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Ukraine: The Corporate Annexation

March 26, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

As the US and EU apply sanctions on Russia over its annexation’ of Crimea, JP Sottile reveals the corporate annexation of Ukraine. For Cargill, Chevron, Monsanto, there’s a gold mine of profits to be made from agri-business and energy exploitation.

On 12th January 2014, a reported 50,000 “pro-Western” Ukrainiansdescended upon Kiev’s Independence Square to protest against the government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Stoked in part by an attack on opposition leader Yuriy Lutsenko, the protest marked the beginning of the end of Yanukovych’s four year-long government.

That same day, the Financial Timesreported a major deal for US agribusiness titan Cargill.

Business confidence never faltered

Despite the turmoil within Ukrainian politics after Yanukovych rejected a major trade deal with the European Union just seven weeks earlier, Cargill was confident enough about the future to fork over $200 million to buy a stake in Ukraine’s UkrLandFarming.

According to the Financial Times, UkrLandFarming is the world’s eighth-largest land cultivator and second biggest egg producer. And those aren’t the only eggs in Cargill’s increasingly ample basket.

On 13th December 2013, Cargill announced the purchase of a stake in a Black Sea grain terminal at Novorossiysk on Russia’s Black Sea coast.

The port — to the east of Russia’s strategically and historically important Crimean naval base — gives them a major entry-point to Russian markets and adds them to the list of Big Ag companies investing in ports around the Black Sea, both in Russia and Ukraine.

Cargill has been in Ukraine for over two decades, investing in grain elevators and acquiring a major Ukrainian animal feed company in 2011. And, based on its investment in UkrLandFarming, Cargill was decidedly confident amidst the post-EU deal chaos.

It’s a stark juxtaposition to the alarm bells ringing out from the US media, bellicose politicians on Capitol Hill and perplexed policymakers in the White House.

Instability?… What Instablility?

It’s even starker when compared to the anxiety expressed by Morgan Williams, President and CEO of the US-Ukraine Business Council — which, according to its website, has been“promoting US-Ukraine business relations since 1995.”

Williams was interviewed by the International Business Times on March 13 and, despite Cargill’s demonstrated willingness to spend, he said, “The instability has forced businesses to just go about their daily business and not make future plans for investment, expansion and hiring more employees.”

In fact, Williams, who does double-duty as Director of Government Affairs at the private equity firm SigmaBleyzer, claimed, “Business plans have been at a standstill.”

Apparently, he wasn’t aware of Cargill’s investment, which is odd given the fact that he could’ve simply called Van A. Yeutter, Vice President for Corporate Affairs at Cargill, and asked him about his company’s quite active business plan.

There is little doubt Williams has the phone number because Mr. Yuetter serves on the Executive Committee of the selfsame US-Ukraine Business Council. It’s quite a cozy investment club, too.

According to his SigmaBleyzer profile, Williams “started his work regarding Ukraine in 1992″ and has since advised American agribusinesses “investing in the former Soviet Union.” As an experienced fixer for Big Ag, he must be fairly friendly with the folks on the Executive Committee.

Big Ag Luminaries — Monsanto, Eli Lilly, Dupont, John Deere…

And what a committee it is — it’s a veritable who’s who of Big Ag. Among the luminaries working tirelessly and no doubt selflessly for a better, freer Ukraine are:

  • Melissa Agustin, Director, International Government Affairs & Trade for Monsanto;
  • Brigitte Dias Ferreira, Counsel, International Affairs for John Deere;
  • Steven Nadherny, Director, Institutional Relations for agriculture equipment-makerCNH Industrial;
  • Jeff Rowe, Regional Director for DuPont Pioneer;
  • John F. Steele, Director, International Affairs for Eli Lilly & Company.

And, of course, Cargill’s Van A. Yeutter. But Cargill isn’t alone in their warm feelings toward Ukraine. As Reuters reported in May 2013, Monsanto — the largest seed company in the world — plans to build a $140 million “non-GM (genetically modified) corn seed plant in Ukraine.”

And right after the decision on the EU trade deal, Jesus Madrazo, Monsanto’s Vice President for Corporate Engagement, reaffirmed his company’s “commitment to Ukraine”and “the importance of creating a favorable environment that encourages innovation and fosters the continued development of agriculture.”

Monsanto’s strategy includes a little “hearts and minds” public relations, too. On the heels of Mr. Madrazo’s reaffirmation, Monsanto announced “a social development program titled ‘Grain Basket of the Future’ to help rural villagers in the country improve their quality of life.”

The initiative will dole out grants of up to $25,000 to develop programs providing“educational opportunities, community empowerment, or small business development.”

Immense Economic Importance

The well-crafted moniker ‘Grain Basket of the Future’ is telling because, once upon a time, Ukraine was known as ‘the breadbasket’ of the Soviet Union. The CIA ranks Soviet-era Ukraine second only to Mother Russia as the “most economically important component of the former Soviet Union.”

In many ways, the farmland of Ukraine was the backbone of the USSR. Its fertile black soil generated over a quarter of the USSR’s agriculture. It exported substantial quantities of food to other republics and its farms generated four times the output of the next-ranking republic.

Although Ukraine’s agricultural output plummeted in the first decade after the break-up of the Soviet Union, the farming sector has been growing spectacularly in recent years.

While Europe struggled to shake-off the Great Recession, Ukraine’s agriculture sector grew 13.7% in 2013.

Ukraine’s agriculture economy is hot. Russia’s is not. Hampered by the effects of climate change and 25 million hectares of uncultivated agricultural land, Russia lags behind its former breadbasket.

According to the Centre for Eastern Studies, Ukraine’s agricultural exports rose from $4.3 billion in 2005 to $17.9 billion in 2012 and, harkening the heyday of the USSR, farming currently accounts for 25% of its total exports. Ukraine is also the world’s third-largest exporter of wheat and of corn. And corn is not just food. It is also ethanol.

Feeding Europe

But people gotta eat — particularly in Europe. As Frank Holmes of US Global Investorsassessed in 2011, Ukraine is poised to become Europe’s butcher. Meat is difficult to ship, but Ukraine is perfectly located to satiate Europe’s hunger.

Just two days after Cargill bought into UkrLandFarming, Global Meat News reported a huge forecasted spike in “all kinds” of Ukrainian meat exports, with an increase of 8.1% overall and staggering 71.4% spike in pork exports.

No wonder Eli Lilly is represented on the US-Ukraine Business Council’s Executive Committee. Its Elanco Animal Health unit is a major manufacturer of feed supplements.

And it is also notable that Monsanto’s planned seed plant is non-GMO, perhaps anticipating an emerging GMO-unfriendly European market and Europe’s growing appetite for organic foods. When it comes to Big Ag’s profitable future in Europe, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

A Long String of Russian Losses

For Russia and its hampered farming economy, it’s another in a long string of losses to US encroachment — from NATO expansion into Eastern Europe to US military presence to its south and onto a major shale gas development deal recently signed by Chevron in Ukraine.

So, why was Big Ag so bullish on Ukraine, even in the face of so much uncertainty and the predictable reaction by Russia?

The answer is that the seeds of Ukraine’s turn from Russia have been sown for the last two decades by the persistent Cold War alliance between corporations and foreign policy. It’s a version of the ‘Deep State‘ that is usually associated with the oil and defense industries, but also exists in America’s other heavily subsidized industry — agriculture.

Morgan Williams is at the nexus of Big Ag’s alliance with US foreign policy. To wit,SigmaBleyzer touts Mr. Williams’ work with “various agencies of the US government, members of Congress, congressional committees, the Embassy of Ukraine to the US, international financial institutions, think tanks and other organizations on US-Ukraine business, trade, investment and economic development issues.”

Freedom — For US Business

As President of the US-Ukraine Business Council, Williams has access to Council cohort — David Kramer, President of Freedom House. Officially a non-governmental organization, it has been linked with overt and covert ‘democracy’ efforts in places where the door isn’t open to American interests — aka US corporations.

Freedom House, the National Endowment for Democracy and National Democratic Institute helped fund and support the Ukrainian ‘Orange Revolution’ in 2004. Freedom House is funded directly by the US Government, the National Endowment for Democracy and the US Department of State.

David Kramer is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and, according to his Freedom House bio page, formerly a Senior Fellow at the Project for the New American Century.

Nuland’s $5 Billion For Ukrainian ‘Democracy’

That puts Kramer and, by one degree of separation, Big Ag fixer Morgan Williams in the company of PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan who, as coincidence would have it, is married to Victoria “F*ck the EU” Nuland, the current Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Interestingly enough, Ms. Nuland spoke to the US-Ukrainian Foundation last 13th December, extolling the virtues of the Euromaidan movement as the embodiment of “the principles and values that are the cornerstones for all free democracies.”

Nuland also told the group that the United States had invested more than $5 billion in support of Ukraine’s “European aspirations” — meaning pulling Ukraine away from Russia. She made her remarks on a dais featuring a backdrop emblazoned with a Chevron logo.

Also, her colleague and phone call buddy US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt helped Chevron cook up their 50-year shale gas deal right in Russia’s kitchen.

Coca-Cola, Exxon-Mobil, Raytheon

Although Chevron sponsored that event, it is not listed as a supporter of the Foundation. But the Foundation does list the Coca-Cola CompanyExxonMobil and Raytheon as major sponsors. And, to close the circle of influence, the US-Ukraine Business Council is also listed as a supporter.

Which brings the story back to Big Ag’s fixer — Morgan Williams.

Although he was glum about the current state of investment in Ukraine, he’s gotta wear shades when he looks into the future. He told the International Business Times:

“The potential here for agriculture / agribusiness is amazing … Production here could double. The world needs the food Ukraine could produce in the future. Ukraine’s agriculture could be a real gold mine.”

Of course, his priority is to ensure that the bread of well-connected businesses gets lavishly buttered in Russia’s former breadbasket. And there is no better connected group of Ukraine-interested corporations than American agribusiness.

Given the extent of US official involvement in Ukrainian politics — including the interesting fact that Ambassador Pyatt pledged US assistance to the new government in investigating and rooting-out corruption — Cargill’s seemingly risky investment strategy probably wasn’t that risky, after all.

J P Sottile is a freelance journalist, radio co-host, documentary filmmaker and former broadcast news producer in Washington, D.C. His weekly show, Inside the Headlines w/ The Newsvandal, co-hosted by James Moore, airs every Friday on KRUU-FM in Fairfield, Iowa. He blogs at Newsvandal.com.

Source: JP Sottile | Ecologist

The US Takes A Step Back Towards Its Original Syria Policy

February 18, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Recent statements attributed to Secretary of State John Kerry show him again positioning the US to attack Syria. In a leaked report to the Washington Post, Kerry was quoted as saying that Obama’s Syria policy is failing and that it is time to change the strategy.

These are remarks that deserve further scrutiny. As it turns out, Kerry is dismayed that Syria has not destroyed its estimated 1300 tons of chemical weapons in a scant six months.

Syria has responded by stating that the actions of the rebels in that war torn country has disrupted the conveyance of the weapons to the appointed place.

It should be noted that when the United States joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, it pledged to destroy all its chemical weapons within ten years.

The deadline came and went and the US did not comply. The US received another deadline, for 2012. And once again, failed to achieve this deadline.

And now, the US, which reportedly still has about 3000 tons of chemical weapons in its stockpiles, has stated it will not be able to comply with the treaty mandate until 2023.

What’s wrong with this picture? The US can’t but Syria must?

Obama initially responded dramatically to the report of the alleged gas attack near Damascus, an attack which was said to have taken place on August 21, 2013. He announced that he would make a targeted military strike on Syria, a decision which was subsequently derailed by Russian President Putin, who suggested that Syria join the CWC and move to destroy its chemical weapons cache.

Questions arose immediately as to the veracity of the report of the alleged gas attack. Hacked emails surfaced which incurred grave questions as to whether or not the alleged gas attack even took place. ‎ These emails showed one Army Colonel Anthony J. MacDonald chatting with a DoD employee, Eugene Furst, and others in a manner which raised some questions as to possible military or defense contractor involvement in the alleged gas attack.

Here is a partial thread between MacDonald and Furst. In the MacDonald/Furst exchange, we see Furst congratulating MacDonald on August 22, 2013, referencing the gas attack:

“By the way, saw your latest success, my congratulations. Good job

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/syrian-activists-accuse-government-of-deadly-chemical-attack-near-damascus/2013/08/21/aea157e6-0a50-11e3-89fe-abb4a5067014_story.html”

On the same date, MacDonald replied:

“As you see I’m far from this now, but I know our guys did their best.”

Further hacked emails between MacDonald’s wife and a friend raise questions as to whether or not the alleged attack was staged, “for the cameras,” as Jennifer MacDonald wrote to her friend, Mary Shapiro.

When the Army was contacted about its response to these hacked emails, the reply was firm but somewhat evasive. Press Officer Lt Col Donald Peters told this reporter that the matter was under investigation and therefore no further comment could be tendered at that time.

As it turned out, the issues surrounding the hacked emails were not investigated. Peters attempted to persuade this reporter that as MacDonald allegedly retired from the military on August 15, right before the incident, that the Army had no cause to investigate.

However, according to his Linked in page, MacDonald is still with the Army and is now serving as a Supervisory Intelligence Specialist.

When confronted with this, Army Press Officer Peters issued a No Comment.

Various sources, including the Sunshine Project, have stated that the US repeatedly violated the CWC and used these illegal weapons in its war against Iraq. http://wikileaks.org/wiki/US_violates_chemical_weapons_convention

The Iraqi war was also found to have been launched on bogus intelligence. No weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq. They were, however, used against the Iraqis by the US government.

The massive destabilization of the region through the US’s repeated and spurious declarations of threat will have a blow back that few can predict. Syria has promised to attack Israel should Obama launch a military action against that country. Is Obama so foolish as to put his purported ally, Israel, at this elevated a risk?

Or was this the plan, all along? In the shadowy world of intelligence and propaganda, little is what it appears to be. The US government and corporate accommodation of the Nazi extermination programs is a matter of historical record. The only question left is whether or not the US’s “special interest” in eugenics is still ongoing.

This scenario is not what we have been led to believe would occur. But history supports this perception. And history, as we know, also has a nasty way of repeating itself.


Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist whose articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The San Bernardino County Sentinel, The Santa Monica Daily Press, The Long Beach Press Telegram, Oui Magazine and other regional and national publications. Janet specializes in issues pertaining to legal corruption and addresses the heated subject of adult conservatorship, revealing shocking information about the relationships between courts and shady financial consultants. She also covers issues relating to bioweapons. Her poetry has been published in Gambit, Libera, Applezaba Review, Nausea One and other magazines. Her first book, The Hitler Poems, was published in 2005. She currently resides abroad. You may browse through her articles (and poetry) at janetphelan.com

Janet Phelan is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

10 Compelling Reasons You Can Never Trust The Mainstream Media

January 16, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

poll last year showed that trust in the mainstream media is increasing, which should worry all of us who value truth, integrity and press freedom. Why? Here are 10 disturbing things everyone needs to know about the global media giants who control our supply of information, wielding immense power over the people- and even over the government.

1. Mainstream media exists solely to make profit

Image Credit:  ♥ photofairy
What´s the purpose of the mainstream media? Saying that the press exists to inform, educate or entertain is like saying Apple corporation´s primary function is to make technology which will enrich our lives. Actually, the mass media industry is the same as any other in a capitalist society: it exists to make profit. Medialens, a British campaigning site which critiques mainstream (or corporate) journalism, quotedbusiness journalist Marjorie Kelly as saying that all corporations, including those dealing with media, exist only to maximize returns to their shareholders. This is, she said,  ´the law of the land…universally accepted as a kind of divine, unchallengeable truth´. Without pleasing shareholders and a board of directors, mass media enterprises simply would not exist. And once you understand this, you´ll never watch the news in the same way again.

2. Advertisers dictate content

Flicr / WilliamBanzai7/Colonel Flick So how does the pursuit of profit affect the news we consume? Media corporations make the vast majority (typically around 75%) of their profit from advertising, meaning it´s advertisers themselves that dictate content- not journalists, and certainly not consumers. Imagine you are editor of a successful newspaper or TV channel with high circulation or viewing figures. You attract revenue from big brands and multinational corporations such as BP, Monsanto and UAE airlines. How could you then tackle important topics such as climate change, GM food or disastrous oil spills in a way that is both honest to your audience and favorable to your clients? The simple answer is you can´t. This might explain why Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times-  sponsored by Goldman Sachs-  is so keen todefend the crooked corporation. Andrew Marr, a political correspondent for the BBC, sums up the dilemma in his autobiography: ´The biggest question is whether advertising limits and reshapes the news agenda. It does, of course. It’s hard to make the sums add up when you are kicking the people who write the cheques.´ Enough said…

3. Billionaire tycoons & media monopolies threaten real journalism

Image Credit - Flickr / Mike Licht
The monopolization of the press (fewer individuals or organizations controlling increasing shares of the mass media) is growingyear by year, and this is a grave danger to press ethics and diversity. Media mogul RupertMurdoch´s  neo-liberal personal politics are reflected in his 175 newspapers and endorsed by pundits (see Fox news) on the 123 TV channels he owns in the USA alone. Anyone who isn´t worried by this one man´s view of the world being consumed by millions of people across the globe- from the USA to the UK, New Zealand to Asia, Europe to Australia- isn´t thinking hard enough about the consequences. It´s a grotesquely all-encompassing monopoly, leaving no doubt that Murdoch is one of the most powerful men in the world. But as the News International phone hacking scandal  showed, he´s certainly not the most honorable or ethical. Neither is AlexanderLebedev, a former KGB spy and politician who bought British newspaper The Independent  in 2010.  With Lebedev´s fingers in so many pies (the billionaire oligarch is into everything from investment banking to airlines), can we really expect news coverage from this once well-respected publication to continue in the same vein? Obviously not: the paper had always carried a banner on its front page declaring itself  ´free from party political bias, free from proprietorial influence´, but interestingly this was dropped in September 2011.

4. Corporate press is in bed with the government

Photo: Dafydd Jones (telegraph.co.uk)
Aside from the obvious, one of the most disturbing facts to emerge from Murdoch´s News International phone hacking scandal (background information here ) was the exposure of shady connections  between top government officials and press tycoons. During the scandal, and throughout the subsequent Leveson inquiry into British press ethics (or lack of them), we learned of secret meetingsthreatsby Murdoch to politicians who didn´t do as he wanted, and that Prime Minister David Cameron has a very close friendship with The Sun´s then editor-in-chief (and CEO of News International) Rebekah Brooks. How can journalists do their job of holding politicians to account when they are vacationing together or rubbing shoulders at private dinner parties? Clearly, they don´t intend to. But the support works both ways- Cameron´s government tried to help Murdoch´s son win a bid for BSkyB, while bizarrely,  warmongering ex Prime Minister Tony Blair is godfather to Murdoch´s daughter Grace. As well as ensuring an overwhelming bias in news coverage and election campaigns, flooding newspapers with cheap and easy articles from unquestioned government sources, and gagging writers from criticizing those in power, these secret connections also account for much of the corporate media´s incessant peddling of the patriotism lie-  especially in the lead-up to attacks on other countries. Here´s an interestinganalysis of The New York Times´s coverage of the current Syria situation for example, demonstrating how corporate journalists are failing to reflect public feeling on the issue of a full-scale attack on Assad by the US and its allies. 

5. Important stories are overshadowed by trivia

Image Credit: heavy.com
You could be forgiven for assuming that the most interesting part of Edward Snowden´s status as a whistleblower was his plane ride from Hong Kong to Russia, or his lengthy stint waiting in Moscow airport for someone- anyone- to offer him asylum. Because with the exception of The Guardian who published the leaks (read them in fullhere), the media has generally preferred not to focus on Snowden´s damning revelations about freedom and tyranny, but rather on banaltrivia – his personality and background, whether his girlfriend misses him, whether he is actually a Chinese spy, and ahhh, didn´t he remind us all of Where´s Waldo as he flitted across the globe as a wanted fugitive? The same could be said of Bradley Manning´s gender re-assignment, which conveniently overshadowed the enormous injustice of his sentence. And what of Julian Assange? His profile on the globally-respected BBC is dedicated almost entirely to a subtle smearing of character, rather than detailing Wikileaks´s profound impact on our view of the world. In every case, the principal stories are forgotten as our attention, lost in a sea of trivia, is expertly diverted from the real issues at hand: those which invariably, the government wants us to forget.

6. Mainstream media doesn´t ask questions

Image Credit / web.archive.org
´Check your sources, check your facts´ are golden rules in journalism 101, but you wouldn´t guess that from reading the mainstream press or watching corporate TV channels. At the time of writing, Obama is beating the war drums over Syria. Following accusations by the US and Britain that Assad was responsible for a nerve gas attack on his own civilians last month, most mainstream newspapers- like the afore-mentioned New York Times- have failed to demand evidence or call for restraint on a full-scale attack. But there are several good reasons why journalists should question the official story. Firstly, British right-wing newspaper The Daily Mail actually ran a news piece back in January this year, publishing leaked emails from a British arms company showing the US was planning a false flag chemical attack on Syria´s civilians. They would then blame it on Assad to gain public support for a subsequent full-scale invasion. The article was hastily deleted but a cached version still exists. Other recent evidence lends support to the unthinkable. It has emerged that the chemicals used to make the nerve gas were indeed shipped from Britain, and German intelligenceinsists Assad was not responsible for the chemical attack. Meanwhile, a hacktivist has come forward with alleged evidence of US intelligence agencies´ involvement in the massacre (download it for yourself here ), with a growing body of evidence suggesting this vile plot was hatched by Western powers. Never overlook the corporate media´s ties to big business and big government before accepting what you are told- because if journalism is dead, you have a right and a duty to ask your own questions.

7. Corporate journalists hate real journalists

Image Credit / intellectualrevolution.tv
Sirota rightly points out the irony of this: ´Here we have a reporter expressing excitement at the prospect of the government executing the publisher of information that became the basis for some of the most important journalism in the last decade.´ Sirota goes on to note various examples of what he calls the ´Journalists against Journalism club´, and gives severalexamples of how The Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald has been attacked by the corporate press for publishing Snowden´s leaks. The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin called for Greenwald’s arrest, while NBC’s David Gregory´s declared that Greenwald has ´aided and abetted Snowden´. As for the question of whether journalists can indeed be outspoken, Sirota accurately notes that it all depends on whether their opinions serve or challenge the status quo, and goes on to list the hypocrisy of Greenwald´s critics in depth: ´Grunwald has saber-rattling opinions that proudly support the government’s drone strikes and surveillance. Sorkin’s opinions promote Wall Street’s interests. (The Washington Post´s David) Broder had opinions that supported, among other things, the government’s corporate-serving “free” trade agenda. (The Washington Post´s Bob) Woodward has opinions backing an ever-bigger Pentagon budget that enriches defense contractors. (The Atlantic´s Jeffrey) Goldberg promotes the Military-Industrial Complex’s generally pro-war opinions. (The New York Times´s Thomas) Friedman is all of them combined, promoting both “free” trade and “suck on this” militarism. Because these voices loyally promote the unstated assumptions that serve the power structure and that dominate American politics, all of their particular opinions aren’t even typically portrayed as opinions; they are usually portrayed as noncontroversial objectivity.´

8. Bad news sells, good news is censored, and celebrity gossip trumps important issues

Justin Bieber - Image Credit / Wikimedia
It´s sad but true: bad news really does sell more newspapers. But why? Are we really so pessimistic? Do we relish the suffering of others? Are we secretly glad that something terrible happened to someone else, not us? Reading the corporate press as an alien visiting Earth you might assume so. Generally, news coverage is sensationalist and depressing as hell, with so many pages dedicated to murder, rape and pedophilia and yet none to the billions of good deeds and amazingly inspirational movements taking place every minute of every day all over the planet. But the reasons we consume bad news are perfectly logical. In times of harmony and peace, people simply don´t feel the need to educate themselves as much as they do in times of crises. That´s good news for anyone beginning to despair that humans are apathetic, hateful and dumb, and it could even be argued that this sobering and simple fact is a great incentive for the mass media industry to do something worthwhile. They could start offering the positive and hopeful angle for a change. They could use dark periods of increased public interest to convey a message of peace and justice. They could reflect humanity´s desire for solutions and our urgent concerns for the environment. They could act as the voice of a global population who has had enough of violence and lies to campaign for transparency, equality, freedom, truth, and real democracy. Would that sell newspapers? I think so. They could even hold a few politicians to account on behalf of the people, wouldn´t that be something? But for the foreseeable future, it´s likely the corporate press will just distract our attention with another picture of Rhianna´s butt, another rumor about Justin Bieber´s coke habit, or another article about Kim Kardashian (who is she again?) wearing perspex heels with swollen ankles while pregnant. Who cares about the missing$21 trillion, what was she thinking?

9. Whoever controls language controls the population

Flickr / Jason Ilagan
Have you read George Orwell´s classic novel1984 yet? It´s become a clichéd reference in today´s dystopia, that´s true, but with good reason. There are many- too many- parallels between Orwell´s dark imaginary future and our current reality, but one important part of his vision concerned language. Orwell coined the word ´Newspeak´  to describe a simplistic version of the English language with the aim of limiting free thought on issues that would challenge the status quo (creativity, peace, and individualism for example). The concept of Newspeak includes what Orwell called ´DoubleThink´-  how language is made ambiguous or even inverted to convey the opposite of what is true. In his book, the Ministry of War is known as the Ministry of Love, for example, while the Ministry of Truth deals with propaganda and entertainment. Sound familiar yet? Another book that delves into this topic deeper is Unspeak, a must-read for anyone interested in language and power and specifically how words are distorted for political ends. Terms such as ´peace keeping missiles´, ´extremists´ and ´no-fly zones´, weapons being referred to as ´assets´, or misleading business euphemisms such as ´downsizing´ for redundancy and ´sunset´ for termination- these, and hundreds of other examples, demonstrate how powerful language can be. In a world of growing corporate media monopolization, those who wield this power can manipulate words and therefore public reaction, to encourage compliance, uphold the status quo, or provoke fear.

10. Freedom of the press no longer exists

Flickr / watchingfrogsboil
The only press that is currently free (at least for now) is the independent publication with no corporate advertisers, board of directors, shareholders or CEOs. Details of how the state has redefined journalism are noted here and are mentioned in #7, but the best recent example would be the government´s treatment of The Guardian over its publication of the Snowden leaks. As a side note, it´s possible this paper plays us as well as any other- The Guardian Media Group isn´t small fry, after all. But on the other hand- bearing in mind points 1 to 9- why should we find it hard to believe that after the NSA files were published, editor Alan Rusbridge wastold by the powers that be ´you´ve had your fun, now return the files´, that government officials stormed his newsroom and smashed up hard drives, or that Greenwald´s partner David Miranda wasdetained for 9 hours in a London airport under the Terrorism Act as he delivered documents related to the columnist´s story? Journalism, Alan Rusbridge lamented, ´may be facing a kind of existential threat.´ As CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather wrote: ‘We have few princes and earls today, but we surely have their modern-day equivalents in the very wealthy who seek to manage the news, make unsavory facts disappear and elect representatives who are in service to their own economic and social agenda… The “free press” is no longer a check on power. It has instead become part of the power apparatus itself.’

Sophie is a staff writer for True Activist and a freelance feature writer for various publications on society, activism and other topics. You can read more of her stuff here.

Source: True Activist

Making The World Safe For War Profiteers

December 17, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Adam Smith said governments are “instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor.” Wars are waged to make them richer.

Howard Zinn called war “terrorism magnified a hundred times.” Make it many thousands of times.

Michael Parenti said “the best way to win a Nobel Peace Prize (is) to wage war or support those who wage (it) instead of peace.”

In his book titled “The Face of Imperialism,” he discusses a richly financed military/industrial complex. Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff call it the “military-industrial media complex.”

Waging wars requires selling them. Public support is needed. Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky call it “Manufacturing Consent.”

Propaganda works as intended. Minds are manipulated to support war. Truth is suppressed. Fear is stoked. Patriotism, national security, and democratic values are highlighted.

Longstanding US policy facilitates earning obscene amounts from militarism, wars, homeland security, and related operations.

Doing so has nothing to do with external or internal threats. It’s unrelated to spreading democracy. It isn’t about humanitarian intervention.

It about advancing America’s imperium. Parenti calls the process “the most powerful force in world history over the last four or five centuries. (It) “carves up whole continents.”

“(T)he dominant politico-economic interests of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the land, labor, raw materials, and markets of another people.”

Capitalist imperialism differs from earlier forms. It dominates other economies and political systems. It accumulates enormous amounts of wealth.

It uses money to make more of it. It gains market control. It exploits resources and labor.

According to Marx and Engels:

Bourgeois capital “chases over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere…It creates a world after its own image.”

Societies are destroyed and remade to do it. Nations are pillaged for profit. Populations become disenfranchised. Workers become serfs. Local cultures become mass-market consumer ones.

Agribusiness replaces local farming. Competitive industries are eliminated.  Foreign investment crowds out local capital.

Dominance legitimizes capital’s divine right. Plunder assures obscene profits. Capital accumulation demands more. Profiteering becomes a be-all-and-end-all.

Businesses price according to what the market will bear. Profiteers take advantage of emergency or other out-of-ordinary conditions to cash in excessively.

WikiLeaks calls profiteering “a pejorative term for the act of making profit by methods considered unethical.”

Price fixing is illegal. Price gouging reflects grabbing all you can. It’s charging more than what’s considered reasonable and fair.

War profiteers are in a class by themselves. They thrive on war. They depend on it. Their businesses require conflicts and instability to prosper. The more ongoing, the greater the potential profits.

Lot of players profit from wars. Companies develop technologies with military applications. Black marketeers cash in.

Politicians taking campaign contributions, special favors or bribes benefit handsomely. Nations do by acquiring control over territory, resources and exploitable people.

Private military contractors include companies offering a wide range of services. They provide everything from tactical combat to security to consulting to logistics to technical support.

In his book titled “Halliburton’s Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War,” Pratap Chatterjee describes a company tainted by sweetheart deal no-bid contacts, bribes, kickbacks, inefficiency, shoddy work, corruption, fraud, gross overcharging, worker exploitation, and other serious offenses.

Other companies operate the same way. Military spending is hugely wasteful. Fraud and abuse are rampant. War is extremely profitable. Why else would so many be waged.

Mercenaries are guns for hire. They’re for sale to the highest bidder. They’re in it for the money. They’re unchecked, unaccountable and unprincipled.

Arms and munitions companies benefit most. Amounts spent are mind-bogging.

Bloomberg says defense budgets “contain hundreds of billions of dollars for new generations of aircraft carriers and stealth fighters, tanks that even the Army says it doesn’t need and combat vehicles too heavy to maneuver in desert sands or cross most bridges in Asia, Africa, or the Middle East.”

According to BusinessWeek, redundancy wastes lots of money. “One need only spend 10 minutes walking around the Pentagon or any major military headquarters to see” it.

Why doesn’t Congress trim fat? Because politicians want lots of pork for constituents. It’s a great vote-getter.

BusinessWeek explained more, saying:

“Why is sensible military budgeting so difficult? Because lawmakers, including small-government Republicans, protect defense business in their home states with the ferocity of Spartans.”

“Even if the Pentagon offered up (sensible) cuts…Congress would almost certainly reject them.”

“The senators and representatives don’t have the political courage to face voters and tell them that the republic simply does not need the weapon under construction in their hometown.”

Trillions of dollars are spent.  Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta once said DOD “is the only major federal agency that cannot pass an audit today.”

Even during October’s 16 day shutdown, huge amounts of wasteful spending continued.

Ralph Nader calls now the time to address bloated military spending. Let’s “start shutting down the waste and fraud in our military budget,” he stresses.

Billions get tossed around mindlessly. Profiteers never had it better. Government watchdogs identify hundreds of billions of potential savings from unneeded weapons, defective ones, no-bid excess, overpayments, and outright fraud.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) conducts research on security, war and peace.

“A world in which sources of insecurity are identified and understood, conflicts are prevented or resolved, and peace is sustained,” it says.

It reports on “recent trends in military expenditure(s).”

Amounts spent are huge. In 2012, nominal global military spending exceeded $1.7 trillion. It’s around historic highs.

In real terms, it exceeds peak amounts spent during the Cold War. Post-9/11, spending increased sharply. America led the way.

In 2012, 15 nations accounted for over 80% military spending. SIPRI lists them as follows:

  • America: $682 billion – 39%
  • China: $166 billion – 9.5%
  • Russia: $90.7 billion – 5.2%
  • Britain: $60.8 billion – 3.5%
  • Japan: 59.3 billion – 3.4%
  • France: $58.9 billion – 3.4%
  • Saudi Arabia: $56.7 billion – 3.2%
  • India: $46.1 billion – 2.6%
  • Germany: $45.8 billion – 2.6%
  • Italy: $34 billion – 1.9%
  • Brazil: $33.1 billion – 1.9%
  • South Korea: $31.7 billion – 1.8%
  • Australia: $26.2 billion – 1.5%
  • Canada: $22.5 billion – 1.3%
  • Turkey: $18.2 billion – 1%
  • Others 18%

SIPRI calculates nominal military spending. Amounts America spends far exceeds annual defense authorizations.

Other allocations are for the Energy Department, State Department, Department of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Treasury, NASA, military construction, various categories related to security, and interest attributable to past defense outlays.

Black intelligence, Pentagon and other budgets add many tens of billions more. So do supplemental military allocations. Foreign aid is mostly military related.

The Library of Congress listed the top 10 2012 recipients and amounts as follows:

Israel: $3.075 billion

Note: Israel gets special benefits provided no other nations.

They include annual $3 billion + direct appropriations, undisclosed additional amounts, state-of-the-art weapons and technology, billions in loan guarantees, military loans as grants, privileged contracts for Israeli companies, trade exemptions, and more.

Special allocations are buried in various agency budgets. Low or no-interest loans are provided. Some are never repaid. Most often, whatever Israel wants it gets.

  • Afghanistan: $2.327 billion
  • Pakistan: $2.102 billion
  • Iraq: $1.683 billion
  • Egypt: $1.557 billion
  • Jordan: $676 million
  • Kenya: $652 million
  • Nigeria: $625 million
  • Ethiopia: $580 million
  • Tanzania: $531 million

US defense related spending exceeds $1.5 trillion annually. It’s half or more what other nations spend in total.

Militarism defines America. So do permanent wars. They’re a national addiction. They’re part of the national culture.

Violence is the American way. Wars are glorified. Pacifism is considered sissy. Peace is deplored. Conflicts persist with no end.

War profiteers gorge themselves at the public trough. Their operations thrive on war. They depend on it.

They’re waged for profit and dominance. They continue without end. Peace is verboten. It’s a convenient illusion.

Howard Zinn once asked “(h)ow can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism?”

“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

Why most Americans put up with it they’ll have to explain. Doing so lets Washington get away with mass murder and then some. It lets war profiteers benefit at our expense.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Economic Enslavement

November 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The latest proof of the Globalist plan for total economic imprisonment is available for scrutiny. Thanks to whistleblowers, the clandestine trade missions of international corporatists must contend with public blowback. Recently, WikiLeaks released the secret negotiated draft text, Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), for the entire TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) Intellectual Property Rights Chapter. The TPP is the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing nations representing more than 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. The TPP Agreement along with the Table of Contents and supportive documentation provides the evidence.

When vastly diverse segments of political perspective unify against this assault on economic self-determination, challenging the very exercise of such agreements is in order. In the article, Obama’s Dangerous International Deal, a libertarian viewpoint argues and warns, “The USTR acknowledges the existence of 29 chapters under negotiation. Only five of these chapters deal directly with trade. The other 24 aim to influence many issues, such as food and environmental standards, intellectual property, and pharmaceutical formularies.”

Perennial progressive Jim Hightower writes in an Alternet article, A Corporate Coup in Disguise.

“What if our national leaders told us that communities across America had to eliminate such local programs as Buy Local, Buy American, Buy Green, etc. to allow foreign corporations to have the right to make the sale on any products purchased with our tax dollars? This nullification of our people’s right to direct expenditures is just one of the horror stories in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).”.

From the Voice of Russia, not usually known for defending transnational cartels, is an observation that you are not hearing in the financial press, Obama attempting to ram through unconstitutional secret treaty.

“With the US debt at over $200 trillion dollars and their grasp on control slipping, Obama and the corporations that have taken over the US Government are attempting to do anything they can to cling to power and enslave the populace.

The fact that the heads of the governments who are a party to the TPP, would attempt to sign such an all encompassing treaty without the knowledge of their respective governments and their people is a something unheard of an unprecedented in history.”

If only free enterprise was the standard of economic commerce, instead of the state-fascism that has developed over the years of the “Free Trade” ruse that has destroyed real competition from the financial environment.

Central planning failed miserably in the old Soviet Union, now we are supposed to believe that a corporatist negotiated arrangement with the full backing and force of government bureaucracies is a superior method for prosperity.

Backers of the TPP pact would have you believe that it is a trade agreement. Nile Bowie in an OpEd, TPP: From corporation personhood to corporate nationhood, has it correct.

“Although proponents of the TPP may claim that its focus is to help the economies of signatory countries create comprehensive market access, eliminate barriers to trade, improve labor rights and encourage environmental protection, every indication suggests that the wide-ranging agreement intends to maximize dramatically corporate revenues at the expense of public health and safety, civil liberties and national sovereignty.”

From the left leaning Huffington Post, Bruce E. Levine interjects a political aspect in

The Myth of U.S. Democracy and the Reality of U.S. Corporatocracy.

“The truth today, however, is that the United States is neither a democracy nor a republic. Americans are ruled by a corporatocracy: a partnership of “too-big-to-fail” corporations, the extremely wealthy elite, and corporate-collaborator government officials.”

World economic agreements vary little based upon partisan political ideology. The corporate business outsourcing strategy and the offshoring of jobs are the inevitable results of every phony trade deal enacted for decades.

The real objective of TPP is to codify in law and treaty the special treatment that favored industries or well-connected interests exert upon the global economy.

When monopolies eliminate competition, the marketplace suffers a crowding out of main street businesses. With the demise of familiar business enterprises, the multinationals expand without hindrance. Entrepreneurial small business is seldom in a position to fill the void left when the muscle of international finance decides to control a business sector.

Setting environmental standards, intellectual property, and pharmaceutical formularies, behind closed doors endangers the public. Imposing rabid global warming penalties, perpetual expanding of copyright privileges and banning natural holistic supplements and vitamins, all intend to strip choice from consumers or to burden the population with irrational tax obligations.

In an outstanding account, by Don Quijones his article, The Global Corporatocracy is Almost Fully Operational, provided the essential context and ultimate consequence.

“The new generation of trade treaties goes far beyond what was envisaged for NAFTA and GATT. What they ultimately seek is to transfer what little remains of our national sovereignty to the headquarters of the world’s largest multinational conglomerates. In short, it is the ultimate coup de grâce of the ultimate coup d’état. Not a single shot will be fired, yet almost all power will be seized and transferred into private hands — and all of it facilitated by our elected representatives who, by signing these treaties, will be permanently abdicating their responsibilities to represent and protect the interests of their voting constituencies.”

 

If you have the courage to face the dire implications of this globalist scheme, view the video TPP & One World Government. The bare honesty may be too much for the “PC” crowd.

Advocates of a merchant based economy are inherently in opposition to globalism. Yet, this round of integration under cartel syndicate governance is part of an end game for world economic consolidation. The Corporatocracy that rules over purported democratic countries is the real power overseer that maintains the indentured servant plantation. The comptrollers of the credit dictatorship maintain the financial system for the ultimate controllers.

In the next episode, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is analyzed. Complementing the TPP, both accords will place the yoke of even greater mastery over the economies of once sovereign nations.


Sartre is the publisher, editor, and writer for Breaking All The Rules. He can be reached at: BATR

Sartre is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

The Revolutionaries In Our Midst

November 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

New York – Jeremy Hammond sat in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center last week in a small room reserved for visits from attorneys. He was wearing an oversized prison jumpsuit. The brown hair of the lanky 6-footer fell over his ears, and he had a wispy beard. He spoke with the intensity and clarity one would expect from one of the nation’s most important political prisoners.

On Friday the 28-year-old activist will appear for sentencing in the Southern District Court of New York in Manhattan. After having made a plea agreement, he faces the possibility of a 10-year sentence for hacking into the Texas-based private security firm Strategic Forecasting Inc., or Stratfor, which does work for the Homeland Security Department, the Marine Corps, the Defense Intelligence Agency and numerous corporations including Dow Chemical and Raytheon.

Four others involved in the hacking have been convicted in Britain, and they were sentenced to less time combined—the longest sentence was 32 months—than the potential 120-month sentence that lies before Hammond.

Hammond turned the pilfered information over to the website WikiLeaks and Rolling Stone and other publications. The 3 million email exchanges, once


Jeremy Hammond is shown in this March 5, 2012 booking photo from the Cook County Sheriff’s Department in Chicago

made public, exposed the private security firm’s infiltration, monitoring and surveillance of protesters and dissidents, especially in the Occupy movement, on behalf of corporations and the national security state. And, perhaps most important, the information provided chilling evidence that anti-terrorism laws are being routinely used by the federal government to criminalize nonviolent, democratic dissent and falsely link dissidents to international terrorist organizations. Hammond sought no financial gain. He got none.The email exchanges Hammond made public were entered as evidence in my lawsuitagainst President Barack Obama over Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Section 1021 permits the military to seize citizens who are deemed by the state to be terrorists, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military facilities. Alexa O’Brien, a content strategist and journalist who co-founded US Day of Rage, an organization created to reform the election process, was one of my co-plaintiffs. Stratfor officials attempted, we know because of the Hammond leaks, to falsely link her and her organization to Islamic radicals and websites as well as to jihadist ideology, putting her at risk of detention under the new law. Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled, in part because of the leak, that we plaintiffs had a credible fear, and she nullified the law, a decision that an appellate court overturned when the Obama administration appealed it.

Freedom of the press and legal protection for those who expose government abuses and lies have been obliterated by the corporate state. The resulting self-exile of investigative journalists such as Glenn GreenwaldJacob Appelbaum and Laura Poitras, along with the indictment of Barret Brown, illustrate this. All acts of resistance—including nonviolent protest—have been conflated by the corporate state with terrorism. The mainstream, commercial press has been emasculated through the Obama administration’s repeated use of the Espionage Act to charge and sentence traditional whistle-blowers. Governmental officials with a conscience are too frightened to reach out to mainstream reporters, knowing that the authorities’ wholesale capturing and storing of electronic forms of communication make them easily identifiable.

Elected officials and the courts no longer impose restraint or practice oversight. The last line of defense lies with those such as Hammond, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning who are capable of burrowing into the records of the security and surveillance state and have the courage to pass them on to the public. But the price of resistance is high.

“In these times of secrecy and abuse of power there is only one solution—transparency,” wrote Sarah Harrison, the British journalist who accompanied Snowden to Russia and who also has gone into exile, in Berlin. “If our governments are so compromised that they will not tell us the truth, then we must step forward to grasp it. Provided with the unequivocal proof of primary source documents people can fight back. If our governments will not give this information to us, then we must take it for ourselves.”

“When whistleblowers come forward we need to fight for them, so others will be encouraged,” she went on. “When they are gagged, we must be their voice. When they are hunted, we must be their shield. When they are locked away, we must free them. Giving us the truth is not a crime. This is our data, our information, our history. We must fight to own it. Courage is contagious.”

Hammond knows this contagion. He was living at home in Chicago in 2010 under a 7-a.m.-to-7-p.m. curfew for a variety of acts of civil disobedience when Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning was arrested for giving WikiLeaks secret information about military war crimes and government lies. Hammond at the time was running social aid programs to feed the hungry and send books to prisoners. He had, like Manning, displayed a remarkable aptitude for science, math and computer languages at a young age. He hacked into the computers at a local Apple store at 16. He hacked into the computer science department’s website at the University of Illinois-Chicago as a freshman, a prank that saw the university refuse to allow him to return for his sophomore year. He was an early backer of “cyber-liberation” and in 2004 started an “electronic-disobedience journal” he named Hack This Zine. He called on hackers in a speech at the 2004 DefCon convention in Las Vegas to use their skills to disrupt that year’s Republican National Convention. He was, by the time of his 2012 arrest, one of the shadowy stars of the hacktivist underground, dominated by groups such as Anonymous and WikiLeaks in which anonymity, stringent security and frequent changes of aliases alone ensured success and survival. Manning’s courage prompted Hammond to his own act of cyber civil disobedience, although he knew his chances of being caught were high.

“I saw what Chelsea Manning did,” Hammond said when we spoke last Wednesday, seated at a metal table. “Through her hacking she became a contender, a world changer. She took tremendous risks to show the ugly truth about war. I asked myself, if she could make that risk shouldn’t I make that risk? Wasn’t it wrong to sit comfortably by, working on the websites of Food Not Bombs, while I had the skills to do something similar? I too could make a difference. It was her courage that prompted me to act.”

Hammond—who has black-inked tattoos on each forearm, one the open-source movement’s symbol known as the “glider” and the other the shi hexagram from the I Ching—is steeped in radical thought. As a teenager, he swiftly migrated politically from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party to the militancy of the Black Bloc anarchists. He was an avid reader in high school of material put out by CrimethInc, an anarchist collective that publishes anarchist literature and manifestos. He has molded himself after old radicals such as Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman and black revolutionaries such as George Jackson, Elaine Brown and Assata Shakur, as well as members of the Weather Underground. He said that while he was in Chicago he made numerous trips to Waldheim Cemetery to visit the Haymarket Martyrs Monument, which honors four anarchists who were hanged in 1887 and others who took part in the labor wars. On the 16-foot-high granite monument are the final words of one of the condemned men, August Spies. It reads: “The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voice you are throttling today.” Emma Goldman is buried nearby.

Hammond became well known to the government for a variety of acts of civil disobedience over the last decade. These ranged from painting anti-war graffiti on Chicago walls to protesting at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York to hacking into the right-wing website Protest Warrior, for which he was sentenced to two years in the Federal Correctional Institute at Greenville, Ill.

He said he is fighting as “an anarchist communist” against “centralized state authority” and “exploitative corporations.” His goal is to build “leaderless collectives based on free association, consensus, mutual aid, self-sufficiency and harmony with the environment.” It is essential, he said, that all of us work to cut our personal ties with capitalism and engage in “mass organizing of protests, strikes and boycotts.” Hacking and leaking, he said, are part of this resistance—“effective tools to reveal ugly truths of the system.”

Hammond spent months within the Occupy movement in Chicago. He embraced its “leaderless, non-hierarchical structures such as general assemblies and consensus, and occupying public spaces.” But he was highly critical of what he said were the “vague politics” in Occupy that allowed it to include followers of the libertarian Ron Paul, some in the tea party, as well as “reformist liberals and Democrats.” Hammond said he was not interested in any movement that “only wanted a ‘nicer’ form of capitalism and favored legal reforms, not revolution.” He remains rooted in the ethos of the Black Bloc.

“Being incarcerated has really opened my eyes to the reality of the criminal justice system,” he said, “that it is not a criminal justice system about public safety or rehabilitation, but reaping profits through mass incarceration. There are two kinds of justice—one for the rich and the powerful who get away with the big crimes, then for everyone else, especially people of color and the impoverished. There is no such thing as a fair trial. In over 80 percent of the cases people are pressured to plea out instead of exercising their right to trial, under the threat of lengthier sentences. I believe no satisfactory reforms are possible. We need to close all prisons and release everybody unconditionally.”

He said he hoped his act of resistance would encourage others, just as Manning’s courage had inspired him. He said activists should “know and accept the worst possible repercussion” before carrying out an action and should be “aware of mass counterintelligence/surveillance operations targeting our movements.” An informant posing as a comrade, Hector Xavier Monsegur, known online as “Sabu,” turned Hammond and his co-defendants in to the FBI. Monsegur stored data retrieved by Hammond on an external server in New York. This tenuous New York connection allowed the government to try Hammond in New York for hacking from his home in Chicago into a private security firm based in Texas. New York is the center of the government’s probes into cyber-warfare; it is where federal authorities apparently wanted Hammond to be investigated and charged.

Hammond said he will continue to resist from within prison. A series of minor infractions, as well as testing positive with other prisoners on his tier for marijuana that had been smuggled into the facility, has resulted in his losing social visits for the next two years and spending “time in the box [solitary confinement].” He is allowed to see journalists, but my request to interview him took two months to be approved. He said prison involves “a lot of boredom.” He plays chess, teaches guitar and helps other prisoners study for their GED. When I saw him, he was working on the statement, a personal manifesto, that he will read in court this week.

He insisted he did not see himself as different from prisoners, especially poor prisoners of color, who are in for common crimes, especially drug-related crimes. He said most inmates are political prisoners, caged unjustly by a system of totalitarian capitalism that has snuffed out basic opportunities for democratic dissent and economic survival.

“The majority of people in prison did what they had to do to survive,” he said. “Most were poor. They got caught up in the war on drugs, which is how you make money if you are poor. The real reason they get locked in prison for so long is so corporations can continue to make big profits. It is not about justice. I do not draw distinctions between us.”

“Jail is essentially enduring harassment and dehumanizing conditions with frequent lockdowns and shakedowns,” he said. “You have to constantly fight for respect from the guards, sometimes getting yourself thrown in the box. However, I will not change the way I live because I am locked up. I will continue to be defiant, agitating and organizing whenever possible.”

He said resistance must be a way of life. He intends to return to community organizing when he is released, although he said he will work to stay out of prison. “The truth,” he said, “will always come out.” He cautioned activists to be hyper-vigilant and aware that “one mistake can be permanent.” But he added, “Don’t let paranoia or fear deter you from activism. Do the down thing!”

Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, has previously spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

Source: Truthdig

How The Corrupt Establishment Is Selling Moral Bankruptcy To America

August 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Morality is a highly misunderstood component of human nature. Some people believe they can create moral guidelines from thin air based on their personal biases and prejudices. Some people believe that morality comes from the force of bureaucracy and government law. Still, others believe that there is no such thing; that morality is a facade created by men in order to better grease the wheels of society.

All of these world views discount the powerful scientific and psychological evidence surrounding Natural Law — the laws that human beings form internally due to inherent conscience regardless of environmental circumstances. When a person finally grasps inborn morality, the whole of the world comes into focus. The reality is that we are not born “good” or “evil.” Rather, we are all born with the capacity for good AND evil, and this internal battle stays with us until the end of our days.

Every waking moment we are given a choice, a test of our free will, to be ruled by desire and fear, or to do what we know at our very core is right. When a man silences his inner voice, the results can be terrible for him and those around him. When an entire culture silences its inner voice, the results can be catastrophic. Such a shift in the moral compass of a society rarely takes place in a vacuum. There is always a false shepherd, a corrupt leadership that seeks to rule. Rulership, though, is difficult in the face of an awake population that respects integrity and honor. Therefore criminals must follow these specific steps in order to take power:

Pretend To Be Righteous: They must first sell the public on the idea that they hold the exact same values of natural law as everyone else. The public must at first believe that the criminal leaders are pure in their motives and have the best interests of the nation at heart, even if they secretly do not.

Pretend To Be Patriotic: Despots often proclaim an untarnished love of their homeland and the values that it was founded upon. However, what they really seek is to become a living symbol of the homeland. They insist first that they are the embodiment of the national legacy, and then they attempt to change that national legacy entirely. A corrupt government uses the ideals of a society to acquire a foothold, and when they have gained sufficient control, they dictate to that society a new set of ideals that are totally contrary to the original.

Offer To “Fix” The Economy: Tyrants do not like it when the citizens under them are self sufficient or economically independent. They will use whatever methods are at their disposal including subversive legislation, fiat currency creation, corporate monopoly and even engineered financial collapse in order to remove the public’s ability to function autonomously. They will begin this process under the guise that the current less-controlled and less-centralized system is “not safe enough,” and that they have a better way to ensure prosperity.

Offer To Lend A Hand: Once the population has been removed from its own survival imperative and is for the most part helpless, the criminal leadership moves in and offers to “help” using taxation and money creation, slowly siphoning the wealth from the middle class and raising prices through inflation. Eventually, everyone will be “equal”; equally poor that is. In the end, the whole nation will see the rulership as indispensable, for without them, the economy would no longer exist and tragedy would ensue.

Create External Fear: Once in place, the criminal leadership then conjures an enemy for the people, or multiple enemies for the people. The goal here is to create a catalyst for mass fear. When the majority of people are afraid of an external threat, they will embrace the establishment as a vital safeguard. When a society becomes convinced that it cannot take care of itself economically, little coaxing is required to convince them that they are also not competent enough to take care of their own defense. The government not only becomes caregiver and nanny, but also bodyguard.  At this point, the establishment has free reign to dissolve long cherished liberties while the masses are distracted by a mysterious threat hiding somewhere over the horizon.

Create Internal Fear: They move the threat from over the horizon, right to the public’s front door, or even within their own home. The enemy is no longer a foreigner. Now, the enemy is the average looking guy two houses over, or an outspoken friend, or even a dissenting family member. The enemy is all around them, according to the establishment. The public is sold on the idea that the sacrifice needed in order to combat such a pervasive “threat” is necessarily high.

Sell The People On The Virtues Of Moral Relativism: Now that the populace is willing to forgo certain liberties for the sake of security, they have been softened up enough for reprogramming to begin. The establishment will tell the people that the principles they used to hold so dear are actually weaknesses that make them vulnerable to the enemy. In order to defeat an enemy so monstrous, they claim, we must become monstrous ourselves. We must be willing to do ANYTHING, no matter how vile or contrary to natural law, in order to win.

Honesty must be replaced with deceit. Dissent must be replaced with silence. Peace must be replaced with violence. The independent should be treated with suspicion. The outspoken treated with contempt. Women and children are no longer people to be protected, but targets to be eliminated. The innocent dead become collateral damage. The innocent living become informants to be tortured and exploited. Good men are labeled cowards because they refuse to “do what needs to be done,” while evil men are labeled heroes for having the “strength of will” to abandon their conscience.

Thus, the criminal leadership makes once honorable citizens accomplices in the crime. The more disgusting the crime, the more apt the people will be to defend it and the system in general, simply because they have been inducted into the dark ceremony of moral ambiguity.

The actions of the state become the actions of all society. A single minded collectivist culture is born, one in which every person is a small piece of the greater machine. And, that which the machine is guilty of, every man is guilty of. Therefore, it becomes the ultimate and absurd purpose of each person within the system to DENY the crime, deny the guilt, and make certain that the machine continues to function for generations to come.

Though we have already passed though most of the above stages, Americans are still not yet quite indoctrinated into the realm of moral relativism. This, though, is swiftly changing.

The Current Sales Pitch

Just take a look at the attitude of the Obama Administration and the mainstream media towards Edward Snowden and his recent asylum approved by Russia.

The White House, rather than admitting wrongdoing in its support for the NSA’s mass surveillance of American citizens without warrant, or even attempting to deny the existence of the PRISM program, is now instead trying to promote NSA spying as essential to our well being while wagging a finger of shame at Snowden and the Russian government for damaging their domestic spy network. Obama has lamented on Russia’s stance, stating that their thinking is “backwards.”

Did I miss something here? I’m no fan of the Russian oligarchy, but shouldn’t Obama and most of the NSA (let alone every other Federal alphabet agency) be sitting in a dark hole somewhere awaiting trial for violating the Constitution on almost every level? Yet, we are instead supposed to despise Snowden for exposing the crime they committed and distrust any country that happens to give him shelter?

Due to public outcry, Obama has attempted to pacify critics by announcing plans to make NSA mass surveillance “more transparent”. First, I would like to point out that he did NOT offer to end NSA spying on Americans without warrant, which is what a President with any ounce of integrity would have done. Second, Obama’s calls for more transparency have come at the exact same time as the NSA announces its plans to remove 90 percent of its systems administrators to make sure another “Snowden incident” does not occur.

Finally, when the public called for an investigation into the NSA and the Director of National Intelligence in the handling of the Snowden affair and the PRISM program, the White House appointed none other than James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, as part of the team that would “investigate” any wrongdoing.  The Obama Administration insists that Clapper, a documented liar who told Congress that the NSA was not involved in mass domestic spying, was not going to “head” the panel of investigators, even though a White House memo specifically named Clapper as the man who would form the so-called “independent group”.  The White House still admits that Clapper will be involved in the process.

So, just to reiterate, the people who perpetrated the criminal act of warrant-less surveillance on hundreds of millions of Americans, and who were caught red-handed lying about it, are now appointed to investigate their own crime.

Does this sound like a government that plans on becoming “more transparent”?

Ask yourself, would Obama have called for ANY transparency over the NSA whatsoever if Snowden had never come forward? Of course not! The exposure of the crime has led to lies and empty placation, nothing more.

In the meantime, numerous other political miscreants have hit the media trail, campaigning for the NSA as well as other surveillance methods, bellowing to the rafters over the absolute necessity of domestic spy programs. Fifteen years ago, the government would have tried to sweep all of this under the rug. Today, they want to acclimate us to the inevitability of the crime, stating that we had better get used to it.

Their position? That Snowden’s whistleblowing put America at risk. My questions is, how? How did Snowden’s exposure of an unConstitutional and at bottom illegal surveillance program used against hundreds of millions of innocent Americans do our country harm? Is it the position of the White House that the truth is dangerous, and deceit is safety?

I suspect this is the case considering the recent treatment of military whistleblower Bradley Manning, who has been accused by some to have “aided Al Qaeda’s recruiting efforts” through his actions.  How did Manning do this? By releasing information, including battlefield videos, that were hidden from the public containing proof of U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Perhaps I’m just a traditionalist and not hip to modern diplomatic strategy, but I would think that if you don’t want to be blamed for war crimes, then you probably shouldn’t commit war crimes. And, if you don’t want the enemy to gain new recruits, you should probably avoid killing innocent civilians and pissing off their families (there is also ample evidence suggesting that the CIA has done FAR more deliberate recruiting for Al Qaeda than Bradley Manning could have ever accomplished on accident). Just a thought.

So, to keep track – U.S. government funds and trains Al Qaeda, but is the good guy. U.S. government commits war crimes, but is the good guy. U.S. government hides the truth from the American people, but is the good guy. Bradley Manning exposes war crimes, and is the bad guy. Moral relativism at its finest. Moving on…

The shift towards moral bankruptcy is being implemented in the financial world as well. Investors, hedge funds, and major banks now surge into the stock market every time the private Federal Reserve hints that it may continue fiat stimulus. When bad news hits the mainstream feeds, people playing the Dow casino actually cheer with glee exactly because bad economic news means more QE from the Fed. They know that the Fed is artificially propping up the markets. The Fed openly admits that it does this. And, they know that our fiscal system is hanging by a thin thread. And you know what, very few of them care.

The Fed created the collapse with easy money and manipulated interest rates, and now, some people cheer them as the heroes of the U.S. financial structure.

The American narrative is quickly changing. There has long been criminality and degeneracy within our government (Democrat and Republican) and the corporate cartels surrounding it, but I believe what we are witnessing today is the final step in the metamorphosis that is totalitarianism. The last stage accelerates when the average citizen is not just complicit in the deeds of devils, but when he becomes a devil himself. When Americans froth and stomp in excitement for the carnival of death, and treat the truth as poison, then the transformation will be complete.

Source: Brandon Smith | Alt-Market

Snowden In Moscow

August 7, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

In the midst of its short summer, Moscow is balmy and relaxed. Sidewalks brim with tables and merry customers, even traffic jams are less severe due to holiday season. The only danger for men is the girls’ dresses, they are precariously short.

In a few days, perhaps even tomorrow, the charms and dangers of the city will be available to Edward Snowden, who is about to receive a refugee ID, allowing him to roam freely the whole length and breadth of Russia and to socialise with its folk.

It will be a nice change from Sheremetyevo International Airport, where he was marooned for quite a while. The airport is vast; some unfortunates, mainly paperless refugees, live in its transit area for ten years or more. For a while, it was felt that our hero would remain stuck forever in limbo. The Russians and the intrepid Snowden sat on the fence, getting used to each other while keeping their distance. At long last, the ice was broken. Snowden had gotten to meet with representatives of the Russian public: a few members of Parliament (called Duma, in Russian), some human rights folks, leading lawyers.

He reminded them that he “had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications… [and] change people’s fates”. He invoked the US Constitution transgressed by the spooks, for the Constitution “forbids such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance”. He rightly rejected the legal ruse of Obama’s secret courts, for no secrecy can purify the impure. He recalled the Nuremberg ruling: “Individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring.” And this system of total surveillance is indeed a crime against humanity, the cornerstone of the Iron Heel regime they plan to establish on the planet. When his declaration was interrupted by the airport’s routine announcements over the loudspeaker, he charmingly smiled and said “I’ve heard it so many times during the last week”.

The Russians loved him; the whole attitude to Snowden changed for better, as I expected when I called for this meeting on the pages of the leading Russian newspaper, the KP (Komsomolskaya Pravda). Now we’ve learned that the Russians have decided to issue him a refugee ID and grant him freedom of movement.

Why did they hesitate for so long?

Snowden is an American, and the Americans, like the British, are quite prejudiced against Russia, their common Cold War enemy. For them, it is the country of the Gulag and the KGB. Though both menaces vanished decades ago, traditions die hard, if at all. Even the Gulag and the KGB were only a modernised version of the Tsar, knout and serfdom horror of the 19th century, to be eventually superseded by the Brutal New Russian Mafia State as updated by Luke Harding. For an average American, the prospect of befriending Russia is nigh unto impossible. Even more so for an American who served in the CIA and NSA, as Snowden did. He felt that by embracing Russia he would lose his whistle-blower status and be regarded as an enemy agent, a totally different kettle of fish.

This was the case for Julian Assange, as well. When it was proposed that the head of Wikileaks flee to Russia (it was technically possible), he procrastinated, dragged his feet and remained in England, unable, in the end, to cross the great East/West divide.

Snowden was not seeking limelight, quite the opposite! He wished to stop the crimes being committed by No Such Agency in the name of American people, no more, no less. He hoped to become a new Deep Throat, whose identity would never be revealed. His first profound revelations were made by correspondence; he flew to Hong Kong as he was familiar with the place, spoke fluent Chinese, and planned to return home to Hawaii. It appears that the Guardian Newspaper pushed him into revealing his identity. Even then he thought himself safe, for Hong Kong is under Chinese sovereignty, and China is a mighty state, not an easy pushover.

The Chinese used Snowden’s revelations to defuse American accusations of electronic espionage, but they weren’t going to spoil relations with the US for his sake – the hot potato was tossed. As a final courtesy they gave him 24 hours warning of his impending arrest. He had to flee, and he boarded the Aeroflot flight to Moscow in company of charming English lady, a Wikileaks executive Sarah Harrison.

Snowden landed in Moscow, but he never considered taking refuge in Russia. For him, this was just a transit point to a neutral country, be it Iceland or Venezuela, some part of the West. He planned to fly to Havana and change planes there for Caracas. He did not take into account the length to which the US Deep State would go to seize and punish him.

At first, the Americans put enormous pressure on Cuba to refuse transit for Snowden. They threatened Cuba with invasion and blockade, and Castro asked Snowden to look for another route. No airline but Aeroflot would fly Snowden out of Russia, and Aeroflot flies via Havana only. So the first plan got unstuck.

The gas summit in Moscow offered another opportunity for escape: the summit was attended by the presidents of Bolivia and Venezuela, both came with their private planes able to make the long flight. Bolivian president Evo Morales had left Moscow first; his plane was forced down and searched, setting a historical precedent. This served as a warning to the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro; he flew away from Moscow Snowden-less.

This was an important discovery for Ed Snowden: he learned by this experience that there is just one country on the planet that is outside of the US grasp. Just one country that is a real alternative to the Empire; the only country Navy Seals are not likely to raid nor Obama drones to bomb, the only country whose planes can’t be scrambled and searched. He understood that Moscow is the only safe place on the globe for an identified enemy of the Empire. Now he was ready to contact the Russians; he resumed his temporary refuge request, which will probably be granted.

The Russians also hesitated. They were not keen on angering the US, they were aware that Snowden did not intend to come to them and just happened to get stuck in transit. He was a hot potato, and many people were convinced it’s better to follow the Chinese example and toss him.

The US Lobby pulled out all the stops trying to have him extradited. There were human rights activists and NGO members in the employ of the US State Department. Such people and organisations are promoted by the Americans, a Fifth Column of sorts. Lyudmila Alexeeva is a leading Russian activist of this kind; she was an anti-Soviet dissident, acquired US citizenship, came back to Russia and resumed her fight for human rights and against the Russian state. She is on record as saying that Snowden is a traitor to the service, neither a whistle-blower nor a human rights defender. He should be surrendered to the US, she averred. Other notorious dissidents and fighters against Putin’s regime agreed with her, unmasking their true colours.

Some siloviki were also against Snowden. These are members and ex-members of Russian intelligence community, who embraced the concept of convergence of security services and collaborated with the Americans and other services, notably the Israelis. They said that loyalty to one’s service is the most important virtue, and a traitor can’t be trusted. They pooh-poohed Snowden’s revelations saying they had known it all along. They said he is not worth quarrelling with Washington about. This was also the line of Konstantin Remchukov, an important Russian media lord, the owner of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, who added that Snowden was a Chinese spy.

And finally there were conspiracy freaks, who said that Snowden is a Trojan Horse, sent to pry open Russian secrets. He was actually a CIA double agent, they said. No, he was an agent of Mossad, others argued. Return him to the US, they asserted. This bottom line has exposed many American agents, whether faux human rights defenders or equally false siloviki, security personnel.

Among supporters of Snowden in Russia, there was my friend, the poet Eduard Limonov, who called Snowden the harbinger of Unipolar World collapse. My newspaper KP supported the cause as well. The state-owned TV took a cautious approach, and was rather dismissive of Snowden’s discoveries.

President Putin, too, played a cautious game. Initially, he stopped talk of surrendering Snowden with a laconic statement: «Russia never ever extradites anybody to any state». Then he offered Snowden refuge on condition that he would not act against the US. This is a usual condition for a political refuge. He added that probably Snowden would not accept it as he wants to continue his struggle “just like Professor Sakharov”, a renown dissident of Soviet days. He also tried to dissuade America from pursuing Snowden, comparing this pursuit with “shearing a piglet”, producing more screams than wool. This cautious game paid well: Snowden accepted his precondition and applied for temporary refuge until the road to Latin America opens up for him, while the President saved face and did his best to avoid quarrelling with the US and with the mighty pro-American lobby in Moscow. I should say that despite his autocratic macho image, Putin does not control free Russian media, which are usually owned by pro-Western media lords. His positions in the national discourse get limited exposure.

The Russian leader was not confrontational. He does not look for trouble, as a rule. He comes off as rather a cautious, prudent, conservative ruler. He would probably prefer that Snowden fly away, especially as Snowden, an American patriot, would not share his stolen crown jewels with the Russians. His granting permission for Snowden to meet with the Russian public was withheld for a long while. However, during this period, the US added many more names to the secret Magnitsky List of Russians whose properties and accounts were to be snatched (“frozen” is the technical term) by the US and its allies. Members of Congress freely vituperated against Putin and referred to Russia in abusive terms. Just wait — Obama will call Putin tonight and he will send Snowden packing, said the White House spokesman. Meanwhile, the US continued its build-up against Syria in the Middle East, and Israel bombed Syrian positions, presumably with American support. Instead of showing any consideration, Obama tried to bully Putin. This was the wrong tactic, and it backfired.

At the same time, Russia carried out a sudden check of its military preparedness, apparently keeping all options open. This great country is not looking for trouble, but it does not shrink from it either. Snowden is safe here in Moscow, where nobody can harm him, so he will be able to tell the world about the crimes against humanity committed by the American secret services. And Moscow is a great place to be, especially in summer.


A native of Novosibirsk, Siberia, a grandson of a professor of mathematics and a descendant of a Rabbi from Tiberias, Palestine, he studied at the prestigious School of the Academy of Sciences, and read Math and Law at Novosibirsk University. In 1969, he moved to Israel, served as paratrooper in the army and fought in the 1973 war.

After his military service he resumed his study of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but abandoned the legal profession in pursuit of a career as a journalist and writer. He got his first taste of journalism with Israel Radio, and later went freelance. His varied assignments included covering Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the last stages of the war in South East Asia.

In 1975, Shamir joined the BBC and moved to London. In 1977-79 he wrote for the Israeli daily Maariv and other papers from Japan. While in Tokyo, he wrote Travels with My Son, his first book, and translated a number of Japanese classics.

Email at: info@israelshamir.net

Israel Shamir is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

The Gods of War: Don’t Believe The Hype

August 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The US empire’s illusion of benign omnipotence has been broken by the heroic acts of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden writes Neil Harrison…

In god we trust

The grotesque climax to the manifest destiny dream. Invisible in the sky, malevolent and capricious, an Old Testament-style god rains arbitrary, brutal fate upon unsuspecting civilians.

On that Baghdad street, on that day, god existed. The Reuters journalist and his driver, gunned down for carrying an extended camera lens; the father killed taking his children to school; his children – injured and forced to witness their father’s abject death. For all of these people and more, god existed that day and his name was America.

Bradley Manning
Bradley Manning

Of course, this was the footage which finally convinced the troubled Private Bradley Manning to begin a campaign of, in his own words, “shattering the fantasy.” Thanks to Manning, no serious observer of this video, or of USA foreign policy in general, could now continue to indulge in the fantasy of America as the world’s friendly policeman, not without excercising some serious double-think. Especially not while listening to the Apache helicopter’s crew gloat and laugh as they kill and maim innocents (it somehow gets worse the more you see it).

 

Arguably, the video was the most important thing that Bradley Manning leaked before his arrest and incarceration. Footage of other Apache helicopter attacks in Iraq were already available on Youtube, transcripts from the attack had already been printed elsewhere in a book and the world already knew that the Reuters journalists had been killed by American forces, but images and sounds have a visceral impact which mere words often lack. A worldwide, large-scale audience was, for this particular video, guaranteed by the involvement of Wikileaks – Julian Assange’s flair for understated drama publicly piled up embarassment for the US military. Headline status meant that millions could now no longer continue with the ‘fantasy’ anymore than they could ‘unsee’ the footage. Therefore, by the time Manning’s subsequent leaks (including the war logs and the notorious diplomatic cables) came to light, they were being registered by a global public already primed with enlightened eyes and a deep sense of scepticism.

The convergence of a multitude of factors provided Manning with motive and opportunity to inflict one of the biggest clusterfucks in the American god-machine’s history of propaganda war- US government paranoia post 9/11 meant that, due to their insistence on inter-department ‘sharing,’ anyone with clearance could access virtually all government information. Manning’s genius with computers allowed him to trawl for his quarry with ease. Moreover, he felt desperately isolated. In the Mesopotamian desert, thousands of miles from home, among unsympathetic colleagues – it was far from the perfect situation for a very young man suffering deep personal turmoil. Most importantly of all, however, and the thing we should remember above all else, is that Private Bradley Manning cared.

He cared that he may have been complicit in a regime which employed (or contracted out) torture, “I was actively involved in something that I was completely against…” He cared that his fellow Americans were deliberately being kept ignorant of the true nature of their government’s foreign policy, “I want people to see the truth…without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.” Manning cared enough to risk pissing off a god.

Edward Snowden
Edward Snowden

As this week’s verdict of guilty on twenty counts (though, symbolically, not ‘aiding the enemy,’ which begs the question – if no ‘enemy’ was ‘aided’ where the hell is the crime?) could potentially result in over 130 years jail time for him, and bearing in mind the dreadful incarceration he has already endured, this god is at pains to ensure few follow suit.

The American god-machine sent its son to the Middle-east. Once there, he made a stand for truth and human compassion. For his sacrifice he is now being symbolically martyred. Does this sound familiar? You would be forgiven for finding these comparisons somewhat contrived (put it down to artistic licence). However, before dismissing the notion entirely, consider a couple of further examples.

Firstly, thanks to the actions of another brave whistleblower, Edward Snowden, we now know something of American pretensions to omnipotence. America’s National Security Agency, it is becoming ever more apparent, are now able to read private emails and listen in on telephone conversations not only in the US. but across the globe. For reasons of security, in order to protect you, the NSA needs to be able to hear your weekly takeaway order. America-god knows your favourite pizza toppings. Feel safer?

Finally, there exists the reality of ritual appeasement. In Slavoj Zizek’s The Year of Dreaming Dangerouslyhe describes how the US must:

‘…suck up a daily influx of one billion dollars from other nations to pay for its consumption and is, as such, the universal Keynesian consumer that keeps the world economy running. (So much for the anti-Keynesian economic ideology that seems to predominate today!) This influx, which is effectively like the tithe paid to Rome in antiquity (or the gifts sacrificed to the Minotaur by the Ancient Greeks), relies on a complex economic mechanism: the US is “trusted” as the safe and stable center, so that all the others, from the oil-producing Arab countries to Western Europe and Japan, and now even the Chinese, invest their surplus profits in the US. Since this trust is primarily ideological and military, not economic, the problem for the US is how to justify its imperial role – it needs a permanent state of war, thus the “war on terror,” offering itself as the universal protector of all other “normal” (not “rogue”) states.’[1]

Herein lies the truth of the matter. America is not a god, it simply wears this diguise of ‘justification,’ therefore maintaining the inflated faux-capacity, to attempt to behave like one. In truth, the US is becoming increasingly desperate to appease and control its own economic god.

But who benefits from this global arrangement? The American people? Maybe we should ask the citizens of Detroit that one?

If we in the ‘liberal’ West really are benefitting from this international tithe-paying/war-making economic regime, then at least now, thanks to Manning and Snowden, we can appreciate the true cost it incurs. Perhaps we may yet glimpse our own future therein, because the only people who have ever genuinely benefitted, who will ever benefit, from the system Zizek describes, are in a tiny and exclusive minority. In the words of Allen Ginsberg, they are:

The Secret,

The Drunk,

The Brutal,

The Dirty Rich.

Describing the way in which “emancipatory politics,” such as socialism or feminism, work “by reaching for a future,” Terry Eagleton invokes [2] a useful image:

“[They insert] the thin end of the wedge of the future into the heart of the present. They represent a bridge between present and future , a point where the two intersect.”

This is exactly what Manning and Snowden have achieved. They have given us a brief view of a future in which no state can be unaccountable for its actions, however clandestine, however obscure its motives – not even the most powerful on Earth.

Our immediate task for the future is to continue forcing the ‘wedge,’ to ensure that the illusion continues to be shattered. Let no motive of those who would make war go uninterogated. Let no action of those who hoard wealth at the expense of the pain, suffering and even the lives of others go unchallenged. This is how best to honour the bravery and sacrifices of Manning, Snowden and others like them. This is how we will display our solidarity with them as they face uncertain futures. This is how we will consign the gods to history.

Notes

[1] Slavoj Zizek, The Year of Dreaming Dangerously, p. 10

[2] Terry Eagleton, Why Marx Was Right p. 69

Source: Counterfire

CNN: Bradley Manning ‘Betrayed’ America

August 2, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Even in the face of complete public opposition, the tired mainstream media machine continues its assault on whistleblowers who dare to expose the government. In the latest bout, CNN has featured a story painting Bradley Manning as a terrorist, entitled ‘Bradley Manning betrayed America’.

And if you support Bradley Manning and whistleblowers like Snowden and others? Well, according to the CNN piece, you must be an ‘anti-American left-winger’.

Before we dive into this CNN piece by propagandist Gabriel Schoenfeld, who writes like he should be a speech writer for Obama, it’s essential to understand the entire angle of the article. You must remember that we now live in a society where every single thing we do, or even think, can be classified as an act of terrorism under DHSregulation. From simply complaining about our tap water to being political activists, we now have on the record admission from both state and federal officials that the DHS’ classification of a ‘terrorist’ is broad enough to apply to 100% of the population.

In fact, all we have to do to see the true extent of this is to go back to the bombshell report out of a recent German newspaper. Posted up online and translated to English, the article reveals that the United States military is actually targeting those who oppose genetically modified organisms in the food supply. And as it turns out when examining the average statistics from polling agencies, about 93-96% of the US population is in favor of going ahead and labeling GMOs.

So, with these numbers, that means at least 93-96% of the US population can now be classified as terrorists under this factor alone.

See how easy it is to go ahead and throw the entire population under the label of a terrorist?

But there’s certainly much more to the Bradley Manning story. You see Bradley Manning didn’t just engage in the terrorist act of complaining about his tap water or wanting to know what’s on his dinner table. Instead, he actually is doing the job of a true soldier — to uphold the Constitution and expose corruption. Now facing 136 years in prison for leaking essentials items like the video that details the murder of two Reuters journalists in Iraq, which also ended in the death of seven others, Bradley Manning is an example of a necessary whistleblower.

But when we have a government run by a political mafia, it should come as no surprise that Hilary Clinton and other top level political mafia players are pushing to get Bradley Manning thrown away forever — even pushing the death penalty for the young Army private. All because he is really messing up the way the game is played by these mafia masters.

‘Anti-American’ to Support Bradley Manning

Now enter CNN contributor Gabriel Schoenfeld, a fellow of the Hudson Institute think tank funded by the likes of Monsanto, IBM, Syngenta, Exxon, and Merck. Also an organization that always sends a representative to the notorious Bilderberg group each year. In his CNN piece, Schoenfeld touches upon the same old ‘terrorist’ rhetoric we’ve heard so many times that even the percentage of the general public that hides under the covers at night in fear of al-Qaeda is tired of it.

In the article, which has 748 comments that are mostly tearing up the author and CNN’s tired rhetoric, Schoenfeld actually says those who support the idea of keeping government in check through whistleblowing in the manner of Snowden and Manning are ‘left-wing anti-Americans’. He writes:

“Those spewing such left-wing anti-Americanism are eager to pass over the fact that many of the documents Manning passed to WikiLeaks were dropped onto the Internet by Julian Assange and contained the names of individuals around the world who had met with American diplomats or cooperated with American forces.”

Truly a last line of defense, invoking the left vs. right card in order to rally some potential support. The fact is, however, that the left vs. right name calling is about as tired as blaming everything on the terrorists. But let’s look at another part of the argument as to why Manning ‘betrayed’ the United States. In the article, Schoenfeld says that by leaking the documents and videos, Manning put innocents in harms way as some of the material contained the names of innocent soldiers.  He writes:

“Some of these individuals were simply innocent civilians in places like Iraq and Afghanistan who tried to help our soldiers. Others were dissidents and underground writers in repressive countries.”

Gee, CNN and other news publications didn’t seem to attack the news publication that posted the addresses of law-abiding gun owners online for everyone to see. In fact, CNN and others linked to the interactive map and covered it as if it were any other piece of news. There was no CNN piece assaulting the newspaper that published the homes of innocents with legal guns, even though the map set these individuals up for burglaries and potential death.

Readers See Through Propaganda

Thankfully, readers see through articles like these, with top comments actually breaking down the reality of the situation and where it’s headed:

“Ah yes, here we go. If you dare to stand up and say that the U.S. government is out of control and has become the very thing they pretend to hate, then you are… Anti-American. Alternatively, if you believe that Manning is a traitor to the *government* for exposing things We the People find abhorrent like torture and cold blooded murder and other stuff we don’t need to worry our pretty little heads about, then you are a patriot. Criminalizing journalism, which will naturally move to criminalizing even discussing these things, is only a scant stones throw from here.”

The bottom line is that the mainstream media is losing numbers, and it has already lostcredibility. Since they cannot defeat reality with any real facts, they resort to ridiculous ‘terrorism’ pieces like this one we see here. As it turns out, however, even CNN readers see past the attempts.

Source:  Anthony Gucciardi  |  StoryLeak

Rights Groups React To Bradley Manning Verdict

August 1, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

On July 30, in a military trial at Fort Mead, Maryland, war crimes whistleblower Bradley Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy (the most serious charge against him) but was found guilty of 19 other charges. While serving as a Private First Class in the U.S. Army, Manning had released hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks which exposed U.S. war crimes and other government misconduct. Doing so led to his court-martial.

In response to the verdict, Amnesty International suggested that the U.S. government needs to reassess its priorities: “The government’s priorities are upside down. The U.S. government has refused to investigate credible allegations of torture and other crimes under international law despite overwhelming evidence,” said Widney Brown, Amnesty’s senior director of international law and policy. “Yet they decided to prosecute Manning who it seems was trying to do the right thing – reveal credible evidence of unlawful behavior by the government. You investigate and prosecute those who destroy the credibility of the government by engaging in acts such as torture which are prohibited under the U.S. Constitution and in international law… It’s hard not to draw the conclusion that Manning’s trial was about sending a message: the U.S. government will come after you, no holds barred, if you’re thinking of revealing evidence of its unlawful behavior.”

In other words, U.S. policy is to shoot the proverbial messenger.

The lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) agree. The CCR had filed a case challenging the lack of transparency around the Manning trial. Now, in the wake of the verdict, the CCR has released a statement condemning the charges against Manning related to the Espionage Act: “[T]he Espionage Act itself is a discredited relic of the WWI era, created as a tool to suppress political dissent and antiwar activism, and it is outrageous that the government chose to invoke it in the first place against Manning. Government employees who blow the whistle on war crimes, other abuses and government incompetence should be protected under the First Amendment.”

The CCR statement goes on to question the future of journalism and the First Amendment itself: “We now live in a country where someone who exposes war crimes can be sentenced to life even if not found guilty of aiding the enemy, while those responsible for the war crimes remain free. If the government equates being a whistleblower with espionage or aiding the enemy, what is the future of journalism in this country? What is the future of the First Amendment?”

Indeed. And it’s not just journalists and whistleblowers who should be worried.


Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views appear regularly in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites. Note that the ideas expressed here are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may be associated. E-mail:mary@maryshawonline.com

Mary Shaw is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

Bradley Manning: Guilty of Doing The Right Thing

July 31, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Final arguments were presented last week. Judge Col. Denise Lind adjourned for the weekend. Tuesday 1PM EDT was verdict day and time.

It didn’t surprise. Earlier she refused to dismiss aiding the enemy charges. She let multiple Espionage Act violations stand. She did so disgracefully. Manning faces possible life in prison.

We’ll know once sentence is imposed. We’ll know more if it holds on appeal. We know plenty now. Lind threw the book at Manning except entirely.

She exonerated him of aiding the enemy. She convicted him of 20 of 22 charges. They include five Espionage Act counts. Expect sentencing to be harsh. Manning faces longterm imprisonment. He may never be free again.

According to Brennan Center for Justice Liberty and National Security Program co-director Elizabeth Goitein:

“Manning is one of very few people ever charged under the Espionage Act (prosecuted) for leaks to the media. The only other person who was convicted after trial was pardoned.”

“Despite the lack of any evidence that he intended any harm to the United States, Manning faces decades in prison. That’s a very scary precedent.”

Lind is chief judge, 1st Judicial Circuit, US Army Trial Judiciary. She served in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps for 25 years.

Her service includes 4 years as a military judge in Europe, Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Washington, DC.

She’s Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University Assistant Professor of National Security Studies.

She’s chief counsel, US Army Government Appellate Division, general counsel, Fort Belvoir, VA.

She’s Army Joint Service Committee on Military Justice working group member.

She’s supervisory defense counsel, senior prosecutor, and special assistant US attorney. She’s a New York Bar member.

Ahead of her verdict, the Bradley Manning Support Network said the following:

“In an ominous sign for (judicial fairness), military judge Denise Lind altered important charges last week in order to assist prosecutors ahead of verdict.”

“In so doing, defense attorney David Coombs explained, ‘The Government has pushed this case beyond the bounds of legal propriety.’ ”

” ‘If the Government meant information, it should have charged information.’ ”

“Up until last week, Manning was charged with stealing entire databases. The Defense has no way to defend Manning against these new charges after the fact.”

“Army private Bradley Manning faces a potential life sentence for passing hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents to the transparency website WikiLeaks, to expose US criminality in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and further abuses around the world.”

“Never in the history of American military law has a person been charged with Article 104 of the Uniform Code of Military Law, ‘Aiding the Enemy,’ for providing information to the media in the public interest.”

“However, Manning faces life in prison tomorrow if convicted of this charge alone – despite all evidence to the contrary.”

” ‘I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the informationâ¤|this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general,’ Manning said in a February statement.”

A sentencing hearing’s scheduled for Wednesday. Expect it unless postponed. It could last weeks. Each side plans calling numerous witnesses.

Obama pronounced Manning guilty by accusation. He did so before trial proceedings began. He acted callously and unconscionably. Media scoundrels piled on. They still do.

Lead prosecutor Capt. Ashden Fein called Manning an anarchist/hacker/traitor. He “knew exactly what he was doing,” he said. His actions represented “general evil intent.”

“He was not a whistleblower. He was a traitor, a traitor who understood the value of compromised information in the hands of the enemy and took deliberate steps to ensure that they, along with the world, received it.”

In February, Manning pled guilty to 10 lesser charges. They’re punishable up to 20 years in prison.

Aiding the enemy and other Espionage Act violations could put him away for life.

After sentencing, it’s reviewed. It’s Major General Jeffrey Buchanan’s responsibility. He heads Washington’s Military District.

He may or may not order leniency. It’s unlikely. Expect tokenism at best. Obama wants his head. So do media scoundrels.

No military or civil judge will countermand the president and commander-in-chief. None dares challenge court of public opinion sentiment.

If bad conduct discharge is ordered, a dishonorable one, or imprisonment for a year or more (on top of time served), further review is required.

It’s the Army Court of Criminal Appeals responsibility. It can go higher. The US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces is its highest judicial authority.

Manning can appeal to the Supreme Court. It’s nearly always unsympathetic. Petitions for hearings are summarily rejected. A one-sentence comment does so, saying: “Petition for writ of certiorari denied.”

On July 24, defense counsel Coombs petitioned for mistrial. He said in part:

“The Defense submits that the Government has made an utter mess of the section 641 offenses by pursuing one charge (that PFC Manning stole databases) and at the last minute pursuing a different charge (that PFC Manning stole information).”

“The Defense did not know that ‘database’ or ‘records’ meant ‘information’ and has suffered irreparable prejudice as a result.”

“Under RCM 915, a military judge may declare a mistrial when ‘manifestly necessary in the interest of justice because the circumstances arising during the proceedings which cast substantial doubt upon the fairness of the proceedings.’ ”

Prosecutorial charges against Manning reflect injustice. He exposed serious war crimes. He’s victimized for doing so. Claiming he aided the enemy flies in the face of reality.

According to Duke Law School Professor Scott Silliman:

“Most of the aiding-the-enemy charges historically have had to do with POWs who gave information to the Japanese during World War II, or to Chinese communists during Korea, or during the Vietnam War.”

According to visiting University of Pittsburgh Law Professor David Frakt:

Convicting Manning on this charge “would essentially create a new way of (doing so) in a very indirect fashion, even an unintended fashion.”

Prosecutors cited Union soldier Henry Vanderwater’s 1863 court martial. He was convicted of aiding the enemy. He gave an Alexandria, VA newspaper command roster information it published.

Coombs said Civil War-era cases involved coded messages. Advertisements disguised them. All modern cases involve military personnel giving aid and comfort to the enemy directly.

Convicting Manning sends a chilling message to whistleblowers. Do the right thing and be criminalized. Do it above and beyond the call and it’s longterm or life.

On July 28, the Bradley Manning Support Network discussed altering charges ”to assist Gov’t ahead of verdict.”

Coombs calls doing so “push(ing) this case beyond the bounds of legal propriety.”

Altering charges isn’t “semantic,” he said. “Legally, it’s substantially different than the original charges, and more to the point, it comes long after the government rested its case, precluding the defense from going back to question witnesses differently.”

It’s an unprecedented hostile act. No legitimate judge would allow it. Manning faces kangaroo court justice. Irreparable damage doesn’t matter.

Nor does rule of law compliance. Manning was pronounced guilty before proceedings began. Defense council’s blamed for prosecutorial misconduct.

Manning’s trial was a travesty of justice. Conviction came on the same day Washington first protected whistleblowers. Congressional members did so unanimously.

On July 30, 1778, the Continental Congress declared it the “duty of all persons in the service of the United States, as well as all other the inhabitants thereof, to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds or misdemeanors committed by an officers or persons in the service of these states, which may come to their knowledge.”

Crimes then paled by comparison to today’s. They continue daily. Congress supports them. It does so by funding illegal wars.

It permits torture and other forms of abuse. It’s silent about witch-hunt justice. It’s in bed with Wall Street, war profiteers, and other corporate crooks.

It supports America’s worst. It ignores persecution of its best. It’s guilty of crimes charged against others. It’s the best government money can buy.

Whistleblowers are heroes. They’re public enemy number one. Doing the right thing risks prison hell. It’s the American way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Manning, Snowden, Egypt And The 1776 Declaration of Independence

July 4, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

“Edward Snowden must be caught and punished at any cost.”  Who said that?  Was it some overbearing British sovereign back in 1776 who said it?  Had Edward Snowden just signed the American colonies’ famous Declaration of Independence?  The way that Snowden has been hounded and pursued and intimidated in the last few weeks, one would certainly think so.

According to an essay entitled “The Price They Paid,” signers of the original Declaration of Independence of 1776 were also hounded, imprisoned and even tortured and killed because they stood up for their beliefs.

And here we are now, 237 years later, out celebrating the Fourth of July like it actually meant something — while true patriots like Edward Snowden are being hunted down like dogs on the highway by the FBI, the CIA and the NSA.  And nobody here seems to either notice or care.

And ditto for Bradley Manning.

According to a recent article by Paul Rogers on current revolts in Egypt, Brazil, Tunisia, Turkey, etc., “The sheer unpredictability of mass protest [is] a matter of great concern to political elites and their security cohorts across the world.  That really is deeply worrying for them, and something that will cause them to double their efforts to track what is happening and predict its evolution — an effort no doubt aided by the use of PRISM and the other forms of mass surveillance.  What, though, if even those systems don’t have a proper handle on what is happening [or can actually keep a lid on it either]?  That will give political elites sleepless nights in the weeks and months to come.” http://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/egypt-and-worlds-revolt

First comes Occupy Wall Street.  Then comes the Arab Spring.  And then Wikileaks, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, not necessary in that order.  Like in the spring of 1776, popular revolts against economic tyranny seem to be popping up all over like wack-a-moles.  No wonder George III was afraid.

“So what’s your point, Jane,” you might ask.  Hmmm.  I guess my point is that working class people, little people, the salt of the earth people like you and me are making our current economic ruling classes just a tiny bit wary on this Fourth of July weekend of 2013.

But they still haven’t started to get pee-your-pants afraid quite yet.  They still have armies and police and the NSA.  And trillions of dollars stashed away in the Caymans and penthouses on Wall Street and Michelin-starred restaurants to eat at.  “What me worry?”  Not quite yet.

But they are worried enough — that the salt of the earth might someday finally get tired of being used, trod on and taken advantage of while they continue to be corporate welfare queens — that they are out there stalking Edward Snowden and torturing Bradley Manning and fretting about what is happening in Egypt and Brazil and Turkey.

But the economic elite almost certainly know that the little people here in America will never get uppity because they know that most Americans are under their thumb; out celebrating the Fourth of July by watching fireworks displays on TV, drinking Cokes and going shopping at dollar stores.


Jane Stillwater is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice
She can be reached at: jpstillwater@yahoo.com

Was Michael Hastings Murdered?

June 29, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

What happened to Michael Hastings? The revelation that Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings was working on a story about the CIA before his death and had contacted a Wikileaks lawyer about being under investigation by the FBI hours before his car exploded into flames has bolstered increasingly valid claims that the 33-year-old was assassinated.

Hastings died last week in Hollywood when his car hit a tree at high speed.

According to a prominent security analyst, technology exists that could’ve allowed someone to hack his car. Former U.S. National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counter-terrorism Richard Clarke told The Huffington Post that what is known about the single-vehicle crash is “consistent with a car cyber attack.”

Clarke said, “There is reason to believe that intelligence agencies for major powers” — including the United States — know how to remotely seize control of a car.

“What has been revealed as a result of some research at universities is that it’s relatively easy to hack your way into the control system of a car, and to do such things as cause acceleration when the driver doesn’t want acceleration, to throw on the brakes when the driver doesn’t want the brakes on, to launch an air bag,” Clarke told The Huffington Post. “You can do some really highly destructive things now, through hacking a car, and it’s not that hard.”

It’s possible that Hastings car was hacked considering the people he had written about in his past and what he recently had been talking about.

Kathleen Fisher from DARPA recently did a presentation on the ease of hacking a standard american sedan. Volvo started the SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) program in 2009 and they are now reporting that their testing has been “successfully completed.” Hacking of a lemmings train like Volvo’s, could lead to massive collisions on the roads and there should be major security concerns considering what recently has been learned.

Source: redicecreations.com

Edward Snowden

June 27, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

In the course of his professional life in the world of national security Edward Snowden must have gone through numerous probing interviews, lie detector examinations, and exceedingly detailed background checks, as well as filling out endless forms carefully designed to catch any kind of falsehood or inconsistency. The Washington Post (June 10) reported that “several officials said the CIA will now undoubtedly begin reviewing the process by which Snowden may have been hired, seeking to determine whether there were any missed signs that he might one day betray national secrets.”

Yes, there was a sign they missed – Edward Snowden had something inside him shaped like a conscience, just waiting for a cause.

It was the same with me. I went to work at the State Department, planning to become a Foreign Service Officer, with the best – the most patriotic – of intentions, going to do my best to slay the beast of the International Communist Conspiracy. But then the horror, on a daily basis, of what the United States was doing to the people of Vietnam was brought home to me in every form of media; it was making me sick at heart. My conscience had found its cause, and nothing that I could have been asked in a pre-employment interview would have alerted my interrogators of the possible danger I posed because I didn’t know of the danger myself. No questioning of my friends and relatives could have turned up the slightest hint of the radical anti-war activist I was to become. My friends and relatives were to be as surprised as I was to be. There was simply no way for the State Department security office to know that I should not be hired and given a Secret Clearance. 1

So what is a poor National Security State to do? Well, they might consider behaving themselves. Stop doing all the terrible things that grieve people like me and Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning and so many others. Stop the bombings, the invasions, the endless wars, the torture, the sanctions, the overthrows, the support of dictatorships, the unmitigated support of Israel; stop all the things that make the United States so hated, that create all the anti-American terrorists, that compel the National Security State – in pure self defense – to spy on the entire world.

Eavesdropping on the planet

The above is the title of an essay that I wrote in 2000 that appeared as a chapter in my book Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower. Here are some excerpts that may help to put the current revelations surrounding Edward Snowden into perspective …

Can people in the 21st century imagine a greater invasion of privacy on all of earth, in all of history? If so, they merely have to wait for technology to catch up with their imagination.

Like a mammoth vacuum cleaner in the sky, the National Security Agency (NSA) sucks it all up: home phone, office phone, cellular phone, email, fax, telex … satellite transmissions, fiber-optic communications traffic, microwave links … voice, text, images … captured by satellites continuously orbiting the earth, then processed by high-powered computers … if it runs on electromagnetic energy, NSA is there, with high high tech. Twenty-four hours a day. Perhaps billions of messages sucked up each day. No one escapes. Not presidents, prime ministers, the UN Secretary-General, the pope, the Queen of England, embassies, transnational corporation CEOs, friend, foe, your Aunt Lena … if God has a phone, it’s being monitored … maybe your dog isn’t being tapped. The oceans will not protect you. American submarines have been attaching tapping pods to deep underwater cables for decades.

Under a system codenamed ECHELON, launched in the 1970s, the NSA and its junior partners in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada operate a network of massive, highly automated interception stations, covering the globe amongst them. Any of the partners can ask any of the others to intercept its own domestic communications. It can then truthfully say it does not spy on its own citizens.

Apart from specifically-targeted individuals and institutions, the ECHELON system works by indiscriminately intercepting huge quantities of communications and using computers to identify and extract messages of interest from the mass of unwanted ones. Every intercepted message – all the embassy cables, the business deals, the sex talk, the birthday greetings – is searched for keywords, which could be anything the searchers think might be of interest. All it takes to flag a communication is for one of the parties to use a couple or so of the key words in the ECHELON “dictionary” – “He lives in a lovely old white house on Bush Street, right near me. I can shoot over there in two minutes.” Within limitations, computers can “listen” to telephone calls and recognize when keywords are spoken. Those calls are extracted and recorded separately, to be listened to in full by humans. The list of specific targets at any given time is undoubtedly wide ranging, at one point including the likes of Amnesty International and Christian Aid.

ECHELON is carried out without official acknowledgment of its existence, let alone any democratic oversight or public or legislative debate as to whether it serves a decent purpose. The extensiveness of the ECHELON global network is a product of decades of intense Cold War activity. Yet with the end of the Cold War, its budget – far from being greatly reduced – was increased, and the network has grown in both power and reach; yet another piece of evidence that the Cold War was not a battle against something called “the international communist conspiracy”.

The European Parliament in the late 1990s began to wake up to this intrusion into the continent’s affairs. The parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee commissioned a report, which appeared in 1998 and recommended a variety of measures for dealing with the increasing power of the technologies of surveillance. It bluntly advised: “The European Parliament should reject proposals from the United States for making private messages via the global communications network [Internet] accessible to US intelligence agencies.” The report denounced Britain’s role as a double-agent, spying on its own European partners.

Despite these concerns the US has continued to expand ECHELON surveillance in Europe, partly because of heightened interest in commercial espionage – to uncover industrial information that would provide American corporations with an advantage over foreign rivals.

German security experts discovered several years ago that ECHELON was engaged in heavy commercial spying in Europe. Victims included such German firms as the wind generator manufacturer Enercon. In 1998, Enercon developed what it thought was a secret invention, enabling it to generate electricity from wind power at a far cheaper rate than before. However, when the company tried to market its invention in the United States, it was confronted by its American rival, Kenetech, which announced that it had already patented a near-identical development. Kenetech then brought a court order against Enercon to ban the sale of its equipment in the US. In a rare public disclosure, an NSA employee, who refused to be named, agreed to appear in silhouette on German television to reveal how he had stolen Enercon’s secrets by tapping the telephone and computer link lines that ran between Enercon’s research laboratory and its production unit some 12 miles away. Detailed plans of the company’s invention were then passed on to Kenetech.

In 1994, Thomson S.A., located in Paris, and Airbus Industrie, based in Blagnac Cedex, France, also lost lucrative contracts, snatched away by American rivals aided by information covertly collected by NSA and CIA. The same agencies also eavesdropped on Japanese representatives during negotiations with the United States in 1995 over auto parts trade.

German industry has complained that it is in a particularly vulnerable position because the government forbids its security services from conducting similar industrial espionage. “German politicians still support the rather naive idea that political allies should not spy on each other’s businesses. The Americans and the British do not have such illusions,” said journalist Udo Ulfkotte, a specialist in European industrial espionage, in 1999.

That same year, Germany demanded that the United States recall three CIA operatives for their activities in Germany involving economic espionage. The news report stated that the Germans “have long been suspicious of the eavesdropping capabilities of the enormous U.S. radar and communications complex at Bad Aibling, near Munich”, which is in fact an NSA intercept station. “The Americans tell us it is used solely to monitor communications by potential enemies, but how can we be entirely sure that they are not picking up pieces of information that we think should remain completely secret?” asked a senior German official. Japanese officials most likely have been told a similar story by Washington about the more than a dozen signals intelligence bases which Japan has allowed to be located on its territory.

In their quest to gain access to more and more private information, the NSA, the FBI, and other components of the US national security establishment have been engaged for years in a campaign to require American telecommunications manufacturers and carriers to design their equipment and networks to optimize the authorities’ wiretapping ability. Some industry insiders say they believe that some US machines approved for export contain NSA “back doors” (also called “trap doors”).

The United States has been trying to persuade European Union countries as well to allow it “back-door” access to encryption programs, claiming that this was to serve the needs of law-enforcement agencies. However, a report released by the European Parliament in May 1999 asserted that Washington’s plans for controlling encryption software in Europe had nothing to do with law enforcement and everything to do with US industrial espionage. The NSA has also dispatched FBI agents on break-in missions to snatch code books from foreign facilities in the United States, and CIA officers to recruit foreign communications clerks abroad and buy their code secrets, according to veteran intelligence officials.

For decades, beginning in the 1950s, the Swiss company Crypto AG sold the world’s most sophisticated and secure encryption technology. The firm staked its reputation and the security concerns of its clients on its neutrality in the Cold War or any other war. The purchasing nations, some 120 of them – including prime US intelligence targets such as Iran, Iraq, Libya and Yugoslavia – confident that their communications were protected, sent messages from their capitals to their embassies, military missions, trade offices, and espionage dens around the world, via telex, radio, and fax. And all the while, because of a secret agreement between the company and NSA, these governments might as well have been hand delivering the messages to Washington, uncoded. For their Crypto AG machines had been rigged before being sold to them, so that when they used them the random encryption key could be automatically and clandestinely transmitted along with the enciphered message. NSA analysts could read the messages as easily as they could the morning newspaper.

In 1986, because of US public statements concerning the La Belle disco bombing in West Berlin, the Libyans began to suspect that something was rotten with Crypto AG’s machines and switched to another Swiss firm, Gretag Data Systems AG. But it appears that NSA had that base covered as well. In 1992, after a series of suspicious circumstances over the previous few years, Iran came to a conclusion similar to Libya’s, and arrested a Crypto AG employee who was in Iran on a business trip. He was eventually ransomed, but the incident became well known and the scam began to unravel in earnest.

In September 1999 it was revealed that NSA had arranged with Microsoft to insert special “keys” into Windows software, in all versions from 95-OSR2 onwards. An American computer scientist, Andrew Fernandez of Cryptonym in North Carolina, had disassembled parts of the Windows instruction code and found the smoking gun – Microsoft’s developers had failed to remove the debugging symbols used to test this software before they released it. Inside the code were the labels for two keys. One was called “KEY”. The other was called “NSAKEY”. Fernandez presented his finding at a conference at which some Windows developers were also in attendance. The developers did not deny that the NSA key was built into their software, but they refused to talk about what the key did, or why it had been put there without users’ knowledge. Fernandez says that NSA’s “back door” in the world’s most commonly used operating system makes it “orders of magnitude easier for the US government to access your computer.”

In February 2000, it was disclosed that the Strategic Affairs Delegation (DAS), the intelligence arm of the French Defense Ministry, had prepared a report in 1999 which also asserted that NSA had helped to install secret programs in Microsoft software. According to the DAS report, “it would seem that the creation of Microsoft was largely supported, not least financially, by the NSA, and that IBM was made to accept the [Microsoft] MS-DOS operating system by the same administration.” The report stated that there had been a “strong suspicion of a lack of security fed by insistent rumors about the existence of spy programs on Microsoft, and by the presence of NSA personnel in Bill Gates’ development teams.” The Pentagon, said the report, was Microsoft’s biggest client in the world.

Recent years have seen disclosures that in the countdown to their invasion of Iraq in 2003, the United States had listened in on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, and all the members of the UN Security Council during a period when they were deliberating about what action to take in Iraq.

It’s as if the American national security establishment feels that it has an inalienable right to listen in; as if there had been a constitutional amendment, applicable to the entire world, stating that “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the government to intercept the personal communications of anyone.” And the Fourth Amendment had been changed to read: “Persons shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, except in cases of national security, real or alleged.” 2

The leading whistleblower of all time: Philip Agee

Before there was Edward Snowden, William Binney and Thomas Drake … before there was Bradley Manning, Sibel Edmonds and Jesselyn Radack … there was Philip Agee. What Agee revealed is still the most startling and important information about US foreign policy that any American government whistleblower has ever revealed.

Philip Agee spent 12 years (1957-69) as a CIA case officer, most of it in Latin America. His first book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, published in 1974 – a pioneering work on the Agency’s methods and their devastating consequences – appeared in about 30 languages around the world and was a best seller in many countries; it included a 23-page appendix with the names of hundreds of undercover Agency operatives and organizations.

Under CIA manipulation, direction and, usually, their payroll, were past and present presidents of Mexico, Colombia, Uruguay, and Costa Rica, “our minister of labor”, “our vice-president”, “my police”, journalists, labor leaders, student leaders, diplomats, and many others. If the Agency wished to disseminate anti-communist propaganda, cause dissension in leftist ranks, or have Communist embassy personnel expelled, it need only prepare some phoney documents, present them to the appropriate government ministers and journalists, and – presto! – instant scandal.

Agee’s goal in naming all these individuals, quite simply, was to make it as difficult as he could for the CIA to continue doing its dirty work.

A common Agency tactic was writing editorials and phoney news stories to be knowingly published by Latin American media with no indication of the CIA authorship or CIA payment to the media. The propaganda value of such a “news” item might be multiplied by being picked up by other CIA stations in Latin America who would disseminate it through a CIA-owned news agency or a CIA-owned radio station. Some of these stories made their way back to the United States to be read or heard by unknowing North Americans.

Wooing the working class came in for special treatment. Labor organizations by the dozen, sometimes hardly more than names on stationery, were created, altered, combined, liquidated, and new ones created again, in an almost frenzied attempt to find the right combination to compete with existing left-oriented unions and take national leadership away from them.

In 1975 these revelations were new and shocking; for many readers it was the first hint that American foreign policy was not quite what their high-school textbooks had told them nor what theNew York Times had reported.

“As complete an account of spy work as is likely to be published anywhere, an authentic account of how an ordinary American or British ‘case officer’ operates … All of it … presented with deadly accuracy,” wrote Miles Copeland, a former CIA station chief, and ardent foe of Agee. (There’s no former CIA officer more hated by members of the intelligence establishment than Agee; no one’s even close; due in part to his traveling to Cuba and having long-term contact with Cuban intelligence.)

In contrast to Agee, WikiLeaks withheld the names of hundreds of informants from the nearly 400,000 Iraq war documents it released.

In 1969, Agee resigned from the CIA (and colleagues who “long ago ceased to believe in what they are doing”).

While on the run from the CIA as he was writing Inside the Company – at times literally running for his life – Agee was expelled from, or refused admittance to, Italy, Britain, France, West Germany, the Netherlands, and Norway. (West Germany eventually gave him asylum because his wife was a leading ballerina in the country.) Agee’s account of his period on the run can be found detailed in his book On the Run (1987). It’s an exciting read.

Notes

  1. To read about my State Department and other adventures, see my book West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold war Memoir (2002) ↩
  2. See Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, chapter 21, for the notes for the above. ↩


William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire


Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Email to bblum6@aol.com

Website: WilliamBlum.org

William Blum is a regular columnist for Veracity Voice

America: Police State Ruthlessness Writ Large

June 25, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Cold-blooded barbarity reflects US policy. Democracy’s more illusion than reality. Rule of law principles don’t matter. They’re systematically spurned.

Dissent’s increasingly targeted. Freedom’s imperiled. Obama’s ruthless. He exceeds the worst of George Bush. He’s waging war on truth-tellers. He targeted more whistleblowers than all his predecessors combined.

Merrian-Webster calls a police state “a political unit characterized by repressive governmental control of political, economic, and social life usually by an arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially secret police in place of regular operation of administrative and judicial organs of the government according to publicly known legal procedures.”

The Oxford dictionary calls it “a totalitarian state controlled by a political police force that secretly supervises the citizens’ activities.”

America raised the stakes higher. It did so with technological ease. It mass-spies everywhere all the time on everyone. It does so lawlessly. Core constitutional principles are violated. Foreign country statutes are defied.

Washington prioritizes state terrorism. It commits global espionage. It does so on an unprecedented scale. It’s lawless and unprincipled. It targets federal employees exposing wrongdoing. Acting responsibly is criminalized.

Whistleblowers reflect duty above and beyond the call. Legions more like them are necessary. Sunshine’s our best defense. Washington demands darkness.

US-style realpolitik reflects New World Order harshness. Edward Snowden’s more than an American hero. His revelations help everyone.

He fled security and prosperity for safety. He took temporary refuge in Hong Kong. On Sunday, he flew to Moscow.

Ecuador’s Russian ambassador Patricio Chavez and other embassy staff met him. They did so at Sheremetyevo Airport. He requested asylum.

Russia Today said Ecuador granted him refugee status. Expect he’ll get asylum unless he has an unannounced destination in mind.

Perhaps he’s granted safe haven elsewhere. Maybe he did it secretly. Given the enormous risks he faces, it makes sense to do so. He needs all the protections he can get.

Julian Assange said he’s “in a safe place and his spirits are high. Due to the bellicose threats coming from the US administration, we cannot go into further detail at this time.”
“Unfortunately we cannot reveal what country he is in at this time.” Perhaps he’s in Russia. Maybe elsewhere. He’s wise to keep his whereabouts a closely-held secret.
Washington revoked his passport. He’s wrongfully charged under Espionage Act provisions. The White House asked Russia to detain him. It wants him extradited. Moscow responded nyet diplomatically. It did so by not complying.

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden lied saying:

Snowden’s disclosures “suggest that his true motive throughout has been to injure the national security of the US, not to advance internet freedom and free speech.”

She expressed disappointment with Hong Kong authorities. They let him leave despite Washington’s “request to arrest him for purposes of his extradition under the US-Hong Kong Surrender Agreement.”

“We have registered our strong objections to the authorities in Hong Kong as well as to the Chinese government through diplomatic channels and noted that such behavior is detrimental to US-Hong Kong and US-China bilateral relations.”

Expect little sympathy in return. America’s waging political and cyberwar on China. Lawless spying and hacking were revealed. Beijing and Hong Kong aren’t pleased.

Xinhua is China’s official press agency. It called ongoing US practices “troubling.” America’s “the biggest villain in our age,” it said.

Hayden said Moscow’s decision to let Snowden travel to Russia further complicates bilateral relations.

Chuck Shumer (D. NY) calls himself Israel’s Senate “guardian.” Others call him US senator from AIPAC.

On CNN’s State of the Nation, he said:

“The bottom line is very simple: allies are supposed to treat each other in decent ways, and Putin always seems almost eager to put a finger in the eye of the United States, whether it is Syria, Iran and now of course with Snowden.”

He’s “aiding and abetting Snowden’s escape.”

Senator Lindsey Graham (R. SC) told Fox News Sunday:

“I don’t think he’s a hero. I believe he hurt or nation. He compromised our national security program designed to find out what terrorists were up to.”

“So, the freedom trail is not exactly China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela. So, I hope we’ll chase him to the ends of the earth, bring him to justice and let the Russians know there will be consequences if they harbor this guy.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told CBS Face the Nation she doesn’t believe Snowden’s a whistleblower.

“Whatever his motives are – and I take him at face value – he could have stayed and faced the music. I don’t think running is a noble thought,” she said.

Washington wants him arrested wherever he goes. It asked Ecuador not to admit him. It wants him extradited. It wants him silenced. It wants him brutalized like Bradley Manning.

It wants other potential whistleblowers warned. Hopefully they’re emboldened to tell all. It’s more than ever a national imperative.

On Monday, an unnamed senior administration official said:

“Mr. Snowden’s claim that he is focused on supporting transparency, freedom of the press and protection of individual rights and democracy is belied by the protectors he has potentially chosen: China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador.”

“His failure to criticize these regimes suggests that his true motive throughout has been to injure the national security of the US, not to advance internet freedom and free speech.”

On Monday, Russia Today said Snowden left Moscow at 14:04 local time (11:04 GMT). He’s traveling on Aeroflot flight SU 150. He’ll fly through US air space briefly en route to Havana.

A follow-up report said he wasn’t seen on board. Two seats (17A and C) were reserved in his name. RT correspondent Egor Pishunov’s aboard.

“(S)omething out of the ordinary is definitely happening,” he said. An unnamed airport security team member said Snowden remains in Sheremetyevo’s transit zone.

What’s ongoing isn’t clear. Perhaps SU 150 is clever deception. Maybe Snowden’s airborne on an unannounced flight. Perhaps he will be later. Maybe he arrived secretly at an undisclosed destination.

Given Washington’s intensive targeting, traveling secretly makes sense. Snowden’s safety demands extreme precautions. He’s not entirely safe anywhere.

America governs lawlessly. CIA hitmen operate everywhere. An unnamed State Department official said:

“The United States has been in touch via diplomatic and law enforcement channels with countries in the Western Hemisphere through which Snowden might transit or that could serve as final destinations.”

“The US is advising these governments that Snowden is wanted on felony charges, and as such should not be allowed to proceed in any further international travel, other than is necessary to return him to the United States.”

Washington’s going to extraordinary lengths to get him. Jean le Carre couldn’t have written a more riveting espionage thriller. He’s 81. Perhaps he’ll do one on Snowden.

His 1963 novel titled “The Spy Who Came In from the Cold” remains his best know work. It was an international best-seller.

Snowden’s no spy. The Whistleblower Who Came In from the Cold might be a suitable title. Sub-plots could include others doing the same thing. Le Carre might have another winner.

Spanish jurist Baltasar Garzon advises WikiLeaks. In 1998, he indicted Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

He said “what is being done to Mr. Snowden and to Mr. Julian Assange – for making or facilitating disclosures in the public interest – is an assault against the people.”

Snowden’s not safe anywhere. Disappearing entirely won’t help. When America’s long arm goes all out, targets remain vulnerable.

Assassins “R” Us reflect official US policy. Abductions and disappearances are commonplace. Capture and eliminate are prioritized. Covert operatives are experts at finding people.

Techniques include bribing, pressuring, threatening, and otherwise intimidating targeted officials to comply. America can exert enormous coercion.

It’s hard resisting strong-armed tactics. They’ll be exerted full-force against Snowden. He knows and said so.

“I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions, and that the return of this information to the public marks my end,” he said.

“There’s no saving me. I do not expect to see home again.”

Some things matter most, he added.

“The great fear that I have regarding the outcome for America of these disclosures is that nothing will change. (Ahead they’ll be) tyranny.”

That and harmful effects on his family worry him most. “That’s what keeps me up at night,” he said.

It should give everyone sleepless nights!

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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