1. Why Is the Killer of
British MP Jo Cox Not Being Called a
Surveillance Unveiled: City Claims to Lose Docs
on 1960s Radicals, Then Finds
1 Million Records
3. Latest CIA Torture Docs Show "Evidence of War
Crimes" & Level of
Brutality That Even Shocked Bush
4. Commercializing Elections to Destroy
This is a Nederlog of Saturday, June 18, 2016.
is a crisis log. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about the meaning of "terrorist", and I don't quite agree with Glenn Greenwald; item 2 is about the finding of over 1 million documents about things the New York Police Department researched 45 and more years ago (and I say it is important, at least if it is delivered to "the public" in a reasonably complete state), simply because nearly all the news about what governments really do is incomplete, false or propaganda; item 3 is about the CIA tortures (which were and are illegal, but the government just doesn't want to prosecute, rather like it also just doesn't want to prosecute rich bank managers for breaking the laws); and item 4
is about how democracy in the USA is mostly dead, except for the
intelligent minorities that are willing to give themselves considerable
Why Is the Killer of British MP
Jo Cox Not Being Called a “Terrorist”?
Also, I should say that I will very probably publish "On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions" tomorrow.
first item today is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
British Labour MP Jo Cox was
brutally murdered yesterday. Although the motive is not yet proven,
there is mounting evidence that the detained suspect, 52-year-old
white male Thomas Mair, was motivated by political ideology. Cox was an
outspoken advocate for refugees. At least two witnesses say Mair, as he
carried out the attack, yelled
“Britain First,” the name of a
virulently right-wing anti-immigrant party. He has years of affiliation
with neo-Nazi groups: what Southern Poverty Law Center describes
as “a long history with white nationalism.” The U.K. is in the
midst of a bitter and virulent debate about whether to exit the EU —
Cox opposed that — and much of the pro-Brexit case centers
on fear-mongering over immigrants.
Despite all of this, it’s virtually impossible to find any media outlet
calling the attacker a “terrorist” or even suggesting that it
might be “terrorism.” To the contrary, the suspected killer —
overnight — has been alternatively described as a gentle soul or a
mentally ill “loner”:
By now I would say - and quite a few with me - that the reasons
to call one man "a terrorist" and another man "an ill loner" are
"obvious": Those immediately identified as "terrorists" are Muslims or
black; those not identified as "terrorists" even if they do the
same or worse as "terrorists" do, are not Muslims and white.
I wrote "obvious" between quotes because it is quite ambiguous:
It is clearly true if one speaks of the pattern the main media
follow, but it also is not at all a rational or reasonable pattern.
Here is Glenn Greenwald's explanation:
The difference is obvious:
Timms’s attacker was a Muslim of Bangladeshi descent, while Cox’s
alleged killer … is not. As I’ve written
repeatedly, the word “terrorism” has no real concrete meaning and
certainly no consistent application. In the West, functionally
speaking, it’s now a propaganda term with little meaning other than “a
Muslim who engages in violence against Westerners or their allies.”
It’s even used for Muslims who attack
soldiers of an army occupying their country.
Clearly, I agree with Glenn
Greenwald's basic explanation. But I should add (as I've also written
repeatedly) that I do not agree that "the
word “terrorism” has no real concrete meaning" (bolding added),
even though I agree again that it has "certainly
no consistent application".
This is of some importance, so I explain my point again.
To start with, by "terrorism"
I mean this: Terrorism is an attempt to get one's way in
politics or religion by violence and murder, directed especially at
One might add that the civilians as a rule have no connection
to what the terrorists call their justification for their terror, but
in any case I think the given definition is roughly the "real concrete meaning"
of what most people consider terrorism is like (though I agree again
that different people will call different events "terrorism").
And I also think that this fundamental agreement on the core
meaning of "terrorism" - it is violence and murder directed at
civilians who have nothing to
do with what the terrorists are against - is what is behind the
imputation of "terrorism" (and not another term) to some by the
media, and not to others (who do the same or worse).
So to this extent I disagree with Glenn Greenwald: I think the term
"terrorism" has a core meaning - violence and murder directed at civilians who have nothing
to do with what the terrorists are for or against - and it is this core meaning that motivates its
I agree with Greenwald on the reasons for its application,
which are in fact discriminatory (Muslims or blacks are far
more often accused of being terrorists than whites and non-muslims).
Then again, I also have a (partial) explanation for this fact, that I
do not know Glenn Greenwald's opinions about:
It seems to me that one important reason to call some
terrorists and others, who do quite similar things, not
terrorists (but e.g. mentally ill loners), is a totalitarian
kind of political
correctness, that insists on denying real individual
motives, and that "explains" everything someone does in terms of his evidently
belonging to some large group - black, Muslim etc. - to which millions
In any case, my explanation why some people are called
terrorists and others not (although they do the same kinds of things
as those accused of terrorism do) is that (i) terrorism does
have a core meaning that is very
ugly (for it accuses one of violence and murder against people who
don't have anything to do with whatever crimes the terrorists tried to
avenge; and (ii) it is applied or denied to people depending on whether
these people belong to some large group of people (that the
accusers of terrorism generally do not belong to).
Surveillance Unveiled: City Claims to Lose Docs on 1960s Radicals, Then
Finds 1 Million Records
The second item is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:
There has been a major break in
the decade-long fight to unveil records related to the New York City
Police Department’s surveillance of political organizations in the
1960s and 1970s. In recent years, the NYPD
has come under fire for spying on Muslim communities and the Occupy
Wall Street movement. But decades ago, the NYPD
spied extensively on political
organizations, including the Young Lords, a radical group founded by
Puerto Ricans modeled on the Black Panther Party. The Young Lords
staged their first action in July 1969 in an effort to force the City
of New York to increase garbage pickups in East Harlem. They would go
on to inspire activists around the country as they occupied churches
and hospitals in an attempt to open the spaces to community projects.
Among their leaders was Democracy Now! co-host Juan González. We speak
with Baruch College professor Johanna Fernández, who has fought for a
decade to obtain records related to the NYPD’s surveillance of the
group. Last month, the city claimed it had lost the records. But this
week its municipal archive said it had found more than 520 boxes, or
about 1.1 million pages, apparently containing the complete remaining
records. We’re also joined by Fernández’s attorney, Gideon Oliver.
I say - and I also know that (while I
can remember lots of things about 1969 and 1970) this is over
45 years ago, and is therefore only possibly remembered well by
people who are at least 60. Even so, I will argue these historical
documents are (or may be) quite important right now.
First, there is this:
AMY GOODMAN: (...)The
significance, Gideon Oliver, of these documents that have been found in
OLIVER: Can’t be
understated. I mean, this is the entire trove of records of the NYPD’s
political surveillance operations between 1955 and 1972. So we’re
talking about not just records of surveillance of the Young Lords and
Juan, but also of surveillance of the Black Panther Party, the Nation
of Islam, the antiwar movement in New York City. (...) So, the fact
that these documents not only have now been discovered, but can be made
available to the public, is just extraordinary.
The point here is especially that there
are about 1.1 million pages that now have been refound, and that seem
to cover the very extensive police interests in very many
radical groups of the period between 1955 and 1972.
Next, there is this:
FERNÁNDEZ: (..) So there’s a whole section on that. There is
an entire section of boxes on the Columbia strike of 1968, but also
activities at Columbia in 1972. The Black Panther Party is identified
by name and is one of the only organizations that is identified fully
by name, along with the NOI. I imagine that
there is information here about the murder of Malcolm X. And so, these
records are really going to transform our understanding and critique of
the parameters of allowable conduct on the part of the police.
I agree, but should add that it is not
yet known (to the best of my knowledge)
in what state these 1.1 million pages will be made
available to the public.
Finally, there is this:
precisely, and that is the reason these records (provided
that they are
GONZÁLEZ: Well, you know, it’s—I think it’s great that they’ve
been found. And as you said, it’s going to be a treasure trove for the
historians to go back and recreate the history. The problem with these
abuses is that it always takes decades to uncover them. And in the
meanwhile, the damage has been done to the activists and the dissidents
that were involved in these movements. And it’s almost as if the
society never learns, that the abuses just keep on being repeated a
generation or two generations later.
rendered to the public mostly completely, which I do not know) are (or
may be) quite important: Because "it
always takes decades to uncover them" and because the news that people are told when things are happening is never complete and is often (partially) false or misleading.
Latest CIA Torture Docs Show
"Evidence of War Crimes" & Level of Brutality That Even Shocked Bush
This is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:
Shocking new details have been
made public about the CIA’s torture program as the agency has
declassified dozens of once-secret documents. A portion of the new
documents deal with a prisoner named Gul Rahman, who froze to death at
a secret CIA prison in 2002. Rahman’s family
is now suing CIA-contracted psychologists
James Mitchell and John "Bruce" Jessen, who helped design the U.S.
torture program. The new records also show a prisoner who was
waterboarded 83 times was likely willing to cooperate with
interrogators before the torture. The account from medical personnel
who helped with the first waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah deals a major
blow to the CIA’s insistence it gained crucial information through
torture. Zubaydah said he made up fake terrorist plots in order to stop
This is here because I am much
against torture; because the USA illegally tortured people for
years; and because I think the USA should prosecute
those who organized and did the tortures (though I agree that so far the
chances that the torturers will be legally prosecuted are quite small).
First, there is this specification of what the CIA's torture program really
LADIN: I mean, we found
so much more evidence of what everyone already knows, which is that the
CIA torture program was not at
all some scientific method of getting information from bad people who
would only give it up under torture. But instead it was an exercise in
brutality against people who the CIA didn’t
know whether they had information, whether they didn’t have
information, and where the only answer was more torture whenever they
didn’t get the answers they wanted.
I agree that basically the tortures the CIA
engaged in were "an exercise in brutality" and that torturing people was and is forbidden, but I also
should add that I think torturing people should always be
This doesn't mean it may never be resorted to - consider the imaginary
case of a plane with hundred six year olds on which you know
someone whom you have arrested has planted a bomb, and
you have one hour to find it - but it does mean that it should
be illegal also in that case.
Next, there is this about the two psychologists who organized the
tortures, and were paid $81 million dollars for it, and about the
grounds to torture someone to death:
I agree the roles of the psychologists were "horrifying",
which is also part of the reason the two of them got $81 million
dollars, to the best of my knowledge. And I think it is quite
interesting and very bitter that the CIA tortured someone to death simply because he "complained about the violations of his human rights".
GONZÁLEZ: And the role of psychologists in this? What do the
DROR LADIN: I mean, the role of psychologists
is horrifying. So we represent also in another lawsuit Gul Rahman’s
family over his death under torture. And these documents now reveal why
he was singled out for such brutality. And it’s because of this
psychological theory that they could identify someone who was a
sophisticated resister, and then deploy this escalating set of tortures
in order to break him. And when you now have these reports, we can see
why they thought he was such a sophisticated resister. And this is what
it is: He complained about the violations of his human rights. He
complained about the poor treatment.
Finally, this is what is really horrifying about it:
LADIN: I mean, that’s
the thing that is horrifying about this, is that these are war crimes.
This is evidence of war crimes. And yet no one’s been prosecuted. No
senior official has ever been prosecuted. The ACLU
can’t prosecute people. We have a damages lawsuit on behalf of the
victims. But the Department of Justice, you know, needs to prosecute
people. Human Rights Watch just called—you know, renewed its call for
prosecutions based on these new documents. It’s something we’ve long
said. But the government has to actually want to do it. And that’s a
Yes, indeed - but we can say quite
specifically who was most responsible for not prosecuting the torturers
of the CIA under Obama: Eric Holder, the same man who refused
to prosecute any of the bankers (and who headed the DOJ under Obama).
But yes: "the [American] government has to
actually want to" keep the laws it
has sworn to uphold, and it simply doesn't want to,
for about 15 years now, also.
Elections to Destroy Our Democracy
This is by Ralph Nader on his site:
This starts as follows:
Our political economy – a wonderfully
embracing phrase much used a century ago – has three main components:
The electoral/governmental powers, the marketplace, and the civil
society, which is composed of we the citizens.
It is well known that when “we the
people” get lax about our consumer rights and our voting choices, both
the companies and the politicians turn their backs on us and look out
for themselves and their fat-cat donors. The civil society’s energy or
apathy has a profound role in shaping how the other two sectors
function, and can either safeguard our democracy or drive it into the
All this is by way of saying that
increasingly commercializing our elections every four years is
devastating to the freedom and justice produced by a functioning
democratic society. Our presidential and congressional elections this
year represent a commercial conglomerate profit center.
I agree, although I'd say America's
"political economy" is made up by the government, the economy, the
political organizations and "the public", in whose names the other named entities act, and who have to pay taxes for
And I also add two hypotheses: (1) there
has been an enormous increase in
political propaganda since 1980, and (2) much of this was directed against
"the public"'s intelligent knowledge of the real things that the
government, the rich CEOs and the political organizations did.
Instead of informing "the public" about what their governments (etc.)
did for them, the public was given propaganda,
that was at least partially false, that
left out a lot, and that basically gave "the public"
the wrong ideas about much that was done, with their
money, supposedly in their interests.
More specifically, what has been happening
since the 1980s (or before) was this (and especially since
2010, when the Supreme Court opened the gates
for the super PACs):
There are the corporate Super PACs and
the billionaire patrons who manipulate their sponsored candidates, who
in turn make explicit or implicit promises to their paymasters to keep
the money flowing into their campaigns. The corporate mass media
thrives on the high ratings generated by the mud fights (recall the
Republican presidential primary led by Trump). The media moguls charge
high advertising rates and make more profits than ever from elections.
Taken together, commercializing
elections means that everything is for sale – unless you opt out Bernie
Sanders style and refuse corporate PAC contributions and super-rich
When elections are for sale, you know
who is most likely to win the auctions. You know how much less your
votes and your views count. You know how cleverly sleazy will be the
flattery that politicians send your way so as to obscure who really
Yes, I think Ralp Nader is correct that
the elections are (mostly) for sale,
and are directed by commercial interests and profits, much
rather than by honesty and truth.
Here is the outcome of the commercialization of "politics" in the USA:
Whether by the mass media interview
shows or on the daily campaign trail, citizen activists and citizen
group leaders are rarely asked for their views, for their experience,
for their horizons as to what is long overdue and possible.
But the bloviating pundits are regularly
featured on the political talk shows; so are the garrulous political
consultants to the candidates. But the bedrock of our democratic
potential—the real experts, the movers and shakers, who start and
continue decade after decade the difficult march toward a better
society—are treated by the media bookers as off-limits or as
Yes, indeed - but this also means that
democracy is dead or dying:
There is no real democracy without real
consultations with people who really speak for the public's real
interests, and these people have been mostly excluded even from
talking to the public by the main media.
I think it is still possible to get "the real news", but I also
think that by now this holds only for an intelligent minority, who also
are willing to take considerable trouble. 
Unfortunately, I don't think the present situation can be undone,
except by a collapse of the economy.
 For example: I do read over 30 sites every day simply to have a somewhat fair somewhat
informed idea about "the news", and I do so in two or three languages
(of the eight I read effortlessly), though mostly in English, and of
the over 30 sites I daily check only two or three are from the main media (and these get rarely listed in Nederlog, indeed because of - what I see as - their propaganda).