Herb, why do you presume I was referring to you?
From: herb fox [log in to unmask]
Date: Thu, 16 Sep 2004 19:24:58 -0400
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: UPDATE on Hostages in Iraq
The triumphal note below justifies my calling your attention to
clearly separating unsupported remarks from supported speculation. Note
how you continue to make unsupported remarks.
1. You wrote: "comments from ostensibly radical professors." I speak
for myself. The gratuitous use of "ostensibly" is, i take it, your
judgement on my political history and practice of which apparently you
know nothing. I do not intend to get into a pissing contest nor judge
your radical credentials. You can ask me questions about mine, if you
wish to use facts rather than speculation. If your "ostensibly" was
intended to modify "professor," you're OK. I am not a professor,
although i am proud to say that i got my PhD in Physics at age 73 after
leaving my job as a GE machinist and do now teach part-time to keep body
and soul together in this generous economy.
2. You wrote: that the two professors (again i speak only for myself)
criticized your "comments for being inaccurate and harmful to the cause.
They focused blame on Moslem extremists." What did i write Mitchel?
Here it is.
It is certainly appropriate to write that "those who kidnapped and
are threatening to execute these anti-war activists in Iraq are de
facto serving the interests of the U.S. government." But the
statement above is unsupportable. All bad stuff that happens is not
necessarily "most likely in pay of the CIA." Let's stick to the
facts and supply corroborating evidence for speculations on this
I believe that your remark, "They focused blame on Moslem extremists."
is not just speculative. It is an outright falsehood. It is also
evident that i did not write that your comments were "inaccurate" or
"harmful to the cause."
3. You wrote: "I am amazed that some folks, despite their decades of
education at elite universities, or most likely because of it, are
unable to read through the lines and understand what is really happening
in this world and who is behind the horror."
Again i speak only for myself. There was a time in the US revolutionary
movement when a favorite pastime was to have pissing contests about
working-class credentials. That i will not do. But i will say proudly
that in spite of being a child of the depression with no means to fund
education, i went to night school in such "elite universities" as
Metropolitan College of BU, LA City College, LA State while working in
factories and supporting a family to get the education that i hope some
day all working persons will be able to get without such struggle.
4. Naomi Klein is in my judgement an unimpeachable source. She, as
you and i, believed that the kidnapping of the Italian humanitarian
peace workers smelled like a rightist move. She did not publish her
unsupported speculation; she wouldn't. She used her copious
journalistic and investigative talents to gather supportive data. There
is a model for you, Mitchel.
5. Here now is a personal note. Learn how to take some supportive and
respectful criticism. There were no ad hominem remarks in my email. I
simply tried to alert you to the fact that a listserve that primarily
serves scientists and engineers is allergic to unsupported remarks.
Your response is disappointing. You stooped to defamation and even more
unsupported speculation. Not very comradely. Before you jump to any
more confusions, let me alert you to the fact that there are quite a few
among the participants on this listserve who have admirable
revolutionary credentials. I suspect that they will honor your
intemperate, undeservedly triumphalist tirade and defamation with
silence and filter activation. That is unfortunate.
Mitchel Cohen wrote:
> Last Friday, Sept. 10, I sent around a Petition for the Italian anti-war
> activists kidnapped in Iraq. I wrote that the kidnappers were "most
> in the pay of the CIA, and at the very least are doing the work of the
> government by kidnappings and executions directed against civilian
> I received two comments from ostensibly radical professors who criticized
> my comments for being inaccurate and harmful to the cause. They focused
> blame on Moslem extremists.
> Below, I reprint an investigatory article from today's British "Guardian"
> newspaper by Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill which buttresses the claim I
> made, with specific evidence, such as: "The attackers were armed with
> AK-47s, shotguns, pistols with silencers and stun guns -- hardly the
> mujahideen's standard-issue rusty Kalashnikovs. Strangest of all is this
> detail: witnesses said that several attackers wore Iraqi National Guard
> uniforms and identified themselves as working for Ayad Allawi, the
> prime minister."
> There's lots more.
> Just about every Islamic group, including the leaders of the
> resistance in
> Iraq, have condemned this kidnapping of the leaders of the Italian
> movement and their fellow workers.
> I am amazed that some folks, despite their decades of education at elite
> universities, or most likely because of it, are unable to read through
> lines and understand what is really happening in this world and who is
> behind the horror.
> Thank you Naomi Klein. Thank you Jeremy Scahill. And most of all,
> FREE SIMONA TORRETTA, SIMONA PARI, RAAD ALI ABDUL AZZIZ and MAHNOUZ
> - Mitchel Cohen
> Brooklyn Greens/Green Party of NY
> Who seized Simona Torretta?
> This Iraqi kidnapping has the mark of an undercover police operation
> Naomi Klein and Jeremy Scahill
> Thursday September 16, 2004
> The Guardian
> When Simona Torretta returned to Baghdad in March 2003, in the midst
> of the
> "shock and awe" aerial bombardment, her Iraqi friends greeted her by
> telling her she was nuts. "They were just so surprised to see me. They
> said, 'Why are you coming here? Go back to Italy. Are you crazy?'"
> But Torretta didn't go back. She stayed throughout the invasion,
> the humanitarian work she began in 1996, when she first visited Iraq with
> her anti-sanctions NGO, A Bridge to Baghdad. When Baghdad fell, Torretta
> again opted to stay, this time to bring medicine and water to Iraqis
> suffering under occupation. Even after resistance fighters began
> foreigners, and most foreign journalists and aid workers fled, Torretta
> again returned. "I cannot stay in Italy," the 29-year-old told a
> documentary film-maker.
> Today, Torretta's life is in danger, along with the lives of her fellow
> Italian aid worker Simona Pari, and their Iraqi colleagues Raad Ali Abdul
> Azziz and Mahnouz Bassam. Eight days ago, the four were snatched at
> gunpoint from their home/office in Baghdad and have not been heard from
> since. In the absence of direct communication from their abductors,
> political controversy swirls round the incident. Proponents of the war
> using it to paint peaceniks as naive, blithely supporting a resistance
> answers international solidarity with kidnappings and beheadings.
> Meanwhile, a growing number of Islamic leaders are hinting that the
> raid on
> A Bridge to Baghdad was not the work of mujahideen, but of foreign
> intelligence agencies out to discredit the resistance.
> Nothing about this kidnapping fits the pattern of other abductions. Most
> are opportunistic attacks on treacherous stretches of road. Torretta and
> her colleagues were coldly hunted down in their home. And while
> in Iraq scrupulously hide their identities, making sure to wrap their
> in scarves, these kidnappers were bare-faced and clean-shaven, some in
> business suits. One assailant was addressed by the others as "sir".
> Kidnap victims have overwhelmingly been men, yet three of these four are
> women. Witnesses say the gunmen questioned staff in the building until
> Simonas were identified by name, and that Mahnouz Bassam, an Iraqi woman,
> was dragged screaming by her headscarf, a shocking religious
> for an attack supposedly carried out in the name of Islam.
> Most extraordinary was the size of the operation: rather than the usual
> three or four fighters, 20 armed men pulled up to the house in broad
> daylight, seemingly unconcerned about being caught. Only blocks from the
> heavily patrolled Green Zone, the whole operation went off with no
> interference from Iraqi police or US military - although Newsweek
> that "about 15 minutes afterwards, an American Humvee convoy passed
> a block away".
> And then there were the weapons. The attackers were armed with AK-47s,
> shotguns, pistols with silencers and stun guns - hardly the mujahideen's
> standard-issue rusty Kalashnikovs. Strangest of all is this detail:
> witnesses said that several attackers wore Iraqi National Guard uniforms
> and identified themselves as working for Ayad Allawi, the interim prime
> An Iraqi government spokesperson denied that Allawi's office was
> But Sabah Kadhim, a spokesperson for the interior ministry, conceded that
> the kidnappers "were wearing military uniforms and flak jackets". So was
> this a kidnapping by the resistance or a covert police operation? Or
> was it
> something worse: a revival of Saddam's mukhabarat disappearances, when
> agents would arrest enemies of the regime, never to be heard from again?
> Who could have pulled off such a coordinated operation - and who
> stands to
> benefit from an attack on this anti-war NGO?
> On Monday, the Italian press began reporting on one possible answer.
> Abdul Salam al-Kubaisi, from Iraq's leading Sunni cleric organisation,
> reporters in Baghdad that he received a visit from Torretta and Pari the
> day before the kidnap. "They were scared," the cleric said. "They told me
> that someone threatened them." Asked who was behind the threats,
> replied: "We suspect some foreign intelligence."
> Blaming unpopular resistance attacks on CIA or Mossad conspiracies is
> chatter in Baghdad, but coming from Kubaisi, the claim carries unusual
> weight; he has ties with a range of resistance groups and has brokered
> release of several hostages. Kubaisi's allegations have been widely
> reported in Arab media, as well as in Italy, but have been absent from
> English-language press.
> Western journalists are loath to talk about spies for fear of being
> labelled conspiracy theorists. But spies and covert operations are not a
> conspiracy in Iraq; they are a daily reality. According to CIA deputy
> director James L Pavitt, "Baghdad is home to the largest CIA station
> the Vietnam war", with 500 to 600 agents on the ground. Allawi himself
> is a
> lifelong spook who has worked with MI6, the CIA and the mukhabarat,
> specialising in removing enemies of the regime.
> A Bridge to Baghdad has been unapologetic in its opposition to the
> occupation regime. During the siege of Falluja in April, it coordinated
> risky humanitarian missions. US forces had sealed the road to Falluja and
> banished the press as they prepared to punish the entire city for the
> gruesome killings of four Blackwater mercenaries. In August, when US
> marines laid siege to Najaf, A Bridge to Baghdad again went where the
> occupation forces wanted no witnesses. And the day before their
> Torretta and Pari told Kubaisi that they were planning yet another
> high-risk mission to Falluja.
> In the eight days since their abduction, pleas for their release have
> crossed all geographical, religious and cultural lines. The Palestinian
> group Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah, the International Association of Islamic
> Scholars and several Iraqi resistance groups have all voiced outrage. A
> resistance group in Falluja said the kidnap suggests collaboration with
> foreign forces. Yet some voices are conspicuous by their absence: the
> House and the office of Allawi. Neither has said a word.
> What we do know is this: if this hostage-taking ends in bloodshed,
> Washington, Rome and their Iraqi surrogates will be quick to use the
> tragedy to justify the brutal occupation - an occupation that Simona
> Torretta, Simona Pari, Raad Ali Abdul Azziz and Mahnouz Bassam risked
> lives to oppose. And we will be left wondering whether that was the plan
> all along.
> · Jeremy Scahill is a reporter for the independent US radio/TV show
> Democracy Now; Naomi Klein is the author of No Logo and Fences and
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