Monthly Archives: August 2013

Obama, Syria And The New Neocons: The Hypocrisies Of The Humanitarian Interventionists

I found this wonderful article by Andrew Levine about Syria and Obama on the blog run by the equally wonderful Norman Finkelstein and couldn’t resist making it available to readers of The Broken Elbow.

Levine’s argument is that the Democrats have devised their own version of neoconservatism which it seems we may get to see in action soon over the skies of Syria. Unlike those nasty Republicans the Dems justify their invasions and regime changes on humanitarian grounds, a pretext which makes the overthrow of people like Gaddafi so much more acceptable. But it is still neoconservatism, just as Obama’s health care reforms are essentially still the same old insurance company rip-offs. It just looks nicer.

Gaddafi’s sin was not that he was an enemy of the West – he had put all that behind him and now entertained the likes of Tony Blair in his bedouin tent – but that he was marshalling Black Africa into an independent bloc, playing hardball with the oil companies and refusing to share all that fresh water trapped under his desert sands with Western corporations (reserves equivalent, it is said, to a thousand years of the River Nile flowing). So when he was ousted courtesy of a proxy land war and massive NATO air power it was justified on the basis of his threats against the people of Benghazi.

As Levine points out it was Bill Clinton, good ole Slick Willy, who first developed the approach in the Balkans and Barack Obama has made it one of his administration’s distinguishing footprints.. His team contains two of the most vocal proponents of this new neoconservatism; one is Susan Rice, his national security adviser and the other is Ireland’s own Samantha Power, his UN ambassador and a figure sure to set the Dublin media slobbering with excitement when we see her urging the bombing of Syria to save Syria.

Anyway here is Andrew Levine’s piece. It makes a lot of sense:

August 27, 2013
The Hypocrisies of the Humanitarian Interventionists
To die by cobra is not to die by bad pork

– Gregory Corso, “Bomb”

Who would have imagined that, five years into Barack Obama’s tenancy of the White House, American whistleblowers would seek refuge in Russia (or China or in formerly subservient but now robustly independent South American countries) or that investigative journalists and documentary film makers would find Germany or Brazil safer havens in which to practice their trade than the United States?

The answer is no one: not even those of us who have always been skeptical not just of Obama’s leadership skills but also of his intentions.

At the same time, some things haven’t changed: the American government, like all governments, still wallows in hypocrisy.

But even with a President more “disappointing” than anyone would have imagined, and a government that demonizes its enemies’ depredations and cloaks its own in the mantle of “humanitarian” righteousness, the “line in the sand” that the Syrian government may or may not have crossed is still over the top.

Remarkably, though, hardly anyone in the political or media mainstream sees it that way.

President Obama declared long ago and more than once that should Syria’s President Hafez Al-Assad use chemical weapons against rebels trying to overthrow his government, he would risk bringing the United States – and whatever “coalition of the willing” partners he could cobble together – into the war on the rebel side.

It was plain even at the time that Obama had boxed himself in. If that line is crossed and he does nothing about it, he will look indecisive and weak. With elections (always) looming, a President, especially a Democratic one, cannot afford that. Neither can any leader of an imperialist super-power that bullies the world.

As of now, it is not certain what actually happened August 21 in Jobar, a rebel-held district on the outskirts of Damascus. All that is known for sure is that a lot of people, perhaps as many as thirteen hundred (though probably fewer), died.

Informed observers agree that chemical weapons were used, but there is no agreement on the identity of the perpetrators; each side blames the other. The predominant view – promoted by Western governments and by Assad’s enemies in the Arabian Peninsula and also by many Western and Middle Eastern journalists, is that it was Assad’s “regime.”

[In media parlance, the government Assad leads is a “regime,” while Obama heads an “administration.” “Regime” sounds nasty, and “regime change” is sometimes an estimable goal. “Administrations,” on the other hand, are benign and, as the word suggests, almost apolitical. School boards, universities and public utilities (the ones that haven’t yet been privatized) have administrations; dictatorships have regimes.]

Maybe Assad really is culpable; he has never been a leader who bothered much about ethical side constraints, and he does seem intent on holding onto power by any means necessary.

But the cui bono? (who benefits?) principle suggests the opposite. The Syrian government plainly has enough popular support to withstand the forces arrayed against it. Indeed, it seems to be winning the war.

Amidst all the murder and mayhem, it has become increasingly evident that the rebel forces cannot win — unless something happens to alter the balance of forces.

And what could happen besides Western, especially American, intervention?

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have been arming the rebels for some time; lately the West has joined in as well. The United States has already announced its intention to increase its already considerable share.

At the same time, our leaders understand that siding with the rebels is a risky business if only because the forces in rebellion include some of the Islamists the U.S. is fighting against elsewhere. The Obama administration has always been clueless on the Middle East, but there are limits even to its folly.

And so the prospects for a successful proxy war against the Syrian government are bleak; rebel forces can tie the Assad “regime” down, but not destroy it.

To effect regime change – in other words, to overthrow Assad’s government — the U.S. and its allies may have to go to war on their own.

But for that idea to sell, a suitable pretext must be found. Only then might the United Nations be persuaded to approve military action. So far, principled Russian and Chinese opposition have blocked that prospect.

In our topsy-turvy world those countries are not only better than the United States on the right of international humanitarian asylum, but also on other venerable precepts of international law – like those that uphold the right of sovereign states to be free from external, unprovoked aggression.

The United States has lately settled on a different principle sometimes called the “responsibility (and right) to protect.” That ostensibly well-intentioned notion is a concoction of “humanitarian interventionists.” Obama has brought some notorious proponents of that idea into his administration – Susan Rice and Samantha Powers, among others.

Humanitarian interventionism is neo-conservatism for liberals. It operates to “justify” the United States and other Western countries taking on the role of planetary gendarmes ever at the ready to visit death and destruction upon “regimes” that challenge American domination or otherwise thwart the empire’s will.

Because Russia – and therefore the United Nations Security Council – was not willing to go along, the Clinton administration had to resort to this kind of thinking to excuse the 1999 NATO bombing campaign against Serbian areas throughout the former Yugoslavia.

The pretext then was a “humanitarian crisis” in Kosovo. George Bush would go on to deploy even phonier pretexts to justify his wars. But it was the Clinton administration that showed how it could be done.

When hard core neocons came into power under Bush and Dick Cheney, the humanitarian intervention excuse became otiose — real neocons don’t need no stinkin’ responsibilities or rights to overthrow governments they don’t like. Under Obama’s aegis, with the neocons gone, the idea has sprung back to life.

Since he took office, the responsibility (and right) to protect has been invoked, at least implicitly, in each of the large-scale military misadventures Obama has undertaken — the “surge” in Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Libyan government in 2011. The former was his fabrication; in the latter, he only “led from behind.”

If the Obama administration has learned anything from those mistakes, there is no sign of it. And so, in our name, Syria is on line to become the next killing field.

Since drones are not enough, that will mean bombers – shades of Kosovo – and perhaps cruise missiles; anything to keep American casualties down.

That is crucial because, like Clinton before him, Obama fears hostile public opinion. In Clinton’s time, there were still vestiges of the Vietnam Syndrome to overcome. Now, as the endless wars spawned in the aftermath of 9/11 drag on, the public has grown war-weary.

Syrian casualties, however, are another story; racking them up is the whole point. To stop Assad from killing Syrians with poison gas, Obama will kill them with cruise missiles and bombs.

It is hard to see how anyone can endorse a program so ludicrous, and so morally flawed, without the words sticking in their craw – and yet they do.

And even in a world that where rank hypocrites run the show, as they always have, the hypocrisy in this instance is so breathtaking it can hardly be believed.

After all, Obama is the Commander-in-Chief of a military that, within recent years, has used napalm, white phosphorous and depleted uranium shells, along with a host of other conventional and non-conventional horrors. These weapons are not illegal under international law if used against combatants (a fine point the U.S. often ignores), but they are no less terrible than sarin gas.

Chemical weapons fall into a separate category, but not because they are more horrendous than other weapons now widely in use. They are different for historical reasons that are sometimes set aside, but that sometimes weigh heavily in official circles when it suits nefarious government purposes.

Saddam Hussein used multiple chemical agents, reportedly supplied by the United States, against Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, and then in 1988, he used chemical weapons against the Kurdish town of Halabja, killing more than 3000 (perhaps as many as 5000) people, and injuring many others.

None of this bothered the United States until Bush the father found it expedient to demonize his erstwhile collaborator, the Iraqi dictator, during the buildup to the Bush family’s First Gulf War. Even then, it was only the massacre of the Kurds that provoked outrage; gassing Iranians was fine.

Chemical weapons cause injury and death; they ought never to be used. But they have been used without complaint on the part of “the world community,” and they are inherently no worse than many weapons that the American military regularly deploys.

They are certainly not worse than the nuclear weapons that figure prominently still in American strategic planning documents, and that might well be used should the United States or Israel invade Iran and then find their operations going poorly.

Why, then, is the use of chemical weapons in Syria, in the course of an on-going civil war, a reasonable basis for drawing a line in the sand, one that could trigger further disasters around the entire region and throughout the world?

The cynical answer is that neocons and humanitarian interventionists need pretexts, and this is the best they are likely to get. But then there is also the issue of historical memory.

In the aftermath of the First World War, where chemical weapons were indeed more horrifying than any other weapons in use, there were attempts to outlaw war and also, as it were, to civilize it. Needless to say, little came of these well-intentioned efforts.

But a taboo on the use of chemical weapons in combat did take hold. It held up even during the Second World War, and then in the countless counter-insurgency wars the West fought in its aftermath.

That this taboo endured is all the more remarkable inasmuch as it was not legally binding until 1997, when the Chemical Weapons Convention finally went into effect. Syria, by the way, has never been a signatory to that pact.

Why the special revulsion to chemical weapons? Is it worse to be attacked with sarin gas than with bombs or cruise missiles or, for that matter, with Obama’s drones?

Nothing beats drones for terrorizing populations because one never knows when they are coming, and there is no way to protect against them.

For the rest, including poison gas, at least there are shelters and gas masks. But what difference would that make to the dead and dying?

* * *

Why then draw a line in the sand where Obama did?

Could it be because chemical weapons are illegal (though not in Syria)? That would be a more credible explanation if our Commander-in-Chief and his minions in the military-security state complex weren’t quite as heedless of the spirit – and sometimes the letter – of the law as they have repeatedly shown themselves to be.

A more likely explanation is that, at various points in recent months, Obama found it convenient to throw the neocons and humanitarian interventionists a bone, and didn’t quite think through the consequences.

But then why is there so much acquiescence worldwide to the idea that if the Syrian government did indeed cross the line, then something must be done? It is as if the world is in the grip of a dangerous collective imbecility?

The irony is that Obama plainly knows better; the last thing he wants – or needs — is another war of choice in the Middle East.

But he may not be able to resist the pressure.

It is coming full blast from the (increasingly vociferous) War Party in Congress, from Israel, from Britain and France (always eager, lately, for lovely little wars), and of course from the hordes of chicken-hawk pundits who populate the mainstream media.

This may be a case where the problem is not Obama’s instincts or judgment so much as his weakness, his inability to lead. That he drew a line in the sand doesn’t help either.

In all likelihood, there is still time for him to put reason in control, and Just Say No. Don’t count on it, however.

ANDREW LEVINE is a Senior Scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, the author most recently of THE AMERICAN IDEOLOGY (Routledge) and POLITICAL KEY WORDS (Blackwell) as well as of many other books and articles in political philosophy. His most recent book is In Bad Faith: What’s Wrong With the Opium of the People. He was a Professor (philosophy) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Research Professor (philosophy) at the University of Maryland-College Park. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Seven Countries in Five Years – Obama Embraces Cheney’s Neoconservatism


As Obama rushes towards conflict in Syria, I thought it would be worth recalling what one key witness to escalation to the Iraq debacle remembered about those days for point of similarity. General Wesley Clark gave the interview below in September 2011 and in it he recalled a conversation he had with a ranking General at the Pentagon just ten days or so after the 9/11 attacks.

At that point the US had already secretly decided to go to war with Saddam Hussein even though there was no evidence to link him to the attack on the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre. A few weeks later Clark again met the same general and this time he was shown a Department of Defence memo outlining how the US could take down seven countries in five years.

Well, more than five years have elapsed since that memo was drafted but some of those countries on the DoD list have indeed fallen into the Western orbit or nearly have. Clark listed them: Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Iran and Syria. The list was the work of the neoconservative cabal that had infiltrated the highest reaches of US policy formation and whose leader was Bush’s Vice-President Dick Cheney. We thought they had been kicked out in disgrace in 2008 but it looks as if they are back in town.

Toppling Syria is arguably the keystone of this neocon strategy. If Assad falls then so will Lebanon (i.e. Hezbollah) and Iran will be greatly weakened. So will the pro-Shiite government in Baghdad. The stage will be set for the destruction of Islamic rule in Iran and the return of a regime hospitable to the West while Iraq will be isolated. The Middle East and it vast resources of carbon-based fuels will once again will safely under Western control.

It is a neocon wet dream come true and if anyone had predicted in 2008 that Obama would be the president to facilitate all this they would have been laughed out of the room. I have a feeling it won’t work out, just as it failed miserably in Iraq. But before then an awful lot of innocent people are likely to be killed, some in horrible ways. Thank you Mr Obama. Anyway here’s Genera; Clark:

Obama, The President Of ‘Change You Can Believe In’, Embraces War In Syria


“To us, it looks as though Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld never left the White House. It’s basically the same policy, as if US leaders had learned nothing and forgotten nothing in the past decade. They want to topple foreign leaders they regard as adversaries, without even making the most basic calculations of the consequences. An intervention in Syria will only enlarge the area of instability in the Middle East and expand the scope of terrorist activity. I am at a complete loss to understand what the US thinks it is doing” – Alexei Pushkov, chair of Russia’s State Duma’s international affairs committee, quoted in the Christian Science Monitor.

Those of my readers with a gentle or sensitive disposition should not, repeat not, watch the YouTube video below. This is a serious warning. Ever since I first saw it on that great little blog The Moon of Alabama two weeks ago,  I have been wrestling with myself over whether or not to post the video myself. There were good reasons on both sides of the argument.

On the negative side there is no doubt that it will be deeply upsetting and horrifying to nearly everyone who watches it and as the person responsible for placing it on this site, I could be accused of a piece of exploitative sensationalism. Nor did I wish anyone to misinterpret my use of this film as an expression of support for the noxious Assad government in Damascus. It most definitely is not that.

On the other side of the argument the video brutally captures the essence of the people whose side Obama, Cameron, the French and goodness knows who else seem about to take in the bloody civil war in Syria. It savagely illustrates an aspect of the opposition to the Assad regime that has been grossly under-reported in the Western media, for reasons all to do with the post 9/11 transformation of the press in America and Britain into cheerleaders for government. Both seemed compelling reasons to blog the video. But still I hesitated.

It wasn’t until I read today that Tony Blair had emerged from whichever hole in the ground he currently inhabits to voice his support, courtesy of the columns of The Times newspaper, for armed Western intervention in Syria, using many of the spurious human rights arguments that he employed to justify the invasion of Iraq – especially when the WMD rationale was exposed as an outrageous lie. It was then that I made up my mind to post the video.

When a leader such as Tony Blair has been exposed as a brazen fabricator who tricked his country into war and caused the countless deaths of innumerable innocent civilians, nothing he ever says afterwards can or should be believed. In The Times, Blair argued that Western intervention was necessary to save Syria’s civilian population from Assad’s brutality and the “affiliates of Al Qaeda” who hope to exploit the instability.

There are two lies implanted in Blair’s words. One is that the real reason for the West waging war against Syria is not humanitarian but self interest. Destroying the Assad regime and replacing it with a post-Gaddafi Libyan style leadership, which presumably is the West’s ideal, would isolate Iran and strengthen Israel, the West’s proxy in the Middle East, and empower the Saudi/Gulf plutocrats whose oil sustains Western economic growth. Pacifying the region, embedding its leadership and placing it under stable pro-Western influence is what this is all about. It’s called neo-conservatism folks, the idea that brought you Bush, Cheney and now Obama. Samantha Power’s finest hour beckons.

The second lie concerns Al Qaeda. What Blair does not mention is that but for the invasion of Iraq, Al Qaeda would never have had a foothold in the region and would not now be vying for power in Syria. The group was ruthlessly put down by Saddam who regarded Osama bin Laden and his gospel as deeply menacing, as the West knew well.

With their invasion and overthrow of Saddam, Blair and Bush facilitated the growth of Al Qaeda in Iraq just as Obama and Cameron nourished it in Libya and just as they have sustained and fed the jihadists of Syria who feature so brutally in this video. The West’s role in creating Al Qaeda may be debatable but there is no doubt that no-one has done more to sustain and license the group and its violence.

The only outcome of an Obama/Cameron intervention in Syria will be another massive boost for the jihadist cause. After all they are the only people really fighting the Assad government; the pro-West Free Syrians are mostly languishing in comfort on the Turkish border. To the victor will go the spoils.

The quality and nature of these jihadists are bloodily evident in this video which, by the way, has almost entirely been ignored by the mainstream media. The two children executed by the Syrian freedom fighters, whose deaths are shown, were accused of being loyal to Assad and so were sentenced to death by an anonymous judge in a kangaroo court and gunned down by hooded, chanting stooges. Had the two boys been slaughtered by pro-Assad gunmen would their deaths have been so quickly ignored by our media?

When the Cruise missiles begin to streak through the night skies and our television screens are lit up by brightly colored explosions, remember that it is these people, monsters who took young innocent lives in the name of an extremist, medieval sect of an otherwise tolerant religion, who will gain most by all that follows.

Next on that list are all those in the West – in America in particular – who have been suckled by the eternal terrorist threat, surely the most lucrative boondoggle in history: the spooks who spy on us all, the corporations who make the drones and the missiles and bombs, the arms makers, the generals, the media moguls and the politicians who feed off our fear.

All these people, each thriving off the violence of the other, will be hoping that Barack Obama, the man who came to power by opposing one immoral war will press the button to start another one. It looks like they may get their way.

Should Rusbridger Have Resisted The Destruction Of The Guardian’s Hard Drives?

Guardian editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger

Guardian editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger

The question that forms the title of this posting is only slowly entering the NSA debate, post the arrest of David Miranda, but it is surely an important one, raising issues of tactics and principles that should or ought not to be employed by the media as journalism and journalists face the most sustained onslaught in living memory from the surveillance empire.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger revealed in today’s edition that in the face of British government threats of a court-ordered “prior restraint” on his newspaper’s coverage of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks, he agreed that his paper’s hard drives could be destroyed. Had the effort to establish “prior restraint” been successful, The Guardian would have been barred from covering the Snowden story.

The deed was done in the newspaper’s basement by Guardian staffers overseen by technicians from Britain’s NSA equivalent, GCHQ on July 30th but we only learned about it today, exactly a month later. The delay has not yet been explained.

Rusbridger did this, his paper reported, so that The Guardian could continue its reportage – which it did less than a fortnight later with the revelation of NSA funding of GCHQ activities – and because other copies of the Snowden material existed on computers outside the jurisdiction, presumably in Brazil on Glenn Greenwald’s hard drives and in Berlin on Laura Poitras’ computers. These other databases enabled the paper to continue reporting albeit from further afield.

Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda

Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda

By and large Rusbridger has been feted for his stance which enabled his paper to maintain its controversial coverage and solidified The Guardian’s reputation as one of the world’s most courageous and gifted newspapers. It is important to remember that its Snowden coverage is only one of a series of recent triumphs for The Guardian: without the paper’s intrepid journalism, Rupert Murdoch’s empire would still reign unchallenged and undamaged on both sides of the Atlantic and the Wikileaks dump might still be searching for a mainstream media outlet, or at least one with more moxie than Bill Keller.

There is no doubt at all that The Guardian and its doughty editor deserve all the plaudits being showered on them but I have to admit to a more than nagging doubt whether Rusbridger did the right thing here.

I say so because even acts of courage can have unfortunate consequences if they are badly thought out, and I fear that may be the case here. Here’s my worry: by acceding to the British government’s threats The Guardian editor may have set an unhappy precedent. There was a principle involved here and it was that The Guardian has the right to create any journalism it wanted from its base in Britain.

By agreeing to destroy its hard drives on foot of a government fiat, Rusbridger was effectively giving the authorities in Britain the right to say that stories of which it disapproved could not be generated from the Guardian’s London office or if they were they would incur official displeasure and the unimpeded invasion of its workplace. After all, having already conceded the government’s right to enter the Guardian’s basement to destroy his hard drives, Rusbridger cannot go into court and challenge it should Cameron’s government wish to do the same again.

The Miranda/Greenwald/Snowden story is not especially problematic in this regard. The story is after all mostly an American one and the principal actors do not work or live in the UK. So it matters less for this story that Rusbridger gave up ground to the British authorities. The notion of keeping the story going from Brazil and Berlin also makes practical sense. But what if the next whistleblower is a Brit and works in GCHQ or MI5? Not now being able to stop the authorities invading his offices to destroy sensitive source material, is Rusbridger going to have to base the reporters covering the story abroad? How feasible or even possible is that?

Would it not have been better to have forced the British government’s legal hand and obliged them to seek court permission to gag what is after all now one of the world’s best known and respected newspapers? It might not be the ideal solution for a newspaper editor keen on keeping his circulation healthy but it sure as hell would clarify the great danger to liberties represented by the growing surveillance state. And the result would not necessarily be a foregone conclusion, not least because the case would inevitably have ended up at the European Court at Strasbourg where the British would likely face a less pliant judiciary.

Had Rusbridger chosen this option he would have done so from a position of strength. Public opinion in mainland Europe (if not yet in Britain) and in much of America has been outraged at most, disturbed at least by the Snowden revelations and suppression of The Guardian could have been one of those game-changing moments in the fight to preserve healthy journalism. (The story would have come out anyway; I am sure Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras would have seen to that!)

I hope it was not a missed opportunity but I fear that it might have been. I suspect the British government’s failure to follow through on its legal threat to Rusbridger was an implicit admission of its own weakness. Next time you can be sure that if the British or American governments move it will be in circumstances much more favorable to their cause.

The Future Of Journalism, Part 2

A great piece by Nick Cohen on The Spectator blog of all places on the arrest at Heathrow airport of Glenn Greenwald’s Brazilian partner David Miranda by British customs officers and police from the London Met on spurious suspicions of involvement in terrorism.

No-one believes that of course. The purpose of the exercise is to intimidate Greenwald, the principal reporter in The Guardian of Edward Snowden’s leaks on NSA excesses, a process begun in June by the loathsome David Gregory of NBC. Doubtless Gregory, who suggested The Guardian reporter ought to face charges alongside Snowden, would get his way if Greenwald ever returned to the US

Anyway, here’s the piece. Enjoy:

Always remember mornings like these, the next time police officers and politicians demand more powers to protect us from terrorism. They always sound so reasonable and so concerned for our welfare when they do. For who wants to be blown apart?

But the state said its new powers to intercept communications would be used against terrorists. They ended up using them against fly tippers. Now the police are using the Terrorism Act against the partner of a journalist who is publishing stories the British and American governments would rather keep quiet.

The detention of David Miranda at Heathrow is a clarifying moment that reveals how far Britain has changed for the worse. Nearly everyone suspects the Met held Miranda on trumped up charges because the police, at the behest of the Americans, wanted to intimidate Miranda’s partner Glenn Greenwald, the conduit of Edward Snowden’s revelations, and find out whether more embarrassing information is on Greenwald’s laptop.

The Brazilian government has gone wild. (Greenwald lives in Brazil and his partner is Brazilian.) All kinds of people are saying, quite properly, that although they disagree with Greenwald’s politics they defend the right of citizens to hold governments to account.

You might have thought the Met would have been anxious to reply to its critics. You might have thought – expected indeed – that it would angrily rebut the charges, and provide irrefutable evidence that its officers are not like the goons of a dictatorship but remain the conscientious public servants of a democracy.

The Terrorism Act of 2000, which the Met used against Miranda, says that terrorism involves ‘serious violence against a person’ or ‘serious damage to property’. The police can also detain the alleged terrorist because he or she ‘endangers a person’s life’, ‘poses a serious risk to the health and safety of the public’ or threatens to interfere with ‘an electronic system’.

I wanted to ask the Met: Which of these above offences did your officers suspect that Miranda might have been about to commit? What reasonable grounds did they have for thinking he could endanger lives or property? And, more to the point, which terrorist movement did you believe Miranda was associated with: al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Continuity IRA, ETA, Shiv Sena, the provisional wing of the Unabomber Appreciation Society?

Greenwald may not thank me for saying this but in one respect America is an admirable country. In the US, the police reply to reporters’ questions. They may lie, but at least they reply. In the UK, they say nothing. Chief constables could save precious money and protect front line services by sacking every police press officer in the UK. They are useless. Actually, they are worse than useless: they are sinister. They provide the illusion of accountability while blocking it at every stage.

I phoned the Met press office. You will need to read our statement before we can answer your questions, a spokeswoman said. She emailed me the statement. True to form, it said nothing worth noting:

‘At 08:05 on Sunday 18 August 2013 a 28 year old man was detained at Heathrow Airport under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
He was not arrested.
He was subsequently released at 17:00.’

That was it. As I, like every other journalist on the story, had further questions, I phoned back.

‘We’re not saying anything else,’ a new flak-catcher said.

I pointed out that the Miranda detention was now an international incident, and that the Met looked as if it was turning into a political police force.

The flak-catcher bridled. ‘We are not politicised,’ he insisted. ‘We are operationally independent.’

‘You can’t just say that,’ I replied. ‘You have to prove it. You have to show you are accountable.’

‘Ah,’ said the flak-catcher. ‘We are legally accountable. But we are not accountable to the media.’

As I understand him, unless Miranda sues, the Met believes it can do what it wants, and behave as badly as it likes, without a word of elucidation or justification.

The Miranda affair is proof, if further proof is needed, that we are now stuck in the post-Leveson world where not only journalists but their partners can be detained and questioned for hours on end. Where police officers feel no need to explain themselves to the public, in whose name they work, and whose taxes pay their salaries. The next time they try to tell you that the secrecy and attempts to silence legitimate debate are ‘in the public interest’, do not forget what they did to David Miranda, because they can do it to you too.

Breathtaking Hypocrisy!

Sometimes the hypocrisy of government can be so brazen it literally takes the breath away. I am still struggling to retain my composure after reading a news story in The Irish Times today sent by a friend in Ireland.

The story dealt with a successful legal move by the NI Secretary, Theresa Villiers and the PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggot to prevent the relatives of three victims killed by British security forces from being able to read inquest documents because of British concerns “about the possible disclosure of any sensitive information on members of the security forces”.

Relatives of the three are attempting to re-open their cases and the information is potentially important to them in this effort.

A fuller account than The Irish Times’ is carried in the often excellent Detail website, which I recommend you read.

NI Secretary Theresa Villiers - only other peoples' secrets can be revealed

NI Secretary Theresa Villiers – only other peoples’ secrets can be revealed

The three victims were IRA man Paddy McAdorey who was shot dead by a British Army sniper on the morning of internment, August 9th, 1971; Michael Donnelly who was killed by a plastic bullet in 1980 and Sadie Larmour, a Catholic woman who was shot dead in October 1979. Mrs Larmour’s death is especially intriguing. She was killed at her home in Rodney Drive, in the heart of the Falls Road by a UVF gunman who broke into her home. Why is her killing considered by Villiers and Baggot likely to lead to “sensitive information on members of the security forces?” Don’t we have a right to know?

The hypocrisy is breathtaking because at the same time these two individuals, Baggot directly and Villiers by virtue of her post in the British government, are demanding that all information in the archives of Boston College relating to a killing carried out by the IRA must be handed over, no exceptions allowed.

So here we have a classic example of double standards. Boston College must hand over everything but the British can seek to hide what they will, and probably will get away with it. Unless that it is public opinion can be mobilised to force them to play by the same rules they apply to everyone else. Over to you, Irish media. There’s a story here. You do remember what a story is don’t you?

Disgraceful Scenes On Royal Avenue

Clifford Peeples is not exactly the sort of person who would be high up on most peoples’ list of possible dinner guests. There doesn’t seem to have been a  brand of violent Loyalism that he has not been involved with, no outer limit of wacky, ultra-Protestant evangelism that he has not crossed. And then there were those pipe bomb attacks in the late 1990’s for which he was given a ten-year jail term.

Clifford Peeples, on the right, leaves Long Kesh with Pastor Kenny McClinton

Clifford Peeples, on the right, leaves Long Kesh with Pastor Kenny McClinton

I would not have a problem entertaining him myself but others would. I have spent much of my professional life breaking bread or ingesting stronger substances with greater and more mendacious blackguards than he, and while I have never met Mr Peeples, he strikes me from a distance as an honest type. Loopy almost surely, but probably sincere. Others I have entertained did or ordered worse than he and happily admitted so in my presence but now pretend it never happened. So, who is worse, who is worthy of more respect?

Anyway, these days Peeples wears a different hat, or rather has another hat to wear alongside the others hanging in his wardrobe. I don’t know what he does politically or whether he still preaches in a tin hut somewhere in the desolate wastes of north or east Belfast but currently he also practises as a freelance photographer.

His work is sold through the freelance agency Demotix, which has a distinguished international record of capturing important images in places as far apart as Tehran and Norway. As the pic of a policeman injured during Friday night’s disturbances on Royal Avenue below demonstrates, newspapers like The Guardian consider Peeples’ work good enough to buy and publish.


Purists in my profession would cavil at the notion of a political activist doubling as a journalist but personally I don’t have a problem with it at all. Politics and journalism go together like fish and chips and while I do try to separate my own views from my reporting, I understand it in others – as long as they are upfront and straight about it. In practice I have found the reporters most po-faced on the issue to be the most hypocritical.

What I do mind however is when journalists allow their political differences, or personal animosities fueled by political differences, to spill out in public shows of malevolence and threats of violence, especially when the effect is to stop or obstruct a journalist doing his or her job.

According to Clifford Peeples this is what happened to him in the centre of Belfast last Friday night during Loyalist demonstrations in Royal Avenue against an anti-internment rally being staged by republican dissidents. Eye-witnesses  apparently support his story.

Peeples was on assignment for a website called ‘Ulster News’ which seems to be relatively new addition to the internet, given that the only story running on it is about his experience last Friday evening. He was, he says, busy taking photographs of the developing riot when he was verbally assaulted by a fellow journalist and so violent was the onslaught that a policeman on riot duty had to leave the lines to intervene. I don’t know what the source of the anger towards Peeples was, but the chances are that it has its origins in his political activity.

This is how he described the attack:

Screaming that I was a “dirty fat bastard” and continuing with threats of “I’m going to fix you, you Fucking Fat, Fucking Cunt”. This continued as I tried to report on what was taking place. Police officers were being injured and a full riot was now about to engulf Royal Avenue…….I told him to stop screaming obscenities and if he wanted he could talk to me later round the corner.  He continued on his obscenity fueled diatribe, making more threats of physical violence towards me. Something that was of concern to those standing around him. One woman was telling him to, “stop behaving like some mad man on drugs”. His disgraceful barrage became too much for one riot control officer, who broke away from keeping public order and publicly reprimanded him, telling him he would be arrested if he were to continue. The officer came to me and told me that he had warned him about his behaviour and that I should stay away from him. The officer then reengaged with the riot control team.

So who was the journalist attacking Peeples? Turns out it was Ciaran Barnes, Sunday Life reporter and the man whose dishonest reporting of Dolours Price’s IRA career touched off the Boston College subpoenas and who, using a false name on the internet, urged me to hand over the interviews so confidential sources could be burned, the worst sin in journalism’s playbook.

Ciaran Barnes

Ciaran Barnes

The NUJ’s Code of Conduct says nothing about how journalists should disport themselves in public, how they should not engage in violent verbal assaults against colleagues or threaten to use violence against them or behave publicly in such a way to bring disrepute on the profession. Perhaps it’s time it did.

The Future Of Journalism

As most readers of this blog will know by now, one of America’s and the world’s most famous daily newspapers The Washington Post has been bought by Jeff Bezos, the founder and billionaire CEO of Amazon, the world’s foremost online retailer.

Internet billionaire, Jeff Bezos - new owner of The Washington Post

Internet billionaire, Jeff Bezos – new owner of The Washington Post

While the price Bezos paid, a paltry $250 million, is being seen by industry watchers as an indication of the decline of print journalism the sale of the Post to one of America’s richest businessmen is just the latest sign of a more important trend in American media – the growing plutocrat takeover of the business by individuals with controversial political and economic agendas and close ties to the political and bureaucratic power structure.

Rupert Murdoch already controls The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post and the Fox Network; last week The Boston Globe was sold by the ailing New York Times to John Henry, the billionaire owner of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC; outgoing New York mayor and Wall Street billionaire Michael Bloomberg is rumoured to be preparing a bid for the Times while the ultra-right wing Koch brothers are said to be getting ready to buy The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune and other newspapers.

The irony of an internet mogul coming to the rescue of a newspaper whose ills, like the rest of the industry, were largely caused by the internet has not been lost on anyone with concerns for the future of journalism. But predictably voices have been raised expressing the view that entrepreneurs with the skills of Bezos are just what print journalism needs. If a man who revolutionised the selling of books and made a fortune in the process can do the same for newspapers then who could complain?

In which case it is well worth having a close look at just exactly how Bezos made Amazon the behemoth it now is and wonder what print journalism will look like in ten or twenty years in the hands of such men.

In April last year The Columbia Journalism Review published this riveting account of a series of articles The Seattle Times had published examining Amazon behind the scenes. Seattle, of course, is home base for Bezos’ retailing giant. Here is the piece below and it is well worth reading. And scary. Is this what journalism will soon look like?

(The CJR and Seattle Times’ articles fail to mention Bezos and Amazon’s’ intriguing links to the US surveillance state. Amazon took Wikileaks down from the internet when the first Bradley Manning leaks appeared, has just signed a $600 million contract with the CIA and is an integral and apparently uncomplaining partner with the NSA in its efforts to surveil the world’s communications networks. What price the Bezos’ Washington Post would ever repeat its Watergate coverage or publish the Pentagon Papers?)

The Seattle Times Takes On Hometown Amazon

A tough series on the dark side of the booming local company

By Ryan Chittum

Here in Seattle, Amazon is growing like crazy, adding thousands of jobs and building several skyscrapers just off downtown, something that will add hundreds of construction jobs. But at what cost?

That’s what The Seattle Times asks in a tough, excellent four-part series that riffs off the company’s logo to go “Behind the smile in Seattle.”

I’m particularly interested in this series because I live here and because I’ve been critical of Amazon, a company I’ve given lots of business since 1999, when, like a true Gen X college kid, I bought a copy of The Baffler, a Nirvana book, and some Pavement Maxi singles, according to my order history on the site.

But the company’s anti-sales tax policies, which have included threatening to move if a state requires them to collect them like their competitors do, and the reporting we’ve seen in the last year on working conditions in its warehouses raise serious questions about how Amazon does business (and have caused me, for one, to buy elsewhere when possible).

With this series the Times has given us the most complete portrait yet of a corporate culture that leads to exploitative warehouse working conditions, monopolistic behavior, and an anti-tax battle to deprive states of revenue and maintain an unfair advantage in the marketplace.

Some of these behaviors are in the DNA of the company, embedded from the start by founder Jeff Bezos and his libertarian bent. Taxes particularly are a critical part of the Amazon origin story.

Bezos started Amazon in the Seattle area, the Times reminds us in its piece on the company’s anti-tax campaign, for tax purposes. The Supreme Court had just issued its ill-timed (right as the Web era was beginning) nexus ruling that said states couldn’t force companies to collect sales taxes if they didn’t have a physical presence there, and Bezos saw that this gave online retailers an unfair price advantage of up to 10 percent. He thought about locating on an Indian reservation, but that was “impractical,” in the Times words, so he went to Washington state, which had relatively few people, especially back then, which meant that fewer of his potential customers would have to be charged sales tax.

That was all well and good back then. But as the company has expanded and Internet retail has matured into a giant industry, it has continued to fight states that have tried to get it to collect taxes. And it plays hardball:

Code-naming their effort “Project ASAP,” South Carolina officials offered up more than $33 million in incentives, including free land, a property-tax cut and payroll-tax credits. They even agreed to loosen the area’s Bible Belt moral code, repealing a decades-old Lexington County “blue law” so Amazon’s warehouse could stay open Sunday mornings.

As they discovered, that wasn’t enough.

Amazon also insisted on an exemption from collecting the state’s 6 percent sales tax on purchases by South Carolinians. When the state Legislature balked, voting down the sales-tax break last spring, Amazon stopped construction on its million-square-foot warehouse and prepared to leave, throwing thousands of jobs into jeopardy

South Carolina caved, naturally.

Another of the four Times pieces looks at Amazon’s absence from the civic/philanthropic scene in Seattle. Unlike Boeing and Microsoft, the $85 billion giant doesn’t really give money to philanthropies, and it doesn’t encourage its workers to volunteer.

I have to admit, at first I thought this was a bit much. It’s not necessarily wrong for a company, particularly one with low margins, to not give money to charity. But after reading the entire series I changed my mind on the merits of the story: This is an essential piece of the puzzle The Seattle Times puts together.

Amazon isn’t an evil corporate citizen. It just doesn’t much believe in the concept of corporate citizenship. That’s its right, and it’s almost refreshing to see a sort of pure American capitalism devoid of gauzy marketing efforts to obscure that fact—however dependent it is on direct and indirect government subsidies.

Amazon’s gift to society, it says, is to run its business, which consists of “lowering prices, expanding selection, driving convenience, driving frustration-free packaging, creating Kindle, innovating in web services.” Some people would argue that that’s indeed the case, but you always have to question when someone claims their own self-interest is in the public interest.

And you can see how that ethos leads to the darker practices of the company. Dominant market positions are meant to be leveraged to get ever-more-dominant market positions, at the expense of suppliers and competitors. Governments are meant to be rolled on tax subsidies and tax avoidance. Workers are meant to be used up, discarded, and replaced with robots as soon as possible.

So as the Times asks what kind of $85 billion company doesn’t give money to parks and the United Way, the answer is: The kind of company that fights to avoid paying sales taxes for schools and firefighters. The kind of company that puts ambulances outside its warehouses to ferry the inevitable overworked heat victims to the hospital and then argues with the doctors about how they treat their patients so as to avoid triggering an OSHA report.

This anecdote is revealing about Amazon’s corporate culture, and it comes from an on-the-record executive:

Several current and former Amazon employees said they have wanted to change the company culture to encourage more giving. But colleagues told them not to bother — they’d be better off figuring out how to do good on their own.

“I kind of tested the waters by asking around and I got a sense it’s not worth pursuing,” Kintan Brahmbhatt, head of products for Amazon’s IMDb Everywhere initiative, recalled last year…

He asked about arranging to have charitable donations automatically deducted from his paychecks. But he learned that employees who do paycheck donations are charged a 6 percent fee from a company that processes them for Amazon.

While Amazon doesn’t donate much time or money to its community, it also isn’t involved much in the kind of local corporate pooh-bah stuff like the Chamber of Commerce or Washington Roundtable. Unsurprisingly, though, Bezos personally gave $100,000 to defeat a proposal to levy a state income tax on the rich. Washington state has by far the most regressive tax system in the country, taxing poor people seven times as much as we tax the rich, as a proportion of income.

If you’re in the poorest 20 percent of Washingtonians, you pay an average 17.3 percent of your income in state and local taxes. If you’re in the top 1 percent, like Bezos or Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer or Howard Schultz and on and on, you pay 2.6 percent (and that surely overstates how much those super-rich folks actually pay). Lucky duckies, indeed. The state income tax Bezos helped defeat would have meant the richest 1 percent would have paid a little less than half the tax rate of the poorest 20 percent, up from one-seventh.


There is one big local donation the Times reports: The company pledged a couple million dollars to the University of Washington for endowed professorships in “machine learning.” That ought to help get its robots going, at least. Bezos is also dropping $42 million on a clock in a mountain in West Texas that will supposedly work for 10,000 years. I’m not kidding.

The Morning Call’s excellent expose on working conditions in an Amazon warehouse near Allentown, Pennsylvania, showed how the company’s low-paid workers face bodily injury and the constant threat of termination. The Times follows up with a terrific report from Campbellsville, Kentucky that shows the Pennsylvania warehouse was no rogue unit:

A former warehouse safety official said in-house medical staff were asked to treat wounds, when possible, with bandages rather than refer workers to a doctor for stitches that could trigger federal reports. And warehouse officials tried to advise doctors on how to treat injured workers.

“We had doctors who refused to work with us because they would have managers call and argue with them,” he said.

These things come from the top, often from disconnected corporate managers getting pressured by their bosses who don’t see or don’t care how their orders play out on the ground, where human workers ultimately have to try to carry them out. The Times gets at that too:

“There would be phone conferences [with Seattle], and all this screaming, about production numbers. That was always the problem; the production numbers weren’t high enough,” said a former safety manager with oversight of the warehouse who spoke on condition of anonymity. “This was just a brutal place to work.”

And it uncovers a whistleblower, who unfortunately wouldn’t let his or her name be used, who was fired a week after questioning brutal working conditions in the Kentucky warehouse.

To make matters worse, Amazon is one of these places where people who have no other options go to make twelve bucks an hour and have to endure morning “pep talks” and creepy giant corporate slogans on the walls that say “work hard. have fun. make history.” Thanks for the history, bub. But a bump up to 500 bucks a week would surely motivate employees better.

Rounding out the paper’s portrait of Amazon, it looks at how it flexes its muscle in the book publishing market, where it accounts for an estimated 75 percent of print book sales online and 60 percent of e-book sales.

After the series appeared, Seattle Times Editor David Boardman wrote that readers swamped the paper’s website with negative comments. In less anonymous communications, unsurprisingly, like emails and phone calls, he says comments were much more positive.

Well here’s another one. Far too often, newspapers are homers for their big local employers. While it certainly didn’t hurt that Amazon isn’t a major advertiser, it still takes nerve to put out a tough investigation like this on a fast-growing local giant in a dire economy, and to deploy significant resources on it when there aren’t any to spare.

It’s also something that could actually make a difference. It’s one thing to get dinged in The Wall Street Journal, say. That hurts you in the markets, which are awfully important, but fairly abstract.

It’s quite another when it’s the local paper your friends and neighbors read.

Boston College: The Truth Behind The Lost Contracts

Burns Library, Boston College - home of the Belfast Project archive

Burns Library, Boston College – home of the Belfast Project archive

Around the beginning of July this year, myself and Anthony McIntyre began getting increasingly edgy messages from Boston College (BC) alleging that a crisis in the over two-year long subpoena saga was developing which needed urgent and radical action. Only ourselves, we were told, could provide the way out.

What followed was another depressing chapter in the story of Boston College’s seemingly boundless yearning to give up its precious research participants to the US government, the IRA activists who agreed to give the college valuable interviews between 2001 and 2006 about their lives during the Troubles.

The message was clear that that unless we identified three interviewees whose contracts with BC had been lost by the college then the Department of Justice, on behalf of the PSNI, would get a bonanza. BC issued warnings that a court decision this May which severely restricted the number of interviews that were eligible for handover could be reversed by the US government. That outcome, the message suggested, could be a disaster for the Belfast Project. Unless we named the three anonymous interviewees.

What had happened was this. At the very start of the legal challenge to the PSNI/DoJ subpoenas in 2011, a lower court ruled that every single interview given by anyone who mentioned Jean McConville had to be given to the PSNI. Most of the interviewees had provided a number of interviews, such that there were several transcripts related to each interviewee.

The lower court’s ruling created the following ludicrous situation: let’s say interviewee A gave fifteen interviews and had talked about McConville in only one. Even if that mention was just for the equivalent of say a couple of paragraphs, all fifteen interviews would nonetheless end up with the PSNI. Although fourteen of A’s interviews had nothing to do with the disappearance of Jean McConville, they would all be handed over.

Without going into all the detail suffice it to say that in May a higher court known as the First Circuit reversed that decision and very sensibly said that only those interviews which actually mentioned Jean McConville were eligible for handover. So for that hypothetical interviewee A, only one of his or her fifteen interviews could be sent to Belfast.

This was an important change especially for the interviewees because otherwise they possibly could face charges for a multitude of offences that had nothing to do with the McConville case. Doubtless the most disappointed party after the decision was made public was the PSNI.

But this is when BC began to undermine its own project, in the course of which it exploited the potential vulnerability of the interviewees to criminal charges beyond the McConville case in efforts which would have discredited myself and Anthony McIntyre.

The interviewees could only be identified by an alphanumerical code attached to all the transcripts and tapes sent to Boston by the two researchers, Anthony McIntyre and Wilson McArthur. But each interviewee also signed a contract which consigned their interviews to BC on condition that they would only be published after their death. The process included a guarantee of confidentiality and the contract was proof of BC’s ownership.

The agreement between myself and BC was to use a coding system to maintain the anonymity of the interviewees, and that only myself and the Burns Librarian would have access to this code. The only way by which this code could be created was by reference to the donation agreements, which the Burns Librarian – not Ed Moloney – was obliged to collect in Belfast and transport to Boston.

Needless to say, the donation contracts were the most sensitive documents handled by anyone involved in the project. Without them, the interviewees could be not identified, and so they were handled with great care. Written into the arrangements that governed the project was the instruction that these contracts could only be carried to Boston by hand. They could not be sent by mail or via the internet because the risk of interception was too great.

As it happened the man in charge of the project, BC librarian Bob O’Neill was a regular visitor to Ireland and he would arrange to meet the two researchers from time to time to pick up the contracts which he would then take to Boston.

Alas, it seems that O’Neill lost, mislaid or otherwise never collected a number of these contracts. Even though the project ended in 2006 BC claims to have failed to notice this crucial gap in his paperwork until two years or so ago. The extent of the problem was not admitted by BC until the recent court decision when the college had to come clean. That is when we started getting those anxious messages.

Seven interviewees aside from Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price had mentioned Jean McConville in their sessions but the contracts for three of them, identified only as “S”, “Y” and “Z”, had been lost, we believe by O’Neill since both McIntyre and McArthur had compelling reasons to ensure the contracts ended up in his hands.

The message to us from BC was that the the DoJ had made an official request for the names of the three interviewees, absent which it could not identify them. If we failed to cooperate, we were told, the DOJ would request that the First Circuit Court of Appeal in Boston reconsider its decision and issue the whole transcripts, if not the entire archive, so that the DOJ could identify those interviewees whom the First Circuit found had knowledge of the McConville case.

Bear in mind that the DOJ had never asked for the code in its subpoenas, but BC’s alarmism suggested the DOJ would be granted what they never subpoenaed. If the DOJ got their way, then all of the hypothetical participant A’s fifteen interviews would go to the PSNI and the US government would justify this on the grounds that full access was the only way to identify “S”, “Y” and “Z”.

The clear implication of the messages from Boston College was that we, and specifically myself, would be responsible for the collapse of the entire project if the May decision was reversed. As one message from BC put it, referring to myself: “Does your client want this [opening up of entire interviews] to be his legacy?” (What? As opposed to giving up names to the PSNI?)

And so we waited with baited breath for the DoJ’s submission to the First Circuit in expectation that the government, in a fit of pique, would ask the First Circuit court to reverse its decision in the case of “S”, “Y” and “Z”. But we waited in vain.

Last Friday the government’s filing was made public and there was not a mention of this threat at all. Not one. Not even a hint of a threat. Instead the DoJ simply asked the court to not to change the result regarding the release of transcripts, but rather to reaffirm in principle the executive branch’s supremacy in relation to the exercise of treaties governing subpoenas delivered on behalf of foreign governments. However, the DOJ wholly declined to challenge the First Circuit’s earlier decision which still stands.

So, what is the explanation for Boston College’s groundless threats against myself and by implication Anthony McIntyre? The most charitable is that the college and its attorney completely misread the US government’s intentions. They cocked it up, in other words.

The least charitable is that the college knew full well that the DoJ had no intention to challenge the First Circuit’s restriction on the interviews but that, with some well-directed bullying and strong-arming, the result might be that we could be maneuvered into betraying our sources to the PSNI, an act that would completely discredit us in Ireland and end our campaign. If this was the case it is testament to how underhand BC’s tactics had become, and how little understood our motives in waging this battle.

I know which of these theories I believe and I believe it because there is another motive at work here, one that has been apparent almost from the outset of this legal case. That has been BC’s eagerness to put the US government’s law enforcement interests ahead of those of its research subjects; ensuring that it was seen to provide aid to law enforcement in its (bogus) murder investigation always seemed more important to BC than protecting the people who agreed to share important and sensitive historical information with the institution.

And herein lies a very important message. Boston College should be shunned as an institution for academic research until it proves that it will fight with integrity and determination to protect the confidentiality and interests of its research subjects. Until then BC simply cannot be trusted. It is not a safe place to conduct research.