GMO Foods: Science, PR, and Public Backlash

October 29th, 2012 by James Corbett

GRTV: The Toronto Hearings on 9/11 Uncut

October 29th, 2012 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Celebrating Nuclear War: The 1946 “Atom Bomb Cake”

October 29th, 2012 by Global Research News

by Bill Geerhart

The celebratory event took place on Tuesday evening, November 5, 1946 at the Officers’ Club of the Army War College in Washington, D.C. The occasion was to mark the disbanding of Joint Army-Navy Task Force Number One, the body that organized and oversaw the first post-war atomic tests in the Pacific.

These highly publicized detonations on Bikini Atoll are remembered today, if at all, for displacing an entire indigenous population of islanders, for inspiring a revealing line of swimwear for women and for unleashing the myth that movie star Rita Hayworth’s image was once affixed to an A-bomb.

1

The Operation Crossroads tests were the biggest media story of 1946, so it was only fitting that the dissolution of the team that produced the show would spark one final media storm. The entire function would have occurred without notice had it not been for the presence of a photographer from the prestigious Harris & Ewing Studio.[1] What triggered the controversy was a picture that the commander of the Task Force, Vice Admiral William H.P. Blandy, and his wife posed for with Rear Admiral Frank J. Lowry. In it, the so-called “Atomic Admiral” is seen cutting into an elaborately engineered “mushroom cloud”-topped cake (with token assistance from Mrs. Blandy) while Lowry looks on with a smile. The unusual pastry was there in the first place because of an order to an East St. Louis, Illinois bakery by Lieutenant John T. Holloway, a member of Blandy’s staff. “It was strictly a business request,” said Eugene Kuehn to the Associated Press at the time. Kuehn, with the help of a bakery supply salesman named L.Y. Stephens, designed the strange looking dessert and had it delivered by car to Washington.[2]

On November 7, 1946 the bizarre photograph was published as the centerpiece of the Washington Post’s society column under the headline “Salute to Bikini.” It was accompanied by other shots of military men gaily hobnobbing with women dressed to the nines. The grotesque inappropriateness of the party as captured by the Post quickly caught the attention of a local Unitarian minister named Arthur Powell Davies. Three days later, on Sunday, November 10th, the outspoken pastor uncorked his outrage over the insensitive revelry and delivered a blistering broadside from his pulpit at the All Souls Church:

I have with me here in the pulpit this morning a page from a newspaper. From a very fine newspaper. It contains a picture—as it seems to me, an utterly loathsome picture. If I spoke as I feel I would call it obscene. I do not blame the newspaper for printing the picture, or the photographer for taking it. What fills me with bitterness is the fact that such an event could take place at all. It is a picture of two high naval officers and a very beautiful lady.[3] They are in the act of cutting what is called an atom-bomb cake. And it is indeed a cake shaped in the form of an atomic explosion. The caption [in the Post’s photo] says it is made of angel food puffs. I do not know how to tell you what I feel about that picture. I only hope to God it is not printed in Russia—to confirm everything the Soviet government is telling the Russian people about how ‘American degenerates’ are able to treat with levity the most cruel, pitiless, revolting instrument of death ever invented by man… The naval officers concerned should apologize to the armed service of which they are a part, and to the American people. No apology would be sufficient to efface what it may mean to the people of the world.[4]

THE REACTION

News of Davies’s sermon—officially entitled Lest the Living Forget—made Time magazine and headlines around the world. His remarks apparently gave voice to the disgust that many people had been feeling over America’s exuberant embrace of all things atomic since August 6, 1945. Despite the reverend’s professed hope, the hubbub over what became known as the “Atomic Cake” even made its way to Moscow:

Soviet Papers Comment on ‘Atom’ Cake

Moscow, Nov. 17 (AP)—Two Soviet newspapers took cognizance today of the recent serving at an American officers’ club of a cake shaped like an atom bomb explosion and one commented that American “atomists” would “like to stew a big atomic kasha and make millions of peaceful people bear the consequences.”

The reference to kasha, a Russian cereal, was by the government newspaper Izvestia, which illustrated its story by a picture of a portly gentleman in a morning coat cutting a cake. Trud, the trade union newspaper, was the other newspaper that referred to the “atomic cake.”[5]

In America, the sermon and the resulting news coverage prompted letters to the editor (some with the motive of defending the Admiral). The following is a sampling:

A note on that delightful picture of Admirals Blandy and Lowry and attached dimpling woman all preparing to eat the charming and oh-so-divine “atom bomb” cake. On Armistice Day I was thinking of so many charming variations of this theme. We could have darling little cakes made in the shape of coffins, and the cutest little crosses pressed of angel-puffs. And a few drops of cherry extract could be—you guessed it—drops of blood.

History will not scorn us for our last-resort use of this most horrible of all weapons to end finally and completely the most terrible of all wars. But we will be damned as barbarians without vision or heart if we do not feel the deepest sadness at the necessity for authorizing such cruelness. And let no one toss such conscience pangs aside with easy thoughts about legitimate ends. Hitler ravished a continent because, having committed himself to “good ends,” he could tolerate any means.

I think the entire episode was a monument to poor taste, and The Post shares the guilt by printing such obscenities.

EX-INFANTRYMAN, Arlington, Va.[6]

The recent picture of Admiral and Mrs. Blandy and Admiral Lowry cutting a cake made in the form of an atomic underwater explosion gave wide publicity to the unusual views of the Rev. A. Powell Davies, Unitarian pastor of a “fashionable Washington church.” As published, with accompanying errors of text, it did a great injustice to Admirals Blandy and Lowry, who have been tireless in their efforts to tell the citizens of the world of the devastating power and insidious poison of the atomic bomb.

For example, in October Admiral Blandy, at the New York Herald Tribune Forum and over a national radio network, said: “It is my earnest hope that all nations of the world join America in a straightforward march along the path leading to elimination of atomic weapons by an effective international control of atomic energy which will guarantee its development for exclusively peaceful purposes.”

Mr. Davies’ remarks also did a great injustice to Mrs. Blandy, who was brought up and married and whose children were christened in the same church of which Mr. Davies has but recently become the pastor.

Admiral and Mrs. Blandy were not the hosts (as stated in published accounts), but were the guests of honor at a party given by officers of the Crossroads staff. They had no part in the planning or procurement of the cake. The Post requested and was accorded the privilege of sending a news photographer to the party, and the picture was taken at the request of the photographer. In acceding to the request, Admiral and Mrs. Blandy and Admiral Lowry were acting as would any lady and gentleman.

To be publicly pilloried from the pulpit for this seems to be a strange reflection of the principles of Him who founded the Christian church.

DAVID H. BLAKELOCK, Colonel, United States Army; FITZHUGH LEE, Captain, Joint Task Force 1, Washington[7]

Sirs:

The recent picture of Admiral and Mrs. Blandy and Admiral Lowry cutting a cake made in the form of an atomic underwater explosion [TIME, Nov. 18] gave wide publicity to the unusual views of the Rev. A. Powell Davies, Unitarian pastor of a “fashionable Washington church.” As published … it did a great injustice to Admirals Blandy and Lowry, who have been tireless in their efforts to tell the citizens of the world of the devastating power and insidious poison of the atomic bomb. . . .

Admiral and Mrs. Blandy and Admiral Lowry were not the hosts but were the guests of honor at a party given by Officers of the Crossroads staff. They had no part in the planning or procurement of the cake.

DAVID H. BLAKELOCK Colonel, U.S.A. FITZHUGH LEE Captain, U.S.N. Washington[8]

Sirs:

. . . Utter astonishment could not describe my feelings when I read the tirade let loose by a Washington minister at two men who contributed such a large part in the defeat of our enemies. He would “damn to hell” these men; he would call down the wrath of God on these men were he a medieval priest; he would put in torment their souls for their base, utter disregard of all the principles of humanity. . . . Who is he? This minister might just as well damn every Air Corps officer, every bombardier, every flame-throwing private, every machine gunner and every rifleman to everlasting hell for using a weapon as destructive as the one he carried in defense of his country. . . .

Personally, it is my belief, and I am sure the belief of the majority of servicemen, that the atomic bomb accomplished at the proper moment a complete demoralization of the Japanese and led to ultimate surrender, thus saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of American men who would otherwise have been lost. God grant that we might have had this bomb at the start of the conflict. God grant that this nation have such a weapon as this if & when our enemies feel the time is ripe to strike another blow at Freedom and mankind. . . .

J. N. TALBOTT

Lieutenant Commander, U.S.N.R. Philadelphia[9]

Davies’s local brethren of the cloth sought to minimize their colleague’s position while at the same time getting their own names in the papers. Reverend J. Warren Hastings of the National Christian Church of Washington, D.C. told the Associated Press: “If we can only learn to go no further with the atomic bomb than making the likeness of its explosion into a cake we shall be all right.” Reverend Peter Marshall of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, also in D.C., remarked to the same reporter: “I don’t see anything loathsome about it at all.”[10]

The two central players in the sermon clearly just wanted to move on—albeit without the apology demanded of them by the minister. Blandy stated that he did not want “to comment offhand” and Lowry told a reporter that the pastor “probably just doesn’t understand the situation.”[11] For his part, L.Y. Stephens, the man who assisted in the creation of the now famous dessert, did not subscribe to the negative symbolism assigned to his handiwork by Reverend Davies. He told the Associated Press that the sermon was “silly” and that “We intended the cake as something to eat.”[12]

Meanwhile, other, more important people were taking note of the confectionary brouhaha and—behind the scenes—they were siding with Davies’s point of view. On November 11, 1946, the influential columnist Walter Lippmann wrote to the Secretary of the Navy, James V. Forrestal to voice his concern:

3525 Woodley Road, N.W.
Washington 16, D.C.
November 11, 1946

Dear Jim:

The outburst of Reverend A.P. Davies about the atomic bomb cake is, I feel sure, a sign of the times, which I feel should not be ignored.

Public relations officers of both the War and Navy Departments have been out of hand for some time, and I have detected for some months a growing undercurrent of feeling that will affect the whole military establishment if something isn’t done about it.

I have compiled a list of new and terrifying weapons announced by the War and Navy Departments, and of other stories originating there which are boastful or threatening. The total effect was bound to produce a popular reaction, and I really feel that you and Bob Patterson ought to look very seriously into this business.

You are going to have a very hard time with the next Congress getting appropriations, and if the large church-going population of this country with its pacifist leanings gets the idea that the Services are out of hand, it will have a bad effect in the fight for adequate appropriations.
I am sure you appreciate the spirit in which I am writing this.

Yours.

Walter Lippmann

Honorable James V. Forrestal
Secretary of the Navy
Washington 25, D.C.

Forrestal, who was of the same mind as Lippmann, wrote him back the next day:

12 November 1946

Dear Walter:

Your letter of yesterday:

I am in complete agreement. So is [Secretary of War] Bob Patterson with whom I have just talked. We are both acting accordingly. As a matter of fact I had started something in this direction about ten days ago but at that time it was on the thesis that people were becoming bored with such adolescent competitive publicity. I think your point if of deeper importance.

Vice Admiral Felix Johnson, who is now in charge of the general policy of Public Relations, is a most intelligent man and some day I will ask you to come over and talk with him.

Sincerely yours,

James Forrestal

Walter Lippmann, Esq.,
3525 Woodley Road N.W.,

Washington 16, D.C.[13]

The impact that Forrestal and his P.R. team had on subsequent matters involving atomic testing appears to be limited to their success in preventing a recurrence of embarrassing celebratory parties. And Lippmann, the writer frequently co-credited with the coining of the term “Cold War,” evidently steered clear of the issue in his columns from this period.[14] But even if the efforts of these two powerful men remained largely confined to their archives, something more public was about to happen…

THE HIROSHIMA DRAWINGS

The most significant result of Davies’s “outburst,” as Lippmann called it, was that reports of his anger reached the eyes of Dr. Howard Bell, an official in General Douglas MacArthur’s provisional government in Japan. Bell, a kindred spirit, wrote to Davies and playfully admonished him for not using stronger language in expressing his indignation, but conceded that the minister “had to make some concessions to the proprieties of pulpit utterance.” He went on in his letter to describe the hardship of Japanese school children—particularly in Hiroshima—and suggested that American school children should clean out their desks and send spare school supplies like pencils and notebooks to their Japanese counterparts.

Reverend Davies took Dr. Bell’s idea to heart and on February 13, 1947 he delivered a sermon entitled “In Reply to a Letter from Japan” asking his flock for action. In the period that followed, the youngest parishioners of the church collected over a half ton of paper, pencils, crayons, erasers, paste and other items. The material was then shipped to Japan where it arrived in December of 1947—just in time for Christmas. The supplies were distributed to two schools and an orphanage.

The recipients of this remarkable gift from American schoolchildren responded with immense gratitude. The most touching and enduring gift that the U.S. students received for their efforts were crayon drawings and watercolor paintings from the youthful artists at the Honkawa Elementary School in Hiroshima. The art work depicted many different scenes from the home country and themes such as “Friends of America” and “Peace – Japan.” After the “Hiroshima Drawings” went on a nationwide tour sponsored by the U.S. government, they were returned to the All Souls Church and, over time, seemingly lost.[15]

According to a forthcoming documentary, the art work was rediscovered in 1996 in a box in the home of a parishioner of the All Souls Church. The nearly fifty drawings and paintings were then moved to the church’s vault where they would periodically be displayed for visiting Hibakusha (atom bomb survivors). In 2007, the pictures were restored and sent back to their place of origin—the Honkawa Elementary School—for exhibition.[16]

What had started out as a trivialized media story about an “atomic cake,” had, in the end, led to a lasting expression of peace.

PASSINGS

Reverend Davies died of hemorrhaging from a blood clot in one of his lungs while he was working in his study at the church’s parsonage on September 26, 1957.

He was 55 years old. The memorial service held at All Souls Church two days later was attended by three sitting Supreme Court Justices—Hugo Black,

Harold Burton and William O. Douglas. According to the Washington Post, Davies was cremated.[17]

William Blandy, the primary target of the minister’s wrath in 1946, had died several years earlier, in 1954, at the age of 63.[18] His legacy is a U.S. Navy ship named for him, a plot at Arlington National Cemetery and, most prominently, a ridiculous photograph.

Notes

[1] The infamous photograph of Blandy and the “atomic cake” is credited to “Harris & Ewing” (a prominent Washington, D.C. studio that is now defunct—for an excellent history, read this Washing ton Business Journal article) on the November 8, 1946 Washington Post society page (page 18) on which it appears. On the same page (but smaller), there are other uncredited photographs from the event that were presumably taken by a staff photographer. In a letter to the editor of the Washington Post published on November 22, 1946, Colonel David H. Blakelock, U.S. Army, and Captain Fitzhugh Lee, Joint Task Force 1, state that the Post requested permission from the party’s organizers to send a photographer. It is not clear whether the photographer from Harris & Ewing was working under contract to the Post, but given the presence of the other staff photographer, it is more likely that the Post’s editors caught wind of the exquisitely posed ‘cake’ photo and licensed it for publication.

[2] “Cake Shaped Like Atomic Blast Draws Pastor’s Wrath,” Rhinelander (Wisconsin) Daily News, November 11, 1946.

[3] The woman Davies is referring to is Vice Admiral Blandy’s wife.

[4] George N. Marshall, A. Powell Davies and His Times [Boston: Skinner House Books, 1990] pp. 139-140. To read a transcript of the complete sermon, see the Atomic Cake Sermon blog post on CONELRAD Adjacent.

[5] “Soviet Papers Comment on ‘Atom’ Cake,” Washington Post, via the Associated Press, November 18, 1946.

[6] Letter to the editor, Washington Post, November 13, 1946.

[7] Letter to the editor, Washington Post, November 22, 1946. Note: Blakelock and Fitzhugh, who had a professional motive to shield Blandy and Lowry from criticism, conveniently omit in their letter the fact that the East Saint Louis, Illinois baker, Eugene Kuehn, had already told the Associated Press that the order for the cake came from a member of Blandy’s staff (see paragraph two of main CONELRAD story above).

[8] Letter to the editor, Time magazine, December 9, 1946 and see preceding footnote for additional comment. Note: The letter that appeared in Time was a truncated version of the letter that appeared earlier in the Washington Post by the same authors.

[9] Time, December 9, 1946.

[10] “Capital Clergy Split on ‘Loathsome’ Atom Cake,” Syracuse (New York) Herald-Journal, November 11, 1946.

[11] “Picture of Atomic-Bomb Cake ‘Obscene,’ D.C. Pastor Declares,” Washington Post, via Associated Press, November 11, 1946.

[12] “Cake Shaped Like Atomic Blast Draws Pastor’s Wrath,” Rhinelander (Wisconsin) Daily News, November 11, 1946.

[13] Yale University
Walter Lippmannn Papers
Lippmannn-Forrestal Correspondence
November 11, 1946—November 12, 1946
Box 71, Section 3, Folder 794

[14] According to The Cold War Encyclopedia by Thomas Parrish [New York: Henry Holt] pp. 68-69, the post-World War II usage of the term “Cold War” is traced back to a newspaper writer named Herbert Bayard Swope who included the phrase in a speech that he wrote for the prominent businessman and political adviser, Bernard Baruch. Baruch delivered the speech to the legislature of his home state of South Carolina on April 17, 1947. It was Lippmannn, however, who popularized the term in a series of articles and a 1947 book entitled The Cold War: A Study in U.S. Foreign Policy [New York: Harper]. CONELRAD was unable to locate Lippmannn columns from this period that address the “Atomic Cake” issue.

[15] Initial history of “Hiroshima Drawings” derived from A. Powell Davies.org accessed on September 7, 2010.

Note: At least one other art exhibit by Hiroshima school children was staged in the United States. According to a brief item in the June 28, 1953 Albuquerque (New Mexico) Journal there was a display of 75 paintings by Hiroshima children at the Fine Arts Gallery at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. The exhibit was part of an art exchange with Santa Fe, NM school children whose work was displayed in Hiroshima.

[16] “Pictures From a Hiroshima School” documentary website accessed on September 7, 2010.

[17] Details on Davies’s death derived from his biography on the Unitarian Universalist Historical Society webpage accessed on September 7, 2010. Additional details derived from September 27, 1957 Washington Post article, “Dr. A. Powell Davies Dies in His Study Here.”

[18] “Atom Expert Dies,” Washington Post, via Associated Press, January 13, 1954. Note: Blandy died from complications of a stroke.

 

“Pro-Democracy” Groups Behind Myanmar Refugee Attacks

October 29th, 2012 by Tony Cartalucci

Supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi, leaders of the “Saffron Revolution,” leading ethnic cleansing of Myanmar refugees.

People don’t just come out into the streets and begin murdering each other. There are always instigators on one side, perhaps both, leading the anger and violence. In the case of targeted Muslim Rohingya refugees in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, those leading  the violence against them, which most recently involved 26 killed and 2,000 Rohingya homes destroyed, have been identified.

While the Associated Press (AP) features grainy photos of monks outside the city hall in Yangon, Myanmar, claiming that it is a rally “against violence,” the signs themselves tell a different tale. One enumerates, in English, the demands of the “monks.” The sign includes:

1. Protect Rakhine People from the Dangers of Islamic Extremism.
2. Army Must stop Shooting the Ethnic People.
3. We Arakanese Don’t Want to Live With Extreme Bengalis Anymore.
4. Mr. President Should be Decisive on the Issue of Arakan.
5. Drive all illegal Bengalis out of the Land of Myanmar.
6. All Ethnic People of Myanmar Should be United.

The sign continues, but is obstructed in all the shots provided by AP. All of the news stories featuring the picture do not mention any of the enumerated points on the sign, and instead claim, “Myanmar Buddhist monks offer prayers Thursday during a rally of more than 100 people protesting recent violence.”

By “Army Must stop Shooting the Ethnic People,” the protesters mean the army should stop firing on their vigilantes for attempting to eradicate the refugees, as the points on the sign enumerate clearly they are the united ethnic people of Myanmar, and the refugees are “illegal Bengalis.”

Image: Praying for genocide. While Associated Press claims these protesters are demonstrating against ethnic violence, the sign they carry clearly states that they seek the expulsion of the refugees from Myanmar, and are merely protesting against the Myanmar Army’s use of force to protect them from attacks that have left scores dead and thousands of refugee homes destroyed. 

….

In the summer and early fall of 2012 when this wave of violence had again erupted, AFP reported in their article, “Monks stage anti-Rohingya march in Myanmar,” that the marching “monks” supported President Thein Sein’s plan to expel the Rohingya, before paradoxically admitting that Thein Sein has accused the marchers of “kindling hatred toward the Rohingya.”

AFP, in a grave lapse of professional journalism, refers to the leader of this movement as merely “a monk named Wirathu.”

However, this isn’t merely “a monk named Wirathu,” but “Sayadaw” (venerable teacher) Wirathu who has led many of “democratic champion” Aung San Suu Kyi’s political street campaigns and is often referred to by the Western media as an “activist monk.”

In March of this year, Wirathu had led a rally calling for the release of so-called “political prisoners,” so designated by US State Department funded faux-NGOs. Wirathu himself was in prison, according to AFP, for inciting hatred against Muslims, until recently released as part of an amnesty, an amnesty US State Department-funded (page 15, .pdf) Democratic Voice of Burma claims concerned only “political prisoners.”

Image: Real monks don’t do politics. The “venerable” Wirathu (front, left) leads a rally for “political prisoners” loyal to Aung San Suu Kyi’s “pro-democracy” movement in March, 2012. Wirathu himself has been often portrayed as an “activist monk” and a “political prisoner” who spent years in prison. In reality, he was arrested for his role in violent sectarian clashes in 2003, while Suu Kyi’s “pro-democracy” front is actually US-funded sedition. Wirathua has picked up right where he left off in 2003, and is now leading anti-Rohingya rallies across the country.
….

Human Rights Watch itself, in its attempt to memorialize the struggle of “Buddhism and activism in Burma” (.pdf),  admits that Wirathu was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to 25 years in prison along with other “monks” for their role in violent clashes between “Buddhists and Muslims” (page 67, .pdf). This would make Wirathu and his companions violent criminals, not “political prisoners.”

While Western news agencies have attempted to spin the recent violence as a new phenomenon implicating Aung San Suu Kyi’s political foot soldiers as genocidal bigots, in reality, the sectarian nature of her support base has been back page news for years. AFP’s recent but uncharacteristically honest portrayal of Wirathu, with an attempt to conceal his identity and role in Aung San Suu Kyi’s “Saffron” political machine, illustrates the quandary now faced by Western propagandists as the violence flares up again, this time in front of a better informed public.

Image: An alleged monk, carries an umbrella with Aung San Suu Kyi’s image on it. These so-called monks have played a central role in building Suu Kyi’s political machine, as well as maintaining over a decade of genocidal, sectarian violence aimed at Myanmar’s ethnic minorities. Another example of US “democracy promotion” and tax dollars at work.
….

During 2007′s “Saffron Revolution,” these same so-called “monks” took to the streets in a series of bloody anti-government protests, in support of Aung San Suu Kyi and her Western-contrived political movement. HRW would specifically enumerate support provided to Aung San Suu Kyi’s movement by these organizations, including the Young Monks Union (Association), now leading violence and calls for ethnic cleansing across Myanmar.

The UK Independent  in their article, “Burma’s monks call for Muslim community to be shunned,” mentions the Young Monks Association by name as involved in distributing flyers recently, demanding people not to associate with ethnic Rohingya, and attempting to block humanitarian aid from reaching Rohingya camps.

The Independent also notes calls for ethnic cleansing made by leaders of the 88 Generation Students group (BBC profile here) – who also played a pivotal role in the pro-Suu Kyi 2007 protests. “Ashin” Htawara, another “monk activist” who considers Aung San Suu Kyi,  his “special leader” and greeted her with flowers for her Oslo Noble Peace Prize address earlier this year, stated at an event in London that the Rohingya should be sent “back to their native land.”

The equivalent of Ku Klux Klan racists demanding that America’s black population be shipped back to Africa, the US State Department’s “pro-democratic” protesters in Myanmar have been revealed as habitual, violent bigots with genocidal tendencies and enumerated designs. Their recent violence also casts doubts on Western narratives portraying the 2007 “Saffron Revolution’s” death toll as exclusively the work of government security operations.

Like their US-funded (and armed) counterparts in Syria, many fighting openly under the flag of sectarian extremism held aloft by international terrorist organization Al Qaeda, we see the absolute moral bankruptcy of Myanmar’s “pro-democracy” movement that has, up until now, been skillfully covered up by endless torrents of Western propaganda – Aung San Suu Kyi’s Nobel Peace Prize and a recent showering of Western bestowed awards, all being part of the illusion.

Sectarian Violence, Destabilization: What’s in it for the West?

In “Myanmar (Burma) “Pro-Democracy” Movement a Creation of Wall Street & London,” it was documented that Suu Kyi and organizations supporting her, including local propaganda fronts like the New Era Journal, the Irrawaddy, and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) radio, have received millions of dollars a year from the Neo-Conservative chaired National Endowment for Democracy, convicted criminal and Wall Street speculator George Soros’ Open Society Institute, and the US State Department itself, citing Britain’s own “Burma Campaign UK (.pdf).”

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1c/Rendition_of_Myitsone_Dam.jpg

Image: The Myitsone Dam, on its way to being the 15th largest in the world until construction was halted in September by a campaign led by Wall Street-puppet Aung San Suu Kyi, a stable of US-funded NGOs, and a terrorist campaign executed by armed groups operating in Kachin State, Myanmar.

….

And not only does the US State Department in tandem with Western corporate media provide Aung San Suu Kyi extensive political, financial, and rhetorical backing, they provide operational capabilities as well, allowing her opposition movement to achieve Western objectives throughout Myanmar. The latest achievement of this operational capability successfully blocked the development of Myanmar’s infrastructure by halting a joint China-Mynamar dam project that would have provided thousands of jobs, electricity, state-revenue, flood control, and enhanced river navigation for millions. Suu Kyi and her supporting network of NGOs, as well as armed militants in Myanmar’s northern provinces conducted a coordinated campaign exploiting both “environmental” and “human rights” concerns that in reality resulted in Myanmar’s continual economic and social stagnation.

The ultimate goal of course is to effect regime change not only in Myanmar, but to create a united Southeast Asian front against China in pursuit of long-documented plans to encircle and contain the emerging superpower.

As reported in June, 2011′s “Collapsing China,” as far back as 1997 there was talk about developing an effective containment strategy coupled with the baited hook of luring China into its place amongst the “international order.” Just as in these 1997 talking-points where author and notorious Neo-Con policy maker Robert Kagan described the necessity of using America’s Asian “allies” as part of this containment strategy, Clinton goes through a list of regional relationships the US is trying to cultivate to maintain “American leadership” in Asia.

Image: (Top) The “Lilliputians” though small in stature were collectively able to tie down the larger Gulliver from the literary classic “Gulliver’s Travels.” In the same manner, the US wants to use smaller Southeast Asian nations to “tie down” the larger China.

….

The US Army’s Strategic Studies Institute 2006 publication, “String of pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China’s Rising Power Across the Asian Littoral” details US geopolitical awareness of China’s growing influence throughout Asia and enumerates a plan of action to balk it while maintaining American preeminence. While Kagan’s paper details a broader geopolitical strategy, the SSI report specifically mentions where China is expanding its influence.

In defining China’s “String of Pearls” it states:

Each “pearl” in the “String of Pearls” is a nexus of Chinese geopolitical influence or military
presence. 4 Hainan Island, with recently upgraded military facilities, is a “pearl.” An upgraded airstrip on Woody Island, located in the Paracel archipelago 300 nautical miles east of Vietnam, is a “pearl.” A container shipping facility in Chittagong, Bangladesh, is a “pearl.” Construction of a deep water port in Sittwe, Myanmar, is a “pearl,” as is the construction of a navy base in Gwadar, Pakistan. 5 Port and airfield construction projects, diplomatic ties, and force modernization form the essence of China’s “String of Pearls.” The “pearls” extend from the coast of mainland China through the littorals of the South China Sea, the Strait of Malacca, across the Indian Ocean, and on to the littorals of the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf. China is building strategic relationships and developing a capability to establish a forward presence along the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) that connect China to the Middle East (see Figure 1).


Image: Figure 1. From SSI’s 2006 “String of Pearls” report detailing a strategy of containment for China. While “democracy,” “freedom,” and “human rights” will mask the ascension of Aung San Suu Kyi and others into power, it is part of a region-wide campaign to overthrow nationalist elements and install client regimes in order to encircle and contain China. Violence in areas like Sittwe, Rakhine Myanmar, or Gwadar Baluchistan Pakistan, are not coincidences and documented evidence indicates immense Western backing for armed opposition groups.

….

The report was written in 2006 – and clearly the West has gone through great lengths since then to destabilize, neutralize, or isolate from China’s influence each and every one of these “pearls.” Indeed, the state of Rakhine in southwest Myanmar is being developed by China as stated in the SSI report. The city of Sittwe is the site of a Chinese-built port, and Kyaukpyu is the future site for the terminal of a trans-Myanmar oil pipeline linking Chinese oil tankers incoming from the Middle East directly with China’s Yunnan province, negating the lengthy trip around the Strait of Malacca and across the South China Sea.

By destabilizing Rakhine state, either through this current violence, or by “radicalizing” groups within the Rohingya and expanding the violence further still, the West can ensure that progress is slow, or all together brought to a halt, just as it has with Chinese projects up country, or even abroad in nations like war-torn Libya or Pakistan’s now destabilized Baluchistan province. The SSI report also mentions Chittagong, Bangladesh, which also, coincidentally, has been dragged into neighboring Myanmar’s violence.

A library of policy papers detailing the US’ strategy vis-a-vis China’s emergence is available for the public to read. However, these papers are written in academic English and require demanding prerequisites across a variety of disciplines to understand.  It also requires effort greatly exceeding that needed to merely consider and accept base arguments made by prominent and prolific Western media services. There is always more to a story than mere superficial religious or ethnic differences – and if a news story fails to address this, it has failed to report the truth.

During a tour of the New England Compounding Center (NECC), investigators from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found foreign “greenish-black” material in some vials of the injectable steroid suspected as the cause of the ongoing meningitis outbreak.

The contaminated vials of medicine were only one of a host of potential violations discovered during a recent inspection of NECC’s facility in Framingham, Massachusetts, FDA officials reported last Friday.

According to the latest figures released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Saturday, 344 cases of fungal meningitis linked to the suspect steroid have been reported in 18 states. Twenty-five people have died. Meningitis is an inflammation of the lining surrounding the brain and spinal cord that is potentially fatal.

Most of those stricken received injections of methylprednisolone acetate to treat back pain, while seven received injections in the knee or other peripheral joints. The estimated 14,000 people who received injections of the steroid produced by NECC and have not yet fallen ill must now play a harrowing waiting game to see if they come down with the deadly disease.

The FDA’s initial investigation, as well as other emerging details about NECC’s practices, indicate that the compounding pharmacy ran an operation that—even by the company’s own evaluation—clearly disregarded basic pharmaceutical safety and sterility standards.

FDA officials detailed their observations at a news conference on Friday. Steven Lynn, director of the FDA’s office of Manufacturing and Product Quality, said, “The investigators observed approximately 100 vials of the steroid drug, which purports to be a sterile injectable drug, that had a greenish-black foreign material and a white filamentous material [containing filaments] inside.”

The FDA report also revealed that the compounding pharmacy was unable to demonstrate that the equipment used to sterilize their products was actually able to sterilize them. In particular, the company did not keep its “clean room” clean. “A clean room is a space designed to maintain a controlled environment with lower levels of airborne particles and surface contamination,” Lynn explained.

The FDA report shows that NECC’s own environmental monitoring program between January and September of 2012 yielded “microbial isolates (bacteria and mold) within Clean Room 1 and Clean Room 2.” In some cases, entire testing dishes were overrun with an “OG,” or overgrowth, of bacteria and fungi. Tables reprinted in the FDA report from NECC’s own records include 11 instances where findings related to mold and bacteria have been redacted in NECC’s original documents.

NECC personnel failed to keep the air conditioning running in the clean room at night, according to the FDA, which is standard practice for maintaining proper humidity and temperature control. They also found leaking pipes and standing water at the entrance to a room where equipment is prepared for use in the clean room.

FDA inspection also found an autoclave tarnished with “greenish-yellow discoloration.” This equipment is used for steam sterilization of beakers, spatulas “used in the formulation of sterile drug products,” the report notes.

The FDA investigators also observed that a recycling plant adjacent to the NECC facility takes in mattresses and plastics and contains recycling equipment that produces airborne particles. The facility is owned by Gregory Conigliaro, who also owns a stake in NECC. The air conditioning units on the NECC’s rooftop are only about 100 feet from the recycling facility.

The FDA report, known as a “483,” is issued “at the end of an inspection when the investigators believe that they observed conditions or practices that, in their judgment, may indicate violations of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, or related regulations,” the agency said in a statement. Further inspections will be undertaken.

Health officials from Massachusetts, which had authority over NECC’s operations as a compounding pharmacy, released preliminary results of an investigation October 23 that found similar violations by the company. They also determined that compounded drugs were not labeled with identification that was patient-specific.

Compounding pharmacies such as NECC are meant to prepare specialty prescriptions when a drug is not available to treat specific patients who may have an allergy to one of the ingredients usually found in a drug, or need it to be prepared in a particular way, for example, without preservatives or as a liquid.

In practice, however, many of these “compounders” function more like large-scale drug manufacturers and operate under the radar of FDA regulators. Lobbyists for the compounding pharmacy industry have spent more than $1 million over the past decade to thwart FDA regulation of facilities such as the one that has now shipped thousands of vials of tainted steroids to clinics across the country.

Massachusetts authorities have suspended NECC’s license to operate, as have at least eight other states. Dr. Madeleine Biondolillo, director of the state Bureau of Healthcare Safety, declared at a recent news conference that NECC “was operating beyond the scope of [its] compounding license.” Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick spoke of the “decisive steps” state health officials were taking to protect the public from compounders such as NECC.

However, state records that have now become public show that as early as 14 years ago NECC and a nearby firm with the same owners, Ameridose, asked and eventually received a waiver to bypass state laws governing compounding pharmacies. In a license application in 1998, NECC requested that they be exempt from maintaining a supply of drugs “in accordance with the usual needs of the community,” a practice required of pharmacies.

In 2003, in response to a complaint, NECC attorney Paul Cirel explained in a letter to the state pharmacy board that “NECC compounds some prescription medication in advance of the receipt of valid prescription orders from authorized prescribers” and that the pharmacy prepared batches of some drugs ahead of time “based on the historical demand for that particular compound.”

NECC faced an investigation from the state pharmacy board in 2004 triggered by an adverse event involving methylprednisolone acetate—the same drug at the center of the meningitis outbreak. Pharmacy board staff recommended the compounder receive a three-year probation and an official reprimand.

In early 2006, however, the state pharmacy board overruled its own staff, approving a consent agreement whereby NECC was placed on probation for a year, with this probation immediately stayed. The deal followed a plea from NECC attorney Cirel, who argued that probation would place an undue financial burden on NECC and could trigger punitive action against the firm in other states where it was licensed.

The NECC attorney wrote at the time, “The collateral consequences to many if not all of NECC’s other licenses in 42 states would be potentially fatal to the business.” State officials agreed not to report the reduced probation agreement to regulators in other states.

The presidential election of 2004 left much to be desired.  Millions of votes were suppressed, and the evidence is overwhelming that votes were flipped by interested parties.  Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman summarize:

“The widespread use of electronic voting machines from ES&S, and of Diebold software maintained by Triad, allowed [Ohio Secretary of State Ken] Blackwell to electronically flip a 4% Kerry lead to a 2% Bush victory in the dead of election night. ES&S, Diebold and Triad were all owned or operated by Republican partisans. The shift of more than 300,000 votes after 12:20 a.m. election night was a virtual statistical impossibility. It was engineered by Michael Connell, an IT specialist long affiliated with the Bush Family. Blackwell gave Connell’s Ohio-based GovTech the contract to count Ohio’s votes, which was done on servers housed in the Old Pioneer Bank Building in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Thus the Ohio vote tally was done on servers that also carried the e-mail for Karl Rove and the national Republican Party. Connell died in a mysterious plane crash in December, 2008, after being subpoenaed in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal lawsuit focused on how the 2004 election was decided (disclosure: we were attorney and plaintiff in that suit).  Diebold’s founder, Walden O’Dell, had vowed to deliver Ohio’s electoral votes—and thus the presidency—to his friend George W. Bush. That it was done in part on electronic voting machines and software O’Dell happened to own (Diebold has since changed hands twice) remains a cautionary red flag for those who believe merely winning the popular vote will give Barack Obama a second term.”

There are no doubt honest people who have looked at the evidence and disagree that the election was stolen in 2004.  There might even be — although I can’t imagine how — people who have looked at Ohio 2004 and concluded that what went down was a respectable electoral process up to all international standards and beyond all possibility of doubt.  I’m even willing to concede that someone somewhere honestly thinks allowing private companies to count our votes on computers in a manner that can never be verified is a reasonable approach to democratic self-governance, given the complete absence from all recent history of any private company ever engaging in any questionable practice that might radically increase its profits.

But, according to a credible report from 2005, one key person who eventually came to understand that Ohio was stolen was the candidate from whom it was stolen: John Kerry.  Kerry reportedly said that he did not want to speak out about this because he would be accused of being a sore loser.  His running mate John Edwards, who — by various accounts — opposed conceding the election in 2004, has since been disgraced as an adulterer.  Let’s set aside for the moment the question of whether adultery is worse than election theft.  What I want to know is this: would allowing the 2012 election to be stolen be a price worth paying to avoid the unpleasantness of John Kerry being called a sore loser on tee-vee?

Why would the 2012 election be stolen?  Well, there is the matter of the 2012 primaries.  And then there are the basic facts as laid out by the least likely media outlet in the world to twist them in favor of my argument: Fox News.  Again, let Fitrakis-Wasserman, or Wassrakis for short, summarize:

“Despite an almost total blackout from the corporate media, the Romney family has a personal ownership (through the investment firms Solamere and H.I.G. Capital) in Hart Intercivic, which owns, maintains, programs and will tabulate alleged votes on machines in the critical swing states of Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Colorado. Despite various official disclaimers, the election could be decided on Hart machines producing ‘vote counts’ with little connection to how 18 million people actually voted.  It is inconceivable that the Romney chain of ownership in Hart Intercivic will not influence how that goes. …  [T]here is no legally binding way by which a professionally rigged electronic vote count can be overturned or even definitively discovered except through the use of unabridged but legally inconsequential exit polling.  Scytl, a Barcelona-based e-voting company, has been contracted to count votes in 26 states through the easily rigged Federal Overseas Voting Program. FVAP is ostensibly geared to let military and other overseas Americans vote absentee by electronic means. But Scytl is positioned to intercept and redistribute such overseas electronic votes as needed through its spyware sister company, CarrierIQ. In a close race, these ‘votes’ can be distributed at will to make the difference in critical swing states.  Other key voting machine companies, such as ES&S, Dominion, Command Central and more, are controlled by major corporations, some of whose owners are outspoken in their support for the Republican Party. … Republicans hold the governorships in the nine critical swing states of Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico and Arizona. They also hold the secretaries of state offices in all of those states but Wisconsin. Electronically flipping the vote count in any or all of them, with Hart Intercivic, Scytl, Dominion or other technologies, can be done quickly, simply and invisibly, with no public recourse.”

Perhaps you’re thinking that just because a crime can be undetectably committed is no reason to create the slanderous idea that it would be.  However, we are dealing here with people already, beyond any question, disenfranchising millions by throwing away registration forms, stripping registration rolls, instructing voters to vote on the wrong day, warning voters they may be arrested for voting, and flooding the media with dishonest advertisements for candidates.

If anything disgusts me more than the false charade of democracy distracting most of my fellow citizens from the struggle to develop actual democracy, it is death bed confessions.  I don’t want to ever hear one from John Kerry.  I hope that he may live many more years.  But when he dies, I don’t want to hear any Robert McNamara-like truth telling spilling out of his horselike face.  I want to hear it now, this week, prior to the 2012 election.  I want it out there preemptively.  I want people prepared to look for election fraud.  And I want candidates prepared to point to it if it appears, big as life, staring us all in the face as it did eight years ago.

Or perhaps you’re counting on Barack Obama, whose supreme value is “bipartisanship,” to speak up for himself unprompted, in the complete absence of a swift kick to his pusillanimous posterior.

Speak now, Senator Kerry.  Show courage unlike the perverse daredevilism required to participate in war.  Show courage when we need it.  We need it now.  Speak.



David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s re-election on October 7 with more than 55% of the vote was vital for two reasons.

First, the Venezuelan people blocked the return to power of the neoliberal right. Had they won, these US-backed forces would have worked to roll back important advances for the poor majority won since Chavez was first elected in 1998.

These include a huge expansion in government providing basic services (such as education, health and housing), the nationalisation of previous privatised strategic industries, and the promotion of popular participation in communities and workplaces.

Second, Chavez’s re-election provides a new mandate for arguably the most radical, anti-capitalist project under way in the world today.

Having emerged as a response to the crisis the country found itself in under neoliberalism, and at a time when socialism appeared moribund, Venezuela’s Bolivarian revolution has radicalised to the point where it has explicitly stated its goal to be “socialism of the 21st century”.

The ability to further advance this project in Venezuela will depend on the impact of ongoing US intervention and regional integration, the intensifying class struggle within the pro-Chavez camp, and the political fate and health of Chavez.

Background

Understanding the rise of the Bolivarian revolution requires placing it within the country’s oil-rich history.

The rise of oil production in the 1920s fuelled a dramatic transformation in Venezuela’s economy. Agricultural production, until then the main pillar of the economy, slumped as capital poured into the oil sector.

As oil’s contribution to state revenues rapidly rose, power and wealth became fused within the state. The result was a parasitic capitalist class that primarily sought to enrich itself by appropriating state resources.

These developments also shaped the formation of Venezuela’s popular classes. People fled the countryside en masse, flocking to the cities for their share of the oil rent.

They came to create a huge belt of barrios (shanty towns) where impoverished informal workers tried to eke out an existence. State funds were used by different political interests to win the loyalty of these sectors.

These factors underpinned Venezuela’s pervasive culture of “clientalism” and corruption.

This political set-up was sent into crisis by the economic crises and the gyration of oil prices that hit the world economy from the 1970s onwards.

Venezuela’s 1976 oil nationalisation only deepened this trend. The state oil company PDVSA came to operate as a “state within the state”, operating largely independently of any governmental control.

Within PDVSA, private appropriation of public resources continued unabated, while US-based corporations kept control over oil production.

State income instead experienced a steep decline, falling from US$1500 per person in 1975 to $350 per person in 1999 (in 1998 US dollars).

International financial institutions advised Venezuela’s rulers to resolve the state’s fiscal crisis by shifting the burden onto the people.

A February 1989 International Monetary Fund austerity package caused fuel prices to skyrocket overnight. This was the trigger for an explosion of mass discontent: an immense uprising that rocked Caracas for four days, extending outwards to several other cities and towns.

Although quelled by brutal repression, the Caracazo marked a point of no return for a society reeling from a deep economic slump and a crisis of the state and political system.

Throughout the next decade, about 7000 protests took place as new dynamic forms of local organisation began to emerge in the barrios.

Given the state’s role in controlling the nation’s wealth, the state became the focus of a steady stream of demands that progressively became an unstoppable wave.

Rise of Chavez

Within this context, the leader of a clandestine dissident current within Venezuela’s armed forces — Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chavez — captured the collective imagination of the poor majority when he led a failed military rebellion in 1992.

Jailed after the rebellion, Chavez emerged two years later resolved to stand in the 1998 presidential elections.

He began campaigning across the country, arguing the only way to achieve real independence and eradicate poverty was by giving power to the people.

Alongside setting up a new electoral party, the Movement for a Fifth Republic (MVR), Chavez called for the formation of a Patriotic Pole (PP) to unite all those parties and organisations that supported his candidature.

Chavez’s message enabled him to tap into the deep discontent among Venezuela’s popular classes and unify the various strands of the left.

On December 6, 1998, Chavez was elected as president, winning 56.2% of the vote.

However, from the beginning it was clear that winning elections was not the same as taking state power. PDVSA remained tightly under the control of the traditional business elites and the allegiance of large sections of the military to any project for radical change remained unknown.

The new government was also conscious that its mass popularity was not rooted in well-organised social organisations. The dispersed and unorganised nature of “chavismo” meant the centre of gravity lay with executive power.

As such, the pace and course of reforms has tended to be driven almost exclusively by initiatives taken from above. Critically, with each advance, Chavez sought to organise and consolidate the social base.

Chavez’s first move was to convene a democratically-elected constituent assembly to draft a new constitution. The aim was to shift the rules of a game that had been traditionally stacked in favor of the old political class.

In opposition to the corrupt “representative” democracy that had allowed the same elites to monopolise power for decades, the new constitution proposed a “participatory and protagonist” democracy, where power resided among the people.

The challenge for the Bolivarian forces was to turn this novel idea into reality, which would require an inevitable showdown with the traditional elites, backed and funded by Washington.

Over the next three years, these two competing blocs faced off in three decisive battles. Each time, the pro-revolution forces came out victorious, and consolidated their military, economic and political hegemony.

Showdowns

The first major showdown occurred on April 11, 2002, when an opposition rally against Chavez morphed into a military coup that overthrew him and installed the head of the country’s chamber of commerce.

The coup was defeated by a civic-military uprising. Hundreds of officers who supported the coup were later removed, taking control of the armed forces out of the hands of the old elites.

The second major bid to bring down Chavez took place at the end of the same year, when an alliance between PDVSA management, capitalist elites, the corporate media and corrupt trade union officials sought to halt production in the strategic oil sector.

In response, loyal PDVSA workers, soldiers, and community activists mobilised to break the back of the bosses’ strike.

This mobilisation from below enabled the Venezuelan government to purge PDVSA of its right-wing bureaucracy, and placed the company firmly in the hands of the government.

The leaps forward in worker and community organisation that occurred during this struggle proved crucial to defeating the third major offensive by the opposition: the August 2004 recall referendum on Chavez’s presidency.

Chavez’s victory, in a poll made possible because of democratic reforms introduced by the new constitution, consolidated his democratic credentials.

With the military and PDVSA under control, and resting on an increasingly organised social base, the Chavez government was able to launch a range of experiments during 2003-2005 aimed at deepening peoples’ power.

These included initiatives such as the social missions that provide free health and education, and economic enterprises such as cooperatives and worker-run factories. These helped tackle poverty while simultaneously increasing the organisational capacity of the masses.

By the time of Chavez’s re-election bid at the end of 2006, the Bolivarian revolution could also count on a growing alliance of progressive and left governments in the region. This opened the way to greater regional cooperation and integration, a key objective of the Bolivarian revolution.

However, it was also clear the revolution had not decisively broken the resistance of corporate power and replaced the old, corrupt state that served corporate power with a new power built from below.

Anti-capitalist offensive

After winning the December 2006 presidential elections, Chavez unleashed a new anti-capitalist offensive.

At his January 8 inauguration ceremony, Chavez explained that the goal of this new term was to “transfer political, social, and economic power” to the people. To do so it was vital to dismantle the old state.

Chavez said the goal of 21st century socialism required advancing on three fronts at the same time: increasing social ownership over the means of production, encouraging greater workplace democracy, and directing production toward social needs.

To achieve this ambitious agenda, Chavez called for all revolutionaries to help form a united party of the revolution, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). Four-and-a-half million people joined the PSUV in its initial recruitment drive, a clear sign of the level of support for the initiative.

Over the next six years, the Chavez government carried out a wave of nationalisations in the oil, electricity, telecommunications, banking, steel, cement, and food production sector as it tried to reassert national sovereignty over the economy.

The overall result was that the state had the necessary weight across strategic sectors of the economy to dictate production goals. The threat of expropriation loomed for those that refused to cooperate.

The spate of nationalisations was more the result of government initiatives (in response to the needs the poor) than workers’ struggle, and Chavez continuously emphasised that nationalisation alone did not equate with socialism.

To help stimulate worker participation, the government initiated a process of workers’ control in the state-owned steel, aluminium and electricity companies.

The promotion of grassroots communal councils, and later communes (made up of elected representatives from communal councils), was also an important focus of the Chavez government during this term.

These councils were aimed at building upon and linking the various forms of existing community groups. The communal councils were charged with diagnosing the main problems facing their communities and creating a plan to resolve them.

Funding for these projects came from the state, but all major decisions were made in citizen’s assemblies. This was a unique experiment in democratising the redistribution of oil revenue while promoting community empowerment.

In 2009, the government took a further step by promoting the communes. These aim to encompass several communal councils within a self-defined community to collectively tackle problems on a larger scale.

These new forms of organisation have involved unparalleled numbers in community organising. They have come to be seen as the building blocs of a new state.

Internal class struggle

This simultaneous push for nationalisation, workers control and community councils also brought to the fore the class struggle that existed within chavismo.

A 2009 banking crisis led to several banks being nationalised and their owners jailed. This process revealed the existence of a sector within the revolutionary process that had enriched itself through its connections to the state, popularly referred to as the boliburguesia (“Bolivarian bourgeoisie”).

Moves to transfer greater power to workers and communities faced mounting resistance from within the existing state bureaucracy.

Along with the persistent problems of corruption and clientalism, worker and community activists increasingly complained that company and state officials sought to defend their positions of power.

By early last year, Chavez was also denouncing the vices that plagued the PSUV. He warned: “The old way of doing politics is devouring us, the corruption of politics is devouring us … the old capitalist values have infiltrated us from all sides.”

The party needed to return to its principles, otherwise it risked following the path of the MVR, which only really operated as an electoral vehicle.

Recognising these problems, Chavez launched the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP) in October last year, calling on all pro-revolution social movements and parties to unite to ensure a decisive victory in the 2012 presidential elections.

More than 30,000 different groups signed up. In the end, the votes of the non-PSUV parties (which numbered around 1.7 million) and social movements that did not appear on the ballot (as they were not electoral registered) and therefore called for a vote for the PSUV despite not being involved in the party, were decisive in securing Chavez’s victory.

Challenges

As Chavez prepares to start a new term in government, Venezuela’s revolution faces three main challenges.

The first is the threat from the US, which has recently made some gains in the region such as the coup against progressive Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo, and the Venezuelan opposition it backs in its bid to oust Chavez.

The second is the revolution’s ability to deal with the twin problems of corruption and bureaucratism. Overcoming these challenges will require greater popular participation through initiatives such as the communes and the push for workers’ control.

Consolidating the unity achieved through the GPP could help lead in this regard.

The third challenge, which has become ever more apparent since Chavez’s diagnosis with cancer, is the need to create a collective leadership.

History will record that the Bolivarian revolution succeeded in rolling back neoliberalism and laying the foundations for a transition to 21st century socialism.

The dynamic relationship that has existed so far between Chavez and the masses has been a key factor in ensuring this.

Chavez has played a dominant leadership role in the Venezuelan revolution. This has been criticized in some quarters, but his role must be placed within the historic context outlined: one of a Venezuela marked by intense ferment from below but varying organisational strength of the social movements.

At each step, Chavez has launched initiatives to encourage the self-organisation of the people. Through this process the Venezuelan people have increasingly taken the destiny of their country into their own hands.

His role as the key figure in the revolution and the trust placed in him by the poor majority make Chavez, for now, irreplaceable.

His re-election to the presidency in the face of a reinvigorated opposition, demonstrated once again that most Venezuelans believe he is the sole figure capable of leading the country forward.

The future of the process will depend on increasing the self-organisation of the masses and the development of a collective leadership that can support, and be capable of substituting for Chavez’s singular role.

Federico Fuentes is a Socialist Alliance and Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network activist. He has lived in Venezuela as part of Green Left Weekly’s Caracas bureau. With Michael Fox and Roger Burbach, Fuentes is the co-author of the forthcoming book Latin America Turbulent Transitions: The Future of Twenty-First Century Socialism.

Ahmed Sharif was a 44-year-old Muslim Bangladeshi taxi driver in New York City. It was August 24, 2010, a time that marked the height of vitriolic protests against a planned Islamic center to be located in lower Manhattan, a few blocks away from the site of Ground Zero. Sharif picked up 21-year-old Michael Enright for an early evening ride. Everything was going smoothly until Enright, three blocks away from his stop, yelled at Sharif, “this is a checkpoint, motherfucker, and I have to bring you down.”

Enright, a filmmaker who kept a diary filled with strong anti-Muslim sentiment, pulled out a knife and slashed Sharif across the throat, face and arms. Enright tried to escape, but was arrested by the New York Police Department. Sharif survived, but he packed up and moved to Buffalo, in upstate New York. It was a crime that seemed to fit in with the general climate of hysteria over Muslims that developed that summer.

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This is how Nathan Lean begins telling the story of how a small group of bigots seized upon the frustrations and fears of post-9/11 America and exploited those feelings to create a circular industry of hate. Lean’s new book, The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims, is a compact and punchy look at this industry stretching across continents that has sowed hatred of Muslims into the fabric of Western society.

The book, written by the editor-in-chief of Aslan Media, comes at an opportune time. Released in September 2012, the book landed just one month after American Muslims witnessed a stark increase in hate attacks during the holy month of Ramadan. A report by the Council on American Islamic Relations documented that the Ramadan of 2012 “saw one of the worst spikes of anti-Muslim incidents in over a decade.”

From the beginning of 2012 to July 20, which is when Ramadan began, there were 10 incidents in which Muslim places of worship were targeted. During Ramadan–specifically over 13 days in August–”Muslim places of worship were targeted eight times.” These incidents include the destruction of a mosque in Missouri by fire; the leaving of pig legs at a planned mosque site in California; and the firing of air rifles outside a mosque in Illinois.

How, exactly, did we get here? By the time Ramadan of 2012 rolled around, it had been almost 11 years since the September 11, 2001 attacks were carried out by a group of Islamic fundamentalists part of Al Qaeda. You would expect anti-Muslim bigotry to decrease after the wounds of 9/11 healed, after it became clear that the vast majority of American Muslims have no inclination to attack their own country. You would be wrong.

Jumping from the U.S. to Israel to Europe, Lean traces the arc of the Islamophobic sentiment that has exploded in the West. The foreword from scholar on Islam John Esposito lays out the importance of Lean’s work: “It exposes the multi-million dollar cottage industry of fear mongers and the network of funders and organizations that support and perpetuate bigotry, xenophobia, and racism, and produce a climate of fear that sustains a threatening social cancer.”

Lean properly places anti-Muslim bigotry in the context of American hysteria over religions and ideologies that refused to conform to mainstream standards. Before jumping into the contemporary context, he reminds readers that Catholics were once the target of acceptable religious bigotry. The conspiracy theories spun out of thin air about Catholics would ring a familiar bell to those consuming Frank Gaffney’s utterly insane theory that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the U.S. government and is subverting it from within.

But by far the most important contribution Lean makes is his unmasking of the bigots who have infused American politics with virulent anti-Muslim sentiment. Lean zeroes in on a number of high-profile episodes and figures to make his points, from the pro-settler Clarion Fund’s distribution of an anti-Muslim film to the 2010 Values Voter summit to Anders Behring Breivik’s killing spree in Norway. Lean points to an “industry” of hate mongers that have gone to “great lengths to sell its message to the public.” The difference, though, between this industry and others is that “in many cases the very networks that spread their products are themselves participants in the ruse to whip up public fear of Muslims….It is a relationship of mutual benefit, where ideologies and political proclivities converge to advance the same agenda.”

The most important nodes in this industry are the online peddlers of hate. The author particularly focuses on Pamela Geller, the blogger at the front of the network of Islamophobes in the U.S. You can see Geller’s fingerprints in many of the public battles over Islam in this country, most prominently the ginned-up hysteria over the Park 51 Islamic center. Currently, Geller is in the spotlight for a series of anti-Muslim ads she has put up in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.–with more on the way. She has used her celebrity, boosted by Fox News (a principal player in the Islamophobia industry), to create cross-continental activist networks against Islam. Robert Spencer, Geller’s partner in crime, is also a focus of Lean’s. “People such as Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, or Martin Kramer, all online Islamophobes, spread each others’ postings and write-ups to their own audience,” writes Lean. “With each new click of the mouse, the story grows.”

But the Islamophobia industry does not just exist in the fever swamps of the online world. There’s real on the ground work being done. And there are disparate players in this industry. They come, principally, from right-wing Zionism and evangelical Christianity, uniting to form a Judeo-Christian front in their battle against Islam. Their funders, too, come from these worlds–though the right-wing Zionist world has fueled the majority of anti-Muslim activists.

Right-wing Christian ideology places Muslims beyond the pale. “The idea that Muslims may also be in possession of God’s revelation and truth, is not only unacceptable, it is an offense so blasphemous that it must be stopped,” Lean notes. Evangelical Christians, as a core part of the Republican base, have actively pushed their ideas about Islam into the mainstream of American politics. They have been aided by figures such as Newt Gingrich, who while reinventing himself as an ardent Christian conservative has also spread panic about Sharia law taking over the United States. Many Christian conservatives are also, of course, Christian Zionists who see Israel as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy that will continue until the Messiah comes down again.

It is this Christian Zionism that closely binds right-wing evangelicals with strong supporters of the Jewish state. The Zionists who spread anti-Muslim bigotry can be placed in three camps, according to Lean: religious (Jewish) Zionism, Christian Zionism and political Zionism. “For Religious Zionists, prophecy is the main driver of their Islamophobic fervor. For them, Palestinians are not just unbidden inhabitants; they are not just Arabs in Jewish lands. They are not just Muslims, even. They are non-Jews–outsiders cut from a different cloth–and God’s commandments regarding them are quite clear,” he writes. And there is the political Zionism that sheds religious language but is still hostile towards Muslims. As Max Blumenthal wrote, these figures, some of whom are neoconservatives, believe that “the Jewish state [is] a Middle Eastern Fort Apache on the front lines of the Global War on Terror.”

Lean’s spot-on analysis about how Zionism is connected to Islamophobia is a refreshing departure from other works and institutions that shy away from examining the connection. The most prominent investigative reporting on Islamophobia and its sources of funding has come from the Obama-linked Center for American Progress (CAP). But the Zionist motivations of many of the funders CAP highlights are not interrogated. You have to turn to this piece by activists Donna Nevel and Elly Bulkin on those connections to get the full picture.

Lean also pinpoints how anti-Muslim bigtory has spread from the Internet world to the very heart of some government policies on terrorism. From the New York Police Department’s surveillance program to Peter King’s hearings on “Muslim radicalization,” anti-Muslim bigotry has become institutionalized in some quarters of government.

But Lean’s discussion of how parts of the U.S. government have become infused with Islamophobia does not tell the full story–and this is the main critique I have of an otherwise excellent book. Lean correctly focuses on how the right has manufactured fear and hatred of Muslims. But it would be wrong to leave out the other side of the equation: how liberals in this country who are part of the Democratic Party have also helped anti-Muslim sentiment to spread.

This is not to say that Democrats spew Islamophobia in their election campaigns. No, the Democratic Party does not go that far. But they are largely silent when ugly anti-Muslim bigotry comes into play, which allows the right to step into the vacuum in a debate over Islam in the U.S. When the Democrats run away from the issue, there is no one left in the mainstream to challenge the right’s Islamophobia.

As Deepa Kumar, author of her own book on Islamophobia, pointed out in The Nation, Islamophobia is a “bipartisan project.” Liberal Islamophobia, Kumar writes, “may be rhetorically gentler but it reserves the right of the US to wage war against ‘Islamic terrorism’ around the world, with no respect for the right of self-determination by people in the countries it targets.” You can see this liberal Islamophobia in action when you look at the fact that “Obama has continued Bush’s policies of torture, extraordinary rendition and pre-emptive prosecution. American Muslims continue to be harassed and persecuted by the state.” And then there was Obama counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan pronouncing that the NYPD’s targeting of Muslim in their surveillance program was legitimate. “My conversations with Commissioner [Ray] Kelly indicate he’s done everything according to the law,” Brennan told reporters.

While the White House walked back his comments, Brennan’s continued presence in the administration tells you all you need to know. Liberal Islamophobia’s march continues ahead–and ignoring how the Obama administration has failed to combat anti-Muslim bigotry is setting people up for failure. The way to combat Islamophobia is through activism and coalition-building, but if you ignore its manifestations no matter where they emanate from, you won’t get very far.

Besides that oversight, though, Lean’s The Islamophobia Industry is a vital contribution to the still-growing body of literature on anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. If you want to understand the genesis of the right’s toxic Islamophobia and how it has spread, pick up Lean’s book. You won’t regret it.

Alex Kane is a staff reporter for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

Call it elevating Murder, Inc. to a higher level. A Washington Post Special Report discussed America’s permanent war agenda.

It includes targeted killings, Obama’s secret kill list, global drone wars, and White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan’s new rules for war playbook.

Established in 2003, Washington’s National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) provides terrorist related information for America’s intelligence community. Brennan initially ran the agency. It devised Washington’s so-called “disposition matrix.”

If America had a motto it would be war is good, the more wars the better. How else can generals add stars and profiteers cash in big?

Human lives don’t matter. Inviolable rule of law principles are trashed. Wealth, power and dominance alone matter. Imagine national policy wanting to destroy humanity to control it.

Democrat Obama has that in mind and more. Imagine what Romney’s planning. Think about it November 6. Voting either major party ticket assures permanent wars, destroying social America, and cracking down hard on resisters.

On October 23, the Washington Post headlined “Plan for hunting terrorists signals US intends to keep adding names to kill lists,” saying:

Information came from “dozens of current and former national security officials, intelligence analysts and others….” Evolving US counterintelligence policies are examined. Two follow-up articles are planned.

US special forces death squads operate in 120 or more countries. CIA agents kill globally. US citizens may be targeted at home or abroad. No one anywhere is safe.

Summary judgment means rule of law principles don’t apply. Last spring, Obama appointed himself judge, jury and executioner. Extrajudicial authority is official administration policy. Diktats decide who lives or dies.

Anyone can be targeted anywhere in the world for any reason or none at all. Obama usurped the power of life and death. He’s got final kill list authority.

Policy prioritizes killing by drones, death squads, or other means. Only eliminating America’s enemies matter. Whether real or imagined makes no difference.

Targeted victims are people who want to live free from America’s imperium. Washington calls them terrorists. Names go on kill lists.

Those around him say killing comes easy to Obama. Waging war on Islam is policy. So is take no prisoners. Counterterrorism is cover for wholesale or retail slaughter. Collateral deaths don’t matter.

Post writer Greg Smith said for “the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the ‘disposition matrix.’ ”

It contains names of terrorist suspects, covert plans to eliminate them, and in some cases sealed indictments. Officials interviewed said a “database (being compiled) is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the ‘disposition’ of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.”

Regardless of whether US wars continue or end, killing America’s enemies remains policy. Suspects are guilty by accusation. Due process and judicial fairness are off the table. One unnamed official said:

“We can’t possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us. It’s a necessary part of what we do….We’re not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, ‘We love America.’ ”

Smith didn’t say plans are to make sure they don’t. Peace and stability defeat America’s imperium. Violence and instability are essential to advance it.

He also didn’t expose Washington’s bogus war on terror. At issue is inventing global enemies, waging wars against them, and destroying democratic freedoms in the process. At stake is unchallenged dominance no matter how many corpses it takes to achieve it.

Other omissions including failing to explain coverup is policy. So is aggressive killing in multiple theaters. Mostly civilians are killed. Populations are terrorized.

At most, only 2% of victims are high-level combatants. Drone attacks are the recruiting tool of choice for militants, and targeted killings violate fundamental international law.

Like his predecessor, Obama claims success. It’s always in the eye of the beholder. Bin Laden’s alleged killing is cited. No matter that he died naturally in December 2001. Even modern technology can’t kill a dead man. Claiming it was staged hokum.

Big plans are being made. “White House counterterrorism adviser John O. Brennan is seeking to codify the administration’s approach to generating capture/kill lists, part of a broader effort to guide future administrations through the counterterrorism processes that Obama has embraced.”

Strategies to eliminate America’s enemies include “extradition requests, capture operations and drone patrols.” Summary executions are the method of choice. Why bother with protocol or other procedures when spy in the sky drones kill easily and quickly.

Operators in distant command centers work multiple monitors. They’re far from targeted victims. They kill with precision at low cost. For them, remote control killing is like sport. No muss. No fuss. No bloodshed or shredded bodies to view. When work days end, they go home to dinner and relax. Imagine going to work each day for more killing.

The CIA wants many more drones in its fleet. The more available, the more theaters of operations for more targeted killings. Business is better than ever. No shortage of targets exist.

At the same time, counterterrorism experts say relying on them is “self-perpetuating.” Short-term gains obscure longer-term costs. According to former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel:

“The problem with the drone is it’s like your lawn mower. You’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back.”

In fact, the more enemies eliminated, the greater the number created. Nonetheless, Washington operates multiple drone programs. They include Pentagon and CIA ones. They’re used for surveillance and killings. Expanded operations lie ahead.

Database information includes biographies of targeted subjects, their locations, known associates and affiliated organizations, as well as other relevant information.

Targeted victims, of course, are a closely kept secret. They can be anyone anywhere in the world. They can be ordinary people, distinguished ones, or officials. Their crime is opposing US imperialism.

Smith said “the creation of the matrix and the institutionalization of kill/capture lists reflect a shift that is as psychological as it is strategic.” He omitted explaining its lawlessness. He didn’t say that no one can self-appoint themselves judge, jury, and executioner.

What’s most important, media scoundrels suppress. Nonetheless, he covered a lot of important ground. It’s up to readers to connect the dots. Few take the trouble to do it.

His article was five online pages long. Few seeing it go beyond page one. They’d have missed page four saying:

Kill list “names are submitted to a panel of National Security Council officials that is chaired by Brennan and includes the deputy directors of the CIA and the FBI, as well as top officials from the State Department, the Pentagon and the NCTC.”

Page five added:

“Obama approves the criteria for lists and signs off on drone strikes outside Pakistan, where decisions on when to fire are made by the director of the CIA.”

By presidential diktat, he can order anyone killed anywhere, including US citizens.

“For an administration that is the first to embrace targeted killing on a wide scale, officials seem confident that they have devised an approach that is so bureaucratically, legally and morally sound that future administrations will follow suit.”

It’s shocking that officials anywhere feel this way. It’s worse in one calling itself a democracy.

A Final Comment

On October 24, ACLU‘s National Security Project director Hina Shamsi said:

“Anyone who thought US targeted killing outside of armed conflict was a narrow, emergency-based exception to the requirement of due process before a death sentence is being proven conclusively wrong.”

“The danger of dispensing with due process is obvious because without it, we cannot be assured that the people in the government’s death database truly present a concrete, imminent threat to the country.”

“What we do know is that tragic mistakes have been made, hundreds of civilian bystanders have died, and our government has even killed a 16-year-old U.S. citizen without acknowledging let alone explaining his death.”

“A bureaucratized paramilitary killing program that targets people far from any battlefield is not just unlawful, it will create more enemies than it kills.”

ACLU has two outstanding lawsuits to enforce FOIA requests for targeted killing information. Another filed jointly with the Center for Constitutional Rights challenges its constitutionality.

ACLU Deputy Legal Director Jameel Jaffer said:

“It has become the norm for government officials to disclose cherry-picked information about ostensibly classified programs while insisting to the courts that the programs are too secret to be discussed or defended in court.”

“This practice deprives the public of complete and accurate information about important government policies, compromises the integrity of the classification system and suggests a disturbing contempt for the judicial process. The courts should reject the government’s effort to transform FOIA into a dead letter.”

Washington proves itself morally and politically bankrupt multiple ways. Perhaps enough Americans one day will decide they’ll no longer let policies this monstrous persist. They’ll have to for anything to change. They better or their futures are grim.

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

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays 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

The Gentleman’s Guide To Forum Disruption

We have repeatedly addressed the topic of disruption of logical debate on the Internet.

An anonymous writer posted an important new report on disruption at Pastebin. It is in the style of a leaked law enforcement memo, although we cannot vouch for its authenticity as a document produced by a whistleblower. However, we have seen these techniques repeatedly used to disrupt Internet debate, and so – even if only copying the style of a real memo – it contains valuable information which all web user should know.

COINTELPRO Techniques for dilution, misdirection and control of a internet forum.

There are several techniques for the control and manipulation of a internet forum no matter what, or who is on it. We will go over each technique and demonstrate that only a minimal number of operatives can be used to eventually and effectively gain a control of a ‘uncontrolled forum.’

Technique #1 – ‘FORUM SLIDING’

If a very sensitive posting of a critical nature has been posted on a forum – it can be quickly removed from public view by ‘forum sliding.’ In this technique a number of unrelated posts are quietly prepositioned on the forum and allowed to ‘age.’ Each of these misdirectional forum postings can then be called upon at will to trigger a ‘forum slide.’ The second requirement is that several fake accounts exist, which can be called upon, to ensure that this technique is not exposed to the public. To trigger a ‘forum slide’ and ‘flush’ the critical post out of public view it is simply a matter of logging into each account both real and fake and then ‘replying’ to prepositined postings with a simple 1 or 2 line comment. This brings the unrelated postings to the top of the forum list, and the critical posting ‘slides’ down the front page, and quickly out of public view. Although it is difficult or impossible to censor the posting it is now lost in a sea of unrelated and unuseful postings. By this means it becomes effective to keep the readers of the forum reading unrelated and non-issue items.

Technique #2 – ‘CONSENSUS CRACKING’

A second highly effective technique (which you can see in operation all the time at www.abovetopsecret.com) is ‘consensus cracking.’ To develop a consensus crack, the following technique is used. Under the guise of a fake account a posting is made which looks legitimate and is towards the truth is made – but the critical point is that it has a VERY WEAK PREMISE without substantive proof to back the posting. Once this is done then under alternative fake accounts a very strong position in your favour is slowly introduced over the life of the posting. It is IMPERATIVE that both sides are initially presented, so the uninformed reader cannot determine which side is the truth. As postings and replies are made the stronger ‘evidence’ or disinformation in your favour is slowly ‘seeded in.’ Thus the uninformed reader will most like develop the same position as you, and if their position is against you their opposition to your posting will be most likely dropped. However in some cases where the forum members are highly educated and can counter your disinformation with real facts and linked postings, you can then ‘abort’ the consensus cracking by initiating a ‘forum slide.’

Technique #3 – ‘TOPIC DILUTION’

Topic dilution is not only effective in forum sliding it is also very useful in keeping the forum readers on unrelated and non-productive issues. This is a critical and useful technique to cause a ‘RESOURCE BURN.’ By implementing continual and non-related postings that distract and disrupt (trolling ) the forum readers they are more effectively stopped from anything of any real productivity. If the intensity of gradual dilution is intense enough, the readers will effectively stop researching and simply slip into a ‘gossip mode.’ In this state they can be more easily misdirected away from facts towards uninformed conjecture and opinion. The less informed they are the more effective and easy it becomes to control the entire group in the direction that you would desire the group to go in. It must be stressed that a proper assessment of the psychological capabilities and levels of education is first determined of the group to determine at what level to ‘drive in the wedge.’ By being too far off topic too quickly it may trigger censorship by a forum moderator.

Technique #4 – ‘INFORMATION COLLECTION’

Information collection is also a very effective method to determine the psychological level of the forum members, and to gather intelligence that can be used against them. In this technique in a light and positive environment a ‘show you mine so me yours’ posting is initiated. From the number of replies and the answers that are provided much statistical information can be gathered. An example is to post your ‘favourite weapon’ and then encourage other members of the forum to showcase what they have. In this matter it can be determined by reverse proration what percentage of the forum community owns a firearm, and or a illegal weapon. This same method can be used by posing as one of the form members and posting your favourite ‘technique of operation.’ From the replies various methods that the group utilizes can be studied and effective methods developed to stop them from their activities.

Technique #5 – ‘ANGER TROLLING’

Statistically, there is always a percentage of the forum posters who are more inclined to violence. In order to determine who these individuals are, it is a requirement to present a image to the forum to deliberately incite a strong psychological reaction. From this the most violent in the group can be effectively singled out for reverse IP location and possibly local enforcement tracking. To accomplish this only requires posting a link to a video depicting a local police officer massively abusing his power against a very innocent individual. Statistically of the million or so police officers in America there is always one or two being caught abusing there powers and the taping of the activity can be then used for intelligence gathering purposes – without the requirement to ‘stage’ a fake abuse video. This method is extremely effective, and the more so the more abusive the video can be made to look. Sometimes it is useful to ‘lead’ the forum by replying to your own posting with your own statement of violent intent, and that you ‘do not care what the authorities think!!’ inflammation. By doing this and showing no fear it may be more effective in getting the more silent and self-disciplined violent intent members of the forum to slip and post their real intentions. This can be used later in a court of law during prosecution.

Technique #6 – ‘GAINING FULL CONTROL’

It is important to also be harvesting and continually maneuvering for a forum moderator position. Once this position is obtained, the forum can then be effectively and quietly controlled by deleting unfavourable postings – and one can eventually steer the forum into complete failure and lack of interest by the general public. This is the ‘ultimate victory’ as the forum is no longer participated with by the general public and no longer useful in maintaining their freedoms. Depending on the level of control you can obtain, you can deliberately steer a forum into defeat by censoring postings, deleting memberships, flooding, and or accidentally taking the forum offline. By this method the forum can be quickly killed. However it is not always in the interest to kill a forum as it can be converted into a ‘honey pot’ gathering center to collect and misdirect newcomers and from this point be completely used for your control for your agenda purposes.

CONCLUSION

Remember these techniques are only effective if the forum participants DO NOT KNOW ABOUT THEM. Once they are aware of these techniques the operation can completely fail, and the forum can become uncontrolled. At this point other avenues must be considered such as initiating a false legal precidence to simply have the forum shut down and taken offline. This is not desirable as it then leaves the enforcement agencies unable to track the percentage of those in the population who always resist attempts for control against them. Many other techniques can be utilized and developed by the individual and as you develop further techniques of infiltration and control it is imperative to share then with HQ.

Preface: We hope and expect that the severity of the hurricane is being overblown, and that the nuclear plants in the Northeast will ride out the storm without any incident.

We noted Friday that .

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says that there are actually 26 nuclear plants in the path of the hurricane, and that the spent fuel pools in the plants don’t have backup pumps (summary via EneNews):

  • You’ll hear in the next 2 days, “We’ve safely shutdown the plant”
  • What Fukushima taught us is that doesn’t stop the decay heat
  • You need the diesels to keep the reactors cool
  • 26 plants in the East Coast are in the area where Sandy is likely to hit
  • Fuel pools not cooled by diesels, no one wanted to buy them
  • If recent refuel, hot fuel will throw off more and more moisture from pool
  • Reactor buildings not meant to handle the high humidity
  • Fuel pool liner not really designed to approach boiling water, may unzip if water gets too hot
  • A lot of problems with allowing fuel pool to over
  • Need water in around 2 days if hot fuel in pool
  • The only fall-back if power is lost is to let fuel pools heat up

EneNews also reports that the hurricane is forecast to directly hit the Oyster Creek nuclear plant and that – while the plant is currently shut down for refueling – it still might very well have new, very hot fuel in the fuel pools:

Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station is located near New Jersey’s shoreline in an area forecast to take a direct hit from Hurricane Sandy: “The current ‘track center’ for the landfall path is central New Jersey pointing Sandy in a path that would hit Oyster Creek nuclear station.” -SimplyInfo

path Hurricane Sandy May Score a Direct Hit On Spent Fuel Pools at Nuclear Plant

Clipboard02 Hurricane Sandy May Score a Direct Hit On Spent Fuel Pools at Nuclear Plant Jersey Hurricane Sandy May Score a Direct Hit On Spent Fuel Pools at Nuclear Plant

With Oyster Creek shut down for refueling starting last week, hot fuel may have been placed in the fuel pool quite recently.

The unit at Oyster Creek is the same as Fukushima Daiichi No. 1: “Oyster Creek is one of the oldest US nuclear plants and is the same design as Fukushima unit 1.” -SimplyInfo

Remember, Fukushima reactor number 4 was shut down for maintenance when the Japanese earthquake hit. And yet the fuel pools at reactor 4 are in such precarious condition that they pose a giant threat to humanity.

Hurricane Sandy is not very intense in terms of wind speed. But the storm is so large, that storm surges could be 11 feet high.

Obviously, the path of the hurricane could veer substantially, and may not hit Oyster Creek after all … weather forecasting is not an exact science. But Gundersen argues that nuclear plants in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are in the most danger given current projections.

As we noted Friday, the Salem and Hope Creek plants in New Jersey are also near the path of the hurricane, as are the following plants in Pennsylvania:

  • Peach Bottom
  • Limerick
  • Three Mile Island
  • Susquehanna

Another concern is the Millstone plant in Connecticut:

Millstone%20Overheated%20Water.JPEG 0fa6e.r Hurricane Sandy May Score a Direct Hit On Spent Fuel Pools at Nuclear Plant

EneNews summarizes the situation in a post entitled “Officials in Connecticut warn of giant 16-foot storm surge, with 15-foot waves on top of that — State’s nuclear plant directly exposed on ocean“:

The Hour:

In a message sent to residents Sunday afternoon, [Norwalk, Connecticut] Mayor Richard A. Moccia warned of a 16-foot storm surge brought to land by Hurricane Sandy. [...] “I have declared a state of emergency in the City,” he said. “Coastal flooding from this event will peak at midnight on Monday night and will be worse than any flooding Norwalk has experienced in recent history. If you have ever experienced flooding before it is likely you will be flooded in this storm.” Moccia said that the storm will be equal to a Category 4 hurricane and will produce 16 foot storm surges.

Westport Now:

“The mood during the meeting was tense as federal officials estimated a 13-foot storm surge for Westport [Connecticut] -– 3 or 4 feet higher that the inundation from Storm Irene last year,” a news release said. “This is an unprecedented storm,” said [First Selectman Gordon Joseloff], following his team’s briefing with federal and state disaster preparedness officials. “This will be a storm of long duration, high winds and record-setting flooding. Take Storm Irene from last year and double it.” he said. [...] The town is bracing for at least three waves of flooding, beginning with the high tide at midnight Sunday, the announcement said. [... An] estimated 15-foot wind-driven waves [...] are expected on top of the storm surge.

According to the Weather Channel’s latest map, a 6 to 11 foot water level rise is forecast for the Connecticut coastline. This is the highest increase of any area in the US. The state’s only nuclear power plant is located directly on the ocean, see marker ‘A’ below:

Hurricane Hurricane Sandy May Score a Direct Hit On Spent Fuel Pools at Nuclear Plant In July, AP reported:

Millstone Power Station, Connecticut’s sole nuclear plant, is focusing on how best to guard against flooding and earthquakes to comply with tougher federal standards following the nuclear plant meltdown in Japan last year, the new chief of the power station said in an interview.

Millstone is assessing its ability to withstand flooding and “seismic events,” Stephen E. Scace, who took over as site vice president at Millstone in January, told The Associated Press on Thursday. He expects upgrades and installation of new equipment in the next three to four years.

The Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur, Richard Falk, urged the international community to boycott 13 companies benefiting from business with Israeli settlements, the United Nations reported on its website on Thursday.

“Businesses should not breach international humanitarian law provisions,” Falk said in a statement during the U.N. General Assembly aimed at discussing international issues concerning the Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories.

The UNs Human Rights Council chief has urged a boycott of 13 international companies that benefit from Israeli settlements
The UNs Human Rights Council chief has urged a boycott of 13 international companies that benefit from Israeli settlements

“They might otherwise be subject to criminal or civil liability, which could extend to individual employees,” he warned.

The rapporteur named the companies, Caterpillar Incorporated, Veolia Environment, G4Sm, The Dexia Group, Ahava, the Volvo Group, Riwal Holding Group, Elbit Systems, Hewlett Packard, Mehadrin, Motorola, Assa Abloy and Cemex, as violating human rights for their linked business with Israeli settlements.

“The scale of Israel’s settlement enterprise, especially the massive financial investment in it, appears to confirm Israel’s intention to retain control over much, if not all, of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”

These companies according to Falk have “to implement its international human rights and humanitarian law obligations and certify that private business conducting operation in Palestine were accountable for any activities that may affect Palestinians’ rights.”

Falk, who blamed Israel for not making any efforts in cooperating with his humanitarian goals in Palestinian territories, said that Israeli settlements have control over 40 percent of the West Bank.

In his report, he said that around 600,000 Israeli citizens had already transferred in Palestinian territories and that an estimate of 200,000 had settled in East Jerusalem.

A record of 15,000 people made up the “settler population” in 2011, he added.

The Israeli settlements-linked businesses may have been put-up in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, he said, urging an advice from the International Court of Justice.

Falk, assigned on the current situation of human rights in Palestine, said that unless these profiteers brought their business operations in line with international human rights and humanitarian law should be reprimanded and forced to take necessary actions.

The Fourth Geneva Convention is a treaty signed to protect the rights of civilians in war zone countries and areas.

Overshadowed by the upcoming American election are reports that the U.S. and European Union (EU) are working towards launching official negotiations on a deal that would further deepen their transatlantic trade partnership.

According to a recent Reuters article, “Europe and the United States are set to launch trade talks early next year to deepen the world’s largest trading relationship.” It goes on to say that, “An expert group co-chaired by EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk will in December issue a report recommending pursuing talks.” An EU official explained that, “The report will recommend the negotiation of a comprehensive agreement between the United States and the European Union.” Last week, the European Parliament also approved a resolution calling for talks on a possible trade deal with the U.S. to begin in 2013. The U.S. and EU have already made incremental strides with regards to economic integration. With renewed political support, momentum for a transatlantic trade accord is building.

In 2007, U.S. President George W. Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel established the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) to help eliminate trade barriers and harmonize standards. The move was seen as a step towards creating a single transatlantic market. Throughout the years, the TEC has advanced deep U.S.-EU integration. It has helped align policies in areas of investment, accounting, import safety, supply chain security, automobile standards, renewable energy, as well as others. The TEC continues to guide and stimulate transatlantic economic convergence.

At the U.S.-EU Summit in November 2011, leaders from both sides directed the TEC to create a High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth. This was viewed as another step forward to an eventual free trade deal. The Working Group was tasked with identifying, “policies and measures to increase U.S.-EU trade and investment to support mutually beneficial job creation, economic growth, and international competitiveness.” It was entrusted with examining options in areas of, “Conventional barriers to trade in goods, such as tariffs and tariff-rate quotas; Reduction, elimination, or prevention of barriers to trade in goods, services, and investment; Opportunities for enhancing the compatibility of regulations and standards; Reduction, elimination, or prevention of unnecessary ‘behind the border’ non-tariff barriers to trade in all categories; Enhanced cooperation for the development of rules and principles on global issues of common concern and also for the achievement of shared economic goals relating to third countries.” A U.S.-EU trade agreement could serve as a model for the rest of the world, setting common standards on regulations, tariffs and investment rules.

In June, the U.S.-EU High Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth issued an interim report which endorsed beginning talks on a comprehensive trade deal. It outlined categories that a potential agreement should include such as tariffs, non-tariff barriers, regulatory issues, services, investment, procurement, intellectual property rights and rules. A Joint U.S.-EU Statement urged, “the Group to complete its work as quickly as possible, including consultations with public and private stakeholders, in accordance with the respective processes of both sides, with the goal of reaching a recommendation to Leaders later this year on a decision as to the negotiations.” At a press conference following the G20 Summit in Mexico, President Barack Obama also acknowledged that, “the United States and the European Union agreed to take the next step in our work towards the possible launching of negotiations on an agreement to strengthen our already very deep trade and investment partnership.” An official announcement is expected sometime after the U.S. election and if trade talks begin early next year, a deal could be signed before the end of 2014.

The U.S.-EU partnership remains the foundation for an international economic order. Regardless of whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney wins the upcoming election, it appears as if U.S.-EU trade negotiations will become a priority. More globalization is not the solution to our financial woes. Such an agreement would serve to further erode U.S. sovereignty and economic freedom. If you factor in that the EU already has a trade deal with Mexico and is close to signing one with Canada, combined with a future agreement with the U.S., you then have the basis for a NAFTA-EU free trade zone. This would be an important step in advancing the goal of creating a Transatlantic Union.

A former mass-murdering dictator notorious for his rule during the Gwangju Massacre and for his unscrupulous theft from the South Korean people was granted a diplomatic travel passport from the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade on September 18. This news comes from a report issued by Congressional Representative Hong Ik-pyo of the opposition Democratic United Party.

The report says former President Chun Doo-hwan has been given at least four of these five-year passports since 1988. They allow him to travel abroad immune from arrest despite his myriad crimes committed during his dictatorship and still owing South Korea roughly 149 million dollars of the money he stole during his tenure as military dictator between 1980-1988.

His diplomatic status is also notwithstanding his responsibility for between 200 and 1000 deaths in the military suppression of the Gwangju Democratization Movement in May 1980 (with the explicit approval of the US, of course) as well as the torture and repression of countless citizens opposed to his government.

It is only by the grace of the late former President Kim Dae-jung that Chun is even alive today. After investigations revealed massive corruption during his reign, his administration’s guilt for the brutalization of citizens in Gwangju and having declared the coup d’etat that brought him to power to be unconstitutional, Chun was sentenced to death in 1996. In 1997 the president at the time, Kim Young-sam, consulted President-elect Kim Dae-jung about the sentence, given that he would soon take power. In an extraordinary act of forgiveness (Kim was a political prisoner for much of the South Korean dictatorship period and also at one time sentenced to death) he exonerated Chun and set him free with a charge to pay back all the money he stole.

To this day Chun is said to have to walk around with a group of private body guards for fear of assassination – some citizens alive during his reign no doubt have long memories of his harsh repression of civil liberties. Would be assassins may also resent the fact that he justified not paying back the money ho owed by laughably claiming in a 2003 hearing to only have 250,000 won in total assets (roughly $240).

How Chun has been able to travel so freely to such countries as Japan and the United States with these supposed financial burdens is one question. Why the South Korean state allows such blatant lawlessness is another. As Rep. Hong said, “He should be banned from leaving the country altogether.”

One may also be forgiven for wondering why nations that are said to promote justice internationally allow him to enter their country at all. Here lies the power of a presidential pardon, where the sins of one man on a countless many can be swept under the rug by simple decree that then becomes respected globally.

One doesn’t have to look far for historical parallels of course — only as far as South Korea’s “senior ally,” the United States. When U.S. President Barack Obama came to power he said ”we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” referring to the lawlessness, torture, lies that led to deadly wars and abuses of civil liberties of the previous Bush administration By doing so he brazenly institutionalized that no President can be justly punished for his or her actions, no matter how terrible, conveniently giving himself carte blanche to commit the exact same crimes, if only less overtly.

Presidential decrees aside, Chun’s liberty is guaranteed by another factor as well. It would be very uncomfortable for the United States to put a man like him on trial because it would bring America’s role in crushing the democracy movement in Gwangju back to the forefront.

As journalist Tim Shorrock wrote based on documents he received through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, after officials of the Carter Administration met to determine a response to the Gwangju civilian uprising they decided on repression first, and put off pushing for long term democratic reforms to a vague later date:

“Within hours of the meeting, the US commander in Korea gave formal approval to the Korean military to remove a division of Korean troops under the US-Korean Joint Command and deploy them to Kwangju. The city and its surrounding towns had already been cut off from all communications by a tight military cordon. Military helicopters began flying over the city urging the Kwangju urban army – which had taken up positions in the provincial capital building in the middle of the city – to surrender. At one point, a Kwangju citizens’ council asked the US ambassador, William Gleysteen, to intervene [to] seek a negotiated truce; but the request was coldly rejected.”

Then American trained Korean soldiers killed Korean citizens in a brilliant demonstration of what American training can do to desensitize soldiers of a nation to murder their own kind. And now Chun is globetrotting freely while his next of kin live comfortably within South Korea on money stolen from their fellow citizens.

This is, of course, a trend for American allied countries. Just as people stood horrified at the Tiananman Square Massacre in 1989 yet to this day know very little about Gwangju (though the incidents were equal in severity) people howl about the human rights abuses of North Korea, but turn a blind eye to the United State’s own crimes. This includes the sanctions placed on Iran and North Korea that only lead to starvation of the common people and those sanctions that killed half a million Iraqi children in the 1990′s.

The United States now says it is worried about North Korea starving its population, while forgetting the occupation of Palestine by the Israeli’s, who Wikileaks has shown operate with the specific goal to keep Gaza’s economy on the “brink of collapse”. It is also in stark contrast of the fact that the Obama administration themselves brag about how tough the sanctions against Iran are, though they threaten to kill hundreds of thousands, of regular Iranians.

In this sense, the case of Chun Doo-hwan is not just a curious expression of the South Korean state’s cavalier attitude toward justice for its ruling class, but that of all states everywhere. And they can get away with it as long as they are allied with the superpower at large.

Stuart Smallwood is a journalism graduate of the University of King’s College in Canada and currently an Asian Studies MA candidate in Seoul. He writes at koreaandtheworld.com and can be reached by email at [email protected].

America’s New “Defense Concept”

October 28th, 2012 by Andrei Akulov

The USA has come up with a new Americas defense concept. On October 4 the Western Hemisphere Defense Policy Statement saw light outlining the major security vision for the next decade or longer.It makes precise how the January 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance will shape the US Department of Defense engagement in the region.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said “a remarkable transformation has taken place in the Western Hemisphere” and “the United States is provided with a historic opportunity to renew and strengthen its defense partnerships in the region.” The 11-page statement describes US defense policy goals of promoting mature, professional national defense institutions, fostering integration and interoperability among partners and promoting hemispheric defense institutions. The strategy seeks to renew U.S. military ties with Latin America after a decade of neglect when Washington was focused on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the October visits to Peru and Uruguay, Panetta took steps to implement the Concept. He agreed to begin work with each country to update their 60-year-old defense cooperation accords to move them beyond Cold War agenda and accommodate changes in the laws. The Secretary also chaired the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas in Punta Del Este (Uruguay) on October 8, an event that takes place every two years. The issues of the conference include defense and security, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The secretary called these issues a central part of efforts to enhance regional security and increase cooperation between military forces in the hemisphere. He stressed the region is going through significant changes. The countries apply great efforts to enhance their security and the USA sees it as a historic opportunity to boost defense partnership.

According to the new policy, the United States will reinvigorate its defense partnerships and pursue new ones, consistent with President Barack Obama’s approach to the region.

The statement defines three core objectives the USA is to promote accordingly:

- Strong national government institutions that allow all nations in the region to address legitimate threats to the state and their citizens.

- Shared action against shared threats through more effectively and efficiently coordinating defense forces.

- Multilateral mechanisms and institutions, like the current conference and the Inter-American Defense Board, to achieve consensus on the direction of hemispheric defense collaboration.

On humanitarian assistance and disaster relief the United States supports the Chilean initiative to accelerate and coordinate support for civilian-led relief efforts. On peacekeeping, countries in the Western Hemisphere have assumed an impressive leadership role by engaging, addressing and improving United Nations efforts. In a new era of defense cooperation in the hemisphere, Panetta said, “Our goal is to work with those nations that want us to help them to develop their capabilities so that they can defend and secure themselves. Our interest is to work with you, not against you.”

Since the new century started Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chili, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay have taken part in UN peacekeeping missions throughout the world. To unite the joint military and defense efforts president Obama launched a new counterdrugs and security initiative in April 2009: the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI), a multiyear, multifaceted effort by the U.S. government and Caribbean partners to develop a joint regional citizen safety strategy to tackle the full range of security and criminal threats to the Caribbean Basin. There is also the Central American Integration System that integrates seven Central American states, all of them get significant support from Washington, that acts in accordance with the U.S. Central American Regional Security Initiative – CARSI.

The new period of intensifying US-led cooperation is taking place along with the emergence of new growing threats. The statement says law is not always prevalent in the countries of the continent and lack of transparency is still a specific feature of many elections. Corruption is still strong and the top officials decisions not always meet the interests of grassroots but rather ruling elites. Over 30% of the continent’s population live in misery, the distribution of wealth is the most unfair in the world. Racial and national divisions stand in the way of equal rights and fair participation in politics. Leon Panetta thinks all these things weaken the military potentials because the issues are intertwined. The military materiel storage is not protected well enough to prevent conventional proliferation. The arms destines to protect the governments may jolly well get into the hands of those who aspire to overthrow them.

According to US vision the threats used to come from intergovernment conflicts, destabilizing activities of right wing militants and the left wing extremist organizations. At present something new comes to the fore. It’s smugglers, illegal drug traffickers who steal the show. Their activities exacerbated by nature emergencies and cyber threats. The Pentagon finds it expedient to unite so that the traditional and newly emerged threats could be countered.

The statement stresses an ability to react immediately whatever the threat is and keep up the balance between the military and civilian agencies in case of emergencies.

The USA plans to launch professional military and civilian personnel education programs. The military training will focus on interoperability issues based on US-made weapons, equipment and logistics. The statement envisages joint efforts devoted to countering drug trafficking, fighting terrorist and extremist organizations and WMD non- proliferation. The US Department of Defense Strategy for Operating in Cyberspace also mentions joint operations aimed at countering cyberattacks.

The statement and other documents actually presuppose significant increase of financial expenditure on the part of the USA against the backdrop of financial woes and fiscal restraint. Despite budget cuts that are taking place in the United States, including in the military, Panetta said the Department of Defense has an array of programs to be paid for that can help develop capabilities in Latin America.

There is a certain background the Concept came out against.

While the murder of American diplomats and violent anti-American riots across the Islamic world dominate the news cycle, the slow burn of anti-Americanism takes place in the Western Hemisphere. In the post–Cold War era anti-Americanism has staged a substantial comeback owing to US persistent efforts to interfere into the countries internal affairs and impose its will.

With a long, complicated history of interventions and meddling in Latin America, the United States will have to overcome deep suspicions as it works to build broader military ties in a region where stable democracies have taken root in recent decades. American President James Monroe launched the “Monroe Doctrine” as far back as 1823 establishing American protection for the nations of the Western Hemisphere and insisting the Europeans limit their commercial interests, their conflicts and their wars to their own continent. Captain A. T. Mahan of the U.S. navy, a popular propagandist for expansion, greatly influenced Theodore Roosevelt and other American leaders. In his famous work The Influence of Sea Power Upon History published in 1890 he stressed the fact that the countries with the biggest navies capable of intervention in different parts of the world would inherit the earth. Since 1890 to 2009 the USA has intervened militarily 56 times, ending up with supporting the coup that toppled the president of Honduras Manuel Zelaya in 2009.

The US intelligence is making systematic efforts to energize the political opposition in Latin American countries deemed unfriendly in Washington. The US influenced media in Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are full of acrimonious anti-government propaganda. The USAID, the agency told to leave Russia this month for meddling into the country’s internal affairs, is notorious for serving as a cover for intelligence efforts many a time aimed at undermining legitimate governments in a number of Latin American countries…

The suspicions and apprehensions concerning the USA are going strong on the continent today. In 2005 in Argentina, at a continent-wide summit meeting, the US friendly Free Trade Area of the Americas project was buried to be substituted with the Union of South American Nations formed in 2008. It is joined by 12 states now to undertake joint defense, economic development, and infrastructure projects. The 21 years old MERCOSUR is a six-nation organization expanding South American customs union and common market. Cuba and Venezuela initiated the now nine-nation Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America, known as ALBA in 2004. That organization organizes cooperative ventures ranging from health care, education, communications, and banking to regional commercial and economic development initiatives, all organized on the basis of solidarity exchanges.

In December 2011 thirty-three Latin American leaders have come together and formed a new regional bloc, pledging closer economic and political ties. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) pointedly excludes the US and Canada. The foundation of the bloc has been praised as the realization of the two-centuries-old idea of Latin American independence envisioned by Simon Bolivar. Analysts view CELAC as an alternative to the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS) and as an attempt by Latin American countries to reduce US influence in the region. As the president of Venezuela said back then, “No more interference. Enough is enough! We have to take shape as a center of the world power and demand respect for all of us as community and for each one of our countries.” The countries of CELAC have a combined population of nearly 600 million people, and a combined GDP of about US$6 trillion, a force to reckon with on the international arena.

The last Summit of the Americas in April 2012 brought to light serious discords on many core issues and failed to adopt a joint declaration. Many nations expressed their discontent with the US policies in the region.

The newly adopted Concept shows the US intent to preserve the world supremacy at any cost. It’s almost a tall order to make it a success against the background of strong and growing anti-US sentiments spread on the continent and strive for taking the fate of the America’s nations into their own hands.

In the latest token civil suit by the Obama administration against a major Wall Street bank, the Department of Justice on Wednesday charged Bank of America with wholesale mortgage fraud.

The complaint filed by the US attorney for Manhattan, Preet Bharara, alleges that from 2007 through 2009, Bank of America, the second biggest US bank by assets, or its Countrywide Financial subsidiary, knowingly and systematically sold toxic home loans to the government-sponsored mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The mortgage finance firms package home loans into securities and sell the securities to global investors, guaranteeing the loans they purchase. As a result of Bank of America’s fraud, the Justice Department claims, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lost over $1 billion, contributing to their near-collapse and government bailout in September 2008, which has thus far cost US taxpayers $183 billion.

The suit alleges that after the subprime mortgage market began to implode in 2007, Countrywide, then an independent company and the biggest US mortgage originator, launched a new program to generate the greatest possible volume of new mortgages by scrapping quality controls. It then sold defective loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, passing them off as good investments.

Bank of America bought Countrywide in July of 2008 and, according to the federal complaint, continued the fraudulent loan program through 2009, i.e., after Bank of America had been bailed out with $45 billion in taxpayer funds under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

In a statement released Wednesday, US Attorney Bharara summed up in fairly scathing language the criminal activity alleged in his suit:

“The fraudulent conduct alleged in today’s complaint was spectacularly brazen in scope. As alleged, through a program aptly named ‘the Hustle,’ Countrywide and Bank of American made disastrously bad loans and stuck taxpayers with the bill. As described, Countrywide and Bank of America systematically removed every check in favor of its own balance—they cast aside underwriters, eliminated quality controls, incentivized unqualified personnel to cut corners, and concealed the resulting defects. These toxic products were then sold to the government sponsored enterprises as good loans.”

The statement went on to say that Countrywide’s so-called “Hustle” process (shorthand for High-Speed Swim Lane) “generated thousands of fraudulent or otherwise defective residential mortgage loans sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that later defaulted, causing … countless foreclosures.” The program also involved “widespread falsification” of mortgage data.

According to the federal complaint, Countrywide executives were aware of the fraud. A quality review in January 2008 showed that 57 percent of Hustle loans went into default, but top management buried the review.

The federal complaint also charged that Bank of America is refusing to buy back mortgages “even where the loans admittedly contained material defects or even fraudulent misrepresentations.”

Bank of America denied all charges. It struck a defiant tone, declaring, “At some point Bank of America can’t be expected to compensate every entity that claims losses that actually were caused by the economic downturn.”

The bank has good reason to be confident it will suffer no major consequences as a result of the Justice Department suit. Bharara said he would seek restitution and damages of “over $1 billion,” an amount that can be handled with relative ease by an institution with more than $2 trillion in assets and over $115 billion in revenues.

More importantly, the Obama administration in this latest suit has continued its practice of refusing to lodge criminal charges against those whose illegal actions helped trigger the 2008 financial meltdown and global economic crisis. As with previous suits filed against Wall Street banks by various government agencies, the Justice Department complaint against Bank of America does not name a single official of either Countrywide or the bank itself.

The White House may very well have pushed for this suit to be filed two weeks before the November 6 election to boost its absurd pretensions to taking Wall Street to task. It is the third federal action against a major bank announced this month, following civil suits against JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

But the record speaks for itself. Not a single high-level banker has been prosecuted, let alone jailed, since the Wall Street crash of September 2008. Not one major civil case has actually been brought to trial. Instead, the government has allowed the culprit banks to work out settlements in which they paid token fines and admitted no wrongdoing.

The former head of Countrywide, Anthony Mozilo, was let off by the Securities and Exchange Commission with a fine of $67.5 million and no admission of guilt in October of 2010. The following year, the Justice Department quietly dropped its criminal probe of Mozilo.

Last month, Bank of America agreed to pay $2.48 billion to settle claims it misled investors about its acquisition of Merrill Lynch at the height of the financial crisis in late 2008. In February of this year, the government allowed the bank to settle fraud allegations involving Federal Housing Administration loans for $1 billion, also without admitting wrongdoing.

In the statement he issued Wednesday, Bharara boasted that over the past 18 months his office has settled lawsuits concerning mortgage fraud on a similar basis with CitiMortgage, Flagstar Bank and Deutsche Bank. Noting that he has pending lawsuits against Wells Fargo and Allied Home Mortgage, Bharara made a point of associating his actions with the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force announced by Barack Obama last January.

Obama’s task force is a fraud, intended to obscure his administration’s systematic shielding of financial criminals whose avarice and criminality have produced incalculable levels of suffering and social distress not only in the US, but around the world. Meanwhile, as is well known on Wall Street and in Washington, the same types of fraud and swindling that triggered the crisis more than four years ago continue unabated today.

Introduction

The successful re-election of President Chavez by a resounding 10% margin winning 20 of the 22 states, with a massive 80% turnout provides his government with a clear and decisive mandate to set the political and economic course of the country over the next six years.

To understand the opportunities and constraints which the government faces, it is essential to outline not only the positive strengths of the government but the complex and difficult structural features of ‘transiting’ in an essentially ‘rentier economy and society’ based on extractive enclaves, essentially a petrol economy. The socialist project faces an external environment with contradictory features, which include a highly globalized economy offering trade and investment opportunities and expanding economic partnerships via regional and global organizations ( OPEC, MERCOSUR, UNASUR, PETROCARIBE, ALBA) and political and military threats from its proximity to the North American imperial heartland.

While the institutional foundations and foreign policy initiatives of President Chavez have created a veritable ‘fire wall’ against any direct or proxy US or NATO military intervention – at least in the present conjuncture – similar to what has taken place in Iraq, Libya and Syria, the internal, especially socio-economic and political structures, are more problematical. And for that reason, Washington has refocused and is concentrating on exploiting the structural and political vulnerabilities of the Chavez regime to question and subvert his mandate. This ‘readjustment’ in US imperial strategy ‘toward the inside’ calls for an equally “strategic turn” for the Chavez government: to concentrate on consolidating changes realized and to move toward forms of socialist organization and practice.

Post-Election Responses

The immediate terrain for future struggles, following Chavez’s electoral victory, is evident in the responses by his US and domestic adversaries and by his Venezuelan supporters. The White House praised the electoral process, the peaceful and orderly participation of its citizens, but, unlike the felicitous response of Latin American Presidents, it failed to congratulate President Chavez – a clear sign of continued diplomatic hostility. Washington failed to recognize the relation between the peaceful ‘process’ and the substantive program of the Chavez government: given the immense popularity of his social programs and redistributive programs there was a general consensus (even among the majority of voters for the opposition) that violent disruption and a destabilization campaign would only further isolate Washinton’s proxies, prejudice their electoral prospects in the upcoming elections in December 2012 and February 2013 and polarize the electorate in a highly unfavorable way.

The recognition of the legitimacy and integrity of the electoral process by both the defeated candidate Capriles and the White House is an indication that the prime focus of the opposition is on mounting a major electoral struggle to capture institutional control at the local, state and national legislative level over the next four months. The US is gearing up to pour millions of dollars into the opposition bases of support – above all to use funding to enforce “unity” among the dozens of antagonistic parties, sects, NGO’s, trade unions and property owners associations. Splits and divisions among the opposition will undermine efforts to oust even vulnerable Chavista incumbents.

The pro-Chavez United Socialist Party of Venezuelan (PSUV) believes that the election provides the President with a ‘mandate’ to pursue his socialist agenda. The problem here is that many leaders, mass organizations, neighborhood groups and officials have important differences over what ‘the mandate’ means with regard to to his socio-economic agenda. The problem here is that many leaders, mass organizations, neighborhood groups and officials have important differences over what proximate steps should be taken in pursuit of a “socialist transition”.

The opposition will do everything possible to conserve their institutional power bases; and their US counterparts will certainly exploit to the fullest their access points in the political system. The opposition will oppose any changes in ownerships of the private banks, mass media and strategic economic centers which they dominate. They will promote changes in government policy, calling for budgetary restraint in social spending; support legislation, weakening state regulation; and call for legislative investigations of incumbent Chavista office holders. The neo-liberal opposition will focus on exploiting any mismanagement of public enterprises and claim authoritarian “persecution” if the government prosecutes private sector swindlers, money launderers, and illegal foreign exchange operations by bankers. Most of all both the US and the opposition will claim that “democracy” and ‘freedom’ are jeopardized if organized conduits for channeling US funds to so-called NGO’s are closed down for failing to register as foreign agents. The US government funded NGO’s are thinly veiled “front organizations” playing a major role in financing and propping up the opposition, providing training, advisers, electoral strategists and propagandists. Washington conditions funding to the segmented and divided opposition: unite forces and follow US directives.

The current US strategy following the electoral path does not exclude taking a more violent authoritarian direction in the future. In the aftermath of the October elections, with many access point’s available , strong media and business-banking institutions in place and a relatively stable political environment, Washington believes this is an unpropitious climate for a coup. Washington is prepared to work through the electoral process with the intention of gaining and expanding institutional power to block the President’s socialist agenda via congressional obstructionism. The US will revert to a violent coup strategy if and when it has sufficient institutional power to fabricate an “impeachment” proceeding or call for a referendum. The opposition would claim that Chavez has “exceeded” his constitutional powers, hoping to convert sectors of the “constitutionalist” military or National Guard to its power grab, an approach favored by the State Department in ousting the legally elected Presidents of Honduras and Paraguay. In other words the democratic posture adopted by Washington and the opposition today is compatible with an authoritarian seizure of power in the near future.In fact under present conditions, electoral tactics are a necessary compliment to a future violent strategic regime change.

Chavez in the Post- Electoral Period: Multiple Options

President Chavez has articulated two apparently contradictory responses in the post-election period, each reflecting two distinct political moments. On the one hand he speaks of advancing the socialist agenda; on the other, of opening a dialogue with the opposition including the business/capitalist elite. The socialist position reflects the powerful mandate Chavez received as a result of his recent electoral triumph; the dialogue position is posed with an eye to the upcoming local, state and national elections.

In addition, Chavez faces internal pressures pulling him in both directions. Radical activists, social movement and a few political leaders are pushing for a new round of nationalizations, based on political, economic and ideological considerations. They argue that strategic sectors like banking, agro-business, telecommunications, oil-related industries and others will provide the government with the levers and resources to re-launch its stalled plans for rapid diversification of the economy and speed up growth. Politically they argue public ownership will weaken the financial base of the neo-liberal opposition and close-off channels linking US funding with the government’s right-wing adversaries.

The ‘moderates’ argue that a mixed public-private partnership based on joint ventures will consolidate and broaden Chavez’s appeal to the “middle classes” and prepare the ground for greater inter-governmental cooperation, especially if the opposition gains governorships and a near Congressional majority. The “moderates” argue that a ‘dialogue’ between Chavez and the opposition based on the idea of an alliance with sectors of the ‘productive bourgeoisie’, with specific investment targets, a major infusion of credit and investment in joint projects, will lessen polarization and facilitate a dialogue with the US, especially if Obama is re-elected. The ‘moderates’ are concentrated among senior officials, state governors, ministers, party leaders and among senior presidential advisors, many of whom have supporters among public functionaries.

The larger problems facing both the “radical” and “moderates” are twofold, one political and one economic. Politically, both factions contain officials who have not performed effectively in dealing with their popular constituencies and are facing near elections:they are looking for ways of remaining in office, either via radical promises or by coalescing with the opposition.

Economically both factions, face the deep seated and pervasive problem of trying to formulate a dynamic economic strategy in an essentially rentier state. Despite vast progressive socio-political changes, Venezuela still largely depends on petrol exports and revenues and a labor force looking to petrol earnings to increase personal consumption.

Which faction’s position will influence President Chavez’s decision? This depends on what tasks he prioritizes in terms of realizing the socialist agenda. Chavez seeks a set of political alliances to transform Venezuela from a ‘rentier’ economy and state to one with a productive, diverse economy,which is competitive in international markets.

Obstacles and Opportunities to a Socialist Transition

Building socialism or a new productive capitalist economy is a complex and difficult journey in any rentier economy, including Venezuela .

Executives of public and privately owned firms have demonstrated very little capacity to innovate, invest in new technology, locate market niches and complete projects on time. Instead they rely on the rentier state for public contracts, subsidies, captive domestic markets, easy low interest public loans or grants and political contacts. As a result the advocates of ‘mixed’, ‘socialist’, and ‘neo-liberal’ states each make telling criticism of their opposite number but overlook the same weaknesses regarding their own ‘agency of development’.

Private sector operatives have for decades failed to perform as entrepreneurs, confusing their propensity for quick returns, leveraging differential interest and exchange rates and monopoly profits as a sign of their ‘market magic’. In fact for decades, prior to the Chavez epoch, they chose to milk state rentier oil revenues in order to “invest” in consumer imports, overseas and domestic real estate investments and in a bloated backward service sector. The rightwing neo-liberal claim that the private sector’s miserable track record in investment and innovation is a result of Chavez anti-business attitude doesn’t stand up to the historical record. The same rentier anti-entrepreneurial behavior among the business, banking and agricultural elite pre-dates the Chavez decade. Rentier behavior has deep historical, cultural and economic roots. Venezuela ’s bourgeoisie/long ago adapted to a rentier state and instead of fighting it, decided complicity was easier and more profitable; they latched onto oil revenues with phony ‘development projects’ which never came to fruition.

The recent campaign by the losing rightwing candidate Henrique Capriles’claim to be a follower of former Brazilian President Lula D’Silva, promoting private capitalist development with social welfare,is deeply flawed. Capriles overlooks the fact that Lula had the backing of the powerful Sao Paolo industrial bourgeoisie to forge his alliance between the poor and the rich. In contrast, Capriles would have to rely on an anemic rentier bourgeoisie with little competitive productive capacity.

The problem of ‘rentierism’ is not confined to the past and present private bourgeoisie; it is evident in the performance of the senior executives who run the nationalized enterprises. Their production and innovation record runs from mediocre to poor: low productivity, dependence on government subsidies and prone to miss deadlines and to cost over runs (in construction) and mismanagement. It is hard to see how the “moderate” Chavista model of a ‘mixed economy’ based on a joint public-private partnership, combining rentier mentalities, will lead to a ‘productive dynamic economy’ Chavez has very problematic human material to work with in transforming Venezuela away from a rentier economy.

Theoretical Marxist treaties critiquing capitalism and postulating “transitions to socialism” that do not take account of the profoundly ‘clientelist’ rentier character of Venezuelan capitalism have little relevance. The conversion from rentier “capitalism” to a modern productive economy with an effective public administration capable of delivering social services is a central consideration for the transition to 21st century Venezuelan social;ism.

Reaffirming the socialist objective of the Bolivarian Revolution as a strategic goal depends first of all making the Ministries and their sub-officials accountable to their constituents via empowered citizens councils and professionally trained oversight committees of ‘users of the services’. Current abuses, corruption, inefficiencies, non-delivery of services are chronic, politically costly and mock the socially progressive projects promised by President Chavez. Periodic ‘renovation’ and replacements of Ministers, civilians by military, provide at best a temporary respite: but under conditions of unchecked power, the rentier culture and mentality promptly reasserts itself in the same dysfunctional behavior. Citizen oversight with the power to sanction errant officials provides a more permanent corrective.

The centrality of mal-administration has enormous political consequences; it probably accounted for over half of the minority popular vote which defected to the opposition. It is a mistake to attribute the 45% vote for the opposition as a call for a return to neo-liberalism: in fact it represents a protest vote of Chavez sympathizers against officials who mismanage funds and who appoint incompetent party cronies. It was a vote against Ministers who spend billions but can’t keep the oil flowing, lights on and the water running. Above all the anti-Chavista protest vote was a response to the Ministers of Interior and Defense, civilian or military, who have failed to reduce the crime rate – in the streets, in the private suites and in the public offices.

Elections of citizens’ oversight councils would represent a ‘revolution within a revolution’ – because it will result in greater accountability and the implementation of some of President Chavez’s initiatives. The process may only result in incremental changes at the “micro-level” – improving public services and hastening the processing of public permits – but it certainly would be an improvement over ringing revolutionary proposals which are inconsequential (not implemented) and merely multiply the number of officials at the public trough. Increasing the number of officials only multiplies the tramites (signatures, rubber stamps, payoffs and delays) and increases the protest votes. The danger to Chavez and the PSUV does not come only from US destabilization via their local clients, but, at the barrio level. The erosion of the PSUV comes from the thousands of day to day abuses by local ‘red shirted’ officials who accumulate piles of citizen requests while they file their fingernails, enjoy two hour lunches (debating the “next stage in “the revolution” or the “consolidation versus radicalization strategies”) while lines of petitioners circle their Ministries.

The Responsibility of the President

President Chavez has done wonders in politicizing and inculcating a civic culture among Venezuelan citizens as was evident in the 80% voter turnout. No President in the history of Venezuela (or for that matter in the history of the United States ) has done more to create a sense of national identity. He has defended the country with valor and integrity. He has preserved and advanced democratic institutions against US and client attempts to destabilize and destroy the constitutional order. President Chavez has created an extensive social welfare net which has raised millions from poverty, eliminated illiteracy and provided a universal free public health system. Chavez has successfully engaged in consequential international economic aid programs, providing oil at reduced cost to poor countries in Central America and the Caribbean . But now in 2012 he faces new challenges : the battle for a revolution within the revolution in a complex and difficult context. Rentier economies pose numerous obstacles to developing a productive and participatory economy based on an active working class, an innovative and entrepreneurial managerial class,and a responsible and socially conscious middle class. The majority of the social classes in Venezuela support a socialist president but mostly on the bases of expanding individual consumption and social spending. Political militants in the street are ardent advocates of socialism but in office, their behavior is more like their neo-liberal predecessors.

Chavez must walk a tight line between on the one hand revamping the entire administrative system and transforming the rentier economy and on the other hand financing and implementing timely short term social impact programs to secure favorable electoral outcomes over the next four months in order to win the gubernatorial and Congressional elections. Defining the tasks for a rectification campaign are fairly straightforward, but implementing them carries a significant political cost.

To combat cronyism (including private and state cronies), corruption, inefficiency, authoritarianism and incompetence requires; (1) citizen oversight committees, (2) strengthening and training local communal councils, (3) establishing effective legal and judicial processes to investigate administrative malfeasance in a timely fashion, (4) establishing technical, entrepreneurial institutes to identify and design manufacturing and industrial projects which utilize local inputs linked to the oil industry, (5) creating petrol based industries (plastics, chemicals, fertilizers etc. (6) linking up with other productive sectors of the economy (agriculture, technical services). Chavez’s policy interventions should give greater priority to national issues, like public security, economic efficiency and workers participation. He should give greater emphasis on linking social consumption with productive activity, popular power with effective co-operation in local law enforcement.

Above all, Chavez should look toward taking control over the strategic sectors of the economy – the commanding heights – most notably the financial-banking complex. The government’s concern should be directed toward increasing investment in a vast array of petrol based new industries. The social bases of Chavista ‘Bolivarian Socialism’ must shift from ‘consumer consciousness’ to productive consciousness, from social welfare from above to workplace class solidarity and productivity from below.

Today some Marxists advocating greater working class management or control underestimate the limited economistic consciousness which pervades the class – the desire to increase wages and social benefits independently of productivity .Workplace democracy must be linked with a broader mission of converting Venezuela from a rentier to a modern productive and diversified economy. Otherwise working class militancy, harnessed to the consumer – rentier mentality, will ultimately become a major obstacle to Venezuela ’s transition to socialism.

Socialism, as President Chavez understands the deepening and expansion of popular power, requires a shift from mega-projects – especially international and multi-national – to well managed and implemented multi micro-projects under worker-citizen oversight with strict and enforceable discipline and guidelines for completion.

The de-politization of appointments to highly technical posts means that effective vote getters are not necessarily the best economic administrators. Currently cost-effectiveness is not taken into account in building a billion dollar transport system or organizing an effective highway system if it helps elect a mayor or governor.

Socialization of the economy may deprive the opposition of strategic financial backing but that has to be weighed in light of how well the public enterprise or bank will function in improving the everyday lives, economic activities and employment of the public at large. A badly managed public enterprise – in the food sector, for example- can do more harm for a socialist strategy than a well regulated ‘functional’ privately owned firm. In other words, socialization should advance to the degree that the state has the capacity (or is in the process of developing the capacity) to run the enterprises.,as Lenin noted in his essay “Better Few but Better”.

Integral to the development of socialism (and not an ‘external’ or marginal feature of it) is public and individual security including private property. Incalculable billions of dollars are lost every year because of crime: fear, intimidation, private security measures, limitations in movements and time, all have a price. So far Venezuela’s security system has a very uneven record: generally, high marks for cross border security,containing external threats and protecting democratic institutions; low grades with reference to street crimes, gang warfare, white collar crime and sabotage and or negligence of key oil and electrical installations.

Crime prevention involves converting the electoral multitudes into a national network of organized local community based crime fighters backed and protected by armed rapid response Special Forces trained in urban crime-warfare. Cuban intelligence advisers may be experts in fighting political terrorists but currently an extraordinary crime wave is ravaging the cities. This speaks to the need for greater intelligence operations against gang leaders and their business and political accomplices and money launderers. Jobs, schools,and welfare programs have not been enough to stop the upward crime spiral. Crime not only grows from social deprivation but from a rentier-like mentality in which high consumption, based on violence and seizure of economic resources is seen as the quickest route to social mobility. Most criminals prey on the working class. If the working class is the bases of a socialist transition, then putting the full power of the state behind law enforcement is an essential defense of socialism – and a positive step in winning over important sectors of the middle class. Crime in the streets is intimately linked to criminal accomplices in public office, including high police and judicial officials, some of whom claim to be “ardent Chavistas”.

No doubt a comprehensive ramping up of internal security will be exploited by the US backed mass media as indications of Chavez ‘authoritarianism’ (by the same opposition who currently cry out against ‘lawless crime ridden Caracas ’). But making the cities safe for its citizens, within constitutional procedures, will be immensely popular, and politically and economically profitable.

Final Notes in Place of a Conclusion

The Venezuelan transition to socialism is an ‘open process’ with enormous positive assets as well as formidable obstacles. Immense strength in the dynamic farsighted leadership of President Chavez and his vast army of popular supporters and committed militants; and severe challenges derived from the legacy of a rentier economy, embedded in the ruling class and to a certain degree in the populace at large.

As the government moves forward to socialism it is incumbent upon its leaders to spell out the criteria for the socialization of enterprises, to define the ‘rules of the game’ – namely what enterprises and economic sectors will not be expropriated; what profit margins are acceptable; what sectors are targeted for socialization, joint ventures, worker managed firms and private ownership.

Criterion for Socialization of Enterprises

Political Sabotage: owners who disinvest or who refuse to invest to meet demand, hoard, or deliberately run down operations in an effort to undermine public policy and create social discontent.

Social Conflict: Capitalist firms which refuse to abide by labor laws or engage in collective bargaining with trade unions or fire workers arbitrarily thus providing strikes and lock outs. These firms should be socialized under a management team of worker, consumer, and engineers.

Ideology: Firms identified with the opposition and collaborating with US front groups; firms which pursue political over economic objectives could become targets.

Strategic sectors: Key sectors and firms which play a decisive role in the economy, such as banking, finance and foreign trade should be socialized providing public policy makers with instruments to capture the economic surplus to foment new growth sectors; socially strategic sectors and petro-industrial and food production. Innovative small and medium size firms should not be socialized.

These criteria do not exhaust the possible sectors but are a necessary part of a socialist transition, providing the state has the capacity to run the enterprises. Under no conditions should firms be socialized and turned over to mediocre, incompetent officials or trade union leaders who run them into the ground. Socialism is not a race to see how many firms can be nationalized in the shortest time. In case of limited sate capacity there are several alternative options.

State intervention, regulation and taxation: to insure labor laws are followed, profits are equitably distributed; employers increase social consumption, technical upgrades and worker training.

Worker based production commissions: to ‘oversee the books’ of companies and provide employees with information for collecting bargaining.

Joint ventures between public and private capital: to take advantage of marketing and technical skills of productive capitalists guided by the social criterion of public and worker managers.

Planning via compulsory and voluntary production targets: The private sector especially small and middle size firms should not be socialized especially those which provide vital services, recreation and leisure time activities for the mass of the people. Venezuela should not follow Cuba ’s disastrous 1968 policy of closing down thousands of private enterprises which the State had zero capacity to replace. Nor should Venezuela follow Cuba ’s 1970’s policy of ‘specialization’ in commodity exports to restricted markets. (The Soviet bloc).

Venezuela needs to create public sector entrepreneurs and technocrats as well critical class conscious working class militants for the productive sector. Management is key to the success of a “socialist transition” because Venezuela is deeply immersed in the global marketplace, which offers great opportunities and pitfalls. The State should invest in management and technical schools which develop and apply socialist criteria for production, marketing, innovation, financing and accounting. It should eschew the use of ‘models’ based on free market orthodoxy found in US textbooks as well as Soviet era manuals. The goal should be to encourage texts which critically apply Marxist writings to the specificities of a rentier economy and to encourage transformative leadership, workers’ participation in planning and the relative autonomy of enterprises.

The Big Picture: Challenges and Opportunists

Transforming a rentier economy and society into an efficient productive and diversified socialist economy is a very difficult, complex and prolonged process. Rentier economies are generally high consumption enclaves drawing rents and surrounded by financial, real estate, and“compradore” capitalists (importers) and avaricious over-paid bureaucratic elites. Agro and industrial business elites transfer earnings from production to the dominant rentier sectors retaining their backward character.

President Chavez has waged a successful political struggle in transferring a substantial proportion of the rents to mass popular social consumption and establishing a political framework and ideology to justify and extend programs of social consumption. He has also taken control over the key sector (petrol) of the rent generating economy. But the entire parasitic ensemble of economic sectors linked to it remain intact and have flourished: finances, bank, real estate and importers’ profits have soared. Diversification based on creating a new set of productive enterprises linked to rent producers has yet to materialize. But their creation is the central task of anything worthy of the name of a socialist transition. Up to now the working class outside of the extractive sector is very limited in size and its militancy is linked to “consumer” rather than class consciousness.

Venezuela has promoted working class consciousness in search of a socialist working class – one not dependent on rent collecting, periodical electoral mobilizations and militant strikes over narrow demands. Currently the class struggle between the bourgeoisie and labor is over shares of the rent, and positions in the rent collecting state bureaucracy.

President Chavez has succeeded in gaining control over the rent-producing enclave and successfully mobilized the mass of citizens for over a decade of electoral victories. The biggest and most strategically important challenge now is to convert those political, economic and foreign policy successes into a productive participatory socialist political economy. One that requires a major transformation of the PSUV and the State from the bottom up. Venezuela must make a major turn toward technical , marketing and innovative competence and not rely on incompetent “party loyalists” and bureaucratic time-servicers.

The ideal is to create cadres who are ‘red’ and ‘expert’ rather than having to choose between one or the other.

Syria: US-NATO Sponsored Rebels break the Cease FireGlobal Research News, October 26, 2012

New York Hospital sacrificed for an Israel-backed Science Facility

October 28th, 2012 by Global Research News

by Terri Ginsberg

A New York science campus will be jointly overseen by Israel’s Technion university, which has developed technology used in Caterpillar bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian homes.

(Oren Ziv / ActiveStills)

Despite critical opposition from residents and their supporters, plans are proceeding unimpeded to build a multi-billion dollar campus linking an Israeli and an American university in New York City.

The applied sciences university campus, Cornell NYC Tech, is to be located on tiny Roosevelt Island, a narrow strip of land in the East River dividing Manhattan from three of New York’s outer boroughs.

The Cornell NYC Tech project is jointly overseen by Cornell University and the Israeli Institute of Technology — better known as the Technion — in Haifa and will eventually sit on 12 acres, or 2.1 million square feet, of Roosevelt Island’s south end. A temporary campus will open in January 2013 at Google’s New York headquarters in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, where the nascent university will operate until 2017, when completion is expected of its first leg of construction, a “net-zero energy” building to be designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis Architects.

On 15 October, New York City began the seven-month uniform land use review procedure (ULURP) that will initiate a public review of Cornell NYC Tech’s master plan, including an environmental impact statement, by the City Planning Commission.

Cornell NYC Tech will ultimately cost developers $2 billion, including $350 million in start-up costs supplied by Cornell alumnus Charles Feeney, a wealthy philanthropist, and $100 million in New York taxpayer funds allocated freely last year by Michael Bloomberg, the city’s mayor (“Cornell alumnus is behind $350 billion gift to build science school in City,” The New York Times, 19 December 2011).

Feeney is often praised in the mainstream media for his philanthropy. This is particularly the case in Ireland, where Feeney has supported the country’s universities, as well as to community groups (“Universities honour their ‘Renaissance man’ Feeney,” The Irish Times, 7 September 2012).

Troubling questions

Critics of the Cornell NYC Tech project surmise that Feeney’s mega-grant helped push through the Cornell-Technion Partnership’s comparatively late bid with the New York City Economic Development Corporation to build the proposed Roosevelt Island campus.

NYCEDC awarded the project to Cornell NYC Tech rather than to Stanford University, in potential partnership with the City College of New York, after Stanford pulled out of negotiations at the last minute.

The circumstances of Stanford’s withdrawal, and of the seeming fast-tracking of a deal involving Cornell and the Technion, remain mysterious and raise disturbing questions about Cornell NYC Tech (see “Alliance formed secretly to win deal for campus,” The New York Times, 25 December 2011). These questions have been made all the more troubling in light of NYCEDC’s recent move to prevent Stanford from making its own bid public (“Why does NYC refuse to allow Stanford University to publicly release details of its withdrawn proposal for Roosevelt Island NYC Applied Sciences & Engineering School?,” Roosevelt Islander, 31 July 2012).

Military links

The Cornell NYC Tech project has been loudly criticized for its institutional implication in international law violations.

The Technion, Israel’s premier high-tech university, is heavily involved in the research and development of drones, weapons manufacture, communications surveillance technology and Caterpillar D-9 bulldozers — the kind used to kill US peace activist Rachel Corrie — and used to demolish many thousands of Palestinian homes and public buildings.

These research areas are directly tied to Israeli military activities which violate international humanitarian charters and resolutions, including the Geneva Conventions, laws against breaches of human rights, and laws against apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Cornell NYC Tech has already announced that it will engage in dry laboratory manufacturing, mainly robotics, as well as communications development, but the pertinent details have not been released. This is despite claims of transparency from Cornell representatives and some of the project’s supporters, including Nicholas Viest, President of Roosevelt Island’s Community Board 8.

To make way for the new campus, New York City has arranged to demolish Coler-Goldwater Specialty Hospital and Nursing Facility, a 2,000-bed, long-term comprehensive care facility in operation since the Franklin D. Roosevelt era, in January 2014 (“Hospital patients forced out as Roosevelt Island tech campus moves in,” DNAinfo, 3 May 2012).

Plans to move the hospital’s patients to other facilities, some of them still in the proposal stage, have been blocked temporarily by East Harlem area residents, represented by Community Board 11, who are concerned they will not be permitted to live or work in the prospective facilities initially slated to be built — following more demolition and displacement — in their neighborhood.

Should new homes not be found for Coler-Goldwater patients by their mandatory evacuation dates in mid-2013, many of them (those who are US non-citizens holding temporary visas) may face deportation, according to a Coler-Goldwater resident spokesperson.

Cornell NYC Tech is not scheduled for completion until 2037. Until then, Roosevelt Islanders will be faced with 30 years of noise, potentially hazardous dust, and heavy construction traffic as well as a likely, permanent increase in security and police presence on the island. These are conditions which many New Yorkers are greeting with displeasure and concern.

Terri Ginsberg is a film scholar and Palestine solidarity activist based in New York City. A director at the International Council for Middle East Studies in Washington, DC, she is currently active in New Yorkers Against the Cornell-Technion Partnership.

Are American Troops Protecting Afghan Opium?

October 28th, 2012 by Washington's Blog

As many have noted, the U.S. government has – at least at some times in some parts of the world – protected drug operations. (Big American banks also launder money for drug cartels. See this, this, this and this. Indeed, drug dealers kept the banking system afloat during the depths of the 2008 financial crisis. But that’s beyond the scope of this post.)

The U.S. military has openly said that it is protecting Afghani poppy fields:

As Wikiepedia notes:

Opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise since U.S. occupation started in 2001.

Public Intelligence has published a series of photographs showing American – and U.S.-trained Afghan – troops patrolling poppy fields in Afghanistan. Public Intelligence informs us that all of the photos are in the public domain, and not subject to copyright, and they assured me that I have every right to reproduce them.

We produce these photos and the accompanying descriptions from Public Intelligence without further comment.

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U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Noel Rodriguez, a team leader with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, communicates with an adjacent squad while on patrol in Sangin, Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. Marines patrolled to provide security in the area and interact with the local populace.

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Paul Wellstone: Tenth Anniversary of His Assassination

October 28th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

October 25 marked the 10th anniversary of Wellstone’s death. Was it accidental or an assassination to silence a sadly missed principled voice? Convincing evidence suggests foul play. More on that below.

On October 25, 2002, The New York Times headlined “Minnesota Senator Is Among 8 Dead in Crash,” saying:

Wellstone “was killed today when his campaign plane crashed approaching a small airport in a wooded region in the northern part of his state.”

Campaigning for a third term, he “perished along with seven other people when the chartered King Air A100 went down near Eveleth around 10:20 a.m. Central Time, the Federal Aviation Administration reported.”

Weather conditions weren’t abnormal. Light rain mixed with snow was reported. Flights without incident occur normally under these and harsher conditions. Wellstone perished with his wife, one child, three staff members, and two highly experienced pilots.

From the time the news broke, suspicions arose that perhaps what happened wasn’t accidental. Professors James Fetzer and Don “Four Arrows” Jacobs examined the tragedy. They concluded that Wellstone was assassinated.

In 2004, they published “American Assassination: The Strange Death of Senator Paul Wellstone.” More on what they said below.

Like former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, Wellstone was a rare exception that proves the rule. He was uncorrupted by money and power ambitions. He left academia to run for office. Explaining why, he said:

“I don’t represent the big oil companies, the big pharmaceuticals, or the big insurance industry. They already have great representation in Washington. It’s the rest of the people that need representation.”

His voting record explained why he was called “the conscience of the Senate.” He opposed the Gulf War and 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution.

He was also against NAFTA, oil drilling in Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuge, sending troops to Haiti in 1994 without congressional approval, and bankruptcy legislation benefitting financial giants at the expense of working people.

He supported labor rights, children’s and women’s rights, universal healthcare, public and higher education, good jobs with livable wages, small farmers, campaign finance and lobbying reforms, and retirement security.

He once told his students, “Never separate the lives you live from the words you speak.” He stood for saying what you believe and doing what you say. At a time destructive neoliberalism took hold, he was a living, breathing antidote. His voting record showed it.

He supported progressive activism. He believed in backing principles with action. He battled hardliners supporting anti-populist measures he opposed.

At a fall 1990 White House reception for newly elected congressional members, he urged GHW Bush to spend more time on education and other social issues.

He also advised him against attacking Iraq. Not at all pleased, Bush privately asked an aide, “Who is this chickenshit?” His activism and outspokenness cursed him with the mark of Cain. He’d learn later how hard it stings.

Project Vote Smart covered his voting record from April 1992 – October 2002. Many progressive ones included:

  • yea for family and medical leave;
  • yea for homosexuals in the military;
  • yea for ending military operations in Somalia;
  • nay on the Comprehensive Terrorism Prevention Act;
  • nay on space-based lasers;
  • nay on the Telecommunications Bill letting media giants consolidate to greater size;
  • nay on harmful welfare reform hurting poor people when they most need help;
  • nay on Cuba sanctions;
  • yea on helpful immigration reform;
  • nay against reconfirming Alan Greenspan;
  • yea for campaign finance reform;
  • yea for increasing the minimum wage;
  • nay for the partial/birth abortion ban;
  • yea for the Chemical Weapons Convention; it prohibits development, production, stockpiling, and use of these weapons; it also mandates their destruction;
  • yea for family tax relief;
  • yea for aiding higher education programs;
  • nay for banning Cuban travel;
  • nay for confirming John Ashcroft;
  • yea for a patients’ bill of rights; and
  • nay for No Child Left Behind.

His book titled “The Conscience of a Liberal: Reclaiming the Compassionate Agenda” explained his passion for economic and social justice.

In 2002, he ran for a third term. Doing so reneged on a pledge to serve two and leave. He had unfinished business on his mind. He also faced long knives wanting him gone.

Big money was marshaled against him. An aide to his Republican opponent, Norm Coleman, said, “There are people in the (George W. Bush) White House who wake up in the morning thinking about how they will defeat Paul Wellstone. This one is political and personal for them.”

Polls showed him ahead. Reelection looked likely. Potentially controlling the Senate was at stake. Eleven days before November 5, he tragically died on route to a funeral and campaign event in rural Minnesota.

Fetzer and Jacobs say Wellstone’s death was no accident. It wasn’t weather, plane trouble, or pilot error connected. Evidence they uncovered explains otherwise.

Confirmation of the tragedy didn’t come from Wellstone’s office, state police, or Minnesota’s governor. It first came from GW Bush’s ranch. Why was it known there before anywhere else?

FBI agents arrived with suspicious speed. Perhaps they knew in advance and positioned themselves nearby. They prevented fire teams, journalists, and others at the crash site from taking photos.

An AP photographer said he was intimidated, delayed and monitored. Was vital evidence removed or destroyed? NTSB investigators didn’t show up for 10 hours. Why did FBI agents try having things both ways?

On the one hand, they declared the site a “crime scene.” They also said no crime took place. How could anyone know without careful forensic examination?

Fetzer and Jacobs believe Wellstone was killed for political reasons. Coverup followed his assassination. The official story is rife with inconsistencies and willful omissions of key facts. They explained how, why, and who was responsible.

Besides eliminating a powerful progressive voice, Wellstone’s enemies wanted Republican Coleman’s win to help Republicans gain Senate control.

Fetzer and Jacobs explained the following:

Former CIA official Carol Carmody handled NTSB’s crash investigation. She’s a damage-control expert. Coverup is her game. She was also in charge of investigating Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan’s suspicious aircraft crash during his senatorial race against John Ashcroft two years earlier.

NTSB is legally mandated to investigate transportation accidents. Yet it let FBI agents control things. Why it didn’t explain. Mention of the FBI’s involvement was excluded from their final report.

Ahead of the crash, neither Wellstone pilot signaled distress. Why not since they were going down in a remote area perhaps with no help nearby.

Some witnesses heard what sounded like the engines cutting out or stalling. Others reported odd cell phone and automatic garage door phenomena coincidental with the crash.

They included electronic interference and strange noises never before experienced. The auditory pattern appeared consistent with electromagnetic (EM) weapons use.

They were developed to knock out computer systems and harm human subjects. Most Americans know nothing about them. They can disable radio communications and warning systems.

They can alter an aircraft’s flight pattern and cause pilots to lose control. They can make them lose consciousness, incapacitate them in other ways, or kill them.

Fetzer says they can “literally fry the electronic components in an aircraft” the way microwaves heat meals or lightening bolts affect objects struck.

NTSB’s simulations replicated weather conditions, the flight pattern, and overall conditions at the time. Even at abnormally low speeds, they couldn’t down the plane.

NTSB member Richard Healing said he had no idea what caused the crash. Yet he signed the official report giving reasons that didn’t wash. They included pilot error, bad weather, and other preposterous claims. Instead of investigating responsibly, they made stuff up.

Fetzer and Jacobs established compelling prima facie and conclusive evidence to prove Wellstone’s death was no accident.

They called his Beech King-Air A100 the “Rolls-Royce” of small aircraft. Pilot Richard Conry had 5,200 hours of flight experience. His rating was the highest civilian one possible. Two days before the crash, he passed his FAA flight check. He was highly qualified to fly the Beech aircraft.

Co-pilot Michael Guess was also instrument qualified. He was very able to fly the plane on his own under adverse weather conditions. It’s inconceivable that either pilot alone or together fouled up.

According to NTSB’s report, the “airplane descended through the trees wings level and upright on about a 26 degree downward flight path angle on a ground track of about 180 degrees.”

Fetzer called this angle “too steep to suggest anything but a very serious dive, not likely to result from a low altitude stall but from a plane completely out of control very abruptly or all of a sudden.”

NTSB should have stressed this. It didn’t. Why was never explained. If electromagnetic weapons were used, evidence would have clearly showed it. For example, digital clocks would have failed immediately, not at impact.

FBI agents arriving quickly did nothing to stop the fuselage from burning. It continued for hours. By the time NTSB investigators arrived, bodies were charred beyond recognition. Other forensic evidence was destroyed or concealed.

According to Fetzer:

“Dennis Ciminio, a pilot and expert on devices of this kind, has confirmed that the technology to take out the plane has been around for decades and that the intense fire – which burned the fuselage but not the wings, in which the plane’s fuel was stored – was almost certainly intended to destroy the evidence of how it was done.”

“He has explained to me the most likely culprit here to put that kind of power directly onto the plane itself to cause such widespread mayhem would have been an electronically beam-steered-system, such as Raytheon’s BFL (Beam Forming Lens) equipped Army jamming system.”

“That is especially plausible, since Raytheon owns Beechcraft, which makes the Air King A-100 and would know exactly how it could be taken down.”

More than electromagnetic weapons may have been involved. At about the time the plane crashed, “a white van” was seen departing the area at high speed.

“The melted area at the altitude where ice forms, moreover, strongly suggests that the Wellstone plane was taken out using a satellite-mounted laser, which would have had the effect of melting the ice at that level.”

Dick Cheney was running “an executive assassination ring” out of the White House at that time. He did then what Obama is doing now. Wellstone was perhaps one of Cheney’s targets.

He, “Karl Rove, and Donald Rumsfeld may not have executed this hit personally, but they were in a position to make it happen.” Eventually perhaps the full truth will be known. Enough already is clear to say Wellstone’s death was no accident.

Anyone with a powerful public voice supporting principles he embraced could end up targeted for elimination and killed. That’s how rogue states operate. Bucking the system risks life and limb. Wellstone paid the ultimate price.

David Ray Griffin calls Fetzer and Jacob’s book compelling and vitally important. It’s hard not believing that Wellstone was assassinated. Bush administration officials likely ordered it.

Based on all relevant evidence, “we must conclude that the theory that Wellstone was assassinated is far more probable that the official story” that doesn’t wash.

Fetzer and Jacobs agree that “evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that Wellstone was assassinated. They have, in my view, made a convincing case.”

In November 2002, investigative journalist Michael Ruppert asked, “Was Paul Wellstone Murdered?” He wrote:

“The day after the crash I received a message from a former CIA operative who has proven extremely reliable in the past and who is personally familiar with these kinds of assassinations.”

“The message read, ‘As I said earlier, having played ball (and still playing in some respects) with this current crop of reinvigorated old white men, these clowns are nobody to screw around with. There will be a few more strategic accidents. You can be certain of that.’ “

Everyone challenging the system is vulnerable. Wellstone paid with his life.

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

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays 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

Israeli Airstrikes Kill 4, Injure 8 in Gaza

October 28th, 2012 by Global Research News

GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Multiple Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip have killed four people and injured eight since late Tuesday, medics said.

Israeli warplanes struck a target in Rafah early Wednesday, killing Muhammad al-Sheikh, 32, a member of the PRC’s military wing the Nasser Saladin Brigades.

One other person was also injured in the attack.

Israel’s army said it was targeting a launching squad which moments earlier had fired a rocket at southern Israel.

At midnight, an airstrike on Beit Lahiya in Gaza’s north killed Ismail al-Tille, a member of Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades, and injured three others, Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma’an.

Another overnight strike in an area northwest of Beit Lahiya killed Loai Abed al-Hakeen Abu Jarad, 24, and Yousef Abu Jalhoum, al-Qidra said. One other person was seriously wounded.

Israel’s army said it targeted a squad in the northern Gaza Strip “during its final preparations to fire rockets towards southern Israel.”

Later it said aircraft targeted a “terror tunnel” and “terror activity sites.”

A statement said over 65 rockets fired from Gaza targeted areas in southern Israel since midnight.

“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israeli civilians, and will operate against anyone who uses terror against the State of Israel. The Hamas terror organization is solely responsible for any terrorist activity emanating from the Gaza Strip,” the statement said.

Hamas officials also reported Israeli tanks firing into Gaza. A military spokesman confirmed that report.

Gaza’s ministry of education said six schools have been evacuated in Khan Younis due to Israeli airstrikes in the area.

Late on Tuesday, an Israeli airstrike killed one man and injured three others after Israel’s army said six rockets fired from the Gaza Strip landed across the border, a medical official said.

The attack came hours after Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine fighters claimed responsibility for an attack that wounded an Israeli soldier on the Gaza border. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades said it was responsible for a bomb that went off beside an army patrol east of Khan Younis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said Israel would deliver a strong response to the attack. “We will fight and we will hit them very, very hard,” Netanyahu said.

The airstrikes followed a historic visit by the Emir of Qatar, which broke the isolation of the Hamas leadership in Gaza.

Thousands lined the streets in Gaza to welcome the Qatari emir, who was the first head of state to visit the Hamas-run enclave since 1999.

Operators of Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi plant are having trouble storing a perpetual accumulation of radioactive cooling water from the plant’s broken reactors, the plant’s water-treatment manager, Yuichi Okamura, told the Associated Press in an interview this week.

The plant currently holds 200,000 tonnes of highly contaminated waste water, used to cool the broken reactors, but operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, continues to struggle to find ways to store the toxic substance. TEPCO has said they are running out of room to build more storage tanks and the volume of water will more than triple within three years.

“It’s a time-pressing issue because the storage of contaminated water has its limits, there is only limited storage space,” Okamura said.

After the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe of 2011, the plant’s broken reactors have needed constant cooling and maintenance, including the dumping of massive amounts of water into the melting reactors — the only way to avoid another complete meltdown.

Adding to the excessive amounts of cooling water is ground water, which continues to leak into the reactor facilities because of structural damage.

“There are pools of some 10,000 or 20,000 tonnes of contaminated water in each plant, and there are many of these, and to bring all these to one place would mean you would have to treat hundreds of thousands of tons of contaminated water which is mind-blowing in itself,” Masashi Goto, nuclear engineer and college lecturer, stated, adding the problem is a massive public health concern.

“It’s an outrageous amount, truly outrageous” Goto added.

It’s U.S. Election Showtime…

October 27th, 2012 by Thierry Meyssan

Over the last 30 years, no U.S. presidential election has signaled a change in Washington’s foreign policy of Washington. Important decisions have been made outside this time frame. It is quite obvious that the president is the superintendent of a policy of which he is not the architect. Will Yankee imperialism perform better under Obama’s or Romney’s smile?

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President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sharing a hearty laugh at charity gala held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel on October 18, 2012 in New York City.

Every four years the U.S. presidential election becomes a planetary spectacle. The dominant press attempts to convince international public opinion that the American people are democratically designating the leader who will direct the affairs of the world.

In certain countries, notably in Europe, the media coverage is at least as saturated as the election of their own leader. Implicitly, the press is indicating that while these states may also be called democracies, their citizens have no real voice in determining their own future, a future subject to the good graces of the occupant of the White House. So how can it be said that these states are really democracies?

The problem is that voting has been conflated with democracy. This remark also applies to the United States. The electoral spectacle is supposed to be the proof that they are living under a vibrant democracy, but this is all smoke and mirrors. Despite the widespread conviction that the president of the United States is elected directly by the people, he is not, not even secondarily. In the United States the people are not sovereign and the citizens are not electors. The choice of President and Vice-President is determined in a winner-take-all process by an electoral college of 538 people where electors are designated by voters’ and party choices at the state level. To win, the candidate must have at least 270 electoral votes, a number based on the population of each state. States are the true locus for presidential selection because they are subject to the politics of choosing electors. The national popular vote does not count; if no candidate reaches 270, the choice is made in Congress. The Gore vs. Bush election of 2000 and the Kerry vs. Bush election of 2004 were potent reminders that the voice of the people can be out-manoeuvred. In 2000, the Supreme Court decided that it was not going to wait for a recount of votes in Florida before proclaiming the winner. All that mattered was the Court’s decision that in turn confirmed the Electoral College numbers despite anything the voters had said.

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The illusion doesn’t stop there. When George W. Bush resided in the White House, no one seriously imagined that so uneducated and incompetent a man was actually exercising power. It was thought that a team of advisors discretely exercised it for him. When Barack Obama succeeded him, and since he was thought to be more intelligent it was believed that he was truly in charge. But how can it be assumed that the team that exercised power under Bush would spontaneously renounce it under Obama?

The daily agenda of a U.S. president consists of ceaseless audience appearances, speeches and ceremonies. How can this individual find the time to really familiarize himself with the topics of his speeches? He is no more president than the newscasters on TV are journalists. They share in fact the same profession: teleprompter reading.

We may sense that, as in previous contests, there is more to the Obama-Romney Show than meets the eye, that something really is being decided. And it is. In the constitutional system of the U.S., the primary function of the president, in addition to his role as putative Commander in Chief, is to name over 6000 appointees to public office. This political rotation effectively entails a vast migration of elites. In the current context, thousands of high-level functionaries and tens of thousands of assistants and advisors could possibly be discharged and largely replaced by appointees from the Bush era. The presidential election determines the personal careers of all these people and brings with it the corrupt bidding process that favors this or that multinational. Indeed, there are real reasons for investing money, a whole lot of money, in this contest.

Where is international politics in all this? Over the last two decades, major campaign promises made during electoral campaigns became something fundamentally different during the president’s term in office. Bill Clinton (1993-2008) pledged to reduce military budgets following the disappearance of the USSR and bring about economic prosperity. Instead, in 1995 he commenced an expanded program of military rearmament. George W. Bush (2001-2008) was going to rationalize the Pentagon and wage “war without end” but by the end of 2006 he had stopped the privatization of the military and begun the pull-out from Afghanistan and Iraq. Barack Obama (2009-2012) was going to continue the retreat and “reset” relations with Russia and the Muslim world. What occurred instead was the continued construction of the missile shield around Russia, U.S. support for the color revolution in Egypt and wars on Libya and Syria. Each time that these teleprompter readers did such an about-face, they betrayed their constituents and did so without qualm or hesitation.

The ongoing dilemma of the U.S. ruling class is to find the right teleprompter reader, the one who can most convincingly explain away the upcoming political turnarounds. In this sense, Romney represents a new kind of rhetoric. He constantly reaffirms that America has the vocation to rule the world while Obama maintains in principle that the world should be governed by international law. The current president is trying to resolve economic problems by significantly reducing military expenditures and transferring the war banner and the price tag to the allies, for example by subcontracting the destruction of Libya to the French and British. By contrast, Romney asserts that the U.S. economy, to function, has to have its armed forces patrol the air and all international waters. To do so, he intends to maintain the current level of military expenditures, despite the crisis but also as a way of resolving it.

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Breathtaking suspense: who will be chosen to read the Presidential VSS-20 teleprompter, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?

Whatever option is chosen, the basics will not change. The U.S. wants to disengage from the Middle East on which it has become less dependent as a source of energy. It can only do so by sharing power in the region with Russia. If he remains in the White House, Obama will present this course of action as as multilateral progress. If Romney replaces him, he’ll seek to carry out a Reagan-type strategy and chain the foot of the Russian bear to enmesh it in interminable conflicts. Clearly, in this regard and in others, the only outcome of the U.S. election will be the choice of arguments employed to convince us that America is a democracy which acts with both power and good intentions. So what are we complaining about?

Translation Michele Stoddard

Before the campaign contributors lavished billions of dollars on their favorite candidate; and long after they toast their winner or drink to forget their loser, Wall Street was already primed to continue its reign over the economy.

For, after three debates (well, four), when it comes to banking, finance, and the ongoing subsidization of Wall Street, both presidential candidates and their parties’ attitudes toward the banking sector is similar – i.e. it must be preserved – as is – at all costs, rhetoric to the contrary, aside.

Obama hasn’t brought ‘sweeping reform’ upon the Establishment Banks, nor does Romney need to exude deregulatory babble, because nothing structurally substantive has been done to harness the biggest banks of the financial sector, enabled, as they are, by entities from the SEC to the Fed to the Treasury Department to the White House.

In addition, though much is made of each candidates’ tax plans, and the related math that doesn’t add up (for both presidential candidates), the bottom line is, Obama hasn’t explained exactly WHY there’s $5 trillion more in debt during his presidency, nor has Romney explained HOW to get a $5 trillion savings.

For the record, both missed, or don’t get, that nearly 32% of that Treasury debt is reserved (in excess) at the Fed, floating the banking system that supposedly doesn’t need help. The ‘worst economic period since the Great Depression’ barely produced a short-fall of an approximate average of $200 billion in personal and corporate tax revenues per year, according to federal data [3].)

Consider that the amount of tax revenue since 2008, has dropped for individual income contributions from $1.15 trillion in 2008 to $915 billion in 2009, to $899 billion in 2010, then risen to $1.1 trillion in 2011. Corporate tax contributions have dropped (by more of course) from $304 billion in 2008 to $138 billion in 2009 to $191 billion in 2010, to $181 billion in 2011. Thus, at most, we can consider to have lost $420 billion in individual revenue and $402 billion in corporate revenue, or $822 billion from 2009 on. The Fed has, in addition, held on average of $1.6 trillion Treasuries in excess reserves. That, plus $822 billion equals $2.42 trillion, add on the other $900 billion of Fed held mortgage securities, and you get $3.32 trillion, NOT $5 trillion, and most to float banks.

The most consistent political platform is that big finance trumps main street economics, and the needs of the banking sector trump those of the population. We have a national policy condoning zero-interest-rate policy (ZIRP) as somehow job-creative. (Fed Funds rates dropped to 0% by the end of 2008 [4], where they have remained since.)

We are left with a regulatory policy of pretend. Rather than re-instating Glass-Steagall to divide commercial from investment banking and insurance activity, thereby removing the platform of government (or public) supported speculation and expansion, props leaders that pretend linguistic tweaks are a match for financial might. We have no leader that will take on Jamie Dimon, Chairman of the country’s largest bank, JPM Chase, who can devote 15% of the capital of JPM Chase, which remains backstopped by customer deposit insurance, to bet on the direction of potential corporate defaults, and slide by two Congressional investigations like walks in the park.

Pillars of Collusion

A few months ago, Paul Craig Roberts and I co-wrote an article about the LIBOR [5] scandal; the crux of which, was lost on most of the media. That is; the banks, the Fed, and the Treasury Department knew banks were manipulating rates lower to artificially support the prices of hemorrhaging assets and debt securities. But no one in Washington complained, because they were in on it; because it made the over-arching problem of debt-manufacturing and bloating the Fed’s balance sheet to subsidize a banking industry at the expense of national economic health, evaporate in the ether of delusion.

In the same vein, the Fed announced QE3, the unlimited version – the Fed would buy $40 billion a month of mortgage-backed securities from banks. Why – if the recession is supposedly over and the housing market has supposedly bottomed out – would this be necessary?

Simple. If the Fed is buying securities, it’s because the banks can’t sell them anywhere else. And because banks still need to get rid of these mortgage assets, they won’t lend again or refinance loans at faster rates, thereby sharing their advantage for cheaper money, as anyone trying to even refinance a mortgage has discovered. Thus, Banks simply aren’t ‘healthy’, not withstanding their $1.53 trillion [6] of excess reserves (earning interest), and nearly $900 billion in mortgage backed securities parked at the Fed. The open-ended QE program is merely perpetuating the illusion that as long as bank assets get marked higher (through artificial buyers, zero percent interest rates, or not having to mark them to market), everything is fine.

Meanwhile, Washington coddles and subsidizes the biggest banks – not to encourage lending, not to encourage saving, and not to better the country, but to contain harsh truths about how badly banks played, and are still playing, the nation.

The SEC’s Role

According to the SEC’s own report card [7] on “Enforcement Actions: Addressing Misconduct that led to or arose from the Financial Crisis”: the SEC has levied charges against 112 entities and individuals, of which 55 were CEOs, CFOs, and other Senior Corporate Officers.

In terms of fines; the SEC ‘ordered or agreed to’ $1.4 billion of penalties, $460 million of disgorgement and prejudgment interest, and $355 million of “Additional Monetary Relief Obtained for Harmed Investors. That’s a grand total of $2.2 billion of fines. (The Department of Justice dismissed additional charges or punitive moves.)

Goldman, Sachs received the largest fine, of $550 million, taking no responsibility (in SEC-speak, “neither confirming nor denying’ any wrongdoing) for packaging CDOs on behalf of one client, which supported their prevailing trading position, and pushing them on investors without disclosing that information, which would have materially changed pricing and attractiveness. (The DOJ found nothing else to charge Goldman with, apparently not considering misleading investors, fraud.)

Obama-appointed SEC head, Mary Shapiro, originally settled with Bank of America for a friendly $34 million, until Judge Rakoff quintupled the fine to $150 million, for misleading shareholders during its Fed-approved, Treasury department pushed, acquisition of Merrill Lynch, regarding bonus compensation. (Merrill’s $3.6 billion of bonuses were paid before the year-end of 2008, while TARP and other subsidies were utilized). Still embroiled in ongoing lawsuits related to its Countrywide acquisition, Bank of America agreed to an additional $601.5 million in one non-SEC settlement, and $2.43 billion in another relating to those Merrill bonuses. Likewise, Wells Fargo agreed to pay $590 million for its fall-2008 acquisition of Wachovia’s foul loans and securities. These are small prices to pay to grow your asset and customer base.

Citigroup agreed to pay $285 million to the SEC to settle charges of misleading investors and betting against them, in the sale of one (one!) $1 billion CDO. Judge Rakoff rejected the settlement, but Citigroup is appealing. So is its friend, the SEC. Outside of that, Citigroup agreed to an additional $590 million to settle a shareholder CDO lawsuit, denying wrongdoing.

JPM Chase agreed to a $153.5 million SEC fine relating to one (one!) CDO. Outside of Washington, it agreed to a $100 million settlement for hiking credit card fees, and a $150 million settlement for a lawsuit filed by the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists retirement fund and other investors, over losses from its purchase of JPM’s Sigma Finance Hedge Fund, when it used to be rated ‘AAA.’

There you have it. No one did anything wrong. The total of $2.2 billion in SEC fines, and about $4.4 billion in outside lawsuits is paltry. Consider that for the same period (since 2007), total Wall Street bonuses topped $679 billion [8], or nearly 309 times as much as the SEC fines, and 154 times as much as all the settlements.

The SEC & Dodd Frank Dance

The SEC embarked upon 90 actions, divided into 15 categories, related to the Dodd-Frank Act that amount to proposing or adopting rules with loopholes galore, and creating reports that summarize things we know. Some of the obvious categories, like asset backed related products or derivatives, don’t even include CDOs, which got the lion’s share of SEC fines and DOJ indifference.

Rather than tightening regulations on the most egregious financial product culprits; insurance swaps, such as the credit default swaps imbedded in CDOs, the SEC loosened them. It did so by approving an order making many of the Exchange Act requirements not applicable to security-based swaps [9]. In one new post-Dodd-Frank order, it stated, a “product will not be considered a swap or security-based swap if ,,, it falls within the category of…insurance, including against default on individual residential mortgages.” Thus, credit default swaps, considered insurance since their inception, warrant no special attention in the grand land of sweeping reform.

The credit ratings category includes 20 items proposed, requested, or adopted. Under things accomplished, the SEC gave a report to Congress that basically says that the majority of rating agency business is paid for by issuers (which we knew), and proclaims (I kid you not) that a security is rated “investment grade” if it is rated “investment grade” by at least one rating agency. Further inspection of SEC self-labeled accomplishments provides no more confidence, that anything has, or will, change for the safer.

The White House & Congress

Yet, the Obama White House wants us to believe that Dodd-Frank was ‘sweeping reform.’ Romney and the Republicans are up and arms over it, simply because it exists and sounds like regulation, and Democrats defensively portray its effectiveness.

Ignore them both and ask yourself the relevant questions. Are the big banks bigger? Yes. Can they still make markets and keep crappy securities on their books, as long as they want, while formulating them into more complicated securities, buoyed by QE measures and ZIRP? Yes. Do they have to evaluate their positions in real world terms so we know what’s really going on? No.

Then, there’s the Volcker Rule which equates spinning off private equity desks or moving them into asset management arms, with regulatory progress. If it could be fashioned to prohibit all speculative trading or connected securities creation on the backbone of FDIC-insured deposits, it might work, but then you’d have Glass-Steagall, which is the only form of regulatoin that will truly protect us from banking-spawned crisis.

Meanwhile, banks can still make markets and trade in everything they were doing before as long as they say it’s on behalf of a client. This was the entire problem during the pre-crisis period. The implosion of piles of toxic assets based on shaky loans or other assets didn’t result from private equity trading or even from isolating trading of any bank’s own books (except in cases like that of Bear Stearns’ hedge funds), but from federally subsidized, highly risky, ridiculously leveraged, assets engineered under the guise of ‘bespoke’ customer requests or market making related ‘demand.’

When the Banking Act was passed in 1933, even Republican millionaire bankers, like the head of Chase, Winthrop Aldrich, understood that reducing systemic risk might even help them in the long run, and publicly supported it. Today, Jamie Dimon shuns all forms of separation or regulation, and neither political party dares interfere.

But things worked out for Dimon. JPM Chase’s board (of which he is Chairman) approved his $23 million 2011 compensation package (the top bank CEO package), despite disclosure of a $2 billion (now about $6 billion) loss in the infamous Whale Trade. He banked $20.8 million in 2010, the highest paid bank CEO [10] that year, too. In 2009, Dimon made $1.32 million, publicly, but really bagged $16 million worth of stock and options. He made $19.7 million in total compensation for 2008, and $34 million for 2007. Still a New York Fed, Class A director, he’s proven himself to be untouchable.

Yet, the kinds of deals that were so problematic are creeping back. According to Asset Backed Alert, JPM Chase was the top asset-baked security (ABS) issuer for the first half of 2012, lead managing $66 billion of US ABS deals.

In addition, according to Asset Back Alert, US public ABS deal volume rose 92.8% for the second half of 2012 vs. 2011, while issuance of US prime MBS (high quality deals) fell 50.6%. Overall CDO issuance rose 50.2% [11]. (Citigroup is the lead issuer (up 552%.))

ZIRP’s hidden losses

According to a comprehensive analysis of data compiled from regulatory documents by Bill Moreland and his team at my new favorite website, www.bankregdata.com [12], some really scary numbers pop out. Here’s the kicker: ZIRP costs citizens and disproportionately helps the biggest banks, by about $120 billion a year.

Between 2005 and 2007, US commercial banks held approximately $6.97 trillion of interest bearing customer deposits. During the past two quarters, they held an average of $7.31 trillion. During that first period, when fed funds rates averaged 4.5%, banks paid their customers an average of $39.6 billion of interest per quarter. More recently, with ZIRP, they paid an average of $8.9 billion in interest per quarter, or nearly 77% LESS. In dollar terms – that’s about $30.7 billion less per quarter, or $123 billion less per year.

Since ZIRP kicked into gear in 2008, banks have saved nearly $486 billion in interest payments. Average salary and compensation increased by approximately 23%. Dividend payments declined by 14.05%.

The biggest banks are the biggest takers. Consider JPM Chase’s cut. Although its deposits disproportionately increased by 46% from 2007 (pre ZIRP and helped by the acquisition of Washington Mutual) to 2012, its interest expenses declined by nearly 89%. From 2004 to 2007, Chase paid out $34.4 billion in interest to its deposit customers. From 2008 to mid-2012, it paid out $3.4 billion. JPM Chase’s ratio of interest paid to deposits of .27% is the lowest of the big four banks, that on average pay less than smaller banks anyway.

The percentage of JPM Chase’s assets comprised of loans and leases is lower at 36.04% compared to its peers’ percentage of 52.4%. Its trading portion of assets is higher, as 14.78% vs. 6.88% for its peers, and 4.23% for all banks.

Looking Ahead

To recap: savers, borrowers, and the economy are still losing money due to the preservation of the illusion of bank health. More critically, the big banks grew through acquisitions and the ongoing closures of smaller local banks that provided better banking terms to citizens. The big banks have more assets and deposits, on which they are over-valuing prices, and paying less interest than before, due to a combination of Fed and Treasury blessed mergers in late 2008, QE and ZIRP. Yet, we’re supposed to believe this situation will somehow manifest a more solid and productive economy.

Meanwhile, past faulty securities and loans will fester until their transfer to the Fed is complete or they mature, while new ones take their place. This will inevitably lead to more of a clampdown on loans for productive purposes and further economic degradation and instability. Financial policy trumps economic policy. Banks trump citizens, and absent severe reconstruction of the banking system, the cycle will absolutely, unequivocally continue.

Notes

[1] http://www.alternet.org
[2] http://www.alternet.org/authors/nomi-prins
[3] http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/Historicals
[4] http://www.neworkfed.org/markets/statistics/dlyrates/fedrate.html
[5] http://www.nomiprins.com/thoughts/2012/7/15/the-real-libor-scandal-by-paul-craig-robert-nomi-prins.html
[6] http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h3/current/h3.htm
[7] http://www.sec.gov/spotlight/enf-actions-fc.shtml
[8] http://osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/feb12/wall-street-bonus-chart-2011.pdf
[9] http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2011/2011-141.htm
[10] http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2011/news/companies/1109/gallery.highest_paid_bank_ceos/index.html
[11] http://www.abalert.com/ranking.php?rid=2563
[12] http://www.bankregdata.com/
[13] http://www.alternet.org/tags/romney-0
[14] http://www.alternet.org/tags/obama-0
[15] http://www.alternet.org/tags/wall-street
[16] http://www.alternet.org/%2Bnew_src%2B

… and if you question it, you are “a horrible moron,” concludes Peter T. King, Chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

This 2-minute video from We Are Change Luke Rudkowski powerfully captures what US “leadership” has become. The good news is their arrogance and evasion is only tragic-comic sideshows to the “emperor has no clothes” obvious facts of their massive crimes centering in war and money.

 

This is what matters:

  • War law within US treaties is crystal-clear in letter and intent: no nation may use military armed attacks unless under attack by another nation’s government. The US military armed attacks in current and expanding targets are obvious unlawful and unconstitutional Wars of Aggression. War law was written in every language on the planet for the people to uphold limited government in war.
  • War law is the legal victory of all American families’ sacrifices through two world wars. US military have Oaths of Enlistment to support and defend the US Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. War law’s treaty-status means US military are obligated to refuse all orders in current wars and act to arrest those who issue them. There are no lawful war orders when the wars are unlawful.
  • The use of war violence is usually associated with criminal acts for money, and lies to evade public recognition of these obvious crimes. Crimes by US oligarchic “leadership” for money are just as obvious upon inspection. Propaganda by US corporate media’s six companies to criminally lie and evade is also easy to prove for anyone willing to look.

This is our present and future:

  • Americans can choose intellectual integrity and moral courage to use their voices and actions in light of the “emperor has no clothes” obvious. This will save millions of lives, help billions in poverty, and reclaim trillions in the public’s monies that have been looted. The obvious war-murders will end. Obvious reforms to release looted money, and reforming credit and money as public services rather than bankster parasitism can quickly cause full-employment for infrastructure investment.
  • Americans should consider a Truth & Reconciliation offer to the “1%” criminals. The advantage is to split those members willing to reclaim their hearts and integrity to help us, make it easier for the criminals to surrender rather than fight us, and most quickly enact policies to reclaim our humanity.
  • Americans could refuse to engage in this basic civil requirement for freedom, and earn the Greek insult for political apathy that is so powerful it’s remained untranslated for over 2,000 years: idiot.

Choose carefully. You may just have what you choose and work for.

US is Allied with and Actively Supports Al Qaeda

October 27th, 2012 by Prof. James F. Tracy

American political commentator professor James F. Tracy believes that the United States has been constantly allied with Al-Qaeda and has supported it militarily and financially.

“Major media have recently had to acknowledge that US-NATO interests are aligned with Al Qaeda in Syria, of course overlooking the fact that the US and Sunni States also recruited and armed these soldiers of fortune. What the Obama administration has sought to do with the alleged murder of Bin Laden in May 2011 is to close the chapter on the old, villainous Al Qaeda and open a chapter on the new and friendly Al Qaeda. This narrative is slowly unfolding, while Americans are instructed on a different bogey to fear, which now appears to be homegrown terrorism,” he said in an exclusive interview with Iran Review.

Prof. James F. Tracy is the Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where he teaches courses on media history and the role of journalism in the public sphere. Tracy’s scholarly work and commentary on media and politics have appeared in numerous academic journals, edited volumes, and alternative media news and opinion outlets. He is editor of Democratic Communiqué, journal of the Union for Democratic Communications, an affiliate of Project Censored, and a regular contributor to GlobalResearch.ca. Tracy’s latest work assessing Western press coverage of US-NATO military ventures and the human costs of war appears in Censored 2013: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2011-2013 (Seven Stories Press, 2012).

Prof. Tracy took part in an interview with Iran Review to answer some questions regarding the influence of advocacy organizations on the U.S. government and the mutual relationship between these entities, the further limitation of civil liberties and individual freedoms in the United States, the challenges ahead of progressive, alternative journalism in the United States, Western mainstream media’s coverage of Iran and Syria affairs and the prospect of U.S. military expeditions in the Middle East.

Q: What do you think about the role of influential American think tanks and public diplomacy and advocacy organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations or the National Endowment for Democracy in creating unrest and instability in the countries which are opposed to the United States policies? Do you find traces of their footsteps in the ongoing violence in Syria? Do they have plans to destabilize Iran so as to realize their mischievous objective of regime change in Tehran?

A: One can contend that the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Endowment for Democracy are much more than advocacy organizations. The question suggests the popular view that Western states and especially the United States are above such organizations in terms of decision making power and responsiveness to the populations they purportedly serve.

This is the idealization of a transcendent governing apparatus upheld in public opinion and touted in Western mainstream media. This is the myth the CFR specifically perpetuates about itself and the liberal state. In fact, the CFR is a branch of the Royal Institute of International Affairs and it has more or less dictated US foreign policy from within entities such as the US State Department since before World War Two.

This is not to say that every member of the CFR is involved in such maneuvers. Some are in the organization because they’re flattered to be asked and they see it as prestigious and fashionable, or they wish to network with other influential figures. Yet it is no mistake that membership is exclusive and participants all occupy strategic positions of power in major global corporations, in academe and the media, and in government, and thus can be mobilized to exert their influence as the CFR inner circle desires. They also openly share in the ideology of weakening the nation state and privileging global-regional and international bodies, such as the European Union and the United Nations.

It is through such organizations that they can get their policies enacted with little if any interference from the common people or their representatives at the national level. The CFR’s interests and activities, alongside the interests supported by the major philanthropic foundations such as the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundations, and the Gates Foundation, are demonstrable manifestations of the deep state that truly runs the world, has priorities that differ greatly from the bulk of humanity, and has sought to exert itself since the 1920s.

The “Arab Spring” appears to be largely a maneuver of organizations such as the CFR and NED. This was evident from the onset with the high degree of Western media exposure afforded the fairly modest demonstrations in Tahrir Square that preceded Mubarak’s ouster by the Central Intelligence Agency. The same media outlets unquestioningly covered the Western and Sunni-backed deployment of Al Qaeda mercenary forces and NATO airpower against the most modern and socially progressive state on the African continent under the Obama administration’s “Responsibility to Protect” cover. A central bank was reportedly created in the back of a mercenary pickup truck. This was a colossal war crime that Western public opinion is left largely in the dark about. It also underscored liberal-progressive hypocrisy and credulousness in the US, evident in the pronouncements of public figures such as Juan Cole and Amy Goodman, who led the cheering section for Libya’s destruction. If the Bush administration successfully vanquished the probable leader of the African Union those on the Left would have been in a huff. When one of their purported own oversees such a campaign it’s not only condoned but applauded, much like the “humanitarian” bombing of Yugoslavia by Clinton.

As many of your readers are likely aware, Libya is significant because some of the same mercenary forces recruited by US intelligence and Sunni states that were employed there are now deployed in Syria. Like Libya, Syria is also a fairly modern state that is not hostile to the West but is regarded as being autonomous, particularly in its alliance with Iran and Hezbollah. It is also seen as a strategic threat to Israel in terms of Iran, and so must be dismantled before a more concerted campaign against Iran is to take place. I’m inclined to think that those determining policy for the Obama administration want compliant fundamentalist regimes installed throughout the Middle East. This will be disastrous to overall security in the region but I don’t believe that’s their goal. War is much more profitable and has much greater potential than peace for those who wish to exert control over resources.

Q: In one of your articles, you argue that the United States has become a police state, with such restrictive legislations and programs which the government has put into effect to limit the citizens’ personal freedoms and different types of civil liberties, such as the Sedition Act of 1798 which criminalizes the publication of “false, scandalous, and malicious writing” against the government and governmental officials. Would you please elaborate more on your notion of the United States becoming a police state?

A: I believe this was “The Paranoid Style of American Governance,” where I pointed out that the laws, policies, and organizational structure of the US government, how its exaggerated concern over surveillance and security is arrayed against the American people. The situation is comparable to how an increasingly delusional paranoid might approach human relationships s/he is involved in.  As a result of the 1996 Effective Death Penalty and Anti-Terrorism Act following the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing and the 2001 PATRIOT Act enacted after September 11, 2001 many of the civil liberties Americans have been guaranteed under the Constitution have been stolen, never to return.

Citizens cannot expect to be secure in their persons and papers. We are subjected to humiliating warrantless searches at transportation facilities. As a result of a string of legislation capped off by President Obama’s National Defense Authorization Act of December 2011 the government now reserves the right to jail or murder citizens on political grounds. There is little if any recourse because our political representation has to a large degree been bought off by private interests. The US increasingly looks like a totalitarian state and is one major event away from fully resembling the Soviet Union or an Eastern Bloc state circa 1970. The extent of the rollback in civil liberties is very overdone because a majority of Americans are ill-informed, politically unsophisticated, and in many instances even functionally illiterate. Thus they are unaware of the police state’s accelerated formation since the mid-1990s and unprepared to contest it. A combined regime of poor public education and the stultifying effects of mass media and culture have dumbed the American public down to the extent that its republic has been taken right out from underneath its nose.

Q: It’s widely believed that the United States, as its leaders claim, is a “beacon of freedom” since the mass media are allowed to publish every critical material at will, even if they threaten the national security, in such cases of war with another nation. Is this widely-accepted belief true? Don’t the mass media face any restriction or impediment by the government to censor certain stories or withhold from the public sensitive information?

A: The major, agenda-setting US news media—USA Today, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and their broadcast and cablecast amplifiers—that the small strata of semi-politically adept and literate citizens rely on for information are all controlled by interests that are overall supportive of the US police state and US-NATO foreign policy. To return to your initial question, many of the owners or top editors and journalists are also CFR members. Together they perform a central propagandistic function of the state through selective reportage of issues and events, omission of key information, and heavy reliance on “official” government or corporate sources.

Such a set of procedures is worse than outright falsehoods because a falsehood can be disproved and a journalist or news organization called out on the carpet. However, by owning most of the newsgathering and distribution outlets, by using official sources and employing careful editing procedures such media retain credibility in the public mind. In the Soviet Union much of the citizenry knew that by reading Pravda they were being fed outright lies so they learned to “read between the lines” to interpret what was really going on. That requires a degree of political sophistication that is beyond most Americans.

The government and major news media are also being challenged by alternative news media and thus resort to a more blatant form of disinformation that jeopardizes their perceived trustworthiness, which is now at an all-time low. This is the case with their coverage of the US-NATO actions and Libya and Syria—specifically the fact that the US is allied with and actively supporting its alleged arch enemy Al Qaeda.

For over a year corporate media tried to cover this up when it was there in plain view. Alternative outlets reported otherwise and in the face of this mainstream media had to eventually relent and admit that the US is indeed supporting Al Qaeda.

As an example, one case involved a US-based alternative media outlet reporting on the Department of Homeland Security and other government agencies collectively purchasing over one billion rounds of lethal, “hollow point” ammunition. Major media sought to assuage growing public concern on this by focusing on a single government agency’s (the Social Security Administration) purchase of 180,000 rounds of such ammunition, asserting that it was for target practice. This was absolute propaganda likely pitched to these outlets by covert government sources. It’s fairly common knowledge among American gun enthusiasts that “full metal jacket” ammo is used on the range because it’s far less expensive than hollow point and performs the same function. Nevertheless, the 180,000 SSA story was widely circulated, performing the intended propaganda function, mainly through conscious omission of the most important information that alternative media honestly chose to highlight.

Another argument that I need to make in light of the world wide expanse of news and information now available on the Internet is that the US citizenry doesn’t need to rely primarily on USA Today or New York Times editors for what it is exposed to. This remains the case so long as the Internet remains free from government or corporate encroachment and regulation. In this regard there is a wealth of information for those who have the time, discernment, and initiative to seek it out and become informed. Investigative journalists and commentators have much to draw on in terms of analyzing and explaining the meaning and significance of issues and events. This is essentially what newspapers and journals did before the application of scientific objectivity to journalism and the pretentious separation of news from analysis and opinion.

Q: What challenges do the independent, progressive journalists of the United States face today? In one of your articles, you had criticized some of the progressive media for failing to give coverage to important topics such as the truth about the 9/11 attacks. Would you please elaborate on that? In my view, the progressive media outlets such as CounterPunch or The Nation have to some extent broken apart the monopoly of the mainstream media and allowed the free flow of information while the mainstream media steadfastly try to suffocate the truth. Don’t you agree?

A: Independent progressive journalists often produce important investigative work on issues and events ignored by mainstream outlets. One example is the attention they’ve brought to bear on hydraulic “fracking” and its immense environmental destruction. They have also been helpful in raising awareness of the Bush-Cheney administration’s many crimes.

My main criticism with so-called progressive alternative news media is how they are usually tethered to philanthropic foundations and thus restricted in what their writers can comment and report on. They’re also strongly influenced by partisan politics. Democracy Now and The Nation, for example, regularly fell over themselves to interrogate and expose the Bush-Cheney administration’s abundant malfeasance. However, when the Obama regime continues and intensifies such policies, or unconstitutionally commits US troops to fight in Libya, such outlets are either close to silent or condone such measures. This is a double standard. Imagine if the Bush-Cheney cabal deposed the likely heir of the African Union. Left-liberals would have a variety of raucous criticisms. Obama does it and no eyebrows are raised. The case is even more evident with regard to the US-NATO support of mercenary armies terrorizing the Syrian population. In their partiality the progressive media are hypocritical in the extreme, and it’s difficult to have much faith or respect for them.

Another example of this is the collaboration between John Nichols, political correspondent at The Nation and libertarian Constitutional attorney Bruce Fein, who were both outspoken during the Bush administration on the case for impeachment. Nichols also wrote a very critical biography of Cheney. Fein is still calling for impeachment—this time of Obama. Nichols is nowhere to be found, even though Obama’s crimes are comparable to Bush-Cheney’s.

There are also several issues that require investigation and discussion that the left-progressive media won’t even acknowledge. 9/11 is certainly one. Others include the related phenomenon of false flag terror, and the United Nations’ Agenda 21. There’s abundant information on all of these phenomena, and independent activists and genuinely alternative news media have covered them—some in great depth. Progressive media won’t, and I believe this in part is due to their fear of being labeled “conspiracy theorists” by the thought police at the Southern Poverty Law Center, Anti-Defamation League, Media Matters for America, Think Progress—all of which are, perhaps not coincidentally, as dependent on foundation money as the very progressive journalists they patrol.

Such media’s failure to pursue 9/11 beyond government pronouncements resulted in the crucial delinking of 9/11 Truth from the antiwar movement, and in my view the antiwar movement’s consequent lack of real purpose and direction. It’s fairly safe to say that a majority of Americans, including those on the left, are generally trusting of government institutions and authority in general to the extent that they could scarcely imagine such institutions might be capable of an event like September 11. There is a naïve trust in entities they barely recognize or understand outside of fictionalized accounts, which speaks to the tremendous success of an educational and propaganda apparatus that conditions individuals to accept at face value the claims of authority figures.

As I’ve stated above, the progressive alternative media are capable of extreme hypocrisy. “Global warming,” or “climate change” is another case in point. Such outlets unquestioningly promote what amounts to a new religion and global taxation regime that the Left has bought into entirely. Raising legitimate questions is extreme heresy, equated with threatening the polar bears and coral reefs. The typical mantra is that human beings are the main culprits through their everyday activities. This is not to say that there is no problem of pollution linked to human consumption, and there could be reasonable modifications and programs for addressing such concerns. Yet the science purporting the existence of a “greenhouse effect” on environmental temperatures from carbon dioxide, alongside the dubious scientific endeavors of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, cannot stand up to serious scientific scrutiny yet is uncritically upheld by the left intelligentsia especially.

The progressive media promote this notion while ignoring deliberate efforts to alter the environment through weather modification and geoengineering that have been going on for several years now. That’s profoundly dishonest. Nor do such media interrogate the billions of dollars being pumped into the environmental movement each year through the philanthropic foundations. Nor is there any coverage of Agenda 21, which according to its own doctrine is a plan to radically alter social and economic relations in the name of “sustainability.” The more Americans find out about this, the more outraged they will be, but they won’t become aware of it through the progressive alternative media, who are enthusiastically on board with such plans whether they realize it or not.

Q: What role are the mainstream media in the West playing with regards to the crisis in Syria? With the experience of NYT’s Judith Miller and her rabble-rousing prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, are the mass media repeating the same scenario to lay the groundwork for a military strike against Syria to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad?

A: The major news media have been attempting to make the Syria’s al-Assad government look as if it is oppressing its own population—for which it has no realistic motive—so that the Anglo-American alliance can mercilessly bomb the country and install a puppet regime like it has done in Libya. This is a frame-up that Western media are complicit in carrying out. As with 9/11, much of the American public will have difficulty fathoming the idea that its government is supporting and allied with Al Qaeda mercenaries to terrorize and kill Syrian citizens, yet that’s what is happening. Syria is strategic in a geopolitical sense because of its proximity to Israel, and the West realizes that any potential attack on Iran must be preceded by a malleable regime in Syria. For over one year none of this was reported in US news media. When Hillary Clinton admitted as much in February 2012 on BBC and CBS, as reported in such alternative outlets as Global Research and Infowars, the corporate media backtracked and obscured her remarks, and the information was subsequently suppressed.

Yet major media have recently had to acknowledge that US-NATO interests are aligned with Al Qaeda in Syria, of course overlooking the fact that the US and Sunni States also recruited and armed these soldiers of fortune. What the Obama administration has sought to do with the alleged murder of Bin Laden in May 2011 is to close the chapter on the old, villainous Al Qaeda and open a chapter on the new and friendly Al Qaeda. This narrative is slowly unfolding, while Americans are instructed on a different bogey to fear, which now appears to be “homegrown terrorism.”

The dynamic between the public, media and US government is also different than it was in 2003. Before the US could attack Afghanistan and Iraq the Bush administration realized it needed a public rationale for such. A key rule in management is to give your subordinates a reason for why you’re enacting a new rule or policy. September 11 and the constructed threat of Iraq’s “weapons of mass destruction” provided this rationale to placate the public. Despite its high-handed duplicity, the Bush-Cheney regime actually went through the proper avenues and received Congressional approval to go to war.

The Obama administration has done nothing of the sort with regard to the use of US forces in Libya last year. Instead of being more forthright in terms of legislative protocols and aggression, Obama and his handlers chose to wage war and subvert societies and governments in more covert ways, such as what has and continues to occur in Libya, Syria, and Iran. In my view, one of the few things that is worse than Bush’s flagrant and arrogant use of military power is Obama’s hypocrisy—claiming the “responsibility to protect” through allegedly humanitarian military intervention while illegally committing US troops abroad and presiding over tremendous violence.

The US public and Congress—and especially the progressive-left—are happy with their rock star-in-chief. Some also fear being labeled racists if they really criticize Obama’s policies. There’s virtually no opposition I can detect by the allegedly principled and peace-loving left in the US. It’s perhaps ironic that one of the legacies of the US’s tragic history of race relations is that, much like waving the flag of anti-Semitism, the actually existing memory of racial oppression can be opportunistically mobilized to actually stifle honest political debate.

As I mentioned in a recent piece for Global Research, if Obama carried out the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq with the appropriate R2P platitudes to his base the liberal establishment would have rolled over. Obama is very useful to larger, global power interests because what he symbolizes—liberal ideals and the civil rights struggle—allows him to play on and manipulate the public’s good will and enact or continue policies at home and abroad that white politicians would be highly scrutinized for. A Romney-Ryan administration would actually energize the progressive-left in the US and potentially provide for a more vibrant political discourse. Four years of the Obama administration proves that the left is far more devoted to circling the wagons and the spirit of partisanship than to the values it claims to uphold. If the left media were honest to its principles it would have provided extensive coverage of the Non-Aligned Movement August conference in Tehran to further highlight the Obama administration’s hypocrisy. The coverage was close-to non-existent.

Q: What do you think about the Western media’s coverage of the Iran affairs? In my own interpretation, they have practically taken up arms against Iranian people, because they are intentionally portraying Iran in such a way that every external observer thinks that Iran is a crisis-hit, dilapidated, uncivilized and uncultured country. The Western audience is totally unaware of Iran’s culture, history and civilization, and this is a direct result of mainstream media’s lopsided coverage of Iran. What’s your take on that?

A: That’s an accurate assessment. This is because the Western media’s coverage of Iran is guided to a large degree by their heavy reliance on official sources, such as those at the US State Department, NATO, or within the Obama administration itself. The coverage is perpetuated by the ethnocentrism and narrow views of those within the US and European media as well. Iranian officials’ statements and views are generally absent in such news media. This is of course intentional on the behalf of such outlets and their owners.

The American public has been incrementally conditioned for an attack on Iran since 2002 when the country was identified as part of the “axis of evil” by George W. Bush. The US youth are increasingly weaned on a psychic diet of video games where there are clear distinctions of good and evil.  If a country and its people can be objectified and thereby dehumanized—as is done in the conditioning of our youth in general society and the military—their destruction can be more efficiently carried out and witnessed with little if any objection. The “clash of civilizations” is a coordinated process for public consumption.

A related factor in this regard is of course Israel. It’s very difficult to overestimate the country’s power over the US government, and major US media are no doubt sensitive to Israel’s propaganda line that Iran poses an existential threat to the Zionist state. Israel’s public relations arm, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is extremely powerful in shaping Western media’s representation and thereby public opinion of Middle East affairs and Iran specifically.

One could make the argument that were it not for such influence Iran would be regarded as merely a country pursuing its right to produce nuclear power as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; that it does not aspire to the status of a regional or global nuclear power that Israel has in fact been for many years through its relationship as a client state of the US. It may at this point be reasonable to question who the client actually is.

Q: We’re just passed the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and several questions regarding this horrendous incident remain unanswered; questions such as whether or not it was a false flag operation, whether or not Israel’s Mossad was involved in it, whether or not the U.S. government had foreknowledge of it, etc. What do you think about the official account given of the 9/11 attacks? Do you believe in the skeptical assumptions which authors such as Christopher Bollyn or David Ray Griffin have put forward?

A: In an email exchange I had with the late financial commentator Bob Chapman a few years ago I brought up the close-to-non-existent discussion about 9/11 there was in the academy among colleagues. He responded, “In exposing the truth those who make their livings by going along with the accepted view of history will always dismiss you as a radical. That is because of their own intellectual dishonesty.” It’s important that those of us who have the privilege of being salaried intellectuals with certain protections like tenure point to how the US government’s official account of the September 11 events cannot withstand even modest scrutiny, and are only accepted by an unthinking and fearful American public served by a willfully unthinking and often manipulative mass media and political leadership.

For the public to accept the ostensible causes of 9/11 they must partake in something akin to what George Orwell conceived of in his classic 1984 as doublethink. This more or less involves negotiating two observations or ideas at the same time while putting one’s reason and morality in abeyance. In Freudian terms the reality is too horrible to be dealt with and is therefore repressed.

An alternate reality—that which is provided by US government public relations personnel, a majority of the intelligentsia on the left and right, and amplified by major media, is offered as an alternate reality. I can’t imagine how this was not given careful consideration prior to 9/11′s execution, despite the patent sloppiness of the operation itself.

Adolf Hitler and his henchmen recognized how a population was susceptible to “the big lie” because most people could never personally imagine committing a crime of such proportions. This is because apart from the imaginary set of social relations provided by television the social circle of most individuals does not extend beyond family, close friends, the supermarket checkout clerk and the mailman. They never come into contact with the people who run the world, so an event of this magnitude is beyond them, and the strategic planning that defies national boundaries or routine time horizons is quite literally otherworldly to them. If the news media and academy are incapable of serious inquiry, which after eleven years is obviously the case, this greatly contributes to public confusion and disbelief.

September 11 is a frightening example of how a specific rendering of an event becomes a part the public consciousness and memory. This was not so much done through persuasion or the manufacture of consent but rather through a form of shock therapy and mass trauma. It was certainly on a scale far surpassing the American political assassinations of the 1960s or the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing because of its scale and the fact that it was witnessed by much of the country and world in real time. The images of the towers and bin Laden were then repeated ad nauseam to burn the imagery and terror in to the public mind. This was an extremely impressive propaganda campaign accentuated by the fact that Americans have never been victimized in that way before and are used to being on the side of conquest.

I don’t believe there are any serious intellectuals who can defend the state-sanctioned version of what transpired on September 11, although this is what our school children are being taught, so it’s another chapter of a fatally compromised history. Even members of the 9/11 Commission, a body that never would have existed were it not for the victims’ families, have questioned their own conclusions. Osama bin Laden was in seriously poor health at the time of the events. A large and courageous body of professionals, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, have provided compelling evidence that the World Trade Center towers could not have collapsed because of burning jet fuel. Moreover, World Trade Center Building 7 wasn’t even hit by a plane and similarly collapsed eight hours later.

I incorporate materials and discussions on 9/11 in classes I teach addressing journalism and public opinion because it’s the most important event of the past fifty years, and probably US corporate journalism’s greatest failure. Regardless of how one interprets the causes and assesses the evidence, in addition to the initial loss of 3,000 innocents, it was something from which the American public lost important civil liberties and several million people have been killed, injured and traumatized unnecessarily.

Q: The United States and its European allies have imposed backbreaking economic sanctions against Iran which are affecting the daily life of ordinary citizens. Their sanctions and war threats come while there’s no compelling evidence showing that Iran is working toward developing nuclear weapons. What’s your idea about the hostility of the Western states against Iran in general, and the economic sanctions in particular?

A: Iran is a strong, independent, and largely self-sufficient state, a signatory to the NPT, and is pursuing the safe and peaceful development of nuclear power provided for under that treaty. It has not attacked another country in 300 years; the war it fought against Iraq in the 1980s was from a defensive posture. Thus Iran’s role in the region contrasts sharply with Israel, and this is especially the case if one is to take into consideration Israel’s probable possession of a nuclear arsenal.

Yet Israel is also something of a pawn in a broader geopolitical power play. Israel’s people themselves don’t want a war with Iran, only its leadership does. Even the US military don’t want such a war. And if the American people were similarly provided with ample contemporary and historical information—which they are cheated out of by media and frequently poor educational institutions and curricula—a majority would not want to go to war with Iran.

In my view what is playing out is at least partially attributable to NATO’s plan to encircle and challenge Russia and China. On the “grand chessboard” of the Anglo-American elite Iran is a strategic and resource-rich prize. In their view it’s too independent for its own good. This is the case right down to its largely autonomous banking system, and this makes it especially impervious to Western economic and political control. A country or alliance that is independent is dangerous. It could set an example of self-determination for other countries that cannot be permitted.

Q: And finally, do you believe that the United States is capable of continuing its military expeditions around the world and keeping up with its policy of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries? It’s said that throughout the past 3 centuries, the United States has been involved in more than 50 wars, either directly or indirectly. Will this militaristic and expansionistic approach toward the other countries survive in long run?

A: Since World War II especially the US military has been used by larger forces to harness and divvy up the world’s resources. If the US and NATO were no longer there another military or military alliance would likely take their place and enforce the policies of the major transnational cartels—finance, agriculture, chemicals/pharmaceuticals, armaments, energy, and media/telecommunications.

The US won’t be able to sustain its military even in the near term because of the mountain of debt it presently has, and the even greater debt the country is being saddled with by the major investment banks, such as those with their debts insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, who will receive their pound of flesh long before the American people.

Given this, we have the fact that the Federal Reserve can’t buy America’s debt forever which will eventually result in debtor nations throwing in the towel and the US dollar losing its reserve currency status. Thereafter it will be a challenge to fund much of anything. Most Americans have little understanding of what’s coming in this regard and they are going to be very upset and bewildered when such events come to pass.

Things could look like Greece or Spain in very short order. In such an event the US imperial project might be absorbed into an international “peacekeeping” or “humanitarian” military force, which already exists under UN auspices. What is also already in the works is the increased automation of warfare, of which armed drones are presently the most obvious example. Such devices are already in use to police the American “homeland” and terrorize the inhabitants of other lands.

The chief executives of 80 large US corporations have issued a “Deficit Manifesto,” calling on the next president to “fix America’s debt” by making substantial “changes in the federal budget.” The statement was published by the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

Behind the innocuous phrases is the demand by some of the richest individuals in America for the slashing of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and a general offensive against the working class.

The CEOs’ letter, signed by a “Who’s who” of CEOs at giant US banks, financial firms and industrial corporations, calls on politicians to acknowledge “that our growing debt is a serious threat to the economic well-being and security of the United States.” It calls for Washington to adopt “an effective plan [to] stabilize the debt as a share of the economy, and put it on a downward path.”

The plan should be enacted now, “but implemented gradually to protect the fragile economic recovery and to give Americans time to prepare for the changes in the federal budget.” In other words, their proposals would worsen life for wide layers of the population, who need to “prepare” themselves for a drastic decline in their conditions.

Making no reference to the trillions of dollars made available to the banks during the financial bailout nor the trillions more that go toward imperialist war and the global defense of their economic interests, the company heads insist that the target of a plan to “fix America’s debt” should concentrate on the programs that assist tens of millions of working people, the poor and retirees.

They argue that a plan must “Reform Medicare and Medicaid, improve efficiency in the overall health care system and limit future cost growth” and “Strengthen Social Security, so that it is solvent and will be there for future beneficiaries.” These are code words for gutting these programs, which the wealthy consider an intolerable drain on resources.

The CEO statement also calls for “comprehensive and pro-growth tax reform, which broadens the base, lowers rates, raises revenues and reduces the deficit.” Felix Salmon of Reuters comments, “You can’t have lower rates and higher revenues—not without eviscerating pretty much all of the tax deductions which much of the middle class has learned to rely upon. Mortgage-interest tax relief, the charitable deduction, even the deduction for state and local taxes: pretty much all of them would have to go.”

Salmon comments sardonically that “the letter basically just says ‘please cut our taxes, raise taxes on everybody else, and cut the benefits they get from Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, which are programs we individually don’t rely upon.’”

The statement concludes by calling on Washington to implement the recommendations of the 2010 bipartisan Bowles-Simpson Commission.

Those included some $4 trillion in budget savings to be achieved almost entirely at the expense of the working population: new taxes on consumption and employee health care benefits and cuts to the federal old-age insurance programs, Social Security and Medicare, and to the jobs and pay of government workers. At the same time, Bowles-Simpson called for large tax cuts for the rich and corporations.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal points out that the CEO manifesto “was organized by the Fix the Debt campaign, a bipartisan effort largely inspired by Republican Alan Simpson and Democrat Erskine Bowles, who chaired a 2010 deficit panel appointed by President Obama and have been crisscrossing the country sounding fiscal alarms.”

The new “manifesto” comes on top of a letter issued last week by 15 CEOs of banks, brokerages and insurance companies calling for the federal budget to be reduced and warning that failure to take action by the end of the year could result in renewed financial crisis and economic slump. Among its signatories were Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase; Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs; Michael Corbat, CEO of Citibank; John Stumpf, CEO of Wells Fargo; and Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America. (See “Wall Street issues its orders to Obama, Romney”)

Dimon, Blankfein and Moynihan also attached their names to this week’s open letter. Among its other signers were the CEOs of Alcoa, AT&T, Boeing, Caterpillar, Delta Airlines, Dow Chemical, GE, Merck, Microsoft, Time Warner, UPS, Verizon, etc. Financiers, speculators and asset managers are also on the list, including Leon Black of Apollo Global Management, Larry Fink of BlackRock (with $3.3 trillion in assets under management, the world’s largest such firm), Martin L. Flanagan of Invesco and Thomas M. Joyce of Knight Capital Group.

It seems probable that every one of the 80 on the list is a multi-millionaire, simply on the basis of his or her annual compensation. A little investigation reveals that the following signatories did well for themselves last year: David Cote of Honeywell took in $56 million in total compensation (fifth-highest paid executive in the US), Dimon of JPMorgan Chase earned $42 million, Paul Jacobs of Qualcomm made $36 million, Randall Stephenson of AT&T, $26 million, Alexander Cutler of Eaton Corp., $26 million also, BlackRock’s Fink, $23 million, Jeffrey Immelt of GE, $21 million, Goldman Sachs’ Blankfein, $21 million as well, and Glenn A Britt of Time Warner, $17 million.

How many billionaires are there among the “Deficit Manifesto” signers? Steve Ballmer of Microsoft, worth $16 billion and the 19th richest person in America, according to Forbes, is one. Fellow billionaires Leon Black, Andrew and James Tisch of Loews Corporation, Bill Ackman of Pershing Square Capital Management and Steven Roth of Vornado Realty are also on the list.

Eighty corporate-financial thieves, who between them are largely to blame for the financial disaster of 2008, who are collectively responsible for the destruction for countless jobs and entire communities, publicly inform the political powers that be what the policies of the next government—theoretically still elected by the populace—are to be.

And, of course, the response of the Obama and Romney camps to the CEO letter was sympathetic and even enthusiastically supportive. The Journal cites the comment of Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt: “There’s a strong and growing consensus that the only way to reduce the deficit while also growing the economy is through a balanced approach that includes both tough spending cuts and increased revenue.”

Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg told the newspaper, “As president, [Romney] will bring his record of bipartisan success to Washington and put us on a path to achieve more than the Simpson-Bowles commission ever proposed—balancing the budget within the next 10 years.”

There are increasing signs that the global economy is about to enter a new period of financial turbulence, coupled with deepening recession in a growing number of countries.

In the immediate aftermath of the global economic breakdown that began in 2008, set off by the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers, governments around the world took on increased debt as they made available trillions of dollars to prevent a complete collapse of the financial system. Meetings of the Group of 20 were dominated by pledges there would be no return to the conditions of the 1930s and assurances that the lessons of history had been learned.

The writings of John Maynard Keynes, the British economist of the 1930s who advocated increased government spending to counter depressions, were suddenly back in vogue. But a sharp turn came in June 2010, when a meeting of the G20 initiated a turn to austerity, emphasising the necessity to impose “fiscal consolidation.” The essence of this program was to claw back the money given to the banks through massive cutbacks to government spending, especially on social services.

However, this program brought a contraction in economic growth leading to decreased profit opportunities for major corporations. Faced with this situation, the US Federal Reserve initiated a policy of “quantitative easing”—the provision of unlimited supplies of money to banks and financial institutions. Central banks around the world cut interest rates to record lows and followed that up with their own versions of quantitative easing (QE). Under conditions of a stagnant real economy, these measures were aimed at boosting the value of financial assets, thereby providing a new avenue for finance houses to realise speculative profits.

While the QE program and its equivalents have been touted as a means of preventing a slide into global recession—US Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke claimed the recently enacted QE3 program was motivated by continuing high unemployment—they have done virtually nothing to boost the real economy. Their only significant impact has been to increase profits through financial manipulation, with the ultra-cheap money provided by the central banks.

But now there are signs that a new stage in the global breakdown is underway, marked by growing recessionary trends, as the impact of the central bankers’ program wanes.

Share prices in the US, which had been lifted by the QE program, have started to fall as companies report a downturn in sales and profits amid announcements of further job cuts. This week American companies pointed to weakening global demand and the fears generated by the continuing financial crisis in Europe.

Dow Chemical announced it would axe 2,400 jobs, 5 percent of its global workforce. It also said it would shut 20 plants and cut capital spending by $500 million, citing a “slow-growth environment in the near term.” DuPont, the largest US chemical group, announced 1,500 layoffs and a loss for the third quarter. It pointed to a sharp drop in sales to the Asia-Pacific region, where volumes were down 10 percent compared to a year ago, dealing a blow to claims that so-called “emerging markets” would provide an alternative source of global demand.

Overall, US corporate profits and earnings are expected to fall for the first time since 2009. The latest data on the US economy show that gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an annual rate of only 2 percent in the third quarter, well below that required to maintain employment levels. Were it not for the effect of an increase in defence spending, the figure would have been significantly under market expectations.

The most significant feature of the US GDP data was investment spending. Its continuing decline reduced the overall growth figure by 0.1 percentage points for the quarter, while imports and exports both fell, taking off 0.2 percentage points.

While the central bankers will continue to pump money into financial markets, these measures will do nothing to turn the situation around. This week, in a major speech, the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, noted that every increase in the money supply had a declining impact on the real economy.

His warnings are confirmed by historical trends. Writing in the Financial Times, financial analyst Satyajit Das pointed out that between 2001 and 2008, borrowing against the rising value of houses contributed about half the growth in the US. “But ever increasing borrowings are needed to sustain growth. By 2008, $4 to $5 of debt was required to create $1 of US growth, up from $1 to $2 in the 1950s. China now needs $6 to $8 of credit to generate $1 of growth, an increase from around $1 to $2 15-20 years ago.”

At the meetings of the G20 in 2009, government leaders insisted there would be no return to the protectionist measures of the 1930s which had such a devastating impact on world trade. But the QE program is producing a twenty-first century version of the beggar-thy-neighbour policies of the Great Depression. The flood of money from the US Federal Reserve has pushed down the value of the US dollar, hitting the export markets of its competitors and leading to the development of “currency wars” as they try to maintain their position.

Furthermore, the boosting of financial assets under conditions of slowing economic growth threatens to replicate the conditions that sparked the 2008 collapse on an even broader scale. This is because, unlike the situation four years ago, the central banks themselves are now heavily involved in financial markets and stand to lose massive amounts in a market collapse.

The central bankers and capitalist politicians claim that while their actions may not have promoted growth, they have at least averted a return to the conditions of the 1930s. These claims are belied by the conditions in Spain and Greece, where unemployment is already at 1930s levels.

Moreover, when viewed from an historical perspective, their self-congratulations are somewhat premature. The Great Depression came after a decade of financial and economic turbulence set off by the breakdown of global capitalism that began with the outbreak of World War I in 1914.

This time around, the capitalist breakdown began with a financial crisis that has now set in motion a deepening contraction in world economy.

Like their counterparts in an earlier period, the ruling elites have no response to the historic crisis of the profit system other than a social counterrevolution against the working class, militarism, and the imposition of dictatorial forms of rule.

Far from ending, the global economic crisis is only just beginning. The working class must respond by developing its own independent program based on an intransigent political struggle for the overthrow of the bankrupt capitalist profit system and the bringing of the banks and major corporations under public ownership in order to establish a planned world socialist economy.

Nick Beams

UN team to investigate civilian drone deaths

October 27th, 2012 by Global Research News

EmmersonLondon-based UN expert says Geneva unit will investigate civilian drone deathsThe United Nations plans to set up a special investigation unit examining claims of civilian deaths in individual US covert drone strikes.

UN investigators have been critical of US ‘extrajudicial executions’ since they began in 2002. The new Geneva-based unit will also look at the legality of the programme.

The latest announcement, by UN special rapporteur Ben Emmerson QC, was made in a speech on October 25 at Harvard law school. Emmerson, who monitors counter-terrorism for the UN, previously called in August for the US to hand over video of each covert drone attack.

The London-based lawyer became the second senior UN official in recent months to label the tactic of deliberately targeting rescuers and funeral-goers with drones ‘a war crime’. That practice was first exposed by the Bureau for the Sunday Times in February 2012.

‘The Bureau has alleged that since President Obama took office at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. Christof Heyns … has described such attacks, if they prove to have happened, as war crimes. I would endorse that view,’ said Emmerson.

‘Last resort’

Both Heyns and Emmerson have become increasingly vocal in recent months, even as the United States attempts to put its targeted killings scheme on a more formal footing.

‘If the relevant states are not willing to establish effective independent monitoring mechanisms… then it may in the last resort be necessary for the UN to act. Together with my colleague Christof Heyns, [the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings], I will be launching an investigation unit within the special procedures of the [UN] Human Rights Council to inquire into individual drone attacks,’ Emmerson said in his speech.

The unit will also look at ‘other forms of targeted killing conducted in counter-terrorism operations, in which it is alleged that civilian casualties have been inflicted, and to seek explanations from the states using this technology and the states on whose territory it is used. [It] will begin its work early next year and will be based in Geneva.

‘The [global] war paradigm was always based on the flimsiest of reasoning, and was not supported even by close allies of the US,’ he added. ’The first-term Obama administration initially retreated from this approach, but over the past 18 months it has begun to rear its head once again, in briefings by administration officials seeking to provide a legal justification for the drone programme of targeted killing in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.’

Emmerson singled out both President Obama and the Republican challenger Mitt Romney for criticism. ‘It is perhaps surprising that the position of the two candidates on this issue has not even featured during their presidential elections campaigns, and got no mention at all in Monday night’s foreign policy debate. We now know that the two candidates are in agreement on the use of drones.’

The UN expert made clear in his speech that pressure for action is now coming from member states – including two permanent members of the Security Council: ‘During the last session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in June many states, including Russia and China called for an investigation into the use of drone strikes as a means of targeted killing. One of the States that made that call was Pakistan,’ he noted.

Netanyahu/Lieberman Unite for War

October 27th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

American crimes of war and against humanity perhaps exceed all other rogue states in history combined.

Pound-for-pound, however, Israeli lawlessness matches the world’s worst. Long ago, it graduated from a regional menace to a global one.

It enforces barbaric occupation harshness. Its war machine threatens and attacks neighbors. It gets away with murder because world powers don’t intervene to stop it.

It wages intermittent war on Gaza. It murders innocent civilians. It uses illegal depleted uranium, chemical and other weapons. Nuclear missiles and bombs are stockpiled. It plans more war now.

Gazans know they’re vulnerable to Cast Lead 2.0. Iran long ago prepared to defend itself if attacked. Rogue Israeli coalition partner unity makes it more likely. Netanyahu and Lieberman represent Israel’s worst. They’re out-of-control warmongers.

Netanyahu heads Israel’s most extremist ever government. He exceeds the worst of Ariel Sharon and previous hardline leaders. He’s unfit to serve. He spurns democratic values. He deplores peace. He menacingly threatens war.

Lieberman is an ultranationalist extremist. He represents the worst of Israel’s lunatic fringe. Critics call him an embarrassment to legitimate government.

He’s a modern-day Kananist. Kahane headed Israel’s racist Kach Party. In 1988, Israel banned it. It was too extreme to tolerate. In his youth, Lieberman was a Kach Party member. He remains true to its ideological roots.

Israel under Netanyahu/Lieberman assures institutionalized racism in its worst form. Arab hatred is promoted. Rule of law principles and other democratic values are spurned. War for regional dominance is prioritized.

As long as these rogues govern Israel, Palestinians face horrific persecution short of total expulsion or outright extermination. But those possibilities can’t be ruled out.

Other regional states must brace for war. Even if not attacked directly, it may spill across their borders destructively.

On October 25, Haaretz headlined “Netanyahu, Lieberman to unify parties ahead of upcoming Israeli elections,” saying:

“The planned unification could have a far-reaching influence on the makeup of Israel’s next government….” Perhaps other like-minded parties will join them.

Netanyahu may have a “super-party” in mind too strong to unseat. He’ll have more latitude to further his destructive, hardline agenda. Lieberman will be his second in command. Together they menace Arabs, Jews, and others alike.

Netanyahu heads Likud. It’s hardline, anti-democratic, racist and militant. Founded in 1973, it united the right wing revisionist Herut party with Gahal and centrist Zionist parties. Its former prime ministers included Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Netanyahu during his 1996 – 1999 tenure), and Ariel Sharon.

In 1999, Lieberman founded Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home). It’s ultranationalist and revisionist Zionist. It represents the worst of Israel’s hardline right wing.

Uniting these two parties burnishes Israel’s credentials as an out-of-control menacing rogue state. Not all Likudniks are pleased. Haaretz quoted an unnamed senior party official saying:

“What does Netanyahu think? That he can dictate to us who we run with? We’re repulsed by this partnership with Lieberman. I don’t want to run with a person like (him), with the kind of values he stands for.”

Partnered with Lieberman, Likud will be “committed to advancing such controversial issues as the loyalty-citizenship bills….Why is Netanyahu going for this….It’s a very problematic move.”

Most Likudniks are hardline. They welcome the move or at least don’t object. Perhaps they see it as a way for super-party rule. Their own electoral chances may improve. At least they hope so.

On October 26, Haaretz headlined “With Lieberman at his side, Netanyahu’s war cabinet is on a one-way track to Iran,” saying:

Uniting these rogues “obligates the left-wing and centrist parties to offer an ideological and practical alternative….”

Both men don’t hide their intentions. They prioritize preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons even though they know Tehran has no program to obtain them.

Admitting it would undermine their plan to remove their main regional rival. Bogusly calling Iran an existential threat is red herring cover to enlist support for war.

Likud/Yisrael Beiteinu unity may “dissolve any domestic opposition to war, since after the election, Netanyahu will be able to argue that he received a mandate from the people to act as he sees fit.”

Once US elections decide who’ll be president, and which side of America’s duopoly will be strongest, getting America on board will be prioritized.

“In announcing the merger Thursday, Netanyahu has finally renounced his attempt to portray himself as a centrist….” With Lieberman as number two and potential heir, Likud will be more radicalized and aggressive than ever.

Expect like-minded extremists to fill top cabinet posts. Anti-war officials will be spurned. Domestic policy will also be hardened. Tougher neoliberal measures may follow.

Remaining checks and balances may disappear. Crackdowns will target resisters. Expect the worst. It’s likely coming. October US/Israeli war games may or may not signal war.

They’re allegedly intended to counter potential Iranian, Syrian, Hezbollah, and/or Hamas attacks even though none would occur except defensively in response to Israeli and/or US aggression.

Washington often holds joint exercises. Doing so doesn’t automatically signal war. Nonetheless, the possibility against Iran is real. Plans are longstanding. Updates are made strategically. Israel readies its own. It also prepared for homeland emergencies.

Perhaps it won’t be long before it’s known whether something imminent is planned. Regime change plans are longstanding. Israel wants a regional rival removed. Washington wants unchallenged dominance.

Virtually everything short of war was thrown at Iran unsuccessfully. War is the final option.

Stepped up Israeli attacks on Gaza, bombing a Khartoum weapons plant allegedly producing Shehab missiles for Iran, and very likely killing intelligence head of Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces, General Wissam al-Hasan, aren’t good signs.

Regional war games combined with domestic emergency preparations increase tensions. They weren’t eased by Netanyahu’s comments about attacking Gaza, saying:

“Today we engaged in exchanges against terrorist aggression that comes from our southern border in Gaza, but it actually comes from Iran and a whole terror network that is supporting these attacks.”

He’s itching for war. He wants Washington and Israel acting jointly. Let America lead, and he’ll ride shotgun. Perhaps post-November 6, he’ll get what he wants.

It depends on whether Obama or Romney feel the same way. Nothing’s known for sure, but signs look ominous. Brace for the worst.

A Final Comment

On October 25, Reuters headlined “Iran filling nuclear bunker with centrifuges – diplomats,” saying:

“Enrichment takes Iran closer to potential bomb material.” Western officials claim it’s “potentially boosting its capacity to make weapons-grade uranium if it chooses to do so.”

Activities are concentrated at its fortified Fordo plant. One unnamed diplomat said “I understand that they have installed all the centrifuges there.” Another said piping and other preparations must be completed to operate them.

Reuters cited nuclear experts Olli Heinonen and Simon Henderson saying “Iran may be able to accumulate up to four ‘significant quantities’ of weapons-grade uranium – each sufficient for one bomb – in as little as nine months from now.”

Even though it’s well-known that Iran has no ongoing nuclear weapons program, these, similar comments, and inflammatory headlines irresponsibly heighten tensions for war.

Separately, Ship to Gaza Sweden (Estelle) activists arrived home safely. Israeli commandos lawlessly interdicted their humanitarian mission in international waters.

Participants and crew were tasered multiple times. Some suffered burns and bruises. Others reported being handcuffed and dragged. Everyone was treated harshly.

They were imprisoned for several days. Their vessel, humanitarian cargo, and personal possessions were confiscated. Three Israeli citizens on board potentially may be charged with attempting to breach Gaza’s siege or violating Israel’s 1954 infiltration law.

Home in Canada, former parliamentarian and retired United Church Minister Jim Manly spoke publicly for the first time.

He’s glad to be back home, he said. He thanked everyone who expressed support. He called it “a privilege to be on the Finnish sailing ship, Estelle, as the representative of the Canadian Boat to Gaza and Gaza’s Ark movement and it was good to know that the members of that movement were working night and day to make our voyage a success.”

He explained Israel’s attack and violent treatment of activists on board. He called what happened an “act of piracy.” Israeli commandos “celebrated (it) by taking down the flag of Finland and running up the Israeli flag.”

He said it “replaced the skull and cross bones” for these type Israeli missions. “This pirate action dishonours the Israeli flag.”

It “must make many humanitarian Israelis deeply ashamed of their country. We were taken prisoner, brought into Ashdod, interrogated and taken to prison for three days before being deported for ‘having entered Israel illegally.’ ”

In prison, we “were subjected to indignities,” he added. “We need to put things in perspective. The real story is not our arrest, not even the hijacking of the Estelle in international waters. The real story concerns the death dealing chokehold that Israel holds over the people of Gaza.”

“The voyage of the Estelle and my participation in it was our attempt to rouse the peoples of the world to take action against this evil and to send a message of hope and solidarity to the Palestinian peoples of Gaza letting them know that they are not forgotten.”

“The blockade of Gaza has not yet been lifted, but be assured that we will continue our efforts until it has been and the Palestinian peoples can once again live with freedom and dignity.”

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

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays 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

 

North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Connecticut

Bloomberg reports:

“Because of the size of [Hurricane Sandy], we could see an impact to coastal and inland plants,” Neil Sheehan, a spokesman based in Philadelphia for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said by phone today. “We will station inspectors at the sites if we know they could be directly impacted.”

The NRC met earlier today to discuss the necessary precautions to take for the storm, Sheehan said. Plants must begin to shut if wind speeds exceed certain limits, he said.

As of 2 p.m. New York time, Sandy had winds of 75 miles (121 kilometers) per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. It was about 430 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, moving north at 7 mph.

The current Hurricane Center track calls for the system to come ashore just south of Delaware Bay on Oct. 30.

Reuters provides a list:

The following lists the nuclear reactors and utilities in Sandy’s potential path.

Plant More than a Dozen Nuclear Plants Near Hurricane Sandys Path Brace for Impact

While we don’t foresee any problems, the risk of nuclear accident in the U.S. is actually much greater than it was in Japan before Fukushima.

For example, fuel pools in the United States store an average of ten times more radioactive fuel than stored at Fukushima, and have virtually no safety features.

Let’s review the list and look at examples of problems experienced by the nuclear plants in Hurricane Sandy’s path:

  • Salem has been riddled with problems with security, turbines problems and other issues.
  • Hope Creek has suffered security problems, has the same design as the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1, has “some of the same issues with above-ground storage of spent fuel rods as Fukushima” and “was designed to withstand certain major weather events but we need to look at the potential impacts of more extreme events, especially … sea level rise and flooding”
  • Limerick has suffered electrical and other issues
  • Oyster Creek has been plagued with electrical and other problems
  • Millstone’s vulnerability is shown by the fact that it was shut down due to warm seawater

It’s not surprising that there have been problems at all of these nuclear plants. After all, the U.S. has 23 reactors which are virtually identical to Fukushima. The archaic uranium reactor designs developed more than 40 years ago are only good for making bombs.

Most American nuclear reactors are old. They are aging poorly, and are in very real danger of melting down. And yet the NRC is relaxing safety standards at the old plants. And see this.

Indeed, while many of the plants are already past the service life that the engineers built them for, the NRC is considering extending licenses another 80 years, which former chairman of the Tennessee Valley Authority and now senior adviser with Friends of the Earth’s nuclear campaign David Freeman calls “committing suicide”.

Will War Criminals Ever Be Prosecuted?

October 27th, 2012 by Washington's Blog

JUS IN BELLO Will War Criminals Ever Be Prosecuted?JUS IN BELLO 2.0 Will War Criminals Ever Be Prosecuted?

Images by William Banzai 7

It is virtually beyond dispute that Bush and Cheney are war criminals.

Will they ever be prosecuted?

Or does might make right … since the victor writes history?

The US is making huge investments into satellite technology. Back in 2009 US Defence Minister Robert Gates convinced Congress to designate a sum of $10.7 billion to developing this field.

“Whoever owns space also owns the world,” says the former Chief of Arms of the Russian Armed Forces, Colonel-General Anatoly Sitnov. But people in the military are the first to admit that Russia is lagging far behind the USA when it comes to space systems…

At the moment the sky is home to around 500 American orbiters, and just 100 Russian ones.

35 years after George Lucas’s Star Wars was released, there is a greater possibility of a space battle outside the realm of Hollywood.

Two new military satellites, one American, the other Russian, were recently launched into orbit. There is nothing particularly newsworthy about this since different satellites are constantly being sent up into space, but still, the event is yet another indication that space is becoming more militarised. If we are to prevent space from turning into a new kind of warzone, it is essential that international agreements to ban space armaments are developed and signed as a matter of urgency.

Back in 1977, no one would ever have believed George Lucas’s Star Wars Trilogy could become a reality. But today, 35 years after the film was first released, there is apparently a greater possibility of a space battle happening outside the realm of Hollywood fantasy. Space has become a central part of the military and defence policies in many of the world’s biggest states.

In the future a country at war will not try to occupy enemy territory directly. Instead it will concentrate on finding a country’s weak spots before issuing calculated blows. Ground troops and armoured vehicles will soon become a thing of the past, and strategic aviation is also set to take a back seat in the military campaigns of the future. Our understanding of ‘strategic armament’ has shifted from classic ‘nuclear defence triads’ towards non-nuclear armaments which rely on high-precision weapons systems and various means of deployment.

Wars of the future are expected to involve a lot of orbiters to ensure a country’s security: satellite reconnaissance, warning, forecasting and targeting systems – objects which themselves will need to be defended and armed.

The US is making huge investments into satellite technology. Back in 2009 US Defence Minister Robert Gates convinced Congress to designate a sum of $10.7 billion to developing this field. His successor in Barack Obama’s administration, Leon Panetta, clearly has no intention of lowering this sum.

Authoritative military analysts like for example, General Vladimir Slipchenko (who recently passed away), predict that by 2020 the world’s leading countries will have between 70,000-90,000 precision weapons. We can only imagine the number of satellite systems these will require. And without satellites, the cruise missiles and smart bombs that can be programmed to wipe out something as small as a mosquito are no more than useless lumps of metal.

And so it is only a matter of time before orbital systems are developed that will be able to independently hit targets in space, in the atmosphere or on the Earth itself. But just because the technology exists (or soon will do) it does not make it necessary to send military space stations into orbit, and this certainly should not mean that reconnaissance or meteorological satellites should have to be armed. In reality, the problems of satellite defence could be effectively dealt with from Earth.

“Whoever owns space also owns the world,” says the former Chief of Arms of the Russian Armed Forces, Colonel-General Anatoly Sitnov. But people in the military are the first to admit that Russia is lagging far behind the USA when it comes to space systems.

At the moment the sky is home to around 500 American orbiters, and just 100 Russian ones. According to Russian experts the American satellite fleet is more than four times the size of the Russia’s. Plus which, not all of Russia’s orbiters are in good working condition. In the middle of June the experimental space-craft X-37B completed a successful autonomous landing after more than 15 months orbiting the Earth. X-37B’s Programme Manager Lt Col Tom McIntyre noted that following the retirement of the space shuttle fleet, the X-37B OTV programme would bring “a singular capability to space technology development.” The Americans do not hide the fact that this sort of technology could first and foremost be applied to create new armament opportunities.

In this respect Russia’s position is very different from that of the Americans. In May 2008 Commander of the Space Forces General Vladimir Popovkin (who is now in charge of Roscosmos) said: “We are categorically against placing or launching any sort of armaments into space, because space is one of the few areas where there are no borders. Introducing arms to space will upset the balance in the world.”

According to Popovkin space systems and complexes are technically very difficult and could easily fail. “As the Commander of Space Forces (in this case) I cannot guarantee that the object’s failure was not caused by the actions of a potential enemy”.

According to military experts, strategic nuclear stability, i.e. guarantees against a sudden nuclear missile strike, rely heavily on the efficacy of early warning satellites that detect missile launches, and also on the constant work of reconnaissance satellites. If one of these orbiters ceases to function, the security of the state that launched it may end up in jeopardy. This could in turn create an atmosphere of distrust and uncertainty, which could ultimately lead to a military catastrophe.

It would seem that Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo, one of the most important characters in the Star Wars films, was right when he said that the main secret of the film’s success was that it was “not about space, but about people; this is primarily a film about human relationships.” It is up to us humans to decide whether space shall remain as a peaceful realm or whether it will become another arena for military conflict.

There is “little meaningful difference” between the Democrats and the Republicans and successive administrations in the US when it comes to foreign policy issues. The owner of Stop NATO Rick Rozoff gave his assessment of the candidates after the US Presidential Debates, he also spoke about the US’ repositioning on Syria and Hillary Clinton’s seeming admission of the failure of her policies in the Middle East.

You watched the US presidential debates. What is your opinion on foreign policy changes, if any, that will occur if, for example, Romney is elected president or Obama, or everything is pretty much the same?

I don’t think there is any substantive difference between the foreign policy orientations of the two presidential candidates. There was very little discussion about foreign policy in the second debate of earlier this week, and most of it appeared to be Romney’s contention that he would call out and humiliate China for undervaluing its currency more than anything else.

The one topic that was addressed, however, was Libya and that presumably only because the US ambassador of the country, Christopher Stevens, had been killed in Benghazi and there seemed to be an exchange between the two candidates, Obama and Romney, over responsibility for that action. But what was conspicuous by its absence was what was not discussed, which is to say whether the six-and-a-half- month air war, naval blockade against Libya last year was legitimate in any manner. Both candidates seem to agree that it was, at least said nothing to the effect that it wasn’t, including the fact that the 1973 War Powers Resolution was not only ignored but one can argue neutralized and destroyed in the process, when President Obama refused to appear before Congress after 60 days into the armed hostilities and seek continued authorization, or seek authorization at all, for the military action against Libya. So, there was no substantial difference between the
two candidates.

That would be a violation of law, has that been anywhere in the public debate in the US regarding Obama, has anyone brought that up?

Everyone is ignoring it. There had been some discussion 60 days after the commencement of military hostilities against Libya last year, which began on March 19, 2011, and there were arm-chair analysts talking something or other about it, but there was no demand by the populace on their congressional representatives to take up the issue nor to the best of my knowledge was there any discussion in Congress except for outgoing Ohio Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich who did raise the issue, and I believe Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul likewise, but those are two out of 535 members of the bicameral Congress in the United States.

What do you make of the latest developments from the US State Department, if I can ask you a multi-pronged question here? Okay, Hillary Clinton admitted she was at fault for Benghazi, what do you make of that? Do you think that is going to change anything? How will the election results affect Hillary Clinton’s 2016 chances? And what do you make of Nuland’s statements saying that they would like more help from Russia regarding Syria?

You had written an article yourself, John, where you address practically all those issues very poignantly and perceptively in my estimate. The fact that Victoria Nuland, who is a former US ambassador to NATO of course during the previous administration of George W. Bush, to demonstrate once again how little meaningful difference there is between the two political parties and successive administrations in the United States when it comes to foreign policy issues.

But the fact that Nuland made that right on the heels of her referring to Russia being, and I quote her, “morally bankrupt” because, ostensibly, allegedly something or other was shipped from Russia, or was being shipped from Russia to Syria and intercepted by Turkish warplanes, and the Syrian passenger plane was forced down and so forth, with 17 Russian citizens on board who were mistreated. And Nuland had to acknowledge there was nothing illegal in the Russian action, if any, but that nevertheless it was morally bankrupt, so for her to turn around and entreat Russia to assist the United States in Syria seems odd to say the least.

In terms of Hillary Clinton accepting the responsibility for not providing adequate security measures to the US consulate in Benghazi which resulted in the deaths of four Americans including the ambassador, who of course was Hillary Clinton’s employee, as she is the Secretary of State, I don’t understand the Byzantine workings of the federal government, and who out-maneuvered whom on this one, but it certainly is Hillary Clinton getting a black eye and Obama getting off the hook for responsibility for that action, whether that is the actual chain of command or not is questionable. I don’t see that it is, but ahead of a re-election bid by Barack Obama of course Hillary will take the fall as evidently she had, with the expectation, presumably, to segue into the other part of your question, that four years from now no one in the United States will remember what has occurred four years earlier.

You think so? Do you think Nuland’s admission was…I’m sorry, Nuland’s statement, was an admission of failure by the US regarding their policies in Syria?

Yes, I have to give credit where it’s due here, it was your own article that alerted me to her comment which I would not have been aware of. It certainly resonates with the feeling of futility or defeat even, arguably, that the US, try as it may, to not only bring about forcible regime change in Damascus but to in the process isolate, back down, humiliate Russia over the issue is proven to be a signal failure, and that now she has to go back to the very same power, the country, Russia, that she hours before referred to as being morally bankrupt and seek their assistance, and maybe extricating the United States from a non-tenable situation in Syria right now. Your implication that that is what it is, I think, is accurate.

What is your opinion on Benghazi?

This is another case where one questions the motives of those issuing appraisals or evaluations of what happened. It should certainly have been fairly apparent to the United States, through all branches of the American government, foreign policy establishment rather of the United States, what had occurred in Benghazi within hours of the incident, and instead what you’ve seen is evasion, equivocation, efforts to try to attribute it to something for the most part extraneous and accidental, which is to say the videotape or the preview or the trailer for a low-budget video on the Prophet Mohammed, causing a spontaneous uprising against the United States, somehow knowing that the US ambassador would be in the consulate at that point and so forth. That seems hardly credible.

It seems rather that the very same al-Qaeda-linked extremist forces that the United States and NATO supported last year against the government in Libya had simply struck back at their former masters. They’d bitten the hand that fed them, if you will, I think it is a much more likely scenario. What in fact has happened is that armed militias simply continued doing what they were doing beforehand.

Addiction to Smokeless Tobacco in America

October 27th, 2012 by Charles Foerster

According to the Federal Trade Commission report of 2012, smokeless tobacco sales in the United States alone, amounted to about 2.8 billion dollars for the year of 2008. The sales are robust and increasing due in some part to the decline of cigarette smoking. Then too, smokeless tobacco companies spend millions upon millions to attract new users.

The obvious target is the youth of America. The tobacco industry is very much aware of their vulnerability so they focus on large attendance venues where the impressionable youth gather. So, sporting events, hunting shows, race-tracks and such become high-stake promotional grounds, killing fields on an extended-release schedule, if you please.

Almost like those who wear military medals, this is also where you will find the older smokeless tobacco users, showing off their badges of macho-ism, the tell-tale worn, circular pattern on the back pocket of their jeans and the ubiquitous spit-cup.

The most horrible aspect of the smokeless tobacco scene is when a young teenage boy becomes addicted. By the time the dipping act has progressed to the health-impact stage the boy has become a man, a man who has provided of many years of years of cash flow for the tobacco companies who, of course, deny any connection of their products and the debilitating consequences.

Once addicted, several things are set into motion; all is well for a while, sometimes for years. The sensations of addiction are compelling, the sub-conscious pleads for satiation and the sweet moist brown pinch does its job, but alas, the fix is short-lived. Repetitive action displaces rational thought. Then one day you notice a red spot on the inside of your cheek. The following is a short story of what has happened:

Alkaloid nicotine equals addiction.

Tobacco leaf to be made into snuff can be smoke-cured for 3 days to 10 weeks.

Wood smoke is an excellent source of methanol thus,
Snuff can be heavily saturated with methanol.
When such snuff is dipped, the methanol component is deposited in the oral cavity.
Methanol is then free to combine with the ADH (alcohol-dehydrogenase) enzyme.

When ADH combines with methanol the by-product is formaldehyde.Formaldehyde immediately attacks the first healthy cells wherever it makes contact.
If snuff is inhaled formaldehyde weakens the cells in the nasal passages.
If snuff is dipped formaldehyde weakens the cells in the oral cavity, gums or jaw bones.
Over time, the probable result is cancer in the nasal passages or oral cavity.
Formaldehyde is also the prime cause of Alzheimer’s, MS and heart problems. [1]

The United States was the last civilized and industrial nation to declare formaldehyde a carcinogen. This action of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services took place on June 10, 2011. [2]

That act alone offers some affirmation of the theory developed by Woodrow C. Monte, Professor Emeritus of Food Science and Nutrition at Arizona State University. Recognizing the potential liability and concerns for their customer base, Johnson & Johnson has pledged to remove formaldehyde from its baby-shampoo by 2013. [3]

Printed government warnings on products which contain the deadly toxins that can come in contact with human tissues are easily ignored but the World Health Organization says that pictures are the most powerful means of fighting the global epidemic.

Everyone has the choice; you can live a life of repeated little short pleasure-periods but a life of fear and uncertainty brought on by addiction or, you can take a defensive stand to protect the strength and integrity of your body. Hopefully, it won’t be too late to escape the tentacles of the demon.

“Come on cowboy, you can do it; toss away that shiny little twist-off snuff container!”

Charles Foerster is a former Naval Aviator and professional pilot, E-mail: [email protected]

Notes

[1] “While Science Sleeps” website, Woodrow C. Monte, PhD.
http://www.whilesciencesleeps.com/

[2] www.osha.gov/SLTC/formaldehyde

[3] NY Times article, Johnson &Johnson to remove formaldehyde from baby shampoo:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/16/business/johnson-johnson-to-remove-formaldehyde-from-products.html

[4] Photo credits: Curtis Ansley, http://www.outdoortexan.com/mycancer.htm

Jiri Málek

On 12–13 October 2012, elections took place in the Czech Republic. The elections were for regional assemblies and one-third of the Senate. Their political impact could have far-reaching results for the whole of society. They signalled a resounding “no” to cost cutting and complete submission to the demands of the world financial sector for a quick restart of neoliberal capitalism.

The regional elections can be characterized as follows:

  • They reflected the marked dissatisfaction of a large part of the population with the current government: ODS (Civic Democrats), TOP 09, LIDEM (a “fragment” of party Veci verejné /Public Affairs);
  • The CSSD (Social Democrats) also experienced a share of responsibility being attributed to them, though the party is in opposition to the government, it rules with coalition parties in some regions;
  • The KSCM (Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia) gained in strength as the representative of the radical Left;
  • Non-parliamentary parties, including established ones, played a slightly larger role, but only in some regions (in one they came first);
  • Despite public apathy, turnout was comparable to previous elections (2008: 40.3%, 2012: 36.9%, but parliamentary elections of 2010: 62.6%);
  • The first round of the elections to one-third of the Senate were held concurrently to the regional elections. The Right (particularly the ODS) suffered a defeat and as it was already clear will not hold on to its previous position.
  • So-called independent candidates achieved only the most marginal of success;
  • The expected rise of extremist (right-wing populist) parties or other newly-formed parties largely focused on nationalism and right-wing Euro-scepticism etc. did not take place. This does not mean, however, that there were not marked local differences. A right-wing extremist party with a total gain of 1.57% in crisis spots that recently saw social and ethnic clashes gains, for instance, 7.55% in Northern Bohemia in Sluknov and 13.5% in Varnsdorf.
  • The extent of corruption and unethical behaviour on the part of the political elite, both in government and in the “opposition” CSSD, contributed to the negative atmosphere. This was mainly reflected in the “punishing” of coalition parties and part of the CSSD, which is also regarded as being deeply entwined with such practices. Recently there have been several revelations, including criminal proceedings over abuse of state assets and money from EU funds, among senior state officials, politicians and persons closely connected with all the parliamentary parties, with the exception of the KSCM.
  • It is true that in the middle of a parliamentary term the results of the opposition are always markedly better than those of the coalition (in the CR). However, the fall of the bigger parties has been greater in percentage but also in number of mandates (the ODS lost 78, the CSSD lost 75). By contrast, the KSCM gained 68 mandates. TOP 09, which was not fully constituted in the last elections, gained 37 seats, though in the context of its overall result it ranked among the losers. The KDU-CSL (Christian Democrats) remained at practically the same level (+ 5 seats). Prague has a particular position: while it is regarded as a region, elections take place there along with municipal ones (which were not held this year).

How Should We Assess the Outcome For the Left?

In almost all the regions, the CSSD and KSCM can form majority coalitions. In the previous election period they were in open coalitions in two regions, and the results show that citizens assessed them positively. In some other regions there were minority CSSD governments with the tacit support of the KSCM, or other coalitions were formed and the KSCM was in opposition. It has been shown that these coalitions did not bring the CSSD better results in this year’s polls. A key question now facing the CSSD is as to whether it is willing to enter open coalitions with the KSCM, or whether it will look for ways to avoid this, even though it is aware of the danger that voters will not forgive it for joint local government with the right-wing governing coalition.

Election into regional councils in Czech Republic held in October 2012

13 regions – 7,472,000 voters (in Prague the election was in 2010 – 943,500 voters).

Party Result in % Number of vote cast
2008 2012 2008 2012
CSSD 35.85 23.58 1,044,719 621,961
KSCM 15.03 20.43 438,024 538,953
ODS 23.57 12.28 687,005 324,081
KDU-CSL 6.65 5.82 193,911 153,510
TOP09 x 8.83 175,089
Poll in % 40.30 36.88
CSSD – Czech Social Democratic Party
KSCM – Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia
ODS – Civic Democratic Party (liberal conservative, anti-communist Euro-sceptic)
KDU-CSL – The Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People’s Party (Christian democratic)
TOP 09 – A conservative and democratic party (more conservative).

The current ruling coalition: ODS + TOP 09 + LIDEM did not participate in this election.

Voting for the KSCM ticket (which included party members and non-members) can be characterized as follows: It is a rejection of liberal capitalism and its concept of cuts; burdening the citizens, employees, the middle class and pensioners with the costs of the crisis of the system; and affecting the owners of capital as little as possible. It is also an expression of disgruntlement with the policies of the CSSD, understood as an effort to do away with the most palpable impacts on the middle class but rarely putting forward demands for more fundamental changes. The third reason could consist in the fact that in the last parliamentary elections new parties with very unclear programmes but very attractive slogans scored considerable successes. They subsequently let down their voters, who this time cast their votes far more carefully and did not go in for major experimentation (for example a party Veci verejné/Public Affairs had obtained 10.88% in parliamentary elections and only 0.25% now). Therefore the KSCM ticket, and the party’s critical profile, attracted their interest.

Other radical left organizations did not stand in the elections, if we do not count the KSC (Communist Party of Czechoslovakia). Its roots are based in the Communist Party (before 1989) and therefore it can be viewed as representative of communist orthodoxy. The party’s results (it stood in only four regions) did not influence the overall outcome (total 0.55%, the best 2.21% in one region). Neither did the ballot papers see a particularly impressive showing on the part of representatives of left-wing NGOs, citizens’ associations, etc. Such groups very much underestimated the preparatory period and did not put forward their own proposals, did not hold negotiations with the KSCM and did not particularly assert themselves either in formulating programme documents or on joining KSCM tickets. The performance of the Greens was also negligible (1.75%). Only in a coalition Greens have some mandate in one region.

The KSCM’s good results were the consequence of the party’s long-term pragmatic and considerate, practical policy. From time to time, some functionaries make “principled” speeches or visibly display their loyalty to “ideas” and pull no punches in their sharp criticism of capitalism. However, at the regional and municipal levels in particular, a policy of taking an effective approach is followed, slowing the asocial steps of the government and contributing to shaping a positive picture of the KSCM among the public. Programme issues were not at the forefront in this year’s elections, with the presentation of all parties’ manifestos transformed into short slogans. The KSCM, whose electorate is over 10 times bigger than its membership, must be aware that many voters are not willing to go beyond capitalism and are in essence scared of fundamental changes to the system. The main aim of the bulk of left-wing voters is a kind of modification of the welfare state. This is reflected in the practical political work of KSCM representatives.

From the left-wing perspective, these elections are also testimony to the failure of radical left alternatives outside the KSCM. They failed to present alternative radical left variants of social development. Neither, and that is due to the passivity of such organizations, did they put forward concepts of European left-wing unity and a common approach. The KSCM is very wary of European integration and in essence opposed to the EU in its current form, which is the reason why a fundamental European “tone” could not have been expected of it. In the case of non-Communist radical left-wing groups, the anti-communism of some among them is quite pronounced, for instance in the rejection of the party system as such. However, in reality such ideas have a negligible chance of resonating in society; if they are visible externally, it is in the form of electoral abstinence.

The International Political Aspect

My last remark touches on the international political aspect of these “local” elections. It has been confirmed that there is in Czech society a stable (and now somewhat rising) block of left-oriented citizens who believe that traditional social democracy is not capable of fulfilling their ideas as to how society ought to be run. Therefore they have given significant support to a radical left organization. In its way, this is a unique situation among the post-communist countries. In a long-term perspective, the KSCM is the only such relevant power in Central and Eastern Europe. This should be taken into consideration in the shaping of left-wing European strategy. The Central and Eastern European space urgently requires a common radical left-wing policy, and it is clear today that, without the active integration of this Left in the Czech Republic, this is not possible. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that in the short term even non-traditional ways be found to restart active and strategic cooperation. The complicated situation of the EU, and the political contingencies unfolding from it, demand that the European Left finds new types of cooperation and more effective coordination.

Second Round of the Senate Election:
The Left Cemented Its Dominant Position

The second round of the Senate election was held on 19-20 October and confirmed the strengthening of the Left. This time, the winner was the CSSD (Social Democrats), it means a moderate Left. KSCM (Communists) defended one senatorial seat, but lost in direct duels in the 2nd round with SD 9:1. The losses of the Right continued as expected. The ODS defended only four electoral districts and lost 9 seats.

After this election the Senate (total 81 seats) is constituted as follows: CSSD – 46 seats, KSCM – 2 seats, ODS – 15 seats, TOP 09 – 4 seats, Green – 1 seat, Pirates (in coalition with Christian democrats and Greens) – 1 seat. The turnout was only 18.6%, the lowest lay by less than 10%. The highest turnout was in Prague 8, where the direct “confrontation” between KSCM (vice chairman J. Dolejs) and ODS (its candidate was supported by the Czech president and party leaders overtly) placed 30%. The result was 62.5% and 37.5% respectively. Prague still remains a fortress of the Right. •

Jiri Málek is a member of the Society for European Dialogue (SPED) in Prague, Czech Republic. This article first appeared on the transform-network.net website.

Covert War on Terror – the Data

October 27th, 2012 by Global Research News

Reaper unmanned drone (Photo US Dept of Defense/ Flickr)

Yemen: reported US covert action 2012

US covert strikes in Yemen continue to escalate through 2012 – see the data here.

Obama at the Pentagon January 2012 (Flikr/ An Honorable German)

Obama 2012 Pakistan strikes

Ten days into the New Year the CIA’s drones ended the longest pause of Obama’s presidency when they struck Pakistan, killing up to four alleged militants.

Obama Zadari 2009 - Flickr

Obama 2011 Pakistan strikes

Various crises in US-Pakistani relations, including the arrest of CIA contractor Raymond Davis and the killing of Osama bin Laden, may have contributed to a decline in strikes in 2

Situation room meeting in Pakistan-Flickr/The White House

Obama 2009 Pakistan strikes

In 2009 Obama carried out as many drone strikes on Pakistan as Bush in five years.

The President Visits Border Security Operations

The Bush Years: Pakistan strikes 2004 – 2009

During President Bush’s time in office there were 52 drone strikes on Pakistan.

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Yemen: reported US covert action 2012
May 8, 2012 | by | Comments Off
Reaper unmanned drone (Photo US Dept of Defense/ Flickr)

US covert strikes in Yemen continue to escalate through 2012 – see the data here.

Yemen: reported US covert actions 2001-2011
March 29, 2012 | by | Comments Off
A cruise missile launches from the USS Mississippi (DoD/ Flickr)

A searchable data set of all known US attacks in Yemen.

Somalia: reported US covert actions 2001-2012
February 22, 2012 | by | Comments Off
US Special Forces AC-130 gunships have been the primary platform for attacks in Somalia (Lockheed Martin/ Flikr)

Bureau’s analysis of secretive western military intervention in Somalia since September 2001

Obama 2012 Pakistan strikes
January 11, 2012 | by | Comments Off
Obama at the Pentagon January 2012 (Flikr/ An Honorable German)

Ten days into the New Year the CIA’s drones ended the longest pause of Obama’s presidency when they struck Pakistan, killing up to four alleged militants.

Press TV’s Somalia claims 2011-12
December 2, 2011 | by |
A US Reaper drone favoured by the CIA (General Atomics/ Flikr)

The Iranian broadcaster is generally the sole source for over 80 reports of alleged US drone strikes in Somalia.

Obama 2011 Pakistan strikes
August 10, 2011 | by |
Obama Zadari 2009 - Flickr

Various crises in US-Pakistani relations, including the arrest of CIA contractor Raymond Davis and the killing of Osama bin Laden, may have contributed to a decline in strikes in 2011.

Obama 2010 Pakistan strikes
August 10, 2011 | by |2010 saw the largest number of drone strikes in the campaign so far.
Obama 2009 Pakistan strikes
August 10, 2011 | by |

In 2009 Obama carried out as many drone strikes on Pakistan as Bush in five years.

The Bush Years: Pakistan strikes 2004 – 2009
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The President Visits Border Security Operations

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Question - Flickr/The US Army

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Obama’s Gitmo betrayal

October 27th, 2012 by Matthew Harwood

Nearly five years ago, Gary Isaac, a corporate lawyer at a prestigious Chicago law firm, drank deeply from candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s rhetorical reservoir of hope and change. The change Isaac was most concerned about had to do with the operation, outside the rule of law, of the U.S. military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Isaac was deeply involved, pro bono, in helping detainees challenge their detention in U.S. courts by asserting their rights under the ancient writ of habeas corpus, which requires that the state justify the detention of a person before a judge.

So convinced was Isaac that a President Obama would restore habeas for detainees that in February 2008 he published a blog called Habeas Lawyers for Obama, composed of one impassioned post, signed by 132 habeas lawyers, and posted just before Super Tuesday in the Democratic primaries. It concluded:

The writ of habeas corpus dates to the Magna Carta, and was enshrined by the Founders in our Constitution. The Administration’s attack on habeas corpus rights is dangerous and wrong. America needs a President who will not triangulate this issue. We need a President who will restore the rule of law, demonstrate our commitment to human rights, and repair our reputation in the world community. Based on our work with him, we are convinced that Senator Obama can do this because he truly feels these issues “in his bones.”

Obama's Gitmo betrayal

Five years later, Isaac believes he was hoodwinked by then Sen. Obama. He isn’t the only one. Salon spoke with other habeas lawyers, many of whom signed Isaac’s 2008 Obama endorsement. Many say they were blindsided by the Obama administration’s defense of indefinite detention and the many walls it has erected to make their jobs more difficult. Their belief in the hope and change Obama represented for their clients in the immediate aftermath of the election has slowly been replaced with the grim fact of despair and indefinite detention for their clients.

Brent Mickum, an American lawyer who has represented detainees and signed Isaac’s endorsement, speaks for many of his colleagues.”Given that Obama is himself an attorney who ran on a platform extolling the sanctity of the legal system and the need for a robust legal process for the detainees, the best that can be said about him is that he is a tremendous disappointment.”

***

The yawning chasm between what Sen. Obama said during the campaign and how the Obama Justice Department has handled Guantanamo detainee litigation is best illustrated by the case of Adnan Farhan Abd Al Latif.

When the United States invaded Afghanistan in late 2001, Latif, a 25-year-old Yemeni, fled for Pakistan where he was captured by Pakistani authorities on the border, and then sold to the United States as an al-Qaida recruit trained by the Taliban for $5,000. Latif, however, insisted he was in Afghanistan to receive free medical treatment for persistent difficulties tied to a head injury sustained during a car crash in 1994. The U.S. government’s key piece of evidence linking Latif to al-Qaida and the Taliban was shaky, a sole intelligence report, which according to the D.C. Circuit Court’s majority opinion, was “prepared in stressful and chaotic conditions filtered through interpreters subject to transcription errors and heavily redacted for national security purposes.”

Latif landed at Guantanamo in January 2002, one of the first detainees to arrive at the prison camp. Three different times, either the Defense Department or Obama’s interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force recommended Latif be transferred out of Gitmo and into Yemeni custody. That, however, would never happen because on Christmas Day 2009, a young Nigerian jihadist named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the “underwear bomber,” tried to ignite explosives stashed in his pants on an international flight bound for Detroit. When the government sourced the plot to an increasingly unstable Yemen by the organization calling itself al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, President Obama announced a moratorium on repatriating Yemeni detainees cleared for transfer.

But there was still hope because the Supreme Court ruled in its 2008 Boumediene decision that detainees must be allowed to meaningfully challenge their detention in court. In 2010, D.C. District Court Judge Henry Kennedy heard Latif’s habeas petition and ruled in his favor in a heavily redacted decision. “Because [the government has] not demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that Latif was part of al-Qaida or an associated force, the Court concludes that his detention is not lawful under the [Authorization to Use Military Force]. Accordingly, his petition must be granted.” The Obama administration immediately appealed to the D. C. Circuit Court, where a two-judge majority vacated Kennedy’s grant of habeas corpus and ordered his court to rehear the case.

The Circuit Court’s ruling set a dangerous precedent. In ordering the lower court to grant government intelligence reports, like the one claiming Latif was al-Qaida or Taliban, a “presumption of regularity,” the two Republican-appointed judges were upending the writ of habeas, essentially shifting the burden of proof from the government to the detainee. Previously, presumptions of regularity were granted to government reports, like state court trial transcripts, produced according to a regular, transparent process, not the error-prone nature of intelligence, particularly during the chaos of war. If the courts had to assume that all government claims against detainees were accurate then the burden of proof shifted to detainees and their lawyers to prove that the government’s claims were wrong. Worse, the burden imposed came years after the detainees were captured and transported thousands of miles from where the crimes allegedly had occurred. Some detainees, like Latif, had been indefinitely detained without charge or trial for almost a decade.

In his dissenting opinion, D.C. Circuit Court Judge David Tatel, a Clinton appointee, questioned his colleagues’ “assault on Boumediene,” which he suggested had left detainee habeas review meaningless.

Why does this court now require district courts to categorically presume that a government report—again, one created in a REDACTED near an REDACTED with multiple layers of hearsay, and drafted by unidentified translators and scriveners of unknown quality—is accurate? Whether the presumption can be overcome by a preponderance of the evidence or by clear and specific evidence—this court never says which—I fear that in practice it “comes perilously close to suggesting that whatever the government says must be treated as true…”

“Pause a moment,” Sabin Willett, another 2008 signee who represented Uighur detainees at Guantanamo, commented at Lawfare, the wonky national security law blog where Gitmo is debated feverishly. “A man sits in government prison for ten years and counting, on the strength of a secret document created by the jailer, in haste, from hearsay, which didn’t persuade an experienced trial judge. Does that sound like the stuff of regimes we are prone to condemn? Even Odysseus headed for home after ten years.”

In September, Latif finally left Guantanamo. He left in a coffin, dying mysteriously in his cell a few months after the Supreme Court declined to review the D.C. Circuit’s ruling, a decision the Obama administration argued for. Gitmo broke him. Over the years, Latif resisted. He went on hunger strikes, smeared shit all over himself, slit his wrists, swallowed metal shards, and chewed glass in defiance of his detention. In one episode, he sawed through his wrist and threw his blood at his lawyer David Remes. He existed in isolation in the camp’s psychiatric ward. He spoke of ghosts. He complained of torture, neglect, and abuse. Remes believed him. It wasn’t hard.

The current detainee population of Guantanamo is 166, according to Human Rights First. Of those, 86 have been cleared for transfer or release. Nevertheless, none of them is going anywhere anytime soon. They remain legally suspended in animation as their bodies continue to age and their former lives fade into oblivion. Their only chance, it seems, is whether a second term will give Obama the courage to do what the habeas lawyers thought he would do all along–charge or release those still languishing in Gitmo.

***

Many habeas lawyers believed Obama would be a radical departure from the Bush administration’s handling of detainees issues. Slowly, they came to the realization that the new boss was the same as the old boss.

Mickum, who represented five detainees, including Abu Zubaydah, the detainee once hailed as al-Qaida’s number three whom the Bush Administration tortured extensively, destroyed 90 videotapes of his torture and interrogation, and later conceded that Zubaydah wasn’t even a member of the organization, describes the brazen hypocrisy of how the Obama administration has handled detainee issues since coming to office.

“DOJ attorneys under the direction of his Administration have advocated positions before the D.C. Circuit that are not only antithetical to the platform upon which he ran in 2008 but are simply contrary to accepted jurisprudence,” he told Salon. The cases decided by the D.C. Circuit Court have “eviscerated the writ of habeas corpus and left detainees with no chance of winning any case.”

Mickum has come to a harsh conclusion after working pro bono on detainee issues for so many years.”In some respects Obama is worse than Bush,” he says. “Under Obama, the litigation is much more difficult. The cases are cloaked in far greater secrecy than under Bush. And the ability of counsel to cooperate has been greatly restricted for no legitimate reason.”

Isaac seems more dejected than angry about the situation. He remembers the blog post just before Super Tuesday 2008 telling Democratic voters that Obama felt these constitutional issues “in his bones.” Now that blog post looks naive. “That’s what I wrote and I’m not sure about that anymore,” he said. “I don’t have the basis to think that anymore.”

Fall 1941: Pearl Harbor and The Wars of Corporate America

October 27th, 2012 by Jacques R. Pauwels

Myth: The US was forced to declare war on Japan after a totally unexpected Japanese attack on the American naval base in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. On account of Japan’s alliance with Nazi Germany, this aggression automatically brought the US into the war against Germany.

Reality: The Roosevelt administration had been eager for some time to wage war against Japan and sought to unleash such a war by means of the institution of an oil embargo and other provocations. Having deciphered Japanese codes, Washington knew a Japanese fleet was on its way to Pearl Harbor, but welcomed the attack since a Japanese aggression would make it possible to “sell” the war to the overwhelmingly anti-war American public.

An attack by Japan, as opposed to an American attack on Japan, was also supposed to avoid a declaration of war by Japan’s ally, Germany, which was treaty-bound to help only if Japan was attacked. However, for reasons which have nothing to do with Japan or the US but everything with the failure of Germany’s “lightning war” against the Soviet Union, Hitler himself declared war on the US a few days after Pearl Harbor, on December 11, 1941.

Fall 1941. The US, then as now, was ruled by a “Power Elite” of industrialists, owners and managers of the country’s leading corporations and banks, constituting only a tiny fraction of its population. Then as now, these industrialists and financiers – “Corporate America” – had close connections with the highest ranks of the army, “the warlords,” as Columbia University sociologist C. Wright Mills, who coined the term “power elite,”[1] has called them, and for whom a few years later a big HQ, known as the Pentagon, would be erected on the banks of the Potomac River.

Indeed, the “military-industrial complex” had already existed for many decades when, at the end of his career as President, and having served it most assiduously, Eisenhower gave it that name. Talking about presidents: in the 1930s and 1940s, again then as now, the Power Elite kindly allowed the American people every four years to choose between two of the elite’s own members – one labelled “Republican,” the other “Democrat,” but few people know the difference – to reside in the White House in order to formulate and administer national and international policies. These policies invariably served – and still serve – the Power Elite’s interests, in other words, they consistently aimed to promote “business” – a code word for the maximization of profits by the big corporations and banks that are members of the Power Elite.

As President Calvin Coolidge candidly put it on one occasion during the 1920s, “the business of America [meaning of the American government] is business.” In 1941, then, the tenant of the White House was a bona fide member of the Power Elite, a scion of a rich, privileged, and powerful family: Franklin D. Roosevelt, often referred to as “FDR”. (Incidentally, the Roosevelt family’s wealth had been built at least partly in the opium trade with China; as Balzac once wrote, “behind every great fortune there lurks a crime.”)

Roosevelt appears to have served the Power Elite rather well, for he already managed to be nominated (difficult!) and elected (relatively easy!) in 1932, 1936, and again in 1940. That was a remarkable achievement, since the “dirty thirties” were hard times, marked by the “Great Depression” as well as great international tensions, leading to the eruption of war in Europe in 1939. Roosevelt’s job – serving the interests of the Power Elite – was far from easy, because within the ranks of that elite opinions differed about how corporate interests could best be served by the President. With respect to the economic crisis, some industrialists and bankers were pretty happy with the President’s Keynesian approach, known as the “New Deal” and involving much state intervention in the economy, while others were vehemently opposed to it and loudly demanded a return to laissez-faire orthodoxy. The Power Elite was also divided with respect to the handling of foreign affairs.

The owners and top managers of many American corporations – including Ford, General Motors, IBM, ITT, and Rockefeller’s Standard Oil of New Jersey, now known as Exxon – liked Hitler a lot; one of them – William Knudsen of General Motors – even glorified the German Führer as “the miracle of the 20th century.”[2] The reason: in preparation for war, the Führer had been arming Germany to the teeth, and the numerous German branch plants of US corporations had profited handsomely from that country’s “armament boom” by producing trucks, tanks and planes in sites such as GM’s Opel factory in Rüsselsheim and Ford’s big plant in Cologne, the Ford-Werke; and the likes of Exxon and Texaco had been making plenty of money by supplying the fuel Hitler’s panzers would need to roll all the way to Warsaw in 1939, to Paris in 1940, and (almost) to Moscow in 1941. No wonder the managers and owners of these corporations helped to celebrate Germany’s victories against Poland and France at a big party in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York on June 26, 1940!

American “captains of industry” like Henry Ford also liked the way Hitler had shut down the German unions, outlawed all labour parties, and thrown the communists and many socialists into concentration camps; they wished Roosevelt would mete out the same kind of treatment to America’s own pesky union leaders and “reds,” the latter still numerous in the 1930s and early 1940s. The last thing those men wanted, was for Roosevelt to involve the US in the war on the side of Germany’s enemies, they were “isolationists” (or “non-interventionists”) and so, in the summer of 1940, was the majority of the American public: a Gallup Poll, taken in September 1940, showed that 88 percent of Americans wanted to stay out of the war that was raging in Europe.[3] Not surprisingly, then, there was no sign whatsoever that Roosevelt might want to restrict trade with Germany, let alone embark on an anti-Hitler crusade. In fact, during the presidential election campaign in the fall 1940, he solemnly promised that “[our] boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”[4]

That Hitler has crushed France and other democratic countries, was of no concern to the US corporate types who did business with Hitler, in fact, they felt that Europe’s future belonged to fascism, especially Germany’s variety of fascism, Nazism, rather than to democracy. (Typically, the chairman of General Motors, Alfred P. Sloan, declared at that time that it was a good thing that in Europe the democracies were giving way “to an alternative [i.e. fascist] system with strong, intelligent, and aggressive leaders who made the people work longer and harder and who had the instinct of gangsters – all of them good qualities”!)[5] And, since they certainly did not want Europe’s future to belong to socialism in its evolutionary, let alone revolutionary (i.e. communist) variety, the US industrialists would be particularly happy when, about one year later, Hitler would finally do what they have long hoped he would do, namely, to attack the Soviet Union in order to destroy the homeland of communism and source of inspiration and support of “reds” all over the world, also in the US.

While many big corporations were engaged in profitable business with Nazi Germany, others now happened to be making plenty of money by doing business with Great Britain. That country – in addition to Canada and other member countries of the British Empire, of course – was Germany’s only remaining enemy from the fall of 1940 until June 1941, when Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union caused Britain and the Soviet Union to become allies. Britain was desperately in need of all sorts of equipment to continue its struggle against Nazi Germany, wanted to purchase much of it in the US, but was unable to make the cash payments required by America’s existing “Cash-and-Carry” legislation. However, Roosevelt made it possible for US corporations to take advantage of this enormous “window of opportunity” when, on March 11, 1941, he introduced his famous Lend-Lease program, providing Britain with virtually unlimited credit to purchase trucks, planes, and other martial hardware in the US. The Lend-Lease exports to Britain were to generate windfall profits, not only on account of the huge volume of business involved but also because these exports featured inflated prices and fraudulent practices such as double billing.

A segment of Corporate America thus began to sympathize with Great Britain, a less “natural” phenomenon than we would now tend to believe. (Indeed, after American independence the ex-motherland had long remained Uncle Sam’s archenemy; and as late the 1930s, the US military still had plans for war against Britain and an invasion of the Canadian Dominion, the latter including plans for the bombing of cities and the use of poison gas.)[6] Some mouthpieces of this corporate constituency, though not very many, even started to favour a US entry into the war on the side of the British; they became known as the “interventionists.” Of course, many if not most big American corporations made money through business with both Nazi Germany and Britain and, as the Roosevelt administration itself was henceforth preparing for possible war, multiplying military expenditures and ordering all sorts of equipment, they also started to make more and more money by supplying America’s own armed forces with all sorts of martial material.[7]

If there was one thing that all the leaders of Corporate America could agree on, regardless of their individual sympathies towards either Hitler or Churchill, it was this: the war in Europe in 1939 was good, even wonderful, for business. They also agreed that the longer this war lasted, the better it would be for all of them. With the exception of the most fervent pro-British interventionists, they further agreed that there was no pressing need for the US to become actively involved in this war, and certainly not to go to war against Germany. Most advantageous to Corporate America was a scenario whereby the war in Europe dragged on as long as possible, so that the big corporations could continue to profit from supplying equipment to the Germans, the British, to their respective allies, and to America herself. Henry Ford thus “expressed the hope that neither the Allies nor the Axis would win [the war],” and suggested that the United States should supply both sides with “the tools to keep on fighting until they both collapse.” Ford practised what he preached, and arranged for his factories in the US, in Britain, in Germany, and in occupied France to crank out equipment for all belligerents.[8] The war may have been hell for most people, but for American “captains of industry” such as Ford it was heaven.

Roosevelt himself is generally believed to have been an interventionist, but in Congress the isolationists certainly prevailed, and it did not look as if the US would soon, if ever, enter the war. However, on account of Lend-Lease exports to Britain, relations between Washington and Berlin were definitely deteriorating, and in the fall of 1941 a series of incidents between German submarines and US Navy destroyers escorting freighters bound for Britain lead to a crisis that has become known as the “undeclared naval war.” But even that episode did not lead to active American involvement in the war in Europe. Corporate America was profiting handsomely from the status quo, and was simply not interested in a crusade against Nazi Germany. Conversely, Nazi Germany was deeply involved in the great project of Hitler’s life, his mission to destroy the Soviet Union. In this war, things had not been going according to plan. The Blitzkrieg in the East, launched on June 1941, was supposed to have “crushed the Soviet Union like an egg” within 4 to 6 weeks, or so it was believed by the military experts not only in Berlin but also in Washington. However, in early December Hitler was still waiting for the Soviets to wave the white flag. To the contrary, on December 5, the Red Army suddenly launched a counter-offensive in front of Moscow, and suddenly the Germans found themselves deeply in trouble. The last thing Hitler needed at this point was a war against the US.[9]

In the 1930s, the US military had no plans, and did not prepare plans, to fight a war against Nazi Germany. On the other hand, they did have plans war against Great Britain, Canada, Mexico – and Japan.[10] Why against Japan? In the 1930s, the US was one of the world’s leading industrial powers and, like all industrial powers, was constantly looking out for sources of inexpensive raw materials such as rubber and oil, as well as for markets for its finished products. Already at the end of the nineteenth century, America had consistently pursued its interests in this respect by extending its economic and sometimes even direct political influence across oceans and continents. This aggressive, “imperialist” policy – pursued ruthlessly by presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt, a cousin of FDR – had led to American control over former Spanish colonies such as Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines, and also over the hitherto independent island nation of Hawaii. America had thus also developed into a major power in the Pacific Ocean and even in the Far East.[11]

The lands on the far shores of the Pacific Ocean played an increasingly important role as markets for American export products and as sources of cheap raw materials. But in the Depression-ridden 1930s, when the competition for markets and resources was heating up, the US faced the competition there of an aggressive rival industrial power, one that was even more needy for oil and similar raw materials, and also for markets for its finished products. That competitor was Japan, the land of the rising sun. Japan sought to realize its own imperialist ambitions in China and in resource-rich Southeast Asia and, like the US, did not hesitate to use violence in the process, for example waging ruthless war on China and carving a client state out of the northern part of that great but weak country. What bothered the United States was not that the Japanese treated their Chinese and Korean neighbours as Untermenschen, but that they turned that part of the world into what they called the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, i.e., an economic bailiwick of their very own, a “closed economy” in with there was no room for the American competition. In doing so, the Japanese actually followed the example of the US, which had earlier transformed Latin America and much of the Caribbean into Uncle Sam’s exclusive economic playground.[12]

Corporate America was extremely frustrated at being squeezed out of the lucrative Far Eastern market by the “Japs,” a “yellow race” Americans in general had already started to despise during the 19th century.[13] Japan was viewed as an arrogant but essentially weak upstart country, that mighty America could easily “wipe off the map in three months,” as Navy Secretary Frank Knox put it on one occasion.[14] And so it happened that, during the 1930s and early 1940s, the US Power Elite, while mostly opposed to war against Germany, was virtually unanimously in favour of a war against Japan – unless, of course, Japan was prepared to make major concessions, such as “sharing” China with the US. President Roosevelt – like Woodrow Wilson not at all the pacifist he has been made out to be by all too many historians – was keen to provide such a “splendid little war.” (This expression had been coined by US Secretary of State John Hay in reference to the Spanish-American War of 1898; it was “splendid” in that it allowed the US to pocket the Philippines, Puerto Rico, etc.) By the summer of 1941, after Tokyo had further increased its zone of influence in the Far East, e.g. by occupying the rubber-rich French colony of Indochina and, desperate above all for oil, had obviously started to lust after the oil-rich Dutch colony of Indonesia, FDR appears to have decided that the time was ripe for war against Japan, but he faced two problems. First, public opinion was strongly against American involvement in any foreign war. Second, the isolationist majority in Congress might not consent to such a war, fearing that it would automatically bring the US into war against Germany.

Roosevelt’s solution to this twin problem, according to the author of a detailed and extremely well documented recent study, Robert B. Stinnett, was to “provoke Japan into an overt act of war against the United States.”[15] Indeed, in case of a Japanese attack the American public would have no choice but to rally behind the flag. (The public had similarly been made to rally behind the Stars and Stripes before, namely at the start of the Spanish-American War, when the visiting US battleship Maine had mysteriously sunk in Havana harbour, an act that was immediately blamed on the Spanish; after World War II, Americans would again be conditioned to approve of wars, wanted and planned by their government, by means of contrived provocations such as the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Incident.) Furthermore, under the terms of the Tripartite Treaty concluded by Japan, Germany, and Italy in Berlin on September 27, 1940, the three countries undertook to assist each other when one of the three contracting powers was attacked by another country, but not when one of them attacked another country. Consequently, in case of a Japanese attack on the US, the isolationists, who were non-interventionists with respect to Germany but not with respect to Japan, did not have to fear that a conflict with Japan would also mean war against Germany.

And so, President Roosevelt, having decided that “Japan must be seen to make the first overt move,” made “provoking Japan into an overt act of war the principal policy that guided [his] actions toward Japan throughout 1941,” as Stinnett has written. The stratagems used included the deployment of warships close to, and even into, Japanese territorial waters, apparently in the hope of sparking a Gulf of Tonkin-style incident that could be construed to be a casus belli.  More effective, however, was the relentless economic pressure that was brought to bear on Japan, a country desperately in need of raw materials such as oil and rubber and therefore likely to consider such methods to be singularly provocative. In the summer of 1941, the Roosevelt administration froze all Japanese assets in the United States and embarked on a “strategy for frustrating Japanese acquisition of petroleum products.” In collaboration with the British and the Dutch, anti-Japanese for reasons of their own, the US imposed severe economic sanctions on Japan, including an embargo on vital oil products. The situation deteriorated further in the fall of 1941. On November 7, Tokyo, hoping to avoid war with the mighty US, offered to apply in China the principle of non-discriminatory trade relations on the condition that the Americans did the same in their own sphere of influence in Latin America. However, Washington wanted reciprocity only in the sphere of influence of other imperialist powers, and not in its own backyard; the Japanese offer was rejected.

The continuing US provocations of Japan were intended to cause Japan to go to war, and were indeed increasingly likely to do so. “This continuing putting pins in rattlesnakes,” FDR was to confide to friends later, “finally got this country bit.” On November 26, when Washington a demanded Japan’s withdrawal from China, the “rattlesnakes” in Tokyo decided they had enough and prepared to “bite.” A Japanese fleet was ordered to set sail for Hawaii in order to attack the US warships that FDR had decided to station there, rather provocatively as well as invitingly as far as the Japanese were concerned, in 1940. Having deciphered the Japanese codes, the American government and top army brass knew exactly what the Japanese armada was up to, but did not warn the commanders in Hawaii, thus allowing the “surprise attack” on Pearl Harbor to happen on Sunday, December 7, 1941.[16]

The following day FDR found it easy to convince Congress to declare war on Japan, and the American people, shocked by a seemingly cowardly attack that they could not know to have been provoked, and expected, by their own government, predictably rallied behind the flag. The US was ready to wage war against Japan, and the prospects for a relatively easy victory were hardly diminished by the losses suffered at Pearl Harbour which, while ostensibly grievous, were far from catastrophic. The ships that had been sunk were older, “mostly 27-year old relics of World War I,” and far from indispensible for warfare against Japan. The modern warships, on the other hand, including the aircraft carriers, whose role in the war would turn out to be crucial, were unscathed, as per chance (?) they had been sent elsewhere by orders from Washington and were safely out at sea during the attack.[17] However, things did not quite work out as expected, because a few days later, on December 11, Nazi Germany unexpectedly declared war, thus forcing the US to confront two enemies and to fight a much bigger war than expected, a war on two fronts, a world war.

In the White House, the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had not arrived as a surprise, but the German declaration of war exploded there as a bombshell. Germany had nothing to do with the attack in Hawaii and had not even been aware of the Japanese plans, so FDR did not consider asking Congress to declare war on Nazi Germany at the same time as Japan. Admittedly, US relations with Germany had been deteriorating for some time because of America’s active support for Great Britain, escalating to the undeclared naval war of the fall of 1941. However, as we have already seen, the US Power Elite did not feel the need to intervene in the war in Europe. It was Hitler himself who declared war on the United States on December 11, 1941, much to the surprise of Roosevelt. Why? Only a few days earlier, on December 5, 1941, the Red Army had launched a counteroffensive in front of Moscow, and this entailed the failure of the Blitzkrieg in the Soviet Union. On that same day, Hitler and his generals realized that they could no longer win the war. But when, only a few days later, the German dictator learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, he appears to have speculated that a German declaration of war on the American enemy of his Japanese friends, though not required under the terms of the Tripartite Treaty, would induce Tokyo to reciprocate with a declaration of war on the Soviet enemy of Germany.

With the bulk of the Japanese army stationed in northern China and therefore able to immediately attack the Soviet Union in the Vladivostok area, a conflict with Japan would have forced the Soviets into the extremely perilous predicament of a two-front war, opening up the possibility that Germany might yet win its anti-Soviet “crusade.” Hitler, then, believed that he could exorcize the spectre of defeat by summoning a sort of Japanese deus ex machina to the Soviet Union’s vulnerable Siberian frontier. But Japan did not take Hitler’s bait. Tokyo, too, despised the Soviet state but, already at war against the US, could not afford the luxury of a two-front war and preferred to put all of its money on a “southern” strategy, hoping to win the big prize of resource-rich Southeast Asia, rather than embark on a venture in the inhospitable reaches of Siberia. Only at the very end of the war, after the surrender of Nazi Germany, would it come to hostilities between the Soviet Union and Japan. In any event, because of Hitler’s needless declaration of war, the United States was henceforth also an active participant in the war in Europe, with Great Britain and the Soviet Union as allies.[18]

In recent years, Uncle Sam has been going to war rather frequently, but we are invariably asked to believe that this is done for purely humanitarian reasons, i.e. to prevent holocausts, to stop terrorists from committing all sorts of evil, to get rid of nasty dictators, to promote democracy, etc.[19]

Never, it seems, are economic interests of the US or, more accurately, of America’s big corporations, involved. Quite often, these wars are compared to America’s archetypal “good war,” World War II, in which Uncle Sam supposedly went to war for no other reason than to defend freedom and democracy and to fight dictatorship and injustice. (In an attempt to justify his “war against terrorism,” for example, and “sell” it to the American public, George W. Bush was quick to compare the 9/11 attacks to Pearl Harbor.) This short examination of the circumstances of the US entry into the war in December 1941, however, reveals a very different picture. The American Power Elite wanted war against Japan, plans for such a war had been ready for some time, and in 1941 Roosevelt obligingly arranged for such a war, not because of Tokyo’s unprovoked aggression and horrible war crimes in China, but because American corporations wanted a share of the luscious big “pie” of Far Eastern resources and markets. On the other hand, because the major US corporations were doing wonderful business in and with Nazi Germany, profiting handsomely from the war Hitler had unleashed and, incidentally, providing him with the equipment and fuel required for his Blitzkrieg, war against Nazi Germany was definitely not wanted by the US Power Elite, even though there were plenty of compelling humanitarian reasons for crusading against the truly evil “Third Reich.” Prior to 1941, no plans for a war against Germany had been developed, and in December 1941 the US did not voluntarily go to war against Germany, but “backed into” that war because of Hitler’s own fault.

Humanitarian considerations played no role whatsoever in the calculus that led to America’s participation in World War II, the country’s original “good war.” And there is no reason to believe that they did so in the calculus that, more recently, led to America’s marching off to fight allegedly “good wars” in unhappy lands such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya – or will do so in the looming war against Iran.

A war against Iran is very much wanted by Corporate America, since it holds the promise of a large market and of plentiful raw materials, especially oil. As in the case of the war against Japan, plans for such a war are ready, and the present tenant in the White House seems just as eager as FDR was to make it happen. Furthermore, again as in the case of the war against Japan, provocations are being orchestrated, this time in the form of sabotage and intrusions by drones, as well as by the old-fashioned deployment of warships just outside Iranian territorial waters. Washington is again “putting pins in rattlesnakes,” apparently hoping that the Iranian “rattlesnake” will bite back, thus justifying a “splendid little war.” However, as in the case of Pearl Harbor, the resulting war may well again turn out to be much bigger, longer, and nastier than expected.

Jacques R. Pauwels is the author of The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War, James Lorimer, Toronto, 2002

 

Notes

[1] C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite, New York, 1956.
[2] Cited in Charles Higham, Trading with the Enemy: An Exposé of The Nazi-American Money Plot 1933-1949, New York, 1983, p. 163.
[3] Robert B. Stinnett, Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor, New York, 2001, p. 17.
[4] Cited in Sean Dennis Cashman, America, Roosevelt, and World War II, New York and London, 1989, p. 56; .
[5] Edwin Black, Nazi Nexus: America’s Corporate Connections to Hitler’s Holocaust, Washington/DC, 2009, p. 115.
[6] Floyd Rudmin, “Secret War Plans and the Malady of American Militarism,” Counterpunch, 13:1, February 17-19, 2006. pp. 4-6, http://www.counterpunch.org/2006/02/17/secret-war-plans-and-the-malady-of-american-militarism
[7] Jacques R. Pauwels, The Myth of the Good War : America in the Second World War, Toronto, 2002, pp. 50-56. The fraudulent practices of Lend-Lease are described in Kim Gold, “The mother of all frauds: How the United States swindled Britain as it faced Nazi Invasion,” Morning Star, April 10, 2003.
[8] Cited in David Lanier Lewis, The public image of Henry Ford: an American folk hero and his company, Detroit, 1976, pp. 222, 270.
[9] Jacques R. Pauwels, “70 Years Ago, December 1941: Turning Point of World War II,” Global Research, December 6, 2011, http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28059.
[10] Rudmin, op. cit.
[11] See e.g. Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States, s.l., 1980, p. 305 ff.
[12] Patrick J. Hearden, Roosevelt confronts Hitler: America’s Entry into World War II, Dekalb/IL, 1987, p. 105.
[13] “Anti-Japanese sentiment,” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Japanese_sentiment
[14] Patrick J. Buchanan, “Did FDR Provoke Pearl Harbor?,” Global Research, December 7, 2011, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28088 . Buchanan refers to a new book by George H. Nash, Freedom Betrayed: Herbert Hoover’s Secret History of the Second World War and its Aftermath, Stanford/CA, 2011.
[15] Stinnett, op. cit., p. 6.
[16] Stinnett, op. cit., pp. 5, 9-10, 17-19, 39-43; Buchanan, op. cit.; Pauwels, The Myth…, pp. 67-68. On American intercepts of coded Japanese messages, see Stinnett, op. cit., pp. 60-82. “Rattlesnakes”-quotation from Buchanan, op. cit.
[17] Stinnett, op. cit., pp. 152-154.
[18] Pauwels, “70 Years Ago…”
[19] See Jean Bricmont, Humanitarian imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War, New York, 2006.

Syria: US-NATO Sponsored Rebels break the Cease Fire

October 26th, 2012 by Global Research News

Reported this morning, the cease-fire  was broken by the NATO sponsored rebels.

Terrorist acts directed against military posts were conducted  throughout the country on Friday.

“Armed terrorist groups opened fire on military posts in Deir Ezzor, including checkpoints in Halabyeh at 7.25 am and in al-Jabelah at 7.30 am and on a law-enforcement checkpoint at 7.35 am.

An armed terrorist group opened fire on a checkpoint in front of the Cultural Center in Daraa at 7.15 am.

At 7.00 am, armed terrorist groups attacked military locations in the areas of Harem, Silkeen, Wadi al-Daif and al-Allanah in Idelb.

In Homs, armed terrorist groups attacked a military checkpoint in Bab Hood at 11.00 am and law-enforcement checkpoints in Talkalakh at 9.00 am.

In Damascus Countryside, the armed terrorist groups attacked military posts in Harasta, Irbeen and Douma at 9.00 am.” (SANA)

A car bomb attack was carried out in Damascus killing five people and wounding 32, according to “preliminary figures”. (Reuters)

These attacks were carefully planned and coordinated.

The Free Syrian Army rebels are in permanent liaison with NATO. The breaking of the cease-fire was deliberately broken by the Western military alliance.

US  troops have been dispatched to Turkey and Jordan on the border with Syria. British special forces have been deployed in Jordan.

Imperialism In The X-Factor Age

October 26th, 2012 by Colin Todhunter

In Vietnam, Agent Orange was dropped by the US to poison a foreign population. In Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, depleted uranium was used. In Western countries, things are a bit more complicated because various states have tended to avoid using direct forms of physical violence to quell their own populations (unless you belong to some marginalized group or hit a raw nerve, as did the Occupy Movement last year). The pretence of democracy and individual rights has to be maintained.

One option has been to use South American crack cocaine or Afghan heroin to dope up potential troublesome sections of the population. It’s worked wonders: highly lucrative for the drug running intelligence agencies and banks awash with drug money (1), while at the same time serving to dampen political dissent in the most economically and socially deprived areas. Another tactic has of course been the massive ever-increasing growth of the surveillance industry to monitor ordinary citizens.

But drugs, surveillance and direct violence are kind of a last resort to keep a population in check. Notwithstanding baton charges, tear gas and the use of rubber bullets on the European mainland and that the US Government is not ruling out the use of violence on its own people (2), ideology via the media has and continues to be the choice of method for population control in Western countries.

Whether it’s through the paranoia induced by the fear of terrorism or more general propaganda spewed out by the mainstream ‘news’ channels, political agendas and modes of thought are encouraged which seek to guarantee subservience and ‘integration’, rather than forms of critical thought or action that may lead to a direct questioning of or a challenge to prevailing forms of institutionalised power.

From trade unions to political parties, oppositional groups are infiltrated, deradicalised and incorporated into the system (3) and critical stances are stifled, ridiculed or marginalized. Consensus is manufactured both in cultural and political terms. The result is that presidential candidate TV debates, political discourse and much of the popular mass media is void of proper analytical discussion: public theatre scripted by speech writers and PR people, presented in manipulative, emotive, ‘human-interest’ terms.

From the TV news and commercials to the game-shows and latest instant fame programme, misinformation, narcissism and distraction pervade all aspects of life. Why be aware of the world’s ills and challenge anything when you can live in the dark, watch X-Factor, wear Reebok and shop till you drop? It is an infotainment paradise where lies are truth and unfettered desire a virtue.

It’s a world of crass consumerism and gleaming shopping malls bathed in designer lifestyle propaganda where people drown in their Friday night alcohol vomit, shop till they drop for things they don’t really need or indeed want and bask in their emptiness by watching TV with eyes wide shut.

But this is ‘free market’ democracy. And the concept behind it is that the mass of the population are a problem, and any genuine debate or the electorate’s ability to see what is actually happening must be prevented. People must be distracted – they should be watching millionaire footballers kick a ball around, mind numbing soap operas or some mindless sitcom. Every once in a while, at voting time, they are called on to parrot or back some meaningless slogans.

Politics is no longer about great ideas. The acquisition of power has become the core value in itself, not socialism or any other radical philosophy. What is required from mainstream political leaders is technocrat not, radical; middle manager, not firebrand. In an era of advanced capitalism, the role of mainstream glove puppet political leaders is to demonstrate competence when it comes to managing the machinery of state in order to fine tune the status quo, not overhaul it.

If ‘serious’ debate does even attempt to rear its head, it is increasingly to be found as part of a standardized, corporate TV news-cum-chat show format that is the same from country to country. There is usually some or other smug, user-friendly couple fronting the show, lying about how we may smooth away the wrinkles, according to the gospel of some grossly overpaid beauty guru to the stars.

But then, moving on to the next topic and with an anguished expression, no doubt well rehearsed in front of the mirror that morning, one of the hosts states: “A recent report says that high street fashion retailers use children in the developing world to make its clothes.”

A light and punchy studio debate among the show’s hosts and a ‘fashion expert’ will ensue, peppered with a certain degree of moral outrage. But only a ‘certain degree’ because hypocrisy abounds: “Stay tuned as next up you will be informed of how you too can dress like the celebs but for a fraction of the price.”

The next day it’s competition time. Win vouchers to go shopping for the latest high street fashion items. “Top of the range stuff… But the prices are so cheap… Just how do they do it?” one of the hosts remarks: the very same person from the day before who fronted the ‘in-depth debate’ about how they actually manage to do it by exploiting poverty and child labour.

It’s all very cony and comforting, with its sanctimonious world view of sexed up infotainment and bland titillation. It’s TV to inspire. TV to inspire the masses into apathy, fatalism and acceptance.

“Next up, we have a man who swallowed a live rabbit and lived to tell the tale” is sandwiched between “How you can save on your weekly wine bill” and “Knife crime – lock ‘em up and throw away the key.”

Forget about informed debate when platitudes, simple emotion and ‘common sense’ outlooks will do. You will rarely find anything radical or challenging here or elsewhere on mainstream TV because that’s not the point of it. The point of it all is to convince the public that their trivial concerns are indeed the major concerns of the day and that the major world events and imperialist wars can be trivialised or justified with a few ridiculous clichés about saving oppressed woman in Afghanistan or killing for peace in Africa.

From Fox to CNN, the BBC and beyond, this mind altering portrayal of the world is devoured as avidly as the health-altering, chemically-laden TV dinner that accompanies it. How about can of pesticide-ridden, cancer inducing cola to finish off (4)? Feel the spray. It’s all so refreshingly toxic. No need for Agent Orange here. So many people are already swallowing the poison via their plates or TV. If that fails and the drugs no longer work, the drones are waiting overhead.

Notes

1) Afghan heroin and the CIA, Geopolitical Monitor: http://www.geopoliticalmonitor.com/afghan-heroin-the-cia

2) DHS to purchase another 750 million rounds of ammo, Press TV: http://www.presstv.com/usdetail/256028.html

3) The influence of intelligence services on the British left, Lobster Magazine: http://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/articles/rrtalk.htm

4) Things grow better with Coke, The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/nov/02/india.johnvidal

The terms insurgency and counterinsurgency can quickly become confusing in a politically motivated context. However, generally speaking, an insurgency seeks to overthrow an established institution or political order, while a counterinsurgency seeks to maintain that order.In the United States, and around much of the world where the nation-state still prevails, the established order is one of national sovereignty based on constitutions and charters produced by each respective nation, with an infrastructure built and improved upon over generations by each nation’s respective cultures, economic activites, and innovations. There is an insurgency to subvert all of this. A global corporate-financierinsurgency, or simply a “corporate-insurgency.”The corporate-insurgency seeks to subvert our institutions, starting with the family, extending to our schools, universities, churches, temples and mosques, our local sheriff, and even reaching into our national governments, rewriting or eradicating altogether our national constitutions and charters. It has, to a great extent, already subverted our independent local infrastructure, while implementing laws and regulations to prevent us from restoring it. We have the very tactics described in a vast library of government and military counterinsurgency documents being employed against us, where ever we are and to a profound effect.

“Insurgency is the organized use of subversion and violence to seize, nullify or challenge political control of a region. As such, it is primarily a political struggle, in which both sides use armed force to create space for their political, economic and influence activities to be effective. Insurgency is not always conducted by a single group with a centralized, military-style command structure, but may involve a complex matrix of different actors with various aims, loosely connected in dynamic and non-hierarchical networks. To be successful, insurgencies require charismatic leadership, supporters, recruits, supplies, safe havens and funding (often from illicit activities). They only need the active support of a few enabling individuals, but the passive acquiescence of a large proportion of the contested population will give a higher probability of success. This is best achieved when the political cause of the insurgency has strong appeal, manipulating religious, tribal or local identity to exploit common societal grievances or needs. Insurgents seek to gain control of populations through a combination of persuasion, subversion and coercion while using guerrilla tactics to offset the strengths of government security forces. Their intent is usually to protract the struggle, exhaust the government and win sufficient popular support to force capitulation or political accommodation. Consequently, insurgencies evolve through a series of stages, though the progression and outcome will be different in almost every case.” - page 7 U.S. Government Counterinsurgency Guide, 2009

While this above quote is a most accurate description of an insurgency, as one reads the US Government Counterinsurgency Guide (2009), they will realize that the opposing methods of counterinsurgency itself involve all of these same factors, simply mirrored and reflecting the interests of the US versus the interests of targeted “insurgencies.”

Image: The cover of the US Government Counterinsurgency Guide (2009) features the signatures representing the trifecta of  modern day empire, covert operations (USAID), military force (Department of Defense), and system administration (the State Department). COIN describes the methods by which empire is implemented at a grassroots level. 

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As a matter of fact, what is described by the 2009 counterinsurgency (COIN) guide, is an accurate description of how political control has been achieved and maintained by all governments throughout the entirety of human history – it also forms the foundation of modern empire. Understanding this is key to finding solutions when one finds themselves under the subjugation of an unfavorable political ideology or system. The tactics the guide describes can, and often are, used by either side in any political struggle, not necessarily only in an armed “insurgency.”

COIN is a socioeconomic-tactical synthesis, an interdisciplinary strategy based on an understanding of how a society functions, how to organize human resources to multiple force, and what needs and desires motivate individuals, as well as how these can be manipulated  and controlled to collectively motivate a society. These more technical concepts are generally absent from everyday political discourse, and equally absent or incomplete in regards to finding solutions for a failing or unfavorable system.

Insurgency and Counterinsurgency: How to Fight Back 

While the US Government COIN guide gives us a clear picture over the governmental-military interdisciplinary aspects of COIN, the Marine Corps Field Manual 3-24 (FM 3-24) provides us with a complete picture of the actual components of an insurgency and all the relating factors that affect it. This includes an enumerated list of services, institutions, organizations, and processes that must be controlled in order to establish political, tactical, and economic primacy. Without these, counterinsurgency fails. Without these, any political movement seeking to assert itself over a flawed or failing system, fails.

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While FM 3-24 deals with an armed insurgency, presumably in a foreign country, the basic concepts can and are applied to the execution of real political power throughout the world. The reason why so many well-intentioned political solutions fall short, is because they are tailored without understanding these basic concepts.
1. Establishing Essential Services
When attempting to establish political primacy – essential services, basic infrastructure, economic development and administration must all be controlled by the counterinsurgency. It is upon these basic aspects of modern society that people depend, and from which popular support is sustainably derived. Strength in arms alone will fail utterly unless these aspects are secured, controlled, and developed properly.
Upon page 117, the manual discusses the establishment or restoration of essential services. It states specifically:
Essential services address the life support needs of the HN [host-nation] population. The U.S. military’s primary task is normally to provide a safe and secure environment. HN or interagency organizations can then develop the services or infrastructure needed. In an unstable environment, the military may initially have the leading role. Other agencies may not be present or might not have enough capability or capacity to meet HN needs. Therefore, COIN military planning includes preparing to perform these tasks for an extended period.
Any goal, no matter how well-planned, noble, or progressive, cannot be achieved before these basic services are established and capable of being sustainably maintained. The military is a highly trained, disciplined, well organized institution capable of developing, maintaining, as well as protecting these services. In our local communities around the world, we have to ask ourselves how we can similarly develop and maintain these services sustainably.
The task is not entirely as daunting as it may seem. Local communities around the world accomplish this through a combination of traditional and newly created local institutions. Most local communities around the world operate with the added advantage that the corporate-insurgency they face is low-intensity and generally not armed. For prospective activists, auditing what their communities already possess, and how to develop it to be more organized and effective would be a good first step.
Some other initial priorities identified by the manual include the following taken from page 122:

Many communities already possess the ability to do these activities on their own. Points such as “building an indigenous local security force” might translate into efforts to empower local sheriff offices to negate intrusive, unconstitutional federal government control. It might also include the establishment of professional neighborhood watches and shooting clubs where responsible gun ownership is taught. Building and improving schools might translate into expanding and improving local home schooling networks, leveraging freely available open-courseware online, and opening after-school tutoring centers giving remedial classes or teaching trades and skills not taught at existing educational institutions.

Ultimately, most communities are not faced with absolute destitution. For the most part, basic services exist. The problem really is that these services are carried out in some cases by corporate-insurgents and play an essential role in building legitimacy and a support base dependent on the corporate-insurgency for these services. Therefore, the goal should be to take ownership over the execution of these basic services which can be done as a community effort or as a local, small business. The precept of “boycott and replace” is the equivalent of the “take, hold, and rebuild” doctrine in military “nation-building” and counterinsurgency.

2. Economic Development 

On page 119 of the report, it states the importance of expanding on basic services and supporting economic development. It states specifically:

The short-term aspect concerns immediate problems, such as large-scale unemployment and reestablishing an economy at all levels. The long-term aspect involves stimulating indigenous, robust, and broad economic activity. The stability a nation enjoys is often related to its people’s economic situation and its adherence to the rule of law. However, a nation’s economic health also depends on its government’s ability to continuously secure its population.

Planning economic development requires understanding the society, culture, and operational environment. For example, in a rural society, land ownership and the availability of agricultural equipment, feed, and fertilizer may be the chief parts of any economic development plan. In an urban, diversified society, the availability of jobs and the infrastructure to support commercial activities may be more important. Except for completely socialist economies, governments do not create jobs other than in the public bureaucracy. However, the micro economy can be positively stimulated by encouraging small businesses development. Jump-starting small businesses requires micro finance in the form of some sort of banking activities. So then, supporting economic development requires attention to both the macro economy and the
micro economy.

Without a viable economy and employment opportunities, the public is likely to pursue false promises offered by insurgents. Sometimes insurgents foster the conditions keeping the economy stagnant. Insurgencies attempt to exploit a lack of employment or job opportunities to gain active and passive support for their cause and ultimately undermine the government’s legitimacy. Unemployed males of military age may join the insurgency to provide for their families. Hiring these people for public works projects or a local civil defense corps can remove the economic incentive to join the insurgency.

The report then goes on to list the major categories of economic activity that it implies are essential for the counterinsurgency to control:

Clearly all of these industries are dominated by the corporate-financier oligarchs and their corporate-insurgency. One need not stretch their imagination here to see how the economic crisis created by corporate-financier interests across the West and spreading around the world is comparable to the sort of economic challenges facing a post-war nation fighting an armed insurgency. The description and redresses described on page 119 are particularly relevant, and if we consider the corporate-financier interests who have overtaken our government and institutions as the insurgency, we must see it within ourselves and our communities to search for the energy and initiative to begin local economic development.And again, where the military possesses the ability and the resources to do this on their own, or with other government institutions assisting – local communities must develop their own institutions to accomplish these same goals themselves. Hackerspaces and farmers’ markets represent two organized efforts to develop economic opportunities locally, and present viable models that can be expanded into other industries.3. LogisticsAn entire section of the counterinsurgency field manual is dedicated to logistics. The importance of managing logistical lines not only enable an army to conduct counterinsurgency operations efficiently, but deny the insurgency supplies to conduct their operations. As it is pointed out, throughout history, insurgencies many times supply themselves off of carelessly protected counterinsurgency supply lines.

The report states on page 169:

Insurgents have a long history of exploiting their enemies’ lines of communications as  sources  of  supply.  During  the  Revolutionary  War,  American  forces  significantly provisioned  themselves  from  the  British  Army’s  overindulgent  and  carelessly  defended logistic tail. In the 1930s, Mao Zedong codified a doctrine for insurgency logistics during the fight against the Japanese occupation of China. Without exaggerating,  Mao  stated,  “We  have  a  claim  on  the  output  of  the  arsenals  of  [our enemies],…and, what is more, it is delivered to us by the enemy’s transport corps. This is the sober truth, it is not a jest.” For Mao’s forces, his enemy’s supply trains provided a valuable source of supply. Mao believed the enemy’s rear was the guerrillas’ front; the guerrillas’ advantage was that they had no discernable logistic rear.

This relative lack of logistic capacity was not an insurmountable problem for Mao or one of his logistic theorists, Ming Fan. According to Ming, “Weapons are not difficult to obtain. They can be purchased from the people’s ‘self-preservation corps.’ Almost every home has some sort of weapon that can be put to use.… Ammunition can be obtained in the following ways: (1) From supplies given by friendly troops and headquarters  on  higher  echelons.  (2)  Purchased  or  appropriated  from  the  people.  (3) Captured by ambushing enemy supply columns. (4) Purchased undercover from the enemy army. (5) From salvage in combat areas. (6) From the field of battle. (7) Self-made. (8) Manufactured by guerrilla organizations. (Such items as hand grenades, ammunition, etc.)” Beyond these specifics, this doctrine prescribes a mindset of actively  seeking  parasitic  logistic  relationships  with  not  only  the  conventional  enemy forces that the insurgents seek to co-opt and defeat but also active linkages to local black market activities and the cultivation of host-nation sympathizers.

For these reasons, forces conducting counterinsurgency operations must protect all potential supplies. Forces must also vigorously protect their lines of communications, scrupulously  collect  and  positively  control  dud  munitions  and  access  to  other  convertible materiel, and actively seek ways  to separate insurgents from black market activities.

The corporate-insurgency’s logistical lines are particularly easily to compromise – that is because we the people are their logistical lines. The corporate-financier oligarchy sustains itself from the collective patronage of communities around the world failing to develop local institutions, services, and economies, and instead pay into centralized, monopolizing multinational corporations. By boycotting and replacing these multinational corporations, we cut the corporate-insurgency off entirely from its logistical lines, starving it into submission.

But just as the USMC COIN manual implores counterinsurgency planners to secure their logistical lines from pilfering insurgents, the corporate-insurgency uses laws and regulations to protect their lines.

Laws and regulations are designed to prevent independent local institutions, services, and economies from springing up and competing directly with the corporate-insurgency. Farmers in America have been fighting laws seeking to disrupt and regulate out of business, local farmer’s markets. Similar laws in regards to “intellectual property rights” seek to stifle the emergence of independent technological innovation and personal manufacturing.  Understanding the greater implications of these laws should provide us a greater impetus to organize and find the means of circumventing them.

For local communities organizing against the corporate-insurgency, our “supplies” consist of our food and water, our electricity, our means of communication, and many others. To secure these, we must assume ownership over them, maintaining them as a collective common or a small, local business. To organize against the corporate-insurgency when we are still dependent on them for even simple things like food and water, is a recipe for instant and repeated failure.

4. Communications

In a very literal sense, a local community’s communications include telephone networks, the Internet, and radio. Like many other aspects of fighting the corporate-insurgency, the low-intensity nature of it affords us the ability to piecemeal boycott and replace various aspects of its power structure without disrupting the lives of people in our local community. In terms of communication infrastructure, ad hoc wireless networks could be constructed to connect a local Internet. This is already being done by the US State Department to infiltrate and overthrow sovereign nation-states – they already recognize it as an essential strategy of the corporate-insurgency.

In New York Times’ article, “U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour Around Censors,” it states:

The Obama administration is leading a global effort to deploy “shadow” Internet and mobile phone systems that dissidents can use to undermine repressive governments that seek to silence them by censoring or shutting down telecommunications networks.

The effort includes secretive projects to create independent cellphone networks inside foreign countries, as well as one operation out of a spy novel in a fifth-floor shop on L Street in Washington, where a group of young entrepreneurs who look as if they could be in a garage band are fitting deceptively innocent-looking hardware into a prototype “Internet in a suitcase.”

With a well developed community Hackerspace, a similar network can be created for a local community to simply circumvent and replace corporate-financier monopolies, providing custom tailored services for a community its creators already know, and spreading the profits of communication monopolies across local communities worldwide – a redistribution of wealth done not through socialist handouts, but through innovative local entrepreneurship. A larger international Internet could be made by simply providing links between communities.

Community broadband initiatives are already popping up around the world built around a similar premise. In Syracuse, New York, just such an initiative headed by Seth Rutledge, is working on this very project. In this letter to his local paper, Rutledge explains the benefits and necessity of taking ownership over the means of communication:

The Syracuse Community Broadband Initiative (SCBI) has received a $15,000 grant to explore the economic viability of building a state-of-the-art, fiber-optic broadband network for Syracuse.

The SCBI seeks to provide cable, Internet and phone service to residents and businesses. The network would operate like a public utility committed to the best service at the least cost, and would operate from subscriber revenue independent of taxpayer subsidies.

The network could provide a much higher connection speed than is currently available. It would have the capability to deliver an unlimited number of on-demand channels, including high-definition broadcasting and video conferencing for every subscriber via Internet Protocol television (IPTV) technology. It could deliver a vastly superior product at a much lower price.

Our local communications infrastructure is crucial to the social, economic and democratic health of our community. It is equal in importance to our public roads, schools and utility services. We are foolish if we, as a community, do not take the lead in securing public control of, and access to, our communications network.

It is not only possible and beneficial to develop local communication alternatives, but an absolute necessity in order for people to reassert themselves in a failing and unfavorable political system.

Communication also includes the media. In this regard, the corporate-insurgency is already suffering serious defeat. It is finding it increasingly difficult to maintain primacy over the political narrative, or maintain popular support.

When countering the corporate-insurgency, every bit makes a difference, and starting a blog, Twitter, or Facebook account with the expressed purpose of informing others of what is going on locally, nationally, and internationally is both free and easy to do. Even if the goal is to simply repost articles others write – these efforts combined with others already active will make a significant difference.

How far a media project goes depends solely on the amount of time and effort one spends investing in it and the standards of objectivity and intellectual honesty one holds themselves to. The alternative media is a perfect example of a new “institution” and form of activism that has already successfully begun to counter the corporate-insurgency, and it does so by leveraging technology that allows us to do as individuals what was once only possible with large, capital intensive organizations.

The alternative media also reflects some of the tactical considerations expressed by the USMC COIN field manual in regards to logistics. By using large corporate-owned, free services like Blogger, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others to spread a constructive message aimed at developing our local communities, and against the corporate-insurgency, we are essentially exploiting their own logistical trails for our cause.

Conclusion

It must be understood that while, without taking these basic aspects into consideration a political movement is sure to fail, this does not by any means negate the work of activists focused in other areas. A synergy must be created between all efforts aimed at unwarranted corporate-financier influence – but these fundamentals must be understood by all involved.

It must also be understood that not everyone employed or involved in a large corporate-financier, multinational corporation is a bad person. In fact, many people who work for corporations like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Halliburton, Exxon, and even Monsanto or Cargill are hardworking and incredibly talented. Like many military who leave the service and join the cause of humanity, these people can become some of our most valued allies if and when they realize the greater implications of what they are involved in and what, for their own best interests and those of humanity, they must next do.

For our part, we must work hard to develop our local communities, to create tangible solutions to the problems we face, superior local alternatives to replace the dependency that empowers our opposition, and produce a viable model that is self-evidently a system people will want to join and help build.

Of all the aspects discussed in the voluminous collection of counterinsurgency manuals the US government has produced, possessing a morally superior cause and instilling a sense of legitimacy within a population ranks toward the top in importance. Building a local community with the people’s best interests addressed by the people’s own two hands themselves, exhibits just such a cause, featuring just such legitimacy. It would be a movement very difficult for the corporate-insurgency to prevail against, and is the key reason why their doctrine has failed them overseas in pursuit of their empire.

The discredited and now obscure, defected Syrian ambassador Nawaf Fares, had claimed mid-summer of 2012 that the Syrian government had been behind the influx of foreign terrorists that entered Iraq during the later phases of the US-British occupation of Iraq. These terrorists took part in campaigns of sectarian-driven violence that divided and destroyed an already devastated Iraq. Fares spectacularly claimed that he himself was involved in organizing terrorist death squads in a hamhanded attempt to implicate the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

What Fares actually revealed however, was an invisible state within Syria, one composed of Saudi-aligned, sectarian extremism, operating not only independently of the government of President Assad, but in violent opposition to it. This “state-within-a-state” also so happens to be directly affiliated with Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood, the leading forces now fighting in Syria with significant Western-backing against the Syrian government.

The documented details of this invisible terror state were exposed in the extensive academic efforts of the US Army’s own West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC). Two reports were published between 2007 and 2008 revealing a global network of Al Qaeda affiliated terror organizations, and how they mobilized to send a large influx of foreign fighters into Iraq.

Image: Cover of the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq.” The report definitively exposed a regional network used by Al Qaeda to send fighters into Iraq to sow sectarian violence during the US occupation. This exact network can now be seen demonstrably at work with NATO support, overrunning Libya and now Syria. The terrorists in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi that US Ambassador Stevens was arming, is described by the 2007 West Point report as one of the most prolific and notorious Al Qaeda subsidiaries in the world. 

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The first report, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq,” was extensively cited by historian and geopolitical analyst Dr. Webster Tarpley in March of 2011, exposing that NATO-backed “pro-democracy” rebels in Libya were in fact Al Qaeda’s Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), listed by the US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf) as an international terrorist organization.

The West Point report exposed Libya as a global epicenter for Al Qaeda training and recruitment, producing more fighters per capita than even Saudi Arabia, and producing more foreign fighters than any other nation that sent militants to Iraq, except Saudi Arabia itself.

Image: Libya, despite its relatively small population, came in second overall, producing foreign fighters to wage sectarian war in Iraq. Libya exceeded all other nations per capita in producing foreign fighters, including Al Qaeda’s primary patrons, Saudi Arabia. These diagrams were produced by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, on pages 8 and 9 of its “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” report.

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But Libya’s foreign fighters weren’t drawn equally from across the nation. They predominately emanated from the east (Cyrenaica), precisely where the so-called 2011 “pro-democracy revolution” also began, and where most of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s attention had been focused over the course of at least three decades, fighting militant extremists. The cities of Darnah, Tobruk, and Benghazi in particular fielded the vast majority of foreign fighters sent to Iraq and also served as the very epicenter for the 2011 violent, NATO-backed uprising.

Image: (Left) West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s 2007 report, Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” indicates that the vast majority of Al Qaeda terrorists arriving in Iraq from Libya, originated from the country’s eastern region, and from the cities of Darnah and Benghazi in particular. (Right) A map indicating rebel held territory (red) during Libya’s 2011 conflict. The entire region near Benghazi, Darnah, and Tobruk served as the cradle for the so-called revolution. The US government is just now revealing the heavy Al Qaeda presence in the region, but clearly knew about it since at least as early as 2007, and as other reports indicate, decades before even that. 

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Clearly, the US military and the US government were both well aware of the heavy Al Qaeda presence in Cyrenaica since as early as 2007. When violence flared up in 2011, it was clear to many geopolitical analysts that it was the result of Al Qaeda, not “pro-democracy protesters.” The US government, its allies, and a complicit Western press, willfully lied to the public, misrepresented its case to the United Nations and intervened in Libya on behalf of international terrorists, overthrowing a sovereign government, and granting an entire nation as a base of operations for the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).

A similar scenario is now playing out in Syria, where the West, despite acknowledging the existence of Al Qaeda in Benghazi, Libya, is using these militants, and the exact same networks used to send fighters to Iraq, to flood into and overrun Syria. This, after these very same Libyan militants were implicated in an attack that left a US ambassador dead on September 11, 2012.

Image: Libyan Mahdi al-Harati of the US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf)-listed terrorist organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), addressing fellow terrorists in Syria. Harati is now commanding a Libyan brigade operating inside of Syria attempting to destroy the Syrian government and subjugate the Syrian population. Traditionally, this is known as “foreign invasion.” 

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LIFG terrorists are veritably flooding into Syria from Libya. In November 2011, the Telegraph in their article, “Leading Libyan Islamist met Free Syrian Army opposition group,” would report:

Abdulhakim Belhadj, head of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, “met with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey,” said a military official working with Mr Belhadj. “Mustafa Abdul Jalil (the interim Libyan president) sent him there.”

Another Telegraph article, “Libya’s new rulers offer weapons to Syrian rebels,” would admit

Syrian rebels held secret talks with Libya’s new authorities on Friday, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

At the meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, the Syrians requested “assistance” from the Libyan representatives and were offered arms, and potentially volunteers.
“There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria,” said a Libyan source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see.”

Later that month, some 600 Libyan terrorists would be reported to have entered Syria to begin combat operations and have been flooding into the country ever since.

Image: (Left) West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center’s 2007 report, Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” also indicated which areas in Syria Al Qaeda fighters filtering into Iraq came from. The overwhelming majority of them came from Dayr Al-Zawr in Syria’s southeast, Idlib in the north near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar’a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border. (Right) A map indicating the epicenters of violence in Syria indicate that the exact same hotbeds for Al Qaeda in 2007, now serve as the epicenters of so-called “pro-democracy fighters.”

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In Syria, the southeastern region near Dayr Al-Zawr on the Iraqi-Syrian border, the northwestern region of Idlib near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar’a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border, produced the majority of fighters found crossing over into Iraq, according to the 2007 West Point study.

These regions now serve as the epicenter for a similar Libyan-style uprising, with fighters disingenuously portrayed as “pro-democracy” “freedom fighters.” These are also the locations receiving the majority of foreign fighters flowing in from other areas described in the 2007 report, mainly from Saudi Arabia via Jordan, and from Libya, either directly, through Turkey, or through Egypt and/or Jordan.

Image: The most prominent routes into Syria for foreign fighters is depicted, with the inset graph describing the most widely used routes by foreign fighters on their way to Iraq, as determined by West Point’s 2007 Combating Terrorism Center report Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” (page 20).  These same networks are now being used, with the addition of a more prominent role for Turkey, to target Syria directly. (Click to enlarge)

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The 2007 West Point report also describes the routes taken by the fighters entering Iraq. The most prominent routes by far were from Syria itself, the Libya-Egypt-Syria route, the Saudi Arabia-Syria route, and the Saudi Arabia-Jordan-Syria route. These routes are clearly being used yet again, only this time, instead of sowing sectarian violence and destabilization in Iraq, these foreign fighters, with NATO backing, are targeting Syria directly.

Subversion of Syria was Planned by the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia in 2007.

While many Western  think-tank documents, including the joint US-Israeli “Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” recognized Syria as a threat to corporate-financier hegemony throughout the Middle East and beyond, it wasn’t until at least 2007 that a fully articulated plan was developed for actually rolling back or eliminating Syria as a viable, independent nation-state.

The specific use of Al Qaeda-affiliated militant organizations, not just inside Syria, but from across the region was a key component of the plan,  revealed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 New Yorker report titled, “”The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?

In the report it specifically stated:

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh (2007)

Hersh’s report would continue by stating:

“the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh (2007)

The link between extremist groups and Saudi funding was also mentioned in the report, and reflects evidence presented by the West Point CTC indicating that the majority of fighters and funding behind the sectarian violence in Iraq, came from Saudi Arabia. Hersh’s report specifically states:

“…[Saudi Arabia's] Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.” -The Redirection, Seymour Hersh (2007)

Despite the narrative repeated by the Western press, it would appear that the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia above all others, constitute the greatest purveyors of state-sponsored terrorism. Furthermore, it would appear that the most feared and notorious international terrorist organization, Al Qaeda, and its various affiliates including the Muslim Brotherhood political front, was in fact not only created by the US and Saudi Arabia in the mountains of Afghanistan in the 1980′s, but has since then been perpetuated by the US and Saudi Arabia.

Nations accused of coddling Al Qaeda and sponsoring terrorism, including Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Qaddafi’s Libya, have in fact fought the hardest against these extremist forces but have been consistently sabotaged by Western efforts portraying targeted militants as “pro-democracy protesters” as was done in Libya when Qaddafi’s forces were at the gates of Benghazi. Similarly, this is being done in Syria today as the government of President Bashar al-Assad fights fiercely against these verified, documented terrorist networks, habitually referred to by the Western press as “freedom fighters” and “pro-democracy rebels.”

The Syrian Government’s Role in Supporting Al Qaeda in Iraq. 

The Western press insists that the Syrian government constitutes a threat to international security. It has been implied on many occasions that the Syrian government has been, or still is supporting Al Qaeda. However, what does the West Point Combating Terrorism Center say about the Syrian government’s role regarding the influx of foreign fighters into neighboring Iraq during the West’s occupation?  Or the history of the Syrian government in relation to militant extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the precursor of Al Qaeda itself?

Image: West Point’s second report on Al Qaeda’s networks used to funnel foreign fighters into Iraq titled, “Bombers, Bank Accounts and Bleedout: al-Qa’ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq,” goes deeper in depth into who was really behind the influx of terrorists, how it was accomplished, and a range of options that might be applied to prevent it from happening. The report gives great insight into just how NATO and the Persian Gulf states are using Al Qaeda to now destabilize Syria.

….

In a second report, published in 2008 titled, “Bombers, Bank Accounts and Bleedout: al-Qa’ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq,” a rare and candid history is given regarding the genesis of Al Qaeda and the history it has had in Syria. It includes a revelation that contradicts the talking-points often repeated across Western media in regards to Syrian President Hafez Assad and his crackdown in the 1980′s. The media attempts to imply that President Hafez Assad was merely an autocrat and had brutalized civilians for simply rising up against him. The 2008 CTC report however, states (emphasis added):

During the first half of the 1980s the role of foreign fighters in Afghanistan was negligible and was largely  un‐noticed by outside observers. The flow of volunteers from the Arab heartland countries was just a trickle in the early 1980s, though there were more significant links between the mujahidin and Central Asian Muslims—especially Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Kazakhs. Individuals like the above‐mentioned Abu’l‐Walid were recruited in the early years via ad hoc outreach campaigns initiated from within Afghanistan, but by 1984, the resources being poured into the conflict by other countries—especially Saudi Arabia and the United States—had become much greater, as had the effectiveness and sophistication of the recruitment efforts. Only then did foreign observers begin to remark on the presence of outside volunteers.

The repression of Islamist movements in the Middle East contributed to the acceleration of Arab fighters leaving for Afghanistan. One important process was the Syrian regime of Hafez Assad’s brutal campaign against the Jihadi movement in Syria, led by the “Fighting Vanguard” (al‐Tali’a al‐Muqatila) of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. The crackdown initiated an exodus of Vanguard militants to neighboring Arab states. By 1984, large numbers of these men began making their way from exile in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Jordan toward southeastern Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. (page 24, “Bombers, Bank Accounts and Bleedout: al-Qa’ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq,” (2008)

It appears then that Hafez Assad’s “brutality” was aimed at sectarian extremists – fanatics that would later form the foundation of Al Qaeda and serve as a force of violence and destabilization throughout the world, with, as mentioned by the West Point CTC itself, resources poured into them, especially from “Saudi Arabia and the United States.”

The 2008 report reiterates the importance of Libya’s LIFG in regards to the large numbers of fighters it sent to Iraq and its official merging with Al Qaeda, stating:

Today, the LIFG is an important partner in al‐Qa`ida’s global coalition of Jihadi groups. The late Abu Layth al‐Libi, LIFG’s Emir, reinforced Benghazi and Darnah’s importance to Libyan Jihadis in his November 2007 announcement that LIFG had joined al‐Qa`ida, saying:

“It is with the grace of God that we were hoisting the banner of Jihad against this apostate regime under the leadership of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which sacrificed the elite of its sons and commanders in combating this regime whose blood was spilled on the mountains of Darnah, the streets of Benghazi, the outskirts of Tripoli, the desert of Sabha, and the sands of the beach.” (page 38-39, “Bombers, Bank Accounts and Bleedout: al-Qa’ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq,” (2008)

The report goes on to describe the manner in which these fighters eventually made it into Iraq, all traveling through Syria. The report reveals that it was “coordinators” working with extremist groups in Syria, opposed to the government, not the government itself that was recruiting and arranging transportation for fighters into Iraq. Throughout the report, measures put in place by the Syrian government in fact attempted to stop the flow of fighters through Syrian territory, but were simply ineffective due to the complicated demographics and economic conditions along border regions. The report states:

Syria can almost certainly do more to disrupt the traffic across the border. However, it is unrealistic to expect the regime to expend more energy, given the economic and internal political importance of the underground cross border trade to Syrian social and political leaders, and the inherent limits of the regime’s ability to enforce a crackdown indefinitely. (page 98, “Bombers, Bank Accounts and Bleedout: al-Qa’ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq,” (2008)

Nowhere in the document is any evidence provided that the Syrian government actively facilitated Al Qaeda and the movement of extremist fighters through Syrian territory. Any help that might have been lent from the government would have come from characters like Nawaf Fares acting independently, whose loyalty was always questionable at best, and who eventually defected to these very extremist groups when fighters finally shifted their attention from Iraq to Syria in 2011.

It is clear that the Syrian government, for decades, has been fighting against sectarian extremism, militant terrorism, and more specifically the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda itself. What the Western press has attempted to portray as an autocratic regime brutalizing a civilian population simply aspiring for “democracy” and “freedom,” is in reality a government desperately trying to protect its sovereignty and the vast majority of its population from the ravaging effects of sectarian extremism, previewed during the Iraq “civil war,” and now fully realized within the borders of Syria itself.

It was perhaps the compromises made by Syria to placate a perceived “international consensus” in regards to “freedom” and “democracy” that gave militants the foothold they needed to trigger the violence now unfolding across Syria and beyond its borders. It is hoped that by documenting the evidence provided by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, that this wave of terrorism can be better understood and therefore defeated. It is hoped that people both in the United States and in Syria can see what forces among themselves have contributed to the perpetuation of Al Qaeda and its use as a militant proxy, and purge these organizations and their ideology permanently from the body politic.

Image: From West Point’s CTC report, “Bombers, Bank Accounts and Bleedout: al-Qa’ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq,” a map indicates the number of total fighters that served as the statistical basis for the center’s analysis. It would appear that there are many other potential nations that may yet suffer the fate of Libya and Syria within this network alone. A success in Syria for the West would validate this model for regime change, and surely be tried elsewhere.

….

By reading the tremendous body of work provided by the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center’s reports, “Al-Qa’ida’s Foreign Fighters in Iraq” and “Bombers, Bank Accounts and Bleedout: al-Qa’ida’s Road In and Out of Iraq,” other nations at risk of potentially falling prey to a similar use of Al Qaeda as a proxy serving Western foreign policy, can begin making preparations and raising awareness regarding the truth behind this geopolitical tool.

Pretrial arguments began last week and continued Wednesday in the military commission trial in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba of the alleged 9/11 plotters over the US government’s attempt to suppress any testimony by the defendants on their torture at the hands of the CIA.

The five defendants, including the alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, are charged with war crimes. Prosecutors are asking for the death penalty.

In April, the prosecution filed a motion for a “protective order.” In that motion and a subsequent court filing, the government asked the presiding military judge to exclude from evidence as presumptively “classified” any and all statements by the defendants about their detention and abuse in CIA custody. The request extends to their treatment and conditions since they were transferred to Guantánamo.

The government’s rationale is that because the defendants were “detained and interrogated in the CIA program” of secret detention, torture and abuse, they were “exposed to classified sources, methods, and activities” and therefore must be gagged to avoid revealing what the government did to them.

The reason for the government’s request is nakedly political. It wants to ensure that the public will never hear the defendants’ accounts of the rendition, torture and black site detention to which the CIA subjected them—in short, the US government’s own war crimes. A secondary government motive is to keep the defendants from testifying to possible links between their activities and US intelligence operatives prior to the 9/11 attacks.

The government’s argument is Orwellian. By its logic, no defendant could ever testify to abuse. Nor could plaintiffs who might seek redress in the civil courts for being unlawfully renditioned or tortured.

The government’s arguments underscore the drumhead character of the military commissions established by George W. Bush and continued by Barack Obama.

Under the 2009 revision to the military commission rules applicable to these proceedings, evidence obtained by torture is not barred: coerced statements may be used as evidence if the judge determines they are “reliable” and “probative” and that their use is “in the best interest of justice.”

Thus, when the government uses the defendants’ own statements to prove their guilt, the defendants will not be able to testify that the statements were given under the extreme duress of torture. A trial under such circumstances is an utter sham.

The government’s position is otherwise absurd because this very information has already been made public. President Obama previously released memos from the Office of Legal Counsel of the US Justice Department during the Bush administration detailing the torture to which the defendants were subjected. It is already public record that the CIA waterboarded defendant Mohammed 183 times, and that it used beatings, forced nudity, threats against family members—including children—stress positions, and deprivation of food against the defendants.

Similarly, the Red Cross and other bodies have released detailed findings of the treatment of these and other detainees at Guantánamo.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and lawyers on behalf of 14 media companies have argued against the government’s request, citing longstanding US Supreme Court case authority establishing that the public has a First Amendment right to observe these trial proceedings unless the government can show a substantial likelihood that public testimony would result in harm to national security or another “compelling” government interest. This mirrors the constitutional right a criminal defendant has in US courts to a public trial.

The public gallery for observation of the trial is behind a sound barrier. The government has also asked the presiding military judge to allow a 40-second delay in the audio feed of the commission proceedings to the public so that a military censor can cut off the sound whenever the government wants to shroud from the public, press and trial observers testimony from the defendants.

In response to this proposal, the ACLU’s lead counsel, Hina Shamsi, argued: “[E]very day courts around our country deal with classified information without the need to build a censorship chamber. Courts deal with hundreds of sensitive national security and terrorism cases without the need to build a soundproof wall between the courtroom and the American public. No other American courtroom has a government official sitting in the corner with a finger on a censor button. The reason this courtroom was built, the reason for the censorship regime that the government seeks to impose is the government wants to ensure that the American public will never hear the defendants’ accounts of the torture, rendition and black site detaining to which the CIA subjected them.”

The defendants have refused to participate in much of these proceedings, decrying them as sham. On Wednesday, a defendant charged in another prosecution with orchestrating the attack on the Navy destroyer USS Cole, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, told the judge that he is being dragged about in “belly chains” and subjected to other abuse that renders him unable to contribute to his defense.

At Guantánamo, the circumstances in which much of the evidence was obtained are considered a national security matter, such that even defense lawyers with top secret security clearance are denied access.

The prosecutor has a power unknown in US federal court or any international tribunal: he can unilaterally veto a defense attorney’s decision to call a witness. The lawyer must then argue its merits with the prosecutor in front of the judge. This locks in a prosecutorial advantage that undercuts an effective defense.

This is on top of severe limitations placed on communications between the defendants and legal counsel, and restrictions placed on defense access to exculpatory evidence. The rules are designed to allow the prosecution free rein on evidence, but keep the defense tightly controlled.

The presiding judge, US Army Colonel James Pohl, was expected to start ruling on these and other motions by Thursday, but a hurricane approached Wednesday evening and the proceedings were shut down.

In a related development, the prosecution’s ability to prove that the crimes alleged meet the standard of war crimes under the 2009 law authorizing military commissions suffered a potentially devastating blow last week. One of only two cases tried to a verdict by the military commissions at Guantánamo, against Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden’s driver, was reversed on appeal.

Hamdan was convicted in 2008 of providing material support for terrorism. A unanimous three-judge panel of the conservative District of Columbia Circuit found that this charge was not a war crime, and thus was outside the reach of the military commissions. The court noted that Hamdan was found guilty based on conduct that took place from 1996 to 2001, but the charge of material support for terrorism came into effect only with the passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Zachary Katznelson, a senior ACLU attorney, said the decision “strikes the biggest blow yet against the legitimacy of the Guantánamo military commissions, which have for years now been trying people for a supposed war crime that in fact is not a war crime at all.”

The charges against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants do not include material support for terrorism.

With barely a week and a half to go until the November 6 presidential elections, the entire spectrum of the American pseudo-left is exerting maximum efforts to turn out votes for Obama with the claim that the reelection of the incumbent Democrat would represent the “lesser of two evils.”

If there was any need for a further refutation of this shabby political argument it has been provided in the form of the exposé run by the Washington Post this week on the Obama administration’s institutionalization of assassinations orchestrated from the White House.

“Disposition Matrix,” sounding like the title of a science fiction film, is the term crafted by Obama’s intelligence and military advisers to describe a new system that is “codifying and streamlining” the extrajudicial killings that are being carried out on the orders of the US president on virtually a daily basis.

The media’s bloodless reports referring to unmanned aircraft carrying out strikes against “compounds” and killing unnamed “militants” serve to mask the reality of US drone warfare, which in Pakistan alone has torn to pieces and incinerated thousands of civilians, men, women, children, while leaving entire communities in a permanent state of terror. An untold number more have been killed in Yemen and Somalia and no doubt elsewhere.

The Post series reveals that the individual playing the presiding role in this program of state assassinations is John Brennan, a former top-ranking Central Intelligence Agency official tapped by Obama to be his counterterrorism adviser.

In the run-up to his inauguration, Obama had moved to name Brennan as the new CIA director. He was forced to back off the nomination, however, in the face of popular outrage over the fact that the candidate of “hope” and “change” was installing a holdover from the Bush years who was deeply implicated in the policies of torture, indefinite detention, extraordinary rendition and cover-up that many thought they had voted against.

What emerges from the Post account is that Brennan has in his role of White House adviser amassed more control than the CIA director himself. Unelected and not subject to confirmation by Congress, Brennan wields “enormous power in shaping decisions on ‘kill’ lists and the allocation of armed drones, the war’s signature weapon,” the Post reports.

Carrying out these decisions are a combination of CIA paramilitary operatives and military commandos of the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command. JSOC, which operates under conditions of extreme secrecy and outside of the Pentagon’s chain of command, has been described by one military official as an “industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine” and by others as the “President’s Army.”

Among the victims of this machine are American citizens, including the New Mexico-born cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a drone missile attack in Yemen in September 2011. His 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was murdered in another drone strike two weeks later along with his 17-year-old cousin. No charges or even evidence was ever brought against Anwar al-Awlaki for any crimes, outside of his thoughts and speech. As for the 16-year-old son, there was not even that.

In a recent interview with CNN, Obama made the incredible claim that American citizens targeted in his assassination campaign are afforded “the protection of the Constitution and due process.” It did not occur to the reporter to ask what part of the Constitution grants the American president the power to order executions without presenting charges, much less proving them in a court of law.

What Obama means by “due process” is that he rubber-stamps decisions made by Brennan and the CIA spooks and military brass who gather weekly at the White House to prepare “kill lists” in what they cynically refer to as “terror Tuesdays.”

This entire criminal procedure is a repudiation in practice of the US Constitution and of the most elementary democratic rights dating back nearly 900 years to the English Magna Carta, which held that no person could be put to death or imprisoned “except by the lawful judgment of his equals or by the law of the land.”

Attorney General Eric Holder, however, has directly asserted the president’s right to order state killings with no need for charges or trials. And Obama at the end of last year signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, allowing the president to throw anyone, including US citizens, into a military prison indefinitely without charge.

What has been put in place, on a scale that far surpasses what was done under George W. Bush, is the framework for an American police-military dictatorship.

Among the more chilling facts disclosed in the Post series is that the coordination of the “kill lists” has been entrusted to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), which it was recently revealed is simultaneously mining government data bases to accumulate vast amounts of information on average American citizens.

The erosion of democratic rights within the United States is far more advanced than most people realize. The methods of “kill lists” and military detention without charges or trial will be used against opponents of American imperialism all over the world and, increasingly, against those perceived as enemies of the state and impediments to profit interests within the US itself.

These policies are not driven fundamentally by the political ideology of either the Democratic or Republican parties, which give them bipartisan support. This was evidenced in Monday night’s debate, where Obama bragged about bringing alleged culprits “to justice” and Romney vowed “to kill them, to take them out of the picture.”

Rather they are the outcome, on the one hand, of unprecedented social inequality within America. The gap between a corporate and financial aristocracy that monopolizes economic wealth and political power and the vast mass of working people has become so wide as to be incompatible with democratic forms of rule. On the other hand, they are the byproduct of the unchecked growth of militarism, as US imperialism seeks to offset its economic crisis and decline by using armed force to assert control over the world’s strategically vital regions and resources.

The very fact that the detailed reports of a Murder, Inc. being run out of the West Wing of the White House have not prompted a public outcry and demands for Obama’s impeachment is testimony to the collapse of democratic consciousness within America’s ruling political establishment. Just as the economic practices of Wall Street and corporate America have assumed an increasingly criminal character, so the essential functioning of the state itself is ever more bound up with murder, brutality and extra-constitutional repression.

The startling revelations about the institutionalization of state assassinations under the Obama administration should impel workers and youth to consider very carefully what is happening in the US today and to draw the necessary political conclusions.

No matter which of the two capitalist parties emerges victorious on November 6, the immense dangers to basic democratic rights will only intensify in the wake of the election. Neither these rights, nor the jobs and conditions of working people, can be defended outside of a break with the Democratic Party and the preparation of a new revolutionary leadership and perspective in the working class for the great social struggles that are to come.

The DOJ Vigilantes: Arresting the “Bad Guys”

October 26th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

Call it three-bagger injustice. Three “bad guys” in one week include one wrongfully arrested, another forced to plead guilty though innocent, and a third convicted without having committed a crime.

In America, criminal justice works that way more times than not. It’s especially true when targeting Washington’s enemy of choice. When Department of Justice (DOJ) vigilantes choose victims, innocence is no defense. Guilt by accusation is policy.

Post-9/11, praying to the wrong God was criminalized. Doing so violates inviolable First Amendment rights. War on terror priorities take precedence.

So do hate, institutionalized racism, and rage to fill homeland gulag beds. America’s prison/industrial complex demands it. DOJ vigilantes have to prove they’re protecting us. Media scoundrels cheerlead all false arrests, convictions, and incarcerations. Justice isn’t part of their vocabulary.

On October 18, DOJ’s Minneapolis Division headlined “Federal Jury Convicts Minneapolis Man of Supporting Foreign Terrorists,” saying:

Mahamud Said Omar “faces a potential maximum penalty of life in federal prison for conspiracy to kill, kidnap, maim, and injure. He faces up to 15 years in federal prison for each of the remaining charges. US District Court Chief Judge Michael J. Davis will determine his sentence at a future hearing, not yet scheduled.”

On August 20, 2009, a federal grand jury indicted him on five terrorist-related charges. On November 23, they were unsealed.

They said he “conspired with others to provide financial assistance as well as personnel to terrorists and foreign terrorist organizations. (A)llegedly (he also) visited an al-Shabaab safe-house and provided hundreds of dollars to fund the purchase of AK-47 rifles for men from Minneapolis.”

At the time, he was held in the Netherlands awaiting extradition once finalized. He denied all charges. It didn’t help. In terrorism cases, innocence is no defense. He may remain imprisoned for life.

His attorney, Andrew Birrell, called him a “frightened little man.” A Somali national, he struggled to adapt to US life. He lacks basic skills and know-how to organize anything.

Prosecutors based their case on bogus testimonies. Witnesses were pressured to lie. They struck plea bargains for lesser sentences on charges they faced. In return, they framed Omar.

DOJ vigilantes use this tactic repeatedly. They also use secret evidence, secret witnesses, and other underhanded ways to convict. More on that below. Omar was among 18 men charged in related cases. Seven pleaded guilty. Others were presumed abroad.

At least six traveled to Somalia. Foreign travel is legal except when DOJ vigilantes claim otherwise. Charges at times exceed credibility. In a related case to Omar’s, they included allegedly trying to buy missiles able down F-16s. How or why wasn’t explained.

Other cases involved waging war on Fort Dix, NJ, the marines at Quantico, VA, planning to down National Guard jets, plotting to blow Chicago’s Sears Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, and other equally preposterous plots. Another notable one is discussed below.

Baseless charges often get American Muslims convicted. Paid informants entrap them. Each time there’s no plot, no crime, or an intention to commit one.

Innocent victims are targeted, persecuted, arrested, imprisoned, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted on their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence, and convicted by intimidated juries.

They’re given long prison terms for their faith, ethnicity, activism, charity, and/or prominence. They learn the hard way why being Muslims in America at the wrong time is hazardous.

On October 17, DOJ’s Houston Division headlined “Man Pleads Guilty in New York to Conspiring with Iranian Military Officials to Assassinate Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States.”

Manssor Arbabsiar was pressured to plead guilty to an alleged crime. It sounded more like a bad film plot. DOJ vigilantes said plans “never progressed.”

Of course not. There were none. At issue was beating up on Iran. Arbabsiar was a convenient fall guy. He’s a naturalized American citizen. He holds both US and Iranian passports. At the time, Attorney General Eric Holder said he’s “committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions.”

Perhaps he had a hard time keeping a straight face saying it. Accusations against Arbabsiar include “conspiracy to murder a foreign official, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, and conspiracy to commit an act of international terrorism, among other charges.”

It didn’t matter that there was no plot, crime, or intention to commit one. Why Arbabsiar confessed he’ll have to explain. Cooler heads knew the whole scheme was baseless.

A May 2011 New York University’s School of Law Center for Human Rights and Global Justice report headlined, “Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the ‘Homegrown Threat’ in the United States.”

It discussed how FBI stings entrap hundreds of American Muslims lawlessly. Washington calls them foiled terror plots. In fact, none exist.

FBI informants are well paid to entrap and lie. Media scoundrels headline them. The validity of charges is never questioned.

The likelihood that Iran or any other country would plan terror assassinations or other attacks on US soil is preposterous. Key is cui bono. Iran and other nations have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

In December 2010, Holder defended entrapment. He called it an “essential law enforcement tool.” It helps uncover and prevent terror attacks, he claimed. Forget about rule of law issues. They don’t matter.

Inciting fear, justifying America’s imperium, filling homeland gulag beds, and fattening bottom lines for greedy war profiteers count most.

Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officials or agents induce, influence, or provoke crimes that otherwise wouldn’t be committed.

It doesn’t apply in willful criminal cases. DOJ vigilantes may legally aid, abet, or facilitate illegal acts when suspects plan them.

Entrapment involves the following:

Government officials or agents must initiate the idea. Individuals are persuaded to commit what they otherwise never planned. Moreover, they had no previous intent or willingness to do so.

Key is that prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that subjects weren’t entrapped. Otherwise, due process convictions are prohibited.

Nonetheless, judicial fairness seldom occurs in cases involving anyone for political reasons. Muslims are especially vulnerable. Once targeted, it’s virtually impossible to escape unscathed.

On October 17, DOJ’s New York Field Office headlined “Joint Terrorism Task Force Arrests Man in Lower Manhattan After He Attempted to Bomb New York Federal Reserve Bank.”

Admittedly, bankers are reviled. Anger doesn’t get aggrieved people mad enough to blow up buildings used for financial war on humanity.

Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis wasn’t helped. He was arrested for allegedly trying to blow up New York’s Fed building. Allegedly, he used what he believed was a 1,000 pound bomb.

He faces charges of “attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda.”

Like many other DOJ targets, he was lawlessly entrapped. He’s a 21-year old Bangladeshi. An elaborate sting snared him. In January, he arrived in America on a student visa.

DOJ vigilantes fraudulently claimed he tried making contact with homegrown terrorists. Supposedly it was to carry out an attack. Why wasn’t explained. Charges put words in his mouth like a desire to “attack and kill.”

FBI vigilantes singled him out. He didn’t realize the danger of being Muslim in America at the wrong time. They played him for a patsy. They wanted another victim and got one. They falsely claimed he wanted to be respected by Al Qaeda leaders.

His father, Quazi Mohammad Ahsanullah, is a Dhaka senior vice president banker. He denounced the charges. He called them “a racist conspiracy.”

“The intelligence of the USA is playing with a a mere boy whom we sent for higher study. The allegation against my son is not true at all. He could not even drive a car. How was he caught with a van? He fell into a trap.”

He’s a timid young man, he added. He’s sometimes wary of leaving home alone. He came to America for business administration studies. He said a US degree would advance his career at home.

He added:

“I spent all my savings to send him to America.” He’s “very gentile and devoted to his studies.” He never had ideas about terrorism.

He was ordered held without bail. He was entrapped with fake explosives. New York Joint Terrorism Task Force agents supplied them. How they maneuvered him into an alleged terror plot isn’t clear.

In Bangladesh, he had no known Jihadist ties. He was a shy unassuming student. Why FBI vigilantes picked him as an easy mark they, or others connected to them, will have to explain.

Nafis may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Clearly, he was in the wrong country for any reason. He stood out prominently and was vulnerable. He may end up imprisoned for life.

Others like him got many years behind bars. Every high-profile Muslim terror plot was fake. Innocence each time didn’t help them. One preposterous scheme after another didn’t matter. Once charged, convictions are virtually automatic.

America’s war on terror demands lots of prisoners. Inciting fear requires schemes too extreme to forget. Plausibility doesn’t enter the public mind.

Getting bad guys off city streets alone matters. Guilt by accusation works as planned. Police state America has it down to a science. Growing numbers of Muslims behind bars proves there’s no place to hide.

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

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays 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

 

Amid conflicting reports that the Libyan city of Bani Walid was captured by army forces, RT has learned that 600 people were allegedly killed in Wednesday’s fighting, and over 1,000 have been hospitalized. Locals are appealing for international aid.

Libyan officials claimed that government forces conducted a 20-day siege before capturing Bani Walid, the last stronghold for supporters of the Gaddafi regime, and seized the city. Sources in the town gave conflicting reports, saying that local militias were responsible for the siege and now control of the area.

“We continue to receive conflicting reports. From sources on the ground, we’re hearing that the army is withdrawing from the city, although we are hearing of widespread killings. Government sources say the city has fallen,” RT correspondent in neighboring Lebanon, Paula Slier, said.

When asked why the West is ignoring the massacres in Bani Walid, US Department of State Spokesperson Victoria Nuland told RT that Washington is “watching the situation very closely” while its position on this situation remains “absolutely clear.”

“We support the efforts of the Libyan government to get control of militias and to provide security throughout the country, including in Bani Walid, and to do so in a way that is respectful of the human rights of all citizens and allows humanitarian organizations to get in,” Nuland said.

An individual in Italy who allegedly has relatives in Bani Walid spoke to RT about the current state of the city. Calling himself ‘Alwarfally’ – referring to a tribe from Bani Walid – he asked to remain anonymous for the interview.

He said he contacted his family in the besieged city, who told him that the situation there has stabilized: The militia retreated, but only after kidnapping a local member of the ‘Council of the Elders,’ which was tasked by Bani Walid’s tribal leaders with governing the city after the fall of Gaddafi.

An injured man in Bani Walid (RT source)
An injured man in Bani Walid (RT source)

“Bani Walid’s people got the control of the city again,” Alwarfally told RT. “[The] situation in Bani Walid is better now. Militia fell back after the fight that happened yesterday, and everything is good.”

“Militia kidnapped the consul of Bani Walid, his health is poor,” he said. “They will take him to Misrata and I don’t know what will happen to him. He is a very good man. He didn’t have anything to do with what happened, he is just a council member in Bani Walid.”

The Misrata militia that allegedly laid siege to Bani Walid was the same group accused of war crimes by Human Rights Watch last week.

An injured child in Bani Walid (RT source)
An injured child in Bani Walid (RT source)

Alwarfally also claimed that at least hundreds of people were killed during the 20-day siege.

“The number is really big,” he said. “One the first day that [the militia] came, there were about 70 bodies from the fighting. Yesterday night there was 600.”

“The number of people in the hospitals is over 1000,” he added.

An eyewitness in Bani Walid – who called herself Fatima – had a very different story to tell. She said the situation in the town is anything but stable.

“These are not governmental forces. These are militias and armed gangsters surrounding Bani Walid without any legitimacy. The media is prohibited from reporting on what’s happening in the city. The situation is horrible. Crimes are committed. Communications were deliberately cut in order for these gangsters to prevent any person from communicating what is really happening. They are bulldozing houses. They’re setting houses on fire, stealing everything they can find. They’ve committed massacres, killing as many people as they could,” she told RT.

Whether government forces or militias are behind the violence, video footage from the town paints a very graphic picture.

“Some of the photos and video we’ve been receiving show dismembered bodies and children who have been killed. Some of that footage is coming from Bani Walid television,” Slier said.

Militias blockaded the town for the past 20 days in an attempt to locate those responsible for the death of Omran Shaaban – the man credited with capturing Muammar Gaddafi last year. The Warfalla tribe controlling Bani Walid was accused of kidnapping and torturing Shaaban.

The people of Bani Walid have been appealing for help from the international community.

“People here in Bani Walid want to return to their homes. They say that their city is totally destroyed. Nevertheless, they want to go back and live in the wreckage. They refuse to be driven out of the city. Secondly, they request all humanitarian organizations, including the UN, to come to Bani Walid and see the destruction for themselves and see the devastation. We need immediate aide. We need humanitarian assistance urgently,” Fatima said.

Aid efforts were stopped by the US earlier this week when Washington blocked a draft statement, proposed by Russia, on the resolution of violence in Bani Walid. The statement called for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Pro-government forces fire their mortar launcher off the back of a truck on October 23, 2012, one kilometer from the northern entrance to the town of Bani Walid, one of the final bastions of Moamer Kadhafi′s ousted regime, as Libya celebrates the first anniversary of its "liberation" from the regime, even as fighting flared in a former bastion of the slain dictator (AFP Photo / Mahmud Turkia)
Pro-government forces fire their mortar launcher off the back of a truck on October 23, 2012, one kilometer from the northern entrance to the town of Bani Walid, one of the final bastions of Moamer Kadhafi’s ousted regime, as Libya celebrates the first anniversary of its “liberation” from the regime, even as fighting flared in a former bastion of the slain dictator (AFP Photo / Mahmud Turkia)
An injured man in Bani Walid (RT source)
An injured man in Bani Walid (RT source)
An injured man in Bani Walid (RT source)
An injured man in Bani Walid (RT source)
An injured man in Bani Walid (RT source)
An injured man in Bani Walid (RT source)
Pro-government forces fire their gun off the back of a truck on October 23, 2012, one kilometer from the northern entrance to the town of Bani Walid, one of the final bastions of Moamer Kadhafi′s ousted regime (AFP Photo / Mahmud Turkia)
Pro-government forces fire their gun off the back of a truck on October 23, 2012, one kilometer from the northern entrance to the town of Bani Walid, one of the final bastions of Moamer Kadhafi’s ousted regime (AFP Photo / Mahmud Turkia)
The anti-missile system would be technically capable of threathening the Russian capital by 2020, Komoyedov said.MOSCOW: Russia needs to undertake additional measures to counter a threat from the U.S. anti-missile system, a high-ranking parliament member of Russia said here Thursday.”Absolutely different things are necessary,” head of the State Duma Defense Committee Vladimir Komoyedov told reporters when asked if the Russian Iskander missiles could surpass [neutralize] the U.S. missile shield in Europe.

In 2011, then-President Dmitry Medvedev warned that Russia would station Iskander tactic missiles in the western exclave of Kaliningrad and southern Krasnodar region, should the United States implement its phased approach to the anti-missile defense program.

The European Phased Adaptive Approach envisaged a four-step deployment of the anti-missile facilities from 2011 to 2020 and moved the sea-based Aegis systems closer to Russian borders.

The first two phases have already been completed and the third would be finished in 2018.

The anti-missile system would be technically capable of threathening the Russian capital by 2020, Komoyedov said.

“Development of the anti-missile defense consists of four phases. The last one, to be completed by 2020, will cover (territory) including Moscow,” he said, adding that Russia possessed all the necessary technologies and ability to face such developments.

In May, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said Russia would not need any additional means to fulfill that task as the existing Iskander missiles are capable to neutralize the U.S. launching facilities.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that the anti-missile issue may cause an “ice age” in relations with the United States.

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Robert Gibbs said if US citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki didn’t want to be killed he “should have a far more responsible father”

When Robert Gibbs, former White House Press Secretary and a senior adviser to the Obama campaign, was asked why the administration killed the 16-year old son of suspected al-Qaeda member and US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki via a drone strike last year, he said it was the boy’s fault for having a father like Awlaki.

Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, 16-year old son of Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed in a US drone strike last year

Anwar al-Awlaki was killed last year in a drone strike in Yemen ordered by the Obama administration. The killing made headlines particularly because Awlaki was an American citizen, but his constitutional rights to due process were thrown out the window in favor of simply assassinating him.

Awlaki’s 16-year old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was also a US citizen and was killed in a separate drone strike in Yemen weeks after his father’s death. Abdulrahman had not been accused of being a member of al-Qaeda or of any act against the United States that could conceivably motivate a US strike.

When pressed by reporters and independent journalists, Gibbs responded to questions about the Obama administration’s killing of the American boy by dismissing his life as virtually worthless and blaming his father, Anwar, for his son’s death by presidential decree.

“I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children,” Gibbs said. “I don’t think becoming an al Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business.”

Gibbs dodged any further questioning on the issue, but in his answer defended the killing of a 16-year old American boy “not by arguing that the kid was a threat,” writes The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf, “or that killing him was an accident, but by saying that his late father irresponsibly joined al Qaeda terrorists.”

 

“Killing an American citizen without due process on that logic ought to be grounds for impeachment,” Friedersdorf adds.

Activists Challenge Israeli Lawlessness

October 25th, 2012 by Stephen Lendman

For decades, Israel has literally gotten away with murder. Crimes of war and against humanity repeat regularly. Human and civil rights are spurned.

Anyone not experiencing it firsthand can’t imagine the ruthlessness of occupation harshness. Besieged Gazans suffer most. For over five years, they’ve been lawlessly isolated and suffocated.

Former Ariel Sharon associate, Dov Weissglass, once said, “The idea is to put Palestinians on a diet, but not make them die of hunger.” In other words, make them suffer. Francis Boyle, Ilan Pappe, this writer, and others call it slow-motion genocide.

Call it anything you like but understand what’s going on. Why else would activists risk life and limb to help. No one pays them. They’re given nothing in return. They’re involved because it’s important to help.

They’re true heroes. Only friends, family, and supporters know them. Media scoundrels ignore them. Ship to Gaza Sweden (Estelle) activists are some of the best.

They knew the risks but took them. In international waters, Israeli commandos attacked them. In custody they were harshly treated. Their humanitarian cargo, personal possessions, and vessel were confiscated.

They were kidnapped and imprisoned for several days. Israel brutalized them for doing the right thing.

They’re now free, either heading home, or perhaps there resting and recovering from their ordeal. Israel never makes it easy. That’s how rogue states operate.

Gush Shalom works for peace, reconciliation, ending Israel’s occupation, and sovereign Palestine within pre-1967 borders. On October 22, its press release headlined “Israeli activists detained on the ‘Estelle’ released,” saying:

“Elik Elhanan: excessive force was used against us, without any reason”

“Electric shocks by taser out of vengeful hatred”

“A Greek MP was beaten by Shabak Security Service interrogators”

Perhaps once activists can speak freely we’ll learn more. Everyone Israel detains gets harsh treatment. It’s standard practice. Virtually every Palestinian imprisoned is tortured or abused. Children young as 10 (and sometimes younger) are treated like adults.

Arrested Palestinian supporters also taste Israeli harshness. Activist Jews are treated like enemies.

On Monday, Israeli Estelle participants Elhanan, Yonatan Shapira and Reut Mor were freed on bail. They still face likely recrimination. Prosecutors wanted the book thrown at them.

Beersheba District Court Judge Yael Raz-Levi threw out the harshest charges. They’re still vulnerable to conviction on trying to breach Gaza’s siege. Doing so, of course, is heroic, not criminal.

Peace activists greeted the three Israelis on release. Elhanan said he and others went “through difficult days.” They didn’t regret sailing and knew what they’d likely face.

“During the voyage I made a special contact with Evangelis, a Member of the Greek Parliament who sailed with us,” said Elhanan.

“When the Naval Commandos came aboard and while we were blocking their way to the bridge, Evangelis told me we have generated in him a love for the people of Israel and a hope for a better future in the Middle East.”

“Shortly afterwards they separated us. Yesterday evening, when they put (former Israeli citizen initially separated from the others) Dror Feiler in our cell, he told us that Evangelis had been beaten by the Shabak interrogators.”

“The Shabak lied shamelessly to the Consuls and representatives of foreign countries, telling them that their citizens and MPs were being treated well.”

“They used a completely disproportional amount of force against us. When the Navy arrived to take us over, Yonatan Shapira counted no less than fifteen vessels surrounding us on all sides.”

“Large and small ships and boats, a ship carrying a helicopter, as well as the Zodiacs of the Naval Commandos. Fifteen armed naval vessels against one small civilian boat carrying games for the children of Gaza. We must have disturbed very much the Navy and those who give orders to the Navy.”

“When they came aboard and we blocked their way, the soldiers knew exactly who I was. They shouted in Hebrew: ‘Elhanan, you will pay for your Leftism!’ and used the taser to give me electric shocks.”

“Even after they completed their takeover of the boat, they continued to use the taser and administer more shocks. But if they think they could deter me and those who sailed with me, they are mistaken. The siege of Gaza is an ongoing crime and it must be ended. We will continue the struggle.”

Everyone trying to breach Gaza’s siege feels the same way. They’re committed for justice, nothing less. Many say they’ll return on future missions.

The latest Ship to Gaza Sweden (Estelle) communique said:

“According to Ship to Gaza’s Israeli lawyers, all remaining activists are being deported tomorrow morning (Wednesday) at 4.30 AM. The Swedish activists are expected to arrive at Arlanda airport at 3PM.”

“Videos from the attack on the Estelle”

“Publiceringsdatum:

2012-10-23

Publicerad av:

Nyhet”

“When the activists are returning to their countries, other pictures of the event when the Estelle was attacked unfold. Partly through oral testimonies, partly through photos and videos that the activists managed to smuggle with them.”

Videos below show some of their ordeal. More will follow:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XnH3LxiKJ3M&feature=youtu.be

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M36iarLHka0

On October 23, GazaArk.org said Jim Manly, former Canadian parliamentarian and retired United Church Minister, is free. He’s heading home. He’ll arrive in Toronto Wednesday morning.

Israel kidnapped him like other Estelle activists. All of them were treated harshly. Smuggled video footage above shows Israeli navy vessels surrounding Estelle.

On October 24, the Jerusalem Post headlined “Video: ‘Estelle’ taunts IDF before being boarded,” saying:

“You are a pirate,” shouted one activist. “You are a war criminal,” he added. Video was sent home by homing pigeon. Those gotten out showed events before Israel commandos boarded Estelle.

Israeli navy radioed activists in English, saying:

“Estelle, this is the Israeli navy.” Video showed approaching Israeli vessels. A military helicopter flew overhead.

“The Gaza area and coastal region are closed to all maritime traffic as part of the maritime blockade imposed for security purposes on the Gaza Strip.”

Israel’s blockade has nothing to do with security. It’s collective punishment for economic and other reasons. Israel openly admits it.

“Your attempts to enter the Gaza Strip are a violation of international law.”

Breaching Gaza’s siege, of course, is legal and heroic. Enforcing it it lawless.

“We remind you that humanitarian supplies may be delivered to the Gaza Strip by land.”

False! Israel routinely confiscates everything on its exclusion list. Most humanitarian supplies activists bring are blocked.

“You are welcome to enter the Ashdod port and deliver the supplies through the recognized land crossings.”

False again! Moreover, interdicting nonbelligerent vessels in international waters is piracy. Gaza’s coastal waters belong to Palestine, not Israel.

Activists were warned that failure to obey Israel’s orders meant “preventive measures” would follow. In other words, they’d be subjected to events that unfolded.

“You are responsible for the consequences of your actions.”

Activists proudly and courageously try to help. Preventing them violates international law.

Estelle’s captain responded: “We are a normal trading vessel. Gaza is a free state.”

“I hope you do not do anything illegal on the international waters, and we can have this solved in a peaceful way.”

An activist then yelled: “They are coming. Ring the bell.” Another shouted at Israeli soldiers as they prepared to board: “Disobey your commanders.” Participants charged Israel with excessive force during boarding, arrest, and detention.

Knowing their electronic equipment and other possessions would be confiscated, “activists placed sim cards into the bands of homing pigeons that were on board the 53-meter ship.”

Bombing Gaza Accompanies High-Seas Piracy

On and off for days, Israeli warplanes bombed Gaza. A dozen or more civilians were killed. Many others were wounded. Media scoundrels reported nothing.

Since October 22, six more Palestinians died. Another 12 were wounded. Areas east of Rafah city were targeted. So was As-Salateen in Gaza’s northwest.

An Israeli missile destroyed a power grid. Outages affected several areas. Az-Zetoun neighborhood, east of Gaza City, was also attacked. No casualties were reported.

Hamas said Israeli tanks shelled Gaza. These type attacks happen often. Six Khan Younis schools were evacuated to protect children.

Gazans live in a war zone. No one knows from day to day who’ll live, die, or remain unharmed. Children are as vulnerable as adults.

Netanyahu is an unindicted war criminal. He warned of more to come, saying: “We will fight and we will hit them very, very hard.” He and IDF spokesmen refer to homemade rockets and mortars fired from Gaza at Israel.

Never explained is that they always follow Israeli attacks. It’s done defensively. Doing so is legal, justified, and important to show Palestinians won’t tolerate Israeli aggression.

Israel calls self-defense terrorism. Anyone paying attention and aware of conditions knows otherwise.

With January elections approaching, Netanyahu is in campaign mode. Acting tough is strategy to win votes. Cast Lead preceded Israel’s February 2009 legislative elections.

Only the fullness of time will tell if Netanyahu plans more war as a way to remain prime minister. He governs lawlessly. Put nothing past him. Gazans know they’re vulnerable to Cast Lead 2.0. It could happen any time.

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

His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays 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

U.S., NATO In South Asia: Eleven Years Of Carnage

October 25th, 2012 by Boris Volkhonsky

A reported by Reuters, Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday condemned a NATO operation that he said killed four children in the country’s east.

“Despite repeated pledges by NATO to avoid civilian casualties, innocent lives, including those of children, are still being lost,” Karzai said in the statement.

The report does not sound like anything outstanding – reports like this one have been appearing lately with an accelerated frequency. But in this case, despite the general practice of denying any wrongdoing, a spokeswoman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it was aware of possible ISAF-related civilian casualties from the operation in Baraki Barak district of Logar province last Saturday.

At the same time, the spokeswoman for ISAF presented figures intended to demonstrate that there was a 58 percent decrease in the number of ISAF-caused civilian casualties in July-September of this year compared to the same period in 2011.

Indeed, the whole issue of statistics of the kind is more than tricky. More often than not, to avoid showing the real numbers, the US and NATO officials tend to label all those killed as militants, thus drastically reducing the number of civilian casualties. Most probably, in this case when children were killed, playing this trick became impossible.

The eleventh anniversary of the Afghan operation gave analysts an opportunity to try to evaluate the total number of casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan (the so called AfPak) within this period. The Huffington Post has published a piece written by two US scholars, Neta C. Crawford from Boston University and Catherine Lutz from Brown University. The figures they present speak for themselves.

The number of foreign troops and military contractors is calculated more or less accurately. During the 11 years of war, more than 2,130 Americans and more than 1,065 other ISAF military and 1,284 US military contractors have been killed. The picture is much worse for Afghans and Pakistanis. What is striking in the study is the fact that though the war is going on in Afghanistan, the number of casualties among Pakistanis (including civilians) is even higher. This can be ascribed to the excessive use of drones.

The number of militants killed is estimated at 15,000 to 25,000 for Afghanistan and 25,000 for Pakistan. The number of civilian casualties is almost the same or even higher – 15,500 to 17,400 for Afghanistan and 14,780 to 43,150 for Pakistan. The total number of casualties in Afghanistan and Pakistan in direct war-related violence is estimated at up to 128,500. The number does not include indirect deaths caused by loss of access to food, water and infrastructure. Plus a recent UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported documents about 500,000 Pakistanis who are living outside of their homes as a result of warfare.

Now the big question that arises from the deplorable statistics is – what’s next? Plans for the troops withdrawal from Afghanistan have been announced and have not been rejected yet, although it is truly impossible to believe that the US is going to abandon the vital strategic region. But, as the authors in the Huffington Post point out, “the current plan is to pull US troops out of Afghanistan in 2014, but there is no plan to halt military assistance to Pakistan or US drone strikes there,” and “withdrawal from Afghanistan will likely leave a war in place in Pakistan.”

What kind of war this is going to be is another question. It is hard to imagine that the US strategists – whatever their appetites may be – would venture on a new war against a nuclear country like Pakistan. But the outlines of their future (or, better say, continuing) operation there has been made clear both by previous experience and recent developments.

The use of drones, widely criticized by the Western public and experts, and raising outrage in AfPak is probably the main method the US and its allies will rely upon in future warfare. It allows to diminish the number of allied military killed down to zero, while effectively inflicting devastating damage to manpower and infrastructure of the targeted country.

In a sign of proof of such supposition, on Monday London’s the Guardian revealed that the Royal Air Force is going to double the number of armed drones flying combat and surveillance operations in Afghanistan and the aircraft will be controlled from terminals and screens in Britain. The report came against the background of other widely publicized reports that the UK government is going to speed up the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan.

So, the withdrawal in no way means the end of the war. The war must go on – though in a much more cowardly manner.

Back in the 1960s, American students and professors, who were fed up with the ongoing Vietnam War chanted addressing President Lyndon Johnson, “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids have you killed today?” It seems time has come to come up with another slogan of the kind.

U.S. Supplying Anti-Aircraft Missiles To Syrian Rebels

October 25th, 2012 by Global Research News

Syrian militants are armed with portable air defence systems produced in other countries, including the United States, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Gen. Nikolai Makarov told reporters on Wednesday.“The General Staff has information that the militants, who are fighting against Syrian government troops, are armed with the portable air defence systems of various countries, including the Stinger of U.S. production,” he underlined.

Commenting on some media reports that the Obama administration gave instructions to pass on a batch of the portable air defence systems to the formations of the unappeasable Syrian opposition, Makarov said, “The US denies this fact, they say that they did not deliver anything to them (Syrian militants). However, we have reliable information that Syrian militants are armed with foreign portable air defence systems, including U.S. air defence systems.

“It is necessary to find out who supplied it to them,” the chief of the Russian General Staff said. “For this purpose all types of transport can be used, including civil airlines,” he said.

On October 17, a Syrian source stated that the U.S. allegedly decided to pass to Syrian militants a batch of portable air defence systems. “President Barack Obama, who was speaking not quite well at the first round of the debates compared to his rival Mitt Romney, prepared a ‘strong’ card. He gave instructions to pass the air defence systems to formations of the unappeasable Syrian opposition,” he told journalists.

However, the U.S. did not confirm the reliability of this information. Spokesperson of the U.S. State Department Victoria Nuland stated on October 18 that she cannot confirm anything like that.

Under the OSCE Strategy to Address Threats to Security and Stability in the twenty-first century approved in Maastricht in 2003 the organization uses all available instruments for counteracting the proliferation of the air defence systems.

According to the decision taken at the OSCE forum for security cooperation number 3/04 in May 2004 and approved by the OSCE Council of Ministers at the end of the same year, the OSCE states, including the U.S., that it is committed to contribute to the use of efficient and comprehensive mechanisms for the export control of portable air defence systems. In particular, the export supplies of the portable air defence systems only to the governments of other countries or the agents, which are empowered concretely to act on behalf of the government, are permitted. The violation of the principles of the decision comes under the effect of penalty sanctions, including those related to criminal persecution.

Guest Post by Kevin Ryan, former Site Manager for Environmental Health Laboratories, a division of Underwriters Laboratories (UL). Mr. Ryan, a Chemist and laboratory manager, was fired by UL in 2004 for publicly questioning the report being drafted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on their World Trade Center investigation. In the intervening period, Ryan has completed additional research while his original questions, which have become increasingly important over time, remain unanswered by UL or NIST.

What changes have been made as a result of the World Trade Center (WTC) investigation conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)?  Are tall buildings around the world safe from the risk of global collapse due to fire as described by the official explanations?

In 2008, NIST began claiming that its investigation would help ensure the safety of future buildings.  NIST said that such buildings “should be increasingly resistant to fire, more easily evacuated in emergencies, and safer overall” as a result of the WTC investigation.  Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, the Bush Administration cabinet member in charge of NIST at the time, said –

The lessons learned from the tragic events of 9/11 h ave yielded stronger building and fire codes for a new generation of safer, more robust buildings across the nation.” [1]

Is this true?  If so, we should be able to see improvements being made to the design and construction processes for tall buildings around the world.  We should also expect that existing buildings would be evaluated for design problems and retrofitted in an urgent manner to ensure that fires do not bring buildings crashing down as they did on 9/11, killing thousands of unsuspecting victims.

Unfortunately, there are no signs that such design evaluations and retrofit projects have occurred. This is a strong indication that the international building community has not taken the NIST WTC reports seriously.

 Are Tall Buildings Safer As a Result of the NIST WTC Reports?

In a few stunning instances, the NIST findings were never considered at all prior to building design and construction.  An example is the new WTC building 7, which was fully completed in 2006. That same year, NlST spokesman Shyam Sunder was saying “We’ve had trouble getting a handle on building No. 7.”[2]  To clarify, in 2006 NIST had no idea what happened to the original WTC 7, a 47-story skyscraper that was not hit by a plane yet collapsed into its own footprint in a matter of seconds on 9/11. Therefore the new, even taller, WTC 7 could not have incorporated any design or construction changes resulting from the NIST investigation. Apparently people still use the building, however, and do not seem bothered by the risk.

How about for other buildings in New York City and elsewhere, including the widely publicized replacement for WTC 1 being completed this year?  In order to answer that question, we should review a little history behind the NIST WTC investigation.

The NIST WTC Investigation

According to NIST, the original Twin Towers were built to meet the 1968 NYC building code requirements.[3]  This code required three hours of fire resistance for the steel column components and two hours of fire resistance for the floor assemblies.  A startling discrepancy here is that the south tower was said to be completely destroyed less than one hour after the fires began.  And what people often don’t realize is that fire is the primary explanation for failure of all three WTC buildings.

NIST did not explain this discrepancy directly.  Instead, the NIST WTC reports, which amount to tens of thousands of pages, reflected the results of computer modeling that proposed three root causes.

  • “Widely dislodged” fireproofing – the Twin Towers
  • Linear thermal expansion – WTC 7
  • “Progressive global collapse” – all three buildings [4]

Progressive global collapse was a term that NIST used frequently throughout its investigation despite the fact that no tall building had ever collapsed completely due to fire.  In fact, the only three instances of progressive global collapse for any reason other than demolition occurred all in the same place (at the WTC) at the same time (on 9/11).

With respect to the fireproofing (i.e. insulation) loss in the towers, NIST said –

The WTC towers would likely not have collapsed under the combined effects of aircraft impact and the extensive, multi-floor fires if the thermal insulation had not been widely dislodged or had been only minimally dislodged by aircraft impact.”

At the time of the 9/11 attacks, the WTC towers were undergoing a fireproofing upgrade to better ensure the buildings’ fire resistance.  In an incredible coincidence, the floors where the full fireproofing upgrades had been completed were the same floors that were struck by the aircraft on 9/11.[5]

 Are Tall Buildings Safer As a Result of the NIST WTC Reports?

The true condition of the fireproofing in the WTC towers at the time of impact has been misrepresented by supporters of the official account.  These official account supporters produce old photos of the fireproofing condition prior to the upgrades.  What they don’t tell you is that the upgraded fireproofing, for example on the impact floors of the north tower, was measured before the attacks and found to be 3.25 inches thick.  This was twice what was required by the NYC code.  What’s more, inspectors found that the adhesion, or bond strength, of the newly installed fireproofing was twice as high as what was required.[6]

How did this newly installed, superior fireproofing in the towers get “widely dislodged” as proposed by NIST?

We don’t know because NIST produced a startling lack of scientific evidence for its central claim that the fireproofing was widely dislodged.  In fact, the only evidence NIST presented for this was a test in which 15 rounds from a shotgun were aimed at various non-representative samples.  A shotgun may have been needed due to the fact that other tests NIST had performed showed the bond strength of the WTC fireproofing to be “considerably greater” than what was expected.[7]

For WTC 7, the root cause cited by NIST was the dislocation of a girder caused by the linear thermal expansion of floor beams.  The expanding composite beams were said to have caused the breakage of over one hundred high-strength bolts and other structural connections, and thereby the failure of a girder supporting a critical column.

However, other scientists submitted public comments to NIST about actual physical tests they had done, which NIST avoided entirely, that indicated such a sequence was not realistic.  “Having conducted numerous fire tests on composite beams, we have never observed this,” wrote Dr. David Proe of Victoria Universty. [8]

As a whole the NIST WTC reports were found to be unscientific and false.[9]  And because the computer models upon which these reports were ultimately based have never been made available to the public, the NIST findings cannot be replicated.

Ignoring NIST’s recommendations

Regardless of the lack of scientific validity of the WTC reports, NIST represents a standard making body of the U.S. government and its findings should compel U.S. professionals to make changes to their practices. To see if building professionals and local government regulators have followed NIST’s lead, we should examine the relevant building codes for any updates resulting from the NIST WTC investigation.

 Are Tall Buildings Safer As a Result of the NIST WTC Reports?

The International Code Council (ICC)’s International Building Code (IBC) provides a general guidance for local code makers in the United States. Following the IBC code is not a requirement for local governments, however.  Translation of the code into local code requirements is strictly a discretionary decision.

Although the ICC praised NIST and its contractors for the hard work that had gone into the NIST WTC investigation, the fact is that ICC did not incorporate relevant changes into its IBC code as a result.

In its 2008 press release on the subject, NIST claimed that the IBC code had changed to “address areas such as increasing structural resistance to building collapse from fire and other incidents; requiring a third exit stairway for tall buildings; increasing the width of all stairways by 50 percent in new high-rises; [and] strengthening criteria for the bonding, proper installation and inspection of sprayed fire-resistive materials.”

Of course, additional and wider exit stairways cannot prevent the catastrophic collapse of a skyscraper from fire.  But NIST was not telling the truth about the ICC having adopted code changes to increase structural resistance to the kinds of building collapse phenomena proposed by the WTC reports.

A 2010 press release from NIST added “better communications” to the list of ICC-adopted recommendations from the WTC investigation.[10]  It’s true that the radios used by firefighters in the WTC were a concern, and were actually known by NYC officials to be faulty as early as 1993.[11]  However, no amount of radio-related code differences would have prevented the unprecedented destruction of the buildings.  Similarly, NIST’s evacuation recommendations had no relevance to the root cause of the WTC destruction.

NIST had to admit that ICC did not adopt the recommendations that called for building professionals to “address areas such as designing structures to mitigate disproportionate progressive collapse.”[12]

In a January, 2011 letter to NIST, the ICC confirmed that this was still the case.[13]  The only code changes that ICC adopted were:

“1) Luminous egress path marking required; 2) exit stairway enclosures required to be separated by no less than 30 feet; 3) enhanced inspection requirements for Sprayed-on Fire-Resistant Material (SFRM).”

And for buildings higher than 420 feet,

“1)Increased bond strength for SFRM; 2) a second, additional exit stairway, with a minimum separation between stairwells; 3) a requirement to increase structural integrity of exit enclosures and elevator hoist enclosures; 4) redundant sprinkler system risers with alternate floor requirements.”

Of these changes, only the two related to SFRM can be seen as linked to the official account of the collapse of the buildings. But even these changes were not planned for addition to the IBC code until release of the 2012 edition.  Apparently the concerns about the SFRM and its bond strength were not that great.

That might be because it’s tough to see how the SFRM code changes were related anyway.  That is, the ICC changes to require greater fireproofing bond strength cannot be reconciled with the fact that the fireproofing in the alleged failure areas of the towers was already far greater than what the code required.  Yet still the buildings suffered “progressive global collapse,” a phenomenon for which the ICC made no changes.

As for the inexplicable collapse of WTC 7, the ICC made no changes there either. The alleged root cause of floor beam thermal expansion is not addressed by any ICC code change.

How about New York City and government leaders in general?  Were federal and state leaders, municipalities and building professionals willing to put money into the relevant recommendations made by NIST, and thereby endorse the official explanations for what happened at the WTC?  No, they were not.

The current (2008) NYC code includes changes that were said to be modeled after the ICC’s changes, which were said to be a result of the NIST WTC investigation.  However, the actual changes made were not related to NIST’s three root causes of the WTC destruction.  Instead, they focused on “widened stairwells in high-rise buildings, expanded sprinkler systems, and enhanced emergency voice communication systems.”[14]

The NYC building code includes a requirement for SFRM bond strength that clearly does not take the WTC investigation into account.  The requirement is that the bond strength “shall not be less than 150 pounds per square foot (psf).“[15]  The problem is that the bond strength of the fireproofing in the WTC was known to be much higher than this and yet we’re told it was still widely dislodged.

The Port Authority of NY and NJ provided 64 bond strength measurement values to NIST, taken from the fireproofing in the impact and failures zones of the WTC.  NIST even listed these in its report.  None were as low as 150 psf and most were twice that value.[16]  The failure to increase the bond strength requirement in the building code, leaving it at a value that was far lower than what the WTC had in place, indicates that NYC officials are not in the least bit worried about bond strength.

Related to WTC 7, the 2008 NYC code also refers to the need to ensure that the fire-induced expansion of building components (e.g. steel beams) does “not adversely interfere with the system’s capabilities.”[17]  But the 1968 code included similar requirements and even stated that the coefficient of expansion for all building materials needed to be addressed in test reports.[18]

More specifically, the 1968 code that WTC 7 was required to meet stated that the design “shall provide for forces and/or movements resulting from an assumed expansion corresponding to a change in temperature.”  Therefore not only was there no change as a result of the NIST WTC 7 report, given the NIST account we might wonder if the original WTC 7 was constructed outside of the NYC code requirements.

 Another reason the NIST WTC reports are false

Despite its grandiose claims, NIST knows that the building community has ignored the WTC investigation findings.  That’s clear from NIST’s own tracking sheet on its website.  This tracks all 30 recommendations from the NIST WTC investigation and lists the code “outcomes” from each.[19]  As of August 2011, the most recent update, not one NIST recommendation related to progressive global collapse, “widely dislodged” fireproofing, or linear thermal expansion has been adopted.

The two NIST recommendations that call for (unspecified) measures to prevent progressive global collapse have been completely ignored.  Other things like an additional exit stairway, a fire service access elevator, and stairwells with glow-in-the-dark markings are simply not relevant.[20]

NIST might argue that there is one ICC change that calls for fireproofing to have increased bond strength and be installed and inspected correctly.  But since bond strength was not a root cause of the WTC destruction, and measurements just before 9/11 showed that the fireproofing in the impact zones was far better installed and had far better bond strength than what was required, this is a red herring.  That’s not to mention that no tests were ever done to indicate what bond strength was needed to resist flying aircraft debris.

Are tall buildings safer as a result of the NIST WTC report?  No, they are most certainly not. And if people actually understood and believed the official account of what happened at the WTC they would not enter tall buildings because in doing so they would be putting their lives at risk.

The truth, however, is that the NIST WTC investigation was a politically motivated diversion that produced reports which are known to be false.  This fact is re-emphasized by the knowledge that the international building community, including that of New York City, has not adopted code changes that can be traced to the root causes cited by NIST for the WTC destruction.


[1] NIST, Safer Buildings Are Goal of New Code Changes Based on Recommendations from NIST World Trade Center Investigation, October 1, 2008, http://www.nist.gov/el/wtc_100108.cfm

[2] Marc Jacobsen, The Ground Zero Grassy Knoll, New York Magazine, Mar 19, 2006, http://nymag.com/news/features/16464/

[3] NIST NCSTAR 1-1F, Executive Summary, p XXV, http://fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/fire05/PDF/f05176.pdf

[4] The NIST WTC reports can be found at http://wtc.nist.gov

[5] Kevin R. Ryan, Another amazing coincidence related to the WTC, 911Blogger.com, January 6, 2008, http://www.911blogger.com/node/13272

[6] For the SFRM thickness and adhesion values, see NIST WTC report NCSTAR 1-6A, figure A-60, http://fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/build05/PDF/b05035.pdf

[7] Kevin R. Ryan, The Short Reign of Ryan Mackey, Journal of 9/11 Studies, December 2007, http://www.journalof911studies.com/letters/b/MackeyLetter.pdf

[8] Public Comments Received by NIST on DRAFT Reports, August 2008, http://www.nist.gov/el/disasterstudies/wtc/upload/combined2008publicComments-2.pdf, See also – Fire Safety Researchers at Victoria University Disagree with NIST’s WTC 7 Report, http://uwaterloo911.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/fire-safety-researchers-at-victoria-university-disagree-with-nists-wtc-7-report/

[9] An easy way to see to understand the falsity of the NIST WTC reports is to watch my two short videos on the subject — Why the NIST Report for the Towers is False, http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2011/08/16/why-the-nist-report-on-the-wtc-towers-is-false/   and Why the NIST WTC 7 Report is False, http://digwithin.net/2011/07/09/why-the-nist-wtc-7-report-is-false/

[10] NIST WTC Recommendations Are Basis for New Set of Revised Codes, June 9, 2010

[11] Wayne Barrett, Rudy Giuliani’s Five Big Lies About 9/11, The Village Voice, July 31, 2007, http://www.villagevoice.com/2007-07-31/news/rudy-giuliani-s-five-big-lies-about-9-11/full/

[12] NIST, Safer Buildings Are Goal of New Code Changes Based on Recommendations from NIST World Trade Center Investigation, October 1, 2008, http://www.nist.gov/el/wtc_100108.cfm

[13] National Institute of Standards and Technology: Request for Information, International Code Council, Docket No. 0909100442-0563-02, January 12, 2011, http://standards.gov/upload/35_ICC.pdf

[14] The Real Deal, New York City Real Estate News, New buildings must meet latest NYC construction code, July 01, 2009, http://therealdeal.com/blog/2009/07/01/new-buildings-must-meet-latest-nyc-construction-code-robert-limandri-nyc-construction-codes/

[15] 2008 New York City Building Code,  section 909.4.2 Temperature Effect of Fire, section 1704.11.5 http://www2.iccsafe.org/states/newyorkcity/Building/Building-Frameset.html

[16] NIST NCSTAR 1-6A, p 45

[17] 2008 New York City Building Code,  section 909.4.2 Temperature Effect of Fire, section 909.4.2 http://www2.iccsafe.org/states/newyorkcity/Building/Building-Frameset.html

[18] 1968 New York City Building Code,  Article 2: Fire protection test Procedures http://www.nyc.gov/html/dob/html/codes_and_reference_materials/code_internet.shtml

[19] Status of NIST’s Recommendations Following the Federal Building and Fire Investigation of the World Trade Center Disaster, NIST WTC website, August 8, 2011, http://www.nist.gov/el/disasterstudies/wtc/upload/WTCRecommendationsStatusTable.pdf

[20] Building design and Construction (Staff), NIST WTC recommendations finally adopted in the model building codes, August 11, 2011, http://www.bdcnetwork.com/nist-wtc-recommendations-finally-adopted-model-building-codes

GRTV: Money, Media and Minds: Coverage or Cover Up?

October 25th, 2012 by Danny Schechter

A new poll  of Israeli Jews by Camil Fuchs and commissioned by the New Israel Fund has alarming findings concerning the deterioration of democratic values in Israel. 

*       *      *

rise of jewish fascism yediot

Yediot graphic juxtaposes Israeli ID with Kach party emblem, a closed fist, for an article on the threat of Jewish fascism

Gideon Levy writes in Haaretz that Israelis (Jews) have largely shed their previous veneer of democratic values and now hold views that can only be described as authoritarian-racist, if not fascist.

The majority of the Jewish public, 59 percent, wants preference[s] for Jews over Arabs in…job [appointments] in government ministries. Almost half the Jews, 49 percent, want the state to treat Jewish citizens better than Arab ones; 42 percent don’t want to live in the same building with Arabs and 42 percent don’t want their children in the same class with Arab children.

A third of the Jewish public wants a law barring Israeli Arabs from voting for the Knesset and a large majority of 69 percent objects to giving 2.5 million Palestinians the right to vote if Israel annexes the West Bank.

A sweeping 74 percent majority is in favor of separate roads for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. A quarter – 24 percent – believe separate roads are “a good situation” and 50 percent believe they are “a necessary situation.”

Almost half – 47 percent – want part of Israel’s Arab population to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority and 36 percent support transferring some of the Arab towns from Israel to the PA, in exchange for keeping some of the West Bank settlements.

Although the territories have not been annexed, most of the Jewish public (58 percent ) already believes Israel practices apartheid against Arabs. Only 31 percent think such a system is not in force here. Over a third (38 percent ) of the Jewish public wants Israel to annex the territories with settlements on them, while 48 percent object.

…The survey indicates that a third to half of Jewish Israelis want to live in a state that practices formal, open discrimination against its Arab citizens. An even larger majority wants to live in an apartheid state if Israel annexes the territories.

…The interviewees did not object strongly to describing Israel’s character as “apartheid” already today, without annexing the territories. Only 31 percent objected to calling Israel an “apartheid state” and said “there’s no apartheid at all.”

In contrast, 39 percent believe apartheid is practiced “in a few fields”; 19 percent believe “there’s apartheid in many fields” and 11 percent do not know.

The clarion call for liberal Zionists (including the New Israel Fund, which sponsored this poll) has always been that Israel is a “Jewish democratic state.”  No one was allowed to separate those two words and say Israel was only a Jewish state or only a democracy.  It had to be both.  We can no longer say this is true.  The majority of Israeli Jews hold views that are clearly antithetical to democracy.  In fact, they’ve largely embraced the agenda of Meir Kahane, who held that democracy was a type of illness imported from the west and alien to the Middle East.  Kahane favored a Jewish state that offered no democratic rights to non-Jews.  This poll shows that Israeli Jews are rapidly flocking to this point of view.

Jews favor superior rights for themselves over non-Jewish citizens.  They favor denying Palestinian citizens the right to vote.  They favor preferences to Jews over non-Jews in awarding government jobs.  They favor an apartheid transportation system.  They support the ethnic cleansing of non-Jewish citizens from the State.

In an accompanying op-ed, Levy adds:

Israelis have never appeared so pleased with themselves, even when they admit their racism. Most of them think Israel is a good place to live in and most of them think this is a racist state. It’s good to live in this country, most Israelis say, not despite its racism, but…because of it.

I’ve written here before about the similarities between far-right Israeli attitudes and the Nuremberg Laws.  The most extreme of Israel’s ultranationalists harbor such views explicitly.  This poll indicates that vast numbers of Israeli Jews share such views, though perhaps they wouldn’t articulate them as virulently.

I find it astonishing that a majority of Jews explicitly accept the term “apartheid” to describe what Israel is.  Also interesting is the finding that while 40% favor annexing the Territories, 48% oppose this.  That does not mean, of course, that this group is willing to return the Territories.  More likely it means they want to retain the status quo in which the West Bank is neither a Palestinian state nor annexed to Israel.

I do not believe Israel is a country that can save itself.  Once it has stopped being a democracy, the solution to its problems cannot come from within.  I’m afraid that we must wait for a dysfunctional country to perpetrate an act so heinous that the rest of the world cannot help but intervene to prevent something much worse.  Serbia brought such a fate upon itself through the massacre of Srebenica and subsequent genocide in Kosovo.  Syria is coming to such a crossroads with its recent likely assassination of Lebanon’s security chief.  Israel will follow in Assad’s footsteps.  It’s only a question of when.  And how much bloodshed can the world absorb before it calls Israel out for its behavior.

The poll comes on the heels of an Israeli government report that finds that for the first time there are more Palestinians than Jews in the territory that encompasses Israel and the Occupied Territories.  This means that if Israel refused to accept a Palestinian state and annexed the West Bank to Israel, there would still be a Palestinian majority.  That in turn means that Israelis will have further reason to jettison the notion that they live in a democracy.  In such a predicament, they will have to create an apartheid state in order to guarantee Jewish political dominion.  The poll results indicate that this is beginning to sink in.  Which means that we must deny supporters of the Occupation regime called Israel the right to call iself a democracy.  Its own citizens, as indicated in this poll, explicitly recognize that it is not:

The “Jewish” gave “democracy” a knockout, smashing it to the canvas. Israelis want more and more Jewish and less and less democracy. From now on don’t say Jewish democracy. There’s no such thing, of course. There cannot be. From now on say Jewish state, only Jewish, for Jews alone. Democracy – sure, why not. But for Jews only.

It seems as though most Americans don’t know that the Obama administration has backed off its commitment to stop a Canadian oil firm from bringing dangerous and toxic tar sands from the fields in Alberta, Canada to oil refineries in Texas.  But in East Texas, the farm lands and forests have been seized for the Canadian company through eminent domain and are already being destroyed for the foreign pipeline.

Yesterday, October 24, Leslie Harris of Dallas, Texas and I visited the “boys” in the trees, the great activists who have been living in the trees along the Trans Canada Keystone XL pipeline that is carving a terrible scar in the countryside of East Texas.  Earlier in the day we had been meeting with dozens of Tar Sands Blockade (TSB) activists who are preparing campaigns in East Texas and Houston to challenge the XL pipeline.

Activism in the Air

The Tar Sands Blockade (TSB) fellows are living in tree houses built high in the branches of tall oak trees next to the piles of sandy soil that has been dug up and mounded 30 feet high.  Huge green pipes lay on the side of the trench sliced deep into the Texas soil.

Michael’s Construction company has been hired to lay the first 90 miles of pipeline in East Texas.   We surprised their security personnel when we emerged from the forest and underbrush virtually beneath the tree houses.  Even though they are not police, the company security employees wear POLICE jackets. The security employees have set up a camp under the trees that the activists are living in, ready to detain them when they come down from the trees, or detain anyone bringing supplies to them.

We had walked through the oak and pine woods and the thick underbrush to the “No Trespassing” yellow tape the security personnel had set up very close to the trees where the activists were living.  We brought out our yellow “Crime Scene” tape and put it up in a couple of places identifying the gash in the earth for what it really is.

We yelled up to two young men on the tree platforms, thanking them for what they are doing. After a few stunned seconds, two surprised voices yelled back.

When asked how long they had been in the trees, one responded, “24 days” and the second replied, “A week longer! 30 days!”

“How are you holding up?” we asked.  “Fine, we’ve got lots of food and water, but we’ve run out of reading materials so we are re-reading books and magazines.”

“Is it lonely being up there?” we asked. “No, lots of animal life — squirrels, birds, even a white owl. And lots of noise from the machines.”

“How is the night sky?” we asked. “Strange you should ask, because last night was the first night we have not had flood lights shining up at us.  It was beautiful to finally see the stars at night and to have some quiet time with no generator noise.  But, they probably will have the lights on us tonight.”

“How long are you staying up there?” we asked.  “As long as it takes,” came the answer.

Activism on the Ground

Earlier in the day, Cherri Foytlin, the wife of a Gulf coast oil worker and mother of six from Louisiana, chained herself to a gate at the Keystone XL pipeline storage yard in nearby Winfield, Texas and blocked six trucks from leaving the grounds. Under a banner that said “Defend All Coasts”, Foytlin was arrested as her chains were cut by sheriff deputies with bolt cutters.

Cherri was threatened with a felony use of a criminal instrument-a chain and lock. Ultimately, she was charged with Class A Misdemeanor Criminal Trespass of a Habitation/Shelter/Superfund/Infrastructure, a new charge leveed at activists.  Her bail is $2500.

Prior to her arrest, Foytlin had prepared the following statement to be released in the event of her arrest: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/10/24-9

By the time you read this I will be actively engaged in a non-violent direct action designed to bring awareness to the construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline, to this country’s continuing use of our cherished Gulf Coast as the nation’s energy sacrifice zone, and in defense of our Mother Earth.

Having spent the last several days with Gulf Coast communities that will be adversely affected by this disastrous project and after visiting with residents whose efforts to protect their communities, their land and their ecosystems through civil discourse and through the exercise of their constitutional rights and freedoms have been repeatedly denied, I am convinced that the choice to use our bodies as a shield in order to amplify the call for protection is indeed necessary.

It is time for us to take a stand, to take action, to join with our Texas neighbors and with our brothers and sisters from across the country, from Canada and from around the globe to say, “no more!” 

Today I stand as a Gulf Coast resident and in solidarity with the Defend Our Coast activities in British Columbia, where more than 60 Canadian communities are protesting a proposed tar sands pipeline through their region. We must, as a unified voice, defend all coasts and all regions from toxic tar sands pipelines.

The Gulf Coast is not our nation’s sacrifice zone! We will not, cannot, sit idly by while our freedoms are trampled by a foreign corporation, we will not, cannot risk our children’s air, water and land for empty promises of “energy independence” or “jobs” or in the name of “progress”.

I come to you today, to ask you to join us – the Tar Sand Blockade, Rising Tide North Texas, and others, in our mission, and to solidify the Gulf regional voice.

I know that many of you may be unable at this time to join me in Texas or to commit to acts of non-violent action, yet there are other ways to support this mission. 

·         Share this press release with your media contacts.

·         Visit Tar Sands Blockade to see other ways you (as an individual or organization) can support.

However you choose to support, every action is needed.   

By taking action, it is our hope that environmental justice communities across the Gulf will be brought into the national spotlight in conjunction with this highly publicized event.

In closing, I would like to add that it is an honor to serve with you. I am proud of all of your work. Who knows what this action will yield, but I do know that this is our time to make a righteous commitment to each other and to our regional movement for justice for our historically overburdened environmental justice communities, for the people and ecosystems that continue to suffer the effects of the BP disaster, for the health of our communities, and for the people and ecosystems of our Gulf Coast. 

God be with you.

In solidarity,

Cherri Foytlin

In an op-ed that appeared on Common Dreams on October 23, 2012, Foytlin talked about those living in the tree houses near Winnsboro, Texas:

The Tar Sands Blockade has been vigilant in their campaign of non-violent protest of this pipeline, and in doing so, these modern day patriots have also been protecting our freedoms. By building and refusing to leave tree house villages, chaining themselves to equipment, and working with landowners who wish to meritoriously exercise their right of ownership, they have valiantly defended our Gulf Coast, as well as our nation’s constitution.”

In 2010, Foytlin walked all the way from her home in Louisiana to Washington, DC to bring attention to the terrible effects of the oil spill.

Please read  Cherri’s blog and watch her Why We Blockade Testimonial Video http://tarsandsblockade.org/

Blockade on a Shoe String Budget

The Tar Sands Blockade is being operated on a shoe-string budget.  If you would like to help support this important campaign, please see the website http://tarsandsblockade.org/

About the Author:

Ann Wright is a 29 year veteran of the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She was a US diplomat and served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia, Afghanistan and Mongolia.  She resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war.

Orthodox Priest Kidnapped and Executed by US-NATO Sponsored Rebels

October 25th, 2012 by Agenzia Fides (Vatican News)

Damascus (Agenzia Fides) – The body of the greek orthodox priest Fr. Fadi Jamil Haddad, pastor of the church of St. Elias in Qatana, was found today in the Jaramana neighborhood (north of Damascus) not far from the place where he was kidnapped, on October 19, by unidentified armed group (see Fides 24/10/2012). This was confirmed to Fides by Fr. Haddad’s greek-orthodox confrere, who asked for anonymity. “His body was horribly tortured and his eyes gouged out,” he told Fides. “It is a purely terrorist act. Fr. Haddad is a martyr of our church. ”

With regards to the responsibilities of the terrible act there is an ongoing rebound of responsibilities between the opposition forces and government authorities, that accuse the armed gangs of armed rebellion in the army. According to Fides sources, the kidnappers had asked the priest’s family and his church a ransom of 50 million Syrian pounds (over 550 thousand euro). It was, however, impossible to find the money and meet this exorbitant demand. A source of Fides condemns “the terrible practice, present for months in this dirty war, of kidnapping and then killing innocent civilians.”

Among the various Christian communities in Syria, the greek orthodox is the largest (with about 500 thousand faithful) and is concentrated mainly in the western part of the country and in Damascus.

“There were eleven people that were tasered, two of the MPs were tasered, and um, two senior citizens were tasered…I saw them being dragged along the floor after they went down… It was a pretty upsetting scene to see this happen.”

-Jim Manly, passenger of the Freedom Flotilla Ship “Estelle”

In this installment of the Global Research News Hour, we examine the direction Canadian Foreign policy has taken in recent years under the Harper Conservatives.

In Part 1 we begin with an interview recorded with Jim Manly shortly after his release from Israeli detention and his arrival back in Canada. Manly, a former Canadian Parliamentarian, travelled aboard the Freedom Flotilla ship Estelle which was transporting humanitarian items to the people of Gaza. Manly recalls his harrowing treatment at the hands of Israeli authorities after the Estelle was boarded and towed to an Israeli port. He shares his thoughts about what Canadians should be doing to correct an unjust state of affairs in Gaza.

Part 2 features Canadian foreign policy critic Yves Engler, who is on a cross-Canada tour of his recent book, “The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper’s Foreign Policy”. (Click here for more information)

Part 3 features Associate Professor Gus Van Harten of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, who teaches Administration Law and International Investment Law. He discusses the concerns he has about a new investment pact with China known as the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) that could put Chinese corporate interests ahead of the democratic rights of Canadians in their own country.

LISTEN TO INTERVIEW:

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(Length: 59:49)

Click to download program (MP3 format)

The Global Research News Hour airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Thursdays at 10am CDT. The programme is broadcast weekly by CKUW News, 95.9 FM out of Winnipeg, MB, and on Canadian community radio networks. The weekly programme is available for download on the Global Research website.

25S. El pueblo en pie contra la democracia secuestrada

October 25th, 2012 by Jérôme Duval

’La policía ha actuado magníficamente’, exclamó el ministro de Interior, Jorge Fernández Díaz, el 26 de septiembre de 2012 |1|. La víspera, la manifestación ’Rodea el Congreso’ se saldaba con al menos 35 detenidos, entre ellos Miguel Quinteiro, militante de ATTAC de 72 años llegado en autobús desde Pontevedra para manifestarse |2|, y 64 heridos. Lo más inquietante es que esos 35 detenidos fueron arrestados no por resistencia o alteración del orden público, sino por ataque a las instituciones de la Nación, acusación totalmente desproporcionada. Fueron liberados tras 49 horas de arresto y malos tratos |3|.

Aunque autorizada por la delegada del Gobierno de Madrid, Cristina Cifuentes, la convocatoria de la manifestación del 25 de septiembre fue calificada de ilegal por el ministro Fernández. Cristina Cifuentes y la secretaria general del Partido Popular, María Dolores de Cospedal, hicieron referencia explícita a un intento de golpe de estado como el fallido 23F de 1981 |4|: ’La última vez que yo recuerdo que se rodeara el Congreso, que se tomara el Congreso, fue por el intento del golpe de estado’, declaró Cospedal |5|. Ella omite una diferencia de bulto: El movimiento 25S, heredero del 15M (revuelta de los indignados que estalló el 15 de mayo en España) es un movimiento profundamente pacífico que lucha por una democracia real -practicándola- y esencialmente opuesto a cualquier intento de golpe de estado, que es más bien de origen fascista como el 23F.

El miedo cambia de bando

Más de 1.300 policías antidisturbios de la Unidad de Intervención Policial (UIP) vinieron de todo el Estado para blindar a un Congreso transformado en búnker |6|. A pesar de este sorprendente dispositivo y de una violencia policial impresionante, la acción ‘Rodea el Congreso’ resultó ser un éxito de movilización apoyada por numerosas ciudades en Europa y más allá. Numerosos autobuses llegaron de todo el Estado español para concentrarse en la capital, en ciertos casos no sin problemas: Algunos autobuses, como los provenientes de Zaragoza, Granada o Valladolid, fueron controlados, registrados o desviados por la policía.

Ya el 15 de septiembre, en la masiva manifestación contra la austeridad agresiva del Gobierno que exigía un referéndum sobre esta política, cuatro personas de la Plataforma En Pie (en el origen del llamamiento a manifestarse el 25S ante el Congreso), entre ellos Chema Ruiz, miembro activo de la PAH (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca de Madrid) fueron detenidos y acusados de desobediencia y resistencia a la autoridad. Este arresto se produjo en el momento en que intentaban pacíficamente desplegar una pancarta con la inscripción ‘25S rodea el Congreso’ |7|. Al día siguiente, controles policiales pidieron identificación a participantes en una asamblea que preparaba la misma acción en el parque del Retiro.

Frente a una democracia real en la calle, la represión crece. Esther Vivas nos recuerda: “ Multas por un valor de 133 mil euros son las que exige Interior a 446 activistas del 15M de Madrid, 6 mil euros a 250 estudiantes de la #PrimaveraValenciana, centenares de euros a varios afectados por las participaciones preferentes en Galicia, por solo nombrar algunos ejemplos. A parte: más de cien detenciones en Catalunya desde la huelga general del 29M, apertura de una página web para delatar a manifestantes… Y ahora se modifica el Código Penal para criminalizar nuevas formas de protesta ” |8|. Para colmo, ’  …desde el 15M ningún agente de antidisturbios ha sido sancionado por agresión, mientras que en sólo un año la Policía ha recaudado más de 217.000 euros en multas a manifestantes’, nos señala ’La Sexta’ |9|. A pesar de todo esto, se multiplican las quejas por agresiones, golpes y heridas, sin consecuencias.

El 4 de octubre, el juez de la Audiencia Nacional Santiago Pedraz recibía los ataques del PP en boca de su portavoz y diputado Rafael Hernando (’indecente’, ’inaceptable’, ’intolerable’…), por haber rechazado todas las acusaciones (de ataque contra las instituciones del Estado) contra los ocho presuntos organizadores de la concentración del 25S. El juez no vio ataque a la soberanía nacional, tal y como sostenía el Ministerio, sino más bien una manifestación de libertad de expresión que no perturbó la actividad parlamentaria. Especialmente criticada fue la parte del auto en la que el juez Pedraz defendía las protestas debido a la ’decadencia de la clase política’.

Una proporción importante -aunque insuficiente- de la población ha llegado a un nivel de conciencia colectiva que no tenía antes del 15M. Es una adquisición irreemplazable del movimiento 15M, una fuerza que puede hacer cambiar el miedo de bando. Después del 25S, se puso de manifiesto la voluntad del Gobierno de modificar el derecho a manifestarse bajo el pretexto de la seguridad. Los policías, que como funcionarios han visto reducirse su salario un 5% de media en 2010 (con el Gobierno de Zapatero) y después congelarse en 2011 y 2012, se enfrentan a un recrudecimiento de las movilizaciones e incluso ellos mismos se manifiestan. El sindicato de policía SUP (Sindicato Unificado de Policía) prepara una gran manifestación contra los recortes el 17 de noviembre en Madrid.

Contexto de inestabilidad política

Hay que decir que después de la lucha de los mineros del norte y la marcha del SAT en el sur |10|, España se mueve en un ambiente social y político tenso. De hecho, Cataluña, donde ha triunfado su demostración de fuerza en la manifestación del 11 de septiembre a favor de su autonomía |11|, se enfrenta al Gobierno central de Rajoy. El presidente del Gobierno catalán, Artur Mas, ha decidido disolver el ‘Parlament’ y convocar elecciones anticipadas el 25 de noviembre. Durante ese tiempo, se habla demasiado poco de la austeridad devastadora aplicada en Catalunya por el propio Mas. Sin embargo, el 15 de junio de 2011, miles de personas “asediaron” el Parlamento catalán y obligaron a Artur Mas y a otros diputados a llegar al ‘Parlament’ en helicóptero, con motivo de unos debates sobre los presupuestos que implicaban entonces las mayores medidas de austeridad de la democracia catalana. Imágenes que recordaban al presidente argentino Fernando de la Rúa huyendo de la Casa Rosada (sede de la presidencia argentina) en helicóptero el 20 de diciembre de 2001 para refugiarse en EEUU cuando el pueblo argentino luchaba contra la deuda y el corralito. La España de 2012 no es la Argentina de 2002, pero los mismos ingredientes están ahí…

De la coordinación a la acción

En España, la llamada a manifestarse a la voz de ‘Ocupemos el Congreso’ fue lanzada en un principio por la nueva Plataforma en Pie. Ésta exigía la dimisión del Gobierno y la ocupación del Congreso para abrir un proceso constituyente. El planteamiento de tales objetivos, que pueden parecer ilusos, radicales y naífs, suscitó un debate polémico |12|. La Coordinadora del 25S nació en el curso de un largo proceso |13| y el texto del llamamiento fue enmendado, mejorado y maduró con el tiempo para alejarse de posiciones que llevaran a la confusión o que fueran susceptibles de dividir. La última versión de la convocatoria finalmente suscitó un vivo interés, fue transmitida en el seno del movimiento indignado del 15M y obtuvo cierto eco |14|.

Madrid 25 de septiembre de 2012, la política se hace en la calle

Una asamblea popular de varios cientos de personas tuvo lugar en el Paseo del Prado poco antes de la concentración en la Plaza de Neptuno. El escritor y profesor Carlos Taibo hizo una intervención memorable a favor de una auditoría ciudadana de la deuda para repudiar la parte ilegítima de la misma. También recordó la necesidad de reclamar el reconocimiento de las deudas ecológica, de género e histórica que deben ser liquidadas |15|.

Si no hay solución, habrá revolución”, “dimisión, dimisión”, “no es una crisis, es una estafa” |16| coreaban miles de manifestantes reagrupados en el Paseo del Prado y en la Plaza de España, antes de reunirse en Neptuno, muy cerca del Congreso. El seguimiento fue difundido por numerosos medios alternativos por todo el mundo |17|, mientras que Mariano Rajoy, fumándose un puro en Nueva York, rendía homenaje a la mayoría silenciosa que no se manifestaba |18|.

La violencia es la respuesta del sistema ante la conciencia de las masas

Es importante subrayar que la violencia de ese día surgió de un puñado de individuos y policías infiltrados, pero no representa a la gran mayoría, que se manifestó con rabia pero de manera totalmente pacífica. “Estas son nuestras armas”, coreaba la masa, con las manos en alto, a veces sentada en el suelo, frente a una policía preparada para cargar, para mostrar el carácter pacífico de esta acción. Como sucede a menudo, la violencia es ejercida por las llamadas ‘fuerzas del orden’ como respuesta de un sistema presa del pánico ante la conciencia de las masas. La furia policial se desencadenó incluso en la estación de Atocha, pese a estar más alejada del Congreso, donde una treintena de agentes hicieron cargas ‘disuasivas’ y golpearon sin distinguir entre viajeros esperando su tren o manifestantes. Un joven con la cabeza ensangrentada se indignaba por haber recibido golpes sin motivo. La operación sembró el pánico y el estupor en toda la estación y desacreditó totalmente, si cabe, el apoyo ciego del ministro de Interior a la policía.

El sábado 29 de septiembre, mientras que el Gobierno español transmitía al Parlamento un proyecto de Presupuestos que incluye un nuevo plan de austeridad, la tercera manifestación del movimiento 25S se desarrollaba pacíficamente por Neptuno y la Puerta del Sol para reclamar la dimisión del Gobierno y una nueva Constitución. Más tarde, el objetivo de rodear el Parlamento se concretaba en una cadena humana. La Coordinadora 25S recordaba que se trataba de una “acción de desobediencia civil no violenta”. En Neptuno, la pancarta más grande decía: “Deuda odiosa, referéndum ya”.

Unos Presupuestos de 2013 cuestionados, un reparto injusto de la riqueza

En un ambiente tenso en el que los mercados presionan para que España se someta a los fondos europeos, el Gobierno español adopta un proyecto de Presupuestos para 2013 repleto de nuevos recortes presupuestarios para ahorrar 39.000 millones de euros a través de reducciones en prestaciones por desempleo, en sanidad y educación. “El Presupuesto debe servir de palanca para superar la crisis y devolver la confianza en España”, explicó el ministro de Hacienda, Cristóbal Montoro |19|. Sorprendente declaración, sobre todo al mirar de cerca este Presupuesto consagrado a la recesión y al paro en masa. Los intereses de la deuda pasan de 28.900 millones de euros a 38.000 millones en 2013, o sea, un aumento de cerca de 10.000 millones de euros (9.114 millones) respecto a 2012. La carga de los intereses, sin tener en cuenta la amortización del capital, sobrepasa por primera vez desde 1995 la partida destinada al pago del personal de toda la Administración del Estado.

Sobre la marcha de esta movilización histórica, la Coordinadora 25S vuelve a llamar a manifestarse a finales de octubre para protestar contra la aprobación de unos Presupuestos provisionales de 2013 cargados de nuevas medidas de austeridad.

Traducción : Fátima Fafatale

 

Notas

|1| El ministro felicitó repetidamente a las fuerzas y cuerpos de seguridad del Estado. «  La policía actuó espléndidamente (…) La policía actuó magníficamente  ». “Felicito a la Policía, que actuó extraordinariamente bien y gracias a ella esa intención manifiestamente inconstitucional e ilegal de ocupar el Congreso y coaccionar a los diputados cuando están reunidos en sesión, no se pudo llevar a cabo.” http://www.lavanguardia.com/politica/20120926/54351879983/interior-magnifica-actuacion-policial-protesta-congreso.html. ’Respaldo absolutamente. Quiero además felicitar a la Policía Nacional porque ayer demostraron su profesionalidad en circunstancias muy difíciles’, declaró por su parte Cristina Cifuentes.

|2| Declaración de Attac España contra las detenciones del 25S, http://www.attac.es/2012/09/26/declaracion-de-attac-espana-contra-las-detenciones-del-25s/

|3| Leer el testimonio de Ainhoa Cortés y Gabriel Jiménez, que afirman que les introdujeron piedras en sus mochilas, http://www.eldiario.es/politica/da-razones-seguir-luchando_0_52844953.html

|4| El 23F de 1981, el teniente-coronel de la Guardia Civil Antonio Tejero ocupó el Parlamento a punta de pistola para reinstalar un régimen franquista autoritario. Este intento de Golpe de Estado fue abortado.

|5| “La última vez que yo recuerdo que se rodeara el Congreso, que se tomara el Congreso, fue por el intento del golpe de Estado”. Cospedal compara la convocatoria a rodear hoy el Congreso con el 23-F, El País, 25 de septiembre de 2012, http://ccaa.elpais.com/ccaa/2012/09/24/madrid/1348520724_256773.html

|6| El dispositivo estaba integrado por 27 grupos completos de la Unidad de Intervención Policial (UIP), compuestos por 50 agentes cada uno, de los que Madrid aportó 11 grupos, es decir, todos excepto uno que se encontraba de descanso esos días. Los otros 16 grupos procedían de otros puntos de España. El País, http://ccaa.elpais.com/ccaa/2012/09/21/madrid/1348228935_940235.html

|7| Leer el comunicado de la PAH Madrid del 15 de septiembre de 2012: http://afectadosporlahipotecamadrid.net/2012/09/15/comunicado-de-pah-madrid-ante-la-detencion-esta-manana-de-nuestro-companero-chema-ruiz-y-tres-personas-mas/

|8| Esther Vivas, #25S: al rescate de la democracia, http://esthervivas.com/2012/09/25/25s-al-rescate-de-la-democracia/

|9| « …desde el 15M ningún agente de antidisturbios ha sido sancionado por agresión, mientras que en sólo un año la Policía ha recaudado más de 217.000 euros en multas a manifestantes. ».Consultado el 5 de octubre de 2012, http://www.lasexta.com/noticias/nacional/policia-recauda-217000-euros-multas-15m_2012092900052.html

|10| La ‘Marcha Obrera Andalucía en Pie’ organizada por el SAT (Sindicato Andaluz de Trabajadores, www.sindicatoandaluz.org/) organizó varias acciones hasta su llegada a Sevilla a principios de septiembre.

|11| La pancarta de cabecera decía: ’Catalunya nuevo estado de Europa’.

|12| http://plataformaenpie.wordpress.com/

|13| Coordinadora 25S : http://coordinadora25s.wordpress.com/

|14| Sobre este proceso, leer http://cadtm.org/El-comienzo-o-el-final.La version 2.0 y documento base y hoja de ruta de la Plataforma “¡En Pie!”: http://cadtm.org/Espana-El-25-de-septiembre

|15| Video del discurso de Carlos Taibo en el Paseo del Prado de Madrid, http://cadtm.org/25S-Carlos-Taibo-en-asamblea-en-el

|16| “Si no hay solución, habrá revolución”, “dimisión, dimisión”, “No es una crisis, es una estafa”.

|17| Ver la crónica del 25 de septiembre en los vídeos insertados en este artículo: http://takethesquare.net/2012/09/26/confrontations-reach-a-new-level-in-spain-as-protesters-target-congress-25s/

|18| http://politica.elpais.com/politica/2012/09/26/actualidad/1348685176_244661.html

|19| www.latribune.fr/actualites/economie/20120929trib000721975/espagne-austerite-mais-comptes-publics-inquietants.html