’ role of television in conveying major ‘tragedies’, and just one corrected the previous days headline (albeit on the front page): ‘Autopsies Show Shots Killed Hostages, Not Knives’, the headline read. Drawing upon interviews with Commissioner Oswald, coroner reports, and other medical professionals, the article systematically goes about deconstructing the narrative they were only yesterday trumpeting. The language, however, is notably lacking in the grandiose rhetoric of the previous day: ‘Attica, N.Y., Sept. 14—The nine hostages killed in the uprising in the Attica Correctional Facility dies of bullet wounds, it was reported today after official autopsies.’ What yesterday was framed in terms of barbarism and civilization, has become a very dry account. The Times’ continued to report on Attica in this way for some time. Apparently barbarism is something only certain sorts of people can do.

More mundane examples of The Times’ misreporting can be seen in the casual decontextualization of black resistance. Writing for The Times on October 26, 1970, Martin Arnold describes the climate of ‘mutual fear’ which characterized the relationship between the Panthers and the police. According to Arnold, ‘the beginning of the conflict can be traced to a day in 1966 when Black Panthers founder[s], Huey P. Newton… and Bobby Seale… started hawking copies of ‘The Red Book’, quotations of Mao Tse-tung, outside the University of California gates at Berkeley.’ Arnold concludes that ‘the purchase of guns with the proceeds and the Panthers’ verbal assaults on policemen amounted to a virtual declaration of war.’ No mention of the massive impoverishment of ghettoes; no mention of President Johnson’s decision to send police rather than aid; no mention of the extreme violence visited upon the black communities by these very same police – the origins of the present situation, according to Arnold, were when blacks started to fight back. Black resistance is positioned as prior to racism.


As with so much of the racial tension in the United States, the origins of the present situation can be traced back to slavery. In his ground-breaking work on the American slave system, the historian John Blassingame has suggested that black passivity in the antebellum South existed primarily in the minds of whites—on the one hand, to justify white paternalism, and, on the other, to dispel the fear that they felt toward slaves: ‘Like a man whistling in the dark to bolster his courage, the white man had to portray the slave as [passive].’ Although, of course, much has changed since the transatlantic slave trade, there is no reason to suspect this ideology has been altogether vanquished. The underlying cause, it seems, is still fear – a fear which drives liberals to identify black victimhood only with the passive. However, fear does not only manifest itself as whistling in the dark, or in the lies told to maintain high spirits, but also in the clenched fist – poised, ready to defend. The liberal media’s bitter condemnation of black radicals as mindless killers is the expressive form of this anger, of this perceived insurgent threat. And so they should feel threatened – they have no stake in eliminating racial oppression. It is, simply put, not in their class-interest.

Though, of course, the Eric Garners and the Trayvon Martins of history are deserving of immense respect, and their murderers bitter condemnation, we must not be fooled into canonizing only those who the liberal media consider to be true victims. In the fight against racism in the US, it is frequently those who fight the hardest, who in every respect give their lives to the struggle, that are excluded from the liturgy of black victims. Indeed, such individuals are frequently portrayed as the opposite, as perpetrators of unjust violence. The ideology of black victimhood which predominates in the liberal media would have us believe that only the helpless can be victims – on the contrary, I argue that those who use violent methods in the struggle against racist oppression are victims nevertheless, and worthy of remembrance. To be sure, it is only through an appreciation of such individuals that a legitimate strategy for racial equality will emerge.

Remember Garner, yes. But also remember Little Bobby Hutton, Fred Hampton, and Malcolm X.

Thomas Barker is an independent journalist and PhD student in Aesthetics and Politics. He can be reached at https://durham.academia.edu/ThomasBarker


How Science Died at the World Trade Center

By Kevin Ryan
February 15, 2015
Washington’s Blog


Science has been misused for political purposes many times in history. However, the most glaring example of politically motivated pseudoscience—that employed by U.S. government scientists to explain the destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC)—continues to be ignored by many scientists. As we pass the 10th anniversary of the introduction of that account, it is useful to review historic examples of fake science used for political purposes and the pattern that defines that abuse.

An early example of pseudoscience used to promote a political agenda was the concerted Soviet effort to contradict evolutionary theory and Mendelian inheritance. For nearly 45 years, the Soviet government used propaganda to foster unproven theories of agriculture promoted by its minister of agriculture, Trofim Lysenko. Scientists seeking favor with the Soviet hierarchy produced fake experimental data in support of Lysenko’s false claims. Scientific evidence from the fields of biology and genetics was banned in favor of educational programs that taught only Lysenkoism and many biologists and geneticists were executed or sent to labor camps. This propaganda-fueled program of anti-science continued for over forty years, until 1964, and spread to other countries including China.

pseudoscienceIn the 2010 book Merchants of Doubt, authors Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway describe several other examples of the misuse of science, spanning from the 1950s to the present. They show how widely respected scientists participated in clearly non-scientific efforts to promote the agendas of big business and big government. Examples include the tobacco industry’s misuse of science to obfuscate the links between smoking and cancer, the military industrial complex’s use of scientists to support the scientifically indefensible Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), and several abuses of environmental science.

As Oreskes and Conway made clear, science is about evidence. “It is about claims that can be, and have been, tested through scientific research—experiment, experience, and observation—research that is then subject to critical review by a jury of scientific peers.” In science, if experiments performed do not support a hypothesis, that hypothesis must be rejected. If conclusions fail to pass peer-review due to a lack of supportive evidence or the discovery of evidence that directly contradicts them, those conclusions must be rejected.

From Lysenkoism through the examples given by Oreskes and Conway, politically motivated pseudoscience demonstrates a pattern of characteristics as follows.

  1. There is a lack of experiments.
  2. The results of experiments are ignored or contradicted in the conclusions.
  3. There is either no peer-review or peer-reviewer concerns are ignored.
  4. The findings cannot be replicated or falsified due to the withholding of data.
  5. False conclusions are supported by marketing or media propaganda.
  6. Hypotheses that are supported by the evidence are ignored.

All six of these characteristics of pseudo-science are exhibited by the U.S. government investigation into what happened at the WTC on September 11th, 2001. That investigation was conducted by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and it had much in common with the examples given by Oreskes and Conway. As with the false science that supported tobacco use, millions of lives were lost as a result—in this case through the “War on Terror.” Like support for the Strategic Defense Initiative, the abuses were focused on supporting the military-industrial complex. And as with the environmental examples, NIST’s manipulations affect everyone on the planet because they prop up a never-ending war.

In terms of historical experience, the destruction of the three WTC skyscrapers was unprecedented. No tall building had ever experienced global collapse for any reason other than explosive demolition and none ever has since that time. In terms of observation, nearly everyone who examines the videos from the day recognizes the many similarities to explosive demolition. Perhaps the most compelling evidence in favor of the demolition theory is that the NIST WTC Reports, which took up to seven years to produce, exhibit all six of the characteristics of politically motivated pseudoscience.

The lack of experiment:

NIST performed no physical experiments to support its conclusions on WTC Building 7. Its primary conclusion, that a few steel floor beams experienced linear thermal expansion thereby shearing many structural connections, could have easily been confirmed through physical testing but no such testing was performed. Moreover, other scientists had performed such tests in the past but since the results did not support NIST’s conclusions, those results were ignored(see peer-review comments below)

The results of experiments were ignored or contradicted in the conclusions:

  • For the Twin Towers, steel temperature tests performed on the few steel samples saved suggested that the steel reached only about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, This is more than a thousand degrees below the temperature needed to soften steel and make it malleable—a key requirement of NIST’s hypothesis. NIST responded by exaggerating temperatures in its computer model.
  • Another key requirement of NIST’s explanation for the Twin Towers was that floor assemblies had sagged severely under thermal stress. Floor model tests conducted by my former company Underwriters Laboratories showed that the floor assemblies would sag only 3 to 4 inches, even after removal of all fireproofing and exposure to much higher temperatures than existed in the buildings. NIST responded by exaggerating the results—claiming up to 42-inches worth of floor assembly sagging in its computer model.
  • After criticism of its draft report in April 2005, NIST quietly inserted a short description of shotgun tests conducted to evaluate fireproofing loss in the towers. These results also failed to support NIST’s conclusions because the shotgun blasts were not reflective of the distribution or trajectories of the aircraft debris. Additionally, the tests suggested that the energy required to “widely dislodge” fireproofing over five acre-wide floors—required by NIST’s findings—was simply not available.

There was no peer review and public comments from peers were ignored:

NIST published its own WTC reports and therefore its work was not subject to peer-review as is the case for all legitimate science. The people and companies involved in the NIST investigation were either government employees or contractors dependent on government work and were therefore not objective participants.

In terms of indirect peer-review, the international building construction community has made no changes to building construction standards in response to NIST’s officially cited root causes for the WTC destruction. Furthermore, no existing buildings have been retrofitted to ensure that they do not fail from those alleged causes.

NIST provided a period for public comment on its draft reports but the comments provided by those not beholden to government were not supportive of NIST’s findings. In some cases, as with NIST’s linear expansion claim for WTC 7, independent scientists submitted comments about physical tests they had performed (which NIST had not) that directly contradicted NIST’s findings.

There was one important exception to NIST’s ignoring of public comments. After a physics teacher’s well-publicized comments, NIST was forced to admit that WTC 7 was in free-fall for a vertical distance equivalent to at least eight stories of the building. Structural engineers have since noted that many hundreds of high-strength steel bolts and steel welds would have had to vanish instantaneously for an 8-story section of the building to fall without any resistance.

The findings cannot be replicated or falsified due to the withholding of data:

NIST will not share it computer models with the public. A NIST spokesman declared, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, that revealing the computer models would “jeopardize public safety.” Because NIST’s conclusions depend entirely on those computer models, they cannot be verified or falsified by independent scientists.

False conclusions are supported by media or marketing propaganda:

As with the Soviet propaganda machine that supported Lysenkoism and the tobacco industry’s marketing propaganda, NIST’s pseudoscience was fully and uncritically supported by the mainstream media. Hearst Publications, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and Skeptic magazine are examples of media that went to great lengths to stifle any questioning of the official account and divert attention from the glaring discrepancies.

NIST depended on that media support as indicated by the timing of its release of reports. NIST’s final report appeared to be scheduled for dual political purposes, to coincide with the seventh anniversary of 9/11 and to give the appearance of finished business at the end of the Bush Administration. The timing of NIST’s other reports coincided with political events as well. These included the draft report on the towers in October 2004—just before the election, the final report on the towers—just before the fourth anniversary of 9/11, and NIST’s first “responses to FAQs”—just before the fifth anniversary. All of them appeared to involve politically motivated release dates.

The report release dates allowed time for the media to quickly present the official story while public interest was high, but did not allow time for critical review. With the report on WTC 7, the public was given just three weeks prior to September 11th, 2008 to comment on a report that was nearly seven years in the making.

Hypotheses that are supported by the evidence were ignored:

Throughout its seven-year investigation, NIST ignored the obvious hypothesis for the destruction of the WTC buildings—demolition. That evidence includes:

  • Free-fall or near-free fall acceleration of all three buildings (now acknowledged by NIST for WTC 7)
  • Photographic and video evidence demonstrating the characteristics of demolition for both the Twin Towers and WTC 7

The WTC reports produced by NIST represent the most obvious example of politically motivated pseudoscience in history. The physical experiments NIST performed did not support its conclusions. The reports were not peer-reviewed and public comments that challenged the findings were ignored. NIST will not share its computer models—the last supposed evidence that supports its conclusions—with the public and therefore its conclusions are not verifiable.

These glaring facts should be readily recognizable by any scientist and, given the unprecedented impact of the resulting War on Terror, this abuse of science should be the basis for a global outcry from the scientific community. The fact that it is not—with even Oreskes and Conway ignoring this most obvious example—indicates that many scientists today still cannot recognize false science or cannot speak out about it for fear of social stigma. It’s possible that our society has not suffered enough to compel scientists to move out of their comfort zones and challenge such exploitation of their profession. If so, the abuse of science for political and commercial purposes will only get worse.

Kevin Ryan blogs at Dig Within.