As far I can tell, the whole Israel Shamir/Anna Ardin business started back in September, when Counterpunch, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, posted an article co-authored by Shamir and Paul Bennett, announcing the “telltale signs of CIA connection surrounding Anna Ardin,” one of the women involved with the Swedish complaint against Julian Assange, whatever that case might be.
Evidently I missed the pingback at the time, but the part of the Shamir/Bennett article that linked to Machetera was the part about Las damas de blanco [Ladies in White] in Cuba, with whom Shamir says Ardin was associated. The Cuban Damas are a cynical U.S. sponsored public relations appropriation of the image created more than 30 years ago by Argentine mothers who gathered weekly in Buenos Aires’ Plaza de Mayo to protest the disappearance of their children in Argentina’s (also U.S. sponsored) Dirty War. Luis Posada Carriles, the Devil in White who blew up a Cuban passenger airliner in 1976 and recruited mercenaries to kill innocent civilians in Havana in the late 1990s, and now continues to be harbored rather than extradited by the Obama administration is a well-documented supporter of Las Damas.
While it’s somewhat gratifying to see an uptick in blog stats based on an article reiterating the links between Las Damas de Blanco and Posada Carriles, and especially important for the general public to become aware that the Western Hemisphere’s biggest terrorist is wandering free in Miami, while five Cubans who tried to stop this sort of nonsense languish in U.S. federal prisons, the six degrees of separation argument crafted by Shamir/Bennett to demonstrate a link between Ardin and Posada is pure laziness as a journalistic sourcing technique, and honestly, motivationally questionable.
Sandra Cuffe has written a brilliant deconstruction of this, and more, here – the six degrees technique is only one of the problems with the profoundly misogynistic articles emanating from Shamir – a.k.a. Jöran Jermas.
Cuffe says that Ardin’s CIA links or non-links are not the point.
I love how just the mention of “CIA ties” gets people up in arms about how the woman alleging sexual assault is a tool of the CIA to discredit Assange. Maybe so, maybe not. But all of the available written material essentially comes down to the fact that if you replace Kevin Bacon with Luis Posada Carriles, you could play 6 degrees of separation with the woman? Hell, I bet I would only be a couple degrees of separation from Luis Posada Carriles…
Indeed. While I understand that the whole point of CIA endeavors is to conceal the smoking gun, the claims in the Shamir/Bennett story that one would most obviously want to source are curiously link-less. If you can create an internet link to Machetera, why not also link to a Cuban report that would back up your claim that Ardin was deported from Cuba? Or to the Oslo-based professor who made the (on the record? off the record?) brilliant deduction that Carlos Alberto Montaner and the probably U.S. funded Swedish publication that published two articles by Ardin are both anti-Castro? Shamir/Bennett did neither.
Shamir/Bennett said that while in Cuba, Ardin “interacted with the feminist anti-Castro group Las damas de blanco.” Leaving aside for a moment the problem that Damas is not remotely a “feminist” group except for the fact that it is comprised of women – and if we’re going to start identifying female dominated groups as feminist groups, then Mormon women who gather weekly in Relief Societies are going to have a lot of explaining to do – what does “interact” actually mean? By now, as bloggers collect and repeat Shamir’s September discovery, Ardin has been transformed. She is longer a mere interlocutor. Now, we’re told, she basically “worked with” the Damas.
The real spark behind this latest speculative frenzy was ignited, ironically, by the anti-conspiracist Alexander Cockburn himself, with his Dec. 5 article where he more or less endorsed Shamir’s cunning laziness by weaving Shamir’s insinuations into his own story. Cockburn, the curmudgeon radical whose editorial style can be generously described as opaque and capricious, but whose writing skills are beyond question, took care to point out that the [CIA agent] evidence mustered against Ardin was “according to Israel Shamir.” (No mention of Bennett.) In a pre-emptive strike he added, “It’s certainly not conspiracism to suspect that the CIA has been at work in fomenting these Swedish accusations.”
Maybe. But we surely have traveled some distance now from reporting about an Anna Ardin who may or may not have been simply a young social democrat who spent time in Cuba around 2006 in order to write a thesis about political opposition. Or may or may not have been simply a tourist. Or a member, or not, of the Swedish legation, as some blogs have claimed. Whether or not the CIA fomented or amplified the charges against Assange is a) beside the point, when the major media do that so well and of their own accord and b) really beside the point as to whether or not there is any substance to them.
For someone with a fondness for playing six degrees of separation, Shamir’s own house is dangerously fragile. Aside from the information about his immediate neo-fascist bedfellows, easily unearthed by Cuffe, Shamir has a well-known and documented history of behaving unethically and playing so fast and loose with the truth that the leftist website Tlaxcala (produced by the translation collective to which I belong) distanced itself from him long ago. The neo-Nazi publisher in Barcelona, Pedro Varela, with whom Shamir collaborated on not just one but two books, will start serving a prison sentence in Spain tomorrow, for “spreading genocidal ideas.” After the first collaboration, a protest was lodged with Shamir, who in turn answered that he had been unaware of Varela’s background. Some time later, well after he could no longer claim unawareness, he collaborated with Varela on the second book. A Tlaxcala editor told me that Shamir’s mistake was confusing the enemy of his Zionist enemy, with his friend, but some in the group questioned whether Shamir’s provocative behavior wasn’t a sign of something more sinister, as the Shamir affair was in the end, something that not only damaged reputations but robbed precious time from the Tlaxcala team.
The Shamir sourced rumors about Anna Ardin jump-started by Counterpunch are a repeat of the phenomenon, on a wider scale. The exponentially increasing pingbacks at Machetera as the rumors about Ardin go viral are no less disturbing to watch than the media campaign to assassinate Assange’s character as a temporary substitute for the real deal. I’m guessing that somewhere, someone is laughing, and trust me, they’re not on our side.