Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Study in Contrasts Part 1 -- A Mighty Ballyhoo: Daniel Pearl

This article is related to my previous post. To see through the slanted ways information is presented to the American public, one must be alert not only when words such as “controversial” are used, but also when unimportant matters receive a disproportionate amount of publicity, and important matters receive disproportionately small coverage. By such methods Americans are told not only what to think, but what to think about.

Recently I kept seeing adulatory headlines about a new movie called “A Mighty Heart.” There was a virtual saturation bombing of praise of that “major motion picture”, starring Angelina Jolie. I had no idea what it was about, thought it might be a sports story, but it was mentioned so intrusively in so many places over several days that I became suspicious. The anticipated answer soon presented itself: It was of special Jewish interest. It was about the kidnapping and killing of a Jewish journalist, Daniel Pearl.

A major motion picture . . . yet during his life Pearl did nothing more notable than many other reporters. As film critic James Berardinelli wrote, “Most world renowned people have achieved that status as a result of something accomplished during their lives. Unfortunately, Daniel Pearl was among the few who became famous as a result of his death.”

The film was assigned the primary keyword “Anti Semitism” by Internet Movie Database, leaving us with no doubt about its main message. In spite of that and the incredible hype, almost nobody wanted to see it. “A Mighty Heart” fizzled at the box office when released last month and has been called “a mighty disappointment” for Angelina Jolie and Paramount. “The film had its screenings cut in half recently to give it a longer shelf life.” Despite lack of public interest, I expect we'll be treated to TV reruns for years.

Daniel Pearl was a reporter for the “Wall Street Journal”. In Pakistan in 2002, on his way to interview a sheik, he was kidnapped by a group which claimed that Pearl was a CIA agent. They sent the United States a range of demands. When the demands were snubbed, Pearl was then killed in a grisly fashion recorded on videotape. On the Pearl video, pictures of dead Muslims and similar scenes are superimposed around the image of the captive, including pictures of President G.W. Bush shaking hands with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Arabic text reads: ‘”My name is Daniel Pearl. I am a Jewish-American .” The relevancy to his captors of his being Jewish was hatred of Israel, and the belief that US aggressions in the Middle East can be blamed on Zionist influence. Pearl’s final words on the video were "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish," after which he added that a street in Israel's Bene Barak is named after his grandfather.

The point of this post is the disproportionate attention and glorification devoted to one newspaper reporter – not a famous one – when a number of other journalists and Americans killed in the Middle East, including Israel, have quickly sunk into obscurity. The movie has failed, but the mighty machinery that brought it into existence and promoted it also produced a fantastic amount of post-mortem glorification for Daniel Pearl.

Pearl's widow wrote the published memoir, A Mighty Heart , on which the movie was based.

In 2003, a book titled Who Killed Daniel Pearl? was published, authored by Bernard-Henri Lévy.

HBO produced a film titled “The Journalist and The Jihadi: The Murder of Daniel Pearl”, which is still being shown.

Daniel Pearl Music Days have been held worldwide since 2002.

American composer Steve Reich wrote 'The Daniel Variations' in response to Pearl's murder.

In April 2007 Pearl was added to the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach as the first non-Holocaust victim.

In May 2007, the Communications Technology Magnet School at Birmingham High School was renamed the Daniel Pearl Journalism and Communications Magnet.

The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has created a “prestigious” (of course) ADL Daniel Pearl Award.

The Daniel Pearl Foundation was formed by Pearl's parents, Judea Pearl (B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the Technion, Israel) and Ruth. It is understandable that the distressed mother and father would wish to honor and commemorate their son, but the scale of the commemoration is beyond belief, and far beyond the reach of most mothers and fathers. The honorary board of the Daniel Pearl Foundation includes among others, no less than a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, among many other notables such as Christiane Amanpour, Ted Koppel, and Elie Wiesel. The Foundation appears to have very generous funding.

Pearl's parents published a collection of responses sent to them from around the globe, entitled "I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl..” Respondents in the “I Am Jewish” collection include Theodore Bikel, Alan Dershowitz, Kirk Douglas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Larry King, Shimon Peres, Daniel Schorr, Elie Wiesel, and many more.

The purpose of this post will become more dramatically clear in Part 2, when the extravagant glorification of Daniel Pearl will be contrasted with the deliberate neglect of other persons, such as Rachel Corrie, who deserved more fame and commemoration and yet, in contrast to Pearl’s towering pedestal, were deliberately shut away in the dark storerooms of history.


Zoey & Me said...

I will anxiously follow part two as I recall a story on one of the Sunday Morning shows describing over a hundred journalists have lost their lives in Iraq/Afghanistan/ Israel/Palestine. Yet Pearl gets all the headlines.

Fleming said...

Thank you, Zoey. I will be happy for help with part two. It is hard for me to search for people whose deaths and maimings are not given publicity.

I hope that after I post part two there will be comments telling us about some of the "not Daniel Pearls" that I don't know about.

MarcLord said...


If you turn your considerable research skills to the task, you may find that Pearl was on assignment on behalf of the CIA. ;-)

Fleming said...

MarcLord, I wanted to write that Pearl was possibly a CIA agent, as his captors believed, but after a search I didn't find anything to confirm that. If you have a lead, please let us know. I suspect he was a spy.

Freyashawk said...

Excellent post. I think you should write an article as well about the journalists deliberately targeted and killed by the U.S. military and its allies in Iraq! They actaully are martyrs, unlike Pearl, because they were willing to publish the unpalatable realities of the American invasion...

MarcLord said...

There are leads, but no hard evidence. Bob Baer implicated Pearl to leave a trail of bread crumbs under the official story. Two sources claim he was investigating the ISI (one: Tariq Ali, The Guardian, April 5, 2002). And speaking of crumbs, this comment is suited for the application of a handy broom.

The WSJ, a fully-controlled asset, has claimed Pearl was working on the shoe-cracker story at the time of his kidnapping, and only made token efforts at finding him after his disappearance. A fact I'm sure the movie made the most of. Looked at in that context, Pearl's last recorded words may be taken as a coded plea to the Neo-cons inside the stovepipe with Mossad sympathies and ties to get him out.

(Agencies routinely place agents, which used to be called "sheep," into other agencies, into news organizations, the military. This makes it nice for the agent, who in exchange for extra risk can often collect up to two salaries.)

I am not sure Pearl was a CIA agent. He may well have been Mossad, given his ties to Israel, which needed to cover incriminating tracks directly back to the final $100,000 Atta payment by setting a false trail. The ISI may have killed Pearl based upon the latter suspicion, as AQ operated with ISI assistance.

It doesn't really matter who he was with. Here's what I do know: the WSJ was fully aware that Pearl's story was a matter of high national security. From the git. And there's a lot of trademark, very well-coordinated dis-info and deniability surrounding him now. There is no "proof" of what Pearl was doing for whom. However, there is evidence of a switcheroo to protect the agent who sent the fateful check:

"the disinformation apparatus was revisiting the Daniel Pearl thread of the 9/11 Legend, this time with a bombshell UPI exclusive from Richard Sale and Anwar Iqbal, dated September 30, 2002:

"Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was investigating the man who allegedly planned the Sept. 11 airplane hijackings and attacks on New York and Washington when he was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan, according to two Central Intelligence Agency officials.

Bob Baer, a former case officer in the agency's Directorate of Operations, said he provided Pearl with unpublished information about Khalid Shaikh Mohammed . . .

. . . 'I was working with Pearl,' said Baer, who had written a book about his time as a CIA official and has acted as a consultant and source for numerous media outlets. 'We had a joint project. Mohammed was the story he was working on, not Richard Reid.' "

There appeared to be a strategy underlying Baer's timely admission, conveyed several months after he published his best-selling book, See No Evil, which made him the media "go-to guy" concerning CIA weaknesses and blind spots leading up to 9/11. To confirm Baer's stunning admission about Pearl, UPI had conferred with the spokesman of Pakistan's military government, as well as "Pakistani intelligence sources," all of whom who were likewise suggesting that Pearl was more likely tracking down Khalid.

Then what of Omar Saeed Sheikh, the supposed official mastermind of the Pearl kidnapping (and unofficial 9/11 paymaster), now facing a sentence of death? As revealed in the same September 30, 2002 UPI article:

" . . . there were reports that four other men had also been arrested by Pakistani police in connection with the [Pearl] murder. But Pakistani security officials told UPI that in order for the new suspects to be put on trial, the four convicted men would also have to be tried again, because evidence against the new suspects undermined the case against Omar and his accomplices."

It wasn't hard to guess what was going on here. Quite simply, Omar Saeed—after having been definitively edged out of the 9/11 paymaster role by way of the possibly fictitious Mustafa Ahmed al-Hisawi—was now being edged out of the less incendiary Pearl kidnap mastermind role by way of al-Hisawi's alleged money trail accomplice, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed. In other words, Omar Saeed was well on his way to becoming an obscure historical footnote in both of these instances, disappearing down the black hole of the Pakistani justice system as others were being set up to take his place in the spotlight "for the record." More significantly, the official record was now effectively muddying Omar Saeed's prior roles by conflating a new "paymaster" (al-Hisawi) with the new "9/11 mastermind" (Khalid), who was now also explicitly tagged as the mastermind behind the Pearl killing. Thus, a new 9/11/Paymaster/Pearl thread could be officially generated without any noticeable mention of Omar Saeed."

The author of the section above has done a lot of work on the subject.

Fleming said...

Freyashawk, I will certainly try to find out about those journalists, but I think you would do a better job of writing about them. You're already well ahead of me on that subject.

Thank you.

Fleming said...

MarcLord, you know a lot more about Daniel Pearl than I do, and your comment is very welcome. It's a fascinating look at what was going on.

I especially appreciate the clue as to why Pearl spoke so much on tape about being a Jew -- an act which definitely puzzled me while guaranteeing him eternal praise and fame. You wrote: "Pearl's last recorded words may be taken as a coded plea to the Neo-cons inside the stovepipe with Mossad sympathies and ties to get him out."

Vincent said...

Well, I several times tried to watch an especially Jewish film, Barbra Streisand's celebrated Yentl because it was on cable tv on successive afternoons. Every time I fell asleep. Checking the reviews, I found none which damned it as I felt it should be damned: I mean unambiguously and unreservedly, for being one of the worst films I have ever seen. So there may indeed be a conspiracy to suppress any bad words about its subject.

On the other hand the last act of the Blair government over in UK, to bestow a knighthood upon poor Salman Rushdie, seems to be extraordinarily crass. I say "poor" because having written the Satanic Verses he was in fear of his life for many years, living in safe houses guarded by the Special Branch, Now Al Quaeeda have threatened precise vengeance, whatever that means.

To me it is not a political matter, it is not a matter of "caving into terrorism".

If you encounter a hornet's nest in your garden, don't poke sticks at it. that is what I would say.

Fleming said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fleming said...

Vincent, I'm pleased to read your understanding comment on an "untouchable" subject. An awful film with no really bad reviews is a perfect example.

Hilaire Belloc wrote about similar phenomena back in the 1920s. He called it "booming" -- a small group giving itself tremendous amounts of often undeserved good publicity.

To my surprise I have this moment found Belloc's book, "The Jews" (1922), online. What a wonder is the Internet!

I find the text version easier to read than the FTP:

The book is not an attack on Jews but rather a rational analysis and a warning that trouble for them was in the offing in Europe if they continued to behave in certain ways -- a warning which, if heeded, might have spared Jews and the world great suffering only two decades later. The problem with that kind of warning, of course, is that all criticism of Jews by non-Jews, however factually based and balanced, is slammed as “antisemitic", deplored and ignored. If one looks at the "talking points" within some influential Jewish circles, the rule is, "Never admit that Jews have ever done anything to arouse antisemitism. Antisemitism is a social disorder and a mental illness, never attributable to Jewish behaviour."

Here's Belloc's "boom" passage:

'But the general capacity and instinct of the Jew for corporate action in the "booming" of what he wants "boomed" and the "soft pedalling" of what he wants "soft pedalled" is ineradicable. It will always remain a permanent irritant in its effect upon those to whom it is applied. The best proof of it is that after the most violent " boom," after the talents of some particular Jew, or the scientific discovery of another, or the misfortunes of another, or the miscarriage of justice against another, has been shouted at us, pointed and iterated until we are all deafened, there comes an inevitable reaction, and the same men who were half hypnotized into the desired mood are nauseated with it and refuse a repetition of the dose.'

Vincent, I agree with you completely about Salman Rushdie's knighthood. An uncalled-for, incredible provocation. I don't sympathize with the extremism of those who want to kill Rushdie, but doesn’t Britain have enough violence right now without needlessly inviting more?

Daniel said...

Great post, Fleming. Nothing surprises me anymore. Spin is In!

Fleming said...

Thanks, Daniel. Yes, spin, and smoke and mirrors. . . that's the substitute for reality the information machine wants us to see, isn't it?