Reports in the US media about either verbal or violent attacks upon the US rarely include background to help a reader to understand what might motivate such attacks. There are hundred, probably thousands, of cases where US government officials have secretly opposed democracy at home and abroad, though you wouldn’t know this from the primary media.
For example, Dilma Rousseff, current President of Brazil, was tortured by a dictatorship1 that overthrew democracy in 1964 with secret encouragement from US President Johnson.2 Might that experience have influenced her remarks at the United Nations on September 24, 2013?3
Similarly, are we better off today because the Reagan administration secretly gave weapons of mass destruction to Saddam Hussein in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq war?4 Might this have influenced some of our problems with Iran, Iraq, and other countries?
Are we better off because at least four prominent TV personalities in the US and the UK were fired in 2003 for questioning too aggressively the official rationale for invading Iraq,5 and journalists continue to be harassed by the US and British governments?6 Noam Chomsky, the most frequently cited living author,7 has complained about our “lapdog press“.8
Related cases appear in the apparent use of the “No Fly” list and entry visas for domestic political purposes and to censor the press. Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy was repeatedly delayed at airports by Bush administration officials.9 An art dealer was reportedly told he couldn’t fly, because he had helped organize Ralph Nader‘s 2000 presidential campaign.10 Afghani women activist Malai Joya, who had criticized the US-Nato war in Afghanistan, was denied a visa.11
The above are not isolated cases. Many of us suspect there are more secret stories to be unearthed. Will more exposure provide more opportunities for our opponents to attack us? Or will it allow us to act more responsibly as a nation? These questions are so important they deserve more substantive research and debate than what we see in our press.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to get the information needed to do what we should and to be effective.
Anyone who has felt powerless, who has felt her interests were not being addressed, can do something. Each of us can ask, “What is important to me?” We can then engage our friends, families and the media for a full and open public debate on these issues. We can engage others face-to-face individually and in groups. We can use technology from e-mail to social media like Twitter and Facebook. We can create videos, dramatizing our messages using our computer screens.12
When people are caught off balance they often believe they have to rush to rebalance. Rushing may not get us balanced. Problems usually have a long history before they become visible to the general public. The same with proposed solutions. Solution alternatives should be studied and given context. For example, researching the history of a particular issue is sure to bring increased understanding, a better perspective and a clearer picture of what actions are most likely to be effective. This research should be managed to allow knowledgeable people all over the world to contribute.13
If you agree, I encourage you to share your concerns with people you know and take other appropriate action. US citizens are encouraged to contact their representatives in the US House and Senate.14
member of the Board, San José Peace & Justice Center
Copyright 2013 Creative Commons attributions share-alike license except for the photo of Gen. Kruel obtained from Gaspari, Elio (2002). A Ditadura Envergonhada. São Paulo: Cia. das Letras, pp. 106., for which fair use is claimed for noncommercial purposes.
1 Ms. Rousseff’s claims to having been tortured have been disputed by people connected with the alleged torturers. See Wikipedia, “Dilma Rousseff” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dilma_Rousseff), accessed Sept. 29, 2013.
2 Johnson stationed a US Navy battle group off Brazil’s coast ready to intervene in case the Brazilian military encountered unexpected resistance. See Wikipedia, “1964 Brazilian coup d’état” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1964_Brazilian_coup_d’%C3%A9tat), accessed Sept. 29, 2013.
3 Statement by H. E. Dilma Rousseff, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, at the opening of the General Debate of the 68th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, 24 September 2013 (http://gadebate.un.org/sites/default/files/gastatements/68/BR_en.pdf), accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
4 This is documented in the 1994 “Riegle Report” of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs with Respect to Export Administration co-chaired by Senators Riegle and Al D’Amato, formally entitled “U.S. Chemical and Biological Warfare-Related Dual Use Exports to Iraq and their Possible Impact on the Health Consequences of the Gulf War”. This report summarizes evidence that biological and chemical weapons were provided by the U.S. to Saddam Hussein to help him during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) and were subsequently used against American and Czechoslovakian troops during the Gulf War (1990-1991). See Wikipedia, “Riegle Report” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riegle_Report), accessed Sept. 29, 2013.
5 Prominent TV personalities fired in 2003 included popular talk-show host Phil Donahue in the US, BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan, plus BBC’s chairman Gavyn Davies and director-general Greg Dyke in the UK. See Wikipedia, “Phil Donahue”, “Hutton Inquiry” and “David Kelly (weapons expert)”, “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Donahue“, “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hutton_Inquiry“, and “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Kelly_(weapons_expert)”, accessed Aug. 30, 2013.
6 Free Press is asking people to complain to US Attorney General Holder. See “Demand That Attorney General Holder Stop the Harassment of Journalists” and “Unconstitutional Searches and an Unaccountable Government” by Josh Stearns, Sept. 27, 2013, and Wikipedia, “2013 Department of Justice investigations of reporters” (http://act.freepress.net/sign/press_freedom_holder/?akid=4446.9251132.fKBqxs&rd=1&t=2; http://www.freepress.net/blog/2013/09/27/unconstitutional-searches-and-unaccountable-government; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_Department_of_Justice_investigations_of_reporters).
8 Matthew Haraminac (2006) “The relationshiop between the role of the press and corporate ownership” (http://www.haraminac.com/mjh/ownership%20of%20the%20press.pdf), accessed Oct. 4, 2013.
10 The Mojo Wire, Aug. 9, 2003 (http://mojowire.blogspot.com/2003_08_01_mojowire_archive.html), accessed Oct. 5, 2013. If certain people are so dangerous they should not be allowed to fly, they should be notified before they purchase their tickets. Instead, many are pulled aside for questioning shortly before boarding their flight, then released after the flight leaves. A friend in a rural county told me that Stuber and all Greens were terrorists. My friend further explained that the Greens wanted to put all the beef producers out of business, because the cattle generated too much methane gas. When congress approved the legislation used to manage this “No Fly” list, did they intend for it to be used to limit nonviolent political speech?
11 Derrick O’ Keef, “U.S. denies Afghani women activist Malai Joya entry visa”, Project Censored (http://www.projectcensored.org/us-denies-afghani-women-activist-malai-joya-entry-visa), accessed oct. 5, 2013.
12 The world today offers many outlets for social entrepreneurs. For example, the Huffington Post was founded in 2005. The Investigative News Network was founded in 2009. Indybay accepts anything from anyone. Wikinews, a sister project with Wikipedia of the Wikimedia Foundation, accepts stories written by anyone who will work with their editors to write to their standards. There are great needs and opportunities for citizen journalists to work with paid professionals or to freelance in helping bring more sunlight to issues great and small.
13 Proposals for crowdsourced research in this area are available on Wikiversity, “Category:Evolution of Conflict” (https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Category:Evolution_of_conflict), accessed Sept. 29, 2013.
14 To find your senators, go to “www.senate.gov” and “Find your senators” (in the upper right). To find your representative in the US House, go to “www.house.gov“, enter your zip code in the upper right, and click “Go”. This should ultimately connect you to your representatives’ web sites. In many cases if not all, you can get phone numbers, addresses, position statements on many issues, and a “contact” button, which you can use to enter a question or concern, essentially equivalent to email.