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.

 

More articles by:

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.  

Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
Karl Grossman
Disaster Island
Thomas S. Harrington
What Nerve! In Catalonia They are Once Again Trying to Swear in the Coalition that Won the Most Votes
Pepe Escobar
Rome: A Eulogy
Robert Hunziker
Will Aliens Save Humanity?
Jonah Raskin
“Can’t Put the Pot Genie Back in the Bottle”: An Interview with CAL NORML’s Dale Gieringer
Stepan Hobza
Beckett, Ionesco, and Trump
Joseph Natoli
The ‘Worlding’ of the Party-less
Julia Stein
The Myths of Housing Policy
George Ochenski
Zinke’s Purge at Interior
Christopher Brauchli
How Trump Killed the Asterisk
Rosemary Mason - Colin Todhunter
Corporate Monopolies Will Accelerate the Globalisation of Bad Food, Poor Health and Environmental Catastrophe
Michael J. Sainato
U.S Prisons Are Ending In-Person Visits, Cutting Down On Reading Books
Michael Barker
Blame Game: Carillion or Capitalism?
Binoy Kampmark
The War on Plastic
Cindy Sheehan – Rick Sterling
Peace Should Be Integral to the Women’s March
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
No Foreign Bases!
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Across the Boer Heartland to Pretoria
Joe Emersberger
What’s Going On in Ecuador? An Interview With Wladimir Iza
Clark T. Scott
1918, 1968, 2018: From Debs to Trump
Cesar Chelala
Women Pay a Grievous Price in Congo’s Conflict
Michael Welton
Secondly
Robert Koehler
The Wisdom of Mass Salvation
Seth Sandronsky
Misreading Edu-Reform 
Ann Garrison
Full-Spectrum Arrogance: US Bases Span the Globe
Louis Proyect
Morality Tales on the American Malaise: the Films of Rick Alverson
David Yearsley
Winston and Paddington: Marianelli’s Musical Bears
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail