Monday, April 23, 2007

Phony War On Terror Demands Casualties -- And Gets Them

Robert Fisk's most recent article concerns Taner Akcam [photo],
the distinguished Turkish scholar at the University of Minnesota who, with immense courage, proved the facts of the Armenian genocide - the deliberate mass murder of up to a million and a half Armenians by the Ottoman Turkish authorities in 1915 - from Turkish documents and archives. His book A Shameful Act was published to great critical acclaim in Britain and the United States.

He is now, needless to say, being threatened with legal action in Turkey under the infamous Law 301 - which makes a crime of insulting "Turkishness"
and in addition his freedom to travel has been compromised, apparently because of false allegations made against him on the Internet.
Akcam was travelling to lecture in Montreal and took the Northwest Airlines flight from Minneapolis on 16 February this year. The Canadian immigration officer, Akcam says, was "courteous" - but promptly detained him at Montreal's Trudeau airport. Even odder, the Canadian immigration officer asked him why he needed to be detained. Akcam tells me he gave the man a brief history of the genocide and of the campaign of hatred against him in the US by Turkish groups "controlled by ... Turkish diplomats" who "spread propaganda stating that I am a member of a terrorist organisation".

All this went on for four hours while the immigration officer took notes and made phone calls to his bosses. Akcam was given a one-week visa and the Canadian officer showed him - at Akcam's insistence - a piece of paper which was the obvious reason for his temporary detention.

"I recognised the page at once," Akcam says. "The photo was a still from a 2005 documentary on the Armenian genocide... The still photo and the text beneath it comprised my biography in the English language edition of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia which anyone in the world can modify at any time. For the last year ... my Wikipedia biography has been persistently vandalised by anonymous 'contributors' intent on labelling me as a terrorist. The same allegations has been repeatedly scrawled, like gangland graffiti, as 'customer reviews' of my books at Amazon."
This wasn't the first time Akcam's freedom of movement has been restricted, and apparently for the same reason:
Prior to his Canadian visit, two Turkish-American websites had been hinting that Akcam's "terrorist activities" should be of interest to American immigration authorities. And sure enough, Akcam was detained yet again - for another hour - by US Homeland Security officers at Montreal airport before boarding his flight at Montreal for Minnesota two days later.

On this occasion, he says that the American officer - US Homeland Security operates at the Canadian airport - gave him a warning: "Mr Akcam, if you don't retain an attorney and correct this issue, every entry and exit from the country is going to be problematic. We recommend that you do not travel in the meantime and that you try to get this information removed from your customs dossier."
Fisk summarizes the incident:
So let's get this clear. US and Canadian officials now appear to be detaining the innocent on the grounds of hate postings on the internet. And it is the innocent - guilty until proved otherwise, I suppose - who must now pay lawyers to protect them from Homeland Security and the internet. But as Akcam says, there is nothing he can do.
Several bloggers have picked up this story, and one in particular has done a good job filling in some of the missing details. But they have all concentrated on the unreliability of Wikipedia and the general problem of how to tell whether something you find on the net is credible. And none -- not even Fisk himself -- has made the point that seems most obvious to me.

The so-called War on Terror is a fraud, a massive crime against all humanity "justified" by a web of carefully crafted and expensively disseminated lies. And like any web of lies, it cannot sustain itself without ever-increasing fiction. Thus we have phony terror plots leading to spectacularly hyped arrests (which may not even lead to charges, let alone a trial) and entrapment going on all over the place. But that still doesn't generate enough publicity to keep the illusion going under its own power.

Early in the phony war, the phony warriors needed suspects so urgently that they were buying them. But they can't keep doing that, so now they're using any other available pretext to try to meet their quotas.

And we have clearly reached a point where it doesn't even matter anymore whether somebody is a terrorist or not. If his name -- or some similar name -- is on the government's watch-list, that's good enough to justify ruining his trip -- or his life.

And meanwhile -- as if the utter phoniness of the bogus war needed any further emphasis -- an actual terrorist has been set free.

What does all this mean? It goes something like this:
Imagine if France arrested Osama bin Laden, and refused to extradite him to the United States on the grounds he would be tortured. Then imagine they refused to charge him with terrorism, but only with an immigration violation, and released him on bail. Now you'll have some idea of the situation with Luis Posada Carriles, with one exception - the United States does torture its prisoners, while Venezuela does not.
If you're not yet sick of the hypocrisy, you can read more about it here.