No Room for Smugness on Iran

There’s a “Lucy-yanks-the-football-away-from-Charlie-Brown” quality to how Americans are handled each time a new war with a foreign “enemy” is being sold. There’s a slightly varied pitch and the public belatedly learns it’s been conned, as is now happening with Iran, notes ex-U.S. intelligence analyst Elizabeth Murray.

By Elizabeth Murray

I remember thinking smugly to myself in late 2002/early 2003: “Those neocons will never be able to launch their much-desired war in Iraq; their lies are so blatant; their allegations are nonsense; and the world is against them.”

I felt so confident that reason and logic would win out. What a hard lesson the past eight years have been!

And so, while I’m pleased to see many voices of reason countering the latest warmongering on Iran with excellent articles and effective rebuttals in the media (Gideon Levy’s recent piece in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz and the analysis of the latest International Atomic Energy Agency report by former IAEA inspector Robert Kelley, to name two), I know that warmongers never let facts or public opinion get in the way of their goals.

I have learned from bitter experience that they will create their own facts to paper over the truth as needed.

In the months leading up to the March 2003 attack on Iraq, I was the senior Iraq media analyst at the U.S. government’s Open Source Center (then run by CIA, but now under the aegis of the Director of National Intelligence). My branch received a large number of taskings from senior government officials with regard to the content and nature of Iraqi media reporting.

The office that inundated our branch with the greatest number of taskings was that of then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, which barraged us with repeated requests to scour Iraqi media for evidence of an operational relationship between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and al-Qa’ida.

Exercising due diligence, we leveraged our network of overseas resources, and checked and double-checked with our highly capable field staff, even seeking out obscure newspapers from remote Iraqi provinces — and each time came up empty-handed.

And yet, the same tasking would resurface from Wolfowitz’s office every few weeks, each time with greater urgency — the unspoken implication being that some evidence had to exist and we were simply not looking hard enough.

I have since learned that U.S. interrogators were subjected to the same shaming, and that the extreme pressure to come up with some link between Iraq and al-Qaeda was a key factor in the torture techniques approved for Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Iraq.

(As for the all-source analysts at CIA headquarters, the CIA ombudsman testified to Congress that, in his 32 years as a substantive intelligence officer, he had never seen such severe “hammering” on analysts to come up with might be called “the missing link.”)

So I asked Wolfowitz’s office on more than one occasion to provide us with the original source of the allegation of an Iraq-al-Qaeda relationship as a means of helping us to corroborate it. We never received a response.

As it turned out, the countless hours that my office labored on this tasking — at great expense to U.S. taxpayers, I might add, were an utter waste of time, since the allegations proved to be false — yet another fabrication designed to drum up public support for a post-9/11 attack on Iraq.

By 2006 — three years into the war — the Bush administration finally admitted it had no evidence of an Iraqi role in the 9/11 attacks. But the U.S. continued its role in the destruction of that country, the facts notwithstanding.

A Nation With Alzheimer’s?

So, returning to the current Iran campaign: When well-placed former intelligence experts began poking holes in the report about a supposed Iranian assassination attempt against the Saudi ambassador to Washington a few weeks ago, it faded from the headlines. Enter a much-hyped IAEA report alleging that Iran is moving, maybe, toward nuclear weaponization.

We are now learning from highly credible experts that the IAEA report actually contains little, if any, new evidence to substantiate allegations about ongoing Iranian progress toward nuclear weaponization. The report mostly rehashes old material.

Will it matter if there is no reliable evidence that Iran has an active program for nuclear weaponization? Or will the warmongers, with the indispensable help of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM), simply march inexorably onward in their campaign to drum up support for a military attack against Iran?

Have we learned nothing over the past decade? Or will people and governments across the globe — invigorated and inspired, perhaps, by the positive force of the global “Occupy” movements — stand up, push back, and finally topple the world’s purveyors of myth-based military attacks?

We can begin by rejecting violence — the violence of war, the violence of poverty, the violence of racism and oppression — a cycle which produces nothing but future episodes of violence.

As the “Occupy” movements have ably shown, it is possible to ignite social, political and economic change — even forcing a shift in the daily discourse of the FCM — through nonviolent resistance to injustice.

People of principle everywhere, from all walks of life — from civil servants to members of the armed services; from shift workers to white-collar “suits” ensconced in the glass-and-steel towers of the corporatocracy — can choose to resist the forces of violence every day in quiet, principled and nonviolent ways.

These daily acts of conscience can bring about a force for good that will serve the long-term interests of people everywhere (please see dontattackiran.org and october2011.org for examples).

The choice to act is a highly personal one, but the repercussions of that choice will be felt collectively, for generations to come.

Elizabeth Murray served as Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East in the National Intelligence Council before retiring after a 27-year career in the U.S. government, where she specialized in Middle Eastern political and media analysis. She is a member of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).




Seattle Police Pepper-Spray Pastor

U.S. authorities and major news media are quick to condemn leaders of foreign nations when they unleash police to rough up and intimidate protesting citizens, but a different standard applies inside the United States, as Rev. Rich Lang discovered when he walked with an Occupy protest in Seattle.

By the Rev. Rich Lang

You could feel the tension and raw energy crinkling throughout the air as the marchers once again began their journey into downtown Seattle.

The Occupy Movement is the prophetic voice of God calling out to the nation to “repent” and turn from its ways of corruption. Those who camp are a rag-tag, motley crew made up of mostly young adults, mostly unemployed, almost all of whom are alienated and cast out of America’s promise of liberty and justice for all.

They are the first fruits being devoured by the Beast of Empire.

The police were once conceived to be a citizen force created to serve and protect the public. Today however, the police have been militarized and view the populace as enemy combatants, as threats to their well being. The police, like our Armed Forces, are well-trained, disciplined and exceptionally talented. They follow a chain of command and are increasingly apprenticed into a culture of institutional conformity.

Because America has always affirmed the right of dissent, the role of the police is to keep the peace. They are trained to enter the protesting arena as unfeeling protectors of property and people.

What has changed in our time is that the police are entering the arena of protest as agents of provocation. They push and shove at will, they ride their bicycles up the backs of protesters, they engage in verbal abuse. Their commanders allow this breach of discipline. Their comrades silently condone the bullying.

The police become the agitators encouraging violence. It is as if they are spoiling for a fight a fight, mind you, against the citizenry, against the youth, the unemployed, and those who are trying to return America back to its promise, and dare I say it, return America to its covenant with God, “we hold these truths to be self evident ”

On Tuesday night, a small group of the rag-tag campers of Seattle’s Occupy Movement left their camp to protest the destruction inflicted upon the Wall Street Occupy site.

Throughout the march, I — as a Pastor in full clergy alb, stole and cross — acted as a peacekeeper placing myself between the police line and the Occupy Movement. On four occasions I stepped between verbal battles between the police and the protesters.  The point being that it was evident to all who I was and what my role was in this non-violent march of the few escorted by the many.

 

The incident was minor in nature. A girl, dressed in Anarchist black waving the Anarchist black flag, was plastered side by side with an officer on the bike. They were jawboning each other. At one point her flag was thrust in his direction a provocation yes threatening? no.

The officer grabbed the flag and in the pulling, pulled down the girl. Her friends reacted jumping in to pull her away from the officer. It was at this point that the first wave of pepper spray went off.

Point: One might think the officer acted within reason, that the officer was suddenly threatened. But with what? By whom? The friends of the offender were grabbing for the girl, they were not grabbing at the police. Basically the officer and his comrades were trigger-happy as if they couldn’t wait for just this moment. And so the spray went forth.

I leapt to the front and tried to place myself between the parties with spray in the air the protesters were also fleeing. Separation between the police line and the protesters was clearly visible there was certainly no threat of the “mob” suddenly rampaging into the well-armed police.

The separation had occurred (as can be clearly seen on the video captured by King 5 News). But the spray continued. I walked between the lines, I was alone, I was in full clergy dress, everyone knew who I was and what I was with the protesters fleeing and the police line holding with my back to the police and my hands waving the protesters to get back.

I was alone in full alb, stole and cross when six officers turned their spray on me thoroughly soaking my alb and then one officer hit me full throttle in the face.

I praise the courage and compassion, the discipline and the decency of the Occupy Movement. Out of the rag-tag mob came help, grabbing my hands, leading me (I was blind by then) to the wall and administering care and concern for my well-being.

The protesters were assembled around all the wounded, and maintained the discipline of nonviolence (granted the nonviolence was in behavior but not language). And they were not afraid.

The spraying had been a baptism sealing them into the security of knowing that their prophecy of repentance was indeed the Spirit-Word through them it is as if they did not prophecy their very bones would melt within them. Against the wall in increasing pain and burning I realized I was in the midst of church.

The police, on the other hand, were afraid. Their quick use of chemical warfare reveals how cowardly they are. The unwillingness of their commanders to maintain discipline reveals how incompetent they are becoming.

The only tool in their bag is brutality and like a drunken-raging father beating wife and kids, the police have increasingly disgraced themselves. Step by step, they are being shaped into the front face of fascism, the emerging police state that protects the property interests of the Marie Antoinette’s who have seized control of our government, commerce, media, military and increasingly the Church itself.

My question to my clergy colleagues is this: “Where are you? How much longer can you preach without practice? How dare you remain protected in your sanctuary while your people (the rag-tag mob of the least, last and lost whom Jesus loved) are slaughtered doing that which God has commissioned you to do (prophecy!).

“Where are you? Who have you become in this age of baptism by pepper spray? Do you not know how much power you have to stop our national descent into chaos? Don’t you realize that the world is your parish and right before your eyes the Spirit of God is doing a new thing?

“Can’t you hear that God’s judgment is upon the land? God is against the thieves that bankrupted our nation. God is against the armies of the Beast who pillage other lands in our name, and turn and destroy our people on our own soil.

“Are you blind? Perhaps you need a baptism of pepper spray in your eyes to restore your vision.”

And to the police I say this: “There are always the brutal ones in our midst. As colleagues you have the moral responsibility to police your own. If your commanders order you to brutalize your people you have a Higher Command that says, ‘disarm yourself, turn away from your sin, renounce the orders of unrighteousness.’

“And in doing so, cross the line, come over and join us because we are the winning side of history. And we welcome your repentance and heal you of your shame.”

And to the church, beloved church, I say: “You cannot sing the hymns of faith if you are too afraid to live that faith. In Amos it says to silence your sacred assemblies and let JUSTICE burst forth. Our nation, with the nations of the world, are under an assault of tyranny and treason of the 1 percent against Creation itself.

“You may not worship God until and unless you care for the image of God living in those tents and prophesying on your behalf. Once the Powers sweep the Tents away, if you dare to lift your voice even a peep, you too will be swept away.”

But the destiny of the church, the Body of Christ, is not one of quiet passivity and fear, our destiny is to bear witness having no fear of the Cross because even now we have crossed over into resurrection.

A PASTORAL LAMENT FOR MY COUNTRY:

America, America, my country ‘tis of thee,

Sweet land of liberty

Of thee I sing

America, oh America

America the Beautiful has fallen.

Rev. Rich Lang is a pastor at University Temple United Methodist Church www.utemple.org. He can be emailed at rich@utemple.org. To watch a video of the pepper spraying, click here.




Whistleblowers Honored on Nov. 21

In recent decades, information — the lifeblood of democracy — has often been cut off from the American body politic on “national security” grounds or because insiders feel it wouldn’t be “good for the country.” To counter that benighted view, a group of ex-U.S. intelligence officials honors brave whistleblowers, this year Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack.

By Ray McGovern

Our country’s need for courageous whistleblowers is now. That is mostly why Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) publicly honors people who have spoken truth, and suffered the consequences, as Sam Adams, my former analyst colleague at CIA, did on Vietnam.

So that is why, this year, we are honoring Thomas Drake, who was a senior official at the National Security Agency where he observed serious waste, fraud and violations of the constitutional rights of Americans, and Jesselyn Radack, a Justice Department lawyer who objected to the abusive treatment of John Walker Lindh, dubbed the “American Taliban” during the early days of the Afghan War. [See details below.]

We want to encourage people with integrity to blow the whistle, preferably with documents, when circumstances dictate this course of action as the correct moral choice. There are, in other words, what ethicists call “supervening values” that dwarf non-disclosure promises, and SAAII’s annual award for integrity is an excellent reminder of that reality, and of its relevance to today.

It is well known, for example, that serious CIA analysts have never bought Gen. David Petraeus’s repeated assurances that we are making “progress” in Afghanistan.  As commander of U.S. forces there, what else, pray tell, was he going to say?

Now Petraeus is commander of CIA analysts who know better than most that the “progress” is illusory, and the modifier “fragile but reversible” is as disingenuous as similar formulae recited by Gen. William Westmoreland in Saigon during the Vietnam War.

How long will it take one of those honest analysts to summon the courage to let the country know that the repeated incantations that we are making “fragile” progress in Afghanistan are hogwash?

Some have risen to the occasion in the past and blown the whistle, but often too late, at the cost of squandering thousands more lives. Dan Ellsberg has often said he wishes he had not waited until 1971 to reveal the entire official fraud on Vietnam, known as the Pentagon Papers.

(Actually, as you will see below, in early 1968, in his first such leak to the media, Dan did give the New York Times, then an independent newspaper, Sam Adams’s honest, and correct, estimate of Communist strength just in time to prevent President Lyndon Johnson from acceding to Westmoreland’s secret request for 206,000 more troops.)

Dan has spoken at our annual events in the past, but is on deadline to finish a book and will not be with us this year.  We have, nonetheless, a good line-up for the award ceremony and discussion on Monday, Nov. 21 at American University.

Below you will find the flyer SAAII and American University are using to promote next Monday’s event, and also a short description of the origins of SAAII and its previous annual award winners.

You and your friends are cordially invited to join us.

Truth & Consequences: Blowing the Whistle on Government Abuse

Ward Circle Bldg, Rm. 2, American U; Mon., November 21 at 8:10 pm; free

Keynote Speakers: Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack, winners of this year’s award from Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence

Thomas Drake was a senior official at the National Security Agency where he witnessed widespread waste, fraud, and violations of the 4th Amendment rights of U.S. citizens. He blew the whistle, and the Justice Department tried him for espionage, and lost. The extraordinary charges against him are symptomatic of the rising power of the military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-surveillance-cybersecurity complex.

Jesselyn Radack was the Justice Department attorney who stood up for the Constitutional rights of John Walker Lindh, a young U.S. citizen captured in Afghanistan and widely denigrated as the “American Taliban.” She was dissed. And Lindh became the first American to be tortured by Americans during the early days of the Afghan War. “Justice” then made her a target of a criminal investigation and put her on the “No-Fly” List. She is now with the Government Accountability Project and was one of the lawyers representing Tom Drake under circumstances closely resembling her own.

Other Speakers:

Col. Larry Wilkerson (USA, ret.), SAAII awardee in 2009 and former chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell (2002-2005), will speak on how the national security state and big corporations are ruining our country.

Coleen Rowley, Former special agent and legal counselor, Minneapolis FBI, who called the FBI director’s attention to serious shortcomings before the attacks of 9/11; Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2002

Peter Kuznick, Professor of History; Director, American University’s Nuclear Studies Institute; Co-writer (with Oliver Stone) “Untold History of the U.S.” (coming in 2012 on Showtime & in print)

Ray McGovern, Veteran CIA analyst, whose duties included preparing and briefing the President’s Daily Brief; Co-founder, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS); colleague of Sam Adams

The late Sam Adams, estimating the number of Vietnamese Communists under arms, came up with twice the number Gen. William Westmoreland would allow the Army to acknowledge. Sadly, the countrywide Communist offensive in January-February 1968 proved Sam right.

Sponsored by Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence and American University’s Nuclear Studies Institute

Background on the Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence is a movement of former CIA colleagues and other associates of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, who hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power.

Sam did the best he could and in honoring his memory, SAAII confers an award each year to a member of the intelligence profession exemplifying Sam Adam’s courage, persistence, and devotion to truth, no matter the consequences.

It was Adams who discovered in 1967 that there were more than a half-million Vietnamese Communists under arms, roughly twice the number that the U.S. command in Saigon would admit to, lest Americans learn that claims of “progress” were bogus.

Gen. William Westmoreland had put an artificial limit on the number Army intelligence was allowed to carry on its books. And Gen. Creighton Abrams specifically warned Washington that the press would have a field day if Adam’s numbers were released, and that this would weaken the war effort.

A SECRET/EYES ONLY cable from Westmoreland’s deputy, Gen. Creighton Abrams on Aug. 20, 1967, stated: “We have been projecting an image of success over recent months,” and cautioned that if the higher figures became public, “all available caveats and explanations will not prevent the press from drawing an erroneous and gloomy conclusion.”

The Communist countrywide offensive during Tet (January/February 1968) made it clear that the generals had been lying and that Sam Adams’ “higher figures” were correct. Senior intelligence officials were aware of the deception, but lacked the courage to stand up to Westmoreland. Still, Sam remained reluctant to go “outside channels.”

A few weeks after Tet, however, Daniel Ellsberg rose to the occasion. Dan learned that Westmoreland was asking for 206,000 more troops to widen the war into Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam, right up to the border with China, and perhaps beyond.

Someone else promptly leaked to the New York Times Westmoreland’s troop request, emboldening Ellsberg to do likewise with Sam Adams’s story. Dan had come to the view that leaking truth about a deceitful war would be “a patriotic and constructive act.” It was his first unauthorized disclosure. On March 19, 1968, the Times published a stinging story based on Adams’s figures.

Six days later, on March 25, President Johnson complained to a small gathering, “The leaks to the New York Times hurt us. … We have no support for the war. This is caused by the 206,000 troop request [by Westmoreland] and the leaks. I would have given Westy the 206,000 men.”

On March 31, 1968, Johnson introduced a bombing pause, opted for negotiations, and announced that he would not run for another term in November.

Sam Adams continued to press for honesty and accountability but stayed “inside channels”, and failed. He died at 55 of a heart attack, nagged by the thought that, had he not let himself be diddled, many lives might have been saved. His story is told in War of Numbers.

The annual Sam Adams Award has been given in previous years to truth tellers Coleen Rowley of the FBI; Katharine Gun of British Intelligence; Sibel Edmonds of the FBI; Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan; Sam Provance; former US Army Sgt; Maj. Frank Grevil of Danish Army Intelligence; Larry Wilkerson, Col., US Army (ret.), former chief of staff to Colin Powell at State; and Julian Assange, of WikiLeaks.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He and Sam Adams began serving as CIA analysts in 1963 during the administration of President John F. Kennedy.




J. Edgar Hoover’s Long Shadow

A new movie about the life and times of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover reminds America how the Republic veered so far off course in the last century, as claims of “national security” enabled a corrupt political establishment to take hold, as Michael Winship recalls.

By Michael Winship

J. Edgar Hoover passed away on May 2, 1972. The legendary FBI director lay in state at the Capitol rotunda, the doors kept open all day and night for the convenience of mourners.

I remember because I was still at college in Washington then, and around 3 o’clock in the morning a bunch of us drove up there, not to pay our respects, but to make sure he was really dead.

In those pre-9/11 days, you could still do that sort of thing.

The memory of our predawn visit came rushing back last week as I introduced a screening of J. Edgar, the new film directed by Clint Eastwood, and interviewed its screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, who won the Oscar a couple of years ago for the movie Milk.

There’s a sequence toward the end of J. Edgar right after Hoover dies: President Richard Nixon appears before the cameras to solemnly announce the news. Cut to Nixon in the Oval Office ordering chief of staff Bob Haldeman and other members of his Praetorian Guard to seal off Hoover’s offices and seize his fabled stash of secret files on every prominent politician, past and present.

Meanwhile, Hoover’s faithful secretary, Helen Gandy, has locked herself away with a shredder and dutifully eliminates the evidence.

The movie loops chronologically back and forth across Hoover’s law enforcement career of more than half a century. Eastwood and Lance Black maneuver an intriguing tightrope walk between the Hoover who sees himself as a crime-busting patriot protecting his country and pioneering forensic investigative techniques, and the paranoid, power-mad, status-obsessed Washington insider who would go to any lengths to pursue anyone he thought subversive or simply critical of him and his methods.

All of this is crammed into a repressed, mother-ridden, anguished individual whose decades-long relationship with his second-in-command, Clyde Tolson, was the closest he ever got to real love at a time in America when you could walk into the Capitol building unchallenged by security but homosexuality truly was, as the old cliché goes, the love that dared not speak its name.

As Lance Black told the San Francisco Gate in a recent interview, If you are robbed of the ability to love who you love, you will fill that hole with something else. For him, it was power and a nation’s admiration. … He started to do things that were heinous to hold onto it.”

David Denby adds in his review of the movie in The New Yorker, “Again and again, he goes too far, treating Communist rhetorical bluster as the first stages of revolution, assembling lists of people whose opinions he considers suspect, fabricating documents, planting stories in the newspapers, bludgeoning potential enemies with his file drawers of sexual gossip” files that notoriously included John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., not to mention Louis Brandeis, Eleanor Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe and Mary Pickford.

According to attorney Kenneth D. Ackerman, author of Young J. Edgar: Hoover and the Red Scare, by 1960, “the FBI had open ‘subversive’ files on some 432,000 Americans.”

Last week, as if cued by the release of J. Edgar, there were new developments in the life stories of both Hoover and Nixon. By way of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, The Los Angeles Times received old FBI files on Jack Nelson, the journalist who eventually became that paper’s Washington bureau chief.

“Hoover was convinced — mistakenly — that Nelson planned to write that the FBI director was homosexual,” the Times reported. “As he had done with other perceived enemies, Hoover began compiling a dossier on the reporter. …

“John Fox, the FBI’s in-house historian, said Nelson arrived on the scene at a time when Hoover was feeling vulnerable. A published report that the director was gay could well have ended his career, and that possibility — unfounded or not — had Hoover on edge.”

In memos, Hoover, who had a penchant for smearing his real and imagined nemeses with names from the animal kingdom, variously called Nelson a jackal, rat and — most charmingly — a “lice-covered ferret.” He tried to have the reporter fired and met with the paper’s head man in Washington, Dave Kraslow.

“The spittle was running out of his lips and the corners of his mouth,” the now 85-year-old Kraslow recalled. “He was out of control.”

Kraslow refused to fire Nelson but did ask him to send Hoover a response which read, in part: “I emphatically deny that I have at any time under any circumstances ever said or remotely suggested that Mr. Hoover was a homosexual.”

Meanwhile, the National Archives released the latest batch of tape recordings and transcripts from the Nixon Presidential Library, also known as the House of Mirth.

Among the treasures untroved was the 278-page transcript of Nixon’s grand jury testimony in June 1975, part of the Watergate Special Prosecution Force’s investigation into what litigator and author Glenn Greenwald calls in his new book, With Liberty and Justice for Some, “one of the clearest cases of widespread, deliberate criminality at the highest level of the U.S. government.”

There are no smoking guns in the new materials but at a time when — in comparison to the current crop of GOP candidates — Nixon’s reputation is undergoing a bit of a positive facelift, it’s always good to be reminded of the whiny, self-pitying, defensive, dissembling reprobate we knew and loathed back in the bad old days.

He brushes off the whole sordid scandal as “this silly, incredible Watergate break-in” and says, “I want the jury and the special prosecutors to kick the hell out of us for wire-tapping and for the plumbers and the rest because obviously you may have concluded it was wrong.” So sayeth the man made safe from prosecution by a presidential pardon.

He tells the grand jurors and investigators that he was upset about the White House tape with the infamous 18-and-a-half-minute gap (it was of a conversation between Haldeman and Nixon three days after the burglary attempt) — not because of the erasure but because he mistakenly thought it wasn’t going to be turned over to the authorities.

“I practically blew my stack,” he blusters, claims the gap was an accident and that he had no idea what was discussed in those missing minutes, then blames the whole thing on his own faithful secretary Rose Mary Woods. What a guy.

Certainly, nothing in the freshly released Dictabelt tapes and transcripts changes what we always figured — Nixon was not contrite over any of it but simply angry that he’d been caught.

“It’s time for us to recognize that politics in America … some pretty rough tactics are used,” he says. “Not that our campaign was pure … but what I am saying is that having been in politics for the last 25 years, that politics is a rough game.”

He speaks about using the IRS to investigate Democratic campaign donors and the ease with which he could raise massive cash contributions from big business. He denies swapping ambassadorships for political donations but notes, “Some of the finest ambassadors … have been non-career ambassadors who have made substantial contributions.”

In that simultaneously priggish but smarmy way of his, Nixon recalls that President Harry Truman made Washington social maven Perle Mesta ambassador to Luxembourg not “because she had big bosoms. Perle Mesta went to Luxembourg because she made a good contribution.” (Her appointment was immortalized in the Irving Berlin musical Call Me Madam.)

Perhaps the strangest artifact in the latest document dump isn’t the grand jury testimony but Nixon’s recollections of the famous incident at the Lincoln Memorial in 1970 early on the morning of a massive antiwar demonstration just days after the killings at Kent State. He paid an unannounced visit to the monument and talked with a group of the student protesters camped out nearby.

“I know you, probably most of you think I’m an SOB but, ah, I want you to know that I understand just how you feel,” he says he told the demonstrators. “What we all must think about is why we are here. … What are those elements of spirit which really matter?

“… I just wanted to be sure that all of them realized that ending the war and cleaning up the city streets and the air and the water was not going to solve the spiritual hunger which all of us have, and which of course has been the great mystery of life from the beginning of time.”

As he leaves, he tells one of the students, “I just hope your opposition doesn’t turn into blind hatred of the country. Remember, this is a great country for all of its faults.”

Of course, as Nixon got down with the kids, J. Edgar Hoover’s counterintelligence program, COINTELPRO, was getting down and dirty, not only spying on and infiltrating the antiwar movement but also deliberately trying to subvert and disrupt it — with Nixon’s approval.

Such violations of civil liberties echo through to the present day: obstructions of justice, abuses of power, the tapping of e-mails and phone calls, black-site detentions and “enhanced interrogations,” to name just a few. In his new book Glenn Greenwald recalls the words Abigail Adams wrote to her husband John: “Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could.”

J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon remind us of that essential truth. They’re not so dead after all.

Michael Winship is senior writing fellow at Demos, president of the Writers Guild of America East and senior writer of the upcoming public television series “Moyers & Company,” premiering in January.




After the Zuccotti Park Raid

Driven from its iconic encampment in Lower Manhattan, the Occupy Wall Street movement struggled to recover its political footing and find a new geographical center but its success in changing America’s economic discussion can’t be doubted, says Danny Schechter.

By Danny Schechter

It was strange, after all these weeks, to be on the outside looking in at a new set of occupiers who were there because they have the guns and we don’t.

When Mao said that “power grows out of the barrel of a gun,” he most assuredly did not have anything like Occupy Wall Street on his mind, but somehow the insight applies.

The recent attacks on Occupy encampments may have their origins in decisions by federal agencies. It has been reported that the Mayor of Oakland admitted that 16 cities consulted with the Department of Homeland Security about the protests.

In the takeover of Liberty Square/Zuccotti Park during the early hours of Tuesday, more than 200 people were arrested, amid teargas and selective physical violence against resisters.

Soon, all the tents were gone: Medical, Media, The Kitchen and The Library, as well as all the work group locations that I showed in my film a week earlier.

With the park then power-cleaned and pristine, the cops were in command, barricades on the outside. Contractors employed by Brookfield Properties, the park’s owner, were on the inside, looking all corporate and regimented.

Activists with badges calling themselves the “99%” were soon watching the triumph of authority with pains in their hearts from behind the barricades while a dozen TV trucks set up their antennas to broadcast live on this latest confrontation,

The tabloid media were gloating earlier in the day. “BEAT IT” was the headline in the Daily News; Rupert Murdoch’s  NY Post had been tipped in advance and covered the expulsion like a cheerleader.

Earlier in the day, a liberal judge had temporarily ordered the police to allow the protesters to return to the park with their stuff, but the case went back to State Court. The cops ignored the ruling and by late afternoon had a new one that exonerated their eviction.

CBS reported, “A New York judge has upheld the city’s dismantling of the Occupy Wall Street encampment, saying that the protesters’ First Amendment rights don’t entitle them to camp out indefinitely in the plaza.”

State judge Michael Stallman, a liberal who had worked for a liberal City Council member, on Tuesday denied a motion by the demonstrators seeking to be allowed back into the park with their tents and sleeping bags.

CBS News legal analyst Andrew Cohen reported that the key paragraph in the judge’s ruling is as follows: “Here, movements have not demonstrated that the rules adopted by the owners of the property, concededly after the demonstrations began, are not reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions permitted under the First Amendment.”

“Time, place and manner” restrictions on speech like the demonstrators had petitioned against have a long history in American law, going back at least to the 1960s. It is unlikely that this ruling will be overturned on appeal, if it is appealed at all.

“At the end of the day, if this movement is only tied to Liberty Plaza, we are going to lose we’re going to lose,” said Sandra Nurse, one of the organizers, referring to another name for the park. “Right now the most important thing is coming together as a body and just reaffirm why we’re here in the first place.”

The Post reported, “With tensions simmering all day, demonstrators had spent hours surrounding the now-closed park near Wall Street as they waited for the judge’s decision. Hours after the city forcibly evicted protesters, scrubbed down the park and closed it, Occupy Wall Street protests scattered across downtown Manhattan.

Earlier in the day, protesters thought they had a new space to occupy, a mile away at Sixth Avenue and Canal Street on a property owned by Trinity Church, a religious institution with vast holdings in Downtown Manhattan. They called for a new mobilization at the site, an unused playground that is a now site for new construction.

Hundreds showed up with banners but so did the police in riot gear. Soon a “White Shirt” commander named Esposito arrived to take command. He ordered the occupiers off the site. Apparently someone else at Trinity had reneged on the earlier invite.

Some of the protesters left but at least 16 were swiftly arrested with one set of cops telling us to get off the sidewalks and others to get on them. Some journalists were also taken into custody. One woman in a wheel chair was let go.

Most of the demonstrators left the site and headed back to Zuccotti Park which, later, let some back in after searching them. They were told they cannot sleep there.

Clearly there is a new challenge here, to build the movement without a residential base. Two New York churches are now offering out-of-town demonstrators places to stay and others will no doubt extend hospitality. Other sites may be found, but their “liberated zone” has been lost for now.

Richard Trumka, the head of the AFL-CIO, issued a statement calling for more protests on Nov. 17 when some activists vow to shut Wall Street down. His statement seemed unusually militant:

“They can take away the tarps and the tents. But they can’t slow down the Occupy Wall Street movement. The 99% is undaunted. Occupy Wall Street’s message has already created a new day. This movement has created a seismic shift in our national debate, from austerity and cuts to jobs, inequality and our broken economic system.”

So, clearly, despite the loss of the Park, this movement will move on. The question remains: where is it moving and how can it bring along the large number of Americans who support it?

When the police were doing their thing, no doubt, only following orders, demonstrators chanted, “This is what Democracy looks like” and “No riot here, take off your riot gear.”

New Dissector Danny Schechter covers OWS daily in his Newsdissector.com blog. He also reports for AlJazeera and other websites. He made the film Plunder on Wall Street’s financial crimes. (plunderthecrimeofourtime.com) Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org