[There are none so morally putrescent as The Holocaust pushers with their slobbering journalistic pit bulls. From the historically disfiguring Mutsinzi and Mucyo Reports blaming a martyred, majoritarian Rwanda (and its French parrain) for its own bloody return to neo-feudal bondage; to the vacuous geopolitical jive over Muslim victims of neo-Nazi Slavs from Serbia (in Bosnia and Kosovo) and Russia (in Chechnya); to axis-of-evil-grinding over Iran’s potential for becoming a nuclear-armed Muslim fundamentalist and Holocaust-negationist state: soulless guilt-junkes like Philip Gourevitch (The New Yorker online) and Oliver Kamm (The Times online), dizzy on the fumes from their long-decaying product, an anti-factual narrative so cut with racism and anti-democratic (fascist) bias as to be terminally toxic to those sadly naïve enough to indulge them even in passing, continue to attack their critics with a buffoonish, limping, blind and staggering reversion to anti-Semitic insults—Holocaust Denial. Their indecent defenses of unspeakable criminals, like Paul Kagame, Tony Blair, George Bush and Dick Cheney, have turned them into caricatures on a par with Lenny’s old Jewish shut-in, who daily screams out the window: “Gestapo! Gestapo!” And hears back: “What Gestapo? I’m the mailman.”

Below you’ll find a couple of entries: The first from Ed Herman and David Petersen is a response to Ollie Kamm’s vain attempts to dam the flood of information that continues to demonstrate just how bereft of anything like good faith or good will he really is. I like to think that it was I who first suggested to Kamm (a tiny allusion he dutifully refused to post or credit) that his fey attacks on Noam Chomsky, Ed and David, as well as those against our own dear friends, Chris Black and Neil Clark, were reminiscent of ITN’s Penny Marshall and Ed Vulliamy’s beating their heads against the brick wall of video evidence Thomas Diechmann presented to thoroughly debunk their Serbian Nazi Death Camp stories—which so overwhelming contributed to the intensification of crimes against peace in Yugoslavia as to qualify all these Brit propagandists for war criminal jackets.

The second is an article from Gareth Porter from June 2009 about falsified intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program. The Porter article really shows who is behind this ‘third force’ that is driving today’s private wars. And the use of The Holocaust as a moral measure is a mere dodge to distract the public eye from focusing on the real beneficiaries of today’s terrorism. The only right these Victims’ Advocates claim for their clients is the right to give up all the decency they have in exchange for an illusory sense of revenge. –mc]

UPDATE: There are two points I should probably make clearer than I did when I wrote this post.

The first relates to my point that Chomsky's politics are not those - as Caldwell's were - of support for monstrous totalitarian regimes, but are sophistry driven by reflexive anti-Americanism. The corollary of that position, however, is that Chomsky is instinctively indulgent of, and impressed by, the writings of those who in the name of anti-imperialism defend terrible regimes and deny documented war crimes. Consider Chomsky's treatment of Gareth Porter's contemptible apologetics for the Khmer Rouge, and his praise ("an outstanding work, dissenting from the mainstream view but doing so by an appeal to fact and reason, in a great tradition") for a book by Diana Johnstone that disputes the massacre at Srebrenica.

Secondly, I don't criticise Chomsky for writing a letter to a newspaper. My point is rather his extreme sensitivity, expressed at a length far beyond the comment he's responding to, when a writer draws attention to his polemical record. The best one can say is that it's more rational behaviour than that of his sometime co-author Edward Herman, the Srebrenica-denier.

Herman recently had an article of his hastily deleted from the Media Lens site after its editors belatedly realised that the piece made claims against the Guardian journalist Ed Vulliamy that had already been found to be defamatory in the High Court. Having thus lost a platform at a small sub-Chomskyite pressure group, Herman and his associate David Peterson demanded that they receive their own blog, to make the same claims, at - of all places - The Times. They maintained they were entitled to this because "The Times's Oliver Kamm has taken to insulting, smearing, and libeling us on a serial basis". Quite, quite, bizarre. [#####]

One Response to Oliver Kamm

According to Oliver Kamm, our "Open Letter to Amnesty International's London and Belfast Offices, on the Occasion of Noam Chomsky's Belfast Festival Lecture, October 30, 2009"[1],

"blithely repeated claims that were judged to be defamatory in the High Court in 2000, when ITN successfully sued Living Marxism (LM) magazine. LM had claimed that Ed Vulliamy, along with Penny Marshall and Ian Williams of ITN, had been fraudulent in reporting the Trnopolje camp in Bosnia…."[2]

Kamm is wrong.

Nowhere in the March 2000 verdict in the libel case brought by ITN against LM for publishing Thomas Deichmann's "The Picture that Fooled the World"[3] did the jury reject the specific factual claim by Deichmann and LM that when the first encounter took place between these British reporters and Fikret Alic and the other Bosnian Muslim men on August 5, 1992, it was Marshall, Williams, and Vulliamy who were standing behind the fence through which the interviews were carried out and the film taken. As Deichmann argued, this part chicken-wire, part barbed-wire fence surrounded an agriculture-related compound at a much larger site that included a public school and a community center, but was then serving as a camp for displaced persons and detainees during the civil wars in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In the center of this compound stood a barn, the fence having been erected prior to the civil wars to enclose the barn and objects related to it. But this fence did not surround or enclose the Bosnian Muslim men standing on the opposite side of it from the British reporters, outside the immediate compound in which the British reporters stood.

As Deichmann wrote:

"When Marshall, Williams and Vulliamy entered the compound next to the camp, the barbed wire was already torn in several places. They did not use the open gate, but entered from the south through a gap in the fence. They approached the fence on the north side [of this compound], where curious refugees quickly gathered inside the camp, but on the outside of the area fenced-in by barbed wire. It was through the barbed wire fence at this point that the famous shots of Fikret Alic were taken….[4]

Even Justice Morland of the British High Court of Justice described the positioning of the British reporters as follows:

"Clearly Ian Williams and Penny Marshall and their TV teams were mistaken in thinking they were not enclosed by the old barbed wire fence, but does it matter?"[5]

The question "but does it matter?" was an allusion to British libel law, under which the "defendant carries the burden of proof," as Britain's Libel Reform Coalition reports, and "is asked to prove the truth of their statement," which is "always presumed [to be] false" until proven otherwise. The effect of such an onerous condition is that Britain's "libel law has been used to protect the rich and powerful from criticism and has come to be associated with money rather than justice. The high costs involved and the scale of potential damages have chilled free speech."[6]

Thus the March 2000 libel case argued by ITN against LM did not establish that it was the Bosnian Muslim men who stood behind the fence during this encounter, and it did not establish that the famous images of Fikret Alic and the other Bosnian Muslim men faithfully represented the reality of this encounter, but LM could not stand on these facts in its defense against the libel charge: LM had to prove not only that Marshall and Williams and ITN's editors were mistaken in representing the Bosnian Muslim men as standing behind the fence, but also that they deliberately or knowingly misrepresented this encounter. With the wealth of resources and witnesses ITN could utilize, LM stood little chance of prevailing. But ITN's ability to stack-the-deck against LM followed from Britain's libel law, not from the lack of soundness of Deichmann's and LM's claim.

Nevertheless, Justice Morland's assertion that the British reporters "were mistaken in thinking they were not enclosed" (i.e., were wrong in representing the Bosnian Muslim men as standing behind the fence, rather than the reporters themselves) is indistinguishable from the basic claim by Deichmann, by LM, and by Phillip Knightley in the affidavit he prepared on behalf of LM's defense but which was not allowed into the evidence at trial—and by us in our "Open Letter to AI."

Thomas Deichmann's "The Picture that Fooled the World" was and remains a solid debunking of the Fikret Alic imagery recorded at Trnopolje by the British reporters on August 5, 1992, with the images of these Bosnian Muslim men almost immediately fed to the world as standing behind barbed-wire, and Alic an iconic figure for the "living dead" at Trnopolje, proof of Nazi-era brutality resurrected on European soil after 50 years by ethnic Serbs, exactly as the British reporters dispatched to northwest Bosnia-Herzegovina expected to find there. As Knightley explained in his affidavit on behalf of LM:

"The barbed wire turns out to be only symbolic. Were all the inmates starving? No. Fikret Alic was an exception. Even in Marshall’s report other men, apparently well-fed, can be seen, and the out-takes reveal at least one man with a paunch hanging over his belt. Phil Davison, a highly-respected correspondent who covered the war from both sides for The Independent says, 'Things had gone slightly quiet. Suddenly there were these death camps/concentration camps stories'.….

"When…the ITN report was hailed as a great image, should the team have stood up and publicly said, 'Hey, hang on a minute. It wasn’t quite like that'. In an ideal world, yes…. But given the commercial pressures of modern TV and the fact that to have spoken out would hardly endear the ITN crew to their employers and might even have endangered their jobs, it is understandable but not forgivable that no one chose to do so."[7]

Not only did none of the British reporters stand-up and say "Hang on a minute." But eleven days after they first visited Trnopolje and misrepresented Fikret Alic and the other Bosnian Muslim men as standing behind the fence, Penny Marshall boasted in the Sunday Times about the power of these images "to move world opinion." After her August 6 report on Trnopolje for ITN, "British newspapers were calling for military intervention," she maintained; "within 20 minutes of the [ITN] report being re-broadcast on American television, George Bush promised to press for a United Nations resolution authorising use of force."[8]

Now more than 17 years later, it is less forgivable than ever that Oliver Kamm still clings to and defends this early, yet decisive, falsehood in the dismantling of Yugoslavia, and misrepresents the verdict in the 2000 libel trial of ITN v. LM.

Edward S. Herman, Philadelphia, USA
David Peterson, Chicago, USA

---- Endnotes ----

[1] Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, "Open Letter to Amnesty International's London and Belfast Offices, on the Occasion of Noam Chomsky's Belfast Festival Lecture, October 30, 2009," MRZine, November 22, 2009, . Also see our "The Dismantling of Yugoslavia," Monthly Review, October, 2007, esp. section 10, "The Role of the Media and Intellectuals in the Dismantlement," .

[2] Oliver Kamm, "The anatomy of war crimes denial," The Times Online, December 21, 2009, .

[3] Thomas Deichmann, "The picture that fooled the world," LM97, February, 1997, . Also see Deichmann's "'Exactly as it happened'?" LM100, May, 1997, .

[4] Deichmann, "The picture that fooled the world," . When reading Deichmann's analysis, be sure to study the diagram titled "Site plan of Trnopolje, based on US satellite photo, 2 August 1992, three days before British journalists arrived." The part of this diagram you want to focus on is in the lower right-hand corner, (a) "Position of the Refugees with Fikret Alic," (b) "Position of the ITN News Team with Penny Marshall," and of course (c) "Compound Fenced-In with Barbed Wire," the building identified as a "Barn" in the center of this little enclosure, and the line denoting the part chicken-wire, and part barbed-wire fence which stands immediately between (a) where the British reporters stood, and (b) where the Bosnian Muslim men gathered.

[5] In David Campbell, "Atrocity, memory, photography: imaging the concentration camps of Bosnia—the case of ITN versus Living Marxism, Part 1," Journal of Human Rights, March, 2002, p. 21, .—We should add that Campbell's lengthy analysis over two different issues of this Journal rejects the obvious: That it was the British reporters who stood behind the fence when their first encounter with Fikret Alic and the Bosnian Muslim men occurred. For Campbell, the fact that the fence that once surrounded the barn was then dilapidated and incomplete makes it impossible to claim that the British reporters stood inside an "enclosure" or "compound," much less "behind the fence." Remarkably, Campbell does not apply this reasoning to the Bosnian Muslim men. Throughout his two-part analysis, Campbell repeatedly refers to the Bosnian Muslim men as standing "behind the fence." How these men can be accurately described as standing "behind the fence" while the British reporters cannot be accurately described this way, because the "'enclosure' was anything but completely or fully enclosed" and the British reporters cannot be "on 'the inside' and Alic and the others on 'the outside'" (pp. 18-21) defies rational explanation—but Campbell repeats it often and at great length. Campbell's entire analysis boils down to little more than a reaffirmation that the Bosnian Serbs (or ethnic Serbs as such) did very bad things during the civil wars over the fate of the former Yugoslavia; therefore, Deichmann's successful debunking of "The Picture that Fooled the World" must be wrong, as it advances the wrong political script. With the exception of his treatment of Margaret Bourke-White's famous photo "The Living Dead at Buchenwald, April 1945" (pp. 4-6), the rest of Campbell's two-part analysis fails miserably.
[6] Jo Glanville et al., Free Speech Is Not For Sale, A Report by the English PEN and Index on Censorship, Libel Reform Coalition, November 10, 2009, .

[7] For a partial copy of Phillip Knightley's affidavit, see Alexander Cockburn, "Storm Over Brockes' Fakery," CounterPunch, November 5/6, 2005, .

[8] Penny Marshall, "ITN's Penny Marshall tells how she made the world wake up," Sunday Times, August 16, 1992. [#####]


Report Ties Dubious Iran Nuclear Docs to Israel

by Gareth Porter
June 5, 2009

A report on Iran’s nuclear programme issued by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month generated news stories publicising an incendiary charge that U.S. intelligence is underestimating Iran’s progress in designing a “nuclear warhead” before the halt in nuclear weapons-related research in 2003.

That false and misleading charge from an intelligence official of a foreign country, who was not identified but was clearly Israeli, reinforces two of Israel’s key propaganda themes on Iran – that the 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iran is wrong, and that Tehran is poised to build nuclear weapons as soon as possible.

But it also provides new evidence that Israeli intelligence was the source of the collection of intelligence documents which have been used to accuse Iran of hiding nuclear weapons research.

The Committee report, dated May 4, cited unnamed “foreign analysts” as claiming intelligence that Iran ended its nuclear weapons-related work in 2003 because it had mastered the design and tested components of a nuclear weapon and thus didn’t need to work on it further until it had produced enough sufficient material.

That conclusion, which implies that Iran has already decided to build nuclear weapons, contradicts both the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate on Iran, and current intelligence analysis. The NIE concluded that Iran had ended nuclear weapons-related work in 2003 because of increased international scrutiny, and that it was “less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005″.

The report included what appears to be a spectacular revelation from “a senior allied intelligence official” that a collection of intelligence documents supposedly obtained by U.S. intelligence in 2004 from an Iranian laptop computer includes “blueprints for a nuclear warhead”.

It quotes the unnamed official as saying that the blueprints “precisely matched” similar blueprints the official’s own agency “had obtained from other sources inside Iran”.

No U.S. or IAEA official has ever claimed that the so-called laptop documents included designs for a “nuclear warhead”. The detailed list in a May 26, 2008 IAEA report of the contents of what have been called the “alleged studies” – intelligence documents on alleged Iranian nuclear weapons work — made no mention of any such blueprints.

In using the phrase “blueprints for a nuclear warhead”, the unnamed official was evidently seeking to conflate blueprints for the reentry vehicle of the Iranian Shehab missile, which were among the alleged Iranian documents, with blueprints for nuclear weapons.

When New York Times reporters William J. Broad and David E. Sanger used the term “nuclear warhead” to refer to a reentry vehicle in a Nov. 13, 2005 story on the intelligence documents on the Iranian nuclear programme, it brought sharp criticism from David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security.

“This distinction is not minor,” Albright observed, “and Broad should understand the differences between the two objects, particularly when the information does not contain any words such as nuclear or nuclear warhead.”

The Senate report does not identify the country for which the analyst in question works, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff refused to respond to questions about the report from IPS, including the reason why the report concealed the identity of the country for which the unidentified “senior allied intelligence official” works.

Reached later in May, the author of the report, Douglas Frantz, told IPS he is under strict instructions not to speak with the news media.
After a briefing on the report for selected news media immediately after its release, however, the Associated Press reported May 6 that interviews were conducted in Israel. Frantz was apparently forbidden by Israeli officials from revealing their national affiliation as a condition for the interviews.

Frantz, a former journalist for the Los Angeles Times, had extensive contacts with high-ranking Israeli military, intelligence and foreign ministry officials before joining the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff. He and co-author Catherine Collins conducted interviews with those Israeli officials for “The Nuclear Jihadist”, published in 2007. The interviews were all conducted under rules prohibiting disclosure of their identities, according to the book.

The unnamed Israeli intelligence officer’s statement that the “blueprints for a nuclear warhead” – meaning specifications for a missile reentry vehicle – were identical to “designs his agency had obtained from other sources in Iran” suggests that the documents collection which the IAEA has called “alleged studies” actually originated in Israel.

A U.S.-based nuclear weapons analyst who has followed the “alleged studies” intelligence documents closely says he understands that the documents obtained by U.S. intelligence in 2004 were not originally stored on the laptop on which they were located when they were brought in by an unidentified Iranian source, as U.S. officials have claimed to U.S. journalists.

The analyst, who insists on not being identified, says the documents were collected by an intelligence network and then assembled on a single laptop.

The anonymous Israeli intelligence official’s claim, cited in the Committee report, that the “blueprints” in the “alleged studies” collection matched documents his agency had gotten from its own source seems to confirm the analyst’s finding that Israeli intelligence assembled the documents.
German officials have said that the Mujahedin E Khalq or MEK, the Iranian resistance organisation, brought the laptop documents collection to the attention of U.S. intelligence, as reported by IPS in February 2008. Israeli ties with the political arm of the MEK, the National Committee of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), go back to the early 1990s and include assistance to the organisation in broadcasting into Iran from Paris.

The NCRI publicly revealed the existence of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in August 2002. However, that and other intelligence apparently came from Israeli intelligence. The Israeli co-authors of “The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran”, Yossi Melman and Meir Javeanfar, revealed that “Western” intelligence was “laundered” to hide its actual provenance by providing it to Iranian opposition groups, especially NCRI, in order to get it to the IAEA.

They cite U.S., British and Israeli officials as sources for the revelation.

New Yorker writer Connie Bruck wrote in a March 2006 article that an Israeli diplomat confirmed to her that Israel had found the MEK “useful” but declined to elaborate.

Israeli intelligence is also known to have been actively seeking to use alleged Iranian documents to prove that Iran had an active nuclear weapons programme just at the time the intelligence documents which eventually surfaced in 2004 would have been put together.

The most revealing glimpse of Israeli use of such documents to influence international opinion on Iran’s nuclear programme comes from the book by Frantz and Collins. They report that Israel’s international intelligence agency Mossad created a special unit in the summer of 2003 to carry out a campaign to provide secret briefings on the Iranian nuclear programme, which sometimes included “documents from inside Iran and elsewhere”.

The “alleged studies” collection of documents has never been verified as genuine by either the IAEA or by intelligence analysts. The Senate report said senior United Nations officials and foreign intelligence officials who had seen “many of the documents” in the collection of alleged Iranian military documents had told committee staff “it is impossible to rule out an elaborate intelligence ruse”.

*Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006.