Tag Archives: propaganda

To Remember

anti-war protest rally in London image from wikipedia

To remember is an attempt to piece together what can never be one again. The time, the place, the scent of flesh once beating. Today marks the invasion of Iraq. It seems the rest of the world has forgotten.

The following poems appear in my book Alien to Any Skin (UST Publishing House, 2011). Should I thank GW Bush for writing them?

Just This One

Art. 33. No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she
has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures
of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.
The Fourth Geneva Convention

When someone says “Think about the bigger picture,”
I hide. My life has the legs of an ant. I find the resilience
of pebbles more inviting. They smooth themselves on riverbeds,
current rushing over their backs, pushing them to cling
with other pebbles or grains of sand pounded to near nothingness.

There are so many of them, too many to count. Each one
has something the others do not possess. Perhaps the thinnest streak
of brown, the sligthest indentation, the faintest crack.
Even when they are broken they are never the same. Caress
the jagged edge of this one with your index finger. Just this one.

July 2008
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The Day the Dead Tree Fell

years of fear
have come to this

roots unearthed
longer than the arms of men
pointing skyward

the drone
of foreign planes

a hollow in the ground
deep enough
for a coffin

the silence
of loaded guns

all those fine veins
where something
used to flow

November 2008 – August 2010
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Questions
for the leader of invading forces

When you put your shoes on this morning,
do you remember which foot came first?

Does someone tell you when your collar gets stuck inside your shirt?
Do you let that person touch you?

What colours make your eyes stop searching?
Are those the ones you like or the ones you hate?

How many people have you met that had an extra finger
and wasn’t shy about it?

Have you ever held a firefly in your palms?
Was it warm? Were you alone?

When you close your eyes,
whose face lingers?

What was the first word you learned to write?
Did you use a pencil or a crayon or a borrowed pen?

If you had a dog, would you name it
after the person who blew up your house?

Is there something on my forehead
that only you can read?

Can you tell if someone is lying
or just scared?

Will my name be on a piece of paper?
Spelled correctly?

August 2008
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Going Retro: The Victorious Army of Gobbledygooks Penetrates the City

“Why do they hate us? We’re setting them free!”
A foot soldier

They were expecting
sweaty hugs and kisses
from dark veiled women
and their adoring children.

Ears cocked, they anticipated the struggle
of the local band in playing
their beloved anthem,
as if it were not foreign.

But only hollow,
sporadic shouting of men
who gathered from nowhere
welcomed the forces.

The army was laden
with a quick,
calculated victory,
craving for popular jubilation.

Instead, this caricature of a show
put on by these nowhere men.
Stick figures in the desert sun,
sure of only one thing:

Tear down the giant statue
designed originally
by a previous generation
of gobbledygooks.

This show had been triangulated
for the world to see
moment by breathless moment
on their most trusted TV.

And then what? An awkward silence
as the statue grates to a stop,
refusing to crash down. A monologue broken
by coughing in the background, off camera.

Days later when the local population
finally came out with their voices raised,
the victorious gobbledygooks felt
strangely welcome, unable to decipher

Joy and ecstasy from utter hatred.
It is only now with proper translation
years later that we have
a clear understanding of gang rape.

December 2008
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Another poem from ALIEN TO ANY SKIN gets published!

One of my poems with a very long title that’s a dig and a stab after the initial tickle (or so I hope), has been published on the The Philippines Free Press website. I posted the news on my book blog for Alien to Any Skin.

I did a quick search on the event the poem tackles and found this:

Toppling the statue of Saddam Hussein

Toppling the statue of Saddam Hussein was a staged event, by U.S. soldiers, for the media. A Reuters long-shot of Firdos Square where the statue was located (see below) shows that the Square was nearly empty when Saddam was torn down. The Square was sealed off by the U.S. military. The 200 people milling about were U.S. Marines, international press and Iraqis. However, the media portrayed it as an event of the Iraqi people.

Image:0411square.jpg

An American military vehicle actually pulled down the statue. Marine Corporal Ed Chin, who temporarily placed a U.S. flag over Saddam’s face, became an instant media celebrity. His sister, Connie, appeared on the “Today” show and spoke with her brother via a video hook-up.

Military Admits Statue Toppling was a Psyops Stunt

On Point, a US army report on lessons learned from the war, notes that it was a Marine colonel, not Iraqi civilians, who decided to topple the statue. “We moved our [tactical PSYOP team] TPT vehicle forward and started to run around seeing what they needed us to do to facilitate their mission,” states a U.S. military officer involved in the operation. “There was a large media circus at this location (I guess the Palestine Hotel was a media center at the time), almost as many reporters as there were Iraqis, as the hotel was right adjacent to the Al-Firdos Square. The Marine Corps colonel in the area saw the Saddam statue as a target of opportunity and decided that the statue must come down.” The pyschological team used loudspeakers to encourage Iraqi civilians to assist, packed the scene with Iraqi children, and stepped in to readjust the props when one of the soldiers draped an American flag over the statue. “God bless them, but we were thinking from PSYOP school that this was just bad news,” the officer reported. “We didn’t want to look like an occupation force, and some of the Iraqis were saying, ‘No, we want an Iraqi flag!’ So I said ‘No problem, somebody get me an Iraqi flag.’ “

from SOURCEWATCH

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“Going Retro: The Victorious Army of Gobbledygooks Penetrates the City” was written in December 2008.


The Music is the Same, Just a Different Dance Floor

This is from William Blum’s December 2011 post:
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USrael and Iran

There’s no letup, is there? The preparation of the American mind, the world mind, for the next gala performance of D&D — Death and Destruction. The Bunker Buster bombs are now 30,000 pounds each one, six times as heavy as the previous delightful model..

But the Masters of War still want to be loved; they need for you to believe them when they say they have no choice, that Iran is the latest threat to life as we know it, no time to waste.

The preparation of minds was just as fervent before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. And when it turned out that Iraq did not have any kind of arsenal of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) … well, our power elite found other justifications for the invasion, and didn’t look back. Some berated Iraq: “Why didn’t they tell us that? Did they want us to bomb them?”

In actuality, before the US invasion high Iraqi officials had stated clearly on repeated occasions that they had no such weapons. In August 2002, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz told American newscaster Dan Rather on CBS: “We do not possess any nuclear or biological or chemical weapons.”1

In December, Aziz stated to Ted Koppel on ABC: “The fact is that we don’t have weapons of mass destruction. We don’t have chemical, biological, or nuclear weaponry.”2

Hussein himself told Rather in February 2003: “These missiles have been destroyed. There are no missiles that are contrary to the prescription of the United Nations [as to range] in Iraq. They are no longer there.”3

Moreover, Gen. Hussein Kamel, former head of Iraq’s secret weapons program, and a son-in-law of Saddam Hussein, told the UN in 1995 that Iraq had destroyed its banned missiles and chemical and biological weapons soon after the Persian Gulf War of 1991.4

There are yet other examples of Iraqi officials telling the world that the WMD were non-existent.

And if there were still any uncertainty remaining, last year Hans Blix, former chief United Nations weapons inspector, who led a doomed hunt for WMD in Iraq, told a British inquiry into the 2003 invasion that those who were “100 percent certain there were weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq turned out to have “less than zero percent knowledge” of where the purported hidden caches might be. He testified that he had warned British Prime Minister Tony Blair in a February 2003 meeting — as well as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in separate talks — that Hussein might have no weapons of mass destruction.5

Those of who you don’t already have serious doubts about the American mainstream media’s knowledge and understanding of US foreign policy, should consider this: Despite the two revelations on Dan Rather’s CBS programs, and the other revelations noted above, in January 2008 we find CBS reporter Scott Pelley interviewing FBI agent George Piro, who had interviewed Saddam Hussein before he was executed:

PELLEY: And what did he tell you about how his weapons of mass destruction had been destroyed?

PIRO: He told me that most of the WMD had been destroyed by the U.N. inspectors in the ’90s, and those that hadn’t been destroyed by the inspectors were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq.

PELLEY: He had ordered them destroyed?

PIRO: Yes.

PELLEY: So why keep the secret? Why put your nation at risk? Why put your own life at risk to maintain this charade?6

The United States and Israel are preparing to attack Iran because of their alleged development of nuclear weapons, which Iran has denied on many occasions. Of the Iraqis who warned the United States that it was mistaken about the WMD — Saddam Hussein was executed, Tariq Aziz is awaiting execution. Which Iranian officials is USrael going to hang after their country is laid to waste?

Would it have mattered if the Bush administration had fully believed Iraq when it said it had no WMD? Probably not. There is ample evidence that Bush knew this to be the case, or at a minimum should have seriously suspected it; the same applies to Tony Blair. Saddam Hussein did not sufficiently appreciate just how psychopathic his two adversaries were. Bush was determined to vanquish Iraq, for the sake of Israel, for control of oil, and for expanding the empire with new bases, though in the end most of this didn’t work out as the empire expected; for some odd reason, it seems that the Iraqi people resented being bombed, invaded, occupied, demolished, and tortured.

But if Iran is in fact building nuclear weapons, we have to ask: Is there some international law that says that the US, the UK, Russia, China, Israel, France, Pakistan, and India are entitled to nuclear weapons, but Iran is not? If the United States had known that the Japanese had deliverable atomic bombs, would Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been destroyed? Israeli military historian, Martin van Creveld, has written: “The world has witnessed how the United States attacked Iraq for, as it turned out, no reason at all. Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy.”7

It can not be repeated too often: The secret to understanding US foreign policy is that there is no secret. Principally, one must come to the realization that the United States strives to dominate the world. Once one understands that, much of the apparent confusion, contradiction, and ambiguity surrounding Washington’s policies fades away. Examine a map: Iran sits directly between two of the United States’ great obsessions — Iraq and Afghanistan … directly between two of the world’s greatest oil regions — the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea areas … it’s part of the encirclement of the two leading potential threats to American world domination — Russia and China … Tehran will never be a client state or obedient poodle to Washington. How could any good, self-respecting Washington imperialist resist such a target? Bombs Away!


Fear, the Official Story

2towers

Every year those who relish a particular taste
pry open this wound using blunt instruments
such as a butter knife or a spoon.
Nothing surgical, for they want the mess
to be visible to everyone. See how it hurts.

It is a strange wound felt
deeply by all who saw its birth
televised. Distances conquered
by grief via satellite.

I remember that disbelief,
texture of leather
in the back of my throat.
Then just as quickly came the fear
of who might be blamed.

The hows and whys and whos
that led to the wound were officially declared
but never put to rest.
Repetition turned to religion.

The wound itself became reason enough
to inflict misery a thousandfold greater.
Years later we are told again
this wound alone matters.

Let nothing get in the way
of this crucifixion.

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This was written in September 2008.


Bush’s ‘Smoking Gun’ Witness Found Dead

FROM A.N.S.W.E.R.

The cover-up of Bush-era crimes is taking a shocking but not unexpected turn. A fateful move has been made and it is certain to backfire.

A prisoner who was horribly tortured in 2002 until he agreed – at the demand of Bush torturers – to say that al-Qaeda was linked to Saddam Hussein is suddenly dead. Several weeks ago, Human Rights Watch investigators discovered the missing inmate and talked to him. He had been secretly transferred by the administration to a prison in Libya after having been held by the CIA both in secret “black hole prisons” and in Egypt.

Under conditions of extreme torture, the prisoner, Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, agreed in 2002 to supply the Bush-ordered interrogators what they sought as a political cover for Bush’s marketing of the pending war of aggression against Iraq. Mr. Libi agreed to tell them whatever they wanted in exchange for an end to the torture. The now famous Torture Memos providing legal cover for the torture were written at the same time starting in the summer of 2002.

Libi’s tortured and knowingly fabricated testimony was the source of information used by Bush to sell the war to the U.S. Senate, and the source for Colin Powell’s bogus and lying presentation to the United Nations in 2003.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice are now running around saying that the torture regime “protected the country from terrorist attack.” But the torture was used for the personal political goals of Bush and Cheney: namely, to sell their Iraq invasion to a very skeptical and disbelieving country.

Having been discovered by human rights investigators two weeks ago, Mr. Libi’s story coincided with the release of the Torture Memos and the growing clamor for criminal prosecutions of Bush officials.

His testimony is the smoking gun that would reveal that the torture regime was not for “national security” but for the personal political aims of Bush and Cheney.

He was Exhibit A in the indictment that alleges that tortured confessions and the contrived legal justifications of torture set up by Justice Department lawyers in July/August 2002 were central to the launch of the war against Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died and tens of thousands of U.S. service members have either been killed or badly wounded in a war that was based on lies fortified and promoted by the most sadistic torture.

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What We Always Suspected: Innocent Gitmo Prisoners

Taken for a ride: This award winning documentary needs to be seen again.

From a recent Associated Press report we find this:

Many detainees locked up at Guantanamo were innocent men swept up by U.S. forces unable to distinguish enemies from noncombatants, a former Bush administration official said Thursday. “There are still innocent people there,” Lawrence B. Wilkerson, a Republican who was chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, told The Associated Press. “Some have been there six or seven years.”

Wilkerson, who first made the assertions in an Internet posting on Tuesday, told the AP he learned from briefings and by communicating with military commanders that the U.S. soon realized many Guantanamo detainees were innocent but nevertheless held them in hopes they could provide information for a “mosaic” of intelligence.

“It did not matter if a detainee were innocent. Indeed, because he lived in Afghanistan and was captured on or near the battle area, he must know something of importance,” Wilkerson wrote in the blog. He said intelligence analysts hoped to gather “sufficient information about a village, a region, or a group of individuals, that dots could be connected and terrorists or their plots could be identified.”

Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel, said vetting on the battlefield during the early stages of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan was incompetent with no meaningful attempt to determine “who we were transporting to Cuba for detention and interrogation.”

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A Chosen Blindness

from Majid Majidi's "The Willow Tree"

In the deeply spiritual film “The Willow Tree” by acclaimed director Majid Majidi, we find the lead character, a man in his forties, who has been blind since childhood about to undergo a personal journey.  The last time he had seen an image of himself was at age ten.  Now with his own wife and child, he regains his sight following a miraculous operation.  He is instantly overjoyed by a world again made visible.  And, within moments, he encounters a reflection of his aged features in the glass walls of the hospital.

Questions of faith and choice arise throughout the film as he rejoins the same people who had known him, including his own family, but whom he meets as if for the very first time.  Sight becomes a new experience that introduces him to a changed world, but it also sends crashing the same world he once knew.  The film culminates in a painful reawakening, a humbling down to the very core of one’s spirit.

The blindness that this sensitive film deals with is beyond the physical.  It is a powerful film that quietly works its way to reveal the darkness inside us, and the light that we sometimes refuse to see.

There are many ways of going blind.  Many ways of remaining in the dark.

Mainstream media – the BBC, CNN, Reuters, Associated Press, and all other big corporate media – currently suffer from a particular blindness.  They have chosen this affliction.  They continue to ignore the historic significance of a convoy of humanitarian aid that was organized by ordinary citizens from the UK and supported by ordinary people from various countries.

How can one choose blindness to a common humanity?

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Viva Palestina Email Alert
Midnight, Sunday 8th March 2009

A message from the Viva Palestina website

Viva Palestina is your story

Thirty years ago, as an 11-year-old boy, I remember eagerly awaiting 5.05pm on a Monday and Thursday for the start of Blue Peter. I, like millions of other children, was desperate for our first glimpse of the totaliser – the bright flashing lights showing us how much money we had raised between programmes for that year’s Blue Peter Appeal. The 1979 appeal, with it’s bring and buy sales, had been launched after the horrors of Cambodia’s ‘killing fields’ had been exposed to the world.

And it wasn’t just children who wanted to know – the weekly total was reported on the national news and in the national papers, journalists sought out heart-warming stories of those who had given up their toys, clothes and books to help the impoverished and destitute thousands of miles away in South East Asia.


Working on the website for Viva Palestina I have had the daily task of making our own appeal totaliser reflect the generosity of another generation. Each day I’ve been overwhelmed by the scale of the donations and the stories that accompany them – of a four year old child in Manchester who emptied her piggy bank for the children of Gaza and so spurred her family into raising over £1,600; of the four girls in Torquay who baked cakes to sell at their school, of the hundreds of children in Preston who packed shoeboxes with toys and presents for other children whom they had never met. These stories have been repeated up and down the country – and they are a shining tribute to Britain at its best.


And just as in 1979 they should have been reported – shouted from the rooftops and celebrated in articles in the Sunday colour supplements.

Here was a truly incredible story – of an aid mission that in just eight weeks had galvanised community after community to create a convoy of over 100 vehicles, laden with over £1 million of aid and then driven over 5000 miles and two continents to relieve the suffering in Gaza.


And it was a movement that was created from scratch, with no full time staff – just a website, a few blogs, text messages, public meetings and a million conversations. Surely this would be worth reporting; surely this was news….

But the sad reality is that the Viva Palestina convoy, carrying the love and human solidarity from the people of Britain to the people of Gaza has been deemed un-newsworthy by nearly all of the British media.


The BBC, who next week will entreat us all to do ‘something funny for money’ in aid of Comic Relief has felt fit to mention the Convoy just three times on its website (and once hidden away in the Africa pages). The Guardian, that bastion of ‘liberal Britain’ only reported it once it thought it had the makings of a nasty little smear. The Independent showed its ‘independence’ by spiking a column by Mark Steel, which discussed Viva Palestina.


We did get media coverage from abroad – from France and Spain, Italy, Canada and a host of other countries but in Britain we had to rely on the work of a few journalists on local newspapers who still recognise a good story when they see one.


One can’t help but wonder how the national media would have responded had the convoy been headed for Darfur instead of Gaza – or had not been supported so over-whelmingly by Britain’s beleaguered Muslim community. Perhaps we may have even have made it onto Blue Peter.


Depressingly, our most prominent publicity came when nine of our convoy members were arrested in the piece of pure political theatre on the M65 – the day before the convoy departed. Yet the same media outlets, that reported the arrests with such gusto on the day of departure, chose to ignore or downgrade the news that all nine men were entirely innocent and had been released without charge. Even the terrible damage to community relations in Blackburn and Burnley resulting from these arrests was not a news-worthy topic for Britain’s ‘quality’ press.


The Viva Palestina convoy has been a remarkable achievement; it has overcome a virtual media blackout, the cynical arrests of some of its members and the refusal of banks to allow us to open accounts.


Yet despite all this we are now just a few hours away from taking our aid into Gaza. The vehicles and their contents represent the hopes of millions and the solidarity of whole communities: of families, mosques, churches and schools. Whatever happens at the Rafah crossing today – and we hope and pray for a swift and smooth crossing into Gaza – Viva Palestina has been a remarkable story.


It is a story that has only just begun. Its first chapter lasted just one hectic month from an inspired idea hatched by George Galloway in early January to the departure on Valentine’s Day in London’s Hyde Park. Its second chapter, the journey itself, is almost over and we hope it will soon be told in a film, report back meetings and, it has been suggested, perhaps a book as well.

The story will now continue into its third chapter with the distribution of the convoy’s aid and the purchase and delivery of even more – from water-purification systems for schools and neighbourhoods to a field hospital and medical equipment for the injured, tents for the homeless and much more. Convoy members will return with the names of clinics, schools and communities with which to twin their local communities in Britain.

If our media, whose own cynicism has been so badly exposed by their silence, continue to write Viva Palestina out of the news then we must do all we can to spread the news ourselves. We have shown that what ordinary people do can make a real difference – and perhaps that is what the editors and news-chiefs hate most of all. Or maybe we just didn’t have enough celebrities driving the fire engine!


So in the quiet moments before the crossing I would like to thank all those who have worked so hard for this project. Those who collected the aid, sorted it, packed it and filled the vehicles; those who donated online – from over thirty five countries across the globe – and who filled the collecting tins and buckets; the drivers with their legendary endurance and those who found time to blog their stories; the local newspaper journalists who reported the convoy and the journalists who wrote stories that their editors refused to print: to the people who sent in their pictures and video clips to the website – and finally to Farid Arada who kept us all up to date with his daily reports on the convoy’s location. The Viva Palestina story is your story.


The investigative journalist John Pilger, who broke the news of Cambodia’s ‘killing fields’ three decades ago, has made a film called ‘Palestine is still the issue’ – and he is right. The convoy story is but one bright spark in the ongoing tragedy of Palestine and its courageous people. The issue remains to be resolved but Viva Palestina has taken us one step closer to a solution – a solution based on solidarity, co-operation and love.

Clive Searle

Viva Palestina website