Blogroll Me! How This Old Brit Sees It ...: Our Freedom Is Dying And It's All Down To The Blood-Brothers; Bush And Blair ...

18 January 2006

Our Freedom Is Dying And It's All Down To The Blood-Brothers; Bush And Blair ...

Pictured above is the multi award winning Australian writer John Pilger, genuine giant among independent investigative journalists, famous foreign correspondents, acclaimed authors and authoritative documentary film makers.

Here's what he says at the head of his website homepage:

"It is not enough for journalists to see themselves as mere messengers without understanding the hidden agendas of the message and myths that surround it."

For the benefit of any American readers who -- due to the 21st century info-isolation imposed by the [once unimaginable] star-spangled version of the Iron-Curtain -- haven't heard of Pilger, he was the man who first broke the sickening story to the world of the infamous, Killing Fields.

Such, is the stature of this shining example of a fearless truth-teller.

And here's an excerpt from his latest freelance print-piece, published in the UK's New Statesman.

On 7 December, Maya Evans, a vegan chef aged 25, was convicted of breaching the new Serious Organised Crime and Police Act by reading aloud at the Cenotaph the names of 97 British soldiers killed in Iraq. So serious was her crime that it required 14 policemen in two vans to arrest her. She was fined and given a criminal record for the rest of her life.

Freedom is dying.

Eighty-year-old John Catt served with the RAF in the Second World War. Last September, he was stopped by police in Brighton for wearing an "offensive" T-shirt, which suggested that Bush and Blair be tried for war crimes. He was arrested under the Terrorism Act and handcuffed, with his arms held behind his back. The official record of the arrest says the "purpose" of searching him was "terrorism" and the "grounds for intervention" were "carrying placard and T-shirt with anti-Blair info" (sic).

He is awaiting trial.

Such cases compare with others that remain secret and beyond any form of justice: those of the foreign nationals held at Belmarsh prison, who have never been charged, let alone put on trial. They are held "on suspicion". Some of the "evidence" against them, whatever it is, the Blair government has now admitted, could have been extracted under torture at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.

They are political prisoners in all but name. They face the prospect of being spirited out of the country into the arms of a regime which may torture them to death. Their isolated families, including children, are quietly going mad.
Here's another quick clip & paste wherein Pilger turns his attentions across the Atlantic toward America.

Consider parallel events in the United States.

Last October, an American surgeon, loved by his patients, was punished with 22 years in prison for founding a charity, Help the Needy, which helped children in Iraq stricken by an economic and humanitarian blockade imposed by America and Britain.

In raising money for infants dying from diarrhoea, Dr Rafil Dhafir broke a siege which, according to Unicef, had caused the deaths of half a million under the age of five. The then Attorney-General of the United States, John Ashcroft, called Dr Dhafir, a Muslim, a "terrorist", a description mocked by even the judge in his politically-motivated, travesty of a trial.

The Dhafir case is not extraordinary. In the same month, three US Circuit Court judges ruled in favour of the Bush regime's "right" to imprison an American citizen "indefinitely" without charging him with a crime.

This was the case of Joseph Padilla, a petty criminal who allegedly visited Pakistan before he was arrested at Chicago airport three and a half years ago. He was never charged and no evidence has ever been presented against him. Now mired in legal complexity, the case puts George W Bush above the law and outlaws the Bill of Rights.

Indeed, on 14 November, the US Senate effectively voted to ban habeas corpus by passing an amendment that overturned a Supreme Court ruling allowing Guantanamo prisoners access to a federal court. Thus, the touchstone of America's most celebrated freedom was scrapped.

Without habeas corpus, a government can simply lock away its opponents and implement a dictatorship.

Since shortly after This Old Brit's blog was born, a John Pilger link has lurked in the blogroll. Some will almost certainly have visited said site, while others may still be unaware of what wonderful reporting and writings they're missing.

Well, whatever. Just how heavy a hint is needed now? No matter. Here's a final teaser to tempt you to take it - whatever it's weight.

A related, insidious tyranny is being imposed across the world. For all his troubles in Iraq, Bush has carried out the recommendations of a Messianic conspiracy theory called the "Project for a New American Century". Written by his ideological sponsors shortly before he came to power, it foresaw his administration as a military dictatorship behind a democratic fa?ade: "the cavalry on a new American frontier" guided by a blend of paranoia and megalomania.

More than 700 American bases are now placed strategically in compliant countries, notably at the gateways to the sources of fossil fuels and encircling the Middle East and Central Asia. "Pre-emptive" aggression is policy, including the use of nuclear weapons. The chemical warfare industry has been reinvigorated. Missile treaties have been torn up. Space has been militarised. Global warming has been embraced. The powers of the president have never been greater. The judicial system has been subverted, along with civil liberties.

The former senior CIA analyst Ray McGovern, who once prepared the White House daily briefing, told me that the authors of the PNAC and those now occupying positions of executive power used to be known in Washington as "the crazies". He said, "We should now be very worried about fascism".
So now you needn't even search for the sidebar [which slips and becomes a 'bottom' bar' for those viewing via an Internet Explorer browser] for the permanent Pilger link. We've made things ultra easy --
just click here.


Anonymous graniab said...

Thanks for the 'heads-up' re Pilger Richard. I haven't read the New Statesman since I wore a gym slip - glad to see it's still cutting edge!

11:54 pm  
Anonymous bluey said...


One of OZ's finest. A world treasure. Few (so called)journalists today are fit to lick this man's boots. I've followed him for years.

12:45 am  
Blogger Elaine Supkis said...

They are putting people in prison for Holocaust denials. In other words, rank censorship.

This is very wrong, very bad, very evil. All people no matter how nutty, have a right to be heard even if they relay messages one doesn't want to hear, note how the bellowing media in America insists on being heard across the planet no matter how much they lie about war crimes!

And remember: in Britain, you have no right to freedom of speech. In America, we have the Constitution for that but as usual, the ruling class is clipping the Number ONE admendment out of our Constitution as well as the 4th, two of the most important ones, no?


2:17 am  
Blogger enigma4ever said...

Really great piece...Hope Blogger is doing better for you ( did anyone come over and offer a hand ? I sent out an SOS- and I of course nagged...)This is so profound and I will pass the word....I hope Gore's speech got some notice over there...we're still working can know that....Bloggers are the Only Resistance that we got... most MSM still out to lunch....thanks for your great work...

9:38 am  
Blogger Edward Ott said...

excellent piece, please keep up your great writing.

9:58 am  
Blogger markfromireland said...

This is long, my apologies. I'm going to take issue with several things Elaine has said because they're either factually incorrect or so out of context as to render them so.

"They are putting people in prison for Holocaust denials. In other words, rank censorship.

This is very wrong, very bad, very evil. All people no matter how nutty, have a right to be heard even if they relay messages one doesn't want to hear,


"And remember: in Britain, you have no right to freedom of speech. In America, we have the Constitution for that

That is completely incorrect - not in the UK they're not. 'Nor is there any statutory authority to do so. Those who vaunt American constitutional protections of free speech are unaware of the the fact that over here we have considerably expanded those protections.

1) "That the Freedome of Speech and Debates or Proceedings in Parlyament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any Court or Place out of Parlyament. (BILL OF RIGHTS 1688)"

- Readers may care to note that the Bill Of Rights remains in force throughout the UK. The judgements by the UK courts stating that the clause cited above guarantees all political free speech are so well-known and so numerous that I'm not going to bother citing any of them.

2) European Convention on Human Rights. The Convention is enacted in full and without alteration into UK domestic legslation as the Human Rights Act 1998. The most cursory search of Judgements of the House of Lords*show them repeatedly affirming that acts of the executive or of parliament may not contravene the rights guaranteed by the convetion including inter alia:

* A Right to Privacy
* Freedom of conscience
* Freedom of expression
* Freedom of assembly

The Lords consistently expand the rights declared. See for example Hill Brooks Bannerzee Z vs Regina ex parte Regina etc they recognise however that inevitably there can be a conflict of rights. See for example Brooks or in a commercial context Bannerjee. Moreover both the Lords and ECHR have repeatedly and vigorously stated that the restrictive approach adopted by the American superiors courts is unsafe, unsatisfactory, and to be avoided generally crtiticising the American Cyanamid judgement when they do so.

The UK and European courts however recognise that there can exist conflicts of right:

"In the first real test of the Human Rights Act 1998 it is opportune to stand back and consider what the basic aims of the Convention are . . . The inspirers of the European Convention, among whom Winston Churchill played an important role, and the framers of the European Convention, ably assisted by English draftsmen, realised that from time to time the fundamental right of one individual may conflict with the human right of another … . They also realised only too well that a single-minded concentration on the pursuit of fundamental rights of individuals to the exclusion of the interests of the wider public might be subversive of the ideal of tolerant European liberal democracies. The fundamental rights of individuals are of supreme importance but those rights are not unlimited: we live in communities of individuals who also have rights. The direct lineage of this ancient idea is clear: the European Convention (1950) is the descendant of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) which in article 29 expressly recognised the duties of everyone to the community and the limitation on rights in order to secure and protect respect for the rights of others."

Both in the private and the public realm the Lords and the EHCR have repeatedly said that free speech and disclosure are fundamental rights notwithstanding that the exercise of those rights may cause distress or incovenience to others.

I now turn to the "imprisonment" remark: It is a crime to deny the holocaust and other proven crimes both civil and military of the Hitler règime in Austria and Germany. There are good reaons why this is so, not least the resurgence of literary and physical attacks upon members of those jurisdictions' Jewish community their places of residence, and their places of worship. It may be that Elaine is thinking of, and conflating, two cases in two separate jurisdictions involving the same man. The libel case brought in UK by David Irving against Professor Lipstadt which Irving lost:

"Holocaust denial is not just about the past; it's about now and it's about the future. It's about rehabilitating Nazism. It might appear academic for us, but in parts of Europe it's a vital issue." (Gray J.)

Gray's judgement was upheld by the Lords of Appeal effectively bankrupting Irving.

"The use of the word 'dangerous' was justified by reason of his historiographical methods considered by the judge and in this judgment." (Pill LJ upholding Gray J. )

Irving has been arrested convicted and imprisoned in Austria not as a holocaust denier per se but rather as a promoter of anti-semitism, specifically anti-Judaism, who uses " 'fabricated history' to justify and incite such attacks.**"

I apologise once again for the lenght of this comment and trust that Elaine does not take it as a personal attack but as somebody who practices in the field of Human Rights both in a national and international context comments such as this which are not rooted in the facts are singularly unhelpful both to my efforts and to those of my colleagues providing as they do ample ammunition for our opponents and rendering our arguments in the public domain less effective by association. I do not accept that when it comes to those such as Irving that everyone has a right to be heard and fortunately for the state of human rights over here the courts have consistently agreed with me.

* Those not familiar with the UK court system may like to note that the House of Lords is the British Supreme court.
** Translation mine.

4:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent piece is correct. Two, in fact. Pilger's and yours Old Brit\Richard.

In a sane & civilised world, by now Pilger would have been awarded a chest full of medals for bravery too

4:15 pm  
Blogger Gert said...


4:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As usual, nice job on this find, Richard. I put it up and linked to you. Keep on keepin on....


4:47 pm  
Blogger markfromireland said...

Richard WRT to

"the Blair government has now admitted, could have been extracted under torture at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib."

The recent judgement of the Lords in A & ORS v SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT is a cause for hope in this area.

In A the Lords ruled that English common law has from its earliest days been set firmly against the use of torture to obtain confessions and has always refused to accept that oppression or inducement should go to the weight rather than the admissibility of the confession. The Lords reaffirmed this pointing out that this is a matter of constitutional principle and have again insisted upon an exclusionary rule. They cited and reaffirmed by a two to one majority the principle elaborated in (Wong Kam-Ming v The Queen (1980) AC 247) that a confession not proved to be voluntary was inadmissible. and stated further that this was perhaps the most fundamental rule of English criminal law using (Lam Chi-Ming v The Queen 3 All ER 172 and R v Mushtaq (Ashraq Ahmed) (2005) UKHL 25 , (2005) 1 WLR 1513 considered to do so.

IOW they have very clearly stated he principles of common law, standing alone, compell the exclusion of third party torture evidence as unreliable, unfair, offensive to ordinary standards of humanity and decency, and incompatible with the principles that should animate a tribunal seeking to administer where there is the possibility that the said evidence has been extracted by torture. They considered and reaffirmed R v Horseferry Magistrates' Court, Ex Parte Bennett, R v Latif as they did so. They extracted moreover the agreement of the Home Office and the A.G. that this judgement was not only only definitive but was to be "rigrously" applied by lesser tribunals to their Lordships and by the executive.

If I seem to be harping upon this it's because (over here at any rate) the courts are fighting the executive on questions such as this and winning. It remains to be seen whether this will be the case in the US where the courts have been supine. I've a lot of time for Pilger as a crusading journalist but in this particular instance probably because of deadline issues he's not giving the full picture. Some fights are very far from being lost.

5:01 pm  
Blogger J.UL1R4 said...

Thanks for sharing your professional knowledge Mark.

No doubt the Convention's adoption in the UK has been a very good thing, but it's simply not sufficient anymore, and politicians have sought to re-spin it in their own flavors to suit themselves.

Apparently 'a right to Privacy' means nothing more than the right to be in your house alone without an EU soldier standing over you 24 hours a day, and only then in certain circumstances. Leave your house, make a phone call, do anything at all, the right to privacy is apparently suspended. Maybe I'm stupid and don't understand what privacy is, but it's definition under the law must be so narrow as to be worthless.

"I do not accept that when it comes to those such as Irving that everyone has a right to be heard and fortunately for the state of human rights over here the courts have consistently agreed with me."

Very respectfully, I sense one's political view agreeing with the courts. The point is quite an important one surely, because I have read that the European Court of Human Right talks about the 'spirit of the Convention' and for those in countries with such laws being prosecuted, Holocaust Denial/Revisionism is not within 'the spirit of Convention' as it pertains to free expression. If it has a 'spirit' then presumably that is open to be, or designed as, a considerably political one as manifested by what it very specifically rejects.

"Irving has been arrested convicted and imprisoned in Austria not as a holocaust denier per se but rather as a promoter of anti-semitism, specifically anti-Judaism, who uses " 'fabricated history' to justify and incite such attacks.**""

Thanks for the info. No doubt anti-Semitism, in it's broadest sense, is a very complex topic, understanding it and alleviating the most specific manifestations of it, many would passionately reason is not assisted by the legal backdrop of a concept of Holocaust denial. While some may assert that such laws, or in this case the pretext within others of fabricating history are arguable, if not fully palatable in the context of Europe, they remain extremely controversial to put it mildly, whatever the alleged intention of some who seek to revise or deny the Holocaust. Again respectfully, that they are deeply controversial is widely agreed, that you are in agreement with the courts over 'those such as Irving' does not make them or their application or merely the concept of HD (as explored in Irving's libel case) uncontroversial or unanimously defensible whatever some feel the justification, intention or context within some countries are.

I'm not taking shots at you Mark, you obviously have an enormous amount of professional knowledge and experience of the law in this area which I certainly don't, and it's appreciated you sharing that, but I'm sure you would also agree that the concept of banning rediscussion of selected historical events and by automatically attaching a motivation, even on the balance of things and within the context of Europe, and within the wider context of how they rest in broader legal acts, and on a very emotional subject, notwithstanding, leaves many people deeply uncomfortable purely with the concept of that and there will never be a unanimous public acceptance of that kind of jurisprudence, which I have to say, on balance, is a good thing.

Just my 2c on that, sorry to waffle on. thanks for reading

8:48 pm  
Blogger J.UL1R4 said...

Richard, thanks for another fantastic post. It's abosolutely terrifying what is happening and people are very aware of it and very afraid. It's like a horrible nightmare that we just can't awaken ourselves from. No doubt though that what is happening is going to have to be confronted and dealt with because I don't actually think we can go on much longer like this.

Thanks for the recent comment on my blog too. Much appreciated!


9:01 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding no mention of the work Mark and others do, tight constraints on word-counts/space are enforced by publishers. Also, editors [who heve the last word] often discard paragraphs they feel detract from the main point.

The witer, having "sold" the story has agreed to a transfer of ownership so it becomes "their" property.

Writers can also sell the original to whoever else is is willing to buy it - unless an "exclusive" agreement has been made.

It's my own humble opinion that any inclusion of the [wonderful] work Mark speaks of, would merely detract from this piece and it's message.

And anyway, such a report is entirely derserving of it's own piece.

10:57 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops. That's not clear. I meant that the efforts of Mark and others like him are deserving of articles devoted entirely to their kind of work.

11:01 am  
Anonymous Rex said...

No wonder I keep on coming here. Today, perhaps more than ever, Richard's brilliant post on Pilger's brilliant piece is matched by the brilliant comments.

1:40 pm  
Blogger Richard said...


So much has been said that I can't honestly think of anything that needs adding. Really. Even if I tried, I'd only end up turning the place into an echo chamber and give certain other the opportunity to call me a ditto-head.

Truly though, thank you all yet again - for everything. This place could not possibly be the place it's turned out to be without each and everyone of you.

Without seeming to be singling Rex out for special mention, I do have to say though, that he's hity the nail on the head. To use a word like 'erudite' would be an understatement.

2:23 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I just thought on, I'm NOT singing my own praises here. I meant to agree that Rex was right about Pilger and all our comment posters.

2:26 pm  
Blogger markfromireland said...

"Very respectfully, I sense one's political view agreeing with the courts.

- It is very clear that you are reading into what I have written what you want to read. You have no idea of what my politics are.

Your statement that such legislation is "controversial" is very far from being the case in most of Northern Europe.

Nor are you correct when you use such terminology as "alleged intention" - Irving's intention was clear and admitted by him in court under oath during his libel trial while being questioned by his own counsel. Nor was the intention of the Neo-Nazi group that invited him to speak in Austria in any doubt - they flaunted their intention of fostering or to be more precise re-igniting "Jew hate."

As to the remainder of your comments once again the facts do not suport your contention. Those European countries that have and enforce hate speech laws have all noted that their introduction has had the desired effect - reducing the incidence of violent physical attacks upon those communities covered by the legislation. I'd have said that was a good thing myself ...

9:21 am  
Blogger J.UL1R4 said...

Thanks for your time Mark, I meant alleged intention of anyone not Irving specifically.

I passionately don't agree with the concept of 'hate' speech in law. I stand by the thrust of my comments and again I really appreciate your time in responding and sharing your insight.

And thanks again to Richard for a great blog.

9:46 am  
Blogger markfromireland said...

"alleged intention"

You're missing the point. I'll try to put it in layman's language for you.

Intentionality, what laymen typically call "motive," is rarely as important in criminal law as laymen think it is. What is important is whether the action or actions committed have been declared to be criminal in their nature by the legislature. Intentionality is utterly unimportant in hate speech law.

What is important in hate speech law is whether or not the actions committed, publication or public speech, are such that a member of a minority group would have cause to be frightened by such speech. It is not enough for example to say or write that you hate a particular group of people. You must encourage others to threaten them with violence, or to commit acts of violence against them, or to threaten their livelihood, because they are members of a particular minority group.

Hate speech therefore differs from what laymen call "hate crime." Hate crime is a felonious assault arising from the fact that the victim of the assault is a member of a particular minority group. Examples of such minorities are ethnic or racial minorities, religious minorities, and, in Scandinavia, sexual minorites such as male homosexuals, bi-sexuals, or lesbians. The crime is the assault the fact that the assault was committed because the victim is a member of a minority is an aggravating factor leading to an increased sentence if the accused is found guilty of the said assault.

12:12 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

facism is NOT anti-semitism.

fascism is the merger of the corporation and the state.

America = FASCIST

6:04 am  
Blogger markfromireland said...

Couldn't agree with you more. When you add militarism to that mix you've got the "real thing."

12:45 pm  
Anonymous harper said...

Terrific blog entry, Richard, and fascinating comments from everyone. It's nice to have a link for Pilger rather than just finding him randomly from time to time.

4:20 pm  
Anonymous Hydrocodone said...

pBpyrT The best blog you have!

8:24 am  

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