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Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Updates.

The article on the TPP has been updated.  Please see the original article (immediately below the article about the Deedy trial) or link here:

http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/06/the-trans-pacific-partnership-tpp/

Update 2 added Friday, 22 June.  Canada and Mexico to join the TPP.

Update 3 added Tuesday, 26 June.  Common Dreams now has an article out about the TPP.  I realize I am beginning to sound shrill at this point.  I don’t care.  Every bit of information coming out on this trade agreement is worse than the last – and what I knew about it a month ago was extraordinarily bad.  By the way, add China and Japan as two more countries anticipated to sign the agreement.

To reiterate the final sentence of this article – Go to http://www.citizen.org/tpp, learn more and get involved.  If you pass around one link about the TPP, let this be the one.

http://www.citizen.org/tpp

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Posted by on June 17, 2012 in Congress, corporatocracy, economy, trade agreements

 

Murder trial of State Dept. Special Agent to go forward.

State Dept. Special Agent (Bureau of Diplomatic Security, or DS) Christopher Deedy shot and killed a local Hawaiian man, Kollin Elderts, on Nov. 5, 2011, during an argument at 3 a.m. in a Waikiki McDonald’s.  Elderts was unarmed; Deedy carried his knife and gun.  A videotape from inside the McDonald’s is being held as evidence and the judge has ordered it sealed from the public for fear it might taint the jury pool.  Deedy was in Hawai’i in advance of the APEC conference which was held later that month.  He was assigned to help provide diplomatic security for the APEC attendees. No diplomats were present in the McDonald’s that night, needless to say, and the State Dept. refuses to say whether or not Deedy was actually on duty at the time.  Tests on the victim’s body showed that he was legally drunk and had some amount of trace drugs in his system at the time of his death.  While it is known that Deedy had been drinking at a bar with friends prior to going to the McD’s and eyewitnesses say that he was clearly drunk, he was allowed to “decline” a blood-alcohol test at the time of his arrest.  (No law enforcement officer is permitted to carry deadly weapons while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs, so the lack of a breathalyzer test may prove to be problematic.)  Deedy actually fired three shots at Elderts – it was the third shot that hit Elderts in the chest and killed him.  You may read background on this case here:

http://teri.nicedriving.org/2012/05/update-on-a-murder-in-hawaii/

Deedy has been charged with two crimes: 2nd degree murder and use of firearm in the commission of a felony.

Deedy’s attorney, Brook Hart, filed a motion to dismiss the charges based on the idea that Deedy was acting in the role of a federal law enforcement officer and thus should be immune to charges.  The judge in this case, Karen Ahn, had scheduled a hearing to occur in July on the motion to dismiss; however, she has removed that hearing from her docket.  Apparently the trial against Deedy will go forward.  The murder trial is currently scheduled for September of this year – 10 months after the incident took place.  In the meantime, Deedy was allowed to post bail and return to Virginia.  He has been placed on a desk job at the State Dept., where he continues to draw his salary.  He has successfully sued the insurance company that carries his tenant’s insurance on the house he rents in Virginia so that the insurance company will now have to cover his legal expenses in the separate civil case for wrongful death filed against him by the Elderts family.

June 15–State Circuit Judge Karen Ahn has removed from her calendar a hearing on a motion by the attorney for Christopher Deedy to dismiss a murder charge against the State Department special agent.

Ahn had scheduled July 13 to hear motions by Deedy’s attorney, Brook Hart, who wants the murder case dismissed. Deedy, 28, is scheduled to stand trial in Ahn’s court on Sept. 10 on charges of second-degree murder and use of a firearm.

Hart said Thursday he does not view Ahn’s action as a setback. No reason was given for the hearing’s removal from her calendar.  He said there are other motions he is considering, as well as the possibility of moving Deedy’s case to federal court.

Earlier, Hart said Deedy was in Honolulu as a federal law enforcement officer on an official U.S. State Department assignment with the power of arrest and the right to carry a firearm when he shot and killed Kollin Elderts, 23, Nov. 5 at a Waikiki McDonald’s restaurant.

In legal papers filed in Circuit Court June 8 opposing Hart’s request for more materials, city Deputy Prosector Janice Futa said Deedy was “the first aggressor” in an early morning fight inside the fast-food restaurant.

Futa said “independent witnesses stated that Deedy acted as the first aggressor, escalating a verbal argument into a physical confrontation when he (Deedy) thrust kicked Elderts in the chest/stomach area and threw his slippers at Elderts, striking Elderts in the head.”

She said all police reports as well as relevant written or recorded witness statements have been provided to Hart.  Futa said Hart is “conducting a fishing expedition” with his requests.

She also said Hart’s request for the criminal records of Elderts, his companion that night — Shane Medeiros — and potential witnesses, and for the birth dates and Social Security numbers of all potential witnesses, is not relevant to the case.

Earlier this month, Ahn, a former congressional aide and television journalist, granted a prosecution request to seal the restaurant’s surveillance videos.

The judge also kept private portions of the court document referring to events depicted on the surveillance videos of the shooting.  Hart and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, its television news partner Hawaii News Now and online news site Hawaii Reporter opposed the sealing.

Ahn ruled that the videos, if released, would essentially go viral on the Internet and provide images that could jeopardize a fair trial for the prosecution, defense or both.

Hart filed the dismissal motion and exhibits that included the surveillance videos on May 14, which as court filings normally would have been public. But the filings were kept private because of the prosecution’s pending request and the judge’s ruling.
Hart has said federal law empowers a federal officer to act within the scope of his duties to protect a person from a “crime of violence.”

Deedy acted, Hart has said, in response to “attacks” on himself and a friend.

The State Department has said Deedy was in Hawaii as a member of its Bureau of Diplomatic Security to provide security for leaders attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference.

Deedy is free on $250,000 bail and has returned to his home in Virginia awaiting the Honolulu criminal trial.

(c)2012 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
– from the print edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2012 in Deedy, State Dept/diplomacy

 

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

UPDATED below.

UPDATE 2 below.

UPDATE 3 below.

On the campaign trail, President Obama vowed to run the most transparent government ever seen.  His administration is instead run with secrecy, behind closed doors.  On matters traditionally and constitutionally handled by Congress, he has broken new ground on the power of the executive theory.  He has signed a long-term treaty with Afghanistan, one not written or approved by Congress.  He has imposed sanctions of various degrees of severity on several nations via executive orders; some take the sanctions voted on by Congress and strengthen them, some are of his own invention entirely.  Completely ignoring any wording in any law regarding war, he has decided on his own to engage in overt acts of war on at least seven nations and volunteer our services in an ostensibly NATO-run invasion on one, with another one or two currently being planned.  Obama claims the right to kill any human he wants anywhere in the world.  He claims the right to decide if someone will be picked up and incarcerated forever at his whim.  His healthcare plan was brokered between him and the pharmaceutical and insurance industries and the finished product presented to Congress to vote on, with Congress allowed to merely tweak a few details.

Now he is working on a trade agreement that will override the laws of any nation to benefit corporations as an integral part of its basic plan.  I have mentioned this trade agreement, the TPP or Trans-Pacific Partnership, a couple of times in recent weeks.  Several pages of the agreement have leaked out; it is worse than anyone suspected.

Now, before anyone says that Obama is doing things in our best interest, or that he simply doesn’t quite understand the terms of this agreement and will “fix” them as soon as he does, or that this is not important in the long scheme of things, let me tell you a few things.  Bill Clinton, when he occupied the White House, signed the NAFTA deal.  After it went into effect and was seen to cost American jobs and to be, overall, a pretty shitty deal, pundits lined up in rows to sing the little ditty, “He didn’t mean it – he didn’t know what it would do.”   How it becomes a reasonable defense for really bad decisions to point out that the president of the United States is a dumb-ass is beyond me.  Although it does explain the continued, albeit lesser, popularity of George W. Bush.  Clinton was the same guy who agreed to dismantle the Glass-Steagall Act, thereby creating the conditions which would eventually lead to the financial debacle of ’08 and pave the way for the financial oligarchy to fuck up everyone’s savings and jobs and loot nearly every country on the planet.  I think he had a fairly good idea what he was doing.  If you doubt that, take note that Clinton is now saying that the Bush tax cuts must stay in effect in perpetuity.  Do you still wonder who he serves, even out of office?  Likewise, Obama knows what he is doing.  He signed three trade agreements as one of his first acts in office – Americans, by and large, did not want any of the three, based on the little information they were permitted to know about them, but he quickly signed them and then talked them up as “job making deals”, knowing full well they were American off-shoring bills.  He knows from trade agreements, to use the vernacular.  He knows what he is doing.  His choices on everything from the use of drones to trade agreements are made with malice aforethought.  The TPP is to geared to set up corporations as more powerful than any government.  There is simply no way in hell Obama does not understand this.  He is working on this agreement “in secret” for now, planning to whip it out as a done deal later, like his healthcare program.  The fact that some of the agreement has been leaked may be better seen as a trial balloon, rather than an actual failure of secrecy.  Like Obama’s “secret” drones and “secret” elite forces, which hunt and kill their prey world-wide and are not a secret from anyone, the TPP leaks are meant to see how much can be gotten away with.  Will people object and protest, or will this be one more thing that the masses choose to overlook because it comes from the Peace Prize laureate?  The oligarchs are telling us what the plans are; why do we refuse to believe them?

The TPP appears to be a leap forward in fulfilling the conspiracy theory of a planned One World Government, but I take issue with the use of the word “government” here.  It’s not that I think there are not plans for a few major players to dominate every aspect of human life on the planet, as I have no doubt that there are powerful, wealthy people who desire and are working toward exactly such an end.  However, I object to the use of the word ‘government’ because there is no intention to use a ‘government’ as we understand that term.  Rather, the ruling class would better be called a corporatocracy, the rule of a few large corporations over the masses of people, with their will imposed through the use of mercenary elite forces. (The flying monkeys serving the wicked witch.)  So let’s call this the One World Board of Directors.

Excerpt from an article about the TPP:

The release today of a confidential document from ongoing US trade negotiations with eight Pacific nations — known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — reveals that provisions included in the trade agreement would drastically undermine Obama’s proposed domestic agenda and give unprecented political authority to multinational corporations.

The TPP negotiations have gone on for two years between the Obama administration and several Pacific nations under conditions of ‘extreme secrecy’ without press, public or policymaker oversight, says Public Citizen who posted the leaked document on their website today.

The top U.S. trade official effectively has said that the administration must keep TPP secret because otherwise it won’t be able to shove this deal past the public and Congress,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.

The leaked document, according to the Huffington Post, reveals ‘extreme provisions’ that have been agreed upon in secret negotiations that “bestow radical new political powers upon multinational corporations” in global trade and contradict key promises made to the US public about such deals.

According to Public Citizen, the leaked text now confirms that the terms of the TPP would:

•    Limit how U.S. federal and state officials could regulate foreign firms operating within U.S. boundaries, with requirements to provide them greater rights than domestic firms;

•    Extend the incentives for U.S. firms to offshore investment and jobs to lower-wage countries;

•    Establish a two-track legal system that gives foreign firms new rights to skirt U.S. courts and laws, directly sue the U.S. government before foreign tribunals and demand compensation for financial, health, environmental, land use and other laws they claim undermine their TPP privileges; and

•    Allow foreign firms to demand compensation for the costs of complying with U.S. financial or environmental regulations that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms.

“The airing of this one TPP chapter,” said Wallach, “which greatly favors foreign corporations over domestic businesses and the public interest and exposes us to significant financial liabilities, shows that the whole draft text must be released immediately so it can be reviewed and debated. Absent that, these negotiations must be ended now.”[…]

“Via closed-door negotiations, U.S. officials are rewriting swaths of U.S. law that have nothing to do with trade and in a move that will infuriate left and right alike have agreed to submit the U.S. government to the jurisdiction of foreign tribunals that can order unlimited payments of our tax dollars to foreign corporations that don’t want to comply with the same laws our domestic firms do.” […]

While 600 official U.S. corporate advisers have access to TPP texts and have a special role in advising U.S. negotiators, for the public, press and policymakers, this leak provides the first access to one of the prospective TPP’s most controversial chapters. In May, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness – the committee with jurisdiction over the TPP – filed legislation to open the process after he and his staff were denied access even to the U.S. proposals for the TPP negotiations.

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/06/13-5

Portions of transcript from an Amy Goodman (Democracy Now) interview with Lori Wallach:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We turn now to a controversial trade pact between the United States and eight Pacific nations that until now has remained largely secret. It’s called the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. A chapter from the draft agreement leaked Wednesday outlines how it would allow foreign corporations operating in the United States to appeal key regulations to an international tribunal. The body would have the power to override U.S. law and issue penalties for failure to comply with its rulings.
The agreement is being negotiated by the U.S. trade representative, Ron Kirk, appointed by President Obama. But the newly revealed terms contradict promises Obama made while running for president in 2008. One campaign document read in part, quote, “We will not negotiate bilateral trade agreements that stop the government from protecting the environment, food safety, or the health of its citizens; [or] give greater rights to foreign investors than to U.S. investors.”

AMY GOODMAN: Earlier leaks from the draft Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement exposed how it included rules that could increase the cost of medication and make participating countries adopt restrictive copyright measures.
No one from the U.S. trade representative’s office was able to join us, but in a statement to Democracy Now!, they said, quote, “Nothing in our TPP investment proposal could impair our government’s ability to pursue legitimate, non-discriminatory public interest regulation.”

For more, we’re joined by Lori Wallach, director of the fair trade group Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. The leaked documents were posted on her organization’s website early Wednesday morning.

Lori, welcome to Democracy Now! Explain what the documents show and what this agreement is about.

LORI WALLACH: Well, it’s been branded as a trade agreement, but really it is enforceable corporate global governance. The agreement requires that every signatory country conform all of its laws, regulations and administrative procedures to what are 26 chapters of very comprehensive rules, only two of which have anything to do with trade. The other 24 chapters set a whole array of corporate new privileges and rights and handcuff governments, limit regulation. So the chapter that leaked—and it’s actually on the website of Citizens Trade Campaign, it’s a national coalition for fair trade—that chapter is the chapter that sets up new rights and privileges for foreign investors, including their right to privately enforce this public treaty by suing our government, raiding our Treasury, over costs of complying with the same policies that all U.S. companies have to comply with. It’s really outrageous.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Lori, there’s been a quite a bit of complaint, even in Congress, about the secretive nature of these continuing negotiations. About 600 or so corporate advisers have access to information that even members of Congress don’t? Could you talk about how that has come about?

LORI WALLACH: Well, this is how you get a text and in a potential agreement that is this outrageous. I mean, this isn’t just a bad trade agreement, this is a one-percenter power tool that could rip up our basic needs and rights. How that happens is the negotiations have been done in total secrecy. So, for two-and-a-half years, until this leak emerged, people have suspected what’s going on, because, as you said, under U.S. law there are 600 official advisers, they have security clearance to see the text, they advise the U.S. position. Meanwhile, the senator, Ron Wyden, who is the chairman of the trade committee in the Senate, the committee with jurisdiction over the TPP, has been denied access to the text, as has his staff, who has security clearance, to a point where this man who has supported agreements like this in the past has filed legislation demanding he have the right to see the agreement that he’s supposed to be having oversight with. He’s on the Intelligence Committee, and he has security clearance, so he can see our nuclear secrets. He just can’t see this corporate bill of rights that is trying to be slipped into effect in the name of being a trade agreement. It’s a very elegant Trojan horse strategy. You brand it one thing, and then you put an agenda that could not survive sunshine into this agreement.

We have been able also to get some of the texts on patents, expanding patents for Big Pharma, jacking up medicine prices. And we have analysis on our website, tradewatch.org, as well as information about how to get involved, because these agreements are a little bit like Dracula. You drag them in the sunshine, and they do not fare well. But all of us, and also across all of the countries involved, there are citizen movements that are basically saying, “This is not in our name. We don’t need global enforceable corporate rights. We need more democracy. We need more accountability.”

AMY GOODMAN: Lori Wallach—

LORI WALLACH: And this agreement is the antithesis.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to read part of the comment we got from the U.S. trade representative’s office when we invited them on today’s show. They wrote, quote, “The Obama Administration has infused unprecedented transparency into the TPP negotiations. We have worked with Members of Congress … [and] invited stakeholders to every round of negotiations where they have given presentations and met with individual negotiating teams. … We are always looking for ways to enhance provisions on transparency and public participation.” Lori Wallach, your comment?

LORI WALLACH: Well, to start with, the idea of transparency of the current negotiators is a one-way mirror. We can basically talk to them and do presentations. But as this leak shows, nothing that the public interest organizations—and it’s a huge array of organizations, from faith groups to consumer groups, environmental, labor—nothing that we have said is now reflected in the U.S. position in this negotiation, which I’m sad to say is the most extreme. I mean, the U.S. is even opposing proposals in this agreement to try and make sure countries have the ability to use financial regulation to ensure financial stability. The U.S. positions don’t reflect what we’ve been saying, but we can talk at them.[…]

Here we are, three years into this negotiation with eight countries, and they will not publish a sentence. In fact, it finally leaked that they had signed a special agreement not to release any draft text for four years after negotiations are done—a secrecy agreement on top of the normal secrecy. […]

So what we’re talking about with this leaked chapter is literally a parallel system of justice. People have domestic laws and courts, trying to defend our rights and get our needs met. Corporations would have a parallel system of private attorneys, three of them, no conflict-of-interest laws. The U.S. and the other countries would submit themselves to the jurisdiction of this corporate kangaroo court, and these three random attorneys would have the right to order the U.S. government to pay unlimited amounts of our tax dollars to corporations and investors who, A, claim regulatory costs need to be refunded, or, B, are saying they’re not being treated well enough, regardless if the policies they dislike are the exact same ones that apply to all of us. Even under NAFTA’s system, which has some of this, $350 million have already been paid out to corporations by governments, over toxics bans, zoning laws, timber rules. This is a sneaky outrage. And if people actually put a spotlight on it, we can stop it.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: So, Lori, I wanted to ask you—you mentioned the eight nations that are involved in the negotiations. Which nations are they? And also, the issue of the way this is being negotiated, the number could expand dramatically in the future. Can you talk about that?

LORI WALLACH: Well, the reason why it is so incredibly important that this agreement be exposed is this could well be the last agreement that’s negotiated. So, many of your listeners and viewers have been involved in the sneaky way trade agreements have been used by corporations to limit regulation and to foster a race to the bottom since NAFTA. And each of these agreements has gotten bolder, more expansive in its limits on government regulation and in its granting of corporate powers. This one could be the end, because what they intend to do is leave it open, once it’s done, for any other country to join. So, this is an agreement that ultimately could have the whole world in it as a set of binding corporate guarantees of new rights and privileges, enforced with cash sanctions and trade sanctions. It is not an exaggeration to say that the TPP threatens to become a regime of binding global governance, right at the time that the Occupy movement and movements around the world are demanding more power and control. This is the fightback. This is locking in the bad old way plus. And in addition, the way that the agreement is being negotiated, these rules would require that you not only change all of your existing laws—so good progressive laws would have to be gotten rid of—but that, in the future, you don’t create new laws.

Now, the agreement now includes Australia, Brunei, New Zealand, Singapore, Chile, Peru and Vietnam, as well as the U.S., plus Malaysia has now joined. And the agreement includes all of the NAFTA-style privileges that promote offshoring. But more drastically, it has all sorts of new corporate privileges, so the right to extend medicine and seed monopolies to jack up medicine prices, even the right to challenge formularies, medicine prescription group buying plans. For instance, what the Obama administration has put in their health reform bill, they are at the negotiating table behind closed doors trying to kill the right to use for other countries. Or the financial rules would have just a limit. Countries aren’t allowed to ban risky financial products or services, at the same time that we’re trying to issue regulations under financial reform. And the agreement even meddles with how we spend our local tax dollars. For folks around the country who are doing sweat-free campaigns, who are doing living wage campaigns, green buying campaigns, this agreement says, A, you can’t have local preferences, so no “buy New York” state preference to recycle money back in your state, your tax dollars, no “buy American,” but also conditions like a product has to have recycled content or that that uniform has to be sweat-free. Those kind of conditions can be challenged. It is an incredible corporate power tool. It’s only gotten this far because it’s been secret. And people in the other countries don’t want it either. But our country is the one that’s largely pushing the most radical provisions, which is why it was so important for this text, which everyone can see an analysis of at tradewatch.org, to be made public, to make people aware of what’s really going on.[…]

AMY GOODMAN: The next round of negotiations on TPP are scheduled over the July 4th holiday weekend. Lori Wallach, can you comment on this? And also, what I assume would be President Obama’s response, if talking behind the scenes, like perhaps tonight when he’s going to be at Sarah Jessica Parker house with—with raising a lot of money—the financial sector is donating $37 million to Mitt Romney so far, the Obama administration’s haul, $4.8 million—that even his own Wall Street supporters are going over to Romney right now, so he would say he is doing better than Romney would in trying to take on these guys.

LORI WALLACH: I think that, for President Obama, there are two scenarios. One is, he has not been on top of what these negotiators are doing. This really has been under the radar. It’s so important that the text finally came out, because it sends a warning to Congress, to the public, etc., and that basically he’s got negotiators on the loose. They are many of the same people who during the Clinton administration got us into NAFTA, that recycled back into the trade negotiating team. The other alternative explanation is just the money one, which is, it is the case that this is an agreement the 1 percent loves. This is sort of one-percenter fantasy. It’s not just that on the margins and in national governments you have to keep fighting with all your money and lobbying to try and get what you want; this would lock it in for the future, indefinitely.

AMY GOODMAN: Lori Wallach, we want to thank you very much for being with us, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. And we will continue to watch this.

http://www.democracynow.org/2012/6/14/breaking_08_pledge_

leaked_trade_doc#transcript

I, for one, would assume that the explanation that Obama is performing his duties for the one per cent is the accurate explanation.  The “he didn’t mean it – he didn’t know what it would do” ditty is worn out and obvious bullshit at this point.

UPDATE: Sun., 17 June

I have brought this trade agreement up several times since I first heard about it.  Other people, much smarter than I, are sounding a warning as well.  I believe this agreement, if it goes through as planned, will essentially do away with not only our sovereignty, but with the need for our Constitution, as it gives overriding authority to a couple of attorneys acting in the interest of only the largest multi-national corporations.  Note also in the above excerpts that any country may sign on to the agreement later, so it is not limited to the original eight, and that furthermore, the entire document would not be released to the public until 4 years after signing.  (Still think they intend to let us have elections in 2016?)

I wanted to post excerpts from two other sources as a follow-up:

From Yves Smith on nakedcapitalism:

Obama Plans to Put Foreign Companies Above the Law
Posted By Yves Smith On June 13, 2012

Zach Carter has a must-read new article up at Huffington Post on leaked documents from trade negotiations that have been posted at the website Public Citizen. You should read his entire article, pronto, but here is the money quote:

The newly leaked document is one of the most controversial of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. It addresses a broad sweep of regulations governing international investment and reveals the Obama administration’s advocacy for policies that environmental activists, financial reform advocates and labor unions have long rejected for eroding key protections currently in domestic laws.

Under the agreement currently being advocated by the Obama administration, American corporations would continue to be subject to domestic laws and regulations on the environment, banking and other issues. But foreign corporations operating within the U.S. would be permitted to appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings to an international tribunal. That international tribunal would be granted the power to overrule American law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its rulings.

This is an active effort to undermine US laws and make certain US laws subordinate to non-US tribunal that sits outside any democratic process. President Obama took an oath to uphold the land. I’d like to throw this out to readers. As much as trade agreements (which were approved by Congress) have sometimes run into friction with existing laws, this move by Obama looks to be a far more radical effort to increase the power of multinational companies. And US companies would argue for, and likely eventually get, similar breaks, assuring a legal/regulatory race to the bottom (if you think what we have is bad now, do not underestimate how much worse it could get).

Let’s set aside the fact that no current Congress will stand in the way of a pro-business measure. I’d like readers to tell me whether they think this initiative is an impeachable offense. Does this sort of effort to gut US laws rise to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors“?

Update: The use of the “I’ word [impeach] has led some readers to argue (basically) “What are you talking about? This is just a negotiation.” True, but it is also revealing how little we expect of Congress and how much its standing has fallen. This idea should be so far outside the pale that both the substance as well as the process would, in another era, have elicited a serious pushback from Congress. But of course, in that other era, a cagey politician like Obama would never have gone this far either.

We seem to be living the Frederick Douglass quote:  Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com

In the article below, I disagree with the suggestion that all regulations should be stripped to the lowest common denominator; the quotes are from a libertarian source (which itself uses some quotes from a conservative source).  The main points of the article are well taken, however, and I include these quotes as they provide proof that both ends of the political spectrum are alarmed by this maneuver.

[…] This poses an even wider problem, though. Obama is negotiating a trade pact that would constitute a judicial authority higher than even the U.S. Supreme Court that could overrule federal court rulings applying U.S. law to foreign companies. That is unconstitutional. The U.S. cannot be allowed to enter a treaty that would abrogate our Constitution.

It is telling that the only apparent way these Pacific nations will enter a free trade agreement with the U.S. is if they are exempt from our onerous environmental and financial regulations that make it cost-ineffective to do business here. Instead of making these foreign firms exempt from these burdensome rules, they should just repeal the regulations and make it cheaper to do business here.

This tribunal needs to be removed from this agreement, and no foreign company doing business on our soil should have a competitive advantage, created by some dumb agreement, over American companies. What is Obama thinking? He is placing international organizations above the interests of our own country. [Emphases in original.]

In an interview with The New American, ALG President Bill Wilson further explained what Americans have to fear should the United States enter the TPP and why the negotiations have been conducted in secret:

“These trade pacts starting with NAFTA and before [GATT], strike at the heart of national sovereignty, ours and that of the other member nations,” Wilson warned. “At their core they diminish the prerogatives and powers of a specific country and surrender them to international bodies or corporations.”

“As for the secrecy, if folks on the ground find out what’s going on ahead of time, they might get upset. We tend to think of populations of the Asian nations as being more compliant, but they are not. If they thought for a minute that American corporations could ignore their local laws and customs, they’d be angry, so the multinational corporations that are pushing this thing have to do so in secret,” he continued.

Wilson also recognizes another problem for the internationalists in the provenance of the leaked document. The information revealed in the portion of the proposed agreement leaked on Wednesday was posted by Public Citizen, a Texas-based consumer rights advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader — hardly a member of the right-wing conspiracy. Wilson sees this as instructive.

“There is a great coming together of the minds here,” Wilson said. “The Left doesn’t want an international tribunal coming in and doing away with their environmental regulations and we conservatives don’t want anything destroying our sovereignty and independence. That is a powerful confluence of interests and that’s why they [the international corporations] want to keep it secret.”

Wilson’s identification of large corporate interests as being the engine that is driving this vehicle for the eradication of American sovereignty is borne out by the experience of some of our own elected officials who have tried to pierce the veil of secrecy protecting the TPP negotiations.[…]

“I would point out how insulting it is for them to argue that members of Congress are to personally go over to USTR to view the trade documents,” Hoelzer said. “An advisor at Halliburton or the MPAA is given a password that allows him or her to go on the USTR website and view the TPP agreement anytime he or she wants.”

That’s right. A duly elected Senator of the United States has to beg and plead and threaten legislation in order to see the TPP trade agreement negotiations, but corporate interests are given by a password by the USTR that grants them a priori access to those same documents.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) issued a statement criticizing the Obama administration for the lack of oversight into an agreement with devastating potential.

“After more than a decade of broken promises from NAFTA, CAFTA, and normalized trade relations with China, we can now add a credibility deficit to the trade deficits we’ve seen. The leaked documents surfacing today only underscore the secrecy surrounding TPP negotiations and confirm worst suspicions about the direction trade negotiations are heading. It’s telling that it is easier for the CEO of a major corporation to access information about the negotiations than the American people’s elected representatives. The negotiations must involve more transparency and bring more voices to the table.”

ALG’s Bill Wilson perceives real harm in the USTR’s grant of such a powerful corporate prerogative.

We are elevating private businesses up to the level of sovereign governments,” Wilson said. “Under NAFTA we gave companies the power to sue governments and the TPP does this as well. In this trade pact, we agree that our government can be sued by these foreign corporations who will be treated as sovereign nations. This is submerging the idea of sovereignty into a sea of regulatory bodies and international agencies and our freedom is drowning it it.”

“It is self-evident that the erosion of the right of citizens to control their own lives is progressing at a rate that we are little more than wage slaves to an oppressive government and its cadre of corporate backers that consider our lives and our liberties of little or no consequence,” he stated.

When it comes to TPP and its surreptitious assault on freedom, Bill Wilson hit the nail squarely on the head. Unfortunately, if the American people do not rise up in firm opposition to TPP and other globalist ventures, it may be the final nail in the coffin containing the remains of our sovereignty.

http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/constitution/item/11736-tpp-secret-trade-agreement-puts-international-tribunal-above-us-law

UPDATE 2: Friday, 22 June:

Public Citizen, the watchdog organization that first revealed the (few) details that have been published about the TPP, announced yesterday in an email,

“This week, the Obama administration announced that Mexico and Canada are now joining Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ‘free trade agreement’ negotiations.”

As the director of Public Citizen pointed out in the Democracy Now interview excerpted in the main article above said, “And each of these [trade] agreements has gotten bolder, more expansive in its limits on government regulation and in its granting of corporate powers. This one [the TPP] could be the end, because what they intend to do is leave it open, once it’s done, for any other country to join. So, this is an agreement that ultimately could have the whole world in it as a set of binding corporate guarantees of new rights and privileges, enforced with cash sanctions and trade sanctions. It is not an exaggeration to say that the TPP threatens to become a regime of binding global governance[…]”

We can see already that governments of other countries are eager to join in the agreement and give up the sovereign rights of their nations before the next round of negotiations, which is scheduled for the July 4th week-end.  Need to sign up before the information on this agreement spreads to the people in their countries, now that some of it has been “leaked”.

UPDATE 3: Tues, 26 June:

Common Dreams now has an article out about the TPP.  I realize I am beginning to sound shrill at this point.  I don’t care.  Every bit of information coming out on this trade agreement is worse than the last – and what I knew about it a month ago was extraordinarily bad.  By the way, add China and Japan as two more countries anticipated to sign the agreement.

To reiterate the final sentence of this article – Go to http://www.citizen.org/tpp, learn more and get involved.  If you pass around one link about the TPP, let this be the one.

From the Common Dreams article:

This maybe one of the most important stories ever ignored by the “lame stream, liberal” media. It’s unlikely you’re losing sleep over US trade negotiations, but the unfolding business agreement between the US and eight Pacific nations –the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — should cause every US citizen, from the Sierra Club to the Tea Party to get their pitch forks and torches out of the closet and prepare to “storm the Bastille.” […]

If you thought that with Citizens United we had hit rock bottom in surrendering our democracy to the power of money, this TPP “trade agreement” would throw our democracy into free fall.

Residents of the West should be particularly alarmed.  TPP would allow plunder of our natural resources  by foreign corporations allowed to bypass US law.  Disputes over Western land contracts for mining and timber for example would be settled by international tribunals.  Even If you are oblivious to environmental concerns you should be outraged at the total circumvention of national sovereignty.  Foreign investors could bypass our legal framework, take any dispute to an international tribunal and pursue compensation for being denied access to our resources at fire sale prices–and much of the West on fire as we speak.

It gets worse.  Those tribunals would be staffed by private sector lawyers that rotate between acting as ‘judges’ and as advocates for the corporations suing the governments.   American  taxpayers could be forced to pay those corporations virtually unlimited compensation for trying protect our air, land and water from much looser standards than current US law allows.

This agreement could directly affect efforts in my [the commondream author’s] home state of Utah to hold the international mining giant,  Rio Tinto, accountable to the Clean Air Act.  A consortium of public health and environmental groups including WildEarth Guardians, Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, Utah Moms for Clean Air and the Sierra Club have filed suit against Rio Tinto for mining more–and polluting more–than the amount allowed by the EPA via provisions in the Clean Air Act.  This agreement would allow disputes about their pollution to be settled by foreign ‘judges’ who don’t live in Utah,  aren’t personally affected by the outcome, aren’t even US citizens, and could be attorneys for mining companies.[…]

TPP is much worse than NAFTA, that eviscerated middle class jobs and wealth in the US.  And this sell out to foreign corporations is not just a rogue brain cramp of President Obama.  Mitt Romney demanded this agreement be signed months ago, and the notorious “climate change denying” US Chamber of Commerce can’t get it signed fast enough.[…]

If you thought that with Citizens United we had hit rock bottom in surrendering our democracy to the power of money, this TPP “trade agreement” would throw our democracy into free fall.   Foreign corporations will be allowed to feast upon America’s natural resources, trash our environment and public health, violate our rights as American citizens and make us pay them if we try to protect ourselves.  Could this really happen?  Go to http://www.citizen.org/tpp, learn more and get involved.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/06/25-0

 

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Congress, corporatocracy, economy, trade agreements

 

And we are at war in Yemen.

We are at war in Yemen.  Article by Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman for wired.com:danger room.

Let’s Admit it: The US is at War in Yemen, Too.

After years of sending drones and commandos into Pakistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta last week finally admitted the obvious: The US is “fighting a war” there. But American robots and special forces aren’t just targeting militants in Pakistan. They’re doing the same — with increasing frequency and increasing lethality — in Yemen. The latest drone attack happened early Wednesday in the Yemeni town of Azzan, killing nine people. It’s the 23rd strike in Yemen so far this year, according to the Long War Journal. In Pakistan, there have been only 22.

Surely, if America is at war in Pakistan, it’s at war in Yemen, too. And it’s time for the Obama administration to admit it.

For all the handwringing about the undeclared, drone-led war in Pakistan, it’s quietly been eclipsed. Yemen is the real center of the America’s shadow wars in 2012. After the US killed al-Qaida second in command Abu Yahya al-Libi earlier this month, Pakistan is actually running out of significant terrorists to strike. Yemen, by contrast, is a target-rich environment — and that’s why the drones are busier there these days.

The White House has declared al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen is to be the biggest terror threat to Americans today. The campaign to neutralize that threat is far-reaching — involving commandos, cruise missiles, and, of course, drone aircraft. It is also, according to some experts on the region, completely backfiring. Since the US ramped up its operations in Yemen in 2009, the ranks of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, have swelled from 300 fighters to more than 1,000.

The congressional foreign relations committees have had some briefings on the military and intelligence efforts in Yemen, Danger Room is told. But there’s been scant discussion in public of the campaign’s goals, or a way for measuring whether those goals have been reached. Outside of the classified arena, there’s little sense of what our Yemen operations cost, nor of what the costs would be if they were discontinued. It’s an odd situation, notes Micah Zenko, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, since “it’s accurate to say we are ‘at war in Yemen.”

“What should be accompanied with any (even unofficial) declaration of war is a clearly articulated strategy of what America’s strategic objectives in that country are, a cogent strategy for how current US policies will lead to that outcome, how US airstrikes are coordinated with other elements of power, and how much it might cost and when we might expect that to occur,” Zenko tells Danger Room. “Unfortunately, none of that has happened.”

There is no definitive accounting of America’s operations in Yemen and the region that surrounds it. But some details of the secretive missions have been leaked to the press. Here’s what we know.

The US has two separate drone campaigns underway in Yemen — one is run by the CIA, the other by the military’s Joint Special Operations Command. Some of the drones’ targets are authorized by President Obama himself. Some just happen to look or act like perceived threats. According to the tally assembled by the Long War Journal, only nine of the 155 people killed in Yemen by US drones this year have been civilians; no innocents were among the 81 slain in 2011. But it’s hard to know how much to trust those statistics. One of those killed in 2011 was Abd al-Rahman al-Awlaki, a 16 year-old American citizen whose father was a notorious al-Qaida propagandist. And the White House “counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants,” the New York Times reports. Perhaps Awlaki met that threshold.

The twin drone operations are only one facet of American efforts in Yemen, however. According to the Los Angeles Times, a contingent of at least 20 US special operations troops stationed inside the country are using “satellite imagery… eavesdropping systems and other technical means to help pinpoint targets” for the Yemeni military.

American-made BGM-109D Tomahawk cruise missiles and BLU97 A/B cluster bomblets have been photographed in the town of al-Majala, where 35 women and children were allegedly killed in a December 2009 strike. (The Yemeni journalist who documented the attack is now in prison, supposedly for abetting terrorists.) In neighboring Djibouti, eight American F-15Es jets are flying missions from the US outpost known as Camp Lemonnier; the Pentagon just handed out a $62 million contract to maintain the base. According to the investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, who has spent extensive time in the region, Djibouti is where “much of the coordination for Yemen ops” takes place.

For all of that firepower, there’s something rather obvious missing: a sense of how and why we’re fighting there. […]

In this case, however, countering terror also carries the risk of participating in a civil war. The local al-Qaida group “is joined at the hip” with an insurgency largely focused on toppling the local government, one US official told the Washington Post. Take on the wannabe terrorists, and you may be wind up fighting the area’s insurgents, as well.

“In an effort to destroy the threat coming out of Yemen, the US is getting sucked further into the quicksand of a conflict it doesn’t understand and one in which its very presence tilts the tables against the US,” Johnsen wrote.[…]

Of course, Yemen is only one part of an even larger regional conflict. The US maintains additional drone bases, not far away in the Seychelles and Ethiopia. The American Navy keeps around 30 warships in the nearby Indian Ocean, mostly to help fight local pirates. A pair of Lewis and Clark-class supply ships, possibly used as seaborne military camps for Special Forces, have been spotted in the region of late. At least one Somali terrorist was held by American commandos aboard the USS Boxer for weeks.[…]

Undeclared wars are dangerous wars. Questions about goals and resources can go unanswered, when there’s no  need to convince the people or the Congress of their merits. No one knows how undeclared wars end, or even when they’re won, because no one measures the progress of wars fought in the shadows. The only way they end is when the US decides to simply walk away — as with the 80s-era shadow war the US helped wage in Afghanistan. Looked like a great success for a decade; not so much on 9/11.

Of course, missions can drift and resources can vanish in a declared war; just look at Iraq. But when a fight is kept in the shadows by design, the chances for shenanigans and miscalculations rise. At least we have some sense of when and where resources were misspent in our open war in Afghanistan of today; in our secret campaign in Pakistan, there’s almost none.

The president doesn’t need to address a joint session of Congress every time he dispatches a warship or a handful of military advisers, naturally. But this fight in Yemen isn’t a disconnected, sporadic series of strikes. It’s wide-ranging and it’s multi-pronged. It’s costing lives while building up the ranks of our enemies. It’s war. And it’s time our Commander in Chief came out and said it.

If this war is worth waging, it’s worth waging openly. And it’s worth having a strategy with a clearly defined, achievable goal. Does anyone know what that is in Yemen? Is it the end of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula? The containment of AQAP? A functional Yemeni government that can fight AQAP without US aid? We’ve gotten so use to fighting in the shadows for so long, we barely even ask our leadership what victory looks like.

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/06/yemen-war/all/

The following short film reveals the extent of the US covert war in Yemen, and the (obvious) results.

“People and Power – America’s Dangerous Game”.  A 25 minute film by Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill for al Jazeera English.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2012 in drones, MIC, Yemen

 

Here is how badly the Obama administration wants the right to indefinite detention of American citizens.

Below is from article.  Bolding mine.

[…]Last month Judge Forrest ruled in favor of a group of journalists and activists whom filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of Section 1021 of the NDAA, a defense spending bill signed into law by President Obama on New Year’s Eve. Specifically, Judge Forrest said in her injunction that the legislation contained elements that had a “chilling impact on First Amendment rights” and ruled that no, the government cannot imprison Americans over suspected ties with terrorists.

“In the face of what could be indeterminate military detention, due process requires more,” said the judge.

The Obama administration responded nine days later by asking Judge Forrest to reconsider her ruling, adding that, in the interim, the government would interpret the injunction to mean that only the few plaintiffs listed on the lawsuit would be excluded from indefinite detention. One of those named, journalist Chris Hedges, had previously said, “I have had dinner more times than I can count with people whom this country brands as terrorists … but that does not make me one.”

Responding to the White House’s demands, Judge Forrest writes in a June 6 memo, “Put more bluntly, the May 16 order enjoined enforcement of Section 1021(b)(2) against anyone until further action by this, or a higher, court — or by Congress. This order should eliminate any doubt as to the May 16 order’s scope.”

Judge Forrest does include in her ruling, however, that Americans can be indefinitely detained, but only providing that the government can link suspects directly to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Attorney Carl Meyer represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit and told RT last month that he expected the Obama administration to challenge Judge Forrest’s ruling, but warned that “it may not be in their best interest because there are so many people from all sides of the political spectrum opposed to this law.”

Previously, state lawmakers in both Utah and Virginia have proposed legislation that would negate provisions of the NDAA on a local level.

http://on.rt.com/lzbqga

Look, the “people” in charge do not care if you know what they are doing any more.   They are not hiding their intentions and they rarely bother with fancy rhetorical gimmickry any longer.   Yet people refuse to believe that they mean exactly what they say.  When I say to someone that this will be the last election in the US (not that this one is a real election anyway – you get to choose between two corporatist warmongers who both promise to take away any programs beneficial to actual humans so that the Pentagon and largest corporations can continue to suck all the money from the taxpayer teat), I always get the response ‘Bullshit, elections are how they keep the game going’ or ‘This is America.  We are a democracy and that won’t change.’  But the fact is that the oligarchy is no longer playing the game.  The game is over, as far as they are concerned, and they won.  They announce this every day in the baldest of terms –  we simply refuse to take their words at face value.

The Supreme Court just decided that federal officials cannot be held liable for the practice of torture, which happens because the officials themselves signed off on it.  http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/06/scotus-dirty-bomber/

Furthermore, the Supreme Court just refused to hear the case brought forward by Guantanamo detainees who, although never charged with crimes, are still being held indefinitely.  http://rt.com/usa/news/guantanamo-bay-supreme-court-601/

All the assets in the world are being given to a few big banks.  That these are the same banks who created the depression which began in ’08 with the collapse of their fraudulent “assets” schemes is irrelevant to their subservient lackeys in control of governments around the world.  That people are dying from the austerity measures imposed on various countries in an effort to give more and more to these same banks is also irrelevant to the governments.  The government officials aren’t hiding what they are doing, for God’s sake, and neither are the banks.  We must be retarded to accept the idea that more bank bailouts is just the ticket.   http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/06/the-spailout-has-already-failed.html

Monsanto’s genetically altered crops will be your food.  The oceans are dying, the fresh water is being poisoned or used up for oil extraction practices.  The EPA keeps lowering its standards for acceptable levels of toxins.  Prisons are being privatized and everyday minor crimes result in outrageously long sentences.  You will be spied on, groped at the airport or bus terminal, and your conversations recorded.  You are a suspect.  When the president claims the right to assassinate anyone in the world at his whim or to pick up and detain indefinitely anyone he wants – and both parties in Congress agree to such ideas – why do you think they are kidding?  When the US and NATO take out an entire country (Libya) and assassinate its leader based not on a declaration of war or an attack emanating from that country, but on the flimsiest of rumors (later admitted to be falsehoods) and then divvy up that country’s wealth amongst the invading countries, why would you think they were doing anything except invading to steal resources?  They weren’t exactly hiding what they were doing.   When both Democrats and Republicans say that it is imperative that the Bush tax cuts be made permanent, as both parties are now claiming, and that Social Security/Medicare/food stamps/unemployment benefits be slashed to pay for those tax cuts, why do you have the idea that either party is playing some obscure political game?  They are clearly stating that the wealthy will be protected at all costs, even if it means you will be living hand to mouth as a result.  Both parties are very open about this.

When you see the roads crumble, the infrastructure being sold out the front door to foreign investors, when you hear about the continuation of subsidies being given to big oil and big ag while Congress discontinues research money for renewable projects or refuses to act on student loan interest rates or foreclosure fraud, you must at some point realize that this is not all kabuki theater (a term I hate, BTW) or gamesmanship.  These people are not playing some game.  They mean every single thing they say and intend exactly the consequences that happen as a result of their actions.  They are not hiding it.  They are telling you right out front what they are doing; that you choose to disbelieve them or make excuses for them must be the source of explosions of derisive laughter behind closed doors.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2012 in civil rights, drones, MIC, security state

 

So many countries to invade, so little time.

What??  We are Officially Engaged in a War with Pakistan?  At war with an ally?  Without going to Congress?  Or declaring war?  Or having been invaded or attacked by the other country?  Without having the military of that other country engage against us?  Wait, can you call it a “war” if there is only one side doing the fighting and killing?

My stars.  I never.

Panetta admits that US is at war in Pakistan

[…]­Only one day after American officials announced that US troops executed an alleged al-Qaeda higher-up with a drone strike in Pakistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters on Wednesday that America’s fair-weather ally is indeed serving as a battlefront in the War on Terror.

“We are fighting a war in the FATA, we are fighting a war against terrorism,” Secretary Panetta said this week. Panetta was referring to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a region in northwest Pakistan that is currently the scene of American airstrikes.

Since well before the top-secret raid and execution of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden brought US troops into Pakistan, the American military has tried time and time again to sugarcoat its activities overseas. Despite being an at-one-time top ally of the United States, Pakistani officials have continuously condemned the US over Uncle Sam’s continuing air strikes with unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. Now after years of trying to re-develop those deteriorating ties with Pakistan, the United States’ top military man flatly called his country’s operations in FATA an actual war.

To put it simply, this might not be good news for anyone.

While Panetta’s comment came only a day after the Pentagon confirmed that al-Qaeda’s “number-two in command,” Abu Yahya al-Libi, was executed with a drone strike in the FATA region, it also coincides — coincidently — with a statement made by another former CIA official. Robert Greiner, the one-time head of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, tells reporters this week that America’s mishandling of drone attacks is creating a safe haven for terrorists.

In a report published this week by the UK’s Guardian, Greiner says that ongoing attacks that target a broad and often unspecific range of targets is causing anti-American sentiments to increase faster than the US can actually combat terror. After the US has increased its air strikes in locales such as Pakistan and Yemen, says Greiner, insurgency has only become more rampant.

Because the Obama administration has gone on the record to say that all military-age men in strike zone are considered combatants, Greiner believes that unrest with the US is adding up at a rate that repeated strikes won’t help.

“We have gone a long way down the road of creating a situation where we are creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield. We are already there with regards to Pakistan and Afghanistan,” says Greiner.

“That brings you to a place where young men, who are typically armed, are in the same area and may hold these militants in a certain form of high regard. If you strike them indiscriminately you are running the risk of creating a terrific amount of popular anger. They have tribes and clans and large families. Now all of a sudden you have a big problem … I am very concerned about the creation of a larger terrorist safe haven in Yemen.”

http://on.rt.com/mnpac1

 

Panetta also said that the drone strikes in Pakistan will continue and made the bizarre statement that this was “about our sovereignty”, while the bombings apparently do not (all evidence to the contrary) violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.  Our sovereign territory now being the entire globe, or some such thinking to that effect.  Oh, and we should increase arms sales to India, because these piddly little one-at-a-time deals are not getting the weapons out fast enough.

[…]Speaking in India — on Pakistan’s doorstep — Panetta unapologetically dismissed suggestions that the strikes could violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.

“This is about our sovereignty as well,” he said when answering questions from the audience after a speech at an Indian think tank.[…]

http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2012/06/06/panetta-us-india-must-improve-ties-with-pakistan

Ironically, this belligerent refusal to end the drone strikes comes within a day of the UN Commission on Human Rights questioning the legality of the use of drones altogether.  Not that the US war machine seems to care much about international law, US law, the UN, or human rights in general for that matter.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has questioned the legality of U.S. drone strikes at a news conference in Islamabad today, Agence France-Presse reports.

Pillay stated, “Drone attacks do raise serious questions about compliance with international law.”

Pillay also highlighted the drones’ killing of civilians. “I see the indiscriminate killings and injuries of civilians in any circumstances as human rights violations.”

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/06/07-1

 

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in drones, MIC, Pakistan

 

The government that sold itself out.

As you look at all the insane decisions coming from the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, the Supreme Court, various state legislatures, big businesses, and the banks, remember this: there is a plan.  It is not a very pleasant plan.  Some of the players are not even aware that they are playing a part designed for them; they simply find that they are profiting lately and are glad to continue running with the pack that made this happen for them.  The plan, in fact, it is a decidedly anti-democratic and authoritarian plan designed to repeal most human rights and return us to the pre-enlightenment days of brute savagery where only the fittest survive.  The fittest are equipped with modern weaponry, wealth, and power well beyond the idle imaginings of our ancestors.  The “fittest” have arranged things so that they cannot help but win; not by dint of higher intelligence – although they are cunning – and not because they will be found to be righteous and worthy of support – they are not interested in the well-being of their fellow humans in the slightest and this will eventually lead to discontent among the masses.  But they will win – because they have all the weapons, all the money, control the media, and utterly lack empathy or morals.  You cannot even imagine the sheer callousness of these people.  They are some new breed which would not merit the label “human” except that science has not yet recognized them as a distinct and separate species.  They are predators.  They want dominion of the globe.  They will kill you if you are not useful to the plan.  If you are deemed useful, you will serve the purpose of helping them take down the prey – your fellow human beings.

Congress plays a part in the plan; that of servers and busboys to the dinner table at which the Pentagon and oligarchs dine.  Any bill which does not directly benefit the Masters is presented simply for show or to while away some hours – light amusement with which Congress entertains itself and trots out to the public to prove they are “working for the people” while the heavy bills are being worked on behind the scenes.  The 2012 NDAA, allowing indefinite detention of any person American or foreign, serves the Masters.  As such, it sailed through the House and Senate, with all 100 Senators voting ‘aye’.

The latest iteration of the Intelligence Bill overwhelmingly passed the House and is now headed to the Senate.

Intelligence Authorization – Vote Passed (386-28, 17 Not Voting)

The House passed legislation to authorize funding for the 16 intelligence agencies last week. Although total funding levels are classified, the bill would fund agencies such as the CIA and National Security Agency at a level above President Obama’s request of $71.8 billion, according to Intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich. and ranking member C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md. A handful of amendments were adopted during debate, including one offered by Michigan Democrat John Conyers, Jr. to require a report from the director of national intelligence on the consequences of a military strike against Iran. The Senate has not yet moved on its authorization bill, but action is expected at the committee level sometime this summer. -megavote summary

 

Does anyone find it strange that our Congress votes “yes” each year to a bill wherein the amount of taxpayer money relegated to certain departments and quasi-governmental agencies is classified even from Congress itself?  Or that we now have sixteen agencies designated to handle intelligence?  Or that the amount of money going to these agencies rises each year to where now Congress is willing to give the apparatus even more money than the president asked for?  Does anyone wonder about the intelligence level of a Congress which has to ask for a report on the consequences of a military strike against Iran?  (The answer, offered without benefit of a report, is: it would be stupid, pointless, illegal, and a bone-cracking disaster for the economy.)

Offered at the same time as the Intelligence Authorization bill, Congress spent untold hours crafting a bill which would make it a crime to abort a fetus based on its gender.  The fact that there are no known and provable instances in the US where women actually do this is irrelevant.

 

Sex-Selective Abortion Ban – Vote Failed (246-168, 17 Not Voting)

Occasioning considerably more controversy than the FDA bill, the House also considered legislation to criminalize the administering or facilitating of abortions based on the sex of the fetus. The practice, known as sex-selective abortion, has long been associated with countries such as China and India, where social and economic pressures can lead to families to abort females at much higher rates than males. Republicans contend that this practice has reached the United States; Democrats say there is insufficient evidence and that a blanket ban would be unenforceable in any case. Despite garnering majority support, the measure failed because it was considered under suspension of the rules.- megavote summary

Note that the majority of the House voted ‘yes’ on this bill, which nonetheless failed because of the arcane rules now in play in Congress.  This bill is one of those offered for the amusement of the strangest and most twisted amongst the members of Congress.  These sorts of laws are designed to take care of a nonexistent problem, much like the various bills suggesting the outlawing of sharia law, but the point of them is not to take care of an actual issue – the point is to wave a red flag around in front of the public and create out of thin air the panicked idea that we are in danger of being overrun by these foreign practices.  The simplistic thinking of the public usually goes something like this: if Congress is working on this issue, it must be an actual problem.  It is so easy to sway the public mind, thanks mostly to a media solely devoted to the spread of corporate and governmental propaganda, that Americans seem utterly incapable of recognizing the strangeness and illegality of this new world they inhabit.

Such nonsense is carried on at the state level, too.  The legislators in North Carolina are getting ready to vote on a bill which would prevent the state government from preparing for the predicted rise in the sea level and would furthermore strike any scientific opinion about it from public records.  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/06/05

We have reached the point in our social and political decline where we have accepted meekly, without debate and largely without protest, the following practices: the president can decide to kill any person, even Americans, any place in the world, at his whim.  Anyone, even Americans, may be arrested and incarcerated – forever – without charges or trial.  Obama, and Bush and Clinton before him, issued an executive order stating that he may take over all commerce, transportation and food production in the US whenever he deems it necessary.  The United States may drop bombs on anyone in any country it wants to without declaring a war or having been invaded or threatened first.  The president feels he may sign long-term treaties with other countries without going to Congress.  A large number of our members of Congress have sworn to hold the security and interest of a foreign nation – Israel – to be of paramount importance – equal to the allegiance they swear to the United States.  They are trying to codify this into law within the body of the 2013 NDAA currently being worked on in Congress.  National and state laws are written by industry lobbyists and the opinion of the public is completely irrelevant.  The internal “watchdog” agencies may, and do, collect as much data as they want from private citizens.  They are allowed to eavesdrop on, collect and save emails, phone calls, information about purchases made in person or over the internet.  We now need permits to assemble and protest, although the Bill of Rights guarantees our right to peaceably assemble to petition our government; the requirement to obtain a permit first or to be corralled into a ‘free-speech zone’ effectively dismantles this right.  The Supreme Court just ruled that anyone may be strip-searched as often as the police like no matter the nature of the offense cited.  Congress has decided that drones may be used in the US and that they may be outfitted with electronics to spy on us.  Police departments have announced their intentions to arm these drones with “non-lethal” weapons (although I would suggest that the term ‘non-lethal’ is a matter of debate – the cops want long-distance TASRs on the drones, as but one example, even though over 500 people have been killed by TASRs in the US since they began using the things).  The US and state governments legally hide the list of chemicals being used to extract oil and natural gas in fracking processes despite the fact that these chemicals are toxic and leech into the ground-water that people use for drinking.  In response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the BP oil spill, the EPA was allowed to simply alter the acceptable limits of radiation and toxic chemicals deemed harmful to humans.  Anyone who tries to warn their fellow Americans about such dangers is put on a watch list; many such scientists and journalists, not to mention private citizens, have been harassed repeatedly and are subject to the seizure of their property when they attempt to travel.  The TSA  and DHS run the airports and bus terminals like prison guards looking for escapees.  In the so-called “war on terror”, we are all suspects.  Despite the fact that almost all of the “terrorist plots” have been proven to be actually FBI-instigated and abetted, we think there are terrorists all around us and encourage each other to rat out suspicious behaviours.  Everything is suspicious, everyone is suspect, and every mundane act of petty larceny or public nuisance is labeled terrorism.  (One ‘terrorist’ plot which was thwarted by the FBI a few years ago resulted in the arrest of a man who had planned to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge with a blowtorch.  Obviously, such a ‘plan’ was ridiculous – you’d need a hundred years with no rain in order to dismantle the Brooklyn Bridge with one blowtorch.  Instead of reaching the reasonable conclusion that the poor fellow was mentally ill and deluded, the FBI declared him a ‘terrorist’ and bragged about taking care of the ‘threat’.)

Lest you think this is all overblown rhetoric, look at some details about the new world we accept as normal.

The NSA is building a massive computer storage facility in Utah where they store and interpret all the harvested emails and phone calls they have collected.


[…]Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013. Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes. And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”[…]

[…]there is no doubt that it [the NSA] has transformed itself into the largest, most covert, and potentially most intrusive intelligence agency ever created.

In the process—and for the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration—the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens. It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas. It has created a supercomputer of almost unimaginable speed to look for patterns and unscramble codes. Finally, the agency has begun building a place to store all the trillions of words and thoughts and whispers captured in its electronic net. And, of course, it’s all being done in secret. To those on the inside, the old adage that NSA stands for Never Say Anything applies more than ever.[…]

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/

 

Not to be outdone by its sister agency at the NSA, the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) has been forced to reveal to the public its training manual, which shows that it actively monitors social media and flags individuals for further ‘inspection’ based on certain key words used on twitter, facebook, in news articles or blogs.

 

The Department of Homeland Security has flagged hundreds of words as “suspect” – and while many make sense, like “Al Qaeda,” some are just plain odd. For example, the DHS may dig through your cyber life if you write something about snow. Or pork.

So, you’ve just come back from a beach holiday in Mexico and posted about it on your blog. Or maybe you’ve tweeted about skiing lessons? Updated your status, saying you’re stuck home with food poisoning?

All those things will tweak the DHS antennae, according to a manual published by the agency. The Analyst’s Desktop Binder, used by agency employees at their National Operations Center to identify “media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities,” includes hundreds of words that set off Big Brother’s silent alarms.

Department chiefs were forced to release the manual following a House hearing over documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. It revealed how analysts monitor social networks and media organizations for comments that “reflect adversely” on the government.[…]

I’ve also wondered whether the monitoring is cumulative. Will one mention of an airplane be less worrying to the Department of Homeland Security than, say, 20 to 30 words from the no-no list? What if I’m writing the weather report? What if I blew a tire somewhere on an interstate and am sending a message for help? Both the words ‘help’ and ‘interstate’ are on the list. Does that mean I can expect men in black to come before the AAA?[…]

http://on.rt.com/yx2kvs
­

The Freedom of Information lawsuit that brought the training manual to light was filed by an organization called EPIC and you can read a summary of their lawsuit here:  http://epic.org/foia/epic-v-dhs-media-monitoring/  While the list of suspect words is peculiar (you can see the list by linking to the rt.com link in the above excerpted article), I am more appalled by the fact that our government now finds it acceptable to monitor everyone who writes or says anything that “reflects adversely” on itself or its agencies.  This is not the first step, but more like one of the mid-points, in creating a Stasi force, USA version.
[see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stasi ]

While we assume, despite all evidence to the contrary, that we still have first amendment rights, the Supreme Court just ruled that the right to free speech does not protect you from arrest in retaliation for availing yourself of that right; thus placing one more nail in the coffin of the first amendment.  I would point out that if you can be arrested in retaliation for using your free speech rights, you no longer have those rights.

 

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that two Secret Service agents are shielded from a lawsuit filed by a man they arrested after a confrontation with then-Vice President Dick Cheney.

The 8-0 decision comes in a case that began with the arrest of Steven Howards following a chance encounter with Cheney at a shopping center in Colorado in 2006. Howards claimed he was arrested because he expressed his anti-war views.

The agents and the Obama administration asked the court for broad protection against claims of retaliatory arrests. The justices did not grant that wish.

But Justice Clarence Thomas said in his opinion for the court that the agents could not be sued in this instance because of uncertainty about the state of the law concerning such arrests.

The decision reversed a ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver to allow Howards’ lawsuit to go forward.

Howards, of Golden, Colo., was detained by Cheney’s security detail after he told Cheney of his opposition to the war in Iraq. Howards also touched Cheney on the shoulder, then denied doing so under questioning. The appeals court said the inconsistency gave the agents reason to arrest Howards.

Even so, the appeals court said Howards could sue the agents for violating his rights.

The main legal issue in the case was whether agents, and other law enforcement officers, should be shielded from rights lawsuits when they have a good reason, or probable cause, to make an arrest. The high court, in Hartman v. Moore, had previously ruled out damages claims for retaliatory prosecutions when there was probable cause to bring criminal charges in the first place. Unlike the Denver court, some appeals courts already have extended that rule to retaliatory arrests.

But the justices did not resolve that conflict Monday. “To be sure, we do not suggest that Hartman’s rule in fact extends to arrests,” Thomas said.

Instead, Thomas said the divergent rulings themselves are evidence that the law in this area is not settled. As a result, the agents cannot be held responsible for violating Howards’ rights, even if the arrest had been made in retaliation for what he said.

David Lane, Howards’ attorney, criticized the justices for failing to settle the issue. “It’s shockingly unusual to see a case to carry absolutely not one shred of precedential value. This is that case. They broke absolutely no legal ground while managing to duck every significant issue in the case,” Lane said.

Sean Gallagher, the lawyer for agents Virgil D. “Gus” Reichle Jr. and Dan Doyle, said it appears that officers might face liability only in the most egregious cases. “This ruling confirms that the federal courts will not subject law enforcement officials to personal liability except when it is absolutely clear that they have no basis to make the arrest,” Gallagher said.

Justice Elena Kagan did not take part in the case.

The case is Reichle v. Howards, 10-262.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/06/04/high-court-protects-secret-service-agents/#ixzz1x6CQjtTP

The crackdown on dissidents and monitoring of all people in the US is quietly being carried out by the federal government and at the state level.  Texas plans to use RFID chips in one school district to monitor students’ movements, and will expand procedure to all other districts later:
http://rt.com/usa/news/texas-microchips-school-district-262/

The DHS wants the right to collect DNA and fingerprints from everyone, including children: http://rt.com/usa/news/dna-collection-kids-dhs-722/  They already take DNA samples from certain people, under the authority of the ICE program.  The Real ID program, part of a war-funding bill from ’05, is still on the books, although it is so onerous and expensive that many states have asked for waivers on certain portions of it, or have asked to implement it only one step at a time.  So many states have simply refused to go along with it, declaring it an unfunded mandate and an intrusion to privacy, that although the law is still technically active, implementation keeps getting delayed.  The Real ID Act is a national identification system; such a repugnant idea under Clinton that he shelved it.  Bush got it passed.  The campaigning Obama said he opposed it, the Obama now in office does not speak about it.  We have yet to see the damn thing overturned.  http://teri.nicedriving.org/2008/03/real-id/

The FBI distributes fliers to businesses with advice on how to spot a terrorist. This is part of the spy on your neighbor programs we are all encouraged to indulge in now.  In the flier handed out to internet cafes, for example, the FBI finds suspect such customer behaviours as “Are overly concerned about privacy, attempts to shield the screen from view of others” and “Always pay cash” – although most people hate someone reading over their shoulders and pay cash in a cafe.
http://publicintelligence.net/fbi-suspicious-activity-reporting-flyers/

While our politicians gradually encode into law all these blatantly unconstitutional and anti-democratic statutes and empower more and more agencies to spy on us or arrest us arbitrarily, they refuse to address the real issues of joblessness, hunger, the taking of our homes and the solidification of corporate rule over the country.  The US debt, driven by the squandering of our money on bank bailouts, tax breaks for the already wealthy, and illegal wars, is added to daily.  But the cost will come from the average person, as opposed to doing the most obvious and correct thing: just ending the obscene practices that created the debt in the first place.   The wealthy will have their taxes lowered year after year.  We will spend money on new weapons and continue to invade one country after another.  So many countries, so many foreign leaders to kill, so little time before the next election.  They do, however, plan to take away your social security and public education for your children.  There are no plans to do anything about jobs, except one: you will be able to serve in the military or as a Stasi agent informing on your neighbors.  I have posted the below before.  It is time to repost it:

 

“Crazy Horse – Back on the Warpath”, a speech by Bruce Gagnon.
Quotes from the article:

[…]A few years ago during the Bush administration I was watching one of my favorite TV programs, C-SPAN, and I saw a startling program.  They introduced the speaker at a military conference as Donald Rumsfeld’s strategy guy.  His name was Thomas Barnett, who at that time was an instructor at the Naval War College in Rhode Island.  He wrote a book called the Pentagon’s New Map.  First, I want to say something about the audience.  It was a huge auditorium.  High-level military brass from all the services was present, and in the introduction they said high-level CIA people were there as well.  Barnett was there to lay out for the highest levels of the military the new Pentagon military strategy.

Barnett essentially said this: Because of corporate globalization of the world’s economy, every different country is going to have a different role in the future, a different job. We’re not going to make things in America anymore.  We’re not going to have jobs in America because it’s cheaper for the corporations to go overseas, maximize profits internationally, to build cars and clothes and shoes, refrigerators, computers, everything else. Our role under corporate globalization will be security export. 

Thus it’s no coincidence that today in America the number one industrial export product of our nation is weapons, and when weapons are your number one industrial export product, what is your global marketing strategy for that product line?

Barnett went on to say that there would essentially be two military services in the future.  Because of space technology, the old distinction between Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, he said, is being rubbed out.   One he called “leviathan” whose job would be to go in, shock and awe, do a complete destruction of a particular country, and the other service will be “systems administration,” sys-ad he called it.  He said these troops would never come home.  After we’ve gone in with leviathan, completely destroyed a country, systems administration will go in and run the country.  Yes, they’ll set up a puppet government, of course, like Libya or in Afghanistan, but systems administration will run the country and will never come home.  In fact, just about two years ago I read that Lockheed Martin had gotten a huge contract from the Pentagon to begin training the new generation of systems administration warriors.

Barnett went on to say that young people in America, the angry, young men who are whiling away their time because they have no jobs would be perfect for leviathan because they’re angry, they’re connected to computer games, they’ll be good at doing things like flying drones and he basically described the militarization of our culture. […] This is your future in America, either flipping hamburgers or coming into the military.

The other thing that Barnett talked about which is very important is the Pentagon’s new map.  He said there is part of the world today that is not submitting to the authority of corporate globalization.  He called it the non-integrating gap, and he clearly identified it.  He named the Middle East, where, of course, we are in Iraq today with our permanent military bases and these people won’t be coming home.  Central Asia where we are today in Afghanistan, again, we’re not coming home from there.  Africa where he said we will be fighting 20 years from now for their oil, well even sooner than that as NATO, our lap dog, has invaded Libya that sits on the largest supply of oil on the African continent. Finally, Barnett said parts of Latin America are included in this non-integrating gap, places like Venezuela where Hugo Chavez is not playing ball with corporate globalization.  Barnett maintained our job in America, under security export, will be to go into the non-integrating gap, and secure it to the benefit of corporate globalization.  Barnett said America would not do international treaties anymore because they will just stand in our way. Barnett also told this big audience, “Adolph Hitler never had to ask permission to invade another country and neither will we.”  This arrogance is why we are having endless war today[….]

It’s a bad situation, coup d’etat, coup d’etat. […]

http://warisacrime.org/content/%E2%80%9Ccrazy-horse%E2%80%94back-warpath%E2%80%9D

 

We no longer resemble the country we founded.  The Declaration of Independence was issued because we felt that the then-government ruling over us, that of Great Britain, failed to address our needs.  We felt we were unfairly taxed and abused.  We had a list of legitimate grievances against the King and the bulk of the Declaration is a list of these wrongs.  We wanted a government “of the people, by the people and for the people”.   We decided to set up a system where the government served the people, not the other way around, and where everyone had the right to petition and be heard.  Today, the writing of this document or one like it is considered suspicious.  As it “reflects adversely” on the government or its agencies, anyone who wrote it or disseminated it would be flagged as a suspected terrorist.  Certain words and phrases in it are now considered subversive and will set off alarm bells in one of the numerous agencies set up to monitor us.  The Declaration of Independence follows.  Read it carefully and ponder on how well – or not – we have retained our original intentions for this country.  Think about the fact that this blog may be flagged because it reprints the “anti-government” words in the Declaration.  Look at the list of grievances and consider how many apply to today’s government in Washington.  Think about how few of your fellow modern Americans would value such a piece (would be able to even read it with any glimmer of understanding) and would be happy to see you thrown into jail for daring to write it.  Ask yourself, what are we going to do when they finally shut off the internet and silence all of us?  Ask yourself, what are we going to do about all this?  Now that we are all suspects, what are we going to do about it?

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor. – The Declaration of Independence, 1776.