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MI-5’s Jihadi John: How British Intelligence Primed Both Sides Of The Terror War

By: CTuttle Saturday February 28, 2015 2:45 pm

‘Jihadi John’ was able to join IS for one simple reason: from Quilliam to al-Muhajiroun, Britain’s loudest extremists have been groomed by the security services.

By Nafeez Ahmed

Every time there’s a terrorist attack that makes national headlines, the same talking heads seem to pop up like an obscene game of “whack-a-mole”. Often they appear one after the other across the media circuit, bobbing from celebrity television pundit to erudite newspaper outlet.

A few years ago, BBC Newsnight proudly hosted a “debate” between Maajid Nawaz, director of counter-extremism think-tank, the Quilliam Foundation, and Anjem Choudary, head of the banned Islamist group formerly known as al-Muhajiroun, which has, since its proscription, repeatedly reincarnated itself. One of its more well-known recent incarnations was “Islam4UK”.

Both Nawaz and Choudary have received huge mainstream media attention, generating press headlines, and contributing to major TV news and current affairs shows. But unbeknown to most, they have one thing in common: Britain’s security services. And believe it or not, that bizarre fact explains why the Islamic State’s (IS) celebrity beheader, former west Londoner Mohammed Emwazi – aka “Jihadi John” – got to where he is now.

A tale of two extremists

After renouncing his affiliation with the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), Maajid Nawaz co-founded the Quilliam Foundation with his fellow ex-Hizb member, Ed Husain.

The Quilliam Foundation was set-up by Husain and Nawaz in 2008 with significant British government financial support. Its establishment received a massive PR boost from the release of Ed Husain’s memoirs, The Islamist, which rapidly became an international bestseller, generating hundreds of reviews, interviews and articles.

In Ed Husain’s book – much like Maajid Nawaz’s tome Radical released more recently to similar fanfare – Husain recounts his journey from aggrieved young Muslim into Islamist activist, and eventually his total rejection of Islamist ideology.

Both accounts of their journeys of transformation offer provocative and genuine insights. But the British government has played a much more direct role in crafting those accounts than either they, or the government, officially admit.

Government ghostwriters

In late 2013, I interviewed a former senior researcher at the Home Office who revealed that Husain’s The Islamist was “effectively ghostwritten in Whitehall”.

The official told me that in 2006, he was informed by a government colleague “with close ties” to Jack Straw and Gordon Brown that “the draft was written by Ed but then ‘peppered’ by government input”. The civil servant told him “he had seen ‘at least five drafts of the book, and the last one was dramatically different from the first.’”

The draft had, the source said, been manipulated in an explicitly political, pro-government manner. The committee that had input into Ed Husain’s manuscript prior to its official publication included senior government officials from No. 10 Downing Street, the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre, the intelligence services, Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Home Office.

When I put the question, repeatedly, to Ed Husain as to the veracity of these allegations, he did not respond. I also asked Nawaz whether he was aware of the government’s role in “ghostwriting” Husain’s prose, and whether he underwent a similar experience in the production of Radical. He did not respond either.

While Husain was liaising with British government and intelligence officials over The Islamist from 2006 until the book’s publication in May 2007, his friend Nawaz was at first in prison in Egypt. Nawaz was eventually released in March 2006, declaring his departure from HT just a month before the publication of Husain’s book. Husain took credit for being the prime influence on Nawaz’s decision, and by November 2007, had joined with him becoming Quilliam’s director with Husain as his deputy.

Yet according to Husain, Nawaz played a role in determining parts of the text of The Islamist in the same year it was being edited by government officials. “Before publication, I discussed with my friend and brother-in-faith Maajid the passages in the book,” wrote Husain about the need to verify details of their time in HT.

This is where the chronology of Husain’s and Nawaz’s accounts begin to break down. In Radical, and repeatedly in interviews about his own deradicalisation process, Nawaz says that he firmly and decisively rejected HT’s Islamist ideology while in prison in Egypt. Yet upon his release and return to Britain, Nawaz showed no sign of having reached that decision. Instead, he did the opposite. In April 2006, Nawaz told Sarah Montague on BBC Hardtalk that his detention in Egypt had “convinced [him] even more… that there is a need to establish this Caliphate as soon as possible.” From then on, Nawaz, who was now on HT’s executive committee, participated in dozens of talks and interviews in which he vehemently promoted the Hizb.

I first met Nawaz at a conference on 2 December 2006 organised by the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) on the theme of “reclaiming our rights”. I had spoken on a panel about the findings of my book, The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry, on how British state collusion with Islamist extremists had facilitated the 7/7 attacks. Nawaz had attended the event as an audience member with two other senior HT activists, and in our brief conversation, he spoke of his ongoing work with HT in glowing terms.

By January 2007, Nawaz was at the front of a HT protest at the US embassy in London, condemning US military operations in Iraq and Somalia. He delivered a rousing speech at the protest, demanding an end to “colonial intervention in the Muslim world,” and calling for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate to stand up to such imperialism and end Western support for dictators.

Yet by his own account, throughout this very public agitation on behalf of HT from mid-2006 onwards, Nawaz had in fact rejected the very ideology he was preaching so adamantly. Indeed, in the same period, he was liaising with his friend, Ed Husain – who at that time was still in Jeddah – and helping him with the text of his anti-HT manifesto, The Islamist, which was also being vetted at the highest levels of government.

The British government’s intimate, and secret, relationship with Husain in the year before the publication of his book in 2007 shows that, contrary to his official biography, the Quilliam Foundation founder was embedded in Whitehall long before he was on the public radar. How did he establish connections at this level?

MI5’s Islamist

According to Dr Noman Hanif, a lecturer in international terrorism and political Islam at Birkbeck College, University of London, and an expert on Hizb ut-Tahrir, the group’s presence in Britain likely provided many opportunities for Western intelligence to “penetrate or influence” the movement.

Dr Hanif, whose doctoral thesis was about the group, points out that Husain’s tenure inside HT by his own account occurred “under the leadership of Omar Bakri Mohammed,” the controversial cleric who left the group in 1996 to found al-Muhajiroun, a militant network which to this day has been linked to every major terrorist plot in Britain.

Bakri’s leadership of HT, said Dr Hanif, formed “the most conceptually deviant period of HT’s existence in the UK, diverting quite sharply away from its core ideas,” due to Bakri’s advocacy of violence and his focus on establishing an Islamic state in the UK, goals contrary to HT doctrines.

When Bakri left HT and set-up al-Muhajiroun in 1996, according to John Loftus, a former US Army intelligence officer and Justice Department prosecutor, Bakri was immediately recruited by MI6 to facilitate Islamist activities in the Balkans. And not just Bakri, but also Abu Hamza al-Masri, who was recently convicted in the US on terrorism charges.

When Bakri founded al-Muhajiroun in 1996 with the blessings of Britain’s security services, his co-founder was Anjem Choudary. Choudary was intimately involved in the programme to train and send Britons to fight abroad, and three years later, would boast to the Sunday Telegraph that “some of the training does involve guns and live ammunition”.

Historian Mark Curtis, in his seminal work, Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam, documents how under this arrangement, Bakri trained hundreds of Britons at camps in the UK and the US, and dispatched them to join al-Qaeda affiliated fighters in Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya.

Shortly before the 2005 London bombings, Ron Suskind, a Wall Street Journal Pulitizer Prize winning investigative reporter, was told by a senior MI5 official that Bakri was a longtime informant for the secret service who “had helped MI5 on several of its investigations”. Bakri, Suskind adds in his book, The Way of the World, reluctantly conceded the relationship in an interview in Beirut – but Suskind gives no indication that the relationship ever ended.

A senior terrorism lawyer in London who has represented clients in several high-profile terrorism cases told me that both Bakri and Choudary had regular meetings with MI5 officers in the 1990s. The lawyer, who works for a leading firm of solicitors and has regularly liaised with MI5 in the administration of closed court hearings involving secret evidence, said: “Omar Bakri had well over 20 meetings with MI5 from around 1993 to the late 1990s. Anjem Choudary apparently participated in such meetings toward the latter part of the decade. This was actually well-known amongst several senior Islamist leaders in Britain at the time.”

According to Dr Hanif of Birkbeck College, Bakri’s relationship with the intelligence services likely began during his “six-year reign as HT leader in Britain,” which would have “provided British intelligence ample opportunity” to “widely infiltrate the group”. HT had already been a subject of MI6 surveillance abroad “because of its core level of support in Jordan and the consistent level of activity in other areas of the Middle East for over five decades.”

At least some HT members appear to have been aware of Bakri’s intelligence connections, including, it seems, Ed Husain himself. In one passage in The Islamist (p. 116), Husain recounts: “We were also concerned about Omar’s application for political asylum… I raised this with Bernie [another HT member] too. ‘Oh no’, he said, ‘On the contrary. The British are like snakes; they manoeuvre carefully. They need Omar in Britain. More likely, Omar will be the ambassador for the khilafah here or leave to reside in the Islamic state. The kuffar know that – allowing Omar to stay in Britain will give them a good start, a diplomatic advantage, when they have to deal with the Islamic state. Having Omar serves them well for the future. MI5 knows exactly what we’re doing, what we’re about, and yet they have in effect, given us the green light to operate in Britain.”

Husain left HT after Bakri in August 2007. According to Faisal Haque, a British government civil servant and former HT member who knew Ed Husain during his time in the group, Husain had a strong “personal relationship” with Bakri. He did not leave HT for “ideological reasons,” said Haque. “It was more to do with his close personal relationship with Omar Bakri (he left when Bakri was kicked out), pressure from his father and other personal reasons which I don’t want to mention.”

Husain later went on to work for the British Council in the Middle East. From 2003 to 2005, he was in Damascus. During that period, by his own admission, he informed on other British members of HT for agitating against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, resulting in them being deported by Syrian authorities back to Britain. At this time, the CIA and MI6 routinely cooperated with Assad on extraordinary rendition programmes.

Husain then worked for the British Council in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from late 2005 to the end of 2006.

Throughout that year, according to the former Home Office official I spoke to, Husain was in direct contact with senior Whitehall officials who were vetting his manuscript for The Islamist. By November, Husain posted on DeenPort, an online discussion forum, a now deleted comment referring off-hand to the work of “the secret services” inside HT: “Even within HT in Britain today, there is a huge division between modernisers and more radical elements. The secret services are hopeful that the modernisers can tame the radicals… I foresee another split. And God knows best. I have said more than I should on this subject! Henceforth, my lips are sealed!”

Shortly after, Maajid Nawaz would declare his departure from HT, and would eventually be joined at Quilliam by several others from the group, many of whom according to Nawaz had worked with him and Husain as “a team” behind the scenes at this time.

The ‘ex-jihadists’ who weren’t

Read more at The circus: How British intelligence primed both sides of the ‘terror war’

 

Today 3PM (CST): Shut Down #HomanSquare – @Chicago_Police Black Site

By: wendydavis Saturday February 28, 2015 12:39 pm

This post is a bit slapdash, and for that I apologize ahead of time, but: Real life needs must.  Still, this issue and these actions in Chicago need a signal boost, so…here it is.  I’m hoping that if possible, marym (formerly of IL) and/or TarheelDem might be able to host the thread for us.  I will try to embed Tweets as I’m able.

That’s a nice Silicon Valley you’ve got there, shame if something happened to it

By: David Seaton Saturday February 28, 2015 7:56 am

Make them an offer they can’t refuse                              

The Google Self-Driving Car is a project by Google that involves developing technology for autonomous cars, mainly electric cars. The software powering Google’s cars is called Google Chauffeur. (…)The project is currently being led by Google engineer Sebastian Thrun, former director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and co-inventor of Google Street View. Thrun’s team at Stanford created the robotic vehicle Stanley which won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge and its US$2 million prize from the United States Department of Defense.(…) On December 22, 2014, Google unveiled a fully functioning prototype of their driverless car and planned to test it on San Francisco Bay Area roads beginning in 2015. Wikipedia 

If I were looking for the best example of the social/political tone-deafness, the lack E.I., of IT folk, it would be the “Google Self-Driving Car”.

To me it is perfectly obvious that the name “Self-Driving Car” is a red herring, because I don’t think that there is much of a market for a driverless car, simply because Americans love to drive their cars, it is one of the last places where they can enjoy the sensation of freedom and control.

What I think that industry, specifically the transport industry might be very interested in is “Self-Driving Trucks” (buses, taxis, etc.). Eliminating truck drivers means that big companies, like Wal-Mart wouldn’t have to deal with pesky unions like the Teamster’s union…  Without truck drivers, there would be no Teamster’s union. Wouldn’t that be great? I mean they have all sorts of nasty Mafia connections, don’t they? If we eliminated the truck drivers, we wouldn’t have to worry about the Mafia anymore, would we?

Whaddaya, whaddayaya outta ya fuckin’ mind?

No, really, does Google understand exactly who they are trying to put out of business? To put it more bluntly, do Larry Page and Sergey Brin have an algorithm that can locate Jimmy Hoffa’s body on Google Maps?

Cross posted from David Seaton’s News Links

Mister Spock Has Died

By: cmaukonen Friday February 27, 2015 10:51 am

Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ Dies at 83.

Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise in the television and movie juggernaut “Star Trek,” died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83.

His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mr. Nimoy announced that he had the disease last year, attributing it to years of smoking, a habit he had given up three decades earlier. He had been hospitalized earlier in the week.

He will be sorely missed. His acting as well as his logic was impeccable.

Live long and prosper.

Skipping the Speech for All the Wrong Reasons

By: David Swanson Friday February 27, 2015 7:38 am

Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to hear that Congress members will skip Netanyahu’s speech no matter what reason they offer. Here are some of them:

It’s too close to Netanyahu’s election. (That doesn’t persuade me. If we had fair, open, publicly funded, un-gerrymandered, verifiably counted elections, then “politics” wouldn’t be a dirty word and we would want politicians to show themselves doing things to try to please us before, during, and after elections. I want them acting that way now, even with our broken system. I don’t want the U.S. interfering in Israeli elections, but allowing a speech is hardly the same as backing coups in Ukraine and Venezuela or giving Israel billions of dollars worth of weapons every year.)

The Speaker didn’t ask the President. (This is likely the big reason that Democrats are promising to skip the speech. I’m actually amazed more of them haven’t made that promise. Netanyahu seemed to me to miss the extent to which the United States has become a term-limited monarchy. Congress typically wants to pass the buck on wars to the President. The President typically controls one of the two parties quite tightly. But do I actually care that Congress didn’t consult the President? Hell no! Imagine if, during the run-up to the 2003 attack on Iraq, Congress had offered a joint-session microphone to El Baradei or Sarkozy or Putin or, indeed, Hussein to denounce all the bogus claims about WMDs in Iraq? Would you have been outraged by the impoliteness toward President Bush or delighted that a million people might not get killed for no damn reason?)

These kinds of reasons do have a practical weakness: they lead to calls for postponing the speech, rather than canceling it. Some other reasons have more serious flaws.

The speech damages bipartisan U.S. support for Israel. (Really? A slim minority of the President’s party skips the speech for a laundry list of lame excuses and suddenly the United States is going to stop providing all the free weapons and vetoing every attempt at legal accountability for the crimes of the Israeli government? And that would be a bad thing if it actually happened?)

The speech hurts the critical effort of negotiations to keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. (This is the worst of the bad reasons. It pushes the false idea that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon and threatening to use it. It plays right into Netanyahu’s fantasies of poor helpless nuclear Israel the victim of Iranian aggression. In reality, Iran has not attacked another nation in modern history. If only Israel or the United States could say as much!)

As I said, I’m glad anyone’s skipping the speech for any reason. But I find it deeply disturbing that an enormously important and deeply moral reason to skip the speech is obvious and known to every member of Congress, and while most are acting against it, those acting in accordance with it refuse to articulate it. The reason is this: Netanyahu is coming to spread war propaganda. He told Congress lies about Iraq in 2002 and pushed for a U.S. war. He has been lying, according to leaks this week of his own spies’ information and according to the understanding of the U.S. “intelligence” services, about Iran. It is illegal to spread war propaganda under the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a party. Congress is struggling to keep up with the wars President Obama is continuing, launching, and risking. Here’s one war Obama seems not to want, and Congress is bringing in a foreign leader with a record of war lies to give them their marching orders. Meanwhile, an agency of that same foreign government, AIPAC, is holding its big lobby meeting in Washington.

Now, it is true that nuclear energy facilities create dangerous targets. Those drones flying around French nuclear plants scare the hell out of me. And it is true that nuclear energy places its possessor a short step away from nuclear weaponry. Which is why the U.S. should stop spreading nuclear energy to countries that have no need of it, and why the U.S. should never have given nuclear bomb plans to Iran or sentenced Jeffrey Sterling to prison for allegedly revealing that act. But you can’t accomplish good by using horrific mass murder to avoid horrific mass murder — and that’s what Israeli-U.S. aggression toward Iran means. Stirring up a new cold war with Russia in Syria and Ukraine is dangerous enough without throwing Iran into the mix. But even a war that confined itself to Iran would be horrifying.

Imagine if we had one Congress member who would say, “I’m skipping the speech because I’m opposed to killing Iranians.” I know we have lots of constituents who like to think that their progressive Congress member secretly thinks that. But I’ll believe it when I hear it said.

 

Boston Bombing News: Opening Statements Scheduled for Wednesday

By: lauraw Friday February 27, 2015 6:56 am

In the Tsarnaev trial, they have reached the target number of 70 jurors, which will be whittled down to 18 on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 3rd and 4th. There will be a final pre-trial hearing on Monday.

When the trial began on January 5, Judge O’Toole had the delusion that a pool of impartial jurors could be chosen in a week or so. Clearly, that didn’t happen. Now it is estimated that the trial may continue until June.

pbszebra has shared with us Milton Valencia’s breakdown of the jurors who were interviewed. By his accounting:
36 potential jurors said they were open to the question of innocence or guilt.
41 said they thought Dzhokhar was guilty, but claimed they could be open to having their minds changed.
52 were sure he was guilty.
50 were labeled as “no determination.”
52 were not asked their opinion on guilt or innocence.
Will the final jury be drawn from the open-minded 36?

I’m quite skeptical about those who come in with preconceptions of guilt, but claim they can put their prejudices aside.

One article last week focused on a woman who said she was haunted by the Blue Runner Photo, but insists she is open to having her mind changed. Really? That photo proves absolutely nothing. In fact it may actually prove that Agent Genck’s account of Dzhokhar’s actions at the Forum is incorrect. And yet this woman, like so many others, actually believes she has seen a picture of The Bomber intentionally targeting Martin Richard. It’s a distracting magic trick worthy of David Copperfield.

In addition to the difficulties of finding impartial jurors, the beginning of the trial was further delayed by the 100+ inches of snow which descended on Boston. This virtually apocalyptic weather led Missie B. to joke that God was sending a message to Judge O’T, proclaiming “Let my Dzhokhar go – to D.C.”!

Chances of that happening seem slim, of course, but the defense keeps trying. On February 19th, the Appellate court held a second Change of Venue hearing. They have not yet announced a decision. In their previous vote, CofV was voted down 2-1, with Justice Toruella as the minority opinion.

In addition to these efforts, the defense continues to chalk up other grounds for appeal. On Thursday the 26th they filed a motion protesting the unfair distribution of the jury pool (not enough minorities). The motion also questions a last-minute re-ordering of juror numbers, which seemed designed to bump African-American prospects down to the end of the voir dire cycle.

Meanwhile, the poisonous propaganda campaign continues. The other day, the Boston Globe published “A Friend No More: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Took Part of Their Souls.” It featured a crowd picture of a bunch of young people, and interviews with former high school acquaintances or friends of DT who say that they misjudged his gentle nature and are now cursing him. (Surely one would expect real, close friends to take the same trouble that we strangers have taken, to actually investigate the facts of this case.)

On Monday of this week, the voir dire was cancelled without explanation, leading many to speculate that a plea deal was in the works. One lawyer unconnected to the case suggested that to forestall the defense taking the Change of Venue issue all the way to the Supreme Court, the prosecution had decided to take the death penalty off the table and offer a deal. And the Boston Bar Association weighed in to urge a deal.

Rumors and speculations about a plea deal have been rampant from the start. However, it still has not happened. As of now, this case is going to trial.

Tweets from the voir dire sessions, also conveyed by pbszebra, give interesting insight into Dzhokhar’s state of mind. Observers say that he carefully keeps a stone-face while judge and jurors are in the room, but when they are not watching, he is frequently seen to laugh and joke with his lawyers. The other day, for instance, he pretended to throw a stack of post-it notes at Judy Clarke, who played along with the game.

What’s this about? How can the most hated man in America, who seems virtually assured of a conviction and a possible death penalty, be so cheerful?

Through his pre-bombing communications, we have come to know Dzhokhar as a person with a playful sense of humor and irony (very much at odds with the pompous phrases in the alleged boat note). Perhaps he simply has an amazingly resilent nature?

Perhaps he knows that the prosecution case is weak and will inevitably collapse like a house of cards?

Or perhaps he is simply relieved that his long-imposed silence is finally coming to an end?

I understand that in cases like this, the defendant is rarely put on the stand. However, guilt proponents believe he will insist on testifying to state his “terrorist manifesto.”

I find myself hoping that he will testify to explain the many mysteries and inconsistencies in the official story. Although that probably will not happen, his lawyers will speak for him. I look forward to this.

Patricia Arquette, Harriet Christian, and opportunities to listen

By: danps Friday February 27, 2015 4:55 am

Cross posted from Pruning Shears.

As someone who hits for the privilege cycle (white, male and heterosexual) I have had many opportunities over the years to realize I’ve inadvertently offended someone. It’s always a bit of a shock – I thought I was being complimentary/helpful/sensitive! – but I think I’ve learned at least one useful lesson from these experiences: The best response is usually to shut up and listen.

That’s a tough thing to do, because the overwhelming impulse it to justify the offense, to let those offended know that none was intended, that my motive really was good and pure, and so on. Following that impulse is usually the best way to make a bad situation worse, though. The offended individuals usually aren’t much interested in hearing a strained rationalization (exasperated women call it mansplaining); usually they are more interested in being heard.

So when Patricia Arquette’s comments on Oscar night (“it’s time for all the women in America, and the men who love women and all the gay people and people of color we’ve all fought for to fight for us now”) went over like a lead balloon among people of color, I really hoped those who initially applauded her comments would take a step back and reconsider. After all, white feminists have at times sidelined people of color. Prejudiced language periodically rears its ugly head to the present day, with examples both famous (Geraldine Ferraro) and infamous (Harriet Christian).

Christian’s language is particularly revealing. In the same short clip she disparages Barack Obama as an “inadequate black male” she also says: “it’s equality for all of us, it’s about time we all stood up for it.” She claims to be for equality for everyone, but that sentiment sure seems to rest comfortably with a pretty virulent racism. Perhaps people of color could be forgiven for picking up echoes of the former when hearing declarations of the latter.

Because here’s the thing. If you claim to be welcoming of everyone and interested in justice for all, it’s fair to look at how people are responding. In Arquette’s case, people of color had an extremely negative response. I had an extended discussion about that with Libby Spencer on Twitter, and the starting point was Libby’s belief that criticizing Arquette’s comments amounted to an attack on Arquette.

I thought of it much differently: if Arquette was making a call for solidarity with people of color, and they reacted negatively, then maybe that represented an excellent opportunity to shut up and listen to them – not to explain why they are misunderstanding her. Maybe they weren’t feeling an ally vibe because Arquette was not being a good ally. Maybe she wasn’t calling for mutual aid by demanding it of others. (Mutual aid is something one offers, not claims.)

Nicole Sandler went further, by turns wallowing in self-pity (“I feel as if I’m supposed to apologize for being born white, but even that wouldn’t satisfy the people who are excoriating me today…I’m apparently everything that’s wrong with the evil white woman”), belittling critics (who are “projecting their insecurities”) and essentially declaring America post-racial (“I am denying that I benefit from White Privilege”).

But cutting through the rhetorical clutter, her thesis still has that blind spot: “I always thought the issues we feminists fought for were inclusive of ALL women.” If that’s the case then why hasn’t a proportionate demographic slice of all women flocked to it? Why are there still such clear racial fault lines on the subject? It’s silly, almost trivial, to say one is welcoming of all people. Hell, even Rush Limbaugh says that. The proof is in the pudding.

Similarly, saying that Arquette was “using the phrase ALL WOMEN over and over again” doesn’t mean the message resonated with all women. The fact that so many women of color reacted negatively suggests that the burden is more on Arquette (and her defenders) to understand why that is – rather than on others to “reach out for clarification.” It’s not as though her words were cleverly edited or truncated. Everyone heard exactly what she said, fully in context.

Solidarity is a tough thing. It isn’t enough to say you’re inclusive, it’s also important to look around and see who’s actually included. Who’s drawn to it and who stays away. Arquette’s comments were tone deaf at best, and at worst were part of a long tradition of “wait your turn” activism that has an undertone of racial animus. Those repelled by her words may not have misunderstood her, and may in fact have understood her all too well. The unwillingness to reach out for clarification on that is the real missed opportunity.

Forcing Change in Big Media’s Pro-war Bias

By: spocko Thursday February 26, 2015 9:51 pm

Yesterday I posted some positive steps to get anti-war and anti-torture voices into the media.

Today I want to suggest some other steps and some leverage methods to force the issue.

I discussed them and the research that led to them on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. Feb, 26, 2015.

Today Digby wrote about Chris Hayes and Laura Ingram pointing out how the networks push war. Now, what to do to change it?

Following Lee Fang’s Nation article on retired generals pushing bombing without being identified. I dug into the process for getting those guests to get on the air.   I spoke to news producers, show bookers, guests, corporate media execs, FCC and FTC lawyers. I spoke to corporate CFOs, institutional investors, hedge fund managers and media trackers.

After I understood the process, I asked, “Who or what has the power to change things?”

Some of the most insightful comments came from a pundit guest and a major network lawyer.

The news and Sunday morning show producers are both lazy and afraid.” -Pundit guest

I asked for clarification. “They are afraid of getting fired for booking a ‘bad’ guest.” How ‘bad’ is defined can vary from “Makes the host look bad, makes regular guests look bad, to is inarticulate on the camera.”

I understand the fear, so then I asked, “Say we had new, proven ‘good’ guests, but with a different perspective, what would it take to get them on? A memo from the head of the news division? A call from a big advertiser? A letter from corporate lawyers that guests now have to meet certain FCC and FTC regulations? The top media CEO mandating it? A cash transaction? A conversation with a major shareholder over golf? A twitter storm from the public?”

The pundit had fascinating answers, but these questions were asked before the Brian Williams firing. The firing gave me some data that I didn’t have before.

To me that story was about NBCUniversal trying to protect a certain brand image that they want the NBC News division to have. They then took actions showing the price they were willing to pay to maintain it.

Following the firing Williams dropped from 23rd to 825th on the trustworthy scale.  How much could that drop cost a network? One New York Times story had a chart showing that a 30 second spot on Williams show generating $47,000 in revenue.

NBC made the decision to distance the man from the brand. The brand promise now explicitly includes the anchors having a “responsibility to the truth.”

This brand value of NBC News is clearly measured in dollars.

If NBCUniversal did not believe that this aspect of their news brand and their hosts’ trustworthiness was important, they would have kept Williams on.

Of course the Williams firing leads some groups to go after O’Reilly and FOX for lying, That’s great, but O’Reilly and Fox News weren’t built on integrity.They are playing a different game. Fox’s “Fair And Balanced” is a catch phrase not an actual practice.  The people to focus on are ABC, CBS and CNN.

Now is the time to remind them that they don’t want their anchors and news brand to become a punch line like Williams.

Want a specific step? If you have prepared ‘good’ guests with an anti-war perspective, tweet to the networks. “Booking only pro-war voices  means your news isn’t being truthful.  #don’tbelikeBrianWilliams book[anti-war person]“

Networks respond to social media pressure.  I know that recently Code Pink tried to get on to peace activists on ABC.  It hasn’t worked yet, but it’s a start as a model.

Hearing just from that group isn’t enough nor is it the networks only pressure. It might not even be in their top 10.

 What other pressures matter?   

For this question I spoke to a former network lawyer. She describing the process for making a decision on a conflict between two big companies and their ads. She said the boss gathered everyone together and asked two questions.

“What are the other networks doing? How big is the ad buy?”         Former network lawyer

This struck me for two reasons. First is understanding any action happens in context with the peers. Peer pressure happens in the big leagues too. Secondly the financial question. People often trot out the line, “It’s all about the money” which signals the ends the discussion.

I’d like people to look at “the ad buy” in another way.

The networks are selling a war. They are giving tremendous value to the companies that benefit from war. Network shareholders could be saying,  Networks should be better compensated for that value.  By not charging for that value they are leaving money on the table and aren’t serving shareholders.

The first ISIS/Sryian bombing was estimated to cost taxpayers around 870 million. The first week around one billion. Weapons manufactures had a good quarter following that week and reported it in their earnings. 

Who does an anti-war message or anti-torture message give value to?

If only a war message is seen as valuable, of course networks won’t go any other route.

So instead of asking for an anti-war message or trying to force them to run one, let’s hold them to their shareholder’s mandate.

The news networks have a responsibility to make money for shareholders, the truth is subservient to that.

If your constituency are the companies making money selling this war, you don’t have a duty to tell both sides.

The networks already have on weapons salesmen without identifying their employers.  Why should the General Dynamics spokesperson get the Sunday guest spot to push drones? How much is it worth to the Blackwater spokesperson to get the spot instead to push “boots on the ground?” Perhaps network shareholders could deman they auction spots off to the highest bidder. 

Does this seem absurd? It is only if people continue to look at the network news division as a public trust. Maybe they still are.  Will they fight the idea that they are only pro-war for the money? Now is the time to push ‘em and find out.