I had stopped trying to follow the fine details of the controversy over Cindy Sheehan's Nightline letter. But a couple of nights ago I got drawn back into it. There are nasty elements on both the right and the left who opportunistically insist that Cindy made the comment that she denies.
(That's Christopher Hitchens linked as my representative right-wing hack. Some will say he is a centrist and I should be linking someone else. But Hitchens cannot deliver his quasi-defensible centrist position on the war without compulsive, unsupported attacks on Sheehan—landing him squarely in winger city. It is worth reading Max Blumenthal on Hitchens to understand his hypocrisy and to get the dirt on his admiration for Holocaust deniers.)
(As I'm linking to some of the commentaries on this controversy, I would be remiss if I didn't mention billmon on antisemtism in the DLC, neocons, Israel, Iraq, Iran and, yes, Cindy Sheehan. If you're going to read anything on the Sheehan brouhaha, billmon's post is a good one. It's also where I stole the the first part of my title from.)
I spent a little more time over at the bullyard google group, where Cindy's letter made its internet debut in March. I ran searches on Tony Tersch and Skeeter Gallagher's posts—the two men who were responsible for forwarding emails from Cindy Sheehan to the group. Sheehan never joined the group and posted messages to it directly. I could not find anything in Tersch or Gallagher's posts that was even remotely anti-Israel or antisemitic. But there are others at bullyard who are virulent with conspiracy theories about Israel and a war mongering Jewish "cabal."
James Morris, who forwarded Cindy Sheeehan's letter to Nightline is, according to Wilson, an "an anti-Zionist activist." What exactly does that mean? What sort of activism is he involved in? What is his "anti-Zionist" ideology? Why haven't any of the reporters who are trying to authenticate the content of Cindy's Nightline letter provided any other details about Morris? In fact the only two news sources on Morris are Britt Hume (Fox) and Blake Wilson (Slate). Morris has very little, if any, web presence (i.e., I cannot verify the James Morris at those links is the one who knows Cindy Sheehan). The two news reports that mention contact with him do not even say where he resides, though we know that Tony Tersch resides in Thailand and can be reached by email, postal mail, phone and fax—contact info he has sent me, since my initial attempt to contact him.
Meanwhile almost anywhere you look for conversations about the Nightline letter—including, as of last week, at bullyard—there is someone who goes by truthseeker (aka justiceseeker2000) posting links and brief comments to promote the idea that Casey Sheehan died for Israel and that Cindy Sheehan has said this is so. One of truthseeker's favorite things to do is post a link to the haloscan comments for the post at the Representative Press blog, which I linked to, above, on the word "left." In that comments thread and nowhere else, you can find, posted by truthseeker, supposed correspondence from James Morris on Cindy Sheehan. In a supposed exchange with Daniel Levine, a "producer at FOX news channel," truthseeker's James Morris talks about the "Israel agenda," asserting that "it is time that Ms. Sheehan addresses the truth of what she had so accurately written in the email." You will find similar stuff in the truthseeker James Morris letter to Christopher Hitchens.
Is truthseeker James Morris? If so or if not, is the correspondence with Levine and Hitchens authentic? I emailed truthseeker yesterday and also left an inquiry in the haloscan thread on the Representative Press blog. While truthseeker has since posted another comment there, he or she has not responded to my queries. My point is not that truthseeker is the key to all of our unanswered questions, but that the circumstances surrounding Cindy Sheehan's letter to Nightline continue to be murky with provocateurs and defamers available in abundance.
The prevalence of provocateurs and defamers should be a big tip off for everyone. Figures on the left with Cindy Sheehan's power to galvanize public opinion and inspire action have long been targets for these tactics. I alluded to this before, and I bring it up again because the sad history is just too well documented.
So I'm remaining agnostic on the antisemitism question, as billmon puts it, and remaining a supporter of Cindy Sheehan's protest—especially since the murky circumstances and all of the other charges of sedition and guilt by association make Cindy's story seem much too familiar to anyone with a good sense of history.