Saturday, 4 June 2011

When we stop debating important topics is the day we surrender freedom

Originally sent October 2009

Censureship and suppression of the truth has been on many people’s minds over the past few weeks in the UK, and even the mainstream media are getting concerned.

The case of Binyam Mohammad, the former Guantanamo Bay captive, who claimed British involvement in his torture, returned to the headlines when

the Law Lords stated that seven redacted paragraphs of their initial judgment should be made public. The paragraphs relate to CIA documents passed to MI5, relating to Binyam’s treatment. The judges said that the public interest in making the paragraphs public was “overwhelming”.

The minister has stated his intention to appeal against that ruling, on the basis of a letter from the CIA which stated that public disclosure could be reasonably be expected to cause serious damage to the UK’s national security.

If the minister does appeal, says Clare Algar, executive director of the charity Reprieve, “he will be saying that English Court has no right to decide what information is necessary to disclose in the public interest. If this is right, we will have become an American client state, and the rule of law will no longer exist”.

There has long been a supposition in the UK that parliamentary proceedings are public. Yet the country’s most senior judge, Lord Judge, found it necessary to speak out following the use of a ‘super-injunction’, deployed to gag the media from reporting on a question raised by the Labour MP Paul Farrelly.

The issue concerns an attempt to suppress the Minton report on dumping of toxic waste by the company Trafigura. One MP, Peter Bottomley, said the order should never have been granted, and that he intended to report the lawyers concerned to the Law Society. Speaking at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Lord Judge added: "We use the words 'fundamental principle' very frequently, but this is a fundamental principle. The absolute privilege for Members to speak freely in Parliament did not come without a price, and previous generations fought – and indeed died – for it. It is a very precious heritage which should be vigorously maintained and defended by this generation”.

The Independent reports on plans to introduce secret inquiries into controversial deaths from which the public and bereaved families could be banned, and that they are to be pushed through the House of Commons despite a Lords defeat. The new powers, it states, would allow them to turn inquests such as that of Jean Charles de Menezes and those involving the deaths of British soldiers into secret hearings.

We need only think of the deaths of Dr David Kelly, Princess Dianna, and those 52 people in London who died in the terrorist attacks of July 7, 2005, to have deep concerns. In my September Newsletter I reported on the banning of the book ‘The Terrorist Hunters’, written by the the top counter terrorist officer of the London Metropolitan Police at the time of the London bombings of July 7, 2005. I received an email from the author, Andy Hayman, saying that the book has now been unbanned. We weren’t allowed to know at the time why the book was banned, but the story now is that “further sales of the book should be delayed to ensure a section was not read by jurors in an ongoing court case and interpreted by them, rightly or not, as a reference to that case”.

Publication of ‘The Terrorist Hunters’ may also, of course, have complicated things following Mike Rudin’s BBC Conspiracy Files piece on 7/7 on June 30. I wrote in my September Newsletter, that the documentary seemed more interested in discrediting bona fide researchers who had found inconsistencies in the official version of events than in trying to establish the truth. What I didn’t spell out, because I think it was a red herring, was that they denounced one researcher as being a ‘holocaust denier’. I think it is true that most of us would agree that the far-right in the UK are using this issue to stir up racial hatred for their own political agenda. However, as with everything else, there is a small number of academics who question the generally accepted view. I have no reason to think that Nick Kollerstrom, the author of ‘Terror on the Tube’ has any links or sympathies with the far-right, and every reason to think he doesn’t. Mike Rudin’s team were clearly playing the racist card in order to discredit meticulous research on 7/7, research which had even brought a government minister to account before Parliament when one crucial part of the official theory was proved to be wrong. Yet even the government minister did not play the racist card. My impression after that programme had gone out was that it was so over-the-top in its propaganda effort that a substantial number of viewers would have realised that there had to be something to hide.

Shorty after sending the September Newsletter out, I received an insinuating email from one guy, who is supposed to be on the side of truth in the 9/11 truth movement, attacking Nick’s book, but even worse, attacking me personally for reporting on its launch. He wrote: “If you too are a Holocaust denier than that would perhaps explain your treatment in the esperanto society”. There has clearly been a substantial effort put into suppressing information on the 7/7 issue, which could be embarrassing to the powers that be, and I reported on the antics of the wreckers in the September Newsletter. I was not surprised to come under attack following that Newsletter, but the insinuation was awful. I have been in the Esperanto movement since 1962, and never once have I been involved in any dispute concerning race or religion. I had to think hard before I could even recollect anyone else being in a dispute of that nature in the movement, before coming up with a charming nutter in Switzerland who set up a quasimasonic organisation that uses Esperanto and subverts the Esperanto movement.

Many Esperantistists, as well as Jews, Gypsies and others died under both Hitler and Stalin. The estimate for Esperantists was 30 000 , and I have regularly rubbed shoulders with people from all nationalities, including some who had fled Nazi Germany.

I took that email along to the following 9/11 meeting in London, because the only item announced for the agenda was whether or not to exclude Nick. Of course, with such an agenda, you wouldn’t expect many people to turn up, and they didn’t. The point I made was that they could do the same to anyone, and what they were saying didn’t even have to be true. It turned out, as I had expected, that despite being a charming guy in public, he had been abrasive to others, too. After the meeting, there was a flurry of emails, in which two of us were described as Nazi sympathisers, as well as Nick, who was accused of having posted on Nazi websites. None of this was true. It was nasty stuff, and all carefully worded. You can’t reasonably condemn someone for offensive views and yet send out that sort of stuff.

My own view is that this sort of stuff has to be faced up to, otherwise, we find that people just drop by the wayside. We need to deal with the matter, and then just carry on promoting the cause. If we accept that some people can go around labeling others, banning them and instigating quarreling, then how do we in future discuss the central issues? Any serious discussion on 7/7 would necessarily eventually contain references to Nick’s book. Anyone referring to Nick’s book, as I did in the newsletter, would then run the risk of being called a Nazi sympathiser. That is censorship in its worst form. I would call it intimidation.

There was a parallel case in France, in which a new law was brought in to control dissenting opinion.

The linguist and social commentator Noam Chomsky was one of those petitioning against that law. When he came under attack for that, he wrote an essay, stating: “Faurisson's conclusions are diametrically opposed to views I hold and have frequently expressed in print (for example, in my book Peace in the Middle East, where I describe the Holocaust as "the most fantastic outburst of collective insanity in human history"). But it is elementary that freedom of expression (including academic freedom) is not to be restricted to views of which one approves, and that it is precisely in the case of views that are almost universally despised and condemned that this right must be most vigorously defended. It is easy enough to defend those who need no defense or to join in unanimous (and often justified) condemnation of a violation of civil rights by some official enemy”. On Faurisson's alleged anti-semitism, Chomsky wrote “such charges have been presented to me in private correspondence that it would be improper to cite in detail here”. Further on, he wrote: “Putting this central issue aside, is it true that Faurisson is an anti-Semite or a neo-Nazi? As noted earlier, I do not know his work very well. But from what I have read -- largely as a result of the nature of the attacks on him -- I find no evidence to support either conclusion. Nor do I find credible evidence in the material that I have read concerning him, either in the public record or in private correspondence. As far as I can determine, he is a relatively apolitical liberal of some sort”.

As I write, we have a press frenzy over whether the leader of the British National Party should have been invited by the BBC to take part in the panel discussion programme Question Time. The most objectionable part of the BNP is that they exclude people from their party whom they consider to be ethnically not indigenous to Britain. That one is being dealt with by the courts. Politicians may justifiably complain about that, but it is for the courts to decide. I think that the general public opinion is to agree with the decision, because, whatever his views, his party did receive a million votes in the EU election, and he is an MEP. A minority, including some in government, have been expressing the opposite point of view. If we accept that an MEP and party leader should be excluded because we don’t like his views, then what is to stop the government from excluding others, like 9/11 Truthers? Perhaps they are already. I haven’t heard of Michael Meacher on this topic for a while. The leader of the BNP has spoken out against the Afghan war. Does that make everone else who opposes that war a Nazi? Of course not. What if he now tells the world that 9/11 was an inside job? We don’t solve anything by allowing disreputable journalists to set our agenda. If they throw in red herrings, we should just say, “So what?”. That is more-or-less what a primary school teacher told one of my children when he had been denounced by another as not believing in God.

The US 9/11 truth movement is much stronger than that in the UK. I was sorry to hear that the 9/11 truth movement in the US is going the same way as that in the UK, but our young US friend seems to have got it spot on. He was describing a combination of elitism and in-fighting. He wouldn’t have had the life experience to realise that such things don’t just happen by chance, but that’s exactly what you look out for. Perhaps we need more sixteen-year-olds in the 9/11 truth movement in the UK.

At the very first meeting of the 9/11 truth movement, in Ipswich on December 13, 2006, it was made clear that the truth movement was not set up as a national membership association, because it would be infiltrated and dismantled from within. David Shayler then talked of ‘Very Persuasive People’. One thing to look for, they told us later, was quarreling. They had set up the truth movement to be flexible, as a chaotic network of individuals and groups. When one group gets into trouble, another might spring up. So many people are now aware of the 9/11 issue that when they move on to other issues of public concern, the 9/11 issue is always there in background.

It’s the seminal event that made us aware that we live in a managed democracy. You don’t expect a smooth ride when you go into something like this.

The combination of elitism and quarreling was evident in the More 4 documentary ‘When Boris met Dave’, which went out on October 7

about the mayor of London and the leader of the opposition, when they were both members of the exclusive Bullingdon Club at Oxford University. It showed the aristocratic swagger, together with the smashing up of the middle classes.

This was a development of their life at Eton, where pupils learn not only to be highly competitive, but, according to the programme, to be pathologically power-hungry. They could probably have produced a programme on Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson, too, if they had thought of that early enough. Former Bullingdon Club members had taken over the heart of both major parties, essentially giving the electorate a choice between Bullingdon and Bullingdon.

Now I hear that there is to be a historic debate on French television on the 9/11 issue. “You have until October 28 to learn French because French TV France 2’s “L’objet du scandale” with Guillaume Durand will air a historic debate over the official version of the 9/11 events”, says the World for 9/11 Truth website (

“This is already a victory for the Bigard/Kassovitz camp who challenged the French media to organize a fair debate over 9/11 after being vilified by many French journalists because of their positions on 9/11. They have been called many names and even received death threats. But no serious journalist was able to challenge them on their positions and to seriously make a case against them based on facts. Now will be their chance, and like Bigard mentions in the below video, ‘good luck to them.’”, says the website.

They also point out that this is also a victory for the 9/11 truth movement because “the official US government conspiracy theory is supposedly not debatable. ... The day we stop debating important topics is the day we surrender freedom. Not only is it debatable, but the 9/11 truth movement is growing faster than ever — worldwide — and nothing will stop it”.

That indeed is a breakthrough, but we’re still not getting through to the mainstream media in the UK. The British have a unique way of dealing with censorship when they see it. The trouble is, they don’t usually see it.

George Orwell described how censureship works in the UK in his introduction to the first edition of Animal Farm in 1945. Unfortunately, his introduction didn’t appear in the book. Here is one paragraph from that essay, which seems timeless:

“The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary. Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. Anyone who has lived long in a foreign country will know of instances of sensational items of news - things which on their own merits would get the big headlines - being kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervened but because of a general tacit agreement that 'it wouldn't do' to mention that particular fact. So far as the daily newspapers go, this is easy to understand. The British press is extremely centralized, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is 'not done' to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was 'not done' to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodials.”

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