Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ergenekon Gladio in premier Turkish Newspaper

Three sides to every story

Friday, February 18, 2011 ÖZGÜR ÖĞRET

There are two sides to every story. No, three. After the police raided
the offices of an Internet news portal Monday, debate broke out over
press freedom and the alleged Ergenekon coup gang. Let's review the
perspective from the two sides of the raid on the news portal. Then
I'll show you why there is a third.

From one side, there is an alleged clandestine, cell-type terrorist
organization that has its fingers in every dirty little state pie.
Some cells are aware of each other, some are not. The theory is that
Ergenekon is the Turkish version of NATO's "stay-behind" group in
Italy called Gladio. Tens of thousands of unsolved murders in Turkey
are on the gang's heads. This organization tried to topple the
government, but failed and is now on trial. It sought to create chaos
by terrorist attacks and assassinations and set the stage for a
military coup. Such was the game before the 1980 military takeover.
Naturally, the organization has a press arm and ultranationalist Oda
TV is one of its fingers.

The counter perspective believes there is no Ergenekon. The indictment
is a mess, the evidence is fabricated, the case is merely a tool used
by the ruling party to silence opposition. Some suspects on trial have
been behind bars for years while other obvious ones haven't even been
questioned. The Ergenekon investigation has turned into a witch hunt
like the communist hunt of the McCarthy Era in the U.S. This side says
the military did not prepare secret plans for a takeover and there was
no clandestine organization trying to provoke it. There actually is a
"deep state," but its name is not Ergenekon. Rather, it is in the
ruling party's secret agenda to transform Turkey into a fundamentalist
state once the secularist opposition is dispatched. Oda TV was raided
as a strong and fierce critic.

Now the third side. It is the bigger picture, it is both and it is
neither. The first mention of an underground network called Ergenekon
covering up "deep state" actions dates back more than a decade; way
before the ruling party was even an idea. The book "Ergenekon," by
journalists Can Dündar and Celal Kazdağlı, had its first print run in
1997. TV coverage of the material was aired in 1996 and is now at
YouTube. Open calls to the military to take action against the
government were made during the first term of the leading party. Some
of the suspects in the case are people who have long been expected in
court for shadowy dealings. The indictments are actually messy. But
any lawyer will tell you this is routine in Turkey. However, two major
points smell rotten.

The first is that there is a real problem with unearthing thousands of
political murder victims in southeastern Turkey because the role of
the "deep state" in the region is obvious. The second is the
culpability of top officers. You need a military to stage a military
coup. I lost faith in the investigation long ago when force commanders
were questioned and not charged. The diary of one is the main piece of
evidence in the case, which excited everyone when it was leaked to the
press. But today, it is not even included as evidence. People
mentioned in the diary are now under arrest within the scope of
another coup attempt case called "Balyoz" (Sledgehammer), but the two
are not related. My honest opinion, as one who has read the
indictments and followed the trial, is that although Ergenekon might
be very real, this case is no longer the sword that can slay that
dragon.

Now let us come to Oda TV itself. It is among the harshest critics of
the president and the prime minister. Since opening in 2007, Oda TV
has had a slogan, "Special news only." Its "special news" is special
for one thing: It is all anti-government. Which is fine, advocacy
journalism is not a crime and other forms of it exist in Turkey. The
Oda TV staff was detained with the prosecutors' suspicions of links to
terrorism, but some in the public are suspicious that the accusations
are just an excuse to silence an irritating voice. Without some
semblance of charges backed with evidence, the raid would be a direct
assault on the freedom of the press.

Those are the three sides to this story. Mine own is actually a
fourth. I perceive Oda TV as a source of hate speech targeting
beliefs, political views and ethnicity. Factless strings of text
considered as news stories are often direct, verbal insults against
people who Oda TV staff disagree with. It does not shy away from
publishing lists of these people, which in one case included me. Under
different circumstances, the staff might well be on trial for hate
crimes. But Turkey's laws against "inciting people to hatred and
animosity" are outdated far short of international standards.

A recent example from Oda TV's archives is its coverage of the release
of a 2011 pocket calendar that was published with the theme of
"Racism, discrimination and hate crime." When it was released, a
bookstore chain refused to sell the calendar because it had a picture
of a peeing kid on each page, including on the anniversary of
Atatürk's death, which the chain said was insulting to his memory.
Then members of an extreme right-wing political party began
threatening other stores that continued to sell the calendar. In
protest of the threats against these stores, people will gather
Saturday outside Istanbul's Galatasaray High School and sell the
calendar themselves. In this already tense atmosphere, Oda TV decided
to run a story titled "Nobody has seen this" and pointed out to
everyone that the calendar listed the "Armenian genocide" alongside
the Holocaust and slaughters in Bosnia and Rwanda. Oda TV "broke the
story" by seeking out an aspect that could be manipulated for
ultra-nationalist purposes, then of course did not hesitate to dump
gasoline on the fire when it found one.

Whether Oda TV aids a terrorist organization, or is simply a bunch of
journalists who oppose the government, it is now a matter for the
courts and the public opinion. However, it is hardly the team of white
knights for press freedom that many suggest.

COMMENT

And probably a fifth side is closest to the truth. That is why it is
necessary to free the press so they can report and opine on any
subject and then you have the opportunity to root out the truth. I
once called a former President of the United States a whore to his
face, and told him he was a huge embarrassment to our mutual home
state with this actions while in the White House. hmmmm I have still
not been arrested or imprisoned, nor have I been found dead in my home
or car "due to a self inflicted wound" after a "long depression". You
can say what you like about freedom of speech in the USA, but....

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posted by u2r2h at 12:51 PM

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