BOB GARFIELD: Increasingly since September 11th America has counted on Turkey as an essential ally. As former U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Mark Parris remarked recently, the Bush Administration understands that whatever you're going to do in Iraq, you're going to need Turkey. And America has given that nation wide berth in conducting its own affairs. Also since September 11th, America has heard more than usual from one of its most implacable critics -- the linguist and political essayist Noam Chomsky. His recent book, 9/11, condemns the U.S. as a terrorist state, fully complicit in the human rights violations committed by its allies. This week Chomsky travels to Turkey where his publisher stands charged as a terrorist for printing a collection of Chomsky's essays. Turkey's anti-terror laws ban books that quote "propagandize against the indivisible unity of Turkey." Mr. Chomsky joins us on the phone. Welcome to the show.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Hello.
BOB GARFIELD: Give me a little background here. The Turkish government has assuaged the European union by passing free press laws. But I gather those laws are just entirely trumped by the gimmick of invoking the anti-terrorism statute.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well they're one of the many mechanisms. For example the free press laws themselves do not permit free use of the Kurdish language in education, in public broadcasting -- even Kurdish songs.
BOB GARFIELD: So in that environment, what is to be gained by you testifying?
NOAM CHOMSKY:I'm not testifying. I'm appearing at the trial as part of a protest organized by Turkish journalists, other writers, academic figures and others against the draconian laws and their implementation. And since it happens to be a few words of mine that are the occasion for the trial, they requested that I attend, and I will.
BOB GARFIELD:Well, let's examine the actual text to see what's so dangerous to the Turkish state in what you've written. It said: [READING] "The Kurds have been miserably oppressed throughout the whole history of the modern Turkis state. In 1984 the Turkish government launched a major war in the Southeast against the Kurdish population. the end result was pretty awesome -- tens of thousands of people killed; two to three million refugees; massive ethnic cleansing with some 35 hundred villages destroyed." That's it, right?
NOAM CHOMSKY: That sounds accurate. The sentences that you're reading are actually from a talk which was transcribed and then published in Turkey. Wasn't published here. And the, the focus of the talk is on U.S. support for Turkish atrocities. All of that was eliminated. The few sentences that you quoted from the talk about the - Turkey and the Kurds - are virtually drawn from standard human rights reports.
BOB GARFIELD:And in the universe of seditious materials, pretty, pretty benign. Did you say that we should not forget that the United States itself is a leading terrorist state?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Of course we should not forget that. The fact that the U.S. is a leading terrorist state --it's not controversial. I mean Osama bin Laden is a murderous terrorist but he doesn't have anything like the-- capacities of any state, and that's true of most states.
BOB GARFIELD:In the context of your general views towards the United States' behavior and your explicit statements that the United States is a terrorist state, does it strike you that the material that was quoted in the Turkey case is relatively innocuous by Noam Chomsky, human flame thrower standards?
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well first of all I'm not a human flame thrower. I simp-- What I do here is pretty much what I did in the-- talk that the prosecutor selected sentences from. I use documentation that is public and available. It's innocuous by the standards of the Human Rights Watch reports and the scholarly literature and others from which I drew those comments. And in fact, recall that they excluded what I actually said, namely criticism of, of actions for which I'm responsible as an American citizen -- that's what I focused on.
BOB GARFIELD: Okay. Well listen, Noam Chomsky, thank you very much for joining us.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Yeah.
BOB GARFIELD: Noam Chomsky is a professor at M.I.T. He's joined us from his home in Lexington, Massachusetts.