Militants”: Media Propaganda

Glenn Greenwald

To avoid counting civilian deaths, Obama re-defined "militant" to mean "all military-age males in a strike zone"

Virtually every time the U.S. fires a missile from a drone and ends the lives of Muslims, American media outlets dutifully trumpet in headlines that the dead were ”militants” – even though those media outlets literally do not have the slightest idea of who was actually killed. They simply cite always-unnamed “officials” claiming that the dead were “militants.” It’s the most obvious and inexcusable form of rank propaganda: media outlets continuously propagating a vital claim without having the slightest idea if it’s true.

This practice continues even though key Obama officials have been caught lying, a term used advisedly, about how many civilians they’re killing. I’ve written and said many times before that in American media discourse, the definition of “militant” is any human being whose life is extinguished when an American missile or bomb detonates (that term was even used when Anwar Awlaki’s 16-year-old American son, Abdulrahman, was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen two weeks after a drone killed his father, even though nobody claims the teenager was anything but completely innocent: “Another U.S. Drone Strike Kills Militants in Yemen”).

Guantánamo military tribunals proceed despite evidence of torture

Tom Carter

At Guantánamo Bay, the Obama administration continues to prosecute five alleged September 11 conspirators before a military commission over objections from defense attorneys regarding torture and challenges to the legitimacy of the proceedings.

The five prisoners are Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the reputed “mastermind” of the September 11, 2001 attacks; his nephew Ramzi Binalshibh, accused of playing a major role in Al Qaeda operations in Germany; and three men alleged to be lower level Al Qaeda figures: Mustafa Ahmed Hawsawi, Ammar al Baluchi and Walid bin Attash.

All five men have been held for years without trial or charge and have been subjected to brutal and illegal forms of torture at Guantánamo Bay and at secret CIA “black sites.” Khalid Sheik Mohammed was subjected to waterboarding (near-drowning by asphyxiation) 183 times in a single month in 2003.

All five are charged with murder, hijacking and terrorism, among other charges, and the Obama administration is seeking the death penalty.

At an arraignment that lasted more than thirteen hours earlier this month, lawyers appointed for the five men directly challenged the legitimacy of the military commissions and repeatedly sought to direct attention to the fact that the five men had been tortured. (See: Guantánamo military commission arraigns 9/11 defendants.) The proceedings frequently ground to a halt as the tribunal sought to defend its legitimacy and to prevent a discussion of torture.

At one point during the arraignment, bin Attash took off his shirt in an attempt to show the tribunal the scars that resulted from torture. “No, no, no,” said Colonel James Pohl, the presiding judge. “You will put your shirt on.”

The fire this time: The martyring of Julian Assange

G. Mason

"We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was 'legal.'"
~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Did you read Bonfire of the Vanities?" George asked me. I nodded, and he continued: "Do you remember that scene where he's getting out of the car, and there are all these people screaming his name, women throwing themselves at him? I mean, here's this guy who's in a terrible situation, but he's like a big celebrity."

Aussie publisher and Assange family acquaintance George Hirst had met me at the law school's cafe, so we could confer on ideas for helping the WikiLeaks leader. George and I both worried about Assange's potential extradition to the U.S., where harpy Hillary Clinton and other government vengefuls could use the EU's lax extradition laws to prosecute Assange, torture him, or worse. Now, months later, on the eve of the UK Supreme Court's final decision, we are all about to learn whether or not the embattled publisher will be extradited to Sweden, and then perhaps to the United States.

But the truth is that some of us already know how this will probably turn out. The Obama administration likely aims to ultimately extradite Assange to the U.S., derail the Australian's promising Senate run, deflate his surge in popularity, and generally suppress this youngish upstart who dared challenge the established power structure. By prosecuting the 40-year-old publisher under trumped-up espionage and conspiracy charges, the administration would love to make of Assange an example for the rest of us about what will happen if we step out of line.

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