Swans Commentary: Letters to the Editor - letter181



Letters to the Editor

(December 28, 2009)


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Dodo Sperm: Martin Murie's Sarah Palin's Dodo and The Return Of The Dodo

To the Editor:

Your Dodo comes up on the first page of Google's discoveries at "News" and "sperm whale beached Italy." Quite suitable, and I thought you'd want to know.

Mitch Clogg
Mendocino, California, USA - December 14, 2009


The Al Giordano Saga: Knowingly False Claims? Michael Barker's Failure Of Progressive Thought

To the Editor:

In a December 13 screed in your publication by Michael Barker, he claims -- in footnote # 6 -- to publish my "full answer" to a question he had posed me.

Mr. Barker has, however, committed the knowing falsehood and libel of then redacting my full answer to him even as he claimed it was my "full" response.

My full answer to Mr. Barker appears below, in the November 27, 2009, e-mail I sent in reply to him. It asks Mr. Barker to offer the same level of disclosure that any legitimate journalist or scholar adhering to basic journalistic ethics would disclose.

Mr. Barker dishonestly claimed in his Swans essay that his reason for not responding to my e-mail was my "aggressive tone." I would argue that it was because he fails to offer the basic disclosure I ask of him as to who he is, who funds his work, and -- since he has gone to the extreme of stalking some of our students via e-mail to harass them over their enrollment in the School of Authentic Journalism -- I think it is only fair that Mr. Barker disclose the schools and institutions that he has attended or worked for.

(He also fails to disclose that the two students who schooled him so excellently in their responses were writing from Lusaka, Zambia, and Port-au-Prince, Haiti, where they have real lived experience upon which to base their rejection of Mr. Barker's hyped up claims.)

I ask that you publish this letter in full, including the full text, below, of my November 27 answer with questions for Mr. Barker (the whole e-mail was my "full answer," not just the parts that Mr. Barker chose not to censor).

And I ask that it be published on the same Web page as Mr. Barker's December 13 story.

Mr. Barker makes a lot of haughty accusations and smears upon others based on his distortions of what he perceives to be our affiliations (for example, if Giordano accepts a contribution from organization A, and organization A once worked with organization B, then therefore Giordano is affiliated with organization B). That really is McCarthyism on the sleaziest of levels.

How interesting, then, that Mr. Barker is too cowardly and dishonest to disclose about himself and his funding what we freely disclosed long before Mr. Barker asked us any questions about it.

It seems to me that the real shady and suspicious character here is Mr. Barker. I would be embarrassed to have such an incoherent and dishonest writer appear on our pages. Of course, Swans is free to make its own decisions about who it publishes. We just ask that my "full answer" -- which Mr. Barker dishonestly claimed he had published - now be published in full.

Al Giordano, Publisher, Narco News
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico - December 14, 2009
From: Alberto M. Giordano <narconews@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 7:13 PM
Subject: Re: Question about the School of Authentic Journalism
To: mbarker@riseup.net

Dear Mr. Barker,

You ask:

1. Are you concerned about the funding issues that I raised for consideration in my previous articles? Why/Why not?

My answer:

No. I'm absolutely not concerned. What is the implication you seek to infer? That we would ever change (or have ever changed) anything about our School or about Narco News' reporting because of donations we receive? We haven't done that at any moment since Narco News began in April 2000. Additionally, no one at ICNC has ever asked us to change our reporting or our school in exchange for support. All gifts to The Fund for Authentic Journalism are unconditional. We wouldn't accept contributions from anyone that sought to change what we do. We were reporting on civil resistance movements long before we heard about ICNC and always will report on them with or without its support.

Now that I've been so kind to answer your question, perhaps you could answer mine?

What do you do for a living? Who employs you? How much money do you make a year? Where did you go to college? Do you have additional degrees and from what institutions? Who funds those institutions? Who are the members of their board of directors?

At Narco News we disclose all those things already. That's how you know we received a modest contribution from ICNC - because WE disclosed it. We also disclosed that its contribution depends on a matching set of contributions from our readers, who give in amounts of $20 and $50 typically, which means there are many of them. I'd like to ask you to be as honest and forthcoming about who finances you as we have long been about how we finance our work. Fair is fair.

I'm sure once you tell me what institutions you have attended or worked for, I could engage in similar McCarthyist smears against you - blaming you for things other people who you have associated with may have done, even when you had nothing to do with it - as you have waged against others. I won't - because I know the world doesn't work that way, I believe in truth - not distortion - and I have spent my entire life on the receiving edge of real McCarthyism from a very young age. I'll just say to you what Edmund Murrow said to Senator Joseph McCarthy: "Have you no shame?"

For all I know, you could be a CIA disinformation agent. Or just a common asshole who appoints himself as purity police. Thing is, nobody knows who the fuck you are. But if you keep stalking me or my students, be prepared for us to find out.

You could start now with some honest disclosure in answer to my questions, now that I have answered yours.


Al Giordano

On Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 5:14 PM, <mbarker@riseup.net> wrote:
> Dear Mr. Giordano
> Could you please inform me as to which of my claims about the ICNC's
> activities in Latin America "have been thoroughly debunked as filled with
> errors and knowing falsehoods." I would love to correct this situation as
> soon as a matter of urgency, but I do not know what you mean.
> I did not write directly to you because when I left a comment on your
> website (see link below) you did not allow it to be posted: therefore I
> thought it highly unlikely that you would respond to a personal email on
> this matter:
> http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/george-salzman/2009/11/ansel-herz-
> nov-17-2009-article
> I wrote: Having previously written a number of articles about the
> International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, I thought that I should draw
> attention to this work and further rebutalls from the ICNC's associated
> supporters. See http://michaeljamesbarker.wordpress.com/icnc/
> However given your last message it appears that you wish to answer my
> questions regarding your working with the ICNC. Thus I would be grateful if
> you could please answer the following question:
> 1. Are you concerned about the funding issues that I raised for
> consideration in my previous articles? Why/Why not?
> I will look forward to hearing from you
> Michael Barker
>> Hi Lloyd,
>> I don't know this Michael Barker person either. He has written on the
>> Internet for some time about his bizarre obsession with the International
>> Center on Nonviolent Conflict. I find his writings incoherent, poorly
>> documented, and filled with McCarthyist tactics of "guilt by association."
>> He is not a writer or journalist of any consequence, reputation, or impact.
>> His claims about ICNC's alleged actions in Latin America have been
>> thoroughly debunked as filled with errors and knowing falsehoods. I am
>> guessing that he also does not have a command of the Spanish language,
>> which may be the source of his confusion when writing about lands that
>> primarily speak it.
>> His argument seems to be that if an organization that gave $20,000 to help
>> fund our School of Authentic Journalism ($20,000 which is being matched by
>> our own readers in small contributions, which demonstrates that they don't
>> share Mr. Barker's "concern" - to the contrary, they want to help fund your
>> scholarship, too) and that organization is funded by someone who was on a
>> board of some other organization then therefore what we teach is going to
>> somehow be any different. Or that maybe he's now trolling scholarship
>> recipients like you to imply you'll get "guilt by association cooties" by
>> attending? I can't figure out what his point is, which gets back to the
>> basic incoherence of his argument and writing. But he sounds to me like the
>> old fanatic anti-communists of old who engaged in destructive and inhuman
>> witch hunts and red scares not too long ago.
>> Interestingly, he writes "I do not understand why Narco News would work
>> with" another organization but he has never written to ask me that
>> question, which also indicates a high degree of cowardice and his own
>> hidden agendas, jealousies and dishonesties. (It also shows him to be a
>> sloppy reporter because he is apparently afraid to go to the source and
>> unable to practice the most basic journalistic responsibilities). I am
>> CCing him here because, unlike this person of apparently low moral
>> character, I don't go saying things about people behind their backs that I
>> won't tell them directly. I'm sorry he has chosen instead to pester you.
>> But as you know, the world is filled with all kinds of people, and the
>> Internet is filled with unsolicited spam. On the bright side, I'm glad that
>> your scholarship is already bringing more attention worldwide to your own
>> good work and that of the Zambian Watchdog.
>> Looking forward to meeting you and working with you in Mexico, Lloyd. Have
>> a great day, and see you soon.
>> best,
>> Al Giordano
>> On Fri, Nov 27, 2009 at 6:50 AM, Himaambo Lloyd <himaambo@yahoo.com>
>> wrote:
>>> Hi,
>>> You know I have had a very interesting discussion with someone am not sure
>>> who he is. Find in the forwarded message the discussion. He sent me the
>>> first message using my official email. By the way am beginning the process
>>> of visa acquisition on Monday. Am definitely traveling to Mexico Good
>>> luck. Lloyd Himaambo
>>> Editor: The Watchdog Newspaper
>>> www.zambianwatchdog.com
>>> Lusaka, Zambia.
>>> Tel Home: 260 211 295629
>>> Mobile Phone: +260 976183318
>>> --- On *Fri, 11/27/09, Zambia Watchdog <editor@zambiawatchdog.com>*
>>> wrote:
>>> From: Zambia Watchdog <editor@zambiawatchdog.com>
>>> Subject: Fwd: Question about the School of Authentic Journalism
>>> To: "himaambo" <himaambo@yahoo.com>
>>> Date: Friday, November 27, 2009, 7:46 AM
>>> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
>>> From: mbarker@riseup.net <http://mc/compose?to=mbarker@riseup.net>
>>> Date: Thu, 26 Nov 2009 12:32:41 -0800 (PST)
>>> Subject: Re: Question about the School of Authentic Journalism
>>> To: Zambia Watchdog
>>> <editor@zambiawatchdog.com<http://mc/compose?to=editor@zambiawatchdog.com>
>>> >
>>> I am not a religious fanatic and I am not sure what you meant by this. I
>>> have however thoroughly researched the history of the leading elite think
>>> tank the Council on Foreign Relations which I would hardly describe as
>>> having a good reputation.
>>> For the two part series of article I wrote for Znet see
>>> http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/16649
>>> http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/16787
>>> (this part is especially concerned with their anti-democratic activities
>>> in Latin America)
>>> Hope you find these of interest.
>>> Michael
>>> > The council on foreign relations is a good organisation with
>>> international
>>> > reputation. So is Human Rights Watch. Now what could be so sinister
>>> about
>>> > their board members being involved in other works? Am really at a loss
>>> > with your line of reasoning. Has this anything to do with religiuos
>>> fanatism?
>>> >
>>> > 2009/11/26 <mbarker@riseup.net
>>> <http://mc/compose?to=mbarker@riseup.net>
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >> Can I just clear up something first.
>>> >>
>>> >> The main funder of the ICNC is a board member of the Council on
>>> Foreign
>>> >> Relations. Do you not think that this might make the ICNC just a
>>> little
>>> >> bit controversial?
>>> >>
>>> >> I understand that some group's like for example Human Rights Watch
>>> were
>>> >> created in large part by people associated with the Council on
>>> Foreign
>>> >> Relations, but I do not understand why Narco News would choose to
>>> work
>>> >> with a group funded by a Council on Foreign Relations board member.
>>> >>
>>> >> Michael
>>> >>
>>> >> > I see. Give me more detail about this ICNC, maybe I can take it up
>>> in
>>> >> > Mexico. I have read some of the things you have forwarded but I
>>> think
>>> >> you
>>> >> > can still summarise your concerns for me. In which way are they
>>> >> > controversial?
>>> >> >
>>> >> > 2009/11/25
>>> <mbarker@riseup.net<http://mc/compose?to=mbarker@riseup.net>
>>> >
>>> >> >
>>> >> >> Thanks for getting back to me so quickly.
>>> >> >>
>>> >> >> I agree that controversy is everywhere, but whenever I decide to
>>> work
>>> >> >> with
>>> >> >> someone I always check out their background to avoid controversy.
>>> >> >>
>>> >> >> For example if I was offered funding by a progressive organization
>>> >> that
>>> >> >> was working in partnership with a less than progressive
>>> organization,
>>> >> I
>>> >> >> would be inclined to wonder why they had chosen to work with them
>>> (in
>>> >> >> this
>>> >> >> case with the ICNC). I would be especially curious if the main
>>> funder
>>> >> of
>>> >> >> the associated less than progressive organization was a board
>>> member
>>> >> of
>>> >> >> the Council on Foreign Relations.
>>> >> >>
>>> >> >> There is of course no obvious danger involved, unless one
>>> considers
>>> >> that
>>> >> >> by accepting the authentic investigative journalism placement
>>> (that
>>> >> is
>>> >> >> part funded by the ICNC) one is helping to directly legitimize the
>>> >> work
>>> >> >> of
>>> >> >> the ICNC. Of course you may not agree that the ICNC is a
>>> >> controversial
>>> >> >> organization, in which there is no danger whatsoever.
>>> >> >>
>>> >> >> I certainly think this funding issue would be an interesting topic
>>> to
>>> >> >> raise for further discussion in Mexico. Perhaps the investigative
>>> >> >> journalists at the meeting might care to investigate the
>>> background
>>> >> of
>>> >> >> the
>>> >> >> ICNC in more detail.
>>> >> >>
>>> >> >> Best wishes

>>> >> >>
>>> >> >> Michael Barker >>> >> >
>>> >> >
>>> >> > --
>>> >> > www.zambianwatchdog.com
>>> >> > Box 32295,
>>> >> > Lusaka,
>>> >> > Zambia
>>> >> >
>> --
>> narconews@gmail.com
>> Publisher, Narco News: http://narconews.com
>> Political Reporter, The Field: http://narconews.com/thefield
>> Skype: algiordano


More on Giordanotito and Michael Barker's Failure Of Progressive Thought

To the Editor,

At the risk of provoking Al Giordano's ire and earning myself "the full journalistic proctological exam," I would like to make two comments about Michael Barker's excellent "Failure of Progressive Thought."

1. If Wikipedia is right, and Giordano's Center for Authentic Journalism has indeed adopted the mission of promoting "journalism unadulterated by money," then I'm at a loss for words. This must mean the lucre Giordano received from billionaire financier and color revolution-impresario George Soros and now from The Council on Foreign Relation's Peter Ackerman is of the unadulterating kind, or that Giordano's journalism can't be adulterated by money. Maybe that's what he means by "journalism unadulterated by money": we take the money, but we're not adulterated by it -- the motto of every co-opted journalist.

2. Giordano's charge that Barker is throwing "COINTELPRO type misinformation" is amusing. Giordano, I suspect, would like nothing more than for NarcoNews and the School of Authentic Journalism to be seen as targets of COINTELPRO style operations. It makes him seem authentically and dangerously anti-establishment. Except recipients of ruling class funding aren't the targets of COINTELPRO-style operations. If the moderates are co-opted by ruling class forces (which penetrate their ranks and fund their activities) and the militants are disrupted and disorganized (through COINTELPRO-style operations) we would expect that in Giordano's case COINTELPRO-style operations would have become completely superfluous the moment he linked up with Soros and Ackerman.

Stephen Gowans
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada - December 18, 2009


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Published December 28, 2009
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