On Roosting Chickens: A History of US Empire

On the Justice of Roosting Chickens: Reflections on the Consequences of U.S. Imperial Arrogance and Criminality

by Ward Churchill

AK Press (2003)

Book Review

With the massive evidence compiled by the 9-11 Truth movement over the last two decades,* the book’s original premise has ceased to be relevant in 2020. Long time American Indian activist Ward Churchill took the title of this book from his infamous 2001 essay “On the Justice of Roosting Chickens.”  In the latter (and in Chapter 1), Churchill argues that the 9-11 attacks were a natural and unavoidable consequence of unlawful US foreign policy. The essay would lead to his dismissal from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 2017.

By the time this book was published in 2003, both Thierry Meyssan (The Big Lie) and Nafeez Ahmed (The War on Truth) had published books questioning the official version of 9-11. As of February 2002, there was also a thriving 9-11 Unanswered Questions movement, which would be the precursor to 9-11. I’m a little surprised Churchill would have no knowledge of activists who were already challenging the official story in 2003.

That being said, the book’s second and third chapters are invaluable. Chapter 2 compiles all US military actions from 1776 on. Chapter three documents all known US violations of international law dating from the 1945 founding of the United Nations.

After 1947, this list includes the use of CIA interventions to overthrow lawful governments:

  • US invasion and occupation of sovereign Native American territories – 46
  • US military actions against US civilians during protests, rebellions, riots, and strikes (including WACO, Ruby Ridge, and the 1999 anti-WTO protests in Seattle) – 23
  • US troop deployment to put down slave revolts: 5
  • US military actions against
    • North Africa – 15
    • Mexico (excluding the US-Mexican War, which forced Mexico to give up have its territory) – 29
    • France (including 1961 attempted assassination of DeGaulle) – 4
    • Spain (excluding Spanish American War) – 6
    • Cuba (following Spanish American War) – 5
    • Canada – 1 (1837 border clash)
    • Pacific Island (excluding Hawai’i and Philippines) – 5
    • Greece – 3
    • South America – 19
    • China (excluding participating in civil war against Mao) – 15
    • Sub-Saharan Africa – 8
    • Turkey – 2
    • Central America – 19
    • Japan (prior to World War II) -3
    • Korea (prior to World War II) – 33
    • Hawai’i – 3
    • Haiti (prior to deposing Prime Minister Aristide in 1991) – 4
    • Philippines – 4
    • Dominican Republic -5
    • Cuba (prior to Cuban revolution – incursions following the Bay of Pigs are too numerous to count) – 2
    • USSR – 2
    • Greenland/Iceland – 1 each
    • Italy – 1
    • Iran (prior to 1953 CIA coup) – 1
    • Albania – 1
    • Syria – 1 (failed CIA coup in 1956)
    • Indonesia – 2
    • Cyprus – 1
    • Lebanon – 2
    • Grenada – 1
    • Australia – 1

Chapter 3 is a chronological history of UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions condemning the US. It includes censures  for using napalm and Agent Orange in Vietnam, for using torture and the death penalty in US prisons, for their refusal to support the UN declaration for the elimination of racism, for their illegal blockade against Cuba, and for their illegal invasions of Angola, Panama and Nicaragua.

The chapter also includes countless Security Council and General Assembly resolutions condemning South Africa (not only for Apartheid but for the illegal invasion and occupation of Namibia and Angola) and Israel (for their illegal occupation of Palestine and the Golan Heights, their illegal invasion and 20+ year occupation of Lebanon, and their illegal deployment of nuclear weapons).

Here Churchill also covers Clinton’s illegal war against Yugoslavia, debunking most of the pro-war propaganda about alleged Serbian genocides. And finally the illegal 1972 CIA coup against democratically elected Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam (after he withdrew Australian troops from Vietnam). I was unaware prior to reading this book that John Kerr,** the Australian governor general responsible for removing Whitlam from office was a long time CIA asset.


*See https://stuartbramhall.wordpress.com/2020/02/13/making-sense-of-9-11/

**In Australia and New Zealand, the Governor General is appointed by the British monarch and technically has the authority to overrule Parliament. See https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/23/gough-whitlam-1975-coup-ended-australian-independence

 

 

Hidden History: The 1989 US Invasion of Panama

Invasion

(Spanish with English subtitles)

Directed by Abner Benaim (2014)

Film Review

This is a Panamanian documentary about the 1989 US invasion of Panama killing an estimated 1,000 civilians.

In addition to reenacting aspects of the invasion, the filmmakers interview a range of people affected by it, including residents of low income areas of Panama City shelled and firebombed by US forces, Noriega aids who arranged for him to seek sanctuary in the Vatican embassy, a former staff person from the embassy, and wealthy Panamanians who supported the invasion.

The most moving accounts are those of civilians whose family members were killed or seriously injured in the US assault. Most US and Panamanian young people have little knowledge of the invasion because it isn’t taught in school. Low income Panamanians over 40 supported Noriega’s nationalist ambitions and opposed the US invasion. Wealthier residents accepted the US pretext of ridding the country of a corrupt dictator. Most people interviewed were fully aware of Noriega’s longstanding collaboration with the CIA and DEA in their drug running operations.

Despite their political opposition to the invasion, many low income Panama City residents used the chaos it generated to massively loot the city’s retail outlets.

For me, the high point of the film was seeing the massive speakers (the size of a pickup bed) the US military used to psychologically torture Vatican embassy personnel with loud, non-stop heavy metal music.

 

Hidden History: How the CIA Experimented on Unabomber Ted Kaczynski with LSD

The Net: Ted Kaczinski, the CIA and the History of Cyberspace

Directed by Lutz Daumbeck

German (with English subtitles)

Film Review

This is a fascinating German documentary about the so-called “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski. Between 1978 and 1995 Kaczinski, a former Berkeley math professor, sent a series of letterbombs (killing three people and injuring 23 others) to researchers involved in high profile cybernetics* and related fields. His brother would ultimately identify Kaczynski after the FBI persuaded the New York Times to publish his manifesto “Industrial Society and Its Future.” Following his 1996 arrest, his attorneys negotiated a plea bargain (without his consent) in which he pleaded guilty to all charges and received a life sentence without possibility of parole.

Warning against the future role of computers in absolute mind control and surveillance of all society, Kaczinski’s manifesto also outlines his desire to derail this process by targeting the main scientists responsible. Hard copies of the manifesto are still available various anarchist bookstores and online at Kaczynski the unabomber manifesto

The film intersperses investigation into Kaczynski’s personal history and an examination of the bizarre LSD-laced culture that would result in the personal computer,** the Internet, Esalon,*** and CIA mind control experimentation.

For me the most shocking revelation in the film concerns a CIA experiment Kaczinski participated in while a Harvard student. The lead researcher fed him and 19 other exceptionally gifted students LSD and filmed the bizarre behavior they subsequently engaged in. Although the videos of Kaczinski have “mysteriously” vanished, there is clear written documentation of his participation. It’s also apparent the government failed to inform his defense team of these mitigating circumstances.

Kaczynski, reported to have an IQ of 170, began studying math at Harvard at age 16. He began teaching graduate level math courses at Berkeley in 1965. In 1971, he resigned his job and built himself a cabin in the woods in Montana.

The most interesting segments of the film relate to a lengthy correspondence (in German) between Kaczynski and one of the filmmakers.


*Cybernetics is defined as the interaction between human beings and machines.

**Stewart Brand, known as the father of the personal computer, was a member of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters. The Merry Pranksters’ bus traveled widely during the sixties distributing free LSD and performing with a band that later became the Grateful Dead. As John Potash writes in Drugs as Weapons Against Us, Kesey and Grateful Dead band members were also CIA assets involved with a scheme to promote and distribute LSD among antiwar leftists.

***According to Wikipedia, the Esalen Institute is a Big Sur retreat center, founded in 1962, that  focuses on “humanist” education and personal change. As the filmmakers suggest, they had strong links to the CIA, MKUtra, and similar mind control experimentation during the sixties and seventies. See https://www.reddit.com/r/conspiracy/comments/5xf335/the_cia_esalen_and_mkultra_doctors/

 

Homelessness: Contrasting Japan and the US

Why Japan’s Homeless Are Different from North America’s – Part 1

LWIF (2017)

Film Review

This intriguing five-part documentary series contrasts Japan’s aggressive effort to reduce homelessness with the apparent indifference of the US government. In my view, the stark contrast makes an important statement about the shameful greed and corruption underlying the US political system.

Part 1: The series begins by examining why Japan has always had a much lower endemic rate of homelessness than the US:

  • Japan has much lower levels of drug abuse than the US,* although alcoholism and compulsive gambling are common problems contributing to Japanese homelessness.
  • Japan, which retained its mental hospitals when the US and other English-speaking countries closed theirs down (as a cost cutting measure) in the seventies and eighties.** The majority of America’s mentally ill either end up in prison or on the streets.
  • Japan has few, if any traumatized war veterans. The latter represent a sizeable proportion of the US homeless population.

*Japan has no paramilitary organization comparable to the CIA, which openly engages in narcotics trafficking as part of its strategy to destabilize regimes unfriendly to Wall Street interests.

**In the US, the community mental health movement Kennedy started never received full funding following his assassination. Instead the mental health centers he created to replace mental hospitals have experienced continuous budget cuts dating back to the Reagan administration.

Breaking Point: The 1979 Iranian Revolution

Breaking Point

Press TV (2019)

Film Review

Since Google (which owns Youtube) has banned Press TV’s YouTube channel, Iran’s national broadcaster has started their own documentary channel.

I’ve just watched an excellent two-hour documentary on the Iranian Revolution. Up to this point, my only exposure to the 1979 revolution overthrowing Shah Reza Pahlavi came from a handful of CIA-scripted Hollywood films and a book by former Israeli agent Ronen Bergman.

The documentary begins with the 1953 US/UK coup against democratically elected Mohammad Mosaddegh, following his nationalization of Iran’s oil industry. Four years after the CIA  reinstated Pahlavi as Shah, they worked with Israel to help him create the Savak, a massive intelligence/police force that was even more intrusive and brutal than the East German Stasi.

In 1963, fearful of growing popular discontent, the US pressured the Shah to undertake a series of reforms, including land reform, forest nationalization, electoral reform (including voting rights for women), and and a scheme granting company shares to factory workers. His error was putting corrupt family members and military officers in charge, who pocketing most of the funding allocations for their personal use.

As of 1975, 60% of Iranians still lived in rural villages, where only 1% had access to electricity or clean drinking water. In fact, extreme rural poverty led to the steady migration of landless farmworkers to Iran’s cities, where they became peddlers, beggars, and prostitutes.

The Shah’s decision not to participate in the 1973 oil embargo* led to a massive increase in Iran’s oil export income – from $4 billion to $20 billion. The Shah would use a substantial portion of these funds to industrialize Iran and create an educated Iranian middle class. However he squandered most of it on a network of nuclear power plants and advanced military hardware that even European NATO members couldn’t afford.

Ayatollah Khomeini, the so-called Gandhi of the Iranian Revolution, first came to prominence in June 1963, when he was arrested for a speech publicly denouncing the Shah, the US, and Israel. The mass uprising following his arrest was quashed after the Shah declared martial law. Fearful of further unrest, the Shah, who originally intended to execute Khomeini, merely exiled him (first to Turkey, then Iraq).

For years, tapes of Khomeini’s speeches were smuggled into Iran, where they became extremely popular among students. In 1969, Khomeini (from Iraq) called for the Shah’s overthrow and establishment of an Islamic Republic. By the mid-1970s, nearly all Iranian opposition groups had united behind Khomeini,** including many ex-communists and the secular National Front (founded by Mosaddegh supporters).

When Carter became president in 1977, he again pressured Iran to undertake political and social reforms. The filmmakers believe the reforms (including greater press freedoms, release of political prisoners, and withdrawal of troops from the universities) merely emboldened the resistance movement, resulting in a wave of mass protests and general strikes. By late December, a prolonged general strike brought the economy to a standstill, with Iranian troops refusing orders to fire on strikers or protestors.

In January 1979, the Shah fled the country, and on February 1, three million Iranians turned out to hail Khomeini’s triumphant return from Paris (he was expelled from Iraq in October 1978).


*The embargo instituted by the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries was aimed at nations supporting Israel is the 1973 Yum Kippur War.

**Unlike Sunni Islam, the Shi’a religion has a long history of rebellion against authority.

Although the video can’t be embedded, it can be view free at Breaking Point or at Press TV’s Facebook page (for now): https://www.facebook.com/PressTVdocumentaries

 

Escaping the Cult of Consumerism

Shopping for Freedom: Escaping the Cult of Consumerism

United Natures Media (2019)

Film Review

Shopping for Freedom is best described as an illustrated podcast about the legacy of Edward Bernays, the father of the public relations industry. It’s intended to remind us of the subtle way public relations and propaganda influence our culture to the point we only imagine we have free choice in the items we purchase.

The film has no background narrative. The sound track is a casual conversation between the hosts of Ashes Ashes, a podcast about the “end of the world.” Meanwhile we are bombarded with priceless archival footage of early TV ads and the propaganda news reels shown in schools and movie theaters in the fifties and sixties.

The footage begins with the propaganda films Bernays produced in the early fifties to win popular support for the CIA-backed coup to overthrow Guatemala’s elected government – at the behest of United Fruit Company (to protect its monopoly control of the banana industry)

The film goes on to describe Bernays’ work under Woodrow Wilson promoting US entry into World War I, and the new science of psychological persuasion as described in the former’s 1928 book Propaganda.

The hosts go on to give illustrated examples of Bernays’ successful campaigns – to increase smoking among women and consumption of nutritionless breakfast cereals and to shame working class women who got married without diamond engagement rings or wore the same dress more than once a week.*

Intriguingly the filmmakers also insert several one second “subliminal” messages inserted into the video, which the hosts never comment on. I saw “You are enough” flashed twice, three one-second Coke ads, and “eco-capitalism” flashed once.

The film concludes by recommending viewers question all their choices. Most people claim not to be influenced by advertising. In most cases, however, many of us are unaware of habits (such as buying diamond engagement rings) the PR industry has elevated into cultural norms. In all their decisions, people need to ask themselves, “Is someone trying to sell me something?”


*Bernays was also hired by ALCOA in the mid-forties to run a campaign to dispose of toxic fluoride waste by persuading municipalities to add it to their public water systems. See Edward Bernays: Father of Water Fluoridation

 

 

Who Killed Hammarskjold? The UN, the Cold War and White Supremacy in Africa

 

Who Killed Hammarskjold? The UN, the Cold War and White Supremacy in Africa

by Susan Williams

Hurst and Company London (2016)

Book Review

This book details the author’s extensive investigation into a suspicious 1961 air crash that killed the second UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjold. Her first edition, published in 2011, would trigger a new UN investigation, in 2015, into the cause of his death. In 2016, UN investigators concluded that Hammarskjold died as a result of foul play. However owing to US and UK refusal to release classified files, they couldn’t conclusively identify the individuals responsible.

The book begins by setting the stage for what was clearly an assassination. Williams describes in detail the role of foreign mining companies in fighting full independence of the Congo from Belgian rule. Belgian officers loyal to these companies continued to command Congolese troops following “official”  independence in 1960. When these troops mutinied, the UN declined a request for assistance from Congo’s first prime minister Patrice Lumumba.

His appeal to the Soviet Union (and the arrival of Soviet troops) would lead Katanga province (where most of the mines were located) to secede – with the support of Belgian troops and a bevy of white mercenaries from Rhodesia, South Africa, Britain and France.

At this point, the UN Security Council passed resolution 143, ordering Belgian troops to withdraw and installing UN peacekeepers in Katanga to prevent civil war. The CIA’s response was to assassinate Lumumba and Install their protege Mobutu Sese Seko (who would brutally ruled the Congo/Zaire from 1965-1997) as chief of Congo’s military.

Mobutu, in turn, arrested, tortured and executed all the senior members of the Congolese senate. The Security Council responded with Resolution 161, calling for the withdrawal of all foreign advisors and authorizing the UN to take “all necessary measures” to prevent civil war. This included supplying armed UN troops to protect the Congolese government.

When it was became clear the UN troops (who had significantly  inferior weapons) had no chance against the mercenaries’ superior fire power and Belgian air support, Hammerskjold set out for Nolda in Northern Rhodesia to try to negotiate a ceasefire with Katanga’s acting president Moise Tsombe. The secretary general’s jet mysteriously crashed as it approached Nolda airport.

In additions to hundreds of eyewitnesses (including a crash survivor who spent a week in hospital before he died) who saw Hammerskjold’s plane explode before it crashed, the most intriguing evidence comes from radio traffic between a pilot (reporting his attack on Hammerskjold’s jet) picked up by a US NSA operative in Cyprus and an Ethiopiann short wave operator and mysterious telexes* discovered in South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation files in 1998. The latter refer to the plot to assassinate the Secretary General as “Operation Celeste,” run by shadowy South African Institute for Maritime Research (SAMIR) mercenaries.

As best as investigators can reconstruct, Operation Celeste planted a bomb on the DC-6 prior to its departure from Leopoldville.** When it failed to explode on take-off, two smaller planes were sent to intercept the jet and prevent it from landing. One pilot fired shots at the DC-6 that triggered the bomb to explode.


* Prior to the advent of the Internet, the telex network was an international system of teleprinters electronically interconnected by telephone lines.

**Leopoldville has since been renamed Kinshasha.

China’s Emergence as a 21st Century Superpower

The China Complex: the Big Picture – Part 2

Al Jazeera (2019)

Film Review

Part 2 starts with the 1989 so-called Tiananmen Square “massacre,” which recent evidence suggests was a failed CIA-instigated color revolution.* Five months later, the Berlin Wall would collapse. According to historian F William Engdahl, the CIA also played a much greater role in the collapse of the Soviet Union than they have officially admitted.**

The 1990s saw an increasingly prosperous middle class under Deng Xiaoping’s “Strike Harsh” policy. This is described as harsh “extra legal” punishments against dissidents and “hooligans.” Much of this repression was directed against violent protests by Tibetan  (China annexed the protectorate of Tibet in 1951) and Uyhgar separatists. Though not mentioned in the documentary, both groups continue to receive significant funding and support from the CIA (see How the CIA Uses the Uyghurs to Destabilize China).

Uyghur jihadists have received additional funding and support from Turkey. With a stated goal of liberating Xinjian province as independent East Turkmenistan, they have been conducting major bombing campaigns against transportation and other government facilities.

In 2019, documents leaked by US intelligence supposedly indicate China is holding two million Uyghurs in concentration camps, as well as forbidding them to have bears or to display Arabic symbols. Given that China is far less Islamaphobic than the US, I am more inclined to believe Chinese claims the CIA photos are of voluntary vocational centers serving unemployed Uyghur youth as part of a government deradicalization program. See How Dare the US Lecture China About the Rights of Muslims

In Part 2, commentators also discuss growing Western concerns (after China joined the WTO in 2001) that it would usurp the US and Japan as the world’s major trading partners. These concerns sharply escalated when China literally saved the world from economic collapse in 2008 – by buying up a large quantity of US Treasury bonds and using central bank funding to stimulate internal economic growth.

Filmmakers go on to describe Xi Jinping’s accession to the Chinese presidency in 2012 and the immense popularity of his “Tigers and Flowers” anti-corruption campaign. The latter has resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of many notoriously corrupt local officials.

The documentary then explores China’s Belt and Road trade program that now extends from Asia into Africa. There China has essentially replaced the World Bank in handing out infrastructure development loans to struggling economies.

The film concludes by describing the trade war Trump started with China in 2018, allegedly to reduce the country’s trade surplus with the US and to punish them for failing to enforce international property treaties.


*See Tiananmen Square: The Failure of a 1989 US-inspired Color Revolution and The US-China Trade War Can be Traced Back to the Failed Tiananmen Square Color Revolution. According to several US reporters on the scene, there were no actual deaths when Chinese tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square (see The Tiananmen Square Massacre: Facts Fiction and Propaganda/).

**See Russia’s Criminal Oligarchy and the Rule of Bush Senior and the CIA

Fethullen Gulen, Turkey’s 2016 Coup, and the US Charter School Movement

Turkey’s Coup: The Gulen Mystery

RT (2018)

Film Review

This alarming RT documentary series concerns the secretive Turkish imam accused by Turkish president Recep Erdogan of orchestrating the 2016 coup. Fethullen Gulen, founder of Turkey’s Hizmet movement, defected to the US in 1995, after being charged with trying to start a secret religion. At the height of the movement’s power in 2008, it had 2-3 million Turkish followers and ran 2,000 Gulen schools and universities in 140 countries, including the US.

The US is resisting Turkey’s demands for Gulen’s extradition to stand trial for his role in the coup.

What I found most concerning about the series is learning (in Part 4) of Hizmet’s extensive role in starting 170 taxpayer funded Gulen charter schools in the US. The FBI raided a number of Gulen schools in 2011 as part of an ongoing investigation. For some mysterious reason, the mainstream media made no mention of this at the time of the Turkish coup.

Some Russian analysts believe Gulen received CIA support in expanding his private school network to newly independent Muslim republics following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In 2008, the Justice Department appealed the State Department’s decision to award Gulen permanent residency in the US. They lost the appeal based on two letters from the CIA and one from the US ambassador in Ankara.

Gulen presently lives on a 25 acre estate in Pennsylvania.

Part 1 describes the formation of the Hizmet movement in Turkey in the sixties and seventies and the spread of Gulen schools to Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Bosnia, Ukraine and Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the same period, they also spread to many countries in Africa and Asia.

Part 2 describes the expansion of Gulen schools into Russia and Germany. After Putin came to power, many Russian Gulen schools were closed after parents complained about their children being indoctrinated with Islamic beliefs.

Part 3 includes interviews with Turkish immigrants in Germany and the extortion-style techniques the Hizmet movement used to pressure them to help fund new Gulen schools.

Part 4 examines the history of Gulen charter school movement in the US. One former American Gulen school teacher describes their abusive treatment of women and the complaint she made to the FBI about her husband being forced contribute 40% of his salary to the Hizmet movement. At the height of their power, the Hismet movement represented a powerful tightly controlled international corporation and had major presence in number of Turkish government agencies.

Part 5 explores the powerful role of the Turkish military in maintaining Turkey’s status as a secular state. It also describes a brief alliance between Erdogan and Gulen in the early 1990s to advocate for greater Islamic influence over Turkish society. Prior to the 2016 coup, the Hizmet movement controlled the second largest media empire in Turkey – with six TV stations, two radio stations and several newspapers, magazines and publishing companies. Following the coup, Erdogan arrested 102,000 members of the Izmet movement and fired 130,000 others who held government jobs. He closed all Turkey’s Gulen schools or arranged for their takeover by local authorities, He also shut down 1,500 Hizmet-funded NGOs and their Turkish media network. The subsequent drop in their funding led to the closure or takeover of many Gulen schools worldwide.

Part 5, which can’t be embedded, can be viewed free at

The Rise and Fall of Fethullah Gulen

 

The Role of Exiled Spanish Anarchists in the 1968 Near Revolution in France

The Angry Brigade: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Britain’s Urban Guerilla Group

PM Press (2008)

Film Review

The film traces the role played by anarchists exiled from Spain during the Franco dictatorship in inspiring anarchist movements in Germany, France, Switzerland, Italy, Turkey, Netherlands and the UK. It primarily focuses on the Black Cross, an international group providing material and psychological support for anarchist prisoners; the French First of May Group; and Britain’s Angry Brigade.

For me, the most interesting part of the film is the role of the First of May group in instigating the mass insurrection (and near revolution) that occurred in France in 1968.

The only serious inaccuracy in the film relates to the identification of German’s Beider Meinhoff gang as an organic First of May anarchist group. It’s now recognized as a Gladio operation heavily infiltrated (and possibly run) by CIA operatives. See The Secret CIA Program to Control Europe