Operation Guardian (Part 1)

October 21, 2004

* This is the first of two dispatches on the American presidential election concerning "Operation Clark County" and its counterpart, "Operation Guardian." (The second dispatch can be read here.)



1. The Guardian: More conspiracy theories about Israel
2. "Operation Clark County": Attempting to influence the U.S. election
3. "Operation Guardian": Concerned Americans write to The Guardian
4. The Guardian: America on verge of becoming "a closed theocracy"
5. The Guardian: "Give money" to anti-Bush groups
6. The Guardian: Sample letters against Bush
7. The Guardian: "Write to the American media"

[Note by Tom Gross]

This dispatch concerns The Guardian. Although it is a British newspaper, The Guardian's influence stretches well beyond Britain.

This is not only because of its widely read Internet site and its international print edition. Although most educated Britons prefer The Times or Daily Telegraph (which have considerably higher circulations) The Guardian is overwhelmingly the paper of choice for BBC staff, who (given the kind of people the BBC employs) prefer a more left-wing newspaper such as The Guardian or Independent. Thus the BBC in turn repeats The Guardian's view of the world on BBC radio and TV broadcasts in over 50 languages throughout the globe. (The BBC is the world's biggest international news broadcaster.)

The International Herald Tribune and Toronto Star apart, The Guardian is the only non-American newspaper listed as "an American paper" on a new website listing all the clarifications, retractions and admission of errors in the American press (www.regrettheerror.com).



I attach below a letter by a subscriber to this email list sent yesterday morning.

From: Ian Solomon
Sent: Wednesday, October 20, 2004 10:45 AM
To: letters@guardian.co.uk
Subject: Guardian crosses the line



I was astonished to read the article by your columnist Simon Tisdall ("Bush and Kerry dance to the tune of Ariel Sharon", Wednesday October 20th). When I read there that the leader of the Jewish state "has the world's only superpower dancing to his tune" and has the Bush administration "led by the nose", I have difficultly finding the dividing line between this article and the traditional antisemitic calumny about the Jews controlling the world. If there is such a dividing line, I would be grateful if the editors of the Guardian would clarify it for those of us who simply read the words on the page and draw the obvious conclusion.

Ian Solomon


Tom Gross adds:

There were several other letters of this type sent to The Guardian yesterday. None were published by The Guardian today. The Guardian did publish a letter from the Israeli embassy in London but felt it necessary to accompany that letter with a letter from John Rose, providing him with the opportunity to further publicize his (already well publicized in The Guardian) book, "The Myths of Zionism," and to publicize the campaign with which he is involved: "The Stop the (Apartheid) Wall Campaign in Palestine."

The article to which Ian Solomon refers ("Bush and Kerry dance to the tune of Ariel Sharon") was published prominently, on the first page of The Guardian’s international news section yesterday.

Today, The Guardian couldn't wait until its international news section to defame Israel. Instead on the front page of its international edition it runs a "Special Report" about the investigation into the death of a Palestinian civilian earlier this month. An important story perhaps, but it is not clear why it is so important that it is one of only three stories on The Guardian's front page (the other two stories concerning Britain) and why the words "Special Report" were placed in special red ink (unlike all other text on the page).



For those who haven't been following this, for the past week, The Guardian has been running a campaign inviting Guardian readers around the world to write to U.S. voters in Clark County, a closely balanced electoral district in Ohio. The Guardian called its campaign "Operation Clark County."

The Guardian Internet site has been providing readers with the names and private addresses of voters in Clark County. The website is presently down, after suffering a massive hacker attack, but The Guardian has already managed to give out the private names and addresses of Clark County voters to many thousands of its readers.

In the paper today, the Guardian boasted that it had given out Clark County voter details to people in countries as far a field as Botswana, Chile, Norway, Germany, Morocco, Australia, Uruguay, Sweden, Singapore, China, Brazil, Italy, and France.

The Guardian did little to hide the fact that their aim was to bombard the county's voters with reasons not to vote for President Bush.

During the last week, the Guardian's "Operation Clark County" has been widely publicized in media throughout the world. These include reports on:

Fox News
Japanese TV
Arab News (Saudi Arabia)
The New York Times
The Washington Post

The New York Times headline on their story about "Operation Clark County" was "British Two Cents Draws, in Sum, a Two-Word Reply: Butt Out".

The Washington Post asked, "Can the Brits swing Ohio?"



Hundreds of people from around the world have emailed editors at The Guardian to complain about Operation Clark County. Many of these letters can be read on Tim Blair's website, under the title, "Operation Guardian".


(You can also find further details about "Operation Guardian" there.)



The Guardian's own opinions can best be summed up in their editorial yesterday.

The paper says: "[The U.S.] hangs on the threshold of becoming a one-party state ruled by a clique of radical religious reactionaries... Not since Richard Nixon's paranoid rants has a president worked so hard to evade public review... [Bush wants to] turn America into a closed theocracy at war with all who differ with the administration."



The Guardian advises readers not only how to "Write to a voter" but also how to circumvent U.S. law and "Give money".

The Guardian writes on its website:

"American law forbids foreigners from giving money to affect the outcome of a federal election – except that, on closer inspection, it doesn't. You're banned from donating to the campaigns themselves, or to many of the independent campaigning groups that fight explicitly on behalf of one candidate. So you need to identify officially non-partisan groups whose activities, none the less, have the practical effect of helping one candidate over the other."

The Guardian then goes on to suggest specific groups to which non-Americans may wish to donate, together with their contact details.



The Guardian has also published a series of sample letters to U.S. voters by prominent British personalities.

For example, Richard Dawkins, the distinguished Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, writes the following to Clark County voters about Bush:

"An idiot he may be, but he is also sly, mendacious and vindictive... thuggish ideologues... pariah state… brazenly lying... cynical mendacity… The world would be a better place without George Bush, but that doesn't justify an assassination attempt."

I attach below three of these letters, as published in The Guardian. I would also like to re-assure American subscribers to this email list that although once again, they are being told – this time by John Le Carre – that Bush is "universally hated abroad," I do not find this is in fact the case.

I travel widely, and speak to and interview many people in many countries, and by and large I find it is only the left-wing elites in western Europe, north America and Israel that hate Bush with such venom. Many ordinary people throughout the world support his foreign policies, as do many intellectuals in eastern Europe and (in private) in the Arab world.

-- Tom Gross


Three prominent Britons hit the campaign trail
Get the name of a US voter: Click here
By John Le Carre
The Guardian
October 13, 2004


Maybe there's one good reason – just one – for re-electing George W Bush, and that's to force him to live with the consequences of his appalling actions, and answer for his own lies, rather than wish the job on a Democrat who will then get blamed for his predecessor's follies.

Probably no American president in all history has been so universally hated abroad as George W Bush: for his bullying unilateralism, his dismissal of international treaties, his reckless indifference to the aspirations of other nations and cultures, his contempt for institutions of world government, and above all for misusing the cause of anti-terrorism in order to unleash an illegal war – and now anarchy – upon a country that like too many others around the world was suffering under a hideous dictatorship, but had no hand in 9/11, no weapons of mass destruction, and no record of terrorism except as an ally of the US in a dirty war against Iran.

Is your president a great war leader because he allowed himself to be manipulated by a handful of deluded ideologues? Is Tony Blair a great war leader because he committed Britain's troops, foreign policy and domestic security to the same hare-brained adventure?

You are voting in November. We will vote next year. Yet the outcome in both countries will in large part depend on the same question: how long can the lies last now that the truth has finally been told? The Iraq war was planned long before 9/11. Osama provided the excuse. Iraq paid the price. American kids paid the price. British kids paid the price. Our politicians lied to us.

While Bush was waging his father's war at your expense, he was also ruining your country. He made your rich richer and your poor and unemployed more numerous. He robbed your war veterans of their due and reduced your children's access to education. And he deprived more Americans than ever before of healthcare. Now he's busy cooking the books, burying deficits and calling in contingency funds to fight a war that his advisers promised him he could light and put out like a candle.

Meanwhile, your Patriot Act has swept aside constitutional and civil liberties which took brave Americans 200 years to secure, and were once the envy of a world that now looks on in horror, not just at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, but at what you are doing to yourselves.

But please don't feel isolated from the Europe you twice saved. Give us back the America we loved, and your friends will be waiting for you. And here in Britain, for as long as we have Tony Blair singing the same lies as George Bush, your nightmares will be ours.

• John Le Carre is a novelist.



O duty
Why hast thou not the visage of a sweetie or a cutie ... ?
Why art thou so different from Venus?
And why do thou and I have so few interests in common between us?

These sentiments on the subject of duty, so brilliantly expressed by Ogden Nash, may well be yours, dear Unknown, when I, a national of another country, urge you to do your duty and vote in your coming presidential election. In fact, of course, we have all too many interests in common. When you vote – and please do vote by the way, even if you disagree with everything I am about to say – that vote will have as much effect on my future and the much longer future of my children and grandchildren, as it will on your own. For this is a crucial election, the most crucial, I believe, of my lifetime (and I first voted in 1955!).

First of all, if you back Kerry, you will be voting against a savage militaristic foreign policy of pre-emptive killing which has stained the great name of the US so hideously in recent times. A policy that Bush and his gang are set to continue – if they get the opportunity. I say "the great name" of the US because I believe that to be profoundly true. Although resolutely against the Iraq war, I remain equally resolutely philamerican, almost every movement towards liberty in the past having its roots or its refuge in the US.

As a wartime child, I am well aware of the benevolence of the American soldiers who came to our aid, the ones that filled the foreign graveyards where they lay, fallen because they had joined our war. Brought up in Oxford, I regarded these men as gods, generous gods. I shall never forget Hank, a composite of the very young American soldiers who regularly got my brother Thomas and me into the Ritz cinema to see movies such as Saboteur. In fact, Hank, in retrospect, looked rather like the Great Tom, my cinematic hero in Saving Private Ryan (so maybe Tom is Hank's boy; I like to think so). From the image of Hank to that of Abu Ghraib ...

Then there is the question of women's rights, and the possible repeal of legislation that has for a generation made all women equal before the law, not just the rich. Once again, this history of women's rights in America is long, strong and wonderful. As long ago as 1835, Alexis de Tocqueville, visiting America from France, discovered "the singular address and happy boldness" of its women, featured in Democracy in America. If you vote for Kerry, you will help to avert a move backwards towards women's suffering.

President Bush declared on Friday that, "History will decide". Dear Unknown, please be part of that history and restore your country to its greatness, both foreign and domestic.

• Antonia Fraser is a biographer and historian.



Dear Americans,

Don't be so ashamed of your president: the majority of you didn't vote for him. If Bush is finally elected properly, that will be the time for Americans travelling abroad to simulate a Canadian accent. Please don't let it come to that. Vote against Bin Laden's dream candidate. Vote to send Bush packing.

Before 9/11 gave him his big break – the neo-cons' Pearl Harbor – Bush was written off as an amiable idiot, certain to serve only one term. An idiot he may be, but he is also sly, mendacious and vindictive; and the thuggish ideologues who surround him are dangerous. 9/11 gave America a free gift of goodwill, and it poured in from all around the world. Bush took it as a free gift to the warmongers of his party, a licence to attack an irrelevant country which, however nasty its dictator, had no connection with 9/11. The consequence is that all the worldwide goodwill has vanished. Bush's America is on the way to becoming a pariah state. And Bush's Iraq has become a beacon for terrorists.

In the service of his long-planned war (with its catastrophically unplanned aftermath), Bush not only lied about Iraq being the "enemy" who had attacked the twin towers. With the connivance of the toadying Tony Blair and the spineless Colin Powell, he lied to Congress and the world about weapons of mass destruction. He is now brazenly lying to the American electorate about how "well" things are going under the puppet government. By comparison with this cynical mendacity, the worst that can be said about John Kerry is that he sometimes changes his mind. Well, wouldn't you change your mind if you discovered that the major premise on which you had been persuaded to vote for war was a big fat lie?

Now that all other justifications for the war are known to be lies, the warmongers are thrown back on one, endlessly repeated: the world is a better place without Saddam. No doubt it is. But that's the Tony Martin school of foreign policy [Martin was a householder who shot dead a burglar who had broken into his house in 1999]. It's not how civilised countries, who follow the rule of law, behave. The world would be a better place without George Bush, but that doesn't justify an assassination attempt. The proper way to get rid of that smirking gunslinger is to vote him out.

As the bumper stickers put it, "Re-defeat Bush". But, this time, do it so overwhelmingly that neither his brother's friends in Florida nor his father's friends on the Supreme Court will be able to rig the count. Decent Americans – there are absolutely more intelligent, educated, civilised, cultivated, compassionate people in America than in any other country in the western world – please show your electoral muscle this time around. We in the rest of the world, who sadly cannot vote in the one election that really affects our future, are depending on you. Please don't let us down.

• Richard Dawkins is professor of the public understanding of science at Oxford University.



Here is a further example of the way in which The Guardian is seeking to influence the U.S. elections:


How to contact the US media

If you would like to share your opinions with a bigger audience, you could try writing to regional US newspapers or contacting radio phone-ins. We list below the papers and stations in five swing states outside Ohio

Get the name of a US voter: Click here

Wednesday October 13, 2004

NEVADA – Kerry: 48%, Bush: 47%
The Las Vegas Review Journal
1111 W. Bonanza Road
Las Vegas, NV 89125
(702) 383-2011

1289 S. Torrey Pines Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89146
(702) 258-9895

NEW MEXICO – Kerry:46%, Bush: 47%
The Albuquerque Tribune
7777 Jefferson St. NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109
(505) 823-7777

2020 Coal Ave SE
Albuquerque, NM 87106
(505) 242-7163

WISCONSIN – Kerry:47%, Bush: 46%, Nader: 2%
Milwaukee Courier/Southeastern Star
2431 W. Hopkins St.
Milwaukee, WI 53206
(414) 449-4860

Milwaukee Times Weekly 2214 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53212
(414) 263-5088

161 W. Wisconsin Ave
Suite LL 1000
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413

IOWA – Kerry: 48%, Bush: 47%
Des Moines Register 715 Locust St
Des Moines, IA 50309
(515) 284-8000

KUNI-FM University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0359
(313) 273-6400

WOI Radio Group 2022 Communications Building
Iowa State University
Ames, IA 50011-3241
(515) 294-2025

NEW HAMPSHIRE – Kerry: 47%, Bush: 47%
The Telegraph 17 Executive Drive
Hudson, NH 03051
(603) 882-2741

Amherst Citizen
P.O. Box 291
Amherst, NH 03031
(603) 672-9444

207 North Main St
Concord, NH 03301-5003
(603) 228-89

It is the policy of the Guardian to correct significant errors as soon as possible. Please quote the date and page number. Readers may contact the office of the readers' editor by telephoning 0845 451 9589 (UK only, calls charged at local rate) or +44 (0)20 7713 4736 between 11am and 5pm UK time Monday to Friday excluding UK bank holidays.

Mail: Readers' editor, The Guardian, 119 Farringdon Road, London EC1R 3ER, UK.

Fax: +44 (0)20 7239 9997.

Email: reader@guardian.co.uk, and letters@guardian.co.uk

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.