Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Occupied Palestine, is under fire for writing what is obviously true about the U.S. government and the media. Calls for his firing abound from the usual suspects.
Such commitments to truth as Falk possesses can pose problems for prospective careerists, but the 80-year-old human rights activist and scholar likely doesn’t care all that much about resulting slander.
Update: The level of McCarthyite hysteria directed at Richard Falk is astonishing. “UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s office condemned Richard Falk, a retired Princeton professor and a member of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, for questioning in a recent blog posting” the official version about the 9/11 terror attacks. … The secretary-general’s spokesman, Vijay Nambiar, wrote that Falk’s remarks were “an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in the attack.” (Horn, Jerusalem Post)
In fact, Falk wrote: the “media … [is] unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events [of 9/11].” And that author David Ray Griffin is of a caliber of “other devoted scholars of high integrity.”
That’s it. Why is the Lobby and its supporters so enraged by Falk’s rather banal comments?
The truth will set you free. How about the editorial boards of The Nation and The Progressive where Falk has long served? When will the statements of support come out? Falk’s story is an excellent candidate for The Progressive editor Matthew Rothschild’s exellent McCarthyism Watch. [To contact Matt Rothschild about Richard Falk.]
Falk’s lifetime commitment to the truth puts him beyond the reach of McCarthyite slanderers and cowards who see Falk and other human rights activists and truth-tellers as betraying the cause—that is, America and Israel right or wrong and don’t make waves. Liars cannot erase a lifetime with one lie. It’s been tried with Helen Thomas and it failed.
So what’s the hubbub that has U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, demanding that Falk step down from his UN position and saying, “In my view, Mr. Falk’s latest commentary [a paragraph on the media and 9/11] is so noxious that it should finally be plain to all that he should no longer continue in his position on behalf of the U.N.”? (Reuters, Charbonneau)
Falk’s Blog January 11, 2011 Commentary [Full text posted below]
Turns out Falk has the temerity to suggest that the mainstream media refused to accept “well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the [9/11] events: an al Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials.” (Reuters, Charbonneau)
We thought this was axiomatic. But the American Jewish Committee and various crusaders for truth in the U.S. Congress want Falk fired.
The 9/11 Commission member and staff is composed of the sort of insiders Washington elites wanted on the blue-ribbon committee to prevent accountability and disclosure to the American people 0f what their government knew and when its many agencies knew it.
Remember when George W. Bush made his over-the-top appointment of Henry Kissinger to the 9/11 commission in late November 2002. (CounterPunch, December 17, 2002; Leon) Even then those—like the 9/11 victims’ families—who doubted the would-be chair Kissinger’s commitment to investigate the truth of the events leading up to 9/11 were smeared as conspiracy theorists and un-American radicals.
Kissinger’s appointment as chair was withdrawn as too obvious a choice for a cover-up. And Kissinger gave away the store on the Lou Dobbs Moneyline show (CNN, December 16, 2002) in a laugh-a-minute interview excerpted below. Said Kissinger:
I hope that everybody has his partisanship out of his system now. And that people remember that this [9/11] was an event that was totally unexpected to the American public; that it came from a direction that nobody had ever thought of. And that it was the first attack on the continental United States … . (Dobbs quickly interrupts)
As for Falk, here is his commentary crime:
The arguments swirling around the 9/11 attacks are emblematic of these issues [of secrecy in government]. What fuels suspicions of conspiracy is the reluctance to address the sort of awkward gaps and contradictions in the official explanations that David Ray Griffin (and other devoted scholars of high integrity) have been documenting in book after book ever since his authoritative The New Pearl Harbor in 2004 (updated in 2008). What may be more distressing than the apparent cover up is the eerie silence of the mainstream media, unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events: an al Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials. Is this silence a manifestation of fear or cooption, or part of an equally disturbing filter of self-censorship? Whatever it is, the result is the withering away of a participatory citizenry and the erosion of legitimate constitutional government. The forms persist, but the content is missing.
Did we miss something? What’s the problem here?
Of course, the official 9/11 version of events is a lie.
As the great journalist I.F. Stone once wrote: “All governments are run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.”
Falk knows this truism about governments; most everyone does. He dare speaks this truth? Thank you, Richard Falk.
Regarding David Ray Griffin, I am going to make a point to read:
- Cognitive Infiltration: an Obama Appointee’s Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory
- The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11 (2002)
- 9/11 Contradictions: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press.
Interrogating the Arizona Killings from a Safe Distance
by Richard Falk, Jan. 11, 2011
I spent a year in Swedena few years after the assassination of Olaf Palmein 1986, the controversialformer prime minister of the country who at the time of his death was serving as a member of the Swedish cabinet. He was assassinated while walking with his wife back to their apartment in the historic part of the city after attending a nearby movie. It was a shocking event in a Sweden that had prided itself on moderateness in politics and the avoidance of involvement in the wars of the twentieth century. A local drifter, with a history of alcoholism, was charged and convicted of the crime, but many doubts persisted, including on the part of Ms. Palme who analogized her situation to that of Coretta King who never believed the official version of her martyred husband’s death.
I had a particular interest in this national traumatic event as my reason for being in Sweden was a result of an invitation to be the Olaf Palme Professor, a rotating academic post given each year to a foreign scholar, established by the Swedish Parliamentas a memorialto their former leader. (after the Social Democratic Party lost political control in Sweden this professorship was promptly defunded, partly because Palme was unloved by conservatives and partly because of a neoliberal dislike for public support of such activities)
In the course of my year traveling around Sweden I often asked those whom I met what was their view of the assassination, and what I discovered was that the responses told me more about them than it did about the public event. Some thought it was a dissident faction in the Swedish security forces long angered by Palme’s neutralist policies, some believed it was resentment caused by Palme’s alleged engineering of Swedish arms sales to both sides in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, some believed it was the CIAin revenge for Palme’s neutralism during the Cold War, some believed it could have criminals in the pay of business tycoons tired of paying high taxes needed to maintain the Swedish maximalistversion of a welfare state, and there were other theories as well. What was common to all of these explanations was the lack of evidence that might connect the dots. What people believed happened flowed from their worldview rather than the facts of the event—a distrust of the state, especially its secret operations, or a strong conviction that special interests hidden from view were behind prominent public events of this character.
In a way, this process of reflection is natural, even inevitable, but it leads to faulty conclusions. We tend to process information against the background of our general worldview and understanding, and we do this all the time as an efficient way of coping with the complexity of the world combined with our lack of time or inclination to reach conclusions by independent investigation. The problem arises when we confuse this means of interpreting our experience with an effort to provide an explanation of a contested public event. There are, to be sure, conspiracies that promote unacknowledged goals, and enjoy the benefit of government protection. We don’t require WikiLeaks to remind us not to trust governments, even our own, and others that seem in most respects to be democratic and law-abiding. And we also by now should know that governments (ab)use their authority to treat awkward knowledge as a matter of state secrets, and criminalize those who are brave enough to believe that the citizenry needs to know the crimes that their government is committing with their trust and their tax dollars.
The arguments swirling around the 9/11 attacks are emblematic of these issues. What fuels suspicions of conspiracy is the reluctance to address the sort of awkward gaps and contradictions in the official explanations that David Ray Griffin(and other devoted scholars of high integrity) have been documenting in book after book ever since his authoritative The New Pearl Harbor in 2004 (updated in 2008). What may be more distressing than the apparent cover up is the eerie silence of the mainstream media, unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events: an al Qaedaoperation with no foreknowledge by government officials. Is this silence a manifestation of fear or cooption, or part of an equally disturbing filter of self-censorship? Whatever it is, the result is the withering away of a participatory citizenry and the erosion of legitimate constitutional government. The forms persist, but the content is missing.
This brings me to the Arizona shootings, victimizing both persons apparently targeted for their political views and random people who happened to be there for one reason or another, innocently paying their respects to a congresswoman meeting constituents outside a Tucson supermarket. As with the Palme assassination, the most insistent immediate responses come from the opposite ends of the political spectrum, both proceeding on presuppositions rather than awaiting evidence.
On one side are those who say that right-wing hate speech and affection for guns were clearly responsible, while Tea Party ultra-conservatives and their friends reaffirm their rights of free speech, denying that there is any connection between denouncing their adversaries in the political process and the violent acts of a deranged individual seemingly acting on his own. If we want to be responsible in our assessments, we must restrain our political predispositions, and get the evidence. Let us remember that what seems most disturbing about the 9/11 controversy is the widespread aversion by government and media to the evidence that suggests, at the very least, the need for an independent investigation that proceeds with no holds barred.
Such an investigation would contrast with the official ‘9/11 Commission’ that proceeded with most holds barred. What has been already disturbing about the Arizona incident are these rival rushes to judgment without bothering with evidence. Such public irresponsibility polarizes political discourse, making conversation and serious debate irrelevant.
There is one more issue raised, with typical candor and innocence, by the filmmaker, Michael Moore. If a Muslim group has published a list of twenty political leaders in this country, and put crosshairs of a gun behind their pictures, is there any doubt that the Arizona events would be treated as the work of a terrorist,, and the group that had pre-identified such targets would be immediately outlawed as a terrorist organization. Many of us, myself included, fervently hoped, upon hearing the news of the shootings, that the perpetrator of this violence was neither a Muslim nor a Hispanic, especially an illegal immigrant. Why? Because we justly feared the kind of horrifying backlash that would have been probably generated by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Sarah Palin, and their legion of allies. Now that the apparent perpetrator is a young white American, the talk from the hate mongers, againswithout bothering with evidence, is of mental disorder and sociopathology. This is faith-based pre-Enlightenment ‘knowledge.’
What must we learn from all of this? Don’t connect dots without evidence. Don’t turn away as soon as the words ‘conspiracy theory’ are uttered, especially if the evidence does point away from what the power-wielders want us to believe. Don’t link individual wrongdoing, however horrific, to wider religious and ethnic identities. We will perish as a species if we don’t learn soon to live together better on our beautiful, globalizing, and imperiled planet.