William Arkin targeted by the U.S. government?
by Justin Raimondo
In chronicling the crimes of the War Party, surely the worst, from a libertarian point of view – excluding large-scale war crimes committed on the ground in Iraq – are those that are even now inflicting fatal wounds on our political system here at home. War, as the 19th century American liberal Randolph Bourne famously put it, is the health of the State. Wartime militarizes and regiments every aspect of life, from the political culture to the economic and purely personal. War expands that which ought to remain constricted, and unleashes that which is properly chained by custom and constitution. It corrupts the old republican virtues of modesty and austerity, and replaces them with the crude and often cruel vices of Imperial Rome: extreme violence, extravagance, and arrogance bordering on hubris. The law, once rigid and unbending, becomes elastic in the hands of wartime bureaucrats, who reinterpret it – or ignore it – in the name of the "national emergency." While noble men once debated in the Senate and set the course of the republican ship of state, in wartime, debate is minimized if not entirely ended, and the public square is given over to gaggles of conspirators. Parties meet in secret conclave, where intrigues are the only item on the agenda and all live in the shadow of assassins – including character assassins.
In a "democratic" empire, as opposed to the later Roman version, it isn't very often necessary to round up one's political opponents and simply slap them in jail or throw them into the arena with a couple of hungry lions. There are more efficient, and ultimately more effective, ways to crush anyone who gets in the way of the powers that be, and this is where the fine art of character assassination comes in. I discussed this to some extent in my last column, but as it happens, a far clearer and much more important case has come up since that illustrates the corrosive effects of Empire on American liberty.
I thought I'd seen everything when it came to smearing and otherwise attempting to discredit journalists and others perceived as "unpatriotic" opponents of American foreign policy – the entrapment of Scott Ritter, the libeling of George Galloway, and the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame all come immediately to mind, all of them underhanded in their own special way. But a March 17 Washington Post story by Howard Kurtz had even me gasping with incredulity:
"Someone has gone to a great deal of trouble to produce a document accusing journalist and activist William Arkin of serving as a spy for Saddam Hussein.
"The Pentagon says the supposed Defense Intelligence Agency cable is a forgery. Arkin says it's 'chilling' and is demanding an investigation. The NBC News military analyst says he became aware of the bogus document when a Washington Times reporter called about the spying allegation and sent him a copy."
According to Kurtz, the document is decked out with the "classified" insignia and contains all the right military jargon. He cites an excerpt of what purports to be a cable from an intelligence operative in the field:
"'Preliminary reporting … indicates possible U.S. citizen William Arkin received monthly stipend for period 1994-1998 to report on quote United Nations Special Commission activities unquote. Entry in SSO [special security organization] ledger captured in Baghdad, no additional information.'"
Arkin did investigate UNSCOM at that time, working as a consultant to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan – when he discovered the Clinton administration had used UNSCOM as a cover for eavesdropping on Iraqi communications. Clearly, Arkin was not a favorite of the U.S. intelligence community at this point, and the seriousness of the effort to "get" him is revealed in another cable excerpt quoted by Kurtz:
"'CIA exploitation of Source 8230 from Office of President SH confirms Arkin traveled to Baghdad February 1998 and November 1998 to provide information about UNSCOM plans and to discuss Desert Fox targeting.'"
The careful effort to make the charges seem plausible – after all, Arkin was in Iraq circa 1994-1998 – is thrown out the window: Arkin did not enter Iraq in 1998, and this is easily checkable. Other errors, as in military addresses and abbreviations, are also present, along with one fascinating clue that could only be a joke, albeit one authored by a comedian with a very dark sense of humor: there is "a reference to 'proctor canular procedures,'" reports Kurtz. "Canular, [Arkin] discovered through a Google translation service, means hoax in French."
Isn't it a funny coincidence how much the forgery of supposedly "classified" documents has played a key role in the propaganda war over Iraq?