[NOTE: On Feb. 6, Woodhouse–a JOURNALIST–suddenly realized that I had published all the correspondence printed below, and took offense to that. Scroll to the end for his newest letter to me.]
For many years now, Jon Woodhouse has written the Maui Beat column for The Maui News. It’s a music column that runs each week in the paper’s Maui Scene insert. But as a hobby, he sometimes writes angry letters to me. His latest arrived in my inbox yesterday, and it was a really something.
Apparently, Woodhouse took umbrage at my Feb. 2, 2017 cover story criticizing Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D–Hawaii, for her recent trip to Syria and meeting with dictator Bashar al-Assad. Here’s his letter, in all of its 1,810-word, unedited glory:
“There is no doubt that Assad is a brutal dictator” – Tulsi Gabbard
Well Anthony I knew you would be just itching to attack Tulsi Gabbard one more time as you have repeatedly used Maui Time to criticize her. But a cover story? Wow, you sure have a naïve agenda. Is it ignorance, racism, misogyny, or a love for Hillary that propels your vehemence?
While I have no love for a brutal dictator like Assad and have no doubt about his despicable actions you do a disservice to your readers by merely parroting (maybe unconsciously) a neo-con war agenda without reporting on the deeper issues involved in Syria. It’s so much easier to attack when ignorant of the real purpose of “regime change.”
As you jump on the propaganda machine you might learn something from a new Paste Magazine article hailing her as a “True Maverick,” which points out – “Her attempts to inject a voice of reason and logic into the public discourse were overwhelmed by the roaring din of the mainstream media’s propaganda machine. Gabbard is rapidly becoming something of a media punching bag, having committed the outrage of visiting Syria and, horror of horrors, meeting with President Bashar al-Assad. The media campaign to slander a principled critic of US military aggression is underway, in other words.”
And that’s what you are assisting – a slanderous media campaign.
Way to go with a cheap shot quoting a neo-Nazi in your hit piece, and then you attack her reasoned response to him! Is it any wonder she hasn’t replied to you when it’s obvious you have an axe to grind.
So here’s your history lesson. Maybe you are unaware that the CIA has been meddling in Syria since 1949 when they organized a coup to replace Syria’s democratically elected president at the time.
Robert F Kennedy Jr, Politico, “Why the Arabs Don’t Want Us in Syria” – “The CIA began its active meddling in Syria in 1949,” engineering a coup against democratically elected president, Shukri-al-Kuwaiti – because he hesitated “to approve the Trans Arabian Pipeline, an American project intended to connect the oil fields of Saudi Arabia to the ports of Lebanon via Syria.”
“CIA money failed to corrupt the Syrian military officers. The soldiers reported the CIA’s bribery attempts to the Ba’athist regime. In response, the Syrian army invaded the American Embassy. Syria purged all politicians sympathetic to the U.S. and executed them for treason. In retaliation, the U.S. moved the Sixth Fleet to the Mediterranean, threatened war and goaded Turkey to invade Syria. Even after its expulsion, the CIA continued its secret efforts to topple Syria’s democratically elected Ba’athist government.”
“A parade of Iranian and Syrian dictators, including Bashar al-Assad and his father, have invoked the history of the CIA’s bloody coups as a pretext for their authoritarian rule, repressive tactics and their need for a strong Russian alliance. These stories are well known to the people of Syria and Iran who naturally interpret talk of U.S. intervention in the context of that history.”
The truth about Syria, the US has been trying to overthrow a secular regime that refuses to bow to Washington’s demands to provide access to pipeline corridors that will further strengthen US dominance in the region. It’s a war over control of resources.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. – “Our war against Bashar Assad did not begin with the peaceful civil protests of the Arab Spring in 2011. Instead it began in 2000, when Qatar proposed to construct a $10 billion, 1,500 kilometer pipeline through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Turkey. Qatar shares with Iran the South Pars/North Dome gas field, the world’s richest natural gas repository. The Russians, who sell 70 percent of their gas exports to Europe, viewed the Qatar/Turkey pipeline as an existential threat.”
“Secret cables and reports by the U.S., Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies indicate that the moment Assad rejected the Qatari pipeline, military and intelligence planners quickly arrived at the consensus that fomenting a Sunni uprising in Syria to overthrow the uncooperative Assad was a feasible path to achieving the shared objective of completing the Qatar/Turkey gas link,”
“America’s unsavory record of violent interventions in Syria—little-known to the American people yet well-known to Syrians—sowed fertile ground for the violent Islamic jihadism that now complicates any effective response by our government to address the challenge of ISIL. So long as the American public and policymakers are unaware of this past, further interventions are likely only to compound the crisis.”
In an interview after his trip, Dennis Kucinich said he was shocked to learn there were 93 different jihadi groups in Syria from over 100 different countries, including Uyghurs from China. He said billions of dollars in Syrian oil has been stolen, and more than 1,000 factories have been plundered and had their equipment shipped to Turkey.
IHS-Jane’s Defence Weekly estimated in October that as many as five thousand Uighur fighters have arrived in Turkey since 2013, with perhaps two thousand moving on to Syria. They’re fighting with Al-Nusra Front (the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda), Ahrar Al-sham and ISIS.
Tulsi reported she met with Trump to counsel against the neocon warmongers wanting to up the war in Syria, like Hillary wanting a no-fly zone, which most military experts said could precipitate war with Russia.
Pulitzer winning journalist Seymour Hersh in London Review of Books Jan 7, 2016 – “Gabbard told me that many of her colleagues in Congress, Democrats and Republicans, have thanked her privately for speaking out. ‘There are a lot of people in the general public, and even in the Congress, who need to have things clearly explained to them,’ Gabbard said. ‘But it’s hard when there’s so much deception about what is going on. The truth is not out’.”
Quoting Seymour Hersh again: “Barack Obama’s repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office – and that there are ‘moderate’ rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him – has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff.”
“The military’s resistance dates back to the summer of 2013, when a highly classified assessment, put together by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then led by General Martin Dempsey, forecast that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to chaos and, potentially, to Syria’s takeover by jihadi extremists, much as was then happening in Libya. A former senior adviser to the Joint Chiefs told me that the document was an ‘all-source’ appraisal, drawing on information from signals, satellite and human intelligence, and took a dim view of the Obama administration’s insistence on continuing to finance and arm the so-called moderate rebel groups.”
“The document showed, the adviser said, ‘that what was started as a covert US programme to arm and support the moderate rebels fighting Assad had been co-opted by Turkey, and had morphed into an across-the-board technical, arms and logistical programme for all of the opposition, including Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State. The so-called moderates had evaporated and the Free Syrian Army was a rump group stationed at an airbase in Turkey.’ The assessment was bleak: there was no viable ‘moderate’ opposition to Assad, and the US was arming extremists.”
“Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings to the civilian leadership about the dire consequences of toppling Assad. The jihadists, he said, were in control of the opposition.”
Tulsi has reported – “In 2014, the DOD provided weapons, including Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided (TOW) weapons to an umbrella group called Harakat Hazam. This was considered one of our most reliable partners in Syria. By early 2015, that completely changed. This group disbanded. Its fighters joined Islamist extremist groups (the same groups they claimed to oppose just months before). The result – we armed our enemy.”
In the past Assad has helped in the US. A longtime consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command said that, after 9/11, ‘Bashar was, for years, extremely helpful to us while, in my view, we were churlish in return, and clumsy in our use of the gold he gave us. That quiet co-operation continued among some elements, even after the [Bush administration’s] decision to vilify him.’ In 2002, Assad authorized Syrian intelligence to turn over hundreds of internal files on the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and Germany to the US. The same year Syrian intelligence foiled an attack by al-Qaida on the headquarters of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. Assad also secretly turned over to the US relatives of Saddam Hussein who had sought refuge in Syria.
Hersh, by the way, also reported that a secret agreement in 2012 was reached between the Obama Administration and the leaders of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, to set up a sarin gas attack and blame it on Assad so that the US could invade and overthrow Assad.
You wrongly state she has not criticized a Trump move – Tulsi, who visited Standing Rock, criticized the pipeline expansion on Twitter. “The Dakota Access Pipeline issue is about respect — respecting sacred land, the right to clean water & the land we live on.” “We must protect our water.”
And by the way the Department of Defense (DOD) was officially alerted that Tulsi Gabbard, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, would travel to Syria before she did. so this week. “I can confirm that Department of Defense officials were aware of Rep. Gabbard’s travel, but played no role in organizing her trip,” U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Adrian Rankine-Galloway.
Again from Paste Magazine – “It’s nice to be reminded on occasion that not all of our so-called representatives in Congress have gone over to the dark side. While the majority of our federal lawmakers exist to blindly serve the military-industrial complex and other corporate interests, a select few do appear to be intent on restoring the American public’s faith in government.”
In resigning as Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee – “Gabbard, in other words, took a moral stand against Hillary Clinton and her bloodthirsty band of “humanitarian interventionists,” whose hawkish machinations over the last fifteen years have transformed the Middle East into a perpetual warzone.”
A Tulsi quote – “Even the ‘best case’ scenario—that the U.S. successfully overthrows the Syrian government of Assad—would obligate the United States to spend trillions of dollars and the lives of American service members in the futile effort to create a new Syria. This is what we have been trying to do in Iraq for twelve years, and we still have not succeeded. The situation in Syria will be much more difficult than in Iraq.”
So good job furthering fake news Anthony.
Next time a little more research might help.
Thanks Jon! I always know I got the story right when you criticize me.
Really, that’s the maturity level of your response? That you “got the story right” because I attempted to point out, by quoting some well respected sources, support for what Tulsi is trying to accomplish by keeping us out of another war. I expected something a little more intelligent. Oh well.
Did you even read the story? Your letter was ridiculous. You accuse me of crimes I didn’t commit. Where in the story do I advocate war in Syria? I do the opposite.
The point of the article, which you either missed or ignored, is that it’s possible to oppose U.S. fighting in Syria AND decide that Assad is a butcher who deserves no official recognition. What Gabbard did was convey a legitimacy on him that can never be undone. That is a crime deserving of many more words than I threw at her.
I just discovered you published my letter to you on your web site. Someone, who I don’t know, sent me an email about it being published and thanking me “for writing the informed response to Maui Time.”
I never intended it for publication, and I did not give you permission to publish it, which I understand by law you need to have. It was not a comment or letter to the editor, and was not addressed to editor@mauitime.
I sent it because I find there is a general limited knowledge of the geopolitical situation in Syria, and I hoped that some deeper background might further understanding.
I was surprised to learn I have a hobby of sending angry letters to you, as besides my Tulsi/Syria one I only remember complaining about the way Kaniela Ing was being treated in the local press, including Maui Time. Were there more?
I find Tulsi Gabbard to be quite courageous in standing up to the establishment and pursuing her own path, which has inflamed both the right and the left. It has been disconcerting to see her treated so shabbily in the media, and even by most of the alternative press.
It seems we live in a time of hyper-reactivity, where strident positions are held that view the world in black and white terms, with no room for nuance or pragmatic understanding, or taking time to dig below the obvious surface.
As far as the legality of Maui Time posting my letter I draw your attention to this – According to my research online – Letters are like any other form of written expression and are copyrighted. The letter writer owns the copyright on the letter. The recipient may not use another’s copyrighted material without their permission. Emails technically fall under copyright protection.
As the recipient of the letter, legally you cannot publish the entirety of a letter without the writer’s consent. You can, however, quote portions of a letter sent to you, to the extent permitted by fair use. As to what constitutes fair use – 30 words is likely fair use, while quoting 100, 200 etc. is not.
This is a joke, right? Tell me you’re not this stupid. Please tell me this is a joke.You sent a letter to the editor. You sent it to my newspaper email. I can publish that.And you know what? I’m publishing this too. Right now!