WEEKEND EDITION JANUARY 9-11, 2015
Framing North Korea
When it comes to North Korea, for the US government and its media, time stands still. They remain fixated in the 1950s Joe McCarthy worldview: the Red-Yellow peril, a monster capable of unimaginable evil, threatens our civilization and freedoms. North Korea’s Kim family is presented as three reincarnations of a Communist Dr. Fu Manchu.
The US makes a racist comedy about murdering a foreign head of state, and with a straight face, calls it an issue of “artistic” freedom. Obama showed himself happy to push this line, and pressed for its distribution after Sony withdrew it.
What war hysteria would grip the US political elites if Putin endorsed a Russian comedy about murdering Obama, or if Iran made one about killing Netanyahu!
Deliberately unmentioned in the noise around North Korea is the long history of US intervention in Korea. In 1945, the US, divided the Korean peninsula in two, with no Korean input, even though Koreans were allies in the struggle against the Japanese occupation. The US then pushed for separate elections in the South in 1948, and then invaded the country to back its ruthless dictator Syngman Rhee. During most of the Korean War, the United States held near-total aerial superiority, which it used, according to General Curtis LeMay, to kill one quarter of the north’s population, and to raze every city and structure in the north. An estimated four million Koreans has been killed, seventy percent of whom were civilians. In spite of that genocide, Koreans fought on, inflicting on the US its first post-World War II defeat. In the US the war is referred to as “The Forgotten War,” whereas in North Korea, no one is able to forget.
The inflammatory twist to the comedy, The Interview, blowing the head off evil enemy No. 1 Kim Jong Un, came from the CIA. An email from Sony’s senior vice president Marisa Liston, indicated that it came from Sony through the intelligence agency. “They mention that a former CIA agent and someone who used to work for Hilary [sic] Clinton looked at the script.” Sony CEO Michael Lynton reveals that he checked with ” someone very senior in State” who, confidentially, encouraged him to finish this film representation of the assassination of a living head of state, a first in U.S. film history.
Sony emails also show that Ambassador Robert King, incredibly enough, called “U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights” provided advice on the film.
Who knows if King was instrumental in bringing the report to the UN Security Council that claimed North Korean prison guards were accused of cooking a prison inmate’s baby and feeding it to dogs, a story reminiscent of those the Nazis spread about Jews. Other abuses claimed to have taken place in North Korean prisons sound identical to what we have learned of US conduct in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
After Sony was hacked and embarrassed by what was revealed, the FBI quickly determined, based on secret information only they possess and cannot share with us (for our own safety) that the DPRK was behind this evil deed. Then, Obama denounced North Korea and declared there will be consequences for threatening our freedoms and national security.
It is remarkable how fast they operated here, compared to the laboriously slow – and unfinished – process the US government took over the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, or the case of Troy Davis.
And let’s recall that North Korea has been dubbed a “black hole” by former CIA director Robert Gates, and “the longest-running intelligence failure in the history of espionage” according to ex-CIA Seoul station chief and former U.S. ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg.
A variety of computer analysts have disputed the claim that North Korea was involved in the hacking, but the Obama administration brushed it off with claims of safeguarding their “sensitive information” that allegedly proves North Korea’s guilt.
In response to the US accusations, The Korean Central News Agency of the DPRK said on December 20,
“They, without presenting any specific evidence, are asserting they can not open it to public, as it is ‘sensitive information.’ Clear evidence is needed to charge a sovereign state with a crime….We propose the U.S. side that we conduct a joint investigation into the case, given that Washington is slandering Pyongyang by spreading unfounded rumors.” A sensible request.
They add, “We have a way to prove that we have nothing to do with the case without resorting to torture as the CIA does.”
But it was beneath the dignity of civilized and freedom-loving America to even respond. The story given to us by the corporate U.S. media was clear: North Korea was responsible for the hack because the government said it was.
More than a few have noted the similarity of Obama’s story of North Korean hacking to Lyndon B. Johnson’s concocted Gulf of Tonkin incident, which led to sharply escalating the disastrous Vietnam war, and to Colin Powell’s just-so story to the United Nations Security Council about Saddam Hussein’s hidden stashes of chemical weapons, which led to the present disastrous wars in the Middle East.
While claiming to be indignant about threats to the internet, in a move that only US does not find to be utter hypocrisy, the US then proceeded to disrupt North Korea’s internet system and cell phone service.
President Obama then escalated that unjustified provocation by imposing new sanctions on North Korea, which the Treasury Department claimed was a response to that country’s “efforts to undermine U.S. cyber-security and intimidate U.S. businesses and artists exercising their right of freedom of speech.” Lost on them is that the US that is doing exactly this, to North Korea.
And meanwhile, the actual guilty party, a woman ex-employee of Sony, gets off scott free. Such is the manner the US government “protects” our internet freedoms.
“One leading cybersecurity firm, Norse Corp., said Monday it has narrowed its list of suspects to a group of six people — including at least one Sony veteran with the necessary technical background to carry out the attack, according to reports…Kurt Stammberger, senior vice president at Norse, said he used Sony’s leaked human-resources documents and cross-referenced the data with communications on hacker chat rooms and its own network of Web sensors to determine it was not North Korea behind the hack.”
“All the leads that we did turn up that had a Korean connection turned out to be dead ends,” he said. The information found by Norse points to an employee or employees terminated in a May restructuring and hackers involved in distributing pirated movies online that have been pursued by Sony, Stammberger told Bloomberg.
Obama in his last press conference of the year, did use the occasion to push for the release of this racist comedy The Interview, using this issue to divert attention from the recently released report on CIA torture and his own refusal to prosecute the US terrorists-in-chief. The US then moved to reinstall North Korea on its “State Sponsors of Terrorism” list.
Simultaneous with Obama press conference attacking the DPRK, in actual real news from Korea, unmentioned here, the South Korean government banned the United Progressive Party, the only party advocating peace, reunification, and social justice, claiming “it was under orders from North Korea to subvert the South Korean state through violent revolution.”
Sometimes North Korean editorials go over the top, as the December 27 one after Obama held a news conference and pushed for the release of the film belittling North Korea and assassinating Kim Jong Un: “Obama always goes reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest.” Yet US leaders themselves have a long history of habitually depicting North Koreans in a racist and sub-human manner.
The DPRK statement did go on to say:
“We’d like to ask if somebody made a film concerning terror, and if somebody intends to instigate terror, can Obama talk about freedom of expression and value of modern civilization? We take this opportunity to clearly announce once again: the hacking attack on Sony Pictures has nothing to do with us. We make it clear that our target is not such individual corporations as Sony Picture but the US imperialist brigands who keep a grudge against our entire nation. If the US intends to insist that we are the hacking attackers they must present evidence now. But the United States unconditionally connects the disastrous hacking attack with us, without evidence [and] without clear grounds. Actually, the big United States shamelessly began to obstruct the internet operations of major media of the DPRK. We have already warned them not to act in the way of shaking a fist after being hit by somebody.“Of course, we do not expect our warning would work on the brigands because it is the United State that makes the truth recognized by all people into a falsehood, triggers wars of aggression, and unhesitatingly intervenes in the internal affairs of a sovereign state if it is to satisfy their aggressive ambitions… It [was] none other than the United States that ignited an aggressive war in Korea…[that] triggered off the aggressive Vietnamese war and that conquered Iraq, by fabricating a groundless conspiratorial farce, called ‘removal of weapons of mass destruction.’ If the US persists in American-style arrogant, high-handed and gangster-like arbitrary practices despite [the DPRK’s] repeated warnings, the US should bear in mind that its failed political affairs will face inescapable deadly blows.”
These are words that would strike one as worth consideration, if it were not that the US public remained so mired in Joe McCarthy’s worldview on Korea, where we are still the world good guys, and they, the evil red-yellow peril, are so evil that no one dare murmur that North Korea be taken seriously.
Stansfield Smith, Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5/Chicago ALBA Solidarity Committee. Went on a delegation to the DPRK in March 2013.