Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"All the news..." - except Blackwater

Blackwater goons in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

[This article is a followup to the one I published yesterday - "Blackwater (aka Xe) exposed by Scahill... again!"]

A threat

Here's the latest interview of Jeremy Scahill that I could find discussing his article in the Nation titled "Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan".

In this interview (at ~8:00), Jeremy Scahill comes out and explicitly says that he felt that a call he received from the office of Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was "an act of intimidation" to keep him from publishing his story in the Nation. Here's how Wikipedia describes the position of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) is by law the highest ranking military officer in the United States armed forces, and the principal military adviser to the President of the United States, the National Security Council, and the Secretary of Defense.
Any questions? Good. Let's continue.

No news is not good news

The US ambassador in Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson, has called reports of a secret Blackwater operation in Pakistan "false and baseless". I know this because it appeared in a newspaper. Not an American newspaper mind you, but a Pakistani newspaper. Somehow the New York Times and the Washington Post don't think this is worth reporting.

Here's the official press release on the State Department website.
Correction For The Record

November 25, 2009

Islamabad - The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad rejects as completely false the assertions made recently by a U.S. magazine alleging secret Blackwater operations in Pakistan.

There is no secret operating base in Karachi or anywhere else in Pakistan being run, occupied, or otherwise operated by U.S. military personnel of any command or organization. The article's assertions about U.S. government collusion with Blackwater or any other contracting firm are equally baseless and false.

"U.S. government programs for Pakistan are open and transparent and function in partnership with the Government of Pakistan," said Ambassador Anne W. Patterson. "U.S. personnel and programs in Pakistan have only one purpose - to assist the government and people of Pakistan as they face the complex challenges confronting their nation."
This is a flat denial of the Scahill article. Notice they never mention the article explicitly, but allude to "a U.S. magazine" making "false assertions". If not for a search I did of Google news for 'Blackwater' I would have never been aware of this press release which went unreported in the US media. Clearly this official press release from the US embassy in Islamabad was for local Pakistani consumption only, and was not meant to be repeated by the US mainstream press. Why hasn't this been reported in the US press?

I'll tell you what I think. And you can take it or leave it because it's just my opinion. I don't have any facts to back this up. But I think there has been an edict handed down by the powers in the State Department and the Pentagon saying that Blackwater (aka Xe) is not a subject to be discussed openly in the news media.

Just yesterday, at the State Department's daily briefing the first question was about Jeremy Scahill's article.
MR. KELLY: Okay. Well, let me give you a quick rundown on the Secretary’s events. You know she attended...
[blah, blah, blah... blah, blah] the United States and India can work together to meet global challenges like terrorism and climate change and other matters of regional and bilateral interest. And with that, I’ll take your questions.

QUESTION: Do you have any response to the report in The Nation regarding what it says was a joint operation between the Joint Special Operations Command in Pakistan and Xe Services, nee Blackwater?

MR. KELLY: I do not. I have not seen this article.

QUESTION: So you have no response to that?

MR. KELLY: Well, I don’t know. I’m sorry, you’ve – I just am not aware of this article. We’ll look at it and we’ll see if we can get a response for you.

Yeah, Andy.
So I checked today's briefing to see if State Department spokesperson, Ian Kelly, would give "a response" to Jeremy's article. You can find it here. And a quick search determines that the word 'Blackwater' never comes up. In fact there's no discussion of Pakistan at all. Is this a case of "don't ask, don't tell"?

To me the message is clear. "Blackwater is not something we're going to talk about. We're not going to confirm it or deny it. In fact we're not even 'aware' of it. And if you want to continue to be invited to these briefings, you won't be aware of it either."

Isn't it odd that with literally thousands of newspapers and radio and TV stations in the US, and the existence of a "free press" that not one has come out with any significant follow up to Jeremy Scahill's scathing exposé. Not one.

Yes Jeremy was invited today on to MSNBC's Morning Joe show, but the topic was quickly shifted in what was obviously a pre-arranged script. Sort of as if to say, "See... we do have a free press in the US. See... we gave Jeremy 2 or 3 minutes to talk about Blackwater. It's just that the American public isn't interested. They'd rather hear about how Sarah Palin is going to run for President in 2012."

So as I said, I don't have any facts to back up my allegations of a coordinated coverup. But that's not exactly true because I can give you some statistical evidence courtesy of Google.

In fact here's an experiment you can do yourself. Click on the link below to run a search of articles in the US that mention Scahill's Blackwater article.

Google news search

When I tried this today, I got 15 results. And none of those could be considered mainstream media.

When I do a similar search for blog articles in the past 3 days since the article first appeared with the words 'blackwater scahill' I get 290 hits. (My FNT article from yesterday shows up on the first page.)

And when I do a similar search for articles on the web in general in the past 3 days since the article first appeared with the words 'blackwater scahill' I get thousands of hits.

Conclusion - a news blackout

My conclusion is that the State Department and the Pentagon don't want to talk about this because they know that they will be caught up by their own denials. I also conclude that the word has been sent out to the main stream media not to bring up this subject.

And yet this is a crucial issue which should be discussed as President Obama prepares to send a request next week to Congress for 34,000 more troops in Afghanistan. We can only hope that some of our representatives in Congress will have the courage to bring this up in public hearings when General McChrystal goes before committees to justify this troop build up.

Jeremy Scahill has done his job in uncovering the basic information. Now it is up to the Congress to fulfill its obligation to investigate this further. And it would be a great assistance if the media would do its job of publicizing this issue. But if they won't, then "we the people" must take direct action and insist that Congress not shirk its Constitutional responsibilities. Please call your Congresspeople and urge them to bring up this issue of vital importance to the attention of the State Department and the Pentagon.

It's bad enough that Blackwater is bribing Iraqi officials "to silence their criticism and buy their support". Don't let something similar happen here in the US.

[UPDATE 1 - NOV 26]

It seems the cat's out of the bag in Pakistan. The mainstream  Pakistani press is featuring Scahill's article in today's papers.

The Nation (a Pakistani newspaper - not the US magazine that originally published the story) has reproduced the entire article. It also has a short article titled "Will Mr. Malik resign now?".
ISLAMABAD – The Nation [Pakistani newspaper] has been exposing the Blackwater (now renamed Xe Worldwide) and DynaCorp presence in Pakistan for some time now with evidence, but the Interior Minister has continued to deny this presence - although he has finally conceded the presence of Dynacorp.

To begin with, Rehman Malik was hiding behind the fact that Blackwater had altered its name; but equally important Blackwater has also become a generic term for US military/security contractors, especially in the minds of most Pakistanis.

But now an American journalist, Jeremy Scahill, who has authored the definitive book on Blackwater has revealed the presence of this group in Pakistan as well as all its activities here. Since Mr. Malik had publicly claimed he would resign if the Blackwater presence was proven in Pakistan, we wonder whether he will do so now that his bluff has been called.
The Pakistan Daily Times also has an article on this subject titled "Blackwater launching missions from Karachi", which gives a good summary of the Scahill article.

Coincidentally, yesterday US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson announced "the Obama Administration was going to release direct budgetary support of $175 million hard cash to Pakistan". Is this hush money which will be used to grease the palms of Pakistani officials to keep them from criticizing the role of Blackwater and the JSOC in Pakistan?

Will the US mainstream press continue to ignore the Scahill article now that it has been widely publicized in Pakistan? I'll bet the State Department longs for the days before the internet. Personally, I'm hoping that Jeremy's revelations about Blackwater go totally viral on the web to the point where the MSM can ignore them no longer. And then the Pentagon and the State Department will be forced to come up with some answers, and the Blackwater goons will be forced out of the murky shadows in which they like to operate and into the glaring public spotlight.

[UPDATE 2 - NOV 26]

Russia Today has picked up the story of Blackwater's secret operation in Pakistan as reported by Jeremy Scahill. There's no new revelations in this report which features investigative reporter Wayne Madsen, but it shows that the news is spreading. But what about pseudo-left MSM outlets like Rachel Maddow. Why hasn't she reported this story? Oh right, the military censors. I almost forgot.


Joe said...

'Blackwater' - 'blackout'

Like you said its very odd in the day and age of the internet the MSM refuses to pick up on an important subject AND also like you said rather cover Sarah Palin and her remarkable attraction towards the ignorant and utterly clueless.... I don't know about you or anyone else who 'cares' but my patience has run thin with all the madness. By that I mean it's hit me on a very personal level the lack of coverage on certain events/topics. Also the apathy the American public has seemed to indulge in...

As a young current college student it pains me to walk among the future leaders of this country and see the lack of motivation and pure ignorance towards current affairs. The easiest tool of 'google/bing/ask' can bring unforeseen information to even the most ignorant of us. Though we (people) refuse to acknowledge any truth unless it comes directly from the white house or government official. We have been duped, dumbed down, and swindled of human insight.

"In the future There will be no love except the love of Big Brother &no loyalty except loyalty towards the party" 1984

"Truth is treason in the empire of lies" - Ron Paul

The books written in latter times foretelling this time have come true. Its is spooky that instead of a memorable quote from literature many have become past/present/ and reality.

Also here is something interesting:

“We have slept through the annihilation of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine, a war with Islam, the rendition of terrorist suspects, prisoner abuse and torture, the suppression of civil liberties, citizen surveillance, corporate greed, pandering to the rich and powerful, global warming, full spectrum dominance, imperial overstretch, and a culture of deceit. Massive military spending, multi-trillion dollar deficits and Wall Street bailouts, mounting trade deficits, and a precipitous decline in the value of the dollar have gone virtually unnoticed.

During our long period of slumber the United States government has lost its moral authority. It is owned, operated, and controlled by Wall Street and Corporate America. The United States has become ungovernable, unfixable, and, therefore, unsustainable economically, politically, militarily, and environmentally. It has evolved into the wealthiest, most powerful, most materialistic, most racist, most militaristic, most violent empire of all times.” – Thomas Naylor

Frank Hope said...

@Joe - It's good to know that there are young people out there that are aware and motivated to expose the truth. Just keep speaking out and have faith in your fellow human beings that once they get a big enough dose of reality, they can be deprogrammed from the MSM mind control propaganda.

Keep the faith!

Anonymous said...

Why does everybody assume that the fact that a unverified and flaky story from ddidn't catch fire in the MSM world is always because of a media blackout.

If the whitehouse doesn't comment and MSM doesn't pick it up IT MUST BE TRUE.

Joe said...

I guess its not big news and we should focus on other 'big stories' such as Palins ghost written book or say celebrity eating habbits... lol

Who would 'everybody' in your response be? Maybe the people who care about important things such as covert ops being undertaken by a corrupt elite military contractor in Pakistan. Oh nevermind lets focus on homepage (the White House crashers are aspiring reality show stars)

Frank Hope said...

@anon - The reason the State Dept. refuses to even acknowledge this story is because it is true. If they try to deny it then they will get caught up in a web of lies.

But that's not an excuse for the MSM. They have a responsibility to pursue the truth. There is no national security reason why Blackwater should be allowed to operate a covert war in Pakistan. This needs to be exposed, and I am growing more and more confident that within a week's time this will become a major story in the US as it already has in Pakistan.

The next time this question comes up in a State Department press conference, they won't be able to say that they are "not aware" of the story.

Virginia Hoge said...

What is so scary about this is that this proves the Military is allowed to control our media...


Frank Hope said...

@Virginia - I've been thinking about this issue of military censorship. We know that there has been some level of censorship with respect to photographs of wounded soldiers and civilians. But this is a whole new level of censorship and secrecy. It also occurs to me that the censorship is as much targeted at keeping JSOC activities secret as at keeping Blackwater activities secret.

In March 2009 Seymour Hersh reported on a "executive assassination wing" led by Cheney. He even named JSOC specifically. Now it appears that JSOC was not acting alone, but was working with Blackwater.

You can hear some of Hersh's accusations in an audio recording from March here.

Investigative Reporter Seymour Hersh Describes "Executive Assassination Ring"

Gaga 4 Dada said...

Better Xe than Wackenhut security.

Seriously though, I recall Pacifica broke the Eugene Hasenfus story (Nigaraguan contras) months before the MSM.

Frank Hope said...

@Gaga - You have a good memory. Nicaragua is the perfect case of how covert operations are used to support dictators around the world. Issues like communism or terrorism are often used as a cover to justify using covert US government resources to support US corporations, to the detriment of people in countries around the world. And to the detriment of the US people as well.

It goes back to the Dulles brothers supporting the United Fruit Company in Central America. Thousands of people were massacred so they could continue to make their profits.

Virginia Hoge said...

Gaga for Dada is a troll who has been attacking me for a long time. He/she was involved in the troll attacks that shut down my blog, the Pasadena New Progressive.

(you are right, Frank, these freaks are out to stop the truth as much and as often as they can, keep up the great work!!)

Virginia Hoge said...

make that Gaga 4 Dada

Virginia Hoge said...

here you are, Frank, the story of how trolls shut down my blog the Pasadena New Progressive (including and especially, Gaga 4 Dada)

When Blogs Become a Weapon to Shut Down Free Speech

Virginia Hoge said...

guess what I was investigating on my blog? corrupt media.

Guess what corrupt media in Pasadena was doing? spreading hate and racism throughout the San Gabriel valley (via trolls)

Gaga 4 Dada said...


I hope I have not caused you any inconvenience.

Please keep up the good fight.

Frank Hope said...

@Virginia - Thanks for sharing the article with me. That's quite a story. I had some run ins with trolls when I was active on Digg. Eventually I got banned from Digg and went on to become active on Reddit.

Here's a link to the story of how I got banned from Digg.

IsraeliGirl violates Digg TOS

I actually like it that Blogger does not ban people in most cases. I know I have written some pretty controversial things and have offended people in the process. I'm sorry they were offended, but I felt that what I said needed to be said. And I'm glad that Blogger allows a free range of ideas to be expressed without liberally pushing the 'ban button'.

Anyway, you're right that there is a lot of hate speech on the internet. The anonymity of the web certainly encourages that. It sounds like in your case the personal attacks got completely out of hand. In an extreme case like this, I have to agree with you that the attack blogs should have been banned. You probably have a case for libel, but do you really want to drag this into a court?

I hope you find a way to make effective use of the internet to express yourself and to further your political work. This may take some experimentation. Keep at it. I know you'll find a way to make the internet work for you.

As far as "Gaga 4 Dada" I have not had any problems with any of the comments he/she has posted.

I'm not shy about deleting comments that I find offensive. But I haven't found that I had to delete very many comments so far. Most of the comments I've deleted have been product spam. But I don't tolerate crude language or personal attacks.

I hope that both you and Gaga will continue reading my blog and offering comments.

Anonymous said...

It is not surprising that the military has effective control of the media. They learned well in Vietnam how the lack of popular support affected the so-called mission. So in our glorious middle east wars, we witness the phenomenon of "embedded" reporters. An embedded reporter is a compromised reporter.
And if you don't play-- remember the "accidental" shelling of the Baghdad hotel housing non-embedded reporters who refused to play by Pentagon rules?
Journalism is a profession, but media is a business. Don't expect the MSM to do anything that will be bad for profits.

Frank Hope said...

@Anon - "Journalism is a profession, but media is a business."

Well said. Are you a writer yourself?

I had forgotten the "accidental" shelling of the Baghdad hotel. Are you talking about the one where the reporter made a video recording of his own death? Or is that a different one?

Either way. The point you make is about "embedded" reporters being "compromised". Dare we say that the military is censoring the news? What about the prohibition on images of our wounded and dead troops? Is this out of respect for our troops and their families? Or is their a more sinister reason?

During Vietnam the horror of the battlefield was brought home to the American public every night on the evening news. Each night the report started out with the number of new wounded and "casualties". It's been called "the first televised war".

Today we have more communications, but less information. The dead soldiers are hidden from our view. Their caskets are wrapped in a flag of euphemisms.

At a time when graphic violence is more prevalent in the media than ever, the one area in which our children are protected from exposure to the blood and the guts is the one where it might actually have some benefit for them.

Keep playing your video games kids. The ones where you shoot up the enemy and watch the ever more realistic blood shoot out; and the gore as heads and arms are torn off. Nothing wrong with that.

And keep watching those sadomasochistic music videos; with images of torture and faux executions. Nothing wrong with that either.

But we must shield you from the bloody reality of war. It's for your own good.