Saturday, March 04, 2006

What's Going On in Pakistan?

Weekend Edition
February 25 / 26, 2006

It's About More Than Cartoons

What's Going On in Pakistan?

Lahore, Pakistan.

Major cities in Pakistan have been in flames, several individuals have died, and damage to property is estimated to be in millions of dollars. These are among the worst riots in Pakistan's history.

Unrest of any significant magnitude always appears inevitable once it has occurred. Succumbing to such a temptation is virtually unavoidable when a certain constellation of forces and alliances provide easy targets. The ruler of Pakistan is General Pervaiz Musharraf, who manages to coop most powers of government (but allows freedom of press); he supports President George Bush's War on Terror with considerable enthusiasm, and that both keeps him in power and undermines his domestic support. The popularity of Islam-pasand (those of like Islam) groups has increased, and two provincial governments are headed by Islamic parties. American bombing of a village without consultation with Pakistan's government killed several civilians, and strong demands by a variety of political parties did not produce any regret on the part of the United States or even a promise that such violation of sovereignty in the future will not occur.

The drama unfolding in Pakistan in the last week may be divided into four parts: the Danish cartoons and their analysis, response to them in Pakistan, explanations, and the future prospects.

Analysis of Danish Cartoons.

The demonstrators on February 14 took to the streets in all the major cities of Pakistan to protest the publications of cartoons that Muslims all over the world find deeply offensive. These cartoons appeared first in a newspaper in Denmark and then in several other European countries. The events that they unleashed in Europe and Pakistan flowed from inertia and arrogance, together they reduced the willingness of the major players, first, to anticipate, and, then, to adequately respond.

The European and American government leaders repeated their mantra ad nauseaum: regrets for Muslims' hurt feelings and helplessness in view of their deep commitment to a free press. There were some interesting variations, however. Norwegian apologies were unqualified; the editor of Magazinet, the Norwegian newspaper that reprinted the cartoons, Vebjoem Selbekk, said, "I address myself personally to the Muslim community to say that I am sorry that your religious feelings have been hurt." Carsten Juste, the editor of Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, which originally printed them, on the other hand, stated, "In our opinion, the 12 drawings were sober. They were not intended to be offensive, nor were they at variance with the Danish law, but they have indisputably offended many Muslims for which we apologize." While it is still too early to know the full range of pressures, motivations, and prejudices that resulted in the publication of those cartoons, some recently-revealed facts are helpful in contextualizing to a certain degree the decisions made in Jyllands-Posten. It is indeed sobering to learn that it rejected certain cartoons submitted by Christopher Zieler about Jesus because they were expected to offend Christian sensibilities, but other cartoons that were thought to be less offensive to Christians were published.

More recently, Fleming Rose, the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, in an op-ed piece in the Washington Post has tried to explain his decision to ask Danish artists to produce the cartoonists and to publish them. It requires closer attention.

His first reason for doing so was to overcome what he called European self-censorship; it was reflected, according to him, in unwillingness of artists to illustrate a children's book about the Holy Prophet (PBUM), translate a book critical of Islam, withdrawal of a installation in London's Tate Gallery that showed pieces of the Qur'an, the Bible, and Talmud torn to pieces. I find this quite amazing on at least two counts. First, one would have to be living on a different planet not to notice that Islam and Muslims are under heavy and frequent attack: in different representation forms (books; magazines; TV shows; including TV series--for example, 24--crafted to serve only that purpose), by famous authors (V.S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Robert Cooper, Niall Ferguson, Christopher Hitchens, David Perle and Richard Frum), practices (documented discrimination in employment and housing, which were brought to attention in France recently but those conditions prevail in several other European countries too), and strength of political formations (increasing popularity of right-wing parties in several European countries, including Denmark). Second, it is hard to understand why Mr. Rose felt that these cartoons were the appropriate means for overcoming the so-called self-censorship.

His second reason was that "we have a tradition of satire when dealing with the royal family and other public figures, and that was reflected in the cartoons." Since the cartoons treated other religions in the same way, "they made a point: We are integrating you into the Danish tradition of satire because you are part of our society, not strangers. The cartoons are including, rather than excluding, Muslims." Strategies for inclusion, I am willing to grant, do vary, but defending one that, on the face of it, should have appeared more than a little bizarre, but continuing to do so after it has lead in many countries to massive demonstrations, riots, deaths, and huge damage to property, and also to the recalling of ambassadors from Denmark, well, that, suggests something far more serious than that. Aren't there other ways of making 20 million Muslim immigrants in Europe comfortable, welcome, and included?

The third reason was that the cartoons were trying to demonstrate that it was "some individuals [who had] taken the religion of Islam hostage by committing terrorist acts." And it was they who were responsible for giving Islam a bad name. The fairly tale of Aladin which portrayed the orange falling into the turban in one cartoon "suggests that the bomb comes from the outside world and is not an inherent characteristic of the Holy Prophet [PBUH]". I have seen the cartoon in question, and to me this interpretation seems disingenuous and tortured. Surely, if the objective was to disassociate Muslims and their faith from terrorism there were clearer, less blasphemous ways of doing it.

Mr. Rose ended with the usual eulogies to the sanctity of freedom of the press and the elevation of all dangers to it as amounting to nothing less than totalitarianism, reinforced by references to the Soviet practices. Here he missed an opportunity to focus on perhaps the most significant issue that has emerged, which has now been adopted as a recommendation by the Organization of Islamic Conference to the United Nations: prohibition against all blasphemous expression. This proposal is actually not so novel. In Austria, which I understand has freedom of press, denying that Holocaust took place is a crime under its law, and an author was sentenced to a jail term for three years.

Response in Pakistan

Pakistan's government protested the publication of the cartoons, as did all other Muslim countries' leaders, but it appeared understanding of the Western governments' position, or at least was not willing to challenge it. It was eventually the Danish government that took the initiative in recalling its ambassador from Islamabad that led to the virtually automatic decision on the part of Pakistan to do the same.

Public opinion inside Pakistan is complex and divided along a variety of ways. Pakistani intelligentsia consists largely of educators, journalists, and lawyers, and they influence it considerably. Ideologically they include the liberals as well as the left. They were not as passionately engaged in denouncing the publication of the cartoons, at least not in a prominent way. In Dawn, a highly respectable English newspaper, a columnist recommended that Pakistanis get over it; the column's title was "Move On." Islam-pasand (those who like Islam) groups, on the other hand, took a different position. They demanded that Pakistan's ambassadors from European countries be recalled where the cartoons had been printed, and trade with them halted. It was also demanded that the Europeans carve out the same exception for blasphemous expression as exists for other reasons. No political group in Pakistan could really oppose these demands. That revealed in a rather dramatic fashion the unique position of Islam in Pakistan's politics, on the one hand, and the evaporation of "moderation" and "secularization" forces when certain crucial junctures are reached, on the other. These are the political fault lines that have the potential of tripping up political groups and governments; they cannot be ignored in any plans for democratizing the country.

The intelligentsia in Pakistan has come to play an unusual role. They are, as expected, largely secular, or at least not very religious; and, consequently, uncomfortable with any public manifestation of Islamic role. They have made known their opposition to sharia-based laws in certain areas, and are moving forward with their agenda. But for reasons not entirely clear, even the left-leaning among them have so far not mounted a strong or sustained critique of globalization (World Trade Organization, World Bank, International Monetary Fund). On top of that, some of its ardent supporters speak of jihadists in an undifferentiated manner. (Tariq Ali is a good example.) However, since not all Islam-pasand groups are terrorists, such characterization is clearly unwarranted. Their strong rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding, their anti-terrorist stance, some discomfort with Islam, and no strong opposition to the globalization project, makes their position paradoxically not very different from that of American government. They are far more willing now to change the subject to condemning violence than the issue that led to the riots in the first place.


The ostensible reasons for the demonstrators to get out of hand in Pakistani cities had to do with a breach of commitment, or so government officials state. The organizers of the march pledged that there will be no violence, and on that basis they were allowed to march on Lahore's major street, The Mall. The organizers respond that the groups they were leading kept their pledge; it was some other groups that were responsible for the loss of life and damage to property. In any case, there is no denying the fact that buildings were torched, stores looted, and cars set on fire for at least three hours before police or the Rangers finally arrived where they were needed in Lahore. There were protests and extensive damage to property in virtually all the other major cities as well: Karachi, Peshawar, Islamabad, Quetta. Demonstrations also occurred in small cities and even towns as well.

Several explanations are circulating that explain these events. Breach of commitment and lack of police preparation are the obvious ones. Beyond that, India and the United States are the usual suspects; the former for weakening Pakistan, the latter for creating an excuse for demanding that Pakistan give up the nuclear bomb. Some go so far as to suggest that the government itself is behind it; unrest being always a reliable excuse for arresting the political opponents (more than 300 of them have been arrested), strengthening the powers of government, and extending its term of office. Random violence by the young students to vent their frustration about unemployment, inflation, and authoritarian government may be yet another explanation. Some parties now clearly seek not only redress for the publication of cartoons but also the ouster of President Musharraf.

The extensive damage and unrest in Pakistan reveal a pattern of twisted and perverse history of authoritarianism, Islam, and the pursuit of American interests in Pakistan. During the long period during which the Cold War continued, and particularly after Soviet Union's military presence in Afghanistan became known in 1979, United States' government has supported Islamic groups, funded and trained groups that fought under the banner of jihad, enthusiastically supported military governments in Pakistan, and ignored such governments' suppression of domestic democratic movements. That has been largely the norm. But, then, periodically, American policy has suddenly shifted to punishing Pakistan, but not India, for having developed a nuclear bomb, not having a democratic government, for supporting jihad, or generally taking Islam much too seriously. Perhaps the worst example of such a sudden shift in policy was the abrupt departure from Afghanistan by the United States as soon as the Soviets had been ousted.

After Pakistani government had supported American jihad to oust the Soviets, it was left to deal with three million Afghani refugees on its own--more than two million of which are still here--and deal with several Afghani tribes fighting each other over which one will rule over Afghanistan.

Soon after that, Pakistan was subjected to layer upon layer of sanctions for developing the atomic bomb. For many years, the American government also disallowed the delivery of the F-16 planes that Pakistan had already paid for, but neither was Pakistan allowed to get back the price paid for those very expensive planes. In the meantime, Pakistan was also being charged for parking the planes that it could not have!

Future Prospects

The perception, shared by both the elites and people is that American government is an unreliable ally, as likely to turn on Pakistan as it is to support it. The torching of two MacDonald and one Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants in Lahore may reflect some of that feeling.

Foreign investment is likely to be discouraged, but there wasn't much of it coming in, in any case. Government's powers will likely be strengthened, but they are already quite considerable. But there clearly were some frustration in all this violence, and if it is not addressed partly through foreign policy initiatives and partly domestic relief, either further repression or unrest will follow.

Islam-pasand parties, presently organized as Tahaffuz-e-Namoos-e-Rasool Mahaz (Front for the Protection of the Sanctity of Prophethood) have a long, virtually unending schedule of actions planned. Cartoons have provided an issue, as mentioned already, that no one can really oppose, and that puts the government and the intelligentsia in the unenviable position of having to condemn the violence without addressing the issue of cartoons itself.

Former President Bill Clinton visited here recently, and charmed his hosts by declaring that the publication of the cartoons was a "mistake." He emphasized the responsibility with which press freedom needs to be exercised. President George Bush is expected here soon. He is likely to come and leave publicly praising the virtues of freedom; in private, he is expected to lean on his hosts to do more to fight terrorism, something that President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan also did when he was here a few days ago. President Musharraf, in the interest of serving such freedom will probably give it up as far as the sovereignty of Pakistan is concerned; he may also be under pressure to reduce the freedom and tribal autonomy of the areas where al-Qaeda operatives are suspected of infiltrating into Pakistani territory. Freedom as it manifests itself in public and operational contexts produces some paradoxical results.

Sometime in the future, perhaps after Bush or after terrorism, American policy-makers may well want to impose sanctions on Pakistan again because it is unable to handle internal strife in tribal areas and has weak democratic institutions. If that happens, a well-established norm will be reinforced. Scholars will again start probing Pakistani culture and Islam for clues for understanding it!

Zahid Shariff
teaches at the Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Washington. He can be reached at:

Afghanistan: What Does it Serve Canada?

Canada's new minister of War, Gordon O'Connor

Afghanistan: What Does it Serve Canada?

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Five Canadians were injured, one "seriously," today when their convoy was struck by a suicide attacker driving a bomb-laden car outside Kandahar, Afghanistan. The incident comes as Prime Minister Stephen Harper engages in an increasingly vitriolic Ottawa shooting match over the legitimacy of 'Operation Enduring Freedom' and only days after the death of Corporal Paul Davis in an auto accident. Davis was the fourth Canadian killed in the Kandahar redeployment. Nine Canadians have been reported killed in Afghanistan since 2001, four of those in the infamous "friendly fire" U.S. bombing of an active target range.


What Does it Serve Canada?

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
March 3, 2006

Just a year ago, while holding the Defence portfolio, the now nominal leader of the Liberal party, Bill Graham went on a ghoulish public relations tour, warning every rubber-chicken devotee who would listen about the coming Canadian casualties. The effort seemingly designed to "soften up" a public already dubious of Afghanistan. That unease was magnified today by Canadian Forces honcho, Rick Hillier who says Canada could expect to be in Afghanistan for at least a decade, or more. Hillier is the shoot from the lip General who marked his arrival on the Aghan scene last year, talking tough as George W. "Bring 'em on!" Bush, who last week lamented in the national press the too-dumb public's failure to grasp the vital importance impoverished, distant, hopeless Afghanistan poses Canada, and why a "decade, or more" military occupation is its duty.

This past week, Stephen Harper too sputtered across the front pages, outraged that "any Canadian" would challenge the country's commitment to "its men and women in uniform, etcetera ..." That commitment has deepened with Canada's leadership ascension of Nato's ISAF mission in the Kunar, centre of Taliban activity. Until recently, Canadians had it relatively easy, based at Camp Julien, outside the capital, Kabul. But, that all ended last year, when Defence Minister Graham, addressing another banqueting gaggle of camp followers, pronounced Canada's improved military, apparently equipped with a spanking new set of marching orders; orders bearing an unmistakable echo.

What Graham outlined, and Stephen Harper is executing, is the end of Canada's "traditional" Peacekeeping role. Today, Nato, not the UN is where Canada's foreign "commitments" are drawn up. Brussels, not Ottawa decides where, when, and how many. As for why, it depends on who you listen to. But, the most scarifying question, a query naturally left untended by the "mum's the word" media, the question gnawing at the conscience of, according to a Globe & Mail poll, at least 62% of Canadians is: "What?"

Just what will Canada be doing?

Will it look like what America is doing in Iraq? Or, will it look like what Israel is doing in Palestine? Will it look like Gaza? Groszny? Llassa. Or, perhaps it will be another Port-au-Prince, with countless Somalia-like instances of random torture and murder thrown in.

Yes. Port-au-Prince where blue-helmets kick in the doors of the poor, pouring hundreds of rounds of automatic rifle fire, and a shock grenade, or two in and through where the tarpaper-shacked populace cowers in terror sounds more the future of Canada's Afghanistan Mission. Besides the ludicrous notion Afghanistan bears any threat to the security of Canada; and, ignoring the situation, worsening after four years of liberation from the despotic religious zeal of the Taliban regime, is commiting thousands of soldiers for years sound reasoning?

Can history teach us anything?

Following the aerial destruction of Afghanistan's military and infrastructure, the infantry started collecting prisoners. Thousands bagged and tagged in the manner now made familiar through Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the long list of other chambers of horror located, seemingly, everywhere. The least fortunate we know of being those finding themselves at Shebarghan Prison. Thousands of men, rounded up in village sweeps by U.S. forces, were sent on a train of death journey across the wastes, crammed into unventilated semi-trailers.

Three thousand souls in shallow graves, in the desert beyond Shebarghan. Now in the news, revelations Bagram Airbase hosts facilities at least as gruesome as those in Guantanamo, or Iraq. A crime left largely unaddressed yet. Kandahar too has an airbase, and attendant prison/torture centre. Will Canada, a willing supplier of prison/torture fodder until now, now oversee the American methodology?

Shall Canadians now become further mired with a demented president bent on a program the scope of which even the bravest dread mention? How long before picket duty in Iraq, or Iran?

George W. Bush is even now busy lighting fires. He's today reported in Pakistan, following his jaunt to India, where he pledged U.S. nuclear technology to India. Something of more than passing interest to bitter India foe, Pakistan, and regional rival, China. Some analysts warn this is a move promising a renewed nuclear arms race.

Bush's stop in India brought hundreds of thousands in protest. In Pakistan there was a suicide bombing attack that killed a high-ranking American diplomat, and three others.

Canada's facade of independence is now its only hope of side-stepping the American march to self-destruction. When America falls, Canada will too be economically wounded, but how much worse should it now abandon its soul to only forestall the inevitable?

The Canadian rabble is finally rousing to Afghanistan, as reflected in some major media. The country's most influential newspaper, The Toronto-based, Globe & Mail, picked up the gauntlet last week, promising to run a "talking to Canadians" campaign to gauge public opinion. A campaign they maintain necessary due to the Parliament's failure to adequately debate the issue.

In the meanwhile, Canadians are at grave risk, and as Minister Graham told all who'd listen:

It's to be expected.

Chris Cook is a contributing editor to PEJ News and host Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. His writings are also featured at Chris Floyd's Empire Burlesque. You can check out the GR Blog here.

You can contact the author at:

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Not Wanted on the Voyage: George's Passage to India

Arundhati Roy

The Nation -
Arundhati Roy - For Bush's March 2 pit stop in New Delhi, the Indian government tried very hard to have him address our parliament. A not inconsequential number of MPs threatened to heckle him, so Plan One was hastily shelved. Plan Two was to have Bush address the masses from the ramparts of the magnificent Red Fort, where the Indian prime minister traditionally delivers his Independence Day address. But the Red Fort, surrounded as it is by the predominantly Muslim population of Old Delhi, was considered a security nightmare. So now we're into Plan Three: President George Bush speaks from Purana Qila, the Old Fort.

Bush in India: Just Not Welcome

Arundhati Roy

February 27, 2006

On his triumphalist tour of India and Pakistan, where he hopes to wave imperiously at people he considers potential subjects, President Bush has an itinerary that's getting curiouser and curiouser.

Ironic, isn't it, that the only safe public space for a man who has recently been so enthusiastic about India's modernity should be a crumbling medieval fort?

Since the Purana Qila also houses the Delhi zoo, George Bush's audience will be a few hundred caged animals and an approved list of caged human beings, who in India go under the category of "eminent persons." They're mostly rich folk who live in our poor country like captive animals, incarcerated by their own wealth, locked and barred in their gilded cages, protecting themselves from the threat of the vulgar and unruly multitudes whom they have systematically dispossessed over the centuries.

So what's going to happen to George W. Bush? Will the gorillas cheer him on? Will the gibbons curl their lips? Will the brow-antlered deer sneer? Will the chimps make rude noises? Will the owls hoot? Will the lions yawn and the giraffes bat their beautiful eyelashes? Will the crocs recognize a kindred soul? Will the quails give thanks that Bush isn't traveling with Dick Cheney, his hunting partner with the notoriously bad aim? Will the CEOs agree?

Oh, and on March 2, Bush will be taken to visit Gandhi's memorial in Rajghat. He's by no means the only war criminal who has been invited by the Indian government to lay flowers at Rajghat. (Only recently we had the Burmese dictator General Than Shwe, no shrinking violet himself.) But when Bush places flowers on that famous slab of highly polished stone, millions of Indians will wince. It will be as though he has poured a pint of blood on the memory of Gandhi.

We really would prefer that he didn't.

It is not in our power to stop Bush's visit. It is in our power to protest it, and we will. The government, the police and the corporate press will do everything they can to minimize the extent of our outrage. Nothing the happy newspapers say can change the fact that all over India, from the biggest cities to the smallest villages, in public places and private homes, George W. Bush, the President of the United States of America, world nightmare incarnate, is just not welcome.

Arundhati Roy,
the Booker Prize-winning author of 'The God of Small Things' and 'The Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire', lives in New Delhi, India.

© 2006 The Nation

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Gorilla Radio for Monday, February 27, 2006

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - This week: Journalist, author, and co-editor of the web news site,, Robert Parry on Secrecy and Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.

Freelance photojournalist and creator of fromoccupiedpalestine, Jon Elmer, on the road with pictures and stories from the occupation.

And, Janine Bandcroft brining us up to speed with all that's good to do in and around Victoria this week.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Monday, 5-6pm Pacific Time.
In Victoria at 101.9FM, 104.3 cable, and on the internet at:
He also serves as a contributing editor at the progressive web news site:

You can check out the GR blog at:

Gorilla Radio for Monday,
February 27, 2006

C. L. Cook
PEJ News

Disdain for the First Amendment is merely another piece jig-sawed from America's Constitution by the Bush administration. When placed beside other eviscerations of that seminal document, like security of the person, and the right to legal representation and public trial, the loss of freedom of the press seems almost benign; but dove-tailing as it does with announcements of a massive "detention centre" contract, designed to "house" swarms of immigrants and others the White House expects to descend on the United States following a hypothetical natural disaster, the proposed erasure of freedom of the press takes on a more ominous meaning. Donald Rumsfeld recently attacked internet, and other, “news providers,” comparing those who would blog against the Bush regime to terrorists, and as Rumsfeld himself might say: “ An imminent threat to the nation.”

Robert Parry is a journalist, author, who’s books include, ‘Trick and Treason,’ an examination of the dirty trick behind Ronald Reagan’s 1980 election defeat of Jimmy Carter, ‘Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & Project Truth,’ and his latest, ‘Secrecy and Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.’ Robert Parry also serves as the co-editor of, a blog site that fits perfectly within the “enemy of the state” parameters drawn by Mr. Rumsfeld.

Robert Parry and the rise and rise of the Bush dynasty in the first half.

And; the international corporate media were abuzz last month over the victory of the Hamas party in Palestine. Now, expect to be treated in same media to howls and hair rending from Israel and her allies as to the impossibility of peace in the Middle East, thanks to the ignorance of the Palestinian populace.

“But how, (the media line goes) could they be so blind as to elect a government that doesn’t have the best interests of the people in mind?” Jon Elmer is a Canadian journalist and creator of the website, ‘’ He’ll be appearing this Thursday at the University to present the pictures and stories he experienced while living and reported from the occupied territories.

Jon Elmer in an interview we taped last month in the second half.

And; Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with all that’s good to do in and around Victoria this week. But first, Robert Parry and Bush’s upside down media enablers.

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the mainstream media.

Some past guests include: M. Junaid Alam, Joel Bakan, Maude Barlow, David Barsamian, William Blum, Luciana Bohne, Vincent Bugliosi, Helen Caldicott, Noam Chomsky, Michel Chossudovsky, Diane Christian, Juan Cole, David Cromwell, Murray Dobbin, Jon Elmer, Reese Erlich, Anthony Fenton, Jim Fetzer, Laura Flanders, Chris Floyd, Susan George, Stan Goff, Robert Greenwald, Denis Halliday, Chris Hedges, Sander Hicks, Julia Butterfly Hill, Robert Jensen, Dahr Jamail, Diana Johnstone, Kathy Kelly, Naomi Klein, Anthony Lappe, Frances Moore Lappe, Dave Lindorff, Jim Lobe, Jennifer Loewenstein, Wayne Madsen, Stephen Marshall, Linda McQuaig, George Monbiot, Loretta Napoleoni, John Nichols, Kurt Nimmo, Greg Palast, Mike Palecek, Michael Parenti, William Rivers Pitt, Sheldon Rampton, Paul Craig Roberts, Paul de Rooij, John Ross, Danny Schechter, Vandana Shiva, Norman Solomon, Starhawk, Grant Wakefield, Paul Watson, Bernard Weiner, Mickey Z., Dave Zirin, and many others.

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Waiting for the Gaoler: Criminalizing Dissent

PEJ News - C. L. Cook - Last month's release of Pentagon papers outlining strategies to "fight the net" should come as no surprise; the Bush regime has long fought an "info. war" against the truth of its unprecedented mendacity, but Donald Rumsfeld's equating of "news providers" with "enemies" of the State, as revealed in the so-called 'Information Operations Roadmap' is a startling reminder of just how far the current occupiers of the White House are willing to go to further their century-long project for global domination.

Waiting for the Gaoler:
Criminalizing Dissent

C. L. Cook

PEJ News
February 26, 2006

Donald Rumsfeld's disdain for America's First Amendment is merely another piece jig-sawed from America's Constitution by the Bush (sic) administration of the nation. When placed beside other eviscerations of that seminal document, like security of the person, and the right to legal representation and public trial, the loss of freedom of the press seems almost benign; but dove-tailing as it does with recent announcements of a massive "detention center" contract (naturally doled out to Halliburton), ostensibly designed to "house" swarms of immigrants the White House expects to descend on the United States following a hypothetical natural disaster, Rumsfeld's pronouncement take on a decidedly more ominous meaning.

Worse than this paranoid scenario is the fact so few in the United States are aware of the program designed, ultimately, to accommodate millions. Barely reported in corporate media, last month's revelations of the concentration camp building boom has fallen into the familiar media memory hole, a factum forgotten before registering on the consciousness of the populace. The good folk continue to labour along mindless, while the hammers and saws are busy erecting a conspiracy theorist's worst nightmare, never asking: Who builds a network of prisons without prisoners to put into it?

Bush's bizarre cover story, and the obvious benefits for pet corporation, Halliburton aside, the multi-billion dollar project begins to make sense in the context of Secretary Rumsfeld's plan for "full spectrum media dominance." The first government to be faced with the independent information sources the internet represents, Rumsfeld's final solution to the pain in the neck bloggers, and the unfettered alternatives to the official line they represent, is the obvious anodyne.

Or, more popularly put: "Just build it, and they will come."

Of course, "they" won't be coming voluntarily; they must first be criminalized, rounded up, and carted away. Doubtless, another job for the ubiquitous Halliburton. Thus, Donald's hyperbolic condemnation of unembedded foreign media aiding and abetting "terrorists," along with their domestic accomplices in the blogosphere, is just another brick in the wall separating the people from the founding ideals of American society. Yet again, this is part of the larger pattern that has seen fundamental laws, laws many believed unassailable in a democracy, even sacrosanct, discarded without so much as a murmur from the fourth estate.

Mainly ignored too in the mainstream media is the rapid expansion of the role of the U.S. military within the country. The Posse Comitatus aside, as it has been tossed, provisions are being made for the military to take a larger role in law enforcement and prison management.

As Nat Parry writes at

"Vietnam-era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said, "Almost certainly this is preparation for a roundup after the next 9/11 for Mid-Easterners, Muslims and possibly dissenters. They’ve already done this on a smaller scale, with the ‘special registration’ detentions of immigrant men from Muslim countries, and with Guantanamo."

There also was another little-noticed item posted at the U.S. Army Web site, about the Pentagon’s Civilian Inmate Labor Program. This program "provides Army policy and guidance for establishing civilian inmate labor programs and civilian prison camps on Army installations."

On its face, the Army’s labor program refers to inmates housed in federal, state and local jails. The Army also cites various federal laws that govern the use of civilian labor and provide for the establishment of prison camps in the United States, including a federal statute that authorizes the Attorney General to "establish, equip, and maintain camps upon sites selected by him" and "make available … the services of United States prisoners" to various government departments, including the Department of Defense.

The White House also is moving to expand the power of the Pentagon’s Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA), created three years ago to consolidate counterintelligence operations. The White House proposal would transform CIFA into an office that has authority to investigate crimes such as treason, terrorist sabotage or economic espionage."

These moves should not surprise any who have watched the devolution of democracy in the U.S., and around the world these last sad years; it should shock. Will the people sit, transfixed by T.V. titillation until the knock comes on their, or their neighbour's door? And, what shall become of the expected millions of prisoners when even Halliburton can't build prisons fast enough to contain them all?

In the demented Fascist deja vu world we inhabit today, it's less ironic than fitting, the Hydra-like power-broker extraordinaire, Karl Rove would bring his heft to erect in America what his forbear, Karl Heinz Roverer brought to Hitler's Germany. Roverer's legacy, as partner and architect with Roverer Sud-Deutch Inginieurbro AG, was the infamous Birchenau concentration camp.

We, the people, can only hope the media will not wait for the next Birchenau to open its doors.

Chris Cook is a contributing editor to PEJ News and hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from the University of Victoria, Canada. You can check out the GR Blog here.

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