Reply to comments by Jack DuVall
and Stephen Zunes

Submitted February 16, 2010 - 7:58 pm by 
this page is at

Assault on independent authentic journalism

Alberto Giordano's NarcoNews Journal website and his School for Authentic Journalism stand together with both feet planted solidly on the ground of what journalism ought to be.[Flash!] He showed that he is aggressively combative almost immediately after he began his online publication when the owners of Banamex, the then recently privatized Bank of Mexico, brought a legal suit against him for reporting their dirty dealing washing drug-trafficking money. Al counterattacked at the Federal District Court in Manhattan, New York City, and won a hands-down decision that established Freedom of the Press for on-line internet journalism, a landmark victory for ordinary people's right to publish the truth as we understand it in the burgeoning new medium. That of course did not end the efforts of corporate and government agencies to control public awareness in the United States in favor of the interests of giant capitalism. In brief: The class war wasn't over.

Enter: the International Center on Nonviolent
Conflict — nature and importance of the dispute

      The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC) [1] is a Non-Governmental Organization, an NGO legally established in the United States as a tax-exempt charitable group. It was founded (and is totally funded and controlled) by Peter Ackerman, an ultra-wealthy junk-bond speculator who is refurbishing his persona as a doer of public good. His ICNC offered major support – a $20,000 matching grant – for the Feb 2010 session of the School for Authentic Journalism.[2] I was intrigued to learn of the existence of the ICNC, which sounded like an organization I ought to be familiar with. I did not know initially that it was ill-regarded by various people whose political orientation is radical left. Since Giordano had accepted an ICNC grant, I assumed he was not one of that group. A Google search quickly led me to conclude that the ICNC was not a bona fide part of the popular liberation struggle. Quick to put my 2¢ in, I shot off a comment that ended with the foolish statement, "I think NarcoNews ought to wash its hands of this ruling-class scum".[3] That posting – I'm calling it comment #1 – ignited a dispute. It was followed by comments: #2-Al Giordano's response challenging me, #3-my considered reply to Al, #4-Jack DuVall's defense of the ICNC, and #5-Stephen Zunes' defense of the ICNC. All five comments are at the same URL.

      The principal conflict was over the propriety of Al's decision to accept the ICNC grant. On one side, in support of that decision stood Al and the staff of NarcoNews, together with me, as comment #3 makes utterly clear. I support Al's decision as both strategically and tactically correct. In opposition to Al's decision were some people who did not know him well enough to realize that money will never buy Al – he has never been and will not be "for sale." I know him well. I am absolutely certain that he will teach the truth as he understands it, independently of the source of funding for the School. And I see his effort to divert funds from capitalist-controlled sources (corporate and government) for use in building the popular infrastructure for liberation as akin to similarly oriented efforts of mine, as I stated in comment #3.

      Regarding the principal conflict over accepting or rejecting the ICNC money, Giordano and I are in total agreement. Take the money and use it well. A secondary conflict, one on which he and I disagree, is in our assessment of the nature of Ackerman's ICNC project. Our disagreement here is more subtle than the question of whether to struggle for social justice by nonviolent means or by traditional revolutionary violence. Both of us are convinced that nonviolent modes of struggle are more likely to succeed in gaining our objectives, and to do so with minimal destruction and death.

      Non-violent mass struggles for social justice conjure up memories of Martin Luther King in a prominent role in the boycott by American Blacks of buses in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 in order to gain their civil rights. And of Mohandas Gandhi's non-violent civil disobedience campaigns in South Africa and India. The basic strategy is one of withdrawing consent and cooperation so as to pressure the previously controlling sectors of society to yield some control. The techniques avoid all physical threats to the adversaries, focusing instead on other coercive means, e.g. economic threats, psychological pressure, mass ridicule. As techniques, they are neutral. Like any technology, they can be used for socially good or socially bad purposes.

      As emphasized above, I totally trust Giordano's honesty and his admirable motivation to work towards true liberation for all peoples. But I do not trust his judgment regarding the motives of Ackerman and the purpose of the ICNC project. I think my judgment about this is much closer to the truth than Al's. This is the source of the secondary conflict. The reason I think this is important is because building mutual trust in the popular movement is absolutely essential for our ultimate success.[4]

      The purpose of this note is to reply to Jack DuVall's and Stephen Zunes' public comments that criticized my 17 Nov posting. DuVall and Zunes are both intimately involved with the ICNC.[5] Their criticisms were on 20 and 22 Nov 2009 respectively. I'm writing now to defend my viewpoint. It is more than two months later, but I have not been able to attend to it earlier.

My response to Jack DuVall and Stephen Zunes

      I reject their criticisms as being unjustified, criticisms they stated without providing adequate context for my overall orientation. The focus of the dispute is money, particularly the a priori conceivable impact on the conduct of the School for Authentic Journalism of the $20,000 grant by Peter Ackerman's (misleadingly named) International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC). One's attitude towards the conflict between Giordano and his supposed supporters (DuVall and Zunes) and those people who have criticized him for accepting the money generally but not always reflects one's socio-economic status.

      Full disclosure of my financial status is germane to understanding my perspective. I ask Jack DuVall and Stephen Zunes to make similar disclosures because I believe their financial situations are likewise relevant to understanding their points of view.

      Here is my disclosure for the tax year 2008. My income (gross) consisted entirely of retirement pensions, etc. as listed

 Retirement pension (from 30 years at UMass-Boston)...52,874.40
 Survivor's pension (Freda Salzman, UMass-Boston)......5,033.76
 VA disability comp.(WW II injury, U.S.Army)...........1,404.00
 TIAA and CREF annuity (from decades prior to UMass)..12,378.40
 Social Security (from decades prior to UMass).........8,378.40
 Total gross income for 2008..........................80,068.96

      I own no stocks, bonds, or any other speculative instruments, maintain only a minimal no-interest checking account, have no savings account, live relatively frugally (for a privileged person) and give away year in and year out as much as I can contribute to building a true grassroots infrastructure, mostly to tax-exempt organizations so as to divert wealth from government and corporate control into legal groups that are in truth subversive of the dominant power structure, such as those mentioned in comments #3. I am not saving towards my "old age". At 84 I know that the bulk of my life can't be changed, though I wish it could, and am resigned to accepting my own mortality — when my time comes, that will be it. Until then I'll continue working to change history in favor of the pillaged peoples in the world, the overwhelming majority. With this attitude and behavior, I was able to reduce my taxable income in 2008 to 31,821.76 and my federal income tax to 4,373, based on my allowed itemized deductions, 39,603.76. Thus I diverted a little more than 9 dollars away from the coffers of giant capitalism (govt and corporate) for each dollar I paid the IRS (39,603.76/4,373 = 9.056..).

      I repeat my request to both Jack DuVall and Stephen Zunes to make equivalent disclosures to mine. And I ask also that they obtain an equivalent disclosure from Peter Ackerman and from any other immediate family member of his who is involved in any capacity with his International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, and post all that information as part of the comments at this URL.

      Turning now to DuVall's and Zunes' published statements.

Jack DuVall: ICNC's Mission:
Propel People's Movements

Submitted November 20, 2009 - 11:16 am by Jack DuVall (not verified)

DuVall- I have great respect for George Salzman as someone who's been a force for progressive causes long before I joined the ranks. But he could not easily have known that the blog posts to which he's provided links above actually offer a distorted view of Peter Ackerman, my colleague who was a co-founder with me of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC). They also misquote me. So, to set the record straight . . .

Salzman- First note that the very name of Ackerman's organization, The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, is deliberately misleading. It is a private foundation, founded and totally funded and controlled by Peter Ackerman. DuVall's statement here that its mission is to propel people's movements implies that all "people's movements" are equally deserving to be propelled, i.e. there is no hint that class is even an issue. Thus well-to-do students who are mobilized to prevent social changes that would deprive their middle or upper class families of their privileged status are seen by DuVall as equally deserving of being "propelled" as impoverished people struggling to end their deprivation. According no significance to class differences is common and widespread in the U.S. in media organs controlled by wealthy individuals and corporations. The title of DuVall's comments fits that well-established pattern of falsification. He then speaks of my involvement in "progressive causes" long before he "joined the ranks". However, so far as I know he never "joined the ranks" of bona fide social struggle. Strangely enough, for someone making that claim, his own biography on the "official" page [5] reads like an uninformative piece of self promotional propaganda. The only "ranks" it refers to are those of the U.S. Air Force, in which he is claimed to have been an officer. It takes but little imagination to understand the kind of Nonviolent Conflict he engaged in during that part of his career.

DuVall- First, the Louis Proyect article is very titillating but fortunately (for those of us who value Peter Ackerman's scholarship and work on nonviolent struggle) very little in it is true.

Salzman- DuVall then proceeds to give some supposed examples of Proyect's falsifications, beginning with Proyect's assertion that Ackerman had modelled himself on George Soros.

DuVall- Peter Ackerman could not model himself on George Soros, because when Peter started his career by entering The Fletcher School at Tufts in 1969, Soros was not yet known; he made his reputation much later.

Salzman- I think it is silly to try to discredit Proyect's statement as though he literally meant that Ackerman pursued a career in strict temporal lockstep behind Soros. Surely since far fewer people have heard of Ackerman than of Soros, Proyect's intent was simply to assert that like Soros, Ackerman followed the same kind of sullied career: first become a world-class swindler and then use some of your ill-gotten gain to promote the U.S.'s neoliberal program of conquest under the guise of "democracy promotion".

DuVall- The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict couldn't have been "responsible for helping to promote, fund and advise the colored revolutions in Eastern Europe," because the downfall of Milosevic in Serbia occurred two years before ICNC even existed, the only assistance given by ICNC to Georgians or Ukrainians were copies of its films (which have been disseminated in over 80 countries), and its operating guidelines prohibit giving funding or advice to any resistance campaigns or movements.

Salzman- Here too, I think you are quibbling. Proyect, according to the quote you cited, did not say that Ackerman was responsible for helping to promote, fund and advise every one of the colored revolutions in Eastern Europe. Your statement falsely implies that he did, and since one of the times doesn't fit you try to hang him on your own erroneous interpretation. Also, the rest of your last sentence above refers simply to formal assistance and the so-called "operating guidelines". That's about as persuasive as maintaining that human rights were protected by the Soviet Union's constitutional guarantees, or for that matter that human rights are protected by the United States' constitution. I think it's quite clear from Franklin Foer's article [6] and other investigative journalists' articles that Ackerman is close-lipped about what he does when he wishes to hide parts of his modus operandi. Your effort to portray him as an honest man whose activities are all above-board is disingenuous, as I'm certain you fully realize.

DuVall- Proyect's charge that Peter Ackerman "managed to avoid criminal charges" stemming from his work for Drexel Burnham Lambert is a bit like saying that I managed to avoid execution in the state of Virginia when I was given a warning instead of a ticket for attempting an illegal right-hand turn in traffic two weeks ago. Except Ackerman wasn't even given a warning. In fact, he was not charged or cited for any violations of any laws or regulations.

Salzman- Again, it is simply absurd to present this pseudo-simile. It was not the least bit like being ticketed for a minor traffic violation. Proyect was absolutely correct in asserting that Ackerman was criminally guilty (in fact) for massive social harm, though, for political reasons he escaped prosecution. Of the Jews involved in this episode of "justice" — Milken, Ackerman, the Judge, and, if I recall correctly — the prosecutor, only Milken was punished, and then with only a ten-year sentence, and the details of the case were largely "legally" sealed by the judge. I haven't been able to find the article with this information again, but I'm quite certain I remember it correctly.[7]

DuVall- Peter Ackerman is no longer chair of Freedom House. He left that position in 2008 after failing to persuade its board to lessen its reliance on U.S. government funding (which is ironic in view of Proyect's claim that he has worked with the U.S. government, which is also untrue).

Salzman- By stating that Ackerman left the chairmanship of Freedom House "after failing to persuade its board to lessen its reliance on U.S. government funding", DuVall suggests that Ackerman's motivation for seeking to reduce its reliance on the U.S. government was his desire to reduce the ties between Freedom House and the government. However, his motivation might have been to gain a larger degree of control for himself and allied private multimillionaire individuals and groups. I suspect that DuVall deliberately used ambiguous phrasing to mislead the insufficiently critical reader. Also, the statement in parentheses is probably false, as the Tufts University website [8] indicates his membership on the Executive Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and his continued involvement in large capitalist activities, as the Managing Director of Crown Capital Group Incorporated. [Note. I discovered on 8 Feb that the page specifically devoted to Ackerman in the Tufts website was removed. If you click on that link it takes you instead to a page that is not devoted to any particular person — a page titled Tufts University: Office of the Trustees, which has the notation, "Page last modified January 28, 2010." That was only 11 days earlier. Why has information about Ackerman's current activities in the area of U.S. geo-strategic planning and giant capital operations now been removed?]

DuVall- Peter Ackerman never trained Iranian-Americans who worked for Reza Pahlavi. I'm not sure who invented that particular myth, but of course that doesn't prevent it from rocketing around the blogosphere.

Salzman- This assertion by DuVall might be true. I don't know. But I'm fairly sure that DuVall also doesn't know. He may be "not sure" who said that Ackerman never trained Iranian-Americans who worked for the Shah, but he might have said who he thinks made that sttement. And what is the basis for his denial? Did Ackerman tell him? DuVall is a model of opacity, not transparency.

DuVall- Contrary to a claim quoted by Proyect, ICNC has never worked with the National Endowment for Democracy.

Salzman- This claim by DuVall, while possibly technically correct, if ICNC was never paid by the NED or expended any of its budget to formally collaborate with the NED, is neveretheless patently false in so far as its activities in the real world (not the falsified accounting books that were a feature of Ackerman's infamous expertise) were closely aligned with those of the NED.

DuVall- Back before the Iraq war, I never told any "university crowd" that the "peace movement had no right to oppose the invasion of Iraq". What I actually said — to many audiences — was that Saddam Hussein's regime could have been effectively opposed by Iraqis in the same way that more than 40 successful transitions from authoritarian to democratic governments were accomplished during the last 30 years of the 20th century, by the use of mass nonviolent resistance. This was why I believe that military action against Saddam was unnecessary and should not have been taken even if it was justifiable for wanting him out of power.

Salzman- DuVall's assertion that from 1970 to 1999 "more than 40 successful transitions from authoritarian to democratic governments were accomplished" is a falsehood so grandiose as to be stunning. Does he believe that global fascism started only in 2000? On the basis of this figment of his imagination he then claims that military action against Saddam, even if it was justifiable to want him out of power, should not have been taken.

DuVall- There are lots of other departures from reality in the Proyect article, but factual refutations are less exciting than incendiary if untrue allegations, so I'll cut this short.

Salzman- Proyect's article has perhaps a few technically incorrect assertions, but when it comes to escaping from reality he doesn't begin to compete with DuVall's deliberate distortions. I have not seen any factual refutation offered by DuVall to challenge the basic stance and justification for Proyect's argument.

DuVall- The other link provided by George Salzman is to a web page that indicates that Peter Ackerman spoke to the Herzliya Conference in Israel one year. He was asked to speak on the relevance of nonviolent resistance to the challenge of radical violent movements, and he pointed out that as struggles for rights shift from usually ineffective violent to more effective civil resistance, the resort to violence will go down. That is a message that ICNC has taken to many different kinds of forums and conferences, because we think that even those who are surprised by it should hear it.

Salzman- This bit of gloss is lacking any substantive information about the nature of the annual Herzliya Conference, which Ackerman attended in 2008.[9] This was the Eighth year of the Conference. There is a brief indication of the session at which Ackerman spoke, as follows:

Monday, January 21, 2008
The Challenge of Radical Islam
In cooperation with the Atlantic Forum of Israel
· Chair: Dr. Boaz Ganor, Deputy Dean, Lauder School of Government,
    Diplomacy and Strategy, IDC Herzliya
· Mr. Edward (Ted) M. Gistaro, US National Intelligence Officer for
    Transnational Threats
· Ms. Judith Miller, Adjunct Fellow, Manhattan Institute for Policy
· Dr. Uzi Landau, Former Minister for Internal Security; Research
    Fellow, International Institute for Couner-Terrorism, IDC Herzliya
· Mr. Steven Emerson, Executive Director, Investigative Project on
· Dr. Peter Ackerman, Chair, International Center on Nonviolent

      If you even casually peruse the Herzliya conference website it's obvious that the attendees are a thoroughly corrupted group of "Israel-über-alles" Zionist hawks, all of them gung-ho for the conquest of the Palestinians, promoters of the culture of Jewish Nazism. Ackerman might be the only attendee who favored a so-called nonviolent route to the goal of Jewish hegemony. DuVall's explanation that Ackerman was asked to address "the challenge of radial violent movements" might suggest to the uninitiated that that referred to the destruction of Palestinians by the Zionists, but that's not what the conference was all about. The theme was "The Challenge of Radical Islam." At most Ackerman was a fig leaf to cover the unmoderated violent orientation of that panel of spooks, which included Judith Miller, then feeding at the Manhattan Institute War-Promotion trough, still cashing in on war after her success getting the U.S. invasion of Iraq into gear from her post at the New York Times.

DuVall- ICNC's mission is pretty simple: We offer knowledge about how civil resistance has worked historically to propel people's movements — for human rights, political freedom and social justice — to historic victories, and we've provided that knowledge through workshops and films and other tools to Palestinians, Guatemalans, Egyptians, West Papuans, Maldivians, Nigerians, Guineans, Congolese, Ethiopians, and numerous other peoples engaged in struggles with governments supported by the U.S., as well struggles against authoritarian regimes opposed by the U.S. government. We want to universalize access to the knowledge of how to do what Abraham Lincoln recommended as long ago as 1848: "Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable and sacred right, which we hope and believe is to liberate the world."

Salzman-A sanctimonious pronouncement. Lincoln of course would have supported the right of southerners "to rise up and shake off" the federal government if they had not only the inclination but the power. What hogwash! Is it possible that DuVall thinks Lincoln actually believed those words?

Stephen Zunes: The reality about the
International Center on Nonviolent Conflict

Submitted November 22, 2009 - 12:45 pm by Stephen Zunes (not verified)

Zunes- Given all the very real intrigues of imperialists and other ruling elites, it is very disappointing that George Salzman would waste his considerable talents to write an entry so full of misleading information and outright falsehoods. Quite a few people are aware of the reality of ICNC and its work, so in reading this bizarre conspiratorial nonsense, I fear that — in the manner of the boy who cried "wolf!" — people will start questioning many of his valid analysis as well.

Salzman- Stephen Zunes makes me think of Israel Shamir, who has become a good friend. Israel, a Russian Israeli Jew turned Eastern Orthodox Catholic, reviewed Judaism Discovered.[10] His review begins, "A Rabbi was brought a fish to determine whether it is kosher; he checked it out and ruled: "It's kosher, but it stinks". This piece of Jewish humour came to my mind while reading this heavy volume by Michael Hoffman. Hoffman is worried that his critical view will be considered "bigoted racist anti-Semitic hate". I am ready to issue him a clean bill of health in this respect: he is not a bigot, nor a racist, neither is he an anti-Semite. However, this is not enough to make a book a good, reliable and readable study." Ah, that Zunes could write like Israel, a man worthy of intellectual joust. Shamir is frustrating, refuses to be pinned down, gallops madly off in all directions — what an inspiration! By comparison reading Zunes is like chewing on a fistful of nuts and bolts. Stephen, you speak of my many valid analyses. Can you mention one? Or is that just a figure of speech to sprinkle, like a touch of basil, in your flavorless academic prose?

Zunes- First of all, I want to confirm the accuracy of everything Jack DuVall posted in his comment, above.

Salzman- For vacuity, hard to beat. I can guess who pays the piper.

Zunes- Secondly, in addition to Al and myself, there are quite a number of other radical anti-imperialist scholars and activists associated with ICNC, including Stellan Vinthagen, Cynthia Boaz, Michael Nagler, Phillippe Duhamel, Kurt Schock, Kevin Clements, Tom Hastings, Janet Cherry, and others. It's hard to imagine that people like this would support the kinds of things ICNC and Peter Ackerman are accusd of if there was any truth in them whatsoever.

Salzman- Maybe hard for you to imagine, but just try. I'm not familiar with any of these "radical anti-imperialist scholars and activists", but I can imagine they are well fed. In any case, it's an "innocent by association argument", with even less logical force than the "guilt by association argument" of the infamous junior senator from Wisconsin (Joseph McCarthy).

Zunes- Thirdly, ICNC's annual summer program at the Fletcher School, rather than being a training ground of CIA spooks, provides activists, journalists, NGO leaders and others with a richer understanding of the history, theory, and dynamics of strategic nonviolent action which could support various struggles for freedom and human rights. The participants have included Palestinians, Western Saharans, Egyptians, West Papuans, Colombians, and others struggling against U.S.-backed regimes. Leading progressive activists have been among the wide array of lecturers which have made presentations at the program.

Salzman- Regarding the Fetcher School of Tufts University – so modestly anointed "The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy" – which Zunes paints in humane sounding colors, the article in the New York Times of 19 December 2008 is strikingly clear that the entire Tufts University environment is a hotbed of pro-Israeli Jewish Zionism.[11] The tight connection between Tufts and extremely wealthy Jews in the New York City–New Haven–Boston corridor is emphasized repeatedly. Indeed, Tufts is dominated by the ideology of big-money Jews, not a few connected with Bernard Madoff, the principal among Madoff's associates being one Peter Ackerman.

Peter Ackerman and the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict

      Returning to DuVall's opening assertion that I "could not easily have known that the blog posts to which [I] provided links above actually offer a distorted view of Peter Ackerman", he is mistaken. Of course I was not born yesterday and don't buy into everything a self-identified "unrepentent Marxist" says, but I also don't discard Louis Proyect's class-based viewpoint as preventing him from seeing much of the truth about the prevailing capitalist society. Some of his views may be overstated or simply mistaken, but there is little question in my mind that much of what he says about Ackerman is true.

      From what I have read it is clear that Peter Ackerman was born into a middle class Jewish family in Far Rockaway, the same small town in Queens County, New York City where I grew up and lived most of my youth until the Great Depression deprived us of our home, when my parents, brother and I had to leave, and went to Brooklyn. Ackerman's upbringing included attendance at a Yeshiva. From this modest beginning he became at least a multimillionaire and perhaps a billionaire. The great American fantasy dream in the flesh. How did he do it? To me it is eminently obvious that no one can "earn" millions or billions of dollars by any honest means. Only theft on a massive scale can amass such a disproportionately great share of the world's wealth.

      By all accounts Ackerman is a highly skilled and well educated intellectual, whose training and gift of unusual acute intelligence he put to totally unscrupulous use as the top administrative assistant of Michael Milken's giant junk bond theft. "After his graduation [12] from Tufts University's Fletcher School in 1976 he joined the junk-bond dealers, Drexel Burnham Lambert [13], and for most of the next fifteen years, he was the right-hand man to Michael Milken, the "Junk-Bond King".[14] He became the key deal-maker and strategist for the company, and his innovative approach to deal-making, together with his unusual academic qualifications, earned him the nickname "the absentminded professor". But the record shows that he was far from absent minded." "From 1978 to 1990, he was Director of International Capital Markets at Drexel Burnham Lambert where he structured, financed, and invested in hundreds of recapitalizations including the largest and most complex leveraged acquisitions of that period." After Michael Milken was arrested, the Los Angeles Times reported [15] , "Kissick and Peter Ackerman, a close associate of Michael Milken, have taken over the day-to-day bond operation. Sources said Ackerman is the one who has followed Milken's footsteps in dreaming up creative financing ideas for clients. "It was Ackerman's idea and structuring that raised $5 billion instead of $3 billion for RJR (Nabisco)," said one source, referring to the recent $24.5-billion leveraged buyout of the giant food and tobacco firm." These facts about their boss are of course unknown to DuVall and Zunes, who profess to see in their benefactor only a benign and dedicated advocate of nonviolent conflict.

My perspective — We must turn history around

      It may seem to you, Jack DuVall and Stephen Zunes, that I am impossibly, intractably hostile to each of you. It's true that I am ready to repel with scorn and venom any attempt to belittle my identity as a thoughtful, compassionate person, which you tried to do with your published comments following my most recent NarcoSphere piece. In fact what separates us is mainly, and perhaps only, a matter of our adherence to conflicting ideologies. I am committed to making a world in which all peoples can live full lives. I fully believe that goal is achievable — but only if the separation into the wealthy privileged and the impoverished majority is erased. This includes of course doing away with the Zionist Nazi state of Israel, and indeed with all nation-states. Your commitment to personal privilege and wealth has led you to work for a world of deprivation and death for most of the world's population. The fact that Ackerman's project is clothed in the sheep's garb of superficial nonviolence does not alter its deadly goal.

With the internet has come the birth of open, completely un-
censored communication, a “technological miracle”

      Humanity is at a cusp in historical development. Two events dramatically mark this discontinuous jump from everything that happened in all past millenia.
1. 20 March 2003 The U.S. bombing and invasion of Iraq began.
2. 27 December 2008 The Israeli bombing of Gaza began.

      Both of these calculated acts of unmitigated savagery were long premeditated, loudly threatened, precisely timed, and then launched despite massive opposition. The world groaned. In fact, global opposition to each of these assaults was absolutely without historical precedent. Popular protests and actions, many of them quite militant, involving literally many millions of ordinary people in all continents, showed three things:

1. Universal dissemination of news had become essentially instantaneous due to communication technology, especially the internet.
2. The overwhelming majority of the world's peoples are strongly opposed to – actually appalled at – the savagery of wars of conquest.
3. The centralized global organization of giant capitalism as enforced by its array of centralized hierarchical nation-states was powerful enough to ignore the clear consensus of the great majority of the world's peoples.

      In the almost seven years since the invasion of Iraq, again and again point 3. above has been repeatedly hammered home, most recently perhaps with the utter frustration of even not just the majority of the world's peoples but the majority of the world's nation-states clear desire for reducing atmospheric pollution that threatens possibly irreversible climate change. In this instance it was primarily the United States that prevented any meaningful accord.

      Al Giordano has played a key role in gaining Freedom of the Press for publishing on the internet, and in training an international group of what he appropriately calls "authentic journalists", by and large younger people whose commitment to turning the world around will, with their technical abilities, go a long way to changing the consciousness of the world's ordinary people. That goal, overcoming the strangle hold of corporate and government controlled media on the public consciousness, must be achieved if humanity is to survive the horrors plaguing the globe in these decades. Al's contribution to that essential work is second to none.

Ultra rich American Jews and Anti-Semitism

      In my opinion there are but insignificant differences in the social attitudes and modes of behavior of ultra rich American Jews and ultra rich American non-Jews. With rare exceptions all of them, Jews and Gentiles alike who control obscene quantities of wealth are firmly of the conviction that they should have that private wealth, and that the society should be governed to protect their rights. Perhaps the major difference in attitudes is that the Jews are but a tiny part of the U.S. population and are conscious of the fact that if a dramatic growth in Jew-hatred were to occur among Gentile Americans, they could become victims. Non-Jewish "mainstream"Americans of course feel no such fears.

      I believe, though I have no sure knowledge, that it is that fear which motivates Jewish-oriented groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, etc. to push for so-called "anti-hate speech legislation", and to stigmatize other potential minority populations in the U.S. so that they are targeted for hatred instead of American Jews. Even if such a strategy could be effective in the long run, which I am sure is not possible, it is repugnant to any fair-minded person, and should be renounced on ethical grounds. Aside from this objection I think it should be recognized that it is a very dangerous strategy. Sowing distrust and spreading lies about particular ethnic groups can only contribute to the breakdown of the natural compassion humans have for others who are suffering. Hatreds and fear are destroyers of civilization.

      I urge you, Jack DuVall and Stephen Zunes, to read that lengthy New York Times article linked to in endnote [15] all the way to the end. It starts with the greed of many Jews in the New York City-New Haven, Connecticut-Boston "northeast corridor" where Peter Ackerman began his operations, but what becomes evident is that precisely the same greedy impuses acted on peoples everywhere in the world. So-called ethnicities were completely irrelevant. Jews are basically no different, i.e. genetically, than peoples of other ethnicities, neither better nor worse. That is why the real problem for humanity is to alter the dominant system of values, not to fixate on one or another ethnicity or nationality.

[Flash!] Wednesday, 10 February 2010. Although I finished this intended posting to the NarcoSphere yesterday, today I saw the article by Jillian Kestler-D'Amours with its more accurate and detailed statement about the Banamex fight than my opening paragraph. She writes in part: As a result of Por Esto!'s reporting on the matter, Banamex made a total of 18 libel claims against the newspaper – 17 in the Mexican courts and one in the New York Supreme Court.
    The case was taken to the United States because Banamex claimed that Por Esto! Publisher Menendez and Narco News' Giordano made slanderous statements against it during a public lecture at Columbia University and in other interviews with US-based news outlets.
    The bank also cited eight articles that Giordano published on Narco News about Por Esto!'s reporting as allegedly libelous against the bank and its owner. In the end, Giordano and Menendez emerged victorious – the criminal charges in Mexico and the civil lawsuit in the US were thrown out by judges – and in the process established a precedent that created important freedom of the press protections for online news organizations and journalists.

[1] The International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC). This organization maintains a "Who We Are" page as part of its website, at

[2] Fundraising appeal with announcement of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict's matching grant of $20,000. Article titled, Support Narco News, the Sustainable Next-Generation Newspaper, at

[3] My comment, hereafter comment #1, on the NarcoSphere is at [This link used to go to Herz's appeal, but no longer!] Now, on 2010-04-08, it goes instead to the page titled "All Notebook Entries", at . My comment, while still posted on the NarcoSphere, is relatively hidden on Giordano's mammoth website. I've put it here as part of endnote [16] in this article, linked to by [16]

[4] Necessity of mutual trust. As I stated almost a decade ago, "Those of us committed to building a humane and truly compassionate world, where all people will be able to live with dignity, must work to achieve mutual trust. We need to recognize it as an essential characteristic of our emerging global grassroots infrastructure." Now, a little over nine years later, I am more convinced than ever of that truth.

[5] Jack DuVall's and Stephen Zunes "official" biographies. The homepage of the ICNC website is at The page with DuVall's biography is at The "official" biography of Stephen Zunes, at states that he is "chair of the academic advisory committee for the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict".

[6] Franklin Foer, Regime Chance, Inc. Peter Ackerman's Quest to Topple Tyranny, The New Republic Issue of 2005-04-25 posted at

[7] Proyect was absolutely correct . . . Some criticisms of my rebuttal by Eric Pottenger, who points out that I might have made a stronger, more convincing case, seem correct. However, I was not able, either emotionally or energy-wise, to do appreciably more. I include here Eric's suggestions, which are in sequential order, from top-to-bottom.
    (1) Eric wrote: "Proyect was absolutely correct in asserting that Ackerman was criminally guilty (in fact) for massive social harm, though, for political reasons he escaped prosecution." I think the wording in this paragraph requires further elaboration. Use of the word "criminally" is legal, and requires strong legal justification. If the details were "legally sealed" then how do you establish a legal criminal charge? That he is "guilty" of social harm, this is a value judgment which I am not in doubt. That he paid millions in legally-required penalties as a result of his association with the firm, that is a fact. But as an individual, you may want to be careful as to how you word Peter Ackerman's "guilty" status. If you can find evidence of individual "criminal guilt" then present it. Otherwise it looks like you're the judge...
    (2) Eric wrote: "Also, the statement in parentheses is probably false, as the Tufts University website [8] indicates his membership on the Executive Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and his continued involvement in large capitalist activities, as the Managing Director of Crown Capital Group Incorporated." What bothers me about this statement is that there is no strong case presented that membership with IISS or Crown Capital indicates that he "worked with the U.S. Government." You should either establish why this association is important -- a specific example perhaps -- or instead build a strong argumentative framework around "implication" (strategic planning, etc.). I am not in doubt that what you are saying is true, although I think it can be presented more soundly.
    (3) Eric wrote: "Salzman- This assertion by DuVall might be true. I don't know. But I'm fairly sure that DuVall also doesn't know. He may be "not sure" who said that Ackerman never trained Iranian-Americans who worked for the Shah, but he might have said who he thinks made that statement. And what is the basis for his denial? Did Ackerman tell him? DuVall is a model of opacity, not transparency." One problem with this section is that it could be strengthened greatly by including more information. for example, this "rumor" was included in the New Republic piece by Franklin Foer, the current editor of that magazine. Franklin Foer had access to Peter Ackerman for the article he published, including time spent at ICNC headquarters in Washington D.C. This is one possible source for the "rumor," and considering the circumstances, one could make an argument that Franklin Foer is a credible source. Either way, it is not the fault of Proyect that a claim is later labeled as "rumor," a charge which is implied by DuVall's focus upon it, suggesting to the reader that Proyect is full of shit. Secondly, the wording of the paragraph is confusing. If you really want to amplify DuVall's opacity, you can do that simply by focusing the energy of the paragraph upon a simple question, like: "And so how might this so-called rumor have been started?" Something like that. But you may not want to even dwell upon these issues at all. I personally assume that DuVall is aware of most of Ackerman's ICNC goings-on, including whether he worked with Reza Pahlavi or not. If Ackerman did, I also wouldn't expect that this information would be made public (by the ICNC) unless it could be proven. Can it be proven? No. I suppose not. I suggest you amplify Proyect's innocence here, bolstered by reference to Franklin Foer, etc., file the "rumor" into the "things to remember later" category and move on.
    (4) Eric wrote: "At most Ackerman was a fig leaf to cover the unmoderated violent orientation of that panel of spooks, which included Judith Miller, then feeding at the Manhattan Institute War-Promotion trough, still cashing in on war after her success getting the U.S. invasion of Iraq into gear from her post at the New York Times." I would argue that "at least" Ackerman was a fig leaf. AT LEAST. The more likely explanation for his presence there was to offer his specialized understanding of "civic groups" and the use of nonviolent warfare for strategic purposes. War is merely control through violence and coercion. If I have any grasp upon this issue, it's that the strategic framework in which Peter Ackerman specializes focuses upon the flip-side of behavioral control, which is through psychological operations and subversive influencing of activism and "civil society." Control through attraction. Grass-roots stuff. And although, nominally, the ICNC may exclusively operate through films and presentations, the strategic foundation of his organization is far deeper, far more inclusive into the psychological realm of power and control. That is the specialty of his for which Peter Ackerman's money and expertise is put to work. I think he is, as you suggest, highly-intelligent -- probably brilliant -- in that cold, removed, nihilistic sort of way.

[8] Recent removal of information about Ackerman from the Tufts University website. My statement that the Tufts University website indicates Ackerman's membership on the Executive Council of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and his continued involvement in large capitalist activities, as the Managing Director of Crown Capital Group Incorporated was based on the page However, that page is no longer posted on the Tufts website. Instead, clicking on that link takes you to the page which does not contain the same detailed information about individuals that was formerly posted.
      The page at lists: Trustees Emeriti, Dr. Peter Ackerman; Home, Washington, DC; Years of Service, (1996 – 2006). The page lists among Investment Committee members Peter Ackerman as a Trustee Emeritus. It states, "The Investment Committee, a subcommittee of the Administration and Finance Committee, is responsible for the investment, reinvestment and management of all investment assets of the Corporation, and for the appointment of independent investment advisors or managers authorized to invest and reinvest funds of the Corporation. This committee also develops investment and asset allocation policy . . ."

[9] Herzliya Conference, which Ackerman attended in 2008. There is a brief indication of the session at which Ackerman spoke, as follows: Monday, January 21, 2008 The Challenge of Radical Islam

[10] Israel Shamir, his review of Michael Hoffman's Judism Discovered.


[12] Peter Ackerman's career.




[16] Ansel Herz's appeal for contributions to the School, my first comment (#1), Giordano's response (#2), and my answer to Giordano (#3).
Ansel Herz's appeal
      This appeal received "front page" coverage. It is at

My first comment, (#1)
Nov 17, 2009 fundraising article for NarcoNews, Posted by George Salzman - November 17, 2009 at 12:45 pm

      The final paragraph of the fundraising article is: "You can donate online to support Narco News, the Narcosphere, and the School of Authentic Journalism at the following link. As a 501c3 nonprofit organization, your contributions to The Fund for Authentic Journalism are tax-deductible in the US, and right now every dollar you donate will be doubled by matching support from the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict."

      I had never heard of the attractive-sounding International Center on Nonviolent Conflict. Turns out it is an organization founded and funded by Peter Ackerman, whose career is exactly contrary to what Al's entire NarcoNews effort seeks: total integrity of grassroots-based struggles. Here are some of the relevant Google items:
1. [This posting was removed, no doubt by Ackerman's instructions.]
2. [This posting is available as of 2010-04-08.]
3. [This posting is available as of 2010-04-08.]

      Ackerman is already tainted in the first URL by a host of his connections to the big-money brains of the U.S. ruling class. The second URL illustrates his participation in an Israeli Zionist ruling class conference on the security of Israel, where he was on a panel of 6 discussing The Challange of Radical Islam, in cooperation with the Atlantic Forum of Israel. The third URL is an expose by anti-capitalist Louis Proyect, a bit of which reads: "Over on Critical Montages [] there's an interesting report on the doings of some NGO's controlled by Peter Ackerman, a Wall Street investor who once worked closely with Michael Milken at Drexel Burnham in the 1980s. While Milken went to prison for insider trading, Ackerman walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars after the firm went bankrupt.

      "Modeling himself after George Soros, Ackerman assumed the guise of Deep Thinker after earning a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he now serves as President of the Board of Trustees. Like many other such schools, including Columbia University's School of International Affairs, Fletcher is a breeding ground for spooks."
      I think NarcoNews ought to wash its hands of this ruling-class scum.

Giordano's response, (#2)
Reply to George, Submitted November 17, 2009 - 3:46 pm by Al Giordano

      Dear George, As one of the 400+ copublishers here at Narco News, your critique is invited and welcome. As your friend and colleague I always consider everything you say and write seriously.

      And I would venture a strong guess that I have spent much more time researching the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict than you've been able to do so far. And that I have reached different conclusions than those you express here. I have read their books, watched their videos, and attended some of their presentations. I don't have as long or close a relationship with them as I have with you. For example, you and I have visited each other's homes, and have conversed for hours on end on all kinds of topics under the sun. What is interesting to me is that knowing of your strong belief in the deployment of nonviolent strategies and tactics as an effective path for social change, I actually find that you and ICNC have a lot of common ground and shared opinions, even if you might find that hard to believe at this moment. And even if it turns out you don't, that's okay too.

      But if when you say "I think NarcoNews ought to wash its hands of this ruling-class scum," you mean that we should decline its support for our School of Authentic Journalism of 2010, abandon our 31 scholarship recipients, tell them to stay home, and abandon with them our mission of building the next generation of authentic journalists, I can't morally do that.

      The past Schools of Authentic Journalism were supported financially by The Drug Policy Alliance, whose largest financial backer is the very same George Soros you mention in your essay above. Did that in any way change our editorial coverage on any issue? Did it suddenly corrupt and compromise our fierce independence and aggressive journalism? Since you supported our work, too, during those years, I have to presume you concluded that no, it did not. So I really don't know what the difference is, now, between receiving support from an organization funded by Soros and receiving support from an organization funded by Ackerman.

      And I think you also know the back story of the one time a different large donor tried to pressure our editorial content, and at that point we did stop receiving his support, rather than change what we do on behalf of any supporter. Even if your conclusions regarding Peter Ackerman (or ICNC by association) were all based on accurate information (and I would differ with many of your conclusions), how would that change what Narco News does? If the implication is that I and our team here would ever mold our work to the opinions of a contributor, that would be terribly unfair, not based on any behavior during our almost-ten-year history, and unwarranted.

      While I'm certainly much closer politically to you than I am to Mr. Ackerman's known political opinions on many matters, you and I have also disagreed on some matters over the years. But I would never allow a disagreement of opinion to allow myself to fall into the trap of what I call "leftist McCarthyism" in which, over differences of opinion, people supposedly must be purged or shunned or disassociated with. That's never been anything I've ever done. I don't know why anybody would think I might start doing it now. I leave that to the sectarians and dogmatic types, of which there is no shortage in this world.

      And that's not what I understand to be your tendency, either, George. So I'll ask you to reconsider your first thought on this and of course I welcome your views and your passion even when I may disagree with your conclusions. salud y abrazo, Al

My answer to Giordano, (#3)
Saludos y felicitaciones Al sobre la escuela autentica, Submitted November 17, 2009 - 8:54 pm by George Salzman

Oaxaca, Mexico Tuesday 17 November 2009
      Hi Al, Wow! A letter from you that starts "Dear George" warns me it's serious. So I knew immediately you had seen my comments. I raced through your response, not at the 140 words per minute at which you type (if I remember correctly), but as fast as I could. And as you know from my immediate call I thought it was funny that by the time you wrote I had rethought my criticism of NarcoNews accepting the tainted money, deciding that -- since I knew there was no way it would corrupt your conduct of the School for Authentic Journalism -- I know you well enough to be sure of that -- it made good sense to appropriate capitalist money for building our infrastructure. In fact, it's really what I've been doing with the wealth over which I had legal control. Since I lived in a capitalist society I reduced my taxable income as much as I could manage by setting up a 501-C-3 trust, deeding my home in Cambridge, Massachusetts to it and contributing as much of my cash income to it as seemed reasonable, thus making it possible for substantial amounts to be donated to legal but subversive efforts to build a liberatory social structure. A lot went to NarcoNews, to the Lucy Parsons Center in Boston, to Bikes Not Bombs for Nicaragua, to TecsChange and to many other so-called charitable but subversive groups. Building the new world in the shell of the old.

      I think there are other issues to discuss, where I believe we'll be in disagreement, but at the moment I want to postpone them. I'll add here only the happy news that the Lucy Parsons Center finally owns a space for its own bookshop and related activities. It has been a long-time dream of mine to see the Lucy Parsons Center free of the ever-present threats that living under a landlord's control of property involves. The active members (I'm no longer active) of the Collective estimate that owning the property will save about $2,000 per month. The LPC will be celebrating its 40th anniversary on Saturday 21 November 2009 at the Community Church of Boston. I was an active instigator in setting up a so-called Building Acquisition Fund and contributing a substantial part of the funds to make this possible. I know this may be dismissed as "boasting" because I'm only small-time, compared to billionaires like George Soros and Peter Ackerman, who steal big-time and have paid propagandists to toot their horns. But I'm mentioning it because I believe that if many of us tried to do similar things with the wealth over which we have legal control, we could make a substantial contribution to changing the world. I've written a lot about it on my website. La lucha sigue sigue, George

George Salzman is a former American Jew living in Oaxaca, Mexico, an Emeritus Prof of Physics, Univ of Massachusetts-Boston.
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Initial posting of this page: 18 February 2010.
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