Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

April 15, 2011

Rancid reporting from Counterpunch

Filed under: Libya — louisproyect @ 3:39 pm

Running neck-and-neck with MRZine for printing pro-Qaddafi propaganda, Counterpunch published an article by someone named Thomas C. Mountain on March 23, 2011. After making the usual case about how prosperous people were under Qaddafi (most families owned their own houses and cars, etc.), he asks why Benghazi revolted. His answer:

The human trafficking industry, one of the most evil, inhumane businesses on the planet, grew into a billion dollar a year industry in Benghazi. A large, viscous underworld mafia set down deep roots in Benghazi, employing thousands in various capacities and corrupting Libyan police and government officials. It has only been in the past year or so that the Libyan government, with help from Italy, has finally brought this cancer under control. With their livelihood destroyed and many of their leaders in prison, the human trafficking mafia have been at the forefront in funding and supporting the Libyan rebellion. Many of the human trafficking gangs and other lumpen elements in Benghazi are known for racist pogroms against African guest workers where over the past decade they regularly robbed and murdered Africans in Benghazi and its surrounding neighborhoods. Since the rebellion in Benghazi broke out several hundred Sudanese, Somali, Ethiopian and Eritrean guest workers have been robbed and murdered by racist rebel militias, a fact well hidden by the international media.

Mountain says that this is a “well hidden” fact. For someone so concerned about facts, there is not a single word in this paragraph that is based on his own investigations on the spot or any other human being’s as far as I can tell. A search in Lexis-Nexis for “Benghazi”, “smugglers”, “mafia”, etc. reveals nothing of the sort. In fact, Mountain might have written that guest workers were being boiled alive in cauldrons and then eaten at royalist banquets and it would have eluded Counterpunch’s fact-checkers if they existed.

Go ahead and google “Benghazi” and “human trafficking” yourself. The only items that turn up are from Mountain’s article. I would say that this is embarrassing but Alexander Cockburn revealed long ago through his articles on climate change that he is rather shameless.


  1. Perhaps the worst thing is that this is an attempt to cover up for Gaddafi doing a deal with Berlesconi to halt African migration to Europe (Gaddafi saying that in the absence of such a deal Europe would become black, along with assorted revolting racist observations about black people). I’m sure you’ve got the links to this somewhere Louis. Might be worth including it for that rare breed who combine credulousness with giving a fuck about the facts of the matter.

    Comment by johng — April 15, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

  2. Today he has some sort of banking theory from Ellen Brown:

    “Currently, the Libyan government creates its own money, the Libyan Dinar, through the facilities of its own central bank. Few can argue that Libya is a sovereign nation with its own great resources, able to sustain its own economic destiny. One major problem for globalist banking cartels is that in order to do business with Libya, they must go through the Libyan Central Bank and its national currency, a place where they have absolutely zero dominion or power-broking ability.”

    Wow, they create their own money? They have a state-controlled central bank?

    Maybe there’s something here but this story doesn’t prove anything, it doesn’t even really allege anything. It just alludes.

    My bullshit detector goes into a high whir whenever “currency” explanations are on offer.

    Comment by Rojo — April 15, 2011 @ 6:55 pm

  3. Wow. That’s taking sleazy writing to a whole new level. Then again the biggest Qaddafi fans used to oppose free movement of people out of East Germany as well, so it’s right in their wheel house.

    Comment by christian h. — April 15, 2011 @ 9:44 pm

  4. Read the comments on this NYT article. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/16/world/africa/16libya.html?_r=1&hp

    They’re quite cheering. The most common reaction to the news that Qaddafi is using cluster bombs against Misurata is to point out that gives him something in common with the US and Israel.

    Comment by ish — April 16, 2011 @ 1:24 am

  5. It makes me wonder why they ran my piece where I was pretty unambiguous in my support for the revolution and took what I thought was a hard line against Gaddafi. Maybe CounterPunch doesn’t have a hard and fast “party line”?

    Comment by Binh — April 16, 2011 @ 7:06 am

  6. It seems that it took them a while to develop a “party line” but it is now the same as Workers World, MRZine, Chossudovsky et al. Anyhow, I will continue to make my case against the pro-Qaddafi part of their analysis. You don’t have to be an apologist for Qaddafi to oppose military intervention.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 16, 2011 @ 12:54 pm

  7. When the great Iranian uprising of June 2009 started right after the stolen elections, Counterpunch let slip two of my articles on the situation in Iran. But, once the ‘party line’ was established, not only were my articles stopped and not posted any more, not even my emails were answered.

    Instead, they started posting Paul Craig Roberts’ pieces (someone who knows close to zero about Iran), which repeated verbatim the line that was put out by the Iranian government, the torturers who were murdering Iranian people openly in the streets, arresting them by the thousands, not even letting people to hold funerals for their loved ones who had been killed by Basij, etc.

    A lot of Iranians were shocked. We wrote letters to them, but none were answered. Our objections are still unanswered. Cockburn himself, who is pretty verbose about any topic whatsoever, did not write a single article about one of the most important Middle Eastern social events of 2009: the most significant political event to hit a region, mind you, which is one of the most crucial geo-political regions in the current world system.

    Comment by reza f. — April 16, 2011 @ 4:54 pm

  8. The one odd thing about his counterpart at MRZine is that she has never written anything more than 5 paragraphs on Iran in her sorry life. What is her problem? Attention deficit disorder? For that matter, the fool who hired her–John Mage–has written even less. What in the world gave these people the authority to edit magazines that were once associated with such towering figures such as Sweezy, Braverman and Magdoff. What a disgrace.

    Comment by louisproyect — April 16, 2011 @ 5:03 pm

  9. […] first encountered some of Thomas Mountain’s bullshit artistry on Counterpunch back in March when he alleged that a Benghazi “mafia” was “employing thousands in various […]

    Pingback by Did Qaddafi’s demand for reparations lead to war? « Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist — July 29, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

  10. March 15, 2012 / BENGHAZI: Libyan security forces said on Thursday they had dismantled a human trafficking network smuggling illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Somalia.
    Hussein Al-Sahli, who headed the investigation, said five members of the network were arrested at a farm on the outskirts of the eastern city of Benghazi, where 52 people were being held captive.
    “The network was bringing illegal immigrants across the Egyptian-Libyan border with the help of Libyan drivers and the owner of the farm,” he said.
    The gang lured its victims with promises of safe passage and employment opportunities in the North African nation only to kidnap them in the hope of obtaining ransom payments from their relatives, he added.
    The ring leader, a Bangladeshi, confessed to bringing more than 200 illegal immigrants from his country in the past three months.
    Sahli said the Libyan farmer would pay the smugglers to use the Somalis as slaves.
    For years, Libya has been a destination and a transit country to European shores for hundreds of thousands of African immigrants.

    Comment by hurriya — August 27, 2012 @ 2:22 pm

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