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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 1/17/16

Open Letter to P Certo and A Cockburn

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Peter Certo is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studiesand editor of Foreign Policy in Focus. This week, Common Dreams published his article on The Thing About Terrorism Obama Won't Tell You. Certo makes two points: First, that the average American's fear of terrorism is wildly out of proportion with the actual risk of a terrorist attack. Your chance of being killed in a terrorist attack in an American city is smaller than your chance of being struck by lightning. The threat of terrorism does not register on the same scale as auto accidents or eating sugar or workplace hazards or breathing polluted air. Second, America's military response to terrorism is inflaming the poor, young Middle Eastern population from which terrorists are recruited. America's War on Terror is not merely ineffective; it is insanely counterproductive.

All of this is true, and there are a great number of Americans who still need to hear it. But these people don't read Common Dreams. For that audience, Certo might have gone further.

Certo remained comfortably within the left edge of acceptable mainstream journalism. Implicit in this school is that our government really wants to end terrorism, and wants more broadly to deploy America's vast power to make America safer and more prosperous. Deeper assumptions:

  • that we live in a democracy

  • that our leaders are trying to do what's best for the nation, though they might differ in their thinking about how

  • that American has a free press, a forum in which rational discourse can influence public opinion, and through public opinion, influence our elected leaders

Just the other side of the divide between acceptable MSM and the Tinfoil Hats was Alexander Cockburn's article in Harper's Magazine this month. Cockburn argues that the US intelligence agencies not only created Al Qaeda (in the 1980s, to oppose Russia in Afghanistan), but continue even now to supply crucial money, arms, intelligence and protection. Without the CIA, Al Qaeda would quickly collapse. The US Government is fighting both sides of the War on Terror.

If there is any truth in Cockburn's account, we would have to question not just Obama's judgment but his sincerity. Can we find a method in Obama's madness? Who profits from keeping the War on Terror alive and fanning its flames? Can we link that "madness" to the banking interests and military contractors that did so much to create Obama's political career and keep the Democratic Party afloat?

In pushing the envelope of acceptable mainstream journalism, Cockburn steers clear of the controversies that have come to divide the separate realities in which two groups of Americans live. He does not mention the substantial evidence that undermines the mainstream accounts of 9/11 and other terrorist events since then. He does not relate his account to a larger picture, in which the CIA began to "go rogue" in the 1950s, and realized the full power of a Shadow State after pulling off the JFK assassination. He does not flesh out his picture with reference to Project Mockingbird or MK-Ultra.

So I am writing to ask Certo what keeps him from taking the next step. Does he believe that Obama is stupid, rather than evil? Is there explicit censorship preventing him from asking the questions that follow naturally from his article? Or is it self-censorship in a culture where mainstream journalists know what is acceptable and what is asking for trouble?


Effective censorship in America is mostly implicit.
Effective censorship in America is mostly implicit.
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What will it take to widen the discourse and ask the larger questions about The Deep State, about perversion of the American political system for private gain, about the extensive programs of disinformation, infiltration and subversion that keep Americans from organizing to take back our country?

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Josh Mitteldorf, de-platformed senior editor at OpEdNews, blogs on aging at Read how to stay young at
Educated to be an astrophysicist, he has branched out from there (more...)

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