October 13th 2011
Iran Falsely Charged with Fake Terror Plot
by Stephen Lendman
Since Iran’s 1979 revolution and US hostage crisis, Washington’s been spoiling for a fight. The Carter administration considered invading and seizing its oil fields.
Washington exploited Iran/Iraq tensions and encouraged Saddam Hussein to attack. Earlier Iran’s Shah was supported. After 1979, US foreign policy shifted.
The Carter Doctrine pledged Middle East military intervention if US interests were threatened. Reagan escalated Carter policies short of committing US forces in combat. Saddam then got US backing. A decade of war followed. America pretended support for both sides, but mostly gave it to Iraq.
US/Iranian relations remain tense. Washington’s sought regime change in Tehran for years. Various confrontational tactics include on and off saber rattling, sanctions, and direct meddling in Iran’s internal affairs, perhaps including covert US Special Forces and CIA operatives there causing trouble.
Why not? They do it in dozens of countries globally, using death squads and other destabilizing tactics.
Washington also makes baseless accusations of anti-US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. It calls Tehran a threat to world peace, saying its commercial nuclear program plans nuclear weapons development. Unmentioned is Israel’s known arsenal and willingness to use it preemptively.
US media scoundrels regurgitate official lies and suppress vital truths. New York Times writers and commentators play lead roles. The latest alleged plot is laughable on its face. But it’s headline news across America, including on The Times’ front page, saying “US Accuses Iranians of Plotting to Kill Saudi Envoy.”
What’s explained sounds more like a bad film plot, saying:
Washington “accused Iranian officials of plotting to murder Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States (Adel al-Jubeir) in a bizarre scheme involving an Iran-American used-car salesman who believed he was hiring assassins from a Mexican drug cartel for $1.5 million.”
Also allegedly involved were plans to bomb Israel’s Washington embassy and Saudi and Israeli embassies in Argentina.
But there’s more, a “side deal” said The Times between Iran’s Revolutionary Guard (its elite military unit) and Mexico’s Los Zetas drug cartel to smuggle opium from the Middle East to Mexico.
The alleged plans “never progressed,” perhaps because there were none, just baseless accusations to further heighten US/Iranian tensions and get hawkish congressional members to call for direct confrontation.
On October 11, Attorney General Eric Holder said:
“Today, the Department of Justice is announcing charges against two people who allegedly attempted to carry out a deadly plot that was directed by factions of the Iranian government to assassinate a foreign ambassador here in the United States.”
Accused were Manssor Arbabsair, a naturalized US citizen holding an Iranian passport, and Gholam Shakuri, an Iranian-based member of its Revolutionary Guard Quds Force. On September 29, Arbabsair was arrested. Shakuri is still at large.
“The complaint alleges that this conspiracy was conceived, sponsored and directed from Iran and constitutes a flagrant violation of US and international law….”
Besides charging Arbabsir and Shakuri, Holder also said Washington “is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions.”
Both men are charged with “conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism, among other charges.”
According to Holder, they met a “confidential informant from the Drug Enforcement Administration” in Mexico last May, posing as a drug cartel member.
The Washington Post said the “confidential DEA source (called “the Mexican”) was described in court papers only as a paid informant who was once charged in the United States with a drug offense. The charges were dropped (in return for his) provid(ing) valuable information in a number of (sting) cases….”
Allegedly, Arbasair wired $100,000 to a US bank account “as a down payment for the attempted assassination.” Holder also claimed he confessed and provided “other valuable information” with no corroborating evidence to prove what’s clearly an Obama administration plot to file bogus charges and heighten tensions with Iran.
In fact, Arbabsiar’s lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, said her client will plead not guilty if indicted. Apparently he denies involvement despite Holder claiming he confessed.
Iran’s UN ambassador Mohammad Khazaee said his nation is “outraged” about clearly baseless charges. In a strongly worded letter to UN Secretary-General Ban K-moon, he wrote:
Iran “strongly and categorically rejects these fabricated and baseless allegations based on the suspicious claims by an individual.”
President Armadinejad’s spokesman Ali Akbar Javanfekr said:
“The US government and the CIA have very good experience in making up film scripts….It appears that this new scenario is for diverting the US public opinion from internal crises,” suggesting it’s connected to diluting ongoing anti-Wall Street protests across America.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast called Holder’s accusations a “new propaganda campaign” involving a “prefabricated scenario.”
Hillary Clinton said Washington is “actively engaged in a very concerted diplomatic outreach to many capitals” to counter Iran’s denial. She added that the issue has “potential for international reaction that will further isolate Iran,” stopping short of calling for direct action.
Congressional hawks and America’s right wing media do it often on their own.
An October 11 Wall Street Journal editorial called the plot “a sobering wake-up call” in America’s “war on terror.”
“Had it succeeded, (it) arguably (would have been) an act of war….The appalling news needs to be placed in the broader context of Iran’s behavior,” involving “conspiracy to commit international terrorism….It’s past time for US policy toward Iran to reflect the reality of what it is dealing with.”
Obama “underscored that the United States believes this plot to be a flagrant violent of US and international law, and reiterated (his) commitment to meet our responsibilities to ensure the security of diplomats serving in our country.”
Bill Clinton called the accusations “well-founded.”
The extremist right-wing Heritage Foundation’s foreign policy director James Carafino called the alleged scheme “a belligerent act against the US (that) as such would call for a proportional military response.”
A more sober Stratfor Global Intelligence called the plot “far-fetched.” Cautioning against claims against Iran, founder and CEO George Friedman said doing so “involve(s) substantial political risk.”
“Iran has been known to carry out preoperational surveillance in the United States, but it has not yet used this intelligence to carry out a high-profile attack.”
He added that Iran has nothing to gain from committing a terror attack on US soil and everything to lose.
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs PJ Crowley commented in the London Guardian, calling the alleged plot “far-fetched….(O)n the face of it (it’s) so fantastic that it begs a disclaimer….It’s unclear how much Iran would stand to gain by sanctioning or supporting this plot.”
Former CIA case officer Robert Baer said “the Quds are better than this. It they wanted to come after you, you’d be dead already.”
Alireza Nader, Rand Corporation Iran specialist, asked “Why would Iran want to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington? (The plot) would be outside the norm.”
Senator Joseph Lieberman (Indep. Dem. CT) called the alleged plot a “profound threat posed by the Iranian regime and the reach of its terrorist activities to American soil.”
Senator Saxby Chambliss (R. GA) said “In addition to allegedly sponsoring this plot, Iran has supported and provided weapons for attacks on our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. This has continued far too long with no repercussions.”
Rep. Peter King (R. NY) said “Iran’s assassination of a foreign diplomat in our country would have violated both US and international law, and represented an act of war.”
Rep. Michael McCaul (R. TX) said if true “this would constitute an act of war not only against the Saudis and Israelis but against the United States as well.”
Rep. Ted Poe (R. TX) on Fox News called the alleged plot “an act of war against the United States.”
A Final Comment
A May 2011 study by New York University’s School of Law Center for Human Rights and Global Justice headlined, “Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the ‘Homegrown Threat’ in the United States.”
It discussed what this writer’s featured in dozens of past articles on Muslim Americans victimized by false accusations.
It explained how, post-9/11, entrapment by FBI plants led to prosecutions of over 200 individuals on bogus terrorism related charges. Washington highlights them as proof of foiling plots that, in fact, never existed.
Nearly always innocent Muslims are targeted for their faith and ethnicity for political advantage. Major media scoundrels regurgitate official lies, pretending they’re accurate accounts of foiled plots.
That none ever succeeded is reason enough to suggest none existed, but media reports leave that unexplained, let alone the implausibility of some charges.
They included blowing up Chicago’s Sears Tower, destroying New York landmarks, targeting US soldiers at Fort Dix, NJ, US marines at Quantico, VA, downing National Guard aircraft with stinger missiles, and a Pakistan ambassador’s with a surface to air one.
Not a shred of evidence provided proof, just the word of FBI informants well paid to entrap and lie, then get America’s media to repeat them without questioning the validity of any charges.
The likelihood that any country, let alone Iran, would plan terror plots on US soil is preposterous on its face. Cui bono is issue one. Clearly, Iran has nothing to gain and everything to lose by plotting what Holder charged.
Yet political Washington and major media scoundrels highlight baseless accusations without demanding clear proof they’re true. There is none except for what a DEA agent plant (a former felon) and Holder claim.
It’s their word against common sense, suggesting the implausibility of what they charge. It also highlight’s iconic radical journalist IF Stone (1907 – 1989) saying:
“All governments are run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.”
With his own in Washington in mind, he taught that to young journalism students, suggesting they paste it on their bathroom mirrors so not to forget.
It makes sense, as well as avoiding major media liars and using reliable online sites for real information and analysis.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. He is also the author of “How Wall Street Fleeces America“
The Progressive News Hour
Guest: Bob Chapman
For over 50 years, Chapman has written on business, economics and politics, now doing it twice weekly as owner and editor of the International Forecaster. It’s a vital resource for information ignored by the mainstream.
His latest views on the economy will be discussed.
October 13, 2011 – 10:07 pm
The Iranians have showed once and again that not only they are able players on the International scene, furthermore that they are capable of not falling in the traps led for them by the Zio controlled USA.
Actually, the USA and its people should thank the Iranians for fooling denouncing so many attempts by the Zion Talmudic Mafia Dons, intended to FOOL the US Govt and get it involved in a senseless and destructive war against Iran.
How can the USA not learn from its previous mistakes? That capacity is history. Now the US Govt is reacting like a Pavlovian dog to the whims of its master: Israel. US officials at the top have ceased to think by themselves: They have been successfully reared-trained to say: “Yes Massa” whenever Nethanyahu or Abe Foxman looks at them and wave their tale.
October 13, 2011 – 10:41 pm
“Through deception thou doest wars”. Mossad motto at play again.
THE BLACK HOOD OF CENSORSHIP
Over his head, face, and neck the medieval executioner sometimes wore a loose-fitting hood of raven black. The grim garment was pierced by two eye-holes through which the wearer, himself unrecognized, caused terror by glancing among the onlookers while he proceeded to fulfill his gruesome function. In similar fashion today, under a black mask of censorship, which hides their identity and their purpose, the enemies of our civilization are at once creating fear and undermining our Constitution and our heritage of Christian civilization. In medieval times the onlookers at least knew what was going on, but in modern times the people have no such knowledge.
Without the ignorance and wrong judging generated by this hooded propaganda, an alert public and an informed Congress would long since have guided the nation to a happier destiny.
The black-out of truth in the United States has been effected (I) by the executive branch of the national government and (II) by non-government power.
In the mention of government censorship, it is not implied that our national government suppresses newspapers, imprisons editors, or in other drastic ways prevents the actual publication of news which has already been obtained by periodicals. It is to be hoped that such a lapse into barbarism will never befall us.
Nevertheless, since the mid-thirties, a form of censorship has been applied at will by many agencies of the United States government. Nothing is here said against war-time censorship of information on United States troop movements, military plans, and related matters. Such concealment is necessary for our security and for the surprise of the enemy, and is a vital part of the art of war. Nothing is said here against such censorship as the government’s falsification of the facts about our losses on December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor (Pearl Harbor, The Story of the Secret War, by George Morgenstern, The Devin-Adair Company, New York, 1947), though the falsification was apparently intended to prevent popular hostility against the administration rather than to deceive an enemy who already knew the facts.
Unfortunately, however, government censorship has strayed from the military field to the political. Of the wide-spread flagrant examples of government blackout of truth before, during, and after World War II the next five sections (a to e) are intended as samples rather than as even a slight survey of a field, the vastness of which is indicated by the following:
Congressman Reed (N.Y., Rep.) last week gave figures on the number of publicity people employed in all the agencies of the Government. “According to the last survey made,” he said, “there were 23,000 permanent and 22,000 part-time” (From “Thought Control,” Human Events, March 19, 1952).
Our grossest censorship concealed the Roosevelt administration’s maneuvering our people into World War II. The blackout of Germany’s appeal to settle our differences has been fully enough presented in Chapter IV.
Strong evidence of a similar censorship of an apparent effort of the administration to start a war in the Pacific is voluminously presented in Frederic R. Sanborn’s heavily documented Design for War (already referred to). Testimony of similar import has been furnished by the war correspondent, author, and broadcaster, Frazier Hunt. Addressing the Dallas Women’s Club late in 1950, he said, “American propaganda is whitewashing State Department mistakes . . .the free American mind has been sacrificed. . . We can’t resist because we don’t have facts to go on.”
For a startling instance of the terrible fact of censorship in preparing for our surrender to the Soviet and the part played by Major General Clayton Bissell, A.C. of S., G-2 (the Chief of Army Intelligence), Ambassador to Moscow W. Averell Harriman, and Mr. Elmer Davis, Director of the Office of War Information, see Lane, former U.S. Ambassador to Poland (The American Legion Magazine, February, 1952). There has been no official answer to Mr. Lane’s question:
Who, at the very top levels of the United States Government, ordered the hiding of all intelligence reports unfavorable to the Soviets, and the dissemination only of lies and communist propaganda?
Professor Harry Elmer Barnes’s pamphlet, “Was Roosevelt Pushed Into War by Popular Demand in 1941? (Freeman’s Journal Press, Cooperstown, New York, 1951, 25c) furnishes an important observation on the fatal role of government censorship in undermining the soundness of the public mind and lists so well the significant matters on which knowledge was denied the people that an extensive quotation is here used as a summary of this section:
Fundamental to any assumption about the relation of public opinion to political action is this vital consideration: It is not only what the people think, but the soundness of their opinion which is most relevant. The founders of our democracy assumed that, if public opinion is to be a safe guide for statecraft, the electorate must be honestly and adequately informed. I do not believe that any interventionist, with any conscience whatever, would contend that the American public was candidly or sufficiently informed as to the real nature and intent of President Roosevelt’s foreign policy from 1937 to Pearl Harbor. Our public opinion, however accurately or inaccurately measured by the polls, was not founded upon full factual information.
Among the vital matters not known until after the War was over were:
(1) Roosevelt’s statement to President Benes in May, 1939, that the United States would enter any war to defeat Hitler; (2) the secret Roosevelt-Churchill exchanges from 1939 to 1941; (3) Roosevelt’s pressure on Britain, France and Poland to resist Hitler in 1939; (4) the fact that the Administration lawyers had decided that we were legally and morally in the War after the Destroyer Deal of September, 1940; (5) Ambassador Grew’s warning in January, 1941, that, if the Japanese should ever pull a surprise attack on the United States, it would probably be at Pearl harbor, and that Roosevelt, Stimson, Knox, Marshall and Stark agreed that Grew was right; (6) the Anglo-American Joint-Staff Conferences of January-March, 1941; (7) the drafting and approval of the Washington Master War Plan and the Army-Navy Joint War Plan by May, 1941; (8) the real facts about the nature and results of the Newfoundland Conference of August, 1941; (9) the devious diplomacy of Secretary Hull with Japan; (10) Konoye’s vain appeal for a meeting with Roosevelt to settle the Pacific issues; (11) Roosevelt’s various stratagems to procure an overt act from Germany and Japan; (12) Stimson’s statement about the plan to maneuver Japan into firing the first shot; (13) the idea that, if Japan crossed a certain line, we would have to shoot; (14) the real nature and implications of Hull’s ultimatum of November 26, 1941; and (15) the criminal failure to pass on to Admiral Kimmel and General Short information about the impending Japanese attack.
If the people are to be polled with any semblance of a prospect for any intelligent reaction, they must know what they are voting for. This was conspicuous not the case in the years before Pearl Harbor.
Almost, if not wholly, as indefensible as the secret maneuvering toward war, was the wholesale deception of the American people by suppressing or withholding facts on the eve of the presidential election of 1944. Three examples are here given.
First of all, the general public got no hint of the significance of the pourparlers with the “left,” which led to the naming of the same slate of presidential electors by the Democratic, American Labor, and Liberal parties in New York – a deal generally credited with establishing the fateful grip (Executive Order of December 30, 1944) of Communists on vital power-positions in our government. Incidentally the demands of the extreme left were unassailable under the “We need those votes” political philosophy; for Dewey, Republican, received 2,987,647 votes to 2,478,598 received by Roosevelt, Democrat — and Roosevelt carried the state only with the help of the 496,236 Liberal votes, both of which were cast for the Roosevelt electors!
As another example of catering to leftist votes, the President arrogantly deceived the public on October 28, 1944, when he “boasted of the amplitude of the ammunition and equipment which were being sent to American fighting men in battle.” The truth, however, was that our fighting men would have sustained fewer casualties if they had received some of the supplies which at the time were being poured into Soviet Russia in quantities far beyond any current Soviet need. It was none other than Mrs. Anna Rosenberg, “an indispensable and ineradicable New Deal ideologist, old friend of Mrs. Roosevelt” who, about a month before the election, “went to Europe and learned that ammunition was being rationed” to our troops. “It apparently did not occur to Mrs. Rosenberg to give this information to the people before election day.” After the election and before the end of the same tragic November, the details were made public, apparently to stimulate production (all quotes from Westbrook Pegler’s column “Fair Enough,” Nov. 27, 1944, Washington Times-Herald and other papers).
A third example of apparent falsification and deception had to do with President Roosevelt’s health in the summer and autumn of 1944. His obvious physical deterioration was noted in the foreign press and was reported to proper officials by liaison officers to the White House (personal knowledge of the author). Indeed, it was generally believed in 1944, by those in a position to know, that President Roosevelt never recovered from his illness of December, 1943, and January, 1944, despite a long effort at convalescence in the spring weather at the “Hobcaw Barony” estate of his friend Bernard Baruch on the South Carolina coast. The imminence of the President’s death was regarded as to certain that, after his nomination to a fourth term, Washington newspaper men passed around the answer “Wallace” to the spoken question “Who in your opinion will be the next president?’ Former Postmaster General James A. Farley has testified that Roosevelt “was a dying man” at the time of his departure for Yalta (America Betrayed at Yalta,” by Congressman Lawrence H. Smith, National Republic, July, 1951). The widespread belief that Roosevelt was undergoing rapid deterioration was shortly to be given an appearance of certitude by the facts of physical decay revealed at the time of his death, which followed his inauguration by less than three months.
Nevertheless, Vice Admiral Ross T. McIntire, Surgeon-General of the Navy and Roosevelt’s personal physician, was quoted thus in a Life article by Jeanne Perkins (July 21, 1944, p. 4) during the campaign: “The President’s health is excellent. I can say that unqualifiedly.”
In World War II, censorship and falsification of one kind or another were accomplished not only in high government offices but in lower echelons as well. Several instances, of which three are here given, were personally encountered by the author.
(1) Perhaps the most glaring was the omission, in a War Department report (prepared by tow officers of Eastern European background), of facts uncomplimentary to Communism in vital testimony on UNRRA given by two patriotic Polish-speaking congressmen (both Northern Democrats) returning from an official mission to Poland for the House Foreign Affairs Committee. An investigation was initiated but before it could be completed both officers had been separated from the service.
(2) News was slanted as much as by a fifty-to-one pro-Leftist ratio in a War Department digest of U.S. newspaper opinion intended, presumably, to influence thought including the thought of U.S. soldiers. For example, the leftist PM (circulation 137,000) in one issue (Bureau of Publications Digest, March 14, 1946) was represented by 616 columnar inches of quoted matter in comparison with 35 1/2 columnar inches from the non-leftist N.Y. World-Telegram (circulation 389,257). There was also a marked regional slant. Thus in the issue under consideration 98.7 percent of the total space was given to the Northeastern portion of the United States, plus Missouri, while only 1.3 percent was given to the rest of the country, including South Atlantic States. Gulf States, Southwestern States, Prairie States, Rocky Mountain States, and Pacific Coast States.
(3) Late in 1945 the former Secretary of War, Major General Patrick D. Hurley, resigned as Ambassador to China to tell the American government and the American people about Soviet Russia’s ability to “exert a potent and frequently decisive influence in American politics and in the American government, including the Department of Justice” (for details, see Chapter VI, a). General Hurley was expected to reveal “sensational disclosures” about certain members of the State Department’s Far Eastern staff in particular (quoted passages are from the Washington Times-Herald, December 3, 1945); but he was belittled by high government agencies including the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate, and large sections of the press connived to smother his message. A scheduled Military Intelligence Service interview arranged with General Hurley by the author was canceled by higher authority. Be it said for the record, however, that the colonels and brigadier generals immediately superior to the author in Military Intelligence were eager seekers for the whole intelligence picture and at no transmit the order just referred to.
Incidentally the brush-off of General Hurley suggests that the leftist palace guard which was inherited from the Roosevelt administration had acquired in eight months a firmer grip on Mr. Truman that it ever had on the deceased president until he entered his last months of mental twilight. Roosevelt’s confidence in Hurley is several times attested by General Elliott Roosevelt in As He Saw It. In Tehran the morning after the banquet at the Russian Embassy the President said: I want you to do something for me, Elliott. Go find Pat Hurley, and tell him to get to work drawing up a draft memorandum guaranteeing Iran’s independence. . . I wish I had more men like Pat, on whom I could depend. The men in the state Department, those career diplomats . . .half the time I can’t tell whether I should believe them or not (pp. 192-193).
At the second Cairo Conference the President told his son:
That Pat Hurley. . . He did a good job. If anybody can straighten out the mess of internal Chinese politics, he’s the man. . . Men like Pat Hurley are invaluable. Why? Because they’re loyal. I can give him assignments that I’d never give a man in the State Department because I can depend on him. . . Any number of times the men in the State Department have tried to conceal messages to me, delay them, hold them up somehow, just because some of those career diplomats aren’t in accord with what they know I think (pp. 204-205).
The above passages not only throw light on the enormity of the offense against America of preventing the testimony of General Hurley, but give on the Department of State a testimony that cannot be regarded as other than expert.
With the passing of the years, government censorship has become so much more intensive that it was a principal topic of the American Society of Newspaper Editors at its meeting (April 21, 1951) in Washington. Here is an excerpt (The Evening Star, Washington, April 21, 1951) from the report of the Committee on Freedom of Information: Most Federal offices are showing exceptional zeal in creating rules, regulations, directives, classifications and policies which serve to hide, color or channel news. . .
We editors have been assuming that no one would dispute this premise: That when the people rule, they have a right to know all their Government does. This committee finds appalling evidence that the guiding credo in Washington is becoming just the opposite: That it is dangerous and unwise to let information about Government leak out in any unprocessed form.
In spite of this protest, President Truman on September 25, 1951, extended government censorship drastically by vesting in other government agencies the authority and obligation to classify information as “Top Secret,” “Secret,” and “Confidential” a right and a responsibility previously enjoyed only, or principally, by the departments of State and Defense. Again the American Society of Newspaper Editors made a protest (AP, September 25, 1951). The President assured the public that no actual censorship would be the outcome of his executive order. To anyone familiar with the use of “Secret” and “Confidential” not for security but for “playing safe” with a long or not fully understood document, or for suppressing information, the new order cannot, however, appear as other than a possible beginning of drastic government-wide censorship.
The day after the President’s executive order, “Some 250 members of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association” voiced their fears and their determination to fight against the “tightening down of news barriers” (AP, Sept. 1, 1951). Kent Cooper, executive director of the Associated Press, and a well-known champion of the freedom of the press, said: “I’m really alarmed by what is being done to cover up mistakes in public office”
The reaction, after the censorship order was several weeks old, was thus summarized by U.S. News and World. Report (October 19,1951):
Newspaper men and others deeply fear that this authority may be broadened in application, used to cover up administrative blunders and errors of policy, to conceal scandals now coming to light, or to hide any information unfavorable to the administration, especially as the presidential campaign draws near.
It is to be hoped that the newspapers of the country will keep the issue alive in the minds of the American people. (It is to be hoped also that they will take concerted action to deal with censorship imposed by some of their advertisers. See pp. 90-93.)
During World War II, the Congress of the United States was the victim of censorship to almost as great a degree as the general public. By virtue of his official position, the author was sent by his superiors to brief members of the Congress about to go abroad, and he also interviewed them on their return from strategic areas. He found them, including some Northern Democrats, restive at the darkness of censorship and indignant at the extension of UNRRA without any full knowledge of its significance. With regard to secret data, the Congress was really in an awkward position. Because several Senators and Representatives, including members of the most sensitive committees, were indiscreet talkers and because of the possibility that some, like the Canadian Members of Parliament, Fred Rose (Rosenberg), might be subversive, the Congress could make no demands for full details on secret matters. The alternative was the twilight in which patriotic Senators and Representatives had to work and vote.
Alarmed by the threat of Communism, however, the Congress has made investigations and published a number of pamphlets and books (Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington 25, D.C.) intended to acquaint the American people with the danger to this country from Communists in general as well as from those imbedded in the departments and agencies of the government. It is suggested that you write to your own Congressman or to one of your Senators for an up-to-date list of these publications. One of a series of ten-cent books (see below in this chapter) is actually entitled “100 Things You Should Know About Communism and Government.” How pathetic and how appalling that a patriotic Congress, denied precise facts even as the people are denied them, has to resort to such a means to stir the public into a demand for the cleanup of the executive branch of our government!
Censorship, however, has by no means been a monopoly of the administration. Before, during, and since World War II, amid ever-increasing shouts about the freedom of the press, one of the tightest censorships in history has been applied by non-government power to the opinion-controlling media of the United States. A few examples follow under (a) newspapers, (b) motion pictures, and (c) books. These examples are merely samples and in no case are to be considered a coverage of the field. The subject of the chapter is concluded by observations on three other subjects (d, e, f) pertinent to the question of censorship.
Newspaper censorship of news is applied to some extent in the selection, rejection, and condensation of factual AP, UP, INS, and other dispatches. Such practices cannot be given blanket condemnation, for most newspapers receive from the agencies far more copy than they can publish; a choice is inevitably hurried; and selection on the basis of personal and institutional preferences is legitimate — provided there is no blackout of important news. The occasional use of condensation to obscure the point of a news story is, however, to be vigorously condemned.
Still worse is a deliberate news slanting, which is accomplished by the ” editing” – somewhere between fact and print – of such dispatches as are printed. During World War II the author at one time had under his supervision seven War Department teletype machines and was astounded to learn that dispatches of the news agencies were sometimes re-worded to conform to the policy or the presumed policy of a newspaper, or to the presumed attitude of readers or advertisers, or possibly to the prejudices of the individual journalist who did the re-wording! Thus, when Field Marshall von Mackensen died, a teletype dispatch described him as the son of a “tenant farmer.” This expression, presumably contrary to the accepted New York doctrine that Germany was undemocratic, became in one great New York morning paper “son of a minor landholder” and in another it became “son of a wealthy estate agent.” It is not here implied that the principal owners of these papers knew of this or similar instances. The changed dispatches, however, show the power of the unofficial censor even when his infiltration is into minor positions.
The matter of securing a substantially different meaning by changing a word or a phrase was, so far as the author knows, first brought to the attention of the general public late in 1951 when a zealous propagandist substituted “world” for “nation” in Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address! The revamping of Lincoln’s great words “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom” would have made him a “one worlder,” except for the fact that some Americans knew the Gettysburg Address by heart! Their protests not only revealed the deception in this particular instance, but brought into daylight a new form of falsification that is very hard to detect – except, of course, when the falsifiers tamper with something as well known as the Gettysburg Address!
Occasionally during World War II the abuse of rewriting dispatches was habitual. One foreign correspondent told the author that the correspondent’s paper, a “liberal” sheet which was a darling of our government, virtually threw away his dispatches, and wrote what they wished and signed his name to it. Be it said to this man’s credit that he resigned in protest.
Sometimes the censorship is effected not by those who handle news items, but by the writer. Thus the known or presumed attitude of his paper or its clientele may lead a correspondent to send dispatches designed, irrespective of truth, to please the recipients. This practice, with especial emphasis on dispatches from West Germany, was more than once noted by the newsletter, Human Events (1710 Rhode Island Avenue, N W., Washington 6, D.C.) during the year 1950. See the issue of December 20, 1950, which contains an analysis of the dim-out in the United States on the German reaction to the naming of General Eisenhower, the first implementer of the Morgenthau Plan, as Supreme Commander of our new venture in Europe.
In the early summer of 1951, the American public was treated to a nation-wide example of the form of distortion or falsification in certain sections of the press and by certain radio commentators. This was the presentation as fact of the individual columnist’s or commentator’s thesis that General MacArthur wanted war, or wanted World War III, or something of the sort — a thesis based on the General’s request for the use of Nationalist Chinese troops as allies and for the removal of the blindfold which prevented his even reconnoitering, much less bombing, the trans-Yalu forces of the enemy armies, vastly more numerous than his own (see Chapter VI, d, Below), who were killing his men. The presentation of such a thesis is a writer’s privilege, which should not be denied him, but it should be labeled as a viewpoint and not as a fact.
One powerful means of effecting censorship in the United States was mentioned as early as 1938 by William Allen White, nationally known owner and editor of the Emporia (Kansas) Gazette, in a speech at the University of Pennsylvania. These are his words: The new menace to the freedom of the press, a menace to this country vastly more acute than the menace from government, may come through the pressure not of one group of advertisers, but a wide sector of advertisers. Newspaper advertising is now placed somewhat, if not largely, through nationwide advertising agencies . . . As advisers the advertising agencies may exercise unbelievably powerful pressure upon newspapers. . . (Quoted from Beaty’s Image of Life, Thomas Nelson and Sons, New York, 1940).
Details of the pressure of advertisers on newspaper publishers rarely reach the public. An exception came in January, 1946, when the local advertising manager of the Washington Times-Herald wrote in his paper as follows: “Under the guise of speaking of his State Department career in combination with a preview of FM and Television Broadcasting, Mr. Ira A. Hirschmann today, at a meeting of the Advertising Club of Washington at the Statler Hotel, asked the Jewish merchants to completely boycott the Times-Herald and the New York Daily News.” It is interesting to note that Mrs. Eleanor M. Patterson, the owner of the Times-Herald, published the following statement “I have only this comment to make: This attack actually has nothing to do with racial or religious matters. It is merely a small part of a planned, deliberate Communist attempt to divide and destroy the United States of America.” She refused to yield to pressure, and before long those who had withdrawn their advertisements asked that the contracts be renewed. The outcome prompts the question: May the advertiser not need the periodical more than the periodical needs the advertiser?
Propaganda attitudes and activities in the United States motion picture output cannot be adequately discussed here. The field is vast and the product, the film, cannot, like the files of newspapers or shelves of books, be consulted readily at an investigator’s convenience. Some idea of the power of organized unofficial censorship may be gained, however, from the vicissitudes of one film which has engaged the public interest because it is based on a long-recognized classic by the most popular novelist of the English-speaking world.
As originally produced, the J. Arthur Rank motion picture, Oliver Twist, was said to be faithful to the text of the Dickens novel of that name. The picture was shown in Britain without recorded disorder, but when it reached Berlin, “the Jews and police fought with clubs, rocks and fire-hoses around the Karbel theater in Berlin’s British sector.” The door of the theater was “smashed by Jewish demonstrators who five times broke through police cordon established around playhouse.” These things happened although “not once in the picture. . . was Fagin called a Jew,” Needless to say, the Jews prevailed over the Berlin police and the British authorities, and the exhibitors ceased showing the film (all quotes from the article, “Fagin in Berlin Provokes a Riot.” Life, March 7, 1949, pp. 38-39).
The barring of Mr. Rank’s Oliver Twist from its announced appearance (1949) in the United States is explained thus by Arnold Forster in his book, A Measure of Freedom (Doubleday and Co., Inc., 1950, p. 10) : American movie distributors refused to become involved in the distribution and exhibition of the motion picture after the Anti-Defamation League and others expressed the fear that the film was harmful. The Rank Organization withdrew the picture in the United States.
Finally it was announced in the spring of 1951 that the British film “after seventy-two eliminations” and with a prologue by Dr. Everett R. Clinchy of the National Conference of Christians and Jews might be “accepted as a filming of Dickens without anti-semitic intentions” (Dallas Morning News). But is there any Charles Dickens left anywhere around?
On the question of Communism in Hollywood, there is available in pamphlet form a remarkably informative broadcast of a dialogue (Facts Forum Radio Program, WFAA, Dallas, January 11, 1952) between Mr. Dan Smoot of Dallas and the motion picture star, Adolphe Menjou. Replying dramatically to a series of questions climatically arranged, Mr, Menjou begins with Lenin’s “We must capture the cinema,” shows Americans their “incredible ignorance” of Communism, lists Congressional committees which issue helpful documents, and recommends a boycott of “motion pictures which are written by Communists, produced by Communists, or acted in by Communists,” – the term Communists including those who support the Communist cause. For a free copy of this valuable broadcast, write to Facts Forum, 718 Mercantile Bank building, Dallas, Texas. See also Red Treason in Hollywood by Myron C. Fagan (Cinema Educational Guild, P. O. Box 8655, Cole Branch, Hollywood 46, California), and do not miss “Did the Movies Really Clean House?” in the December, 1951, American Legion Magazine.
Censorship in the field of books is even more significant than in periodicals, motion pictures, and radio (not here considered), and a somewhat more extended discussion is imperative.
With reference to new books, a feature article, “Why You Buy Books That Sell Communism,” by Irene Corbally Kuhn in the American Legion Magazine for January, 1951, shows how writers on the staffs of two widely circulated New York book review supplements are influential in controlling America’s book business. To school principals, teachers, librarians, women’s clubs — indeed to parents and all other Americans interested in children, who will be the next generation — this article is necessary reading. It should be ordered and studied in full and will accordingly not be analyzed here (American Legion Magazine, 580 Fifth Avenue, New York 18, New York 10 cents per copy; see also “The Professors and the press” in the July, 1951, number of this magazine). Important also is “A Slanted Guide to Library Selections,” by Oliver Carlson, in The Freeman for January 14, 1952.
Dealing in more detail with books in one specific field, the China theater, where our wrong policies have cost so many young American lives, is an article entitled “The Gravediggers of America, Part I,” “The Book Reviewers Sell Out China,” by Ralph de Toledano (The American Mercury, July, 1951, pp. 72-78. See also Part II in the August number). Mr. de Toledano explains that America’s China policy — whether by coincidence or as “part of a sharply conceived and shrewdly carried out plan” — has led to the fact that “China is Russia’s” Mr. de Toledano then turns his attention to the State Department: Meanwhile the real lobby – the four-plus propagandists of a pro-Communist line in Asia – prospered. Its stooges were able to seize such a stranglehold on the State Department’s Far Eastern division that to this day, as we slug it out with the Chinese Reds, they are still unbudgeable. Working devotedly at their side has been a book-writing and book-reviewing cabal.
With regard to books, book reviewers, and book-reviewing periodicals, Mr. de Toledano gives very precise figures. He also explains the great leftist game in which one pro-Communist writer praises the work of another — and old practice exposed by the author of The Iron Curtain Over America in the chapter, “Censorship, Gangs, and the tyranny of Minorities” in his book Image of Life (pp. 146-147) : Praise follows friendship rather than merit. Let a novelist, for instance, bring out a new book. The critic, the playwright, the reviewers, and the rest in his gang hail it as the book of the year. Likewise all will hail the new play by the playwright — and so on, all the way around the circle of membership. Provincial reviewers will be likely to fall in step. The result is that a gang member will sometimes receive national acclaim for a work which deserves oblivion, whereas a nonmember may fail to receive notice for a truly excellent work. Such gangs prevent wholly honest criticism and are bad at best, but they are a positive menace when their expressions of mutual admiration are poured forth on obscene and subversive books.
For still more on the part played by certain book-reviewing periodicals in foisting upon the American public a ruinous program in China, see “A Guidebook to 10 Years of Secrecy in Our China Policy,” a speech by Senator Owen Brewster of Maine (June 5, 1951). The tables on pp. 12 and 13 of Senator Brewster’s reprinted speeh are of especial value.
The unofficial arbiters and censors of books have not, however, confined themselves to contemporary texts but have taken drastic steps against classics. Successful campaigns early in the current century against such works as Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, are doubtless known to many older readers of The Iron Curtain Over America. The case of Shakespeare was summed up effectively by George Lyman Kittredge (The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare, edited by George Lyman Kittredge, Ginn and Company, Boston, 1945, pp. ix-x), long a professor of English in Harvard University: One thing is clear, however: The Merchant of Venice is no anti-Semitic document; Shakespeare was not attacking the Jewish people when he gave Shylock the villain’s role. If so, he was attacking the Moors in Titus Andronicus, the Spaniards in Much Ado, the Italians in Cymbeline, the Viennese in Measure for Measure, the Danes in Hamlet, the Britons in King Lear, the Scots in Macbeth, and the English in Richard the Third.
Much more significant than attacks on individual masterpieces, however, was a subtle but determined campaign begun a generation ago to discredit our older literature under charges of Jingoism and didacticism (Image of Life, Chapter III). For documentary indication of a nation-wide minority boycott of books as early as 1933, write to the American Renaissance Book Club (P. O. Box 1316, Chicago 90, Illinois).
Still it was not until World War II that the manipulators of the National Democratic Party hit on a really effective way of destroying a large portion of our literary heritage and its high values of morality and patriotism. Since most classics have a steady rather than a rapid sale and are not subject to quick reprints even in normal times, and since many potential readers of these books were not in college but in the armed forces, few editions of such works were reprinted during the war. At this juncture the government ordered plates to be destroyed on all books not reprinted within four years. The edict was almost a death blow to our culture, for as old books in libraries wear out very few of them can be reprinted at modern costs for printing and binding. Thus, since 1946 the teacher of advanced college English courses has had to choose texts not, as in 1940, from those classics which he prefers but from such classics as are available. The iniquitous practice of destroying plates was reasserted by “Directive M-65, dated May 31, 1951, of the National Production Authority,” which provides that “plates which have not been used for more than four years or are otherwise deemed to be obsolete” must be delivered “to a scrap metal dealer” (letter to the author from Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., June 15, 1951). In this connection, Upton Close wrote (Radio Script, August 12, 1951) that he “was a writer on the Orient who stood in the way of the Lattimore-Hiss gang and Marshall’s giving of China to the Communists,” and that such an order “wiped out” all his books on China and Japan. Mr. Close continued as follows: The order to melt bookplates on the pretense that copper is needed for war is the smartest way to suppress books ever invented. It is much more clever than Hitler’s burning of books. The public never sees the melting of plates in private foundries. All the metal from all the bookplates in America would not fight one minor engagement. But people do not know that. They do not even know that bookplates have been ordered melted down!
Censorship is applied even to those classics which are reprinted.
Let us look at only one author who lived long ago, Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340-1400). In both of the two fluent and agreeable verse translations at hand as this is written, the fact that the Knight belonged to the Teutonic Order (Chapter I) is eliminated in the wording. Perhaps this is excusable, for the translator into verse faces many difficulties. Of different import, however, are the omissions in two other editions. The Haeritage Press edition of the Canterbury Tales omits with no explanation the “Tale of the Prioress,” the one in which Chaucer, more than 550 years ago, happened to paint — along with the several Gentile poisoners and other murderers of his stories – one unflattering portrait, a version of the popular ballad “Sir Hugh and the Jew’s Daughter,” of one member of the Jewish race, and that one presumably fictitious! Professor Lumiansky’s edition (Simon and Schuster, 1941, preface by Mark Van Doren) of the Canterbury Tales likewise omits the Prioress’s tale, and tells why: “Though anti-Semitism was a somewhat different thing in the fourteenth century from what it is today, the present-day reader has modern reactions in literature no matter when it was written. From this point of view the Prioress’s story of the little choir-boy who is murdered by the Jews possesses an unpleasantness which over shadows its other qualities” (op.cit., p. xxiii).
No criticism of the translators, editors, and publishers is here implied. They may have merely bent to pressure as so many other publishers and so many other publishers and so many periodicals have done — to the author’s certain knowledge. One cannot, however, escape the question as to what would happen to American and English literature if persons of English, Scotch, Irish, German, Italian or other decent, took the same attitude toward “defamation” of persons of their “races,” including those who lived more than 500 years ago! There would be no motion pictures or plays, and except for technical treatises there would be no more books.
One of the most horrible results of the types of censorship illustrated above is the production, by writers without honor, of works which will “pass” the unofficial censor. The result is a vast output of plays, non-fiction prose, and especially novels, worthless at best and degraded and subversive at the worst, which will not be reviewed here.