Behind the UN curtain: reflections on covering UN conferences and summits in Cairo, Copenhagen, and UN headquarters in New York City.
Actually, it was a bit of an exaggeration to refer to my confinement as a stint in "jail."
Just a couple of hours earlier, UN security officials at Cairo, Egypt's International Conference Center had seized my passport and confined me under armed guard. This treatment was provoked by my refusal to surrender the legal pad on which I was taking notes on the interrogation of Sharon Turner, a U.S. citizen who had been seized by a UN security officer for "disrupting" a press conference at the end of the UN's 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD).
Mrs. Turner found herself in the clutches of UN interrogators when she made an impromptu speech after U.S. government delegation leader Timothy Wirth arbitrarily cut off the question-and-answer session rather than take a question from an African journalist named Spartacus R. The editor whom Wirth snubbed had, in keeping with the prime directive of effective journalism, made himself a nuisance by asking pointed questions of UN officials regarding the proposed global population plan.
A self-described pan-African nationalist, Spartacus, publisher of a Reader's Digest-style periodical called Global Africa Pocket News, had become convinced that the elitists behind the UN had genocidal designs on the African population. Outlandish though that perception may appear, the Cairo conference gave abundant reason to lend credence to that view.
One event I attended featured a speech by Patric Mazimuka, a Rwandan government official. Just weeks earlier, Rwanda underwent a state-sponsored orgy of mass murder that killed as many as 1.1 million people in roughly 100 days. This amounted to liquidation of roughly one-fifth of that nation's population, a genocidal feat akin to that accomplished in Cambodia by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. Yet the population goals established by the UN in Cairo required the new Rwandan government to undertake "post-genocide population management." Noted Mazimuka in his speech: "The government will have to try to keep the family on track because we cannot afford a big population."
Elsewhere during the conference I interviewed Dr. Margaret Ogala of Kenya, who complained: "In the name of population control, people are treated almost like rats--there are too many, and they're unwanted. And in the name of controlling this human pestilence, anything is justifiable." Hospitals in her country were notoriously understocked, yet UN-funded "family planning" clinics abounded in contraceptives and abortifacients of all varieties. Mercy Wambui of Kenya's Energy and Environment Association offered a similar account, telling me that "in my country it's easy to get contraceptives, but not aspirin."
Spartacus and I compared notes often during informal meetings in the Conference Center's press room. It would seem an unlikely pairing--the dreadlocked disciple of Malcolm X and a senior editor for a John Birch Society periodical (albeit a Bircher who was frequently mistaken during the conference for a native Egyptian, or an African diplomat). By the end of the conference, Spartacus--although approaching the issue from a different vector--had come to share the Society's loathing for the UN and the Power Elite it serves, and he wasn't diffident in trying to pry the truth out of the world body's mouthpieces.
Hence his role in the events leading to my arrest.
"Do You Want to Get Hurt?"
During the final U.S. delegation press conference, Spartacus and about a dozen other reporters queued up to the microphone to pose questions to Wirth. "Well, this should prove interesting," I mused, recalling the earlier confrontation between Spartacus and Naris Sadik, a high-ranking official of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and head of the UN Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). "Why does the program of action treat Africa as overpopulated, rather than suffering from inadequate economic development?" Spartacus had asked. Sadik's smug answer, digested to its essence, was that since "population stabilization" (the preferred euphemism for population control) was an issue of women's "empowerment,'" Spartacus--as a man--simply didn't have standing to ask his question.
Obviously, Sadik and her comrades had compared notes with the U.S. delegation, since Wirth wasn't inclined to allow the troublemaker to commit an act of actual journalism at the closing press conference. Thus when Spartacus politely identified himself and his publication, Wirth placidly launched into a wind-up spiel, blatantly over-talking the reporter and acting as if he didn't exist. This went on for roughly 20 seconds, amid an atmosphere of growing puzzlement and embarrassment: here was a stereotypical white liberal bureaucrat, at an event in Africa, treating a polite, well-spoken African journalist with what could best be described as paternalistic scorn.
Eventually Spartacus lost his composure, angrily turning to the assembled reporters and complaining about being denied his turn in line. Wearing a self-satisfied smirk, Wirth left the podium, the rest of the U.S. delegation in tow. This is what prompted Sharon Turner's extemporaneous protest.
"I apologize for my government," she stated. "They don't represent the American people.... This whole conference has been about issues that are private to people and not for governments to govern."
After she finished, there was a brief, pregnant pause as reporters and security officials looked at each other in befuddlement. Security officials then swarmed Sharon--a meek, slender woman in her 40s--and began dragging her away, only to be impeded by the scrum of curious reporters suddenly materializing between them and the exit.
Using what amounted to a modified breast-stroke, I waded into the middle of the melee, asking one of the UN security guards what they intended to do with Mrs. Turner. After I repeated the question at least three more times, the guard glared at me and said, "Come with me," grabbing my arm as if my removal were a foregone conclusion. It wasn't.
Mrs. Turner spied me and reached out her hand imploringly. I grabbed it, and the two of us--surrounded by a flying wedge of UN guards--strode to the Conference Center Suite used by UN security as their temporary headquarters. It was during Mrs. Turner's interrogation that the presiding sergeant had demanded my notebook, and after his demand was refused, he had three NFL-sized security guards seize me by the shoulders and arms.
"Do you want to get hurt?" bellowed the sergeant. "If you do what you're told to do, you won't get hurt." I was taken to a small room, thrown onto a chair, forced to surrender my passport, and kept under watch by a surly UN guard who conspicuously kept his hand on his bolstered sidearm. After being held for about an hour and interrogated by the head of UN Security, I was released. Sharon Turner had been let go a short time earlier. The conference was over, and the major news organizations had filed their stories, almost all of which had ignored the mini-riot at the final press conference.
Mr. Wirth, the Clinton administration's undersecretary of state for global affairs, was a former Democratic senator from Colorado. He is now president of the UN Foundation and the tax-exempt Better World Fund. The UN population summit in Cairo is where he made his bones as a legitimate member of the global elite. His chief task in Cairo was to ensure that the international press was fed puerile soundbites, kept on message, and encouraged to spend more time visiting exotic tourist spots than examining the proposed global population plan.
That plan envisioned a UN-led effort to undermine religious and family values throughout the world, particularly within Christian and Muslim cultures. "We will all be changed by this global discussion," stated J. Brian Atwood, then-director of the U.S. government's Agency for International Development, at the summit's end. "In time, individuals will change their outlook. Societies will change their mores. Religions will interpret their beliefs differently." This offered a suitable summation of the global Program of Action ratified at Cairo, which amounted to a declaration of war by the UN, its radical feminist and eugenicist allies, and the elite controlling all of them, against traditionalists of all countries and religions.
On numerous occasions during the roughly two weeks I was in Cairo on assignment for THE NEW AMERICAN, I was asked by foreign journalists from Africa and Latin America why the U.S. delegation was promoting a UN population control program that could be labeled "radical feminist colonialism." Several of them pointed out that holding a global conference on population control in the capital city of a major Muslim nation was a potentially disastrous provocation.
That warning resonated with me. Teaching a Sunday School class after my return from Egypt, I commented that the policies embodied in the Cairo program, which called for huge subsidies for radical feminist missionaries to spread their gospel of revolt in the Muslim world, would exacerbate long-standing Muslim hostilities toward the West, and might eventually lead to war.
Neo-conservatives ritualistically insist that Muslim radicals hate the West because of our "freedom." While it's true that a formidable cultural gap divides the West from the Muslim world, it's worth pondering the extent to which Islamists have capitalized on understandable revulsion among the Muslim masses to the infiltration of their societies by emissaries of UN-aligned radical feminist and population control groups subsidized by Washington.
Majid Khatme, a Muslim physician from London and head of an Islamic pro-life group, denounced the UN's anti-natal campaign during a press conference in Cairo. "For Muslims, God is the only population controller," he declared, prompting a loud ovation from the Egyptian journalists present at the event.
A few months later I encountered Dr. Khatme in Copenhagen, Denmark, during the UN World Summit for Social Development (for "social development" read "foreign aid and global taxation"). In the course of a leisurely conversation, Dr. Khatme expressed puzzlement over the determination of the United States and other nominally Christian nations to evangelize in the Muslim world on behalf of radical feminism and population control. He also recalled that when the cinematic blasphemy called The Last Temptation of Christ debuted in London, he was one of only two protesters picketing the theater; the other was also a Muslim physician.
While tensions and even conflicts between the West and the Islamic world may be inevitable, the U.S. government's role in funding the UN's population program has done much to catalyze the militancy and hostility we now confront. The premonitory rumbles of the post-9/11 "clash of civilizations" could be felt in Cairo--but thanks to the Power Elite's seamless system of information management, the public wasn't warned of the Muslim world's likely reaction to the UN-ordained anti-natal Jihad.
Stenography, Not Journalism
At a dozen UN conferences and summits I've covered for THE NEW AMERICAN, journalists have been expected to be dutiful stenographers, regurgitating the potted pronouncements issued by the world body's press office. The Cairo conference offered my first exposure to this relationship.
"Here in Cairo," wrote Tarek Atia of Al-Ahram, Egypt's largest English-language newspaper, "if you don't agree with [population control guru Thomas] Malthus, just don't open your mouth." Critics of the UN's population program were dismissed as "conspiracy theorists that Tim Wirth and the rest of the U.S. delegation [didn't] mind shooing away like pesky flies." Atia pointed out that similar treatment was dealt out to "William Grigg, a journalist with the conservative-libertarian New American magazine, whose 'nagging' questions were constantly rebuffed by the U.S. delegation," and to any other reporter who wasn't content to follow the UN-approved script.
During the first day of the conference, Christian Wernicke, a correspondent for Germany's Die Zeit, had his press credential revoked after a sharp exchange with conference spokesman Ayman El-Amir. During a brief interview outside the conference center late on the evening of September 9, Wernicke complained: "Here we talk about cooperation and transparency, and the UN itself is closing down the window.... There has been so much disinformation regarding this conference." Since journalists aren't permitted to cover the actual policy-making sessions, he pointed out, they have to "rely on 'interested' information ... [and be] at the mercy of sources with a partisan position."
The fleeting interview with a disgusted Christian Wernicke took place outside an outbuilding next to the conference center, where three U.S. citizens (including Sharon Turner, who obviously had a gift for getting into trouble) were being held by security personnel. Along with Turner were pro-life activist Keith Tucci, who was covering the event for a local news paper, and David Haddon, a correspondent for the Berkeley, California, Spiritual Counterfeits Project Journal.
On September 8, Tucci, who had been involved in peaceful pro-life protests in the United States, had a run-in with a radical feminist belonging to a "nongovernmental organization" (NGO) attached to the U.S. delegation. "She noticed me, and recognized me because of my pro-life activities," Tucci told me. "She grabbed my [press] pass and said, 'What about this pass?' I said, 'I've got a legitimate pass. I'm here working as a correspondent with a newspaper in the states. She said, 'Well, we're gonna get you.'"
Shortly after that conversation, Tucci was detained by security personnel at the entrance to the Conference Center and confined under guard for more than 24 hours in a small building outside the compound. The guard told me that he had acted on specific instructions from Wirth. Once Tucci's pass had been taken, he was arrested for not having proper credentials.
U.S. Congressman Christopher Smith (R-N.J.), who was present as a congressional observer, spent nearly a day working to secure the release of Tucci, Haddon, and Turner. He informed me that General Fathy Tayel of Egyptian Security had "received information that Tucci is believed to be behind the murder of two doctors in the United States"--a reference to the then-recent murders of abortionists David Gunn and John Britton.
When Tucci was relieved of his press credential--at the instruction of Wirth--a security check turned up the accusation, which had been planted by the feminist in the NGO entourage of the U.S. delegation. (I tracked her down for comment, but she scurried away without answering my questions.) "The records of these people were absolutely clean," Rep. Smith told me following their release.
"Congressman, you know what's going on at this conference, and how incurably corrupt and vicious the UN is as an institution," I commented to Rep. Smith. "Why don't we simply get out of it altogether?" His only reply was to sag his shoulders with a heavy, resigned sigh of weary frustration. Eleven years later, Rep. Smith is among the cosponsors of the ADVANCE Democracy Act. That measure, which has been passed by the House and awaits Senate approval, would authorize the U.S. government to spend billions of dollars to fund an open-ended global war to promote a UN-approved version of "democracy"--including the feminist and eugenicist policies enshrined in the Cairo Program of Action in 1994.
The Ritual of "Consensus"
The UN, apparently learning from its experiences in Cairo, has refined its approach to information management. Subsequent experiences at UN events demonstrated that the world body has begun to screen journalists even more carefully. During the 2001 Small Arms Conference at UN Headquarters, it took me nearly half a day--as well as several visits to the accreditation center, and some creative circumlocution regarding my background--to secure a credential the UN had originally refused to issue.
Another tactic foreshadowed in Cairo was the use of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) as representatives of"global civil society." The most influential NGOs--such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation and various environmental extremist groups--create the illusion of a global public "consensus" on behalf of UN-ordained global policies. At Cairo a handful of conservative and pro-family NGOs were visible, and visibly intimidated by the prospect of having accreditation revoked by the UN's Economic and Social Council (EcoSoc).
Since that time, unfortunately, hundreds of conservative groups--from pro-lifers to gun rights organizations--have established EcoSoc-accredited NGOs to lobby at UN conferences. This is done on the mistaken assumption that by getting a "place at the table," such groups can have a positive impact on global policy. But all that is accomplished by this is to promote the illusion that the UN is in some sense a representative, participatory body, while making those conservative NGOs subject to UN discipline.
By the time a given issue, such as population, foreign aid, or firearms ownership, becomes the subject of a UN global conference, the world body has already established a program of action that will be ratified at the event. A UN conference is a dramatic ritual as carefully choreographed as, albeit substantially less colorful than, a Kabuki dance. The outcome is understood from the beginning: somehow, "consensus" will miraculously be achieved, generally after midnight on the last day of the conference. This scripted melodrama offers national delegations an opportunity to play for sympathy from skeptical constituents and legislative bodies: "How dare you oppose this visionary global program of action, that was achieved through such toil and anguish?"
A little more than a decade ago, most people--including many Americans --were susceptible to this deception, just as millions of people once thought that professional "wrestling" involved actual competition. Today, the American public, and much of the global population, has been largely disabused of the idea that the UN is in any sense a "peace" organization, or a worthy vessel of mankind's hopes for a better world. THE NEW AMERICAN has played a definitive role in propagating that understanding, and it has been a privilege and a blessing to participate in this publication's worthy undertaking.
Senior Editor William Norman Grigg joined the staff of THE NEW AMERICAN in 1993. He also helps his wife Korrin raise their five home-schooled children.
A Moving Encounter
During the last full day of my stay in Cairo, I was reading from Isaiah in my hotel room when the husband-and-wife janitorial team (women not being permitted to perform such tasks unaccompanied in some Muslim countries) knocked on my door. The husband, who spoke English, noticed my large black book and asked if it was a dictionary. When I explained to him that it was the Bible, his eyes widened with delight, and he excitedly relayed the news to his wife. She reached out tentatively for the Book, which she then gently kissed and held to her chest. The husband and wife were Coptic Christians, and in Muslim Egypt they had never actually seen a Bible, much less held one.
--William Norman Grigg
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|Author:||Grigg, William Norman|
|Publication:||The New American|
|Article Type:||Cover Story|
|Date:||Sep 19, 2005|
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