Elite Impunity Matters: Bob Mueller, Valerie Plame and the Left


Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson

If one of Donald Trump’s oafish sons outed a covert intelligence agent tomorrow — in an angry tweet disclosing their party registration or in a clumsy boast to an Instagram thirst-trap — it would prompt a newscycle of clucking from former national security officials and their conventionally liberal interrogators. A spook would call it “treason,” a cable-news Democrat would say it’s “treasonous,” and the alleged traitor himself would either apologize, half heartedly, or double down in appearance on Fox & Friends. Life, for better or worse, would go on. Nothing matters.

In terms of ultimate consequences, this would not be altogether different than what happened under the presidency of George W. Bush. Back then, the ghoulish vice president’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, got caught leaking the name of clandestine CIA agent Valerie Plame, an act of retaliation spurred by Plame’s ex-diplomat husband, Joseph Wilson, and his undermining the White House’s claims about Iraq with more accurate testimony of his own — the “Deep State” conspiracy of the mid-2000s. There was a special counsel and an indictment, albeit not for the underlying crime but for lying to investigators, and while everyone pretty much knew something like this wouldn’t have happened without at least a wink from up top, no one above Libby ever faced a trial.

It was a disappointment for progressives, some of whom had turned prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald into a pin-up, but few outside the right considered it an exoneration. “Legal or not, the Plame leak was wrong,” wrote David Corn, then-Washington editor of The Nation. “One doesn’t need indictments — or convictions — to see this case as a clear representation of the way Bush and his crew do business.” The involvement of higher ups like Karl Rove was not in question (the senior Bush operative had been caught misleading investigators), and most suspected Dick Cheney’s chief of staff wouldn’t out a spook without at least a nod from his boss, but neither was charged with a crime.

Fitzgerald may have determined he lacked a powerful enough case, but then weaker cases are prosecuted everyday; one should always be mindful that those with the most power never face the same justice as those with the least (Libby had his sentence commuted by Bush before receiving a full, message-sending pardon from Trump). All on the left who cared about this affair, and were concerned that the world’s most powerful reactionaries were getting away with it, had no illusions about Valerie Plame’s employer and what it did: a lot of evil. Sympathy was tactical; when conservatives attacked the agency and its employees for being pinkos undermining a militarist, there was an understanding that they were doing so for bad reasons; no one cheered this as justice for Salvador Allende.

Could the left maturely address such a matter today, or would the siren’s call of aloof vulgarity prove too strong? To ask is to already know the answer — there is hardly a need for a thought experiment here. We already have this Russia stuff: the emails hacked by the government of Russia, laundered to WikiLeaks and openly welcomed by the Trump campaign, a fact — that this was happening, and that it mattered — mocked by the most avowedly cynical pundits among us even as these same people breathlessly reported on emailed banalities fed to them by the intelligence operation in question. The report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, or the Trump administration’s brief summary of it, has been welcomed with an unsettling glee by those who have long denied what it only confirmed: that the DNC break-in was carried out by the Russian government to help elect the current president.

Forget Valerie Plame: If Watergate were to happen now, righteous commentators would be defending their stories on what G. Gordon Liddy found in the DNC’s office, while at the same dismissing its relevance to an election that saw the Democratic nominee lose 49 states.

It is certainly a disappointment that we live in a world where a former FBI director did not, per the Attorney General’s summary, build a legally viable case for the unprecedented removal of a U.S. president from office. An excitable few may have expected that, but I suspect most of them are made of straw. Even so, it is of note that this is still no official exoneration, either: William Barr’s stated reason for not pursuing televised-and-tweeted obstruction of justice — the sort of thing that can prevent a prosecutor from obtaining the clear evidence needed to successfully prosecute a criminal conspiracy at the highest level — is that the underlying crime was not proven. The logic is more coherent than we’re used to from figures in the Trump administration, but it is nonetheless circular.

It is likewise strange for the successful prosecution of a sitting president, or an official accusation of treason against them, to be a progressive standard for assessing whether a crime was committed. By June 2016 it was known beyond all but a Kremlin apologist’s doubt that Russian military intelligence had hacked the Democrats and created a persona, Guccifer 2.0, to disseminate what they stole. The Trump campaign knew this even earlier thanks to its own contacts with Russian intelligence cutouts. Still, the future president’s son, Donald Jr., nonetheless accepted a meeting that month with a Russian lawyer based on the belief that he was about to receive “high level and sensitive information” on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

I love it,” the son responded, a couple days before the DNC announced it had been hacked. Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer at the time, told Congress he believes the future president was aware of the meeting — and that, “yes,” he’d totally do collusion, if he could. Both exchanges read like liberal fanfiction, and would be dismissed as such in most other universes.

But we live in this one, and it is crucial that the left live there too, where an outcome one may not otherwise care about, has real implications for how power, always learning, behaves in the future. It is not a good thing when the most powerful man in the world can openly obstruct justice. Aside from the issue of collusion  — so narrowly defined by Trump’s Attorney General as to exclude anything but an explicit agreement between the campaign and an actual government official, on the specific issue of hacking the DNC — Trump openly sought to prevent others from settling the questions around Russian anti-democratic actions in the 2016 election. This, like the commander in chief’s open fondness for authoritarianism at home and abroad, is another unfortunate lesson for those who will follow him, here and elsewhere.

Charles R. Davis is a writer in Los Angeles whose work has aired on public radio and been published by outlets such as Columbia Journalism Review, The Daily Beast, The Guardian and The New Republic.


Posted in CIA, Donald Trump, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Who Is Charles Redvers? How a Fake Man Got His Start


I just assumed they didn’t know, because the alternative — a credible news organization publishing a long-time contributor, but giving him a different name and nationality — did not make much sense. I assumed, then, that openDemocracy had been fooled; that when John Perry, a British man, got himself published as “Charles Redvers,” a Canadian, it had been through trickery. Believing this, I told them what I had found: that Perry had been going around telling other publications that he was Mr. “Redvers,” trumpeting his byline at openDemocracy and using the fake identity to circulate a false confession, recorded in a prison, from a Nicaraguan woman who told me she had been tortured.

An editor said “thanks” and then ignored all subsequent communication (questions like: Are you planning to do something about it?). But admitting mistakes is hard, I reminded by wounded ego, and it is entirely possible they think it is I whom is the crank. So I went ahead and published my investigation at The Daily Beast, confident that, once in the public domain, openDemocracy would no longer be able to ignore the fact they had published a man who is not real.

But that is what they did. Only after tagging an editor on Twitter, weeks later, was there the first bit of transparency: it was an inside job. According to social media chief Sunny Hundal, an editor at openDemocracy had published the story from the “Redvers,” ostensibly a Canuck in the Nicaraguan city of Leon, knowing that it was John Perry, a Brit in the city of Masaya — a fact that openDemocracy itself still does not acknowledge on its website.

Screenshot_2018-10-30 Nicaragua_s failed coup openDemocracy

After some more prodding, openDemocracy now asserts that Charles Redvers is “a pseudonym,” of whom they do not say, despite it having been reported. They note the privilege of anonymity is occasionally extended “when there are legitimate security concerns,” a belated disclaimer not to be found, obviously, on any of the Sandinista-run websites that republished the piece.

Screenshot_2018-10-30 Charles Redvers

A couple things jump out here, the first of them perverse: John Perry is not a dissident, but rather a partisan of a Nicaraguan government that has been found responsible, by human rights organizations and the United Nations, of the vast majority of the violence the once-tranquil Central American nation has seen since anti-government protests began in April. He was using his platform, as Redvers, at openDemocracy, to argue that Nicaraguan security forces were literally incapable of torture (and that the opposition was funded by the same arms of the U.S. government as openDemocracy itself); he then used the identity, and the credibility of openDemocracy, to spread a video of a tortured student activist, this time at the far less credible Grayzone website.


The other thing is that openDemocracy did not actually grant anonymity, in this case. Rather, it lied to its readers: it said a man they knew was somebody else, from somewhere else, living somewhere else. At that point, Redvers is not a pseudonym, but a deception — one coauthored by an editor who had, as all journalists have, a duty to not knowingly lie to their audience.

“This looks like a serious issue to me,” Guardian columnist George Monbiot noted on Twitter. “I love openDemocracy, and want to see its excellent standards upheld. So it seems important that the issue is resolved in favour of transparency asap.”

Mary Fitzgerald, editor in chief of openDemocracy, tells me the editor responsible for this decision has been informed that they screwed up — that the use of a fake name must always be noted. But we already know who “Redvers” is, and that this was a fraudulent identity, not just a pen name, however welcome the acknowledgement that no one exists with that name (at least no one with strong opinions about Daniel Ortega). What we don’t know is why anyone at openDemocracy considered it ethical to cosign and publish claims that were known at the time to be false.

Ethical lapses happen, and one like this does not damn openDemocracy forever. But it owes its readers more. Deception requires an explanation, not just an asterisk and a note where one should have been before. Charles Redvers, which is to say, John Perry, exploited the credibility of openDemocracy to lend legitimacy to his manufactured identity and the torture-confession video he laundered on behalf of the Ortega government. Both he and his editor should come clean.

Charles Davis is a journalist in Los Angeles whose work has aired on public radio and been published by outlets such as The Daily Beast, The Guardian and The New Republic.

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Julian Assange Reveals: Holocaust Denier Is a Trusted ‘Friend’


Julian Assange barely even knows the far-right, Holocaust-denying Russian kook with six different names, the latest being “Israel Shamir.” That was the line in March 2011, per a statement from WikiLeaks, released amid what the head of the former transparency organization reportedly claimed was a Jewish-orchestrated campaign to smear him.

Israel Shamir has never worked or volunteered for WikiLeaks, in any manner, whatsoever. He has never written for WikiLeaks or any associated organization, under any name and we have no plan that he do so. He is not an ‘agent’ of WikiLeaks. He has never been an employee of WikiLeaks and has never received monies from WikiLeaks or given monies to WikiLeaks or any related organization or individual. However, he has worked for the BBC, Haaretz, and many other reputable organizations.

It is false that Shamir is ‘an Assange intimate’.

Months before, Julian Assange himself disputed this. In a letter from November 2010, just obtained by the Associated Press, the WikiLeaks founder wrote:

I, Julian Assange, hereby grant full authority to my friend, Israel Shamir, to both drop off and collect my passport, in order to get a visa, at the Russian Consulate, London.

A month later, Shamir would travel to Belarus, handing the pro-Russian dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, U.S. diplomatic cables, obtained by WikiLeaks detailing America,  interactions with Belarusian opposition figures, some of whom would end up arrested, or dead.

But we already knew Assange was intimately familiar with the odious Shamir; all one needed to do was read what those slandered as MSM smear-artists were reporting, credibly, at the time. For example, as former WikiLeaks staffer James Ball noted in a piece for The Guardian back in November 2011:

Shamir has a years-long friendship with Assange, and was privy to the contents of tens of thousands of US diplomatic cables months before WikiLeaks made public the full cache. Such was Shamir’s controversial nature that Assange introduced him to WikiLeaks staffers under a false name. Known for views held by many to be antisemitic, Shamir aroused the suspicion of several WikiLeaks staffers – myself included – when he asked for access to all cable material concerning “the Jews”, a request which was refused.

When questions were asked about Shamir’s involvement with WikiLeaks, given his controversial background and unorthodox requests, we were told in no uncertain terms that Assange would not condone criticism of his friend.

Assange would subsequently accuse his former colleague of making “libelous” accusations about him. But, despite electing to reside in Britain, rather than defend himself in Sweden from allegations of sexual assault, Assange did not take advantage of the country’s liberal defamation laws.

Thanks to a leak, we have a better idea why  and further evidence that one should not blindly trust the public statements of political celebrities. The question now is not whether Assange is a serial liar prone to bouts of defamatory projection, but whether his friend, Israel Shamir, had an ulterior motive for providing U.S. cables to an ally of the Kremlin just weeks after the WikiLeaks founder had used him to request assistance from Russian officials.

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Despite the Violence, Trump Keeps on Deporting Nicaraguans


In April, U.S. and Nicaraguan officials signed an agreement aimed at speeding up the removal of undocumented Nicaraguans living in the United States.

More than 200 Nicaraguans are in U.S. custody and facing imminent deportation back to a country where the White House, the United Nations and human rights organizations say the government of President Daniel Ortega is killing its own people. The Ortega government, in fact, will be assisting in the process as one of a handful of formal, authorized partners of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

More than 300 Nicaraguans have been killed, a large majority at the hands of the state and pro-government paramilitaries, since anti-Ortega protests began in April. The Trump administration has responded to the violence by recently demanding the return of vehicles it had donated to the Nicaraguan police, claiming they were used to put down protests. It has not stopped deporting Nicaraguan nationals back to the violence, however, and despite casting protesters as tools of the U.S. government, Managua continues to assist in expediting the removal of its citizens.

Between October 2017 and August 2018, the U.S. deported at least 719 Nicaraguan nationals, according to ICE spokesperson Brendan Raedy. The agency deported 832 Nicaraguans in the prior fiscal year, and 795 the year before.

“With approximately a month left in the current fiscal year,” Raedy said, “you can clearly see removal numbers are very much in line with years prior.”

That is indeed true. However, other officials claims regarding the deportation of Nicaraguans have proven misleading.

“As you may be aware,” Raedy told me, “the most common manner in which illegal aliens come to the attention of ICE is when they break another law in addition to being in the United States without lawful status.”

But the statistics he provided show that the majority of Nicaraguans deported by ICE are not what the agency refers to as “convicted criminals” — a term that can conjure up images of murderers and rapists but which encompasses those guilty of no more than traffic violations. Of the 219 Nicaraguans in ICE detention with a final order of removal, just 97 had convictions on their record.

Charles Davis is a journalist in Los Angeles. His work has aired on public radio and been published by The Daily Beast, The Guardian and The New Republic.

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Woodward’s Book Should Kill the Myth of a Pro-War Coup Against an Antiwar President


The unhinged, racist demagogue with a non-interventionist mindset is being undermined by the liberal-neoconservative Deep State because he refuses to to let the CIA kill Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator with a massive body count that is none of our business.

It’s a popular notion among those with a soft spot for reactionary isolationists, the notion, popularized by a founding editor of The Intercept, that Donald J. Trump is engaged in an internal war with the U.S. empire. The U.S. president, of course, campaigned on escalating every conflict he would inherit, but he had nice things to say about a once and future CIA partner and his bloody war on terror; confusingly, this meant he was — relative to those looking to start WWIII by saying Russian imperialism is bad — an antiwar lesser evil

In power, Trump has bombed a couple empty Syrian regime targets, sure, but as his ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, recently suggested, those strikes were, in effect, an effort to make U.S. condonation, if not de facto U.S. support, of the Assad regime’s scorched-earth total war more palatable. “If they want to continue to go the route of taking over Syria, they can do that,” Haley remarked, “but they can not do it with chemical weapons.”

Trump’s unwillingness to deep-six Bashar purportedly stood in stark contrast to Hillary Clinton, who campaigned, let us suppose, on bunker-busting Damascus and Moscow in order to achieve regime change for Syrian al-Qaeda. As The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald explained on Democracy Now! a few weeks after Trump took office:

The CIA and the intelligence community were vehemently in support of Clinton and vehemently opposed to Trump, from the beginning. And the reason was, was because they liked Hillary Clinton’s policies better than they liked Donald Trump’s. One of the main priorities of the CIA for the last five years has been a proxy war in Syria, designed to achieve regime change with the Assad regime. Hillary Clinton was not only for that, she was critical of Obama for not allowing it to go further, and wanted to impose a no-fly zone in Syria and confront the Russians. Donald Trump took exactly the opposite view. He said we shouldn’t care who rules Syria; we should allow the Russians, and even help the Russians, kill ISIS and al-Qaeda and other people in Syria. So, Trump’s agenda that he ran on was completely antithetical to what the CIA wanted. Clinton’s was exactly what the CIA wanted, and so they were behind her. And so, they’ve been trying to undermine Trump for many months throughout the election. And now that he won, they are not just undermining him with leaks, but actively subverting him.

That Trump’s “agenda” was a) coherent, and b) “completely antithetical to what the CIA wanted” was, at the time, a bizarre thing to argue. Some CIA officials, like many others, have surely recognized that the president of the United States is a reckless buffoon, but it is not because he is at war with the agenda of an intelligence community that he has gifted a record-high budget and a blessing to largely do as it pleases. In Syria, the alleged inspiration for an unprecedented deep-state coup d’état, Trump has been killing loads of Syrians — has been bombing mosques — with about as many objections from the deep state as from the anti-imperialists who learned to love the war on terror, which is to say: none at all.

When U.S. munitions have fallen on the regime of Bashar al-Assad (popularly shortened to “Syria”), the strikes have been, from the perspective of those who don’t support Assad or Trump but hate their critics more, blessedly cosmetic. But that is not, according to a new book from veteran journalist Bob Woodward, because Trump is instinctively opposed to Iraq 2.0 (not to be confused with the ongoing U.S. air war, in Iraq).

Per The Washington Post:

After Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched a chemical attack on civilians in April 2017, Trump called Mattis and said he wanted to assassinate the dictator. “Let’s fucking kill him! Let’s go in. Let’s kill the fucking lot of them,” Trump said, according to Woodward.

Mattis told the president that he would get right on it. But after hanging up the phone, he told a senior aide: “We’re not going to do any of that. We’re going to be much more measured.” The national security team developed options for the more conventional airstrike that Trump ultimately ordered.

The takeaway here is not that Trump is committed to regime change, but rather that he is constitutionally militaristic, impulsive and, as recognized by everyone around him, an idiot child — one who would soon forget why he wanted to kill the fellow head of a pathetic but deadly personality cult, likely by the time of his next Fox News-induced, white nationalist temper tantrum.

The U.S. president, an adult man, is no doubt aware that Bashar al-Assad is still alive, having just sent a delegation of U.S. intelligence officials, who purportedly want to overthrow them both, to meet with their regime counterparts in Damascus. General Mattis, it seems, correctly gauged that the president was simply mad and raving on the toilet, as is his wont.

It is not the first time, however, that generals have undermined a whimsical urge to steal the day’s headlines by starting another war: the U.S. president earlier floated the idea of invading Venezuela, to the chagrin of all the beribboned figures with whom he has chosen to surround himself. These are neither heroes nor coup-plotters, those natsec establishment types who challenge or on occasion ignore a mentally unfit president’s impulsive desire to kill, but people who have freely chosen to associate with Trump because they are generally pleased by his agenda, including a willingness to let the military and intelligence community manage their own affair; his outbursts are an unpleasant cost of what is by and large business as usual.

Deranged, it always was, to believe a U.S. “deep state” would seek to regime-change such a compliant U.S. president as Donald J. Trump because he wouldn’t given them Assad’s head on a platter. It is poetic justice, if not all that funny, for it to be revealed that it was Trump himself who wanted to knock off, however briefly, Clinton’s “reformer.”

Those who have spent years now arguing for the existence of a deep divide between Trump and the military-industrial complex, so large as to spur a coup — over Syria, incredibly, where the preservation of the regime in Damascus has long been the establishment consensus, with varying degrees of transparency — ought to be seen as no less dangerously clownish than the president they compulsively defend, from enemies real and imagined.

Charles Davis is a journalist in Los Angeles whose work has aired on public radio and been published by outlets such as The Daily Beast, The Guardian and The New Republic.

Posted in Journalism Watch, Syria, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘Kill All Citations?’ Many More Examples of Angela Nagle Lifting From Others

Angela Nagle has written a very short book, Kill All Normies, that as I reported for The Daily Beast — and others noticed at Libcom — is heavily dependent on research and phrasing of uncredited others. I didn’t get to include each and every example, editors and attention spans being what they are, but there sure are a lot.

Here, on this blog, I will continue noting examples of Nagle, billed as an expert on “internet-culture,” SJWs and the alt-right, borrowing others’ writing on these topics without attribution.

But first, a reminder of how blatant Nagle’s plagiarism was already shown to be. As I noted in the piece, she rips off this graf nearly word for word.



In 2011, Elam established the site Register-Her.com, which publishes the personal information of women the site claims “have caused significant harm to innocent individuals either by the direct action of crimes like rape, assault, child molestation and murder, or by the false accusation of crimes against others.” While the list includes women who have been sent to prison for various crimes, it also includes others who were acquitted, and…. lists any rape victim whose court case results in anything but a full conviction and sentencing as a “false accuser”.

Kill All Normies:

In 2011, Elam established the vigilante doxxing site Register-Her.com, which publishes the personal information of women the site claims ‘have caused significant harm to innocent individuals either by the direct action of crimes like rape, assault, child molestation and murder, or by the false accusation of crimes against others.’… While the list included women who have been sent to prison for various crimes, it also included others who were acquitted and lists female rape victims whose court cases didn’t result in a full conviction as a ‘false accuser’.

If that’s not enough to raise an eyebrow, consider these other examples of copying, pasting, and lightly tweaking others’ work. Wikipedia remains a popular source, with Nagle extensively copying an entry on Northwestern University Professor Laura Kipnis.

(Several examples were also identified by plagiarism software, which one can use to verify my work; I will list the number on the report in brackets before the examples it also found.)

[Turnitin #78]


In March 2015 Kipnis wrote an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education in which she decried a prevailing “sexual paranoia” on campuses and discussed professor-student sexual relationships and trigger warnings.

Kill All Normies, p. 79:

In March 2015, Laura Kipnis wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education, in which she criticized the atmosphere of ‘sexual paranoia’ on campuses, defended professor-student sexual relationships and criticized trigger warnings.


A group of students at Northwestern protested, demanding that the administration reaffirm its commitment to the policies that Kipnis criticized.

Kill All Normies, p. 79:

A group of students protested in response, demanding that the administration reaffirm its commitment to the policies that Kipnis criticized.


Protesters carried a mattress in reference to Emma Sulkowicz’s earlier protest at Columbia University.

Kill All Normies, p. 79:

They carried a mattress — a reference to Emma Sulkowicz’s earlier protest at Columbia University against rape on campus.


Invoking Title IX, two graduate students filed complaints with Northwestern’s Title IX office against Kipnis, arguing that her essay had had a “chilling effect” on students’ ability to report sexual misconduct.

Kill All Normies, p. 79:

Invoking university legislation, two grad students filed complaints against Kipnis, arguing that her article, which she has since expanded into a book, would deter students from reporting sexual misconduct.

Nagle also borrows phrasing, structure and some history from “neoreactionary” writer Ash Milton, who is uncredited.

[Turnitin #77]

An Introduction To The European New Right,” by Ash Milton:

[T]he ENR [European New Right] aimed to promote a “Gramscianism of the Right,” adapting the theories of Antonio Gramsci that political change… follows – cultural and social change.

Kill All Normies (Chapter Three, ‘Gramscians of the alt-light’), p. 42:

The French New Right or Nouvelle Droite adapted the theories of Antonio Gramsci that political change follows cultural and social change.

An Introduction To The European New Right,” by Ash Milton:

In the words of Het Vlaams Blok leader Filip Dewinter, “the ideological majority is more important than the parliamentary majority.”

Prior to 1968, reactionaries had taken the line that… the common people were still inherently conservative…. We can see this echoed today in the “silent majority” and “Main Street” rhetoric of modern conservatives. The ENR’s [European New Right’s] aim was to break with… [the] view: that defeat of revolutionary elites would enable to restoration of a traditional order.

Kill All Normies, p. 42-43:

Belgian far-right anti-immigration party Vlaams Blok leader Filip Dewinter put it like this: ‘the ideological majority is more important than the parliamentary majority.’

Prior to 1968, the right had taken the view that ‘ordinary people’ were still inherently conservative, which you can see echoed today in the ‘silent majority’ rhetoric of modern establishment conservatives. The French New Right’s Gramscian aim… was to break with the view that defeat of radical elites or vanguards would enable the restoration of a popular traditional order….

An Introduction To The European New Right,” by Ash Milton:

1968 and its era were a proof to the ENR that the culture itself would have to be retaken before change could come at the political level. This led it to pursue a project of “metapolitics”; its thinkers scorned party and even “radical” activism, preferring to rethink philosophical foundations and create cultural memes to counter the ’68er ideology of Social Progress.

Kill All Normies, p. 43:

1968 and the rise of the New Left was proof to the demoralized right that the whole culture would now have to be retaken before formal political change could come. This led to the pursuit of a ‘metapolitics’, and a rejection of the political party and traditional activism within a section of the right. Instead, they set about rethinking their philosophical foundations and creating new ways to counter the ‘68 ideology of Social Progress.

Nagle also takes another definition from Wikipedia without identifying the source, which the online encyclopedia insists is a violation of its license.


The cultural turn is a movement beginning in the early 1970s among scholars in the humanities and social sciences to make culture the focus of contemporary debates; it also describes a shift in emphasis toward meaning and away from a positivist epistemology.

Kill All Normies, p. 62:

In academia, the ‘cultural turn’ saw a radical shift in scholarship whereby universities made culture the focus of contemporary debates. It also meant a shift in emphasis toward meaning and away from a positivist epistemology….

Her biography of far-right radio host Alex Jones also comes from the site.

[Turnitin #135]


He has accused the US government of being involved in the Oklahoma City bombing, the September 11 attacks, and the filming of fake Moon landings to hide NASA’s secret technology.

Kill All Normies, p. 51:

He has accused the US government of orchestrating the Oklahoma City bombing, the September 11th attacks and a fake moon landing.

Finally, her descriptions of various popular memes are derived from another, niche online encyclopedia.

[Turnitin #76]


Idiot Nerd Girl is an advice animal image macro series featuring a photo of a teenage girl wearing thick rimmed glasses with the word “NERD” written on the palm of her left hand. The upper caption often contains references to “geek culture” while the bottom caption demonstrates a lack of knowledge or expertise in the subject.

Kill All Normies, p. 107:

[T]he ‘Idiot Nerd Girl’ meme, which appeared around May 2010, featured a photo of a teenage girl wearing thick-rimmed glasses with the word ‘nerd’ written on the palm of her hand. The upper caption contained references to ‘geek culture’, while the bottom caption demonstrates a lack of subcultural knowledge.

[Turnitin #201]


On May 29th, a post about the incident reached the front page of /r/news, where it garnered more than 7,100 votes (87% upvoted) and 6,200 comments in the next two days. The same day, a petition titled “Justice for Harambe” was created on Change.org which called for authorities to hold the child’s parents responsible for Harambe’s death. Within 48 hours, the petition gained over 338,000 signatures. Meanwhile, the hashtags #JusticeForHarambe and #RIPHarambe began circulating on both Facebook and Twitter.

Kill All Normies, p. 11:

On the same day that a post about the incident reached the front page of Reddit news, a petition titled ‘Justice for Harambe’ was created on Change.org, which called for authorities to hold the child’s parents responsible for Harambe’s death, gaining hundreds of thousands of signatures. Soon, the mostly ironically used hashtags #JusticeForHarambe and #RIPHarambe began circulating.

Altering a few choice words copied from others is known as “patch writing,” for which CNN suspended host Fareed Zakaria in 2014.


Nagle also rewrites Wikipedia’s entry on the 2014 Isla Vista killings.

[Turnitin #177 identifies the source as Murderpedia, which appears to take the text from Wikipedia].


The rampage ended when….. Police found him dead in the car with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Before driving to the sorority house, Rodger uploaded to YouTube a video titled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution”…. He explained that he wanted to punish women for rejecting him.

Kill All Normies, p. 95:

The rampage ended when police found him dead in his car with a gunshot wound to the head. Rodger had uploaded a final video to YouTube, titled ‘Elliot Rodger’s Retribution’. In it, he described his desire to punish women for rejecting him.


Rodger e-mailed a lengthy autobiographical manuscript… titled “My Twisted World”….. In it, he described his… frustration over not being able to find a girlfriend, his hatred of women, his contempt for racial minorities and interracial couples.

Kill All Normies, p. 95:

Rodger also left behind a lengthy autobiographical manuscript, titled My Twisted World. He described his sexual frustration, his hatred of women who kept thwarting his desire to have sexual relationships with them… and his contempt for interracial couples.


The manifesto specifically mentions a “War on Women”….:

The Second Phase will take place on the Day of Retribution itself, just before the climactic massacre. … My War on Women. … I will attack the very girls who represent everything I hate in the female gender: The hottest sorority of UCSB.

Kill All Normies, p. 96:

He mentions a ‘War on Women’:

The Second Phase will take place on the Day of Retribution itself, just before the climactic massacre… My War on Women… I will attack the very girls who represent everything I hate in the female gender: The hottest sorority of UCSB.


Angela Nagle does not just copy others’ work, without attribution, in her book. Here she does the same thing in a piece for The Baffler.


The rampage ended when his car crashed into a parked vehicle and came to a stop. Police found him dead in the car with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

The New Man of 4chan,” by Angela Nagle:

The rampage ended when he crashed into a parked vehicle; police found him dead in his car with a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his head.


Rodger uploaded to YouTube a video titled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution”, in which he outlined details of his upcoming attack and his motives. He explained that he wanted to punish women for rejecting him.

The New Man of 4chan,” by Angela Nagle:

Rodger uploaded a final video to YouTube, titled “Elliot Rodger’s Retribution,” outlining his purpose. He announced his desire to punish women for rejecting him.


Rodger e-mailed a lengthy autobiographical manuscript… titled “My Twisted World”…. In it, he described his… frustration over not being able to find a girlfriend, his hatred of women, his contempt for racial minorities and interracial couples.

The New Man of 4chan,” by Angela Nagle:

Rodger also left behind a lengthy autobiographical manuscript, titled My Twisted World. In it, he describes his frustration at not being able to find a girlfriend, his hatred of women, and his contempt for ethnic minorities and interracial couples.


This was noted in my piece for The Daily Beast, but I’ll highlight it here, too: Nagle lifting from the paper of record, once again without attribution.

The New York Times:

Someone hacked Henderson’s MySpace page…. Someone placed an iPod on Henderson’s grave, took a picture and posted it to /b/. Henderson’s face was appended to dancing iPods, spinning iPods, hardcore porn scenes. A dramatic re-enactment of Henderson’s demise appeared on YouTube, complete with shattered iPod. The phone began ringing at Mitchell’s parents’ home. “It sounded like kids,” remembers Mitchell’s father, Mark Henderson, a 44-year-old I.T. executive. “They’d say, ‘Hi, this is Mitchell, I’m at the cemetery.’ ‘Hi, I’ve got Mitchell’s iPod.’ ‘Hi, I’m Mitchell’s ghost, the front door is locked. Can you come down and let me in?’

Kill All Normies, p. 35:

… Henderson’s MySpace page was hacked, while another placed an iPod on Mitchell’s grave, took a picture, and posted it to 4chan. His face was pasted into spinning iPods and hard-core porn scenes, and a re-enactment of Henderson’s death soon appeared on YouTube. Mitchell’s father received prank calls to his house, in which callers said things like: ‘Hi, I’ve got Mitchell’s iPod’ and, ‘Hi, I’m Mitchell’s ghost, the front door is locked. Can you come down and let me in?’


Several examples of patch writing I identified in my Daily Beast report were also identified by Turnitin.

Turnitin #85: RationalWiki’s entry for “Manosphere,” which includes the text Nagle lifted regarding “Heartiste” in Kill All Normies. It also links to the entry, first on this list, for Paul Elam, which was copied with only minor edits.

Turnitin #23: Wikipedia’s entry for “Roosh V.

Turnitin #25: Claire Lehmann’s column, “Germaine Greer and the scourge of ‘no-platforming.‘”


via Joseph Kay


The crux of Butler’s argument in Gender Trouble is that the coherence of the categories of sex, gender, and sexuality… is culturally constructed through the repetition of stylized acts in time. These stylized bodily acts, in their repetition, establish the appearance of an essential, ontological “core” gender.

Kill All Normies, p. 70:

By 1990, Judith Butler had taken this several steps further, or perhaps more literally, in Gender Trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity, in which she argued that the coherence of the categories of sex, gender and sexuality were entirely culturally constructed through the repetition of styled and cultivated bodily acts, which created the appearance of an essential ontological ‘core’ gender.

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Disagreeing on the Internet: The New McCarthyism?

Originally published at Muftah on December 19, 2016.
What if the United States carried out daily bombing raids in a foreign country for over two years, killing hundreds of innocent men, women, and children as part of its ever expanding, never ending War on Terror? And what if those most performatively opposed to U.S. intervention had little or nothing to say about it?

These questions, alas, are not hypothetical: they accurately describe the position of much of the ostensibly anti-imperialist left on Syria today. These leftists present themselves as the most righteously anti-war—their critics are all described as warmongers—while they foolishly run cover for actual imperialism, as typified by writer Fredrik deBoer in his November 2016 piece for Current Affairs.

DeBoer’s article, entitled “1953—2002—2016: Syria and the Reemergence of McCarthyism,” would have us believe that the new new McCarthyism is defined by social media attacks from an irrationally interventionist left (“do they not remember Iraq?”) on dissident journalists like AlterNet’s Max Blumenthal and Twitter’s Rania Khalek. Their sin, according to deBoer, is not apologism for President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced millions of others, but simply opposing “a coming conflict in Syria.”

“I believe,” deBoer writes, “that some sort of American military intervention in Syria is likely coming.” In his view, the “interventionist left” is shaming opponents of a coming invasion so that the “the political battle over this war will not involve conservatives and some liberals fighting against a more-or-less unified radical left,” but a few lone steely leftist radicals against a united front of conservatives, liberals and an emergent “pro-war left.”

DeBoer defines this iteration of McCarthyism as a “set of practices consisting of slandering opponents without fair process and based on thin evidence, ascribing dark motives to others to delegitimize their position, suggesting that those you argue with work under the influence of some shadowy entity, and insisting that your targets are not just wrong, but actively malign.”

What DeBoer misses, however, is that, when it comes to Syria, this critique is precisely what he and those he defends are guilty of. Indeed, they casually slander Syrians who oppose Assad as “terrorists” (treating the opposition as a monolith of “Islamic extremists”) and ascribe sinister motives to their defenders (often calling them war mongering “imperialists”). Worse yet, figures like DeBoer do this all in the name of anti-war subversion. In practice, however, theirs is the act of siding with the likes of President-elect Donald J. Trump, who prefers partnering “with every nation that is willing to join us” in the War on Terror.

Protesting the War That Didn’t Come

In terms of U.S. military intervention in Syria, the “future” deBoer ominously warns of happened over two years ago. Since September 2014, a U.S.-led coalition has carried out more than 5,647 airstrikes, approximately seven a day on average, against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) and other extremists in Syria, killing hundreds of innocent men, women, and children in the process, according to the monitoring group Airwars.

In the wake of these realities, an objectively pro-war left has emerged. In the 800 or so days since U.S. airstrikes began, these leftists have largely been silent on those attacks. Still, according to calcified leftist thinking, the war we should really be protesting and getting mad about is not the current U.S. intervention underway in Syria, but the “other one” apparently coming around the bend that will bring “regime change.” Better a War on Terror, one must conclude, than a no-fly zone.

Take British author Tariq Ali, who deBoer characterizes as “a far left voice who has consistently opposed Western intervention against Assad.” For deBoer to describe Ali as opposed to Western intervention “against Assad,” rather than “in Syria,” is quite telling. At a Stop the War rally in London last year, Ali addressed the British government on the eve of a vote about whether to bomb ISIS in Syria. “You should be fighting side by side with Assad and the Russians,” Ali declared.

Since then, Western governments have effectively pursued this path through backchannels and a formal joint U.S.-Russia bombing plan (which was only scuttled by a U.S. friendly fire incident and the bombing of a U.N. aid convoy by pro-government forces). It is an alliance we can expect to be resurrected by President-elect Donald J. Trump who only cares, like our far-left, red-baited dissidents in alternative media, that “Assad is killing ISIS [and] Russia is killing ISIS.”

This is how opposition to Western intervention against Assad works—by making overt calls to collaborate with Syria and remaining silent about U.S. plans to work with its Russian backers. This is the pro-war left that, like the U.S. bombing campaign in Syria, actually exists now.

This segment of the left is powerful. It controls the leading anti-war organizations, dozens of which backed a statement supporting “the right of the Syrian government to request and accept military assistance from other countries,” including the United States. It also dominates the media consumed by the far left, from Counterpunch to RT.

Inverting Reality

Still, there are those who insist it is the other way around: that it is the children of political royalty—those with every advantage—who are somehow the underprivileged truth-tellers. Their aggressive, unrelenting, and “Syria-obsessed” critics, we are told, are simply disingenuous and want more war. This not-so-merry band of fact checkers have even set up their own online version of Joseph McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee, believing “there is no such thing as a principled opponent of the use of US force to save Syria,” as deBoer argues.

According to deBoer, this online mob “aggressively advocate[s] for more American arms in Syria,” if not an outright invasion. It also engages in “brutal smears” of principled opponents of U.S. aggression, who are digitally barrel bombed by daily, merciless Ahrar Al-Sham-bros. As deBoer sees it, their “chosen targets” (Blumenthal and Khalek) are particularly “vulnerable,” as they are “political orphans” who are “left-wing, disdainful of Democrats, not associated with deep-pocketed publications, and fiercely independent.”

If we take a step back into reality, we can understand why deBoer’s account is far from true, and glimpse the actual reason figures like Blumenthal and Khalek are criticized. As voiced by Khalek’s former Electronic Intifada colleague and Palestinian radical, Budour Hassan, the real problem is that Khalek is an apologist for fascism: “a whitewasher of Assad crimes.” Hassan argues that Khalek’s whitewashing is not simple, unequivocal support for the regime, but something more sophisticated. Khalek uses “every single freaking trick from the Zionist propaganda book,” from appealing to the virtues of cruise missile secularism in the face of practicing Muslims with guns to creating a false equivalence between states with fighter jets and militias with mortars.

Hassan is neither a liberal, an American, nor a supporter of U.S. intervention in Syria. In other words, she is not “polemically useful,” and so in the world deBoer has created, she simply does not exist. Those like Hassan, who do not love imperialism but do hate mass-murder apologism—and are horrified that those they once considered comrades are embracing it—are erased from the discourse.

Justifying the Unjustifiable

In September 2016, Khalek penned an article for The Intercept on the humanitarian crisis in Syria. The article focused exclusively on targeted sanctions against the regime, relying on a new, leaked “UN report” that was neither new, leaked, nor a UN report.

For this false report, Khalek was invited by the Syrian regime to attend a conference in Damascus, financed by Assad’s father-in-law. She was also invited to speak at the event—an invitation she turned down. Her explanation for refusing to speak, which she posted on Facebook, was confusing to say the least. It seems the primary reason for Khalek’s about face was that her speaking role had become public, when she had thought, per the “Chatham House rules” it would remain confidential.

While in Syria, Khalek conducted an interview with a man in Damascus who informed her that the besieged rebels of Eastern Aleppo had, curiously, besieged themselves. She did not disclose, as The New York Times did, that her interview in the capital of a totalitarian police state was conducted in the presence of a regime agent, since Damascus had “require[ed] journalists to travel with minders and to go through elaborate hoops to visit specific areas.” The Times reported that the junket in which Khalek took part was “even more tightly orchestrated than usual.

In a series of tweets, Khalek said she found the “regime narrative” on the war most compelling—at least among the Syrians she purportedly spoke with. The “West may hate Bashar,” she tweeted, “but Syrians aren’t Westerners.”

Charlotte Silver, an associate editor at the Electronic Intifada, took issue with Khalek’s words and actions vis-a-vis the Damascus conference. “As reporters our job is to expose institutions of power, not participate in efforts to whitewash or legitimize them,” Silver noted on Twitter. “If a journalist can’t figure out the nature of a conference she’s speaking at, she’s been discredited as a reliable judge of info + sources.”

If “apologist” is the wrong word for someone who agrees to speak at a public relations gala for a totalitarian state, and who reports only on the state’s official line of propaganda, then what would the appropriate word be?

Blumenthal and the White Helmets

As for Blumenthal, he himself is not an overt campaigner for Assad, but rather, like Frederik deBoer, is hyper-focused—even fixated—on a hypothetical U.S. intervention. He is so dedicated to this cause he often has very little to say about daily bombing raids, either by the United States, Russia, or the Assad regime.

The ostensibly humanitarian intervention Blumenthal fears and fixates on is reflected in his only substantial written contribution on the debate over Syria, in the last three years: an attack in AlterNet on the Syrian Civil Defense, first-responders commonly known as the “White Helmets.” His article adds almost nothing new to what could already be found on openly pro-Assad media, with the author of one these pieces, Vanessa Beeley, even claiming to be Blumenthal’s indirect source for information on the White Helmets.

As Blumenthal notes in his article, the White Helmets, who are volunteers rescuing people trapped in buildings bombed by the governments of Syria and Russia, have received some funding from USAID. Attempting to suggest this funding has manipulated the group’s agenda, Blumenthal argues that the White Helmets’ motto—“[t]o save one life is to save all of humanity”—is “remarkably similar to that of Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust epic, Schindler’s List.” Unbeknownst to Blumenthal, the quote in question comes from the Quran, which researchers believe predates the 1993 Holocaust film.

The Real Critique

Though President Barack Obama famously pledged to intervene militarily if the Syrian government used chemical weapons, he reneged on this promise after the regime crossed this “red line” and launched a sarin attack on Ghouta in August 2013. Since then, Syrians have given up hope that the international community will do anything in Syria that doesn’t relate to counter-terrorism. The Western left, meanwhile, is still fighting against an intervention that has never come to pass.

The real problem, then, is that Blumenthal and Khalek are using bad journalism and bad arguments to stave off a war that has not come, to preserve a regime that is solidly in place. Ironically, on this latter point, they are in lockstep with the Washington foreign policy establishment. According to a RAND Institute survey (which includes conclusions from “experts from U.S. intelligence and policy communities” and “Washington think tanks”), by 2013, Washington insiders had reached a consensus around the notion that “regime collapse” in Syria represented “the worst possible outcome for U.S. strategic interests.”

What unites these alt-media stars, like the Western left writ large, is that they offer nothing to Syrians, but smug despair and desperate smears amid the worst war of the 21st century, self-righteously adopting the logic of the War on Terror in the name of ending an intervention that has not and likely will not happen. 

“Anyone who lived in the immediate post-9/11 world is familiar with this type of thing,” DeBoer writes. “That anyone who didn’t press for all-out war on terrorism—whatever that meant—was guilty of tacit support for al-Qaeda was a given.” Indeed, we see that exact thing now, but not from those waging what DeBoer sees as a crusade. Convicting people of siding with terror is a favored tactic of the ostensibly anti-war left, as Khalek demonstrated when she decided to accuse pro-revolution, anti-imperialists of “whitewashing al-Qaeda.”

More recently, in response to the opposition’s loss of large swathes of territory in Aleppo to the Syrian regime, Blumenthal claimed that the city is “being retaken from armed extremists”—rather than mentioning how it was being destroyed by the bombs of a murderous regime and its allies. In another case, former Salon journalist, Benjamin Norton, accused various anti-Assad analysts of supporting al-Qaeda and likened the U.S. war against the group to World War II. “Al-Qaeda is what the Italian Fascists look like, and ISIS is what the Nazis look like,” he wrote, channeling neoconservative pundit Daniel Pipes, who helped popularize the concept of “Islamo-fascism” after 9/11.

When the Assad regime cleansed the rebel-held town of Daraya of its residents, Norton rubbed sarin in the survivors’ wounds, slandering them as “radical Islamists” because some of their democratically controlled militias used the word “Islam” in their names. Indeed, Norton was one of hundreds of anti-imperialist hawks who signed a letter recognizing the Syrian dictator’s “sovereign” right to request a foreign bombing campaign on his country.

Conflating the word Islam with terror is presumably okay if the targets are Syrian. After all, they are the people we speak for, not to, unless we are in the presence of a government minder. Should they die as a result of an expanded air war, they can thank the “anti-war” left for selling it as a war on fascism.

An Absurd Left

Today, the ultimate absurdity of the “anti-war” left is that those who openly back foreign intervention in Syria (as long as it is the “right” kind), accuse their left-wing critics of silencing free speech, or being imperialists and terrorist sympathizers. But, it is neither 1952 nor 2002: it is the year that a fascist is headed to the White House calling not for humanitarian intervention in Syria, but echoing AlterNet, Salon, and the Tariq Alis of the world in proposing peace with Russia and a jointly fought war against Syrian rebels, activists, and first responders.

Those who banked on a humanitarian intervention under Hillary Clinton, one that would redeem their smears as prescience, should be forced to own the fact that all they have ever offered Syrians is opposition to a war that never was, coupled with silence on the wars that are killing them now.

In the face of the deadliest campaign of state terror the 21st century has seen, we should never forget the false prophecies of those who looked at Syria, and a half-million dead, and decided they were victims too—of a McCarthyism from the bottom up—because some people disagreed with their views.

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