Google and Facebook have discussed – and possibly built – special portals for the U.S. government to snoop on user data, according to revelations sparked by an investigative series of articles by Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian.

Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the top military adviser to the Pentagon and the White House) has made a series of trips to Silicon Valley in northern California to meet with Facebook, Google, Intel and Microsoft, to attempt to persuade the technology companies to help them spy on users.

Information about the program came out soon after the Guardian first published a secret U.S. government court order for Verizon, a major U.S. telecommunications company, to give the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) access to “metadata” on their clients phone calls. This data is arguably more important than the content of the calls, since it reveals the network of who talks to who and when, allowing patterns to be identified about individuals and groups.

The Guardian followed this up by revealing an NSA program named Prism that allowed the government to review contents of emails as well as audio and video conversations. A slide from a 41 page presentation made in April 2013, lists Facebook, Google, Microsoft, PalTalk and Yahoo and even provided the dates that the companies “joined” the scheme. It also mentions a project called “Upstream” that allows the NSA to collect information from “fiber cables and infrastructure as data flows past.”

Technology giants immediately denied all knowledge
. “We have not joined any program that would give the US government – or any other government – direct access to our servers,” said Google CEO Larry Page. “Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access to our servers,” said Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. “We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network,” said a Yahoo spokesperson.

This corresponded to testimony provided by James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, to Senator Ron Wyden in March at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in March. “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” he asked. “No, sir,” Clapper answered.

On Friday it turned out that each of them had lied or been misinformed. “(I)nstead of adding a back door to their servers, the companies were essentially asked to erect a locked mailbox and give the government the key, people briefed on the negotiations said,” writes Claire Cain Miller in the New York Times. “Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information, they said.”

On Friday, President Barack Obama acknowledged the existence of both programs but said people should not be worried: “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” he said at a press conference. “That’s not what this program is about. As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls. They are not looking at people’s names, and they’re not looking at content. But by sifting through this so-called metadata, they may identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism

Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, explains however that tracking metadata is actually far more significant and worrisome. “Repeated calls to Alcoholics Anonymous, hotlines for gay teens, abortion clinics or a gambling bookie may tell you all you need to know about a person’s problems,” Wizner wrote in an op-ed with his collageue, Jay Stanley. “In addition sophisticated data-mining technologies have compounded the privacy implications by allowing the government to analyze terabytes of metadata and reveal far more details about a person’s life than ever before. So we shouldn’t be comforted when government officials reassure us that they’re not listening to our communications – they’re merely harvesting and mining our metadata.”

In what has become a new diplomatic crisis in the region, the Maduro administration continued to criticize Colombian officials this week for a meeting held between Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles and President Juan Manuel Santos in Bogota on May 29th.

The encounter, which has threatened the strong ties that have characterized Colombian-Venezuelan relations since 2010, saw Santos receive Capriles, the right-wing governor of Miranda state and losing presidential candidate, for private talks that the Maduro government has characterized as “lamentable”.

“I’m very sorry that Santos is giving credence to the people who refuse to recognize Venezuela’s legitimate authority, and to the false idea that we can be overthrown, and the false ideas of the traitorous, fascist sectors of the Venezuelan right wing”, the Venezuelan President said in response to the meeting.

Capriles, who was beaten by Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela’s Colombian government’s meeting with Venezuelan opposition derails relations April 14th presidential elections, has failed to recognize his defeat, taking instead the reins of an opposition movement that has attempted to challenge the legitimacy of Maduro’s victory and the country’s electoral authorities. Capriles has said he is seeking international support to delegitimize Maduro’s presidency.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua called the reception of such a controversial figure by the Santos government “a knife in the back”. “We have done everything we can to help find peace for the Colombian people. It’s not right that in Colombia they are promoting and legitimizing someone who openly refuses to acknowledge the institutions of the Venezuelan state”, Jaua said. The Venezuelan Minister referred to Capriles’ visit as part of a destabilization plan that involves mobilizing right-wing sectors of Colombian society to sow violence and chaos in the OPEC member state.

The same sentiment has been expressed by President Maduro, who has alleged that in Bogota “a situation of complete conspiracy” exists.

“We are neutralizing the plots against our country. It is well known that the principal conspiracies against our homeland have been hatched in Bogota. All of Venezuela knows this and we’ve given proof of it”, Maduro said.

For its part, the Santos administration has called the row a “misunderstanding” and has refused to comment on the meetings, calling for dialogue with the Venezuelan government instead of “microphone diplomacy”.

But as of earlier this week, efforts to mend the impasse had yet to be made by Colombia’s diplomatic corps.

“We haven’t had contact with [Foreign Minister Holguin] since Saturday. We are waiting for their communication to express the ideas that President Nicolas Maduro has asked me to transmit to the Colombian government”, Jaua said. According to Venezuela’s highest diplomat, these instructions include a complete revision of bilateral relations.

“Right now we are evaluating everything and all aspects of our relationship with Colombia until the Colombian government clarifies the reach that those who fail to recognize the [Venezuelan state’s] institutions have [in their country]”, Minister Jaua affirmed.

Last week’s row comes after years of diplomatic work had successfully rebuilt bilateral relations following the tensions that marked the governments of former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.

Santos’ replacement of Uribe as president in 2010 effectively began a new period in Venezuelan-Colombian relations that witnessed a warming in diplomatic ties and the signing of new multi-faceted agreements between the neighboring states.

The reception of Capriles by Santos, however, was a “breaking of the rules of the game” established between the two governments three years ago, President Maduro said.

“The Colombians who live in Venezuela understand Chavez’s democratic revolution and hopefully a way will be found so that truth and principles of respect can reconstruct the relations between our two governments”, the Venezuelan President stated.

Peace Process At Risk

Part of the political fallout that has accompanied the diplomatic breech has been the possible departure of Venezuela from the peace process underway in Cuba between Colombian authorities and the country’s FARC rebels.

As part of the policies of former President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela has been a guiding force and active mediator in the current talks taking place between the guerrillas and the government.

“Nobody can doubt the important role that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has played and is playing in the search for peace in Colombia”, FARC leadership wrote in a blog on Saturday.

The statement additionally expressed the guerrilla group’s apprehension “over the acts which will without a doubt affect the extraordinary atmosphere of peace that we have been able to build through dialogue in Havana”.

Representatives of the Colombian government have similarly articulated the importance of Venezuela to the dialogue.

“The situation is very worrying… but I am hopeful that it will be overcome”, said Humberto de la Calle, the Santos administration’s chief negotiator.

Just prior the diplomatic crisis, the talks had yielded their most significant breakthrough in the past 6 months by outlining the basis for an agreement that would restructure land tenancy laws in the South American nation.

Meanwhile, the host nation of the peace process, Cuba, has expressed its complete support for the Maduro administration’s stance towards its neighbor.

“Cuba has had an unchanging position of solidarity with Venezuela and the recognition of it’s legitimate government headed by President Nicolas Maduro, whose decisive triumph on April 14th is an unquestionable expression of the sovereign will of the Venezuelan people”, said Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

The Minister referred to the international campaign being carried out against Venezuelan institutions “and any direct or indirect support for them” as “damaging to the unity of Latin American and the Caribbean. They undermine independence and hurt the efforts that Venezuela and other states have made for peace

by Katharine Child

The Muslim Lawyers Association submitted a 600-plus page document to the Office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions on Friday asking for an investigation into Obama’s involvement in the Middle East.

Group spokesman Yousha Tayob said Obama ordered drone strikes that killed innocent civilians.

In terms of the Rome Statute, South Africa has the right to prosecute a war criminal on its territory, said Tayob.

Researchers from New York University School of Law and Stanford University Law School recently released a report entitled “Living Under Drones: Death, Injury and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan”.

They found that in four years Obama commissioned five times more drone attacks than former president George W Bush did in his two terms in the White House .

The report estimates drones have killed between 474 and 881 civilians, including 176 children.

The US Embassy in South Africa’s spokesman Jack Hillmeyer said it had “no comment”.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Bulelwa Makeke said the office had received the docket and was studying it.

Top NSA whistleblower William Binney – the former head of the National Security Agency’s global digital data gathering program – has repeatedly explained that just because you “haven’t done anything wrong” doesn’t mean you can’t be severely harmed by spying:

“The problem is, if they think they’re not doing anything that’s wrong, they don’t get to define that. The central government does.”

Binney explains that the government is storing everything, and creating a searchable database … to be used whenever it wants, for any purpose it wants (even just going after someone it doesn’t like).

And he notes that the government will go after anyone who is on its enemies list:

If you ever get on their enemies list, like Petraeus did, then you can be drawn into that surveillance.

Binney recently held his thumb and forefinger close together, and said:

We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state

Similarly, in response to the question, “why should people care about surveillance?”, the whistleblower source of the Guardian’s disclosures on phone and Internet spying – Edward Snowden – said:

Because even if you’re not doing anything wrong you’re being watched and recorded. And the storage capability of these systems increases every year consistently by orders of magnitude … to where it’s getting to the point where you don’t have to have done anything wrong. You simply have to eventually fall under suspicion from somebody – even by a wrong call. And then they can use this system to go back in time and scrutinize every decision you’ve ever made, every friend you’ve ever discussed something with. And attack you on that basis to sort to derive suspicion from an innocent life and paint anyone in the context of a wrongdoer.

[If people don't oppose the surveillance state now] it will be turnkey tyranny.

In 1975, Senator Frank Church said about the NSA:

I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.

After more than two years of a full-fledged Pentagon and NATO-led war against the North African state of Libya, the installed General National Congress regime is now requesting assistance from their neo-colonial masters. In a press release issued by the Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the chief of this military alliance of the imperialist world indicated that the western-backed government in Tripoli had requested assistance on security matters.

A team of so-called “experts” is expected to leave as soon as possible and report back to NATO by the end of June “so we can decide on the way ahead,” Mr. Fogh Rasmussen said. The NATO official also said that three principles would guide any help NATO provides.

According to the statement issued by NATO on June 4, it says that these principles would “include strong Libyan ownership, providing advice in areas where NATO has an expertise, such as building security institutions. And thirdly let me stress this is not about deploying troops to Libya. If we are to engage in training activities such activities could take place outside Libya,” said the Secretary General. (NATO press release, June 4)

These statements are taking place within the context of a worsening security situation both inside Libya and throughout North and West Africa. The security and social stability of Libya and both regions of Africa are a direct result of Pentagon and NATO military actions beginning in February and March of 2011.

During the course of the imperialist war against Libya, some 26,000 sorties were flown by the U.S., the NATO countries and their allies in the region and 9,600 airstrikes hit the oil-rich state. An arms embargo was imposed by the United Nations Security Council against the Libyan government under Gaddafi but the western trained and supported rebels were armed to carry out attacks against supporters of the Jamahiriya, civilians and patriotic forces.

In addition to the U.S. and NATO’s military actions against this country of approximately 7 million people, $US160 billion in Libyan-owned foreign assets were seized by the western banks. Concerted mob violence was leveled against dark-skinned Libyans and Africans from other parts of the continent.

The entire foreign policy and public affairs apparatus of the western states and their surrogates were mobilized to demonize Libya and its leadership. Corporate media outlets parroted the false claims by the imperialist governments in order to sway public opinion in favor of the war of regime-change against Col. Muammar Gaddafi and his supporters inside the country and internationally.

Consequences of U.S. and NATO’s War Against Libya

At present in Libya thousands of Africans and dozens foreign nationals from Eastern Europe remain in detention by the GNC regime. Seif al-Islam, the son of the martyred former leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi, is imprisoned by a militia group which is, along with the GNC leaders, are refusing to turn him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The ICC played a role in the isolation of Libya during 2011 as well. The Hague prosecutors at the time claimed, alongside the imperialists, that human rights violations were carried out by the Jamahiriya under Gaddafi. Consequently, indictments and warrants were issued by the ICC against Gaddafi, Seif al-Islam and other leading patriotic Libyan officials.

Today there is a battle taking place between the GNC regime, which the ICC was instrumental in creating the conditions for its installation, and the Libyan rebels who say that they are capable of providing Seif al-Islam with a so-called “fair trial.” Yet if the regime in Libya cannot provide an adequate security situation for ordinary citizens and regime officials, then how will they be able to carry out an impartial judicial proceeding for others who are victims of the current political crises.

The NATO leaders, the ICC, as well as select putative “human rights groups” have refrained from commenting and analyzing the disastrous consequences of the imperialist war against Libya. A manifestation of this denial is reflective of the current efforts to extradite Seif al-Islam to The Hague to stand trial within a court system, the ICC, which has been condemned by the African Union (AU) as biased against the leaders and peoples of the continent.

Perhaps the most outrageous statement in regard to the situation in Libya was made by NATO Secretary General Rasmussen when he audaciously uttered in relationship to the delegation being sent to the North African state to establish a training program that “I believe this would be a fitting way to continue our cooperation with Libya, after we successfully took action to protect the Libyan people two years ago.”

The situation of the people in Libya is more precarious than it has ever been since the period of colonial war of conquest carried out by Italy between 1911 and 1931 when hundreds of thousands of people were slaughtered by the imperialists and the fascists, who after 1923 were led by Benito Mussolini. Even after the country gained nominal independence under a monarchy in 1951, it would take the September 1 Revolution of 1969 that was led by Col. Gaddafi and the Revolutionary Command Council to unify the state and set it upon a path of development and national reconstruction.

Massacre in Benghazi Reflects Devolution of Libyan Society

On June 8, militia members in Benghazi–which was the birthplace of the counter-revolution against the Jamahiriya in February 2011–massacred demonstrators who were demanding that armed groups terrorizing the population be either arrested or neutralized. There have been disputed reports over the number of people killed and wounded in this latest assault on the Libyan people, but it clearly demonstrates the degree of lawlessness prevailing inside the country.

In an article published by the Associated Press it reported that “Clashes between protesters and militias aligned with the military in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi left 27 people killed and dozens wounded, a health official said Sunday. The violence broke out Saturday after protesters stormed a base belonging to Libya Shield, a grouping of militias with roots in the rebel groups that fought in the country’s 2011 civil war who are tasked with maintaining security.” (June 9)

Inside Libya the country’s militias have been attempting to partition the state into three regions in the East, West and South. In a recent law passed by the GNC legislature, former members of the Gaddafi government—even if they had turned against the Jamahiriya in favor of imperialism—were banned from public service.

Prior to the announcement by NATO that they would be sending a delegation to Libya, France–which is occupying Mali and spreading its war in West Africa into neighboring Niger–had called for military intervention into the south of Libya. France claims that Libya’s south, which has never been brought under the control of the rebel GNC, is the source of resistance to its military efforts in West Africa.

Developments in Libya and Mali indicate clearly that imperialist intervention in Africa and other geo-political regions of the world will only destabilize these areas and provide rationales for further military occupations. Despite efforts to contain and pacify the peoples of these regions, resistance will escalate and create even deeper crises within the industrialized states already suffering from escalating levels of unemployment, poverty, austerity and political repression.

Abayomi Azikiwe Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Last weekend, approximately 200 European trade unions, political NGOs (non-governmental organizations), charity groups, and feminist, environmentalist and pseudo-left groupings organized a so-called Alter-Summit in Athens. The congress endorsed the institutions of the European Union (EU), with which union bureaucracies have worked closely in negotiating and approving austerity policies since the outbreak of the European debt crisis.

On Friday and Saturday, some 1,000 people from across Europe came to the Olympia area of northern Athens to discuss in different “assemblies” about themes including “social rights”, “ecology” or “education”.

The summit began with a special “feminist assembly”, in which women attending the meeting gathered separately for discussion.

The turnout was much lower than the 5,000 attendees that were expected. This reflects the bitter experience of Greece as the focal point of social counter-revolution in Europe. After numerous EU bailout packages negotiated with the Greek government and union bureaucracy, more than 60 percent of the youth are unemployed, wages have fallen by 35 to 50 per cent on average, and the education system has been smashed.

The Alter-Summit’s organizers—included many of Europe’s biggest trade unions, which played key roles in negotiating social attacks on workers across Europe—could not generate any genuine broader enthusiasm.

Greece’s two main union confederations, GSEE and ADEDY, have functioned as extended arms of the state, suppressing working class opposition to the cuts and by trying to limit every action of the workers to brief protest strikes. When Athens put the striking subway drivers, seamen and teachers under martial law to force them back to work, ADEDY and GSEE called off solidarity strikes.

The German IG Metall, the largest single trade union worldwide and one of the sponsors of the summit, already organized the closure of an auto plant in Germany—the traditional Opel plant in Bochum.

Besides these organizations, the major European pseudo-left parties were active at the conference, even though they did not officially sign the initial appeal. Members of France’s New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA), the German Left Party and the Greek Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) attended the conference. Many of their affiliated organizations—the Left Party’s Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, SYRIZA member party AKOA, or the NPA-affiliated Solidaire trade union—helped organize the summit and signed its documents.

These organizations have played a reactionary role throughout Europe. The Left Party not only facilitated the bailout of the banks in the German parliament, but organized itself the sharpest social attacks in different states throughout Germany. SYRIZA is preparing to join the government in Greece, having pledged to repay the banks.

In the center of the Alter-Summit stood its so-called “People’s Manifesto”, which outlines “urgent common priorities for a democratic, social, ecological and feminist Europe” shared by the participating organizations.

This document is essentially the outline of an alternative austerity policy, hidden under formless proposals for “wage increases” or an “adequate minimum wage”. Coming from organizations such as the GSEE, which has helped impose one wave of EU wage cuts after another, such a demand is a cynical ploy. It aims to hide the manifesto’s anti-working class program behind demands which the Alter-Summit’s organizers not only are unwilling to fight for, but are actively hostile to.

Far more prominent in the “People’s Manifesto” is the defense of the EU. “Rising inequalities endanger social cohesion,” the manifesto states in its preface, continuing: “The very existence of the European Union is now at risk”. For this reason, they demand “that the EU institutions must be brought under democratic control, just as the public interest must prevail and ecological and social needs be met.”

This presentation of the EU as a potential guarantor of “public interest” and of “social needs” is absurd. From its founding in 1992, the EU was a tool of the ruling elite to smash the living standard of the working class first in Eastern Europe and then throughout the continent. The brutal social attacks in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy are conducted by its institutions.

With their absurd as desperate defense of the EU, the summit participants’ response to the growing social opposition within the European population not only against austerity, but also against the EU institutions.

In the last two weeks, a whole slew of comments in the bourgeois press have warned against the dangers posed by growing opposition to the EU. While an UN report said that the risk of “social unrest” is dramatically rising, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble spoke of the threat of “revolution”.

The trade unions and pseudo-left parties are responding to this situation by praising the EU and developing an alternate program for imposing austerity measures in Europe.

The manifesto opposes cancelling the debts of the southern European countries, which have been the main mechanism to introduce austerity measures in these countries. Instead, it opposes existing credit agreement with the EU and calls for a haircut of the debts. The latter already happened in Greece—with full support from the lenders, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the EU—in a move that did not ease austerity, but instead aimed to save private lenders’ money.

The manifesto also expresses it support for another IMF proposal. It demands to “mandate and oblige the European Central Bank [ECB] and other public European banking institutions to lend directly to states at low interest”. Having the ECB as the lender of last resort is just another way to repay major banks holding sovereign debts with freshly-printed money.

The manifesto also demands a public bailout of failed banks—a policy the EU has already employed across Europe, to transfer bad private debts onto governments’ balance sheets to justify more reactionary budget cuts. In another sign of the Alter-Summit organizers’ deep hostility to socialist policies, the nationalization of banks that are not failing is explicitly ruled out.

White House Convenes Meetings on Syria Escalation

June 11th, 2013 by Bill Van Auken

The Obama White House is convening meetings this week to discuss measures to escalate the US-backed war for regime-change in Syria and prop up the flagging fortunes of the so-called “rebels” fighting to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Obama has called upon his top advisors “to consider all possible options that would accomplish our objectives of helping the Syrian opposition serve the essential needs of the Syrian people and hastening a political transition to a post-Assad Syria,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan told the AFP news agency.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who was set to return to the Middle East for talks with the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, called off the trip to remain in Washington for the discussions on Syria war plans. According to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to the Associated Press, the proposals on the table include the direct arming of the US-backed militias fighting in Syria. Until now, Washington has maintained the pretense of providing only humanitarian assistance and “non-lethal” aid to these armed gangs.

In reality, the CIA and the Pentagon have played an indispensable role in organizing the purchase and shipment of arms into Syria, with the reactionary monarchies in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates putting up the money. One of the biggest recent shipments came from Croatia, with Washington arranging the transfer to the Syrian “rebels” of 3,000 tons of weapons left over from the Balkan wars of the 1990s, as well as from other European stockpiles, with Saudi Arabia footing the bill.

Britain and France are also considering acting more directly in arming the Syrian militias, having succeeded in overturning a European Union ban on such shipments at the beginning of this month. British Foreign Minister William Hague announced that the House of Commons would vote on the issue before the shipment of British weapons.

Also on the agenda of the White House discussions is a proposal for the imposition of a no-fly zone, the device employed in Libya two years ago to initiate a full-scale US-NATO war for regime-change. The proposal has been aggressively advanced by Republican Senator John McCain and others in Congress, but has prompted warnings from top US military commanders that such a step in Syria would involve a major US military intervention.

The initiation of such a campaign in Syria, which has far more advanced air defenses than Libya possessed, would entail an intense bombing campaign with substantial civilian casualties. Also, while Washington had the fig leaf of a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing the Libyan no-fly zone, both Russia and China have made clear that they will block any such resolution in relation to Syria.

According to the US officials cited by the Associated Press, “Obama was leaning closer to signing off on sending weapons to vetted, moderate rebel units.” The use of American air power against Syrian government forces is “now being more seriously debated,” but, the officials stated, is “far less likely right now.”

What is driving the move toward stepped-up intervention is desperation in Washington that its proxy forces in Syria have suffered a series of military setbacks. These forces are dominated by Islamist militias, including the Al-Nusra front, which has formally affiliated to Al Qaeda.

The Syrian military, aided by fighters from Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi’ite militia movement, succeeded last week in ousting anti-Assad militias from the town of Qusair, near the Lebanese border, depriving the “rebels” of a key conduit for arms and foreign fighters.

Now, Syrian government forces appear poised to launch new offensives to drive the anti-regime militias out of both Homs, to the north of Qusair, and Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city and commercial center near the Turkish border in the north. Consolidation of government control over Homs would deprive the US-backed “rebels” of the ability to operate in the south of the country, while achieving a victory in Aleppo and its surrounding area would cut off their supply lines from Turkey.

The White House discussions on Syrian intervention are unfolding amid a major deployment of US forces within striking distance of Syria. War games dubbed “Eager Lion” began in Jordan this week, with 4,500 US soldiers, Marines and sailors participating alongside 3,000 Jordanian troops and another 500 from other countries, most of them members of the so-called “Friends of Syria.”

Under the cover of these exercises, US Patriot Missiles, F-16 fighter planes and other advanced weaponry are being deployed on Jordanian territory, just across the border from Syria. While the war games end on June 20, US forces and armaments are to remain in place.

Jordan’s military chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Awni el-Edwan, speaking at a joint news conference with Maj. Gen. Robert Catalanotti of the US Army’s Central Command on Sunday, declared unconvincingly, “The exercises have nothing to do with any regional developments around Jordan.” He deflected questions about the permanent US deployment in Jordan, declaring, “Patriot missiles and F-16 fighters are taking part in the drill in a pure military context. Keeping them in Jordan needs a political decision that we, military people, do not interfere in.”

In the wake of the military reversals for the US-backed “rebels,” both Washington and the forces it is backing in Syria have put on hold the plan for a so-called Geneva 2 conference, ostensibly backed by both Russia and the US, to negotiate a political settlement of the two-year-old armed conflict.

The Associated Press stated that “Assad’s military successes appear to have rendered peace efforts largely meaningless in the short term.” The New York Times and other sections of the media have made similar statements, exposing the fact that the sole purpose of the talks for Washington was to force through regime-change. Now, Washington reasons, is not the time for “peace,” but rather for an escalation of the war in order to change the facts on the ground.

Behind the human rights pretensions and crocodile tears for the “Syrian people,” the Obama administration is pursuing far-reaching strategic and commercial interests in its bid to overthrow the Assad regime, and is prepared to kill tens if not hundreds of thousands more Syrians to achieve them.

While both Washington and the Western media have blamed the “rebel” reversals on the role played by a few thousand Hezbollah fighters or aid to Assad from Russia and Iran, the reality is that, however much Syrians may dislike the current regime, they are hostile to and fear the so-called rebels even more.

These forces are increasingly dominated by Islamists, many of them foreign fighters funneled into the country. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad outfit based in London, reported recently that 2,219 foreign fighters have been killed in the war, suggesting that the numbers fighting in Syria must be in the tens of thousands.

The Observatory also reported over the weekend an incident in Aleppo that underscores why there is such popular hatred for the forces extolled by much of the pseudo-left in the West as “Syrian revolutionaries.” According to the report, Islamist “rebels” overheard Mohammed Qatta, a 14-year-old who sold coffee in the street, turn away a customer using a popular Syrian phrase, “Even if [Prophet] Mohammed comes back to life, I won’t.”

The Islamists accused the boy of blasphemy, took him away and whipped him. They brought him before an assembled crowd, including his parents, and announced his “crime” and his sentence of death. They then shot him through the mouth and the neck as his mother begged them to kill her instead.

In a video interview posted by the Aleppo Media Center, an opposition group, the boy’s mother cried, “Why did they kill my son? We are not for or against anybody in this conflict. May God take revenge on them.”

“You can’t say civilization don’t advance… in every war they kill you in a new way.” Will Rogers (1879-1935) American cowboy, vaudeville performer, humorist, social commentator and motion picture actor 

[Afghan parents] “have burned their own children to exaggerate claims of civilian casualties caused by American military operations.”  Gen. Davis H. Petraeus, top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, February 20, 2011, (report of a meeting at President Hamid Karzai’s presidential palace)

 “If people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges, to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.“ Pres. Barack Obama,  speech in San Jose, Ca, (June 7, 2013)

 “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln (1809—1865), 16th President of the United States (1861-65)

When Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney in the 2012 U.S. presidential election, there was hope that the newly reelected president would show his true colors during his second term, not having to run again and having nothing to lose by being himself.

I, for one, hoped that the Real Obama, the 2008 Obama of “Yes we Can”, would liberate himself from the Washington-centered military-industrial complex and show some character and principles, and reverse some of the most dangerous policies that the Bush-Cheney administration had set in motion. Also, there was hope that Barack Obama, as American President, would establish some distance between his administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who had openly campaigned for Mitt Romney and against him during the election, a fact that earned Netanyahu the title of “Republican representative from the state of Israel.”

Granted that President Obama, on paper at least, is much less a loose cannon than would have been a John McCain or a Mitt Romney in the presidency, both of whom sometimes gave the impression of being little more than neocon puppets. But expectations were that Barack Obama would be much more than a slightly improved version of his radical opponents of 2008 and 2012. Instead, evidence indicates that Barack Obama went the other way and is actively competing with Richard Nixon and George W. Bush to become a secretive and warmongering president.

 It would seem that Barack Obama has gone native, i.e. he has embraced the Washington nomenklatura’s agenda with enthusiasm in restraining civil liberties and in promoting global warfare in the quest of an Imperial America. In particular, he has increased the killing of innocent people, often innocent children, around the world with the crude instruments of state terror and killing machines called military unmanned “drones”.

 Keep in mind that such instruments of terror were invented in the 1980s by an Israeli national, Abraham Karem, then chief designer for the Israeli airforce, and who migrated to California to pursue his activities. Initially used for surveillance only, advances in information and computer technology have made possible the building of military killing drones, to the delight of the companies that build them – mainly American and Israeli – which have raked in gorgeous profits for their contracts with the CIA and the Pentagon.

 Indeed, the sophisticated remote control technology, using satellite communications for targeted killing has been progressing very fast since the CIA and the U.S. Air Force deployed the first weaponized unmanned drones after 2001. The first military drone was the Predator, manufactured by General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, a division of General Atomics headquartered in San Diego, CA. The same company developed a larger version called the Reaper, capable of launching Hellfire missiles at their human “prey”. The newest model is the Avenger, and no doubt that many other versions will be profitably developed. —This technology has made remote killing easy, like a video game that isolates the killer from his victim.

 The moral dimension of this new kind of brutality detached from humanity has not yet been fully appreciated. Just as it was immoral for American President Harry Truman to order the drop of nuclear bombs on the civilian population of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, in 1945, it is immoral for President Barack Obama to authorize targeted assassinations around the world.

 Such remote-controlled weaponized drones, commanded remotely from Nevada, for example, can fire missiles at the houses of foreign nationals in the tribal areas of Pakistan and in other countries, but they often miss their intended targets and they hit peasant homes and other private facilities and kill innocent civilians. Many consider such acts of aggression as state terrorism on a large scale.

 Obama has even usurped the unilateral power of killing American citizens with drones without due process. No other American president has ever claimed to have such a power outside of the U.S. Constitution.

All this has made observers reassess Obama’s character and agenda. Just as George W. Bush was less than candid in making public the moral and legal justifications for introducing torture in the U.S. military culture, a huge step backward, Barack Obama has been opaque on the moral, legal and constitutional basis for his killing program abroad. In Bush’s case, the shaky legal advice to “justify” torture came from an unknown lawyer of Korean origin, John Yoo whose torture memos were made public for evaluation.

In Obama’s case, to routinely engage in targeting suspected nameless militants for assassination in foreign countries with which the U.S. is not at war, his administration has argued that the legal advice offered to the president is confidential and secret. —This is not a trivial matter. So far, it has been estimated that the United States has killed 4,700 people abroad with drone strikes, outside of declared war zones. The Obama administration has dramatically expanded the use of killing drones abroad. For example, the Obama administration has increased by 600 percent the drone strikes that the Bush-Cheney administration had initiated, and this for strikes in Pakistan alone.

At least with Bush II, people knew who gave the advice and the nature of such advice. With Obama, everybody is in the dark, including even members of Congressional intelligence committees, let alone Joe public. The irony comes from the fact that candidate Barack Obama, in 2008, was a fierce critic of George W. Bush’s national security policies, notably regarding his approval of interrogation practices widely seen as torture.Now, all that has emerged to justify targeted assassinations is an anonymous 16-page document flatly stating that the President has such an authority. If this is not the sign of an imperial presidency, what is? That is why some have begun referring to Obama as Dictator Obama.

The European Parliament has recently issued a statement questioning the Obama administration’s refusal to divulge the legal and moral basis for its targeted killing program abroad:

 “We are deeply concerned about the legal basis, as well as the moral, ethical and human rights implications of the United States’ targeted killing programme that authorises the CIA and the military to hunt and kill individuals who have suspected links to terrorism anywhere in the world.“

In conclusion, let us say that the Obama administration should be leading international efforts to outlaw the widespread use of weaponized unmanned drones, just as gas warfare and nuclear warfare have been outlawed. Sadly, President Barack Obama is rather promoting their use, making the world an even more dangerous place. Such weapons, like nuclear bombs, are bound to spread and what’s good for the goose may also be good for the gander. These weapons could come to haunt the U.S. itself in the future. They don’t increase U.S. security in the long run. They rather reduce it. —Nobody should have the right to kill just anybody, anywhere in the world. This is the stuff of tyranny.                                                                                                                  

Professor Rodrigue Tremblay, a Canadian-born economist, is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics, Ten Humanist Principles”, and of “The New American Empire”)

Please visit the book site about ethics at:

www.TheCodeForGlobalEthics.com/

Send contact, comments or commercial reproduction requests (in English or in French) to:

[email protected]

N.B.: Messages may be published in

To write to the author:

[email protected] 

He’s Obama’s FBI director choice. He’ll replace current rogue head Robert Mueller. In September, he’ll step down.

He’s run the agency since September 4, 2001. He succeeded acting head Thomas Pickering. He assumed office days before 9/11.

Appointing him perhaps related to what followed. War on terrorism was declared. So was authorization for war on humanity. Nonbelligerent Afghanistan was attacked.

Doing so was planned months in advance. Wars aren’t launched overnight. Extensive planning precedes them. Pretexts justify the unjustifiable. It’s standard US policy.

America was never beautiful. Democracy’s more illusion than reality. Things are worse now than ever. Freedom hangs by a thread. Humanity’s threatened. It’s perhaps the most perilous time in world history.

Post-9/11, police state laws and practices shredded constitutional rights. They’re on the chopping block for elimination altogether.

Rule of law principles no longer matter. War on Islam was declared. Institutionalized spying followed. Ordinary Americans are targeted. Guilt by accusation became policy. Innocence is no defense.

Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey/Mueller Guidelines gave federal authorities “flexibility (to) protect the Nation from terrorist threats.”

None exist. Everyone’s vulnerable to abuse. Muslims, anti-war activists, and Occupy Wall Street supporters are especially threatened. So are free expression and other constitutional rights.

In May 2012, Mueller urged Congress to enact greater surveillance powers. He wants unrestricted spying authority. On his watch, the FBI’s been responsible for most US terror plots.

Innocent people were maliciously targeted. Muslims are most vulnerable. Sting operations entrapped them. They continue out-of-control. Constitutional rights no longer matter.

Obama wants Comey to continue the worst of lawless Mueller practices. He won’t disappoint. He’s well chosen for the job. His imperial credentials are well known. He’ll keep waging war on freedom. His resume explains why.

From December 2003 – August 2005, he was GW Bush’s Deputy Attorney General. From January 2002 – December 2003, he was Southern District of New York US Attorney.

Current SEC head Mary Jo White preceded him. A previous article explained Wall Street’s in good hands with her in charge.

Justice Department officials operate extrajudicially. It’s always been that way. J. Edgar Hoover began what’s now worse. Modern technology and post-9/11 ruthlessness lets current directors do what he couldn’t imagine.

Mueller’s his modern day incarnation. In some respects it’s on steroids. Expect Comey to match him blow for blow. Perhaps he’ll escalate things further. His past record gives civil libertarians cause for concern.

He, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and DOJ Office of Legal Council head Jack Goldsmith authorized lawless practices. In 2004, they approved warrantless spying.

In 2005, FISA law followed. It requires warrants. Judicial approval is needed. Authorization depends on probable cause. A “target of the surveillance (must be) a foreign power or agent of a foreign power.”

Comey played a murky role in Bush’s torture program. He tried having things both ways. DOJ documents showed he expressed reservations.

He was uneasy about enhanced interrogation practices. At the same time, his legal opinion approved them and extraordinary renditions. Rhetoric is meaningless. Policies alone matter.

Comey will partner with CIA chief John Brennan. He’s Obama’s maestro of murder. He headed Bush’s National Counterterrorism Center. He spent 25 years at CIA. He’s been involved in the worst of its lawless practices.

Expect civil liberties to erode further on their watch. They’re mandated to destroy them.

From 2005 – 2010, Comey was Lockheed Martin general counsel. It’s the world’s largest weapons maker. It’s the largest war profiteer. It benefits from death and destruction. Comey provided legal cover to do it.

In 2010, he became Bridgewater Associates general counsel. Its web site says it “manages approximately $150 billion in global investments for a wide array of institutional clients, including foreign governments and central banks, corporate and public pension funds, university endowments and charitable foundations.”

In 2010 and 2011, it “ranked as the largest and best-performing hedge fund manager in the world, and in both 2012 and 2013 Bridgewater was recognized for having earned its clients more than any other hedge fund in the history of the industry.”

Comey’s also a London-based HSBC Holdings board member. It’s a giant banking and financial services firm. It makes money the old-fashioned way. It steals it. It commits fraud and grand theft multiple ways.

In 2012, it paid the largest ever bank-imposed penalty. It settled money laundering charges for $1.9 billion.

It worked with Mexican drug cartels and other crime bosses. Officials involved weren’t prosecuted. They operate freely. They prioritize grand theft. So do other major banks. Government officials permit it. They’re partners in crime.

As general counsel and board member, Comey was intimately involved. Culpability doesn’t matter. It’s true throughout Washington. Rogue officials infest the nation’s capital. Their records speak for themselves.

Democrats praised Comey’s selection. Given their own reprehensible practices, it’s no surprise. His Republican and tainted business credentials don’t matter. He represents corporate empowerment and imperial America. That’s all that counts.

Obama called his nomination “an equally important statement about his intentions in the fight against terrorism.”

America has no enemies at home or abroad except the ones it creates. Doing so heightens fear. It furthers Washington’s agenda. It furthers its war on humanity. Comey’s done it before publicly and privately.

As FBI director, expect further erosion of constitutional rights. They’re largely destroyed already. Remaining ones hang by a thread. Perhaps Comey’s mandated to finish the job.

He and Brennan have had lots of practice. They menace freedom.  It may end altogether on their watch. It’s the new normal.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

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.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/police-state-in-good-hands-with-james-comey/

The Air Force’s 624th Operations Center sent an e-mail with a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) that prohibits them from accessing and reading news stories related to the current National Security Agency snooping controversy on the Air Force’s NIPRNET (Non-Secure Internet Protocol Router Network) systems. 

The 624th Operations Center, located at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, is the operational arm for the 24th Air Force’s cyberspace operations capability.

The e-mail, first attained by Shane Vander Hart, President of 4:15 Communications, LLC, posted the memo on his site after receiving an e-mail from a mother whose son is stationed with the U.S. Air Force in the Middle East. The NOTAM warns airmen about the risks of simple web searches regarding the NSA and Verizon phone records scandals:

I wanted to make sure that all of you read this because just doing a simple search could jeopardize your future. In summary, anything to do with the recent news about the NSA and Verizon phone records are considered classified and searching news or records about these on our NIPRNET computers is unauthorized. Thanks!

The executive summary states that documents associated with the NSA story may potentially be classified, even though the information is publicly available on the internet:

Classified documents regarding Verizon phone record collection and court order have been identified as being hosted on publicly accessible Internet Web Sites, most notably “The Guardian” news site. Viewing and/or downloading these documents on Air Force NIPRNET computers could constitute a Classified Message Incident. Therefore, users are not to access these file (sic) for any reason (i.e. viewing, downloading, forwarding, etc.)

Edward Snowden, a 29-year old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of NSA defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, revealed himself as the NSA leaker over the weekend. Interviewed by the The Guardian in a Hong Kong hotel room, Snowden told the U.K. publication, ”I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things.”

“I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded,” he continued. “That is not something I am willing to support or live under… I can’t in good conscience allow the U.S. government to destroy privacy, Internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

Booz Allen released a statement Sunday evening confirming Snowden’s employment with them for less than three months, assigned to a team in Hawaii.

“News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm,” the statement reads. “We will work closely with our clients and authorities in their investigation of this matter.”

Copyright

Protest against UK Drone Base at Waddington

June 11th, 2013 by Chris Cole

Six anti-drone protesters (myself included) were arrested inside RAF Waddington on Monday (June 3). The protest had three aims;

1) to symbolically breach the secrecy and silence surrounding the British use of armed drones;

2) to bring information about the impact of airstrikes on Afghan civilians  and 3) to symbolically begin conversion of the air base to peaceful purposes.

We did this by creating a peace garden within the base, displaying information on buildings, hangars and sign posts about the impact of airstrikes on Afghan civilians (see bottom of post)  and trying to find out information about the day-to-day use of drones at Waddington.

The Waddington Six: (from left) Revd Keith Hebden, Chris Cole, Fr Martin Newell, Penny Walker, Susan Clarkson and Henrietta Cullinan.

The Waddington Six: (from left) Revd Keith Hebden, Chris Cole, Fr Martin Newell, Penny Walker, Susan Clarkson and Henrietta Cullinan.

We were in the base for over an hour before being detained and arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.  After being held on the base for some time we were driven off the site and saw large queues of traffic.  Our presence had meant  the base was  ‘locked down’ with all activity coming to a halt and no one was allowed to enter or exit the base.

We were detained by the police for over two hours before being processed.  At this point we were told that we were being held incommunicado and not allowed a phone call to inform anyone of our  arrests or to contact a solicitor.  Unbeknown to us permission was being sort to gain entry to our houses in order to seize computers, mobile phones, diaries, and documents.  In the afternoon we were each interviewed  and told that we would be released and bailed pending further enquiries.  By 10pm however it was becoming clear that we would be held overnight.

At 2am we were each awoken to be told we were being charged with aggravated trespass and conspiracy to commit criminal damage.   These are both serious charges with the conspiracy charge meaning a trial in crown court rather than a magistrates court.  In addition I was told there was a warrant for my arrest for non-payment of fines relating to a previous acts of civil disobedience.

peace garden 3Next morning we were taken to court only to be informed that these more serious charges had been suddenly and mysterious withdrawn and we were instead to be charged with ‘simple’ criminal damage to a fence.  We all pleaded not guilty intending to argue that our actions were justified given the circumstances.  An interim hearing will be held on July 4 and a trial will take place later in the year.  We were given bail on condition that we did not re-enter Lincolnshire except to attend court hearings.

I was then held overnight again before being driven to Camberwell Magistrates Court in London.  At first the court refused to accept me as they knew nothing about any warrant.  However eventually I was brought before a magistrate who wiped the outstanding fines and court costs due to ‘time served’, given time to pay the remaining balance, and released.

The extreme reaction to our presence at RAF Waddington with the laying of very serious charges only for a complete and sudden reversal within hours betrays, I believe,  the nervousness felt by those in charge of UK drone operations.

Behind the scenes it appears that the powers that be now appear to questioning whether or not to maintain the  ‘just say nothing’ tactic as it is perceived as no longer working, with a growing chorus of MPs, Peers, journalists, lawyers and activists demanding answers and information about the use of armed drones.  Those maintaining the secrecy around the use of drone  are coming under increasing pressure  – and the message from us all is that it will only increase.

Below is the information that was posted around the base.  It is a representative sample of ten airstrikes over the past five years that have killed and injured civilians in Afghanistan. Click images for more info.

 

 

CLICK IMAGE TO ACCESS  CARROUSEL

 

 

 

 

 

Washington, D.C. June 10, 2013. The National Whistleblower Center issued the following statement in support of NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden: 

Statement of Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center

 “Edward Snowden should not be prosecuted. Instead, the White House must keep the promise made by President Obama, during his 2008 election campaign, when he pledged to support legislation that would fully protect all government whistleblowers, including those in sensitive national security positions.”

“Until Congress enacts a law, setting forth reasonable procedures by which civil servants can disclose national security violations to the American people, the government should not prosecute these whistleblowers. Congress and the President must do their jobs, and stop destroying the lives of civil servants who try to report misconduct”

There is significant historical precedent for the protection of whistleblowers demonstrating that such protections were strongly supported by the Founding Fathers. Mr. Kohn previously discussed this precedent in his New York Times Op-Ed, The Whistleblowers of 1777. Mr. Kohn is also the author of The Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step by Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself  (Lyons Press, 2011).

National Whistleblowers Center
3238 P Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
http://www.whistleblowers.org

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Mary Jane Wilmoth
(202) 342-1902
[email protected]

biography of Stephen M. Kohn

Intel Committee Heads Walk Away Rather than Square NSA Programs with Fourth Amendment

Sunday morning I questioned Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers — the chairs of the Senate and House intelligence committees — as they walked out of ABC studios:

“Many Americans are concerned about the revelations of this week and how they square with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Let’s start there. What does the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution say?”

Feinstein said it was “protection against search and seizure,” which is true but very limited. I tried to interject, “the measure is probable cause” — but she went on at some length about the alleged legality of the programs that became public this week, while avoiding the question of their Constitutionality. [transcript below]

The Fourth Amendment states:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

That would seem to totally contradict the programs exposed this week. It’s as though the government photocopies all of your papers.

The attitude of defending unconstitutional programs that in effect have been made legal gives new meaning to the old Kissinger quote:

“Illegal we do immediately; unconstitutional takes a little longer.” See: Bush-Era Spying ‘Made Legal’ Under Obama.

In the course of my trying to get them to address the Fourth Amendment, I attempted to read it, which didn’t seem as though it was to their liking and they walked away.

But first, Rep. Rogers claimed that the programs reported on this week are “not targeted on Americans. It has to be a non-U.S. person that is believed to be on foreign soil. That is a huge difference from what is being portrayed in the media.”

I noted that this was clearly false, certainly for the phone metadata story. This seemed to upset him.

I then read most of the Fourth Amendment, Rogers appeared extremely uncomfortable, said he didn’t want a “debate” — I said it wasn’t a debate, I wanted them to square the programs with the Fourth Amendment. Feinstein said they would do this “another time.”
Update:

Marcy Wheeler who has written extensively about this notes: “Just about every time Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rogers talk about these programs, they confuse the dragnet of American’s contacts with PRISM, which isn’t supposed to involve Americans. That says something about how closely they understand them.”

Shahid Buttar of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee states:

“There’s a reason that Senator Feinsten and Rep. Rogers keep dodging questions about secret government spying: it simply can’t be squared with the Fourth Amendment. Neither has acknowledged the full extent of the government’s surveillance operations, which extend well beyond last week’s disclosures. And while those programs have gained legal cover, it’s only because the congressional committees they lead have utterly failed their responsibility to check & balance executive abuses.”

Note: Then-head of NSA Michael Hayden claimed the Fourth Amendment didn’t contain the phrase “probable cause” when questioned by Jonathan Landay in 2006. Video; Report by FAIR.

Transcript:

Sam Husseini: Good morning.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Good morning.

SH: Senator, many Americans are concerned about the revelations this week and how they square with the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Let’s start there. What does the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution say?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Well, it’s protection against search and seizure. The program here –

SH: — and the measure is probable cause –

DF: The program here is legal. It has been passed by the Department of Justice as a legal program. It is carefully audited. You have inspectors generals independently looking at it. It is reviewed by the court every three months. And the court — when they pass out one document which was the document that was revealed — which said it could continue for another three months, the court also passes another statement which puts strictures on the program for the remaining three months.

SH: — The Fourth –

Rep. Mike Rogers: Can I interject there: the important part of that as well–as all of this is right — is that is not targeted on Americans. It has to be a non-U.S. person believed to be on foreign soil. That is a huge difference from what is being portrayed in the media.

SH: That is not the case with the program pertaining to phone data. The Fourth Amendment stipulates that people’s papers shall not be violated but upon probable cause.

MR: I’m not sure who you are with. I am not sure, we’re getting into a debate here.

SH: I am quoting the Fourth Amendment here.

MR: — I understand. But case law also –

SH: — supported by oath or affirmation –

DF: I think there’s no sense –

MR: If you want a debate we can do that later.

SH: I don’t want a debate –

DF: We’ll do that another time.

SH: I’m just quoting the Fourth Amendment. I want you to square this program with the Fourth Amendment.

Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us a chance to roll back what is tantamount to an ‘executive coup’ against the US constitution

In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material – and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an “executive coup” against the US constitution.

Since 9/11, there has been, at first secretly but increasingly openly, a revocation of the bill of rights for which this country fought over 200 years ago. In particular, the fourth and fifth amendments of the US constitution, which safeguard citizens from unwarranted intrusion by the government into their private lives, have been virtually suspended.

The government claims it has a court warrant under Fisa – but that unconstitutionally sweeping warrant is from a secret court, shielded from effective oversight, almost totally deferential to executive requests. As Russell Tice, a former National Security Agency analyst, put it: “It is a kangaroo court with a rubber stamp.”

For the president then to say that there is judicial oversight is nonsense – as is the alleged oversight function of the intelligence committees in Congress. Not for the first time – as with issues of torture, kidnapping, detention, assassination by drones and death squads –they have shown themselves to be thoroughly co-opted by the agencies they supposedly monitor. They are also black holes for information that the public needs to know.

The fact that congressional leaders were “briefed” on this and went along with it, without any open debate, hearings, staff analysis, or any real chance for effective dissent, only shows how broken the system of checks and balances is in this country.

Obviously, the United States is not now a police state. But given the extent of this invasion of people’s privacy, we do have the full electronic and legislative infrastructure of such a state. If, for instance, there was now a war that led to a large-scale anti-war movement – like the one we had against the war in Vietnam – or, more likely, if we suffered one more attack on the scale of 9/11, I fear for our democracy. These powers are extremely dangerous.

There are legitimate reasons for secrecy, and specifically for secrecy about communications intelligence. That’s why Bradley Mannning and I – both of whom had access to such intelligence with clearances higher than top-secret – chose not to disclose any information with that classification. And it is why Edward Snowden has committed himself to withhold publication of most of what he might have revealed.

But what is not legitimate is to use a secrecy system to hide programs that are blatantly unconstitutional in their breadth and potential abuse. Neither the president nor Congress as a whole may by themselves revoke the fourth amendment – and that’s why what Snowden has revealed so far was secret from the American people.

In 1975, Senator Frank Church spoke of the National Security Agency in these terms:

“I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

The dangerous prospect of which he warned was that America’s intelligence gathering capability – which is today beyond any comparison with what existed in his pre-digital era – “at any time could be turned around on the American people and no American would have any privacy left.”

That has now happened. That is what Snowden has exposed, with official, secret documents. The NSA, FBI and CIA have, with the new digital technology, surveillance powers over our own citizens that the Stasi – the secret police in the former “democratic republic” of East Germany – could scarcely have dreamed of. Snowden reveals that the so-called intelligence community has become the United Stasi of America.

So we have fallen into Senator Church’s abyss. The questions now are whether he was right or wrong that there is no return from it, and whether that means that effective democracy will become impossible. A week ago, I would have found it hard to argue with pessimistic answers to those conclusions.

But with Edward Snowden having put his life on the line to get this information out, quite possibly inspiring others with similar knowledge, conscience and patriotism to show comparable civil courage – in the public, in Congress, in the executive branch itself – I see the unexpected possibility of a way up and out of the abyss.

Pressure by an informed public on Congress to form a select committee to investigate the revelations by Snowden and, I hope, others to come might lead us to bring NSA and the rest of the intelligence community under real supervision and restraint and restore the protections of the bill of rights.

Snowden did what he did because he recognised the NSA’s surveillance programs for what they are: dangerous, unconstitutional activity. This wholesale invasion of Americans’ and foreign citizens’ privacy does not contribute to our security; it puts in danger the very liberties we’re trying to protect.

In 1969, the Anti-Defamation League infiltrated and spied on a national gathering of Arab students in the United States, newly released Federal Bureau of Investigationdocuments show.

Obtained in April after an Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRMEP) freedom of information request, and reviewed by The Electronic Intifada, one declassified file[PDF] contains Anti-Defamation League reports held by the FBI.

The documents reveal how ADL surveillance against the Organization of Arab Students (OAS) in 1969 coalesced into plans for infiltrating the OAS national organization in New York. The files also give an insight into why the entire effort eventually backfired, ultimately leading to raids on ADL offices involved in intelligence-gathering through illegal means, and a lawsuit against ADL in the early 1990s — ultimately settled out of court in 2002.

The FBI responded to the IRMEP request that it at one time possessed up to 10,800 pages of information about the ADL, but that some of these had been destroyed. So far approximately 1,000 pages have been released (see The FBI’s Anti-Defamation League File on the IRMEP site).

Organization of Arab Students

In the late 1960s, the OAS worked hard to unite visiting Arab international students studying in the US with Arab-American counterparts interested in connecting to developments in the region, primarily in Palestine. Formed in 1952 as the nonprofit Organization of Arab Students of United States and Canada, by the late 1960s OAS was hosting its eighteenth annual national conference with a reported 200 participants. OAS was not at all shy about criticizing US media coverage of the region or issuing direct challenges to the propaganda of the Israel lobby.

The ADL agents talk of alleged OAS links to armed Palestinian group Fatah, seemingly skeptical of one OAS spokesperson’s claim that “there was no real relationship between them, that the OAS was merely letting them sell their literature there.” The name of the spokesperson has been redacted by the FBI, along with most other names in the file.

The OAS’s growing capacity to organize major events eventually sounded alarm bells at the ADL, which dispatched undercover investigators to penetrate the OAS national convention held in 1969 at Ohio State University.

The ADL’s agents assigned to the convention filed reports under the codenames Buckeye, Adam and Eve. “Buckeye” tirelessly worked the entire seven days of the event presenting himself as a reporter, often for the Spectator newspaper. He claimed to be sympathetic to OAS objectives in order to gain access to events and high officials and have a pretext for inquiring about “back office” issues and OAS finances.

Buckeye’s reports sounded an ADL red alert: “The political activity of Arab students in the US will increase significantly in the coming school year (1969-1970) with increasing effectiveness. They are beginning to display a much greater understanding of how to present their arguments to the various levels of the American public (church groups, new left, lower middle class, etc); and any successes are certain to increase their confidence and, hence, their activity.”

Buckeye recommended this “threat” had to be confronted “directly” as growing numbers of OAS chapters achieved and shared successes with other student groups, especially those on the left.

Fake journalist

In those pre-Internet days, Buckeye had to manually compile information on the location, officers, phone numbers and membership strength of each OAS chapter. To ingratiate himself with a group of Buffalo University students, Buckeye claimed all his questions were for a future Columbus Citizen Journal story.

Even so, students were candid in telling Buckeye they increasingly viewed such major media with skepticism. They claimed The Christian Science Monitor and The New York Times were biased in their coverage of the Middle East, and the OAS attendees urged Buckeye to read The Guardian and Le Monde to get a more balanced view of regional issues.

Buckeye carefully noted the most effective Arab public relations strategies, the main points of Arab media critic presentations, counter-strategies to negative media and each session speech from Palestine Liberation Organization and Arab Information Office representatives.

AIPAC envy

Buckeye reported competition and enviously noted that “the attached article from the Near East Report indicates that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee had somebody on the inside of the OAS who covered the convention.” Buckeye recommended that the ADL recruit an Arabic-speaking agent from the nonprofit Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society to work inside the OAS national headquarters in New York, in order to be “privy to important national OAS information.”

On his own, Buckeye had a hard time penetrating closed OAS sessions. Security at the 1969 OAS conference was tighter than previous years. Only Arab students who had been members of a local OAS chapter for one year could attend closed sessions. Non-Arab members needed the recommendation of five Arab chapter members to enter closed sessions. Buckeye’s wife attempted to enter closed OAS convention meetings posing “as a Canadian divorcee and assumed an alias for which she had proper identification.”

But the spies also saw such security mechanisms as an opportunity to wage an attack on OAS chapters: “On many campuses there are rules against discriminating on the basis of race, etc. Therefore it is illegal for the OAS to require its membership to be of Arab descent. In these places pro-Israeli forces could join and take over the machinery of the organization, its funds, etc. and at the same time dismantle it as a base for dissemination of propaganda.”

The recommended strategy was to “concentrate on getting an Arabic-speaking Jew into the national machinery of the OAS. At the recent convention, for example, we had difficulty finding anyone who could attend and understand the arabic [sic] sessions where finances, policy, etc. were discussed. This is a crucial factor in combating the students.”

By the late 1980s, coordinated OAS media pronouncements, sharing and national organizing waned as chapters dedicated themselves more toward social and education functions than politics and opened up to all students claiming an interest in Arab culture. Many OAS chapters even passed individual charters renaming their organizations, presenting new logos and severing national affiliations. Few conducted any major political events, particularly beyond the campus boundaries.

“Our official friends”

But even as OAS power waned, FBI interest in the ADL gradually intensified.

After obtaining the ADL’s OAS report in 1969, the FBI — which had also surveilled the conference — came to its own “more objective” conclusions. The FBI felt not only that the ADL report was “biased,” but such ADL-sanctioned activity “possibly represents a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.”

The FBI, based on its own long term observations of the ADL, felt it would be incredible “to assume it [the ADL’s report on the OAS] is not furnished to an official of the government of Israel due to the extremely close ties between ADL and Israel.” Buckeye had indeed suggested in his report that “this information may be of interest to our official friends.” Though it could be that this was a reference to US law enforcement, the FBI’s suspicion of Israeli involvement seems credible.

The FBI also seemed to resent the ADL’s self-appointed authority as a competing counter-intelligence agency — even though the ADL had long fought to ingratiate itself with the FBI and form liaisons. “This report shows investigation conducted by the ADL, using codename sources, pretexts such as local news reporters … recruiting of [Arabic speaking] Jewish refugees … to infiltrate the OAS in New York.”

When hard evidence surfaced that the ADL was illegally obtaining confidential information about pro-Palestinian and anti-apartheid activists, the police raided the ADL’s major California offices, after FBI investigations. Covert ADL agent Roy Bullock had also worked closely with apartheid South African intelligence services (Robert I. Friedman, “The Enemy Within: How the Anti-Defamation League turned the notion of human rights on its head,” The Village Voice, 11 May 1993).

According to Friedman in 1993: “Investigations by the FBI and police in San Francisco have revealed that the ADL has shared at least some of its spy gathering material with Israeli government officials. What’s more, Israel apparently used tips from the ADL to detain Palestinian Americans who traveled there.”

Civil suits against Bullock and the ADL in the 1990s were eventually settled out of court in 2002 for tens of thousands. But the ADL never admitted to doing anything wrong, and never had to face any serious penalty. Palestine solidarity activists may well wonder what the ADL is doing in secret today.

Although confidentiality agreements are normal in such settlements, the plaintiffs did not agree to keep quiet. IRMEP has now published depositions and files from this investigation and successful lawsuit, so they are available online for the first time.

Grant F. Smith is director of the nonprofit Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, Inc. in Washington.

Wherever there are reports of melting glaciers and a future of diminished water resources, there is an increasing Balkanization of nation-states. Those who manipulate world events for maximum profit understand that it is much easier to control water resources if one is dealing with a multitude of warring and jealous mini-states than it is to deal with a regional power…

The Nile Basin is seeing record fragmentation of nation-states by secessionist and other rebel movements, some backed by the United States and its Western allies and others backed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Yet other secessionist groups are backed by regional rivals such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, and Sudan.

Ethiopia has announced that its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam project on the Blue Nile will begin diverting the Blue Nile at the end of 2014. Ethiopia’s decision has set off alarm bells down river in Sudan and Egypt, which are both critically dependent on the Nile for drinking water, irrigation, and in the case of Egypt’s Aswan High Dam, electric power. A 1959 agreement between Egypt and Sudan guarantees Egypt 70 percent and Sudan 30 percent of the Nile’s water flow.

Egypt’s government has warned Ethiopia, a historical rival, not to restrict the Nile water flow to the extent that it would adversely affect the Aswan Dam or Egypt’s water supply. Sudan has voiced similar warnings. Cairo and Khartoum are also aware that their mutual enemy, Israel, has close relations with Ethiopia and the Republic of South Sudan, the world’s newest nation. The independence of South Sudan would not have been possible without the backing of Israel’s leading neo-conservative allies in Washington and London.

The White Nile flows from the Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, through Uganda and South Sudan, to Sudan. Egypt and Sudan have also been concerned about Israel’s heavy presence in South Sudan. The South Sudanese secession put tremendous pressure on the future territorial integrity of Sudan, which faces additional Western- and Israeli-backed breakaway movements in Darfur and northeastern Sudan.

Independence for South Sudan was long a goal of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her god-daughter, current U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice. The splitting of Sudan into an Arab Muslim north and a black Christian and animist south was also long a goal of Israel, which yearned for a client state in South Sudan that would be able to squeeze the supply of the Nile’s headwaters to Egypt and north Sudan.

South Sudan’s independence was cobbled together so rapidly, its Western sponsors were not even sure, at first, what to call the country. Although South Sudan was finally agreed upon, other proposals were to call the nation the «Nile Republic» or «Nilotia,» which were rejected because of the obvious threatening meaning that such names would send to Cairo and Khartoum.

The names «Cush» or «Kush» were also rejected because of their reference to the land of Cush that appears in the Jewish Bible and the obvious meaning that such a name would have for those who accuse Israel of wanting to expand its borders beyond the borders of the Palestinian mandate. «New Sudan» was also rejected because of implied irredentist claims by South Sudan on the contested oil-rich Abyei region between Sudan and South Sudan.

Egypt has been lending quiet support to Ethiopian and Somali secessionists, which Cairo sees as a counterweight to Ethiopian neo-imperialist designs in the Horn of Africa. Although Ethiopia maintains good relations with the breakaway Republic of Somaliland, Addis Ababa does not want to see Somalia fragmented any further. But that is exactly what is desired by Cairo to keep Ethiopia’s military and revenues preoccupied with an unstable and collapsing neighbor to the east.

Two other parts of Somalia, Puntland and Jubaland, also spelled Jubbaland, have declared separatist states. Jubaland should not be confused with the capital of South Sudan, Juba, which is being relocated to Ramciel, close to the border with Sudan. However, all this confusion and map redrawing is a result of increasing hydropolitics in the region, as well as the ever-present turmoil caused by the presence of oil and natural gas reserves. The Rahanweyn Resistance Army is fighting for an independent state of Southwestern Somalia.

Somaliland has its own secessionist movement in the western part of the country, an entity called Awdalland, which is believed to get some support from neighboring Djibouti, the site of the U.S. military base at Camp Lemonier.

Ethiopian troops, supported by the African Union and the United States, are trying to prop up Somalia’s weak Federal government but Somalia’s fracturing continues unabated with Kenya supporting a semi-independent entity called «Azania» in a part of Jubaland in Somalia.

There are also a number of nascent separatist movements in Ethiopia, many being brutally suppressed by the Ethiopian government with military assistance from the United States, Britain, and Israel. Some of these movements are backed by Eritrea, which, itself, broke away from Ethiopia two decades ago. Chief among the groups are the Ogadenis, who want a Somali state declared in eastern Ethiopia and the Oromo, who dream of an independent Oromia.

Ethiopia’s ruling dictatorship has tried to placate the Oromos and Ogadenis with peace talks but these moves are seen as window dressing to placate Ethiopia’s benefactors in Washington and London.

However, separatist movements throughout the Horn of Africa took pleasure in the advent of South Sudan because they saw the «inviolability» of colonial-drawn borders, long insisted upon by the Organization of African Unity and the African Union, finally beginning to wither. In fact, that process began with Eritrea’s independence in 1993. Eritrea also faces its own secessionist movement, the Red Sea Afars. The Afars also maintain separatist movements in Ethiopia and Djibouti, the latter having once been known as the French Territory of the Afars and Issas.

In another U.S. ally, Kenya, the homeland of President Barack Obama’s father, Muslims along the coast have dusted off the Sultan of Zanzibar’s 1887 lease to the British East Africa Company of the 10-mile strip of land along the present Indian Ocean coast of Kenya. Legally, when the lease expired the strip was to revert back to control of the sultan. Since the Sultan was ousted in a 1964 coup, the coastal Kenyans argue that the coastal strip was annexed illegally by Kenya and that, therefore, the coastal strip should be the independent Republic of Pwani. The discovery of major oil and natural gas reserves in Uganda and South Sudan has resulted in plans for pipelines to be built to the port of Mombasa, the would-be capital of Pwani on the Indian Ocean. In Kenya, hydropolitics and petropolitics in the Horn of Africa has resulted in Balkanization spilling into Kenya.

In the Himalayas, glacier retreat and rapidly diminishing snow cover are also adding to hydropolitical angst and fueling separatist movements backed by the bigger powers in the region: India, China, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Snow melt is now being seen in some parts of the Himalayas in December and January. Four dams on the Teesta River, which flows from Sikkim through north Bengal to the Brahmaputra basin, have not only affected the geo-political situation in Sikkim, which has nascent independence and Nepali irredentist movements, but also helps to fuel demands for increased autonomy for Gorkhaland, Bodoland, and Assam, an independent Madhesistan in southern Nepal, an ethnic Nepali revolt in southern Bhutan, and consternation in Bangladesh, where the Brahmaputra and Ganges converge to largely support a country with a population of 161 million people. Bangladesh has also seen its share of secessionist movements, including the Bangabhumi Hindu and the Chittagong Hill Tracts movements.

Hydropolitics, petropolitics, and the status quo, like water and oil, do not mix, especially when it comes to the preservation of current borders. Northeastern Africa and South Asia are not unique in this respect.

The Judicial Lynching of Bradley Manning

June 10th, 2013 by Chris Hedges

The military trial of Bradley Manning is a judicial lynching. The government has effectively muzzled the defense team. The Army private first class is not permitted to argue that he had a moral and legal obligation under international law to make public the war crimes he uncovered.

The documents that detail the crimes, torture and killing Manning revealed, because they are classified, have been barred from discussion in court, effectively removing the fundamental issue of war crimes from the trial. Manning is forbidden by the court to challenge the government’s unverified assertion that he harmed national security.

Lead defense attorney David E. Coombs said during pretrial proceedings that the judge’s refusal to permit information on the lack of actual damage from the leaks would “eliminate a viable defense, and cut defense off at the knees.” And this is what has happened.

Manning is also barred from presenting to the court his motives for giving the website WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq, and videos. The issues of his motives and potentially harming national security can be raised only at the time of sentencing, but by then it will be too late.

The draconian trial restrictions, familiar to many Muslim Americans tried in the so-called war on terror, presage a future of show trials and blind obedience. Our email and phone records, it is now confirmed, are swept up and stored in perpetuity on government computers. Those who attempt to disclose government crimes can be easily traced and prosecuted under the Espionage Act. Whistle-blowers have no privacy and no legal protection.

This is why Edward Snowden—a former CIA technical assistant who worked for a defense contractor with ties to the National Security Agency and who leaked to Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian the information about the National Security Council’s top-secret program to collect Americans’ cellphone metadata, e-mail and other personal data—has fled the United States. The First Amendment is dead. There is no legal mechanism left to challenge the crimes of the power elite. We are bound and shackled. And those individuals who dare to resist face the prospect, if they remain in the country, of joining Manning in prison, perhaps the last refuge for the honest and the brave.

Coombs opened the trial last week by pleading with the judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, for leniency based on Manning’s youth and sincerity. Coombs is permitted by Lind to present only circumstantial evidence concerning Manning’s motives or state of mind. He can argue, for example, that Manning did not know al-Qaida might see the information he leaked. Coombs is also permitted to argue, as he did last week, that Manning was selective in his leak, intending no harm to national interests. But these are minor concessions by the court to the defense. Manning’s most impassioned pleas for freedom of information, especially regarding email exchanges with the confidential government informant Adrian Lamo, as well as his right under international law to defy military orders in exposing war crimes, are barred as evidence.

Manning is unable to appeal to the Nuremberg principles, a set of guidelines created by the International Law Commission of the United Nations after World War II to determine what constitutes a war crime. The principles make political leaders, commanders and combatants responsible for war crimes, even if domestic or internal laws allow such actions. The Nuremberg principles are designed to protect those, like Manning, who expose these crimes. Orders do not, under the Nuremberg principles, offer an excuse for committing war crimes. And the Nuremberg laws would clearly condemn the pilots in the “Collateral Murder” videoand their commanders and exonerate Manning. But this is an argument we will not be allowed to hear in the Manning trial.

Manning has admitted to 10 lesser offenses surrounding his leaking of classified and unclassified military and State Department files, documents and videos, including the “Collateral Murder” video, which shows a U.S. Apache attack helicopter in 2007 killing 12 civilians, including two Reuters journalists, and wounding two children on an Iraqi street. His current plea exposes him to penalties that could see him locked away for two decades. But for the government that is not enough. Military prosecutors are pursuing all 22 charges against him. These charges include aiding the enemy, wanton publication, espionage, stealing U.S. government property, exceeding authorized access and failures to obey lawful general orders—charges that can bring with them 149 years plus life.

“He knew that the video depicted a 2007 attack,” Coombs said of the “Collateral Murder” recording. “He knew that it [the attack] resulted in the death of two journalists. And because it resulted in the death of two journalists it had received worldwide attention. He knew that the organization Reuters had requested a copy of the video in FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] because it was their two journalists that were killed, and they wanted to have that copy in order to find out what had happened and to ensure that it didn’t happen again. He knew that the United States had responded to that FOIA request almost two years later indicating what they could find and, notably, not the video.

“He knew that David Finkel, an author, had written a book called ‘The Good Soldiers,’ and when he read through David Finkel’s account and he talked about this incident that’s depicted in the video, he saw that David Finkel’s account and the actual video were verbatim, that David Finkel was quoting the Apache air crew. And so at that point he knew that David Finkel had a copy of the video. And when he decided to release this information, he believed that this information showed how [little] we valued human life in Iraq. He was troubled by that. And he believed that if the American public saw it, they too would be troubled and maybe things would change.”

“He was 22 years old,” Coombs said last Monday as he stood near the bench, speaking softly to the judge at the close of his opening statement. “He was young. He was a little naive in believing that the information that he selected could actually make a difference. But he was good-intentioned in that he was selecting information that he hoped would make a difference.”

“He wasn’t selecting information because it was wanted by WikiLeaks,” Coombs concluded. “He wasn’t selecting information because of some 2009 most wanted list. He was selecting information because he believed that this information needed to be public. At the time that he released the information he was concentrating on what the American public would think about that information, not whether or not the enemy would get access to it, and he had absolutely no actual knowledge of whether the enemy would gain access to it. Young, naive, but good-intentioned.”

The moral order is inverted. The criminal class is in power. We are the prey. Manning, in a just society, would be a prosecution witness against war criminals. Those who committed these crimes should be facing prison. But we do not live in a just society.

The Afghans, the Iraqis, the Yemenis, the Pakistanis and the Somalis know what American military forces do. They do not need to read WikiLeaks. They have seen the bodies, including the bodies of their children, left behind by drone strikes and other attacks from the air. They have buried the corpses of those gunned down by coalition forces. With fury, they hear our government tell lies, accounts that are discredited by the reality they endure. Our wanton violence and hypocrisy make us hated and despised, fueling the rage of jihadists and amassing legions of new enemies against the United States. Manning, by providing a window into the truth, opened up the possibility of redemption. He offered hope for a new relationship with the Muslim world, one based on compassion and honesty, on the rule of law, rather than the cold brutality of industrial warfare. But by refusing to heed the truth that Manning laid before us, by ignoring the crimes committed daily in our name, we not only continue to swell the ranks of our enemies but put the lives of our citizens in greater and greater danger. Manning did not endanger us. He sought to thwart the peril that is daily exacerbated by our political and military elite.

Manning showed us through the documents he released that Iraqis have endured hundreds of rapes and murders, along with systematic torture by the military and police of the puppet government we installed. He let us know that none of these atrocities were investigated. He provided the data that showed us that between 2004 and 2009 there were at least 109,032 “violent deaths” in Iraq, including those of 66,081 civilians, and that coalition troops were responsible for at least 195 civilian deaths in unreported events. He allowed us to see in the video “Collateral Murder” the helicopter attack on unarmed civilians in Baghdad.

It was because of Manning that we could listen to the callous banter between pilots as the Americans nonchalantly fired on civilian rescuers. Manning let us see a U.S. Army tank crush one of the wounded lying on the street after the helicopter attack. The actions of the U.S. military in this one video alone, as law professor Marjorie Cohnhas pointed out, violate Article 85 of the First Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, which prohibits the targeting of civilians, Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which requires that wounded be treated, and Article 17 of the First Protocol, which permits civilians to rescue and care for wounded without being harmed. We know of this war crime and many others because of Manning. And the decision to punish the soldier who reported these war crimes rather than the soldiers responsible for these crimes mocks our pretense of being a nation ruled by law.

“I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this, it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general as it applied to Iraq and Afghanistan,” Manning said Feb. 28 when he pleaded guilty to the lesser charges. He said he hoped the release of the information to WikiLeaks “might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counterterrorism while ignoring the situation of the people we engaged with every day.”

But it has not. Our mechanical drones still circle the skies delivering death. Our attack jets still blast civilians. Our soldiers and Marines still pump bullets into mud-walled villages. Our artillery and missiles still raze homes. Our torturers still torture. Our politicians and generals still lie. And the man who tried to stop it all is still in prison.

Trial transcripts used for this report came from the nonprofit Freedom of the Press Foundation, which, because the government refused to make transcripts publicly available, is raising money to have its own stenographer at the trial. Transcripts from the pretrial hearing came from journalist Alexa O’Brien.

In his June 7–8 meeting with US President Barack Obama in Sunnyland in California, Chinese President Xi Jinping tried to reassure Washington that China has no intention of challenging US global dominance..

The very fact that Xi agreed to attend an “informal” meeting at a billionaire’s retreat—breaking decades of insistence on formal state visits at the White House—was a peace offering from the new Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership, in the face of Obama’s aggressive “pivot to Asia” to contain China.

After the first day’s meeting with Obama, Xi insisted in front of reporters that China will firmly remain on the “path of peaceful development.” The Chinese president maintained that both Washington and Beijing must choose a course “unprecedented in history … one that is different from the inevitable confrontation and conflict between the major powers of the past.”

Xi outlined his three points of what he termed a “new type of great power relations”; first, “no conflict and confrontation”, one that “must view each other’s strategic intention objectively and rationally.” Second, they must “mutually respect each other’s core interests and major concerns,” and thirdly, pursue cooperation based on “abandoning the zero-sum game.”

In fact, the tensions between the two countries are just beneath the surface. Washington is already moving against what China regards as its “core interests” because it views Beijing’s expanding influence as incompatible with US geo-political dominance in the Asia-Pacific—a state of affairs that has existed since the end of World War II.

Though its gross domestic product (GDP) was just one-eighth the size of the US economy at the beginning of the 2000s, China’s GDP is now over half that of the US. It has replaced the US as the largest trading partner for most countries in Asia.

The Obama administration has consistently sought to deploy more of its military resources to Asia, while strengthening its regional alliances and basing agreements. These include alliances with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Australia, as well as deepening military ties with India and Vietnam, which have provoked tense territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas. The “pivot” aims to deploy superior US military power to force China to function economically and geopolitically in line with the interests of the US financial elite.

Speaking of Xi’s appeal for “new” and more harmonious international relations, Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State, who advocates defusing US-China tensions, told CNN: “If it works well and both sides are lucky, then at the end of 10 years, this may have become a habit that has transformed international relations.”

“If it doesn’t work,” Kissinger continued, “each side will look after its own interests. We surely will.”

The message is that if China fails to fall into line by incorporating itself into a US-led order, Washington will ruthlessly undermine Chinese interests, including through war.

Xi proclaimed that his slogan of a “China Dream” shares a common objective with the “American Dream” of promoting global economic prosperity. But Xi’s main goal—i.e., to make China a “rich and powerful nation”—is fundamentally unacceptable to Washington. Xi took the slogan from a book written by Chinese military academic who called for building a military force to rival America’s in the coming decades.

Prior to the summit, Obama made clear he would aggressively raise the issue of alleged Chinese cyber intrusions into US corporations as well as government and military networks.

Obama apparently succeeded in using the issue to extract concessions. In particular, Xi agreed to use China’s economic leverage to exert pressure on its ally, North Korea, to return to talks over abandoning its nuclear program.

Outgoing White House national security advisor Tom Donilon told reporters that both leaders “agreed that North Korea has to denuclearise, that neither country will accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed state, and that we would work together to deepen cooperation and dialogue to achieve denuclearisation.”

Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi reported that Xi had told Obama that China and the United States were “the same in their positions and objectives” on the North Korean nuclear issue.

Obama and Xi also announced that a working team will be set up under the annual US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue to jointly combat supposedly “common” cyber security threats.

“President Xi and I recognise that, because of the incredible advances of technology, the issue of cyber-security and the need for rules, and common approaches to security, have become increasingly important,” Obama declared.

Obama downplayed the issue partly due to fallout from exposure of the fact that his government authorised the National Security Agency (NSA) to collect vast online and phone records from millions of American citizens, under the pretext of the “war on terror.” This points to the stunning hypocrisy of the Obama administration, which runs the world’s largest cyber spying operations, in using this issue to pressure the Chinese regime.

Nevertheless, Obama exploited alleged Chinese hacking to pressure Xi to discipline Chinese businesses not to violate US corporations’ intellectual property and for Beijing to further open up economically.

Yang Jiechi also said that cyber security “should not become the root cause of mutual suspicion and friction; rather, it should be a new bright spot in our cooperation.”

Shortly after the Xi-Obama meeting, North Korean officials met with their South Korean counterparts in the border truce village of Panmunjom to prepare a ministerial meeting in Seoul for Wednesday, the first since 2007. After the US and its South Korean ally jointly threatened North Korea with military exercises in April—including over-flights by nuclear-capable strategic bombers—North Korea had threatened “all-out war” and shut down an industrial zone jointly run with South Korea.

Fearing the consequence of the US exploiting North Korea’s nuclear “threat” to further ratchet up tensions with China, Xi apparently pressured Pyongyang, including by leaking plans for Chinese-backed “regime change” to oust North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Despite Beijing’s efforts to appease Washington over North Korea, it is only matter of time before Washington takes up another concern to confront China, on issues ranging from territorial disputes in the South China Sea to the ongoing civil war in Syria.

The US government is developing detailed plans to attack other countries using cyberwarfare techniques, according to a report Friday in the British daily newspaper Guardian. President Obama gave the orders to plan for cyber attacks, including preemptive strikes by the US, in an 18-page directive issued last October and leaked to the newspaper, which published it on its web site. Presidential Policy Directive 20 defines Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO), which “can offer unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging.”

It continues:

“The United States government shall identify potential targets of national importance where OCEO can offer favorable balance of effectiveness and risk as compared with other instruments of national power.”

The directive instructs the secretary of defense, the director of national intelligence, and the director of the CIA to “prepare for approval by the president through the National Security Advisor a plan that identifies potential systems, processes and infrastructure against which the United States should establish and maintain OCEO capabilities.” Since the deadline for this action is six months after the approval of the directive, which came in October, this plan has presumably already been developed and submitted to the National Security Council.

In relation to foreign targets of cyberwarfare, the directive authorizes actions by US government agencies in circumstances where the identity and nationality of the “adversary” are uncertain. The US government “shall make all reasonable efforts, under circumstances prevailing at the time, to identify the adversary and the ownership and geographic location of the targets and related infrastructure where DCEO or OCEO will be conducted or cyber effects are expected to occur.”

Translated into plain language, this means that a US government attack on alleged hackers could target a foreign government or military without definitively identifying them as the source of the hacking. In recent months, the Obama administration and US media, spearheaded by the New York Times, have hyped the threat of Chinese hackers, supposedly organized through a Chinese military office in Shanghai, without providing any actual proof of the linkage.

As one of its intelligence sources told the Guardian, US complaints about Chinese cyberwarfare efforts were hypocritical: “We hack everyone everywhere. We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world.”

The directive acknowledges that cyber-warfare efforts by the US government may produce “potential unintended or collateral consequences,” not only within the targeted countries, but worldwide and in the US itself. These consequences could include “loss of life, significant responsive actions against the United States, significant damage to property, serious adverse US foreign policy consequences, or serious economic impact on the United States.”

The directive essentially reiterates the doctrine of preventive warfare, enunciated by George W. Bush in 2002 in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Bush declared that the United States had the right to attack other countries, not merely to preempt an impending attack, but to prevent any potential attack at any time in the future—a formula for unlimited worldwide aggression.

Bush himself was giving little more than a rehash of the Nazi doctrine condemned by the Nuremburg Tribunal after World War II, when a US prosecutor declared that the supreme crime of Hitler’s Germany was the “planning, preparation, initiation and waging of a war of aggression,” from which all the other crimes, including the Holocaust, ultimately stemmed.

The directive’s pro-forma declaration that the “United States Government shall reserve the right to act in accordance with the United States’ inherent right of self defense as recognized in international law” cuts no ice, since both the Bush and Obama administrations include such actions as the invasion of countries, bombing, missile strikes and assassinations under the rubric of “self defense.”

The directive also discusses possible cyber attacks by the US government against domestic targets inside the country. This raises the prospect that in the event of a political crisis in the US, stemming either from domestic political and social upheaval or mass opposition to war, the US government could shut down the Internet and social media, target specific web sites or carry out other acts of cyber warfare in the name of “national security.”

While the document claims that only the president can authorize cyber operations inside the United States, it contains a lengthy section, the longest in the entire executive order, spelling out what it calls “Emergency Cyber Action,” which can be taken by the secretary of defense or “a department or agency head with appropriate authorities”—in other words, any top official of the military-intelligence apparatus.

Such actions can be taken if “necessary to mitigate an imminent threat or ongoing attack against US national interests.” This would include preventing “significant damage with enduring national impact on the Primary Mission Essential Functions of the United States

Government, U.S. critical infrastructure and key resources, or the mission of U.S. military forces…”

The language is so broad that it could easily be applied to a strike by US government employees or workers at any corporation providing services to the military or a government agency, or to workers in telecommunications, utilities, public transportation, or anything else designated as “critical” by the government.

According to the directive, domestic cyber-warfare actions would be coordinated with dozens of federal departments and conducted in accordance with the “National Continuity Policy” document of May 9, 2007.

This is a reference to one of the last versions of the notorious Bush administration planning for “continuity of government,” in which plans were made for transferring all federal power to a small cabal of executive branch officials—lodged in Richard Cheney’s infamous “undisclosed secure location”—and excluding both the legislative and judicial branches of government.

In other words, from Bush to Obama, from Republican to Democrat, the preparations of the American ruling elite for dictatorial rule continue and accelerate. While nominally justified by the threat of “terrorism” or, in the case of cyber-warfare, the supposed threat of China, the real target of these preparations is the American working class.

In both its plans for worldwide warfare, and its preparations for dictatorship at home, the American ruling class is driven by the mounting social inequality and class antagonisms within the United States.

The IMF’s self-admitted errors in the Greek bailout were not just “mistakes”: they were the deliberate reproduction of a classical ideological script.

Three years since its first bailout, the IMF has finally gathered the courage to admit that it made major mistakes in its handling of the Greek debt crisis. In an official report released last week, the Fund states that, while its basic policy prescriptions were correct, it underestimated the negative effect of austerity on growth and therefore ended up making economic prognoses that were much too optimistic about Greece’s debt sustainability. Where the IMF predicted a contraction of 5.5% of economic output between 2009 and 2012, the Greek economy actually lost 17%, and where the IMF predicted 15% unemployment by 2012, the actual rate was 25%. So much for the supposed neoliberal “success story” of draconian austerity that European leaders have been raving about in their delirious collective debt delusion.

Post image for The IMF’s “mistakes” on Greece are nothing new

And yet, while these seemingly shocking admissions hit media headlines as if they were some kind of profound revelation, the sad truth is that they actually tell us nothing new. In fact, the Greek Labour Institute and the think tank IOVE made forecasts that were frighteningly close to the actual outcome. The IMF now argues that Greece should have had debt cancellation as early as 2010 or 2011, but claims that this policy response was politically unpalatable to those countries — i.e., Germany, France and the Netherlands — whose banks had a large exposure to Greek debt. Again, this is nothing new: the IMF is merely repeating the exact argument that hundreds of thousands of outraged Greeks made in 2011, when they occupied Syntagma Square to contest a parliamentary vote on the EU/IMF-imposed austerity memorandum. Back then, the protesters were dismissed as fringe extremists. Now even the IMF proves them right.

But there is another — more sinister — way in which the IMF’s belated mea culpa is nothing new. The fact of the matter is that these type of self-critical reports by the Fund have been a permanent feature of its management of international financial crises ever since the 1980s. For some reason, every time a debt crisis strikes, the IMF moves in to impose the same short-sighted bailouts, austerity measures and market reforms — and then, several years later, comes to the conclusion that it made major mistakes in its handling of the crisis. Yet it never changes tack: when the next crisis hits, it simply reproduces the same old script: stabilization, privatization, liberalization. Nothing else will do to satisfy the markets, and so the debtors simply have to bend over backwards to satisfy the orthodox neoliberal prescriptions of structural adjustment.

During the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s, the Fund also made overly optimistic growth prognoses in a context of austerity. Back then, these predictions also served to legitimate a policy response that narrowly served the interests of the big banks by preventing early debt write-downs. Just as today, the IMF was also forced to admit — in hindsight — that it “failed to foresee” the depth and duration of the crisis. As official IMF historian James Boughton noted in his extensive study of thirty years of IMF crisis management, the Fund suffered from a “lack of foresight [resulting] from optimism in assessing the growth prospects of Latin American countries.” Indeed, its austerity programs “were predicated on forecasts of a rapid resumption of economic growth” that failed to materialize. This led Karen Lissakers, a future IMF executive director, to conclude that “the Fund is acting as enforcer of the banks’ loan contracts.”

None of that, however, stopped the Fund from imposing even harsher policy conditionality on the Asian tigers when these countries descended into crisis in the late 1990s. During the East-Asian crisis, the IMF once again came under fire for its imposition of austerity and market reforms that seemed to go way beyond — and even directly against — its institutional mandate to safeguard international financial stability. In his best-selling book Globalization and its Discontents, Joseph Stiglitz, chief economist of the World Bank during the crisis, publicly lambasted the IMF for its disastrous insistence on austerity. In a 1999 report, the Fund concluded that “its policy prescriptions towards South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand were correct, but there was a crucial flaw: the IMF assumed its programmes would rapidly restore market confidence, and they did not.” This led even the conservative free-trade economist Jagdish Bhagwati to chide the Fund for its counterproductive approach to crisis management, arguing that the IMF now worked solely in the interest of the large Wall Street banks.

If these wholesale economic collapses and the consequent destruction of the livelihoods of millions of Latin American and Asian citizens were truly just “mistakes”, resulting from faulty baseline assumptions and flawed econometric modelling, one would expect an international institution staffed by hundreds of Ivy League and Oxbridge PhDs to eventually learn from these mistakes and come up with a somewhat more credible alternative. Wrong. Following the 2001-’02 Argentine financial crisis, the Fund once again admitted to making a series of “mistakes” of historic proportions, culminating into the largest sovereign debt default in world history. As former IMF managing director Michel Camdessus recently recalled, “we probably made many silly mistakes and committed errors with Argentina.” As a result, 60 percent of Argentinians fell into poverty as the country experienced the deepest economic depression in its history.

Over the past thirty years, the world has experienced over a hundred financial crises. So far, the IMF has responded to practically every single one of them with the same defunct policy prescription of rapid fiscal contraction, firesale privatizations and far-reaching neoliberal market reforms. In the vast majority of cases, this orthodox policy response contributed to a deepening of the recession, the loss of millions of jobs, and a humanitarian tragedy of unspeakable proportions. If you make the same mistake a hundred times over, can it still be considered a mistake? Or are we looking at the deliberate reproduction of an ideological script that narrowly serves the interests of private creditors by shifting the burden of adjustment squarely onto the shoulders of the poorest and weakest members in the debtor countries?

Seen in this light, the IMF’s penchant for erroneous forecasting seems like a costly mistake indeed. A recent study by economist David Stuckler and epidemiologist Sanjay Basu, based on a wealth of statistical evidence, finds that “austerity kills”. Finding dramatic increases in suicide rates, HIV infections and a renewed malaria outbreak in Greece, the authors conclude that “many countries have turned their recessions into veritable epidemics, ruining or extinguishing thousands of lives in a misguided attempt to balance budgets and shore up financial markets.” Even if we assumed that the IMF’s policy prescriptions were based on mere “mistakes”, such mistakes must have consequences. At the very least, those responsible for the mistakes should lose their jobs and reputations. A genuinely democratic state of law, however, would require such mass manslaughter to be punishable by law — with long-term imprisonment.

But despite the repeated admission of its mistakes, no one at the Fund has ever lost a job for prescribing deadly austerity measures. No IMF chief or economist has ever been jailed for directly imposing — or at least justifying — the type of policies that literally kill thousands of people and destroy the lives of millions more. And of course they haven’t. After all, the issue here is not with responsibility but with legitimacy. When it admits to its mistakes, the IMF is not taking responsibility for its actions; it is merely trying to convince the world that it is serious about economic “science”, that it recognizes the fact that its own policies failed due to flawed econometric modeling — only to repeat those very same policies all over again when systemic “necessity” demands it in the next debt crisis. The admissions of its mistakes are part of the same ideological smokescreen that led the IMF to impose dramatic austerity from Mexico to Thailand, and from Argentina to Greece. They are meaningless.

In this particular case, the IMF also has obvious ulterior motives behind the release of its seemingly self-critical report. As Greek economist Yannis Varoufakis points out, “the IMF economists are considering an exit from the Troika and are now paving the path for it.” The reason the IMF wants to exit the Troika is simple: it wants to save face from a policy response that it itself helped to impose but that is now clearly starting to fall apart. In a way, the Fund was simply the first to jump ship, once again shifting responsibility onto others in order to preserve its own legitimacy. It now blames the European Commission for its lack of experience with crisis management, while blaming France and Germany for obstructing an earlier restructuring of Greek debt. But the truth remains that the IMF has — on virtually every occasion since 1982 — vehemently opposed such debt restructurings itself, while showing remarkably little aptitude at crisis management as such.

Perhaps, then, we should see the IMF’s mea culpa in a radically different light. Perhaps these are not just mistakes but a deliberate reproduction of a classical ideological script — one which needs to be re-legitimized from time to time by providing at least the illusion of scientific rigor and institutional humility. Yannis Varoufakis is therefore wrong to argue that Southern Europe should now team up with the IMF to contest the austerity drive of the North. It is time to stop listening to the empty rhetoric of the IMF and start looking at its actions: if the past thirty years of its wrongheaded crisis management have revealed anything, it is that the Fund — despite its eventual self-critique — will always remain “the enforcer of the banks’ loan contracts”, and therefore an extremely unreliable partner for those who remain stuck in the debt trap.

Colombia may be on a list for membership in NATO further expanding what was originally a North Atlantic defense organization, into a global offensive military bloc, in effect taking over the world. Rick Rozoff spoke about this and more in an interview with the Voice of Russia.

Hello! This is John Robles, I’m speaking with Mr. Rick Rozoff the owner of the Stop NATO website.

Robles: Hello Rick! How are you?

Rozoff: Very good John. Thanks for having me on.

Robles: Can you give us a little bit of your insights into what is going on down there in Colombia? Now NATO seems to be expanding to South America as well?

Rozoff: Yes, I’m glad you raised that issue. It’s been in the news for the last 24 hours or so. And there have been disclaimers being issued already, particularly by the Colombian government, which I don’t believe wants to acknowledge it, but the story from Agence France-Presse, the French press service quoted some Assistant Secretary State for the State Department, one Roberta Jacobson, stating exactly, here’s the quote: “Our goal is certainly to support Columbia as being a capable and strong member of lots of different international organizations, and that might well include NATO.”

So, the reference was to Colombia, we’ll talk about this in a moment, but her phraseology certainly suggests that not only is Colombia being prepared as a partner for NATO, but conceivably at some point in the future it might be the first country outside of the Euro-Atlantic area or the North Atlantic Ocean area to become a member of NATO, according to her language. There’s been some backtracking on that since, particularly by the Colombian government.

But I think it is important to realize that the last chief military commander of NATO, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, James Stavridis, an American admiral, who prior to coming to that position as both the European Commander, the top military commander of NATO, was the top military commander for Southern Command, which takes in Latin America as a whole: Central America, South America and the Caribbean. And he had mentioned several months ago that Colombia might well be a Troop Contributing Nation, that’s an official designation by NATO, for the war in Afghanistan.
Though for several years now, John, there have been reports, fairly credible, that Colombia had already sent security personnel, as well as troops (regular army troops, counterinsurgency troops to be exact) to Afghanistan to serve under NATO, even if not officially. So, this is simply a consolidation or concretization of a relationship that’s been in the making for some time.

Robles: Isn’t there some problem with the international law or NATO’s own charter to just keep expanding like this?

Rozoff: With international law, no, unless somebody goes to the United Nations – I think it’s long overdue incidentally – and stipulates that no nation or group of nations has the right to form an offensive international military bloc that is waging war, legally or illegally, but certainly aggressively, in three continents over the last 14 years as we know, in Southeastern Europe, South Asia…

Robles: Wasn’t that one of the reasons that the United Nations itself was setup to prevent something like what happened with the Nazi Germany?

Rozoff: You’re exactly correct. Wars of aggression or settling border and other disputes between nations by military means was to have been banned. That was also the intent of the League of Nations after Would War I and the Kellogg-Briand Treaty and a number of other efforts.

So, in spirit, if not in direct letter of the United Nations Charter, of course, NATO is antithetical, is contrary to the very spirit, as you’re indicating, of why the United Nations was set up, and to trust NATO’s own charter, if in fact they are or ever were supposedly a defensive military alliance set up to defend nations in Western, and to some extent Southern, Europe against the perceived threat from Eastern Europe at that time, then we have to recollect that both the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union itself formally dissolved themselves in 1991, 22 years ago.

So, even if people more credulous than myself, I suppose, who believe that NATO has anything to do with being a defensive alliance up until 1991, surely cannot make that representation, that argument currently.

I think what is significant about Colombia is that although the nation of El Salvador is an official Troop Contributing Nation for the war in Afghanistan, with a small contingent serving under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Colombia, should it be made an official partner of NATO, becomes one on the sixth continent in which NATO will have members and partners.

Obviously, from its inception in both North America and Europe and subsequent to that there have been, in the Mediterranean Dialog for example, there are five partner states in North Africa. Libya is soon to be the sixth.

The story just broke yesterday where at a defense ministers’ meeting at NATO headquarters, Chuck Hagel, the US Defense Secretary, and other NATO defense secretaries were talking about NATO offering to train, which is to say build, the armed forces and other security personnel in Libya. So, at least six countries in Africa have, or will shortly have, partnerships with NATO. Same thing in Asia.

And of course Australia is a major NATO ally. It is the second largest non-NATO contributor of troops for the war in Afghanistan, Georgia has now superseded it as being the first.

So, you have a US-led military alliance that now has, with the inclusion of Colombia, as full members and partners in every inhabited continent, in every continent but Antarctica. I actually wrote, a year or more ago, that Colombia, when it joins a broader NATO network around the world, will do so under the aegis of the newest NATO program called, aptly enough, Partners Across the Globe.

Robles: You’ve predicted all kinds of stuff in the past.

You mentioned Libya a minute ago, what’s the situation right now in Libya? Because the last I heard, it was sinking into a state of anarchy and they were talking about moving in troops, to stabilize the country that was destroyed by their previous invasion.

Rozoff: That’s it, exactly. You know, a six-month-long NATO bombing campaign and naval blockade had its desired effect.

You are talking about the military of 28 countries altogether in NATO, representing almost a sixth of the human race with a combined military budget of over a trillion dollars a year taking on a small, practically defenseless nation, Libya in 2011, and waging a six-month-long so-called Operation Unified Protector.

The reason the NATO is now talking about training the security personnel inside Libya, much as it’s done already in Iraq and in Afghanistan, is because the country is devolved into an almost European 30 Years War sort of scenario, with rival gangs fighting each other, plundering the resources of the country, throwing the country, as you indicate, into turmoil. And it’s been going on for a good two years.

Robles: I remember way back when, I mean, people used to talk about nation building and advanced planning for after these invasions and stuff. They don’t do that anymore, do they? They just go in, take out the leader and who cares what happens afterwards, right?

Rozoff: Yes, you know, after me the deluge (Après moi, le déluge) or after me the catastrophe, and that’s in fact, that’s a good description of it John. That’s what the Balkans look like, that’s what Iraq looks like, Afghanistan and now Libya, and you know should the West have its way, that’s what Syria would look like, in sort order. You’d have gangs like Al Nusra and others running rampant, running riot throughout the country, and throwing it into complete chaos and pandemonium. ..

You were listening to an interview in progress with Rick Rozoff the owner and manager of the stop NATO website and international mailing list. Thanks for listening and we wish you the best.\

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Patrick Leahy told me that he was adamant. As a US Senator, he was absolutely certain of at least one thing: the Congress of the United States “wasn’t going to be led around by some obscure subcommittee.”

Yet there it was, the Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism. And there it remained through most of the Reagan era, the launching pad for another witch hunt against dissent. Vermont’s junior Senator was in the minority. For too many of Leahy’s colleagues and much of Reagan’s administration the committee was a long lost friend.

For Jeremiah Denton it was a place to pursue his mission from God. The chairman of the subcommittee was determined to save the US from unwed sex, liberal education and the international terrorist conspiracy. At the first meeting of his new assignment he declared, “We must get our perspective back. We’ve lost it, and the dominoes are falling so thunderously that we can’t hear ourselves argue about whether the domino theory is correct or not.”

Denton made it from Alabama to Washington with a little help from his friends in the Moral Majority, and at the start of his first term became chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Security and Terrorism, otherwise known as the SST. Before that he’d been a Navy pilot in Vietnam, shot down while raiding a North Vietnamese camp. He spent seven years in a Vietnamese prison. During POW years he had become certain that God was speaking directly to him. Once he came home the Lord practically shouted at him to do battle with threats to American civilization.

Like Sodom and Gomorrah, Denton said, America was “sated” with decadence, and under attack from foreign powers, principally the Soviet Union. He became convinced that subversive thought, terrorism and “disinformation” would “bury our nation” unless someone stood up and stopped them. And he was the man for the job.

At the start, he was just another New Right zealot, a founder of the Coalition for Decency and ardent supporter of Nixon. But in 1980 Nixon and the Moral Majority teamed up to help finance Denton’s election to the US Senate. After that historic election, the Republicans assumed control of the Senate and Strom Thurmond took the Senate Judiciary Committee leadership from Edward Kennedy. The new Judiciary Chair quickly set up the SST and put Denton in charge.

Despite the protests of liberals like Leahy, Denton’s Committee took a conspiratorial view of world politics. The theory was this: the Soviet Union was behind all politically-motivated violence in the world, befitting its role as the Evil Empire. If the Soviet Union didn’t exist, the theory proceeded, all would be calm in Northern Ireland, Latin America, South Africa and the Middle East. If most Americans had trouble believing this, it was only because the USSR had succeeded in duping Americans through sophisticated manipulation of the news media.  Denton and friends thought the KGB was adept at conditioning journalists.

“There is no central war room,” protested former CIA Director Bill Colby the first day Denton’s committee met. Colby wanted them to know that no single government, not even the Evil Empire, was directing the orchestra. But before the spymaster could finish his thought, Denton commenced a monologue about the contribution of the American press to the American defeat in Vietnam.

The audience murmured, the press corps gasped and committee counsel Joel Lisker fidgeted as the chairman said, “It was extremely disheartening to prisoners of war to hear Radio Moscow come out with a new line, to hear that new line rebroadcast two days later by Radio Hanoi, and three days later a brand new line articulated in precisely the same phrases by some members of the press or even some members of Congress.”

He meandered finally to his key concern — disinformation. ”It is not subverting a journalist.  It is not the KGB getting to a journalist. It is the journalist responding to what he believes to be a noble purpose. There is something wrong, and he went after it. But I say we’ve got to be careful.”

McCarthy’s Ghosts

Senator Denton was certainly careful enough about security for his hearings: hours before each session dogs scoured the room for bombs as a security force installed metal detectors at the entrances. Plainclothes cops stood guard during the testimony. He was also careful to select witnesses who reinforced his world view.

And to make sure the epidemic nature of terrorism was fully understood, he had his committee use a new definition of the word, developed by the CIA. Henceforth, terrorism would mean “the threat or use of violence for political symbolic effect that is aimed at achieving a psychological impact on target groups wider than its immediate victims.”  Any insurrection anywhere could now be called terrorism.

Denton planned to use the committee to raise “public consciousness” about terrorism.  But Leahy was concerned mainly about the potential for “disinformation” emanating from the committee itself.  Despite poking some holes in the terror network scenario with questions to some witnesses, however, Leahy didn’t attend most of the committee’s hearings. In fact, most members didn’t attend sessions regularly, leaving the showcase to Denton.

Leahy and Delaware Democrat Joseph Biden were the liberal minority; the two other Republicans were Orrin Hatch and John East. Like Denton, Hatch of Utah was a New Rightist with ties to the Moral Majority. Even before the Denton committee was formed, Hatch had selected some of its targets, including Mother Jones, an investigative magazine; the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal Washington think tank; and the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), which found itself in conflict with US policy by opposing dictatorships.

East, selected from North Carolina with the help of Jesse Helms, shared Denton’s preoccupation with the Soviet threat. His 1980 campaign had centered on the dangers of Carter’s “liberal” international policies, the “giveaway” of the Panama Canal, and the threat of creeping communism. Upon election, East picked Sam Francis as a congressional aide.  Francis, a former policy analyst with the Heritage Foundation, Washington’s leading right-wing think tank, had authored the intelligence section of the Foundation’s 3,000-page report to President Reagan. The President relied on the report for many of his policy directions.

The Heritage report was an all-encompassing policy blueprint for the 1980s. It advised Reagan and Congress to take a hard line not only against foreign revolutionaries, but also against domestic political activists. It pointed to “the un-American nature of so much so-called dissidence.” In January 1981, when Reagan took up residence in the White House, the report was turned over to his chief counsel, Edwin Meese, who had already participated in Heritage Foundation meetings. Meese said he would “rely heavily” on the advice.

The report urged tighter surveillance of radical and New Left groups, anti-defense and anti-nuclear lobbies, and the alternative press. It also suggested reviving internal security committees in both houses of Congress. The SST was an early response. Key boosters of McCarthy-like committees included the American Security Council, which helped build the proper atmosphere by producing and distributing propaganda films for TV, and the National Committee to Restore Internal Security, a watchdog of “enemy-directed misinformation.”  Remnants of the old House Un-American Activities Committee were returning from the woodwork.

For right-wingers and the conspiracy-minded, the Denton Committee was a long-needed, respectable vehicle for spreading fear of Soviet-orchestrated terrorism. It would establish the basis for an unleashing of the intelligence agencies and the cutting back of public access to government documents. The Heritage report had explained that, “It is axiomatic that individual liberties are secondary to the requirement of national security and internal civil order.” This apparently meant there was a compelling need to investigate “clergymen, students, businessmen, entertainers, labor officials, journalists and government workers who may engage in subversive activities without being fully aware of the extent, purpose, or control of their activities.”

Disinformation theory was designed to allow a broad-brush approach. The committee counsel, Joel Lisker, a former FBI man, said that journalists wouldn’t have to be disloyal to become tools of terrorists. ”It may be expediency or laziness,” he explained.

Leahy in the Opposition

The GOP set up the SST right after taking power in January 1981. On August 28, I talked with Senator Leahy, still in his first term, about the emerging threats to civil liberties. I asked, for example, whether disinformation was warping public understanding of world affairs?

Not much, he replied, “but a lot of people who write for the national newspapers and media are not that competent. They sometimes get extraordinarily high salaries, I know, but some people who report on national TV on the Pentagon sound like employees of the Pentagon.

“It’s those kind of broad, sweeping generalities that, if they are made and reported uncritically and without any kind of cross examination, that could create a problem.”
Asking whether the threats were any greater than in the past, he called them a different” type. “Espionage goes on in the United States all the time,” he said. “The Soviets try to get whatever kind of information they can from us. But threats change depending on the circumstances – whether we’re at war or not.
“But the biggest threat is that, in trying to counter threats to our nation, we will repeal out own hard-fought-for rights – the First Amendment, the right to our own personal security, our civil liberties. If, in trying to combat threats to personal security, we really haven’t gained an awful lot, if we subjugate our own people to protect ourselves the Soviets have won.”
The Real Terror Network
Be that as it may, terrorism certainly can be money in the bank for some writers and politicians who capitalized on the public fascination with assassins, massacres, hijackings and the taking of hostages. It is a potentially lucrative assignment providing exposure and even some political clout.
    One American journalist, Claire Sterling, turned her research on terrorism into a combined deal with Holt, Rinehart and Winston and Readers’ Digest to write The Terror Network. Excerpts appeared in the May, 1981 edition of the Digest and subsequently in the Washington Post, New York Times Magazine and New Republic, just as she was called as a witness for the Denton committee.

Sterling charged that the CIA was naive about terrorism, and was even serving communism by deliberately covering up the extent of the terror network. Since 1968, she claimed, the Soviets had provided most terrorist groups with a “do-it-yourself kit for terrorist warfare” designed to destabilize the West. When Sterling made her case Leahy asked the only critical questions, honing in on her claim that “the fix is in” with Western intelligence agencies.

“Have the CIA and FBI been bought?” Leahy asked.

“Well, I don’t know about the FBI because I really was talking about the situation in Western European countries…”

Leahy pressed. “Who’s been fixed, and how? Have all these intelligence services been paid off, or is it political timidity?”

Sterling back-peddled, admitting she had no evidence of political payoffs.

“What is the fix then?” Leahy asked.

“The fix is political. It is a political attitude. It is an unwillingness to face certain political realities which are unpleasant…”

Leahy left the hearing that day pleased to have found some inconsistencies in Sterling’s case. The trouble was that he missed the main event the same afternoon. It came when another writer, Arnaud de Borchgrave, launched his own disinformation campaign. Along with another witness, Robert Moss, he had recently written a popular thriller called The Spike, a thinly disguised smear of the American left.

In the de Borchgrave-Moss novel, a successful young journalist discovers that his career has been manipulated by the KGB, which plans to lull the West into self-destruction by 1985. One character is a turncoat CIA agent based on Philip Agee; a KGB-controlled think tank is modeled on the Institute for Policy Studies. In the end a Soviet invasion of Saudi Arabia crumbles as the US finally begins to resist disinformation.

Moss and de Borchgrave had built careers on such speculation and conspiracy theories. When de Borchgrave, a former Newsweek editor, conducted an interview the questions were often rhetorical answers. A more experienced hand at dis-informing the public, Moss, had worked for the Rhodesian and South African regimes, the Portuguese right and the Chilean junta.  He’d helped to set up publications and front groups, sometimes joined by his co-author.

In March 1973, Moss wrote the first call for a coup in Chile. It came in the form of a cover story for a CIA-funded Chilean magazine, SEPA. He also founded the British National Association for Freedom (NAFF), which distributed sophisticated propaganda about the “Sovietization” of Britain in the mid-seventies. In that instance, he was instrumental in polarizing business-labor relations to the breaking point. And Moss edited Vision, a Latin American news magazine owned by former Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza, and later Policy Review, the house organ of the Heritage Foundation. Of course, Jeremiah Denton had to have Robert Moss as a witness for his committee.

Over the years, publications like Policy Review and Washington Quarterly, another right-wing house organ sponsored by the Georgetown Center for Strategic and International Studies and edited by Moss associate Michael Ledeen, had refined disinformation theory. Once before the Senate subcommittee, they reiterated the scenario that had been dramatically put forth in The Spike.

Denton needed little convincing; he already believed that the Soviets were working hard to keep Americans unconscious of the threat in their midst. But de Borchgrave provided a final ingredient — the names of US groups that he claimed were in cahoots with the enemy.

“There is a direct link-up,” he testified, “between the World Peace Council, a well known Soviet front organization, and anti-nuclear lobbies, both in the U.S. and in Western Europe.” De Borchgrave was ready to name names. “The World Peace Council’s US Branch, known as the US Peace Council, and the U.S.C.P. are affiliated with the MfS — Mobilization for Survival — which is a leading umbrella organization for anti-nuclear groups,” he charged.

Not only that; he also said the “UN infrastructure is under increasing KGB control.”

The Mobilization for Survival immediately denied the charge as a “total fabrication” and challenged de Borchgrave to present evidence that MfS was anything but a nonviolent, democratically-organized coalition. The writer didn’t respond, and why should he have? After all, his appearance had already helped to launch the paperback sale of his new book, and his charges had been carried by national media.

Who needed evidence?  His testimony supported the scenario he and his associates had spent years developing. His claims even eclipsed testimony by former CIA chief Colby that an Agency investigation had shown the anti-war movement to be indigenous.

In an editorial column for the New York Times, de Borchgrave took another step with the claim that, “A relatively high percentage of secret agents are journalists. A journalist operating in Britain, West Germany or in the U.S. is a great asset to Communist intelligence.”

In the same article he accused the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post of being duped by Soviet disinformation when they reported on the errors that riddled a Reagan administration “white paper” on El Salvador. The Journal had merely published an article showing that the US over-estimated Soviet support of Salvadoran guerrillas. Such accusations by de Borchgrave and others nevertheless meshed well with Denton’s conviction that the Soviet’s were effectively deceiving “a story-hungry and sometimes gullible press.”

In a Cold War atmosphere, allegations of disinformation could someday become a basis for government intrusions into newspapers themselves.

Casualties of the Security State

The KGB never held a patent on disinformation. US spooks have often used the same techniques on enemies overseas and in America. And some of the targets have been US citizens whose only offense was opposition to government policies.

Beginning in the early 1960s, the FBI conducted a multi-pronged counterintelligence offensive against targets like Martin Luther King, Jr. and his supporters, the Socialist Workers Party, White Hate Groups, the Black Panthers, people who wanted to abolish HUAC, and the New Left. The Bureau’s enemies were bugged, infiltrated, sabotaged and disrupted whenever possible. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover personally approved hundreds of such COINTELPRO operations, on grounds that Communists were behind every act of dissent.

In the 1970s, victims of COINTELPRO obtained voluminous files on these activities through the Freedom of Information Act, leading to multi-million dollar lawsuits against the government and its agents. But much of the damage couldn’t be undone. For example, no lawsuit could compensate for the impact on film star Jean Seberg. Her support for the Black Panthers provided a justification for the FBI to spread false stories about her sex life.  Distressed by the smears, she had a mental breakdown and ultimately killed herself.

Documents from the FBI confirmed that disinformation was a standard practice used against the Panthers. Internal memos candidly revealed that the FBI tried to “negate favorable publicity,” hoping to “isolate the organization from the majority of Americans, both black and white.” The campaign included phony letters, spurious newsletters, harassing supporters with the aid of journalists “friendly” to the Bureau, and distributing scandalous cartoons about Panther leaders in the black community. This was praised by FBI higher-ups as a low-cost campaign that produced tangible results. The bureau didn’t bother to claim that the Panthers were Soviet-backed.

Revelations about intelligence abuses led in the 1970s to more restrictive standards and, for a while, limited intrusive tactics. But by the early 1980s, another terrorist scenario reversed that trend. Reagan’s CIA chief, William Casey, drafted an executive order on intelligence, freeing the attorney general to conduct an intrusive investigation of anyone who “may be acting on behalf of a foreign power.” As far as the disinformation experts were concerned, this included all of the American left. Searches and break-ins would no longer require warrants; the CIA would once again be able to bug US citizens at home; phone taps were back in fashion. And to cut down on objections, the attorney general urged federal agencies to withhold more information about what they were doing.

The new policies were an official endorsement of secrecy. They illustrated the same desire to keep dirty work out of sight as did the passage of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.  With this law, Congress made it a crime to disclose information exposing an agent even if the information was derived from public sources.

When the so-called “names of agents” bill was in the Denton Committee, the Chairman seized the opportunity to criticize the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposed the idea. In Denton’s view, ACLU’s efforts to control the intelligence community disqualified the group. ”In more liberal times,” he said of such civil liberties lobbies, “they would be called Communist.”

Only information that discredited critics of US policy or supported the terrorist scenario registered with Denton. Over the next few years his Committee became a showcase for bizarre revisions of reality… the Soviet Bloc became responsible for the attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II, neo-Nazi violence was said to be fomented by East Germans, the PLO was charged with a right-wing attack on an Oktoberfest celebration in Munich. No specific evidence was offered to support these claims, but Denton didn’t need evidence. All political violence, unless it was perpetuated by an ally, qualified as terrorism, and all terrorism was Soviet-inspired action against the US.

The theory was adopted as a rationale for covert US acts of war in Central America and equally covert harassment at home of people who didn’t care for the Reagan Revolution. To the administration and Jeremiah Denton, anyone opposing the government was more than likely either a potential terrorist or a Soviet dupe. Either way, they required surveillance and maybe much more.

Cuba’s Neighbours Under Consideration: United States, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador

In this groundbreaking book, Arnold August explores Cuba’s unique form of democracy, presenting a detailed and balanced analysis of Cuba’s electoral process and the state’s functioning between elections. By comparing it with practices in the U.S., Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, August shows that people’s participation in politics and society is not limited to a singular U.S.-centric understanding of democracy. For example, democracy as practised in the U.S. is largely non-participatory, static and fixed in time.

Cuba, by contrast, is a laboratory where the process of democratization is continually in motion, an ongoing experiment to create new ways for people to participate. August argues forcefully for the need to develop mutual understanding of different political systems and, in doing so, to not be satisfied with either blanket condemnation or idealistic political illusions, both resulting from a refusal to analyze the actual inner workings of each process.

More information at  http://www.democracycuba.com/index.html

It shouldn’t surprise. It’s longstanding policy. Post-9/11, it escalated. Previous articles said Big Brother is real. It’s no longer fiction.

Mass surveillance is official US policy. It’s not for national security. It’s not about discovering terror or other threats. None whatever exist. Claiming otherwise doesn’t wash. Big Lies substitute for vital truths.

What’s ongoing reflects unchecked power. It’s for unchallenged global dominance. It’s secret with no oversight for good reason. It’s unconstitutional. Societies governed this way are lawless. People living in them aren’t free.

America never was a democracy. It wasn’t created to be one. It’s not one now. Freedom is verboten. It’s vanishing in plain sight. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter. Police state terror targets non-believers.

Money power runs America. Powerful interests alone matter. What they say goes. What they want they get. Obama’s their nominal front man. Complicit congressional and judicial officials are involved. So are media scoundrels.

They serve wealth, power and privilege. They spurn populist interests. They pretend otherwise. Policies belie official rhetoric. A previous article said impeaching Obama is vital. It’s a national imperative. What’s ongoing now may be prelude for much worse to come.

Police states operate this way. They tolerate no opposition. People wanting to live free and saying so are considered enemies. Challenging government of, by and for privileged elites is criminalized. Expect much worse ahead.

Mass surveillance is all-embracing. There’s no place to hide. Everyone is watched. Non-believers are targeted. Privacy no longer exists.

Orwell envisioned the future. “Big Brother is watching,” he said. “There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment.”

“How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to.”

The worst of what Orwell foresaw is real. It’s worse than he imagined. State-of-the-art technology is frightening. It’s used repressively. It’s a dagger at the heart of freedom. It’s being destroyed in plain sight.

NSA is nicknamed No Such Agency. It’s the crown jewel of mass surveillance. It’s Big Brother writ large. It’s too great a menace to ignore.

What’s now public knowledge may be the tip of the iceberg. Much more needs to be known. Free societies require sunshine. It’s the best disinfectant. It’s the only one.

Hopefully more insiders will tell all. Preserving what too vital to lose depends on them. Freedom’s too precious to lose. It’s practically gone now. Reclaiming what’s lost depends on mass opposition against ruthless state terror.

Governments subverting popular interests lack legitimacy. America’s Declaration of Independence said so. Governments “deriv(e) their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Whenever government ill-serves, “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government….”

When longstanding “abuses and usurpations” become despotic, “it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government (and replace it) for their future security.”

Colonial America rejected British tyranny. Challenging what replaced it is vital. It’s same old under new management. It’s old wine in new bottles. It’s draconian. It’s technologically threatening. It’s too intolerable to permit.

Collective activism has power. What better time to use it than now. America’s waging political, social, financial, and hot wars.

It’s doing so globally. It’s happening at home and abroad. Constitutional protections are vanishing. America’s social contract is being destroyed.

Militarization, permanent wars, and unchallenged global dominance reflect policy. So does police state harshness. Dissent is endangered. Privilege is entrenched. Fundamental freedoms are disappearing in plain sight.

Electoral politics doesn’t work. Money power runs America. Vital change more than ever is needed. Authority must be challenged disruptively.

Resisting tyranny is a universal right. Jefferson said doing so “is obedience to God.” Women’s rights advocate Susan B. Anthony said the same thing.

In his second Treatise of Government, John Locke addressed the “Right of Revolution,” saying:

“….acting for the preservation of the Community, there can be but one Supream (sic) Power, which is the Legislature, to which all the rest are and must be subordinate, yet the Legislature being only a Fiduciary Power to act for certain ends, there remains still in the People a Supream Power to remove or alter the Legislature, when they find the Legislative act contrary to the trust reposed in them.”

“When government fails the people, its “trust must necessarily be forfeited, and the Power devolve into the hands of those that gave it, who may place it anew where they shall think best for their safety and security.”

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote:

“If the law purports to require actions that no-one should ever do, it cannot rightly be complied with; one’s moral obligation is not to obey but to disobey.”

“If the lawmakers (i) are motivated not by concern for the community’s common good but by greed or vanity (private motivations that make them tyrants, whatever the content of their legislation), or (ii) act outside the authority granted to them, or (iii) while acting with a view to the common good apportion the necessary burdens unfairly, their laws are unjust and in the forum of reasonable conscience are not so much laws as acts of violence.”

“Such laws lack moral authority, i.e. do not bind in conscience; one is neither morally obligated to conform nor morally obligated not to conform.”

“All who govern in the interests of themselves rather than of the common good are tyrants.”

“Against the regime’s efforts to enforce its decrees, one has the right of forcible resistance; as a private right this could extend as far as killing the tyrant as a foreseen side-effect of one’s legitimate self-defence.”

Martin Luther King said:

“I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.”

“I am convinced that noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.” King championed “creative protest.” Passivity is no option in the face of injustice.”

Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” remains a landmark essay.

“Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree resign his conscience to the legislator,” he asked?

“The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.”

“All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable.”

“Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once?”

The state “is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion….They can only force me who obey a higher law than I.”

Gandhi said throughout history, “there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson believed unjust laws must be resisted. His “Representative Men” essays expressed strong abolitionist sentiment.

“I think we must get rid of slavery or we must get rid of freedom….If you put a chain around the neck of a slave, the other end fastens itself around your own,” he said.

Slavery today exists in new forms. Abolishing freedom best explains it. Tolerating what demands challenging assures much worse ahead. It’s happening in plain sight.

Mass surveillance permits it. London’s Guardian revealed more. On June 8, it headlined “Boundless Informant: the NSA’s secret tool to track global surveillance data.”

The Guardian obtained another leaked document. Hopefully many more will come out.

Boundless Informant (BI) is a data-mining tool. It’s used to record and analyze “where its intelligence comes from.” It’s capability “raise(s) questions about its repeated assurances to Congress that it cannot keep track of all the surveillance it performs on American communication.”

BI “count(s) and categoriz(es) the records of communications, known as metadata, rather than the content of an email or instant message.”

BI documents show NSA collected almost three billion pieces of intelligence “over a 30-day period ending in March 2013.”

An NSA fact sheet says BI “allows users to select a country on a map and view the metadata volume and select details about the collections against that country.”

It’s used internally and abroad. It’s a global spy tool. It’s watching everywhere all the time. It can if it wants to. In March, DNI head James Clapper testified before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Senator Ron Wyden asked: “Does NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of American?”

“No sir,” said Clapper. He lied saying so. Virtually everyone in America is monitored all the time. NSA is Big Brother writ large. Guardian obtained documents prove it.

NSA capabilities keep improving. What’s ongoing now will be technologically advanced ahead. It’s used for unchallenged control. Perhaps Orwell explained best.

Power is sought “for its own sake,” he said. Ruthless rulers aren’t “interested in the good of others.” They’re “interested solely in power, pure power.”

“Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”

“The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now you begin to understand me.”

Orwell also said “(u)ntil they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious.”

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

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.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/mass-surveillance-in-america/

In Washington, where the state of war and the surveillance state are one and the same, top officials have begun to call for Edward Snowden’s head. His moral action of whistleblowing — a clarion call for democracy — now awaits our responses.

After nearly 12 years of the “war on terror,” the revelations of recent days are a tremendous challenge to the established order: nonstop warfare, intensifying secrecy and dominant power that equate safe governance with Orwellian surveillance.

In the highest places, there is more than a wisp of panic in rarefied air. It’s not just the National Security Agency that stands exposed; it’s the repressive arrogance perched on the pyramid of power.

Back here on the ground, so many people — appalled by Uncle Sam’s continual morph into Big Brother — have been pushing against the walls of anti-democratic secrecy. Those walls rarely budge, and at times they seem to be closing in, even literally for some (as in the case of heroic whistleblower Bradley Manning). But all the collective pushing has cumulative effects.

In recent days, as news exploded about NSA surveillance, a breakthrough came into sight. Current history may not be an immovable wall; it may be on a hinge. And if we push hard enough, together, there’s no telling what might be possible or achieved.

The gratitude that so many of us now feel toward Edward Snowden raises the question: How can we truly express our appreciation?

A first step is to thank him — publicly and emphatically. You can do that by clicking here to sign the “Thank NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden” petition, which my colleagues at RootsAction.org will send directly to him, including the individual comments.

But of course saying thank-you is just one small step onto a crucial path. As Snowden faces extradition and vengeful prosecution from the U.S. government, active support will be vital — in the weeks, months and years ahead.

Signing the thank-you petition, I ventured some optimism: “What you’ve done will inspire kindred spirits around the world to take moral action despite the risks.” Bravery for principle can be very contagious.

Edward Snowden has taken nonviolent action to help counter the U.S. government’s one-two punch of extreme secrecy and massive violence. The process has summoned the kind of doublespeak that usually accompanies what cannot stand the light of day.

So, when Snowden’s employer Booz Allen put out a statement Sunday night, it was riddled with official indignation, declaring: “News reports that this individual has claimed to have leaked classified information are shocking, and if accurate, this action represents a grave violation of the code of conduct and core values of our firm.”

 What are the “code of conduct” and “core values” of this huge NSA contractor? The conduct of stealthy assistance to the U.S. national security state as it methodically violates civil liberties, and the values of doing just about anything to amass vast corporate profits.

The corporate-government warfare state is enraged that Edward Snowden has broken through with conduct and values that are 180 degrees in a different direction. “I’m not going to hide,” he told the Washington Post on Sunday. “Allowing the U.S. government to intimidate its people with threats of retaliation for revealing wrongdoing is contrary to the public interest.”

When a Post reporter asked whether his revelations would change anything, Snowden replied: “I think they already have. Everyone everywhere now understands how bad things have gotten — and they’re talking about it. They have the power to decide for themselves whether they are willing to sacrifice their privacy to the surveillance state.”

And, when the Post asked about threats to “national security,” Snowden offered an assessment light-years ahead of mainline media’s conventional wisdom: “We managed to survive greater threats in our history . . . than a few disorganized terrorist groups and rogue states without resorting to these sorts of programs. It is not that I do not value intelligence, but that I oppose . . . omniscient, automatic, mass surveillance. . . .  That seems to me a greater threat to the institutions of free society than missed intelligence reports, and unworthy of the costs.”

 Profoundly, in the early summer of 2013, with his actions and words, Edward Snowden has given aid and comfort to grassroots efforts for democracy. What we do with his brave gift will be our choice.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden Reveals Himself

June 10th, 2013 by Tyler Durden

I realised that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good… The NSA routinely lies in response to Congressional inquiries about scope of surveillance in America. The NSA is intent on making every conversation and every form of behaviour in the world known to them…. What they’re doing poses an existential threat to democracy.” - Edward Snowden, 29, PRISM Whistleblower

The US government will be happy to learn it will save several million dollars on the criminal inquiry into the identity of the NSA’s PRISM whistleblower because moments ago in a lengthy profile by the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, said whistleblower has decided to reveal himself to the world: he is Edward Snowden, 29 years old. Originally from Elizabeth City, NC, a Maryland community college dropout and former Special Forces trainee, the 10 year “veteran” with the NSA, most recently in its Hawaii office under the employ of defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, has just made history and joined the pantheon of such legendary whistleblowers of the US government’ secret activities as the Pentagon Papers’ Daniel Ellsberg and Wikileaks’ Bradley Manning. Last but not least, Edward is currently residing in Hong Kong, out of harm’s (read America’s) way.

Who is Edward and how did he end up at the NSA? The Guardian has the full story.

By his own admission, he was not a stellar student. In order to get the credits necessary to obtain a high school diploma, he attended a community college in Maryland, studying computing, but never completed the coursework.

In 2003, he enlisted in the US army and began a training program to join the Special Forces. Invoking the same principles that he now cites to justify his leaks, he said: “I wanted to fight in the Iraq war because I felt like I had an obligation as a human being to help free people from oppression”.

He recounted how his beliefs about the war’s purpose were quickly dispelled. “Most of the people training us seemed pumped up about killing Arabs, not helping anyone,” he said. After he broke both his legs in a training accident, he was discharged.

After that, he got his first job in an NSA facility, working as a security guard for one of the agency’s covert facilities at the University of Maryland. From there, he went to the CIA, where he worked on IT security. His understanding of the internet and his talent for computer programming enabled him to rise fairly quickly for someone who lacked even a high school diploma.

By 2007, the CIA stationed him with diplomatic cover in Geneva, Switzerland. His responsibility for maintaining computer network security meant he had clearance to access a wide array of classified documents.

That access, along with the almost three years he spent around CIA officers, led him to begin seriously questioning the rightness of what he saw. 

He described as formative an incident in which he claimed CIA operatives were attempting to recruit a Swiss banker to obtain secret banking information. Snowden said they achieved this by purposely getting the banker drunk and encouraging him to drive home in his car. When the banker was arrested for drunk driving, the undercover agent seeking to befriend him offered to help, and a bond was formed that led to successful recruitment.

“Much of what I saw in Geneva really disillusioned me about how my government functions and what its impact is in the world,” he says. “I realised that I was part of something that was doing far more harm than good.”

He left the CIA in 2009 in order to take his first job working for a private contractor that assigned him to a functioning NSA facility, stationed on a military base in Japan. It was then, he said, that he “watched as Obama advanced the very policies that I thought would be reined in”, and as a result, “I got hardened.”

Why did he wait so long?

He said it was during his CIA stint in Geneva that he thought for the first time about exposing government secrets. But, at the time, he chose not to for two reasons.

First, he said: “Most of the secrets the CIA has are about people, not machines and systems, so I didn’t feel comfortable with disclosures that I thought could endanger anyone”. Secondly, the election of Barack Obama in 2008 gave him hope that there would be real reforms, rendering disclosures unnecessary.

 

That did not happen. So he proceed to reveal what he knows about the NSA to a newspaper which the NYT pejoratively referred to as a “British News Site.” Well, he certainly did not go with any of the news sites on favorable terms with the current administration. Instead, “He purposely chose, he said, to give the documents to journalists whose judgment he trusted about what should be public and what should remain concealed.”

Which of course brings up the question: now what, and why risk what was otherwise a “comfortable life” in a Hawaiian paradise?

In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”

Despite his determination to be publicly unveiled, he repeatedly insisted that he wants to avoid the media spotlight. “I don’t want public attention because I don’t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing.”

He does not fear the consequences of going public, he said, only that doing so will distract attention from the issues raised by his disclosures. “I know the media likes to personalise political debates, and I know the government will demonise me.”

Despite these fears, he remained hopeful his outing will not divert attention from the substance of his disclosures. “I really want the focus to be on these documents and the debate which I hope this will trigger among citizens around the globe about what kind of world we want to live in.” He added: “My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.”

He has had “a very comfortable life” that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves. “I’m willing to sacrifice all of that because I can’t in good conscience allow the US government to destroy privacy, internet freedom and basic liberties for people around the world with this massive surveillance machine they’re secretly building.”

That said, he has left the US and is now in Hong Kong, which in the New Normal is a safer venue for those exposing what until recently was considered a massive conspiracy theory.

Three weeks ago, Snowden made final preparations that resulted in last week’s series of blockbuster news stories. At the NSA office in Hawaii where he was working, he copied the last set of documents he intended to disclose.

He then advised his NSA supervisor that he needed to be away from work for “a couple of weeks” in order to receive treatment for epilepsy, a condition he learned he suffers from after a series of seizures last year.

As he packed his bags, he told his girlfriend that he had to be away for a few weeks, though he said he was vague about the reason. “That is not an uncommon occurrence for someone who has spent the last decade working in the intelligence world.”

On May 20, he boarded a flight to Hong Kong, where he has remained ever since. He chose the city because “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”, and because he believed that it was one of the few places in the world that both could and would resist the dictates of the US government.

Snowden’s future is bleak to say the least, and if Bradly Manning’s recent travails are any indication, a life in prison may be an upside option:

“All my options are bad,” he said. The US could begin extradition proceedings against him, a potentially problematic, lengthy and unpredictable course for Washington. Or the Chinese government might whisk him away for questioning, viewing him as a useful source of information. Or he might end up being grabbed and bundled into a plane bound for US territory.

“Yes, I could be rendered by the CIA. I could have people come after me. Or any of the third-party partners. They work closely with a number of other nations. Or they could pay off the Triads. Any of their agents or assets,” he said.

“We have got a CIA station just up the road – the consulate here in Hong Kong – and I am sure they are going to be busy for the next week. And that is a concern I will live with for the rest of my life, however long that happens to be.”

Having watched the Obama administration prosecute whistleblowers at a historically unprecedented rate, he fully expects the US government to attempt to use all its weight to punish him. “I am not afraid,” he said calmly, “because this is the choice I’ve made.”

He predicts the government will launch an investigation and “say I have broken the Espionage Act and helped our enemies, but that can be used against anyone who points out how massive and invasive the system has become”.

The only time he became emotional during the many hours of interviews was when he pondered the impact his choices would have on his family, many of whom work for the US government. “The only thing I fear is the harmful effects on my family, who I won’t be able to help any more. That’s what keeps me up at night,” he said, his eyes welling up with tears.

As for his future, he is vague. He hoped the publicity the leaks have generated will offer him some protection, making it “harder for them to get dirty”.

He views his best hope as the possibility of asylum, with Iceland – with its reputation of a champion of internet freedom – at the top of his list. He knows that may prove a wish unfulfilled.

But after the intense political controversy he has already created with just the first week’s haul of stories, “I feel satisfied that this was all worth it. I have no regrets.”

Now the great debate begins: is sacrificing it all in the name of ethical principles under a totalitarian regime now fully set on destroying you, worth it? And since we are dealing with one grand revealed conspiracy, another one will naturally emerge: is Snowden’s explanation of his motives honest and accurate? Why now and why him? Surely at least one other person has worked at the NSA in the past decade whose thought process has been identical and who put the value of democracy over and above that of one’s personal career development and safety.

Most importantly, the ball is now in Obama’s court, and the constitutional scholar’s every action will be studied under a microscope by civil liberty defenders (both real and paid for) everywhere while one Jon Corzine withdrawls millions of dollars from East Hampton ATM machines unhindered, and without any scruples.

Finally, we would like to thank Snowden for putting a nail into the coffin of all those who use the term “conspiracy theorist” pejoratively. Because whatever his motives, whatever the outcome of this dramatic escalation between the people’s right to know and a government intent on hijacking all civil liberties one by one, Snowden has showed that the distance from Conspiracy Theory to Conspiracy Fact is just one ethical judgment away.

For those curious, here is the full text of the US-Hong Kong Extradition treaty.

* * *

Snowden’s interview with the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald (produced by WaPo’s Laura Poitras) can be seen after the jump.

Edward Snowden: former CIA man behind the NSA intelligence leak

The 29-year-old source behind the biggest intelligence leak in the NSA’s history explains his motives, his uncertain future and why he never intended on hiding in the shadows

 by Glenn Greenwald, Ewen Macaskill and Laura Poitras

in Hong Kong, Monday, Guardian, 10 June 2013

The individual responsible for one of the most significant leaks in US political history is Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former technical assistant for the CIA and current employee of the defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. Snowden has been working at the National Security Agency for the last four years as an employee of various outside contractors, including Booz Allen and Dell.

The Guardian, after several days of interviews, is revealing his identity at his request. From the moment he decided to disclose numerous top-secret documents to the public, he was determined not to opt for the protection of anonymity. “I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning. He is responsible for handing over material from one of the world’s most secretive organisations – the NSA.

In a note accompanying the first set of documents he provided, he wrote: “I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant.”

(…)

To read complete article: click  guardian.co.uk

See also

interview (video 12:36 min) with Edward SNOWDEN;

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden: ‘I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things’ – video

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2013/jun/09/nsa-whistleblower-edward-snowden-interview-video

Copyright. The Guardian, 2013

The title of this piece comes from a statement by the NSA director on spying right before the recent stories on mass surveillance broke.

The hero of the day, 29 year-old Edward Snowden, an NSA contractor, revealed himself in an interview with The Guardian: “after several days of interviews [we are]…revealing his identity at his request…“I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

Snowden will go down in history as one of America’s most consequential whistleblowers, alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning.” In an interview done by Glenn Greenwald, in Hong Kong, Snowden spoke of this and more, along with warning people of the current problems with the massive surveillance state.

The current American empire, with state capitalism, is not simply a police state, a surveillance state but is rather a national security state with mass surveillance and police repression. Maybe this is why Ralph Nader recently said America fascism, using FDR’s definition he said in April 1938:

“The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”

More frighteningly, we have approached the world George Orwell wrote about in 1984or mass surveillance as envisioned in the movie, The Truman Show. Recently numerous scandals have opened up the surveillance state of America and put it up for show. This is something whistleblowers have been warning us about for years! Still, some defend it, like a comment on a New York Times that says they are supposedly for civil liberties, but asks “why do people care so much if the government knows whom they call, how long they speak, and from where” and they don’t care “if the government has my phone records.” This article tries to answer theseconcerns. Maybe they’d think differently if they guessed that the DOJ was wiretapping the cloakroom of the House of Representatives, that the NSA tried to wiretap an unknown member of Congress or like Julian Assange they said that “Facebook is a spying machine” that does free work for the intelligence community. All of these concerns have been amplified recently.

In the past week there have a number of recent revelations about the current surveillance state in the United States which were in part confirmed by the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper. Even the New York Times recently said that that such revelations show that the Obama administration has “lost all credibility” while even right-wing publications like Human Events and Commentary, a neo-conmagazine had their share of criticism. First was the revelation of the secret order compelling Verizon to hand over their phone records. Blogitivist Glenn Greenwald wrote in The Guardian that

“The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America’s largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April…Under the terms of the blanket order, the numbers of both parties on a call are handed over, as is location data, call duration, unique identifiers, and the time and duration of all calls. The contents of the conversation itself are not covered…The court order expressly bars Verizon from disclosing to the public either the existence of the FBI’s request for its customers’ records, or the court order itself…While the order itself does not include either the contents of messages or the personal information of the subscriber of any particular cell number, its collection would allow the NSA to build easily a comprehensive picture of who any individual contacted, how and when, and possibly from where, retrospectively…It is not known whether Verizon is the only cell-phone provider to be targeted with such an order, although previous reporting has suggested the NSA has collected cell records from all major mobile networks.”

An expert told the Washington Post that this was a routine renewal of surveillance by the FISA court which many are now calling a “rubber stamp” and a Senator also confirmed this renewal as well according to Russia Today. Al Gore in his rare criticism called this “obscenely outrageous.” Patrick Duruseau wrote in a guest post for Naked Capitalism that this program could be a kickback for Verizon campaign contributions to the Obama machine. Before this was revealed, an article was published in The Vergenoting that the “sweeping surveillance campaign against [AP]… reporters over the course of two months” done by the DOJ had included the collection of “numbers, call durations, location data, and other telecommunications byproducts — not the content of the communications themselves” just like the secret order compelling Verizon to hand over the data which in their view is in part thanks to a “weak privacy law that keeps allowing the US government to capture data en masse without any warrants or legal repercussions: the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986.”

High profile senators like Dianne Feinstein and Lindsey Graham who declared “the world is a battlefield” defended the program among others. Then, there was an another revelation. The NSA had set up a program called PRISM to collect data from tech giants, as the slides posted on the Washington Post show, and an article about how Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo, Skype, YouTube, and Apple are all participating in top secret spying program. Once again this was posted on The Guardian by Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill which noted that while the internet giants denied it, the NSA had

“obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants…[which is] part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats…[supposedly] run with the assistance of the companies…[and] was enabled by changes to US surveillance law…renewed under Obama in December 2012…The program facilitates extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information. The law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, or those Americans whose communications include people outside the US.”

The story continues noting that companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple participated in this program which allows the gathering of data including “email, video and voice chat, videos, photos, voice-over-IP (Skype, for example) chats, file transfers, social networking details, and more, all of which was allowed thanks to the FISA Amendments Act and there has been over 24,000 requests in 2012. Its even possible that the secure Dropbox will be next on the list. At the same time, the Obama administration says this is justified by trying to fight terrorism, the Washington Post said this program is part of “blanket surveillance” for up to a year at a time, it seems highly likely that Microsoft acquired Skype to bring it into PRISM (maybe even acquiring Xbox for the same reason), the DNI issued a report of “facts” denying what The Guardian wrote, making it seem like it is only aimed at foreign targets and a person wrote in The Atlantic that they were not sure why the program was classified to begin with.

One June 8th, another article came out by Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill noting another top-secret document had been revealed. They wrote that

“the National Security Agency has developed a powerful tool for recording and analysing where its intelligence comes from…called Boundless Informant, that details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks. The focus of the internal NSA tool is on counting and categorizing the records of communications, known as metadata, rather than the content of an email or instant message. The Boundless Informant documents show the agency collecting almost 3 billion pieces of intelligence from US computer networks over a 30-day period ending in March 2013…[a] heat map reveals how much data is being collected from around the world…Iran was the country where the largest amount of intelligence was gathered…followed by…Pakistan. Jordan…Egypt…and India…The heatmap gives each nation a color code based on how extensively it is subjected to NSA surveillance…Other documents seen by the Guardian further demonstrate that the NSA does in fact break down its surveillance intercepts which could allow the agency to determine how many of them are from the US. The level of detail includes individual IP addresses. IP address is not a perfect proxy for someone’s physical location but it is rather close…The documents show that the team responsible for Boundless Informant assured its bosses that the tool is on track for upgrades.”

One wonders if this is any surprise considering previous revelations. As it turns out, no one should be outraged. Definitely they should be outraged but as Greenwald and a number of other writers noted on June 6th, the NSA was in secret for two decades after its establishment and they also said:

“When Harry Truman set up the NSA, it was exclusively aimed at monitoring communications abroad. The question that had exercised politicians and civil rights organisations since the Senate unveiled it in 1975 is to what extent its ferocious appetite for data has encompassed American citizens. General Lou Allen, the first NSA chief to appear in public, told Congress in the mid-1970s that the agency maintained lists of hundreds of names, including US citizens under surveillance for anti-war dissent or suspicious foreign connections…Domestic snooping exploded in scale after 9/11, when George W Bush authorised the agency to eavesdrop on Americans without the previous requirement for warrants…With every passing administration, the NSA has ballooned…While the NSA is by far the biggest surveillance agency in the world, it shares some of its work with four other allies: Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Collectively, they are known as the “five eyes”. Of the five, the biggest after the NSA is Britain’s General Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)…It was a Democratic senator and lawyer, Frank Church, who in 1975 first raised the alarm at the agency’s sprawling tentacles…The Church Senate hearings led to the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa), which required a warrant to conduct surveillance of communications within the US…In the years since 9/11, as the role of the NSA has snowballed, so has the debate over its operations. In 2005, the New York Times reported that the Bush administration had secretly authorised the NSA to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the US, to search for terrorist activity without the Fisa court warrants…The massive surveillance programme has continued under the Obama administration, at home as well as abroad. And the culture of intense secrecy persists.”

Maybe this is why intelligence officials talked about the leaker of the information to The Guardian and The Washington Post, saying they “disappeared” and some are saying this person will be treated harsher than Bradley Manning! The scary thing is with such wide NSA surveillance, as David Seaman noted it “allows for govt to blackmail, shame, or discredit any activist or journalist who threatens status quo.”

Think this the only secret dealings of our government? You’d be deeply mistaken. For one, we do know that the NSA does collect information on millions of Americans despite what James Clapper said. William Blum devoted a whole chapter to his book about American Empire, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, to eavesdropping. He wrote that

“like a vacuum cleaner in the sky, the National Security Agency (NSA) sucks it all up: fax, home phone, cellular phone, email…voice, text, images…Perhaps billions of messages sucked up each day…Under a system codenamed ECHELON…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…the ECHELON system works by indiscriminately intercepting very large quantities of communications…[and] is carried out without official acknowledgment of its existence…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 yeas in a campaign to require American telecommunications manufacturers and carriers to design their equipment and networks to optimize the authorities’ wiretapping ability…And the FBI is now enjoying its newest Big Brother toy: “roving wiretaps”,which allows the tapping of any phone physically near the targeted subject…the worst possible scenario [includes]…the possibility of blackmail or forcing a person to engage in espionage or treason…[and the] NSA had…install[ed] secret programs in Microsoft software [while]…the Pentagon…was Microsoft’s biggest client in the world.”

Keep in mind this was written in 2000, before the Patriot Act and the infamous Room 641A which takes in all communications from AT&T. As historycommons.org notes, the NSA repeatedly from 1999 to 2007 kept trying to access the data of private companies with only Qwest refusing access. That act still includes (the provisions that weren’t struck down or reauthorized): roving wiretaps, the issuing of National Security Letters which allows the US to get data on certain individuals, searches of business records and surveillance of “lone wolves” or those not part of terrorist groups. One must jump back to the revelations about the Intelligence Community which lead to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The Church Committee revealed a number of things and foretold about the surveillance state. In Part I of Book II of their final report, titled INTELLIGENCE Activities and the Rights of Americans notes thatnotes that

“our investigation has established that the targets of intelligence activity have ranged far beyond persons who could properly be characterized as enemies of freedom and have extended to a wide array of citizens engaging in lawful activity…intelligence activity in the past decades has, all too often, exceeded the restraints on the exercise of governmental power which are imposed by our country’s Constitution, laws, and traditions…Excesses in the name of protecting security are not a recent development in our nation’s history. In 1798, for example, shortly after the Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution, the Allen and Sedition Acts were passed. These Acts, passed in response to fear of proFrench “subversion”, made it a crime to criticize the Government. During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus. Hundreds of American citizens were prosecuted for anti-war statements during World War I, and thousands of “radical” aliens were seized for deportation during the 1920 Palmer Raids. During the Second World War, over the opposition of J. Edgar Hoover and military intelligence…120,000 Japanese-Americans were apprehended and incarcerated in detention camps…We have examined the collection of intelligence about the political advocacy and actions and the private lives of American citizens. That information has been used covertly to discredit the ideas advocated and to “neutralize” the actions of their proponents…When a police system passes beyond these limits, it is dangerous to the proper administration of justice and to human liberty, which it should be our first concern to cherish…We have seen segments of our Government, in their attitudes and action, adopt tactics unworthy of a democracy, and occasionally reminiscent of the tactics of totalitarian regimes…United States intelligence agencies have investigated a vast number of American citizens and domestic organizations…Too many people have been spied upon by too many Government agencies and to much information has been collected. The Government has often undertaken the secret surveillance of citizens on the basis of their political beliefs, even when those beliefs posed no threat of violence or illegal acts on behalf of a hostile foreign power. The Government, operating primarily through secret informants, but also using other intrusive techniques such as wiretaps, microphone “bugs” surreptitious mail opening, and break-ins, has swept in vast amounts of information about the personal lives, views, and associations of American citizens…For approximately 20 years the CIA carried out a program of indiscriminately opening citizens’ first class mail…Since the early 1930′s, intelligence agencies have frequently wiretapped and bugged American citizens without the benefit of judicial warrant. Recent court decisions have curtailed the use of these techniques against domestic targets…The overwhelming number of excesses continuing over a prolonged period of time were due in large measure to the fact that the system of checks and balances — created in our Constitution to limit abuse of Governmental power — was seldom applied to the intelligence community.”

Such strong language continues in Volume 5 of the report devoted to the NSA, the rest of Book II, and sections of Book III. The Pike Committee, headed by Otis G. Pike, whose whole report is almost non-existent from the internet, except on the website of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, notes about this. In one draft report titled Interception of International Telecommunications by the National Security Agencyit notes that the NSA has the “technological capability to intercept a significant portion of worldwide communications” which Frank Church (who lead the Church Committee) said that it would result in no privacy for the American people. The report continues, noting that the government stopped them from investigating further and how the Church Committee held an open session on the NSA but that people refused to testify, but still the report notes that telcom companies have worked with the Feds since World War I! The Rockefeller Commission was a bit more mild but still revealed important information. They noted that the CIA kept biographical listings on Americans as part of an “operations directorate”, how the CIA was involved in Watergate (and other scandals) and interception of mail by the CIA since the 1950s, among other aspects.

Today, its even worse, and more than what was noted earlier. Already, the NSA is according to the Wall Street Journal is monitoring “credit card transactions…as part of its [supposed] effort to target possible terrorists.”

Don’t forget the NSA is building the country’s biggest spy center to store our information. On top of this, the Supreme Court ruled in Maryland v. King that if you are arrested they can put a swab in your mouth to get your DNA, saying that “DNA identification of arrestees is a reasonable search that can be considered part of a routine booking procedure,” an extension of the national security state. On top this, there are reports that Obama Administration officials are using secret emails according to Firedoglake to avoid FOIA requests! At the same time there “controlled” leaks for PR purposes like the information Leon Panetta gave to the filmmaker of Zero Dark Thirty, the kill list, the deposition matrix and other ideas. At the same time, groups like Megaupload are targeted possibly because they help groups like Wikileaks. In 2008, Obama promised to not do this, even proposing a bill to stop the warantless wiretapping but now he has completely reversed himself.

Washington’s Blog wrote recently how

“foreigncompanies have had key roles scooping up Americans’ communications for the NSA” which included content not just metadata but a “breathtakingly wide program of spying…a secret interpretation of Section 215 of the Patriot Act which allows the government to obtain…any information as long as it came from a private company … foreign or domestic. In other words, the government is using the antiquated, bogus legal argument that it was not using its governmental powers…but that it was private companies just doing their thing…Binney confirmed that this was correct…Binney said that…the government is gathering everything, including content…Binney explained…that the government is storing everything, and creating a searchable database…to be used whenever it wants, for any purpose it wants…Binney said that former FBI counter-terrorism agent Tim Clemente is correct when he says that no digital data is safe…Binney gave me an idea of how powerful Narus recording systems are. There are probably 18 of them around the country, and they can each record 10 gigabytes of data…Binney next confirmed the statement of the author of the Patriot Act – Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner – that the NSA spying programs violate the Patriot Act…[later he said] it’s clear to me that they are collecting most e-mail in full plus other text type data on the web. As for phone calls, I don’t think they would record/transcribe the approximately 3 billion US-to-US calls every day. It’s more likely that they are recording and transcribing calls made by the 500,000 to 1,000,000 targets in the US and the world.”

This is just the beginning. As another post by Washington’s Blog notes,

“the American government is in fact collecting and storing virtually every phone call, purchases, email, text message, internet searches, social media communications, health information, employment history, travel and student records, and virtually all other information of every American…Binney says that if anyone gets on the government’s “enemies list”, then the stored information will be used to target them. Specifically, he notes that if the government decides it doesn’t like someone, it analyzes all of the data it has collected on that person and his or her associates over the last 10 years to build a case against him…In addition, the amount of money and effort the government is putting into spying on Americans using a wide variety of other technologies tends to discredit any notion that the government is exercising restraint in monitoring our phone calls (which are already being tapped) for content. For example, the government is flying drones over the American homeland to spy on us…Cell towers track where your phone is at any moment, and the major cell carriers, including Verizon and AT&T, responded to at least 1.3 million law enforcement requests for cell phone locations and other data in 2011…Your iPhone, or other brand of smartphone is spying on virtually everything you do…Fox news notes that the government is insisting that “black boxes” be installed in cars to track your location. The TSA has moved way past airports, trains and sports stadiums, and is deploying mobile scanners to spy on people all over the place. This means that traveling within the United States is no longer a private affair….the Department of Homeland Security is going to continue to allow searches of laptops and phones based upon “hunches”…Going further down the high tech Big Brother rabbit hole, the FBI wants a backdoor to all software…The CIA wants to spy on you through your dishwasher and other appliances. Verizon has applied for a patent that would allow your television to track what you are doing, who you are with, what objects you’re holding, and what type of mood you’re in. The new Xbox may be able to spy on you as well.”

As a recent article in the New York Times notes, in March 2013 alone, the NSA collected 97 billion pieces of date from worldwide networks!That is the state of the American national security state which Julian Assange recently said is part of the collapse of the American justice system.

This is not the only parts of this tyranny in place. As Thomas Drake, an NSA whistleblower has said we are all “persons of interest”. Larry Wilkerson added to this, noting that “so this business of we’ve got to listen to Americans to find out whether or not we’re going to be attacked and we’ve got to listen to them in such intrusive ways that clearly violate our civil liberties I think is a preposterous premise in the first place…What they’re doing is gathering all this so-called metadata, storing it, and then applying algorithms to it, the length and breadth and specifics of which we have no way of knowing, and extracting data when and if the algorithm tells them it needs extracting…they’re storing those phone calls and they might listen to them in the future.

And is there probable cause? Is there reasonable suspicion?.” Additionally, it seems clear that Obama is a liar as in 2007 he said “[Bush] acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not.” while today he clear has become the one he decried. Already, Barrett Brown, supposedly the Anonymous spokesperson was digging into the surveillance state, NSA contractors and the like before he was arrested by the Feds. At the same time, Amnesty International raised serious questions about “respect for the right to privacy” by the US, there are reports that Congress in a sense legalized the PRISM program in 2007, there was a crime report filed on the leaks from the NSA, and there is a possibility that PRISM could be hacked by China! Even in 2006, there was the possibility of NSA warantless wiretapping, defendants who alledged it backed off and decided to enter a plea deal rather than invalidate the whole prosecution.The EFF wrote in May 2013 that President Obama “..could formally support reform of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which still says law enforcement agencies do not need warrants to obtain emails over 180 days old….could come out in favor of warrant protection for cell-phone location information since it’s requested by authorities literally millions of times a year without a warrant…[but instead he supports] CALEA II, a dangerous proposal…[that] would force companies like Google and Facebook to install backdoors in all of their products to facilitate law-enforcement access, putting both our privacy and security at risk.” This is on top of the fact which many occupiers knew: if you engage in a protest your data will be tracked and stored as a “routine practice!”

Continuing to look into surveillance I became more and more mad. Consider that three of the main candidates in the NYC mayoral race (Anthony Weiner, Bloomberg clone Christine Quinn, and Bill de Blasio) support surveillance on Muslim groups saying they saw nothing wrong (but not good ‘ole Randy Credico)! In the same vein, lawmakers like bigot Peter King called for increased surveillance of Muslims or in general (in the ground and in the sky). Anonymous released thirteen documents, which I analyzed on my blog, Interesting Blogger, in what I call “Defensegate” and don’t need to be described in depth here. All I will say is that this documents show the DOD is involved in spying, that accessing metadata is part of their networks that share information, that they promoting cyberwarfare and more. At the same time, we cannot forget the mass government surveillance of the Occupy Movement by the DHS, FBI, Federal Reserve and local police departments, among others who worked as the de facto police force for the power elite as noted here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. There are additional reports of corporate entities spying on environmental groups, spying on anti-war acitivsts (also here, here, here and here) andPETA and Greenpeace. There have also been an invesitigation by NBC News into Pentagon surveillance of Americans, EPIC suing the DHS over covert surveillance, spying of Maryland anti-war protesters and opponents of the death penalty according to the Washington Post, ACLU, Democracy Now!, Truthout, Z Magazine,and Socialist Worker. The ACLU said recently that the NSA has direct access to every corner of Americans’ digital lives. Forbes Magazine wrote in May 2012 an even more startling revelation: the DHS was monitoring social networking sites. The article talked about how they had to release a list of keywords of what they were monitoring. On top of this, let us not forget the privacy issues with facial recognition which has spread on a nationwide scale, the NSA call database which pulls in calls from the two biggest telecoms, AT&T and Verizon, the fact that the internet is a surveillance state, the massive amount of surveillance cameras in Boston, the advancement of “Orwellian surveillance” by the US Senate, the amount of surveillance in Baltimore city (see here and here), the drones “coming to a sky near you” as the FAA integrates them into the sky after Congress legalized it with some not even waiting for regulations be put in place and some like Mayor 1%er Bloomberg said that the drones are Big Brother and that you should get used it! Let us also not forget about: the former Information Awareness Office, the FISA Amendments Act, the Combined DNA Index System, the Law Enforcement National Data Exchange, the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, Combat Zones that See which the Village Voice calls Big Brother, the Information Processing Technology Office, Intellipedia, CALEA which has broad reaching affects, DCSNET from which the FBI can do instant wiretaps on any US telcom device, the Synthetic Environment for Analysis and Simulations and the Multistate Anti-Terrorism Information Exchange.

If you thought that was bad, consider a program that has cameras in streetlights. What Dead Prez sang in their song, Police State, partly describes this program, especially the last two lines: “F.B.I. spyin on us through the radio antennas/And them hidden cameras in the streetlight watchin society/With no respect for the people’s right to privacy.” While that may seem conspiratorial, consider the graphic on their website which looks really damn creepy. They wrote that they are a “Detroit-area lighting design and multi-media firm with clients around the world, but did not anticipate the immediate attention this would garner,” that their critics learned everything from “the “Big Brother” movies” and that “the Intellistreets system is designed to do is simply make our streets safer, more energy efficient and smarter, while being informative and entertaining…[and] includes the collection and reporting of information immediately and completely so that first responders…can react very quickly in moments of danger…That’s why we proudly reached out to the Department of Homeland Security to share our technology…Intellistreets is very much a case of private enterprise, working in the private sector, with private dollars, to help solve the security, energy and financial challenges facing our cities and citizens.” Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Consider this article in Russia Today, noting that “in Farmington Hills, Michigan, things just got a whole lot creepier. Officials say the installation of ten new high-tech light posts will curb crime and cut energy costs for the Midwest community. All the townspeople have to do in return is give up their privacy…Simply put, the Intellistreets project is a system of Internet-connected luminaries that communicate with one another across the city. In addition to lighting the area, they can broadcast verbal and written messages, monitor rainfall and give directions…Not only does Intellistreets offer information about the neighborhood and provide light, it also monitors the conversations of pedestrians, records video, monitors foot-traffic and counts heads — all of which is recorded and stored for possible analysis…Detroit, Chicago and Pittsburgh have [also] placed orders…one must be comfortable knowing that their every move and whisper is recorded and monitored by a network of computers between posts that can be controlled by a central hub, iPhone or tablet…As a backlash began to hit Intellistreets, the company removed a YouTube video that offered an eerie insight into the surveillance capabilities…and discusses the system’s ability to store and analyze data…At $3,000 a piece, IntelliStreets luminaries have the potential of lowering energy costs by adjusting brightness to match the appropriate atmosphere and location. Additionally, the company says it has an endless number of entertainment options and can serve as a public address system of sort and offer advertisements up to passersby. That’s right — it records video, counts heads and spews propaganda!” As Fox Charlotte notes, “these street lights double as surveillance. They can play music, monitor conversations, direct traffic, send emergency signals, and take pictures.” An article in WXYZ, ABC 7, notes that Intellistreet polls “are being used for entertainment and safety. but some critics say this is nothing more than the watchful eye of big brother keeping track of your every moment…LED video screens and cameras add to the wireless infrastructure that is remotely controlled. It can provide entertainment, save energy, make announcements, and even counts people for police. When you step come into view of the street light, there is a camera that spots you, and the person on the other side sees you by white specs on a black screen. The camera senses that somebody is there, and if wants, it can even take your picture. The system is also capable of recording conversations making critics cry invasion of privacy…Basic light starts at $3,000 dollars. By Spring of next year there is a good chance you could see them pop up in your city.”

That’s not all. The sarcastic “Fear Department” even has something to say, noting that they are “excited about a new system that renders street lights capable of spying on the American people and transmitting our messages to themand they feature the promotional video which is creepy and reminds me of the loadspeakers in V for Vendetta. In an article in Daily Mail, they note that “Like something out of a sinister Orwellian vision of the future, streetlights with the ability to monitor conversations and announce government warnings are being installed on American streets. As part of a federally-funded project, manufacturers Illuminating Concepts have begun installing the system, dubbed ‘Intellistreets’ in the town of Farmington Hills, Michigan. According to the company’s video presentation the capabilities of the devices include homeland security, public safety, traffic control, advertising and video surveillance features…Conspiracy theorists and freedom of information campaigners have been quick to suggest the devices amount to a plot by federal government to control communications and eavesdrop on people’s lives. Fears the lampposts are a step towards the creation of a police state were further fueled when the firm removed a promotional video from You Tube, rumoured to be a result of negative publicity about the ‘Homeland Security’ features. Each street light contains a speaker system to broadcast emergency alerts, and a video display and is also equipped with proximity sensors capable of recording both pedestrian and road traffic…In Britain, Middlesbrough council introduced streetlights with speakers attached in 2006 to blast warnings at people indulging in anti-social behaviour. Last month Mail Online revealed that talking bins, which feature celebrity voices thanking people for not dropping litter are being installed in Liverpool and London.” Wired Magazine followed up on this but praised the program, not even talking about the implications for privacy saying it makes the streetlight “intelligent” and is part of “smart cities.” Public Intelligence said that the streetlights will monitor pedestrians and broadcast government alerts. An article in the Examiner notes that “the U.S. Department of Energy partially funded technology equips mundane street lights with public safety, homeland security, information and audio. The first high tech light poles are already installed and functioning in Farmington Hills, Michigan where the light poles are manufactured…The energy efficient streetlights, remotely controlled LED or LCD video screens and cameras once manufactured for entertainment only, now can (potentially) count people for the police, record conversations and detect everything from explosives to radiation gas leaks…The fact that environmentally friendly and affordable streetlights with the potential to videotape private conversations, to a shrinking number of American citizens – but still Americans – is still creepy. The technology clearly becomes a 4th amendment violation when the Department of Homeland Security rolls out the fully loaded streetlights on every street corner in America.” The official view is shown by a report done by the Urban Institute in conjunction with the DOJ: “Public surveillance systems—once referred to as closed-circuit televisions—which have previously been utilized only by private businesses, are now expanding to encompass both private and public sector agencies, giving law enforcement agencies a new tool in their public safety toolbox…While public surveillance systems are widely employed in the business sector to improve security, until recently the use of cameras to monitor public spaces has been much less common in the United States, in part due to concerns about privacy and civil liberties…Public surveillance systems might also yield a secondary impact, serving to increase legitimate users’ perceptions of safety and thus their presence in public areas, which in turn may increase guardianship, improve police-community partnerships, and reduce crime.”

Then there’s fusion centers which were created after 9/11 and only a small part of what journalists Dana Priest and William Arkin call “Top Secret America.” The ACLU noted that “in November 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union issued its first report on intelligence fusion centers, warning that these rapidly developing multi-jurisdictional spying centers lacked clear guidelines or sufficient oversight, and posed a severe risk to Americans’ civil liberties. By 2012, congressional investigators agreed.” In a story in Russia Today, they noted that “law enforcement intelligence-processing fusion centers have long come under attack for spying on Americans. The Arkansas director wanted to clarify the truth: centers only spies on some Americans – those who appear to be a threat to the government. In trying to clear up the ‘misconceptions’ about the conduct of fusion centers, Arkansas State Fusion Center Director Richard Davis simply confirmed Americans’ fears: the center does in fact spy on Americans – but only on those who are suspected to be ‘anti-government’…After claiming that his office ‘absolutely’ does not spy on Americans, he proceeded to explain that this does not apply to those who could be interpreted as a ‘threat’ to national security…But Davis’ argument is flawed: in order to determine whether or not someone is considered a threat to national security, fusion centers would first have to spy on Americans to weed out the suspected individuals, and then proceed to spy on the ‘anti-government’ individuals further. Across the US, fusion centers have reported on individuals who conducted ‘crimes’ like putting political stickers in public bathrooms or participating in movements against the death penalty. In October, the bipartisan Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations finished a two-year investigation on fusion centers, only to find that the centers had directly violated constitutionally protected civil liberties.” Investigative reporter Michael Iskoff continued down this road, saying in Open Channel NBC that “in a 107-page report released late Tuesday, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations said that Homeland Security has spent up to $1.4 billion funding fusion centers — in effect, regional intelligence sharing centers– that have produced “useless” reports while at the same time collecting information on the innocent activities of American Muslims that may have violated a federal privacy law…In addition to the value of much of the fusion centers’ work, the Senate panel found evidence of what it called “troubling” reports by some centers that may have violated the civil liberties and privacy of U.S. citizens. The evidence cited in the report could fuel a continuing controversy over claims that the FBI and some local police departments, notably New York City’s, have spied on American Muslims without a justifiable law enforcement reason for doing so…It stated that much basic information about the fusion centers – including exactly how much they cost the federal government — was difficult to obtain.” The Washington Post also wrote about this, saying that “an initiative aimed at improving intelligence sharing has done little to make the country more secure, despite as much as $1.4 billion in federal spending, according to a two-year examination by Senate investigators.” Firedoglake, a liberal blog, also had a story about the issue noted that “a scathing report released days ago by a Senate subcommittee concluded Department of Homeland Security fusion centers at the state and local level had not “produced useful intelligence to support federal counterterrorism efforts.”…The findings are not abnormal. They reflect the fact that these fusion centers have often been used for neo-COINTELPRO operations…In conclusion, the subcommittee report affirms the worst fears or concerns shared by civil liberties organizations. Indeed, its officials engage in operations similar to operations FBI agents engaged in during the days of COINTELPRO…In the particular case of the fusion centers, this entire network cannot be said to keep Americans safe because they produce mostly useless intelligence reports. And the network should be dismantled.”

The opinion of the American people is usually to react with anger and outrage against mass surveillance, in poll after poll. In 2005, Gallup had a poll and there were high majorities against invasive government measures: 60% opposed “allowing the government to search a list of books people have checked out of the library,” 70% opposed “allowing police to stop people on the street at random to search their possessions,” 73% opposed “making it easier for legal authorities to read mail, e-mail, or tap phones without the person’s knowledge,” 75% opposed “allowing the government to imprison U.S. citizens who are suspected of terrorism without putting them on trial for years,” and 93% opposed “allowing police to enter a person’s home at any time without a search warrant.”

The next year, a USA Today/Gallup poll had a smaller amount, with barely a majority (51%) disapproving of “the federal government’s program to compile billions of telephone records it obtained from three of the leading telephone companies in the United States.” In a poll in 2011, 71% said that “the government should take all steps necessary to prevent additional acts of terrorism…if those steps would violate your basic civil liberties,” the highest since the question was asked! However, 70% still trust the government to protect us from terrorism as noted in a poll after the Boston bombings and a high majority of people interestingly still trust the TSA!

On a foreign level, surveillance is even prevalent. In Canada there was a program called PROFUNC which was meant to go after supposed communist groups in the country in part by creating arrest documents based on personal information. The Guardian wrote that

“the UK’s electronic eavesdropping and security agency, GCHQ, has been secretly gathering intelligence from the world’s biggest internet companies through a covertly run operation set up by America’s top spy agency, documents obtained by the Guardian reveal.”

I still remember meeting with a GCHQ employee at a Fleet Foxes concert where he only said the agency was like the NSA and that there were many employees in the US, going around. He didn’t describe his work, but I still will remember talking with him a bit. Australian spies even want to break through the wall of Tor which an anonymous service which has helped people across the world revolt against their governments. An article about the last part of the quote was in BBC, which said that

““Talking” CCTV cameras that tell off people dropping litter or committing anti-social behaviour are to be extended to 20 areas across England. They are already used in Middlesbrough where people seen misbehaving can be told to stop via a loudspeaker, controlled by control centre staff…The talking cameras will be installed in Southwark, Barking and Dagenham, in London, Reading, Harlow, Norwich, Ipswich, Plymouth, Gloucester, Derby, Northampton, Mansfield, Nottingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Wirral, Blackpool, Salford, South Tyneside and Darlington…In Middlesbrough, staff in a control centre monitor pictures from 12 talking cameras and can communicate directly with people on the street…There are an estimated 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain. A recent study by the government’s privacy watchdog, the Information Commissioner, warned that Britain was becoming a “surveillance society.”

At the same time, the “war on whistleblowers” continues in light of these revelations and Anonymous is trolling the NSA. It seems the police state Russ Feingold warned of in 2001 has come, which is partly why John Nichols says we need another Russ Feingold, and the 4th amendment has gone to shreds. The EFF says we need a new Church Committee which The Nation called for years ago in their article on the “Secret Government.” Anti-Flag sings in their song, I’m Being Watched by the CIA speaks of their covert operations: “I’m being watched/I’m being watched/I’m being watched by the CIA” and their song, Welcome to 1984 is very telling as well. Bauhus sings in their song The Spy in the Cab, “Hidden in the dashboard/The unseen mechanized eye/Under surveillance/The road is full of cats eyes/It’s sick function to pry/The spy in the cab.” Let us not forget the words that Gore Vidal uttered to Democracy Now! in 2006,

“This is an unpatriotic government. This is a government that deals openly in illegalities, whether it is attacking a country which has done us no harm…because we now believe, not in declaring war through Congress as the Constitution requires, but through the President…And so as he comes with his State of the Union, which he is going to justify eavesdropping without judicial warrants on anybody in the United States that he wants to listen in on. This is what we call dictatorship…You know, it’s at a time when people say, ‘Well, it makes no difference what we do, you know, if we march and we make speeches, and this and that.’ It makes a lot of difference if millions of Americans just say, “We are fed up! We don’t like you. We don’t like what you’re doing to the country and what you have done to the country. We don’t like to live in a lawless land, where the rule of law has just been bypassed and hacks are appointed to the federal bench, who will carry on and carry on and carry on all of the illegalities which are so desperately needed by our military-industrial corporate masters.””

People of the US, let us unite against this fascistic American imperial-national security state which has grown out of control!

Burkely Hermann is a college student, an online writer and activist who maintains numerous blogs in order to inform the public on local, national and international issues.

Qusair’s strategically important. Western-backed death squads controlled it for over a year. On June 5, Syrian forces triumphed. Insurgent fighters were routed. Many were killed. Others were captured. Remaining elements fled.On June 8, Buwayda village was secured. It was the final area-held insurgent position. Syria’s in full control. Qusair borders Lebanon. It’s in central Homs province. It’s part of an important insurgent supply route.

According to General Yahya Suleiman:

“Whoever controls Qusair control the center of the country, and whoever controls the center of the country controls all of Syria.”

On June 8, an unnamed senior Syrian military officer said:

“We can now declare Qusair and the surrounding area to be a fully liberated area. We will go after the terrorists wherever they are.”

On June 6, the Los Angeles Times headlined “Syria loyalists in Damascus cheered by Qusair victory,” saying:

A man called Ali said “(w)e never thought of defeat; now we know the final triumph is coming.”

LA Times writers said “victory in Qusair was one of a string of recent battlefield successes that has not only improved the government’s strategic position, but also boosted morale among loyalists in the capital and elsewhere.”

A previous article cited a recent NATO study. It shows 70% of Syrians support Assad. They do so for good reason. They’re outraged about foreign intervention.

Western-backed death squads are responsible for mass killing and destruction. They’ve committed appalling atrocities. Syrians want them routed and defeated. They want their sovereignty respected. They want peace and stability restored.

Pro-Assad solidarity’s increasing. LA Times writers said Syrians “view the president as holding back a wave of Islamic extremists funded by Turkey, Arab states and the West.”

Washington’s fully in charge. It’s running things. It has from inception. It’s orchestrating ongoing fighting. LA Times writers didn’t explain. A Syrian merchant did, saying “(t)his so-called revolution is not of our making.”

What’s ahead remains to be seen. Regime change is longstanding US policy. Plans won’t change. Conflict continues. It does so despite decisive Syrian victories.

Qusair’s most important of all. Other areas have been liberated. Perhaps ahead they all will be. Death squad fighters are no match against superior Syrian military power. Cutthroats excel only in killing civilians and committing gruesome atrocities.

Whether Washington plans US-led NATO intervention bears close watching. Israel’s very much involved. Netanyahu actively supports Al Qaeda and other extremist Islamists.

So does Washington. Syria knows its liberating struggle goes on. Conflict could continue for years. It’s Washington’s call.

Decisions made there matter. Obama officials will decide what follows. Nothing suggests peace and stability breaking out. Plans call for continued death, destruction, subversion and destabilization.

Michel Chossudovsky is right. “The West should pay reparations to Syria,” he said. War crimes must be addressed. Washington, key NATO partners, Israel and rogue Arab state allies bear full responsibility.

What’s ongoing reflects naked aggression. Syria was invaded. Death squads are Western-backed proxy foot soldiers. There’s no ambiguity about Washington’s war. Conflict was planned years ago.

Only its timing remained to be determined. When and how it ends isn’t known. Ordinary Syrians suffer most. The longer conflict persists, the greater Assad support grows.

Syrians depend on his protection. They deplore Western and/or Israeli control. They value their sovereign independence. They want no part of extremist Islamist governance. They alone deserve the right to choose who’ll lead them.

Recent key events are important. For over 10 days, anti-government protests rocked Turkey. Prime Minister Erdogan is Washington’s lead attack dog.

Millions of Turks reject his hardline rule. Turkey is more police state than democracy. Dissent isn’t tolerated. No country imprisons more journalists than Turkey.

Police brutality is well known. Dissenters are targeted. Civil and human rights abuses are commonplace. Nonviolent protesters are attacked violently.

Turks have multiple reasons for outrage. They reject authoritarian rule. They want social justice. They deplore Erdogan’s involvement against Syria. They want regional stability restored.

Perhaps they’ll influence Turkish anti-Syrian policy. Erdogan’s domestic concerns may compromise his belligerent involvement.

Most Turks want no part of it. They want major internal change. So far they’re staying the course. They erected thousands of tents in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. They warned authorities against storming it.

So-called pro-Erdogan demonstrations appear government orchestrated. Most people don’t endorse thuggish rule. Erdogan’s more despot than democrat.

Turkish Nobel Literature Prize laureate Orhan Pamuk expressed alarm. Erdogan’s uncompromising attitude worries him most. On June 7, he said:

“I am concerned for my country, and I am following the events with sorrow. There is no signal (for) a peaceful solution (on) the future between the government and demonstrators.”

“Everyone who lives in Istanbul has certainly an unforgettable anecdote (re Taksim Square). I understand and embrace people (protesting).”

“Taksim has a huge political past. I saw conservatives, nationalists, socialists, social democrats and the military pass from there. So I hope that this will be solved with peace.”

“The government is making a mistake trying to build a shopping center in such a sensitive place.”

It’s historically important. It’s Istanbul’s last green space. Artists, intellectuals, students, workers, activists and others want it preserved.

They’re outraged about police brutality. They support peaceful demonstrations. Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas expressed readiness to cancel development plans.

“We are definitely not thinking of building a shopping mall there, no hotel or residence either,” he said. “It can be…a city museum or an exhibition center.” Erecting an Ottoman era military barracks replica will proceed as planned.

Protests continue nationwide. Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) announced June 15 and 16 counter demonstrations. Doing so throws fuel on the fire. They may incite more violence.

Hell, it’s said, hath no fury like a woman’s scorn. Perhaps its greater fury erupts against contemptuous disregard for popular concerns. The longer it continues, the harder it is for Erdogan to continue supporting Washington’s war most Turks oppose.

It remains to be seen what effect it has on what unfolds. Qusair and other Syrian victories compromised US plans. Western leaders expressed concern.

On June 9, UK Foreign Minister William Hague said Assad’s gains make Geneva II “harder to bring about and to make a success.”

In other words, it’s unlikely he’ll capitulate to Western demands. It’s harder when most Syrians oppose them.

Assad’s in a position of strength. Syrian forces fought hard to achieve it. They’re solidifying control over most areas. Supplying more arms to insurgents won’t change things.

Direct US-led NATO intervention remains possible. Perhaps it’s likely. It’s hard imagining America abandoning longstanding regime change plans. The fullness of time will explain what’s coming.

If Obama forgoes direct intervention, Assad will emerge victorious. At the same time, conflict may continue longterm. Tens of thousands more may die. Millions will suffer.

Obama bears full responsibility. He’s a war criminal multiple times over. He’s waging war at home and abroad.

It bears repeating. He belongs in prison, not high office. Impeachment is essential. Crimes too grave to ignore can’t be tolerated. They persist globally.

Popular resistance more than ever is needed. Nothing else will stop America’s rampage. Hegemons don’t quit unless forced to. It’s high time Americans said no more.

A Final Comment

Syria’s conflict remains unresolved. Salfist violence in Lebanon continues. Israel’s a wild card. Netanyahu actively supports extremist Islamist fighters. He launched early May air attacks on Syrian soil. Previous articles discussed them.

Netanyahu goaded Syria to respond. Several times, Israeli forces shelled cross-border. In late May, an Israeli military vehicle provocatively crossed the ceasefire line.

It was captured and displayed. Israeli rocket fire targeted Al-Zubaydiah village. Repeated provocations goad Syria to respond. Doing so would provide pretext for greater intervention.

Events perhaps head toward doing so. Maybe Israel will replace Erdogan as Washington’s lead attack dog.

On June 7, UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous addressed a closed emergency Security Council session. He said Israel threatened to launch cross border attacks.

According to Ladsous, Israeli and Syrian clashes nearly erupted. It would have been the first time since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. After insurgents briefly controlled Quneitra demilitarized border areas, Syria deployed tanks and armored personnel carriers in response.

An Israeli Defense Ministry statement followed. It told UNDOF (UN Disengagement Observer Force) that if Syrian tanks continued, “the IDF would take action.”

UNDOF’s commander informed Syrian authorities. They said Syrian tanks were there to fight insurgents. Being there breached the 1974 disengagement agreement.

Syrian forces regained control hours after insurgents did so. These type incidents are potential flashpoints. Provocations start wars. Key is whether Washington wants full-scale intervention. If so, all bets are off.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

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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Let me begin with some background not covered in the film.  Dirty War derives from “La Sale Guerre”, the term the French applied to their counter-terror campaign in Algeria, circa 1954-1961.   Algeria wanted independence, and France resisted. 

Like subject people everywhere, the Algerians were badly outgunned and resorted to guerrilla tactics including “selective terrorism,” a hallmark of the Viet Minh, who fought the French until 1954, when America claimed Vietnam as its rightful property.   Viet Minh tactics were derived largely from Mao’s precepts for fighting a People’s War.

Selective terrorism meant the murder of low-ranking officials – collaborators – who worked closely with the people; policemen, mailmen, teachers, etc.  The murders were gruesome – a bullet in the belly or a grenade lobbed into a café – designed to achieve maximum publicity and demonstrate to the people the power of the nationalists to strike crippling blows against their oppressors.

Whether the Great White Fathers are French or American or English, they agree that putting down a People’s War means torturing and slaughtering the people – despite the fact that most people are not engaged in terrorism or guerrilla action and have no blood on their hands.

As John Stockwell taught us years ago, Dirty War means destabilizing a targeted nation through covert methods, the type the CIA has practiced around the world for 66 years.  Destabilizing means “hiring agents to tear apart the social and economic fabric of the country.

“What we’re talking about is going in and deliberately creating conditions where the farmer can’t get his produce to market; where children can’t go to school; where women are terrified inside their homes as well as outside; where government administered programs grind to a complete halt; where the hospitals are treating wounded people instead of sick people; where international capital is scared away and the country goes bankrupt.”

Economic warfare – strangling nations like Cuba, Iraq and Iran in Medieval fashion – is a type of Dirty Warfare beloved by the Great White Fathers who control the world’s finances.  Though no less deadly than atomic bombs, or firebombing Dresden, it is easier to sell to the bourgeoisie.

You’ll hear no mention of this in Scahill’s film, nor will you hear any references to Phil Agee, or the countless others who have explained Dirty War to each generation of Americans since World War Two.

You will not hear about psychological warfare, the essence of Dirty War.

America’s first was terror guru was Ed Lansdale, the advertising executive who made Levi’s blue jeans a national craze in the 1930’s.   He applied his sales skills to propaganda in the OSS and after WW II, concocted a new generation of psywar tactics as an agent of the Office of Policy Coordination assigned to the Philippines under military cover.  Lansdale’s bottomless black bag of dirty tricks included a “skull squadron” death squad that roamed the countryside, torturing and murdering Communist terrorists.

One of Lansdale’s counter-terror “psywar” tactics was to string a captured Communist guerrilla upside down from a tree, stab him in the neck with a stiletto, and drain his blood. The terrorized Commies fled the area and the terrified villagers, who believed in vampires, begged the government for protection.

Lansdale referred to his sadism as “low humor,” an excuse borrowed liberally by American officialdom during the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Lansdale formalized “black propaganda” practices to vilify the Communists: one of his Filipino commando units would dress as rebels and commit atrocities, and then another unit would arrive with cameras to record the staged scenes and chase the “terrorists” away.

Lansdale brought his black propaganda and passion for atrocity to Saigon in 1954, along with a goon squad of Filipinos mercenaries packaged as “Freedom Company.”

Under Lansdale’s guidance, Freedom Company sent Vietnamese commandoes into North Vietnam, under cover as relief workers, to activate stay-behind agent nets and conduct all manner of sabotage and subversion.  Disinformation was a Lansdale specialty, and his agents spread lurid tales of Vietminh soldiers’ disemboweling pregnant Catholic women, castrating priests, and sticking bamboo slivers in the ears of children so they could not hear the Word of God.

In the South, with the help of the American media, Lansdale re-branded the heroic Vietminh as the beastly Viet Cong.

Lansdale’s greatest innovation, still used today, was to conduct all manner of espionage and terror under cover of “civic action.”  As a way of attacking Viet Minh agents in the South, Lansdale launched “Operation Brotherhood,” a Filipino paramedical team patterned on the typical Special Forces A team.  With CIA money, Operation Brotherhood built medical dispensaries that the CIA used as cover for terror operations, as depicted in the book and movie The Quiet American.

Levis never went out of fashion, nor did Lansdale’s dirty tricks.  Think Saddam Hussein killing babies in their incubators.  Such disinformation invariably works on an American public looking for any excuse to rationalize its urge for racist genocide.

Think Argo and Zero Dark Thirty and every Rambo and Bruce Willis film.

Only Americans were fooled by the propaganda, and the Vietnamese quickly caught on.  So the CIA in 1956 launched the Denunciation of Communists campaign, which compelled the Vietnamese people to inform on Commies or get tortured and murdered.  The campaign was managed by CIA agents who could arrest, confiscate land from, and execute Communists and their sympathizers on the CIA’s master list.  In determining who was a Communist, the CIA used a three-part classification system: A for dangerous party members, B for less dangerous party members, and C for loyal citizens.

As happened later in the Phoenix program, the threat of an A or B classification was used to extort innocent civilians, while category A and B offenders were put to work building houses and offices for CIA officers and their lackeys.  And, of course, the puppet Vietnamese President used his CIA created, funded and trained security forces to eliminate his political rivals.

As Lansdale confessed, “it became a repressive tool to liquidate any opponent.”

“This development was political,” Lansdale observes. “My first inkling came when several families appeared at my house one morning to tell me about the arrest at midnight of their men-folk, all of whom were political figures. The arrests had a strange aspect to them, having come when the city was asleep and being made by heavily armed men who were identified as `special police.””‘

Lansdale complained, but he was told that a “U.S. policy decision had been made. We Americans were to give what assistance we could to the building of a strong nationalistic party that would support Diem. Since Diem was now the elected president, he needed to have his own party. “

How We Got To Scahill’s Dirty War

By 1962, as the US expanded its Dirty Wars in the Far East and South America, the military replaced its Office of Special Operations with an up-dated Special Assistant for Counter-insurgency and Special Activities (SACSA).    SACSA assigned unconventional warfare forces to the CIA and regular army commanders, who initially resisted.

The development of psychological warfare and special operations is explained in Michael McClintock’s Instruments of Statecraft.  For the CIA politics behind it, see Burton Hersh’s The Old Boys.

In 1965 Lansdale went back to Vietnam to run the Revolutionary Development Cadre Program as the CIA’s “second station” with a staff of CIA officers, Green Beanies, and Daniel Ellsberg.   Vietnam was a laboratory and the CIA was experimenting with Pacification, aka “the Other War.”

In 1967, the CIA created the Phoenix program to coordinate everyone in its Dirty War.  Phoenix combined existing counterinsurgency programs in a concerted effort to neutralize the civilians running the shadow government.  Neutralize means to kill, capture, or make to defect.  Central to Phoenix was that it targeted civilians. “By analogy,” said Ogden Reid, a member of a congressional committee investigating Phoenix in 1971, “if the Union had had a Phoenix program during the Civil War, its targets would have been civilians like Jefferson Davis or the mayor of Macon, Georgia.”

Under Phoenix, due process was nonexistent.  South Vietnamese civilians whose names appeared on CIA blacklists were kidnapped, tortured, detained without trial, or murdered on the word of an informer. Phoenix managers imposed a quota of 1,800 neutralizations per month on the saps running the program in the field, opening it up to abuses by corrupt security officers, policemen, politicians, and racketeers.  One CIA officer described Phoenix as, “A very good blackmail scheme for the central government. `If you don’t do what I want, you’re VC.”‘

Because Phoenix assassinations (totaling 25,000+) were often conducted at night while its victims were home sleeping, Phoenix proponents describe the program as a “scalpel” designed to replace the “bludgeon” of My Lai-style search and destroy operations, air strikes, and artillery barrages that indiscriminately wiped out entire villages and did little to “win the hearts and minds” of the people.  But that was just propaganda and Phoenix was, among other things, an instrument of counter-terror – the psywar tactic in which enemy agents were brutally murdered along with their families and neighbors as a means of terrorizing the people into a state of submission.  Such horrendous acts were, for propaganda purposes, often made to look as if they had been committed by the enemy.

This practice is at the heart of the film I will be reviewing.

As noted, conventional soldiers hated Phoenix.  General Bruce Palmer, commander of the U.S. Ninth Infantry Division in 1968, objected to the “involuntary assignment of U.S. Army officers to the program. I don’t believe that people in uniform,” he said, “who are pledged to abide by the Geneva Conventions, should be put in the position of having to break those laws of warfare.”

Palmer’s was such a charming sentiment.  By 2004, Obama advisor Lt. Col. David Kilcullen, in an article for Small Wars Journal, was calling for a “global Phoenix Program.”   Tom Hayden wrote an article for The Nation about Kilcullen in 2008 titled “Reviving Vietnam War Tactics”.

Fact is, Phoenix never went out of fashion.  As McClintock notes, “Counterinsurgency and indeed all aspects of special warfare doctrine had developed a reasonable level of political sophistication by the mid-1970s, acknowledging the necessity of combining military and civil initiatives.”

By 1975 SACSA had expired, the nation had internalized its humiliating defeat in Vietnam, and the CIA, wounded by the Church Committee hearings, went underground.  The age of counter-terror began.  Central and South America were the new laboratories.   The CIA forged secret alliances with proxy nations like Israel and Taiwan, whose agents taught Latin American landowners how to organize criminals into death squads which murdered and terrorized labor leaders, Human Rights activists, and all other enemies of the Great White Fathers.

To compensate for the reduction in size of its paramilitary Special Operations Division, the CIA formed its Office of Terrorism.  Meanwhile, the military branches beefed up their terror capabilities, all of which glommed together in December 1980 in the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).  Steve Emerson chronicles this development in detail in Secret Warriors (1988).

JSOC’s mission, conducted on the Phoenix model with the CIA, is identifying and destroying terrorists and terror cells worldwide.   Paramilitary personnel are often exchanged between JSOC and CIA.

By the early 1980s, CIA and military veterans of the Phoenix program were running counter-insurgency and counter-terror ops worldwide.  http://www.american-buddha.com/phoenixprogepi.htm

General Paul Gorman, who commanded U.S. forces in Central America in the mid-1980′s, defined this advanced form of Dirty War as “a form of warfare repugnant to Americans, a conflict which involves innocents, in which non-combatant casualties may be an explicit object.”‘  (Toledo Blade 1 Jan 1987)

All of which brings me to my review.

 Dirty Wars

Dirty Wars is a post-modern film by Jeremy Scahill, about himself, starring himself in many poses.

The film owes more to Sergio Leone and Kathryn Bigelow than Constantinos Gavras.  Scahill certainly is no Leslie Cockburn: there is no Tony Poe telling how the CIA facilitates heroin shipments; no Richard Secord suing him for unraveling the financial intrigues of the CIA’s secret operators.   The CIA is rarely mentioned.

There is no reference to the Guerra Sucia in Argentina.

Scahill is no Franz Fanon documenting the devastating psychological effects of racism on society.  There are no cameos by Jean Paul Sartre advocating violent retribution on Hollywood, no mingling with the Taliban in their caves as they conspire against their Yankee oppressors at the Sundance Film Festival.

We get the first taste of his self-indulgent idiocy when he says it is “hard to tell” when the Dirty War began.  He does tell us, however, that he is on the “front lines” of the war on terror.

Scahill (hereafter JS) brags that he wasn’t going to find the front lines in Kabul, although he could have, if he knew where to look.  Instead he just looks around furtively on his way to the scene of a war crime.   We see a close-up of his face.

The endless close-ups artfully convey the feeling that our hero is utterly alone, on some mythic journey of self-discovery, without a film crew or interpreters. There is no evidence that anyone went to Gardez to make sure everyone was waiting and not toiling in the fields or tending the flocks, or whatever they do. And we’ll never find out what the victims do.  The stage isn’t big enough for JS and anyone else.

This is a major theme throughout the story – JS is doing all this alone and the isolation preys on him.  He bears this heavy burden alone, with many soulless looks.

Initially, there is no mention that journalist Jerome Starkey reported what happened in Gardez.  JS is too busy establishing himself as the courageous super-sleuth.  As we drive along the road, he reminds us how much danger he is in.  Two journalists were kidnapped here, he says.  This area is “beyond” NATO control.   He must get in and out before nightfall or the Taliban will surely kill him like the Capitalist dog he is.

In my drinking days, we referred to this type of behavior as grandiosity.  Telling everyone how you defied death, so the guys would talk about your exploits in the bars, and the girls would fall at your feet.   For JS, this formula is working – a visit to his Facebook page reveals scores of “Millennial girls” wringing their hands and fretting for his safety as he strides across America’s secret battlefields in search of the truth.  His carefully crafted Wiki bio furthers the legend.

Using the material gathered by Starkey (whom he eventually acknowledges), JS shows that in February 2010, American soldiers murdered five people in Gardez, including two pregnant women, and tried to cover it up by digging the bullets out of the targeted man’s body.  He interviews the surviving family members.   They weep.  Violin music plays.  They seem more like props than human beings.

JS ingenuously asks various Afghan and American officials, why the cover-up?  The officials suggest that the targeted man was working for the Taliban – and if you play that double-game, you risk your family and friends.  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff tells JS they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He says there will be no investigation.

Cut to Capitol Hill where, by his own account, JS has greatness thrust upon him.  “It is imperative,” he tells Chairman John Conyers, “that Congress investigates this shadow war to examine its legality.”

What, one wonders, was Conyers thinking?  Forty-two years earlier, after hearing testimony from Bart Osborn and Michael Uhl about the Phoenix program, Conyers and three other U.S. representatives stated their belief that “The people of these United States … have deliberately imposed on the Vietnamese people a system of justice which admittedly denies due process of law …. In so doing, we appear to have violated the 1949 Geneva Convention for the protection of civilian peoples.”

His testimony, JS tells us, “throws him into the public arena,” ever so reluctantly.  He revisits his Blackwater testimony and shows pictures of himself with numerous celebrities on TV.

B-takes of Scahill walking among the common folk in Brooklyn, plotting his next move.  Haunted by the horror of Gardez, he files FOIA requests and discovers that William McRaven is head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).   He’s stunned.  He’s been a national security reporter for over a decade, and he’s never heard of JSOC before.  It’s covert.  The story has been hidden in the shadows, he says.

This was the turning point of the film for me.  For a National Security correspondent, this is an admission akin to a botanist saying he’d never heard of flowers.  It’s an admission that fairly sums up the sorry state of reporting in America today.  Has JS ever read a book?

JS discovers that Gardez is not an isolated incident, and that JSOC rampages across Afghanistan with “unprecedented authority.”   He talks to a former JSOC soldier about its activities in Iraq, where it had hit lists and conducted night raids. This revelation, and the fact that McRaven took responsibility for Gardez, leads JS to conclude that JSOC is responsible for Gardez.   It certainly wasn’t Congress, which according to JS, has no control over JSOC.  JSOC money comes from rich donors.

JS learns that JSOC is not only in Afghanistan, but that it operates worldwide, and that its hit lists get bigger all the time.  And we hear, for the first time, the catchy phrase, “the world is a battlefield.”

At this point JS decides, with the help of The Nation brain trust, to investigate JSOC in Yemen where CIA drones are wiping out people by the score.

B-take of JS sipping tea thoughtfully.  He’s going to talk to the most powerful man in South Yemen.  We view of scene of a drone strike: 46 killed, including five pregnant women.  A woman in a black veil says her entire family, save one daughter, were wiped out.  Violin music.  But there’s no cover-up here.  In fact, Obama personally kept the journalist in prison who reported the strike.

What will Obama do to JS?

Once again, we fear for JS.  Luckily he lives to talk to Rachel Maddow and Morning Joe.  The greatness thrust upon him forces him onto TV shows everywhere.  There he is with Amy Goodman!

More close-ups.   We count the pores on his nose, the hairs in his eyebrows.  We feel the fear.  He gets a strange call.  Someone tells him JSOC tortures people without telling the CIA or regular army, which are too busy torturing people to care.

As he studies the hit lists, he comes across radical America Muslim, Anwar al-Awlaki.   After talking to Tony Schaffer, he realizes JSOC targets Muslims and that is why, along with the US invasion of Iraq, Awlaki is pissed off.   Awlaki is an American but is inciting people to revolution in Yemen, so Yemen allows the CIA to kill him.

Note – the CIA is mentioned maybe twice in the film.   Apparently it is so covert it escaped his notice.

We see JS in an exotic location.  An airplane lands.  JS is back in the USA.  He’s been traumatized by what he’s seen.  He tells anyone who will listen that the US cannot kill its way to peace, as if peace is the objective.  The war on terror, he concludes, is creating enemies, which of course is the objective.

Before the American people can rally to JS’s clarion call, Obama sends some guys to kill Osama bin Laden.  This is too much of a coincidence to ignore. Was it done to subvert his investigation?  In any event, McRaven and JSOC are now heroes.  He meets a knowledgeable person who tells him the Dirty War will go on forever.  He tells us about signature strikes that kill people randomly (but not that the CIA conducts them) and that the war on terror is out of control.

Pictures of JS pointing to countries on a map where JSOC operates.  He decides to visit Somalia, where JSOC is snatching bodies and taking them to ships in the Arabian Sea, and outsourcing its Dirty War to mercenaries.  He visits mercenaries wearing camo fatigues.  There are no other journalists here, it is too dangerous.  Someone hands JS a flak jacket.  Someone tells him they bury traitors alive.  The tension soars.  He’s surrounded by armed men.  There’s a gunshot.   He ducks behind sandbags.

We wonder who arranged for JS to meet these guys?  Where did he get an interpreter?  What’s the quid pro quo?

JS goes to a hospital morgue and look at a mutilated body.  After which he wants to go home.  But he learns that Awlaki’s son has been killed and reluctantly he returns to Yemen.

I liked this part of the film.  It seemed genuine.  We see home videos of Awlaki’s son doing youthful happy things.   JS tries to understand why the US would deliberately kill a 16 year old kid?  Which is a good question.  Perhaps America is ruled by a murderous Cult of Death.

We see pictures of young girls smiling, and we revert back to the contrived scenes and monologue that drag the documentary down into gratuitous self-promotion.  JS says he never had any idea where the story would lead, as if all this happened magically, like a rabbit pulled out of a hat.

He asks what will happen to us.

The film ends and I wonder what he could have produced if he hadn’t melodramatized and spent so much time and film on close-ups.  I wonder what he could have done if he’d read a few history books.

Ultimately, the film is so devoid of historical context, and so contrived, as to render it a work of art, rather than political commentary.  And as art, it is pure self-indulgence.

And in this sense, it is a perfect slice of modern American life.

Doug Valentine is the author of five books, including The Phoenix Program.  See www.douglasvalentine.com or write to him at [email protected]

The Balfour Declaration, issued on November 2, 1917, committed Britain to set up Palestine — then part of the Ottoman Empire –  as a Jewish homeland; it was an extraordinary letter from the Government of Britain to a member of the banking house of Rothschild. 

As Arthur Koestler noted, ” One nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third”  — a  country that then belonged to a fourth country, namely Turkey!

The reason for the creation of this document — the British obligation to perform such a service to Zionists — has not been well understood.

Robert John’s booklet “Behind the Balfour Declaration” uses sources provided by the late US activist Benjamin Freedman to provide the fascinating background for this history.

Freedman’s passionate 1961 address has the benefit of firsthand observations but some of his perspectives were not borne out by John’s evidence.  According to Freedman, Zionists approached Britain at a crucial point of World War I with the offer of badly needed financial help in exchange for a commitment to secure Palestine as a future Zionist state; the deal required the entry of the United States to give Britain the ability to deliver Palestine from the Ottoman Empire.  Freedman claimed that Germany’s post-WW I resentment against the Jewish community stemmed from what they regarded as the betrayal and complicity of German-Jewish financiers in their defeat.

The following excerpts of John’s booklet attempt to make his information more accessible; the full document has been made available by the 2013 Institute for Historical Review at URL: http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v06/v06p389_John.html   Footnotes embedded in the excerpts can be referenced in the original document.

The early Zionists who wanted to establish a Jewish homeland faced what looked like an impossible task at the turn of the 20th century.  Most Jews were unsympathetic to the establishment of a “homeland”, and the Zionist community itself was divided between those — like founder Theodore Hertzl — who believed that a pragmatic choice in Africa would be adequate and those determined to obtain Palestine.  The Ottoman Empire refused to release Palestine to the Zionists and European leaders were — while often sympathetic– unhelpful.  Hertzl claimed prophetically that they would obtain Palestine “not from the goodwill but from the jealousy of the Powers.” [112]

The conflicts gripping Europe in 1916-1917 created the fertile ground for Zionist aims in Palestine.

The start of World War I saw the Allies of Britain, France, Italy and Czarist Russia facing off against the Entente: Germany, Austria- Hungary and the Ottoman Empire of Turkey.  The human losses were staggering, and by 1916 the Allies were running short of money and credit.

To quote excerpts of John’s description of the situation and a key encounter:

 1916 was a disastrous year for the Allies. “In the story of the war” wrote Lloyd George, “the end of 1916 found the fortunes of the Allies at their lowest ebb. In the offensives on the western front we had lost three men for every two of the Germans we had put out of action. …”

 As for paying for the war, the Allies at first had used the huge American debts in Europe to pay for war supplies, but by 1916 the resources of J.P. Morgan and Company, the Allies’ financial and purchasing agents in the United States, were said to be nearly exhausted by increased Allied demands for American credit. [91] …

[And, given the uncertainly of the outcome of this conflict, funding was not forthcoming.]

Into this gloomy winter of 1916 walked a [well-connected] new figure. He was James Malcolm, [S] an Oxford educated Armenian [T] who, at the beginning of 1916, with the sanction of the British and Russian Governments, had been appointed … to take charge of Armenian interests during and after the war. …. He was passionately devoted to an Allied victory which he hoped would guarantee the national freedom of the Armenians then under Turkish and Russian rule.

Sir Mark Sykes, with whom he was on terms of family friendship, told him that the Cabinet was looking anxiously for United States intervention in the war on the side of the Allies, but when asked what progress was being made in that direction, Sykes shook his head glumly, “Precious little,” he replied.

James Malcolm now suggested to Mark Sykes that the reason why previous overtures to American Jewry to support the Allies had received no attention was because the approach had been made to the wrong people. It was to the Zionist Jews that the British and French Governments should address their parleys.

“You are going the wrong way about it,” said Mr. Malcolm. “You can win the sympathy of certain politically-minded Jews everywhere, and especially in the United States, in one way only, and that is, by offering to try and secure Palestine for them.” [96]

What really weighed most heavily now with Sykes were the terms of the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement. [Not to mention Britain's 1915 promise to the Arabs!] He told Malcolm that to offer to secure Palestine for the Jews was impossible. “Malcolm insisted that there was no other way and urged a Cabinet discussion. … Malcolm pointed out the influence of Judge Brandeis of the American Supreme Court, and his strong Zionist sympathies.” [97]

 In the United States, the President’s adviser, Louis D. Brandeis, a leading advocate of Zionism, had been inducted as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on 5 June 1916. That Wilson was vulnerable was evident, in that as early as 1911, he had made known his profound interest in the Zionist idea and in Jewry. [98]  … Wilson had been blackmailed for $40,000 for some hot love letters he had written to his neighbor’s wife when he was President of Princeton. He did not have the money, and the go-between, Samuel Untermeyer, of the law firm of Guggenheim, Untermeyer & Marshall, said he would provide it if Wilson would appoint to the next vacancy on the Supreme Court a nominee selected by Mr. Untermeyer. The money was paid, the letters returned, and Brandeis had been the nominee. [Wilson was also surrounded by the pro-Zionist Col. E. M. House, who he had made his effective Secretary of State, and Brandeis's nephew, Felix Frankfurter.]

In December 1916, Lloyd George, formerly counsel to the Zionists, was named Prime Minister of Britain, with Arthur Balfour his Foreign Minister.  Lloyd George planned to pursue the war more aggressively than had the preceding Asquith government.  Germany, so far the winner in the conflict, offered generous peace terms in January 1917, according to Freedman, which were “status quo ante,” giving Germany no benefit for its lead in the conflict.

But Britain had other ideas at that point, and the situation in Russia, with the approaching success of the revolution in March of 1917, was a positive development.  Lloyd George’s memoirs noted that:

Russian Jews had been secretly active on behalf of the Central Powers from the first; they had become the chief agents of German pacifist propaganda in Russia; by 1917 they had done much in preparing for that general disintegration of Russian society, later recognised as the Revolution. It was believed that if Great Britain declared for the fulfilment of Zionist aspirations in Palestine under her own pledge, one effect would be to bring Russian Jewry to the cause of the Entente.

It was believed, also, that [an agreement to obtain Palestine for a Jewish homeland] would have a potent influence upon world Jewry outside Russia, and secure for the Entente the aid of Jewish financial interests. In America, their aid in this respect would have a special value when the Allies had almost exhausted the gold and marketable securities available for American purchases. Such were the chief considerations which, in 1917, impelled the British Government towards making a contract with Jewry. [189] …

John noted that:

  The reports reaching England of impending dissolution of the Russian state practically removed the need for Russian endorsement of Zionist aims, but made French and Italian acceptance even more urgent. This at any rate was the belief of Sykes, Balfour, Lloyd George and Winston Churchill, who, as claimed in their subsequent statements, were convinced that proclaimed Allied support for Zionist aims would especially influence the United States. Events in Russia made the cooperation of Jewish groups with the Allies much easier. ….

 On 22 March 1917 Jacob H. Schiff of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., wrote to Mortimer Schiff, “… because of recent action of Germany (the declaration of unlimited U-boat warfare) and developments in Russia we shall no longer abstain from Allied Governments financing when opportunity offers.”  …. [emphasis added]

 

  [Thus:] In London, the War Cabinet led by Lloyd George lost no time committing British forces first to the capture of Jerusalem, and then to the total expulsion of the Turks from Palestine. The attack on Egypt, launched on 26 March 1917, attempting to take Gaza, ended in failure. By the end of April a second attack on Gaza had been driven back and it had become clear that there was no prospect of a quick success on this Front. …

In March of 1917 Wilson had unsuccessfully tried to get Congressional agreement to an undeclared naval war against Germany.  On April 2, 1917 — within six months of James Malcolm’s suggestion to Sykes — Wilson called a special session of Congress to declare war. John describes it:

 He asked for a declaration of war with a mission:  for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free.

That night crowds filled the streets, marching, shouting, singing “Dixie” or “The Star Spangled Banner.” Wilson turned to his secretary, Tumulty: “Think what that means, the applause. My message tonight was a message of death, How strange to applaud that!” …

In July of 1917, Woodrow Wilson sent a delegation to Turkey to examine the possibility of peace negotiations with the Allies; Wilson was concerned about the Armenian genocide which was then taking place.  The mission, which consisted of Henry Morgenthau, Sr. and Justice Brandeis’s nephew Felix Frankfurter, was intercepted by Chaim Weizmann and persuaded to return home [147]  An Allied peace with Turkey would have spelled the end of Zionist intentions for Palestine.

The drafting of the documents to enable the British obligations in Palestine took place in the summer of 1917.  They were not drafted entirely in Britain. According to John:

 Brandeis …  busied himself in particular with drafts of what later became the Balfour Declaration and the British Mandate for Palestine, and in obtaining American approval for them. [149] A considerable number of drafts were made in London and transmitted to the United States, through War Office channels, for the use of the American Zionist Political Committee. Some were detailed, but the British Government did not want to commit itself to more than a general statement of principles.

Brandeis cabled Weizmann on September 23, 1917, that Wilson would be sympathetic to the Declaration [165] although how he had induced Wilson to change his mind was unclear [166].

The letter known as the Balfour Declaration was issued on November 2, 1917:

Foreign Office, November 2nd, 1917

 Dear Lord Rothschild,

 I have much pleasure in conveying to you on behalf of His Majesty’s Government the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations, which has been submitted to and approved by the Cabinet:

 ”His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

 I should be grateful if you would bring this Declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

  Yours sincerely,  Arthur James Balfour. [1]

It was decided by Lord Allenby that the “Declaration” should not then be published in Palestine where his forces were still south of the Gaza-Beersheba.  Although leaflets containing its message were reportedly dropped over Germany, Austria and “the Jewish belt from Poland to the Baltic “, the German government was not aware of the Balfour Declaration until 1920.  (A German-Jewish society, the V.lJ.O.D. [HH] had approached Turkey in January of 1918 to get support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine but had to be satisfied with an Ottoman promise of legislation by means of which: “all justifiable wishes of the Jews in Palestine would be able to meet their fulfilment.”)

When Winston Churchill asked the House of Commons on July 4th 1922 to keep the British pledge of the Balfour Declaration, a member of Parliament noted that “The House has not yet had an opportunity of discussing it.”  American Congressman Hamilton Fish, who had authored a 1922 resolution modelled on the Balfour Declaration, was horrified at where it led.  He claimed: “As author of the first Zionist Resolution patterned n the Balfour Resolution, I denounce and repudiate the Ben Gurion statements as irreconcilable with my Resolution as adopted by Congress, and if they represent the Government of Israel and public opinion there, then I shall disavow publicly my support of my own Resolution, as I do not want to be associated with such un-American doctrines.” [180]

 Why did Wilson involve the US in WW I?

In examining Woodrow Wilson’s motives for entering WW I, John noted that the 1937 study of Prof. Alex M. Arnett indicated that Wilson had decided to enter WW I on the side of the Allies “many months” before the March 1917 German resumption of U-boat warfare. [182]  Given that Brandeis joined the Supreme Court in June 1916, and the British approaches to Zionist leaders would have taken place in the fall of 1916, Wilson’s decision could have reflected those influences.  Wilson’s peace delegation to Turkey in July 1917, however, indicated that the cause of the Armenian genocide took precedence over Zionist ambitions in Palestine.

Some observations can be made from this study relating to responsibility for WW I and its tragic consequences:

  1. Germany, which was forced to accept responsibility for WW I as part of the Treaty of Versailles terms, was the one country that tried to obtain peace in January of 1917 and was recognized by the Allies as the source of “peace propaganda”.  Also, as an ally of Turkey, Germany was not able to offer any part of the Ottoman Empire to attract support. [Turkey was dismissive of all proposals for a Jewish Palestine; the response to a German approach in 1918 was a promise of legislation through which: "all justifiable wishes of the Jews in Palestine would be able to meet their fulfilment."]
  2.  While Jewish financial power and the Zionist agenda were attractive to WW I belligerents, the responsibility for those with the power to make use of them was not attributable to the Jewish community.  Zionist leadership demonstrated callous disregard for the fate of the Armenians and Greeks being slaughtered by Turkey when they waylaid the American delegation sent to work for a peace with Turkey — an effort presumably designed to stop the ongoing Armenian genocide.
  3.  The overthrow of the Czar in March of 1917 and the Jewish contributions to the Russian Revolution were significant factors for the subsequent Jewish financial support of the Allies.
  4.   The involvement of Justice Brandeis in drafting the Balfour Declaration (as well as the British Mandate for Palestine) along with early Congressional support indicate an American responsibility for the resulting deprivation of Palestinian self-determination that is rarely acknowledged.
  5.  The various promises and assurances that Palestinian rights would be respected –  from Chaim Weizmann [140], from the Balfour Declaration, from the UN General Assembly Resolution of 1947 recommending the partition of Palestine, and from dozens of “legally-binding” UN resolutions and conventions– have all proven to be worthless in protecting Palestinian human or civil rights.

To conclude with Robert John’s (and Benjamin Freedman’s) observations: “We should not allow ourselves to be made pawns in the games of others.”

Amidst growing doubts about its origins, the tragedy of September 11, 2001, continues to fuel the war on terror.

Meanwhile, disturbing evidence long suppressed in the media is surfacing through the 24-member 9/11 Consensus Panel’s scientific review of official claims that 19 diminutive Muslim hijackers defeated America’s defenses.

Incredibly, not one of the 300 Dulles International Airport security cameras –positioned at ticket counters, lounges and boarding gates — captured images of the alleged hijackers of AA Flight 77.

The famous “Let’s Roll” telephone call from UA Flight 93 was left open for 15 minutes after the plane allegedly crashed in Pennsylvania.

Government accounts about the whereabouts of key Pentagon leaders that morning are contradicted by witness reports that would raise the most cynical of eyebrows.

These reports are only outdone by the fact that 12 major air defense exercises — some traditionally held in April and October — were all scheduled for the morning of September 11.

The Panel is pleased to welcome its new Honorary Members.

Mr. Ferdinando Imposimato, Honorary President of the Italian Supreme Court, has presided over terrorism cases, including the kidnapping and assassination of President Aldo Moro and the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II. He has publicly stated that 9/11 was a false-flag operation, recommending that it be tried at the International Criminal Court, which investigates criminal acts of war.

Mathieu Kassovitz is an award-winning French director, screenwriter, producer, and actor. He has been internationally acclaimed for major films, and hailed as the heir to Francois Truffaut. Kassovitz has raised questions on French television about the official account of 9/11.

James Douglass is an American Christian theologian and peace activist. He is the author of many books, including “JFK and the Unspeakable” — which Oliver Stone called “the best account I have read of the JFK tragedy and its significance.”

These notables join other prestigious honorary members, including the late biologist, Lynn Margulis.

Also new to the Panel are two reviewing members, Professor Daniele Ganser, a Swiss historian who specializes in covert warfare, and American civil engineer Jonathan Cole, who has 28 years of experience in building, utility and infrastructure design.

Generalità

Come già annunciato e confermato nei giorni precedenti, e forse ne riceveremo notizia nei prossimi giorni, Israele si è impegnato direttamente nella guerra imperialista contro la Siria quando le sue forze aeree hanno colpito postazioni militari dell’esercito siriano nei dintorni di Damasco, smascherando così l’imperialismo occidentale, il sionismo mondiale, il dispotismo e l’oscurantismo wahhabita, riunitisi in una Santa Alleanza contro l’”Asse della resistenza” di Iran, Siria, Iraq e  Libano, con dietro la Russia e la Cina; nel frattempo, sul territorio siriano, l’esercito arabo siriano avanza su più fronti nelle province di Damasco, Homs e di Aleppo, e la crisi siriana, entrata in un vicolo cieco, ha solo due modi per essere risolta:
o la Santa Alleanza abbandona l’opzione militare e smette di addestrare, armare e infiltrare gruppi taqfiristi in Siria, così avviando il dialogo tra la cosiddetta “opposizione” e il governo siriano;
o una guerra regionale viene avviata, bruciando non solo i Paesi coinvolti, ma l’intero Medio Oriente.
Non ci nascondiamo che il conflitto sorto in Siria non è un conflitto tra un regime dispotico e una folla di monaci meditabondi, come i media monopolizzano, ma un conflitto tra l’imperialismo occidentale, il sionismo mondiale e il dispotismo e l’oscurantismo wahhabita da un lato, che per la prima volta compongono una Santa Alleanza, e l’Iran, la Siria, l’Iraq, il Libano o il cosiddetto “Asse della resistenza” sostenuto da Russia e Cina, dall’altro lato. Tutto ruota intorno a questa demarcazione, e qualsiasi discorso che potrebbe vedere nella crisi siriana la battaglia contro un regime dispotico è davvero un discorso povero o un povero discorso.

Kerry a Mosca

I lunghi colloqui con i funzionari russi, prima al Cremlino e poi al Ministero degli Esteri, in occasione della visita del segretario di Stato degli Stati Uniti John Kerry a Mosca, hanno portato alla seguente dichiarazione: gli approcci della Russia e degli Stati Uniti sulla questione siriana “non sono realmente differenti. Sulla sistemazione della Siria le parti hanno convenuto nel cooperare in modo efficace (…), Mosca e Washington lavoreranno insieme nel pieno rispetto del comunicato di Ginevra“, ha dichiarato il Ministro degli Esteri della Russia Sergej Lavrov [1]. “Kerry, atterrato all’aeroporto di Mosca-Vnukovo, ha compiuto la sua prima visita in Russia come capo della diplomazia statunitense, una delle mosse più delicate dopo il forte deterioramento dei rapporti bilaterali nello scorso anno” [2]. Secondo lui, le parti sono effettivamente in grado di “sbloccare la situazione“. “Gli Stati Uniti ritengono che condividiamo interessi molto importanti in Siria, tra cui la stabilità della regione e impedire che gli estremisti creino problemi nella regione e altrove“, ha detto Kerry. “Abbiamo convenuto che la Russia e gli Stati Uniti incoraggino il governo siriano e l’opposizione a trovare una soluzione politica“, ha detto Sergej Lavrov, dopo i colloqui a Mosca con il suo omologo statunitense John Kerry.
La Siria è uno dei pomi della discordia tra i due Paesi, la Russia è il principale difensore della Siria e del popolo siriano, mentre gli Stati Uniti “benedicono” l’invio di gruppi taqfiristi dalla Turchia e da alcuni Paesi arabi, per ‘guerreggiare’ contro il governo siriano. Bisogna attendere la conferenza internazionale sulla Siria, che si terrà a giugno e il vertice Putin – Obama per sapere quale delle due direzioni prima indicate, prenderà la crisi siriana [3]. Come promemoria, Mosca e Washington hanno concordato di tenere al più presto una conferenza internazionale sulla Siria. Inoltre, Dmitrij Peskov, portavoce del capo di Stato russo ha detto che il prossimo incontro tra i due presidenti potrebbe avvenire nel quadro del vertice del G8 in Irlanda del nord. [4] Questo è il risultato principale della visita in Russia del segretario di Stato statunitense John Kerry. [5]

Israele rinuncia alla sua “neutralità”

In contrasto con l’ottimismo creato dalla visita di John Kerry a Mosca, il presidente degli Stati Uniti Barack Obama, non volendo mostrare che i suoi bicipiti, ha detto che gli Stati Uniti si riservano il diritto di adottare misure diplomatiche e militari per risolvere il conflitto in Siria, ma volendo risolvere questo problema insieme alla comunità internazionale. Su un altro livello, Israele è direttamente coinvolto nella guerra imperialista contro la Siria e rinuncia alla sua “neutralità”  credendo che la caduta di Assad possa anche indebolire l’Iran. All’inizio della guerra imperialista contro la Siria, Israele era rimasto rigorosamente discreto, ma questa precauzione non era più adeguata. Un anno fa, il presidente israeliano Shimon Peres disse che desiderava la vittoria dei ribelli siriani che ammira per il loro coraggio. [6] Questa piccola frase di Peres portò, qualche mese fa, al sostegno militare e logistico dei gruppi armati che combattono l’esercito siriano nei villaggi vicini al confine tra Israele e Siria [7]. Il coinvolgimento di Israele nella guerra in Siria si svolge già su due piani, logistico e tattico.
Sul piano logistico, Israele ha aperto i suoi ospedali ai militanti armati feriti. La prova si ebbe a marzo, quando undici terroristi feriti furono curati in Israele, secondo fonti ufficiali israeliane. Otto di loro furono rimpatriati in Siria e gli ultimi due rimasero ricoverati in ospedale nel nord d’Israele, uno a Nahariya e l’altro a Safed[8]. Basta fare un parallelo con la rivelazione di Moti Kahana al quotidiano israeliano Yediot Aharonot, circa la creazione di un fondo per finanziare i ribelli siriani, per determinare la misura in cui Israele è coinvolto nella guerra in Siria. Nel suo discorso al “Think Tank” Istituto di Washington per la Politica nel Vicino Oriente, Kahana dichiarò che suo fratello Steeve era un riservista dei servizi medici militari israeliani che avevano curato i feriti che passavano dal Golan siriano. Aveva detto tra l’altro di essersi recato in Siria come se andasse a Tel Aviv: “Abbiamo raccolto centinaia o addirittura migliaia di dollari negli ultimi due anni e sono responsabile del trasferimento delle donazioni alle organizzazioni liberali in Siria“, aggiunse sottolineando che lui stesso aveva dato a questo fondo una somma di 100 dollari. [9] Meglio ancora, il sito israeliano Debkafile aveva confermato che Israele aveva già costruito un ospedale da campo vicino al confine con la Siria e la Giordania, per curare gli insorti “siriani” feriti. “Israele ha creato un grande ospedale da campo nei pressi del posto di osservazione militare sul Golan di Tel Hazakah che si affaccia sul sud della Siria e sulla Giordania settentrionale. Lì, arrivavano i feriti della guerra siriana che venivano controllati ed esaminati dai medici dell’esercito israeliano, dove venivano  curati e rinviati indietro, o giudicati feriti abbastanza seriamente da richiedere assistenza ospedaliera. I feriti gravi vengono inviati in uno dei vicini ospedali israeliani di Safed o Haifa.” [10]

A livello tattico, Israele aveva deciso di cambiare le “regole del gioco” effettuando attacchi tattici contro obiettivi militari dell’esercito siriano. Israele ha avvertito che il trasferimento di “armi strategiche” ad Hezbollah potrebbe giustificare tali attacchi preventivi. Nel primo raid nella notte del 30-31 gennaio, aerei da guerra israeliani hanno effettuato numerosi attacchi contro obiettivi nella zona di confine tra la Siria e il Libano. Gli aerei avevano preso di mira un “centro di ricerca militare” a Jamraya, nei sobborghi di Damasco. Due persone che lavoravano nel sito furono uccise e altre cinque ferite. La Siria riconobbe l’attacco avvenuto contro il proprio territorio. [11] Il giorno dopo il raid, Amos Harel scrisse su Haaretz, “Israele entra nella guerra civile siriana“. [12]

La seconda incursione nella notte del 2-3 maggio, aerei israeliani lanciarono un nuovo raid aereo in Siria. Secondo dei funzionari statunitensi citati dalla CNN, gli aerei israeliani attaccarono uno o più convogli che trasportavano armi destinate a Hezbollah. Una fonte ufficiale confermò il raid israeliano all’agenzia AP. Secondo questa fonte, che aveva chiesto l’anonimato, le armi non erano chimiche. La posizione precisa del raid non è attualmente nota. Tuttavia, la Siria non ha confermato queste incursioni. [13] Il Terzo raid, nella notte del 4-5 maggio, era il secondo raid che l’aviazione israeliana aveva condotto sulla Siria in 48 ore, sostenendo di voler impedire il trasferimento di armi a Hezbollah, ma a Damasco ciò apriva la porta a tutte le opzioni rendendo la situazione nella regione più “pericolosa”. Secondo la Siria, lo Stato ebraico aveva colpito tre postazioni militari a nord-ovest di Damasco con missili sparati da aerei israeliani sul Libano. Un funzionario israeliano aveva confermato l’attacco dicendo che “si trattava di missili iraniani per Hezbollah” [14]. Insieme a questi attacchi, i funzionari israeliani continuano a minacciare la Siria, basta seguire le dichiarazioni di Tel Aviv sui missili russi S-300 che sarebbero stati consegnati a Damasco recentemente, per determinare a quale punto Israele sia coinvolto nel conflitto siriano. Ad esempio, il capo del Consiglio di sicurezza di Israele, Yaakov Amidror, ha avvertito i leader europei che Israele è determinato a distruggere i missili S-300 una volta dispiegati sul territorio siriano. [15] Da parte sua, il colonnello Zvika Haimovich ha detto che Israele aveva già determinato, in tre punti, la “linea rossa” che spingerà il suo esercito a distruggere i missili S-300:
1. I missili vengono puntati sullo spazio aereo israeliano;
2. I missili vengono trasferiti a Hezbollah;
3. I missili cadono nelle mani dei gruppi taqfiristi. [16]
Tuttavia, una questione rilevante si pone qui: quanto le minacce e i recenti attacchi aerei di Tel Aviv sono efficaci nel frenare il dispiegamento dei missili S-300 in territorio siriano e il loro trasferimento a Hezbollah? Tuttavia, dobbiamo ammettere qui che a volte, nella vita, è meglio usare la saggezza del folle che la follia del saggio. Leggiamo ciò che il mullah Nasreddin Djeha disse in una situazione simile.

Lo schiaffo di Nasreddin Hodja Djeha

Nasreddin Hodja Djeha era davanti la sua porta con in mano una brocca, ma arrivare alla fontana con quel caldo era una faticata. Fermò una bambina che passava di lì e le chiese di andare a prendere l’acqua.
- Ti prego di non rompere la brocca, raccomandò e subito dopo le diede uno schiaffo in faccia.
La bambina si mise a piangere e il suo vicino di casa, che aveva visto la scena, s’infuriò per tale brutalità:
- Che Allah vi maledica Nasreddin! Non vi è nessuno più vile di voi!
- Dimmi, tu che fai il censore, a che servono gli schiaffi quando la brocca è rotta?
Se Tel Aviv teme invece che la Siria trasferisca a Hezbollah dei sistemi d’arma sofisticati che potrebbero cambiare i rapporti di forza con i libanesi al suo confine settentrionale, allora parodiando la storia del mullah Nasreddin citata sopra, a che servono gli attacchi preventivi israeliani contro la Siria quando i missili S-300 sono stati dispiegati sul territorio siriano e trasferiti a Hezbollah? Bisognerebbe vedere, in tal senso, il riferimento su questo punto del presidente siriano Assad nel corso di un’intervista alla TV libanese al-Manar. [17] Cioè che a Tel Aviv l’audacia di certo non manca, ma attenzione, attenzione!

Fida Dakroub, Ph.D

impérialisme syrieAu seuil de la catastrophe : Israël s’engage dans la guerre impérialiste contre la Syrie, 1 giugno 2013 

Traduzione di Alessandro Lattanzio – SitoAurora

 

Note

[1] La voix de la Russie. (8 maggio 2013). «John Kerry à Moscou: pas de divergences Russie-USA sur la Syrie».
[2] Libération. (7 maggio 2013). «John Kerry à Moscou pour rencontrer Vladimir Poutine».
[3] Russia Today. (7 maggio 2013). “Russia, US to push for global Syria conference to bring conflicting sides to table”.
[4] La voix de la Russie. (8 maggio 2013). «Poutine espère rencontrer bientôt Obama».
[5] La voix de la Russie. (8 maggio 2013). «John Kerry à Moscou…», loc. cit.
[6] Le Figaro. (11 giugno 2012). «Israël prend position en faveur des insurgés syriens».
[7] Henry, Marc. (29 marzo 2013). «Un hôpital israélien sur le Golan pour soigner les rebelles anti-Assad». Le Figaro.
[8] Huffington Post. (27 marzo 2013). «Un insurgé syrien blessé sur le Golan soigné en Israël est décédé».
[9] Benhorin,Yitzhak. (10 maggio 2013). «Israeli raising funds to help Syrians ‘dying near us’». Yediot Aharonot.
[10] Debka File. (8 maggio 2013). «Israeli -and Hizballah- controlled enclaves inside Syria».
[11] Le Figaro. (31 gennaio 2013). «Syrie: le raid israélien aurait visé un convoi d’armes».
[12] Harel, Amos. (31 gennaio 2013). “Israel enters the civil war in Syria”. Haaretz.
[13] Le Figaro. (4 maggio 2013). «L’aviation israélienne a lancé un nouveau raid aérien en Syrie».
[14] Libération. (5 maggio 2013). «Syrie: nouveau raid israélien, Damas garde toutes les options ouvertes».
[15] The Jerusalem Post. (30 maggio 2013). “Analysis: Israel could hit S-300 missiles in Syria”.
[16] loc. cit.
[17] SANA. (30 maggio 2013). «Le président al-Assad : Les batailles que déclenche l’armée arabe syrienne visent à préserver l’unité de la Syrie».

Ricercatrice in Studi francesi (University of Western Ontario, 2010), Fida Dakroub è scrittrice e ricercatrice sulla teoria di Bachtin. È un’attivista per la pace e i diritti civili. 
Copyright © 2013 Global Research

 

Garantizar la seguridad pública es ocuparse de que nadie sea asesinado ni sea víctima de ninguna forma de violencia

Amnistía Internacional

 

Antes de la llagada a Haití de la Misión de Estabilización de las Naciones Unidas en Haití (MINUSTAH, por sus siglas en inglés), cuando se hablaba de Brasil, se hacía referencia al fútbol, al rey Pelé o al carnaval de Rio, que constituye una maravilla artística y cultural. Esto es tan cierto que en su cruzada por ganar los corazones y espíritus de los haitianos, el 18 de agosto de 2004 el gobierno utilizó a la selección brasileña de fútbol para jugar un partido de fútbol bautizado “Por la paz” contra la selección haitiana. Aquel día supuso un tormento para nuestros patriotas haitianos que vieron a nuestro congéneres aplaudir a los jugadores brasileños en detrimento de sus compatriotas. Y para crucificar aún más al país, los jugadores y dirigentes brasileños se fueron al país vecino a pasar la noche después del partido, lo que significaba que Haití no era digno de honrar la hospitalidad de las estrellas brasileñas. ¡No importa! Hoy, además del fútbol y la cultura brasileña, también hay las masacres de pobres personas, el cólera y también la arrogancia natural de un ocupante para con los sujetos vencidos. Y, sin embargo, desde un punto de vista geopolítico y estratégico, la realidad brasileña es radicalmente diferente y está guiada por el empeño en extender su influencia sobre los demás países de la zona.

La manera más simple de definir el imperialismo es la siguiente: “Aquello que busca extender su autoridad sobre otros”, en especial, los Estados más pequeños. Con su presencia militar en Haití Brasil ha entrado en una fase imprudente en la que es indispensable causar víctimas para proteger su estatuto de potencia regional. Brasil es hegemónico ya que controla el 40% de la economía sudamericana. Es una transformación lógica. Tanto los imperios como sus sistemas nacieron “entre sangre y sudor”. La dominación no tiene corazón; aunque unos dominadores sean más feroces que otros, todos se basan en la necesidad imperialista de sometimiento para poder saquear mejor las riquezas de los demás a beneficio de sus clases dirigentes, ya sean castas o tribus. En este contexto del siglo XXI en el que la complejidad del mundo ampliado es más difícil de controlar el juego de las alianzas en más trágico que nunca. En el mundo hay demasiadas convulsiones, demasiados fuegos que hay que apagar, demasiados pueblos en ebullición… Hay otros socios, sin duda menos poderosos pero capaces de imponerse en los conflictos de débil intensidad para salvaguardar los intereses de los más poderosos. Así se presentó Brasil.

Nos es casual que Estados Unidos y Francia hayan elegido a Brasil. Conocen sus ambiciones imperialistas de segundo amo del hemisferio desde el punto de vista económico: su obsesión declarada de formar parte del Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU y también está la experiencia de los años de la dictadura en la represión y el asesinato, elemento esencial de la tarjeta de visita internacional de Brasil. Sin desdeñar, sin embargo, el interés de los ricos de este país por extender sus producciones y cultura por todas partes en la zona. Cuando estos dos conquistadores solicitaron sus servicios, sabían a ciencia cierta que el entonces presidente Lula Da Silva no se podía resistir a esta propuesta. Para ello había que sacrificar los vínculos y las convicciones ideológicas para llenar su tarjeta de conquista. Así, los estadounidenses, canadienses y franceses han legado al país de las favelas el mal de “aprendiz tutor” ya que ellos están demasiado ocupados en hacer frente a otras convulsiones creadas a medida en el mundo.

La misión del Brasil de Lula es “estabilizar” Haití. En términos no diplomáticos, Brasil debe desempeñar un papel de gendarme. Los reveses sufridos por Estados Unidos en Somalia en 1994 y 1995, y el estancamiento en Iraq y Afganistán, y más recientemente en Libia y Siria son demasiado recientes para aventurarse a otro problema en el que se enfrentan negros. Lula Da Silva había abusado de los estrechos lazos culturales existentes entre ambos pueblos, Haití y Brasil, para poner en práctica la política conquistadora.

¡Atención, progresistas haitianos!

Algunos progresistas haitianos se dejan engañar por la lógica de las proximidades ideológicas con el partido en el poder en Brasil manteniendo un silencio cómplice ante la agresión imperialista brasileña contra Haití. Acto que debe ser considerado una violación palpable del primer capítulo de la llamada doctrina del mundo libre, la autodeterminación de los pueblos. El ejército brasileño asegura la ocupación de Haití con 1.200 hombres y unas docenas de policías que deliberadamente fusilan a los pobres y poseen las mujeres haitianas con apetito. Este comportamiento es digno de cualquier ocupante; por consiguiente, el Estado brasileño no es progresista. Por el contrario, es depredador y le hace el trabajo sucio al imperialismo.

Tras la salida de Jean-Claude Duvalier en 1986 quienes contribuyeron a la perpetuación de su régimen por medio del terror y de la tortura se volvieron molestos. El tristemente célebre torturador Albert Pierre, alias “Ti boule”, fue invitado a embarcarse hacia Brasil, un Estado que, sin embargo, no había firmado ningún tratado de extradición con Haití. “Ti boule” se quedó allí sin que nadie le molestara hasta su apacible muerte sin poder dar cuentas de sus crímenes odiosos contra la nación haitiana. Así pues, existen antecedentes no reglados entre ambos Estados que merecen que los expertos los analicen para desvelar si no existiría algún rencor histórico del Estado brasileño contra Haití. ¿Brasil es moralmente competente para desempeñar este nuevo papel de policía?

¿Es Brasil moralmente apto para estabilizar Brasil?

Por desgracia, Brasil no se salvó, como fue el caso de Venezuela, del caudillismo en las décadas de 1970 y 1980. Al igual que nosotros en Haití, el pueblo brasileño conoció la feroz dictadura militar, pero contrariamente a nosotros, el expresidente Lula no abolió el ejército y ni siquiera lo purgó. Y he aquí que veinticinco años después esta misma institución represiva se propulsa a la escena internacional como guardiana de la democracia y de la estabilidad. Me pregunto en nombre de qué moral se atribuyó esta misión al ejército brasileño, a no ser la de la ironía.

Recuerden que yo había mencionado el carácter represivo de Brasil, “competencia” que tuvo mucho que ver en su elección como nuevo amo de Haití. En un documento en 2005 Amnistía Internacional señala que Brasil contaba con 52.2 homicidas por cada 100.000 jóvenes, mientras que Estados Unidos cuenta/contaba con 32.2 homicidas por cada 100.000 jóvenes e Italia 2.1 homicidas por cada 100.000 jóvenes. Esto indica que este país está mucho más enfermo que Haití en materia de seguridad pública, sin embrago, Brasil ha sido elegido como jefe de misión de estabilización en Haití.

Últimamente, durante la visita del ministro de Justicia estadounidense a Haití, Eric Holder, este declaró que países como Jamaica, Puerto Rico, la República Dominicana son los más violentos de la zona, ¡no Haití!

Amnistía Internacional continúa: “El hecho de tener la piel negra [en Brasil] es un factor de riesgo suplementario”, la policía brasileña es racista, lo que explica plenamente las intervenciones asesinas de las fuerzas armadas brasileñas en barrios pobres [de Haití], como Cité Soleil, Bel-Air, etc. Amnistía Internacional define de la siguiente manera cómo garantizar la seguridad publica de un país: “ Garantizar la seguridad pública es ocuparse de que nadie sea asesinado ni sea víctima de ninguna forma de violencia” . Las fuerzas públicas brasileñas cuentan en su historial con muchos casos de masacres en su propio país. Así, el 31 de marzo de 2005, “29 personas fueron asesinadas en Baixada Fluminense […] por hombres armados pertenecientes a la policía militar […] entre 8:30 y 11 horas, al abrir fuego contra las personas que pasaban”, según Amnistía Internacional.

Citemos algunos de los excesos cometidos por los gendarmes brasileños:

1.- Masacre de presos desarmados en la cárcel Carandiu, en Sao Paulo en 1992. 2.- Se liquidó a niños que dormían sobre las escaleras de la catedral Candaleria en 1993. 3.- Unos habitantes de una favela de Vigario, militantes por los derechos de la tierra en Eldorado dos Carajas, fueron asesinados en 1997. 4.- Solo en el año 2003 los policías de Sao Paulo y Janeiro, apoyados por el ejército, mataron a 2.110 personas, una barbarie que calificaron de legítima defensa. 5.- “En Brasil la cantidad de homicidios es una de los más elevadas del mundo”: circulan en este país 17 millones de armas ligeras, de las cuales 9 millones se poseen de forma completamente ilegal.

Por consiguiente, los duelos que siembran las fuerzas de ocupación en Haití, fuertemente dominadas por Brasil, forman parte de una serie de prácticas nacionales transferidas al seno de la institución dirigida por un comandante brasileño. Con esta “licencia para matar” concedida a los ocupantes por los gobiernos haitianos de los últimos nueve años, la inmunidad otorgada a los cascos azules corre peligro de ahogarse en los enredos de la impunidad: recordemos la indignante dejación de sus responsabilidades por parte de la ONU en la propagación del cólera que causó miles de muertos en Haití. En el peor de los casos, el organismo internacional se niega a pagar cualquier tipo de indemnización a las víctimas de esta terrible epidemia que continúa cargándose a hombres, mujeres y niños.

¿Es consciente la presidenta Roussef de su papel de verdugo?

Según el analista haitiano Camille Chalmers, “de los 20 miembros del Estado Mayor de la MINUSTAH, apenas hay dos sudamericanos. Los demás son estadounidenses, franceses, italianos y canadienses”, palabras citadas en RISAL [Red de Información y Solidaridad con América latina]. Pero si bien aparentemente Brasil parece el amo de la situación, quien detenta el verdadero poder entre bastidores es la alianza estadounidense-franco-canadiense. Se ha legado a los soldados sudamericanos el papel represor de los pobres. Da la impresión de que las ambiciones de Brasil le vuelven ciego, lo cual puede llevar a la presidenta de este país a cometer crímenes odiosos, como es el caso de Haití hoy. Lula ha transferido esta visón imperialista a su delfín Dilma Rousseff, actual presidenta del país, la cual, como su tutor, prosigue con la humillación acelerada de Haití.

La postura de los patriotas haitianos debe ser firme y sin ambages frente al comportamiento agresivo de las fuerzas de ocupación, porque representamos el último reducto de los indígenas. Ya se trate de estadounidenses, de franceses, de canadienses o de cualquier otro pueblo, en cuanto cruzan las fronteras de otro Estado, no tienen más objetivo que la subordinación. Nuestro deber de pueblo consciente consiste en luchar hasta que se vayan.

Así, se acogió con calor y esperanza la conferencia del 31 de mayo al 1 de junio de 2013 en Port-au-Prince sobre la salida de las fuerzas de la MINUSTAH del país. Esta muy loable iniciativa que tiene como coordinador al honorable senador Moïse Jean-Charles partió del Senado haitiano que exigió por unanimidad la salida de los ocupantes del territorio nacional para el 28 de mayo de 2014. A esto hay que añadir la gran manifestación popular ante el busto de Jean-Jacques Dessalines, fundador de la nación haitiana, en el Champ-de-Mars, para exigir la salida inmediata de las tropas extranjeras del país: elementos todos ellos que demuestran la hartura del pueblo haitiano ante la presencia de colonos modernos en las calles haitianas.

Lo que están defendiendo en Haití son los intereses nacionales brasileños y están dispuestos a todo para ello. Esto es válido también para los demás Estados presentes en el seno de la MINUSTAH. Hay que poner de relieve que no hay fuerzas venezolanas o cubanas en Haití, es decir, que Dilma Rousseff (Brasil), Michelle Bachelet (Chile), Christina Fernandez de Kirchner (Argentina), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), Evo Morales (Bolivia) y otros Estados podían rechazar la oferta intervencionista. Por consiguiente, si decidieron entrar en Haití son ocupantes, todos ellos contribuye a humillar a nuestro pueblo, nuestra grandeza histórica y nuestra cultura. Lula prefirió ceder a las peticiones estadounidense, canadienses y francesas en vez de a las del pueblo haitiano que resiste heroicamente a la servidumbre.

Son arrogantes como lo es cualquier invasor. El general saliente que mandó las tropas de la MINUSTAH está tan cómodo en su aparato de ocupador asesino que exigió que se volvieran a formar las fuerzas armadas Haití, que se había disuelto legalmente. Es un cálculo a medida hecho por el gobierno brasileño. El ejército de Haití que se había transformado en partido político fue obra de la ocupación estadounidense de 19 años y su papel fue el de perpetuar la ocupación mucho tiempo después de la salida de los marines. Brasil, que tienen el mando de las tropas de la MINUSTAH, quiere tener esta misma responsabilidad de crear un ejército nacional con vistas a mantener un control sustancial sobre el conjunto de las instituciones nacionales por intermediación de su estructura militar dejada en el país.

En conclusión, todos los países latinoamericanos que forman parte de las fuerzas de ocupación de Haití lo único que hacen es defender sus intereses nacionales en detrimento de nuestra dignidad de pueblo, de nuestra grandeza histórica y cultural. Brasil, país que tiene el mando de las tropas, responde a sus ambiciones estratégicas, aunque en el plano interno vive una situación más dramática que la de Haití. Hay que señalar la hipocresía que demuestran los gobiernos de Ecuador y Bolivia en esta situación, ellos que se jactan de ser revolucionarios. El presidente ecuatoriano Correa luchó valientemente para cerrar la base militar estadounidense en su suelo. El número uno boliviano Evo Morales ha logrado fama desde el punto de vista nacionalista al expulsar a USAID y a la compañía Coca Cola de su tierra natal. Sin embargo, sus ejércitos participan en la degradación de Haití vía la MINUSTAH. ¡Qué hipocresía! ¿Dónde se sitúa la práctica revolucionaria de estos dos? ¿Acaso quieren cambiar el léxico revolucionario invitándonos a creer que los haitianos son unos animales que no están preparados para la democracia? Además, ¡qué falta de gratitud! Nuestros ancestros no ocuparon una parte de los países andinos después de haberles ayudado a conquistar su independencia. Sin embargo, durante la cumbre panamericana de Panamá estos mismos andinos nos habían indexado, ¡por supuesto, a petición de Estados Unidos! Hoy han reincidido. ¿Qué quiere decir “ser revolucionario” para Correa y Morales?

Progresistas haitianos, toda ocupación lleva necesariamente a la humillación. No hay ocupantes buenos, todos son malos y masacradores. Es esencial luchar contra la ocupación del país hasta que se vaya el último soldado extranjero.

¡El pueblo de Haití va a convertir el 28 de mayo de 2014 en día nacional de la desocupación del territorio nacional!

Joël Léon

Fuente: http://www.mondialisation.ca/haiti-premiere-victime-de-la-tentation-imperiale-du-bresil/5337637

Traducido del francés para Rebelión por Beatriz Morales Bastos

Foto : Photo : Victoria Hazou – UN/MINUSTAH 

The recent furore surrounding US senator John McCain’s illegal trip inside Syria, and the supposed ‘rebels’ he was seen posing with alongside Supreme Military Council (SMC) Chief Salim Idriss, have shed further light on what appears to be another corrupt ‘NGO’ enterprise.

After the worldwide publication of the photographs, McCain was quick to try to dispel rumours that the Syrian ‘rebels’ were the very people responsible for the kidnapping of 11 Lebanese pilgrims inside Syria, who still remain in captivity to this day. Contrary to McCain’s – and his media apologists – desperate attempts to refute the claims; many reports suggested it was indeed the kidnappers he was seen posing with. Furthermore, in one report in Lebanon’s Al Akhbar, it is claimed McCain even went so far as to ask the kidnappers to hold some of the captive pilgrims, as they are suspected members of Hezbollah. According to a source who had previously been in contact with the kidnappers, McCain was allegedly there  “to obstruct the efforts… to secure the release of the hostages.” Lebanon’s the Daily Star also reported on the “crossing of paths” between McCain, Mohammad Nour and Ammar Al-Dadikhi (a.k.a. Abu Ibrahim), who are members of ‘rebel’ group the Northern Storm; alleged to be holding the 11 Lebanese pilgrims.

mccain-syria-rebels

In a report by Josh Rogin of the Daily Beast, it is claimed the ‘rebels’ McCain was seen posing with were not those responsible for the kidnapping, stating: (my emphasis)

The man said to be Nour by the Lebanese press never identified himself to McCain or to anyone else and that man was not inside McCain’s meeting with the rebels, two American NGO workers who were there on the scene told The Daily Beast on Thursday.

The first of these American ‘NGO’ workers responsible for setting up the McCain meeting and illegal trip into Syria is one Mouaz Moustafa, who is named as the Executive Director of ‘non-profit’ organisation the ‘Syrian Emergency Task Force.’ (SETF). Moustafa has previously worked as a staffer at the US House of Congress and Senate. He was also an ‘activist’ during the US/NATO- led illegal war in Libya and overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. Moustafa is listed as an ‘expert’ at the Wasington Institute for Near East Policy, (WINEP), the sub-branch of the huge Israeli lobby: the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee AIPAC; which regularly lobbies for US militarism and ‘intervention’ in the Middle East to uphold Israeli ‘interests’.

Moustafa, in his ‘expert’ role, has also recently addressed a WINEP conference on the Syrian conflict. (since these suspicious links were highlighted by an investigative reporter they have been removed from WINEP’s website.) Anyone with a passing knowledge of Israeli/Syrian relations and the power and influence these lobbying groups hold in Washington and within corporate US media, knows these affiliations are dubious to say the least. In a report by investigative journalist Maidhc Ó Cathail on the Passionate Attachment blog, it is also revealed:

Even more intriguingly, one of the web addresses for Moustafa’s nonprofit is “syriantaskforce.torahacademybr.org.” The “torahacademybr.org” URL belongs to the Torah Academy of Boca Raton, Florida whose academic goals notably include “inspiring a love and commitment to Eretz Yisroel.”

The second ‘NGO’ worker quoted in the Daily Beast is one Elizabeth Obagy, named as Political Director of the same ‘NGO’ the SETF. The name Elizabeth Obagy immediately rang alarm bell’s. Obagy is also a “Syria analyst” at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW). The ISW in its mission statement describes itself as: (my emphasis)

The Institute for the Study of War advances an informed understanding of military affairs through reliable research, trusted analysis, and innovative education. We are committed to improving the nation’s [the US] ability to execute military operations and respond to emerging threats in order to achieve U.S. strategic objectives. ISW is a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy research organization.

Upon reading ISW’s Board of Directors and donors from their 2011 annual report, it becomes rather obvious as to what the ISW is designed for and whose ‘objectives’ it is designed to propagate. A quick glance of the ISW’s main donors for 2011 is telling; the list of military (defense) contractor’s donors include:

General Dynamics, (General Dynamics is a market leader in business aviation; land and expeditionary combat vehicles and systems, armaments, and munitions; shipbuilding and marine systems; and mission-critical information systems and technology.) CACI, (CACI provides information solutions and services in support of national security missions and government transformation for Intelligence, Defense, and Federal Civilian clients. A member of the Fortune 1000 Largest Companies and the Russell 2000 Index, CACI provides dynamic careers for approximately 15,000 employees working in over 120 offices worldwide.)

DynCorp International, (DynCorp International is a global government services provider in support of U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives, delivering support solutions for defense, diplomacy, and international development.)

Palantir,(Our products are built for real analysis with a focus on security, scalability, ease of use and collaboration. They are broadly deployed in the intelligence, defense, law enforcement and financial communities.)

Northrop Grumman, (Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cybersecurity, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide.)

These companies represent just a few of the huge US corporate military contractors, ranging from hardware and logistics, to telecommunications and intelligence software that are primary donors of the ISW. The ISW describes its Corporate affiliations as a “Corporate Council”: (my emphasis)

Many of America’s top corporations are members of ISW’s Corporate Council. Corporate Council members believe that an advanced understanding of military issues results in significantly better national security policy. They recognize the relevance, accuracy, and impact of ISW’s research and analysis. Corporate Council members receive a number of benefits, including exclusive briefings with ISW’s leadership, advance publications, access to our network, tailored analysis, increased corporate visibility, and invitations to exclusive events and discussions with national security leaders.

So the ISW is providing “tailored analysis” for its Corporate clients, and also provides “exclusive briefings with ISW leadership”. Does this sound like a  ‘non-profit’ organisation? Does providing “tailored analysis” for military contractors include raising the ‘need’ for such equipment and contracts? And do military contractors make money in any other way than profiting from war? One would find it difficult to put these things together and not see a conflict of interest from this alleged ‘objective’ research NGO.

The board of Directors at the ISW is also somewhat telling as to its political and corporate affiliations, some of the distinguished board members include such humanitarian adherents as founder of ISW Kimberly Kagan (Supported US ‘surge in Iraq, husband is resident scholar at Neo-Con ‘think-tank’ the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), brother is the husband to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland) Liz Cheney, (daughter of war-criminal Dick) and leading Neo-Con mouthpiece and US militarist William Krystol, who all sit alongside many fellow US-militarism proponents, retired US Army Generals, and policy planners.

It seems that at least one of the organisers for McCains trip: Elizabeth Obagy, named as a “Political Director” of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, is also a “Syria specialist” at what appears to be a Neo-Con led US ‘NGO’ that propagates US militarism on behalf of huge military contractors and ‘defense’ corporations. So why would Liz Obagy be organising illegal trips for US Senator John McCain into Syria in her role as “political director” at the SETF, whilst also claiming to offer ‘balanced’, ‘neutral’ and ‘objective analysis’ on the Syrian conflict? One doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to realise there is a massive conflict of interest here. When approached on Twitter, Moustafa of the SETF, which is based in Washington DC, claimed their funding comes from American Syrian doctors and expatriate donors. The mission statement of the SETF is as follows: (my emphasis)

To organize, mobilize and empower the Syrian American community, and our partners in order to play a positive role in public policy regarding Syria and the Middle East, supporting the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people, improving the lives of average Syrian people, strengthening the rule of law, and helping in transitioning Syria into a viable, inclusive, diverse, democratic state.

Without delving too far into Moustafa’s ties to the US Government through his previous work experience and former ‘activist’ work; it becomes clear that his current duties are at the behest of the US State Department. In a recent press release the SETF personally thanked the State Department: (my emphasis)

Washington, DC–The Syrian Emergency Task Force would like to thank all those involved in making Senator McCain’s trip to Gaziantep and to Syria a success, particularly the U.S. Department of State….It was a pleasure working with the Department of State in ensuring that the Senator’s visit went safely and flawlessly,” said SETF Executive Director Mouaz Moustafa.

Employing “political Directors”, that are affiliated with Neo-Con, and military contractor funded ‘NGO’ the Institute for the Study of War, seems somewhat contradictory to “improving the lives of average Syrian people”, and “supporting democratic aspirations” in the Middle East. Has it occurred to Moustafa and Obagy, that the vast majority of Syrian people want nothing to do with war criminals and pushers of all things US/Israeli militarism under the guise of “freedom and democracy”? One thinks this is out of the equation, and Moustafa’s ‘Syrian Emergency Task Force’ outfit is nothing more than a State Department/Neo-Con/Israel lobby initiated, propaganda outfit.

Phil Greaves is a UK based writer/analyst, focusing on UK/US Foreign Policy and conflict analysis in the Middle East post WWII. http://notthemsmdotcom.wordpress.com/

The spring air in the small, sand-dusted town has a soft haze to it, and clumps of green-gray sagebrush rustle in the breeze. Bluffdale sits in a bowl-shaped valley in the shadow of Utah’s Wasatch Range to the east and the Oquirrh Mountains to the west.

It’s the heart of Mormon country, where religious pioneers first arrived more than 160 years ago. They came to escape the rest of the world, to understand the mysterious words sent down from their god as revealed on buried golden plates, and to practice what has become known as “the principle,” marriage to multiple wives.

Today Bluffdale is home to one of the nation’s largest sects of polygamists, the Apostolic United Brethren, with upwards of 9,000 members. The brethren’s complex includes a chapel, a school, a sports field, and an archive. Membership has doubled since 1978—and the number of plural marriages has tripled—so the sect has recently been looking for ways to purchase more land and expand throughout the town.

But new pioneers have quietly begun moving into the area, secretive outsiders who say little and keep to themselves. Like the pious polygamists, they are focused on deciphering cryptic messages that only they have the power to understand. Just off Beef Hollow Road, less than a mile from brethren headquarters, thousands of hard-hatted construction workers in sweat-soaked T-shirts are laying the groundwork for the newcomers’ own temple and archive, a massive complex so large that it necessitated expanding the town’s boundaries. Once built, it will be more than five times the size of the US Capitol.

Rather than Bibles, prophets, and worshippers, this temple will be filled with servers, computer intelligence experts, and armed guards. And instead of listening for words flowing down from heaven, these newcomers will be secretly capturing, storing, and analyzing vast quantities of words and images hurtling through the world’s telecommunications networks. In the little town of Bluffdale, Big Love and Big Brother have become uneasy neighbors.

The NSA has become the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever.

Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”

For the NSA, overflowing with tens of billions of dollars in post-9/11 budget awards, the cryptanalysis breakthrough came at a time of explosive growth, in size as well as in power. Established as an arm of the Department of Defense following Pearl Harbor, with the primary purpose of preventing another surprise assault, the NSA suffered a series of humiliations in the post-Cold War years. Caught offguard by an escalating series of terrorist attacks—the first World Trade Center bombing, the blowing up of US embassies in East Africa, the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, and finally the devastation of 9/11—some began questioning the agency’s very reason for being. In response, the NSA has quietly been reborn. And while there is little indication that its actual effectiveness has improved—after all, despite numerous pieces of evidence and intelligence-gathering opportunities, it missed the near-disastrous attempted attacks by the underwear bomber on a flight to Detroit in 2009 and by the car bomber in Times Square in 2010—there is no doubt that it has transformed itself into the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever created.

In the process—and for the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it’s all being done in secret. To those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever.


UTAH DATA CENTER

When construction is completed in 2013, the heavily fortified $2 billion facility in Bluffdale will encompass 1 million square feet.

1 Visitor control center

A $9.7 million facility for ensuring that only cleared personnel gain access.

2 Administration

Designated space for technical support and administrative personnel.

3 Data halls

Four 25,000-square-foot facilities house rows and rows of servers.

4 Backup generators and fuel tanks

Can power the center for at least three days.

5 Water storage and pumping

Able to pump 1.7 million gallons of liquid per day.

6 Chiller plant

About 60,000 tons of cooling equipment to keep servers from overheating.

7 Power substation

An electrical substation to meet the center’s estimated 65-megawatt demand.

8 Security

Video surveillance, intrusion detection, and other protection will cost more than $10 million.

Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Conceptual Site plan


A swath of freezing fog blanketed Salt Lake City on the morning of January 6, 2011, mixing with a weeklong coating of heavy gray smog. Red air alerts, warning people to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary, had become almost daily occurrences, and the temperature was in the bone-chilling twenties. “What I smell and taste is like coal smoke,” complained one local blogger that day. At the city’s international airport, many inbound flights were delayed or diverted while outbound regional jets were grounded. But among those making it through the icy mist was a figure whose gray suit and tie made him almost disappear into the background. He was tall and thin, with the physique of an aging basketball player and dark caterpillar eyebrows beneath a shock of matching hair. Accompanied by a retinue of bodyguards, the man was NSA deputy director Chris Inglis, the agency’s highest-ranking civilian and the person who ran its worldwide day-to-day operations.

A short time later, Inglis arrived in Bluffdale at the site of the future data center, a flat, unpaved runway on a little-used part of Camp Williams, a National Guard training site. There, in a white tent set up for the occasion, Inglis joined Harvey Davis, the agency’s associate director for installations and logistics, and Utah senator Orrin Hatch, along with a few generals and politicians in a surreal ceremony. Standing in an odd wooden sandbox and holding gold-painted shovels, they made awkward jabs at the sand and thus officially broke ground on what the local media had simply dubbed “the spy center.” Hoping for some details on what was about to be built, reporters turned to one of the invited guests, Lane Beattie of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. Did he have any idea of the purpose behind the new facility in his backyard? “Absolutely not,” he said with a self-conscious half laugh. “Nor do I want them spying on me.”

For his part, Inglis simply engaged in a bit of double-talk, emphasizing the least threatening aspect of the center: “It’s a state-of-the-art facility designed to support the intelligence community in its mission to, in turn, enable and protect the nation’s cybersecurity.” While cybersecurity will certainly be among the areas focused on in Bluffdale, what is collected, how it’s collected, and what is done with the material are far more important issues. Battling hackers makes for a nice cover—it’s easy to explain, and who could be against it? Then the reporters turned to Hatch, who proudly described the center as “a great tribute to Utah,” then added, “I can’t tell you a lot about what they’re going to be doing, because it’s highly classified.”

And then there was this anomaly: Although this was supposedly the official ground-breaking for the nation’s largest and most expensive cybersecurity project, no one from the Department of Homeland Security, the agency responsible for protecting civilian networks from cyberattack, spoke from the lectern. In fact, the official who’d originally introduced the data center, at a press conference in Salt Lake City in October 2009, had nothing to do with cybersecurity. It was Glenn A. Gaffney, deputy director of national intelligence for collection, a man who had spent almost his entire career at the CIA. As head of collection for the intelligence community, he managed the country’s human and electronic spies.

Within days, the tent and sandbox and gold shovels would be gone and Inglis and the generals would be replaced by some 10,000 construction workers. “We’ve been asked not to talk about the project,” Rob Moore, president of Big-D Construction, one of the three major contractors working on the project, told a local reporter. The plans for the center show an extensive security system: an elaborate $10 million antiterrorism protection program, including a fence designed to stop a 15,000-pound vehicle traveling 50 miles per hour, closed-circuit cameras, a biometric identification system, a vehicle inspection facility, and a visitor-control center.

Inside, the facility will consist of four 25,000-square-foot halls filled with servers, complete with raised floor space for cables and storage. In addition, there will be more than 900,000 square feet for technical support and administration. The entire site will be self-sustaining, with fuel tanks large enough to power the backup generators for three days in an emergency, water storage with the capability of pumping 1.7 million gallons of liquid per day, as well as a sewage system and massive air-conditioning system to keep all those servers cool. Electricity will come from the center’s own substation built by Rocky Mountain Power to satisfy the 65-megawatt power demand. Such a mammoth amount of energy comes with a mammoth price tag—about $40 million a year, according to one estimate.

Given the facility’s scale and the fact that a terabyte of data can now be stored on a flash drive the size of a man’s pinky, the potential amount of information that could be housed in Bluffdale is truly staggering. But so is the exponential growth in the amount of intelligence data being produced every day by the eavesdropping sensors of the NSA and other intelligence agencies. As a result of this “expanding array of theater airborne and other sensor networks,” as a 2007 Department of Defense report puts it, the Pentagon is attempting to expand its worldwide communications network, known as the Global Information Grid, to handle yottabytes (1024 bytes) of data. (A yottabyte is a septillion bytes—so large that no one has yet coined a term for the next higher magnitude.)

It needs that capacity because, according to a recent report by Cisco, global Internet traffic will quadruple from 2010 to 2015, reaching 966 exabytes per year. (A million exabytes equal a yottabyte.) In terms of scale, Eric Schmidt, Google’s former CEO, once estimated that the total of all human knowledge created from the dawn of man to 2003 totaled 5 exabytes. And the data flow shows no sign of slowing. In 2011 more than 2 billion of the world’s 6.9 billion people were connected to the Internet. By 2015, market research firm IDC estimates, there will be 2.7 billion users. Thus, the NSA’s need for a 1-million-square-foot data storehouse. Should the agency ever fill the Utah center with a yottabyte of information, it would be equal to about 500 quintillion (500,000,000,000,000,000,000) pages of text.

The data stored in Bluffdale will naturally go far beyond the world’s billions of public web pages. The NSA is more interested in the so-called invisible web, also known as the deep web or deepnet—data beyond the reach of the public. This includes password-protected data, US and foreign government communications, and noncommercial file-sharing between trusted peers. “The deep web contains government reports, databases, and other sources of information of high value to DOD and the intelligence community,” according to a 2010 Defense Science Board report. “Alternative tools are needed to find and index data in the deep web … Stealing the classified secrets of a potential adversary is where the [intelligence] community is most comfortable.” With its new Utah Data Center, the NSA will at last have the technical capability to store, and rummage through, all those stolen secrets. The question, of course, is how the agency defines who is, and who is not, “a potential adversary.”


 

THE NSA SPY NETWORK

1 Geostationary satellites

Four satellites positioned around the globe monitor frequencies carrying everything from walkie-talkies and cell phones in Libya to radar systems in North Korea. Onboard software acts as the first filter in the collection process, targeting only key regions, countries, cities, and phone numbers or email.

2 Aerospace Data Facility, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado

Intelligence collected from the geostationary satellites, as well as signals from other spacecraft and overseas listening posts, is relayed to this facility outside Denver. About 850 NSA employees track the satellites, transmit target information, and download the intelligence haul.

3 NSA Georgia, Fort Gordon, Augusta, Georgia

Focuses on intercepts from Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. Codenamed Sweet Tea, the facility has been massively expanded and now consists of a 604,000-square-foot operations building for up to 4,000 intercept operators, analysts, and other specialists.

4 NSA Texas, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio

Focuses on intercepts from Latin America and, since 9/11, the Middle East and Europe. Some 2,000 workers staff the operation. The NSA recently completed a $100 million renovation on a mega-data center here—a backup storage facility for the Utah Data Center.

5 NSA Hawaii, Oahu

Focuses on intercepts from Asia. Built to house an aircraft assembly plant during World War II, the 250,000-square-foot bunker is nicknamed the Hole. Like the other NSA operations centers, it has since been expanded: Its 2,700 employees now do their work aboveground from a new 234,000-square-foot facility.

6 Domestic listening posts

The NSA has long been free to eavesdrop on international satellite communications. But after 9/11, it installed taps in US telecom “switches,” gaining access to domestic traffic. An ex-NSA official says there are 10 to 20 such installations.

7 Overseas listening posts

According to a knowledgeable intelligence source, the NSA has installed taps on at least a dozen of the major overseas communications links, each capable of eavesdropping on information passing by at a high data rate.

8 Utah Data Center, Bluffdale, Utah

At a million square feet, this $2 billion digital storage facility outside Salt Lake City will be the centerpiece of the NSA’s cloud-based data strategy and essential in its plans for decrypting previously uncrackable documents.

9 Multiprogram Research Facility, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Some 300 scientists and computer engineers with top security clearance toil away here, building the world’s fastest supercomputers and working on cryptanalytic applications and other secret projects.

10 NSA headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland

Analysts here will access material stored at Bluffdale to prepare reports and recommendations that are sent to policymakers. To handle the increased data load, the NSA is also building an $896 million supercomputer center here.


For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind, in detail. William Binney was a senior NSA crypto-mathematician largely responsible for auto

mating the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network. A tall man with strands of black hair across the front of his scalp and dark, determined eyes behind thick-rimmed glasses, the 68-year-old spent nearly four decades breaking codes and finding new ways to channel billions of private phone calls and email messages from around the world into the NSA’s bulging databases. As chief and one of the two cofounders of the agency’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center, Binney and his team designed much of the infrastructure that’s still likely used to intercept international and foreign communications.

He explains that the agency could have installed its tapping gear at the nation’s cable landing stations—the more than two dozen sites on the periphery of the US where fiber-optic cables come ashore. If it had taken that route, the NSA would have been able to limit its eavesdropping to just international communications, which at the time was all that was allowed under US law. Instead it chose to put the wiretapping rooms at key junction points throughout the country—large, windowless buildings known as switches—thus gaining access to not just international communications but also to most of the domestic traffic flowing through the US. The network of intercept stations goes far beyond the single room in an AT&T building in San Francisco exposed by a whistle-blower in 2006. “I think there’s 10 to 20 of them,” Binney says. “That’s not just San Francisco; they have them in the middle of the country and also on the East Coast.”

The eavesdropping on Americans doesn’t stop at the telecom switches. To capture satellite communications in and out of the US, the agency also monitors AT&T’s powerful earth stations, satellite receivers in locations that include Roaring Creek and Salt Creek. Tucked away on a back road in rural Catawissa, Pennsylvania, Roaring Creek’s three 105-foot dishes handle much of the country’s communications to and from Europe and the Middle East. And on an isolated stretch of land in remote Arbuckle, California, three similar dishes at the company’s Salt Creek station service the Pacific Rim and Asia.

The former NSA official held his thumb and forefinger close together: “We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state.”

Binney left the NSA in late 2001, shortly after the agency launched its warrantless-wiretapping program. “They violated the Constitution setting it up,” he says bluntly. “But they didn’t care. They were going to do it anyway, and they were going to crucify anyone who stood in the way. When they started violating the Constitution, I couldn’t stay.” Binney says Stellar Wind was far larger than has been publicly disclosed and included not just eavesdropping on domestic phone calls but the inspection of domestic email. At the outset the program recorded 320 million calls a day, he says, which represented about 73 to 80 percent of the total volume of the agency’s worldwide intercepts. The haul only grew from there. According to Binney—who has maintained close contact with agency employees until a few years ago—the taps in the secret rooms dotting the country are actually powered by highly sophisticated software programs that conduct “deep packet inspection,” examining Internet traffic as it passes through the 10-gigabit-per-second cables at the speed of light.

The software, created by a company called Narus that’s now part of Boeing, is controlled remotely from NSA headquarters at Fort Meade in Maryland and searches US sources for target addresses, locations, countries, and phone numbers, as well as watch-listed names, keywords, and phrases in email. Any communication that arouses suspicion, especially those to or from the million or so people on agency watch lists, are automatically copied or recorded and then transmitted to the NSA.

The scope of surveillance expands from there, Binney says. Once a name is entered into the Narus database, all phone calls and other communications to and from that person are automatically routed to the NSA’s recorders. “Anybody you want, route to a recorder,” Binney says. “If your number’s in there? Routed and gets recorded.” He adds, “The Narus device allows you to take it all.” And when Bluffdale is completed, whatever is collected will be routed there for storage and analysis.

According to Binney, one of the deepest secrets of the Stellar Wind program—again, never confirmed until now—was that the NSA gained warrantless access to AT&T’s vast trove of domestic and international billing records, detailed information about who called whom in the US and around the world. As of 2007, AT&T had more than 2.8 trillion records housed in a database at its Florham Park, New Jersey, complex.

Verizon was also part of the program, Binney says, and that greatly expanded the volume of calls subject to the agency’s domestic eavesdropping. “That multiplies the call rate by at least a factor of five,” he says. “So you’re over a billion and a half calls a day.” (Spokespeople for Verizon and AT&T said their companies would not comment on matters of national security.)

After he left the NSA, Binney suggested a system for monitoring people’s communications according to how closely they are connected to an initial target. The further away from the target—say you’re just an acquaintance of a friend of the target—the less the surveillance. But the agency rejected the idea, and, given the massive new storage facility in Utah, Binney suspects that it now simply collects everything. “The whole idea was, how do you manage 20 terabytes of intercept a minute?” he says. “The way we proposed was to distinguish between things you want and things you don’t want.” Instead, he adds, “they’re storing everything they gather.” And the agency is gathering as much as it can.

Once the communications are intercepted and stored, the data-mining begins. “You can watch everybody all the time with data- mining,” Binney says. Everything a person does becomes charted on a graph, “financial transactions or travel or anything,” he says. Thus, as data like bookstore receipts, bank statements, and commuter toll records flow in, the NSA is able to paint a more and more detailed picture of someone’s life.

The NSA also has the ability to eavesdrop on phone calls directly and in real time. According to Adrienne J. Kinne, who worked both before and after 9/11 as a voice interceptor at the NSA facility in Georgia, in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks “basically all rules were thrown out the window, and they would use any excuse to justify a waiver to spy on Americans.” Even journalists calling home from overseas were included. “A lot of time you could tell they were calling their families,” she says, “incredibly intimate, personal conversations.” Kinne found the act of eavesdropping on innocent fellow citizens personally distressing. “It’s almost like going through and finding somebody’s diary,” she says.

In secret listening rooms nationwide, NSA software examines every email, phone call, and tweet as they zip by.

But there is, of course, reason for anyone to be distressed about the practice. Once the door is open for the government to spy on US citizens, there are often great temptations to abuse that power for political purposes, as when Richard Nixon eavesdropped on his political enemies during Watergate and ordered the NSA to spy on antiwar protesters. Those and other abuses prompted Congress to enact prohibitions in the mid-1970s against domestic spying.

Before he gave up and left the NSA, Binney tried to persuade officials to create a more targeted system that could be authorized by a court. At the time, the agency had 72 hours to obtain a legal warrant, and Binney devised a method to computerize the system. “I had proposed that we automate the process of requesting a warrant and automate approval so we could manage a couple of million intercepts a day, rather than subvert the whole process.” But such a system would have required close coordination with the courts, and NSA officials weren’t interested in that, Binney says. Instead they continued to haul in data on a grand scale. Asked how many communications—”transactions,” in NSA’s lingo—the agency has intercepted since 9/11, Binney estimates the number at “between 15 and 20 trillion, the aggregate over 11 years.”

When Barack Obama took office, Binney hoped the new administration might be open to reforming the program to address his constitutional concerns. He and another former senior NSA analyst, J. Kirk Wiebe, tried to bring the idea of an automated warrant-approval system to the attention of the Department of Justice’s inspector general. They were given the brush-off. “They said, oh, OK, we can’t comment,” Binney says.

Sitting in a restaurant not far from NSA headquarters, the place where he spent nearly 40 years of his life, Binney held his thumb and forefinger close together. “We are, like, that far from a turnkey totalitarian state,” he says.

There is still one technology preventing untrammeled government access to private digital data: strong encryption. Anyone—from terrorists and weapons dealers to corporations, financial institutions, and ordinary email senders—can use it to seal their messages, plans, photos, and documents in hardened data shells. For years, one of the hardest shells has been the Advanced Encryption Standard, one of several algorithms used by much of the world to encrypt data. Available in three different strengths—128 bits, 192 bits, and 256 bits—it’s incorporated in most commercial email programs and web browsers and is considered so strong that the NSA has even approved its use for top-secret US government communications. Most experts say that a so-called brute-force computer attack on the algorithm—trying one combination after another to unlock the encryption—would likely take longer than the age of the universe. For a 128-bit cipher, the number of trial-and-error attempts would be 340 undecillion (1036).

Breaking into those complex mathematical shells like the AES is one of the key reasons for the construction going on in Bluffdale. That kind of cryptanalysis requires two major ingredients: super-fast computers to conduct brute-force attacks on encrypted messages and a massive number of those messages for the computers to analyze. The more messages from a given target, the more likely it is for the computers to detect telltale patterns, and Bluffdale will be able to hold a great many messages. “We questioned it one time,” says another source, a senior intelligence manager who was also involved with the planning. “Why were we building this NSA facility? And, boy, they rolled out all the old guys—the crypto guys.” According to the official, these experts told then-director of national intelligence Dennis Blair, “You’ve got to build this thing because we just don’t have the capability of doing the code-breaking.” It was a candid admission. In the long war between the code breakers and the code makers—the tens of thousands of cryptographers in the worldwide computer security industry—the code breakers were admitting defeat.

So the agency had one major ingredient—a massive data storage facility—under way. Meanwhile, across the country in Tennessee, the government was working in utmost secrecy on the other vital element: the most powerful computer the world has ever known.

The plan was launched in 2004 as a modern-day Manhattan Project. Dubbed the High Productivity Computing Systems program, its goal was to advance computer speed a thousandfold, creating a machine that could execute a quadrillion (1015) operations a second, known as a petaflop—the computer equivalent of breaking the land speed record. And as with the Manhattan Project, the venue chosen for the supercomputing program was the town of Oak Ridge in eastern Tennessee, a rural area where sharp ridges give way to low, scattered hills, and the southwestward-flowing Clinch River bends sharply to the southeast. About 25 miles from Knoxville, it is the “secret city” where uranium- 235 was extracted for the first atomic bomb. A sign near the exit read: what you see here, what you do here, what you hear here, when you leave here, let it stay here. Today, not far from where that sign stood, Oak Ridge is home to the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and it’s engaged in a new secret war. But this time, instead of a bomb of almost unimaginable power, the weapon is a computer of almost unimaginable speed.

In 2004, as part of the supercomputing program, the Department of Energy established its Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility for multiple agencies to join forces on the project. But in reality there would be two tracks, one unclassified, in which all of the scientific work would be public, and another top-secret, in which the NSA could pursue its own computer covertly. “For our purposes, they had to create a separate facility,” says a former senior NSA computer expert who worked on the project and is still associated with the agency. (He is one of three sources who described the program.) It was an expensive undertaking, but one the NSA was desperate to launch.

Known as the Multiprogram Research Facility, or Building 5300, the $41 million, five-story, 214,000-square-foot structure was built on a plot of land on the lab’s East Campus and completed in 2006. Behind the brick walls and green-tinted windows, 318 scientists, computer engineers, and other staff work in secret on the cryptanalytic applications of high-speed computing and other classified projects. The supercomputer center was named in honor of George R. Cotter, the NSA’s now-retired chief scientist and head of its information technology program. Not that you’d know it. “There’s no sign on the door,” says the ex-NSA computer expert.

At the DOE’s unclassified center at Oak Ridge, work progressed at a furious pace, although it was a one-way street when it came to cooperation with the closemouthed people in Building 5300. Nevertheless, the unclassified team had its Cray XT4 supercomputer upgraded to a warehouse-sized XT5. Named Jaguar for its speed, it clocked in at 1.75 petaflops, officially becoming the world’s fastest computer in 2009.

Meanwhile, over in Building 5300, the NSA succeeded in building an even faster supercomputer. “They made a big breakthrough,” says another former senior intelligence official, who helped oversee the program. The NSA’s machine was likely similar to the unclassified Jaguar, but it was much faster out of the gate, modified specifically for cryptanalysis and targeted against one or more specific algorithms, like the AES. In other words, they were moving from the research and development phase to actually attacking extremely difficult encryption systems. The code-breaking effort was up and running.

The breakthrough was enormous, says the former official, and soon afterward the agency pulled the shade down tight on the project, even within the intelligence community and Congress. “Only the chairman and vice chairman and the two staff directors of each intelligence committee were told about it,” he says. The reason? “They were thinking that this computing breakthrough was going to give them the ability to crack current public encryption.”

In addition to giving the NSA access to a tremendous amount of Americans’ personal data, such an advance would also open a window on a trove of foreign secrets. While today most sensitive communications use the strongest encryption, much of the older data stored by the NSA, including a great deal of what will be transferred to Bluffdale once the center is complete, is encrypted with more vulnerable ciphers. “Remember,” says the former intelligence official, “a lot of foreign government stuff we’ve never been able to break is 128 or less. Break all that and you’ll find out a lot more of what you didn’t know—stuff we’ve already stored—so there’s an enormous amount of information still in there.”

The NSA believes it’s on the verge of breaking a key encryption algorithm—opening up hoards of data.

That, he notes, is where the value of Bluffdale, and its mountains of long-stored data, will come in. What can’t be broken today may be broken tomorrow. “Then you can see what they were saying in the past,” he says. “By extrapolating the way they did business, it gives us an indication of how they may do things now.” The danger, the former official says, is that it’s not only foreign government information that is locked in weaker algorithms, it’s also a great deal of personal domestic communications, such as Americans’ email intercepted by the NSA in the past decade.

But first the supercomputer must break the encryption, and to do that, speed is everything. The faster the computer, the faster it can break codes. The Data Encryption Standard, the 56-bit predecessor to the AES, debuted in 1976 and lasted about 25 years. The AES made its first appearance in 2001 and is expected to remain strong and durable for at least a decade. But if the NSA has secretly built a computer that is considerably faster than machines in the unclassified arena, then the agency has a chance of breaking the AES in a much shorter time. And with Bluffdale in operation, the NSA will have the luxury of storing an ever-expanding archive of intercepts until that breakthrough comes along.

But despite its progress, the agency has not finished building at Oak Ridge, nor is it satisfied with breaking the petaflop barrier. Its next goal is to reach exaflop speed, one quintillion (1018) operations a second, and eventually zettaflop (1021) and yottaflop.

These goals have considerable support in Congress. Last November a bipartisan group of 24 senators sent a letter to President Obama urging him to approve continued funding through 2013 for the Department of Energy’s exascale computing initiative (the NSA’s budget requests are classified). They cited the necessity to keep up with and surpass China and Japan. “The race is on to develop exascale computing capabilities,” the senators noted. The reason was clear: By late 2011 the Jaguar (now with a peak speed of 2.33 petaflops) ranked third behind Japan’s “K Computer,” with an impressive 10.51 petaflops, and the Chinese Tianhe-1A system, with 2.57 petaflops.

But the real competition will take place in the classified realm. To secretly develop the new exaflop (or higher) machine by 2018, the NSA has proposed constructing two connecting buildings, totaling 260,000 square feet, near its current facility on the East Campus of Oak Ridge. Called the Multiprogram Computational Data Center, the buildings will be low and wide like giant warehouses, a design necessary for the dozens of computer cabinets that will compose an exaflop-scale machine, possibly arranged in a cluster to minimize the distance between circuits. According to a presentation delivered to DOE employees in 2009, it will be an “unassuming facility with limited view from roads,” in keeping with the NSA’s desire for secrecy. And it will have an extraordinary appetite for electricity, eventually using about 200 megawatts, enough to power 200,000 homes. The computer will also produce a gargantuan amount of heat, requiring 60,000 tons of cooling equipment, the same amount that was needed to serve both of the World Trade Center towers.

In the meantime Cray is working on the next step for the NSA, funded in part by a $250 million contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. It’s a massively parallel supercomputer called Cascade, a prototype of which is due at the end of 2012. Its development will run largely in parallel with the unclassified effort for the DOE and other partner agencies. That project, due in 2013, will upgrade the Jaguar XT5 into an XK6, codenamed Titan, upping its speed to 10 to 20 petaflops.

Yottabytes and exaflops, septillions and undecillions—the race for computing speed and data storage goes on. In his 1941 story “The Library of Babel,” Jorge Luis Borges imagined a collection of information where the entire world’s knowledge is stored but barely a single word is understood. In Bluffdale the NSA is constructing a library on a scale that even Borges might not have contemplated. And to hear the masters of the agency tell it, it’s only a matter of time until every word is illuminated.

James Bamford ([email protected]) is the author of The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America.

Introductory Note

The Chilcot Inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot  was launched in 2009 by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, with the mandate to inquire into role of British government in the Iraq War.

There have been five inquiries in the United Kingdom into the Iraq War: the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), the Hutton Inquiry, the Butler Inquiry and the Chilcot Inquiry (the Iraq Inquiry).  Not a single word of evidence at any of those inquiries has been heard under oath.  Sir John Chilcot, presently chairing the Chilcot Inquiry, has the unique distinction of sitting on two of those inquiries: the Butler Inquiry and the Chilcot Inquiry.  Does this not constitute a conflict of interests?

The person running the Chilcot Inquiry on behalf of Chilcot is one Margaret Aldred, an unelected civil servant, who, in my opinion and in the opinion of others, is not fit to be running any inquiry (she infamously ordered Carne Ross before he gave evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry not to mention Dr David Kelly and outlined the consequences if he did so), and certainly not the Chilcot Inquiry (because of an overwhelming conflict of interests, and other reasons, as carefully outlined below).

Margaret Aldred is fatally tainted by a huge conflict of interests

Stephen Frost


Elfyn Llwyd MP outlines in a Westminster Hall debate why Margaret Aldred should not be running the Chilcot Inquiry:

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?gid=2011-01-25b.52.1

Elfyn Llwyd (Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Plaid Cymru)

It is a great pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Williams, ably chairing this debate as always.

One of the vital prerequisites of a Government-initiated inquiry is that it should be utterly independent and devoid of any conflicts of interest that might undermine its credibility and the veracity of its conclusions and findings. I shall detail why I have grave misgivings about the independence of the Chilcot inquiry, and why I believe that the inquiry process may be flawed and even compromised from the beginning. I realise that those are grave allegations, but I do not make them lightly.

Before I detail the problems as I see them, I should mention that about three years ago, some documents were dispatched to my office from an unknown source, bearing a note saying that they were top secret. Some were British in origin; others may well have been from other intelligence sources. They showed that in 2001-02, active discussions were taking place on how to move in against Saddam Hussein using overwhelming military force. The term “regime change” appeared. The documents proved beyond doubt that the UK Government were on course for war even then.

The documents must have been copies of authentic documents, as two senior officers from the Metropolitan police visited me and questioned me and my colleague Adam Price about them. At the time of that visit, the documents were not physically in our possession. I decided to leave them where they were and not disclose them to anyone. I could not tell the police officers who had leaked them, as I simply did not know, and neither did Adam Price.

When the Chilcot inquiry was set up, I decided that I should surrender the documents to the inquiry. I took them to the inquiry’s office in Victoria street and handed them to Mrs Margaret Aldred, the secretary of the inquiry. I said that I had evidence that might be of assistance to the inquiry and asked Mrs Aldred if the inquiry would write to confirm whether I would be called to give evidence. I told her that I had no intention of politicking if I were called. The response was an icy stare and the words “I should jolly well hope not.”

Months went by. I wrote on two or three occasions asking for a response, but no response was forthcoming until last autumn, some nine months later. I concluded that either the secretariat was not very orderly and professional or my letters had not been passed on to the chair of the inquiry, who eventually responded. I had been discreet. As a Member of Parliament for 19 years, I thought that I should have had the courtesy of a reply one way or the other within weeks rather than months.

I began to think that something might be amiss in the secretariat, and I made various inquiries about the process of appointing the secretary. I knew that the appointment fell under the civil service code, whose key values are openness, honesty, integrity and accuracy. Recent legislation has placed those values on a statutory basis. I then tabled some parliamentary questions, and I shall refer to two of them.

On  1 December , I asked

“(1) what skills and experience were identified as being required for the role of Secretary to the Iraq Inquiry; how many candidates were identified as having such skills and experience; and on what basis the successful candidate was selected;

(2) what steps were taken in the process of appointment of the Secretary to the Iraq Inquiry (a) to identify potential conflicts of interest and (b) to ensure that any such conflicts did not affect the independence of the inquiry.”

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Mr. Hurd, responded:

“The Cabinet Secretary decided to nominate the Secretary to the Iraq Inquiry and agreed the appointment with the Chairman of the Inquiry. Both the Cabinet Secretary and the Chairman of the Inquiry agreed that the Secretary to the Inquiry should be a senior individual in the civil service ideally with previous involvement in Iraq issues.”

The Chairman of the Inquiry has told the Cabinet Secretary that, in agreeing to the appointment, he was aware of the candidate’s role in the Foreign and Defence Policy (formerly the Defence and Overseas Policy) Secretariat in the Cabinet Office from November 2004, and, given the professional standards of the senior civil service, saw no potential conflict of interest with her appointment as Secretary to the Inquiry that would, in his view, affect the independence of the Inquiry.”-[Hansard, 1 December 2010; Vol. 519, c. 882W.]

It was, therefore, the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, who put Mrs Margaret Aldred’s name forward for appointment as the secretary to the inquiry, and it was accepted, nem. con., by its chair, Sir John Chilcot.

On  3 September 2009 , Dr Chris Lamb, who has been very concerned about this issue, wrote a freedom of information request to the Cabinet Office asking for the precise details of the manner of the appointment. On  2 September 2010 -one whole year later-a letter, signed off by Sue Gray of the propriety and ethics team of the Cabinet Office, was sent in response. It stated:

“The Cabinet Secretary himself decided to nominate Margaret Aldred, and agreed the appointment with Sir John Chilcot, shortly after Sir John himself had accepted his role as Inquiry Chair. Both the Cabinet Secretary and the Inquiry Chair felt that the Secretary needed to be a senior individual with the right experience and skills for the task. Her previous involvement in Iraq issues was balanced against that criteria, and the view taken was that it would be possible to manage any potential conflicts of interest. Margaret Aldred was assured of that position by the Cabinet Secretary from the outset. She took up the appointment full time on  1 September  last year.”

The appointment did not follow the procedures outlined in the civil service code-it appears that no other candidate was considered by Sir Gus O’Donnell, and the process could not be described in any way as open and transparent. I will repeat what I believe to be the letter’s key phrase:

“Her previous involvement in Iraq issues was balanced against other criteria, and the view was taken that it would be possible to manage any potential conflicts of interest.”

Unsurprisingly, Dr Lamb was totally unsatisfied with the answer. He made a complaint to the Information Commissioner, and it was dealt with by Jonathan Slee, a senior case officer, who concluded in a letter dated  26 October 2010  that there were two possible scenarios. The first was that the Cabinet Office had no recorded information

“concerning the discussions in question. That is to say, such discussions took place orally (as opposed to in writing) and no written record of them was ever created. If this was the case presumably the narrative description of these discussions/deliberations which is included in the internal review was based purely on individuals’ recollection of them.”

On the second scenario, he wrote:

“Alternatively, the Cabinet Office did hold recorded information evidencing the nature of these discussions. The most obvious format for such recorded information would presumably be letters/emails exchanged between the Cabinet Secretary and Inquiry Chairman regarding Margaret Aldred, although such recorded information could obviously extend to meeting notes/memos/records of telephone conversations.”

The letter goes on to discuss another individual before noting:

“If this is the case, I suggested to the Cabinet Office that such recorded information was presumably used as the basis to provide the narrative description of the discussions which was included in the internal review. However, for the reasons set out above I suggested that Cabinet Office would not have not fulfilled your request simply by describing the content of these recorded discussions. Rather the request would only be fulfilled by provision of the recorded information about the discussions themselves.”

The pre-penultimate paragraph of the letter concludes:

“However, I appreciate that the manner in which the Cabinet Office has handled this request will no doubt have proved frustrating. I therefore intend to formally write to the Cabinet Office in order to highlight its errors in terms of handling this request, notably the failure to correctly determine whether it held information falling within the scope of the request when issuing its refusal notice; the very significant delay in conducting an internal review; and the fact that the content of the internal review was somewhat ambiguous in inferring that Cabinet Office did hold some recorded information.”

Despite the best efforts of a very experienced researcher using the Freedom of Information Act 2000, it appears that there is no paper trail relating to the appointment or that, if there is, the Cabinet Office resolutely refuses to disclose it, for whatever reason.

We are left with the appointment of the deputy head of the Cabinet Office’s foreign and defence policy secretariat, Margaret Aldred, as secretary to the inquiry that is inquiring into actions taken by her department during her tenure as its deputy head. So integral was she in policy development that she gave evidence to the Select Committee on Defence in June 1994 about whether weaponised biological agents were present. She was part and parcel of all the planning for Gulf war I. She regularly chaired the Iraq senior officials group, which co-ordinated Iraq policy across the Government.

The appointment process was unusual and unacceptable, and the irony will not be lost on the public. The process resurrected one of the worst features of sofa government, which was so criticised by the Butler inquiry, of which Sir John Chilcot was, sadly, a member. The inquiry secretary, who has a key role, is a Cabinet Office insider and was appointed because of her extensive previous involvement in Iraq policy. There is therefore a glaring conflict of interest. Some might say her position is untenable because the inquiry is looking into the period when she was active in Iraq policy, as I said.

The very same Cabinet Office has most to answer for over Iraq. The Cabinet Office, and Mrs Aldred’s section in particular, drew up plans for regime change-an unlawful concept in international law. The Cabinet Office-the Joint Intelligence Committee and its staff-produced the discredited Iraq dossier, one of the least persuasive documents in recent political history, which is of dubious provenance and even more dubious veracity. Can the inquiry be independent, or is it a Cabinet Office subsidiary? Mrs Aldred’s involvement and that of her section makes it difficult to know where the Cabinet Office ends and the inquiry begins.

Sir John Chilcot is leading an inquiry that is tasked with examining allegations that the previous Government was duplicitous towards Parliament and the public. Surely, when Sir Gus O’Donnell suggested his close colleague, so enmeshed as she was in the whole Iraq debacle, Sir John should have seen the obvious conflict of interest? Has Mrs Aldred played a part in the protocol that has limited the inquiry’s scope? What steps have been taken to manage the conflict of interest? What steps could be taken to manage her glaring, obvious and painful conflict of interest?

During the period covered by the inquiry, the section of the Cabinet Office where Mrs Aldred worked was pivotal in the Government’s policy towards Iraq. Margaret Aldred was deputy head of that section for four and a half of those eight years. The inquiry has not published a single document originated by the Cabinet Office. In July 2002, a briefing paper by the same part of the Cabinet Office expressed the hope

“that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject”.

In September 2002, Mrs Aldred’s predecessor at the Cabinet Office wrote to Sir John Scarlett, then chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, suggesting that the Iraq dossier and qualifications in the original assessment were to be removed. That document was not disclosed to the Hutton inquiry and the Cabinet Office spent years trying to prevent its disclosure. In passing, I remind the House that it was Sir Gus O’Donnell who recently denied the Chilcot inquiry permission to publish the correspondence between President Bush and Mr Blair, despite the fact that both men were happy to refer to the correspondence in their respective autobiographies.

To conclude, Mrs Aldred routinely chaired the Iraq senior officials group; she met US officials in October 2008 to discuss Iraq; she was implicated in or knew of the rendition policy; she had the leaked document showing that she was copied in with respect to the rendition policy; and she flew to Washington for discussions with counterparts three weeks before the inquiry was announced. The following questions must in my view be answered. It may be difficult for the Minister to do so today, but clearly if he can write to me in due course that will suffice. I do not want to put him on the spot.

Is Mrs Margaret Aldred’s role at the inquiry as central as her role in Iraq policy at the Cabinet Office? Did Sir Gus O’Donnell detail Mrs Aldred’s involvement in Iraq policy precisely to Sir John Chilcot, and when she was appointed and the appointment was announced why was there no mention of her previous experience with Iraq policy? She is the gatekeeper to the inquiry. Does she advise on lines of inquiry? Does she liaise with the Government about evidence? We know that she liaises with the Government about the publication of information. Was she involved in the drawing up of the protocol that has stymied the process? It was published a month after she took up her role. Is she likely to draft the report?

Obviously, justice must be seen to be done. Transparency and openness are paramount. They are concepts that are signally absent from the inquiry process. I regret that one conclusion that can easily be drawn is that the inquiry process is flawed and compromised from the very beginning.

In his first year in office, President Barack Obama pledged to “collect the facts” on the death of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Taliban prisoners of war at the hands of U.S.-allied Afghan forces in late 2001.

Almost four years later, there’s no sign of progress.

When asked by ProPublica about the state of the investigation, the White House says it is still “looking into” the apparent massacre. Yet no facts have been released and it’s far from clear what, if any, facts have been collected.

Human rights researchers who originally uncovered the case say they’ve seen no evidence of an active investigation.

The deaths happened as Taliban forces were collapsing in the wake of the American invasion of Afghanistan. Thousands of Taliban prisoners had surrendered to the forces of a U.S.-supported warlord named Abdul Rashid Dostum. The prisoners, say survivors and other witnesses, were stuffed into shipping containers without food or water. Many died of suffocation. Others were allegedly killed when Dostum’s men shot at the containers.

A few months later, a mass grave was found nearby in Dasht-i-Leili, a desert region of northern Afghanistan.

The New York Times reported in 2009 that the Bush administration, sensitive to criticism of a U.S. ally, had discouraged investigations into the incident. In response, Obama told CNN that “if it appears that our conduct in some way supported violations of the laws of war, I think that we have to know about that.”

A White House spokeswoman told ProPublica that there has indeed been some kind of review – and that it’s still ongoing: “At the direction of the President, his national security team is continuing its work looking into the Dasht-i-Leili massacre.” She declined to provide more details.

“This seems quite half-hearted and cynical,” said Susannah Sirkin, director of international policy at Physicians for Human Rights, the group that discovered the grave site in 2002 and since then has pushed for an investigation.

The group sent a letter to the president in December 2011, the tenth anniversary of the incident. In a follow-up meeting some months later, senior State Department officials told Physicians for Human Rights that there was nothing new to share.

“This has been a hot potato that no one wanted to deal with, and now it’s gone cold,” said Norah Niland, former director of human rights for the United Nations in Afghanistan.

Human rights advocates have long said the responsibility for a comprehensive investigation lies with the U.S., because American forces were allied with Dostum and his men at the time. Surviving prisoners have also claimed that Americans were present when the containers were loaded, though that’s never been corroborated.

A Pentagon spokesman told ProPublica that the Department of Defense “found no evidence of U.S. service member participation, knowledge, or presence. A broader review of the facts is beyond D.O.D.’s purview.” That initial review has never been made public.

At this point, say advocates, an investigation should address not just the question of U.S. involvement, but also what the U.S. did in the years that followed to foster accountability.

“I’m not saying Dostum ordered these people killed, and I’m not saying U.S. troops participated,” said Stefan Schmitt, a forensic specialist with Physicians for Human Rights. “All I’m saying is there are hundreds if not thousands of people that went missing. In a country that’s looking to have peace, to be under the rule of law, you need to answer these questions.”

Initially excited by Obama’s statement, researchers with Physicians for Human Rights peppered the administration with their findings. But the response was “murky at best,” said Sirkin.

“We were never very clear on who within the administration was delegated the task,” she said. Current and former administration officials interviewed by ProPublica couldn’t say which agency or department had the job.

Sirkin and others eventually resigned themselves to the fact that Obama, in his televised remarks, had not specifically called for a full investigation. With the U.S. now withdrawing from Afghanistan, many observers say it’s no surprise that investigating Dasht-i-Leili is no longer a priority.

Dostum still holds considerable sway in Northern Afghanistan, though he has fallen in and out of favor with the U.S. and with Afghan president Hamid Karzai. The Times recently reported Dostum is one of several former warlords to whom Karzai passes on thousands of dollars in cash he receives from the CIA each month. (We were unable to reach Dostum himself for this story.)

This has been a hot potato that no one wanted to deal with, and now it’s gone cold.

The Obama administration has been cool toward him in recent years, saying ahead of Afghanistan’s elections in 2009 that the U.S. “maintains concerns about any leadership role for Mr. Dostum in today’s Afghanistan.”

Back in 2001, Dostum was far more important to the U.S. He was a U.S. proxy, fighting the Taliban as part of the Northern Alliance. American Special Forces famously rode on horseback alongside Dostum’s men, advising and calling in airstrikes. The alliance took the city of Mazar-i-Sharif from the Taliban in one of the first major victories of the invasion in early November 2001.

The shipping container deaths occurred a few weeks later, when Taliban fighters who had surrendered to the Northern Alliance at the city of Kunduz were en route to a prison about 200 miles away.

That winter, Physicians for Human Rights discovered a mass grave at Dasht-i-Leili. A preliminary investigation exhumed several bodies that appeared to have died from suffocation. Stories began to circulate in the region and Newsweek and others published detailed accounts from surviving prisoners, truck drivers, and other witnesses.

The Times also reported that an FBI agent interviewing new Afghan arrivals to Guantanamo Bay prison in early 2002 heard consistent accounts of prisoners “stacked like cordwood,” and death by suffocation and shooting. When the agent pressed for an investigation, he was reportedly told it was not his responsibility.

Dostum has said that he would welcome an investigation. He said that some 200 prisoners had indeed died in transit, but that the deaths were unintentional, the result of battlefield wounds.

Other estimates put the toll much higher.

A widely cited State Department memo from fall 2002 said that “the actual number may approach 2,000.”

Around the same time, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell tasked his Ambassador for War Crimes, Pierre-Richard Prosper, with looking into Dasht-i-Leili. Prosper told ProPublica that due to the U.S. alliance with Dostum, Washington felt the U.S. should not take the lead in an investigation.

“We were in the middle of fighting, and we thought we should keep the lines clear, let someone else, the U.N. or Afghans, handle this,” said Prosper.

But the newly installed Afghan government had neither the will nor the resources for a thorough investigation, and U.N. officials said they could not guarantee security. Witnesses and others involved in Dasht-i-Leili had already been killed and harassed, according to State Department memos.

A declassified Defense Department memo from February 2003 indicates the U.S. was not providing security for an investigation. The memo’s author, Marshall Billingslea, told the Times in 2009, “I did get the sense that there was little appetite for this matter within parts of D.O.D.” (Billingslea did not respond to our requests for comment.)

As the years went by, no one from the U.S., the U.N., or Afghanistan guarded the grave site. In 2008, reporters and researchers found empty pits where they had once found human remains. Satellite photos obtained later showed what appeared to be earth-moving equipment in the desert in 2006. Locals told McClatchy that Dostum’s men had dug up the graves.

After Obama pledged in 2009 to look into the case, a parallel inquiry was begun the next year in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by current Secretary of State John Kerry.

The fate of that investigation is also unclear. The lead investigator, John Kiriakou, was a former CIA officer who was caught up in a criminal leak prosecution and is now in prison. Other Senate staffers could not provide details on Kiriakou’s efforts. Physicians for Human Rights says contact from the committee fizzled out within a year.

New attention to Dasht-i-Leili had also been sparked within the U.N.’s mission in Afghanistan and the organization’s High Commission on Human Rights, former U.N. officials said.

However, Peter Galbraith, who was the U.N.’s deputy special representative for Afghanistan until the fall of 2009, told ProPublica that “an investigation would’ve required a push from the U.S. It required the cooperation of the coalition forces.” (Neither the U.N. mission in Afghanistan nor the office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights responded to our requests for comment.)

The mass grave at Dasht-i-Leili is one of many left unexamined in Afghanistan. In late 2011, the nation’s Independent Human Rights Commission concluded a massive report on decades of war crimes and human rights abuses, which reportedly documents 180 mass graves across the country. The region near Dasht-i-Leili is also believed to hold the remains of civilians massacred by the Taliban in 1998, in what Human Rights Watch called ”one of the single worst examples of killings of civilians in Afghanistan’s twenty-year war.” In all, the report named 500 individuals responsible for mass killings – some of whom hold prominent government positions.

American and Afghan officials reportedly discouraged publication of the report, and the commission has still not made it public. “It’s going to reopen all the old wounds,” an American Embassy official told the New York Times last year. Afghanistan also recently adopted an amnesty law offering blanket immunity for past war crimes.

Nader Nadery, the commissioner responsible for the report, told ProPublica: “I haven’t seen any political or even rhetorical support of investigations into Dasht-i-Leili or any other investigation into past atrocities, from either Bush or Obama.”

That the National Security Agency has engaged in such activity isn’t entirely new: Since 9/11, we’ve learned about large-scale surveillance by the spy agency from a patchwork of official statements, classified documents, and anonymously sourced news stories.

Surveillance court created

Sen. Frank Church  (D-Idaho) led the investigation.

After a post-Watergate Senate investigation documented abuses of government surveillance, Congress passes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to regulate how the government can monitor suspected spies or terrorists in the U.S. The law establishes a secret court that issues warrants for electronic surveillance or physical searches of a “foreign power” or “agents of a foreign power” (broadly defined in the law). The government doesn’t have to demonstrate probable cause of a crime, just that the “purpose of the surveillance is to obtain foreign intelligence information.”

The court’s sessions and opinions are classified. The only information we have is a yearly report to the Senate documenting the number of “applications” made by the government. Since 1978, the court has approved thousands of applications – and rejected just 11.

Oct. 2001

Patriot Act passed

President George W. Bush signs the Patriot Act.

In the wake of 9/11, Congress passes the sweeping USA Patriot Act. One provision, section 215, allows the FBI to ask the FISA court to compel the sharing of books, business documents, tax records, library check-out lists – actually, “any tangible thing” – as part of a foreign intelligence or international terrorism investigation. The required material can include purely domestic records.

Oct. 2003

‘Vacuum-cleaner surveillance’ of the Internet

Mark Klein

AT&T technician Mark Klein discovers what he believes to be newly installed NSA data-mining equipment in a “secret room” at a company facility in San Francisco. Klein, who several years later goes public with his story to support a lawsuit against the company, believes the equipment enables “vacuum-cleaner surveillance of all the data crossing the Internet – whether that be peoples’ e-mail, web surfing or any other data.”

March 2004

Ashcroft hospital showdown

Attorney General John Ashcroft

In what would become one of the most famous moments of the Bush Administration, presidential aides Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales show up at the hospital bed of John Ashcroft. Their purpose? To convince the seriously ill attorney general to sign off on the extension of a secret domestic spying program. Ashcroft refuses, believing the warrantless program to be illegal.

The hospital showdown was first reported by the New York Times, but two years later Newsweek provided more detail, describing a program that sounds similar to the one the Guardian revealed this week. The NSA, Newsweek reported citing anonymous sources, collected without court approval vast quantities of phone and email metadata “with cooperation from some of the country’s largest telecommunications companies” from “tens of millions of average Americans.” The magazine says the program itself began in September 2001 and was shut down in March 2004 after the hospital incident. But Newsweek also raises the possibility that Bush may have found new justification to continue some of the activity.

Dec. 2005

Warrantless wiretapping revealed

Michael Hayden, director of the NSA when the warrantless wiretapping began

The Times, over the objections of the Bush Administration, reveals that since 2002 the government “monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants.” The program involves actually listening in on phone calls and reading emails without seeking permission from the FISA Court.

Jan. 2006

Bush defends wiretapping

President Bush speaks at Kansas State University.

President Bush defends what he calls the “terrorist surveillance program” in a speech in Kansas. He says the program only looks at calls in which one end of the communication is overseas.

March 2006

Patriot Act renewed

The Senate and House pass legislation to renew the USA Patriot Act with broad bipartisan support and President Bush signs it into law. It includes a few new protections for records required to be produced under the controversial section 215.

May 2006

Mass collection of call data revealed

USA Today reports that the NSA has been collecting data since 2001 on phone records of “tens of millions of Americans” through three major phone companies, Verizon, AT&T, and BellSouth (though the companies level of involvement is later disputed.) The data collected does not include content of calls but rather data like phone numbers for analyzing communication patterns.

As with the wiretapping program revealed by the Times, the NSA data collection occurs without warrants, according to USA Today. Unlike the wiretapping program, the NSA data collection was not limited to international communications.

2006

Court authorizes collection of call data

The mass data collection reported by the Guardian this week apparently was first authorized by the FISA court in 2006, though exactly when is not clear. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, said Thursday, “As far as I know, this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been in place for the past seven years.” Similarly, the Washington Post quoted an anonymous “expert in this aspect of the law” who said the document published by the Guardian appears to be a “routine renewal” of an order first issued in 2006.

It’s not clear whether these orders represent court approval of the previously warrantless data collection that USA Today described.

Jan. 2007

Bush admin says surveillance now operating with court approval

Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announces that the FISA court has allowed the government to target international communications that start or end in the U.S., as long as one person is “a member or agent of al Qaeda or an associated terrorist organization.” Gonzalez says the government is ending the “terrorist surveillance program,” and bringing such cases under FISA approval.

Aug. 2007

Congress expands surveillance powers

The FISA court reportedly changes its stance and puts more limits on the Bush administration’s surveillance (the details of the court’s move are still not known.) In response, Congress quickly passes, and President Bush signs, a stopgap law, the Protect America Act.

In many cases, the government can now get blanket surveillance warrants without naming specific individuals as targets. To do that, the government needs to show that they’re not intentionally targeting people in the U.S., even if domestic communications are swept up in the process.

Sept. 2007

Prism begins

The FBI and the NSA get access to user data from Microsoft under a top-secret program known as Prism, according to an NSA PowerPoint briefing published by the Washington Post and the Guardian this week. In subsequent years, the government reportedly gets data from eight other companies including Apple and Google. “The extent and nature of the data collected from each company varies,” according to the Guardian.

July 2008

Congress renews broader surveillance powers

Congress follows up the Protect America Act with another law, the FISA Amendments Act, extending the government’s expanded spying powers for another four years. The law now approaches the kind of warrantless wiretapping that occurred earlier in Bush administration. Senator Obama votes for the act.

The act also gives immunity to telecom companies for their participation in warrantless wiretapping.

April 2009

NSA ‘overcollects’

The New York Times reports that for several months, the NSA had gotten ahold of domestic communications it wasn’t supposed to. The Times says it was likely the result of “technical problems in the NSA’s ability” to distinguish between domestic and overseas communications. The Justice Department says the problems have been resolved.

Feb. 2010

Controversial Patriot Act provision extended

President Obama

President Obama signs a temporary one-year extension of elements of the Patriot Act that were set to expire — including Section 215, which grants the government broad powers to seize records.

May 2011

Patriot Act renewed, again

The House and Senate pass legislation to extend the overall Patriot Act. President Obama, who is in Europe as the law is set to expire, directs the bill to be signed with an “autopen” machine in his stead. It’s the first time in history a U.S. president has done so.

March 2012

Senators warn cryptically of overreach

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

In a letter to the attorney general, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Mark Udall, D-Colo., write, “We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details” of how the government has interpreted Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Because the program is classified, the senators offer no further details.

July 2012

Court finds unconstitutional surveillance

According to a declassified statement by Wyden, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held on at least one occasion that information collection carried out by the government was unconstitutional. But the details of that episode, including when it happened, have never been revealed.

Dec. 2012

Broad powers again extended

President Obama

Congress extends the FISA Amendments Act another five years, and Obama signs it into law. Sens. Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both Oregon Democrats, offer amendments requiring more disclosure about the law’s impact. The proposals fail.

April 2013

Verizon order issued

As the Guardian revealed this week, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Roger Vinson issues a secret court order directing Verizon Business Network Services to turn over “metadata” — including the time, duration and location of phone calls, though not what was said on the calls — to the NSA for all calls over the next three months. Verizon is ordered to deliver the records “on an ongoing daily basis.” The Wall Street Journal reports this week that AT&T and Sprint have similar arrangements.

The Verizon order cites Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the FBI to request a court order that requires a business to turn over “any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items)” relevant to an international spying or terrorism investigation. In 2012, the government asked for 212 such orders, and the court approved them all.

June 2013

Congress and White House respond

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper

Following the publication of the Guardian’s story about the Verizon order, Sens. Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the chair and vice of the Senate intelligence committee, hold a news conference to dismiss criticism of the order. “This is nothing particularly new,” Chambliss says. “This has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the FISA authority, and every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledges the collection of phone metadata but says the information acquired is “subject to strict restrictions on handling” and that “only a very small fraction of the records are ever reviewed.” Clapper alsoissues a statement saying that the collection under the Prism program was justified under the FISA Amendments of 2008, and that it is not “intentionally targeting” any American or person in the U.S.

Statements from the tech companies reportedly taking part in the Prism program variously disavow knowledge of the program and merely state in broad terms they follow the law.

Europe stands on the edge of a precipice, looking into the abyss. Austerity policies drive the people of Europe into poverty, undercut democracy and dismantle social policies. Rising inequalities endanger social cohesion. Ecological destruction is worsening while acute humanitarian crises devastate the most affected countries. Women and young people are hardest hit.

The European oligarchy employs ever more authoritarian methods to prop up a failed neoliberal system – all this despite widespread protest and resistance. Democracy and peace are under threat. Discrimination, based on religion, racism, homophobia or sexism and nationalism are on the rise and the crisis is deepening daily. The very existence of the European Union is now at risk while current policies weaken solidarity among European people.

Our most urgent priority is to build Europe on the basis of equality, solidarity, and authentic democracy. EU institutions and European governments now serve the interests of financial markets, with no respect for popular sovereignty. They must be brought under democratic control, just as the public interest must prevail and ecological and social needs be met. We base our demands for a democratic, social, ecological and feminist Europe on these principles, in solidarity with the people of the world.

I) End Debt Slavery

Public debt stems from economic and political choices still on the agenda of EU institutions and European governments. Decades of regressive tax policies have consciously and outrageously enriched a small minority whereas public revenues have declined and public entities using public money have bailed out failed banks. Austerity policies have drained household and small business resources and made the recession worse. Speculation on government bonds is commonplace for private banks while public finance has been tainted by corruption and collusion between politicians and private economic interests.

Moreover, in many countries private, as opposed to national debt, is due to household borrowing, aggressively promoted by the financial sector and governments in order to compensate for the stagnation of real wages while prices were rising.

The measures imposed by European institutions and governments are designed to make the people pay for this debt. However, in large part, this debt can be considered illegitimate since it was amassed with no regard for the common good. It is now clear that some countries will never be able to reimburse their debt.

Human rights must come before debt service and human needs before profit. As a matter of urgency, we demand European-wide measures to free people from the pressures of financial markets and austerity policies. Fiscal, tax and monetary policies must be changed so as to defuse the debt trap.

Our common and urgent demands:

  1. Cancel immediately the ‘memoranda’ imposed by the Troika upon over-indebted countries. Cancel as well a considerable share of the public debt without harming the interests of small bondholders, savers and pensioners. Banks and the financial sector must take their share of the losses. Specific amounts to be cancelled should be defined democratically. In this regard, citizen debt audits can serve as a useful tool.
  2. Suspend repayments until populations are protected against worsening poverty and employment and until economic development and ecological transition are ensured, public services strengthened and social and economic rights consolidated.
  3. Target the richest segment of the population with a one-off wealth levy.
  4. Mandate and oblige the European Central Bank and other public European banking institutions to lend directly to states at low interest and under democratic supervision without neoliberal “reform” programme conditionality.

II) Toward an Ecological and Social Europe:
Roll Back Austerity

Throughout Europe, particularly on its southern and eastern rims, harsh austerity policies are imposed, supposedly for the sake of debt repayment and reduction. Entire populations are overburdened, public spending is cut dramatically in essential areas, valuable investments in research or industrial activities are downgraded although they could contribute to a social and ecological transition.

 These austerity policies enforced by EU institutions and European governments create a downward spiral, destroy economies, add to deficits, debt, unemployment and poverty and intensify the ecological crisis and the looting of the environment. Meanwhile, a small minority continues to enrich itself unduly.

Today, more than half of European wealth is captured by 10 per cent of the population. Present policies are intentionally designed to maintain these inequalities as well as the neoliberal model which is devastating the planet and undermining democratic and social rights.

We demand a complete reversal of these policies and a different model of society that ensures social justice, equality, a fair distribution of wealth, ecological sustainability and protection of the commons.

Our common and urgent demands:

  1. Roll back austerity now: it is driving Europe deeper into recession. Cancel or veto the treaties and regulations that underpin it, such as the Fiscal Pact, the Six-Pack, the Two-Pack or the Pact for Competitiveness currently negotiated. Trade imbalances within the Monetary Union must be reduced by adjusting surplus country policies, not by imposing austerity on the deficit countries. Fiscal policy should remain a democratic choice.
  2. Ensure tax justice with a just, progressive and permanent taxation system on revenues, wealth and corporate profits, with effective minimum rates applied in all European countries. Revoke increases of consumption taxes such as VAT and drastically reduce those on basic goods. Outlaw tax havens and strengthen measures against fraud and tax avoidance and evasion.
  3. Develop public, Europe-wide investment programs under social control for a social and ecological transition. This transition should be based on an industrial and agricultural policy that addresses the ecological crisis as well as the need to create millions of quality jobs and should rely on ecologically sustainable and socially useful activities in the public interest. Among these would figure increased investment in education, energy transition, public transportation, and food sovereignty. It would simultaneously require cutting military spending and socially and ecologically harmful expenditure. EU and national budgets should also be reoriented in this direction.
  4. Strengthen and develop the social and ecological commons, redefine and expand public services, including health, scientific research, education, early childhood nurturing, transport and energy, water, information and culture, public housing, credit and so on. Stop all privatization of these services, establish their public or cooperative ownership and manage them democratically.

III) Rights for All: No to Poverty and Precariousness

Austerity policies attack economic and social rights and dismantle social protection. They lead to a drop in the standard of living and in many countries to acute humanitarian distress. The consequences are massive unemployment as well as a serious downgrading of working and living conditions. These, in turn, lead to unacceptable increases in poverty: today, 120 million people in the EU are poor.

In the present context of the crisis, these measures are taken even further. They attack labour rights and the role of unions, including their capacity to organize and bargain collectively. They impose competitiveness as a principle in order to divide people, increase profits, lower wages, and turn nature and human activities into commodities. Free trade agreements also foster social, ecological and fiscal dumping.

People living in precarious conditions, unemployed, disabled and pensioners are hardest hit. Among them, women, young people and migrants are first in line. Women are particularly affected by attacks on labour rights and are also obliged to compensate for the demolition of public services with unpaid care work; migrants’ basic rights are denied and an entire generation of European youth is subjected to unprecedented joblessness and social decline.

We demand that every person enjoy effective democratic, economic, environmental and social rights.

Our common and urgent demands:

  1. Restore the right to bargain collectively and the right of collective action; Safeguard or reinstate collective agreements and labour rights under threat from austerity packages. Guarantee democracy inside the work-place as a fundamental workers’ right. ILO standards and the European Social Charter must be applied to all workers, including migrants. Put a stop to precarious work.
  2. End social and wage dumping in Europe and in the world, including through international agreements; promote a common ground of collective guarantees in Europe that can ensure high-level social security systems and economic rights.
  3. Increase wages, establish an adequate minimum wage for every worker set by law or binding collective agreement in each country and a minimum income sufficient for a dignified life. Decrease working hours without decreasing wages and ensure a just division of unpaid care work; promote quality and sustainable employment for all with decent working conditions. Decrease radically salary differentials in the same company.
  4. Protect security of tenure of indebted households and generally the right of all people to decent housing. Ensure effective access to prevention and quality healthcare for all.
  5. Impose equality of wages, pensions and career development between women and men and outlaw discrimination at work based on gender, ethnic origin, nationality or sexual orientation. Vigorously oppose violence against women.
  6. Strengthen the social and political protagonism of migrants. Oppose the politics of criminalization of migrants and refugees. Secure equal rights for migrants and the granting of asylum, close detention camps, close the FRONTEX Agency and end its EU border operations.

IV) For a Democratic Economy: Make Banks Serve the Public Interest

 The collapse of the private banking system in 2008 was not an accident but rather a direct consequence of finance serving only shareholders and speculators to the detriment of the public interest. In recent decades, governments have both authorized and encouraged this system by consenting to every demand of the financial industry. Many public or cooperatively-owned credit institutions previously devoted to financing useful regional activities have been privatized. Meanwhile, the absence of regulation has allowed criminal organizations worldwide to launder money and invest their huge profits freely.

 Governments responded to the crisis by injecting hundreds of billions of euros into bank rescues at the expense of taxpayers and provided financial interests with unconditional guarantees, thereby strengthening the private banks even further.

In order to make the banking sector and the financial industry serve the public interest, society and the environment from now on, the disproportionate power of financial institutions must be curbed through strict regulation and public and democratic control over banks.

Our common and urgent demands:

  1. Review the extensive guarantees granted to private finance and exercise public control in the event of bank failures so as to avoid negative impacts on society. The shareholders of failed banks as well as their creditors must take their share of losses. Bailed-out banks must be socialized.
  2. Impose effective and strict regulation of banks and other financial institutions. Enforce complete separation of commercial and investment banks. Prohibit the use of tax havens and off-balance sheet activities. Abolish bank secrecy rules. Tax financial transactions and restore control over capital inflows or outflows. Break up “too big to fail” banks.
  3. Enforce democratic and social control of banks and financial institutions. Orient credit toward job-creating activities that encourage social and ecological development. Give priority and incentives to publicly and collectively owned cooperative public credit systems.

STAND UP FOR DEMOCRACY!

Current developments in Europe represent an outright denial of democracy. Democratic debate is silenced, repression against social movements is increasing and divisions are encouraged between people and between countries. The predictable outcome is the rise of racist, right-wing or fascist movements as resentment is partly directed against migrants, poor people, minorities, foreigners, and/or other European people. The best way to defeat these movements is to get rid of austerity.

Alternatives exist: our responsibility is to change the balance of power in order to impose them and build genuine political, social and economic democracy in Europe.

Because we refuse to be governed by a self-appointed European oligarchy,

Because we refuse the exploitation of people and nature in Europe and in the rest of the world,

Because we reject the European Union’s contribution to conflict and militarization,

Because we call for an end to the exploitation and the oppression of women and for a break with the patriarchal system,

Because we want real democracy, real participation and popular sovereignty,

Because we want a society that gives priority to ecological and social needs,

We are building a united movement for a democratic, social, ecological and feminist Europe!

We are supporting and strengthening each other’s struggles;

We pledge to join forces and to fight together to make our demands a reality through national and European actions.

The Alter Summit in Athens on June 7 and 8, 2013 is an important step in this direction. •

How the Pentagon Removes Entire Peoples

June 9th, 2013 by David Swanson

If we think at all about our government’s military depopulating territory that it desires, we usually think of the long-ago replacement of native Americans with new settlements during the continental expansion of the United States westward.

Here in Virginia some of us are vaguely aware that back during the Great Depression poor people were evicted from their homes and their land where national parks were desired.  But we distract and comfort ourselves with the notion that such matters are deep in the past.

Occasionally we notice that environmental disasters are displacing people, often poor people or marginalized people, from their homes.  But these incidents seem like collateral damage rather than intentional ethnic cleansing.

If we’re aware of the 1,000 or so U.S. military bases standing today in some 175 foreign countries, we must realize that the land they occupy could serve some other purpose in the lives of those countries’ peoples.  But surely those countries’ peoples are still there, still living — if perhaps slightly inconvenienced — in their countries.

Yet the fact is that the U.S. military has displaced and continues to displace for the construction of its bases the entire populations of villages and islands, in blatant violation of international law, basic human decency, and principles we like to tell each other we stand for.  The United States also continues to deny displaced populations the right to return to their homelands.

At issue here are not the bombings or burnings of entire villages, which of course the United States engages in during its wars and its non-wars.  Nor are we dealing here with the millions of refugees created by wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan or by drone wars like the one in Pakistan.  Rather, the following are cases of the intentional displacement of particular populations moved out of the way of base construction and left alive to struggle as refugees in exile.

In the Philippines, the United States built bases on land belonging to the indigenous Aetas people, who “ended up combing military trash to survive.”

During World War II the U.S. Navy seized the small Hawaiian island of Koho’alawe for a weapons testing range and ordered its inhabitants to leave.  The island has been devastated.

In 1942, the Navy displaced Aleutian Islanders.

President Harry Truman made up his mind that the 170 native inhabitants of Bikini Atoll had no right to their island.  He had them evicted in February and March of 1946, and dumped as refugees on other islands without means of support or a social structure in place.  In the coming years, the United States would remove 147 people from Enewetak Atoll and all the people on Lib Island.  U.S. atomic and hydrogen bomb testing rendered various depopulated and still-populated islands uninhabitable, leading to further displacements.  Up through the 1960s, the U.S. military displaced hundreds of people from Kwajalein Atoll.  A super-densely populated ghetto was created on Ebeye.

On Vieques, off Puerto Rico, the Navy displaced thousands of inhabitants between 1941 and 1947, announced plans to evict the remaining 8,000 in 1961, but was forced to back off and — in 2003 — to stop bombing the island.

On nearby Culebra, the Navy displaced thousands between 1948 and 1950 and attempted to remove those remaining up through the 1970s.

The Navy is right now looking at the island of Pagan as a possible replacement for Vieques, the population already having been removed by a volcanic eruption.  Of course, any possibility of return would be greatly diminished.

Beginning during World War II and continuing through the 1950s, the U.S. military displaced a quarter million Okinawans, or half the population, from their land, forcing people into refugee camps and shipping thousands of them off to Bolivia — where land and money were promised but not delivered.

In 1953, the United States made a deal with Denmark to remove 150 Inughuit people from Thule, Greenland, giving them four days to get out or face bulldozers.  They are being denied the right to return.

 DIEGO GARCIA

The story of Diego Garcia is superbly told in David Vine’s book, Island of Shame.  Between 1968 and 1973, the United States and Great Britain exiled all 1,500 to 2,000 inhabitants from this island in the Indian Ocean.  On orders from, and with funding from, the United States, the British forced the people onto overcrowded ships and dumped them on docks in Mauritius and the Seychelles — foreign and distant and unwelcoming lands for this indigenous population that had been part of Diego Garcia for centuries.  U.S. documents described this as “sweeping” and “sanitizing” the island.

Those responsible for the displacement of the people of Diego Garcia knew that what they were doing was widely considered barbaric and illegal.  They devised ways of creating “logical cover” for the process.  They persuaded the ever-compliant Washington Post to bury the story.  The Queen of England and her Privy Council bypassed Parliament.  The Pentagon lied to Congress and hid its payments to the British from Congress.  The planners even lied to themselves.  Having originally envisioned a communications station, they concluded that advances in technology had rendered that unhelpful.  So, Navy schemers decided that a fueling station for ships might offer a “suitable justification” for building a base that was actually a purposeless end in itself.  But the Pentagon ended up telling a reluctant Congress that the base would be a communications station, because that was something Congress would approve.

Those plotting the eviction of the island’s people created the fiction that the inhabitants were migrant workers not actually native to Diego Garcia.  Sir Paul Gore-Booth, Permanent Under Secretary in the Foreign Office of the U.K., dismissed the island’s people as “some few Tarzans or Men Fridays whose origins are obscure.”  This stood in contrast to the respect and protection given to some other islands not chosen for bases because of the rare plants, birds, and animals resident there.

On January 24, 1971, remaining inhabitants of Diego Garcia were told they’d need to leave or be shot.  They were allowed to take a small box of possessions, but had to leave their homes, their gardens, their animals, their land, and their society.  Their dogs were rounded up and killed in a gas chamber as they watched, waiting to themselves be loaded on ships for departure.  Arriving in Mauritius, they were housed in a prison.  Their fate has not much improved in the decades since.  David Vine describes them as very forgiving, wishing nothing but to be permitted to return.

Diego Garcia is purely a military base and in some ways more of a lawless zone than Guantanamo.  The United States has kept and may be keeping prisoners there, on the island or on ships in the harbor.  The Red Cross and journalists do not visit.  The United States has de facto control of Diego Garcia, while the U.K. has technical ownership.  The Pentagon is not interested in allowing the island’s people to return.

 JEJU ISLAND

The South Korean government, at the behest of the U.S. Navy, is in the process of devastating a village, its coast, and 130 acres of farmland on Jeju Island with a massive military base.  This story is best told in Regis Tremblay’s new film The Ghosts of Jeju.  This is not a tragedy from the past to be remedied but a tragedy of this moment to be halted in its tracks.  You can help.  Tremblay’s film examines the history of decades of abuse of the people of Jeju, and the resistance movement that is currently inspiring other anti-base efforts around the globe.  The film begins somber and ends joyful.  I highly recommend creating an event around a screening of it.

 PALESTINE

We should not neglect to note here that the United States funds and arms and protects the Israeli government’s ongoing displacement of Palestinians and denial of the right to return.

The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” wrote William Faulkner.

Freedom in America: Rest in Peace

June 9th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Political philosopher Montesquieu (1989 – 1755) once said:

“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.”

International, constitutional and US statute laws no longer matter. Obama declared them null and void. He does so by disregarding them.

He consigned them to the dustbin of history. They’ve been heading there for years. Post-9/11, state terror accelerated.

Bush administration rogues enacted numerous police state laws. Previous articles discussed them. Constitutionality was ignored. Obama added his own. Doing so exceeded the worst of his predecessor’s policies.

Unconstitutional mass surveillance is official US policy. What Bush began, Obama accelerated. He did so straightaway as president.

Free societies don’t tolerate these practices. Obama authorized them secretly. He subverted constitutional law. He violated the public trust. He broke a key campaign pledge.

On January 8, 2008, he promised to end Bush/Cheney practices. Under an Obama administration, he said, they’ll be no “wiretaps without warrants.”

Straightaway as president he authorized them. On Friday, he tried defending the indefensible. He fell short and then some. His comments belie his policies.

“When I came into this office,” he said, “I made two commitments that are more important than any commitment I made: number one to keep the American people safe, and number two to uphold the Constitution.”

Americans have never been less safe. Freedom is more illusion than reality. Obama’s done more to subvert constitutional law than any previous president. He made freedom a four-letter word.

“You can’t have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience,” he claimed.

“We’re going to have to make some choices as a society. I think that on balance, we have established a process and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable about.”

Obama made all the wrong choices. He violated constitutional law doing so. America’s unsafe to live in. Police state priorities threaten everyone.

Obama claimed surveillance “help(s) prevent terrorist attacks.” He lied saying so. No terrorist threat whatever exists. It didn’t earlier. It doesn’t now.

Obama called what’s ongoing “modest encroachments on privacy.” It’s sweeping, pervasive and lawless.

He urged Americans to trust him, Congress and federal courts. Why anyone would do so, they’ll have to explain.

“When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” he said. “That’s not what this program is about. As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls.”

“They are not looking at people’s names and they are not looking at content.” Permission to do so, he claimed, requires “go(ing) back to a federal judge just like (for) a criminal investigation.”

“With respect to the Internet and emails, this does not apply to US citizens and it does not apply to people living in the United States.”

False on all counts. Civil libertarians expressed outraged. John Simpson heads Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project. He calls what’s ongoing “a completely unwarranted violation of our constitutional rights.”

Obama authorized sweeping domestic spying. He did so unconstitutionally. He institutionalized it. It’s ongoing daily. It’s warrantless.

The 2012 FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act renewed warrantless spying for another five years. It violated constitutional protections doing so.

Phone calls, emails, and other communications may be monitored secretly without court authorization.

Probable cause isn’t needed. So-called “foreign intelligence information” sought means virtually anything. Vague language is all-embracing.

Hundreds of millions of Americans are targeted. Major telecom and Internet companies cooperate. They do so willingly.

All three branches of government are involved. They’re complicit in sweeping lawlessness. Congress is regularly briefly. Bipartisan leaders are fully on board. So are US courts.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) called what’s ongoing the most sweeping surveillance ever ordered. It’s challenging administration practices to stop them.

CCR v. Obama is currently pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Initially it was filed against Bush, NSA director General Keith Alexander, and heads of other major US security agencies.

At issue is lawless, secretive, warrantless surveillance. CCR sought a cease and desist injunction. In January 2007, Bush administration officials claimed the program ended. They lied saying so.

In August 2007, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) became law. Included is a Protect America Act (PAA) amendment. It permits unrestricted warrantless data-mining.

It claims to restrict surveillance to foreign nationals “reasonably believed to be outside the United States.”

Not so! The law targets virtually everyone domestically. It does so if the Attorney General or Director of National Intelligence claims they pose a potential terrorist or national security threat. No corroborating evidence is needed.

CCR challenged PAA in court. It did so in January 2006. It called NSA surveillance illegal. It lacks judicial approval or statutory authorization.

It violates “FISA’s clear criminal prohibitions.” It exceeds executive authority under the Constitution’s Article II. It breaches the First and Fourth Amendments. CCR wants data and other information collected under PAA destroyed.

On January 31, 2011, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed CCR’s case. In April, CCR appealed. The Ninth Circuit initially scheduled oral arguments on June 1, 2012.

On May 21, 2012, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a similar ACLU case. It challenged the 2008 FISA Amendments Act’s constitutionality.

The Ninth Circuit postponed arguments until the High Court ruled. On February 26, 2013, it dismissed ACLU’s case. It did so 5 – 4.

The Ninth Circuit requested supplemental CCR briefs by April 26, 2013. Previously it said it would reschedule oral arguments. On June 3, “the panel indicated that it would submit the case for resolution without oral argument.”

There’s more. Obama’s waging war on freedom globally. On June 7, London’s Guardian headlined “Obama orders US to draw up overseas target list for cyber-attacks.”

He did so by secret presidential directive. It was issued last October. A copy was leaked to The Guardian.

It says Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO) “can offer unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging.”

Washington will “identify potential targets of national importance where OCEO can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk as compared with other instruments of national power.”

It suggests operating domestically the same way. Perhaps human rights organizations, anti-war activists, social justice advocates, independent journalists, alternative media web sites, and other individuals and organizations challenging lawless government practices will be targeted.

Everyone is vulnerable. Police states operate that way. America’s by far the worst. Obama’s waging war on freedom. It may not survive on his watch.

Unrestricted surveillance, other police state laws, and global cyber attacks constitute full-scale war to destroy it.

According to Professor Sean Lawson:

“When militarist cyber rhetoric results in use of offensive cyber attack it is likely that those attacks will escalate into physical, kinetic uses of force.”

Cyberwar is official US policy. An unnamed intelligence source told The Guardian that cyber attacks are commonplace. Foreign computer systems are hacked. Doing so seeks information wanted.

“We hack everyone everywhere,” the source said. “We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world.”

Obama bears full responsibility. He signed numerous police state laws on his watch. He authorized lawless surveillance and cyberwar. He did so unconstitutionally. Claiming otherwise doesn’t wash. Documents The Guardian obtained refute his claims. US policy is do what we say, not what we do.

According to The Guardian, Obama’s “move to establish a potentially aggressive cyber warfare doctrine will heighten fears over the increasing militarization of the internet.”

On June 7, Gizmodo.co.uk headlined “Anonymous Just Leaked a Trove of NSA Documents. Included are DOD plans for Internet control. Information on NSA’s Prism program were released.

A link provided (http://thedocs.hostzi.com/) fails to gain access. Perhaps Anonymous was hacked.

Information the Guardian posted relates to nine or more major online companies cooperating with lawless NSA spying. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, YouTube and others are involved.

Prism gives NSA access to search histories, emails, file transfers and live chats. It’s gotten directly from US provider servers. Doing so facilitates mass surveillance. Google denied involvement, saying:

It “cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully.”

“From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data.”

Previous articles discussed Google’s involvement with Bilderberg. CEO Eric Schmidt’s a regular conference attendee. He’s participating now in suburban London.

Infowars reporters Paul Joseph Watson and Jon Scobie said Google and Bilderberg are “merging.” Schmidt thinks “privacy is a relic of the past.”

He wants Google transformed into “the ultimate Big Brother.” Conspiring with Bilderberg and NSA are key ways to do it. Company deniability doesn’t wash. Google operations are very suspect.

CIA funding reportedly launched them. Allying with Bilderberg shows what’s at stake. Bilderberg wants Internet control through “cyber resistance.”

It wants a ministry of truth established. It wants all public information controlled. Google’s apparently on board to help. Obama’s very much involved. He’s waging full-scale war on freedom. It may not survive on his watch.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

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.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/freedom-in-america-rest-in-peace/

“What we must now tackle at an international level is war reparations. The war is over unless of course the West decides to continue this war e.g. with a no fly zone. That would be an extremely dangerous option at this stage because Syria has an advanced air defense system.”

Press TV has conducted an interview with Michel Chossudovsky, Center for Research on Globalization, Montreal, on the back of UN concern for the Syrian war spilling over into other countries.

The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.

 If unable to view download at: 

 http://64.150.186.181/presstv/site%20video/06-08-2013/chussodovsky.mp4

Press TV: The UN is warning of an explosion in the Middle East if the war on Syria continues. The question is what has the UN itself done to prevent the war from exacerbating?

Chossudovsky: First of all, that statement was made by the head of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. And the statement says that if the fighting doesn’t stop… the fighting is going to stop because the terrorists have been defeated.

And essentially if Western powers put a moratorium on their support to these al-Qaeda affiliated rebels, the war is over – at least, the ground war is over. Recent developments suggest and confirm that the country is under the control of the Syrian government. The rebel forces have been defeated in al-Qusayr and they’ve also been defeated in other parts of the country.

The question of humanitarian aid has to be, from my standpoint, addressed because, who are the protagonists of humanitarian aid, so-called humanitarian aid? Precisely the countries, which supported these rebel terrorists.

And I think what we should be raising at this stage is that it is well established that this war was waged by the United States, NATO and Israel with the support of the [Persian] Gulf states, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in particular and that under international law what is now required is war reparations.

So I would say: let us put the “humanitarian dimension” aside and focus on the billions and billions of dollars of war reparations, which are due to the Syrian government as a result of the illegal support of these terrorist formations in Syria, which constitute essentially the ground forces – the foot soldiers of the Western military alliance.

Press TV: The recent victory in Qusayr and the recent revelation that Israeli-made weapons were seized from Syrian insurgents – What impact will this have on the dynamics of the conflict?

Chossudovsky: We’ve known from day one that Israel has supported al-Qaeda. And we also know that Israel has channeled weapons and logistic support to the rebels in the areas surrounding the occupied areas of the Golan Heights. And in fact Israel even established a hospital facility for the al-Qaeda rebels and was busing them back and forth, taking the wounded to the hospital and then sending them back to the war theatre.

Israel was involved in acts of aggression against a sovereign state together with NATO, particularly Turkey, Britain, France, the United States. French and British Special Forces, including SAS forces, MI6 and CIA agents were involved – We know it because it’s documented. Who is training the rebels in chemical weapons? The Western military alliance.

Prime Minister Laurent Fabius of France comes out –and it’s the typical sort of weapons of mass destruction saga– accusing the government of using chemical weapons against civilians when in fact CNN confirms that Western forces are training the rebels in the use of chemical weapons; when the Turkish police arrests al-Qaeda rebels – it just happened a week or so ago [the rebels had chemical weapons in their possession]

So we know that all this is fabrication, whereby the Western military alliance is accusing the government of committing atrocities, which they themselves have committed.

What we must now tackle at an intentional level is war reparations. The war is over unless of course the West decides to continue this war e.g. with a no-fly zone. That would be an extremely dangerous option at this stage because Syria has an advanced air defense system.

The S-300 is in place; it has been building up over the past 18 months; there are other elements of air defense; and it would be very unwise for the Western military alliance to impose a no-fly zone, which would immediately be subject to some kind of response.

So that is the background. This war has reached a point of transition. If there is no intervention on the part of the Western military alliance, the war is over.

The Suspension of Habeas Corpus in America

June 8th, 2013 by Jean-Claude Paye

Far from having broken with his Republican predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama has now reinforced the law of exception that he criticised when he was a senator. It is now possible to deprive United States citizens of their fundamental rights because they have taken part in armed action against their own country, but also when they take a political position favourable to those who use military action to resist the Empire. Worse – Barack Obama has added to the law John Yoo’s “Unitary Executive theory,” which puts an end to the principles of the separation of powers as defined by Montesquieu. The security policy of the United States President now escapes all control.

The Presidential elections, and the game of a possible changeover between Democrats and Republicans, cannot hide a marked tendency towards mutation in the form of the United States executive, regardless of the colour of the Presidential ticket. And it seems that the most significant change in the law has taken place under President Obama.

Barack Obama was elected by evoking a future based on respect for the fundamental rights of individuals and nations. But assessment of his presidency reveals an entirely different picture. The visible aspects of this, such as the failure to close down Guantánamo Bay, the maintenance of exceptional military tribunals or the practice of torture in Afghanistan, are only the tip of the iceberg. These elements only allow us to note the continuity between the Bush and Obama administrations. However, there has been such reinforcement of the previous political structure that the form of the state has now changed, creating a hitherto unseen modification of the relation between the authorities and the citizens of the United States.

The possibility of treating US citizens as foreign ’terrorists’ has been a constant objective of the government executive since the attacks of 9/11. By the new prerogative which has been awarded him by the National Defense Authorization Act – that of being able to nullify Habeas Corpus for US citizens and not just for foreign nationals – the Obama administration has achieved what the previous government had only planned but never instituted.

End of Habeas Corpus for foreigners

The Patriot Act, which became effective on the 26th October 2001, already authorised indefinite detention without indictment for foreigners suspected of having links to terrorist organisations.

In order to finally bring these prisoners to justice, special tribunals and military commissions were created by Presidential decree, the Military Order of 13th November 2001 [1]. This executive act enables the trial, by these military tribunals, of foreigners suspected of being in contact with Al Qaeda, or having “committed, prepared or helped to devise acts of international terrorism against the USA”.

The state of war was invoked to justify the institution of these laws, which are so harmful to liberty that they even violate the Military Code itself. These tribunals were set up to judge foreigners suspected of terrorism, and no proof which could invalidate such charges is admissible by either civil or military tribunals.

By voting for the Military Commissions Act [2], in September 2006, the Congress chambers legitimised the military commissions. The law considerably extends the notion of “illegal enemy combatant”, which no longer describes only foreigners captured on the field of battle, but also foreigners or US citizens who have never left their country of origin. While US citizens indicted on the basis of this notion of illegal enemy combatant must be deferred before civil courts, it is not the case for foreigners, who may be judged by military commissions.

In these exceptional courts, defendants do not have the right to choose their own lawyer – instead, the defense lawyer will be a military person designated by the President, who also designates the military judges and determines the degree of “physical coercion” that can be applied to the prisoner. The lawyer also has no access to evidentiary elements of the case which may be classified as “secret”.

Inscription of the ’enemy’ in criminal law

The Military Commissions Act introduces the notion of enemy into criminal law. It gives the President of the United States the power to so designate not only his own citizens, but also any nationals of countries with which the USA is not at war. A person may be prosecuted as an “illegal enemy combatant” not on the basis of proof, but simply because they have been labelled as such by the executive of the United States. Integrated in the law, the charge no longer refers only to a state of emergency, like the Military Order of 2001, but becomes permanent. The inscription of this anomie into the law establishes the exception as a constant. It mutates the judicial and political order by creating a purely subjective law which is at the entire discretion of the executive.

On the 28th October 2009, President Obama signed the Military Commissions Act of 2009 [3] which amended the Military Commissions Act of 2006. The reform was formally necessary for the new administration, because in 2006, Barack Obama was one of 34 senators who opposed the old legislation.

The new law no longer mentions ’illegal enemy combatants’, but “hostile non-protected enemies”. However, the main thrust remains – the inscription of the notion of ’enemy’ into criminal law, and thus the fusion of criminal and military law. But the term “belligerent”, which characterises the notion of ’enemy’, widens the field of incrimination. It no longer concerns only combatants, but also “persons who are engaged in conflict against the USA”. The new definition also applies not only to people captured on or near a field of battle, but also to any individuals who act or even express solidarity with those opposing the US armed forces, or even simply the aggressive policies of the US government.

The end of Habeas Corpus for US citizens

The National Defense Authorization Act [4] signed by President Obama on the 31st December 2011 authorises the indefinite detention, without trial or indictement, of any US citizens designated as enemies by the executive. The individuals concerned are not only those who have been captured on the field of battle, but also those who have never left the United States or participated in any military action. The law concerns any person designated by the administration as “a member of Al-Qaeda or the Taliban, and who takes part in hostile action against the United States”, but also anyone who “substantially supports these organisations”. This formula enables an extensive and flexible use of the law. For example, it would enable the government to lash out at any civil defence organisations who seek to protect the constitutional rights of US citizens who have been designated by the executive as enemies of the USA.

Primacy of values over the law

By signing this document, Obama has declared that his administration will not authorise the unlimited military detention without trial of US citizens, stating that this possibility would not be contrary to US law, but only to “American values”. It is in the name of these values that he will refrain from using the opportunity offered by the law, but not because this form of imprisonment would be unconstitutional. He confirms that the National Defense Authorization Act does not in fact provide any new prerogatives. The President has had these extraordinary powers since the 14th September 2001, when Congress adopted a resolution stipulating: “that the President is authorised to use all necessary and appropriate force against nations, organisations or persons who have planned, authorised, committed or assisted the terrorist attacks of the 11th September 2001….” So, in opposition to the framework of the text, he aligns himself with G. Bush’s statement that the agreement enabling the President to engage force offers him unlimited authority, in space and time, to act against any potential aggressor, and not only those implicated in the attacks of 9/11.

The authorisation itself is preceded by a foreword stating: “it is recognised that the President has the authority under the Constitution to dissuade and defend against acts of international terrorism against the United States”. G. Bush regularly used this phrase to justify the violations of constitutional rights of US citizens. President Obama has adopted the same interpretation in order to deny the innovative nature of a law which enables him to do away with Habeas Corpus for any US citizen.

A President who places himself above the law

Here, primacy no longer resides in the legal text, but in presidential initiative. It’s entirely at his own discretion that Obama may choose to refrain from using the authorisation, conferred by the law, to imprison US citizens indefinitely and without indictment. In the same way, he opposes the obligation for military detention of foreign terrorists. Speaking of this, he confirms that his administration will “interpret and apply the clauses described below in such a way as to preserve the flexibility upon which our security depends, and to maintain the values on which this country is founded”. Thus he has deliberately side-stepped the rule that once he has signed a text of law, the President will apply it loyally. Obama has reversed the restrictive character of the legal text in favour of Presidential freedom. In the same way, the concept of “American values” takes precedence over the law.

If the National Defense Authorization Act only serves to ratify the prerogatives already possessed by the executive, the problem only concerns the modalities of implementation. The President must not be limited in the fight against terrorism. For Obama, the disputed articles are unconstitutional, not because they concentrate power in his hands, but because they limit his field of action. The contested clauses institute military detention, which limits the required action “flexibility” on the part of the administration – for example, the possibility of detaining foreign prisoners in CIA camps. The articles in question would “contravene the principle of the separation of powers.”

A reversal of the principle of  separation of powers

Obama has reversed the method of organisation which was handed down by the Age of Enlightenment. For Montesquieu [5], the objective was to prevent the concentration of political power in a single authority. In order to do this, the powers balance and limit each other. Obama, on the contrary, has opened a breach in the exercise of state power in such a way that the legal authorities can no longer exercise control over the power of the executive. The separation of powers has been abandoned in favour of an absence of limits for Presidential action. This form of organisation is valid for a nation in a state of open war, whose existence is threatened by an external power. The Bush or Obama administrations consider that the authorisation granted by Congress in 2001 for the use of force against the authors of the 9/11 attacks is the equivalent of a declaration of war, like those which were voted during the Second World War. The field of application is however much wider, since the authorisation of 2001 permits the use of force not only against other nations, but also against organisations or even simple individuals.

The National Defense Authorization Act operates a mutation of the legal notion of hostility. Its declared aim is conflict against non-specified adversaries who do not threaten the integrity of the national territory. The struggle against terrorism provides a constantly renewed image of the enemy. It declares a permanent state of war, unbounded by frontiers, which blurs the distinction between interior and exterior, since it does not distinguish between US citizens and soldiers of a foreign power. The political and legal structure, built from this new and asymmetric war, reverses the form of the rule of law. The law is no longer a reduction of the exception, but its continual extension.

Translation Pete Kimberley,  Voltaire Net

“This creature, the so-called Conservative Party, if it goes forward will be an illegitimate creation conceived in deception and born in betrayal.” [1]  Progressive Conservative leadership candidate David Orchard, October 17, 2003

“They would do all kinds of things…Organizing meetings that didn’t happen or people would go to a delegate selection meeting and the address was a pawn shop in Regina so people stood at the street corner waiting for something and nobody came…There was a kind of planned confusion…by people who really wanted us to stay out, and I think these people were people who wanted the party to be taken over.” Orchard campaign manager and political advisor Marjaleena Repo
 

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 This week’s programme looks back ten years to the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership race of 2003 which turned out to be the party’s last before it merged with the rival Canadian Alliance, led by leader Stephen Harper.

The current Conservative Party has been racked with accusations of scandal and corruption. At least three Canadian Senators, hand-picked by the Prime Minister, are having their housing and living expenses reviewed, two Conservative Members of Parliament are being taken to task for improper accounting of their election expenses, and a court case recently determined that “there was an orchestrated effort to suppress votes during the 2011 election campaign by a person with access to the CIMS database” which is “maintained and controlled by the CPC (Conservative Party of Canada)”. [2][3][4]

And notoriously, one of the Prime Minister’s staffers cut Senator Mike Duffy a personal cheque for $90,000 to make up for the funds the Senator owed. [5]

This is astonishing behaviour for a political party which rose to power in 2006 promising accountability and integrity in office. [6]

But David Orchard and his supporters questioned the ethics of the party a long time ago. Orchard contested the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party back in 2003. Orchard relied on the support of grass-roots people, myself among them, who were opposed to government policies on free trade, environmental neglect, and Canadian support for imperial wars abroad. [7]

It was through Orchard’s support that Peter Mackay became leader of the party. Mackay then betrayed the condition of Orchard’s support by orchestrating a merger with the right-wing US-Republican style Canadian Alliance Party, which was then led by Stephen Harper. [8]

This betrayal, in addition to some of the other shenanigans which played out in the months during the leadership campaign and leading up to the vote to merge the parties in December provides a critical context for assessing this party’s commitment to ethics, responsible conduct and fair play.

Orchard, and many other traditional Progressive Conservatives, saw the Canadian Alliance as out of sync with the traditional trajectory of the PC Party, the Party which established Canada as a nation in 1867. The PCs historically championed Canadian sovereignty. The Canadian Alliance advocated closer political and economic ties with the United States.

The Canadian Alliance boasted a much larger membership than the Progressive Conservative Party in 2003. Through no great surprise therefore, the leader of the Canadian Alliance, Stephen Harper, easily secured the leadership of the merged Conservative Party, which went on to power in 2006. [9]

Orchard’s political advisor, campaign manager and long-time associate Marjaleena Repo speaks to the Global Research News Hour about the campaign, the issues, the subsequent legal battles and where she believes the Campaign for Canada needs to focus its energies.

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The Global Research News Hour, hosted by Michael Welch, airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Thursdays at 10am CDT. The programme is now broadcast weekly (Monday, 5-6pm ET) by the Progressive Radio Network in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

References

1)      CBC NEWS, October 17, 2003; “Orchard launches blistering attack against Tory, Alliance merger”; http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2003/10/17/orchardunite031017.html

2)      CBC NEWS, May 16, 2013; “Key moments in the Senate expenses controversy: Senators’ housing and living expenses under scrutiny”; http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/05/15/pol-senate-expenses-timeline-duffy-wallin-harb-brazeau.html

3)      Mia Robson, June 7, 2013, “Bezan, Glover speak on spending dispute”; http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/Bezan-Glover-speak-on-spending-dispute-210594261.html

4)       McEwing v. Canada (Attorney General) (2013 FC 525)
T-619-12, T-620-12, T-621-12, T-633-12, T-634-12, T-635-12, Date: May 23, 2013; clauses 184, 245; http://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/en/2013/2013fc525/2013fc525.html

5)      Mark Kennedy, Michael Woods, Postmedia News, May 19, 2013; “Harper’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright, resigns after Mike Duffy $90,000 cheque controversy”; http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/05/19/harpers-chief-of-staff-nigel-wright-resigns-after-mike-duffy-90000-cheque-controversy/

6)      Conservative ad: Harper on the Accountability Act (2005); https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=732lHQLeg7Q

7)      www.davidorchard.com

8)      http://www.davidorchard.com/online/convention-2003/conventionmedia.html

9)      CBC News, March 22. 2004; Harper wins Conservative leadership; http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2004/03/20/conservatives_040320.html

 

by Aubrey Bloomfield

Two recently released reports, one by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and one by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), show that not only is the number of private contractors in Afghanistan increasing, but the Pentagon is also unable to tell what they are even doing there. Citing the reports, David Francis of the Fiscal Times points out that there are now 108,000 private contractors in Afghanistan (over 30,000 of whom are Americans), far more than the 65,700 U.S. troops still there,and the number was counted at 110,404 last month. That amounts to 1.6 contractors, roughly 18,000 of which are private security contractors, for every American soldier.

Although the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is ostensibly winding down towards an eventual handover to Afghan security forces, as Francis argues, “the increase in the contractors to troop ratio is yet another indication that although the vast majority of troops are leaving Afghanistan, a private army will remain in the country for years.”

108,000, private, contractors, are, in, afghanistan, and, we, have, no, idea, what, theyre, doing,

According to the CRS, the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan show the increasing reliance of the military on private contractors. But replacing the military with private contractors is not necessarily a good thing. Highlighting the abuses committed by private military contractors, Angela Snell of the University of Illinois College of Law has called this trend a “convenient way for the U.S. government to evade its legal obligations, including the responsibility to protect the human rights of civilians in war and peace, by allowing private individuals, rather than official state actors, to perform services on behalf of the U.S. military.”

Not only does the growing use of private contractors give lie to the idea of a withdrawal from the country, but they are also very costly. Although still dwarfed by the ever-mounting total costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, CRS reports that “over the last six fiscal years, DOD [Department of Defense] obligations for contracts performed in the Iraq and Afghanistan areas of operation were approximately $160 billion and exceeded total contract obligations of any other U.S. federal agency.”

Moreover, Francis points out that the CRS and GAO did not just measure the number of contractors and the cost, but the reports also assessed the Pentagon’s ability to monitor the work of contractors. And the results are damning. According to Francis, taken together the reports:

“Amount to yet another indictment of how the Pentagon deals with private workers. CRS found that the Pentagon lacked the ability to document the work each contractor is performing. It also found even when the government has information on contractors, it’s often inaccurate and doesn’t reflect the actual work being done. This leaves the Pentagon unable to determine if the hundreds of billions it’s spending are leading to effective results.”

So despite the increasing number of private contractors being used and the hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on them, the Pentagon is not even able to determine what they are doing or whether it is effective. As CRS reports, the information the Pentagon has on private contractors is probably not reliable enough to be used to make decisions “at the strategic level,” thus hindering its ability to tell whether the work of contractors is contributing to “achieving the mission.”

The U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been massive, and destructive, wastes of lives and money. Although the U.S. and its allies say that they plan to remove combat troops from Afghanistan by 2014, this will in no way be the end of the West’s presence in the country. Francis reports that much of the work currently done by the military will be done by the private contractors after the military leaves. So while the attention paid to Afghanistan is likely to continue to dwindle even further, as has been the case in Iraq, as the military withdrawal picks up, the foreign occupation, by what one analyst has called “a de facto army,” looks set to continue on.

Copyright: policymic.com, 2013

Picture Credit: U.S. Air Force

On June 5, London’s Guardianreported part of it. “NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily,” it headlined.On June 6, a follow-up article headlined “NSA taps in to systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and others, secret files reveal.”The Washington Postfollowed with its own report. It said the NSA and FBI “are tapping directly into the central servers of nine US Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to trace a person’s movements and contacts over time.”Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Paltalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple, and other online companies willingly cooperate with lawless government spying.

Doing so, in part, reflects old news. Institutional spying on Americans is longstanding. Previous articles discussed it. More on the Guardian articles below.

According to retired NSA/US Air Force/Naval Intelligence/Defense Intelligence Agency intelligence analyst-turned whistleblower Russell Tice:

What’s ongoing “is much larger and more systemic than anything anyone has ever suspected or imagined.”

It’s been widely known for years. Little was revealed publicly. Pervasive spying is much worse than suspected. Other media reports followed London’s Guardian revelations.

Few people knew before. Many more do now. A firestorm of public anger is needed to have any chance to stop it. Nothing less stands a chance. What follows remains to be seen. Based on post-9/11 extremism, expect worse ahead, not better.

All three branches of government are involved. They’re complicit in sweeping lawlessness. Congress is regularly briefly. Bipartisan leaders are fully on board. So are US courts.

Federal ones are most egregious. Right-wing extremists control them. America’s High Court is supremely pro-business. It’s profoundly unjust. It mocks judicial fairness.

It rubber stamps what demands rejection. It rejects what demands affirmation. It consistently serves wealth and power interests. So do Congress, Obama, and administration officials.

Populist ones don’t matter. Nor does constitutional law. Its inviolability is disregarded. It’s rendered null and void.

On June 5, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) headlined “Confirmed: The NSA is Spying on Millions of Americans,” saying:

London’s Guardian “confirmed what EFF (and many others) have long claimed: the NSA is conducting widespread, untargeted, domestic surveillance on millions of Americans.”

“This revelation should end, once and for all, the government’s long-discredited secrecy claims about its dragnet domestic surveillance programs.”

“It should spur Congress and the American people to make the President finally tell the truth about the government’s spying on innocent Americans.”

Domestic spying is longstanding. Post-9/11, it’s been institutionalized. In 2002, Bush authorized it by presidential order. He did so secretly.

In December 2005, New York Times writers James Risen and Eric Lichtblau headlined “Bush Lets US Spy on Callers Without Courts,” saying:

He “secretly authorized (NSA) to eavesdrop on Americans and others to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.”

Mark Klein worked for AT&T for 22 years. In 2004, he retired. After doing so, he turned whistleblower. He revealed blueprints and photographs of NSA’s secret room inside the company’s San Francisco facility.

Three other whistleblowers submitted affidavits. They explained post-9/11 lawless NSA spying on millions of Americans. The FBI, CIA, Pentagon, state and local agencies operate the same way.

Spies “R” us defines US policy. America’s a total surveillance society. It’s unsafe to live in. Everyone is suspect unless proved otherwise.

The 2012 FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act renewed warrantless spying. It passed with little debate. On Sunday, December 30, 2012 Obama signed it into law. Doing so largely went unnoticed.

Warrantless spying remains law for another five years. Phone calls, emails, and other communications may be monitored secretly without court authorization.

Probable cause isn’t needed. So-called “foreign intelligence information” is sought. Virtually anything qualifies. Vague language is all-embracing.

Constitutional protections don’t matter. All major US telecommunications companies are involved. So are online ones. They have been since 9/11. Things now are worse than then.

One expert said what’s ongoing “isn’t a wiretap. It’s a country-tap.” It’s lawless. Congress has no authority to subvert constitutional provisions. Legislation passed has no legitimacy. Constitutional changes require amendments. More on that below.

The Patriot Act trampled on Bill of Rights protections. Doing so for alleged security doesn’t wash. Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due process rights were compromised.

So were First Amendment freedom of association ones. Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable searches and seizures were violated. Unchecked sweeping surveillance followed.

So-called “sneak and peak” searches are conducted through “delayed notice” warrants, roving wiretaps, email tracking, as well as Internet and phone use.

Section 215 pertains to alleged suspects, real or contrived. It authorizes government access to “any tangible item.”

Included are financial records and transactions, education and medical records, phone conversations, emails, other Internet use, and whatever else Washington wants to monitor.

Individuals and organizations may be surveilled whether or not evidence links them to terrorism or complicity to commit it. In other words, everyone is fair game for any reason or none at all.

On May 15, 2012, Wired.com headlined “CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher.”

Virtually everything electronic is vulnerable. Devices with Internet connections for sure are. So are TVs, radios, electric clocks, car navigation systems, light switches, refrigerators, electric stoves, toasters, vacuum cleaners, and other wired items.

Before Petraeusgate, the former CIA chief said:

“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters – all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing.”

He added that household spy devices “change our notions of secrecy.” Former rules don’t apply. Modern technology permits anything goes.

London’s Guardian revealed telecom giant Verizon spying. A top secret April 25, 2013 order authorized it. It runs through July 19. It includes domestic and foreign calls.

NSA has access to every Verizon customer’s call history for nearly three months. If so ordered, spying may be extended indefinitely. Verizon is prohibited from disclosing what it’s doing publicly.

Information obtained includes all domestic and foreign calls, phone locations, time calls made, their duration, and other “identifying information.” Patriot Act Section 215 permits it.

What’s collected is called “metadata” or transactional information. It’s not limited to what’s included above. It’s not called communications. Individual warrants aren’t sought.

As discussed above, doing so is lawless. Congress has no authority to violate constitutional provisions. Compromising Fourth Amendment protections do so brazenly.

Verizon and AT&T cooperation with NSA and other US agencies isn’t unique. It’s virtually certain that all other major US telecom companies operate the same way. So do major online ones. They do so willingly, irresponsibly and lawlessly.

Post-9/11, sweeping surveillance became policy. What Bush began, Obama escalated. Privacy rights are systematically violated. EFF and other organizations filed suits to stop it.

In 2006, EFF’s Hepting v. AT&T was filed. It charged lawless company monitoring of private customer communications. Without their knowledge or approval, it supplies NSA with information they contain.

Whistleblower help provided documented proof. Nonetheless, right-wing courts are incorrigible. In June 2009, a federal judge dismissed Hepting and dozens other suits against telecoms.

In September 2008, EFF’s Jewel v. NSA was filed. It remains ongoing. It challenges lawless NSA spying. It uses documents former AT&T employee Mark Klein supplied.

In 2011, EFF filed an FOIA suit against the Justice Department. It did so for “records about the government’s use of Section 215.”

Obama’s the most lawless, secretive president in US history. So is his Justice Department. In Hepting, it claimed telecom immunity. In Jewel, it claims privileged state secrets.

In EFF’s FOIA suit, it maintains information sought is top secret. It operates extrajudicially. It turns constitutional provisions on their head. It does so secretly. It lies when confronted with facts.

“It’s time to stop hiding behind legal privileges and to come clean about Section 215 and FISA,” said EFF.

“It’s time to start a national dialogue about our rights in the digital age. And it’s time to end the NSA’s unconstitutional domestic surveillance program.”

The same goes for the FBI, CIA, Pentagon, other federal agencies, as well as state and local ones working cooperatively with Washington. It’s time for complicit companies to stop acting against the interests or their own customers and users.

According to Cato Institute surveillance expert Julian Sanchez:

“We’ve certainly seen the government increasingly strain the bounds of ‘relevance’ to collect large numbers of records at once – everyone at one or two degrees of separation from a target – but vacuuming all metadata up indiscriminately would be an extraordinary repudiation of any pretense of constraint or particularized suspicion.”

In the 1960s, Senator Frank Church warned that NSA’s “capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter.”

“There would be no place to hide,” he said. Presidents could “impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.” His warning went unheeded.

Institutionalized spying is official policy. Big Brother no longer is fiction. Obama officials claim no court or judge can challenge them. What they say goes. Governing this way is called tyranny.

A Final Comment

Candidate Obama attacked lawless Bush administration practices. “I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom,” he said.

That means no more lawless spying, he added. “No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient.”

President Obama exceeded the worst Bush administration practices. He’s done so consistently. He contemptuously disregards bedrock constitutional law.

On June 7, he offered a specious defense of lawlessness. He lied doing so, saying: “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That’s not what this program is about.”

That’s precisely what it’s about. It’s Big Brother writ large. He tried having things both way, adding:

“You can’t have 100% security and then also have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience. You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”

True enough when justifiable and constitutionally permitted. Irresponsible overreach has no place in free societies. Sacrificing fundamental freedoms for alleged security assures losing both.

Even New York Times editors said Obama “lost all credibility on this issue.” He “repudiate(d) constitutional principles governing search, seizure and privacy.”

Los Angeles Times editors criticized Obama’s “brave new world of government surveillance that Americans should find alarming.”

London Guardian editors said “(f)ew Americans believe they live in a police state….Yet the everyday fact that the police have the right to monitor the communications of all its citizens – in secret – is a classic hallmark of a state that fears freedom….”

Ironically, The Guardian story broke on D-Day’s 69th anniversary. It commemorates America’s Normandy landing. It was done to liberate Europe.

It wasn’t supposed to institutionalize what many gave their lives to defeat. Fascism wasn’t vanquished. It was transplanted to America. It’s visible in plain sight.

On June 6, National Intelligence head James Clapper issued a rare public statement. He did so regarding “Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information.” In part, he said:

Revelations “threaten potentially long-standing and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation.”

“The judicial order that was disclosed in the press is used to support a sensitive intelligence collection operation, on which members of Congress have been fully and repeatedly briefed.”

“The classified program has been authorized by all three branches of the Government.”

“Although this program has been properly classified, the leak of one order, without any context, has created a misleading impression of how it operates.”

What’s ongoing “protect(s) our nation from a wide variety of threats.”

Government authorization lacks legitimacy. It’s lawless. Police state tyranny has no place in free societies. At stake are fundamental constitutional rights. Post-9/11, they’ve been seriously eroded on route to eliminating them altogether.

Doing so for any reason doesn’t wash. So-called terrorist threats don’t exist. State terrorism threatens humanity. It does so at home and abroad.

Clapper lied saying ongoing practices “are consistently subject to safeguards that are designed to strike the appropriate balance between national security interests and civil liberties and privacy concerns.”

No safeguards whatever exist. Constitutional law is spurned. Doing so threatens freedom everywhere. Rogue states operate this way. America’s by far the worst. Obama, Clapper, Holder, and likeminded ideologues belong in prison, not high office.

On June 6, Wall Street Journal editors didn’t surprise. They headlined “Thank You for Data-Mining. The NSA’s ‘metadata’ surveillance is legal and necessary.”

It’s not “scandalous,” said Journal editors. It’s “a core part of the war on terror.” Outrage “stem(s) from the fact that the government is widely collecting call records, not merely those associated with a particular suspect or group.”

According to Journal editors, what’s ongoing “misunderstands how the program works.”

Fact check

It’s explained above clearly. It’s sweeping, all-inclusive and lawless. All major telecom and Internet companies are involved. They do so extrajudicially. They brazenly subvert constitutional rights.

Claims about mass surveillance disrupting domestic terror attacks don’t wash. Numerous ones reported were false flags. Innocent victims were targeted.

No one prosecuted planned or committed criminal acts. None conspired to do so. Accusations made were false. Political prisoners fill America’s gulag. It’s the shame of the nation for good reason.

Lawless surveillance for any reason has no place in legitimate democracies. Constitutional law principles are inviolable. No president, Congress or court may subvert them. Doing so reflects tyranny.

Amendments are required to change constitutional law. Two-thirds of both Houses may propose them. So may national legislative conventions of two-thirds of the states.

Ratification requires approval by three-fourths of the states. State ratifying conventions of three-fourths of them may do so. Congress has some say over which method is used.

Ratified amendments become constitutional law. Article V explains how. No executive, congressional or judicial process may do so.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

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.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/unconstitutional-us-data-mining/

Lebanon is keen to avoid a repeat of the sectarian nightmare which plunged the country into 15 years of civil war. The scares are still visible, not just physically, but politically also. Now the scene is set for a possible repeat, unless cooler head prevail…

Now Lebanese Army officials are warning of a plot to drag their country into neighboring Syria’s present conflict, with Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli being the likely initial flash point for such a conflagration.

Forces outside of Lebanon are well aware of where the political and social cracks are inside Lebanon, and will pull out all the stops to exploit those divisions in order to push the Syrian situation further over the edge of destablisation. Political lines within Lebanon are already being drawn…

Within Lebanon, Future parliamentary bloc leader MP Fouad Siniora has called for Hezbollah to withdraw its fighters from Syria, calling their aid to Syria’s Assad government as “shameful”, and with calls to exclude Hezbollah from any future government. On the other side, Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour has appeared to side with Hezbollah.

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman is being pressured behind the scenes by U.S. President Barack Obama who has condemned the Shi’ite organisation’s “active and growing role in Syria” in a telephone call this week to Sleiman.

“The two leaders agreed that all parties should respect Lebanon’s policy of disassociation from the conflict in Syria and avoid actions that will involve the Lebanese people in the conflict,” a White House statement said.

Former Lebanese PM Saad Hariri (who has a strong moderate Sunni support base in Lebanon) has also come out slamming Hezbollah for intervening in Syria: “The party is sending hundreds of Lebanese to fight alongside the regime forces and participate in invading Syrian villages and towns, in operations as repugnant as the Israeli invasions of villages in South Lebanon and the invasion by the Syrian regime forces of Lebanon in the 1970s.”

This latest multi-pronged political from abroad and within move against Hezbollah within Lebanon has materialised in the the last few weeks, which strongly hints at some major confrontation being engineered behind the scenes. Judging by the economic and political  struggle facing the Lebanese government, it’s an ideal situation for both incentives – and threats, to be dangled by the world powers and Israel in front of political factions in order to secure the favoured outcome of the west in Syria and beyond. Are the Lebanese leaders strong enough to withstand such pressure? Time will tell.

If there is a geopolitical game going on behind UN and western government doors, it is being focused around the political and military isolation of Lebanon’s  Hezbollah organisation. Last month saw its fighters engaging the foreign Islamist opposition insurgents in Syria, arguing that their interests are in protecting the Shi’ite community in Syria from attacks by takfiri factions backed by Israel, Great Britain, France, Turkey and the United States. This point has been mostly ignored by the global powers, their media, as well as pro-western political rivals within Lebanon, indicating that the game being played here extends far beyond the borders of Syria and Lebanon.

Misbah al-Ali, Antoine Amrieh
The Daily Star

The Lebanese Army warned Friday of a plot to drag Lebanon into the 2-year-old war in Syria as clashes between rival gunmen renewed, shattering a lull of several hours despite a heavy military deployment in the northern city.

The afternoon fighting, which pitted gunmen from the Hezbollah-backed Sunni Nashar family against gunmen supported by Salafist groups, wounded a man and a woman from the Nashar family, security sources said.

The two sides exchanged machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades in Tripoli’s Old Souk before the Army intervened to halt the fighting by trying to silence the sources of fire.

The scene of the fighting is about 2 kilometers from the traditional frontline between the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood, whose residents support President Bashar Assad, and the rival Bab al-Tabbaneh district, whose residents back the uprising in Syria.

Since the latest round of heavy fighting erupted between the two rival districts last month, 33 people, including three soldiers and a policeman, have been killed and more than 200 wounded. The fighting in the northern city has been linked to the conflict in Syria.

The security situation in Tripoli was generally calm Friday, except for sporadic sniper fire between Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh.

Armed with political cover from the caretaker government and Tripoli’s politicians, the Army boosted its deployment with armored vehicles, manning patrols, setting up checkpoints and chasing gunmen.

The Army warned of a plot to embroil Lebanon into the Syria war:

“The Lebanese Army, as firm as its security measures will be, urges citizens to be wary of the plots aimed at taking Lebanon backward and dragging it into a futile war,” it said in a statement.

It called on people to express political views regarding the Syria conflict “democratically and peacefully and without provoking anyone.”

“Do not be dragged behind groups that want to use violence as a means to achieve their objectives,” it added.

“The Army Command has been trying over the past months to work firmly, determinedly and carefully to prevent Lebanon from being turned into a battlefield for regional conflicts and to prevent any spillover of the events in Syria.”

“But in recent days, some groups have seemed determined to create tensions among the [Lebanese] against the backdrop of the political divisions in Lebanon over the military developments in Syria,” it added.

The statement said the Army had been carrying out a series of firm security measures in Tripoli, Sidon, Beirut, the Bekaa Valley and Mount Lebanon.

“The Army’s operations will be deterrent and stringent. The Army is determined to implement its security plan in Tripoli no matter what the cost,” the statement said.

President Michel Sleiman expressed satisfaction with the Army’s deployment plan in Tripoli and surrounding areas.

While appreciating the Army’s sacrifices and national role in preserving civil peace, he stressed the need for leaders and citizens to cooperate with the military’s measures to maintain the area’s security and safety of its residents, said a statement from Baabda Palace.

Sleiman urged all the parties to realize the importance of distancing Lebanon from the reverberations of the conflict in Syria, “particularly after it had been proven that the parties’ involvement in the fighting by siding with this or that side would only result in the killing of innocent Lebanese and destruction of property without making any change in the current balance of power.”

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati chaired a series of meetings at his residence in Tripoli to follow up the Army’s security measures in the city.

“The Lebanese Army is determined to carry out its security plan to restore calm and stability to the city in implementation of decisions taken previously by the Cabinet and the Higher Defense Council,” Mikati said.

The Army set up checkpoints at the entrances to Tripoli and on the city’s main roads following heavy clashes in the past few days.

Over a dozen people have been wounded since late Thursday, security sources said. Six people have been killed since violence erupted last week.

Security sources said five people were hurt overnight when a rocket-propelled grenade fell on Syria Street that separates the warring neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen.

An Army officer and a soldier were among the three wounded from the fighting in Jabal Mohsen, according to the sources. They were identified as Lt. George Hajj and Private Ahmad Ismail.

Despite a morning lull, Tripoli remained paralyzed. “Tripoli looked like a ghost city last night,” one resident told The Daily Star. “Only Lebanese military vehicles were visible.”

The military said Thursday that it had seized two arms depots, one in Tripoli’s Souk al-Qameh and the other in Jabal Mohsen.

An overwhelming majority of US and Canadian citizens are entirely unaware that an especially dangerous device has been attached to their homes. While installation of “smart meters” across North America has continued apace since 2009 the health effects such devices pose have yet to be fully realized. Left unaddressed the broad use and continued deployment of such equipment will almost certainly influence human health for many generations to come.

On May 22 my household received a “Notification Letter” from Florida Power and Light (FPL) stating the company’s intent to replace our existing analog meter with a new device equipped to communicate with other such meters in the utility’s wireless “mesh network.”{1] According to FPL we are among roughly 20,000 of Florida homes that have rejected the new digital device in lieu of an analog model.[2]The letter carries the industry’s familiar line–that the “meter upgrade” is intended to “provide you with more information so you can take more control over your energy use and monthly bills” while more readily “identify[ing]” and resolving power outages.

The correspondence came as quite a surprise since in late 2011 after explaining to FPL the health-related consequences of such electro-pollution and expressing concerns for my family’s well-being, the company agreed to remove the “smart meter” and replace it with one that does not emit such energy. This was done only after conducting my own investigation, providing the company with substantial medical research documenting the negative health effects of RF microwave radiation, and threatening legal action.[3]

FPL was in fact much more reasonable in addressing my concerns than was the Florida Public Service Commission, whose legal counsel informed me flatly that the body had no authority over smart meter deployment and referred me to the Federal Communications Commission.[4] Only after submitting a public records request to the agency did I discover that the information Commission members accepted to evaluate the safety of such equipment in terms of human health consisted largely of smart meter manufacturer and utility boilerplate, including a FPL “PowerPoint”-like presentation seemingly pitched to a fifth grade audience.

Upon receiving FPL’s May 22 letter I took a few hours to write a response to the company’s president, taking care to outline my past communication with them, the concerns I have over the device’s potentially negative effects on my family’s health, and the fact that they recognized and fulfilled my opt out request almost two years ago. A few days after sending my letter off, the executive’s assistant called to inform us the notification letter was likely the result of a computer glitch and should have never been sent.

The foremost danger of smart meters is that they are designed to communicate with each other by emitting substantial and frequent bursts of radio frequency (RF) microwave pollution several thousand times per day–a cumulative burden on one’s genetic and biological makeup that children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to given their respective developing and degenerative conditions. Yet the documented health effects are something FPL never voluntarily told me about, and your power utility will likely not tell you.

For example, FPL spokeswoman Elaine Hinsdale disingenuously remarked that smart meters’ radio frequencies are akin “to those in a garage-door opener and hundreds of times less than emission limits set by the Federal Communications Commission.” According to Hinsdale, “You’d have to stand right next to the smart-meter for more than a year to equal the radio-frequency exposure of a 15-minute cellphone call … Once we talk to our customers and explain how it will repair power outages faster and safer, they understand.”[5] In 2011 when I contacted FPL via telephone to inquire on the overall safety of the devices I was similarly told that RF radiation is emitted only “a few times per day.”

Yet other sources I consulted observed that such emissions are much more frequent. I thus purchased a German-made Gigahertz Solution HF35C Elektrosmog Analyzer and did my own measurements. To my surprise I found that FPL’s meter was emitting RF bursts in excess of 2,000 microwatts per square meter at a distance of five feet several times every thirty seconds to one minute. This pulsing radiation was detected in varying degrees of intensity elsewhere throughout the home and may have at least partially explained the common symptoms of electro-hypersensitivity I was experiencing.

If the US public was served by a more honest and diligent press smart meters and RF radiation in general would not endanger public health to the extent they do today. This is particularly the case since a multitude of scientific studies exist that point to the deleterious health effects of RF energy exposure–especially in children and the elderly. Such information is intentionally overlooked by power utilities and little-if-any acknowledgement of negative health effects appear in any of the vacuous paraphernalia they provide their customers–and state regulators–promoting the meters.

When I pressed FPL representatives on what studies the company had conducted on smart meter safety they sent me a privately commissioned 2011 report, Florida Power and Light Advanced Meter Infrastructure & Distribution Automation RF Exposure Survey, produced by an obscure Arlington Virginia firm called Site Safe.[6] The study’s findings assert that one receives almost the equivalent amount of RF radiation standing one meter away from a smart meter as they would within the immediate vicinity of a cell phone tower–an especially alarming observation!

However, the research’s overall flaw and deceptive nature lies in the absence of suitable methodological parameters for examining how smart meters pulse lesser amounts of such microwave radiation throughout the home up to 190,000 times per day. Germany’s Standard Building Biology Measurements of 2008 caution that specifically in terms of human health “pulsed signals [are] to be taken more seriously than continuous ones.” When I contacted the author of the Site Safe study via telephone and email to evaluate his credentials for authoring such a study, he refused to provide me with any information that might confirm such training and expertise.

In May 2011 the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified RF as a Class 2B carcinogen. This means that caution should be applied because exposure to RF and EMF may cause cancer.[7] Given such an admission power utilities should be exercising the precautionary principal lest they further endanger human health with the continued wide-scale deployment of smart meters. FPL and the broader power industry have produced no compelling scientific evidence to date that even tentatively confirms the safety of smart meters. With this in mind, and in terms specifically related to human health, the power industry writ large is executing a transparently dangerous and criminal fraud against the US public.

A half century ago tobacco and asbestos were known menaces to health and over the long term exposure to these substances culminated in a variety of cancers and other terminal diseases compelling the government to intervene on the public’s behalf. The credible scientific evidence suggests the same holds true for exposure to RF microwave radiation. In fact, government and academic research dating to the 1960s points to the potential health dangers of sustained RF and EMF exposure. While the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and the American Cancer Society claim that RF and EMF pose no health risks, their conclusions are based on dubious and outdated studies often funded by the telecommunications industry itself.

Current independent scientific and medical research paints an entirely different picture. For example, in 2012 the American Academy of Environmental Medicine generated a list of 86 scientific studies and bibliographies on the health effects of EMF, RF and  extremely low frequency (ELF) microwave radiation dating to 1971.[8] Referencing this literature, in January 2012 the AAEM Board issued a public statement to the California Public Utilities Commission expressing its concern over smart meter installations across the state. “[E]xisting FCC guidelines for RF safety that have been used to justify installation of ‘smart meters’ only look at thermal tissue damage and are obsolete,” the Board observed,  since many modern studies [such as those used by the FCC] show metabolic and genomic damage from RF and ELF exposures below the level of intensity which heats tissues … More modern literature shows medically and biologically significant effects of RF and ELF at lower energy densities.

These effects accumulate over time, which is an important consideration given the chronic nature of exposure from “smart meters”. The current medical literature raises credible questions about genetic and cellular effects, hormonal effects, male fertility, blood/brain barrier damage and increased risk of certain types of cancers from RF or ELF levels similar to those emitted from “smart meters”. Children are placed at particular risk for altered brain development, and impaired learning and behavior. Further, EMF/RF adds synergistic effects to the damage observed from a range of toxic chemicals. Given the widespread, chronic, and essentially inescapable ELF/RF exposure of everyone living near a “smart meter”, the Board of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine finds it unacceptable from a public health standpoint to implement this technology until these serious medical concerns are resolved.[9]

Along these lines in 2007 and again in 2012 the BioInitiative Working Group, an international body of academic scientists, medical doctors and public health professionals released a comprehensive review of over 2000 scientific studies and reviews, concluding that RF and EMF exposure can contribute to childhood leukemia and lay the groundwork for a variety of adult cancers.

Aside from long term adverse health effects, smart meters also pose more immediate safety and privacy concerns. The equipment has not been inspected by and thus does not meet  the protocols of the internationally recognized authority on consumer appliance safety standards, Underwriters Laboratory, a potential violation of numerous state and local municipal codes. Careless installation or the limited integrity of smart meter engineering and design have been pointed to as the possible cause of house fires. “We have encountered an unusual amount of fire incidents involving smart meters,” an Ontario Fire Marshal explains to the Vancouver Sun. “New meters may have defects that cause electrical failures (or they may be caused by) careless installation during a changeover.”[10]

Finally, the collection and uncertain wireless transmission of intimate data related to a family’s domestic power usage and everyday life encompassed in residential occupancy also serve as a potential basis for the violation of protections from illegal search and seizure guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. This lifestyle-related information relayed throughout the mesh network via RF microwave may be easily “hacked” and the broader network attacked by any number of third parties, including criminals and terrorists. Such data may also be easily accessed by police or other government agencies that would otherwise need a warrant and probable cause to access such information. Utility customers should remind power companies that they do not consent to any personal data related to electrical usage and living patterns aggregated and sold to third parties, including marketers, appliance manufacturers, or data analyst subcontractors.

Already RF is involuntarily yielded to through the ubiquitous radiation emitted from local area networks (“Wi-Fi”) in places of employment and public areas. This is compounded by the voluntary exposure to RF through close quarter cell phone and household Wi-Fi use. With the combined financial and advertising power of the telecommunications service and wireless-manufacturing industries the research clearly pointing to the harmful health effects of RF remains to a large degree unknown. Given their wide scale use and around-the-clock activity, smart meters complete the circle of what is now ceaseless RF bombardment; their broad deployment anticipates a not-too-distant future when they will engage with “smart” appliances within the home, further disseminating such radiation while arbitrarily exerting power over everyday energy use and unlawfully collecting vital and likely profitable data on behavior and lifestyle.

Notes
[1] Florida Power and Light Smart Meter Installation Notification Form Letter, May 22, 2013 (PDF).
[2] Doreen Hemlock, “Some FP&L Users Reject Smart Meters in Their Homes [sic],” South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 26, 2013.
[3] James F. Tracy to Florida Power and Light, September 18, 2011 (PDF), James F. Tracy to Florida Power and Light, November 9, 2011 (PDF).
[4] Jennifer Crawford for the Florida Public Service Commission to James F. Tracy, September 30, 2011 (PDF). The PSC is now forging a policy for Florida energy consumers to “opt out” of a smart meter for an additional charge. Hemlock, “Some FP&L Users.”
[5] Hemlock, “Some FP&L Users.”
[6] Matthew J. Butcher, Florida Power and Light Advanced Meter Infrastructure & Distribution Automation RF Exposure Survey, Arlington Virginia: Site Safe, June 10, 2011. In author’s possession.
[7] “World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer Classifies RF-EMF Fields as Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans,” [Press Release], May 31, 2011, (PDF)
[8]  See also American Association of Environmental Medicine EMF-RF Reference List (PDF). See also American Association of Environmental Medicine April 12, 2012 Press Advisory (PDF).
[9] American Academy of Environmental Medicine to California Public Utilities Commission, January 19, 2012 (PDF).
[10] Scott Simpson, “Ontario Fire Marshall Says Faulty Base Plates Could Be the Cause, Similar to Mission Blaze,” Vancouver Sun, August 7, 2012. Available at stopsmartmetersbc.ca

Obama Asks Military to Draw Up Plans for Offensive Overseas Cyber-Strikes

Glenn Greenwald – who broke the phone and internet spying stories this week – has a new exposé … this time on offensive cyber-warfare:

Barack Obama has ordered his senior national security and intelligence officials to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for US cyber-attacks, a top secret presidential directive obtained by the Guardian reveals.

***

An intelligence source with extensive knowledge of the National Security Agency’s systems told the Guardian … “We hack everyone everywhere. We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world.”

***

The full classified directive repeatedly emphasizes that all cyber-operations must be conducted in accordance with US law and only as a complement to diplomatic and military options. But it also makes clear how both offensive and defensive cyber operations are central to US strategy.

Under the heading “Policy Reviews and Preparation”, a section marked “TS/NF” – top secret/no foreign – states: “The secretary of defense, the DNI [Director of National Intelligence], and the director of the CIA … shall prepare for approval by the president through the National Security Advisor a plan that identifies potential systems, processes and infrastructure against which the United States should establish and maintain OCEO capabilities…” The deadline for the plan is six months after the approval of the directive.

The directive provides that any cyber-operations “intended or likely to produce cyber effects within the United States” require the approval of the president, except in the case of an “emergency cyber action”. When such an emergency arises, several departments, including the department of defense, are authorized to conduct such domestic operations without presidential approval.

Obama further authorized the use of offensive cyber attacks in foreign nations without their government’s consent whenever “US national interests and equities” require such nonconsensual attacks. It expressly reserves the right to use cyber tactics as part of what it calls “anticipatory action taken against imminent threats”.

The directive makes multiple references to the use of offensive cyber attacks by the US military.

Greenwald and others have long reported that the Obama administration claims the right to be judge, jury and executioner in both drone assassinations and offensive cyber attacks.

Greenwald also reports that the head of the cyber command is the NSA boss … the same guy responsible for much of the spying we’ve been hearing about:

In January, the Pentagon announced a major expansion of its Cyber Command Unit, under the command of General Keith Alexander, who is also the director of the NSA. That unit is responsible for executing both offensive and defensive cyber operations.

(There are other overlaps and interconnections between spying and warfare as well.)

The War Comes Home

Offensive cyber operations are not only occurring overseas …

The Department of Defense has long waged cyber-war against Americans by censoring and manipulating social media and other websites. More proof here and here.

This is not entirely surprising, given that:

The payroll jobs report for May released today continues the fantasy.

Goods producing jobs declined, with manufacturing losing another 4,000 jobs, but the New Economy produced 179,000 service jobs.

Are these jobs the high-powered, high-wage “innovation jobs” that economists promised would be our reward from Globalism. I’m afraid not.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobs created are the usual lowly paid non-exportable domestic service jobs–the jobs of a third world country.

Retail trade accounts for 27,700 of the jobs.

Wholesale trade accounts for 7,900 jobs.

Ambulatory health care services accounts for 15,300 of the jobs.

Waitresses and bartenders account for 38,100 of the jobs.

Local government accounts for 13,000 of the jobs.

Amusements, gambling, and recreation account for 12,500 of the jobs.

Temporary help services provided 25,600 jobs.

Business support services provided 4,300 jobs.

Services to buildings and dwellings provided 6,400 jobs.

Accounting and bookkeeping services provided 3,100 jobs.

Architectural and engineering services provided 4,900 jobs.

Computer systems design and related provided 6,000 jobs (most likely filled by H-1B work visas).

Management and technical consulting services provided 3,200 jobs.

For a decade this has been the jobs profile of “the world’s most powerful economy.” It is the profile of third world India 40 years ago. The jobs that made the US the dominant economy have been moved off shore by corporations threatened by Wall Street with takeovers if they did not increase their profits.

The easiest way for corporations to increase profits is to take advantage of cheap labor in countries with massive quantities of unemployed labor.

So, if we believe the BLS report, and the reported new jobs are not simply a product of faulty season adjustments and a faulty birth-death model, why is the financial press happy that the US economy can only create third world jobs? Why was the stock market up on the news that the US economy has created 179,000 third world jobs? Would rational markets be up on such discouraging news?

But are the jobs really there?

With retail sales going nowhere, why 35,600 new jobs in wholesale and retail trade?

With real median incomes declining, why 38,100 more waitresses and bartenders? For every month as long as I can remember the BLS reports numerous new jobs in waitresses and bartenders, despite the long-term decline in real median income.

In the May jobs report, where are the jobs for the vast number of new college graduates?

The US now has more hotel maids, bartenders, and waitresses than it has manufacturing workers. The US has twice as many people employed in government than in manufacturing.

The services of maids, bartenders, waitresses, and government cannot be exported.
Therefore, the US trade deficit remains large and without exports to reduce it, a crisis in itself.

What the BLS jobs reports have been telling us for many years is that the US economy is in crisis, in a death-spiral. Yet, not a handful of economists’ voices have been raised.

Today president obama’s economist said that the notch upward in the unemployment rate was because the economic outlook was so good that more people were encouraged to enter the labor market than there were new jobs available.

The conclusion is inescapable: The same government that lies about weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein’s al-Qaeda connections, Iranian nukes, and so on, also lies about jobs, the unemployment rate, the inflation rate, rigs every financial and commodity market, pretends that terrorism is such a threat that the US Constitution must be set aside and that Americans are safer without the protection of habeas corpus and due process.

It is amazing how rare terrorism is, especially with Washington in the second decade of trying to stir up terrorism by invading countries on totally false pretenses, murdering citizens of countries, such as Pakistan and Yemen with drones, and supporting Israel’s never-ending murder and dispossession of the Palestinians.

After such massive provocations from Washington, one would think that the world would be ablaze with terrorism. But it isn’t.

As there is so little terrorism, Washington and its presstitute media call those who resist
Washington’s invasion of their countries “terrorists.” Everyone who resists Washington’s military aggression is a terrorist. Just ask the New York Times, Fox News, or any neoconservative. Or, for that matter, the Bilderbergs, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and Homeland Security, the Gestapo organization that now defines all American dissenters to be “domestic extremists.”

Washington’s claim that Americans have “freedom and democracy” is the sickest joke in human history.

In 21st century America, defendants have no more rights than the accused in Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia. The FBI now shoots suspects brought in for questioning in the back of the head even before the suspect is arrested. http://lewrockwell.com/spl5/fbi-executed-my-boy.html [1]

Long before Bradley Manning’s trial the presstitutes have convicted the accused based on lies leaked by the prosecutors. Consider Bradley Manning. After three years of detention, including one year of torture, he is brought to a rigged trial as a national security danger. All that Bradley Manning did was to comply with the Military Code and report war crimes. As his corrupt superiors did not want to know, he complied with his duty, apparently, by going public.

Now he is being made an example. The message is clear: Support Washington’s war crimes or be destroyed.

The Amerika that exists today has more in common with Nazi Germany than with the America in which I grew up. The young don’t know any different. But those my age realize that we have lost our country. America no longer exists.

iranmap

America’s Economic War on the People of Iran: Obama Signs Executive Order Targeting Iran’s Currency and Auto Industry Timothy Alexander Guzman, June 07, 2013


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Primera parte de una entrevista con Arnold August, autor del libro “Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion” (Cuba y sus vecinos: Democracia en movimiento).

Arnold August es analista político, escritor, periodista y conferencista, residente en Montreal, Canadá (Quebec). Es el autor del libro “Democracy in Cuba and the 1997-98 Elections” (La democracia en Cuba y las elecciones de 1997-1998), publicado por la editorial José Martí, Cuba. También escribió un capítulo titulado “Socialism and Elections” (El socialismo y las elecciones) para el libro “Cuban Socialism in a New Century: Adversity, Survival and Renewal” (El socialismo cubano en un nuevo siglo: adversidad, supervivencia y renovación), de la University Press of Florida.

JL: Cuéntenos sobre su libro “Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion”; ¿por qué decidió escribirlo y como lo hizo­?

AA: Bueno, creo que muchas personas estarán de acuerdo conmigo en que cuando se trata de temas de política internacional, de las presiones que ejercen los países del Norte, particularmente los EE.UU. y sobre todo en lo que se refiere al Sur en general—Asia, África y América Latina—hay muy pocos asuntos que se abordan, excepto el tema de la democracia. Así ha sucedido, especialmente desde finales de los años 80 y principios de los 90 del pasado siglo, cuando ocurrió la desintegración de la Unión Soviética y el bloque socialista, que el asunto de la democracia, o mejor dicho, el pretexto de la democracia se utiliza de manera creciente por los EE.UU. y Europa con fines injerencistas en los asuntos internos de otros países. A la vez, aunque parezca raro, existen muy pocos libros sobre este asunto de la democracia como tal. Creo que no mucha gente quiere abordar este asunto porque es un término my cargado, que no es fácil de abordar, pero yo siempre pensé que era necesario hacerlo. En realidad este es mi segundo libro sobre el tema de la democracia; el primero, fue escrito en 1999 particularmente sobre la democracia y las elecciones en Cuba.

JL: Creo que muchos se sorprenderán al leer que existe  democracia en Cuba. ¿De qué democracia estamos hablando?

AA: En Canadá y especialmente en los EE.UU., todo este asunto de la democracia se entiende como algo completamente ajeno a la realidad cubana, y ahora por supuesto esta misma actitud se aplica a otros países como Venezuela. Yo trato el tema de la democracia, pero como usted puede ver, el subtítulo del libro es “Democracia en movimiento”. Por tanto, no sólo abordo el tema de la democracia en sí misma. Trato de desarrollar el concepto de la “Democracia en movimiento” que se refiere a la democratización como un proceso que nunca termina y, al centro de este concepto, intento abordar el papel de la democracia participativa; es decir, esa democracia en la que el pueblo desempeña un papel protagónico diariamente para lograr que su poder político sea efectivo.

JL: Usted cree que el pueblo de Cuba participa en los procesos de toma de decisiones más de lo que lo hacen los pueblos de Canadá o de los EE.UU, por ejemplo?

AA: Bueno, pienso que tendríamos que comparar la Cuba de hoy con lo que acontecía allí antes de 1959, antes de la Revolución. Es que ni siquiera cabe la comparación; porque es tan evidente la existencia en la Cuba anterior a 1959 de una dictadura controlada y dirigida por los EE.UU.—la dictadura de Batista—donde el pueblo era totalmente excluido del ejercicio del poder. A principios de la década de 1950, Fidel Castro se había postulado como representante al la cámara y era evidente que su partido iba a ganar las elecciones generales ya programadas.

Fulgencio Batista, que contaba con el apoyo de los EE.UU. organizó un golpe de estado y canceló las elecciones. Esto le ofrece una idea sobre cual era la situación de la participación popular que existía antes de 1959. Desde esa fecha para acá, todo ha evolucionado, por supuesto. En 1959, por primera vez en la historia de Cuba, el pueblo conquistó el poder político. No estoy diciendo que todo fue perfecto. No fue perfecto entonces, ni es perfecto ahora. Pero, la característica principal de la Revolución de 1959 es que por primera vez, el poder político quedó en las manos del pueblo. El término de “la soberanía reside en las manos del pueblo” se convirtió en un concepto con sentido real en Cuba.

Ahora podemos trazar una línea paralela entre la revolución cubana y la reciente rebelión en Egipto. Yo le llamaría una revolución también, porque el pueblo egipcio se rebeló y finalmente consiguió derrocar al dictador Mubarak, que tenía el apoyo de los Estados Unidos.

Lo que me resulta interesante sobre ese hecho y me ofrece una visión más amplia de la necesidad que tiene el pueblo de ver la democracia como un proceso en desarrollo, una democracia participativa, es que el pueblo en la Plaza Tahrir ocupó los espacios públicos, y entonces a partir de ese suceso es que millones de personas tomaron sus propias decisiones sobre qué hacer, cuáles eran las prioridades, y todo apuntaba a la decisión de derrocar a Mubarak.

No iban a aceptar otra cosa que no fuera eso. Mientras tanto, se desarrollaba un poder político en la base para suplantar el régimen de Mubarak que contaba con el apoyo de los Estados Unidos. Ahora bien, ¿Qué hizo el gobierno de Obama inmediatamente después? ¿Qué hizo tras haber apoyado al régimen de Mubarak, de manera hipócrita por supuesto, hasta el último minuto? Ya, cuando Mubarak fue expulsado del poder, los EE.UU. trataron inmediatamente de imponer lo que yo llamo en mi publicación la “noción etnocéntrica estadounidense sobre la política”, quiere decir, la democracia multipartidista.

Recuerdo muy claramente, y aparece documentado en mi publicación, que después de la derrota de Mubarak, mientras aun seguían las manifestaciones en la Plaza Tahrir y en otros espacios públicos en todo Egipto, Hillary Clinton dijo, en nombre de Obama, que el pueblo debía pasar de las protestas a hacer política. Entonces, desde el punto de vista de los EE.UU., la organización del pueblo  en las calles, de una manera totalmente novedosa para de alguna forma tomar el poder político, con una orientación totalmente diferente, aunque incluso siendo una forma embrionaria,  no era hacer política. La única política que cuenta es la política electoral. Y entonces, vinieron las elecciones egipcias organizadas por los Estados Unidos.

JL: Porque de esta forma podían controlar los resultados?

AA: Exacto, eso es lo que ellos controlan mediante las elecciones. Los EE.UU. no podían controlar la Plaza Tahrir, era el pueblo que, a un nivel embrionario, se disponía a tomar el poder político en los más altos niveles.

JL: Y ¿es que se temía en ese momento que algo similar podría ocurrir en los EE.UU. también?

AA: Claramente, pues el primer efecto de tipo dominó de la Plaza Tahrir tendría como escenario a los mismos Estados Unidos.

El gobierno de Obama tuvo que organizar las elecciones y lo primero que hizo fue eliminar el partido político Nasserista, de mayoría progresista, que favorece el socialismo y defiende decididamente la soberanía del país, de los EE.UU. Esto lo llevaron  por las buenas o por las malas, como normalmente hacen, y los egipcios quedaron sólo con dos partidos: la Hermandad Musulmana y el Partido del Movimiento Nacional Egipcio. Estas dos organizaciones son pro-estadounidenses. Ahora, vemos aquí un aspecto importante que tiene que ver con el proceso electoral en contraste con el proceso político de la democracia en movimiento: sólo el 52 porciento de los ciudadanos votaron en las elecciones presidenciales donde participaron los dos candidatos opuestos. Sólo el 52 porciento! Y además hubo un llamado a boicotear el voto, algo que no fue de gran conocimiento público. De alguna manera evitaron que sucediera.

Entonces, aquí vemos los dos elementos en contradicción. Por un lado, tenemos al pueblo en la Plaza Tahrir y en otras plazas buscando vías de conseguir el poder político, fuera del sistema multipartidista controlado por los Estados Unidos. Por eso es que sólo el 52 porciento votó. A la vez, en esa revolución de 18 días enfilada a derrocar a Mubarak un total de 850 personas fueron muertas y 5 mil 500 resultaron seriamente heridas. Ahora, yo le pregunto a usted: ¿No es más fácil depositar una boleta que luchar en las calles bajo el riesgo de perder la vida o de resultar seriamente herido para derrocar un régimen? No, no es así debido a la apatía o la falta de interés. Se trata básicamente del rechazo al sistema multipartidista, reflejado en aquellas elecciones y es por ello que aún continúa.

Yo casi dedicaba 24 horas diarias durante aquel período de 18 días a seguir ese acontecimiento y ello me permitió profundizar más en el tema de la democracia participativa y en cómo las elecciones son utilizadas para legitimar el status quo.  Fue justamente lo que hizo Obama cuando la Hermandad Musulmana ganó las elecciones. Hizo una llamada a Morsi y, de acuerdo con la transcripción de la Casa Blanca, le dijo: “ahora eres (presidente) legítimo; tienes legitimidad para gobernar en Egipto”. Así es como se manipulan las elecciones en estos países, cuando se realizan bajo el control de los EE.UU.—para legitimar la dictadura de la vieja guardia.

Pero, incluso podemos mirar más cerca, a casa. ¿Qué pasó en Quebec, Canadá en la primavera pasada? Millones de personas tomaron las calles, literalmente hablando, estudiantes y personas de mayor edad, por todo Quebec y ¿qué dijo el gobierno Liberal? “Bueno, nosotros fuimos elegidos”.  Claro, sólo el 52 porciento de la gente votó y ese voto se dividió entre los dos o tres partidos políticos. “Nosotros fuimos elegidos”, lo que quieren decir es: “somos los representantes legítimos del pueblo y podemos hacer lo que queramos. Tenemos el mandato de hacer todo; cualquier cosa”. Y de esta forma las elecciones son utilizadas lo mismo en Egipto, en Quebec, que en otros países, para legitimar el régimen de la vieja guardia. Mire, yo no estoy en contra de las elecciones. No estoy en contra de las elecciones donde haya diferentes partidos, pero sí tenemos que observar cuidadosamente como se desarrollan.

JL: Entonces, usted básicamente me está diciendo que las elecciones no garantizan la democracia.

AA: No garantizan la democracia cuando se usan como pretexto para hacer desaparecer la lucha del pueblo en las bases encaminada a tomar el poder político en sus manos y desarrollar el sistema de su elección.

Vista de cientos de ciudadanos vestidos de rojo en representación del sindicato de profesores, que protestan contra la Ley Walker.

JL: ¿Cómo describe usted los acontecimientos relacionados con el  Movimiento Occupy en los EE.UU.?

AA: Lo que es interesante observar es que después de los sucesos en la Plaza Tahrir, los EE.UU. se mostraron muy satisfechos de haber podido sustituir al movimiento popular con las llamadas elecciones, aunque temporalmente, porque los incidentes continuaron y aún no se han resuelto. Pero, irónicamente, o paradójicamente y por justicia, el efecto bumerán o el primer efecto dominó ocurrió en Madison, en los propios Estados Unidos, y en un período de tiempo muy corto después de que Mubarak fuera derrocado, y la gente mostraba carteles que decían: “El gobernador de Wisconsin es nuestro Mubarak.”

“Tenemos que luchar contra la dictadura”. Estaban inspirados por la ocupación de las plazas públicas en Egipto, la Plaza Tahrir, e hicieron lo mismo en el Capitolio de Wisconsin. El edificio se mantuvo ocupado durante varias semanas, la gente dormía allí, tomaron sus propias decisiones; hicieron sus manifiestos e intentaban construir un poder político nuevo, retando el poder del “establishment” de los partidos políticos. Desafortunadamente, este movimiento fue casi inmediatamente utilizado y convertido en parte de las maquinaciones de los dos partidos que prevalecen en los Estados Unidos y los sindicatos se vieron envueltos en medio de una lucha revocatoria contra el gobernador. Esto es muy bueno, nadie puede ir en su contra. Pero el problema es el sistema de los dos partidos y la idea de que no es bueno tener un tal partido, por tanto tenemos que deshacernos de ello para dar entrada a otro partido.

La segunda parte de esta entrevista se concentra en el capítulo escrito por Arnold August sobre Obama  y la ilusión del cambio.

Traductor: Luis Chirino, La Habana, Cuba

Texto original en inglès: “Cuban Democracy” versus “American Democracy”

Teil I eines Interviews mit Arnold August, dem Autor von “Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion” [Kuba und seine Nachbarn - Demokratie in Bewegung]

Arnold August ist ein Autor der politischen Wissenschaften, Journalist und Dozent in Montreal, Kanada (Quebec). Er ist der Autor von “Democracy in Cuba and the 1997-98 Elections” (Editorial José Martí) [Demokratie in Kuba und die Wahlen von 1997-98, (José Martí-Verlag)] und hat auch ein Kapitel zu dem Band, “Cuban Socialism in a New Century: Adversity, Survival and Renewal (University Press of Florida) [Kubanischer Sozialismus in einem neuen Jahrhundert - Not, Überleben und Erneuerung] unter dem Titel, “Socialism and Elections” [Sozialismus und Wahlen], beigetragen.Mehr Information zu seinem neuen Buch.JL: Erzählen Sie uns von Ihrem Buch, “Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion”, warum haben Sie dieses Buch geschrieben und wie sind Sie es angegangen?

AA: Also, ich denke, viele Menschen stimmen mit mir darin überein, dass es, wenn es um internationale Politik geht und zwar auf Druck der Länder des Nordens, insbesondere dem der USA hinsichtlich der Länder des Südens, im Allgemeinen – Asien, Afrika und Lateinamerika – um kaum ein anderes Thema geht als um das der Demokratie. Es ist insbesondere seit Ende der 1980er bzw. Anfang der 1990er Jahre so, seit dem Auseinanderbrechen des Sowjet-Blocks, dass die Sache der Demokratie oder vielmehr der Vorwand der Demokratie von den USA und Europa zunehmend zum Anlass der Intervention in die internen Angelegenheiten anderer Länder genommen wird. Gleichzeitig aber, so seltsam das erscheinen mag, gibt es sehr wenige Bücher, die auf die Demokratie als solche Bezug nehmen. Ich schätze, dass nicht viele Menschen gerade diesen Gegenstand ansprechen wollen, weil es ein sehr aufgeladener Begriff ist, den man nicht leicht behandeln kann, aber ich dachte immer, es sei notwendig. Tatsächlich ist dies mein zweites Buch zur Sache der Demokratie, das erste, 1999 geschriebene, handelte speziell von Demokratie und den Wahlen in Kuba.

JL: Ich schätze, eine Menge Leute wären überrascht zu hören, dass es in Kuba Demokratie gibt. Welche Art von Demokratie ist das?

AA: In Kanada und insbesondere den USA, halten sie die ganze Sache von Demokratie für eine in Kuba völlig fremde Erfahrung und natürlich gilt diese Einstellung jetzt auch gegenüber anderen Ländern wie Venezuela. Ich behandele zwar das Thema Demokratie, aber, wie Sie bemerken können, lautet der Untertitel meines Buches “Demokratie in Bewegung”. Daher behandele ich nicht nur Demokratie als solche. Ich versuche das Konzept von “Demokratie in Bewegung” auszuführen, dass heißt die Demokratisierung als einen Prozess darzustellen, der nie endet und im Zentrum dieses ganzen Konzepts versuche ich, die Rolle der partizipativen Demokratie auszuführen, das heißt, eine Demokratie darzustellen, in der die Menschen auf der Basis des täglichen Lebens bei der effektiven Umsetzung der eigenen politischen Macht eine Schlüsselrolle spielen.

JL: Denken Sie, dass die Bevölkerung in Kuba mehr an der Entscheidungsfindung partizipiert als zum Beispiel die in Kanada oder in den USA?

AA: Also, ich denke, man müsste das jetzige Kuba mit dessen Situation von vor 1959, vor der Revolution, vergleichen. Wir können es nicht einmal miteinander vergleichen, es ist so offensichtlich, dass es vor 1959 eine US-kontrollierte, eine von den USA aus gelenkte Diktatur, die Batista-Diktatur, gegeben hat, und die Bevölkerung war von der Macht völlig ausgeschlossen. Tatsächlich kandidierte Fidel Castro damals, 1952, Anfang der 1950er Jahre, für den Senat, und es wurde offenbar, dass er und seine Partei diese Wahlen gewinnen würden.

Das von den USA unterstützte Batista-Regime brach die Wahlen ab und organisierte einen Staatsstreich. Auf diese Weise bekommt man einen Eindruck davon, welcher Art die Partizipation von vor 1959 dort war. Seit 1959 hat sie sich natürlich entwickelt. 1959 war es das erste Mal in der Geschichte Kubas, dass das Volk politische Macht gewann. Ich sage nicht, dass es perfekt war. Es war damals nicht perfekt, und das ist es bis heute nicht. Doch die Hauptansicht von der Revolution 1959 ist die, dass die politische Macht zum ersten Mal in den Händen des Volkes lag. Der damalige Begriff “die Souveränität des Volkes” bekam für das Konzept seine eigentliche Bedeutung.

Jetzt können wir Parallelen zwischen der Kubanischen Revolution und der kürzlich stattgefundenen Rebellion in Ägypten ziehen. Ich würde es eine Revolution nennen, denn das ägyptische Volk revoltierte und siegte mit dem Sturz des von den USA gedeckten Diktators Mubarak.

Was ich dort interessant finde und mir die Augen im Hinblick auf die Bedürfnisse des Volkes noch weiter dafür geöffnet hat, Demokratie als einen fortwährenden Prozess auf eine partizipative Demokratie zu sehen, ist, dass die Menschen auf dem Tarhir-Platz den öffentlichen Raum besetzten und dass von dort aus Millionen von Menschen auf der Basis ihres täglichen Lebens ihre Entscheidungen darüber trafen, was zu tun sei, welches ihre Priorität sei und die war, Mubarak zu stürzen.

Sie wollten nichts Geringeres akzeptieren. Inzwischen entwickelte sich eine politische Macht, die darauf basierte, die Macht des US-gestützten Mubarak-Regimes durch eine andere ersetzen zu wollen. Und sie stürzten das Mubarak-Regime tatsächlich. Aber, was tat die Obama-Administration unmittelbar danach? Nachdem sie das Mubarak-Regime bis zur letzten Sekunde, natürlich scheinheiligerweise, unterstützt hatten? – Als er schließlich gestürzt worden war, versuchten die USA, unverzüglich das einzuführen, was ich in meiner Publikation die “US-zentrierte Auffassung von Politik” nenne, das ist die Mehrparteien-Demokratie.

Ich erinnere mich sehr deutlich, und es ist in meiner Publikation verzeichnet, dass, nach dem Sturz von Mubarak, während die Straßendemonstrationen auf dem Tarhir-Platz und den Plätzen in ganz Ägypten noch andauerten, Hillary Clinton im Namen von Obama sagte, das Volk müsse sich vom Protest hin zur Politik entwickeln. Das bedeutet aus US-Sicht, dass, wenn Menschen, die sich auf der Straße auf einer ganz anderen Grundlage organisieren, um auf irgend eine Weise politische Macht ergreifen zu können, die sich ganz anders orientiert, auch, wenn dies erst in einem embryonalen Stadium vor sich ging, dass das dann keine Politik ist. Die einzige Politik, die zählt, ist die der Wahlen. Dann organisierten die USA Wahlen in Ägypten.

JL: Weil sie auf diese Weise deren Resultat kontrollieren können?

AA: Genau, das ist es, was sie über Wahlen kontrollieren. Die USA konnten nicht den Tarhir-Platz kontrollieren, das Volk, das auf einem sehr niedrigen embryonalen Niveau die politische Macht an der Spitze anstrebte.

JL: Und gab es die Befürchtung, dass so etwas auch in den USA stattfinden könnte?

AA: Natürlich, denn der erste Domino-Effekt des Tarhir-Platzes trat in den Vereinigten Staaten selbst auf.

Die Obama-Administration musste Wahlen organisieren, und das Erste, was sie tat, war, die Nasseriten, die politische Partei zu eliminieren, die auf der Nasser-Tradition basiert, die im Allgemeinen progressiv und pro-sozialistisch eingestellt ist, die auf jeden Fall auf Unabhängigkeit von den USA bedacht ist. Die wurde, koste es, was es wolle, eliminiert – so, wie sie es immer machen – so, dass ihnen dann nur noch zwei Parteien blieben: die Moslem-Bruderschaft und die Partei der Ägyptischen Nationalbewegung. Beide sind pro-amerikanisch. Hier ist jetzt ein entscheidender Punkt, soweit es den Wahlprozess gegen den politischen Prozess einer demokratischen Bewegung betrifft: Nur 52 % der Bevölkerung stimmte tatsächlich in den Präsidentschaftswahlen zwischen den beiden Oppositionskandidaten ab. 52 %! Und es hatte einen Aufruf gegeben, sie [die Wahlen] zu boykottieren. Natürlich ist das in öffentlichen Kreisen nicht so bekannt. Man will das Thema sozusagen meiden.

Hier stehen nun zwei Dinge im Widerspruch zu einander. Auf der einen Seite gibt es die Menschen auf dem Tarhir-Platz und anderen Plätzen, die sich nach neuen Wegen zur Erlangung von politischer Macht außerhalb eines von den Vereinigten Staaten kontrollierten Mehrparteiensystems sehnen. Darum stimmten nur 52 % ab. Zur gleichen Zeit, während der 18-tägigen Revolution, die auf den Sturz von Mubarak zielte, wurden 850 Menschen getötet und 5.500 Menschen schwer verletzt. Nun frage ich Sie: Ist es nicht leichter, eine Wahlveranstaltung auszurichten, als auf der Straße für den Umsturz zu kämpfen, wobei man sein Leben verlieren oder schwer verletzt werden kann. Das geschieht nicht aus Apathie oder Mangel an Interesse. Es geht grundsätzlich um eine Ablehnung des Mehrparteiensystems, das sich in diesen Wahlen widerspiegelte, und daher geht sie immer noch weiter.

Ich verbrachte nahezu 24 Stunden während dieser 18 Tage mit der Beobachtung dieser Angelegenheit, und es erlaubte mir, die Sache der partizipativen Demokratie weiter zu verfolgen und wie [dagegen] Wahlen genutzt werden, um den Status quo zu legitimieren. Nun, und das ist es genau, was Obama tat, als die Moslem-Brüder die Wahlen gewannen. Er rief Morsi an und sagte laut der Mitschrift vom Weißen Haus: “Jetzt sind Sie ermächtigt.” Sie haben das rechtmäßige Amt in Ägypten. So werden in diesen Ländern Wahlen, wenn von den USA kontrolliert, genutzt – um die Diktatur der alten Garde zu legitimieren.

Wir müssen gar nicht so weit gehen, nähern wir uns unserer Heimat: Was geschah in Quebec (Kanada) im vergangenen Frühjahr? Es waren buchstäblich Millionen von Menschen auf der Straße, Studenten und ältere Leute in ganz Quebec, und was sagte die Liberale Regierung dazu? “Also, wir sind gewählt worden.” Natürlich stimmte nur 52 % der Bevölkerung ab, die sich auf zwei/drei Parteien verteilte. “Wir wurden gewählt.” Sie meinen damit: “Wir sind die legitimen Repräsentanten des Volkes und können tun, was wir wollen. Wir haben das Mandat, alles tun zu können. Alles und jedes.” Und so werden die Wahlen benutzt, ob in Ägypten, Quebec oder in anderen Ländern, um das Reglement der alten Garde zu legitimieren. Nun bin ich nicht gegen Wahlen. Ich bin nicht gegen Wahlen mit verschiedenen politischen Parteien, aber wir müssen genau hinsehen, wie sie stattfinden.

JL: Also sagen Sie im Grunde, dass Wahlen keine Garantie für Demokratie sind.

AA: Sie garantieren keine Demokratie, und in vielen Fällen, werden sie als Vorwand genutzt, jeden Kampf der Bevölkerung an der Basis, um die politische Macht in die eigenen Hände zu nehmen und ihre eigene Art von System entwickeln zu können zu beseitigen.

JL: Wie würden Sie die Ereignisse im Zusammenhang mit der Occupy-Bewegung in den USA beschreiben?

AA: Was daran interessant ist, ist, dass die USA nach den Ereignissen auf dem Tarhir-Platz sehr froh waren, die Volksbewegung zeitweilig, denn die Unruhen gingen noch weiter und wurden noch nicht aufgelöst, durch so genannte Wahlen zu ersetzen. Nun, da trat ironischer- oder paradoxerweise und mit Recht der Bumerang-Effekt oder der erste Domino-Effekt in Madison auf, in den USA selbst, innerhalb von sehr kurzer Zeit, nachdem Mubarak gestürzt worden war, und die Leute hatten Plakate, auf denen stand: “Der Gouverneur von Wisconsin ist unser Mubarak. Wir müssen gegen die Diktatur kämpfen.”

Sie waren von der Besetzung der öffentlichen Plätze, der auf dem Tarhir-Platz in Ägypten, inspiriert worden, und sie taten im Capitol von Wisconsin das gleiche. Das Capitol-Gebäude war während etlicher Wochen besetzt, die Leute schliefen dort, trafen ihre eigenen Entscheidungen, sie hatten Manifeste dazu, dass sie eine neue politische Macht aufbauten, um die etablierten politischen Parteien herauszufordern. Unglücklicherweise wurde diese Bewegung fast unmittelbar in einen Bestandteil der Zwei-Parteien-Intrigen der Vereinigten Staaten umgewandelt, so waren die Gewerkschaften in einen “recall struggle” der Demokraten gegen den Gouverneur eingespannt worden [Es ging um die Anfechtung der vorherigen Wahl des republikanischen Gouverneurs, weil er die Tarfiverhandlungen für Staatsangestellte von der Agenda streichen wollte. 1]. Das ist [eigentlich] sehr gut, keiner kann etwas dagegen haben. Doch das Problem ist das Zwei-Parteien-System und die Meinung, dass die eine Partei nicht gut ist und wir sie loswerden müssen, um die andere Partei zum Zuge kommen zu lassen.

1] Vgl.: Wikipedia

Teil II des Interviews wird sich auf Augusts Kapitel über Obama und die Illusion des Wandels konzentrieren.

Übersetzung: Josie Michel-Brüning

Auf Englisch:  “Cuban Democracy” versus “American Democracy”

The Nobel Peace Prize President recently signed another executive order targeting Iran’s currency, the ‘rial’ due to its nuclear program.  It is intended to make the Iranian people angry at the government for high food prices and an economy that is continuing to stagnate due to numerous sanctions imposed by the West, particularly the United States.  The Associated Press reported this past Monday that

The new sanctions marked the first time Iran’s currency, the rial, has been targeted directly with sanctions, the White House said. The sanctions apply to foreign financial institutions that purchase or sell significant amounts of the rial, and to those who hold significant amounts of the rial in accounts outside Iran.”

The Obama administration’s new sanctions not only targets Iran’s government, it targets the Iranian people.  It affects their everyday lives and their basic living essentials that include food and medicine.  Targeting Iran’s currency adds pressure to food prices such as chicken, meat and cooking oil that already have increased to more than 60 percent in the last several months.  Sanctions imposed in the past include oil and banking embargos that have led to shortages of foreign currencies leading to the decline of the Islamic Republic’s needed income, at the same time contributing to high inflation rates while weakening the buying power of the Iranian people.  The Associated Press also reported that the ‘rial’ would not be able to be used outside of Iran for trade or other financial transactions:

Senior administration officials said the sanctions were designed to make the rial essentially unusable outside of Iran. The hope is that banks and businesses holding Iranian currency will dump the funds, making the rial weaker. The value of the rial has dropped by half since the start of 2012, the White House said.

In a report conducted by Reuters back in April said that

“Iran has suffered double-digit inflation for most of the past decade. Inflation began rising sharply at the end of 2010 when the government slashed food and fuel subsidies; since then the sanctions, imposed over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme, have pushed down its currency, adding to pressure on prices.”

The Obama administration is conducting economic warfare against the Iranian people because the latest sanctions target basic living essentials, especially food.  When food prices are out of reach for the average consumer, it creates anger and disappointment among the population that unfortunately reflects the Iranian government’s actions and policies on the economic front right before the presidential elections scheduled on June 14th.  The Iranian government is under numerous sanctions which make it difficult to operate in the best interests of the people.  The leadership of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his government has planned a strategy to counter economic sanctions with 3 months worth of food supplies.  The question is would it be enough until the Iranian government finds a way around the economic sanctions imposed by the West?

The Obama administration hopes to start a propaganda campaign by painting the Iranian government as an oppressive regime who is working against the best interests of their own people.  According to the Associated Press report,

“To that end, the U.S. last week eased restrictions on exports of advanced communications equipment to Iranian civilians, aiming to help Iranians interact with the outside world and shed light on what U.S. officials described as the regime’s oppressive attempts to stifle dissent.”

The US and its Western counterparts would be satisfied if the sanctions would result in another Arab Spring of 2011 right before or during the Iranian elections where public discontent is visible to the eyes of the world.  But that is unlikely.  It is intended to create a vision of Iranian society that its government is not working in the best interest of the people. The Obama administration’s idea is for the Iranian people to “Shed Light” on the Iranian government’s actions if they decided to stage angry protests on the streets.  If it turns violent then the Iranian government would be seen as a repressive regime against the people.

The Iranian population is angry and frustrated with their country’s economic uncertainty, but they know who and what is the cause of their difficult situation.  They understand that the West is responsible for their difficult living conditions.

They remember that the US and British governments installed the dictator Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavī known as the Shah of Iran back in 1953 when Mohammad Mosaddegh was overthrown by the covert actions of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the British MI6.  The Western plan is to systematically build a vision of the Iranian government as the true enemy against the Iranian people.

The Obama administration hopes that the Iranian government would crack down on angry protesters if they were to take place during the June 14th elections.  That is the response the US and its allies would hope to achieve.  It gives more ammunition to the US, UK and Israel to justify its planned attack in the future because the Iranian government is an oppressive regime that mistreats its people.  But we all know who is pulling the strings behind the scenes and it is not the Iranian government.

En EE. UU. se está desarrollando el evento más importante en favor de la liberación de los cinco antiterroristas cubanos. Los quebequeses se unen a este llamado internacional por la defensa de los derechos humanos.

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Early in the morning of July 16, 1979, a 20-foot section of the earthen dam blocking the waste pool for the Church Rock Uranium Mill caved in and released 95 million gallons of highly acidic fluid containing 1,100 tons of radioactive material. The fluid and waste flowed into the nearby Puerco River, traveling 80 miles downstream, leaving toxic puddles and backing up local sewers along the way.

Although this release of radiation, thought to be the largest in US history, occurred less than four months after the Three Mile Island partial nuclear meltdown that sent radioactive gases and iodine into the air, the Church Rock spill received little media attention. In contrast, the Three Mile Island accident made the headlines. And when the residents of Church Rock asked their governor to declare their community a disaster area so they could get recovery assistance, he refused.

What was the difference between the Church Rock spill and the Three Mile Island partial meltdown? Church Rock is situated in the Navajo Nation, one of the areas in the US sacrificed to supply uranium for the Cold War and for nuclear power plants. That area and many others in the Navajo Nation are contaminated to this day. Another sacrifice area is the Great Sioux Nation where thousands of open uranium mine pits continue to release radiation and heavy metals into the air, land and water.

This poisoning of the people in the Navajo and Great Sioux Nations has been going on for decades and has had serious effects on their health. Even today, it is unknown what the full effects are and what the impact is on the rest of the nation because the contaminated air and water are not limited by borders. Most Americans are unaware of the story of uranium mining on tribal lands because it is a difficult story to accept. It is a story that includes the long history of human rights abuses by the US against native Indians and recognition of the full costs of nuclear energy – two stories the government and big energy have suppressed.

Many people think of nuclear power as a clean source of energy. It has been promoted as part of the transition from fossil fuels. But the reality is that nuclear power comes at a heavy price to the health of people and the planet. Like other forms of extractive energy such as coal, oil and gas, uranium needs to stay in the ground. Radiation and heavy metal poisonings are a hidden environmental catastrophe that is ongoing and must be addressed. But rather than studying the health effects and cleaning up the environment, private corporations are pushing once again to lift the ban on uranium mining.

Is Uranium Mining Poisoning the Bread Basket of America?

Thousands of open uranium mines excavated beginning in the 1950s continues to release radiation today.  There have been inadequate measurements but the limited measures done show ongoing leaks larger than Fukushima. How did we get here?

It is estimated that 60 to 80 percent of uranium in the US is located on tribal land, particularly in the lands of the Navajo and Great Sioux Nations. After WWII, the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was created so that the US could obtain uranium for weapons production domestically. The AEC guaranteed that it would purchase all uranium that was mined. A uranium boom ensued. Private corporations jumped in and, in areas of South Dakota, individuals started mining for uranium on their private lands unaware of the dangers.

Private corporations set up thousands of underground and open pit uranium mines on tribal lands and hired local native Indians at low wages. Other than jobs, the uranium mines brought little benefit to these nations because the lands were given to non-Indian companies such as Kerr-McGee, Atlantic Richfield, Exxon and Mobil. Native Indians had little control over what took place.

Two Acts in the 19th century took the rights of self-determination away from the native population. The Indian Appropriations Act of 1851 allocated money to move Indians onto reservations, ostensibly to protect them from white settlers, but more likely to give settlers access to natural resources. The reservations are also known as prisoner of war camps. In fact, the reservation in Pine Ridge, SD is registered as POW Camp 344.

A second Indian Appropriations Act in 1871 changed the legal status of native Indians to wards of the Federal government, stripping them of recognition as sovereign nations and the right to make treaties. In order to make contracts for uranium mining on tribal lands, the Bureau of Indian Affairs created Tribal Councils to conduct negotiations. But the resulting contracts were not made in the best interests of the tribes.

The native Indians who worked in these mines were not protected from exposure to radiation, nor were they adequately warned about the dangers. Though it was clear that radiation exposure was linked to cancer in the early 1950s, around the same time that the US Public Health Service also started studying the health of uranium miners, it was not until 1959 that lung cancer was mentioned as a risk in pamphlets given to the workers.  In an unpublished doctoral dissertation, A.B. Hungate writes that the reasons for this are: “The government had two interests.  First, it needed a steady supply of domestic uranium, and it felt that warning the workers of the hazards would result in the loss of the workforce.  Secondly, it wanted an epidemiological testing program to study the long term health effects of radiation.”

Don Yellowman, president of the Forgotten Navajo People, described the extent of exposure to radiation and toxic metals. Native Indian miners would drink radioactive water that had contained heavy metals, dripping off of the walls deep in the mines. Some of the miners had to travel long distances to the mines, so their families would come with them. Children would play in the area around the mine and family members would prepare and eat meals there. Other reports state that workers, primarily non-whites, were ordered into the mines shortly after explosions were set off to gather up rocks and bring them out for processing. Also, miners would go home at night covered in toxic radioactive dust, exposing their families to health risks.

Uranium mining started in South Dakota on land included in the original treaties with the Great Sioux Nation in the 1960 and 70s. The Sioux were not included in negotiations for the mining and are still refusing to settle with the US government over land in the Black Hills that was mined. During the boom, the land was mined without regard for contamination as “large mining companies [were literally] pushing off the tops of bluffs and buttes.”

A few decades after uranium mining began in the Navajo Nation, increased numbers of cancer cases, lung cancer in particular, began to show up in the miners. A 2008 literature review  in New Mexico found that the “Risk of lung cancer among male Navajo uranium miners was 28 times higher than in Navajo men who never mined, and two-thirds of all new lung cancer cases in Navajo men between 1969 and 1993 was attributable to a single exposure — underground uranium mining. Through 1990, death rates among Navajo uranium miners were 3.3 times greater than the U.S. average for lung cancer and 2.5 times greater for pneumoconioses and silicosis.”

Though the health effects of radiation exposure were known, it took decades before steps were taken to protect workers. The mines were operated under lax laws established in the 1872 Mining Act. Health and safety regulation of the mines, such as requirements for ventilation, was not passed in Congress until the late 1960s. But even once they were law, the regulations were not enforced.

Beginning in the 1970s, miners and their families began to pursue legal solutions through the courts and Congress so they could be compensated for the effects of their radiation exposure. Many court cases failed and native Indians were excluded from hearings in Congress on the miner safety. Finally, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) passed Congress in 1990.

RECA is desperately inadequate and restrictive. Until 2000, RECA only covered miners, not mill workers, and it does not cover families and others who lived near the mines. It also requires a very strict application process which is impossible for some to complete. A summary of RECA by academics Brugge and Goble states: ” We believe that it is not possible to simultaneously apologize, set highly stringent criteria, and place the burden of proof on the victims, as did the 1990 RECA.”

Uranium Mine Pits Continue to Leak Radiation Today

Radiation and heavy metals from uranium mines continue to pollute the land, air and water today and very little action is being taken to stop it.

In the upper great plain states of Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas, there are 2,885 abandoned uranium mines that are all open pits within territory that is supposed to be for the absolute use of the Great Sioux Nation under the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty with the US. These open mines continue to emit radiation and pollutants that are poisoning the local communities.

According to a report by Earthworks, “Mining not only exposes uranium to the atmosphere, where it becomes reactive, but releases other radioac­tive elements such as thorium and radium and toxic heavy metals including arsenic, selenium, mercury and cadmium. Exposure to these radioactive ele­ments can cause lung cancer, skin cancer, bone can­cer, leukemia, kidney damage and birth defects.”

There are currently 1200 abandoned uranium mines in the Navajo Nation and 500 of them require reclamation. The greatest amount of radioactive contamination on Navajo land comes from solid waste called ‘tailings’ which sit in large open piles, some as tall as 70 feet high, and were incorporated into materials used to build homes. Dust from these piles of waste blows throughout the land causing widespread contamination.

A 2008 study found that “mills and tailings disposal sites caused extensive groundwater contamination by radium, uranium, various trace metals and dissolved solids. One estimate is that 1.2 million acre-feet of groundwater (or enough to fill Elephant Butte Reservoir more than twice) have been contaminated in the Ambrosia Lake-Milan area from historic mine and mill discharges, and less than two tenths of 1 percent has been treated to reduce contaminant levels.” It is estimated that 30 percent of people living in the Navajo Nation lack access to uncontaminated water.

Charmaine White Face of Defenders of the Black Hills describes the situation in the Great Sioux Nation as “America’s Chernobyl.” She says,  “A private abandoned, open-pit uranium mine about 200 meters from an elementary school in Ludlow, SD, emits 1170 microRems per hour, more than 4 times as much as being emitted from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. “ In addition, “Studies by the USFS show that one mine alone has 1,400 millirems per hour (mR/hr) of exposed radiation, a level of radiation that is 120,000 times higher than normal background of 100 millirems per year (mR/yr)!” Cancer rates in Pine Ridge, SD are the highest in the nation.

This contamination escapes into the air which blows to the East and South and seeps into the water, reaching the Cheyenne and Missouri Rivers. It poisons grain grown in these areas that is fed to cattle that provide milk and beef for the rest of the nation. As White Face explains, “In an area of the USA that has been called ‘the Bread Basket of the World,’ more than forty years of mining have released radioactive polluted dust and water runoff from the hundreds of abandoned open pit uranium mines, processing sites, underground nuclear power stations, and waste dumps. Our grain supplies and our livestock production in this area have used the water and have been exposed to the remainders of this mining. We may be seeing global affects, not just localized affects, to the years of uranium mining.”

Uranium also contaminates coal that is mined in Wyoming for power plants in the East. Defenders of the Black Hills report that “Radioactive dust and particles are released into the air at the coal fired power plants and often set off the warning systems at nuclear power plants.”

People in the Navajo and Great Sioux Nations have been fighting for decades for the US Government to perform studies on the extent of contamination and to clean up both current contamination and prevent future contamination. As wards of the federal government, the US is responsible for the health and safety of native Indians. The Forgotten Navajo People have put forth a resolution which states “that all people have the inalienable right to clean air, clean water, and the preservation of sacred lands and that immediate action must be taken to Fund the Ongoing need for Remediation of Radioactive Contamination in our Air, Water, and Homelands to ensure our survival and that the named parties will Support the People’s Uranium Radiation Activity Data Collection Network.” The resolution also asks that the US uphold the ban on further uranium mines. They have also sought equipment that would allow them to measure radiation on their reservations, as simple request that has not been acted on.

Defenders of the Black Hills have written legislation, the Uranium Exploration and Mining Accountability Act, calling for study and remediation, but according to White Face, no members of Congress are yet willing to sponsor the bill. She explains that state and federal legislators want to hide the fact that this ongoing contamination exists because it will hurt the states economically. Just 40 miles South of Mount Rushmore, there are 169 abandoned open mines.  And there are mines in the areas of National Parks such as Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. These mines likely contaminate water and air in those areas visited by thousands of tourists.

The Chain of Environmental Damage from Nuclear Energy Begins with Excavation 

During the energy crisis of the 1970s, President Nixon called for the US to become more energy independent and to pursue renewable sources of energy through Project Independence 1980. This included increasing the use of nuclear power and resulted in the building of nuclear power plants throughout the nation. Some of those power plants, 23 currently in use, were built using the same flawed plan as Reactor One which failed at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant in Japan. And many of them are reaching their 40 year lifespan and are applying for renewed permits to continue operation.

In addition, because of the reduced availability of fossil fuels and the climate crisis, nuclear power is back on the table as part of President Obama’s, who has been well-funded throughout his career by Excelon Energy, “All of the Above” energy strategy. Earthworks reports that “According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there are currently 26 pro­posals to start, expand or restart in situ projects in the states regulated by the commission (Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, New Mexico). Of these, nine will be new operations.”

In situ uranium mining is being promoted as a safer method of extracting uranium. In this type of mining process, deep holes are drilled into the Earth’s surface and fluids are injected into them to dissolve the uranium so that it can be collected. This method of mining is certainly less destructive to the surface of the Earth than open pit mining, but the report also states that “Any in situ operation risks spreading ura­nium and its hazardous byproducts outside the mine, potentially contaminating nearby aquifers and drink­ing water sources. This has been a major problem with almost all in situ projects in the U.S.”

Current uranium mines have a history of noncompliance with regulations. There continue to be spills. Mining corporations do not clean up areas that they are required to clean up. They do not pay fines. And they influence local governments to loosen requirements once they receive a mining permit.

In addition to contamination of land, air and water, uranium mining, particularly in situ mining requires large amounts of water. In the current environment with extended droughts and reduced aquifers, in situ mining places greater strain on the water crisis.

Nuclear power is another form of extractive energy that is not only extremely unsafe but is also more expensive than safer forms of energy. Beyond the human and environmental costs, the cost of building new nuclear reactors has quadrupled since 2000 to an average of $13 to 15 billion each. Physicians for Social Responsibility report that “New reactors are estimated to cost homeowners and businesses between 12 cents and 20 cents per kilowatt hour on electric bills—more than cleaner, safer alternatives.”

And the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War passed a resolution in 2010 calling for a ban on all uranium mining worldwide, which states that “As well as the direct health effects from contamination of the water, the immense water consumption in mining regions is environmentally and economically damaging – and in turn detrimental for human health. The extraction of water leads to a reduction of the groundwater table and thereby to desertification; plants and animals die, the traditional subsistence of the inhabitants is eliminated, the existence of whole cultures are threatened.

Expose the Truth and Create a Carbon Free Nuclear Free Energy Economy

Uranium mining in the US and worldwide is a hidden environmental catastrophe that must be exposed. It is not acceptable to ignore the ongoing poisoning of communities, particularly of indigenous communities. Three fourths of all uranium mining worldwide is on indigenous land.

Yellowman speaks of the practice of uranium mining as a form of structural violence. Structural violence occurs when a social structure or institution harms people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs. There is no doubt that widespread contamination of the air, land and water from seventy years of uranium mining has violated the basic rights of indigenous peoples to clean air and water and to live healthy lives.

It is not known at present to what extent the ongoing contamination is affecting the health of our nation. Despite the obvious need, there have not been, to date, any comprehensive studies of radiation and heavy metal contamination in the US. Uranium that is ingested by cattle and other livestock through water and feed concentrates in muscle. We do not know how safe our air, water and food are. And it is likely that the government and the nuclear industry do not want us to know.

It is becoming clearer that nuclear power is another dirty extractive source of energy that has high costs to human and environmental health. We must see through the energy industry propaganda and realize that there are clean and safer alternatives that are less costly. beginning with ending the massive energy waste through efficiency and conservation. It is time to move quickly to a carbon and nuclear free energy economy.

The first step is the ending the secret Fukushima, providing testing equipment to Native Indians, and conducting studies on the effects of radiation and other toxins on the soil, air and water in the Mid-West.  Then, it is time to move quickly to a carbon and nuclear free energy economy beginning with ending the massive waste of energy through improved efficiency and conservation; then changing the American way of life by putting in place land use planning, 21st Century mass transit and dispersed energy so every home and business can become an energy producer. The call of Native Indians to restore the Earth,  for the right to clean water and air, should be a rally cry taken on by all of us.

You can “The Toxic Effects of Uranium Mining on Tribal Lands with Don Yellowman and Charmaine White Face” on Clearing the FOG.

This article was first published on Truthout.  

Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host Clearing the FOG on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and on Economic Democracy Media, co-direct It’s Our Economy and are contributors to Popular Resistance an outgrowth of the Occupy Movement. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.

Lynne Stewart, a movement attorney who was jailed for the “crime” of being the defense lawyer for alleged terrorist Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, is dying in prison of stage-four cancer.

Her family and supporters, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, are asking that she be granted compassionate release so she can live out her final days outside prison walls.

The warden of Stewart’s prison has approved her compassionate release, however the Department of Prisons has so far refused to grant it.

Her case is another example of how the “war on terror” is being used to violate basic democratic rights, in this instance the right of those accused of a crime to legal representation, as well as the attorney-client privilege.

Stewart had a long career of defending the poor and political dissidents. As well as providing legal defense for many unknown people who could not afford to hire lawyers, she took on high profile political cases.

Among those were David Gilbert, a member of the Weather Underground, and Black Panther Willie Holder.

In 1994, Stewart joined former US attorney-general Ramsey Clark as part of the legal defense team for Abdel-Rahman. He had been arrested the year before and charged with conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, not actual terrorist acts.

His real crime was being part of an armed Islamic group in Egypt that sought to overthrow dictator Hosni Mubarak, at the time a staunch US ally.

Any group that fights a US ally is slapped with the label “terrorist”. That happened with the armed wing of the African National Congress, because it fought against the US-supported white racist apartheid regime in South Africa.

Stewart came to believe the “Blind Sheik”, as the press called him, was innocent.

Adbel-Rahman was indeed blind, and suffered from other serious medical problems. After his conviction in 1995, he was sentenced to life in prison plus 65 years ― a sentence Stewart called “outlandish”. He was interred in a prison medical facility, where he has remained since.

Stewart continued to visit him in prison, and represent him regarding post-conviction issues. In 2000, Abdel-Rahman asked her to release a statement from him to the press, which she did.

At the time, this action on her part was not viewed as a crime by the US government. But that changed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

In 2002, Bush’s attorney-general John Ashcroft announced that Stewart was being indicted on the grounds that, by releasing the statement to the public, she was materially aiding a terrorist group.

The background to this fantastic charge was new rules put in place in 1998 that severely limited Abdel-Rahamn’s ability to communicate with the outside world, even through his lawyers, under “special administrative measures”.

These included forbidding her to use her “meetings, correspondence or phone calls with Abdel-Rahman to pass messages between third parties (including but not limited to, the media) and Abdel-Rahman”.

After 9/11 the rules were made even harsher.

The government claimed that the sheik was using the press release to communicate with his group in Egypt, Al-Gama al Islamiyya, which the US arbitrarily labelled a “terrorist” group.

Actually, at the time, Abdel-Rahman backed a ceasefire between the group and the Mubarak regime. However, he left it up to the fighters on the ground to decide whether to continue the ceasefire.

This was the basis for the “materially aiding” a terrorist group charge. The charge was dismissed in 2003, but she was soon re-indicted on charges of obstructing justice and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism.

Stewart’s trial in 2005 was a farce and travesty. The prosecution showed the jurors lurid videos of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, numerous photos of Osama bin Laden, and spun a fantastic web of Islamic terrorist conspiracy, which had nothing to do with the charges against Stewart.

The government told the jury, for example, that Abdel-Rahman was behind numerous terrorist attacks, including the killing of 62 people in 1997 in Luxor, Egypt.

In fact, the sheik publicly denounced that attack and had no connection with the group that carried it out, according to Chris Hedges, who was in Cairo as the Middle East bureau chief for the New York Times at the time.

And, of course, the Luxor incident had nothing to do with Stewart ― the person on trial.

The prosecution in Stewart’s trial also tied Abdel-Rahman to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Others were tried and convicted of that bombing, but not the sheik.

But the press picked this up, asserting that the “Blind Sheik” was the “mastermind” behind the bombing.

Again, such testimony against the sheik had nothing to do with Stewart.

In the anti-Muslim and war-mongering atmosphere that gripped the US population at the time, the jury convicted Stewart. The prosecution had demanded a 30-year sentence for the defendant.

The judge instead handed down a sentence of 28 months. Subsequently, the new justice department under the Obama administration appealed the sentence as “too light”.

While she was out on bail as her sentence was being appealed by the government and she appealed the verdict, Stewart developed breast cancer, and began treatment for it.

Another charge was considered by the appeals court, that of perjury. This was based on a statement Stewart made in her defence outside the courtroom exposing the farce that was her trial, another gross violation of her rights.

On November 17, 2009, the appeals court revoked her bail, ruled the 28-month sentence was too light, and the judge raised her sentence to 10 years for her “false” statements about her trial. She has served three of those years behind bars.

Her treatment for cancer was interrupted in the course of her imprisonment. It was in this period that the cancer metastasised, spreading to her lymph nodes, shoulder, bones and lungs.

After her conviction, her attorney Michael Tigar said “this case is really a threat to all the lawyers who are out there attempting to represent people that face these terrible consequences”.

It is meant to frighten lawyers away from taking on unpopular cases. Human rights group Front Line said the case “has had a chilling effect on human rights defenders who stand between government agencies and potential victims of abuses”.

Another violation came out in the course of Stewart’s trial. That was the government’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to secretly wiretap and film with hidden cameras Stewart’s conversations with the sheik, a violation of attorney-client privilege.

It should be noted that the new Egyptian government is demanding the US release Abdel-Rahman.

I’ll leave the last word to Lynne Stewart herself, written in prison to a friend:

“I have been fortunate to live a charmed life ― parents who loved me without qualification.

“I had children when I was young enough to grow with them. Today they are the backbone of my support and love.

“I came to politics in the early sixties and was part of a vibrant movement that tried to empower local control of public schools to make the ultimate changes for children and break the back of racism in minority communities.

“My partner/husband Ralph Poynter was always 60 years and counting in my corner. I had a fabulous legal career ― championing the political rights of the comrades of the 60s and 70s and also representing many who had no hope of a lawyer who would fight for them against the system

“I have enjoyed good friends, loved cooking, had poetry and theater for joy ― but all of this good fortune has always meant only one thing to me that I have to fight, struggle to make sure everyone can have a life like mine.”

You can sign a petition for hte release of Lynn Stewart here. Visit Justice for Lynn Stewart for more information.

Barry Sheppard was a long-time leader of the US Socialist Workers Party and the Fourth International. He recounts his experience in the SWP in a two-volume book, The Party — the Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, available from Resistance Books. Read more of Sheppard’s articles.]

In an attempt to dispel embarrassing reports that Senator John McCain’s “surprise” trip to Syria featured a meeting with kidnappers — including Mohammad Nour of the Northern Storm rebel group — behind the 2012 abduction of 11 Lebanese religious pilgrims, The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin cited Mouaz Moustafa, the executive director of a little-known organization called The Syrian Emergency Task Force:

“Nobody self-identified as Nour, and none of the guys who were standing outside were in the meeting with McCain,” said Mouaz Moustafa, executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, an American nonprofit that helped organize the McCain trip. Moustafa is in the picture and was also inside McCain’s meeting with the rebel commanders, along with Task Force political director Elizabeth O’Bagy.

Rogin’s defense of McCain, of course, rests on the perceived independence of Moustafa’s “NGO.” The Syrian Emergency Task Force, however, appears to have close ties to one foreign government and its powerful American lobby. Not only is Mouaz Moustafa listed as one of the Washington Institute’s “experts,” he recently addressed the AIPAC-created think tank’s annual Soref symposium on the theme of “Inside Syria: The Battle Against Assad’s Regime.”

Even more intriguingly, one of the web addresses for Moustafa’s nonprofit is “syriantaskforce.torahacademybr.org.” The “torahacademybr.org” URL belongs to the Torah Academy of Boca Raton, Florida whose academic goals notably include “inspiring a love and commitment to Eretz Yisroel.”

Of course, none of this will come as any surprise to those familiar with John McCain’s lifelong service to the Land of Israel, a commitment that has invariably been at the expense of U.S. interests.

Update: Asked by a social media friend for his thoughts on my piece, Moustafa tweeted:

“utter BS I was born in a refugee camp denied entry to Palestinian territories by Israel even with American passport”

Perhaps his friends in the lobby can put in a good word for him.

After all, he helped organize their leading American asset’s trip to Syria; he’s a contributor to WINEP’s forum for Arab democrats; and for a dispossessed Palestinian refugee bears remarkably few grudges. “The Jewish American community here has always supported humanitarian causes and has always stood by the right thing,” he recently told the Jewish Daily Forward, “and I hope they’ll continue to do so.”

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @O_Cathail.

Syria: Israel Is Losing the Battle

June 7th, 2013 by Gilad Atzmon

In the last week we have been following British and French’s desperate attempts to push for a military intervention in Syria. It is far from being a secret that both British and French government are dominated by the pro-Israeli Lobby. In Britain it is the ultra Zionist CFI (Conservative Friends of Israel) – apparently 80% of  Britain’s conservative MPs are members of the pro Israeli Lobby. In France the situation is even more devastating, the entire political system is hijacked by the forceful CRIF.

But in case anyone fails to grasp why the pro-Israeli Lobby is pushing for an immediate intervention, Debka, an Israeli news outlet provides the answer. Seemingly, the Syrian army is winning on all fronts. Israel’s military and geo-political calculations are proved to be wrong.

According to Debka, “the battle for Damascus is over”. The Syrian army had virtually “regained control of the city in an epic victory”.  The rebels, largely mercenaries,  have lost the battle they “can’t do much more than fire sporadically. They can no longer launch raids, or pose threats to the city centre, the airport or the big Syrian air base nearby.
The Russian and Iranian transports constantly bringing replenishments for keeping the Syrian army fighting can again land at Damascus airport after months of rebel siege.”

But it isn’t just the capital. Debka reports that “Hezbollah and Syrian units have tightened their siege on the rebels holding out in the northern sector of al Qusayr; other (Syrian army) units have completed their takeover of the countryside around the town of Hama; and a third combined Syrian-Hizballah force has taken up positions around Aleppo.”

Debka maintains that senior IDF officers criticized the Israeli defense minister (Moshe Ya’alon) who “mislead” the Knesset a few days ago estimating that “Bashar Assad controlled only 40% of Syrian territory.”  Debka suggests that Israeli defense Minister drawn on a “flawed intelligence assessment and were concerned that the armed forces were acting on the basis of inaccurate intelligence.” Debka stresses, “erroneous assessments… must lead to faulty decision-making.”

Debka is clearly brave enough to admit that Israeli military miscalculations may have lead to disastrous consequences. It reports, “the massive Israeli bombardment of Iranian weapons stored near Damascus for Hezbollah, turned out a month later to have done more harm than good. It gave Bashar Assad a boost instead of weakening his resolve.”

Debka is obviously correct. It doesn’t take a genius to predict that an Israeli attack on an Arab land cannot be accepted by the Arab masses, not even by Assad’s bitterest Arab opponents.

Debka maintains that the “intelligence focus on military movements in Syria especially around Damascus to ascertain that advanced missiles and chemical weapons don’t reach Hezbollah laid to a failure of in detecting major movement by Hezbollah militia units towards the Syrian-Israeli border.”

Israel is now facing a new reality.  It is facing Hezbollah reinforcements  streaming in from Lebanon towards the Golan heights and its border with Syria.

Israel, Debka concludes,  will soon find itself  “face to face for the first time with Hezbollah units equipped with heavy arms and missiles on the move along the Syrian-Israeli border and manning positions opposite Israel’s Golan outposts and villages.”

Debka is correct to suggest that instead of “growing weaker, Iran’s Lebanese proxy is poised to open another warfront and force the IDF to adapt to a new military challenge from the Syrian Golan.”

Rather than The Gurdian or the Le Monde, it is actually the  Israeli Debka that helps us to grasp why Britain and France are so  desperate to intervene. Once again, it is a Zionist war which they are so eager to fight.

Sadly enough, it isn’t The Guardian or The New York Times that is there to reveal the latest development in Syria and expose Israeli lethal miscalculations.

It is actually a ‘Zionist’ Israeli patriotic outlet that is providing the good. I actually believe that this form of harsh self-criticism that is embedded in Israeli culture, is the means that sustains Israeli regional hegemony, at least monetarily. This ability to critically examine and disapprove your own leadership is something I fail to encounter in Western media. Seemingly,  the  media in Israel is far more tolerant toward criticism  than the Zionist dominated  Media in the West.