Damascus – The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—along with certain Arab League countries, plus Turkey and Israel, have this past week reportedly committed themselves to raising nearly $6 billion to “beef up” the just-hatched Islamic Front (IF) in Syria. These “best friends of America” want the Obama administration to sign onto a scheme to oust the Syrian government by funding, arming, training, facilitating and generally choreographing the movement of fighters of this new front, a front formed out of an alliance of seven putatively “moderate” rebel factions.
Representatives of Saudi intelligence chief Bandar bin Sultan reportedly told staff members on Capitol Hill that committing several billions to defeat the Assad regime by supporting the IF makes fiscal sense and will cost much less than the six trillion dollar figure tallied by the recent study by Brown University as part of its Costs of War project. According to the 2013 update of the definitive Brown study, which examined costs of the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the total amount for all three topped six trillion dollars. This never before released figure includes costs of direct and indirect Congressional appropriations, lost equipment, US military and foreign contractors fraud, and the cost of caring for wounded American servicemen and their families.
Among the Islamist militia joining the new GCC-backed coalition are Aleppo’s biggest fighting force, Liwa al-Tawhid (Tawhid Brigade), the Salafist group Ahrar al-Sham, Suqour al-Sham, al-Haq Brigades, Ansar al-Sham and the Islamic Army, which is centered around Damascus. The Kurdish Islamic Front also reportedly joined the alliance.
IF’s declared aim is to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, whatever the human and material cost it may require, and replace it with an “Islamic state.” Abu Firas, the new coalition’s spokesman, declared that “we now have the complete merger of the major military factions fighting in Syria.”
Formally announced on 11/22/13, the IF includes groups from three prior umbrella organizations: the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF), the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (SILF), and the Kurdish Islamic Front (KIF). From the SIF, Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya (HASI), Kataib Ansar al-Sham, and Liwa al-Haqq all joined, as did the KIF as a whole, and former SILF brigades Suqur al-Sham, Liwa al-Tawhid, and Jaish al-Islam. None of these groups have been designated foreign terrorist organizations by the US, and therefore, as an Israeli official argued in a meeting with AIPAC and Congress this week, nothing stands in the way of US funding and support for them. The Israeli official in question is the country’s new national security advisor, Yossie Cohen, who assures key congressional leaders that the tens of thousands of rebels making up the IF will all support “one policy and one military command.” Cohen also pledges that the new group is not as “insane” as other Muslim militia—Daash or al-Nusra or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, for instance—that comprise the IF’s chief rivals. Cohen and AIPAC are further telling Congress members and congressional staffers that the emergence of the IF is one of the war’s most important developments, and he vows that the new organization in effect brings seven organizations into a combined force that will fight under one command, a force estimated by the CIA to number at around 75,000 fighters. Reportedly the objective will link the fight in the north with that in the south in a manner that will stretch loyalist forces, and the Saudi-Israel team is also asking the Obama Administration to more than double the monthly “graduation class” of CIA-trained rebels in Turkey, Syria and Jordan—from its current level of 200 per month, up to 500 a month.
What the GCC/Arab League/Israeli team is asking of its western allies (meaning of course mainly the US) is to immediately fund the IF to the tune of $ 5.5 billion. This, Israeli security officials argue, is pocket change compared to the $6 trillion spent in US terrorist wars of the past decade. Plus it will have the presumed “benefit” of toppling the Assad regime and truncating Iran’s growing influence. The plan has reportedly been dismissed by some in the Obama administration as “risible and pathetic.” Nonetheless, Tel Aviv, the US Congressional Zionist lobby, and to a lesser extent Ankara, are pressing ahead under the assumption that linking with the IF now makes sense and that they can take their chances will al-Qaeda later. Ironically these are some of the same voices from AIPAC’s Congressional Team who four years ago were claiming that al-Qaeda was “on the ropes and will soon collapse.” Yet they are optimistic that if Assad goes, “we can deal with the terrorists and it won’t cost six trillion dollars.”
One House member who strongly agrees with AIPAC is Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who recently declared that “in my heart I am a Tea Party guy.” A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Hunter believes the US should use nuclear weapons against Tehran. In a Fox TV interview this week he declared his opposition to any talks with Iran, insisting that US policy should include a “massive aerial bombardment campaign” utilizing “tactical nuclear devices” to set Iran “back a decade or two or three.”
According to sources in Aleppo and Damascus, the IF’s top leadership positions have been parceled out among five of the seven groups. This at least is as of 12/5/13. Four days after the IF was announced, the organization released an official charter. In terms of its basic architecture, the document is similar to that put out by the SIF in January, but the new version is filled with more generalities than other militia proclamations, and seems designed to accommodate differing ideas among member groups. The charter calls for an Islamic state and the implementation of sharia law, though it does not define exactly what this means. The IF is firmly against secularism, human legislation (i.e., it believes that laws come from God, not people), civil government, and a Kurdish breakaway state. The charter states that the group will secure minority rights in post-Assad Syria based on sharia, which could mean the dhimma (“protected peoples”) system, or de facto second-class citizenship for Christians and other minorities. According to Saudi officials in Lebanon, the IF seeks to unify other rebel groups so long as they agree to acknowledge the sovereignty of God. Given this ‘moderate’ wording, the expectation of some is that that the southern-based Ittihad al-Islami li-Ajnad al-Sham will join the IF.
According to the Netanyahu government, the IF’s leading foreign cheerleader, this new coalition gives substance to that which states who have been wanting regime change in Syria have been calling for. One analyst on the Syrian conflict, Aron Lund, believes a grouping of mainstream and hardline Islamists, excluding any al-Qaeda factions, is significant. “It’s something that could be very important if it holds up,” he explained. “The Islamic Front’s formation was a response to both regime advances and the ‘aggressive posture’ of jihadists against other rebels, plus a good deal of foreign involvement, not least of which is Saudi and GCC pushing to unify the rebels.”
Contrary to reports out of Occupied Palestine that the Netanyahu regime is not worried about or much interested in the crisis in Syria, a measure of delight seems to be felt in Tel Aviv that Muslims and Arabs are once more killing each other, along with smugness over Hezbollah’s loss of key mujahedeen as it faces, along with Iran, its own “Vietnam experience.” Yet all this notwithstanding, near panic is reported to have been felt in Israeli government circles over Hezbollah’s achievements in Syria. Truth told, Tel Aviv knows that despite manpower losses by Hezbollah, the dominant Lebanese political party is bringing about major enhancements of its forces. It also knows that there is no substitute for urban battlefield experience with regard to effecting such force regeneration, and Israeli officials have also stated their belief that the Resistance is organizing non-Hezbollah brigades that share one goal in common despite disparate beliefs. That sacred goal is liberating Al Quds by any and all means.
A US Congressional source summarized the Obama administration’s take on this week’s assassination of a key Hezbollah commander as part of a major new Netanyahu government project to weaken Hezbollah. Hassan Houlo Lakkis’ assassination on the night of December 3-4 is deemed in Washington to be particularly significant since Lakkis was in charge of strategic files related to Israel and the Palestinians and also oversaw a number of key operations. The Resistance commander was deeply involved in the development of drones for Hezbollah, as well as smuggling weapons to Gaza via Egypt. He also had good relationships with the Palestinian factions in Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon. Lakkis was known by Washington to be a highly important cadre and a second rank Hezbollah official. According to one analyst “Israel appeared as if it was telling Hezbollah, come and fight me. Israel is upset over the Western-Iranian agreement. It is also upset over the new position that the West has concerning Hezbollah whereby the West is now viewing the party as a force that opposes the Takfiris. Thus, Israel’s objective behind the assassination is to lure the party into a confrontation thus allowing Tel Aviv to tell the West: Hezbollah is still a terrorist organization.”
According to sources on the US Foreign Relations Committee, the White House is being heavily pressured by the US Zionist lobby and the Netanyahu government to take “remedial measures” for the “catastrophic historic mistake” it made in defusing the Iranian nuclear issue and refusing to bomb Damascus. The measures being pushed for, of course, are funding and support for the IF, though doubts persist in Washington as to how “remedial” they will in fact be. The $5.5 billion “investment” is to be paid in large part by GCC/Arab League countries, with US and Zionist contributions. Cash from the latter two sources will come directly and indirectly out of the pockets of American taxpayers—with Israel paying nothing.
Some Washington officials and analysts are wondering if US participation would help unify notoriously hostile rebel ranks and curtail the growing power of al-Qaeda in Syria, or whether it is simply another zany Bander bin Sultan-concocted project, the latest of many—in this case to create a hierarchical revolutionary army with the aim of fighting the Syrian regime essentially alongside al-Qaeda? Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel expressed his personal suspicions this week that “the Israel-Saudi team is trying to drag the US back into a potentially deepening morass,” alluding to what apparently is an effort to head off any plans the Obama administration may have of living with the Assad government until such time as Geneva II happens, that is if it happens, according to one congressional staffer.
Many among the American public also have doubts because they have been told that their government was ‘winding down’ its Middle East wars in favor of rebuilding America’s infrastructure, roads, health care and education systems, all of which, especially the latter, appear to be suffering dramatically. According to the most recent international survey, released this week, the average Chinese student, aged fifteen in Shanghai, is two full years ahead of America’s best students surveyed in Massachusetts. Recent top scores among secondary school youngsters, particularly in math, reading and science, were considerably lower than those achieved by students in Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Japan. The US is far down the list and declining, and the survey suggests that the gap is widening.
It’s too early to say whether this latest Saudi-Israel-Arab League collaboration will fail as others have recently, but given the continuing Obama administration efforts at taking back US Middle East policy from Tel Aviv, plus the perceptible movement away from support for the Netanyahu government along with growing angst among American taxpayers over funding the occupation of Palestine, it just might collapse.
We came, we saw, we stayed. Forever. That’s the essence of the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) to be struck between the Obama administration and Afghanistan – over 12 years after the start of the never-ending War on Terror.
President Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry define it as a ‘strategic partnership’. If that’s the case, it’s one of the most lopsided in history; Afghan President Hamid Karzai is no more than a sartorially impeccable American puppet.
Kerry announced the so-called BSA in Washington on Wednesday even before a Loya Jirga (‘Grand Council’, in Pashto) of 2,500 Afghan tribal leaders, clerics, members of parliament and merchants started their four-day deliberations in a tent on the grounds of the Polytechnical University in Kabul on Thursday.
But then Karzai, probably in his last major speech as president, pulled off a fabulous stunt. He knows he is, and will be, accused of selling Afghanistan down the (Panjshir) river. He knows he is sacrificing Afghan sovereignty for years to come – and there will be nasty blowback for it.
So once again he channeled Hamid the Actor, and played his best honest broker impersonation, stressing the BSA should be put off until the Afghan presidential elections in April 2014, and be signed by his successor.
It was high drama
“There’s a mistrust between me and the Americans. They don’t trust me and I don’t trust them. I have always criticized them and they have always propagated negative things behind my back,” he claimed.
I have been to Jirgas in Afghanistan; even looking at those inscrutable, rugged tribal faces is a spectacle in itself. So what were they thinking in Kabul? Of course they did not trust the Americans. But did they trust Karzai? Could they see this was all an act?
A consultative Loya Jirga cannot veto the BSA. Even the Jirga chairman, Sibghatullah Mojadeddi, stressed Karzai may sign without any consultation. Yet Karzai insists he will not sign without the Loya Jirga’s approval.
Many members of the Afghan parliament and the entire Afghan opposition already voted with their feet, boycotting the Jirga. Not to mention the Taliban – essential to any agreement on the future of Afghanistan – and the still fully weaponized Hezb-e-Islami. Everyone is eagerly waiting to hear Taliban supremo Mullah Omar’s take on the whole kabuki.
The BSA ‘negotiation’ has been like an extended Monty Python sketch. Washington has always insisted US soldiers can break into Afghan homes at will and remain immune to any sort of Afghan prosecution. Otherwise the Americans will leave for good at the end of 2014, leaving just the poorly trained and largely corrupt Afghan National Army (ANA) to fight the Taliban.
Up until Karzai’s latest stunt, the Obama administration considered the deal was in the bag. Just look at the letter Obama sent to Karzai.
And by the way, no apologies. National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Washington does not need to apologize for killing and injuring tens of thousands of civilians in Afghanistan since 2001, not to mention occupying vast swathes of the country. Earlier, a Karzai spokesman said that would be the case.
If in doubt, just listen to super-hawk US Senator Lindsay Graham, who told Reuters, “I’m stunned. Apologize for what? Maybe we should get the Afghan president to apologize to the American soldiers for all the hardship he’s created for them.”
There’s nothing ‘residual’ about a US occupation to be disguised as ‘forces’ necessary to train and ‘advise’ the roughly 350,000 soldiers and police which are part of ANA, built from scratch over the last few years.
And what we’re talking about here is a deal starting in 2015 and in effect up to 2024 ‘and beyond’.
The final agreement is not much different from this previously leaked working draft. An update has been circulating this week in the Pentagon and the US Congress. The Pentagon, via Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, justifies the whole thing by the proverbial need to ‘maintain Afghanistan’s security’ and make sure foreign aid is not being squandered (as it has always been).
There will be plenty of US military outposts and bases; Afghan bases and other bases of which the US has ‘exclusive use’. Bagram, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Mazar-e-Sharif are inevitably on the list. Once again, this is the US Empire of Bases – so well characterized by the late Chalmers Johnson – in pristine form.
Marine General Joseph Dunford, the current US/NATO military commander in Afghanistan, wants up to 13,000 troops to stay, not including security guards and the cream of the crop, the counterterrorism gang. In theory, these forces won’t engage in combat “unless otherwise mutually agreed.” The draft text emphasizes, “US military operations to defeat Al-Qaeda and its affiliates may be appropriate in the common fight against terrorism.”
Translation: a future festival of raids by Special Forces, and a counter-terror free-for-all.
The draft text only mentions, vaguely,” full respect for Afghan sovereignty and full regard for the safety and security of the Afghan people, including in their homes,” as Obama also mentioned in his letter to Karzai.
And there’s absolutely nothing on the critical issue of drones based in Afghan bases that have been used for incinerating the odd commander but also scores of innocent civilians in the Pakistani tribal areas.
All about pivoting to Asia
The Maliki government in Baghdad had the balls to confront the Pentagon and veto the immunity for US forces – effectively kicking out the occupying force in Iraq. Hamid Karzai, for his part, caved in on virtual every US demand. The key question in the next few months is for what; Mob-style protection if he stays in Afghanistan, or the equivalent of the FBI’s witness protection program if he moves to the US?
Even assuming the Loya Jirga endorses the BSA (not yet a done deal) and Karzai’s successor signs it (with Karzai removing himself from the tight spot), to say this opens a new Pandora’s box is an understatement.
The occupation, for all practical purposes, will continue. This has nothing to do with fighting the War on Terror or jihad. There’s no Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The few remnants are in Waziristan, in Pakistani territory. The US is – and will remain – essentially at war with Afghan Pashtuns who are members of the Taliban. And the Taliban will keep staging their spring and summer offensives as long as there are any foreign occupiers on Afghan soil.
The drone war will continue, with the Pentagon and the CIA using these Afghan bases to attack Pashtuns in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Not to mention that these US bases, to be fully operational, need unrestricted access to the Pakistani transit routes from the Khyber Pass and the Quetta-to-Kandahar corridor. This means Islamabad keeps profiting from the scam by collecting hefty fees in US dollars.
No one knows yet how the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will respond to this. Not only Russia and China – who are adamantly opposed to US bases in Afghanistan – but also Iran and India, SCO observers and two countries that can sway Afghanistan away from the Taliban in a non-military way.
We just need to picture, for instance, a practically inevitable future development; Washington deciding to deploy the US missile defense system in Afghanistan (it already happened in Turkey). Russia and China already see that the US may have lost the economic race for Central Asia – as China clinches deal after deal in the context of expanding its New Silk Road(s) grand strategy. What’s left for Washington is – guess what – bits and pieces of the same old Pentagon Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine, as in military bases to ‘monitor’ both China and Russia very close to their borders.
What’s certain is that both Russia and China – not to mention Iran – all see this Operation Occupy Afghanistan Forever for what it is; yet another (military) chapter of the American ‘pivoting to Asia’.
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.
There is a considerable amount of debate in alternative economic circles as to whether a federal government shutdown would be a “good thing” or a “bad thing”. Frankly, even I am partially conflicted. I love to read mainstream news stories about how a shutdown in the capital would be “horrible” because Barack Obama might have to reduce the White House cleaning staff and wash his own laundry:
It’s about time that sellout bastard did something to clean up his own act. I also love the idea of the federal government out of the picture and removed from the U.S. dynamic. Americans need to learn again how to live without the nanny state, even if only for a few weeks, and what better way than to go cold turkey. I can hear the tortured sobs of the socialists now, crying for their SNAP cards and low grade government healthcare. It’s like…beautiful music…
That said, as much as centralized government needs to be erased from the face of the planet, there are, indeed, consequences that must be dealt with. It is foolish to believe otherwise. No social system, and I mean NO SOCIAL SYSTEM, changes without pain to the population. I am not among those that cheer a federal shutdown, because I understand that the only people to ultimately feel suffering will be average citizens, not the establishment itself. The sheeple may be ignorant and blind, but no one deserves the kind of unmitigated hellfire that could rain down upon our country if a shutdown continues for an extended period of time. Call me a humanitarian…
As I write this, mainstream media projections estimate a 90% chance of government shutdown by midnight on September 30th. Though technically, government funds will not run out until October 17th:
We have dealt with this kind of talk before over the past few years, and it’s interesting to see the kind of cynicism that has developed over the idea of a shutdown event. After all, the last time a government shutdown occurred was at the end of 1995, lasting only a couple of weeks into 1996. The GOP has folded so many times over the U.S. budget and debt ceiling that most of the public expects they will obviously do it again. It is certainly possible that the Republicans will roll over, however, I am not so sure of that this time around. Why? Not because Obamacare is on the table. Obamacare is just a distraction. No, I’m far more interested in the circumstances surrounding the U.S. dollar.
Obamacare is designed to fail. Anyone with any financial or mathematical sense could look at the real national debt and deficit projections of the U.S. and understand that there is no money and never will be enough money to fund universal healthcare. The GOP could simply let the program take effect, sit back, and watch it crash and burn over the next three to five years. This would entail, though, watching the whole of our economy crash and burn with it.
What we have developing in front of us is the recipe for a new false paradigm. Already, the MSM is discussing the possibility of debt default and who will be responsible under such circumstances. Not surprisingly “Tea Party” conservatives have been named the primary culprits if a shutdown goes south; even former Democratic president Bill Clinton is getting in on the blame game:
All the bickering over Obamacare is fascinating, I’m sure, but lets set the Affordable Care Act aside for a moment and look at the bigger and more important picture. The private Federal Reserve Bank has just announced to much surprise a complete reversal on its suggested QE “taper” measures, resulting in a shocked and confused marketplace. If the U.S. fiscal system is stable and sound, as the Fed has been suggesting for the past year, then why continue stimulus measures at all? Could it be that most if not all positive economic numbers released by the Fed and the Labor Department are actually fake, and that investors have been duped into assuming overall growth when America is actually in an accelerated decline? Wouldn’t that be a high speed excrement storm straight out of left field!
The first day rally over the Fed announcement faded quickly, resulting in a slow bleed of the Dow ever since. The magic of Fed stimulus is wearing off, and the investment world is not happy. If I were a member of the Federal Reserve Bank, I suppose I would appreciate a large scale distraction designed to take attention away from me and my elitist club-mates as the primary culprits behind the greatest currency implosion in the history of the world.
Sadly, a government shutdown is sizable threat to the American financial system, and few people seem to get it. Perhaps because the expectation is that any shutdown would only be a short term concern. And, this assumption might be correct. But, if a shutdown takes place, and, if “gridlock” continues for an extended period of time, I have little doubt that the U.S economy will experience renewed crisis. Here’s why:
Obamacare only tops a long list of already existing “unfunded liabilities” (otherwise known as entitlement programs). These programs are not counted in the government’s official calculations of national debt or deficit spending, but they cost taxpayers money all the same. True deficit costs and national debt costs expand every year without fail. If the debt ceiling does not rise in accordance with this exponential debt, a default is inevitable. No amount of increased taxes could ever fill the black hole already created by negative government spending.
A long term government shutdown will eventually require cuts in entitlements, if not a total overhaul of certain aid programs. Imagine an end to all disability payments, including veterans disability payments. Imagine federal employee pensions put on hold for an undesignated period of time. Imagine food stamps placed on hiatus for 50 million people. Imagine how many states now rely on federal funding just to keep municipalities from bankruptcy. Get the picture now?
End Of Foreign Faith In U.S. Treasuries
In a disgusting display of propaganda, media outlet Reuters has released an article claiming that, default or not, Asian investors and central banks are “hostage” to U.S. debt:
Their argument essentially revolves around the lie that Asian investors believe an American default to be “unthinkable”. Surely, the unnamed Japanese investment source they cite as an “insider” truly represents the whole of Asia.
The reality is, the Asians (the Chinese in particular) have been preparing for a calamity in the U.S. Treasury market for years.
Most foreign investors in U.S. Treasuries have converted their long term bond holdings to short term bond holdings; meaning, they are ready to liquidate their bonds at a moment’s notice. Overall purchase levels of treasuries are either static, or falling depending on the nation involved.
China has been internationalizing its currency, the Yuan, since 2005. China has opened Yuan “clearing houses in multiple countries to allow faster convertibility of the Yuan, quietly supplanting the dollar as the world reserve currency. These clearing houses now exist in London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Kenya. The Federal Reserve and international banks like JP Morgan are heavily involved in the internationalization of the Yuan.
The assertion that Asia is somehow hostage to U.S. debt is a lie beyond all proportions. In truth, the U.S. economy is actually hostage to Asian holdings of U.S. debt. A call for a dump of U.S. treasury bonds by China, for example, in the face of a U.S. default, would immediately result in a global chain reaction ending in the destruction of the dollar as the world reserve currency. This is not speculation, this is mathematical fact. China is not going to sit back and do nothing while their investment in U.S. debt quickly disintegrates. Why would they take the chance when they could could just sell, sell, sell!
The very idea that Reuters is attempting to twist the fundamentals surrounding a default event leads me to believe a default event may be preordained.
What Will Be Defunded?
Non-essential personnel (which apparently includes Obama’s maids), will be the first to receive a pink slip from the federal government. Extra Pentagon staff, EPA staff, FDA staff, IRS staff, etc will all be cut. Good riddance. But what will follow will not be so pleasant.
If a shutdown stretches for months, expect cuts in all support programs and entitlements. Veterans disability checks, social security, Medicare, employee pensions, even the Postal Service is likely to undergo defunding. National Parks, and schools that receive federal aid will discover immediate cash-loss. In fact, any state or city that relies on federal funds should plan for the possibility that those funds will disappear.
Military cuts would be at the bottom of the list, but I would not discount the chance of that either.
It cannot be denied; an enormous subsection of the American public is dependent on federal money. If that money dries up, chaos will ensue. I don’t like it, but it is a concern.
A long term shutdown will be catastrophe no matter how you slice it. Foreign creditors will react harshly. The bond market will see a haircut not unlike that given to investors in Greek treasuries. Austerity will become an American way of life. The only mitigating factor will be the Federal Reserve, which I believe may institute “extraordinary measures” without congressional consent in order to continue feeding stimulus into government regardless of whether the debt ceiling is raised or not. Given enough desperation, the American public might even applaud such an action and praise the Fed as “heroic”.
In this situation, the U.S. would be facing a Weimar-style currency collapse, rather than a debt default. But in either scenario, the dollar is the final target.
Unfortunately, too many economic analysts presume that the only threat to the dollar’s value is hyperinflation (these are the same people that quote the Fed’s crooked CPI numbers). But the dollar is just as vulnerable to a debt default and loss of reserve status. Devaluation seems to be inevitable regardless of the outcome of the funding debate.
The Republicans could still surrender, and even if they don’t, real damages will not be felt until after October 17th. This is plenty of time to manipulate the public into demanding more spending even when more spending is not in our best interests in the long term. Our greatest concern, though, should be whether or not the establishment is ready to pull the plug on the dollar altogether, using the debt ceiling crisis as cover in order to distract away from the involvement of international banks in the overall problem. There is no doubt given the facts at hand that America is on the edge of a terrible pyre. Is this the event that will finally trigger collapse? We’ll know more in a week…
Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market
The frantic spin of the millisecond is that the White House is taking a ‘hard look’ at the Russian proposal for Bashar Assad to place Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal under UN control, thus at least postponing another US war in the Middle East.
Oh, the joys of the geopolitical chessboard; Russia throwing a lifeline to save US President Barack Obama from his self-spun ‘red line’.
True diplomats are supposed to prevent wars – not pose as warmongers. American exceptionalism is of course exempted. So just as Secretary of State John Kerry had the pedal on the metal selling yet another war in a London presser, his beat up Chevy was overtaken by a diplomatic Maserati: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
This was Kerry’s slip: “… [Assad] could turn over any single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over. All of it. And without delay and allow the full and total accounting for that. But he isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done obviously.”
It can be done, obviously, as Lavrov turned Kerry’s move against him – forwarding a two-step proposal to Damascus; Syria turns its chemical weapons to UN control and later agrees with their destruction, as well as joining the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Syrian Foreign Minister Moallem took no time to agree. The devil, of course, is in the fine print.
Somebody help me! What’s the message?
Predictably, all hell broke loose at the State Department. Dammit! Darn Russki peacenik! A Kerry spokeswoman characterized it as a “rhetorical argument”. It was just “talk”. Damascus and Moscow have a horrible track record. This was just a “stalling tactic.” Washington could not trust Assad. And even if there was a “serious” proposal that would not delay the White House’s push to sell its war in the US Congress.
Yet two hours later, closet future US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton saw it as… a serious proposal, “suggested by Secretary Kerry and the Russians.” And she made clear she was for it after meeting with Obama himself.
Meanwhile, the batshit crazy department kept the pedal on the metal, with National Security Adviser Susan ‘Wolfowitz’ Rice busy warning that chemical attacks in Syria are a “serious threat to our national security” including to “citizens at home.” What, no ‘mushroom cloud’?
Yet just as ‘on message’ was up in smoke, magically, deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf and Hillary herself started talking in unison (somebody forgot to brief Rice). And the White House decided to take its ‘hard look’. Sort of. Because expectations are not that high. And the push to war in the US Congress is bound to continue.
Not even hardcore Beltway junkies have been able to keep track in real time of the Obama administration’s ever-shifting ‘policy’. This is how it (theoretically) stands. “Assad is responsible for the gas attack.” Translation; he did not order it, directly (no one with half a brain, apart from the Return of the Living Dead neo-cons, believes the current White House “evidence” sticks). But he’s still “responsible”. And even if Al-Nusra Front did it – with ‘kitchen sarin’ imported from Iraq, as I proposed here, Assad is still “responsible”; after all he must protect Syrian citizens.
In his Monday TV Anschluss, Obama, clinging to the lifeline, was quick to steal Lavrov’s credit, saying he had “discussed” the broad outlook of what Russia announced directly with Putin at the G20 summit last week. This has not been corroborated by Moscow.
Obama told CNN this was a “potentially positive thought.” And he was keen to stress it only happened not because his Designated War Salesman slipped, but because of a “credible military threat.” To NBC, he kept peddling what Kerry defined as an “unbelievably small” attack; the US “can strike without provoking a counter-attack.” Yet to CNN he admitted, “the notion that Mr. Assad could significantly threaten the United States is just not the case.”
So why the need for the “unbelievably small” kinetic whatever? That’s too much of a metaphysical question for US journalism.
You have the right to remain inspected
Now for the fine print. Everybody knows what happened to Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi after they gave up their deterrence. Assuming both Washington and Damascus accept Lavrov’s proposal, this could easily be derailed into an Iraqi-style ultra-harsh inspection regime. At least in theory, no US Air Force will attack UN inspectors at Syrian chemical weapons depots. As for false flags, don’t underestimate Bandar Bush’s deep pockets.
Still, considering Washington won’t abandon its real agenda – regime change – Obama might eventually be re-presented with his full emperor hand to ‘supervise’ the chemical weapons handover and ‘punish’ any infringement, real or otherwise, by Damascus, facilitated by the usual spies infiltrated into the inspectors mechanism. As in, “if you complain, we bomb.”
The key point in all this, though, is that for Damascus chemical weapons are just a detail – they are worthless in the battlefield. What matters is the 250,000-strong Syrian Arab Army (SAA), as well as military support by Iran and especially Russia – as in badass missiles of the Yakhont variety or S-300 (even 400) systems. Destroying the weapons – assuming Damascus agrees – is a very long-term proposition, measured in years; even Russia and the US have not destroyed theirs. By then, the myriad gangs of the “Un-Free” Syrian Army may have been thoroughly defeated.
Obama may have read the writing on the (bloody) wall; forget about convincing the US Congress to bomb Damascus when there’s a real diplomatic way out on the table. Yet nothing changes in the long run. Those who are paying or cheering in the sidelines for this operation – from Bandar Bush to Tel Aviv – want by all means to smash Damascus, for the benefit of Israel in terms of strategic balance, and for the benefit of the House of Saud in terms of isolating Iran in the Middle East.
So Lavrov’s chess move is not a checkmate; it is a gambit, meant to prevent the United States from becoming Al-Qaeda’s Air Force, at least for now. The quagmire would then move to a negotiating table – which would include those chemical weapons inspections.
No wonder assorted Western-weaponized psychos and jihadists on the ground in Syria don’t like this one bit. It’s happening just as more damning circumstantial evidence of false flags galore surface.
RT has been informed that the ‘rebels’ may be planning a monster false flag on Israel, to be launched from Assad-controlled ground.
And then there’s the release of two former hostages detained for five months by the ‘rebels’ in appalling conditions; Domenico Quirico, a correspondent for La Stampa, and Belgian historian Pierre Piccinin. Here is a shortened version of Quirico’s story, in English.
I talked to a very close friend at La Stampa who spoke directly with Quirico. He confirmed that Quirico and Piccinin overheard a Skype conversation between a ‘rebel’ speaking very bad English, who introduced himself as an ‘FSA General’, and somebody speaking very good English on the other side of the line. It was clear from the conversation that the Assad government was NOT responsible for the gas attack in Ghouta. So Quirico is admitting exactly what Piccinin told Belgian TV. It may not be conclusive; yet as proof goes, it certainly beats the Israeli-fed White House intel.
Unlike Piccinin, Quirico cannot tell the whole true story; most of all because La Stampa, a newspaper owned by the Agnelli family, very close to Henry Kissinger, is staunchly pro-‘rebel’.
Here’s a translation of what Piccinin said; “It’s a moral duty that we have, Domenico and myself, to say it was not the government of Bashar Assad that used sarin gas or other nerve agent, in the Damascene suburb of Ghouta. We are certain about this, it’s a conversation that we captured, even if it pains me to say it; I ferociously support the Free Syrian Army, and its fair struggle for democracy.”
Needless to say, none of this crucial development is being fully reported by US corporate media.
The Anschluss continues. Obama is addressing US public opinion this Tuesday night. Don’t expect him to announce yet another twist to the ‘Obama Doctrine’ – criminalizing ‘evil’ dictators who use Agent Orange, napalm, white phosphorous and depleted uranium against other people.
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.
When is a bank an appendage of state? In China, the incorporation of commercial banking under the auspice of governmental policy is virtually indistinguishable. Philosophically, any government should have control of their currency and structure the precepts of banking and lending system. Capitalist banking would command a greater pragmatic function if competition among banks was based upon free enterprise. However, under the central banking scheme governments regulate banks, but are creatures of fractional reserve debt money issued by central bank parentage. The Chinese way has included a touch of mystery when analyzed within the context of western international banking.
How did a communist economic model transform into a partner of the globalist banksters cabal? Setting the political questions aside, the business of building an economy requires the acquisition of money on a scale that most societies are unable to access. The difference in the Great Wall nation became the favorite police state pattern for the corporatists to move their manufacturing facilities that grew a trading surplus, which accrued huge sums. China alone has amassed official reserves of US$3.2 trillion.
Translate this occurrence into a banking advantage would have you believe that Forbes’ reporting is correct. Written earlier this year, Red Banks Rising: Will China Become The World’s Banker?, has a Sino banking buy spree in full motion.
“In February China’s central bank issued a three-step plan that would tear down the barriers surrounding China’s big banks. Hopes quickly emerged that China’s banks could become international players much like China’s industrial companies, providing capital to a global economy that could use it. “Chinese banks are well positioned to follow Chinese companies abroad and provide financing; the question is whether they will also provide services to foreign companies,” says Ben Simpfendorfer, a Hong Kong-based consultant. “China would benefit from exporting its cash, and the rest of the world would benefit, especially foreign buyers of Chinese goods.”
For the most part the only Chinese financial firms putting serious money to work internationally are driven by Beijing’s politics. China Development Bank, a policy institution, has done some big deals in Africa and lent $10 billion to Petroleo Brasileiro, Brazil’s state-run oil company. There have been signs, however, that China’s big commercial banks are preparing to go global, too. ICBC has been opening and buying branches from New York to the Netherlands and last year paid $600 million for assets of Standard Bank in Argentina. It is now hiring scores of bankers in Brazil. “The Chinese banks will play a larger role internationally than they have in the past,” says John Weinshank, the corporate finance chief at China Construction Bank’s New York branch, which built a $2 billion loan book in two years. “That’s the plan. I can assure you we will be expanding in the Americas over the next two years.”
A second establishment flagship publisher, The Economist presents a viewpoint that a Giant reality-check, is on the horizon, Four of the world’s biggest lenders must face some nasty truths.
“CHINA’S banks are not real banks,” says Andrew Rothman of CLSA, a broker recently acquired by China’s CITIC Securities. The country’s biggest financial institutions are so closely held by the state that they are, in effect, arms of the treasury. Cosseted by rules that protect them from competition, they deliver huge profits in good times: bank profits as a share of China’s economic output equalled nearly 3% last year, whereas the highest ratio achieved in recent decades by American banks was only 1% of GDP (in 2006). In bad times the state is there to clean up, just as it did during a surge in dud loans in 1990s.
But the bargain that has driven China’s “Big Four” banks to the top of the global league tables is breaking down. Profitable though they are now, another wave of non-performing loans will soon hit them. As the Chinese economy rebalances, the state is less willing than it was in the past to pour credit into state-owned enterprises (SOEs) at the expense of households and private firms. Mr Rothman’s epithet will not hold forever. China’s big banks are slowly becoming real institutions.”
While the Chinese banks are adapting to international commerce circumstances, the fact that Chinese yuan does not have a reserve currency function has allowed the state-controlled regime to enjoy foreign exchange benefits that other countries resent. The day is coming, when fundamental rescaling of the world banking system, will alter the way that Chinese banks operate. The accounting firm of Ernest and Young presents the following view in a report, Challenges for central banks: wider powers, greater restraints.
“Emerging countries’ greater importance to the world economy has generated criticism of Western monetary policy and led to calls for some kind of international monetary reform. One of the strongest proponents of such reform is China. On the one hand, the capital restrictions and the state-controlled finance system enabled the Chinese authorities to partly shield the country from the worst effects of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 and to engineer a remarkable, if inflationary, stimulus. On the other hand, these same factors mean that China, in the words of Jin Liqun, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of China’s sovereign fund, China Investment Corporation, is the only one of the six biggest world economies that does not have its own international currency.”
Having it their way, while everyone else is shackled to floating currency convertibility, means that China’s state protecting racket will break down if a reserve currency role is eventually implemented. Since at this stage it is impossible to separate state control from business risk lending, the future of the top ten Chinese Banks are dependent upon the way the financial community navigates within the treacherous waters of the China Sea.
If the prototype of Chinese banking, with a reciprocal relation under the wing of state direction forecasts international banking, just what will the banksters do with the loss of their preeminence. If the past is a reliable gauge, bidding against the moneychangers is a tall order.
In the midst of its short summer, Moscow is balmy and relaxed. Sidewalks brim with tables and merry customers, even traffic jams are less severe due to holiday season. The only danger for men is the girls’ dresses, they are precariously short.
In a few days, perhaps even tomorrow, the charms and dangers of the city will be available to Edward Snowden, who is about to receive a refugee ID, allowing him to roam freely the whole length and breadth of Russia and to socialise with its folk.
It will be a nice change from Sheremetyevo International Airport, where he was marooned for quite a while. The airport is vast; some unfortunates, mainly paperless refugees, live in its transit area for ten years or more. For a while, it was felt that our hero would remain stuck forever in limbo. The Russians and the intrepid Snowden sat on the fence, getting used to each other while keeping their distance. At long last, the ice was broken. Snowden had gotten to meet with representatives of the Russian public: a few members of Parliament (called Duma, in Russian), some human rights folks, leading lawyers.
He reminded them that he “had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications… [and] change people’s fates”. He invoked the US Constitution transgressed by the spooks, for the Constitution “forbids such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance”. He rightly rejected the legal ruse of Obama’s secret courts, for no secrecy can purify the impure. He recalled the Nuremberg ruling: “Individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.” And this system of total surveillance is indeed a crime against humanity, the cornerstone of the Iron Heel regime they plan to establish on the planet. When his declaration was interrupted by the airport’s routine announcements over the loudspeaker, he charmingly smiled and said “I’ve heard it so many times during the last week”.
The Russians loved him; the whole attitude to Snowden changed for better, as I expected when I called for this meeting on the pages of the leading Russian newspaper, the KP (Komsomolskaya Pravda). Now we’ve learned that the Russians have decided to issue him a refugee ID and grant him freedom of movement.
Why did they hesitate for so long?
Snowden is an American, and the Americans, like the British, are quite prejudiced against Russia, their common Cold War enemy. For them, it is the country of the Gulag and the KGB. Though both menaces vanished decades ago, traditions die hard, if at all. Even the Gulag and the KGB were only a modernised version of the Tsar, knout and serfdom horror of the 19th century, to be eventually superseded by the Brutal New Russian Mafia State as updated by Luke Harding. For an average American, the prospect of befriending Russia is nigh unto impossible. Even more so for an American who served in the CIA and NSA, as Snowden did. He felt that by embracing Russia he would lose his whistle-blower status and be regarded as an enemy agent, a totally different kettle of fish.
This was the case for Julian Assange, as well. When it was proposed that the head of Wikileaks flee to Russia (it was technically possible), he procrastinated, dragged his feet and remained in England, unable, in the end, to cross the great East/West divide.
Snowden was not seeking limelight, quite the opposite! He wished to stop the crimes being committed by No Such Agency in the name of American people, no more, no less. He hoped to become a new Deep Throat, whose identity would never be revealed. His first profound revelations were made by correspondence; he flew to Hong Kong as he was familiar with the place, spoke fluent Chinese, and planned to return home to Hawaii. It appears that the Guardian Newspaper pushed him into revealing his identity. Even then he thought himself safe, for Hong Kong is under Chinese sovereignty, and China is a mighty state, not an easy pushover.
The Chinese used Snowden’s revelations to defuse American accusations of electronic espionage, but they weren’t going to spoil relations with the US for his sake – the hot potato was tossed. As a final courtesy they gave him 24 hours warning of his impending arrest. He had to flee, and he boarded the Aeroflot flight to Moscow in company of charming English lady, a Wikileaks executive Sarah Harrison.
Snowden landed in Moscow, but he never considered taking refuge in Russia. For him, this was just a transit point to a neutral country, be it Iceland or Venezuela, some part of the West. He planned to fly to Havana and change planes there for Caracas. He did not take into account the length to which the US Deep State would go to seize and punish him.
At first, the Americans put enormous pressure on Cuba to refuse transit for Snowden. They threatened Cuba with invasion and blockade, and Castro asked Snowden to look for another route. No airline but Aeroflot would fly Snowden out of Russia, and Aeroflot flies via Havana only. So the first plan got unstuck.
The gas summit in Moscow offered another opportunity for escape: the summit was attended by the presidents of Bolivia and Venezuela, both came with their private planes able to make the long flight. Bolivian president Evo Morales had left Moscow first; his plane was forced down and searched, setting a historical precedent. This served as a warning to the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro; he flew away from Moscow Snowden-less.
This was an important discovery for Ed Snowden: he learned by this experience that there is just one country on the planet that is outside of the US grasp. Just one country that is a real alternative to the Empire; the only country Navy Seals are not likely to raid nor Obama drones to bomb, the only country whose planes can’t be scrambled and searched. He understood that Moscow is the only safe place on the globe for an identified enemy of the Empire. Now he was ready to contact the Russians; he resumed his temporary refuge request, which will probably be granted.
The Russians also hesitated. They were not keen on angering the US, they were aware that Snowden did not intend to come to them and just happened to get stuck in transit. He was a hot potato, and many people were convinced it’s better to follow the Chinese example and toss him.
The US Lobby pulled out all the stops trying to have him extradited. There were human rights activists and NGO members in the employ of the US State Department. Such people and organisations are promoted by the Americans, a Fifth Column of sorts. Lyudmila Alexeeva is a leading Russian activist of this kind; she was an anti-Soviet dissident, acquired US citizenship, came back to Russia and resumed her fight for human rights and against the Russian state. She is on record as saying that Snowden is a traitor to the service, neither a whistle-blower nor a human rights defender. He should be surrendered to the US, she averred. Other notorious dissidents and fighters against Putin’s regime agreed with her, unmasking their true colours.
Some siloviki were also against Snowden. These are members and ex-members of Russian intelligence community, who embraced the concept of convergence of security services and collaborated with the Americans and other services, notably the Israelis. They said that loyalty to one’s service is the most important virtue, and a traitor can’t be trusted. They pooh-poohed Snowden’s revelations saying they had known it all along. They said he is not worth quarrelling with Washington about. This was also the line of Konstantin Remchukov, an important Russian media lord, the owner of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, who added that Snowden was a Chinese spy.
And finally there were conspiracy freaks, who said that Snowden is a Trojan Horse, sent to pry open Russian secrets. He was actually a CIA double agent, they said. No, he was an agent of Mossad, others argued. Return him to the US, they asserted. This bottom line has exposed many American agents, whether faux human rights defenders or equally false siloviki, security personnel.
Among supporters of Snowden in Russia, there was my friend, the poet Eduard Limonov, who called Snowden the harbinger of Unipolar World collapse. My newspaper KP supported the cause as well. The state-owned TV took a cautious approach, and was rather dismissive of Snowden’s discoveries.
President Putin, too, played a cautious game. Initially, he stopped talk of surrendering Snowden with a laconic statement: «Russia never ever extradites anybody to any state». Then he offered Snowden refuge on condition that he would not act against the US. This is a usual condition for a political refuge. He added that probably Snowden would not accept it as he wants to continue his struggle “just like Professor Sakharov”, a renown dissident of Soviet days. He also tried to dissuade America from pursuing Snowden, comparing this pursuit with “shearing a piglet”, producing more screams than wool. This cautious game paid well: Snowden accepted his precondition and applied for temporary refuge until the road to Latin America opens up for him, while the President saved face and did his best to avoid quarrelling with the US and with the mighty pro-American lobby in Moscow. I should say that despite his autocratic macho image, Putin does not control free Russian media, which are usually owned by pro-Western media lords. His positions in the national discourse get limited exposure.
The Russian leader was not confrontational. He does not look for trouble, as a rule. He comes off as rather a cautious, prudent, conservative ruler. He would probably prefer that Snowden fly away, especially as Snowden, an American patriot, would not share his stolen crown jewels with the Russians. His granting permission for Snowden to meet with the Russian public was withheld for a long while. However, during this period, the US added many more names to the secret Magnitsky List of Russians whose properties and accounts were to be snatched (“frozen” is the technical term) by the US and its allies. Members of Congress freely vituperated against Putin and referred to Russia in abusive terms. Just wait — Obama will call Putin tonight and he will send Snowden packing, said the White House spokesman. Meanwhile, the US continued its build-up against Syria in the Middle East, and Israel bombed Syrian positions, presumably with American support. Instead of showing any consideration, Obama tried to bully Putin. This was the wrong tactic, and it backfired.
At the same time, Russia carried out a sudden check of its military preparedness, apparently keeping all options open. This great country is not looking for trouble, but it does not shrink from it either. Snowden is safe here in Moscow, where nobody can harm him, so he will be able to tell the world about the crimes against humanity committed by the American secret services. And Moscow is a great place to be, especially in summer.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – the official denomination of al-Qaeda in Iraq – does not even pretend to be not responsible for the relentless bombing, political assassination and mostly sectarian horror unleashed across Iraq during Ramadan.
But this is exactly what they’re doing, with relish; throwing arrays of crude bombs made with fertilizer enhanced with ball bearings, manipulating a small army of foreign suicide bombers. Most of these, by the way, crossed the desert from Syria.
July has been a deadly month ; over 600 Iraqis killed up to July 25. May was even worse; at least 963 civilians killed and more than 2,000 injured. And now comes the coup de grâce; the already notorious Abu Ghraib jailbreak.
Abu Ghraib is charged with symbolism – indelibly linked with the American occupier. When the Abu Ghraib scandal erupted in 2004 I was on the road in the US. This is what I wrote at the time; in Texas especially, everybody saw the routine humiliation of Iraqi prisoners as the new normal.
To the Syriamobile!
Fast forward to 2013. The al-Maliki government insists anti-terrorist forces are on top of everything going on in Baghdad. Not really. My matchless source in Baghdad, Asseel Kamal, explains how the commander of the 17th Army Division, General Abdul Naser al-Ghanam, apparently did not resign; he fled, before advising al-Maliki that all hell would break loose. The government was stunned by the veritable horde that staged the double attack – on Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, and Taji prison in the north of the city.
The siege of Abu Ghraib started with nine bombs thrown at the entrance, and dozens of mortars, followed by a battle against the guards; a group of suicide bombers attacked the walls while another group of car bombers attacked the main entrance. And then the critical gambit, when a series of car bombs exploded all along the main road up to the bridge that links the prison to the highway leading to Baghdad, cutting all its connections with the capital.
The numbers game is still a mess; everything from 500 to 1,000 and even 1,400 escapees. Same for the official numbers of dead prisoners (65), dead guards (28), injured prisoners (124) and injured guards (43). Kamal quotes prisoners’ families saying prisoners who did not manage to escape were brutally“interrogated”. And helicopters bombed them mercilessly.
According to Hakim al Zamili, a member of Parliament who’s part of the Committee for Defense and Security, this operation has been prepared for at least two weeks – and plenty of guards were onto it. Kamal reveals that at least 15 men dressed in military garb got inside and “released” - as in escorted to freedom – selected al-Qaeda princelings ; and left the rest to fend for themselves. Better yet : this selected group – which includes a bunch of Jihad International foreign fighters captured by the US military in 2006 and 2007 – has fled to, where else, Syria.
It’s the occupation, stupid
Al-Maliki’s government has closed Iraq’s borders with Syria – to no avail; it’s desert on both sides, it’s powerful Sunni tribal Sheikhs on both sides, it’s ‘family’ on both sides. This proves once again that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – with its tactical alliance with jihadis of the Jabhat al-Nusra kind – is already establishing the embryo of a beyond-borders Islamic Emirate. They even have secured territory in northern Syria.
Most of the best commanders on the ground in Syria are Iraqis – and have battleground experience of fighting the Americans. Their long-term wishful thinking strategy is that once Bashar al-Assad’s government falls, the next will be al-Maliki’s.
These jihadis see that fighting a secular, apostate, “infidel” government in Syria – supported by Iran and Hezbollah – is the equivalent of fighting an “apostate” government in Iraq enjoying close relations with Iran. This – a ghastly sectarian war – was always the plan since the bombing of Samarra’s golden shrine in 2006.
As much as Syrian civilians are caught in the crossfire of the proxy war involving Western powers and Gulf petro-monarchies against the support of Iran (and Russia) to Damascus, Iraqi civilians are now caught in the resurgent civil war. Civilians in Baghdad do fear what these escapees might unleash.
It’s always crucial to go back to the basics. With the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the clueless Bush gang handed out a base to al-Qaeda on a plate.
Yet when the Abu Ghraib scandal broke in 2004, the prisoners were not al-Qaeda, but the Sunni resistance. When the Petraeus surge started in 2007, the plan was to buy the leaders of the Sunni resistance to fight al-Qaeda. The Sunni sheikhs took the money and decided to wait. Al-Qaeda dissolved and regrouped.
Now, with Syria as the new magnet of global jihad – once again a direct consequence of a US power play, via Barack “Assad must go” Obama - al-Qaeda is resurgent on both fronts. Washington has already destroyed the social fabric of Iraq. Now it’s helping to destroy Syria’s. If Abu Ghraib was the new normal in 2004, the jailbreak cannot but be the new new normal of 2013.
Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.
Cold-blooded barbarity reflects US policy. Democracy’s more illusion than reality. Rule of law principles don’t matter. They’re systematically spurned.
Dissent’s increasingly targeted. Freedom’s imperiled. Obama’s ruthless. He exceeds the worst of George Bush. He’s waging war on truth-tellers. He targeted more whistleblowers than all his predecessors combined.
Merrian-Webster calls a police state “a political unit characterized by repressive governmental control of political, economic, and social life usually by an arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially secret police in place of regular operation of administrative and judicial organs of the government according to publicly known legal procedures.”
The Oxford dictionary calls it “a totalitarian state controlled by a political police force that secretly supervises the citizens’ activities.”
America raised the stakes higher. It did so with technological ease. It mass-spies everywhere all the time on everyone. It does so lawlessly. Core constitutional principles are violated. Foreign country statutes are defied.
Washington prioritizes state terrorism. It commits global espionage. It does so on an unprecedented scale. It’s lawless and unprincipled. It targets federal employees exposing wrongdoing. Acting responsibly is criminalized.
Whistleblowers reflect duty above and beyond the call. Legions more like them are necessary. Sunshine’s our best defense. Washington demands darkness.
US-style realpolitik reflects New World Order harshness. Edward Snowden’s more than an American hero. His revelations help everyone.
He fled security and prosperity for safety. He took temporary refuge in Hong Kong. On Sunday, he flew to Moscow.
Ecuador’s Russian ambassador Patricio Chavez and other embassy staff met him. They did so at Sheremetyevo Airport. He requested asylum.
Russia Today said Ecuador granted him refugee status. Expect he’ll get asylum unless he has an unannounced destination in mind.
Perhaps he’s granted safe haven elsewhere. Maybe he did it secretly. Given the enormous risks he faces, it makes sense to do so. He needs all the protections he can get.
Julian Assange said he’s “in a safe place and his spirits are high. Due to the bellicose threats coming from the US administration, we cannot go into further detail at this time.”
“Unfortunately we cannot reveal what country he is in at this time.” Perhaps he’s in Russia. Maybe elsewhere. He’s wise to keep his whereabouts a closely-held secret.
Washington revoked his passport. He’s wrongfully charged under Espionage Act provisions. The White House asked Russia to detain him. It wants him extradited. Moscow responded nyet diplomatically. It did so by not complying.
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden lied saying:
Snowden’s disclosures “suggest that his true motive throughout has been to injure the national security of the US, not to advance internet freedom and free speech.”
She expressed disappointment with Hong Kong authorities. They let him leave despite Washington’s “request to arrest him for purposes of his extradition under the US-Hong Kong Surrender Agreement.”
“We have registered our strong objections to the authorities in Hong Kong as well as to the Chinese government through diplomatic channels and noted that such behavior is detrimental to US-Hong Kong and US-China bilateral relations.”
Expect little sympathy in return. America’s waging political and cyberwar on China. Lawless spying and hacking were revealed. Beijing and Hong Kong aren’t pleased.
Xinhua is China’s official press agency. It called ongoing US practices “troubling.” America’s “the biggest villain in our age,” it said.
Hayden said Moscow’s decision to let Snowden travel to Russia further complicates bilateral relations.
Chuck Shumer (D. NY) calls himself Israel’s Senate “guardian.” Others call him US senator from AIPAC.
On CNN’s State of the Nation, he said:
“The bottom line is very simple: allies are supposed to treat each other in decent ways, and Putin always seems almost eager to put a finger in the eye of the United States, whether it is Syria, Iran and now of course with Snowden.”
He’s “aiding and abetting Snowden’s escape.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R. SC) told Fox News Sunday:
“I don’t think he’s a hero. I believe he hurt or nation. He compromised our national security program designed to find out what terrorists were up to.”
“So, the freedom trail is not exactly China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela. So, I hope we’ll chase him to the ends of the earth, bring him to justice and let the Russians know there will be consequences if they harbor this guy.”
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told CBS Face the Nation she doesn’t believe Snowden’s a whistleblower.
“Whatever his motives are – and I take him at face value – he could have stayed and faced the music. I don’t think running is a noble thought,” she said.
Washington wants him arrested wherever he goes. It asked Ecuador not to admit him. It wants him extradited. It wants him silenced. It wants him brutalized like Bradley Manning.
It wants other potential whistleblowers warned. Hopefully they’re emboldened to tell all. It’s more than ever a national imperative.
On Monday, an unnamed senior administration official said:
“Mr. Snowden’s claim that he is focused on supporting transparency, freedom of the press and protection of individual rights and democracy is belied by the protectors he has potentially chosen: China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador.”
“His failure to criticize these regimes suggests that his true motive throughout has been to injure the national security of the US, not to advance internet freedom and free speech.”
On Monday, Russia Today said Snowden left Moscow at 14:04 local time (11:04 GMT). He’s traveling on Aeroflot flight SU 150. He’ll fly through US air space briefly en route to Havana.
A follow-up report said he wasn’t seen on board. Two seats (17A and C) were reserved in his name. RT correspondent Egor Pishunov’s aboard.
“(S)omething out of the ordinary is definitely happening,” he said. An unnamed airport security team member said Snowden remains in Sheremetyevo’s transit zone.
What’s ongoing isn’t clear. Perhaps SU 150 is clever deception. Maybe Snowden’s airborne on an unannounced flight. Perhaps he will be later. Maybe he arrived secretly at an undisclosed destination.
Given Washington’s intensive targeting, traveling secretly makes sense. Snowden’s safety demands extreme precautions. He’s not entirely safe anywhere.
America governs lawlessly. CIA hitmen operate everywhere. An unnamed State Department official said:
“The United States has been in touch via diplomatic and law enforcement channels with countries in the Western Hemisphere through which Snowden might transit or that could serve as final destinations.”
“The US is advising these governments that Snowden is wanted on felony charges, and as such should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the United States.”
Washington’s going to extraordinary lengths to get him. Jean le Carre couldn’t have written a more riveting espionage thriller. He’s 81. Perhaps he’ll do one on Snowden.
His 1963 novel titled “The Spy Who Came In from the Cold” remains his best know work. It was an international best-seller.
Snowden’s no spy. The Whistleblower Who Came In from the Cold might be a suitable title. Sub-plots could include others doing the same thing. Le Carre might have another winner.
Spanish jurist Baltasar Garzon advises WikiLeaks. In 1998, he indicted Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.
He said “what is being done to Mr. Snowden and to Mr. Julian Assange – for making or facilitating disclosures in the public interest – is an assault against the people.”
Snowden’s not safe anywhere. Disappearing entirely won’t help. When America’s long arm goes all out, targets remain vulnerable.
Assassins “R” Us reflect official US policy. Abductions and disappearances are commonplace. Capture and eliminate are prioritized. Covert operatives are experts at finding people.
Techniques include bribing, pressuring, threatening, and otherwise intimidating targeted officials to comply. America can exert enormous coercion.
It’s hard resisting strong-armed tactics. They’ll be exerted full-force against Snowden. He knows and said so.
“I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end,” he said.
“There’s no saving me. I do not expect to see home again.”
Some things matter most, he added.
“The great fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. (Ahead they’ll be) tyranny.”
That and harmful effects on his family worry him most. “That’s what keeps me up at night,” he said.
It should give everyone sleepless nights!
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Protests in Brazil indicate what goes way, way beyond a cheap bus fare.
When, in late 2010, Dilma Rousseff was elected President after eight years of the impossibly popular Lula, a national narrative was already ingrained, stressing that Brazil was not the “country of the future” anymore; the future had arrived, and this was a global power in the making.
This was a country on overdrive – from securing the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics to a more imposing role as part of the BRICS group of emerging powers.
Not unlike China, Brazil was breathlessly exploiting natural resources – from its hinterland to parts of Africa – while betting heavily on large agribusiness mostly supplying, you guess it, China.
But above all Brazil fascinated the world by incarnating this political UFO; a benign, inclusive giant, on top of it benefitting from a lavish accumulation of soft power (music, football, beautiful beaches, beautiful women, endless partying).
The country was finally enjoying the benefits of a quarter of a century of participative democracy – and self-satisfied that for the past ten years Lula’s extensive social inclusion policies had lifted arguably 40 million Brazilians to middle class status. Racial discrimination at least had been tackled, with instances of the Brazilian version of affirmative action.
Yet this breakneck capitalist dream masked serious cracks. Locally there may be euphoria for becoming the sixth or seventh world economy, but still social exclusion was far from gone. Brazil remained one the most (deadly) unequal nations in the world, peppered with retrograde landowning oligarchies and some of the most rapacious, arrogant and ignorant elites on the planet – inevitable by-products of ghastly Portuguese colonialism.
Students take part in a demonstration at Praca da Se, in Sao Paulo, Brazil on June 18, 2013 (AFP Photo / Miguel Schincariol)
And then, once again, corruption raised its Hydra-like head. Here’s a first parallel with Turkey. In Brazil as in Turkey, participative democracy was co-opted, ignored or forcefully diluted among an orgy of “mega-projects” generating dubious profits for a select few. In Turkey it revolves around the ruling party AKP’s collusion with business interests in the “redevelopment” of Istanbul; in Brazil around public funds for the hosting of the World Cup and the Olympics.
The new capitalist dream could not mask that the quality of life in Brazil’s big cities seemed to be on a downward spiral; and that racism – especially in the police – never went away while the demonization of peasant and Native Brazilian leaders was rampant; after all they were obstructing the way of powerful agribusiness interests and the “mega-projects” craze.
What can a poor boy do
There’s no Turkey Spring – as there’s no Brazilian Spring. This isn’t Tunisia and Egypt. Both Turkey and Brazil are democracies – although Prime Minister Erdogan has clearly embarked on a polarizing strategy and an authoritarian drive. What links Turkey and Brazil is that irreversible pent-up resentment against institutional politics (and corruption) may be catalyzed by a relatively minor event.
In Turkey it was the destruction of Gezi park; in Brazil the ten-cent hike in public bus fares was the proverbial straw that broke the (white) elephant’s back. In both cases the institutional response was tear gas and rubber bullets. In Turkey the popular backlash spread to a few cities. In Brazil it went nationwide.
This goes way, way beyond a cheap bus ride – although the public transport scene in Brazil’s big cities would star in Dante’s ninth circle of hell. A manual worker, a student, a maid usually spend up to four hours a day back-and-forth in appalling conditions. And these are private transport rackets controlled by a small group of businessmen embedded with local politicians, who they obviously own.
Students protest in Sao Paulo, Brazil on June 18, 2013 (AFP Photo / Daniel Guimaraes)
Arguably the nationwide, mostly peaceful protests have scored a victory – as nine cities have decided to cancel the bus fare hike. But that’s just the beginning.
The mantra is true; Brazilians pay developed world taxes and in return get sub-Saharan Africa quality of service (no offense to Africa). The notion of “value for money” is non-existent. It gets even worse as the economic miracle is over. That magical “growth” was less than 1% in 2012, and only 0.6% in the first quarter of 2013. The immensely bloated state bureaucracy, the immensely appalling public infrastructure, virtually no investment in education as teachers barely get paid $300 a month, non-stop political corruption scandals, not to mention as many homicides a year as narco-purgatory Mexico – none of this is going away by magic.
Football passion apart – and this is a nation where everyone is either an expert footballer or an experienced coach – the vast majority of the population is very much aware the current Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup are monster FIFA rackets. As a columnist for the Brazilian arm of ESPN has coined it, “the Cup is theirs, but we pay the bills.”
Public opinion is very much aware the Feds played hardball to get the “mega-events” to Brazil and then promised rivers of “social” benefits in terms of services and urban development. None of that happened. Thus the collective feeling that “we’ve been robbed” – all over again, as anyone with a digital made in China calculator can compare this multi-billion dollar orgy of public funds for FIFA with pathetically little investment in health, education, transportation and social welfare. A banner in the Sao Paulo protests said it all;“Your son is ill? Take him to the arena.”
A demonstrator holds a Brazilian national flag during a protest turned violent, in downtown Rio de Janeiro on June 17, 2013 (AFP Photo / Christophe Simon)
Remember “Standing Man”
The neo-liberal gospel preached by the Washington consensus only values economic “growth” measured in GDP numbers. This is immensely misleading; it does not take into account everything from rising expectations for more participative democracy to abysmal inequality levels, as well as the despair of those trying to just survive (as in the orgy of expanded credit in Brazil leaving people to pay annual interest rates of over 200% on their credit cards).
So it takes a few uprooted trees in Istanbul and a more expensive shitty bus ride in Sao Paulo to hurl citizens of the “emerging markets” into the streets. No wonder the Brazilian protests left politicians – and “analysts” - perplexed and speechless. After all, once again this was people power – fueled by social media – against the 1%, not that dissimilar from protests in Spain, Portugal and Greece.
Unlike Erdogan in Turkey – who branded Twitter “a menace” and wants to criminalize social networking – to her credit Rousseff seems to have listened to the digital (and street) noise, saying on Tuesday that Brazil “woke up stronger” because of the protests.
The Brazilian protests are horizontal. Non-partisan; beyond party politics. No clear leaders. It’s a sort of Occupy Brazil – with a cross-section of high-school and college students, poor workers who struggle to pay their bus fare, vast swathes of the tax-swamped middle class who cannot afford private health insurance, even homeless people, who after all already live in the streets. Essentially, they want more democracy, less corruption, and to be respected as citizens, getting at least some value for their money in terms of public services.
The die is cast. Once again, it’s people power vs. institutional politics. Remember “Standing Man” in Taksim Square. The time to take a stand is now.
I hate to do this, but I feel obligated to share, as the story unfolds, my creeping concern that the writer Naomi Wolf is not whom she purports to be, and that her motive in writing an article on her public Facebook page speculating about whether National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden might actually be still working for the NSA, could be to support the government’s effort to destroy him.
After all, with Snowden under vicious attack by both the government and the corporate media, being wrongly accused of treason, or portrayed as a drop-out slacker, a narcissist, a loser hoping to gain fame and even a “cross-dressing” weirdo, what defender of liberty would pile on with publication of a work of absolutely fact-free speculation as to whether he might also be a kind of “double agent” put out there by the NSA in order to discourage real potential whistleblowers from even considering leaking information about government spying on Americans.
Because that is exactly what Wolf has done on her website  (the first clause at the opening of this article is a direct quote from the lead in Wolf’s Facebook piece, but with her name substituted for Snowden’s).
What basis does she offer for her wild-eyed speculation that Snowden is perhaps “not who he purports to be”?
Well, first of all she notes darkly that US spy agencies “create false identities, build fake companies, influence real media with fake stories, create distractions or demonizations in the local news that advance US policies, bug (technologically) and harass the opposition, disrupt and infiltrate the meetings and communications of factions that the US does not wish to see in power.” This, she says, touting her own now rather dated 2007 book The End of America, is “something you can’t not see if you spend time around people who are senior in both the political establishment and the intelligence and state department establishments. You also can’t avoid seeing it if you interview principled defectors from those systems, as I have done…”
Then, after having assuring us of how well-connected she is, she raises what she calls “red flags” about Snowden:
Who’s acting in the interest of the NSA: Naomi Wolf or Edward Snowden?
* “I was concerned about the way Snowden conveys his message. He is not struggling for words, or thinking hard, as even bright, articulate whistleblowers under stress will do. Rather he appears to be transmitting whole paragraphs smoothly, without stumbling. To me this reads as someone who has learned his talking points — again the way that political campaigns train surrogates to transmit talking points.” (Um, Naomi, you know, don’t you, that he was videotaped for that by a filmmaker, and there were, no doubt, multiple takes and edits to allow him to get it right?)
* “He keeps saying things like, ‘If you are a journalist and they think you are the transmission point of this info, they will certainly kill you.’ Or: ‘I fully expect to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act.’ He also keeps stressing what he will lose: his $200,000 salary, his girlfriend, his house in Hawaii. These are the kinds of messages that the police state would LIKE journalists to take away.” In case we miss the point, she adds, implying rather strongly that she is concluding Snowden is a fake, “A real whistleblower also does not put out potential legal penalties as options, and almost always by this point has a lawyer by his/her side who would PROHIBIT him/her from saying, ‘come get me under the Espionage Act.’ Finally in my experience, real whistleblowers are completely focused on their act of public service and trying to manage the jeopardy to themselves and their loved ones; they don’t tend ever to call attention to their own self-sacrifice.”
* “It is actually in the Police State’s interest to let everyone know that everything you write or say everywhere is being surveilled, and that awful things happen to people who challenge this. Which is why I am not surprised that now he is on UK no-fly lists – I assume the end of this story is that we will all have a lesson in terrible things that happen to whistleblowers.” She adds, in a further indictment of Snowden, “That could be because he is a real guy who gets in trouble; but it would be as useful to the police state if he is a fake guy who gets in ‘trouble.’”
* She says he talks incessantly about the beautiful “pole-dancer” girlfriend he abandoned (actually he did that for her safety, Naomi), implying his repetition process might be so that the media have a justification to keep showing her sexy photo (as though our prurient media needs a justification to do such a thing).
* The media keep saying he is in a “safe house” in Hong Kong, which according to Wolf cannot exist in the former British colony, now a part of China, “Unless you are with the one organization that can still get off the surveillance grid, because that org created it.”
* He’s not surrounded by an army of attorneys the way Wikileaks’ Julian Assange was when he traveled (and by the way, I recall that for a long time, after Wikileaks ran the Bradley Manning documents, including the horrific “Collateral Damage” war crime video, there were conspiracy theorists out there claiming baselessly that he was actually probably a Mossad asset — this on the basis that he had not been sufficiently leaking damaging information about Israel’s actions against Palestinians).
That’s it, folks! All sheer wild speculation about Snowden, with not even one shred of actual evidence against him to suggest he’s anything but what he says he is: a young man who was hired to do some really dirty work spying on Americans en masse, who decided that what was happening was the creation of a totalitarian system, and who had the courage of, instead of walking away from it, putting his life in jeopardy by publicly blowing the whistle.
I have nothing against trying to uncover conspiracies, particularly those orchestrated by a government like our own which we know has manufactured from whole cloth faked evidence to justify a war in Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people, even to the point of torturing captives to get them to make up tales that would justify that fake evidence. But when someone with Wolf’s reputation on the left sinks to this level of baseless and libelous accusations against a brave person who is under attack by that government, it cannot be allowed to pass.
Of course, I don’t really think that Wolf is acting as an agent for the government (I could only speculate about that, and I won’t). And if she were just thinking these idle thoughts, and maybe raising them in a playful discussion at home with a few friends over dinner, I would see nothing wrong in the exercise. But as a highly media-savvy public person, she’s publishing them intentionally where they will be widely circulated: on her publicly accessible Facebook page. I have to conclude she has allowed her instinct for self-promotion and grandstanding in this case to let her do something truly treacherous and unconscionable: baselessly defaming and attacking the credibility of a brave whistleblower who is under officially orchestrated attack.
As a long-time investigative reporter, I also dispute Wolf’s self-serving claim that her own experience in dealing with whistleblowers shows them to be uniformly disorganized and inarticulate. In my experience, some are very disorganized and hard to follow because of their focus on the trees in their personal forest, but some whistleblowers are intensely organized and know exactly what they want to tell you as a journalist. They are also apt, organized or not, contrary to what Wolf says, to highlight the danger they are in, and that they may be putting the reporter in. Sometimes this may be simply to make sure you are interested and recognize the seriousness of what they have to say, and sometimes it is out of genuine fear for themselves and concern for the journalist’s safety, and perhaps also to make sure you fully understand what you’re getting into and that you will not cave and reveal their identity the moment you are put under pressure yourself.
Wolf, who always makes a point of mentioning she’s a Yale grad and a Rhodes Scholar who studied at Oxford, should take care in assuming that someone with only a high school diploma speaking in whole sentences or paragraphs is probably reciting “talking points” from a script. Her assumption reeks of class-based stereotyping. I have met car mechanics, who besides working miracles on my old cars, can speak in multiple paragraphs about politics, often with more wisdom and insight than most of the ivy-league pundits on the tube.
As for Wolf’s claim of there being “no safe houses” in Hong Kong, I just have to laugh. Having lived in Hong Kong for five years, I can assure her that there are myriad urban warrens all over Hong Kong where one could hide for decades undetected, as well as vast stretches of tropical wilderness in the New Territories where people can become lost for days, even with professional rescue teams looking for them. Wolf should stick to things she has actual knowledge about (maybe vaginas, judging by the name of her latest book?), instead of trashing good people on the basis of ignorant speculation and pretend savvy.
Unless and until someone comes up with a single hard fact seriously suggesting that Snowden is a fake, this kind of fantasizing should halt. Wolf should apologize for her self-aggrandizing tripe and make a generous donation from her book sales to the Snowden defense fund  – unless of course she has evidence that the Progressive Change Campaign Committee is an NSA or CIA front group.
DAVE LINDORFF, fluent and literate in Chinese, spent five years living in Hong Kong as a correspondent for Business Week, and two years living and working in China. He did not go to an Ivy undergraduate school, but did attend the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Over the years in his profession he has adhered to fundamental principles of journalism, like basing articles on facts, on being fair, and on following that old Joseph Pulitzer axiom the good journalism means “afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted.”
Source URL: http://www.thiscantbehappening.net/node/1806
Edward Joseph Snowden follows a noble tradition. Others before him established it. Daniel Ellsberg called his NSA leak the most important in US history. More on him below.
Expressions of patriotism can reflect good or ill. Samuel Johnson said it’s the last refuge of a scoundrel. Thomas Paine called dissent its highest form. So did Howard Zinn.
According to Machiavelli:
“When the safety of one’s country wholly depends on the decision to be taken, no attention should be paid either to justice or injustice, to kindness or cruelty, or to its being praiseworthy or ignominious.”
“In our day the feeling of patriotism is an unnatural, irrational, and harmful feeling, and a cause of a great part of the ills from which mankind is suffering; and consequently, this feeling should not be cultivated, as is now being done, but should, on the contrary, be suppressed and eradicated by all means available to rational men.”
Philosophy Professor Stephen Nathanson believes patriotism involves:
special affection for one’s own country;
a sense of personal identification with the country;
special concern for the well-being of the country; and
willingness to sacrifice to promote the country’s good.
Socrates once said:
“Patriotism does not require one to agree with everything that his country does, and would actually promote analytical questioning in a quest to make the country the best it possibly can be.”
The best involves strict adherence to the highest legal, ethical and moral standards. Upholding universal civil and human rights is fundamental. So is government of, by and for everyone equitably. Openness, accountability and candor can’t be compromised.
When governments ill-serve, exposing wrongdoing is vital. It takes courage to do so. It involves sacrificing for the greater good. It includes risking personal harm and welfare. It means doing what’s right because it matters. It reflects patriotism’s highest form.
Daniel Ellsberg, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange are best known. So is Mordechai Vanunu. More on him below. Few remember Peter Buxtun. He’s a former US Public Health Service employee.
He exposed the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. About 200 Black men were infected. It was done to watch their progression. They were left to die untreated. Whistleblowing stopped further harm.
A. Ernest Fitzgerald held senior government positions. In 1368, he exposed a $2.3 billion Lockheed C-5 cost overrun. At issue was fraud and grand theft. Nixon told aides to “get rid of that son of a bitch.”
Defense Secretary Melvin Laird fired him. Fitzgerald was a driving force for whistleblower protections. He fought for decades against fraud, waste and abuse. He helped get the 1378 Civil Reform Act and 1389 Whistleblower Protection Act enacted.
Gregory Minor, Richard Hubbard and Dale Bridenbaugh are called the GE three. They revealed nuclear safety concerns. So did Arnold Gundersen, David Lochbaum and others. At issue then and now is public safety over profits.
Mordechai Vanunu was an Israeli nuclear technician. He exposed Israel’s secret nuclear weapons program. He paid dearly for doing so.
He was charged with espionage and treason. In 1386/87, he was secretly tried and sentenced. He was imprisoned for 18 years. He was confined in brutalizing isolation. He’s been harassed and deprived of most rights since.
Daniel Ellsberg called him “the preeminent hero of the nuclear era.” In July 2007, Amnesty International (AI) named him “a prisoner of conscience.” He received multiple Nobel Peace Prize nominations.
Vanunu said “I am neither a traitor nor a spy. I only wanted the world to know what was happening.” People have every right to know.
Mark Whitacre was an Archer Daniels Midland senior executive. He exposed price-fixing, wire and tax fraud, as well as money laundering.
He had his own cross to bear. He was prosecuted and imprisoned. He lost his whistleblower immunity. After eight and a half years, he was released on good behavior.
Jeffrey Wigand was Brown & Williamson’s research and development vice president. He went public on 60 Minutes. He exposed deceptive company practices. He was fired for doing so.
B & W enhanced cigarette nicotine content. It was done without public knowledge. At issue was increasing addiction. Wigand told all. He received death threats for doing so. He now lectures worldwide and consults on tobacco control policies.
Gary Webb was an award-winning American journalist. His investigative work exposed CIA involvement in drugs trafficking. His book “Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion” told what he knew.
New York Times, Washington Post, and other media scoundrels assailed him. They did so wrongfully and viciously. Then and now they support CIA crimes. They abhor truth and full disclosure. They ruined Webb’s career. They did so maliciously.
In December 2004, Webb was found dead at home. He died of two gunshot wounds to the head. Reports called it suicide. Critics believe otherwise. Two wounds suggest murder. Doing the right thing involves great risks. Webb paid with his life.
Swiss lawyer Marc Hodler was International Ski Federation president and International Olympic Committee member.
In 1398, he exposed 2002 Salt Lake City winter games bid-rigging. Olympism profiteering, exploitation and corruption is longstanding.
Deceptive hyperbole promotes good will, open competition, and fair play. Olympism’s dark side reflects marginalizing poor and other disenfranchised groups, exploiting athletes and communities, as well as sticking taxpayers with the bill for profit.
Harry Markopolos exposed Bernie Madoff’s hedge fund operations. He called them fraudulent. He obtained information firsthand. He got them from fund-of-fund Madoff investors and heads of Wall Street equity derivative trading desks.
He accused Madoff of operating “the world’s largest Ponzi scheme.” Large perhaps but not the largest.
Wall Street firms make money the old fashioned way. They steal it. They do so through fraud, grand theft, market manipulation and front-running. They scam investors unaccountably. They bribe corrupt political officials. In return, they turn a blind eye.
Compared to major Wall Street crooks, Madoff was small-time. Others mattering most control America’s money. They manipulate it fraudulently for profit.
Coleen Rowley’s a former FBI agent. She documented pre-9/11 Agency failures. She addressed them to Director Robert Mueller. She explained in Senate Judiciary Committee testimony. She now writes and lectures on ethical decision-making, civil liberty concerns, and effective investigative practices.
Joseph Wilson’s a former US ambassador. He exposed Bush administration lies. He headlined a New York Times op-ed “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.”
“Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs to justify an invasion of Iraq,” he asked?
“Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.”
Bush administration officials accused Wilson of twisting the truth. So did Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and other scoundrel media editors. They front for power. Wilson explained what people have a right to know. He was unjustifiably pilloried for doing so.
Wendell Potter was a senior CIGNA insurance company executive. He explained how heathcare insurers scam policyholders. They shift costs to consumers, offer inadequate or unaffordable access, and force Americans to pay higher deductibles for less coverage.
Sibel Edmonds is a former FBI translator. She founded the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC). She did so to aid “national security whistleblowers through a variety of methods.”
The ACLU called her “the most gagged person in the history of the United States.” She knows firsthand the consequences of secret, unaccountable government operations.
Her memoir is titled “Classified Woman: the Sibel Edmonds Story.”
Previous articles discussed Mark Klein. He’s a former AT&T employee turned whistleblower. He revealed blueprints and photographs of NSA’s secret room inside the company’s San Francisco facility. It permits spying on AT&T customers.
Karen Kwiatkowski’s a retired US Air Force lieutenant colonel. She exposed Defense Department misinformation and lies. She discussed how doing so drove America to war.
Ann Wright’s a former US Army colonel/State Department official. In 1397, she won an agency award for heroism.
She’s more anti-war/human rights activist/person of conscience than whistleblower. In 2003, she resigned from government service. She did so in protest against war on Iraq.
Edward Joseph Snowden continues a noble tradition. On June 8, London’s Guardian headlined ”Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower: ‘I do not expect to see home again.’ ”
He leaked information to The Guardian and Washington Post. He exposed unconstitutional NSA spying. He served as an undercover intelligence employee.
Asked why he turned whistleblower, he said:
“The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting.”
“If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards.”
“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things.”
“I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
NSA spies globally, he said. Claims about only doing it abroad don’t wash. “We collect more digital communications from America than we do from the Russians,” he said.
Previous articles said NSA works with all major US telecom companies. They do so with nine or more major online ones. They spy on virtually all Americans.
They target everyone they want to globally. NSA capabilities are “horrifying,” said Snowden. “You are not even aware of what is possible.”
“We can plant bugs in machines. Once you go on the network, I can identify (it). You will never be safe whatever protections you put in place.”
Asked what he thought might happen to him, he said “Nothing good.”
He left America. He moved to Hong Kong. He fled for his safety. He knows he can’t hide. If US authorities want him targeted, they’ll act no-holds-barred.
If they want him arrested, they’ll find him. If they want him disappeared, imprisoned and tortured, he’s defenseless to stop them. It they want him dead, they’ll murder him. Rogue states operate that way. America’s by far the worst.
DNI head James Clapper accused Snowden of “violat(ing) a sacred trust for this countryâ¤|.I hope we’re able to track whoever is doing this,” he said.
These type comments expose America’s dark side. So does unconstitutional NSA spying and much more. Washington flagrantly violates fundamental rule of law principles. It does so ruthlessly. At stake is humanity’s survival.
Snowden fears recrimination against his family, friends and partner. He’ll “have to live with that for the rest of (his) life,” he said.
“I am not going to be able to communicate with them. (US authorities) will act aggressively against anyone who has known me. That keeps me up at night.”
Asked what leaked NSA documents reveal, he said:
“That the NSA routinely lies in response to congressional inquiries about the scope of surveillance in America.”
America “hacks everyone everywhere.” he said. “(W)e are in almost every country in the world.”
“Everyone, everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten – and they’re talking about it.”
On June 9, London Guardian editors headlined ”Edward Snowden: more conscientious objector than common thief,” saying:
What’s next is certain. US authorities “will pursue Snowden to the ends of the earth.” America’s “legal and diplomatic machinery is probably unstoppable.”
Congress should eagerly want to hear what Snowden has to say, said Guardian editors. They should “test the truth of what he is saying.”
They know full well. Many or perhaps most congressional members are fully briefed on what goes on. They’re condone it. So do administration and judicial officials.
Obama could stop it with a stroke of his pen. So can congressional lawmakers. Supreme Court justices could uphold the law.
Lawlessness persists. Moral cowardice pervades Washington. America’s dark side threatens everyone. There’s no place to hide.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
“I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant, to a federal judge or even the President, if I had a personal e-mail,” Edward Snowden told the Guardian. Snowden is twenty-nine; he had worked in a technical capacity for the C.I.A. and then, by way of his employer, Booz Allen Hamilton, as a contractor for the N.S.A. He is the reason our country has, in the last week, been having a conversation on privacy and the limits of domestic surveillance. That was overdue, and one wishes it had been prompted by self-examination on the part of the Obama Administration or real oversight by Congress. But both failed, and it came in the form of Snowden handing highly classified documents—a lot of them—to journalists.
He did so, he said, because he had seen “abuses”—the framework for an “architecture of oppression”—and had come to “realize that these things have to be decided by the public, not someone who is hired by the government.” Snowden, of course, is someone hired by the government, and will be asked why he thought the decision to expose secrets was his. He offered, in his interview, several answers: one is that the normal processes were broken. The second was that he is willing to come out in the open himself. Saturday night, the N.S.A. asked for a criminal investigation into the leaks. As we learn more about him, in the next days, those answers are worth evaluating seriously.
Snowden is now holed up in Hong Kong, in a hotel room where, according to the Guardian, he stuffs pillows against the doors and “puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords.” The interview has the bylines of Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill, and Laura Poitras. Poitras was also a co-author, with Barton Gellman, of a report in the Washington Post based on documents Snowden provided; and Gellman and Aaron Blake posted their own piece with Snowden later Sunday. [Update: Sunday night, Gellman posted a piece on his interactions with Snowden, who had used the code name Verax.]
So far, the leaks have revealed that the N.S.A. is collecting records from Verizon Business (and, it emerged, from any number of other companies) for every phone call placed in the United States; that, with a program called Prism and some degree of coöperation from technology companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Apple, it is looking at the private data of both foreigners it targeted and—“incidentally”—Americans a degree or even two removed from them; that another program, called Boundless Informant, processed billions of pieces of domestic data each month, and many times that from abroad. We also learned that James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, flat-out lied to the Senate when he said that the N.S.A. did not “wittingly” collect any sort of data on millions of Americans. And we were reminded of how disappointing President Obama can be. These were all things the public deserved to know.
Snowden never actually questions the good will of the people he worked with at the N.S.A.; he grants them (as we might grant Obama) their belief that they are working in the interests of the United States—that there is no ideology of oppression. Each step is modest, and does start with the goal of looking for foreign threats. But they collect data wherever and however they can. All of the talk about not specifically targeting Americans should not be reassuring: “The NSA specifically targets the communications of everyone. It ingests them by default. It collects them in its system and it filters them and analyzes them and it measures them and it stores them for a period of time.”
And why should this bother us? Snowden:
It’s getting to the point, you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody, even by a wrong call, and then they could use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with, and attack you on that basis, to sort of derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.
As he must know, that scrutiny will now be applied to him.
The Guardian reported that Snowden made about two hundred thousand dollars a year and lived in Hawaii, where he had a girlfriend who, he says, didn’t know where he was going or why or when he left for Hong Kong. He had started at the N.S.A. without a high-school diploma, moving along with community-college classes, time in the Army, and technical skill, theGuardian said. (This is somewhat surprising.) In the video, he seems comfortable in his own skin—he will strike some as too at ease, or even pleased. His affect is not that of a haunted informant in the dark corner of a bar. He is the cheeriest major leaker one is likely to come across. That may just accentuate what he is leaving behind by coming forward. (The Guardiansaid that he got tears in his eyes when discussing the effect this all will have on his family.)
And Snowden is self-aware enough to talk, in the interview, about his own privilege, in two distinct senses of the word. One has to do with his privileges on the job:
When you’re in positions of privileged access, like a systems administrator for these sort of intelligence communications agencies, you’re exposed to a lot more information on a broader scale than the average employee. And because of that, you see things that may be disturbing.
The other is social: “You live a privileged life. You’re living in Hawaii, in paradise, you’re making a ton of money. What would it take to make you leave everything behind?” He talked about living “comfortably” but “unfreely.” (The dystopia he seems to be obsessing about is less “1984” than “Brave New World.”)
Again, he portrayed the niceness of the current custodians as one of the dangers. We were protected, he said, only by “policies,” and not by law: “It’s only going to get worse, until eventually there comes a time when policies change,” and “a new leader will be elected, they’ll flip the switch.” He used a phrase that has come up before: “turnkey tyranny.”
Speaking of tyranny after having fled America for a hotel at the edge of China—the logic won’t be entirely self-explanatory. The Guardian asked Snowden why he chose Hong Kong, which is a Special Administrative Region of China, and does have its own way of doing things—“one country, two systems”—but not at all full autonomy. Did he want to defect? He said he didn’t. We aren’t at war with China, he said, so he wasn’t running to “the enemy”; he put value in Hong Kong’s tradition of free speech. He told Gellman that “I intend to ask for asylum from any countries that believe in free speech and oppose the victimization of global privacy.” (Aaron Blake pointed out that Hong Kong does have an extradition treaty with the United States.) That may prove to be a harder position to maintain than he would like. Skyscrapers and bookstores are good signs, but they can be deceptive. (It’s also possible that he just wants to complicate the plot.) He talked about the prospect of being rendered by the C.I.A.—“or they could pay off the Triads.” He was, he told both publications, careful about the documents he chose. Had he set out to harm America, he said, there was worse he could do: “I had access to the full rosters of everyone working at the N.S.A., the entire intelligence community and undercover assets around the world.” He also mentioned the money he could have made selling private or corporate information.
The part about undercover assets—and Snowden’s reasons for mentioning his knowledge—will cause many people to pause, properly so. We recognize those as secrets. How many people with a private contractors’ job and a password have the privilege of knowing the names of our spies? (“I’m just another guy,” he told the Guardian.) Sometimes this is a matter of too much classification, rather than too little: if you make everything secret, people need clearances they shouldn’t have just to do their jobs.
But the records of our private lives—whom we called when, where we got lost or fell in love, and what we wrote in late-night e-mails—are secrets, too; of a different scale, not a different species. The prosecutors and politicians who asked how this man had access to one kind of secret should also ask about the other. What are government’s proper privileges? How we respond to the vast assembly of information on Edward Snowden’s computer, or Bradley Manning’s for that matter, is a test. Do we think that the answer is to collect and collect, classify and classify, and then hunt wildly and angrily when a guy in his twenties walks away with more than he should? Or are we ready to talk about our secrets?
Source: Amy Davidson | The New Yorker
My explanation that the sudden appearance of an unprecedented 400 ton short sale of gold on the COMEX in April was a manipulation designed to protect the dollar from the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy has found acceptance among gold investors and hedge fund managers.
The sale was a naked short. The seller had no gold to sell. COMEX reported having gold only equal to about half of the short sale in its vaults, and not all of that was available for delivery. No one but the Federal Reserve could have placed such an order, and the order came from one of the Fed’s bullion banks, one of the entities “too big to fail.”
Bill Kaye of the Greater Asian Hedge Fund in Hong Kong and Dave Kranzler of Golden Returns Capital have filled in the details of how the manipulation worked. Being sophisticated investors of many years of experience, both Kaye and Kranzler understand that the financial press runs with the authorized story planted to serve the agenda that has been put into play.
Institutional investors who have bullion in their portfolio do not want the expense associated with storing it securely. Instead, they buy into Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) and hold their bullion in the form of a paper claim. The largest, the SPDR Gold Trust or GLD, trades on the New York Stock Exchange. The trustee and custodian is a bankster, and only other banksters are able to turn investments into delivery of physical bullion. Only shares in the amount of 100,000 can be redeemed in gold.
The price of bullion is not set in the physical market where individuals take delivery of bullion purchases. It is set in the paper futures market where short selling can drive down the price even if the demand for physical possession is rising. The paper gold market is also the market in which people speculate and leverage their positions, place stop-loss orders, and are subject to margin calls.
When the enormous naked shorts hit the COMEX, stop-loss orders were triggered adding to the sales, and margin calls forced more sales. Investors who were not in on the manipulation lost a lot of money.
The sales of GLD shares are accumulated by the banksters in 100,000 lots and presented to GLD for redemption in gold acquired at the driven down price.
The short sale is leveraged by the stop-loss triggers and margin calls, and results in a profit for the banksters who placed the short sell order. The banksters then profit again as they sell the released gold into the physical market, especially in Asia, where demand has been stimulated by the sharp drop in bullion price and by the loss of confidence in fiat currency. Asian prices are usually at a higher premium above the spot prices in New York-London.
Some readers have said “don’t bet against the Federal Reserve; the manipulation can go on forever.” But can it? As the ETFs such as GLD are drained of gold, their ability to cover any of their obligations to investors diminishes. In my opinion, these ETFs are like a fractional reserve banking system. The claims on gold exceed the amount of gold in the trusts. When the ETFs are looted of their gold by the banksters, the gold price will explode, as the claims on gold will greatly exceed the supply.
Kranzler reports that the current June futures contracts are 12.5 times the amount of deliverable gold. If more than 8 percent of these trades were to demand delivery, COMEX would default. That such a situation is possible indicates the total failure of federal financial regulation.
What the Federal Reserve has done in order to maintain its short-run policy of protecting the “banks too big too fail” is to make the inevitable reckoning more costly for the US economy.
Another irony is the benefactors of the banksters sale of the gold leeched from the gold ETFs. Asia is the beneficiary, especially India and China. The “get out of gold line” of the US financial press enables China to unload its excess supply of dollars, accumulated from the offshored US economy, into the gold market at a suppressed price of gold.
Kranzler points out that not only does the Fed’s manipulation permit Asia to offload US dollars for gold at low prices, but the obvious lack of confidence in the dollar that the manipulation demonstrates has caused wealthy European families to demand delivery of their gold holdings at bullion banks (the bullion banks are essentially the “banks too big to fail”). Kranzler notes that since January 1, more than 400 tons of gold have been drained from COMEX and gold ETF holdings in order to satisfy world demand for physical possession of bullion.
Again we see that institutions of the US government are acting 100% against the interests of US citizens. Just who does the US government represent?
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
“Wherever private property disappears, man’s liberty is gone. Man is placed completely at the mercy of the state. Wherever private ownership is weakened, man’s liberty is weakened also. There is an essential relationship between liberty and property.” R. J. Rushdoony
The Heritage Foundation provides an excellent summary of property rights. They describe a rating of 100 this way: “Private property is guaranteed by the government. The court system enforces contracts efficiently and quickly. The justice system punishes those who unlawfully confiscate private property. There is no corruption or expropriation.” At 50, “The court system is inefficient and subject to delays. Corruption may be present, and the judiciary may be influenced by other branches of government. Expropriation is possible but rare.” At 0, “Private property is outlawed, and all property belongs to the state. People do not have the right to sue others and do not have access to the courts. Corruption is endemic.
In 1995 world property rights were rated at 56. In 2013 they are rated at 43, a reduction of over 20 percent. (See the graph in the Heritage Link below.)
Though freedom is tending down throughout the world it remains highest in Western nations and lowest in the Third World.
The Heritage link rates the United States of America tenth behind Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Mauritius, and Denmark.
Click here for the Heritage Foundation Property Rights link.
The U. S. Government now owns over 50 percent of the nation’s land and the incremental incursion of United Nation’s Agenda 21 continues to add to the coffer. On Michael Shaw’s “Freedom Advocates”page he writes, “Agenda 21 seeks to transform America while eliminating the middle class. It plans to reach these goals on several fronts: by restructuring agriculture, creating broad wildlife corridors void of human activity, determining where and how people live, controlling human reproduction and human movement, constraining and controlling energy consumption and water use—in short, by eliminating private property.”
“The institution of private property makes possible three things essential to our liberty: It encourages productive activity, allowing us to turn our ideas into actions and to realize the benefits of those actions. It allows us to engage in voluntary trade with others, multiplying the benefits of individual action a thousand-fold. It enables us to safeguard and develop our resources responsibly and to secure peace and prosperity as a result. To appreciate the importance of private property in your own life, you need only to consider the significance of these two facts: Private property represents everything you obtain through productive effort or voluntary trade. Its essence is your right to determine its use”
The right to private property is being eroded in the United States and around the world. World government seeks to exert absolute control; treating people like herds of cattle to be used as labor on the world plantation. Like a bee hive the world will be filled with worker bees whose sole task is to provide an opulent leisure for the ruling class. National pride will give way to a multicultural social order with intermarriages blurring racial identities. Only the Nation of Israel will remain intact. Other nations and races are destined to become worker bees indistinguishable from one another. This is the plan. It is the logic behind the deliberate dumbing down of America and the massive push for multicultural integration. It is the impetus for the destruction of Christianity with its emphasis on the individual. The plan is diabolical, a direct download from Satan himself.
The snake of humanism is very prolific when it invades a society rationality disappears and as humans stray farther and farther from their Creator, foolishness grows with exponential rapidity.
We live with and have accepted an increasing number of social insanities: Our president who may be Constitutionally ineligible has been elected to a second term; our government has enslaved its citizens with a national debt of $16 trillion dollars which amounts to over $50 thousand per citizen; in direct defiance of the natural order we are training women to fight against men in defense of our nation and sanctioning homosexual marriage; the hallowed halls of our educational institutions have accepted the weakening results of multiculturalism as a desirable goal; our citizens have been convinced that relatively weak and militarily insignificant nations in the Arab world are a danger to us; with text book insanity Americans continue to participate in a political system that is progressively enslaving them; and while all this subterfuge goes on our government supports an international court that prosecutes crimes against humanity while they are the biggest perpetrator.
Most Americans harbor a lackadaisical confidence that things will improve. They ignore the world debt crisis and fail to consider that ultimately the lenders will call on the citizens of the United States to pay the debt their government has accumulated. Think of the austerity required for an American family of four to pay off a debt of $200,000.00. That figure is quickly rising as our politicians continue to use the public credit card. The debtor is a slave to the lender and the United States of America is a plantation populated by slaves whose willful ignorance allows them to go about their daily tasks as if all were well.
The One True God is at odds with the new world order; it seeks to tyrannize us while He seeks to free us through obedience to His Commandments. When God and His Law are forsaken despotism is inevitable. We were not created to govern ourselves and since we have failed to encode this truth we are experiencing the results of our failure.
Partisan politics warned us about the dictatorial nature of the Obama Administration but the erstwhile Bush cabal was equally malignant. Changing political partoes is useless. We have long ago lost control of our government and our opinions no longer matter. Congress persons and senators vote the will of the money powers and the money powers reward them with re-election.
In Boston and Watertown, Massachusetts local, state, and federal authorities deployed a frightening array of coordinated force to apprehend two young men they described as terrorists. Acting as judge and jury they violated the legal rights of the suspects and encroached on property rights by invading homes and restricting the movement of their occupants. The entire operation resembled aiming a howitzer at a house fly.
The citizens of the United States of America have been put on notice that neither they nor their properties can claim protections from the unrestrained power of those that rule them.
Several times I have written that Americans need to repent from theirs and their father’s wicked ways. This admonition has fallen on deaf ears and some have advised me that I should stop writing about it because it will never happen.
In a recent email from American Vision Dr. Joel McDurmon wrote that “a corrupt government is the product of a corrupt people”. He quoted H. L. Mencken, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what They want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” and went on to contend that God often punishes a wicked populace by exposing them to their own sins. “Thus do the politically deluded live in a denial which dismisses even God’s Word in favor of the assertion of human wisdom. So often do men shelter their pet political beliefs from even divine criticism. So often do men deny God’s Word to advance their own desires. So often do men rest on false assurances built on their own godless dreams. And just as often do societies weather and decay from the blights of human vanity.” Read here.
America and its people have supported illegal aggression and encouraged murderous wars. We have pride fully maintained our national superiority and encouraged the use of weapons of mass destruction. We have supported our government in the role of a deity and now, since we have granted it that role, it has begun reflecting it in action. We have winked at sin, dallied in its fringes, and taken an occasional bath. Dishonest measurements have been accepted for decades; our buildings are constructed with dishonest two-by-fours that are actually only one and a half by three and three quarters. Now even our Pound Cakes weigh only fourteen ounces. Dishonesty has permeated our culture! Our media uses lies, gross omissions, and misrepresentations in reporting the news and our government regularly distorts facts and figures. While all this defiance of God continues our churches disregard their proper function by seeking peace and respectability. Abortion is a horrendous sin but it is only one sin; our cancerous pride covers scores of others.
One of my nieces is married to a lawyer. He employs a logical mind that makes conversation interesting. He is a Democrat who supports Obama and believes he is doing a reasonably good job. His approach to life is pragmatic, he considers himself moral, and understands that there is room for disagreement. We did not set parameters for our talk but I believe he would agree with Democrat Harry Reid that government is inherently good and with Libertarian Jacob Hornberger that it should be constrained by natural law.
Natural law alone would never have created the freedom and order the United States of America has enjoyed. It was Christianity and the Laws God gave to Moses that buttressed a secular government and made our nation great. Though not always pronounced it was almost universally supported even by many whose personal beliefs were different. Pragmatism is a pagan procedure that allows compromise with evil and the end to justify the means. Freedom is always endangered by pragmatism.
Because we are no longer a righteous nation we are quickly losing our freedom. The longer we linger in secular humanism the greater the constraints. Private property was flagrantly invaded in Watertown, Massachusetts. When tyrants are successful in exercising inordinate power they will continue to do so.
We no longer have private property in America. The internet is devoid of privacy with everything subject to the prying eyes and ears of big brother. Private homes are no longer sanctuaries but can now be invaded by heavily armed, jack booted government troops who can kill with impunity. Public safety trumps individual rights leaving citizens without privacy or even the right to occupy of their own property.
Life is no longer restrained by absolutes. Power prevails and the full force of the United States military can be used to enforce the whims of those that wield it.
When we forsake God’s Law we subject ourselves to the whims of human power!
All over the United States we are witnessing unprecedented shortages of ammunition, physical gold and physical silver. Recent events have helped fuel a “buying frenzy” that threatens to spiral out of control. Gun shops all over the nation are reporting that they have never seen it this bad, and in many cases any ammo that they are able to get is being sold even before it hits the shelves. The ammo shortage has already become so severe that police departments all over America are saying that they are being told that it is going to take six months to a year to get their orders. In fact, many police departments have begun to trade and barter with one another to get the ammo that they need. Meanwhile, the takedown of paper gold and paper silver has unleashed an avalanche of “panic buying” of physical gold and physical silver all over the planet. In the United States, some dealers are charging premiums of more than 25 percent over the spot price for gold and silver and they are getting it. People are paying these prices even though they are being told that delivery will not happen for a month or two in many cases. Some dealers are feverishly taking as many orders as they can, and they are just hoping that they will be able to get the physical gold and silver to eventually fill those orders. Personally, I have never seen anything like this. If things are this tight now, what is going to happen when the next major financial crisis strikes and people really begin to panic?
The shortages and rationing of ammunition at gun shops all over America just seem to keep getting worse. The following is from an article by a gun owner down in Texas named Brad Meyer…
If you’d like to see a normally sullen sales clerk chortle with derisive pleasure, just walk into just about any gun range, sporting goods store or mass merchandiser and try and buy a couple boxes of .22 ammunition.
Gun enthusiasts are up in arms about a nationwide shortage of ammunition. Handgun ammo in general is particularly difficult to find – and when you do find it, there are restrictions on the amount you can buy and how much you’re going to be paying for it.
While the list of hard to find ammo is long, .22 long rifle and 9mm handgun ammunition are particularly difficult to find in quantity. And the few places that have it are charging a premium rate and usually limiting purchases to one box, per person, per day.
Many gun owners try to find ammunition by going on the Internet, but things have gotten so tight that now any ammo that becomes available online is often gone within seconds…
There are websites where people across the country post links to where ammunition is available – and it sells out within seconds. Not minutes or hours – seconds.
Unfortunately, all of this demand is also driving up prices. Just check out what Meyer says is happening to the price of standard .22 ammo…
The demand is driving up the cost of ammunition. Six months ago, standard .22 ammo – the most common type of bullet produced in the world – could be had in bulk for around five cents apiece. It is now going for 50 cents or more on some websites – and people are paying it.
But this shortage is not just affecting private citizens. According toNewmax, police departments all over the nation are dealing with ammo shortages unlike anything that they have ever seen before…
Sheriff Anthony DeMeo of Nye County, Nev., was told his department’s regular order of 50,000 rounds could take up to a year to arrive.
“This is the first time ever I’ve heard that there’s a problem with a law-enforcement agency getting ammo for their agency,” DeMeo told The Las Vegas Sun.
These departments are not alone. Law enforcement agencies in Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Georgia are among many that are having to limit how much they give their officers due to the shortage.
Could you imagine waiting for “up to a year” to get more ammunition?
A recent article posted on CNSNews.com had some more examples of police departments that are reporting that there is a massive wait to get more ammo…
Chief Pryor of Rollingwood, Texas says of the shortage:
“We started making phone calls and realized there is a waiting list up to a year. We have to limit the amount of times we go and train because we want to keep an adequate stock.”
“Nobody can get us ammunition at this point,” saysSgt. Jason LaCross of the Bozeman, Montana police department.
LaCross says that manufacturers are so far behind that they won’t even give him a quote for an order.
“We have no estimated time on when it will even be available,” LaCross says.
This is insane.
What in the world could be causing such an ammo crunch?
Well, certainly the demand for guns and ammo has been trending up in recent years – especially since Barack Obama was elected.
But that doesn’t fully account for the shortages that we are witnessing at the moment.
So what is going on?
Well, some people believe that the federal government is responsible. It has been reported that they have signed contracts to purchase “up to” 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. According to Forbes, this amount of ammunition would be enough to fight a “hot war” in America for 20 years…
The Denver Post, on February 15th, ran an Associated Press article entitled Homeland Security aims to buy 1.6b rounds of ammo, so far to little notice. It confirmed that the Department of Homeland Security has issued an open purchase order for 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition. As reported elsewhere, some of this purchase order is for hollow-point rounds, forbidden by international law for use in war, along with a frightening amount specialized for snipers. Also reported elsewhere, at the height of the Iraq War the Army was expending less than 6 million rounds a month. Therefore 1.6 billion rounds would be enough to sustain a hot war for 20+ years. In America.
Could this be a way that the Obama administration is trying to restrict the amount of ammo that gets into the hands of private citizens?
That is what some people are suggesting.
According to talk radio show host Michael Savage, the ammo contracts that the federal government has signed give them priority over all other purchasers…
What Homeland Security is doing here is they’re issuing a contract to buy up to that amount of ammo if they want it…
It’s a way to control the amount of market that’s available on the commercial market at any time.
If they go to the ammo manufacturers and say give me 50 million rounds, give me another 30 million rounds… if they periodically do this in increments, they’re going to control how much ammo is available on the commercial market.
As part of their contract it stipulates in there that when the government calls and says give us another quantity, that everything they make has to go to the government priority one before any of it goes to the commercial market.
So, if they get nervous, all they have to do is use that contract that they have in place… and they just say ‘give us some more.’
So whenever the government wants to tighten the supply of ammunition, all they have to do is invoke their contracts and order more for themselves.
Meanwhile, Obama appears to be doing other things to restrict the amount of ammo that gets into the hands of private gun owners.
For example, there are reports that the Obama administration plans to use executive orders to greatly restrict the importation of ammo from overseas.
So if anything, the shortage of ammunition is only going to get worse, not better.
Meanwhile, the “panic buying” of physical gold and physical silver that we have seen lately has really run down inventories.
According to Reuters, demand has become so intense that the U.S. Mint has suspended sales of gold coins for the first time since 2009…
The U.S. Mint said it has suspended sales of its one-tenth ounce American Eagle gold bullion coins as surging demand after bullion’s plunge to two-year lows depleted the government’s inventory. This marks the first time it has stopped selling gold product since November 2009, dealers said.
At the same time, precious metals dealers all over the country are scrambling to meet the voracious demand that they have been seeing this month. The following is an excerpt from a letter that the CEO of Texas Precious Metals recently sent out to his customers…
The physical silver market is, in a word, ugly. There is no telling at this point when mint inventories will return to normal, but you can be sure it will not happen within the next 8 weeks. Most dealers, at this point, are selling their current customer demand forward, meaning they are selling product they do not presently have, expecting to pull from future mint allocations. Consequently, future allocations will face pressure from today’s demand. It is not my intent here to comment on the business practices of other companies, but I will say that no one can possibly predict future allocations at the time. The US mint, for example, releases its allocations weekly, and until then, dealers have no insight into allocation levels. Last week, we turned away business in excess of 100,000 ozs of silver because of stock depletion. However, we stand by the notion that it is better to lose a sale than lose a customer by delaying delivery two months (or more).
A similar thing is happening over in Asia. According to the Financial Times, soaring demand has caused a shortage of gold at the Hong Kong Gold & Silver Exchange Society…
Haywood Cheung, president of the Hong Kong Gold & Silver Exchange Society, said the exchange had effectively run out of most of its holdings as members looked to meet a shortfall in supply amid rampant retail demand for gold products.
“In terms of volume, I haven’t seen this gold rush for over 20 years,” he told the Financial Times on Monday, adding that the exchange only had around twenty 1kg bars, and 100 five-tael bars left in its inventory. “Older members who have been in the business for 50 years haven’t seen such a thing.”
But most disturbing of all is what Jim Sinclair told King World Newsrecently. Apparently his friend went to get his gold out of a Swiss bank the other day and they refused to give it to him…
A person that I know with significant deposits in one of the primary Swiss banks, in allocated gold, wanted to take out his gold and was just refused on the basis of directives from the central bank….
They told him the amount was in excess of 200,000 Swiss francs and the central bank had instructed them not to do it because it has to do with anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering precautions.
I really wonder whether those are precautions or whether the gold simply isn’t there. Now you tell me that a London delivery has basically failed. It has to raise our suspicions that the lack of physical gold behind the paper gold is literally so severe that we are coming to understand that it is in fact not there.
The gold that people think is stored is not stored, and the inventory of the warehouses for exchanges may not be holding deliverable gold. There has always been speculation about whether or not the physical gold the US claims to store is in fact in those vaults.
The greatest train robbery in history might be all of the gold, and it would only be something like we have described above that would happen right before gold makes historic highs.
There simply is no gold behind the paper. One example is AMRO, a second is your example with Maguire, and a third is my dear friend who was refused his gold on the basis that its value was too high. Remember this friend of mine had his gold in an allocated account in storage at a major Swiss bank. I repeat, there is no gold.
So are we going to see more of this?
Will it soon become evident that there is simply not enough physical gold to cover all of the promises that the banks have made?
Jim Sinclair sure seems to think so.
In another interview, John Embry expressed similar sentiments to King World News…
This gets back to the tip of the iceberg when the Dutch Bank ABN AMRO came out and literally said that if you have allocated gold with us, you can’t have it.
That, to me, is a default, and it gets back to what Jim Sinclair related when one of his friends went to a Swiss bank and couldn’t get his allocated gold. I mean that’s preposterous. If it’s allocated it should be there, but it’s clearly not there. I think this is the beginning of the end of the massive Ponzi scheme in paper gold. I have been talking about this for some time, and it will have an enormous impact on future gold and silver prices.
When it becomes widely known that all of the people who think they own gold in fact don’t own gold, that it’s been hypothecated and re-hypothecated so many times that there are 100 claims for every single ounce of physical gold, that is when the prices of gold and silver will really go berserk to the upside, and at that point the shorts will have serious problems.”
If those that helped engineer the recent takedown of paper gold and silver were hoping to scare people away from physical gold and silver, then they failed miserably. For even more on this, please see my recent article entitled “10 Signs The Takedown Of Paper Gold Has Unleashed An Unprecedented Global Run On Physical Gold And Silver“.
All of this is just another example why I encourage people to get prepared while times are still relatively good.
Once disaster strikes, it may be too late to get the things that you need.
Right now there are a whole lot of people out there wishing that they had stocked up on ammo when it was much cheaper and much more readily available.
We are moving into a time when everything that can be shaken will be shaken. Use the stability provided by the false bubble of economic hope that we are experiencing right now as an opportunity to get prepared. The next major wave of the economic collapse is rapidly approaching and time is running out.
Source: The Economic Collapse
To quote the immortal line in Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon, as filmed by John Huston, “Let’s talk about the black bird” – let’s talk about a mysterious bird made out of gold. Oh yes, because this is a film noir worthy of Dashiell Hammett – involving the Pentagon, Beijing, shadow wars, pivoting and a lot of gold.
Let’s start with Beijing’s official position; “We don’t have enough gold”. That leads to China’s current, frenetic buying spree – which particularly in Hong Kong anyone can follow live, in real time. China is already the top gold producing and the top gold importing nation in the world.
Gold accounts for roughly 70% of reserves held by the US and Germany – and more or less the same for France and Italy. Russia – also on a buying spree – is slightly over 10%. But China’s percentage of gold among its whopping US$3.2 trillion reserves is only 2%.
Beijing is carefully following the current shenanigans of the New York Federal Reserve, which, asked by the German Bundesbank to return the German gold it is holding, replied it would take at least seven years.
German financial journalist Lars Schall has been following the story since the beginning, and virtually alone has made the crucial connection between gold, paper money, energy resources and the abyss facing the petrodollar.
Whenever Beijing says it needs more gold, this is justified as a hedge “against risks in foreign reserves” – aka US dollar fluctuation – but especially to “promote yuan globalization”. As in, suavely, having the yuan compete with the US dollar and the euro “fairly” in the “international market”.
And here’s the (elusive) heart of the matter. What Beijing actually wants is to get rid of the US dollar peg. For that to happen, it needs vast gold reserves. So here’s Beijing pivoting from the US dollar to the yuan – and trying to sway vast swathes of the global economy to follow the path. This golden rule is Beijing’s Maltese Falcon: “The stuff dreams are made of”.
Have drone, will travel
Qatar also does pivoting – but of the MENA (Middle East-Northern Africa) kind. Doha has been financing Wahhabis and Salafis – and even Salafi-jihadis – as in North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) rebels in Libya, Free Syrian Army gangs in Syria, and the pan-Islamic gang that took over northern Mali.
The State Department – and later the Pentagon – may have woken up to it, as in the arrangement brokered by Doha and Washington together to spawn a new, more palatable Syria “coalition”. But still very potent are those dangerous liaisons between the francophile Emir of Qatar and the Quai d’Orsay in Paris – which gathered plenty of steam already during the reign of King Sarko, aka former French president Nicolas Sarkozy.
Every informed geopolitical observer has tracked leak after leak by former French intelligence operatives to the deliciously wicked satirical weekly Le Canard Enchaine, detailing Qatar’s modus operandi. It’s a no-brainer. Qatar’s foreign policy reads as Muslim Brotherhood Here, There and Everywhere (but not inside the neo-feudal emirate); this is Qatar’s Maltese Falcon. At the same time Doha – to the delight of French elites – is an avid practitioner of hardcore neoliberalism, and a top investor in France’s economy.
So their interests may coalesce in promoting disaster capitalism – successfully – in Libya and then – still unsuccessfully – in Syria. Yet Mali is something else; classic blowback – and that’s where the interests of Doha and Paris diverge (not to mention Doha and Washington; at least if one does not assume that Mali has been the perfect pretext for a renewed AFRICOM drive.)
Algerian media is awash in outrage, questioning Qatar’s agenda (in French). Yet the pretext – as predicted – worked perfectly.
AFRICOM – surprise! – is on a roll, as the Pentagon gets ready to set up a drone base in Niger. That’s the practical result of a visit by AFRICOM’s commander, General Carter Ham, to Niger’s capital Niamey only a few days ago.
Forget about those outdated PC-12 turbo props that have been spying on Mali and Western Africa for years. Now it’s Predator time. Translation: chief-in-waiting John Brennan plans a Central Intelligence Agency shadow war all across the Sahara-Sahel. With permission from Mick Jagger/Keith Richards, it’s time to start humming a remixed hit: “I see a grey drone/ and I want it painted black”.
AFRICOM does Niger is indeed sweeter than cherry pie. Northwest Niger is the site of all those uranium mines supplying the French nuclear industry. And it’s very close to Mali’s gold reserves. Imagine all that gold in an “unstable” area falling into the hands of … Chinese companies. Beijing’s Maltese Falcon moment of finally having enough gold to dump the US dollar peg would be at hand.
The Pentagon even got permission for all its surveillance gear to refuel in – of all places – crucial Agadez. The French legion may have been doing the hard work on the ground in Mali, but it’s AFRICOM which will ultimately reap the profits all across the Sahara-Sahel.
Don’t you know about the (Asian) bird?
And that brings us to that famous pivoting to Asia – which was supposed to be the number one geopolitical theme of the Obama 2.0 administration. It may well be. But certainly alongside AFRICOM pivoting all over the Sahara/Sahel in drone mode, to Beijing’s growing irritation; and Doha-Washington pivoting in their support of the former “terrorist” turned “freedom fighter”, and vice-versa.
And we did not even mention the non-pivoting involved in this noir plot; the Obama 2.0 administration keeping its appalling embrace of the medieval House of Saud and “stability in the Arabian peninsula”, as recommended by an usual suspect, a mediocre – yet influential – “veteran intelligence official“.
Play it again, Sam. In that outstanding Maltese Falcon scene at the start of our plot between Humphrey Bogart (let’s say he plays the Pentagon) and Sydney Greenstreet (let’s say he plays Beijing), the official is the goon, the third guy in the picture. The pivoting to Asia is essentially a product of Andrew Marshall, an allegedly Yoda-like totem of US national security.
Marshall has been behind the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) – all of you Donald Rumsfeld freaks know about it – failed Shock and Awe (which only served to destroy Iraq almost beyond repair, even with disaster capitalism involved); and now the concept calledAir Sea Battle.
Air Sea Battle’s premise is that Beijing will attack US forces in the Pacific, which is, frankly, ridiculous (even with help from a monster false-flag operation). The US would then retaliate via a “blinding campaign” – the naval equivalent of Shock and Awe. Both the US Air Force and the US Navy loved the concept because it implies a lot of hardware spending to be stationed in plenty of sophisticated Pacific bases, and in the high seas.
So even as David Petraeus-style counterinsurgency has pivoted to John Brennan’s CIA shadow wars, the real deal is the pivoting to Asia; a pseudo-strategy, concocted to keep the Pentagon budget at exorbitant levels, promoting a new cold war with China. “They will never amass enough gold to impose their evil plans”, one could hear Marshall say about China (without Bogart or Greenstreet’s aplomb, of course). Hammett would be appalled; Marshall’s Maltese Falcon is the stuff (war) dreams are made of.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2008). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Asia Times