FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Tommy Boy Friedman Does "Imagine"

by MICKEY Z.

 

“There is an odor to any press headquarters that is unmistakable…the unavoidable smell of flesh burning quietly and slowly in the service of a machine.”

-Norman Mailer

I keep telling myself to stop wasting time critiquing Thomas L. Friedman. No one can possibly top the self-inflicted damage he does merely by putting his laughable words on the New York Times op-ed page. But then he goes and outdoes himself…and here I am, furiously typing up an article.

In a March 28, 2004 op-ed entitled, “Awaking to a Dream,” Tommy Boy confesses that he “didn’t listen to one second of the 9/11 hearings and I didn’t read one story in the paper about them. Not one second. Not one story.” He felt the need to make this public because, as he reminds us: “I am the foreign affairs columnist for The New York Times” (that’s enough sin for any single confession, but hey).

Tommy Boy explains his motivation for ignoring the hearings. It’s not indifference, mind you, but instead: “It’s because I made up my mind about that event a long time ago: It was not a failure of intelligence, it was a failure of imagination. We could have had perfect intelligence on all the key pieces of 9/11, but the fact is we lacked – for the very best of reasons – people with evil enough imaginations to put those pieces together.” He goes on to declare that the “only people with imagination in the world right now are the bad guys.” Or as Middle East analyst Stephen P. Cohen told Tommy Boy: “That is the characteristic of our time – all the imagination is in the hands of the evildoers.”

Let’s not dwell on Cohen’s acceptance of Bush’s word. (It’s like all Fox News outlets adopting the term “homicide bomber” because Dubya asked.) Rather let’s consider the proposition that “we” lack “people with evil enough imaginations.”

Let’s also forget the word “evil” (a term best left to the realm of religion) for now and instead take a quick peek at how America stacks up on the sinner’s scoreboard.

Mr. Friedman, can you imagine a man who trained the Brazilian police force in the 1960s whose techniques involved placing the end of a reed in the anus of a naked man hanging suspended? The other end of the reed is soaked in oil and lit. Imagine that, Tommy. In Uruguay, the same American man taught techniques like electric shocks to the genitals, electric needles under the fingernails, and use of “a wire so thin that it could be fitted into the mouth between the teeth and by pressing against the gum increase the electrical charge.” Now imagine those tactics were honed in the American’s own soundproof basement room where, on one particular occasion, four street beggars were used to demonstrate the effects of different voltages on different parts of the body. All four men died. That man, Tommy Boy, was Dan Mitrione, head of Orwellian-named US Office of Public Safety. He wasn’t the exception…not by a long shot. He was the rule.

How much imagination was needed to come up with the post-Good War plot to recruit Nazi war criminals to the United States? How lacking in creativity is a nation where nuclear researchers studied the effects of plutonium on the human body by targeting some 800 African-American prisoners, mentally retarded children, and others who were induced, by money or by verbal subterfuge, to submit to irradiation? How clever were the Americans who figured out how to bomb Korean dams, defoliate Vietnam, and create a fundamentalist Muslim army of fight the Soviets?

Here’s another solid example of good old American ingenuity at work for you, Tommy Boy: Journalist Thomas J. Nagy has explained how a U.S. document, dated January 22, 1991, entitled, “Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities,” spells out “how sanctions will prevent Iraq from supplying clean water to its citizens.”

“In cold language,” Nagy says, “the document spells out what is in store.” Clearly, those uninspired decision makers in the U.S. had an idea what war and sanctions could lead to. The document reads, in part:

Iraq depends on importing specialized equipment and some chemicals to purify its water supply, most of which is heavily mineralized and frequently brackish to saline. With no domestic sources of both water treatment replacement parts and some essential chemicals, Iraq will continue attempts to circumvent United Nations Sanctions to import these vital commodities. Failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease. Iraq will suffer increasing shortages of purified water because of the lack of required chemicals and desalination membranes. Incidences of disease, including possible epidemics, will become probable unless the population were careful to boil water.”

Those same sanctions were killing 300 Iraqi children a day for over a decade. On the May 12, 1996 edition of 60 Minutes, then U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright had the following exchange about the effects of <U.S.-enforced> sanctions on Iraq:

Leslie Stahl: “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And-and you know, is the price worth it?” Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice but the price-we think the price is worth it.”

Shortly afterwards, Albright was rewarded for her imaginative style and named U.S. Secretary of State.

Whether it was the inventive scheming used to exterminate this continent’s indigenous or the artful choice of not saying the word “genocide” until nearly million Rwandans were dead, the U.S. has cornered the market on deception in the name of butchery. Coddled and dim-witted commissars like Tommy Boy Friedman are rewarded nicely for not only looking the other way, but for being outraged when any official enemy so much as sneers in our direction.

Will someone like Friedman ever really get it? In the words of Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

MICKEY Z. is the author of two upcoming books: “A Gigantic Mistake: Articles and Essays for Your Intellectual Self-Defense” (Prime Books/Library Empyreal) and “Seven Deadly Spins: Exposing the Lies Behind War Propaganda” (Common Courage Press). He can be reached at mzx2@earthlink.net.

 

Mickey Z. is the author of 12 books, most recently Occupy this Book: Mickey Z. on Activism. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on the Web here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here. This piece first appeared at World Trust News.  

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
Robert Hunziker
America’s Tale of Two Cities, Redux
David Jaffe
The Republican Party and the ‘Lunatic Right’
John Davis
No Tomorrow or Fashion-Forward
Patrick Cockburn
Treating Mental Health Patients as Criminals
Jack Dresser
An Accelerating Palestine Rights Movement Faces Uncertain Direction
George Wuerthner
Diet for a Warming Planet
Lawrence Wittner
Why Is There So Little Popular Protest Against Today’s Threats of Nuclear War?
Colin Todhunter
From Earth Day to the Monsanto Tribunal, Capitalism on Trial
Paul Bentley
Teacher’s Out in Front
Franklin Lamb
A Post-Christian Middle East With or Without ISIS?
Kevin Martin
We Just Paid our Taxes — are They Making the U.S. and the World Safer?
Erik Mears
Education Reformers Lowered Teachers’ Salaries, While Promising to Raise Them
Binoy Kampmark
Fleeing the Ratpac: James Packer, Gambling and Hollywood
Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
Susan Babbitt
Don’t Raise Liberalism From the Dead (If It is Dead, Which It’s Not)
Uri Avnery
Palestine’s Nelson Mandela
Fred Nagel
It’s “Deep State” Time Again
John Feffer
The Hunger President
Stephen Cooper
Nothing is Fair About Alabama’s “Fair Justice Act”
Jack Swallow
Why Science Should Be Political
Chuck Collins
Congrats, Graduates! Here’s Your Diploma and Debt
Aidan O'Brien
While God Blesses America, Prometheus Protects Syria, Russia and North Korea 
Patrick Hiller
Get Real About Preventing War
David Rosen
Fiction, Fake News and Trump’s Sexual Politics
Evan Jones
Macron of France: Chauncey Gardiner for President!
David Macaray
Adventures in Labor Contract Language
Ron Jacobs
The Music Never Stopped
Kim Scipes
Black Subjugation in America
Sean Stinson
MOAB: More Obama and Bush
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail