Saturday, April 30, 2022

Iraq -- things we cover (actual news) and things we leave to the James Risen propagandists

Tom Ambrose (GUARDIAN) reports:

The family of a retired British geologist facing the death penalty in Iraq have called on the UK government to urgently intervene.

Jim Fitton, 66, was detained by authorities in the Middle Eastern country, accused of smuggling, during a geology and archaeology trip.

Fitton, who lives in Malaysia, and an unnamed German man were arrested when airport security found shards of broken pottery in their luggage as they attempted to leave the country, according to his children.

Fitton was in the news Friday morning, when I dictated that day's snapshot.  I didn't miss it.  I'm just not interested in the story thus far.  BBC News adds:

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has said it is providing support to a British national in Iraq.

Mr Fitton's family say the statutory punishment for illegally smuggling historical items out of Iraq is execution.

What the British government does -- or does not do -- is my only interest in the story.  This is not Robert Pether -- a man who checked before returning to Iraq on business (and was told all was fine) only to be arrested upon arrival.  Robert appears to be someone who is punished because Iraqi officials do not like the terms Robert's company agreed to when the business dealings first started.  Do I know that is what happened?  No.  I know it's what is reported to have happened and I'm more than fine with being among the people advocating for Iraq to release him from prison.  

Before a word appeared about Robert here, I had not only read up on him, I had also made several phone calls for input.  If I'm wrong to defend Robert, I'm wrong.  But I'm willing to risk it.  He did not receive justice in Iraq in terms of a trial, for example.

So what's the difference between Robert and Fitton?

I don't buy the story.  It may be true.  I don't buy it.  Red flags went up when I heard of it on Friday morning and later that day I spoke with a number of friends in the UK press and government.  It only confirmed my red flags.

A professional geologist damn well knows the rules and the rules are not 'someone said it was okay' for me to take historical property.  I didn't defend the reporter for NYT that stole documents from Iraq, why the hell would I defend someone who was stealing artifacts?

I don't believe in the death penalty and that might be an in for later coverage of Fitton.

But at present, someone who knows the rules and knows he is in a country where artifacts have been stolen repeatedly doesn't garner a lot of sympathy from me.

In terms of the UK government, I am interested in what, if any, official moves and actions it intends to take?  I am interested for two reasons.  First, the Australian government has betrayed Robert Pether and are perfectly happy to allow one of their own citizens to rot in jail.  Second, another rots behind bars: Julian Assange.  He's an Australian citizen and his government refuses to demand his relase.  And, of course, he's being held by the UK government.

So, for those reasons, I'm interested in the Fitton case.

For those e-mailing about a report or 'report' by James Risen, I'm not interested in liars.  We defended James Risen when he was under attack by the government and working for THE NEW YORK TIMES.  He still fancies himself a reporter but the work he's done at THE INTERCEPT is not reporting and no one who knows journalism mistakes it for that.  I have a much lower opinion of him -- though I'd still defend him if the government was persecuting him again (though they wouldn't do that today, he's a tool of the government today)  -- as do his former peers.

So,  Friday, he tells about a kidnapping from 2014.  It's news why?  When Risen types these days, you have to wonder.  His hands are not clean and his motives are  suspect.  Most of all, I don't like bad writing.

I don't mind dry writing.  I don't mind meat-and-potatoes writing.  Reporters who start on crime beats, for example, tend to be among the best because they nail down certain facts.  They may have little creativity or artistic vision, but they can report.  James struggles with basic facts in his writing.

This is very strong example of bad writing -- see if you can spot it:

Miran was certain the militia was going to kill her. Her captors forced her to wear a prison uniform, like the clothes the Islamic State group made its hostages wear just before they were executed. They had whipped her for five straight days with wire cables, trying to make her falsely confess to being a CIA spy. Her guards never showed their faces, and when she asked why, one of them said they would reveal themselves when she was about to be released. “Once I heard him say that, I knew they were going to kill me,” Miran told The Intercept. She knew they would never let her go if she could identify them.

I knew they were going to kill me . . . She knew --

No, she didn't.  It's okay to quote her saying something because that's what she said.  She said she knew they were going to kill her.  But she's alive so what she assumed seems less firm than she believes.  More to the point, when she got that wrong, Risen should not be typing in the next sentence that "She knew they would . . ."  No, she didn't know.

How stupid is Risen?  To be Ralph in THE SIMPSONS, "I'm embarrassed for you."

I say all the time that the media needs to be offering more Iraq coverage.  However, I don't mean opinion piecs that tell us what was going on when Bully Boy Bush occupied the White House -- those pieces that pop up around the anniversary of the Iraq War.  That also means a 'report' about a kidnapping that took place eight years ago and the victim escaped eight years ago.  Not interested.  Oh, they were leaked some documents that mentioned her?  Yes, they were.  Three years ago.

I'm not interested in this garbage.  Iraq needs coverage about today, right now.  It needs coverage about the political stalemate paralyzing the country.  It needs coverage about what Turkey is doing -- acts of war.  It needs coverage about the ongoing Iraq War.

And, as one of James Risen's former colleagues said, it appears the report is meant to be part of a wave that's supposed to demonize Iran -- possibly to prevent Joe Biden from pursuing any sort of treaty with the government of Iran.

Once upon a time, reporters supported James Risen.  These days, his colleagues just wonder who's feeding him stories and for what purpose?

BOL NEWS reports, "Two rockets aimed at a facility in western Iraq hosting US-led coalition soldiers crashed near the complex on Saturday, causing no injuries or damage, according to security sources."  RUDAW adds, "The facility, home to Iraqi army troops as well, has been subjected to at least three rocket and drone attacks since the start of the year."

James Risen's not reporting on that, is he?  No.  The joke's not reporting on that.  And though he would have been strung out to dry if he hadn't had his peers support a few years back, he doesn't give a damn about other journalists which is why he ignores what happens to them in Iraq.  MEDYA NEWS reports:

After it’s been revealed on Wednesday that two European journalists were arrested by Iraqi troops on the 20th of April, a colleague of one of the journalists said to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that the journalist was arrested while he was covering issues affecting the Yazidis in Iraq.

Soldiers with the Iraqi 20th Infantry Division arrested Matej Kavčič, a Slovenian freelance reporter, on the 20th of April at an army checkpoint in the city of Sinjar (Shengal), the hometown of the Yazidis.

While Kavčič identified himself as a journalist, Iraqi troops brought him to a nearby military facility, where they confiscated his phone and questioned him, according to a report by CPJ.

Marlene Förster, a German national, who was traveling with Kavčič, was also detained in the process.

Iraqi authorities allege that the pair ‘pretended to work as journalists’, and accused them of collaborating with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), designated a ‘terrorist group’ in neighbouring Turkey and in the European Union.

In Iraq, it's already May.  In the US, in the Pacific Time Zone, it's not there yet.  But the potlicial stalemate continues in Iraq and it gets closer to seven months.  Elections were held October 10th.  

RUDAW has an interview with Tareq al-Hashimi, a former Iraqi vice president.  We're gong to note a section of that.

Below is a translated transcript of Rudaw’s interview with the Iraqi politician Tariq al-Hashimi, who served as the vice president of Iraq from 2006 to 2012.

First of all, why did you face punishments while many other Iraqi politicians did not. Do you feel that you are oppressed by those parties that you were partners with within Iraq in the past? Did the parties or Sunni leaders show any stance when you were charged with terror and three death penalty issues against you?

I will one day explain all that in detail. For now, I will speak about it briefly. Yes, many politicians were targeted. But the way they targeted me was completely different. It was not done against me in December 2011, but at the beginning of the period when I embarked on political work in mid-2004. I was targeted from the very beginning. It bears questioning as to why three of my brothers were martyred from April to October 2006. Attempts that were politically motivated to terrorize us which other politicians did not face, were to remove us from the political arena at any cost. There was another attempt in 2009 to charge us with crimes, but late [Iraqi[ president Jalal Talabani dismissed them as being illogical and unacceptable. However, it eventually happened to target me at the end of 2011. In a very inhumane way, they targeted employees of my office, my bodyguards, and me. It was a disaster. The right time will come when I will disclose the disastrous dimensions of these attempts.

No one has been as oppressed as I have been, and it was all baseless and clueless. Why? I have no explanation for that, other than depriving a man of the homeland who truly wanted to serve his country. The second shock was that the former president of the judicial council ignored Section 6 of Article 93 of the Iraqi constitution which authorizes the federal court to look into charges made against high-ranking state employees. Article 93, section 6 stipulates: "Settling accusations directed against the president, the Prime Minister and the Ministers and this shall be regulated by law."

The opposite of that was done against me by the criminal courts, irrespective of my position. This is a constitutional violation. I fell victim to a plot that had previously been organized. Some internal and external parties had a role in it. Also, the closest official [former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki] made me feel ashamed. The current situation does not allow me to recount everything in detail. I say it frankly, had law and constitution been fully implemented concerning the court's role in restoring the rights of the accused, I would not have seen this huge damage."

Concerning the Iraqi list stance, they stood by my side. In solidarity with me, they held rounds of meetings in Erbil which led to efforts to withdraw confidence from the Nouri al-Maliki's government. It was a proud stance that they displayed. My supporters were in a state of shock, due to the huge scale of the target that they staged against me. I did not expect a revolution from them against the oppressions done against me. I just called on them to exercise restraint, in order for the dossier to proceed within the context of the law.

You were in Erbil when you heard in December 2011 that you had been charged with terror by the previous Iraqi government. The Kurdish leadership guaranteed your security. What happened next that made you leave the Kurdistan Region?

First, upon an official invitation from late president Jalal Talabani, I came to Kurdistan, from Baghdad to Sulaimani. For a number of days, he hosted me. Then, I left for Erbil following a recommendation and I was hosted by my dear brother Masoud Barzani. Thankfully, he provided me with all the life essentials to continue to carry out my work. Nevertheless, he very bravely defended me and shouldered the implications of my stay in the Kurdistan Region, and defended my dossier to proceed in a just way. It was a brave stance and I am proud of it. I express my sincere gratitude to other Kurdish brothers from across the political spectrum, organizations, and people who protected me and supported me.

On the basis of a joint invitation from Hamad Bin Khalifa of the state of Qatar and the president of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, I left the Kurdistan Region. I informed my dear brother Masoud Barzani and late president Jalal Talabani of my trip through official correspondence. During my stay in Istanbul, I met my dear brother Masoud Barzani who was in Turkey on a visit. I told him of my intention and that I was interested in returning in a few days. He fully supported it. But later, I realized it would be in my interest if I stayed a bit longer abroad until things became clear following mounting pressures to withdraw confidence from the government from Erbil. Erbil had at the time become a decision-making station and a place where parties that were of the idea that confidence must be withdrawn from the Maliki government, used to gather there. However, the scene became much more complicated, after the efforts failed. At this point, I realized I would embarrass my Kurdish brothers If I were to return to Erbil, despite the fact that they never said so. There were pressures on [former Kurdistan Region] president [Masoud] Barzani in order for me not to return to Erbil. Hence, I decided to stay abroad. I have said it time and again that my natural place as an Iraqi is my homeland.

That's longer than I first thought about including but the second question?  For how man years was I accused of getting it wrong here -- even with links in the set piece we ran nearly daily?  I said Tareq's arrest warrant came after he landed in the KRG.  The western press stated he fled Baghdad after an arrest warrant was issued.  No.  That is not what happened.  Since RUDAW is accurate and is putting it to Tareq who would correct it if it was wrong, I think we need to include that

From the January 17, 2012 snapshot, for only one example:

Al Mannarah's Talk interviews Iraqi Vice President Tareqq al-Hashemi and the first question is, if you're innocent why did you flee arrest? al-Hashemi explains he did not run away (he went to the KRG for meetings, after he was in the KRG, the arrest warrant was issued, he's remained in the KRG since). On holding a trial in Baghdad, he states he doesn't trust the Baghdad judiciary. He is asked why the call for transferring the hearing to Erbil switched to Kirkuk and he explains that Baghdad and Kirkuk are part of the same legal system while the KRG is an independent judiciary (apparently meaning, Kirkuk would just require a transfer of locations; whereas Erbil couldn't execute a trial based on charges from Baghdad). But if Baghdad and Kirkuk are under the same umbrella, why not the same concerns about Kirkuk that he has regarding Baghdad? He replies that Kirkuk (and the judiciary in Kirkuk) has its own security operations and is not dependent upon Nouri for security. He states he doesn't trust the government, meaning Nouri al-Maliki, and that Nouri cannot tolerate opposition voices, Nouri can't stomach criticism of his failed administration. He notes the human rights violations that take place in Iraq under Nouri's leadership. He does not call Nouri a dictator when asked, saying that they would have to agree on the definition first.

Aswat al-Iraq notes that some of al-Hashemi's bodyguards are supposed to testify (on TV) against him. If that happens, Nouri will again be in violation of the Constitution. Though US outlets ignored it, Nouri tried to lie and claim that he never wanted Tareq charged with terrorism and that he (Nouri) was at the mercy of the Iraqi courts. As he made the rounds with that lie, Nouri was confronted with a number of issues including the airing of 'confessions' and how that did not jibe with the Constiutiton's presumption of innocence clause. Nouri played dumb. Is he now going to try to pretend yet again that he had no idea confessions were airing?  This Alsumaria TV report on the same rumors (televised confessions) is of interest solely for establishing a timeline.  (As we have repeatedly noted, there was no arrest warrant issued when Tareq al-Hashemi went to the KRG.  This has the warrant issued on December 19th -- same as past timelines -- but adds that the first 'confessions' were made on the 19th -- that's new to the story -- and it was based upon these confessions that an arrest warrant was issued that day.  Alsumaria TV's source is Baghdad Operations Command Brig Gen Qassim Atta.)  Among other questions this should raise is why these 'unforced' confessions backed up claims being made by Nouri and others before the 'confessions' were made?  Why was Tareq al-Hashemi's home surrounded by tanks starting December 16th?

The following sites updated:


Biden ‘blurts out random numbers’ in media conference

​The Trial of Kenneth Mayers and Tarak Kauff: Day 1

 The Trial of Kenneth Mayers and Tarak Kauff: Day 1

By Edward Horgan, World BEYOND War, April 25, 2022

The trial of U.S. peace activists Kenneth Mayers and Tarak Kauff who are also members of Veterans For Peace began on Monday 25th April at the Circuit Criminal Court, Parkgate Street, Dublin 8. Both are former members of the U.S. military and Kenneth is a Vietnam War veteran.

Kenneth and Tarak arrived back from the USA to attend their trial on Thursday 21st April. When they arrived at Dublin airport they were quizzed by an immigration official, who commented: “when you here the last time you caused some trouble, is there going to be any trouble this time?” Our two peaceful Veterans For Peace responded that they were just back for their trial and that all their activities are intended to prevent trouble and conflict rather that cause trouble. That seemed to convince immigration that it would be OK to let them in to The Republic of Ireland, even if the term Republic is a bit of a misnomer these days given our membership in an increasingly militarised European Union, NATO’s so-called Partnership For Peace, and our virtual hosting of a U.S. military base as Shannon airport.

So why are Kenneth Mayers and Tarak Kauff facing trial by jury in Dublin?

On St. Patrick’s Day 2019 over three years ago, Kenneth and Tarak entered Shannon airport to attempt to search and investigate any aircraft associated with the US military that were at the airport. When they entered the airport there were two US military aircraft at the airport and one civilian aircraft on contract to the US military. The first military aircraft was a US Marine Corps Cessna Citation registration number 16-6715. It so happens that Kenneth Mayers is a retired Major from the US Marine Corps, who served in Vietnam during the Vietnam war. The second military aircraft was a US Air Force C40 registration number 02-0202. The third aircraft was a civilian aircraft on contract to the US military most likely transporting armed US soldiers to the Middle East. This aircraft is owned by the Omni Air international and its registration number is N351AX. It had arrived at Shannon from the USA for refuelling at about 8am on 17th March and took off again at about 12 noon heading East towards the Middle East.

Kenneth and Tarak were prevented from searching these aircraft by airport security personnel and Gardai and were arrested and detained at Shannon Garda Station overnight. The following morning, they were taken to court and charged with criminal damage to the airport fence. Most unusually, instead of being released on bail, as has normally been the case with such peace actions, they were committed to Limerick prison where they were held for two weeks until the High Court released them on draconian bail conditions which included the seizure of their passports, and they were prevented from returning to their homes in the USA for over eight months. These unjustified bail conditions arguably amounted to punishment before trial. Their bail conditions were eventually modified, and they were allowed to return to the USA in early December 2019.

Their trial was initially scheduled to take place at the District Court in Ennis Co Clare but was subsequently transferred to the Circuit Court in Dublin in order to ensure that the defendants got a fair trial by jury. Kenneth and Tarak are not the first peace activists to be brought before the courts in Ireland for such peaceful non-violent protests at Shannon airport, and indeed are not the first non-Irish peace activists. Three of the Catholic Workers Five, who carried out a similar peace action at Shannon in 2003, were non-Irish nationals. They were accused of causing over $2,000,000 of damage to a US Navy aircraft and were eventually found not guilty of causing criminal damage for the legal reasons of lawful excuse.

Since 2001 over 38 peace activists have been brought before the courts in Ireland on similar charges. All of them were protesting against the illegal use of Shannon airport by the US military who have been, and still are, using Shannon airport as a forward air base to conduct wars of aggression in the Middle East and Africa. The Irish Government is also in breach of international laws on neutrality by allowing US military forces to use Shannon airport. The Gardai at Shannon have consistently failed to properly investigate, or bring to justice, those who have been responsible for these breaches of international and Irish laws at Shannon airport, including complicity with torture. The relevant international bodies, including the United Nations and the International Criminal Court have also, so far, failed to bring any of the above-mentioned officials to justice. Instead of carrying out their duties to promote international peace, many of these officials have been, by their actions or neglect, promoting wars of aggression. In more recent times, the US military has been misusing Shannon airport to fuel the dreadful conflict in Ukraine by sending armed US soldiers to northern and eastern Europe and armaments and weapons to Ukraine.

We will post regular updates on their trial on Facebook and other social media.

Peace activism against wars, including Russian aggression in Ukraine, was never more important.

Today’s trial got off the ground more quickly and more efficiently that we expected. Judge Patricia Ryan was the presiding Judge, and prosecution was led by Barrister Tony McGillicuddy After some preliminaries jury selection got underway around noon. There was an interesting delay when one potential jury member asked, as they are entitled to do, to take the oath “as Gaelige”. The court registrar searched through the files and nowhere could be found the Gaelige version of the oath – eventually an old law book was found with the Gaelige version of the oath and the juror was duly sworn in.

Tarak Kauff was represented by solicitor David Thompson and barrister Carroll Doherty and Ken Mayers by solicitor Michael Finucane and barrister Michael Hourigan.

A summary of the charges against the defendants is “without lawful excuse the did as follows:

  1. Cause criminal damage to the perimeter fence at Shannon airport of approximately €590
  2. Interfere with the operation, safety and management of an airport
  3. Trespass at Shannon airport

(These are not the exact wording.)

The charges were read out to the defendants Kenneth Mayers and Tarak Kauff and they were asked how they wished to plead, and both pleaded very clearly NOT GUILTY.

In the afternoon Judge Ryan laid down the basic rules of play and did so clearly and briefly pointing out the role of the jury in deciding on matters fact with regard to evidence, and making the final decision on guilt or innocence of the defendants, and doing so on the basis of “beyond reasonable doubt”. Prosecution led with a lengthy opening statement and called the first prosecution witnesses.

The defence barristers intervened to say that they were agreeable to accept certain statements and evidence by the prosecution as being agreed by defence, including the fact that the defendants did enter Shannon airport on 17th March 2019. This level of agreement should help to speed up the trial.

Witness no. 1: Det. Garda Mark Walton from the Garda Mapping section, Harcourt St, Dublin who gave evidence on preparing maps of Shannon airport in relation to the incident that occurred on 19th March 2019. There was no cross-examination of this witness

Witness no. 2. Garda Dennis Herlihy based in Ennis co Clare, gave evidence on his investigation of the damage to the airport perimeter fence. Once again there was no cross-examination.

Witness no. 3. Airport Police officer McMahon gave evidence of having patrolled the airport perimeter fence in the early morning before the incident confirming that he noticed no damage prior to the incident.

Witness no. 4 was Airport Police inspector James Watson who was on duty at Shannon airport and whose statement was read into the record because he was not available to attend the court and this was agreed with the defence.

The court then adjourned at about 15.30 until tomorrow Tuesday 26th April.

So far so good. From tomorrow it should get more interesting, but today saw good progress.


David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk World Radio. He is a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and U.S. Peace Prize Recipient.

Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

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DRUM CORPS WORLD: May Issue Now Available


Dear Reader,

Now that we are close to heading into the 2022 season next month, hopefully the general concern with COVID is behind us for this 50th anniversary season of Drum Corps International.  The reality of the 20 junior corps and 12 all-age corps pulling off a successful season this past summer is to be commended, as all the corps were protected in their individual “bubbles.”

The magazine has concluded volume 50 and the April edition began the 51st year of continuous publishing.  I’ve owned Drum Corps World for 48 years now and it’s been my privilege to bring news, history and a wide variety of content to readers literally all over the world during the last five decades, along with a variety of history books, CDs and DVDs preserved or produced to celebrate the last 101 years of history.

I’m very proud of the variety of material I have been able to showcase from upwards of 350 different staff members who have contributed articles, show reports, features, interviews and yearly photography that captured nearly every junior, senior/all-age, parade and standstill organizations in every corner of the world of drum and bugle corps!  Onward . . .
Steve Vickers
Drum Corps World

Steve Vickers

4926 North Sherman Avenue, Unit HMadisonWI 53704-8443

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​Why I’m Not Especially Afraid of Free Speech on Twitter

 Why I’m Not Especially Afraid of Free Speech on Twitter

By David Swanson

Here’s a link to a serious take on why allowing free speech on Twitter is to be feared. I think it should be taken seriously. I’ll quote from that link at length below and intersperse some responses:

“Here are some kinds of content Twitter’s rules now prohibit that could return under Musk:

“Election misinformation
  • “Twitter’s current rules say, “You may not use Twitter’s services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in elections or other civic processes. This includes posting or sharing content that may suppress participation or mislead people about when, where, or how to participate in a civic process.”

  • MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell lost his Twitter account after repeatedly claiming former President Trump had won the 2020 election.”

It’s easy enough to get a completely different crowd to see a problem with this by noting what else might get censored, depending on who’s implementing the rule:

  • Someone claiming that Trump cheated in 2016 or that the Electoral College is illegitimate and therefore Trump lost in 2016;
  • Someone claiming that Dubya (or the Supreme Court) cheated and Gore or Kerry won;
  • Someone urging people not to vote or to write in a name or to vote for a candidate not allowed in debates or mentioned by corporate media;
  • Someone denouncing an election system as broken and demanding reforms to it;
  • Someone holding a shadow or protest election;
  • Someone organizing a nonviolent demonstration to protest any “civic process” — One civic process is a military draft. Another is sticking immigrant children in cages. Another is executing people in prisons.

One alternative to having anyone implement such a rule would be to promote the speech that you consider useful and accurate, while critiquing that you find harmful.

Twitter’s algorithm may not provide a fair forum for free speech, but if not, then that is a reason to break up or take over or regulate Twitter, not a reason for Twitter to censor.

IMHO, people who cannot successfully mock the pillow man should not be blaming anyone else for anything!

“Medical misinformation
  • “Twitter has a policy against COVID-19 related misinformation. Medical misinformation, though, is not broadly illegal, and limiting moderation to the terms of the law could open up a host of false claims on everything from cancer cures to the safety of childhood vaccines.

  • “Twitter permanently suspended the personal account of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) in January for repeated violations of its COVID misinformation policies, including her false claim of “extremely high amounts of COVID vaccine deaths.””

The only thing I find remotely persuasive — and many people clearly find enormously persuasive — about a lot of what is claimed about COVID and vaccines is that the people running corporations like Twitter want it banned. I happen to just be reading a book about Alsace-Lorraine that mentions how the Nazis banning the French language resulted in even German speakers learning more and using more French. I wonder if anyone’s noticed how banning Russian in Ukraine has worked out. As with all of the topics quoted above and in what follows, a ban can be counterproductive.

It can also encourage laziness. Why educate others well about what you believe if you can just censor what you don’t believe? And worse: why try to think hard about what to believe when Twitter can do your thinking for you? (And why should a government ban truly dangerous speech if it can let Twitter do that?)

I also think we want false claims recorded and citable in the future, not erased. How else can we hold people accountable for them? But, as with elections, this rule can and almost certainly will be used in ways that even the laziest sufferer of Kadavergehorsam will find troubling, such as:

  • Ancient tweets from six months ago when what the U.S. government recommended was in some way opposed to what it now does;
  • Theories later proven but not proven at the time;
  • Theories never proven but derived from some large group of people’s cherished and First-Amendment-Protected superstition;

“Deepfakes and manipulated media
  • “”You may not deceptively share synthetic or manipulated media that are likely to cause harm,” Twitter’s rules say. “In addition, we may label Tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media to help people understand their authenticity and to provide additional context.” Most U.S. law does not yet address this issue.”

I’m not sure that labeling such things would be a bad idea. Labeling is not erasing. If Twitter starts warning people away from obvious satire, Twitter will look dumb to those who comprehend satire and noble to those who don’t.

The trouble is that Twitter could start labeling things falsely and allowing false things to go unlabeled. No corporation should have this sort of power at all. A government answerable to people (if we could get one of those) should have this power. But as long as we’re laying out rules for Twitter as it now exists, I think labeling this stuff, without impeding access to it in any way, is the way to go.

“Impersonating others
  • “Twitter says “You may not impersonate individuals, groups, or organizations to mislead, confuse, or deceive others, nor use a fake identity in a manner that disrupts the experience of others on Twitter.”

  • “In some cases, such as pretending to be someone else to commit fraud, such behavior could be illegal, but there are plenty of instances where it would not violate the law.”

Where this is damaging to someone, where the action has willfully or negligently harmed someone in a serious way, why the heck shouldn’t it be illegal? If you’re going to lobby Twitter on this, why not lobby a government? Neither one gives more of a damn than the other what you think — and only one has the power (advocated for by you) to censor you.

“Platform manipulation and spam
  • “”You may not use Twitter’s services in a manner intended to artificially amplify or suppress information or engage in behavior that manipulates or disrupts people’s experience on Twitter,” according to the site’s rules.

  • “Musk has criticized bots and other types of inauthentic behavior, but most instances of them aren’t specifically illegal.”

By all means, censor robots. They aren’t people.

“Targeted attacks and hateful conduct
  • “Twitter’s hateful conduct policy prohibits a wide range of behavior. Some, such as specific threats of violence, may be illegal, but Twitter’s policy goes far further.

  • “Among the practices that are not allowed on Twitter are displaying logos of hate groups, dehumanizing a group of people based on a wide range of characteristics including race, gender, religion or sexuality, as well as intentionally misgendering someone.

  • “Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones lost his Twitter account in 2018 after what the company said were repeated instances of abusive behavior.

  • “One-time Trump adviser Steve Bannon lost a Twitter account in 2021 for advocating the beheading of FBI director Christopher Wray and Anthony Fauci.”

Advocating beheading someone is, in my humble opinion, a form of advocating violence. It is and should be illegal.

Of course, it’s only illegal on a small scale. Advocating war is illegal under international law but perfectly acceptable to both the U.S. government and Twitter. In fact, advocating war seems to open up a license in corporate and social media to state falsehoods and unproven claims as fact.

Being hateful or bigoted or racist is something that should be addressed and corrected with wisdom and kindness, not censored. Where exactly to censor it will of course be open to wide interpretation. Facebook went so far as to change its rules to allow advocating violence if it were against Russians.

So, some sorts of bigotry are so permissible that they can allow MORE speech, but simple non-bigoted observations are likely to be seen as and censored as bigoted by anyone with the job of sniffing out bigotry.

“Graphic violence and adult content
  • “Twitter currently does not allow media that is “excessively gory” or that depicts sexual violence. That means there’s plenty of very graphic video currently prohibited that is not explicitly illegal.”

The internet is full of sites that have figured out how to separate children’s from adult viewing. Twitter users have long since figured out how to separate what they want to see from what they do not. If they haven’t, they should try Tweetdeck. The pretense that this is not so should not be used to justify censoring what U.S. tax dollars do in Yemen.

“Non-consensual nudity
  • “”You may not post or share intimate photos or videos of someone that were produced or distributed without their consent.” Some states have laws prohibiting such videos as “revenge porn.””

So should every other state.

“Suicide or self-harm
  • “Twitter’s rules say that “you may not promote or encourage suicide or self-harm.” While harassing someone to pressure them to hurt themselves can be illegal, glorifying or encouraging suicide broadly are not. The same holds for glorifying anorexia and other eating disorders.”

Movie-viewing sites hold dozens of movies glorifying suicide and millions of movies glorifying murder. This is a problem requiring a major cultural intervention, not the censorship of Twitter.

“Perpetrators of violent attacks
  • “Twitter, like Facebook and others, often removes the accounts of individuals who commit mass murders or other terrorist attacks, as well as “manifestos or other content produced by perpetrators.” This policy goes beyond what is required by law.

“Be smart: Laws vary from country to country. Pro-Nazi content, for example, is legal in the U.S. but illegal in Germany.”

We should get a government and do this through it.


David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk World Radio. He is a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and U.S. Peace Prize Recipient.

Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

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