Four Hours in My Lai is a 1989 television documentary made by Yorkshire Television concerning the 1968 My Lai Massacre by the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. The film includes interviews with soldiers at the massacre, and the later trials of those involved. The film won an International Emmy Award for Best Documentary.
The documentary tells the story of the 11th Light Infantry Brigade, from their training through deployment in South Vietnam. It interviews former U.S. servicemen and massacre survivors; both describe the background of the area near the village of My Lai. The documentary also shows photographs of U.S. servicemen torturing civilians before the massacre and tells of U.S. servicemen raping South Vietnamese women and children prior to the massacre. After the massacre, the trials of the soldiers at My Lai are examined. The documentary also aired on the PBS series Frontline as “Remember My Lai”.
Grant Smith: Our next speaker is Ali Abunimah. He’s been an active part of the movement for justice in Palestine for 20 years. He’s a journalist and the co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, which is a widely acclaimed publication. It’s a non-profit independent online publication focusing on Palestine.
A graduate of Princeton University and the University of Chicago, he is a frequent speaker on the Middle East, contributing regularly to numerous publications. He is the recipient of the 2013 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship.
If you’re a reader of The Electronic Intifada or get the digest via e-mail, it quickly becomes quite obvious that covering censorship, debunking disinformation, and providing insights that are available nowhere else is really what it’s all about.
He’s the author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse and The Battle for Justice in Palestine. He will be available to sign both during the reception.
Before he comes up, I just want to remind you again, please send up the question cards. We’ll categorize them and get through them efficiently. And that reception is going to be a very, very big deal this year, so make sure you don’t just jump in the car and run away at 5 o’clock. You need to stay for the reception. So please welcome Ali Abunimah.
Ali Abunimah: Thank you. All right. Are you going to run that timer with 18 minutes on it? I received a letter several weeks ago from Grant informing me that I had 18 minutes to speak. I had never seen such a precise organization. Now it’s running. It’s very intimidating. Right.
Well, I’m delighted to be here and among so many people who have been working hundreds of years, collectively – maybe thousands of years – on this issue, and a real depth of knowledge and commitment. I’m very glad to be among you.
The title of the talk is really just to let me kind of have a starting point to say whatever I want. But of course it’s a good starting point, because here in Washington, a city I very rarely travel to, Russiagate is all the rage. If you turn on the television or look at The New York Times or MSNBC or CNN, that’s all they talk about. Of course, now, more than a year into the Russiagate hysteria, there’s nothing to the central narrative that there was collusion between Donald Trump and his team and Russia to steal the election from Hillary Clinton. I think Hillary Clinton was very capable – in fact, I don’t want to take credit away from her – she was entirely capable of losing that election on her own.
Zaid Jilani reports that the U.S. military has no idea what missions are carried out in Yemen by the coalition planes that they refuel:
In a surprising admission on Tuesday, the head of U.S. Central Command – which oversees U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia – admitted that the Pentagon doesn’t know a whole lot about the Saudi airstrikes in Yemen that the United States is supporting through intelligence, munitions, and refueling.
U.S. CENTCOM Cmdr. Gen. Joseph Votel made the admission in response to questions from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“General Votel, does CENTCOM track the purpose of the missions it is refueling? In other words, where a U.S.-refueled aircraft is going, what targets it strikes, and the result of the mission?” Warren asked.
“Senator, we do not,” Votel replied.
If the U.S. military doesn’t track what the coalition planes do after they are refueled, it can’t honestly claim that it isn’t aiding and abetting coalition violations of international law. They don’t know what the coalition planes they refuel do later on, and perhaps they don’t want to know. If the U.S. isn’t tracking how our assistance is used, it isn’t credible to say that our government is using that assistance to change the coalition’s conduct of the war for the better. The U.S. is blindly enabling indiscriminate coalition bombing without making any effort to understand the effects of our support.
Some of what he did say was leaked by the administration: for example, the claim that bin Laden and his ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi [Zarqawi was not an ally of Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden -editor] were working directly with Saddam Hussein to destabilize the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. There was much more, says the analyst who worked at the Pentagon: “I first saw the reports soon after Abu Zubaydah’s capture. There was a lot of stuff about the nuts and bolts of al-Qaeda’s supposed relationship with the Iraqi Intelligence Service. The intelligence community was lapping this up, and so was the administration, obviously. Abu Zubaydah was saying Iraq and al-Qaeda had an operational relationship. It was everything the administration hoped it would be.”
Within the administration, Abu Zubaydah’s interrogation was “an important chapter,” the second analyst says: overall, his interrogation “product” was deemed to be more significant than the claims made by Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, another al-Qaeda captive, who in early 2002 was tortured in Egypt at the C.I.A.’s behest. After all, Abu Zubaydah was being interviewed by Americans. Like the former Pentagon official, this official had no idea that Abu Zubaydah had been tortured.
“As soon as I learned that the reports had come from torture, once my anger had subsided I understood the damage it had done,” the Pentagon analyst says. “I was so angry, knowing that the higher-ups in the administration knew he was tortured, and that the information he was giving up was tainted by the torture, and that it became one reason to attack Iraq.”
Says here Zubaydah wasn’t moved to the black site in Poland until late 2002. Not that I know she wasn’t there too, but “soon after Zubaydah’s capture” means on Haspel’s watch in Thailand it seems fair to conclude.
Dale Sprusansky: I would like to introduce Grant Smith of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, a co-sponsor of this event. Grant and his organization are committed to uncovering and documenting how the Israel lobby works and operates through its research and its Freedom of Information Act requests. Grant is the author of several books on the lobby, his most recent being Big Israel: How Israel’s Lobby Moves America. That book is available for sale at our bookstore and is also now available online as an audiobook.
So with that, I’d like to welcome Grant to the stage who will provide an overview of the lobby and of today’s events. Thank you.
Grant Smith: Thank you, Dale. Welcome, everybody. As he said, I’m going to be reviewing the Israel lobby’s agenda in some detail. It explains, I think, best why we’ve invited this particular group of experts to speak today. I’ll try to mention as many of them as I can as we review the stakes, the very high stakes, and challenges that are being presented here in the United States and globally which are higher than ever before.
The Israel lobby, in terms of a nonprofit sector snapshot – and this is coming out of the database that was compiled for my book Big Israel – is an ecosystem of organizations that advance Israel at very many levels. This is on track to be a $6.3 billion industry in 2020. Nearly 500 separate medium-sized to major organizations – with, certainly, AIPAC and the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League and many others at the top – but if you add it up, it’s almost 17,000 employees, half a million volunteers working in organizations that have the advancement of Israel as one of their primary objectives in the United States.
President Trump’s surprise move to make major changes in his Administration brings forth nominees for CIA director and Secretary of State that have been deeply involved and/or supportive of President Bush’s torture program. Should they be confirmed…or in jail? On today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report: