The violation of civil liberties in the name of security has had a profound impact on those who came of age after 9/11…
When Darrell Anderson, 22, joined the US military he knew there was going to be a war, and he wanted to fight it. “I thought I was going to free Iraqi people,” he told me. “I thought I was going to do a good thing.”
Until, that is, he realised precisely what he had to do. While on patrol in Baghdad, he thought: “What are we doing here? Are we looking for weapons of mass destruction? No. Are we helping the people? No, they hate us. What are we working towards, apart from just staying alive? If this was my neighbourhood and foreign soldiers were doing this then what would I be doing?” Within a few months, he says, “I was cocking my weapon at innocent civilians without any sympathy or humanity”. While home on leave he realised he was not going to be able to lead a normal life if he went back. His mum drove him to Canada, where I met him in 2006 at a picnic for war resisters in Fort Erie.
Anderson’s trajectory, from uncritical patriotism to conscious disaffection and finally to conscientious dissent, is a familiar one among a generation of Americans who came of political age after 9/11. Over time, efforts to balance the myth of American freedom on which they were raised, with the reality of American power that they have been called on to monitor or operate, causes a profound dislocation in their world view. Like a meat eater in an abattoir, they are forced to confront the brutality of the world they are implicated in and recoil at their role in it – occasionally in dramatic fashion.
It is from this generation that the most recent prominent whistleblowers have emerged: Edward Snowden, 29, the former National Security Agency contractor, now on the run after passing evidence of mass snooping to the Guardian; Bradley Manning, who at 22 gave classified diplomatic and military information to WikiLeaks and now faces a court martial; the late Aaron Swartz, who by 24 was a veteran hacker when he was arrested for illegally downloading academic articles from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and later took his own life; and Jeremy Hammond, 28, who is facing federal criminal charges for allegedly publicising the internal files of a private spying agency.
Just as America’s military record abroad, complete with torture and “collateral damage”, has helped push a section of disaffected Muslim youth across the globe towards terrorism, so the violation of civil liberties and privatisation of information has driven a number of disillusioned Americans to law-breaking dissent at home.
In a 2008 book, The Way We’ll Be, US pollster John Zogby categorised this age cohort as First Globals. Tracking everything from views on gay marriage to propensity to travel, he described young Americans aged 18-29 as “the most outward-looking and accepting generation in American history”. Unfazed by social diversity at home, they held more open attitudes towards the rest of the world. They were far more likely to travel abroad than others, have friends or family overseas, and to be aware of international politics. “[They] might not be more able than other age cohorts to point to Darfur on a map,” argued Zogby, “but they at least know there is a Darfur, and they care what’s happening there.”
The perpetual war and accompanying “anti-terror” security structure after 9/11 is all this generation has ever known. And it has had a profound impact on shaping their views on US foreign policy.
In 2007, 63% (significantly higher than any other age group) disagreed with the statement “I support my country, right or wrong”. In 2004, 86% thought “an imperialist power that acts on its own regardless of what the rest of the world thinks” was improper or somewhat improper, while just 3% thought the opposite. On the latter question, Zogby wrote: “No other group we studied, not Democrats nor self-described progressives, not readers of the New York Times, had a greater spread between the two extremes.” It is in this context that the defiance and determination of these young people must be understood.
One could make too much of their age as a unifying factor. Since these leaks demand proficiency with new technology, those involved are bound to be younger. And older people, with families, careers and pensions, are less likely to do things they know will put them in jail or force them to flee. Moreover, for all the similarities between them, there are significant differences. Snowden contributed money to Republican libertarian Ron Paul’s campaign; Hammond describes himself as an “anarchist-communist”.
Yet, while each acted separately from the other, their unrepentant justifications read as though they were unconsciously working in concert. “I believe people have a right to know what governments and corporations are doing behind closed doors,” wrote Hammond.
“We need to take information,” wrote Swartz. “Wherever it is stored, make our copies and share them with the world.”
“This is the truth. This is what is happening,” said Snowden. ”You should decide whether we need to be doing this.”
Manning said: “I want people to see the truth, because without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public.”
They seek to liberate not land or people, but information. The state seeks to criminalise them as spies. But it wasn’t treachery but patriotism (once blind, now wide-eyed, and arguably always misplaced) that brought most of them to this point. Their aim was neither to enrich themselves nor to aid a foreign power, but to make the power in which they invested much of their identity – America – more transparent, knowledgeable, accountable and honourable.
Anderson, Manning and Snowden, for example, all joined the military-security sector after Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib were in the public domain. They knew what could be done in America’s name. They just never thought they would be put in a position where they would have to choose between doing it, concealing it or exposing it. Raised in the true American ideal that an individual can make a difference, they spoke up.
Forced to choose between allegiance to the flag and uniform, and loyalty to the ideals the flag is supposed to represent and the uniform is supposed to defend, they chose the latter. Their defiance stems from the fact that, in acting as they have, they don’t believe they’ve let down America. They believe they had to act because America was letting itself down.
Source: Gary Younge | The Guardian
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
It is a scene out of a futuristic political thriller—the Secretary of State issues secret orders for embassy officials to collect the DNA of foreign heads of state while the President, speaking at a $1000 a plate dinner, is surrounded by a contingent of Secret Service agents wiping clean his drinking glasses and picking up stray hair follicles. They are not just protecting the President—they are protecting the President’s DNA.
If this sounds like a script treatment for a Hollywood version of a Philip K. Dick novel, consider this: The Secretary of State’s name is Hillary Clinton and her directives to embassies were uncovered in a 2010 Wikileaks cable release. The President in this scenario is Barack Obama and the Secret Service unit pledged to protect his DNA is a group of Navy stewards, as revealed in the 2009 book by Ronald Kessler, entitled “In the President’s Secret Service.”
Our government’s DNA obsession was again in the news this week as the Supreme Court handed down a decision, worthy of penning by George Orwell, that law enforcement collection of arrestees’ DNA is not an invasion of privacy. The decision likened DNA to fingerprints, neatly sidestepping the fact that a person’s complete genetic makeup is contained in those drops of blood that the police can now collect with impunity and without fear of a civil rights lawsuit.
Beyond the obvious surface concerns that this decision violates both the Fourth Amendment and the subsequent exclusionary rule (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
Since we are not yet threatened with the spectre of toddlers robbing banks or committing rape, one must look further to discern what is the big deal about our DNA.
Back in 1997, Dr. Wayne Nathanson warned a meeting of the Science and Ethics Department of the Medical Society of the United Kingdom that “gene therapy” might be turned to insidious uses and result in “gene weapons,” which could be used to target specific people containing a specific genetic structure. These weapons, Nathanson warned, “could be delivered not only in the forms already seen in warfare such as gas and aerosol, but could also be added to water supplies, causing not only death but sterility and birth defects in targeted groups.” /www.projectcensored.org/top-
Decades before Dr. Nathanson’s highly publicized warning, the U.S. Government was already hard at work in scientific endeavors to find gene and ethnic specific weapons. In an article entitled “Ethnic Weapons,” published in the Military Review in 1970, the author, Dr. Carl A. Larson, was found rhapsodizing about the state of technology facilitating the targeting of ethnic groups with covert weapons. Wrote Larson: “Surrounded with clouds of secrecy, a systematic search for new incapacitating agents is going on in many laboratories. The general idea, as discussed in open literature, was originally that of minimum destruction.”
However, his tone soon changes and he writes, somewhat chillingly, that “It is quite possible to use incapacitating agents over the entire range of offensive operations, from covert activities to mass destruction.”
Larson concludes with the following stark declaration: “The enzymatic process for RNA production has been known for some years but now the factors have been revealed which regulate the initiation and specificity of enzyme production. Not only have the factors been found, but their inhibitors. Thus, the functions of life lie bare to attack.” (emphasis added)
Dr. Wouter Basson’s research for Project Coast, the biological and chemical warfare unit under the apartheid government in South Africa, was known to be focused on developing a “blacks only” bioweapon. Basson, who was tied to intelligence facilities and labs in both Great Britain and the U.S., has been reported to have been successful in his endeavors, which were taking place back in the seventies. According to sources close to Basson, his research entailed locating substances which would attach onto melanin. Melanin is present in high degrees in darker colored skin.
Since Basson’s work on the melanin project, the rates of hypertension and diabetes have skyrocketed in people of color—specifically those of African descent and also indigenous, brown skinned populations. In some communities, the incidence of these diseases is now reported as up to 50%. Consonant with the reports that this disease- producing melanin- related substance has been leaked into processed food, one finds the spiking rates of the “silent killers,” hypertension and diabetes, to be present in the developed world, where people eat more processed food. In rural Africa, for example, where the population eats food from natural sources, the rates of diabetes and hypertension have remained constant over the years.
The mapping of the human genome satisfied all the requisites for creating gene specific weapons. Geneticists have maintained that developing an ethnic weapon is actually far more difficult than creating a gene weapon to target a specific person. The differences between groups are apparently much smaller than the differences between individuals and therefore the creation of a genetic weapon to target, for example, a head of state or a President is far less challenging than creating such a weapon to target an entire race.
The FBI admits to a database of around 13 million offenders, many only arrested and never charged with a crime. According to Twila Brase, President of Citizens Council for Health Freedom, around 4 million samples (filed with the babies’ names) are collected each year by State Health Departments. Some states, such as Minnesota, have been collecting newborn DNA samples since the mid-eighties. Minnesota alone is reported to have a newborn database of over 1.5 million samples.
The delivery systems for a DNA weapon would be easy: Everything.
Because the weaponized genetic material would only affect the target, the weapon could be leaked into the food supply, the water supply or sprayed in an airborne delivery system, such as the inexplicable chemtrails that are now blanketing our skies. And should a low profile target suddenly die, who would ever know that he died of a gene based weapon? Should the target be high profile, like perhaps a Hugo Chavez or Canada’s Jack Layton, who would be able to trace a deadly disease back to a weapon targeting his DNA?
The insistence of the U.S. Government that it is only trying to protect its citizens from a terrorist threat is the perfect cover of plausible deniability. Under the mantle of “protection,” our rights have been systematically stripped away while wars abroad have been launched against the Semitic peoples of the Middle East. Genetic based weapons are another tool in the plausible deniability eugenics tool box. They may, in fact, be one of the most salient tools.
Years before Nathanson’s warning was issued, our government had already attained a significant level of ability to weaponize against ethnic groups. An article entitled Ethnic Weapons, published in the Military Review in 1970, found the author, Dr. Carl A Larson rhapsodizing about the scientific accomplishments enabling the creation and deployment of ethnic weapons. Wrote Larson: “Surrounded with clouds of secrecy, a systematic search for new incapacitating agents is going on in many laboratories. The general idea, as discussed in open literature, was originally that of minimum destruction.” However, his tone soon changes and he writes, somewhat chillingly that “It is quite possible to use incapacitating agents over the entire range of offensive operations, from covert activities to mass destruction.”
The authoritarian arrogance of the executive branch is defined by their tyrannical decrees. As any reader of BREAKING ALL THE RULES commentary, knows all too well, the dictatorship of central planning and unlawful administration has hijacked our federalist form of a constitutional republic. The primacy of the legislature over the executive branch was always the intent of our founding fathers. Unfortunately, the exact reverse has taken hold in the den of inequity that holds court in Washington, DC.
Thomas Jefferson was a staunch advocate of freedom of the press, asserting in a January 28, 1786, letter to James Currie (1745-1807), a Virginia physician and frequent correspondent during Jefferson’s residence in France: “our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” Without a vigorous and principled exposure of government abuses and crimes, Congress is unable to muster critical public support to hold accountable unelected bureaucratic agencies. These departments not only codify the regulations but also administer penalties and pick favored factions.In order to understand the nature of legislative oversight, the bipartisan betrayal of recent presidencies needs acknowledgement by every ideological viewpoint. Two current examples of such misuse of the public trust should outrage any honest citizen.
The subversion of the Obama regime sends a chilling message, intent to intimate and inhibit journalism. The Justice Department and Fox News’s Phone Records, also sets a fear factor in place against elected representatives that regularly interact with the press.
“William Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney, told The New Yorker this afternoon, “Because that information is sealed, I can’t confirm the owner or subscriber for any of those records.” Asked if the phone numbers of any reporters had been targeted in the Kim investigation, Miller said he could not comment.
Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that, as part of the investigation of the Kim leak, Obama’s Department of Justice seized e-mails from Rosen’s personal Gmail account. In the search warrant for that request, the government described Rosen as “an aider, and abettor, and / or co-conspirator” in violating the Espionage Act, noting that the crime can be punished by ten years in prison. Rosen was not indicted in the case, but the suggestion in a government document that a reporter could be guilty of espionage for engaging in routine reporting is unprecedented and has alarmed many journalists and civil libertarians.”
Another and far more frightening perversion of George W. Bush’s “Gestapo Police” goes to the heart of the phony war on terror. The significance of filing the Antiwar.com Sues FBI After Secret Surveillance, spans every administration, because the surveillance society is the key component of the technocratic tyranny that operates well above the office of the presidency.
“The website’s founder and managing editor Eric Garris, along with longtime editorial director Justin Raimondo, filed a lawsuit in federal court today, demanding the release of records they believe the FBI is keeping on them and the 17-year-old online magazine.
The unidentified agent writing the memo concludes, “it is recommended that ECAU (Electronic Communications Analysis Unit) further monitor the postings on the website … it is recommended that a PI (preliminary investigation) is opened to determine if [line redacted] have engaged in, or are engaging in, activities which constitute a threat to national security on behalf of a foreign power.”
This is the decisive point of the memo as it pertains to Antiwar.com: that Garris and Raimondo and Antiwar.com, for writing about a particularly sensitive subject and for linking to information that is already circulating around the Internet, may be a “threat to national security on behalf of a foreign power,” and therefore subject to secret surveillance. That would make any journalist, who say, linked a story to documents published by Wikileaks, which is currently under federal investigation, suspect too, surmised the plaintiffs.”
Emphatically, these cases illustrate the systemic treason practiced by presidential hacks, crooks and appointees. The lesson for frustrated voters, per the latest Gallop Poll, Congress Approval Remains in a Slump, “Fifteen percent of Americans now approve of the way Congress is handling its job” clearly requires dramatic proactive involvement that demands House and Senate, constitutional oversight of executive agency exploitation.
Unfortunately, Congress has its own brand of shortcomings and scoundrels; often compounded by a lack of term limits and strictly enforced ethical accountability. However, the labyrinths of executive agencies are populated by wicked witches like IRS Lois Lerner, who hide for cover under Bill of Right protections, while violating the natural rights of taxpayers as a normal course of government extortion.Folks, the only built-in constitutional recourse are for the House to take back their legitimate authority of withholding budget funding for oppressive agencies. The phony charade of selecting a supreme junta dictator every four years has been exposed for the farce it has become. Meaningful reform is impossible, when the global corporatists control the process.
The merits of the 19th Century Whig Party supports for the supremacy of Congress over the Presidency have a resonance for our times. A viewing of the Whig Partyvideo provides a brief historical summary. While some of their positions are less worthy, the fundamental perspective of opposition against centralized executive power is valid. The Whigs made use of a key advantage that rested in a strong network of newspapers and merchant class political support.Their opposition to the imperium style of governance by Andrew Jackson was a direct affront to the growth in the aggrandizement of presidential tenets. No matter what weight you place on their various positions or social policies, it is difficult to deny that the expansion of presidential dominance has been the norm since the demise of this loyal opposition party.
The constitutional safeguard against high crimes and misdemeanors is to remove officials from office. Impeachment in the United States is an expressed power of the legislature that allows for formal charges against a civil officer of government for crimes committed in office. Note Article II, Section 4:
“The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Now the practicality or the lack of political will to exercise this constitutional mechanism for relief is a fair concern, especially when the crony Senate club of careerist criminals failed to execute their duty by removing William Jefferson Clinton. The fact that the entire two party election process is a false choice fraud is undeniable. Yet, the procedure exists to remove goons from their organized crime syndicates, more commonly known as official federal agencies.
Congressional representatives dispatched from office for their own acts of corruption often occur. Usually those targeted for removal are threats to the establishment order. The skilled outlaws get to become committee chairs. However, when did you last hear of a bureaucratic appointee getting a jail sentence for their high crimes and misdemeanors?
Both George W. Bush deserved and Barack H. Obama needs to be removed from office for a litany of offenses so numerous that the list goes on to infinity. A compliant mainstream media routinely covers up for the political structure of reprehensible executive administrations.
Here lies the linkage in defense of a free and independent press with the remote possibility of pushing elected Congressional representatives to conduct impeachment procedures against the likes of Eric Holder and Lois Lerner. Only a condition of citizen critical mass of justifiable outrage can affect the national pulse to hit the ceiling.
The dissemination of pervasive anger against governmental corruption needs the widest voice available. The public, seldom noted for their courage or involvement, must enter the dirty slime of the political cesspool.
Federal judges and the Supreme Courts are integral co-conspirator protectors of the subverted system. The law is too important to allow lawyers to practice their profession of esquire privilege over the sovereign citizenry. Congress is all that is left to strip the illegitimate despotism from the presidential potentates, who practice a version of divine right kingship.
The legislature is the last refuge of representative sentiment. Yet, the suicidal amnesty immigration betrayal by the Senate confirms, once again, the inbred elitism of globalist stooges. Obviously, the intent of extending indiscriminate citizenship is to eliminate the lingering remains of the Whig Party disdain for the imperial presidency.
Impeachment should become the full time agenda of Congress. The ultimate goal of eliminating entire agencies starts with passing legislation that defunds budgets and remove from positions of authority, the minions of international collectivism. Autocratic presidents and senate traitors that pass treasonous treaties, foster the advancement of the New World Order.
The House is the people’s body and is the final hope of constitutional legitimacy. Purging the bureaucratic offenders and shyster counsel from public office is imperative if Thomas Jefferson’s vision for America is to be resurrected, “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God.” Congress needs to make the presidency accountable to the nation.
Would you believe that the United States tried to do something that was not nice against Hugo Chávez?
In a secret US cable to the State Department, dated November 9, 2006, and recently published online by WikiLeaks, former US ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, outlines a comprehensive plan to destabilize the government of the late President Hugo Chávez. The cable begins with a Summary:
During his 8 years in power, President Chavez has systematically dismantled the institutions of democracy and governance. The USAID/OTI program objectives in Venezuela focus on strengthening democratic institutions and spaces through non-partisan cooperation with many sectors of Venezuelan society.
USAID/OTI = United States Agency for International Development/Office of Transition Initiatives. The latter is one of the many euphemisms that American diplomats use with each other and the world – They say it means a transition to “democracy”. What it actually means is a transition from the target country adamantly refusing to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs to a country gladly willing (or acceding under pressure) to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs.
OTI supports the Freedom House (FH) “Right to Defend Human Rights” program with $1.1 million. Simultaneously through Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), OTI has also provided 22 grants to human rights organizations.
Freedom House is one of the oldest US government conduits for transitioning to “democracy”; to a significant extent it equates “democracy” and “human rights” with free enterprise. Development Alternatives Inc. is the organization that sent Alan Gross to Cuba on a mission to help implement the US government’s operation of regime change.
OTI speaks of working to improve “the deteriorating human rights situation in” Venezuela. Does anyone know of a foreign government with several millions of dollars to throw around who would like to improve the seriously deteriorating human rights situation in the United States? They can start with the round-the-clock surveillance and the unconscionable entrapment of numerous young “terrorists” guilty of thought crimes.
“OTI partners are training NGOs [non-governmental organizations] to be activists and become more involved in advocacy.”
Now how’s that for a self-given license to fund and get involved in any social, economic or political activity that can sabotage any program of the Chávez government and/or make it look bad? The US ambassador’s cable points out that:
OTI has directly reached approximately 238,000 adults through over 3000 forums, workshops and training sessions delivering alternative values and providing opportunities for opposition activists to interact with hard-core Chavistas, with the desired effect of pulling them slowly away from Chavismo. We have supported this initiative with 50 grants totaling over $1.1 million.
“Another key Chavez strategy,” the cable continues, “is his attempt to divide and polarize Venezuelan society using rhetoric of hate and violence. OTI supports local NGOs who work in Chavista strongholds and with Chavista leaders, using those spaces to counter this rhetoric and promote alliances through working together on issues of importance to the entire community.”
This is the classical neo-liberal argument against any attempt to transform a capitalist society – The revolutionaries are creating class conflict. But of course, the class conflict was already there, and nowhere more embedded and distasteful than in Latin America.
OTI funded 54 social projects all over the country, at over $1.2 million, allowing [the] Ambassador to visit poor areas of Venezuela and demonstrate US concern for the Venezuelan people. This program fosters confusion within the Bolivarian ranks, and pushes back at the attempt of Chavez to use the United States as a ‘unifying enemy.’
One has to wonder if the good ambassador (now an Assistant Secretary of State) placed any weight or value at all on the election and re-election by decisive margins of Chávez and the huge masses of people who repeatedly filled the large open squares to passionately cheer him. When did such things last happen in the ambassador’s own country? Where was his country’s “concern for the Venezuelan people” during the decades of highly corrupt and dictatorial regimes? His country’a embassy in Venezuela in that period was not plotting anything remotely like what is outlined in this cable.
The cable summarizes the focus of the embassy’s strategy’s as: “1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.” 1
The stated mission for the Office of Transition Initiatives is: “To support U.S. foreign policy objectives by helping local partners advance peace and democracy in priority countries in crisis.” 2
Notice the key word – “crisis”. For whom was Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela a “crisis”? For the people of Venezuela or the people who own and operate United States, Inc.?
Imagine a foreign country’s embassy, agencies and NGOs in the United States behaving as the American embassy, OTI, and NGOs did in Venezuela. President Putin of Russia recently tightened government controls over foreign NGOs out of such concern. As a result, he of course has been branded by the American government and media as a throwback to the Soviet Union.
Under pressure from the Venezuelan government, the OTI’s office in Venezuela was closed in 2010.
For our concluding words of wisdom, class, here’s Charles Shapiro, US ambassador to Venezuela from 2002 to 2004, speaking recently of the Venezuelan leaders: “I think they really believe it, that we are out there at some level to do them ill.” 3
The latest threats to life as we know it
Last month numerous foreign-policy commentators marked the tenth anniversary of the fateful American bombing and invasion of Iraq. Those who condemned the appalling devastation of the Iraqi people and their society emphasized that it had all been a terrible mistake, since Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein didn’t actually possess weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This is the same argument we’ve heard repeatedly during the past ten years from most opponents of the war.
But of the many lies – explicit or implicit – surrounding the war in Iraq, the biggest one of all is that if, in fact, Saddam Hussein had had those WMD the invasion would have been justified; that in such case Iraq would indeed have been a threat to the United States or to Israel or to some other country equally decent, innocent and holy. However, I must ask as I’ve asked before: What possible reason would Saddam Hussein have had for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide? He had no reason, no more than the Iranians do today. No more than the Soviets had during the decades of the Cold War. No more than North Korea has ever had since the United States bombed them in the early 1950s. Yet last month the new Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, announced that he would strengthen United States defenses against a possible attack by [supposedly] nuclear-equipped North Korea, positioning 14 additional missile interceptors in Alaska and California at an estimated cost of $1 billion. So much for the newest Great White Hope. Does it ever matter who the individuals are who are occupying the highest offices of the US foreign-policy establishment? Or their gender or their color?
“Oh,” many people argued, “Saddam Hussein was so crazy who knew what he might do?” But when it became obvious in late 2002 that the US was intent upon invading Iraq, Saddam opened up the country to the UN weapons inspectors much more than ever before, offering virtually full cooperation. This was not the behavior of a crazy person; this was the behavior of a survivalist. He didn’t even use any WMD when he was invaded by the United States in 1991 (“the first Gulf War”), when he certainly had such weapons. Moreover, the country’s vice president, Tariq Aziz, went on major American television news programs to assure the American people and the world that Iraq no longer had any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons; and we now know that Iraq had put out peace feelers in early 2003 hoping to prevent the war. The Iraqi leaders were not crazy at all. Unless one believes that to oppose US foreign policy you have to be crazy. Or suicidal.
It can as well be argued that American leaders were crazy to carry out the Iraqi invasion in the face of tens of millions of people at home and around the world protesting against it, pleading with the Bush gang not to unleash the horrors. (How many demonstrations were there in support of the invasion?)
In any event, the United States did not invade Iraq because of any threat of an attack using WMD. Washington leaders did not themselves believe that Iraq possessed such weapons of any significant quantity or potency. Amongst the sizable evidence supporting this claim we have the fact that they would not have exposed hundreds of thousands of soldiers on the ground.
Nor can it be argued that mere possession of such weapons – or the belief of same – was reason enough to take action, for then the United States would have to invade Russia, France, Israel, et al.
I have written much of the above in previous editions of this report, going back to 2003. But I’m afraid that I and other commentators will have to be repeating these observations for years to come. Myths that reinforce official government propaganda die hard. The mainstream media act like they don’t see through them, while national security officials thrive on them to give themselves a mission, to enhance their budgets, and further their personal advancement. The Washington Post recently reported: “A year into his tenure, the country’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, has proved even more bellicose than his father, North Korea’s longtime ruler, disappointing U.S. officials who had hoped for a fresh start with the regime.” 4
Yeah, right, can’t you just see those American officials shaking their heads and exclaiming: “Damn, what do we have to do to get those North Korean fellows to trust us?” Well, they could start by ending the many international sanctions they impose on North Korea. They could discontinue arming and training South Korean military forces. And they could stop engaging in provocative fly-overs, ships cruising the waters, and military exercises along with South Korea, Australia, and other countries dangerously close to the North. The Wall Street Journal reported:
The first show of force came on March 8, during the U.S.-South Korean exercise, known as Foal Eagle, when long-range B-52 bombers conducted low-altitude maneuvers. A few weeks later, in broad daylight, two B-2 bombers sent from a Missouri air base dropped dummy payloads on a South Korean missile range.
U.S. intelligence agencies, as had been planned, reviewed the North’s responses. After those flights, the North responded as the Pentagon and intelligence agencies had expected, with angry rhetoric, threatening to attack the South and the U.S.
On Sunday, the U.S. flew a pair of advanced F-22s to South Korea, which prompted another angry response from the North. 5
And the United States could stop having wet dreams about North Korea collapsing, enabling the US to establish an American military base right at the Chinese border.
As to North Korea’s frequent threats … yes, they actually outdo the United States in bellicosity, lies, and stupidity. But their threats are not to be taken any more seriously than Washington’s oft expressed devotion to democracy and freedom. When it comes to doing actual harm to other peoples, the North Koreans are not in the same league as the empire.
“Everyone is concerned about miscalculation and the outbreak of war. But the sense across the U.S. government is that the North Koreans are not going to wage all-out war,” a senior Obama administration official said. “They are interested first and foremost in regime survival.” 6
American sovereignty hasn’t faced a legitimate foreign threat to its existence since the British in 1812.
The marvelous world of Freedom of Speech
So, the United States and its Western partners have banned Iranian TV from North America and in various European countries. Did you hear about that? Probably not if you’re not on the mailing list of PressTV, the 24-hour English-Language Iranian news channel. According to PressTV:
The Iranian film channel, iFilm, as well as Iranian radio stations, have also been banned from sensitive Western eyes and ears, all such media having been removed in February from the Galaxy 19 satellite platform serving the United States and Canada.
In December the Spanish satellite company, Hispasat, terminated the broadcast of the Iranian Spanish-language channel Hispan TV. Hispasat is partly owned by Eutelsat, whose French-Israeli CEO is blamed for the recent wave of attacks on Iranian media in Europe.
The American Jewish Committee has welcomed these developments. AJC Executive Director David Harris has acknowledged that the committee had for months been engaged in discussions with the Spaniards over taking Iranian channels off the air. 7
A careful search of the Lexis-Nexis data base of international media reveals that not one English-language print newspaper, broadcast station, or news agency in the world has reported on the PressTV news story since it appeared February 8. One Internet newspaper, Digital Journal, ran the story on February 10.
The United States, Canada, Spain, and France are thus amongst those countries proudly celebrating their commitment to the time-honored concept of freedom of speech. Other nations of “The Free World” cannot be far behind as Washington continues to turn the screws of Iranian sanctions still tighter.
In his classic 1984, George Orwell defined “doublethink” as “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” In the United States, the preferred label given by the Ministry of Truth to such hypocrisy is “American exceptionalism”, which manifests itself in the assertion of a divinely ordained mission as well in the insistence on America’s right to apply double standards in its own favor and reject “moral equivalence”.
The use of sanctions to prevent foreign media from saying things that Washington has decidedshould not be said is actually a marked improvement over previous American methods. For example, on October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.” 8 And in Yugoslavia, in 1999, during the infamous 78-bombing of the Balkan country which posed no threat at all to the United States, state-owned Radio Television Serbia (RTS) was targeted because it was broadcasting things which the United States and NATO did not like (like how much horror the bombing was causing). The bombs took the lives of many of the station’s staff, and both legs of one of the survivors, which had to be amputated to free him from the wreckage. 9
- Read the full memo. ↩
- USAID Transition Initiatives Website ↩
- Washington Post, January 10, 2013 ↩
- Washington Post, March 16, 2013 ↩
- Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2013 ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- PressTV news release ↩
- Index on Censorship online, the UK’s leading organization promoting freedom of expression, October 18, 2001 ↩
- The Independent (London), April 24, 1999, p.1 ↩
A government whistleblower, disclosing classified secrets, risks criminal charges. Defining restricted material usually includes a broad scope of information that casts officials or agencies in a compromising embarrassment. The idea that public servants may be engaged in violating laws is no excuse for blowing the whistle on such abuses if it involves “National Security”. This protect the state attitude at all cost argument, is the very definition of institutional cover-up. In war, truth is the first casualty, so said Aeschylus.
So throwing the book at Bradley Manning comes as no surprise. Why should anyone be concerned about the intentional dissemination of raw evidence about war crimes, committed in the name of the War of Terror? Most would fail to be moved by the motivations of a stoic prisoner, who uploaded secured computer files to WikiLeaks. Many would cheer his interminable incarceration for disclosing military records.
Yet, before you slam the jail shut, reflect upon the Secretly Recorded Audio Leaked of Bradley Manning’s Court Statement. Listen to the Full Statement.
Also, view the YouTube video, Bradley Manning Tells Court Public Have the Right to Know About US War Crimes.A cogent reaction from another renowned whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers fame, carries the weight of a brave man from another era.
“It’s important to remember through all this that Manning has already pled guilty to ten charges of violating military regulations (few of which, if any would be civilian crimes) and faces twenty years in jail. Yet the prosecutors are still going ahead with the absurd charge of “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense, of which the prosecutors are asking for life in prison.
Nixon could have brought that charge against me too. I was revealing wrongdoing by our government in a public way, and that information could have been read by our enemies in Vietnam. Of course, I never had that intent and Manning didn’t either. We both leaked information to provoke a domestic debate about military force and government secrecy. And to say we did so to aid the enemy is absurd.”
In any political trial, the spirit of the law is sacrificed for the expediency of protecting a debased regime. Balance in prosecution is a concept unknown to a government consumed with punishing any perceived enemy of the state.
Attorney Floyd Abrams and Professor Yochai Benkler provide a thoughtful perspective and legal opinion in The New York Times editorial - Death to Whistle-Blowers?
“Under the prosecution’s theory, because Private Manning knew the materials would be published and that Al Qaeda could read them once published, he indirectly communicated with the enemy. But in this theory, whether publication is by WikiLeaks or The Times is entirely beside the point. Defendants are guilty of “aiding the enemy” for leaking to a publishing medium simply because that publication can be read by anyone with an Internet connection.
Private Manning’s guilty plea gives the prosecution an opportunity to rethink its strategy. The extreme charges remaining in this case create a severe threat to future whistle-blowers, even when their revelations are crystal-clear instances of whistle-blowing. We cannot allow our concerns about terrorism to turn us into a country where communicating with the press can be prosecuted as a capital offense.”
No such mercy from the imperial empire, Manning must suffer the supreme wrath for his transgressions. His admissions acknowledge expected official sanctions, but the sentiment of Daniel Ellsberg reflects the standpoint of many Manning supporters.
“…For the third straight year, Manning has been nominated for the Noble Peace Prize by, among others, Tunisian parliamentarians. Given the role the WikiLeaks cables played in the Arab Spring, and their role in speeding up the end of the Iraq War, I can think of no one more deserving who is deserving of the peace prize.
He’s also deserving of the Congressional Medal of Honor. This medal, awarded by Congress-and not the executive branch-is given to military personnel, who during wartime, do what they should do for their country and their comrades, at the greatest risk to themselves.”
Another target of recrimination, seen in the Sibel Edmonds dismissal is a classic example of punishing the whistleblower. Edmonds took a job as a translator at the FBI shortly after 9-11. Her story, stated in the YouTube interview, The Government Is Raping You: Sibel Edmonds, is compelling.
“Edmonds found at the FBI translation unit almost entirely two types of people. The first group was corrupt sociopaths, foreign spies, cheats and schemers indifferent to or working against U.S. national security. The second group was fearful bureaucrats unwilling to make waves. The ordinary competent person with good intentions who risks their job to “say something if you see something” is the rarest commodity. Hence the elite category that Edmonds found herself almost alone in: whistleblowers.”
This characterization of morally challenged federal employees is a direct consequence of a system that protects the cover-ups, while punishing disclosure of conflicting evidence of outright corruption. The silent culture of concealment or the worse incentive system of collusion runs the governing bureaucracies.
The presstitutes in the establishment media enable the warmongering protection racket as a condition of employment. Their lack of investigative reporting is only superseded by their ominous distortion of real patriotic loyalty. Whistleblowers function as detectives doing the job that reporters abdicate. Woefully, so few citizens of conscience are willing to jeopardize their individual circumstance for the courage of genuine national security.
The always insightful, William F. Jasper of the New American writes in Sibel Edmonds’ “Classified Woman”.
“Unfortunately, most of Edmonds’ contributing editors at BoilingFrogs are decidedly left of center, and their anti-globalist, anti-war, anti-police-state arguments and analyses tend to range from the “progressive” to the Marxoid. However, when she went public and came under attack, it wasn’t Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh who came to her defense; it was the anti-Bush Left that rallied to her aid. In fact, the faux conservatives at FOX, National Review, and the radio talk show universe alternately ignored and attacked her; they were busy cheerleading George W. Bush’s unconstitutional wars abroad and his unconstitutional police-state measures at home. Sympathetic coverage for Edmonds from alternative media on the Right has been woefully lacking, with a few exceptions.
In April 2011, Sibel Edmonds submitted her manuscript for Classified Womanto the FBI for review, as required by terms of her employment agreement. Under that agreement, the FBI has 30 days to approve and/or require deletions and revisions. After waiting over 340 days with no response from the bureau, Edmonds took the path that few others have taken; she published anyway. However, with every publisher afraid to touch it, she was forced to publish it on her own. She knows that any day now the Obama administration, which has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined, may come after her.”
Forget about the false left-right paradigm. The “War of Terror” being waged by the imperium empire is designed to crush whistleblowers, and keep the brain dead in a zombie trance. Just consider the impact on the Afghanistan campaign if the FBI acted upon the evidence unclosed by Sibel Edmonds that cuts to the heart of the 911 myth assumptions.
The military-industrial-security-intelligence complex closes ranks to protect their “Splendid Little Wars“. The whistleblowers that expose the lies out of the War Party establishment are only a minor distraction, as long as the public sleeps in their self-induced coma. The Army Times item, Hagel to order review of drone medal precedence, is one such interlude, while the control and command structure continues to aim their weapons at imaginary threats.
Who would doubt that the Bradley Mannings and Sibel Edmonds, squealers of state secrets, would be prime quarries for the hunt to eliminate enemies of the state? The only good government snitch is a Gitmo captive. So goes the claims of the governance prosecutors.
How many people have actually examined the information in the Manning WikiLeak disclosures or read the Edmonds account of 911-treason complicity? Oh no, the discomfort of confronting the fake reality of the official story of make believe is too disturbing for most people.
Loyalty of country is a very dangerous attitude, when your government sponsors state terrorism as a normal activity. The fear to face up to the horrors of administration deceit is the prime activity of the flag waving drones that cheer for more carnage.
When Edmonds describes the traitors within the national security structure, the fearful bureaucrats facilitate the ongoing treachery that passes for nationalism. When Manning exposes the documents that prove a genocide policy is in effect, the penalty demanded by the bellicose command is his execution.
An honorable whistleblower is a citizen hero. Disobeying dishonest laws is true patriotism. In the end, A Different Philosophy of Civil Disobedience, is needed. Complacency is the countrywide disease of choice. Real patriots oppose jingoistic orders. Stand down.
Washington knows no heresy in the Third World but genuine independence. In the case of Salvador Allende independence came clothed in an especially provocative costume – a Marxist constitutionally elected who continued to honor the constitution. This would not do. It shook the very foundation stones upon which the anti-communist tower is built: the doctrine, painstakingly cultivated for decades, that “communists” can take power only through force and deception, that they can retain that power only through terrorizing and brainwashing the population. There could be only one thing worse than a Marxist in power – an elected Marxist in power.
There was no one in the entire universe that those who own and run “United States, Inc.” wanted to see dead more than Hugo Chávez. He was worse than Allende. Worse than Fidel Castro. Worse than any world leader not in the American camp because he spoke out in the most forceful terms about US imperialism and its cruelty. Repeatedly. Constantly. Saying things that heads of state are not supposed to say. At the United Nations, on a shockingly personal level about George W. Bush. All over Latin America, as he organized the region into anti-US-Empire blocs.
Long-term readers of this report know that I’m not much of a knee-reflex conspiracy theorist. But when someone like Chávez dies at the young age of 58 I have to wonder about the circumstances. Unremitting cancer, intractable respiratory infections, massive heart attack, one after the other … It is well known that during the Cold War, the CIA worked diligently to develop substances that could kill without leaving a trace. I would like to see the Venezuelan government pursue every avenue of investigation in having an autopsy performed.
Back in December 2011, Chávez, already under treatment for cancer, wondered out loud: “Would it be so strange that they’ve invented the technology to spread cancer and we won’t know about it for 50 years?” The Venezuelan president was speaking one day after Argentina’s leftist president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, announced she had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. This was after three other prominent leftist Latin America leaders had been diagnosed with cancer: Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff; Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo; and the former Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
“Evo take care of yourself. Correa, be careful. We just don’t know,” Chávez said, referring to Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, both leading leftists.
Chávez said he had received words of warning from Fidel Castro, himself the target of hundreds of failed and often bizarre CIA assassination plots. “Fidel always told me: ‘Chávez take care. These people have developed technology. You are very careless. Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat … a little needle and they inject you with I don’t know what.” 1
When Vice President Nicolas Maduro suggested possible American involvement in Chávez’s death, the US State Department called the allegation absurd. 2
Several progressive US organizations have filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the CIA, asking for “any information regarding or plans to poison or otherwise assassinate the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, who has just died.”
I personally believe that Hugo Chávez was murdered by the United States. If his illness and death were NOT induced, the CIA – which has attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders, many successfully 3 – was not doing its job.
When Fidel Castro became ill several years ago, the American mainstream media was unrelenting in its conjecture about whether the Cuban socialist system could survive his death. The same speculation exists now in regard to Venezuela. The Yankee mind can’t believe that large masses of people can turn away from capitalism when shown a good alternative. It could only be the result of a dictator manipulating the public; all resting on one man whose death would mark finis to the process.
It’s the end of the world … again
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) recent convention in Washington produced the usual Doomsday talk concerning Iran’s imminent possession of nuclear weapons and with calls to bomb that country before they nuked Israel and/or the United States. So once again I have to remind everyone that these people – Israeli and American officials – are not really worried about an Iranian attack. Here are some of their many prior statements:
In 2007, in a closed discussion, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that in her opinion “Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel.” She “also criticized the exaggerated use that [Israeli] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making of the issue of the Iranian bomb, claiming that he is attempting to rally the public around him by playing on its most basic fears.” 4
2009: “A senior Israeli official in Washington”, reported the Washington Post (March 5), asserted that “Iran would be unlikely to use its missiles in an attack [against Israel] because of the certainty of retaliation.”
In 2010 the Sunday Times of London (January 10) reported that Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam, war hero, pillar of the Israeli defense establishment, and former director-general of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, “believes it will probably take Iran seven years to make nuclear weapons.”
January 2012: US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a television audience: “Are they [Iran] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No, but we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability.” 5
Later that month we could read in the New York Times (January 15) that “three leading Israeli security experts – the Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo, a former Mossad chief, Efraim Halevy, and a former military chief of staff, Dan Halutz – all recently declared that a nuclear Iran would not pose an existential threat to Israel.”
Then, a few days afterward, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in an interview with Israeli Army Radio (January 18), had this exchange:
Question: Is it Israel’s judgment that Iran has not yet decided to turn its nuclear potential into weapons of mass destruction?
Barak: People ask whether Iran is determined to break out from the control [inspection] regime right now … in an attempt to obtain nuclear weapons or an operable installation as quickly as possible. Apparently that is not the case.
In an April 20, 2012 CNN interview Barak repeated this sentiment: “It’s true that probably [Iranian leader] Khamenei has not given orders to start building a [nuclear] weapon.” 6
And on several other occasions, Barak has stated: “Iran does not constitute an existential threat against Israel.” 7
Lastly, we have the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in a January 2012 report to Congress: “We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.” … There are “certain things [the Iranians] have not done” that would be necessary to build a warhead.8
So why, then, do Israeli and American leaders, at most other times, maintain the Doomsday rhetoric? Partly for AIPAC to continue getting large donations. For Israel to get massive amounts of US aid. For Israeli leaders to win elections. To protect Israel’s treasured status as the Middle East’s sole nuclear power.
Listen to Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at America’s most prominent neo-con think tank, American Enterprise Institute:
The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and testing it, it’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it. Because the second that they have one and they don’t do anything bad, all of the naysayers are going to come back and say, “See, we told you Iran is a responsible power. We told you Iran wasn’t getting nuclear weapons in order to use them immediately.” … And they will eventually define Iran with nuclear weapons as not a problem. 9
Osama bin Laden, Bradley Manning, & William Blum
Bradley Manning has the charge of “Aiding the enemy” hanging over his head. This could lead to a sentence of life in prison. As far as can be deduced, the government believes that the documents and videos that Manning gave to Wikileaks, which Wikileaks then widely distributed to international media, aided the enemy because it put US foreign policy in a very bad light.
Manning’s attorneys have asked the prosecution more than once for specific examples of how “the enemy” (whoever that may refer to in a world full of people bitterly angry at the United States because of any of many terrible acts carried out by the US government) has been “aided” by the Wikileaks disclosures. Just how has the enemy made use of the released material to harm the United States? The government has not provided any such examples, probably because what really bothers Washington officials is the embarrassment they have experienced before the world resulting from the documents and videos; which indeed are highly embarrassing even to genuine war criminals; filled with violations of international law, atrocities, multiple lies to everyone, revelations of gross hypocrisy, and much more.
So our splendid officials are considering putting Bradley Manning in prison forever simply because they’re embarrassed. Hard to find much fault with that.
But now the prosecutors have announced that a Navy Seal involved in the killing of Osama bin Laden is going to testify at the court martial that bin Laden possessed articles about the Wikileaks documents that Manning leaked. Well, there must be a hundred million other people in the world who have similar material on their computers. The question remains: What use did the enemy make of that?
The Iraqi government made use of the material, inducing them to refuse immunity to US troops for crimes committed in Iraq, such as the cold-blooded murders revealed by the Wilileaks videos; this in turn led the US to announce that it was ending its military engagement in Iraq. However, Manning was indicted in May 2010, well before the Iraqi decision to end the immunity.
In January, 2006 bin Laden, in an audio tape, declared: “If Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book ‘Rogue State’ [by William Blum], which states in its introduction … ” He then went on to quote the opening of a paragraph I wrote (which appears actually in the Foreword of the British edition only, that was later translated to Arabic), which in full reads:
“If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize – very publicly and very sincerely – to all the widows and the orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. I would then announce that America’s global interventions – including the awful bombings – have come to an end. And I would inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but – oddly enough – a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims and repair the damage from the many American bombings and invasions. There would be more than enough money. Do you know what one year of the US military budget is equal to? One year. It’s equal to more than $20,000 per hour for every hour since Jesus Christ was born.
“That’s what I’d do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I’d be assassinated.”
Thus, Osama bin Laden was clearly making use of what I wrote, and the whole world heard it. And I was thus clearly “aiding the enemy”. But I was not prosecuted.
The United States would like to prove a direct use and benefit by “the enemy” of the material released by Wikileaks; but so far it appears that only possession might be proven. In my case the use, and presumed propaganda benefit, were demonstrated. The fact that I wrote the material, as opposed to “stealing” it, is irrelevant to the issue of aiding the enemy. I knew, or should have known, that my criticisms of US foreign policy could be used by the foes of those policies. Indeed, that’s why I write what I do. To provide ammunition to anti-war and other activists.
The Department of Justice and socialism
For many years when I’ve been asked to explain just what I mean by “socialism” I’ve usually replied simply: “Putting people before profits”. There are a thousand-and-one details that would have to be considered in a transformation from a capitalist society to a socialist society, but rather than going into all that it’s much simpler to leave it with just that motto, which expresses theessence of my socialist society. In any event, in that glorious future world things will evolve in ways that could not be wholly predicted. The structure could take any one of many forms, but the essence must remain the same if it’s going to be called socialist.
Thus was I both surprised and amused in reading a news article about the current trial in New Orleans which is attempting to determine, amongst other things, the extent of blame of various companies, particularly BP, involved in the 2010 historic accident which took the lives of 11 workers and dumped an estimated 172 million gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico. The US Justice Department attorney declared in his opening statement: “The evidence will show that BP put profits before people, profits before safety and profits before the environment.” 10
Well, imagine that. The Justice Department certainly captured the essence of corporate behavior. The attorney chose such words because he knew that the sentiments expressed would appeal to the average American sitting on a jury. The members of the jury would understand that BP had blatantly ignored and violated certain cherished ideals like people, safety and the environment. Prosecuting the corporation would sound fair and just to them.
Yet, when someone like me expresses such sentiments – and I have used the exact same words on occasion – I run the risk of being written off as an “extremist”, a “radical”, and other bad-for-you labels; not long ago it was “commie”.
The irony runs even deeper. If a corporation flagrantly ignores putting profits before everything else, stockholders can sue the executives.
This just in! The real reason the Pope resigned!
He’s losing his mind.
In January, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta met with Pope Benedict XVI to receive his blessing. Afterward, Panetta said the pontiff told him, “Thank you for helping to keep the world safe.” 11
The precious art of assassinating legally
Obama hopeium addicts can soon be expected to call for support of the president’s increasing use of drones for assassination on the ground of their being good for the environment. My White House agent informs me that Obama is going to announce that all American drones will soon be composed 85% of recyclable material and will be solar-powered. And each drone missile will have the following painted on its side: “He was a bad guy. Just take our word for it!”
- The Guardian (London), December 29, 2011 ↩
- Huffington Post, March 7, 2013 ↩
- http://killinghope.org/bblum6/assass.htm ↩
- Haaretz.com (Israel), October 25, 2007; print edition October 26 ↩
- “Face the Nation”, CBS, January 8, 2012 ↩
- Washington Post, August 1, 2012 ↩
- Iran Media Fact Check, “Does Israel Consider Iran an ‘Existential Threat’?” ↩
- The Guardian (London), January 31, 2012 ↩
- Political Correction, “American Enterprise Institute Admits The Problem With Iran Is Not That It Would Use Nukes” ↩
- Associated Press, February 26, 2013 ↩
- Washington Post, January 17, 2013 ↩
Speaking in Dublin last Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that a new effort was under way by “oppressive governments” to “re-Sovietize” Eastern Europe and Central Asia. She took a stab at Russia and her regional allies for their alleged crackdown on democracy and human rights, only hours ahead of meeting Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to discuss Syria and other issues of mutual concern.
Addressing a group of “civil society advocates” on the sidelines of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) foreign ministers’ meeting, Clinton decried a wave of repressive tactics and laws aimed at curtailing U.S. “outreach efforts” in Russia, Belarus, Turkmenistan, and other Soviet successor states. “There is a move to re-Sovietize the region,” Clinton declared. “It’s not going to be called that. It’s going to be called customs union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of that,” she said, alluding to Moscow’s initiatives for greater regional integration. “But let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.”
To support her claims Clinton presented one Igor Kochetkov, an activist with the “Russian LGBT Network”—a homosexual advocacy group financed by U.S. taxpayer money—who declared that Russian authorities were stifling the discussion of discrimination based on sexual orientation. She also produced one Olga Zakharova, supposedly a journalist, who said that the use of social media was being restricted by the Russian authorities. Clinton warned that there is a concerted effort under way to eliminate American and international assistance to such human rights advocates.
It is noteworthy that the “Eurasian Union and all of that” is, in Clinton’s view, a neo-Soviet project primarily designed to violate human rights as she defines them. In fact the Eurasian Union (EAU) is a project of regional political and economic integration openly modeled on the European Union. It was first suggested by the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev in 1994, and the idea was revived by Russia’s then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in October 2011. The following month the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia signed an agreement to establish the EAU by 2015. The agreement included the blueprint for the future integration and established the Eurasian Commission—clearly emulating the European Commission in Brussels—which started work on the first day of this year.
Clinton’s pledge to throw a spanner into this project—“we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it,” as she put it—reflects her dangerous arrogance. Her ability to do anything of the kind is limited, however, and if she believes otherwise she is deluded. More seriously, there is no rational reason for the United States to oppose regional integration of post-Soviet countries. The EAU is not a threat to American interests—unless those interests are defined as open-ended, full-spectrum dominance over the planet. She is unnecessarily throwing down the gauntlet and thus undermining a cooperative relationship with Russia, which in view of America’s many challenges in the greater Middle East and in the Pacific region—not to mention the disengagement from Afghanistan—should be among our top foreign policy priorities.
Secretary of State’s complaint about Russia’s “repressive tactics” aimed at curtailing U.S. “outreach efforts” is hypocritical in the extreme. She was alluding to a recently enacted law regulating the work of Russian regime-change focused “NGOs” funded by the U.S. taxpayer money, and funneled through organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and the National Democratic Institute. In fact the Russian law regulating such activities was patterned directly on the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which regulates activities of foreign governments in the United States. FARA would require full public disclosure of those same activities that the U.S. Department of State has been lavishly funding in Russia during Clinton’s tenure. She is forgetting that the Federal Election Campaign Act flatly prohibits foreign involvement in American political process that she regards as legitimate and desirable when conducted in Russia by Washington’s protégés under the guise of promoting democracy.
As for the restrictions on social media, Russia blacklists websites devoted to drug use, suicide promotion and paedophilia. The government was accused of using the law as a tool for censorship after two—two—popular sites were banned. We may take Clinton’s criticism seriously when she expresses similar concern over Internet censorship by our NATO ally Turkey—which bans access to thousands of sites—or by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which block access to all sites which engage in the criticism of those countries’ governments, not to mention those “deemed offensive to Islam.”
Hillary Clinton’s performance in Dublin reinforces my view (see the September 2012 issue of Chronicles) that she is the worst secretary of state in U.S. history. The substance and style of her foreign policymaking have undermined the national security of the United States. Her standing abroad is abysmal. It ranges from raw hate in the Muslim world—Egyptian protesters threw tomatoes and shoes at her motorcade last July—to contempt (Jerusalem), eye-rolling irritation (Moscow, Beijing, most of Latin America), or grudging endurance (Europe).
Clinton has abused her position in pursuit of a radical ideological outlook formed in the late 1960’s. Her disregard for long-established international norms and mechanisms is as revolutionary on the global scene as Obama’s presidency is domestically. She has undermined this country’s national security in various ways—her support for the misnamed Arab Spring, her Syrian policy, her Russian policy, her Balkan policy, her obsessive advocacy of “gay rights” in traditionally Christian countries—but the roots of those decisions are in her view of the United States as an ideological proposition. She does not see America as a real country populated by real people, whose security interests are rationally quantifiable on the basis of tangible costs and benefits. “When I ask people, ‘What do you think the goals of America are today?’ people don’t have any idea,” she told MSNBC in 2007. “We don’t know what we’re trying to achieve. And I think that in a life or in a country you’ve got to have some goals.”
The notion of a country having “goals” is the product of an un-American, corporatist, liberal-fascist paradigm that demands permanent cultural revolution at home and permanent “engagement” abroad. The result is a foreign policy that is part-Ribbentrop, part-New Age. Any outcome desired by Hillary Clinton becomes nonnegotiable; any opposition to it is more than a personal affront; it is an insult to “history.” To lie for the higher truth is a virtue, and to enforce the lie is a test of will.
Subterfuge came first. Mrs. Clinton has reduced the ability of American diplomats to function effectively by signing orders early in her tenure—revealed by Wikileaks—instructing Foreign Service officers to spy on the diplomats of other nations. She also told State Department officials overseas to collect the fingerprints, facial images, DNA, and iris scans of foreign leaders, and to obtain passwords and credit-card numbers used by foreign officials. Some spies have always masqueraded as diplomats, but under Clinton all American diplomats are rightly assumed to be at least part-time spooks. Remarkably, she has succeeded in evading scrutiny by congressional oversight committees. Three or four decades ago, such revelations would have resulted in the offending secretary of state’s resignation, but the legacy of her husband and his successor have altered the moral climate, making Mrs. Clinton safe from sanction.
More serious in their impact on America’s national security are Hillary Clinton’s strategic blunders. There is no rational explanation for her support for the forces of jihad in North Africa, the “Arab Spring” that is predictably reshaping the region (and particularly Egypt, the key player in that region) into a foreign policy realist’s nightmare. Clinton turned the Egyptian “revolution” into her own pet project because of her ideological makeup: a seemingly popular mass movement was ipso facto historically preordained, and therefore worthy of support. Her relentless pressure on Egyptian generals to surrender to the Muslim Brotherhood’s takeover of the country was patently not in the American interest. The process now continues in Syria, where a false-flag chemical weapons atrocity is a distinct possibility.
Clinton and her team treat meddling and intervention as a moral imperative and a test of American leadership. The doubters are maligned in terms unprecedented in diplomatic discourse. That Russia and China vetoed her U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing war against Syria was, according to her U.N. Ambassador and possible successor Susan Rice, “disgusting and shameful.” Such “diplomacy” is indicative of neurosis, not statesmanship. It merely hastens the decline of American power and influence around the world, the long-term process enhanced during Hillary Clinton’s tenure at Foggy Bottom.
At a local neighborhood meeting the other day, I made a comment that someone else didn’t like – and the next thing I knew this person was yelling at me Big Time. Perhaps she thought that the sheer volume of her voice would bully me into keeping the real 411 to myself. Not gonna happen.
I’ve been bullied all my life by all kinds of expert bullies. I’ve been threatened by terrorists in Iraq, chased by North Korean border guards, issued death threats by the IDF – and, even worse, raised in a Republican town! You can’t get much more bullied than that. So now I never back down for anyone — let alone someone who merely raises his or her voice.
And so, at the meeting, I used my “outside voice” on that bully – a voice that makes even dogs and bats hide under the bed. But did that make me feel any better? No, not even close. All I’d done was just to stoop to herlevel. Not good.
Bullies are people who, when they can’t win their arguments by truth, reason or logic, then result to violence, intimidation, lies and extortion. School-yard bullies use that technique. And, on the national and international level, it is also used by the Mafia, Al Qaeda, Fox News, the IDF, the GOP, America’s new militarized police forces and our new massive highly-weaponized armies happily dreaming of world-wide “pre-emptive war” at the taxpayers’ expense.
So how do we protect ourselves against bullies? Not sure. Non-violent resistance is good — but losing one’s life in order to non-violently preserve one’s own self-respect is bad.
Strength in numbers is good (just look at what WalMart workers are achieving through their demonstrations) – but getting pepper-sprayed and shot with rubber bullets by our new militarized police forces in the process is bad.
Raising our children to believe in Truth and Justice is good. Bullying our children with spankings and other types of brutal actions of the strong against the weak is bad. ANYONE can beat up a two-year-old.
Social media freedom and WikiLeaks are good. Media distortion and censorship is bad.
And, according to Dave Lindorff, climate change is bad for most of us but might be hunky-dory for bullies.
When we decent folk stand up against bullies, no matter what it costs us, this makes us feel good about ourselves — but it also makes us feel bad because we have stooped to their level. But as Jesus, Buddha, etc. once said, “There is more good in human beings than there is bad.” And now, more than ever, it is time for the good part of our human nature to come out — and to stop kowtowing to bullies. And to stop BEING bullies as well.
But I digress.
What I really want to talk about here is the very nature of “war” — where the strong intimidate the weak and the biggest bully takes all. Unfortunately, it’s not the smartest or most creative or the kindest or the best or most hard-working person who takes it all — it’s the ones with the most weapons and the least shame.
In the last 65 years, America has become the biggest bully in the world. I’m ashamed to say that — but it is true. And all our super-macho armies and all our vainglorious wars, even the ones involving squabbling with other bullies over the same turf, don’t make us any better than what we really have become: Bullies.
We try to teach our kids not to be bullies — and then we ourselves turn around and wave flags and cheer and support all kinds of brutal bullying done by America’s vast war machine, even though we have armed and equipped these bullies ourselves; at the expense of our own jobs, homes,infrastructure, schools, lifestyles, elders and kids.
A few million years ago, dinosaurs were the ultimate bullies and mammals were the ultimate victims – in a race between the strong and the meek. But just look how things have turned out. Seen any dinosaurs around lately? I think not.
And who knows what new life-form will start evolving once our current human bullying “Masters of War” are extinct.
At the rate we are going – between the massive weapons races, the invasions and Occupations, the terrorism (state-sponsored and otherwise), the nuclear arsenals, whatever – it looks like the meek truly are going to inherit the earth. Again.
The United States government and its subject peoples think of the US as “the world’s only superpower.” But how is a country a superpower when its entire government and a majority of the subjects, especially those members of evangelical churches, grovel at the feet of the Israeli Prime Minister? How is a country a superpower when it lacks the power to determine its own foreign policy in the Middle East? Such a country is not a superpower. It is a puppet state.
In the past few days we have witnessed, yet again, the “American superpower” groveling at Netanyahu’s feet. When Netanyahu decided to again murder the Palestinian women and children of Gaza, to further destroy what remains of thesocial infrastructure of the Gaza Ghetto, and to declare Israeli war crimes and Israeli crimes against humanity to be merely the exercise of “self-defense,” the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the White House, and the US media all promptly declared their support for Netanyahu’s crimes.
On November 16 the Congress of the “superpower,” both House and Senate, passed overwhelmingly the resolutions written for them by AIPAC, the Israel Lobby known as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the only foreign agent that is not required to register as a foreign agent. The Global News Service of the Jewish People reported their power over Washington with pride. Both Democrats and Republicans shared the dishonor of serving Israel and evil instead of America and justice for the Palestinians.
The White House quickly obeyed the summons from the Israel Lobby. President Obama announced that he is “fully supportive” of Israel’s assault on Gaza. Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser, told the media on November 17 that the White House “wants the same thing as the Israelis want.” This is an overstatement as many Israelis oppose the crimes of the Israeli government, which is not the government of Israel but the government of the “settlers,” that is, the crazed land-hungry immigrants who are illegally, with Netanyahu’s support, stealing the lands of the Palestinians.
Netanyahu’s Israel is the equivalent of the Lincoln Republicans 150 years ago. Then there was no international law to protect Southern states, who left the voluntary union, a right under the Constitution, in order to avoid being exploited by Northern business interests. Subsequently, the Union army, after devastating the South, turned on the American Indians, and there was no international law to protect American Indians from being murdered and dispossessed by Washington’s armies.
Washington claimed that its invasion forces were threatened by the Indian’s bows and arrows. Today there is international law to protect the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza. However, every time that the world tries to hold the Israeli government accountable for its crimes, Israel’s Washington puppet vetoes the UN decision.
The notion that Israel is threatened by Palestinians is as absurd as the notion that the US is threatened by Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, and Iran. No government of any of these countries has ever made a threatening statement against the US. Even had such a statement been made, it would be meaningless. If a Superpower can be threatened by such impotent and distant counties, then it is not a superpower.
Demonizing a victim is a way of hiding state crimes. The American print and TV media is useless as a check on state crimes. The only crimes reported by the media are assigned to “terrorists,” that is, those who resist US hegemony, and to Americans, such as Bradley Manning and Sibel Edmonds, who liberate truth from official secrecy. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks remains in danger despite the asylum granted to him by the President of Ecuador, as Washington has little regard for international law.
In the US the exercise of the First Amendment is coming to be regarded as a crime against the state. The purpose of the media is no longer to find the truth, but to protect official lies. Speaking the truth has essentially disappeared as it is too costly to journalist who dare to do so. To keep one’s job, one serves Washington and the private interest groups that Washington serves.
In his November 19 defense of Israel’s latest war crimes, President Obama said: “no country on earth would tolerate missiles raining down from outside its borders.” But, of course, numerous countries do tolerate missiles raining down from the US. The war criminal Obama is raining down missiles in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, and has rained missiles on Libya, Somalia, Iraq and Syria as well. Iran might be next.
The German assault on the Warsaw Ghetto is one of the horror stories of Jewish history. Such an event is happening again, only this time Jews are perpetrators instead of victims. No hand has been raised to stay Israel from the goal of the operationdeclared by Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai to be “to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages.”
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.
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
In the Middle Eastern corrida, the moment of truth is approaching fast. Assad’s Syria is running around the arena like a wounded bull, fraught and worn down by a year of cruel strife. Banderillas of mujaheeds stick out of his broken hide. The public, the Europeans, the Americans, the Gulf rulers call: Kill him! And the Turkish matador steps forward, pulling out his sword. His cannons rain death on Syrian slopes; fire and lead storm consumes the hills. Erdogan is preparing to deal last blow to his exhausted neighbour.
“Don’t do it, Erdogan! Desist!” – cry thousands of Turks demonstrating against the bloody war. Syria was a good neighbour of Turkey: Assad did not allow the Kurdish separatists to open the second front against the Turks, he delivered Ocalan to their hands, he did not turn the loss of Antioch into a national cause, he kept Israeli army at bay, he bore the brunt of war in Lebanon, supporting the brave warriors of Hezbullah. Post-Assad Syria will be worse for Turkey.
If Erdogan’s Janissaries will deal treachourous strike to Syria, and cause its collapse, a terrible whirlwind will ensue, and it will engulf Turkey as well. Inevitable massacre of Syrian Christians by the mujaheeds with Turkish support will remind the world of so many forgotten Christian villages and cities smashed and depopulated by the victorious Turks. The ghosts of slaughtered Armenians and Greeks will emerge from the lanes of Smyrna and the shores of Van. From broken Syria, Kurdistan will definitely come to being, reducing Turkey to the size envisaged by the Versailles Conference.
Saudis will be the great winners of the war, not the Turks. The dream of Caliphate will be centered on the Gulf, not on the Bosphorus. With their own hands, the Turks prepare their own defeat.
Good relations with Russia will suffer immensely. Russia has called upon Turkey to restrain its actions and reminded of terrible responsibility to be born by the aggressor. Russia wants Syria to find its own way. Russia is the biggest trade partner of Turkey; thousands of Turkish engineers and technicians work in Russia, thousands of Russians holiday in Turkey.
Moreover, the relations of Russia and Turkey are important beyond practical mercantile considerations. These two great countries are heirs to one greatest Eastern Roman, or Byzantine Empire. The Ottomans inherited her main body that was broken in 1918 into many splinters; her most important offshoot, Russia inherited her spirit and faith. If you seek symmetry, think of the Western Roman Empire: her main body, Western Europe, was fragmented and is now in the process of being united, while her most important offshoot, the United States of America, inherited her imperial spirit.
Russians and Turks are very similar to each other; the Turks are “Russians in shalvars”, they say. Both nations went through modernisation and Westernisation, but preserved their own identity. Both nations passed through violent denial of faith from 1920s to 1990s, and rediscovered their religious leanings afterwards.
The Russians see the Turks as equal human beings and feel empathy to them. The leading Russian historian Lev Gumilev exalted the Russian – Turkic comradeship-in-arms that broke the wave of Western Crusades in 13-14th Centuries. In modern times Vladimir Lenin gave a hand in friendship to Mustafa Kemal and forfeited all Russian claims to defeated Turkey, for he expected Turkey to sustain its historical role of protector of the East. The Russians and the Turks must remain friends. If the Russians ask Erdogan “Do not do it!” he should listen. Instead, he grounded their plane.
The Russians are not obsessed with Bashar al Assad, nor is he their best friend. He came to power in year 2000, but his first visit to Moscow took place only in 2005, meanwhile he frequented Paris and London. Russian trade with Syria is not too big, either. Israeli PM Netanyahu promised Russian President Putin to protect Russian interests in Syria in case of the rebels’ victory. The Russians aren’t selfish; they insist on peaceful transformation, in accordance with Syrian people’s will, and they do object to the rape of Syria as envisaged by Saudis and the West.
The relations of Turkey with Iran will suffer. For Iran, Syria is an important partner, a window to the Mediterranean. Victory of pro-American forces in Syria will close the window. Iranians will be mighty upset with Turkey. It is not a good idea to spoil these relations.
The people of Turkey do not want war with Syria; even Turkish generals are not keen to unleash the dogs of war. Only pro-NATO Westernisers within Turkish leadership desire to overturn the legitimate government in Damascus. Other Turks remember that doing Western bidding never led Turkey – or Russia – to any good result.
I understand why the Turkish leaders decided to embrace and support the rebels a year ago: they were misled by the Western-cum-Gulf spin of Syrian government’s forthcoming speedy collapse, and they wanted to be on the winning side. But after the noisy media campaign, reality came and debunked the propheciers: despite billions of dollars wasted by Qatar, Saudis and the West, despite heaps of armaments transported through Turkish-Syrian border, the Assad regime stands fast and still enjoys enough popular support.
This is the right time for reassessment. In every game, there is a moment for it, when you decide not to throw good money after bad one. And reassessment started, with many Turks calling to write off the losses, stop supporting the rebels and try to restore normalcy under the good slogan “with neighbours – no problems”. The New York Times reported a few days before the flare-up of the U-turn in Turkish minds: people are disappointed with flow of unruly Syrian mujaheddin, with lawlessness, with flood of refugees, with growth of Kurdish resistance. Turks are known for their daring U-turns. In 1940, they sided with Germany being certain of the Reich’s victory, but in 1944 they understood that the USSR is winning, and changed sides. Now is the time to change sides, to go back to strict neutrality, to stop support of the rebels and seal the border, said the people to the New York Times reporter.
But people overseas who planned the Syrian Disaster, drew different conclusion of this turn of mind: they decided to speed up their operations and provoked the artillery exchanges. We do not know who aimed the mortars at the Turkish border villages: whether it was done by the Syrian Army in the heat of the battle, or by the rebels trying to trigger the war. The Turkish Yurt newspaper reported that the shots were fired from the NATO weapons recently given to the rebels by the Turks: “Erdogan’s Government Handed over the Mortars to Armed (Free Syrian Army) Groups in Syria which Shelled Akcakale Town” – they headlined. The ammunition was reportedly NATO ammunition 120 AE HE-TNT. Even the New York Times admitted that it’s unknown who’s responsible for mortars landing in Turkey. A German TV canal ZDF reported: mortars were launched from territory controlled by FSA fighters. A leaked video clip said they admitted responsibility for striking Akcakale and killing five Turkish nationals.
But it is possible that the shells were fired by the government troops who shot at the rebels and the Turkish villagers became innocent victims. Provided the Turks allow the rebels to operate freely on their territory, it is quite possible.
It is still not a good reason to begin war. Let us remember 2010, when the Israelis murdered mafia-style nine unarmed Turkish volunteers on board of Mavi Marmara. This was brutal murder at full daylight, filmed and undoubted. Erdogan threatened to send Turkish Navy to the shores of Palestine and relieve Gaza by force. Now, did he do it? No, he did not. Now he is brave to shoot at tired and devastated Syria; but why he was not brave enough to deal with Israel, like the Syrians did?
Now Israelis hope Erdogan will help the rebels to destroy Syria; they asked Turks to coordinate joint action with them. So instead of punishing Israel, Erdogan ends with doing Israel’s desire.
I remember snowy February 2003 in Istanbul, when I came to argue for banning the US army passage to Iraq. I told them that “the long standing Zionist plan is being realised. First, Iraq must be destroyed. After that, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, until all the former Ottoman Empire and its neighbours from Pakistan to Africa are turned into a Zone of Special Interests for Israel, policed by the Turks.
This plan was outlined by General Sharon many years ago, re-formulated by the Zionist Neo-cons Richard Perle and Douglas Feith in 1996, and is now upheld by the Wolfowitz Cabal, the people who run the US foreign policy. If it will be done, it will have been done with the connivance of Turkey, of its ‘Islamic’ government.
I am sorry for you, friends. You were shepherds of the Middle East, now you help the Wolves. You were the rulers of men, now you have become the servants of your masters. You were the protectors of Islam, now you are about to allow desecration of al-Aqsa Mosque.”
What I said then, became true; nothing good came out of Iraqi war. And now, I can say it again: nothing good will come out of Syria War.
The stories of multiple massacres are often just stories. Wikileaks published a Stratfor report saying: “most of the [Syrian] opposition’s more serious claims have turned out to be grossly exaggerated or simply untrue.” And the events on the ground are certainly not worse than whatever was done to Kurds in Turkey, and the Turks probably do not cherish a R2P intervention in their country.
My advice: do not try to finish off Syria, return to your policy of strict neutrality, cease fire and logistic support of the rebels. Let the Syrians sort out their problems themselves, without foreign intervention.
Iran is a great country for kebab; their pretty if well-covered girls are fine; but sense of humour is just not their forte. Their state media repeatedly broadcasted items lifted from the Onion, a satirical magazine taking them for literal truth. The Onion ran a story about American farmers who would rather have a drink with Ahmadinejad than with Obama, and their Fars news agency duly reprinted it. The Onion faked an interview with Mark Zuckerberg, and Iranian state-owned Press TV took it for a real thing.
And now, a new faux-pas. The same Iranian state-owned Press TV published an attack on Julian Assange with a bombastic claim: “Exclusive: Assange-Mossad ties unveiled”. A brief check shows an identical piece appeared onThe Veterans Today site. Both pieces are identical, both “exclusive” and both written by the same person, a Gordon Duff, wearing two hats, that of “the chief editor of VT” and that of a “columnist of Press TV”. Oy, it would be better to stick to the Onion.
Not only it is not “exclusive”, there is no “revelation” either. In his column, Duff claims that “Assange, an intelligence asset of Israel, as Zbigniew Brzezinski pointed out on December 2, 2010 on National Public Radio in an interview with Judy Woodruff, one tasked with supplying a platform for Israeli intelligence to insert carefully crafted “pointed intelligence” wrapped in “Wikileaks.” A very strong claim! Who would know better than Zbigniew Brzezinski, whether Assange is an intelligence asset or not? If he says so, it is certainly true. But alas, it is not so. In the interview, or anywhere else, or on any other occasion Zbigniew Brzezinski did not say anything similar about Julian Assange.
So, does Duff brazenly lie? No, he cheats the reader. Brzezinski explained what is “intelligence asset”, and Duff built the sentence so a careless reader would think Brzezinski related to Assange. Crafty trick! He could say: Assange, a vile paedophile, as the head of London police said, one who lusts after small children, and we would think that the Head of Scotland Yard confirmed criminality of Assange. He should be a lawyer, this Duff, and make good money.
The centrepiece is the absurd claim that by accusing President Obama of seeking to exploit the Arab spring revolutions for political gain, Assange “supported Romney, just like Netanyahu”. This is too silly even for the Onion! Julian Assange called upon Obama to cease persecution of Wikileaks and of Sergeant Manning, and he said that Obama’s vocal support for freedom of expression had not been translated into action. All that is true: Obama was and is a big disappointment for his voters. He uses drones to kill people more often than any US president. He used and derailed the Arab Spring for the imperial benefit. He was beastly to the Wikileaks. But nothing whatsoever would justify Duff’s daffy assertion that “along with Netanyahu, Assange has tried to insert his way into the American election on the side of a losing candidate whose platform is simply war with Iran.”
He could say the same about any critic of Obama, including theCounterpunch late co-editor Alex Cockburn. Duff goes on: “this week, from his balcony at the Ecuadorian embassy, Assange unleashed his program, carefully coordinated with the world’s druglords, his “bankster” friends and, closest of all, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, his strongest supporter, one to interfere in the American election on behalf of Mitt Romney.” Is there any basis for this wild accusation? None whatsoever. Neither druglords, nor banksters nor Netanyahu neither Romney never expressed a single positive assessment of Julian, neither he of them. Probably Romney would kill Assange by now if he could, and so would bankers, as he published some Bank of America data.
Every line in this lengthy article is zanier than the preceding one. Duff writes: “We got to know Assange initially with his video of a US helicopter killing civilians in Iraq. The problem is, of course, Assange supported the war in Iraq, supported a US attack on Iran for Iraq (whatever this means – ISH), supported war with Pakistan, supports US interference in Syria and, where he stands apart from most well informed people of the world, is a lead figure in suppressing an investigation of 9/11.”
Duff forgot to mention that Assange started World War One and World War Two, supported the Inquisition and is a leading figure behind the global warming (or cooling, or both). For the sake of innocent readers who just now hatched from an egg in rural Kentucky, let it be added, that Assange was and is strongly anti-war, and his publications were instrumental in recognising the sheer criminality of the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
“Assange, living as a princeling for years” – he writes of a man who is locked up for two years for no crime and who hardly had had money for a bus ride. “Assange is a pure Islamophobe” – no reasons given, but believe Duff, he knows. Or even better one: “Julian Assange is the darling of Europe’s ultra-nationalists and “anti-immigration” crowd, seemingly a genetic twin to Andrew Breveik, the Norwegian mass murderer who killed 77 children of party members who supported the Israeli boycott.” Any proof? A quote from Julian, or a quote from Breivik, or at least a quote from “anti-immigration crowd”? Expectedly, none whatsoever. Assange is very far removed from all the nationalist scene, he never was interested in them, or they in him. I do not know why Duff failed to mention that Assange is Jack the Ripper.
Here is another daffy assertion: “When, back in early 2011, it was exposed to the world that all Wikileaks were filtered through Israel and then the “pop culture” mainstream media before release, meaning there is no more censored source of information than Wikileaks, he fell from grace.” Was it exposed? By whom, I pray? From whose grace Julian fell? Actually, I know the answer. It is Duff, who wrote that Wikileaks work from Israel. And then, I presume, Julian fell from grace with Duff’s readers. Was there any basis for it? Again, for the same Kentucky’s chicken benefit, none whatsoever. Julian Assange did not write the cables: the US diplomats did. As I explained on the Counterpunch site, the State Department cables are not overtly critical to Israel, for the US diplomats know that it would jeopardise their career.
One can go on forever, for every single sentence in the lengthy article is a sheer lie and baseless invention. So it was a year ago, and two years ago; as long as I am aware of Mr Duff’s daffy writing. As a man who professionally works on the very edge of the loonies’ cyberspace, I know of him, of his ilk and of his readers. They are mainly the guys who see the Mossad behind everything, including sunset and sunrise. They are the softest target for cheating, Duff style. Just tell them “It is Mossad”, and they will ask no questions. Tell them Ahmadinejad or Putin is a Jew, they would never doubt it.
I am rather fond of the loonies and almost-loonies: they are seeking answers, and it is not their fault that they can’t find them. It does not matter for me what makes Mr Duff tick. Is it a result of his many wounds and contusions acquired during his military service, or is it his innate daffiness, or his friendship with some Pakistani intelligence officers, or does he cover the loony edge for the careful CIA operators who think that even the loonies should be infected with hate to Julian Assange like the feminists were thanks to Anna Ardin and the Jews thanks to the Private Eye? Who knows, who cares…
It never occurred to me to debunk his nonsense, like one does not debunk Grey Aliens and Lizards. So why now?
It is because Iran should be taken seriously, and it should take itself seriously. Whether they want to have a nuclear weapon or not, if such a possibility is ever been pondered, they should watch over what they say and over what their state media reports. Judging by this publication, Iranians profoundly failed, and this failure is worse than one of Siemens booby-trapped equipment. Their discourse can’t rely upon the Onion nor upon those who are gone off their onion.
“Today, many Americans are asking — indeed I ask myself,” Hillary Clinton said, “how can this happen? How can this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated, and at times, how confounding the world can be.” 1
The Secretary of State was referring to the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya September 11 that killed the US ambassador and three other Americans. US intelligence agencies have now stated that the attackers had ties to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.2
Yes, the world can indeed be complicated and confounding. But we have learned a few things. The United States began blasting Libya with missiles with the full knowledge that they were fighting on the same side as the al-Qaeda types. Benghazi was and is the headquarters for Muslim fundamentalists of various stripes in North Africa. However, it’s incorrect to claim that the United States (aka NATO) saved the city from destruction. The story of the “imminent” invasion of Benghazi by Moammar Gaddafi’s forces last year was only propaganda to justify Western intervention. And now the United States is intervening — at present without actual gunfire, as far as is known — against the government of Syria, with the full knowledge that they’re again on the same side as the al-Qaeda types. A rash of suicide bombings against Syrian government targets is sufficient by itself to dispel any doubts about that. And once again, the United States is participating in the overthrow of a secular Mideast government.
At the same time, the Muslim fundamentalists in Syria, as in Libya, can have no illusions that America loves them. A half century of US assaults on Mideast countries, the establishment of American military bases in the holy land of Saudi Arabia, and US support for dictatorships and for Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians have relieved them of such fanciful thoughts. So why is the United States looking to forcefully intervene once again? A tale told many times — world domination, oil, Israel, ideology, etc. Assad of Syria, like Gaddafi of Libya, has shown little promise as a reliable client state so vital to the American Empire.
It’s only the barrier set up by Russia and China on the UN Security Council that keeps NATO (aka the United States) from unleashing thousands of airborne missiles to “liberate” Syria as they did Libya. Russian and Chinese leaders claim that they were misled about Libya by the United States, that all they had agreed to was enforcing a “no-fly zone”, not seven months of almost daily missile attacks against the land and people of Libya. Although it’s very fortunate that the two powers refuse to give the US another green light, it’s difficult to believe that they were actually deceived last spring in regard to Libya. NATO doesn’t do peacekeeping or humanitarian interventions; it does war; bloody, awful war; and regime change. And they would undoubtedly be itching to show off their specialty in Syria — perhaps even without Security Council blessing — except that NATO and the US always prefer to attack people who are exceptionally defenseless, and Syria has ballistic missile capabilities and chemical weapons.
It’s likely that the American elections also serve to keep Obama from expanding the US role in Syria. He may have concluded that there are more votes in the Democratic Party base for peace this time than for waging war against his eighth (sic) country.
The propaganda bias in the Western media has been extreme. Day after day, month after month, we’ve been told of Syrian government attacks, using horrible means, almost invariably with the victims described as unarmed civilians; without any proof, often without any logic, that it was actually the government behind a particular attack, with the story’s source turning out to be an anti-government organization; rarely informing us of similar behavior on the part of the rebel forces. In May, the BBC included pictures of mass graves in Iraq in their coverage of an alleged Syrian government massacre in Houla, Syria. The station later apologized for the pictures saying that they had been submitted to the BBC by a rebel group. 3 On June 7, Germany’s leading daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, citing opponents of Assad, reported that the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and that the bulk of the victims were members of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which have been largely supportive of Assad.
According to a report of Stratfor, the private and conservative American intelligence firm with high-level connections, many of whose emails were obtained by Wikileaks: “most of the [Syrian] opposition’s more serious claims have turned out to be grossly exaggerated or simply untrue.” They claimed “that regime forces besieged Homs and imposed a 72-hour deadline for Syrian defectors to surrender themselves and their weapons or face a potential massacre.” That news made international headlines. Stratfor’s investigation, however, found “no signs of a massacre”, and warned that “opposition forces have an interest in portraying an impending massacre, hoping to mimic the conditions that propelled a foreign military intervention in Libya.” Stratfor then stated that any suggestions of massacres were unlikely because the Syrian “regime has calibrated its crackdowns to avoid just such a scenario … that could lead to an intervention based on humanitarian grounds.”4
Democracy Now — long a standard of progressive radio-TV news — has been almost as bad as CNN and al Jazeera (the latter owned by Qatar, an active military participant in both Libya and Syria). The heavy bias ofDemocracy Now in this area goes back to the very beginning of the Arab Spring. The program made some unfortunate choices in its mideast news correspondents, seemingly only because they spoke Arabic and/or had contacts in the region. Where have you gone Amy Goodman? RT (Russia Today) has stood almost alone amongst English-language television news sources in offering an alternative to the official Western line.
Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research, notes that “Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria are but a sequence of stops on a global roadmap of permanent war that also swings through Iran. Russia and China are the terminal targets.” When the Syrian government is overthrown — and in all likelihood the Western forces will not relent until that happens — the al Qaeda types will be dominant in the Syrian version of Benghazi. The American ambassador would be well advised to not visit.
Can you believe that I almost feel sorry for the American military?
In Afghanistan, the US military has tried training sessions, embedded cultural advisers, recommended reading lists, and even a video game designed to school American troops in local custom. But 11 years into the war, NATO troops and Afghan soldiers are still beset by a dangerous lack of cultural awareness, officials say, contributing to a string of attacks by Afghan police and soldiers against their military partners. Fifty-one coalition troops have been killed this year by their Afghan counterparts. While some insider attacks have been attributed to Taliban infiltrators, military officials say the majority stem from personal disputes and misunderstandings.
So the Afghan army is trying something new, most likely with American input: a guide to the strange ways of the American soldier. The goal is to convince Afghan troops that when their Western counterparts do something deeply insulting, it’s likely a product of cultural ignorance and not worthy of revenge. The pamphlet they’ve produced includes the following advice:
- “Please do not get offended if you see a NATO member blowing his/her nose in front of you.”
- “When Coalition members get excited, they may show their excitement by patting one another on the back or the behind. They may even do this to you if they are proud of the job you’ve done. Once again, they don’t mean to offend you.”
- “When someone feels comfortable in your presence, they may even put their feet on their own desk while speaking with you. They are by no means trying to offend you. They simply don’t know or have forgotten the Afghan custom.” (Pointing the soles of one’s shoes at someone is considered a grievous insult in Afghanistan.)
- The guide also warns Afghan soldiers that Western troops might wink at them or inquire about their female relatives or expose their private parts while showering — all inappropriate actions by Afghan standards.5
Hmmm. I wonder if the manual advises telling Afghan soldiers that urinating on dead Afghan bodies, cutting off fingers, and burning the Koran are all nothing more than good ol’ Yankee customs, meaning no offense of course.
And does it point out that no Afghan should be insulted by being tortured in an American military prison since the same is done at home to American prisoners.
Most importantly, the Afghan people must be made to understand that bombing them, invading them, and occupying them for 11 years are all for their own good. It’s called “freedom and democracy”.
I almost feel sorry for the American military in Afghanistan. As I’ve written about the US soldiers in Iraq, they’re “can-do” Americans, accustomed to getting their way, habituated to thinking of themselves as the best, expecting the world to share that sentiment, and they’re frustrated as hell, unable to figure out “why they hate us”, why we can’t win them over, why we can’t at least wipe them out. Don’t they want freedom and democracy? … They’re can-do Americans, using good ol’ American know-how and Madison Avenue savvy, sales campaigns, public relations, advertising, selling the US brand, just like they do it back home; employing media experts, psychologists, even anthropologists … and nothing helps. And how can it if the product you’re selling is toxic, inherently, from birth, if you’re ruining your customers’ lives, with no regard for any kind of law or morality, health or environment. They’re can-do Americans, used to playing by the rules — theirs; and they’re frustrated as hell.
In case you’re distressed about the possibility of a Romney-Ryan government, here’s some good news:
There are many people in the United States who are reluctant to be active against US foreign policy, or even seriously criticize it, because a Democrat is in the White House, a man promising lots of hope and change. Some of them, however, might become part of the anti-war movement if a Republican were in the White House, even though pursuing the same foreign policy. And we can be sure the policy would be the same for there’s no difference between the two parties when it comes to foreign policy. There’s simply no difference, period, though each party changes its rhetoric a bit depending on whether it’s in the White House or on the outside looking in.
Similarly, the movement for a national single-payer health insurance program has been set back because of President Obama. His health program is like prescribing an aspirin for cancer, but the few baby steps the program takes toward bringing the United States into the 21st century amongst developed nations is enough to keep many American health-care activists content for the time being, especially with Obama facing a tough election. They are satisfied with so little. With a Republican in the White House, however, there might be a resurgence of a more militant health-care activism.
Moreover, if the Republicans had been in power the past three years and done EXACTLY what Obama has done in the sphere of civil liberties and human rights, many Obamaites would have no problem calling the United States by its right name: a police state. I mean that literally. Not the worst police state in the history of the world. Not even the worst police state in the world today. But, nonetheless, a police state. Just read the news each day, carefully.
Sam Smith, editor of the Progressive Review, has written: “Barack Obama is the most conservative Democratic president we’ve ever had. In an earlier time, there would have been a name for him: Republican.”
Oh but there’s Social Security and Medicare, you say. Can Romney be trusted to not make serious cuts to these vital programs? His choice of running mate, Paul Ryan, is practically a poster child for such cuts.
Well, can Obama be trusted to not make such cuts? Consider this recent comment in the New York Times: “[Obama] particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security.” 6
As somebody once said, the United States doesn’t need a third party. It needs a second party.
The only important cause that might significantly benefit from a Democratic administration is appointments to the Supreme Court, if there is in fact an opening. But does this fully override the benefits of Obama being out of office as outlined above?
Dear Reader: I truthfully do not want to be so cynical. Despite the quips, it’s not really fun. But how else can one react to the Republicans and Democrats given their behavior at their recent conventions? If they can so obviously ignore the wishes of their own delegates, what can the average American citizen expect? Have a look at these remarkable scenes caught on video or read this account of the voice votes at the recent conventions.
How many voters does it take to change a light bulb?
None. Because voters can’t change anything.
So what to do?
As I’ve said before: Inasmuch as I can’t see violent revolution succeeding in the United States (something deep inside tells me that we couldn’t quite match the government’s firepower, not to mention its viciousness), I can offer no solution to stopping the imperial beast other than this: Educate yourself and as many others as you can, raising their political and ideological consciousness, providing them with the factual ammunition and arguments needed to sway others, increasing the number of those in the opposition until it raises the political price for those in power, until it reaches a critical mass, at which point … I can’t predict the form the explosion will take or what might be the trigger … But you have to have faith. And courage.
Some further thoughts on American elections and democracy:
Richard Reeves: “The American political system is essentially a contract between the Republican and Democratic parties, enforced by federal and state two-party laws, all designed to guarantee the survival of both no matter how many people despise or ignore them.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832): ”In politics, as on the sickbed, people toss from one side to the other, thinking they will be more comfortable.”
Alexander Cockburn: “There was a time once when ‘lesser of two evils’ actually meant something momentous, like the choice between starving to death on a lifeboat, or eating the first mate.”
U.N. Human Development Report, 1993: “Elections are a necessary, but certainly not a sufficient, condition for democracy. Political participation is not just a casting of votes. It is a way of life.”
Gore Vidal: ”How to get people to vote against their interests and to really think against their interests is very clever. It’s the cleverest ruling class that I have ever come across in history. It’s been 200 years at it. It’s superb.”
Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius: ”The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.”
Michael Parenti: ”As demonstrated in Russia and numerous other countries, when faced with a choice between democracy without capitalism or capitalism without democracy, Western elites unhesitatingly embrace the latter.”
- USA Today, September 12, 2012
- Washington Post, September 28, 2012
- BBC News, May 29, 2012
- Huffington Post, December 19, 2011
- Washington Post, September 28, 2012
- New York Times, “Obama Is an Avid Reader, and Critic, of the News“, Amy Chozick, August 8, 2012
Gone are the days of the all-American army hero. These days, the US military is more like a sanctuary for racists, gang members and the chronically unfit…
Overweight. Unfit. Ex-con. Racist… meet the modern American army. Illustration by Sarah Plane for GNM imaging.
Overweight. Unfit. Ex-con. Racist… meet the modern American army. Illustration by Sarah Plane for GNM imaging.
My journey into the dark underworld of the US military begins on a rainy Tuesday morning in March 2008, with a visit to Tampa, Florida. I am here to meet Forrest Fogarty, an American patriot who served in the US army for two years in Iraq. Fogarty is also a white supremacist of the serious Hitler-worshipping type.
We meet in his favourite hangout, the Winghouse Bar & Grill. In our brief phone call, I’d asked how I would recognise him. “Just look for the skinhead with the tattoos,” he said. And sure enough, sitting straight to my right as I walk in is a youngish-looking man, plastered in tattoos, with cropped hair and bulging biceps. “You’re British, right,” he says, as we order. “I remember seeing black guys with British accents in Iraq, shit was so crazy.”
Fogarty tells me he was bullied at his LA high school by Mexican and African-American children, and was just 14 when he decided he wanted to be a Nazi. He has no qualms about flaunting his prejudice. When black people come into the bar, he emits a hiss of disapproval. “I just don’t want to be around them,” he tells me. “I don’t want to look at them, I don’t want them near me.”
As a young man, Fogarty was obsessed withIan Stuart Donaldson, the legendary singer in the British band Skrewdriver, who is hero-worshipped in the neo-Nazi music scene. At 16, he had an image from one of Skrewdriver’s album covers – a Viking carrying an axe, an icon among white nationalists – tattooed on his left forearm. Soon after, he had a Celtic cross, an Irish symbol appropriated by neo-Nazis, emblazoned on his stomach. A few years later, he started his own band, Attack, now one of the biggest Nazi bands in the US. But it was never his day job. “I was a landscaper when I left school,” he says. “I kind of fell into it. I didn’t give a shit what I was doing, I was just drinking and fighting.”
For the next eight years he drifted through jobs in construction and landscaping, and began hanging out with the National Alliance, at the time one of the biggest neo-Nazi organisations in the US. He soon became a member. He had always seen himself as a fighter and warrior, so he resolved to do what two generations of Fogartys had done before him: join the military.
Forrest Fogarty, a neo-Nazi who served in Iraq as a part of the military police from 2004 to 2005. Photograph: Courtesy Matt Kennard
Forrest Fogarty, a neo-Nazi who served in Iraq as a part of the military police from 2004 to 2005. Photograph: Courtesy Matt Kennard
Fogarty was not the first extremist to enter the armed forces. The neo-Nazi movement has had a long and tense relationship with the US military. Since its inception, the leaders of the white supremacist movement have encouraged their members to enlist. They see it as a way for their followers to receive combat and weapons training, courtesy of the US government, and then to bring what they learn home to undertake a domestic race war. Not all far-right groups subscribe to this vision – some, such as the Ku Klux Klan, claim to prefer a democratic approach – but a large portion see themselves as insurrectionary forces. To that end, professional training in warfare is a must.The US military has long been aware of these groups’ attempts at infiltration, but it wasn’t until 1996 that supremacist and neo-Nazi groups were specifically banned from the military, after the murder in 1995 of two African-Americans by a neo-Nazi paratrooper stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Fogarty was recruited the year after.
He knew that the tattoo he had riding up his forearm could be a problem when it came to enlistment. In a neo-Nazi underworld obsessed with secrecy, racist tattoos remain one of the clearest indicators of extremism for a recruiter, and in an effort to police the matter, the US military requires recruits to explain any tattoos. “They just told me to write an explanation of each tattoo and I made up some stuff and that was that,” he says.
Soon after Fogarty was approved, his ex-girlfriend and mother of his eldest child contacted the military. According to Fogarty, she sent a dossier of pictures to his military command that showed him at white supremacist and neo-Nazi rallies, as well as performing his racist rock with Attack. “They hauled me before some sort of committee, and showed me the pictures. I just denied it.” The committee, he says, “knew what I was about, but they let it go because I’m a great soldier”.
Fogarty remained in the reserves, until finally, in 2004, he was sent where he had always wanted to go: Iraq. Before he left for the Middle East, he joined the Hammerskin Nation – described by the Anti-Defamation League as the “the most violent and best-organised neo-Nazi skinhead group in the United States“.
Fogarty maintains that a good portion of those around him were aware of his neo-Nazism. “They all knew in my unit,” he says. “They would always kid around and say, ‘Hey, you’re that skinhead!’” He was confident enough of his carte blanche from the military that during his break from service in 2004, he flew not to see his family in the US but to Dresden, Germany, to give a concert to 2,500 skinheads, on the army’s budget.
When he was at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Fogarty even says a sergeant came up to him and said, “You’re one of those racist motherfuckers, aren’t you?” I ask how the sergeant knew about his racism. “The tattoo, I suppose. I can’t hide everything – people knew, even the chain of command.”
Another white supremacist soldier, James Douglas Ross, a military intelligence officer stationed at Fort Bragg, was given a bad conduct discharge from the army when he was caught trying to mail a submachine gun from Iraq to his father’s home in Spokane, Washington. Military police found a cache of white supremacist paraphernalia and several weapons hidden behind ceiling tiles in Ross’s military quarters. After his discharge, a Spokane County deputy sheriff saw Ross passing out fliers for the neo-Nazi National Alliance. And in early 2012, a photo emerged of a 10-strong US marine scout sniper unit posing for a photo with a Nazi SS bolts flag in Sangin, Afghanistan. According to the military, the symbolism was unknown to the soldiers. “Certainly, the use of the ‘SS runes’ is not acceptable and scout snipers have been addressed concerning this issue,” marine corps spokesman Captain Gregory Wolf said.
James Douglas Ross, who served in Iraq as an intelligence ofﬁcer, in his barracks room. Photograph: Hunter Glass
James Douglas Ross, who served in Iraq as an intelligence ofﬁcer, in his barracks room. Photograph: Hunter Glass
The magnitude of the problem within the military is hard to quantify. The military does not track extremists as a discrete category, coupling them with gang members, and those in the neo-Nazi movement claim different numbers. The National Socialist Movement claimed 190 of its members are inside. White Revolution claimed 12. In white supremacist incidents from 2001 to 2008, the FBI identified 203 veterans. Because the FBI focused only on reported cases, its numbers don’t include the many extremist soldiers who have managed to stay off the radar. But its report does pinpoint why the white supremacist movements seek to recruit veterans – they “may exploit their accesses to restricted areas and intelligence or apply specialised training in weapons, tactics, and organisational skills to benefit the extremist movement”. The report found that two army privates in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg had attempted in 2007 to sell stolen property from the military – including ballistic vests, a combat helmet, and pain medications such as morphine – to an undercover FBI agent they believed was involved with the white supremacist movement (they were convicted and sentenced to six years in prison). It also found multiple examples of white supremacist recruitment among active military personnel, including a period in 2003 when six active-duty soldiers at Fort Riley were found to be members of the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations, working to recruit their army colleagues and even serving as the Aryan Nations’ point of contact for the State of Kansas.
The degree of impunity encountered by Fogarty and countless other extremists has caused tensions within the military. The blind eye turned by the recruiters angered many investigators whose integrity was being compromised. Hunter Glass was a paratrooper in the 1980s and became a gang cop in 1999 in Fairville, North Carolina, next to Fort Bragg. “In the 1990s, the military was hard on them, they could pick and choose,” he recalls. The change came after 9/11. “The key rule nowadays is ignore it until it becomes a problem,” Glass tells me. “We need manpower. So as long as the man isn’t acting out, let’s blow it off.” He recounts one episode in early 2005 when he was requested by military police investigators at Fort Bragg to interview a soldier with blatant skinhead insignia – SS lightning bolts and hammers. Glass worked with the base’s military police investigators, who filed a report. “They recommended that he be kicked out,” he recalls, “but the commanding officers didn’t do anything.” He says there was an open culture of impunity. “We’re seeing guys with tattoos all the time … As far as hunting them down, I don’t see it. I’m seeing the opposite, where if a white supremacist has committed a crime, the military stance will be, ‘He didn’t commit a race-related crime.’ ”
By 2005, the US had 150,000 troops deployed in Iraq and 19,500 in Afghanistan. But the military wasn’t prepared in any way for this kind of extended deployment – and just two years into the war in Iraq, people were talking openly about the fact that it had reached breaking point. The slim forces needed fattening up and what followed constituted a complete re-evaluation of who was qualified to serve – a full-works facelift of the service unheard of in modern American history. In the relatively halcyon days of the first Gulf war in 1990, the US military blocked the enlistment of felons. It spurned men and women with low IQs or those without a high school diploma. It would either block the enlistment of or kick out neo-Nazis and gang members. It would treat or discharge alcoholics, drug abusers and the mentally ill. No more. While the Bush administration adopted conservative policies pretty much universally, it saved its ration of liberalism for the US military, where it scrapped many of the regulations governing recruitment.
Many of the wars’ worst atrocities are linked directly to the loosening of enlistment regulations on criminals, racist extremists, and gang members, among others. Then there are the effects on the troops themselves. Lowering standards on intelligence and body weight, for example, compromised the military’s operational readiness and undoubtedly endangered the lives of US and allied troops. Hundreds of soldiers may have paid with their lives for this folly.
On 1 December 2007, Kevin Shields was murdered in Colorado Springs in an incident involving three of his fellow soldiers, Louis Bressler, Kenneth Eastridge and Bruce Bastien Jr, who all served in Iraq as part of the Second Brigade Combat Team, Second Infantry Division. Bressler and Bastien were each put away for 60 years for their part in the murder, alongside a litany of other crimes in Colorado Springs; Eastridge is serving a 10-year prison sentence for his part. In the aftermath of the arrests, pictures emerged of Eastridge proudly displaying his SS bolts tattoo. After his arrest, Bastien told investigators that he and Eastridge had randomly fired at civilians in Iraq during patrols through the streets of Baghdad. In broad daylight, Bastien alleged, Eastridge would use a stolen AK-47 to fire indiscriminately at Iraqi civilians. At least one was hit, he said. “We were trigger happy,” said another member of the platoon, José Barco, who is serving 52 years in jail for shooting and injuring a pregnant woman in Colorado Springs. “We’d open up on anything. They even didn’t have to be armed. We were keeping scores.” So far, no one has been charged with shooting civilians in Iraq.
A US marine scout sniper unit posing with neo-Nazi SS lightning bolts ﬂag in Sangin, Afghanistan
A US marine scout sniper unit posing with neo-Nazi SS lightning bolts ﬂag in Sangin, Afghanistan
The military not only ignored Eastridge’s extremism, but on his return from combat awarded him a Purple Heart and Army Achievement medals. Eastridge’s lawyer, Sheilagh McAteer, becomes palpably angry when I speak to her. She claimed that the military were now knowingly sending mentally unstable young men to Afghanistan and Iraq. “The military is to some extent desperate to get people to go to fight – soldiers who are not fit, mentally and physically sick, but they continue to send them,” she told me. “Having a tattoo was the least of his concerns.”In March 2012, a US soldier, on his fourth deployment in a decade, walked out of his base and went on a shooting spree in southern Afghanistan, murdering more than a dozen Afghan civilians, including nine children. Then news came that US army staff sergeant Robert Bales, the 38-year-old suspect, was from Joint Base Lewis-McCord, in Washington state, which just four months earlier had convicted a member of an Afghanistan “kill team” of murder via a military jury.
PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] was not a new phenomenon for the military, but sending soldiers still suffering from severe mental health problems back to the frontline in such large numbers was. “I’m concerned that people who are symptomatic are being sent back,” said Dr Arthur S Blank, Jr, a Yale-trained psychiatrist. “That has not happened before in our country.” The army’s top mental health expert, Colonel Elspeth Ritchie, explicitly accepted that the reason so many mentally ill troops were being sent back was because of the demands on the military for more and more personnel. “The challenge for us,” he said, “is that the army has a mission to fight. And, as you know, recruiting has been a challenge. And so we have to weigh the needs of the mission with the soldiers’ personal needs.”
Bradley Manning, the alleged US military source of the WikiLeaks data, is another example of the mental health of recruits being ignored. Manning was a “mess of a child” who “should never have been put through a tour of duty in Iraq”, said an officer from the Fort Leonard Wood military base in Missouri, where Manning trained in 2007. Chase Madar, the author of a recent book on Manning, told me, “He would never have been kept in the army if not for record low recruitment levels in 2007 when he enlisted.” The only reason Manning made it on to active duty in Iraq, after repeated warnings about his fitness at all three of his stateside deployments, was the army’s “utter desperation for soldiers with IT and analytic skills during its historic low in recruitment”.
New recruits were physically, as well as mentally, unfit. In 1993, around 23% of prospective recruits would have been overweight – a pretty significant tranche. By 2006, this had increased to just over 27%, or more than a quarter of potential recruits, due partly to the use of “medical waivers” to make exceptions for overweight recruits.
The three most common barriers for potential recruits were failure to graduate high school, a criminal record and physical fitness issues, including obesity. The criminal record had been dealt with by “moral waivers” and the obesity problem by “medical waivers”, but dropping the standards on educational attainment would not be so easy without seriously affecting operational readiness. There was a way for non-graduates to get into the military, however: the general equivalency degree, or GED, which can afford recruits a waiver if they score well enough on the military’s entrance exam. The army accepts about 15% of recruits without a high school diploma if they have a GED. Alive to this loophole, the military instituted another program in 2008, the so-called GED Plus, to give more of America’s youth the requisite qualifications they needed to go and fight. It opened its first prep school for the purpose, targeted at tough, inner-city areas.
In fact, during the “war on terror”, the resources poured into recruiting impressionable young people skyrocketed, with 1,000 new recruiters added in one year to bring high school kids round to the military’s way of thinking. The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps expanded across the nation, and no child was free from their solicitations; even 11-year-olds were taking part in the programmes. One in 10 high school students in Chicago wore a military uniform to school and took classes on shooting guns from retired veterans.
One of the main incentives offered was money – a lot of money from the perspective of a 16-year-old. In 2005, the army moved to raise the average bonus given to recruits when they signed on the dotted line from $14,000 to $17,000, with the possibility of as much as $30,000 for hard-to-fill vacancies. Another of the military’s slogans was ”Join the Armed Forces, get a free education”, an offer many of America’s poorest kids couldn’t turn down.
A report, Soldiers Of Misfortune, by the American Civil Liberties Union, found that the US government was actually in contravention of an international protocol prohibiting the recruitment of children into military service when they are under 18 years old. It also noted that the US military disproportionately targets poor and minority public school students, but its findings were dutifully ignored.
It took a report from the Palm Center at the University of California – a group committed to discussion of homosexuals in the military – to blow the lid on yet more figures the military was trying hard to cover up. In 2007, it published information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act that found the number of convicted criminals enlisting in the US military had nearly doubled in two years, from 824 in 2004 to 1,605 in 2006. In that period, a total of 4,230 convicted felons were enlisted, including those guilty of rape and murder. On top of this, 43,977 soldiers signed up who had been found guilty of a serious misdemeanour, which includes assault. Another 58,561 had drug-related convictions, but all were handed a gun and sent off to the Middle East. “The fact that the military has allowed more than 100,000 people with such troubled pasts to join its ranks over the past three years illustrates the problem we’re having meeting our military needs in this time of war,” said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center.
One of the most horrific of the reported atrocities by the US military in Iraq, the murder of the al-Janabi family in Yusufiyah, involved a convicted criminal, Steven D Green, whose enlistment required special dispensation because of his criminal record. But research has shown that these recruitment practices engender breakdown within the ranks as well. During the “war on terror”, one in three female soldiers reported being victims of some form of sexual assault while in service. In fact, US women service members are today more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than to be killed by enemy fire. No one knows how many Iraqi or Afghan women and girls have been subjected to similar atrocities, although cases such as the rapes and murders in Yusufiyah suggest it was equally endemic, and went equally unpunished.
In 2009, the military met its recruitment targets for the first time since 2004 and once again pledged to lock out those with criminal records. Brigadier General Joseph Anderson, deputy commander of the US Army Recruiting Command, said that the “adult major misconduct” waiver, given for felony offences, was now closed and, additionally, those with a history of juvenile criminal activity would not be allowed to recruit without a high school diploma. It was an admission of guilt, but for many in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was too late.
• Extracted from Irregular Army: Irregular Army: How The US Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, And Criminals To Fight The War On Terror, by Matt Kennard, is published by Verso Books on 24 September, priced £14.99. To order a copy for £11.99, with free UK p&p, visit the Guardian Bookshop.
“We pledge allegiance to the republic for which America stands and not to its empire for which it is now suffering.” 1
Louis XVI needed a revolution, Napoleon needed two historic military defeats, the Spanish Empire in the New World needed multiple revolutions, the Russian Czar needed a communist revolution, the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires needed World War I, the Third Reich needed World War II, the Land of the Rising Sun needed two atomic bombs, the Portuguese Empire in Africa needed a military coup at home. What will the American Empire need?
Perhaps losing the long-held admiration and support of one group of people after another, one country after another, as the empire’s wars, bombings, occupations, torture, and lies eat away at the facade of a beloved and legendary “America”; an empire unlike any other in history, that has intervened seriously and grievously, in war and in peace, in most countries on the planet, as it preached to the world that the American Way of Life was a shining example for all humanity and that America above all was needed to lead the world.
The Wikileaks documents and videos have provided one humiliation after another … lies exposed, political manipulations revealed, gross hypocrisies, murders in cold blood, … followed by the torture of Bradley Manning and the persecution of Julian Assange. Washington calls the revelations “threats to national security”, but the world can well see it’s simply plain old embarrassment. Manning’s defense attorneys have asked the military court on several occasions to specify the exact harm done to national security. The court has never given an answer. If hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, consider an empire embarrassed.
And we now have the international soap opera, L’Affaire Assange, starring Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, Ecuador, and Julian Assange. The United States’ neo-colonies of Sweden (an active warring member of NATO in all but name) and the United Kingdom (with its “special relationship” to the United States) know what is expected of them to earn a pat on the head from their Washington uncle. We can infer that Sweden has no legitimate reason to demand the extradition of Julian Assange from London from the fact that it has repeatedly refused offers to question Assange in the UK and repeatedly refused to explain why it has refused to do so.
The Brits, under “immense pressure from the Obama administration”, as reported to former British ambassador Craig Murray by the UK Foreign Office,2 threatened, in a letter to the Ecuadoran government, to raid the Ecuadoran embassy in London to snatch Assange — “[You] should be aware that there is a legal basis in the United Kingdom, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987, which would allow us to take action to arrest Mr. Assange in the existing facilities of the embassy”. Over the August 18 weekend the London police actually made their way into the building’s internal fire escape, coming within a few feet of Assange’s room, as he could hear. The law cited by the Brits is, of course, their own law, one not necessarily with any international standing.
The UK has now formally withdrawn its threat against the embassy, probably the result of much international indignation toward Her Majesty’s Government. The worldwide asylum system would fall apart if the nation granting the asylum were punished for it. In this violent world of terrorists, imperialists, and other dreadfuls it’s comforting to know that an old fashioned value like political asylum can still be honored.
A look back at some US and UK behavior in regard to embassies and political asylum is both interesting and revealing:
In 1954, when the United States overthrew the democratically-elected social democrat Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala and replaced him with a military government headed by Col. Carlos Castillo Armas, many Guatemalans took refuge in foreign embassies. US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles insisted that the new Guatemalan government raid those embassies and arrest those individuals, whom he referred to as “communists”. But Castillo Armas refused to accede to Dulles’ wishes on this issue. Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer, in their comprehensive history of the coup,3 state:
“In the end, Castillo Armas disregarded Dulles’ suggestions. He himself was a product of the widespread belief in Latin America that embassy asylum and safe-conduct passes were a fair resolution to political conflicts. Virtually every politically active Guatemalan, including Castillo Armas, had sought political asylum in an embassy at one time or another and had obtained safe conduct from the government. Dulles’ suggestion for a ‘modification’ of the asylum doctrine was not even popular within the American Embassy.”
It should be noted that one of those who sought asylum in the Argentine Embassy in Guatemala was a 25-year-old Argentine doctor named Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish judge who is one of Assange’s lawyers, came to international attention in 1998 when he indicted former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet while he was in England. But the British declined to send Pinochet to Spain to face the indictment, in effect giving him political asylum, and allowed this proverbial mass murderer and torturer to walk free and eventually return to Chile. Julian Assange, not charged or found guilty of anything, is a de facto prisoner of the UK; while the New York Times and the BBC and the numerous other media giants, who did just what Assange did by publishing Wikileaks articles and broadcasting Wikileaks videos, walk free.
This past April, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng escaped house arrest in China and took refuge at the American Embassy in Beijing, sparking diplomatic tension between the two countries. But the “authoritarian” Chinese government did not threaten to enter the American Embassy to arrest Chen and soon allowed him to accept an American offer of safe passage to US soil. How will Julian Assange ever obtain safe passage to Ecuador?
In August 1989, while the Cold War still prevailed many East Germans crossed into fellow-Soviet-bloc state Czechoslovakia and were granted political asylum in the West German embassy. How would the United States — which has not said a word against the British threat to invade the Ecuadoran embassy — have reacted if the East Germans or the Czechs had raided the West German embassy or blocked the East Germans from leaving it? As matters turned out, West Germany took the refugee-seekers to West Germany by train without being impeded by the Soviet bloc. A few months later, the weaker “Evil Empire” collapsed, leaving the entire playing field, known as the world, to the stronger “Evil Empire”, which has been on belligerence autopilot ever since.
In 1986, after the French government refused the use of its air space to US warplanes headed for a bombing raid on Libya, the planes were forced to take another, longer route. When they reached Libya they bombed so close to the French embassy that the building was damaged and all communication links were disabled.4
In 1999, NATO (aka the USA), purposely (sic) bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.5
After Assange took refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy and was granted asylum by the South American country, the US State Department declared: “The United States is not a party to the 1954 OAS [Organization of American States] Convention on Diplomatic Asylum and does not recognize the concept of diplomatic asylum as a matter of international law.”6
Ecuador called for a meeting at the OAS of the foreign ministers of member countries to discuss the whole situation. The United States opposed the request. For Washington the issue was simple: The UK obeys international law and extradites Assange to Sweden. (And then, chuckle-chuckle, Sweden sends the bastard to us.) End of discussion. Washington did not want the issue blown up and prolonged any further. But of the 26 nations voting at the OAS only three voted against the meeting: The US, Canada, and Trinidad & Tobago; perhaps another example of what was mentioned above about a dying empire losing the long-held admiration and support of one country after another.
The price Ecuador may pay for its courage … Washington Post editorial, June 20, 2012:
“There is one potential check on [Ecuadoran president Rafael] Correa’s ambitions. The U.S. ‘empire’ he professes to despise happens to grant Ecuador (which uses the dollar as its currency) special trade preferences that allow it to export many goods duty-free. A full third of Ecuadoran foreign sales ($10 billion in 2011) go to the United States, supporting some 400,000 jobs in a country of 14 million people. Those preferences come up for renewal by Congress early next year. If Mr. Correa seeks to appoint himself America’s chief Latin American enemy and Julian Assange’s protector between now and then, it’s not hard to imagine the outcome.”
On several occasions President Obama, when pressed to investigate Bush and Cheney for war crimes, has declared: “I prefer to look forward rather than backwards”. Picture a defendant before a judge asking to be found innocent on such grounds. It simply makes laws, law enforcement, crime, justice, and facts irrelevant. Picture Julian Assange before a military court in Virginia using this argument. Picture the reaction to this by Barack Obama, who has become the leading persecutor of whistleblowers in American history.
Since L’Affaire Assange captured world headlines the United States, as well as the United Kingdom, have on several occasions made statements about the deep-seated international obligation of nations to honor extradition requests from other nations. The United States, however, has a history of ignoring such requests, whether made formally or informally, for persons living in the US who are ideological allies. Here’s a partial sample from recent years:
- Former Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Perez, whom the Venezuelan government demanded be turned over to stand trial for his role in suppressing riots in 1989. He died in 2010 in Miami. (Associated Press, December 27, 2010)
- Former Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada fled to the United States in 2003 to avoid a trial for the death of about 60 people in La Paz during a military crackdown on demonstrators. In 2008, Bolivia formally served the US government with a request to extradite him back to Bolivia, which was not acceded to. (Associated Press, February 13, 2006; also see his Wikipedia entry)
- In 2010, a US federal judge denied Argentina’s extradition request for former military officer Roberto Bravo, who was facing 16 murder charges stemming from a 1972 massacre of leftist guerrillas in his homeland. (Associated Press, November 2, 2010)
- Luis Posada, a Cuban-born citizen of Venezuela, masterminded the bombing of a Cuban airline in 1976, killing 73 civilians. Inasmuch as part of the plotting took place in Venezuela, that government formally asked the United States for his extradition in 2005. But instead of extraditing him, the United States prosecuted him for minor immigration infractions that came to naught. Posada continues to live as a free man in the United States.
- In 2007 German prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 13 suspected CIA operatives who had abducted German citizen Khaled el-Masri in 2003 and flown him to Afghanistan for interrogation (read torture). The CIA then realized they had kidnapped the wrong man and dumped el-Masri on the side of an Albanian road. Subsequently, the German Justice Minster announced that she would no longer request extradition, citing US refusal to arrest or hand over the agents. (The Guardian (London), January 7, 2011)
- In November 2009 an Italian judge convicted a CIA Station Chief and 22 other Americans, all but one being CIA operatives, for kidnapping a Muslim cleric, Abu Omar, from the streets of Milan in 2003 and flying him to Egypt for the usual interrogation. All those convicted had left Italy by the time of the judge’s ruling and were thus tried in absentia. In Italy they are considered fugitives. Although there were verdicts, arrest warrants and extradition requests in the case, the Italian government refused to formally forward the requests to their close allies, the Americans; which, in any event, would of course have been futile. (Der Spiegel [Germany] online, December 17, 2010, based on a Wikileaks US cable)
The hidden, obvious, peculiar, fatal, omnipresent bias of American mainstream media concerning US foreign policy
There are more than 1,400 daily newspapers in the United States. Can you name a single paper, or a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam? Or even opposed to any two of these wars? How about one? (I’ve been asking this question for years and so far I’ve gotten only one answer — Someone told me that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer had unequivocally opposed the invasion of Iraq. Can anyone verify that or name another case?)
In 1968, six years into the Vietnam war, the Boston Globe surveyed the editorial positions of 39 leading US papers concerning the war and found that “none advocated a pull-out”.7
Now, can you name an American daily newspaper or TV network that more or less gives any support to any US government ODE (Officially Designated Enemy)? Like Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Fidel or Raul Castro of Cuba, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Rafael Correa of Ecuador (even before the current Assange matter), or Evo Morales of Bolivia? I mean that presents the ODE’s point of view in a reasonably fair manner most of the time? Or any ODE of the recent past like Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, Moammar Gaddafi of Libya, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, or Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti?
Who in the mainstream media supports Hamas of Gaza? Or Hezbollah of Lebanon?
Who in the mainstream media is outspokenly critical of Israel’s domestic or foreign policies? And keeps his/her job?
Who in the mainstream media treats Julian Assange or Bradley Manning as the heros they are?
And this same mainstream media tell us that Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, et al. do not have a real opposition media.
The ideology of the American mainstream media is the belief that they don’t have any ideology; they are instead what they call “objective”.
It’s been said that the political spectrum concerning US foreign policy in the America mainstream media “runs the gamut from A to B.”
Long before the Soviet Union broke up, a group of Russian writers touring the United States were astonished to find, after reading the newspapers and watching television, that almost all the opinions on all the vital issues were the same. “In our country,” said one of them, “to get that result we have a dictatorship. We imprison people. We tear out their fingernails. Here you have none of that. How do you do it? What’s the secret?”8
On October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.”9
- Sam Smith, editor of the Progressive Review ↩
- Craig Murray, “America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally: Former UK Ambassador“, Information Clearing House, August 16, 2012 ↩
- Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala (1982), pp.222-3 ↩
- Associated Press, “France Confirms It Denied U.S. Jets Air Space, Says Embassy Damaged”,
April 15, 1986 ↩
- William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, pp.308-9 ↩
- Josh Rogin, “State Department: The U.S. does not recognize the concept of ‘diplomatic asylum’”, Foreign Policy, August 17, 2012 ↩
- Boston Globe, February 18, 1968, p.2-A ↩
- John Pilger, New Statesman (London), February 19, 2001 ↩
- Index on Censorship (London), October 18, 2001 ↩
A new film, “Compliance,” examines “the human desire to follow and obey authority.” Liberal institutions, such as the media, universities, federal courts, and human rights organizations, which have traditionally functioned as checks on the blind obedience to authority, have in our day gone over to power’s side. The subversion of these institutions has transformed them from checks on power into servants of power. The result is the transformation of culture from the rule of law to unaccountable authority resting on power maintained by propaganda.
Propaganda is important in the inculcation of trust in authority. The Pussy Riot case shows the power of Washington’s propaganda even inside Russia itself and reveals that Washington’s propaganda has suborned important human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Chatham House, and Amnesty International.
Pussy Riot is described in the western media as a punk rock group, but seems in fact to be a group known as Voina (War) that performs lewd or scandalous unannounced public performances such as the one in the Russian cathedral, a sexual orgy in a museum, and events such as this and also this.
Three of the cathedral performers were apprehended, indicted, tried, convicted of breaking a statutory law, and given two-year prison sentences. The Voice of Russia recently broadcast a discussion of the case from its London studio. Representatives from Human Rights Watch and Chatham House argued that the case was really a free speech case and that the women were political prisoners for criticizing Russian President Putin.
This claim was disingenuous. In the blasphemous performance in the Russian cathedral, Putin was not mentioned. The references to Putin were added to the video posted on the Internet after the event in order to turn a crime into a political protest.
The human rights representatives also argued that the women’s conviction could only happen in Putin’s Russia. However, the program host pointed out that in fact most European countries have similar laws as Russia’s and that a number of European offenders have been arrested and punished even more severely. Indeed, I recently read a news report from Germany that a copycat group of women had staged a similar protest in support of Pussy Riot and had been arrested. An analysis of these issues is available here.
The human rights representatives seemed to believe that Putin had failed the democratic test by failing to stop the prosecution. But a country either has the rule of law or doesn’t have the rule of law. If Putin overrides the law, it means Putin is the law.
Whether Washington had a hand in the Pussy Riot event via the Russian protest groups it funds, Hitlery Clinton was quick to make propaganda. Free expression was threatened in Russia, she said.
Washington used the Pussy Riot case to pay Putin back for opposing Washington’s destruction of Syria. The overlooked legal issue is Washington’s interference in internal Russian affairs. The close alignment of human rights organizations with Washington’s propaganda hurts the credibility of human rights advocacy. If human rights groups are seen as auxiliaries of Washington’s propaganda, their moral authority evaporates.
The prevalence of the English language, due to the British domination of the world in the 18th and 19th centuries and American domination in the 20th and first decade of the 21st century, makes it easy for Washington to control the explanations. Other languages simply do not have the reach to compete.
Washington also has the advantage of having worn the White Hat in the Cold War. The peoples who were constituent parts of the Soviet empire and even many Russians themselves still see Washington as the wearer of the White Hat. Washington has used this advantage to finance “color revolutions” that have moved countries from the Russian sphere of influence into Washington’s sphere of influence.
Tony Cartalucci concludes that “Amnesty International is US State Department Propaganda.” Cartalucci notes that Amnesty’s executive director is former State Department official Suzanne Nossel, who conflates “human rights advocacy” with US global hegemony.
Amnesty does seem like an amplifier for Washington’s propaganda. Amnesty’s latest email to members (August 27) is: “As if the recent trial and sentencing of three members of Pussy Riot wasn’t shameful enough, now Russian police are hunting down others in the band. Make no mistake about it: Russian authorities are relentless. Just how far are the Russian authorities willing to go to silence voices of dissent? Tell the Russian government to stop hunting Pussy Riot!”
Amnesty International’s August 23 email to its members, “Wake Up World,” is completely one-sided and puts all blame for violence on the Syrian government, not on al Qaeda and other outside groups that Washington has armed and unleashed on the Syrian people. Amnesty is only concerned with getting visual images damning to the Syrian government before the public: “We are working to get this damning footage into the hands of journalists around the world. Support our work and help ensure that our first-hand video is seen by influential members of the media.”
At least Pussy Riot got a trial. That’s more than US Marine, Brandon Raub, a veteran of two tours of combat duty, got. Raub posted on Facebook his opinion that he had been misused by Washington in behalf of an illegal agenda. Local police, FBI, and Secret Service descended upon his home, dragged him out, and on the authority of a social worker, committed him to a mental hospital for observation.
I did not see any protests from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, or Chatham House. Instead, a Virginia circuit court judge, W. Allan Sharrett, demanded Raub’s immediate release, stating that there was no reason to detain and commit Raub except to punish him for exercising his free speech right.
Americans are increasingly punished for exercising free speech rights. A number of videos of police violence against the occupy movement are available on youtube. They show the goon thug gestapo cops beating women, pepper spraying protestors sitting with their heads bowed, truncheons flashing as American heads are broken and protestors beat senseless are dragged off in handcuffs for peacefully exercising a constitutionally protected right.
There has been more protest over Pussy Riot than over the illegal detention and torture of Bradley Manning or the UK government’s threat to invade the Embassy of Ecuador and to drag out WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.
When a Chinese dissident sought asylum in the US embassy in China, the Chinese government bowed to international law and permitted the dissident’s safe passage to the US. But “freedom and democracy” Great Britain refuses free passage to Assange who has been granted asylum, and there is no protest from Clinton at the State Department.
In “China’s Rise, America’s Fall,” Ron Unz makes a compelling argument that the Chinese government is more respectful of the rule of law and more responsive to the people it governs than is Washington. Today it is Russia and China, not the UK and Europe, that challenge Washington’s claim that the US government is above international law and has the right to overthrow governments of which it disapproves.
The lawlessness that now characterizes the US and UK governments is a large threat to humanity’s finest achievement–the rule of law–for which the British fought from the time of Alfred the Great in the ninth century to the Glorious Revolution of the 17th century.
Where are the protests over the Anglo-American destruction of the rule of law?
Why Aren’t Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Chatham House on the case?
Source: Paul Craig Roberts