Deciphering a network of vicious bloggers aiming at charter schools, calling them Gulen Charter Schools aka Fethullah Gulen charter schools.
If you are on my website, there is a good chance you’ve already come across a Goose network website, viciously pumping its own agenda, misinforming public about Gulen and the charter schools in the country. You already know their point of view and the lies hidden within, and I appreciate you visiting my website for true information, backed with facts and not goose feathers. I keep it real here, with facts, real people, real stories. There is No honking or quacking here - a merit of Goose Network.
Frank Gaffney, a self-entitled Islamophobe, has just bit on granite by misinforming the public about so-called Gulen Charter Schools again. This came as a no surprise to me, because I got already acquainted with the mistakes of such half-ignorant people. Gaffney is one of them. I will give more information about his ignorance in the future, but for now, I will give you a snippet of a good read by a website named Gulen Charter Schools. Hope you enjoy it.
Every week we read about or hear a new “gaffe” about Fethullah Gulen and the Hizmet Movement he inspired. Most of these political, social and ethical faux pas have a common denominator: being intentionally made (sounds like an oxymoron?) and bogus. This week’s piece comes from the winner of the “Biggest Bogus Rumor of the year Award” Frank Gaffney (see the resemblance in his last name?). Gaffney has taken it upon himself to prevent a Loudoun County charter school application from being approved by the county’s education board. We all know how Gaffney feels about people who are not “like him,” and it’s ok for him to get involved in the political process. But this time he goes far beyond his regular shooting range and tries slanderous, inaccurate comments on the subject for a change (!). His piece appeared on the Washington Times, the notoriously conservative paper that is loosing its readership day by day.
Maybe that is why, it is not fair to put the name of Fethullah Gulen in front of some charter schools.
The choice of interview with Andrew Finkel was not the ideal one, because Mr. Finkel is a former columnist for Today’s Zaman, one of the newspapers of the Movement. His job was terminated several months ago and this could easily be a conflict of interest. I do not think that Mr. Finkel could be impartial on this issue. Besides, Mr. Finkel’s answer to a question about the Movement (if they were cult or not) was cut after he said “Yes, but…”.
To define Hizmet Movement a “cult” is a misconception at best. First of all, as opposed to United States, there is almost no cult-like formation in Turkey except some extremely marginal groups whose members do not exceed a few hundred people. However, we are talking about a social global movement (not a religious one) whose membership exceeds millions. Hizmet Movement is not a cult-like Movement. Moreover, the degree of attachment people display is also very different. Some people are just sympathizers, while some people actively engage in the activities of the Movement. Certain individuals make donations, while some others dedicate their time to charitable works. There is no rite of initiation, ceremony, formal membership or official “acceptance” within the Movement. Also, the Turkish-Muslim volunteers of the Movement have the same Islamic worship styles. Then how can the producers imply a cult-like formation?
I also read several of the comments under the video and I especially liked some of them. One of the viewers mentioned the existence of two positive stories and the effort to combine these two different positive stories into a negative story. I agree with that viewer. This is nothing but an odd interpretation.
Anyway, let’s turn back to the initial topic. In that “60 Minutes” broadcast, did you notice the simplicity of the room Mr. Gulen makes his internet talks for his guests? The picture above also reflects this simplicity. Does it look like the room of a super-rich person as claimed by some detractors? I think this is what makes Mr. Gulen different from other inspirational leaders. Mr. Gulen lives what he preaches. In his youth, he, as an imam, used to live in a shack for many years. Before the years spent in the shack (or a hut), he was staying by a window in the mosque he preached.
I believe even our closets are larger than his small window.
This news must be a surprise for the Goose Network members. Actually, it is more of a slap-in-the-face by the “Boston Globe” editorial. Gulen Charter Schools argument by the Goose Network guys has collapsed for good. Read it yourself…
SHOULD MASSACHUSETTS be afraid of Fethullah Gulen? That’s the question at the heart of the whispering campaign against the Pioneer Charter School of Science, a high-achieving public school in Everett whose loose connections to the influential Turkish religious figure came under heightened scrutiny when it sought state permission to expand to a second location in Saugus.
Gulen is a moderate Muslim cleric who emphasizes science and whose followers have started schools worldwide, including hundreds of charter schools in the United States. Pioneer’s director, Barish Icin, says the Everett school isn’t connected to Gulen, but some of the school’s choices suggest at least a casual link; the school has hired 16 Turkish science, math, or technology teachers with temporary visas, though only four are currently on the school’s staff. It has also contracted with a law firm tied to the Gulen movement.
But that doesn’t really matter. Public schools should be judged based on their performance, and according to state statistics, Pioneer is doing an exemplary job. The school has received state awards for its high MCAS scores, which are significantly above statewide averages; when it sought to expand, many parents attested to the education their children at the grade 7-12 school are receiving. The school offers 200 days a year of instruction, almost a full month more than district schools. Of the 34 students in the school’s first graduating class last year, more than 30 were accepted to four-year colleges. If this is foreign interference in American education, maybe we need more.
Indeed, part of the point of charter schools is to provide a testing ground for unconventional educational approaches; schools are given wide latitude to set their own policies, as long as they adhere to basic guidelines. Importing Turkish teachers is about as unconventional as it gets. But the school broke no rules, the state has received no complaints about religious influence at the school, and its academic results speak for themselves.
Nationally, much of the controversy over Gulen-inspired schools has carried an undercurrent of xenophobia, as if the mere possibility of Muslim educators were inherently alarming. But educators of all religions can be inspired by their faith to help others. As long as they don’t discriminate against other religions, or try to inculcate their beliefs into schoolchildren, then it shouldn’t be a concern. Unless such complaints arise, there is no reason to object to the Pioneer school, and the state made the right call by approving its expansion.
Etyen Mahcupyan continues to reveal the truth about Dani Rodrik, the renowned son-in-law of Cetin Dogan, prominent member of Ergenekon Terrorist Organization.
It is quite natural for a person to exhibit extra sensitivity and subjectivity toward a specific topic when it concerns his relatives. We can understand such a person if we come to accept that we should be more tolerant toward them and put ourselves in their place. At the beginning, many people in Turkey shared this approach for Dani Rodrik, a successful academic with international fame and a scholar known to be an advocate of democratic values. But he had come face-to-face with a very unexpected situation.
As a matter of fact, he wouldn’t be expected not to be cognizant of what views or political opinions his own father-in-law held. Indeed, what his father-in-law, Çetin Doğan, the retired former 1st Army commander, did during the postmodern coup of Feb. 28, 1997, was unacceptable even to the least fervent supporters of democracy. But the Turkish public chose not to discuss these matters in detail so as to give Rodrik an opportunity to protect his prestige. But as it turned out, he hasn’t had the sensibility to understand this, as he continues to walk on a path that might lead to the complete destruction of his reputation.
Actually, he has exhibited symptoms of his disease early on. It is sad to see an objective scientist bustle about along the narrow channels of kinship while he is supposed to be after the facts. I experienced this during a one-to-one e-mail exchange with him. After I wrote several articles assessing the investigation into the Sledgehammer (Balyoz) coup plan, he sent me responses via e-mail arguing that my approach to the matter was flawed, as there was a conspiracy against the generals who were arrested under the investigation.
To prove his case, he claimed that the members of the military were so well-trained, disciplined and meticulous that they wouldn’t have made the factual errors found in the documents that have been used as evidence in the case. (Today, on the contrary, Rodrik claims that it is “manifest” that the contradictory points in question were “human errors.”) In one of these messages, Rodrik misspelled my surname as “Mahçupoğlu,” perhaps due to an excessive emotional surge, and I hadn’t placed much emphasis on this matter. But when he claimed that the members of the military wouldn’t commit factual errors, I, referring to his misspelling of my surname, noted that if he, as a meticulous and knowledgeable person, could make such a grave error, it wouldn’t be logical to argue that the members of the military couldn’t make factual errors.
It may not be easy to adopt an objective position concerning a trial like Balyoz. For many, this trial represents an ideological confrontation in the first place, and they tend to wield a certain level of bias toward the politics of the ongoing trial. It is alleged that the court delivered a legally problematic verdict concerning the Balyoz trial and that many defendants were victimized during the litigation process. This may be true, but it is equally true that some members of the military were preparing to overthrow the government, that they developed a coup plan and that the senior members of this junta were therefore equitably punished. In this process, people like Rodrik acted, knowingly or not, as promoters of the neo-nationalist propaganda and eventually became part of the efforts to whitewash the coup mentality.
They focused basically on two arguments: First, the documents referring to the coup plan can be found on only three CDs used as evidence in the prosecution, and second, these three CDs were tampered with. Both of these arguments are true. But the heart of the matter is that these three CDs contained documents also found on other CDs, and the court didn’t need three CDs to convict Doğan and his friends. The audio recordings of the war game seminar, accepted by the defendants, already indicate what their intention was.
If we read the journal entries of Cumhuriyet journalist Mustafa Balbay and former Land Forces Commander Adm. Özden Örnek, we naturally conclude that they had paved the groundwork for a military takeover. Rodrik chose to focus on inconsistencies in names and times in the documents used as evidence, claiming that these inconsistencies might be the work of conspirators. However, the General Staff was unable to discover a single member of this so-called network of conspirators who, Rodrik claimed, were able to penetrate the military and capable of modifying the documents hidden in a secret military cache.
But there is an interesting possible corollary to what Rodrik is suggesting: The inconsistencies in the documents used in the case suggest that someone could have had access to them even in 2009, but we don’t know who tampered with them. Broadly speaking, the possibility is equally strong that either the conspirators or coup perpetrators could have done the tampering. But Rodrik claims that the suggestion that coup perpetrators could have done so is a lie and, in his blog, he calls me a liar. He thinks that by calling one of the possibilities a lie, he can make his own suggestion the correct one.
It is a pathetic situation, particularly for a person who advertises himself as a scholar.
Although the Sledgehammer (Balyoz) trial, in which the defendants stood accused of attempting to overthrow the democratically elected government in 2003, was concluded on Sept. 21 by the İstanbul 10th High Criminal Court at the 108th hearing of the case, debates surrounding the Sledgehammer trial still continue. This is why there is merit in summarizing the major developments in the case.
But I would first like to touch upon two important points: First, we see that the court’s decision concerning the sentences of the defendants (especially the low-ranking officers) varies from person to person and is not consistent. The second is that the intricate background of the Sledgehammer (Balyoz) coup plan is linked to many other coup attempts. The journals kept by Özden Örnek and Mustafa Balbay, the Ergenekon terrorist organization, the Council of State attack, the murder of Hrant Dink, the murder of Christian missionaries at the Zirve publishing house in Malatya, the murder of priest Andrea Santoro in Trabzon, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) reports, the statements of the General Staff and the content of documents found under the floor tiles at the Gölcük Naval Base are the major building blocks of this background. It is possible that this picture had an impact on the court’s decision but we need to underline that the picture is “real” and that these are not individual incidents. Now let’s turn to the Sledgehammer facts.
1) In early 2003, a seminar was held at the 1st Army Headquarters and the participants staged a war game. However, the content of the seminar was changed and the participants focused on a plan to eliminate internal enemies under the pretext of external threats. (The prosecutor claimed that the seminar was held without permission from the Land Forces Command, and low-ranking officials provided incomplete or incorrect information to their superiors. On the other hand, the defense lawyers claimed that although the content of the seminar was not approved by defendants’ superiors in the first place, the report on the details of the seminar was prepared and presented by their clients to their superiors.)
2) After the exposure of the Ergenekon terrorist organization, 19 CDs containing voice recordings of the seminar were leaked to the press. The CDs numbered 11, 16 and 17 list the strategies to be used for provocations and sabotage and the names of the officials tasked with these jobs. The other CDs do not contain this kind of information. The prosecutor claimed that these are the documents which were not discussed but used as presentation material during the seminar. They also added that these lists could not have been prepared without the permission of the officials mentioned in the lists. While some of the defense lawyers claimed the low-ranking officials were not sufficiently informed about the plans of their superiors, others have argued that all these documents are fabricated.
Of course these two things affected the court’s decision concerning the case, but they were not the real matter of controversy.
3) Many of the CDs contain information which was added to CDs later on, such as the names of foundations and companies established after 2003. (While the prosecutor claimed that the coup plotters might have updated the information on the CDs, the defense said that this was evidence of a fairly comprehensive plot against the defendants.)
4) There were some anachronisms in the documents which were deemed reliable by the prosecutor. (The prosecutor said that the same anachronisms in the 2003 documents also exist in the other documents described as criminal and that this situation also explains inconsistencies found in other documents. Claiming that these anachronisms are a result of human error, defense lawyers demanded they be separated from the previous documents.) Actually, this observation indicated that the documents were changed, but there was much debate surrounding who changed them. But in the meantime, something unexpected happened.
5) The same documents were on a hard drive which was found hidden under the floor tiles of the Gölcük Naval Command. The password of some of the documents on disc No. 5 from Gölcük was the same as the one for the computer of the major who was in charge of the secret cache in Gölcük. (The prosecutor considered it conformation of the coup plans, but the defense lawyers described it as part of a fairly comprehensive plot against their clients.)
This development supported the claims of the prosecutor because the documents in Gölcük were found in a storage area in the counter-intelligence section of the naval base, where security was very tight, and there was a major who was in charge of the secret cache in Gölcük and had access to many documents. The defense lawyers claimed that security was not very tight in the counter-intelligence section of the naval base and that anyone who had access to the hard disk could have forged any document.
The assumption of the defense lawyers can be considered an option, but they do not have even a single piece of evidence identifying those who planned the conspiracy against the military. This claim is based on the presumptions of the defense. On the other hand, there is the intricate background, a seminar whose content has been changed and computers assigned to specific officials. As for the anachronisms, unfortunately, they do not indicate a conspiracy against the military. They could be human error, as Çetin Doğan’s son-in-law, Dani Rodrik, has claimed, or the efforts of some coup plotters who are attempting to pervert judicial processes.
Now you decide which is more convincing. Is the Sledgehammer plan a conspiracy against the military or a coup attempt prepared by the military?
Just hours after my article that referred to Dani Rodrik was posted on the Internet, Rodrik issued a response in his blog “Balyoz Davası ve Gerçekler” (Balyoz Trial and Facts). Apparently urged by a sense of duty, Rodrik naturally didn’t want to lose any time in correcting my “misstatements.”
At the beginning of the blog post, three hypotheses are stressed. First, he says that the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) plan was not discussed in the 1st Army seminar held in 2003. There are similarities between some of the discussions at the seminar and phrases used in the coup documents, but these similarities “could have been easily introduced by those who fabricated the documents.” Second, he claims that Çetin Doğan, the former head of the 1st Army and Rodrik’s father-in-law, did not lie to his military superiors about what occurred at the seminar. He ended up going with a version of events that “differed from the version his superiors had asked for,” but it “was distributed to his superiors beforehand.” Third, Rodrik maintains that the seminar did not refer to a “coup” or “who would come to power following it.” All of this information can be found on the evidential CDs. Rodrik tries to create a protective framework for his father-in-law. He prioritizes the voice recordings about the seminar, but trivializes the evidential documents. At the same time, since he knows this wouldn’t secure sufficient protection for Doğan, he not only suggests that those documents could have been planted by “fraudsters,” but also attempts to prove that Doğan’s superiors have taken part in the crime. He does not address the fact that the “possibility” that the documents in question could have been planted by fraudsters does not automatically prove that these same documents were not created by Doğan and his cronies. Rodrik avoids any discussion of why Doğan’s superiors attempted to prevent Doğan from disclosing the seminar records if there is no incriminating content, or why Doğan insisted on his version of the full scope of events or whether he communicated the content of that seminar to his superiors without any change. We should understand why Doğan acts this way: If you set out with the intention of diverting people from the facts, you will naturally not be eager to uncover the facts.
Rodrik’s blog post then enumerates various arguments in response to my article. But first let me make a correction: Rodrik argues that the General Staff has acknowledged that they had the originals of some of the Balyoz documents, but that they are not related to coup plans. However, the General Staff had merely declared that not “all” of the Balyoz documents fall within its area of responsibility and that some plans which were part of the Balyoz coup were not in its archives any longer when the court’s request was made. It provided the names of those documents that were not in the archives, and in so doing, the General Staff indirectly accepted the fact that the documents that it didn’t name could have been in its archives. The General Staff has also not refuted the documents belonging to the major who was in charge of the secret cache in Gölcük. Unfortunately, we don’t have any dignified reason for assuming that Rodrik is not capable of correctly reading even a simple General Staff statement.
On to Rodrik’s reasoning: We have three interconnected assumptions: (1) “The files on the disputed CDs also exist on the authentic CDs, the veracity of which has not been challenged by the defendants,” but the fraudsters could have planted them on the disputed CDs. (2) The documents in Gölcük were found in a storage area in the counter-intelligence section of the naval base, where the security was not very tight. Since many documents could be leaked to the outside, it is possible that some documents could likewise be brought inside. (3) Hard drive no. 5 from Gölcük was not password protected. Some documents were password protected, but coup documents were not. Therefore, he concludes, anyone who had access to the hard disk could have forged any document.
In other words, from Rodrik’s perspective, the military has such a poor security system and such an undisciplined and heedless mentality that anyone can forge the military’s documents. If they could do it, then we can assume that they have done it. If we can assume this, then Çetin Doğan is innocent. Well, let us suppose that the documents have been forged, but then how on earth is it possible that no military official has realized it? After the forgery, hasn’t anyone had access to them? Or is that they have had access to them and realize what’s in them, but they don’t care? Rodrik fails to follow the trail of his own reasoning, and therefore he feels obliged to rely excessively on the possibility that there could have been an imaginary criminal.
If coup documents were forged by fraudsters, then how can we explain the anachronisms? Rodrik has an extremely humane, tolerant response to this. “They are isolated instances that obviously crept in as a result of human error,” he says. Moreover, he says this in an effort to prove that there was no systematic updating of those documents. That is, there was no systematic updating because anachronisms were clearly the result of human error. Supposing that the anachronisms in the 2003 documents were the result of human errors made by the members of the military, how can he argue that the anachronisms in the “disputed documents” said to have been prepared in 2009 are not the result of the human errors made by the members of the military? Based on the anachronisms in CD no. 11, how can he claim that there was a conspiracy against Çetin Doğan?
Taken from Gulen Charter Truth.
When the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in the elections held in early November 2002, the military decided to take some action. In the following months, Çetin Doğan, the former head of the 1st Army, sent faxes where he made analogies between the AKP’s election victory and the Nazis coming to power; he sent these documents directly from his office.
The height of boldness was on display when the Balyoz (Sledgehammer) coup plan was discussed. The content of a military seminar were modified and Doğan lied to his military superiors about what actually occurred. The former army head tried to prepare the groundwork for a coup by causing turmoil and social upheaval by spreading believable lies. In a seminar document, the plotters also identified who would come to power after the coup.
When the Balyoz plan was revealed and taken to court, a surprise figure appeared: Dani Rodrik, a famous economist who is also Doğan’s son-in-law, argued that the evidence was fabricated and even wrote a book on the matter. According to his argument the accusations were based on three CDs whose contents were manipulated. In the CDs dated 2004, names of organizations and places created after the CDs were made were identified. Rodrik considered this a great flaw, proving that the CDs were manipulated; he argued that there was a conspiracy to set Doğan up. He said he did not endorse the guardianship role of the army, adding that he strongly believed that the truth should be revealed.
But now we have adequate information that would satisfy Rodrik. First, we now know that the information on these three CDs is also included on the other CDs without any changes or modifications. Second, the copies of the modified CDs were also found in the search carried out in the “cosmic room” of the military compound in Gölcük; it was unrealistic to think that these CDs were planted there by conspirers. Defense lawyers had hard disk no. 5 examined by experts in the US; the experts concluded that many documents on the hard disk were saved in 2009, but seemed to have been created in 2004. This pointed to a conspiracy but nobody asked the real question: Who was responsible for the conspiracy? And then the final, fatal discovery was made: The personal password of Capt. Yakar was the same as the password of hard drive no. 5. There was a deliberate manipulation; however, the conspiracy was staged not by the conspirers who wanted to put Doğan into a difficult position, but by his colleagues.
There was only one possible explanation for the deliberate modifications that caused contradictions in the documents: The coup plotters were constantly updating their plans and in turn making changes to their documents, while waiting for an opportunity to stage a coup; additionally they also purposefully created some minor contradictions in the documents to protect themselves from prosecution. When the investigation was initiated, a respected figure other than the defendants needed to explore these contradiction and raise doubts because only if done by an outsider would it serve the argument that they were being set up and thereby, undermine the prosecution. Perhaps his son-in-law was the first person Doğan thought of for this service. Having an internationally renowned academic prove the existence of a conspiracy through scientific investigation would offer great psychological support for Doğan and his friends, and it would become possible to put pressure on the court. However, things did not go as they had hoped. The documents seized in Gölcük, the modifications made by people who were responsible for the protection of these documents and the fact that the General Staff indicated they had some of those documents, which were supposed to have been under protection, ended the era of dreaming.
Perhaps Rodrik dedicated himself to the scholarly inquiry into the relationship between democracy and economy. The recent developments should be illuminating enough for a scholar who would want nothing but the truth. Unfortunately, you cannot remove the father of the person you wed from the picture. While looking for conspirers all around, you might suddenly realize that you have been set up.
This piece was penned almost two years ago, but I still find it hilarious. I am gonna put my own addition, too, but let’s read the piece first…
We are all quite sure that theweird claims about so-called Gulen Charter Schools have been proved fallacious. You can see this by checking some of the recent critics of so-called Gulen Charter Schools. They are very silent these days. Knock on wood :)
I quickly realized the fallacious nature of these claims after reading a few of them, but some people’s aggressive attacks on these high-performing charter schools can make anyone very suspicious. Whenever there is a good news or (bad news) on the national level praising or defaming those charter schools, there is always someone ready to defame the schools in question with his/her comments. Anyway… You are already familiar with this story.
On the other hand, some things should be clarified. For example, what if someone decided to establish a charter school named “Gulen Charter School”? Would it be considered a Gulen Charter School as well? I mean the criteria to become a Gulen Charter School are very ambiguous. For those who will open a new charter school, I can proudly and gladly add some criteria in order to qualify their charter school a Gulen Charter School. At the end of the day, they will have lots of free publicity. Remember any publicity is good publicity.
Let me bring some of’em to the table:
1) The first rule to be qualified as a Gulen Charter School, the school perform high. Good test scores or closing the achievement gap is one of them.
2) The school must have some teachers from overseas. That way, you could easily be identified as Gulen Charter Schools even if your teachers have no idea of who Gulen is.
3) Everything related to construction etc. should cost cheaper than the national average. That way, you can easily be pointed as a Gulen Charter School who tries to purchase everything cheaper than the market.
4) Make your parents happy. When they get happy, the attackers of your school will find nobody to get help and eventually they will beg some assistance from the elected officials, people who have never been to your school or biased journalists that would visit your school for the sole purpose of creating havoc in the media.
5) Find a few disgruntled teachers who has recently left your school. Help him/her to piss you off. Find a journalist lover for him/her so that s/he could “expose” everything.
Congratulations! You have become a Gulen Charter School.
Not a bad idea, right?
Here comes my own addition:
Get some federal money from the Department of Education. Since the quarter of our nation believe that our President is Muslim, then they will accuse the ones who have been qualified to federal money of being Muslim.
On seeing this photo, I immediately remembered the funny awkward moment about Ozgur Cengiz (a.k.a. Vanessa Kachadurian), who accidentally shared a photo from her personal blog. Considering herself a Goose Network member for her holy cause (e.g. coining the term “Gulen Charter Schools” and attacking all well-doing charter schools), Ozgur Cengiz, with her Turkish-looking name, fails to speak Turkish and uses Google Translate to utter something in Turkish. Eventually, she embarrasses herself.
Credits: Gulen Charter Truth.
This interesting article is from Sunday’s Zaman.
Documents retrieved from computers of the Information and Support Unit of the General Staff clearly reveal how a pro-coup junta nested within the Turkish military, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), has engaged in propaganda to discredit the government and faith-based groups in the eyes of the people.
The documents are currently being examined by a group of computer experts at the İstanbul 13th High Criminal Court, which is involved in a trial against anti-government websites allegedly established by the military. The General Staff recently sent hard disks of its computers, used by the Information and Support Unit between 2005 and 2009, upon a request from this court. After examining the documents, the computer experts prepared a preliminary report about their findings and sent it to the İstanbul court. The court is now awaiting a final report from the experts.
Weekly news magazine Aksiyon has devoted its latest cover story to details emerging from the preliminary report. According to the report, the documents show that the pro-coup junta carried out three kinds of propaganda against the government and faith-based organizations: white, gray and black. In military terms, white propaganda seeks to inform people. Black propaganda, on the other hand, works to discredit something or someone. And gray propaganda is a mixture of the two.
Special unit to fight ‘harmful elements’
According to the documents, the TSK set up a unit to carry out the propaganda campaign against groups or individuals that the military thought were harmful to its existence. This unit was established in the 1950s and had branches both in the Special Warfare Department of the TSK and the General Staff’s department of intelligence. The documents said the unit did not initially work effectively in the years after it was established, but it began to be more active as of 1980 when the military staged a coup d’état and set up some institutions, such as the National Security Council (MGK), to put the civilian will under the control of the armed forces. The unit was called the Information and Support Unit in 1995. “Even though the unit carried out some effective operative and tactical activities at those times [after 1995] when acts of terror and religious fundamentalism reached their peak, it failed to turn into an establishment to act in line with the national strategy and in the light of science. And its scope of psychological warfare has been further narrowed since 2002 as part of plans to curb the role and effectiveness of the TSK in the social and administrative areas. And the psychological warfare unit [or the Information and Support Unit] has become a formation taking passive measures [against acts of terror and religious fundamentalism] and failing to even protect the dignity of its name,” according to the documents.
The latest activity of the Information and Support Unit of the General Staff’s Mobilization Department is the setting up and running of a number of websites to support the unit’s propaganda campaigns against the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and civilian groups. A deepening investigation into the websites shows that the unit, led by jailed Col. Dursun Çiçek, established 42 websites to back their psychological warfare campaign against civilian groups they deemed “religious fundamentalist,” “separatist,” “pro-AK Party” and “anti-TSK.” Former Chief of General Staff retired Gen. İlker Başbuğ was arrested in 2012 as part of the investigation.
Documents retrieved from the hard disks of the General Staff also included information gathered by the military staff about the Hizmet movement inspired by internationally renowned Turkish and Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. According to one such document, the movement is well respected among the people in Turkey because “its followers stay far away from conflicts or clashes with others, serve peaceful purposes, live in harmony with other groups and do not seek to work against the interests or welfare of others.” “There is a widespread conviction [among people] that the Gülen group [as the Hizmet movement is referred to by some circles in Turkey] poses no threat to Turkey,” said the document.
In the documents, the General Staff’s Information Support Unit discussed how to bring the financial sources of the Hizmet movement under control so that the movement would be unable to work. The documents also suggested that a conflict that would emerge for leadership after Gülen dies would lead the movement to collapse.
In attempts to prevent the Hizmet movement from working, the General Staff suggested that its harmony with the US and other countries should be damaged. “The US should end its policy of supporting moderate Islam, documents and required information should be seized and shared with the media to show the real faces of Gülen followers to the people, and a widespread conviction should be created in Turkey and Muslim countries that the movement is controlled by the US and serving the purpose of imperialism,” the document notes and adds that schools and other educational institutions currently operating in roughly 50 countries worldwide should be shut down.
The documents seized from the hard disks also feature plans by the General Staff to launch a propaganda campaign to allege that the Hizmet movement and its followers are the driving force behind some ongoing trials in Turkey that aim to cleanse the country of anti-democratic formations.
“Propaganda should be spread that the news [of anti-coup investigations] is leaked to the media by Gülen followers who are nested in the police force and that there is a large number of senior officers in the police force,” according to one of the documents. The same document also reveals plans to discredit the investigations against clandestine networks nested in various state bodies, an alliance that is often referred to as the “deep state.” “We should spread claims that people captured as part of the ongoing fight against the deep state are indeed too weak to be members of the deep state and that the deep state in fact has nothing to do with those weak people, that Gladio is controlled by the US, that the deep state [in Turkey] was rooted out with Turkey’s alliance with NATO, that groups, individuals and institutions that seek to protect national rights have become [by their opponents] a center of accusations and that the US has helped the pro-Gülen formation infiltrate the police force.”
The General Staff, at this point, sought the help of some media outlets to help it spread those claims. Officers at the General Staff wrote news stories and columns to downplay the investigations launched against coup plotters and the deep state and sent them to some newspapers to publish them as if staff members at those newspapers wrote them. “The said campaigns are being carried out by sending documents to columnists, newspaper administrators, editors-in-chief and civil servants via e-mails that feature an imaginary username and e-mail addresses,” one of the documents retrieved from the hard disks of the General Staff indicates.
‘Less than psychological warfare’
Such activities were, however, not psychological warfare, according to the General Staff. “Having a place in the media [creating news reports and columns published by some newspapers] does not mean launching psychological warfare. Carrying out psychological warfare requires us to make our activities in a manner to impact the opinions, feelings and stance of the target group.”
In one other document, the General Staff complains that websites are not an effective means to carry out a propaganda campaign because it is very easy for computer experts to find out who set up and administered the websites. “The virtual network is an area where covert and semi-covert psychological warfare methods may effectively be applied. It is not appropriate for open methods. For this reason, we are carrying out white propaganda campaigns on our websites. And this decreases the yield we may derive from the websites [and propaganda campaigns]. Websites run by us are subject to bureaucratic transactions, and we always face the risk of being exposed as the administrators of those websites.”
The documents go on to state that the General Staff sought to cooperate with secularist civil society groups and individuals who also oppose the trial against Ergenekon, a clandestine criminal network accused of working to overthrow the government, in attempts to discredit the trial in the eyes of the people. The documents indicate the General Staff should prepare books and brochures about the risk of rising religious fundamentalism in the country and send them to those civil society groups. “In addition, important writings and opinions [denouncing the Ergenekon trial] could be sent to opinion leaders, editors-in-chief of newspapers, leading columnists, civil society organizations and websites of those organizations and deputies,” the documents add.
I just coincidentally came across a video on the web that tries to make fun of me. I say “tries”, because Vanessa Kachadurian or Bill “the Anonygoose” Thacker put a video on YouTube a few months ago where they talk about someone named John Goose Hunter whose Twitter account, they believe, belongs to me! Here is a screenshot from that Twitter account:
They say in their video that I don’t use my current Goose Network Twitter account anymore, instead I use the above-mentioned alias (John Goose Hunter), which is a blatant lie. Besides, I am not a lawyer!
Also, I caught a few funny details within the video. For example, on the 38th second of the video, they put a snapshot of my Twitter account which reads: “Gladly shows the true colors of the charter school…”. The rest is illegible. Let me complete what the Goose Network guys forgot to put. “… attackers. The last one? Vanessa Kachadurian…” Vanessa (or Bill) did not copy-paste my whole bio on Twitter, because they do not want to expose herself. What a pity…
Another interesting note… That John Goose Hunter actively used his (assuming that this one is a guy) Twitter account between June 2 and June 13. But then he disappeared.
He also speaks Turkish (I suppose), another proof that he is not me! I believe this guy was a long-term project, but thank God, I never heard about him when he was active on Twitter. So, seeing that they can’t troll me through this fake alias, Vanessa and Bill stopped working on him. Anyway…
My point is that I HAVE NO CONNECTION WITH THIS JOHN GOOSE HUNTER GUY. I DON’T KNOW WHO HE IS. I STILL USE MY CURRENT TWITTER ACCOUNT.
Nuff said. Let’s go back to the answer on the title:
I read the news (seems a bit late, though) that Harmony Public Schools will receive almost 30 million dollars from the federal government as part of the race-to-the-top program. That should be a well-deserved accomplishment considering that Harmony Public Schools became a nationwide brand after they were featured at 60 Minutes.
But on the other hand, this is an ironic piece of news for the members of Goose Network, because these guys have been trying to defame some high-flying charter schools for some time and this latest news should definitely be a blow for their “holy” cause. I checked some of their websites and they mostly ignore this accomplishment, while some flagship websites, like CASILIPS, question the criteria of the Department of the Education for the selection. I see that Goose Network members are trying to hide the truth by ignoring it. Guys… please stop it, you are embarrassing yourselves.
Now that Harmony Public Schools will be receiving the federal aid, are you going to stop defaming these schools as Gulen Charter Schools? Or will you go too far by claiming that the White House is helping Fethullah Gulen (!) I don’t think you will act that pathetic.
So, one question remains for the Goose Network:
“Are you mad, bro?”
“I got this from Gulen Charter Truth, a blog where you can figure out the connections between Ergenekon clandestine mafia of Turkey and the anti-charter groups in the United States.”
Today’s Zaman’s Ihsan Dagi wrote a piece about the Sledgehammer case.
The Balyoz coup trial, which started on Dec. 16, 2010, was concluded on Friday.
Most of the 365 defendants have been sentenced to 20, 18 or 16 years imprisonment. With one exception, all of those who have been acquitted are non-commissioned military officers. This shows that the court has conducted a fair and careful review vis-à-vis the low-ranking officers, who might have been involved in the coup attempt unknowingly. Of course, there is also the appeals process, following which the case will be finalized. However, though there might be some modifications to the convictions, it could be said that it is established the crime of coup plotting has taken place.
In the criticisms raised against the Balyoz trial, it is commonly argued that the case was politically motivated. Of course, a coup investigation has a political dimension. In a country like Turkey with a past of many coups, the people know the meaning of coup well. The impunity in past coups had a political dimension which contributed to the emergence of subsequent coups; the effective action against the coups now has a political aspect as well.
It has been possible to raise political discourse independent of the Kemalist elites and military bureaucracy following the rise of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) to power on Nov. 3, 2002. During this process, some coup attempts have been made against the AK Party. The April 27 memorandum and the Constitutional Court’s decision on the presidency of Abdullah Gül were of a political nature; they were explicit support by the judiciary of coups. True, politics is everywhere. But which politics are we talking about?
Is it political preference or action to halt an elected government, stage coups and rely on the state institutions to achieve these goals? Is it not a better policy to create a country where these acts would not go unpunished? Support from people who are sick of coups and who have lost sons to the coups for a government backing coup trials is, true, a political stance.
Besides, the defense side has adopted an extremely political attitude and position since the beginning of the case. They have insistently and frequently argued that the defendants were secular and Kemalist military servicemen, and that for this reason they could not be considered criminals, and that they were dealing with conspiracies performed by the AK Party and the Gülen movement. Back then, nobody complained that this approach could harm the case and put pressure on the court.
Of course, the convicted parties have families and relatives; and they are sad now. I wish this had never happened. We are not happy when others suffer out of revenge. But justice should also be served. Had this coup taken place, I would not have written this column. This is very serious. A serious coup attempt was identified, and a competent independent court investigated it. The updated list of names of people to assume roles in the interim government formed following the coup is out there. We have seen this before. By this ruling, the structure of the Turkish military, which generates coups and harbors the pro-coup juntas, has also been convicted. The military would have remained reconciled to these structures if the Taraf daily had not published the Balyoz coup plans, if brave prosecutors had not initiated a process of investigation and if the government had not backed these initiatives.
And this is exactly what should be questioned. This coup mindset might be in decline now after the Balyoz and Ergenekon cases, but does that show that it is therefore completely gone and eliminated, and that it has not turned into something else? I made this point in my previous column. The army has made many mistakes since Uludere, but because the incidents are not properly identified and investigated, we are unable to understand what is going on. I cannot help wondering whether a different method is being tried against the democratic regime.
There is big difference between the submission of the military to the government and a truly democratic military. And the military has not gone through that process of reform. There is reason for us to believe that further coup attempts in Turkey may be possible.
Retired Gen. Engin Alan, War Academies Commander Gen. Bilgin Balanlı, retired Gen. Ergin Saygun, former National Security Council (MGK) Secretary-General Şükrü Sarıışık, retired Gen. Nejat Bek, retired Adm. Ahmet Feyyaz Öğütçü and retired Gen. Süha Tanyeri were also each sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Prosecutors had demanded 15-20 year jail sentences for the 365 defendants, 364 of them serving and retired officers.
The court issued 16 year jail sentences for 214 suspects, including the retired Col. Dursun Çiçek and retired military judge Ahmet Zeki Üçok, in the historic coup trial.
Çiçek was arrested on charges of preparing the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism, which sought to undermine the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government and the religion-based Gülen movement.
Among the 365 suspects, 250 behind bars and the rest pending trial outside of custody. The verdict session was the 108th hearing in the trial.
Suspects entered the courtroom to the applause of viewers, who sang various military anthems as the suspects, most of whom are of military background, walked in.
Four defendants delivered their final statements on the last day. The court adjourned before announcing the verdict.
On Friday, Naval Col. Hakan Mehmet Köktürk, jailed at Maltepe Military Prison, was taken to the İstanbul hospital of the Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA) reportedly after suffering a heart attack.
İsmail Tepecik, a lawyer for retired Gen. Çetin Doğan, the main suspect in the investigation, said all suspects should be acquitted, speaking to reporters outside the courtroom before the session’s start.
Security was tight outside the courtroom on the final day of the hearing. Those who entered the building were frisked and searched with the help of detector dogs. About 500 court viewers, 60 members of the press and 30 lawyers were allowed in.
Some of the highest-ranking former and current members of the military have stood trial in the Sledgehammer case, including Gen. Balanlı, former Air Force Commander retired Gen. Fırtına, former Naval Forces Commander retired Gen. Örnek and former generals Doğan and Saygun, who both served as commanders of the 1st Army.
The 10th High Criminal Court heard the trial. All of the sessions were held at a courthouse built on the property of Silivri Prison. Military suspects in the trial were kept at the military prisons of Hadımköy, Hasdal and Maltepe. The suspects entered the courthouse at 1 p.m.
Presiding Judge Ömer Diken and the other members of the panel of judges entered the courtroom shortly after. After opening the hearing, Diken recalled that the court had adjourned on Thursday to discuss the verdict, but said it had not yet reached a decision. The court adjourned again after the four remaining suspects delivered a final statement.
Retired Gen. Alan, who was elected to Parliament from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in the last election, is also among the suspects. Retired Gen. Levent Ersöz is another prime suspect in the investigation. He did not attend Friday’s hearing.
While verdicts seemingly have stormed the public and sparked many debates, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declined to comment on court rulings with regards to the Sledgehammer coup trial. He said the process will continue at least for a while regarding the appeal rights of convicts as they likely will appeal court orders to the Supreme Court of Appeals.
“It is not true to make a comment at the moment. We’ll have the chance to make overall assessment after complement of the process.” Erdoğan said.
Sledgehammer: the beginningsThe first time the Sledgehammer plot was publicly discussed was on Jan. 20, 2010, when the Taraf daily claimed that a group of generals had conspired to overthrow the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, devising a plot titled the Sledgehammer Security Operation Plan. The daily claimed that among the plans of the generals was bombing the Fatih Mosque, one of İstanbul’s biggest, during a busy Friday prayer and other atrocities to shake public confidence in the government. The plot was devised in 2003, according to the paper. The next day, the İstanbul Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into the claims. Forty retired generals and officers on active duty — including high-ranking former and current generals or admirals Doğan, Süha Tanyeri, Saygun and Özden Örnek were detained on Feb. 24, 2010.
Seven people, including Ramazan Cem Gürdeniz, a senior admiral, were arrested in the first wave of arrest. On Feb. 26, Doğan and retired Gen. Engin Alan testified to specially authorized prosecutor Bilal Bayraktar, and were put under arrest by a decision of the 10th High Criminal Court, facing charges of “attempting to overthrow the government of the Republic of Turkey with the use of force and violence.”
The indictment against the suspects was accepted on July 19, 2010. There were initially 196 suspects — all of them retired or active duty military officers — in the trial.
On Dec. 6, 2010, the trial took on a new course when nine sacks of documents were found hidden under the floor tiles at Gölcük Naval Command, detailing the alleged plot to overthrow the AK Party. The first hearing was on Dec. 16, 2010.
In June 2011, four more military officers were arrested in the trial. Prosecutor Hüseyin Ayar completed a second indictment on June 16, indicting 28 defendants, including Gen. Bilgin Balanlı and Gen. İsmail Taş. The indictment was accepted by the court on June 28, 2011, with the prosecutor demanding up to 20 years for the suspects on charges of attempting a coup d’état. On Aug. 15, 2011, the court started hearing the accusations in the second indictment.
A key arrest was made on Sept. 19, 2011, when Senior Col. Ümit Metin — who was already under arrest as part of a separate investigation into an alleged plot to assassinate several naval admirals — was arrested as a Sledgehammer suspect.
On Oct. 3, 2011, Gen. Beyazıt Karataş, who was wanted as a suspect, turned himself over to the authorities. Also in October the court merged the two indictments into a single trial. Yet a third indictment — against 143 suspects — was accepted on Nov. 23, 2011. This indictment was incorporated into the main trial on Dec. 29, 2011, bringing the total number of suspects in the trial to 365. On March 2 this year, former Chief of General Staff retired Gen. Yaşar Büyükanıt and Gendarmerie General Commander Gen. Bekir Kalyoncu testified in court as witnesses. On March 14, retired Gen. Ergin Saygun, another suspect who was wanted by the prosecution, turned himself in. He was arrested on the same day. On March 29, the prosecution delivered its 920-page opinion on the trial. On April 6, the court filed a complaint against 11 lawyers with attempting to influence a fair trial. On Aug. 3, retired Gen. Hilmi Özkök, who was the chief of general staff at the alleged time of drafting of the Sledgehammer plot, testified in court. He said he had warned the generals against crossing the line during a seminar in 2003 on the Sledgehammer plot — which the defendants said was only a war strategy game. On Aug. 16, the defendants delivered their final statements.
Indictment basics and evidence overviewAccording to the Sledgehammer Indictment, soon after the general elections of November 2002, a full-fledged coup plan under the leadership of 1st Army commander Doğan was launched to topple the AK Party government. The plot contemplated the bombing of mosques, downing a Turkish fighter jet, the takeover of hospitals and pharmacies, the closing of NGOs, the arrest of journalists and politicians.
The indictment also charges that the coup plot was given a dress rehearsal on March 5-7, 2003 in a seminar at the 1st Army Headquarters.
The first evidence against the suspects emerged in January 2010, when an anonymous tipster delivered a suitcase to journalist Mehmet Baransu. The suitcase contained various materials, including documents not related to the investigation. Three CDs — which formed the backbone of the prosecution’s argument — in the suitcase were the subject of the Sledgehammer investigation. The journalist shared the documents with the prosecutors shortly after obtaining them. The CDs contain documents that mention Sledgehammer and related activities such as operational plans (subplots the generals called Oraj, Suga, Çarşaf, Sakal), a list of civil society organizations that would be closed once the generals were in power, blacklists of individuals from various institutions, journalists to be arrested, vehicles, hospitals and pharmacies to be taken over and personnel assignments. Later, the documents found at Gölcük were added to the pile of evidence against the suspects.